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MS 235 John B. Crenshaw Papers

Correspondence between Crenshaw and Friends (many from North Carolina) who were conscripted into the Confederate Army and sought help in gaining their release during the U.S. Civil War (1861-1865).

John B. Crenshaw Papers: An Introduction

John B. Crenshaw (1820 - 1899) was a Quaker minister who lived near Richmond, Virginia during the Civil War. His influence and personal acquaintances among both Union and Confederate government officials established him a chief aid for Friends who were drafted into the Confederate Army against their religious beliefs. Many letters and papers exhibit how John Crenshaw labored for the exemption of conscientious objectors as well as for the release of Friends who were imprisoned for their pacifist beliefs.


The John Bacon Crenshaw Papers, which date between the years of the Civil War (1861-1865), largely contain correspondence between Crenshaw and Friends (many from North Carolina) who were conscripted into the Confederate Army and sought help in gaining their release. Letters from prominent Quakers such as Isham Cox, Jonathan Harris, Joseph Newlin and members of the Mendenhall family reflect Crenshaw's efforts to aid imprisoned men for their religious beliefs.

Included within the collection are letters relating to John A. Campbell, Assistant Secretary of War for the Confederacy, who was sympathetic to the concerns of conscientious objectors and used his political affiliations to aid Friends during this time. Also included are letters from Francis T. King, founder of the Baltimore Association to Advise and Assist Friends in Southern States, concerning the reestablishment of schools for Friends in North Carolina.

A number of documents are included as well, such as notarized statements of faith and petitions to Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederate States, and President Andrew Johnson.

These papers were given to the Friends Historical Collection by Katherine Crenshaw Ricks, granddaughter of John Bacon Crenshaw.

Project Credits

This digitization project was supported with Federal LSTA funds made possible through a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, administered by the State Library of North Carolina, a division of the Department of Cultural Resources.

Special thanks to the following students and staff whose efforts contributed to the project:

Elizabeth Orcutt for scanning the Crenshaw Papers, J. Timothy Cole and Abigail Rogers for transcription work, Abigail Rogers and Melissa Guilfoyle for assistance on data entry and 2005 web construction.