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Henry A. S. Dearborn collection, 1801-1850 (majority within 1814-1850)

176 items

The Henry A. S. Dearborn collection (176 items) contains the correspondence of the Massachusetts politician and author Henry Alexander Scammell Dearborn, son of the Revolutionary War General, Henry Dearborn. The papers largely document his career as the collector of the Boston Customs House and include letters from prominent government officials in Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C. The papers also include 16 speeches, orations, and documents pertinent to Dearborn's horticultural interests, Grecian architecture, politics, and other subjects.

The Henry A. S. Dearborn collection contains correspondence (160 items) and speeches, reports, and documents (16 items) of the Massachusetts politician, and author, Henry Alexander Scammell Dearborn. The bulk of the Correspondence Series documents Dearborn's career as the collector at the Boston Customs House. Dearborn corresponded with government officials in Boston, New York, and Washington D.C. These letters largely concern his management of the customs department and political matters. Of particular interest are 22 letters from the French émigré, Louis Dampus, which constitute a case history of customs problems (May to November 1814). Most of these are in French. Also of interest are 11 letters between Dearborn and Thomas Aspinwall, United States consul to London. They discussed exchanging political favors, purchasing books in London, and, in the July 11, 1817 letter, President James Monroe's tour of New England and the North West Territory.

Other notable letters to Dearborn include those written by the following people:
  • James Leander Cathcart, United States diplomat, on the state of commerce on the Black Sea and his career as a diplomat with the Ottomans (June 8 and 12, 1818).
  • Fiction writer and scholar William S. Cardell, regarding his election as member of American Academy of Language and Belles Lettres (October 30, 1821).
  • Colonel Nathan Towson, paymaster general of the United States, on John C. Calhoun's political fortunes as a presidential candidate and the political ramifications of raising taxes (December 22, 1821).
  • Harvard University Overseer and Massachusetts Senator, Harrison Gray Otis, on "St. Domingo's" (Hispaniola) terrain, agriculture, export potential, its white and black populations, and its importance, as a trade partner, to the French. Otis supported bolstering the United States' trade relationship with the island (January 17, 1823).
  • Nathaniel Austin, regarding an enclosed sketch of "Mr. Sullivan's land," located near Charlestown, Massachusetts (April 13, 1825).
  • Federalist pamphlet writer, John Lowell, about his illness that him unable to contribute to [Massachusetts Agricultural Society] meetings (June 5, 1825).
  • Massachusetts Senator, James Lloyd, concerning funding the building of light houses in the harbor at Ipswich, Massachusetts (April 11, 1826).
  • H. A. S. Dearborn to state senator and later Massachusetts governor, Emory Washburn, regarding the American aristocracy. He accused the Jackson administration of putting "the Union in jeopardy,” and dishonoring the Republic with an “unprincipled, ignorant and imbecile administration" (May 22, 1831). Dearborn also summarized many of his ideas on the political and social state of the Union.
  • Abraham Eustis, commander of the school for Artillery Practice at Fort Monroe, commenting that the "dissolution of the Union is almost inevitable. Unless you in Congress adopt some very decided measures to counteract the federal doctrines of the Proclamation, Virginia will array herself by the side of South Carolina, & then the other southern States join at once" (December 27, 1832).
  • The botanist John Lewis Russell, about a charity request for support of the Norfolk Agricultural Society (February 6, 1850).

The collection contains several personal letters from family members, including three from Dearborn's mother, Sarah Bowdoin Dearborn, while she was in Lisbon, Portugal (January 29 and 30, 1823, and January 27, 1824); two letters from his father, General Henry Dearborn (May 25, 1814, and undated); and one from his nephew William F. Hobart (November 8, 1822).

The collection's Speeches, Reports, and Documents Series includes 15 of Henry A. S. Dearborn's orations, city or society reports, and a copy of the Revolutionary War roll of Col. John Glover's 21st Regiment. Most of them were not published in Dearborn's lifetime. The topics of these works include the art of printing (1803), Independence Day (4th of July, 1808 and 1831), discussion about the establishment of Mount Auburn Cemetery (1830), education, religion, horticulture, Whig politics, and the state of the country. See the box and folder listing below for more details about each item in this series.


Peter Force papers, 1774-1868 (majority within 1820-1867)

3 linear feet

This collection is made up of correspondence, research notes and extracts, bibliographies, financial records, and other items related to printer, publisher, and historian Peter Force. Most of the items pertain to Force's interest in early American history and to the source materials he gathered for publication in American Archives, his multivolume documentary history of the Revolutionary War era.

This collection is made up of correspondence, research notes and extracts, bibliographies, financial records, and other items related to printer, publisher, and historian Peter Force. Most of the items relate to Force's interest in early American history and to the source materials he gathered for publication in American Archives, a documentary history of the Revolutionary War era.

The Correspondence series (approximately 1 linear foot) largely consists of incoming and outgoing letters regarding Peter Force. The earliest group of items is copied and original manuscripts dated between August 17, 1774, and February 26, 1793. They concern the Boston Port Act (August 17, 1774), George Measam's desire to leave the bulk of his estate to the United States Treasury in support of the war against Great Britain (June 20, 1781), Kentucky residents' efforts to form a state (January 2, 1784), early efforts to collect primary sources related to American history, and other subjects.

The bulk of the material (April 18, 1820-December 25, 1867) pertains directly to Peter Force, and frequently concerns his efforts to collect and publish primary source materials regarding the history of North America (particularly the United States). Force's correspondents asked about and otherwise discussed letters, documents, pamphlets, and other materials from the 18th century (and, rarely, earlier), including some owned by Force and others held in state historical societies and similar repositories. The letters concern many aspects of early American history, including relations between Native American tribes and the government, and the years leading up to the Revolution. Charles Fenton Mercer wrote at length about the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal (August 2, 1827).

Many items concern Force's publishing career, including a group of letters from William Thompson, who wished to work for Force (May 1825-July 1825), and items exchanged by Force and Matthew St. Clair Clarke, his collaborator on American Archives. Force, Clarke, and other writers discussed the project and similar efforts, such as a documentary history of Parliament. A significant group of letters and financial documents relate to a dispute between Force and John Cook Rives, another collaborator onAmerican Archives. Two letters from April 1861 mention the Civil War; Charles B. Norton offered to store Force's large library of Americana on account of the possibility of an attack on Washington, D.C., but Force refused the offer. Other items include a copyright document for Tracts & other Papers, relating principally to the Origin, Settlement, & Progress of the Colonies in North America, from the Discovery of the Country to the year 1776, Volume 1 (March 26, 1836). A small number of letters postdate Force's death; these concern historical manuscripts and related publications.

The Notes, Extracts, and Bibliographies series (approximately 1.75 linear feet) contains materials related to Peter Force's interest in early American history. Much of the series is comprised of lists of and extracts from historical manuscripts and publications, most frequently related to the American Revolution. The bulk of the series concerns the period from 1763 to around 1780, including commentary on the Stamp Act and economic relations between Great Britain and the North American colonies, the Continental Congresses, the Articles of Confederation, and the Revolutionary War. Items of note include a daily timeline of the mid-1770s, a 42-page bibliography of works on American history and travel published between 1742 and 1788, and an essay about the history of the United States flag. Some of the materials relate to slaves and to Native Americans, and many are arranged into bundles centered around topics such as the Declaration of Independence. A group of Revolutionary War songs is also present.

Additional subjects include disputes about the United States-Mexico border (April 5, 1853), a proposed history of Kent County, Maryland (April 5, 1852), and Force's book reviews and newspaper articles. A bound volume contains a list of publications printed at his shop between April 1826 and October 1839. The series includes a document by Force about his progress on American Archives and a few items respecting Congressional debate over funding for the project. A large group of materials relates to the early history of European printing and the evolution of standardized typography, including notes and extensive lists of early printed works.

The Financial Records (approximately 0.25 linear feet) pertain to Peter Force's professional interests, particularly with regard to the compilation and publication of American Archives. Accounts, agreements, receipts, and other items reflect the costs of printing, illustrating, binding, and publishing the work. Other items concern Force's attempts to defend the value of his work to Congress and Congress's role in funding the project. Many relate to Force's business relationships with Matthew St. Clair Clarke and John C. Rives. Personal records, such as an account of expenses during a trip to North Carolina, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey, are also present.

The Printed Items series (approximately 0.25 linear feet) consists of newspapers, newspaper clippings, and pamphlets. Peter Force and others wrote articles about the disputed United States-Mexico border, the possible discovery of the Northwest Passage, Force's personal library, and the founding of the United States. The series includes a number of pamphlets (housed in the Book Division) and whole issues of periodicals such as the Army and Navy Chronicle, Daily National Intelligencer, Daily National Republican, and other newspapers. The pamphlets concern the Revolutionary War, United States and Maryland politics between the 1830s and 1850s, and a panorama by "Sinclair" about the life of Napoléon Bonaparte after 1815. "Epeögraphy," a pamphlet by Joseph B. Manning, is a proposal for a phonetic writing system.