Thanks to a generous donation by the Sullivan County couple’s descendants, Olivia King Inman and Judge Dennis H. Inman of Morristown, love letters between King and Rutledge will soon be available for public viewing at the Tennessee State Library and Archives. The Inmans donated the papers during a brief ceremony at the State Library and Archives building Wednesday.
|On hand to accept this generous donation are left to right: Assistant State Archivist Dr. Wayne Moore, State Sen. Steve Southerland, Olivia King Inman, Judge Dennis H. Inman, Archivist Susan Gordon, and Secretary of State Tre Hargett.|
The letters between King and Rutledge, who eventually married, provide interesting insights into the social and military history of the time in which they lived. The letters were initially brought to one of the State Library and Archives' "Looking Back at the Civil War" events in Morristown so they could be digitally recorded. Archivist Susan Gordon worked closely with the Inmans, who decided to donate the letters to the State Library and Archives so they would be preserved and available for researchers.
Oliver King, a student at Tusculum College, stood with the Union early in the secession crisis, but joined a Confederate infantry regiment in the summer of 1861. "We'll just have to fight it out if it takes us a whole generation," Oliver wrote in one of his letters after joining the Confederate cause.
Rutledge was a student at the Masonic Female Institute in Blountville and a staunch supporter of the Confederacy. She wrote to King after his army enlistment: "If my sweet heart hadn't to have went [to war] I don't believe I would claim him any longer." She praised him for volunteering to defend their homes.
East Tennessee was a Union stronghold before and during the Civil War, so the King-Rutledge correspondence is unusual because it describes their Confederate sympathies.
The Tennessee State Library and Archives is extremely grateful to the Inman family for making this donation available to scholars and the public.
The State Library and Archives is a division of the Tennessee Department of State and Tre Hargett, Secretary of State.