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Collection Title: Thompson (Jacob) Speech

Collection Number: M224

Dates: January 9, 1847

Volume: 1 Item

Provenance: Unknown.

Copyright: This collection may be protected from unauthorized copying by the Copyright Law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code).

Biographical/Historical Sketch:

Jacob Thompson was born in North Carolina in 1810. He graduated from the University of North Carolina in 1831 and served as a tutor there for 18 months. Admitted to the bar in 1835, he practiced law in Pontotoc, Mississippi and later in Oxford, Mississippi. He was elected to six terms in the U. S. House of Representatives, 1839-1851. Thompson served as chairman of the Committee on Public Lands and later as chairman of the Committee on Indian Affairs. President James Buchanan appointed him to his cabinet in 1857 as Secretary of Interior. Thompson held that position until his resignation in January 1861 when Mississippi seceded from the Union. Confederate President Jefferson Davis asked Thompson to go to Canada as a secret agent. Thompson compiled with that request. He tried to free Confederate officers imprisoned at Johnson Island Military Prison (Ohio) but all his efforts failed. Although he denied complicity in any crimes, he was linked with the burnings of several Northern cities. More seriously, he was charged complicity in President Abraham Lincoln's assassination. Those accusations forced Thompson to live abroad until 1868, when he returned briefly to Oxford, Mississippi but soon retired in Memphis, Tennessee. The quiet life of his retirement was shattered in 1876 with a suit by the United States Government charging him with embezzlement of Indian funds during his term as Secretary of Interior, 1857-1861. The suit was groundless and was quietly dropped after the 1876 election. However, it had served its purpose as a smokescreen for the Grant administration scandals. Thompson died in Memphis in 1885.

Scope and Content:

This collection consists of a printed copy of a speech delivered on January 9, 1848 by Jacob Thompson (U. S. Representative from Mississippi, 1839-1851) to the U. S. House of Representatives. Thompson questioned the facts concerning the need for more troops for the Mexican War. The chairman of the Committee on Military Affairs informed the House that in accordance with an act (passed during the last session) the President could call for 50, 000 volunteers. Since only 33, 000 had been called for, the President could still call for 17, 000 volunteers but admits that so far as volunteers are concerned, there was no necessity for the act. The matter in question was whether or not to call for and establish ten additional regiments whose service would be only during the war. Thompson voiced his approval of the proposed ten regiments because it would increase the promptness and efficiency of the military.

Another matter which was addressed was that of the appointment of officers. Thompson regarded the volunteers as militia which gave them the right of appointing their own officers.

Thompson states that he supports the President's request for an increase of taxes which would continue during the war. He would also vote in favor of a $23, 000, 000 loan, also requested by the President, to support the army. Thompson favored giving the President the authority to appoint a commander to take command of the armies in Mexico. He believed that the action would "infuse new life and energy into our troops." Thompson was persuasive on that point. Slow transportation and communication between the front and Washington, D. C. necessitated a commander that the President could trust.

Finally, Thompson discusses slavery in any newly acquired territory and states that it is too early to know if any new land will be gained as a result of the war. Therefore, there is no real need for a discussion on the subject.

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