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Mrs. James M. and Miss Mary Gill collection of Bristow papers, 1854-1875

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Processed by: Archives Staff ; machine-readable finding aid created by:Eric Weig


Mrs. James M. and Miss Mary Gill collection of Bristow papers




University of Kentucky Special CollectionsLexington, Kentucky 40506


Organized: Correspondence relating to the collection, Bristow papers. Arrangement within each is chronological.

Conditions Governing Access note

Collection is open for research.

Preferred Citation Note

[Identification of item], Mrs. James M. and Miss Mary Gill collection of Bristow papers, 1854-1875, 1F64M-578, Special Collections, University of Kentucky.


1 reel of microfilm (partial)


Statesman, soldier. Benjamin Helm Bristow was born in Elkton, Ky., and graduated from Jefferson College in Pennsylvania, in 1851. He studied law in his father's office and was admitted to the Kentucky bar in 1853. In 1858 he moved to Hopkinsville, Ky., and set up his own practice. During the Civil War, he aided in recruiting the 25th Kentucky Infantry and was mustered into service as its lieutenant colonel. He was seriously injured at the battle of Shiloh, and soon after, in 1863, his military service was cut short when, without his knowledge, he was elected to the Kentucky state Senate. He supported the Union at all times. He resigned his seat in 1865, moved to Louisville, and was named Assistant U.S. Attorney; the next year he became U.S. Attorney for the Kentucky district. He took strong action against the Ku Klux Klan and other violent groups, and was considered to have made life considerably safer for blacks in the aftermath of the Civil War.

Bristow was named the first Solicitor General of the United States by President Grant, and in 1874 was named Secretary of the Treasury by Grant. He carried out drastic reforms, including the breaking up of the notorious Whiskey Ring. Under pressure from his adversaries, he resigned in 1876. He was a candidate for the Republican nomination for the Presidency in 1876, but came in second to James G. Blaine. In 1879 he was named the second president of the American Bar Association.

Scope and Content

The Mrs. James M. and Miss Mary Gill collection of Bristow papers consists of microfilm copies of personal papers of the Bristow family, and includes several letters written by General Benjamin Helm Bristow. The collection includes letters written by Bristow to his mother during his Civil War service, his term in the Kentucky state Senate, and during part of his years in Washington, D.C. Also included are letters to the Bristows, including expressions of sympathy on the death of Benjamin's father, Francis M. Bristow, in 1864. There are also other family letters, a genealogical chart of the Bristows, and a copy of Archibald Bristow's will.

Filson Club. Louisville, Ky. Jan., 1871 letter from Benjamin Helm Bristow to his mother.


  • Bristow, Archibald.
  • Bristow, Benjamin Helm, 1832-1896.
  • Bristow, Francis M, 1804-1864.
  • Bristow, Emily Edwards Helm, 1808-1882.
  • Bristol family.
  • Kentucky.--General Assembly.--Senate.
  • Lawyers._2Yale list.
  • Generals._2Yale list.
  • United States--Politics and government.
  • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
  • Republican Party (U.S.: 1854- )
  • Kentucky--Genealogy

User Restrictions

Copyright has not been assigned to the University of Kentucky.