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Anne-Louis de Tousard papers, 1659-1932 (majority within 1777-1820)

3.75 linear feet

The Tousard papers contain the correspondence of the army officer and military engineer Anne-Louis de Tousard, relating to his plantation in Saint-Domingue (Haiti), military service, and family life.

The Correspondence and Documents seriescontain 3.75 linear feet of material, arranged chronologically, and spanning 1659-1932 (bulk 1778-1820). The collection contains both incoming and outgoing letters, covering Tousard's service in the American Revolutionary War, his management of a coffee plantation in Haiti, family life, settlement in the United States beginning in 1793, and military activities in Haiti and America. The majority of the material is in French, with a few scattered items in English. Most of the letters have been translated into English; quotes in this finding aid draw from those translations.

After a 1659 inventory of property owned by "M. Touzard," an ancestor of Louis Tousard, the collection opens with several letters pertaining to Tousard's time in North America during the American Revolution. These include several lengthy letters items by Tousard himself with commentary on his French and American Army officers, the progress of the war, his attempts at learning English, and his impressions of several cities. In a long letter dated August 3, 1777, he noted the capture of Fort Ticonderoga by the British and the desire of Americans to put General Philip Schuyler on trial for its surrender. He also stated that everything in Philadelphia cost "a dreadful price" and that "the money here is discredited." In the same letter, he discussed the major generalship that had been promised to, and later taken from, Philippe Charles Tronson de Coudray and called the Americans "vain, disunited, envying and detesting the French." Tousard's relatives, including his mother, wrote the bulk of other letters during the period. These primarily share news of the Tousards' social circle in France and occasionally make brief reference to political turmoil there.

Beginning in 1786, the focus of the collection shifts to the courtship and eventual marriage partnership of Marie-Reine St. Martin, a young widow and native of Saint-Domingue, and Louis Tousard. Their affectionate sequence of letters begins December 23, 1786. In addition to revealing details of their personalities and relationship, the letters also shed light on their shared management of several coffee plantations and dozens of slaves. Louis' letters to Marie discuss politics in Haiti and France, show the difficulty of importing desired goods to Haiti, and express regret that he must frequently spend time away from her. The couple frequently articulated the idea that together they formed an effective partnership; in a letter of January 26, 1788, Louis wrote, "On my arrival I shall tell you my plans. You will tell me yours and from the two we shall make a single one." In another letter, he stated his dependence "entirely on [Marie's] good judgment" in managing their coffee workforce (May 3, 1789). The letters also provide details of plantation life, including the preciousness of wine and bacon and difficulties of obtaining them (June 20, 1787), Marie's hobbies and entertainments on the plantation (May 3, 1789), and the difficulties of feeding the slaves and workmen (April 3 and 6, 1789).

In their letters, the couple also wrote frankly about their slaves. Escape seems to have been a frequent occurrence; after a particular incident, Louis urged Marie not to become discouraged and assured her that "[t]he slaves will soon stop running away…. Try to make them be afraid of me" (December 28, 1787). In another letter, presumably after a similar event, Louis wrote to tell Marie that he had sent "two collars to help the Maroon negroes to walk in the woods or at least able to feel their stupidity in creating enduring shame for themselves" ([No month] 27, 1787; filed at the end of 1787). The Tousards also complained that their slaves stole from them ([1787]) and inspired each other to rebellion (January 17, 1788). In addition to doling out punishments to them, Louis and Marie also sometimes expressed affection for various slaves, and presented them with gifts of clothing and food. In one incident, Marie went further and defended a slave, referred to repeatedly as "The African": "The poor African was beaten by a driver. I have complained, but I could not obtain justice" (January 10, 1793). Louis also commonly worked alongside the slaves that he oversaw, and sometimes even noted, "I worked like a slave," as in a letter of May 3, 1789. The letters are especially valuable for the detailed information they provide on the complexities of the master-slave relationship.

Although Tousard's regiment attempted to put down the Haitian Revolution, the collection contains only a handful of references to fighting. The most direct, dated "September 1791," likely refers to an engagement at Port-Margot. On the subject, Tousard wrote, "I gave a lesson to the cavalry. I taught them to charge. Two cannon shots were fired at us and they had not time to fire again. In one minute we were upon them and cut them down." Thereafter, the collection documents Tousard's imprisonment in France and contains some material concerning his later military career and family life, including letters between Tousard, his daughters, and their husbands. Also among the later items are a small number relating to his consular appointments in Philadelphia and New Orleans. Two letters concern the quarantine imposed on ships arriving in Philadelphia during the yellow fever epidemic of 1798, the first of which (Timothy Pickering to Tousard; June 27, 1798) informs Tousard of the decision of Congress to prevent ships from Saint-Domingue landing at Philadelphia, ordering him to stand by in his capacity as Major of Artillery. The second is a copy of orders to Stephen Decatur to prevent the landing of a ship manned by "Frenchmen and Negroes," the latter of whom "have discovered a Disposition to outrage" (June 28, 1798). Tousard's letter of July 25, 1814, includes a detailed discussion of the attitudes of the French residents of New Orleans toward the Bourbons. Suffice it to say that Tousard, the Royalist, elicited the negative attention of the "Jacobins" of New Orleans. The collection closes with letters between Tousard's daughters, Caroline and Laurette, and several items concerning his death on March 4, 1817.

The Tousard papers also contain many undated items, which have been placed at the end. These include a significant number of letters by Marie, who frequently left date information off her letters, as well as a small printed portrait of Tousard. Also present is an uncut bookplate, showing Tousard's coat-of-arms, motto, liberty cap, artillery, and the right arm that he lost during the Battle of Rhode Island in 1778. Also of interest is a biographical sketch of Tousard, written by one of his nieces sometime after his death.

The Account Book series includes one account book with entries dated from 1813 to 1816. Louis and Laurette Tousard appear several times throughout the volume.

The Printed Items series contains two items, Histoire des Six Dernières Années de l'Ordre de Malte (1805) and Justification of Lewis Tousard Addressed to the National Convention of France. Written and Published from the Bloody Prisons of the Abbaye, by Himself. The 24th of January, 1793 (Philadelphia: Daniel Humphreys, 1793).


James McHenry papers, 1777-1832

3 linear feet

The James McHenry papers contain correspondence and documents related to the political career of James McHenry. The majority of the materials pertain to his tenure as Secretary of War from 1796 to 1800.

The James McHenry papers contain over 800 items related the life and career of James McHenry. Included in the materials are approximately 670 letters and 106 documents, primarily related to McHenry's political career, as well as financial records and miscellaneous documents, including poetry and genealogical materials. The majority of the correspondence and documents are drafts or retained manuscript copies.

The Correspondence and Documents series spans 1777-1832, with the bulk of materials concentrated around 1796 to 1803. The first box of the collection contains documents and correspondence related to McHenry's service in the Revolutionary War, including correspondence with Sir Henry Clinton, George Washington, and Alexander Hamilton. The materials include a draft of a letter to British general Henry Clinton regarding his military failures, written in McHenry's hand but signed "Z" (October 26, 1779), as well as a copy of a letter allegedly written by Clinton to Lord George Germain, which McHenry sent to Samuel Louden of the New York Packet to be published (March 24, 1780). The postwar materials in the collection pertain to McHenry's tenure as a Maryland statesman. Along with documents related to McHenry's political career during those years is a letter dated August 13, 1794, which relates news of the massacre of French colonists at Fort Dauphin in Saint-Domingue (now Haiti), led by Jean-François, an important figure in the Haitian Revolution.

The bulk of the collection, representing 1796 to 1803, documents McHenry's tenure as secretary of war under presidents Washington and Adams. The correspondence and documents relate to military structures, provisions, international relations, treaties, politics, and relations with Native American tribes. The collection contains frequent correspondence with other cabinet members and politicians, including Secretary of State Timothy Pickering and Secretary of the Treasury Oliver Wolcott as well as President George Washington, John Adams, and the Marquis de Lafayette. McHenry served as secretary of war during the Quasi-War with France and, as a staunch Federalist, favored positive relations with Britain over France. A large portion of the correspondence during this period relates to the ongoing feud with that country. A letter from James Winchester to McHenry describes the suspicion with which the Federalists regarded Jeffersonian Democratic-Republicans, who favored closer relations with France: "…tho' they will not openly shew at this time their predilection for France, they will discover it in the first calamitous event which may happen to our Country. Depend on it they are not to be trusted. I speak of the party here" (April 18, 1789). Several months later McHenry wrote in an unaddressed letter draft that he believed the President should recommend a declaration of war with France to Congress. He also expressed his concerns over "a faction within the country constantly on the watch and ready to seize upon every act of the Executive which may be converted into an engine to disaffect the people to the government" (November 25, 1798).

In addition to national and international politics, many of the items relate to U.S. relations with Native American tribes, including the Creek, Chickasaw, and Miami. The materials frequently concern attempts to maintain peace and create treaties with the tribes, as well as to prevent them from giving their loyalty to other countries, such as Britain, France, or Spain. Box 2 contains a copy of a "Talk of the Chickasaw Chiefs at the Bluffs represented by Wolf's Friend, Ugalayacabé" regarding the tribe's concerns about the Americans: "Tell me if I may return to my Nation to appease the tumult of their minds. Shall I tell them the talk of the Americans is falsehood? Shall I assure our warriors our children and our women that your flag will always wave over our land, or tell them to prepare to die?" [1797]. This box also contains a small series of letters from General Anthony Wayne, written from his headquarters in Detroit, where he was stationed before his death, after successfully leading U.S. troops in the Northwest Indian War (August 29 to October 3, 1796). After the war, Miami Chief Little Turtle, became a proponent of friendly relations with the Americans. McHenry wrote to him upon his resignation as secretary of war, thanking him for his friendship: "…I shall carry with me the remembrance of your fidelity, your good sense, your honest regard for your own people, your sensibility and eloquent discourse in their favour, and what is precious to me as an individual, a belief that I shall always retain your friendship" (May 30, 1800). Other documents include an extract of a letter from Major Thomas Cushing to Brigadier General James Wilkinson, writing that he had given gifts to the Native Americans in order to prevent them from siding with the Spanish at New Orleans, who were attempting to win their favor (February 15, 1800).

Boxes 6 through 8 contain correspondence and documents written after McHenry's resignation as secretary of war at the end of May 1800. Though he retired from politics, his letters document that he maintained a keen interest in domestic and international issues. Senator Uriah Tracy wrote regular letters to McHenry in February 1801, keeping him up-to-date on the daily events regarding the presidential election between Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr. After the election, McHenry wrote a letter to U.S. Ambassador to the Netherlands William Vans Murray, in which he discussed the election and why public opinion had shifted from the Federalists to Jefferson: "I still am of opinion, that we should have gained nothing by the election of Mr. Burr, could it have been accomplished by federal means. The general sentiment is so strong and ardent for Mr. Jefferson, that experience alone can correct it" (February 23, 1801). This section of correspondence also contains a draft of a letter to the speaker of the House of Representatives containing McHenry's defense against charges brought against him regarding disbursements while secretary of war (December 22, 1802), as well as his opinions of current political happenings, including the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, and the Embargo Act of 1807. Several of the letters written during this period also relate to McHenry's low opinion of John Adams, who forced him out of office. In a series of letters exchanged by McHenry and Oliver Wolcott in 1800, McHenry described his anger regarding Adams, and expressed regret that Adams remained in office after George Washington left. Over ten years later, McHenry wrote a letter to Timothy Pickering, responding to a series of memoirs Adams had printed in the Boston Patriot . He accused Adams of making significant errors and misrepresentations, and mused, "How many recollections have these puerile letters awakened. Still in his own opinion, the greatest man of the age. I see he will carry with him to the grave, his vanity, his weaknesses and follies, specimens of which we have so often witnessed and always endeavored to veil from the public" (February 23, 1811).

The Bound Items series consists of a diary, a published book of letters, a book of U.S. Army regulations, an account book, and a book of poetry. McHenry kept the diary from June 18 to July 24, 1778, beginning it at Valley Forge. It contains accounts of daily events, intelligence, orders, the Battle of Monmouth, and the march of Washington's army to White Plains, New York. The 1931 book, entitled Letters of James McHenry to Governor Thomas Sim Lee is the correspondence written by James McHenry to Maryland governor Thomas Sim Lee during the 1781 Yorktown Campaign. The book of army regulations spans ca. 1797-1798, while the account book covers 1816-1824. The book of poetry is handwritten but undated and unsigned.

In addition to this finding aid, the Clements Library has created a full list of letter-writers in the James McHenry papers: James McHenry Contributor List.


Nathanael Greene papers, 1762-1852 (majority within 1780-1785)

10 linear feet

The Nathanael Greene papers contain Greene's military and personal correspondence during American Revolution, with the bulk of the collection documenting his command in the Southern Department (1780-1783). The collection includes Greene's communications with George Washington, the Continental Congress, the War Board, state governors, and Continental Army officers and subordinates. Also present are military documents, such as returns, memoranda, and expense reports, and personal letters to and from his wife Catherine.

The Nathanael Greene papers (approximately 5100 items) contain Greene's military and personal correspondence during American Revolution, with the bulk of the collection documenting his command in the Southern Department (1780-1783). Included are Greene's communications with George Washington; the Continental Congress; the War Board; many state governors, such as Thomas Jefferson; and Continental Army officers and subordinates. Also present are various military documents, such as returns, memoranda, and expense reports, and personal letters with his wife Catherine and friend Charles Pettit.

The majority of the collection has been published in the Rhode Island Historical Society's The Papers of General Nathanael Greene (1976-2005). Much of the published material, however, is abstracted, and hundreds of the collection's letters and documents were left out of the volumes. Many of the unpublished items are documents (memoranda, returns, expense reports etc.) and letters to or from persons other than Greene, though occasionally Greene letters and drafts were omitted.

The Correspondence and Documents series (4720 items) contain Greene's incoming and outgoing communications, documenting his military leadership, decision-making, and activities during the American Revolution. A prolific letter writer, he communicated with governors of the southern states, merchants selling to the quartermaster's department, complaining civilians, British officers, and, during his later years, business associates. During the war, he reported regularly to George Washington, the president of Continental Congress and certain committee members, and the Board of War. Also important are the letters to and from his fellow and subordinate officers in the quartermaster's department, the militia of the southern states, and the regular southern army, such as Ichabod Burnet, Mordecai Gist, James Gunn, Isaac Huger, Henry Knox, Henry Lee, Francis Marion, Israel Putnam, Arthur St. Clair, and Otho Holland Williams, among many others. In addition to letters, the series contains orders, memoranda, intelligence reports, expense accounts, and official letters. Of note are two letters from General Rochambeau to Greene written in Washington's cipher with contemporary translations (February 26, and April 6, 1782).

Although the bulk of the collection concerns military affairs, personal and family letters are also present, including 96 letters between Greene and his wife Catherine (Caty) Greene, and 70 letters from Greene's friend Charles Pettit of Philadelphia. Catherine also received letters from army officers and other prominent government figures, as well as from admirers, family, and friends.

The Household and Personal Accounts series (232 items) contains receipts and bills for Greene and his family, covering 1779 to 1786.

The Letters and Memo Book of Nathanael and Catherine Greene series (119 items) contains two volumes of letters to and from Nathanael and Catherine Greene, and one memo book. Letters fall into four categories: letters from Nathanael to Catherine Greene, letters from Greene to various recipients, letters to Greene, and letters to Catherine Greene. These letters concern both personal and military matters and include letters to Catherine after Greene's death. In addition to the letters, the volumes are illustrated with engraving portraits of the following contributors: Nathanael Greene (9 portraits), Edward Carrington, Thomas Jefferson, Mordecai Gist, Henry Lee, Alexander Martin, Robert Morris, Otho H. Williams, Henry Knox, Tobias Lear, Samuel Livermore, Edward Rutledge, Littleton W. Tazewell, and Anthony Wayne (2 portraits). The memo book (22 pages) contains Greene's notes on personal accounts throughout 1776. Many entries record debts incurred by Greene while in military service. Also present is an index of the letters, with abstracts, created by George H. Richmond for an auction.

The Battle of Cowpens Letters series (17 items) consists of 15 letters and two engravings (January-June 1781). These comprise Greene's retained copies of letters to generals Daniel Morgan, Thomas Sumter, and Francis Marion concerning the American victory at the Battle of Cowpens (January 1781), and the failed siege of Fort Ninety-Six (May-June 1781). The engravings are of Greene in military dress and of a neoclassical memorial celebrating Greene with the subtitle "a patriot, a hero, a friend."

The First Overtures for the Cessation of Hostilities in the American War of Independence Made by the British to General Nathanael Greene, 1782 series (16 items) is a volume containing letters and documents to and from Greene concerning Britain's peace proposals in 1782. Included are letters from Greene to various British and American officers, with details on receiving peace documents and discussing terms of peace. Each item is transcribed. Also present is a facsimile of the volume with photostats of each item.

The Last Will and Testament series (4 pages) comprises a contemporary copy of Greene's will from October 11, 1785. The will contains Greene's signature and seal.


Oliver Hazard Perry papers, 1796-1969 (majority within 1812-1819)

4 linear feet

The Oliver Hazard Perry papers contain Perry's naval and personal letters, as well as material related to members of the Perry family. The collection documents Perry's activities during the War of 1812, including his victory at Lake Erie and the ensuing controversy surrounding the conflict; his service in the Mediterranean; his final mission to Venezuela; and the reaction to his death. Also documented are Perry's father, Captain Christopher Raymond Perry (1761-1818); his brother, Commander Mathew Calbraith Perry (1794-1858); his wife Elizabeth C. Mason Perry (1791-1858); and various other relatives, as well as genealogical records.

The Oliver Hazard Perry papers span 1761-1969, with the bulk of the material falling between 1810 and 1819. The collection contains Perry's naval and personal papers, as well as material related to other members of the Perry family. It is arranged into 8 series: Chronological Correspondence and Documents; Naval Accounts and Receipts; Perry Family Estate and Business Papers; Commemorations and Monuments; Miscellaneous Writings; Printed Items; Ephemera; and Perry Family Genealogical Material.

The Chronological Correspondence and Documents series comprises the bulk of the collection and contains approximately 900 personal and professional letters of Oliver Hazard Perry and his family. While O. H. Perry contributed 34 letters between 1799 and 1819, the majority of the correspondence consists of his incoming letters. The series documents Perry's naval career, especially his service in the War of 1812, including his victory at Lake Erie and its ensuing controversy; his service in the Mediterranean; his mission to Venezuela; reactions to and descriptions of his death; and his family in the years following his death. The collection includes letters to and from O. H. Perry's father Christopher Raymond Perry (1761-1818); his brother Matthew C. Perry (1794-1858); his wife Elizabeth C. Mason Perry (1791-1858); and other relatives, friends, and associates.

While the majority of the series focuses upon Oliver Hazard Perry, a portion relates to his father's naval career. A group of approximately 35 letters, dated 1795 to 1800, concerns Christopher R. Perry's naval service in the West Indies. Included are 11 letters between Christopher Perry (on board the US Frigate General Greene) and Toussaint L'Ouverture, in which they discuss the role of the US Navy in the region. Also of note are:

  • October 24, 1795: Freeman Perry to Christopher Perry describing the discovery of mammoth bones and tusks in Piggin Swamp, South Carolina, and near Wilmington, North Carolina.
  • May 8, 1799: John Adams to Christopher Perry concerning the discharge of a Quaker man from the navy.
  • March 13, 1800: US Consul in Port-au-Prince Robert Ritchie asking Christopher Perry to keep the US Frigate General Greene close in order to support Toussaint's efforts.

Approximately 30 letters reflect Oliver Hazard Perry's naval career before the War of 1812. In three letters to his mother Sarah Perry, he discussed his professional and social activities (December 15, [1800], and June 14, 1804). In the third letter, dated September 16, 1805, Perry commented on the First Barbary War. Nine letters from Navy Department officials concern his command of the ship Revenge (1809-1810) and other military responsibilities. Notable items include:

  • April 20, 1807: Secretary of the Navy Robert Smith informs Perry of his commission as a Lieutenant in the US Navy.
  • January 17, 1811: John Rodgers to Perry, informing him that he and the other commissioned/warrant officers, recently the crew of the schooner Revenge, are suspended until the completion of an investigation into the recent loss of the schooner.

The bulk of the correspondence and documents centers upon Oliver Hazard Perry's service in the US Navy, principally during the War of 1812 and in the years leading up to his death in 1819. Approximately 200 items relate to Perry's participation in the War of 1812. A group of letters from the war's earlier stages offer details on Perry's actions preceding his successes in the Great Lakes campaign. However, letters from this time period primarily document the naval war on Lake Ontario and Perry's Lake Erie victory on September 10, 1813. Perry communicated closely with Navy Department officials and fellow officers on the Great Lakes offensive, including William Bainbridge, Isaac Chauncey, Benjamin Crowninshield, Samuel Hambleton, William Henry Harrison, Benjamin Homans, David Porter, and John Rodgers. The correspondence also includes content respecting the decades-long controversy surrounding the actions of Jesse Elliott during the battle Battle of Lake Erie (see especially 1817-1818).

  • February 19, 1813: William Rogers to Perry mentioning news from the North West that William Henry Harrison's army was attacked by the English and Indians.
  • June 23, 1813: Information from General Harrison to Perry regarding enemy movements, recommending that Perry sail up the Lake to intercept the enemy.
  • August 9, 1813: Perry to his father discussing the impending arrival of more men to Lake Erie. Mentions of the Lawrence, Niagara, and Caledonia.
  • September 10, 1813: Perry's commission as Captain of the United States Navy, signed by President James Madison.
  • September 15, 1813: Perry to his wife describing the aftermath of the battle and his present emotional state.
  • October 26, 1813: Jesse Elliott to Perry defending his actions during the Battle of Lake Erie.
  • October 26, 1813: British commander from Lake Erie writing about his favorable treatment as Perry's prisoner.
  • December 28, 1813: Jesse Elliot expresses confusion as to why America was misinformed about the details of the Battle of Lake Erie.
  • July 3, 1815: William Henry Harrison to Perry providing his account of the Battle of Lake Erie.
  • July 11, 1817: William Henry Harrison to Perry concerning the Battle of Lake Erie controversy.
  • Undated: Lake Erie battle material including a diagram of the conflict and 16 crew and prisoner lists.
  • Undated. William Crane to Melancthon T. Wooley containing an evaluation of the prize ships taken at the Battle of Lake Erie.
  • Undated. Copied letter of William Henry Harrison concerning the Battle of Thames River.
  • Undated: Matthew C. Perry's account of the Battle of Lake Erie.

Approximately 200 letters concern Perry's Mediterranean duty and his mission to Venezuela (1816-1819). Those from his time in the Mediterranean document his command of the US Frigate Java and the administration of the Mediterranean Squadron while at sea. Particularly rich descriptions of Malaga and elsewhere in Spain may be found in Oliver H. Perry's letter of February 17, 1816 and in his Mediterranean journal, February 22-March 1, 1816. Also included are orders from Isaac Chauncey, William Montgomery Crane, and other leadership in Washington. See, for example:

  • March 11, 1816: John Heath to Perry, discussing their differences and referring to a "mortifying situation" (Port Mahon on the Java).
  • September 10, 1816: Crew of the Java to Perry requesting time off and money for shore leave at the Port of Messina.
  • October 8, 1816: Perry to Isaac Chauncey, discussing the violent incident that occurred between him and John Heath.
  • December 11, 1816: Miguel de Sarrachaga, Governor of Minorca, writes to Perry asking why American ships have entered the harbor at Mahon without first informing him.

Oliver H. Perry's assignment to Venezuela in 1819 and his sudden death from yellow fever on the return voyage are well represented in the collection. The Perry family received accounts of his final days as well as an outpouring of condolences from friends and naval officials, many of which contained remembrances of Perry. Multiple 1826-date letters relate to the transportation of Perry's body from Trinidad to Newport, Rhode Island. Items of note include:

  • May 20, 1819: Secretary of State John Quincy Adams to Perry with instructions concerning the slave trade.
  • May 28, 1819: Perry receives permission from Secretary of the Navy Smith Thompson to have the schooner Nonsuch accompany him to Venezuela.
  • August 24, 1819: Mordecai Morgan to Matthew C. Perry, giving an account of Perry's final hours.
  • September 24, 1819: Two letters from Charles O. Handy of the John Adams to Elizabeth Perry and Matthew C. Perry, informing them of Perry's death.
  • September 24, 1819: Charles O. Handy to Christopher Grant Perry, describing Perry's death and offering details about Perry's interment on Trinidad.
  • October 27, 1819: John N. Hambleton's list of Perry's effects at his death.
  • November 13, 1819: Elizabeth Perry to her mother-in-law Sarah Perry, lamenting the death of her husband.
  • October 17, 1826: Samuel Southard to Elizabeth Perry, concerning the movement of Perry's remains to Rhode Island.
  • Undated. Department of State to Oliver Hazard Perry, giving instructions for his mission to Venezuela.
  • Undated. Charles O. Handy's funeral oration for Oliver Hazard Perry.

The correspondence following O. H. Perry's death (approximately 150 letters) largely concerns members of his family, especially his brother Matthew C. Perry, wife Elizabeth Perry, son Oliver Hazard Perry, Jr., and grandson Oliver Hazard Perry. Many of these letters relate to the ongoing controversy surrounding Elliot and the Battle of Lake Erie, with Matthew C. Perry petitioning a number of his brother's colleagues to contribute their viewpoints on the conflict. Matthew Perry also received letters containing anecdotes and reminiscences about O. H. Perry from family and friends. Included among these letters are childhood memories by his sister Sarah W. Perry (see especially November 18, 1839; February 19, 1840; and March 27, 1840). Additional topics represented include celebrations of Perry's Lake Erie accomplishments, including the 1860 celebration in Cleveland, Ohio; Elizabeth Perry's letters with government officials concerning her pension; and the naval service of Oliver Hazard Perry, Jr. Notable items include:

  • July 28, 1828: Mr. Davis to Benjamin Hazard offering the Gilbert Stuart portrait of Oliver Hazard Perry (finished by Stuart's daughter) for sale.
  • July 11, 1838: Oliver Hazard Perry, Jr.'s commission as lieutenant in the navy, signed by President Martin Van Buren.
  • August 12, 1839: John Chambers to Matthew C. Perry regarding James Fenimore Cooper's work on Elliott and O. H. Perry at the Battle of Lake Erie, as well as his own reminiscences of the battle.
  • August 12, 1839: Charles O. Handy to Christopher Grant Perry, describing Perry's death and details about Perry's interment on Trinidad.
  • September 28, 1839: John Chambers to Matthew C. Perry, discussing O.H. Perry in the aftermath of the Battle of Lake Erie as well as Alexander Slidell, who wrote a biography of Perry.
  • March 30, 1847: Christopher Perry's commission as first lieutenant of the 4th Regiment of United States Infantry, signed by President James K. Polk.

The correspondence and documents series includes the following seven bound volumes:

  • Troop Landing and Artillery Instructions and Letter Book, March-November 1813 (101 pages). The volume contains 35 pages of naval instructions and 66 pages of copies of outgoing letters. The instructions (pages 1-35) cover the following topics: Slow Matches, Priming Fuses, Portfires, Quick Matches (English Method), Fire Sticks, To drive of Ram Sky Rockets &c., Proportion of Mallets, Charges for Sky Rockets &c., Sky Rockets in General, Composition for Rocket Stars, Sky Rocket Moulds, Mixing Compositions, and Questions and Answers Related to Naval Gunnery. The index for the instructions is located on page 177. The letter book (pages 86-152) is comprised of 85 letters spanning March to June 28, 1813, along with two letters from November 29, 1813.
  • Orderly Book, "Lake Erie", July-October 1813 (29 pages) containing general orders sent by Perry and other officers stationed on Lake Erie. The orders cover the preparation for and execution of the Battle of Lake Erie, July-October 1813. Topics include navy provisions, order delivery, discipline, and battle instructions.
  • The series also consists of two Letter Book Indexes (letter books not present). The first volume covers 1814 to 1815, while the second spans the year 1815-1816. Each index is organized alphabetically and entries each contain the name of the recipient, date, and a brief summary of the letter's contents.
  • Oliver H. Perry Notebook, "Notes of Last Cruise" (61 pages) consists of 39 pages of diary entries and notes relating to Perry's 1819 diplomatic mission to Venezuela and 22 pages of quotations and other notes kept by Perry, primarily relating to morality and human nature.
  • Modern History Academic Notebook (51 pages) is a manuscript study book of lists and tables of information about the United States and British governments, and on classical history and Biblical history. The front cover inscription states: "A. K. Terry's bought of W[illiam] S. Gilbert." Gilbert apparently completed the notebook between 1821 and the summer of 1822.
  • Oliver H. Perry, Jr. Yachting Journal and loose papers (97 pages and 4 loose items) describe Perry's yachting adventures around Long Island. The notebook dates from July to September 1905 while the loose pages contain notes from 1902, 1904, and 1910. Perry described daily activities on the ship and on shore.

The Naval Accounts and Receipts series (approximately 20 items) covers 1813 to 1821 and is comprised of Department of the Navy accounts from Oliver H. Perry's service in the War of 1812 and the Mediterranean Squadron. It also includes materials related to Christopher R. Perry's naval career. Of note are accounts documenting the construction and outfitting of the Independence and Chippewa, and receipts from Rhode Island, 1815.

The series contains one bound account book of Oliver H. Perry (60 pages), documenting Perry's naval expenses while in the Mediterranean from February 1816 to November 1818. The majority of the expenses were for food, wine, supplies, and the payment of loans. Perry purchased goods from Malaga, Port Mahon, Algiers, Tunis, Tripoli, Messina, Gibraltar, Malta, Naples, and Palermo.

The Perry Family Estate and Business Papers series (approximately 160 items) spans 1800 to 1913, with the bulk falling between 1857 and 1878. These materials document Perry family members' financial activities and business endeavors, including the Perry, Wendell, Fay & Company and the Middlesex Company. The series also contains Perry family wills, land surveys from 1828 and 1865, and 17 personal receipts (1813-1817) of Oliver Hazard Perry and Christopher Raymond Perry.

The Commemorations and Monuments series (approximately 52 items) consists of letters and documents pertinent to monuments celebrating O. H. Perry in Rhode Island (1841) and Cleveland (1860). The series also includes information about the Battle of Lake Erie Centennial Celebration in Erie, Pennsylvania, 1913.

The Miscellaneous Writings series includes manuscript speech notes, poems, letter fragments, and letter covers. Seven poems include works by Elizabeth Perry. A recipe for "Daube" (roasted meat) is also present.

The Typescripts series contains nearly 600 pages of un-proofed typed transcriptions of items in the Correspondence and Documents series.

The Printed Materials series consists of pamphlets and newspapers clippings.

The Pamphlets subseries is comprised of eight pamphlets, most of which concern commemorations for Perry:

The Newspapers and Clippings subseries consists of 152 newspaper clippings containing material related to O. H. Perry, Perry memorials and remembrances, and the Perry family (1819-1913). Newspapers represented in the subseries include The Daily Cleveland Herald, the Newport, Rhode Island Herald of the Times, The Newport Daily News, The Boston Globe, The Boston Courier, The Newport Mercury, The Virginia Patriot, The New York Herald, and others.

The Ephemera series contains two pressed flowers, 25 Oliver H. Perry name cards, a Miss A. F. Gould name card, a Captain Perry US Frigate Java signature, a ticket for the World's Columbian Exposition (October 9, 1893), a stereoview of a painting of "Perry's Victory," and four postcards depicting Gilbert Stuart's portrait of O. H. Perry.

The Perry Family Genealogical Material series (85 items) is made up of 19th and 20th century investigations into Perry ancestral history. Included are a 63-page draft of Perry genealogy and a description of seven generations of the Perry family. Other resources are:

  • "Index of Persons and Places"
  • "Notes on the Huguenot Ancestors"
  • "Notes on the Otis Line of Ancestors"
  • "Notes on Elizabeth Scallay of Boston"
  • Two volumes: "The Record of my Ancestry" (each includes notations about ancestors who participated in the colonial wars, Revolutionary War, and the War of 1812)
    • Volume 1: contains genealogy for the Perry family and 69 relates surnames, including the Hazard line dating to the Mayflower.
    • Volume 2: documents the Haggitts and 33 other family lines.

In addition to this finding aid, the Clements Library has created a Correspondence Inventory.


United States Revenue Cutter Service and Merchant Marine collection, 1780-1802

12 items

This collection is made up of correspondence and financial records related to vessels of the United States Revenue Cutter Service, United States Navy, and United States Merchant Marine in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

This collection is made up of correspondence and financial records related to vessels active in the United States Revenue Cutter Service, United States Navy, and United States Merchant Marine in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. The materials relate to crews' wages, ships' cargoes and expenses, cutter construction, privateering, and other subjects. See the Detailed Box and Folder Listing for more information about each item.

The donor has collected, arranged, transcribed, and annotated each document and has written a well-researched collection description.