March 31: Jacob Thompson (1885)

Jacob Thompson shows up in Epiphany’s register just before the outbreak of the Civil War. On February 5, 1860, Thompson is recorded as the sponsor at his wife Kate’s baptism. Just one week earlier, Jefferson Davis’ nine-month old son, Joseph, had been baptized. Thompson and Davis were well acquainted, having served together in the Mississippi delegation to the U.S. House of Representatives earlier in the decade. At the time of these baptisms, Davis is a U.S. Senator from Mississippi and Thompson is the Secretary of the Interior in the Buchanan administration. Within a year both men and their families would leave Washington and their jobs as Mississippi seceded from the union and Civil War was imminent. Davis became the president of the Confederate States of America. Thompson became Inspector General of the Confederate States Army.

Jacob Thompson was a loyal Episcopalian. He was a great benefactor of the University of the South in Sewanee, TN, founded and operated by several southern Episcopal dioceses. His will provided the University 100 shares of AT&T stock (the telephone was invented in 1876) OR $10,000. University trustees chose the cash and built a classroom building, which was dedicated as Thompson Union. Had they chosen the stock, they might instead have made the university one of the richest in the nation. At his funeral, Thompson was eulogized as “a brilliant statesman, a friend to all classes, a great man who will be missed by all who knew him.”

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