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Charles James Faulkner (1806-1884) Papers

 Collection
Collection Number: A&M.1681

Scope and Contents

Correspondence of Charles J. Faulkner (1806-1884), who was a Martinsburg attorney, Virginia legislator, member of Congress, and ambassador to France during the James Buchanan administration.

Major subjects include national and Virginia-West Virginia politics, 1827-1876; the Jackson-Calhoun schism; the Nullification controversy; the election of 1840; Whig politics, 1841-1850s; the election of 1860; the speakership contest in the 44th and 45th Congress; the West Virginia gubernatorial and national election of 1876; and foreign affairs, 1868-1876.

Other subjects include the French Colonization Society; the Nat Turner insurrection; the slave controversy; the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850; Maryland-Virginia boundary dispute; Virginia Revolutionary debt claims; the Virginia State Agricultural Society; the Tariff of 1857; disposal of the Harpers Ferry Armory; the Saturday Club; German-American Naturalization Treaty, 1875; Belknap and the Indian ring scandals; Chesapeake and Ohio Canal; the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad; numerous internal improvement schemes in Virginia and Pennsylvania; and local history of the Martinsburg and Shenandoah Valley area.

Correspondents include William S. Archer; William Armstrong; Chester A. Arthur; Brisco G. Baldwin; George Bancroft; John W. Brockenbrough; John S. Barbour; William W. Belknap; Robert L. Berkshire; Orville H. Browning; James C. Cabell; John L. Cadwalader; William Clark; Sherrard Clemens; Philip St. George Cooke; Samuel S. Cox; Claudius W. Crozet; Thomas Davis; Henry A.S. Dearborn; W. S. Downer; Lyman C. Draper; John M. Dunbar; William H. Forney; William M. Evarts; Thomas C. Fletcher; John Floyd; John W. Forney; Gales & Seaton; John W. Garrett; John W. Geary; Thomas W. Gilmer; William Harper; Benjamin W. Harris; Thomas A. Hendrick; Abram S. Hewitt; George F. Hoar; John B. Hoge; Edmund P. Hunter; William Hunter; John J. Jackson, Jr.; John J. Jacobs; Reverdy Johnson; William Cost Johnson; J. Glancy Jones; Thomas L. Jones; J. L. Kemper; George W. Kendall; John Pendleton Kennedy; Michael C. Kerr; J. Proctor Knott; Daniel Lamb; Benjamin W. Leigh; Benson J. Lossing; James Lyons; Louis McLane; Alexander Martin; Benjamin F. Martin; James M. Mason; Henry M. Mathews; Charles F. Mercer; John S. Mosbey; Richard E. Parker; John S. Pendleton; Phillip C. Pendleton; Francis Peters; Henry M. Phillips; Edward Pierrepont; John Hambden Pleasants; William Preston; William Ballard Preston; Samuel Price; Thomas C. Reynolds; William H. Richardson; Thomas Ritchie; William C. Rives; Benjamin Rush; Kurd von Schlozer; Benjamin Silliman; John Slidell; Garrit Smith; William McK. Springer; Andrew Stevenson; William E. Stevenson; George W. Summers; John Swan; Isaac Toucey; William Welsh; Richard V. Whelan; Benjamin Wilson; Charles A. Wickliffe; Henry A. Wise; Waitman T. Willey; and Levi Woodbury.

Dates

  • 1786-1878

Creator

Language of Materials

English

Conditions Governing Access

No special access restriction applies.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. For more information, please contact the West Virginia and Regional History Center.

Biographical / Historical

From the West Virginia Encyclopedia article on Charles James Faulkner (see link in External Documents):

Statesman Charles James Faulkner (July 6, 1806 - November 1, 1884) was born in Martinsburg, the son of an Irish immigrant. Faulkner attended Georgetown College (now Georgetown University) in Washington and studied law in Winchester, Virginia. He entered the Virginia General Assembly at age 22 in 1829, his first political race. In 1833, Faulkner married Mary W. Boyd, the youngest daughter of Gen. Elisha Boyd, and through her acquired the plantation of Boydville and other properties. Faulkner served also in the West Virginia legislature, U.S. Congress (1851-1859), and as U.S. minister to France.

In 1832, Faulkner spoke publicly for the gradual elimination of slavery. He advocated Western Virginia interests, such as voting rights for all white males regardless of property, when Virginia rewrote its constitution in 1850-1851.

Faulkner was U.S. minister to France for 14 months before the Civil War. In 1861, he delivered his last report to Secretary of State William Seward. As Faulkner headed home to Martinsburg, Seward had him arrested as a suspected Southern sympathizer. He was never formally charged. Seward offered to release Faulkner if he would swear an oath of allegiance. Faulkner refused and was eventually traded for another prisoner. During the Civil War, Faulkner served on Stonewall Jackson's staff.

After the war and the creation of West Virginia, Faulkner again refused an oath of allegiance to the United States and recovered his law license only with difficulty. Nonetheless, when Virginia sued to regain the counties of Berkeley and Jefferson, West Virginia called on Faulkner to represent the new state's interests at the U.S. Supreme Court. He was a voice of restraint as a delegate to West Virginia's Constitutional Convention of 1872, in which ex-Confederates set out to undo much of the 1863 Constitution, which they considered too Northern.

Faulkner died in Martinsburg. Son Charles James Faulkner Jr. served West Virginia as a U.S. senator (1887-1899), while his great-nephew, U.S. Senator Harry F. Byrd, ruled Virginia politics for many years in the 20th century. Boydville, the Boyd-Faulkner home, a Martinsburg landmark, is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Extent

0.8 Linear Feet (Summary: 10 in. (2 document cases, 5 in. each))

Overview

Correspondence of Charles J. Faulkner (1806-1884), who was a Martinsburg attorney, Virginia legislator, member of Congress, and ambassador to France during the James Buchanan administration. Subjects include national and Virginia-West Virginia politics, 1827-1876, and foreign affairs, 1868-1876. Other subjects include the French Colonization Society, the slave controversy, Maryland-Virginia boundary dispute, Virginia Revolutionary debt claims, disposal of the Harpers Ferry Armory, Chesapeake and Ohio Canal, the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, numerous internal improvement schemes in Virginia and Pennsylvania, and local history of the Martinsburg and Shenandoah Valley area. Correspondents include Sherrard Clemens; Lyman C. Draper; John J. Jackson, Jr.; Daniel Lamb; Alexander Martin; Samuel Price; George W. Summers; Henry A. Wise; and Waitman T. Willey. For a more complete list of subjects and correspondents, see Scope and Content Note. For a partial list of contents, see the control folder. For more information about Faulkner, see the Historical Note.

Physical Location

West Virginia and Regional History Center / West Virginia University / 1549 University Avenue / P.O. Box 6069 / Morgantown, WV 26506-6069 / Phone: 304-293-3536 / Fax: 304-293-3981 / URL: https://wvrhc.lib.wvu.edu/

Related A&M Collections

912, 934, 993, 1681
Title
Charles James Faulkner (1806-1884) Papers, 1786-1878
Author
Staff of the West Virginia & Regional History Center
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
English

Repository Details

Part of the West Virginia and Regional History Center Repository

Contact:
1549 University Ave.
P.O. Box 6069
Morgantown WV 26506-6069 US
304-293-3536