Holt, Joseph, 1807-1894

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Joseph Holt, 1807-94, American public official, judge advocate general of the U.S. army (1862-75). A native of Kentucky, he became a well-known lawyer and prominent Democratic politician. In 1857, President Buchanan appointed him commissioner of patents in 1857, and in 1859 he became Postmaster General. In the beginning of 1861, before the outbreak of the Civil War, he was Secretary of War. A staunch opponent of the secession movement, Holt was instrumental in preventing Kentucky from seceding. In Sept. 1862, he was appointed to the newly created office of judge advocate general. In this capacity he presided the trial and punishment of John Wilkes Booth's accomplices. A controversy over the trial that involved charges of misusing the power of a military tribunal and manipulation of the evidence resulted in a growing public demand for his resignation. He remained in office until 1875 and afterwards continued to try to disprove the charges.

From the description of Papers of Joseph Holt, 1800-1893 (bulk1850-1890). (Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens). WorldCat record id: 122551872

American political leader.

From the description of Autograph letter signed : Washington, to Major Theophilus Gaines, 1877 Oct. 3. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 269539481

From the description of Document signed : Washington, 1869 Oct. 4. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 269551630

Lawyer, U.S. cabinet official, political leader, and jurist.

From the description of Joseph Holt : miscellaneous papers, 1857-1867. (Filson Historical Society, The). WorldCat record id: 49242874

U.S. postmaster general, secretary of war, judge advocate general of the U.S. Army, and lawyer.

From the description of Papers of Joseph Holt, 1817-1895 (bulk 1859-1889). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 78814187

Lawyer; U.S. postmaster general, 1859-1861, U.S. secretary of war, 1861; judge advocate general, U.S. Army, 1862-1875.

From the description of Letter : Washington, D.C., to John R. [i.e. P.] Gray, 1864 Dec. 29. (Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library). WorldCat record id: 33973592

From the description of Letter: [Washington, D.C.], to Benjamin Stanton, 1861 Feb. 7. (Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library). WorldCat record id: 33973594

From the description of Autograph: Washington, [D.C], 1880 May 15. (Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library). WorldCat record id: 33973577

From the description of Letter : Washington, D.C., to [Abraham Lincoln], 1865 Feb. 4. (Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library). WorldCat record id: 33973590

Biographical Note

  • 1807, Jan. 6: Born, Breckinridge County, Ky.
  • 1828: Opened law office, Elizabethtown, Ky.
  • 1832: Moved to Louisville, Ky. Assistant editor, Louisville Advertiser
  • 1833 - 1835 : Commonwealth’s attorney, Louisville District, Ky.
  • 1835 - 1842 : Practiced law, Port Gibson and Vicksburg, Miss.
  • 1842: Returned to Louisville, Ky.
  • 1848 - 1851 : Toured Europe and Egypt
  • 1852: Supported Franklin Pierce for president
  • 1856: Supported James Buchanan for president
  • 1857: Moved to Washington, D.C.; appointed commissioner of patents
  • 1859 - 1861 : Postmaster general
  • 1861: Secretary of war
  • 1862 - 1875 : Judge advocate general of the army
  • 1865: Presided over military commission to try the Abraham Lincoln assassination conspirators
  • 1866: Published “Vindication of Judge Advocate General Holt,” Washington Chronicle
  • 1875: Retired from the army
  • 1888: Published article on trial of Mary Surratt, North American Review
  • 1894, Aug. 1: Died, Washington, D.C.

From the guide to the Joseph Holt Papers, 1817-1895, (bulk 1859-1889), (Manuscript Division Library of Congress)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Montgomery C. Meigs Papers, 1799-1892, (bulk 1849-1892) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Holt, Joseph, 1807-1894. Letter: [Washington, D.C.], to Benjamin Stanton, 1861 Feb. 7. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
referencedIn Fort Arbuckle (Okla.). Letterbooks, 1859-1861. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865. Note, 1863 Dec. 14, to the Judge Advocate General. Dartmouth College Library
creatorOf Davis, David, 1815-1886. David Davis papers, 1815-1964 (bulk 1815-1886). Chicago History Museum
referencedIn Marshall family. Marshall family papers, 1815-1897. The Filson Historical Society
referencedIn Carrington family. Carrington family papers, 1749-1929 (inclusive). Yale University Library
referencedIn Jeremiah S. Black Papers, 1813-1904, (bulk 1856-1880) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Holt, Joseph, 1807-1894. Papers [microform]. University of Texas Libraries, University of Texas Libraries
creatorOf Bocock, Thomas S., 1815-1891. Papers of Bocock and of the Bocock, Thornhill Christian, Stephens, Flood, Patteson, and Diuguid families of Buckingham and Appomattox counties, 1760-1897. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Holt, Joseph, 1807-1894. Letter, 1882, May 25, to Mrs. Gouverneur. Brown University, John Hay Library
creatorOf Holt, Joseph, 1807-1894. Letter : Washington, D.C., to Henry B. Dawson, 1875 Nov. 2. University of Chicago Library
creatorOf Holt, Joseph, 1807-1894. Joseph Holt : miscellaneous papers, 1857-1867. The Filson Historical Society
referencedIn Horatio King Papers, 1832-1906, (bulk 1857-1891) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Holt, Joseph, 1807-1894. Letter : Washington, D.C., to Henry B. Dawson, 1875 Nov. 2. Texas Christian University
referencedIn Haycraft, Samuel, 1795-1878. Samuel Haycraft papers, 1805-1880. University of Kentucky Libraries
referencedIn Kincheloe family. Kincheloe-Eskridge family : papers, 1815-1956. The Filson Historical Society
referencedIn George William Curtis corresponcence, 1842-1893. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Miscellaneous documents relating to Abraham Lincoln, ca. 1838-1948. Houghton Library.
referencedIn King, Horatio, 1811-1897. Horatio King papers, 1832-1906 (bulk 1857-1891). Library of Congress
referencedIn Whipple, H. George S., b. ca. 1822. Whipple, H. George S., b. ca. 1822. Letters. 1859-1880. The Filson Historical Society
creatorOf Riggs, Stephen Return, 1812-1883. Little Six (Shakopee) and Medicine Bottle, trial documents, 1862-1865. Minnesota State University, Mankato, Library Services, Library Services
referencedIn Townsend, E. D. (Edward Davis), 1817-1893. Description of ceremonies at Fort Sumter, 1865 May 28. University of South Carolina, University Libraries
creatorOf Abert, John James, 1788-1863. John James Abert letter, 1861 February 7. Brigham Young University, Harold B. Lee Library
referencedIn Haycraft family. Haycraft family papers, 1841-1930. University of Kentucky Libraries
referencedIn Black, Jeremiah S. (Jeremiah Sullivan), 1810-1883. Jeremiah Sullivan Black papers, 1813-1894 (inclusive), 1842-1884 (bulk), [microform]. Yale University Library
creatorOf Holt, Joseph, 1807-1894. Autograph letter signed : Washington, to Major Theophilus Gaines, 1877 Oct. 3. Pierpont Morgan Library.
creatorOf Dutton, George Wendell. Papers, 1861-1908. Massachusetts Historical Society
referencedIn George William Curtis additional correspondence, 1844-1891. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Carrington family. Carrington family papers, 1749-1929 (inclusive). Yale University Library
creatorOf Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865. Trial documents, 1862-1865. Minnesota State University, Mankato, Library Services, Library Services
referencedIn James O. Harrison Papers, 1803-1913, (bulk 1836-1888) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Hay, John, 1838-1905. Correspondence, 1854-1914, "Hendry" to "House". Brown University, John Hay Library
referencedIn Frederick M. Dearborn collection of military and political Americana, Part III: The Civil War: The Union, 1804-1915. Houghton Library.
creatorOf Speed family. Speed family papers, 1813-1981. The Filson Historical Society
referencedIn Frederick M. Dearborn collection of military and political Americana, Part I: The Revolution and the Administration, 1669-1958. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Harrison, James O., 1804-1888. Papers of James O. Harrison, 1803-1912 (bulk 1836-1888). Library of Congress
creatorOf Holt, Joseph, 1807-1894. Letter : Washington, D.C., to John R. [i.e. P.] Gray, 1864 Dec. 29. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
referencedIn Autograph File, H, 1584-1988. Houghton Library.
creatorOf Holt, Joseph, 1807-1894. Papers of Joseph Holt, 1800-1893 (bulk1850-1890). Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
referencedIn Kintner, Jacob C., 1838-1886. Kintner, Jacob C. 1838-1886 1857-1886 Papers. The Filson Historical Society
creatorOf Holt, Joseph, 1807-1894. Letter : Washington, D.C., to unknown person, n.p., 1863 Aug. 13. Texas Christian University
referencedIn Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States Commandery of the State of Massachusetts Civil War collection, 1724-1933 (inclusive);, 1861-1912 (bulk). Houghton Library.
referencedIn Philip Case Lockwood memorial collection of Civil War portraits and autographs, 1862-ca. 1886. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Mrs. Lucien Howe Collection. 5/1865 - 5/1865. Portrait of Members of the Lincoln Assassination Military Commission
creatorOf Holt, Joseph, 1807-1894. Letter : Washington, D.C., to [Abraham Lincoln], 1865 Feb. 4. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
referencedIn Meigs, Montgomery C. (Montgomery Cunningham), 1816-1892. Montgomery C. Meigs papers, 1799-1971 (bulk 1849-1892). Library of Congress
referencedIn Jouett, James Edward, 1826-1902. James Edward Jouett : miscellaneous papers, 1861-1893. The Filson Historical Society
creatorOf Talbot, Thomas Hammond, 1823-1907. Letter signed : Washington, D.C., to the Secretary of War, 1870 Jul. 6. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Irwin, Bernard John Dowling, 1830-1917. Papers of Bernard John Dowling Irwin, 1850-1870. Library of Congress
referencedIn Anderson, Robert, 1805-1871. Papers of Robert Anderson, 1819-1948 (bulk 1836-1870). Library of Congress
referencedIn Squire, Watson C. (Watson Carvosso), 1838-1926. Watson C. Squire papers, 1850-1973 (bulk 1850-1920) University of Washington Libraries
creatorOf Holt, Joseph, 1807-1894. Papers of Joseph Holt, 1817-1895 (bulk 1859-1889). Library of Congress
creatorOf Holt, Joseph, 1807-1894. Porter court martial. Minnesota Historical Society Library
referencedIn Carrington Family papers, 1749-1929 Yale University. Department of Manuscripts and Archives
creatorOf Hale, Augustin W., 1814-1902. Augustin W. Hale papers, 1775-1909 bulk (1830-1859). Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
creatorOf Joseph Holt Papers, 1817-1895, (bulk 1859-1889) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
creatorOf Holt, Joseph, 1807-1894. Autograph: Washington, [D.C], 1880 May 15. Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library
creatorOf Holt, Joseph, 1807-1894. Document signed : Washington, 1869 Oct. 4. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Robert R. Hitt Papers, 1830-1906 Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
referencedIn Robert Anderson Papers, 1819-1948, (bulk 1836-1870) Library of Congress. Manuscript Division
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Abert, John James, 1788-1863. person
correspondedWith Anderson, Robert, 1805-1871. person
associatedWith Barton, William Eleazar, 1861-1930, person
associatedWith Black, Jeremiah S. (Jeremiah Sullivan), 1810-1883. person
associatedWith Bocock, Thomas S., 1815-1891. person
associatedWith Buchanan, James, 1791-1868. person
associatedWith Cameron, Simon, 1799-1889. person
associatedWith Carrington family family
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correspondedWith Curtis, George William, 1824-1892 person
associatedWith Davis, David, 1815-1886. person
associatedWith Dearborn, Frederick M. (Frederick Myers), b. 1876 person
associatedWith Democratic Party (U.S.) corporateBody
associatedWith Dutton, George Wendell. person
associatedWith Fort Arbuckle (Okla.) corporateBody
associatedWith Gaines, Theophilus, person
associatedWith Garfield, James A. (James Abram), 1831-1881. person
associatedWith Gouverneur, Mrs., person
associatedWith Grant, Ulysses S. (Ulysses Simpson), 1822-1885. person
associatedWith Gray, John P. (John Purdue), 1825-1886, person
associatedWith Hale, Augustin W., 1814-1902. person
associatedWith Harlan, John Marshall, 1833-1911. person
associatedWith Harrison, James O., 1804-1888. person
associatedWith Hawes, Albert Gallatin, 1804-1849. person
associatedWith Haycraft family. family
associatedWith Haycraft, Samuel, 1795-1878. person
associatedWith Hay, John, 1838-1905. person
associatedWith Hitchcock, Ethan Allen, 1798-1870. person
associatedWith Hitt, Robert R. (Robert Roberts), 1834-1906 person
correspondedWith Holt family family
correspondedWith Holt, Margaret Wickliffe person
associatedWith Holt, Margaret Wickliffe. person
correspondedWith Holt, Mary Harrison person
associatedWith Holt, Mary Harrison. person
associatedWith Irwin, Bernard John Dowling, 1830-1917. person
associatedWith Johnson, Reverdy, 1796-1876. person
associatedWith Johnson, Thomas W. person
associatedWith Johnston, Harriet Lane, 1830-1903. person
associatedWith Jouett, James Edward, 1826-1902. person
associatedWith Kincheloe family. family
correspondedWith King, Horatio, 1811-1897. person
correspondedWith King, Horatio C. (Horatio Collins), 1837-1918 person
associatedWith Kintner, Jacob C., 1838-1886. person
associatedWith Knights of the Golden Circle. corporateBody
associatedWith Library of Congress. Manuscript Division. corporateBody
associatedWith Lieber, Francis, 1800-1872. person
correspondedWith Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865 person
associatedWith Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865, person
associatedWith Lockwood, Philip Case, 1844-1897 person
associatedWith Marshall family. family
correspondedWith Meigs, Montgomery C. (Montgomery Cunningham), 1816-1892. person
associatedWith Military Order of the Loyal Legion of the United States. Commandery of the State of Massachusetts, collector. corporateBody
associatedWith Nicolay, John G. (John George), 1832-1901. person
correspondedWith Noircy, Amelie L. de person
associatedWith Noircy, Amelie L. de. person
associatedWith Rush, Benjamin, 1811-1877. person
associatedWith Scott, Winfield, 1786-1866. person
associatedWith Sellers, John R. person
associatedWith Silliman, Benjamin D. (Benjamin Douglas), 1805-1901. person
associatedWith Sims, J. Marion (James Marion), 1813-1883. person
associatedWith Speed family. person
associatedWith Speed, James, 1812-1887. person
associatedWith Squire, Watson C. (Watson Carvosso), 1838-1926. person
associatedWith Stanton, Benjamin, 1809-1872, person
associatedWith Stanton, Edwin McMasters, 1814-1869. person
associatedWith Stewart, Lorenzo. person
associatedWith Surratt, Mary E. (Mary Eugenia), 1820-1865. person
associatedWith Talbot, Thomas Hammond, 1823-1907. person
associatedWith Townsend, E. D. (Edward Davis), 1817-1893. person
associatedWith United States. Army. Office of the Judge Advocate General. corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Patent Office corporateBody
associatedWith United States. Post Office Dept. corporateBody
associatedWith Wallace, Lew, 1827-1905. person
associatedWith Weichmann, Louis J. person
associatedWith Whipple, H. George S., b. ca. 1822. person
associatedWith William E. Barton Collection of Lincolniana (University of Chicago) corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
Mississippi
United States
Kentucky
United States
Kentucky
United States
Mississippi
United States
Kentucky
United States
Kentucky
United States
United States
United States
Subject
Elections--1856
Agricultural machinery--History--Sources
Statesmen--Archives
Military law--History--19th century--Sources
Unionists (United States Civil War)--Archives
Elections--1852
Elections--United States--1852
Elections--United States--1856
Patents--History--Sources
Judges--Archives
Lawyers--Archives
Law--History--19th century--Sources
Occupation
Cabinet officers
Lawyers
Function

Person

Birth 1807-01-06

Death 1894-08-01

English

Information

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