• Buchanan Secretary Of War, Southern Sympathizer J.B. Floyd Sent Guns To The South Free Franks Envelope To Gunmaker Samuel Colt

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    JOHN BUCHANAN FLOYD (June 1, 1806-August 26, 1863) was the 31st Governor of Virginia, U.S. Secretary of War under James Buchanan and the Confederate general in the Civil War who lost the crucial Battle of Fort Donelson.  His lack of administrative ability was soon apparent, including his poor execution of the Utah Expedition [the Mormon War].  Floyd was implicated in several corrupt activities, including the Abstracted Indian Bonds scandal when bonds were removed from the Indian Agency safe.  In 1860, Buchanan asked for Floyd’s resignation after he discovered that Floyd had honored heavy drafts made by government contractors in anticipation of their earnings. A few days later, Floyd was indicted for his corrupt activity, but the indictment was dismissed on technical grounds.  A serious case of treason was made when it was discovered that Floyd sent large stores of government arms to Federal arsenals in the South in expectation of the Civil War.  In his postwar Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant, Grant wrote that Floyd had distributed cannons and small arms from Northern arsenals throughout the South so as to be on hand when treason wanted them.  A congressional investigation in 1861 revealed that Floyd bolstered Federal arsenals in some Southern states by more than 115,000 muskets and rifles.    


    Given Floyd’s connection with moving arms to Southern arsenals, the free frank cover offered here appears to contain significant historical meaning.  Signed by Floyd as J.B. Floyd, Secty of War and addressed to the famous gun maker, Sam Colt of Connecticut just four months before Floyd resigned, August 18, 1860, the cover no doubt contained communication between Floyd and Colt of Hartford, Conn. Colt started the Colt’s Patent Fire-Arms Manufacturing Company and engaged in the production of firearms.  Before the Civil War, Colt supplied both the North and the South with firearms.  He had been known to sell firearms to warring parties on both sides of other conflicts.  During 1859, Colt considered building an armory in the South and as late as 1861 sold 2,000 revolvers to a Confederate agent.  Trade with the South had not been restricted at that time.  A number of newspapers termed Colt a Southern sympathizer and traitor to the Union.  The free franked enveloped begs the question, did Floyd and Colt act in collusion in sending arms to arsenals in Southern states?


    Toning and light soiling with a couple ink blotches, but overall very good and superb piece of Civil War history.


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