The papers of Jacob Dolson Cox (1828-1900) represented here constitute the largest body of Cox’s personal papers available to scholars. This significant collection, consisting of 13 records series, chronicles virtually every facet of the career of this soldier, scholar, and statesman. In addition to correspondence, there are notes and published articles dealing with microphotography; copies of his speeches and other writings; records reflecting his work as an attorney and his time at the Cincinnati Law School; notes, papers, diaries, record books, newspaper clippings, and other printed material gathered during his studies of the military aspects of the Civil War; and, printed and manuscript material about his political career.
The partially indexed and calendared correspondence series are separated into correspondence received (incoming), 1861-1900 and correspondence sent (outgoing) 1852-1900. The Oberlin College Archives microfilmed the majority of the Cox correspondence in 1972. The bulk of the incoming correspondence, over 600 items, has been indexed and calendared. Prominent correspondents include Kenyon Cox (1856-1919), Charles Dawes (1865-1951), Charles Grandison Finney (1792-1875), James A. Garfield (1831-1881), Rutherford B. Hayes (1822-1893), James Monroe (1821-1898), Carl Schurz (1829-1906), and William T. Sherman (1820-1891). There is at least one letter each from James G. Blaine (1830-1893), Schuyler Colfax (1823-1885), George Crook (1829-1890), Hamilton Fish (1808-1893), Horace Greeley (1811-1872), Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885), Ferdinand V. Hayden (1829-1887), George G. Meade (1815-1872), and Charles Sumner (1811-1874). Included among the 80 uncalendared items are letters from Cox’s son, Charles Norton Cox (1858-1907), 1890-97 (17 items) and the publishers Charles Scribners’ Sons, 1897-1900 (23 items).
Outgoing correspondence consists primarily of copies retained in manifold letter books (4 volumes) and letter press copy books (4 volumes). Approximately 1,000 outgoing letters are recorded in these volumes dating from 1852 to 1900. These fragile volumes were microfilmed in 1972. A volunteer at the Oberlin College Archives prepared an index to these items, referencing the reel and frame number. Cox did not maintain the books in strict chronological order. The inside cover of each volume contains Cox’s notations as to the dates and subjects of coverage.
Included with the outgoing correspondence are 123 original letters sent by Cox to family and friends. Twenty items sent by Cox to his wife between 1860 and 1864 provide further amplification of Cox’s military service during the Civil War. Similarly, 32 letters sent to James Monroe between 1860-90, add considerable insight into the political views held by Cox. Some 63 photostats from other repositories, primarily the Rutherford B. Hayes Library, give further evidence of the scope of Cox’s outgoing correspondence.
Unfortunately Cox’s legal career is only partially documented in these records. An account book from the law firm Leggett and Cox, 1853-75, and scattered legal documents provide evidence of Cox’s law work. Further documentary evidence is to be found in the records of his public service as Secretary of the Interior and records of his tenure as Dean of the Cincinnati Law School. (Researchers will want to consult the Cox files deposited with the Cincinnati Historical Society and the University of Cincinnati.)
The military career of Jacob Dolson Cox is well documented. In addition to his published military histories and memoirs, the records found here do much to elevate the understanding of his leadership during the Civil War. Two diaries kept between 1864 and 1865 add a great deal to the field dispatches (manifold copy) kept for the same period. The Cleveland Public Library filmed the two diaries in 1948. An account of his military service between 1861 and 1864, furnished to the Adjutant General’s Office provides additional detail. Also of great importance are the letters and papers Cox compiled while conducting research for his histories of the campaigns in Tennessee and Georgia, particularly the Battle of Franklin. (A calendar and index has been prepared for the more than 100 letters and papers dealing with the Battle of Franklin.) These records include correspondence with other officers, many of whom furnished Cox with lengthy narrative accounts of their recollections. Many of the fine points of these campaigns can be gleaned from these letters. Included with these items are newspaper clippings regarding these campaigns and other published accounts from the 1880s. Records of the Fitz-John Porter case are found here as well. The records, which include correspondence, clippings and printed works, highlight Cox’s opinions on the court-martial and cashiering of General Fitz-John Porter (1822-1901) for his conduct in the second battle of Bull Run. These records are accompanied by a set of 22 maps.
The public service aspect of Cox’s life is partly documented through an 1865 appointment book and records of his work as United States Secretary of the Interior. Of key significance are the records, both manuscript and printed, of the land case McGarrahan vs. The New Idria Mining Company et al. The legal briefs add detail to this key event during Cox’s eighteen-month tenure as a member of Grant’s cabinet. Noticeably lacking is significant information from his term as a U.S. Congressman in 1876-77. His actions on the floor of the U.S. Congress are recorded in the Congressional Record for that period.
A letter press copy book for the years 1881-91 records a decade of Cox’s tenure as Dean of the Cincinnati College Law School. An 1886 history lecture outline attests to his scholarly bent.
A commonplace book and five journals contain notes made by Cox on his extensive readings in history, philosophy, and science. His scientific interests are manifest in eight volumes of rough notes as well as off-prints of the majority of his writings on microscopy and microphotography.
Manuscript and printed talks and writings prepared by Cox add considerable insight into virtually every facet of Cox’s career and broad ranging interests. These talks and writings, dating from 1853 to 1900, include addresses on music, politics, higher education, science, military history, and civic duties. Copies of the Nation contain the bulk of his 161 articles and reviews written for the magazine between 1874 and 1900.
Four scrapbooks compiled by his brother Charles Finney Cox (1846-1912, A.B. 1869, Hon. A.M. 1889) contain clippings and other coverage of Cox’s life from 1860 to 1872. Several miscellaneous unmounted clippings are included here dating from 1878 to 1895.
Miscellaneous material and photographs round out the papers of Jacob Dolson Cox. Included among the miscellany are memorial tributes to Cox, 1900, and material on reunions of Civil War veterans. Photographic material is sparse, including only four different images of Cox and one portrait of Kenyon Cox. Of note, however, is a remarkable album of prints of 48 Civil War personages. Included among the images are President Lincoln, Winfield Scott, Ambrose E. Burnside, Daniel Webster, William Seward, Jefferson Davis, and Robert E. Lee.
Series 1. Correspondence (Incoming), 1861-1900 (1.2 lin. ft.)
Consists primarily of letters received by Cox, although some outgoing correspondence is included in the index and calendar. Correspondence is arranged in two subseries: 1. Calendared Correspondence and 2. Uncalendared Correspondence. The more than 600 calendared items are chronologically arranged. The 80 uncalendared items are arranged by recipient with the exception of 23 miscellaneous letters.
Series 2. Correspondence (Outgoing), 1852-1900 (1.6 lin. ft.)
Contains over 1,000 examples of Cox’s outgoing correspondence. The bulk of the correspondence is contained in letter press copy books (4 volumes) and manifold letter books (4 volumes). The eight volumes were not kept in a strictly chronological order. Some 123 original letters sent to family and friends are arranged alphabetically by recipient. Photostats from other repositories (63 items) conclude the series. The series is divided into four subseries based on format: 1. Letter Press Copy Books, 2. Manifold Letter Books, 3. Original Correspondence (Outgoing), and 4. Non-Original Correspondence (Outgoing).
Series 3. Files Relating to Jacob Dolson Cox’s Legal Career,
1842-84, n.d. (0.2 lin. ft.)
Cox’s legal career is partially documented in this series which contains an account book from the firm Leggett and Cox, 1853-75, as well as various legal records.
Series 4. Files Relating to Jacob Dolson Cox’s Military Career,
1861-98, n.d. (5.63 lin. ft.)
The military service of General Cox is well documented in this series, which includes accounts written both during and after action. Field dispatches (manifold copy) and two diaries give a detailed description of his military activity from 1864 to 1865. Much of the later material consists of letters and papers gathered while researching his military histories. These items incorporate letters and reminiscences from other officers. The wealth of the documentation concerns the Battle of Franklin. Organized into two subseries: 1. Military Records and Papers and 2. Military History Research Files. The latter includes documentation fo rthe Fitz-John Porter court martial case, with a set of 22 maps in addition to correspondence, notes, and printed material.
Series 5. Files Relating to Jacob Dolson Cox’s Public Service, 1865-77 (0.3 lin. ft.)
This series, which provides an incomplete record of Cox’s public service, primarily centers on the McGarrahan Case. Cox was involved in this case while U.S. Secretary of the Interior.
Series 6. Files Relating to Jacob Dolson Cox’s Tenure at the University of Cincinnati, 1870-99 (0.2 lin. ft.)
A letter press copy book, 1881-91, a history lecture outline, 1886, and miscellaneous records provide evidence of Cox as Dean of the Cincinnati Law School. A letter press copy book kept while Cox served jointly as president is retained by the University of Cincinnati.
Series 7. Notes on Readings, 1866-70, n.d. (0.3 lin. ft.)
Cox’s voracious appetite for books and knowledge is evident in this series consisting of notes made by Cox on his readings from philosophy, history and science. Notes on works by Spinoza are partially in shorthand.
Series 8. Scientific Notes and Writings, 1872, 1881-93, n.d. (0.4 lin. ft.)
Included here are rough notes (8 volumes) and copies of most of the 29 articles Cox wrote on the subject of microscopy and microphotography. The writings are separated by publication and arranged chronologically.
Series 9. Talks and Writings, 1853-1900, n.d. (1.0 lin. ft.)
Contains 56 addresses and articles written by Cox, both manuscript and printed. The items are chronologically arranged in two subseries: 1. Talks and Writings (Manuscript) and 2. Talks and Writings (Printed).
Series 10. Book Reviews, 1874-1900, n.d. (0.2 lin. ft.)
This series is a chronological arrangement of most of the 161 articles and reviews, which Cox wrote for the Nation. Included here is a listing of all his articles and reviews compiled by William C. Cochran.
Series 11. Scrapbooks and Clippings, 1860-72, 1878-95, n.d. (0.6 lin. ft.)
Although kept by his brother Charles Finney Cox, the four scrapbooks provide a comprehensive collection of newspaper coverage of Jacob Dolson Cox’s political and military career from 1861 to 1872. Some loose scattered clippings cover the years 1878-95.
Series 12. Miscellaneous Materials, 1851-1901 (0.2 lin. ft.)
Included in this catch-all of miscellany related to Cox is information on reunions of Civil War veterans (1886, 1900) and memorial tributes and obituaries (1900).
Series 13. Photographs, c. 1861-65, 1863-99 (0.2 lin. ft.)
Contains 16 loose images of Cox family members (including 5 of J.D. Cox and 3 of Mrs. J.D. Cox) and a remarkable album of 48 Civil War personages among them numerous Generals associated with Cox.
Auer, J. Jeffrey. “Jacob Dolson Cox, 1866-68,” The Governors of Ohio. Columbus, The Ohio Historical Society, 1954.
Cochran, William Cox. “General Jacob Dolson Cox: Early Life and Military Services,” Bibliotheca Sacra, LVIII (1901) 436-68.
Cox, Jacob Dolson. Military Reminiscences of the Civil War. 2 Vols. New York: Scribners’ Sons, 1900.
Rhodes, James Ford. “Jacob D. Cox,” Historical Essays. New York: The MacMillen Co., 1909.
Schmiel, Eugene David. “The Career of Jacob Dolson Cox, 1828-1900: Soldier, Scholar, Statesman.” Unpublished dissertation, Ohio State University, 1969.
Dictionary of American Biography, Volume 4, p. 476-78.
Oberlin Review, “Jacob Dolson Cox: Class of 1851,” Vol. XXIII, April 22, 1896.
____________, “Death of General Cox,” Vol. XXVIII, October 4, 1900.