Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Cravens mss., 1850-1872, consist of correspondence and papers of James Addison Cravens, 1818-1893, farmer, soldier, Indiana legislator, and U.S. congressman.

Career: born, November 4, 1818, Rockingham county, Virginia; son of John and Ann C. (Newman) Cravens; family migrated to Indiana in 1820 and settled near Hardinsburg in Washington county; attended public schools; engaged in agriculture and stock raising; married Susan Hardin, daughter of Aaron and Sarah (Leatherwood) Hardin; June, 1846, enlisted as a private in Company K, 2nd regiment, Indiana infantry, in Mexican War; rose to rank of major; discharged July, 1847; 1848-1849, member Indiana House of representatives; 1850- 1853, in Indiana state senate; 1844, commissioned a Brigadier general in the Indiana militia; 1861-1865, in U.S. Congress; resumed agricultural pursuits; 1866, delegate to Union national convention of conservatives at Philadelphia; 1868, 1876, 1880, 1884, delegate to National democratic conventions; June 20, 1893, died at Hardinsburg, Indiana; buried in Hardin cemetery.

The mss. in this collection fall principally in the years, 1861-1865, when Cravens was a member of Congress. They consist largely of letters from constituents, soldiers, and political figures, and relate in the main to national and state politics, the progress of the War, army hospitals, prisoners of war, appointments, postoffices and mail routes, bills before Congress, the distribution of free cotton seed and shrubs, and speaking engagements. Included are a letter of March 29, 1862, from Nathan Kimball to Cravens describing the Battle of Kernstown on March 23, 1862; a draft of an 1862 speech by Cravens relating to the confiscation of rebel property and the emancipation of the slaves; and a statistical "Distribution of [draft] quotas of Washington co., Ind.," 1864.

The collection also contains a few political letters and papers, 1850-1852, when Cravens was in the Indiana Senate; political and business letters, 1866-1872, at which time Cravens no longer held public office; and a scrapbook of newspaper clippings and other printed materials, 1884-1900, and undated.

Among the correspondents represented in the collection are John C. Albert, James S. Athon, George Augustus Bicknell, Schuyler Colfax, Thomas Leonidas Crittenden, Cyrus Livingston Dunham, Michael Crawford Kerr, Nathan Kimball, Henry Smith Lane, Charles Lanman, Abraham Lasher, John Law, John Irwin Morrison, Benjamin Newland, John B. Norman, and Caleb Blood Smith, John J. Hardin, W. Scott Whitman.

Collection size: 78 items

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.