We asked Senior Paper Conservator, Kathy Ludwig, about the most interesting project she’s worked on. The most intrinsically valuable document she has treated at the National Archives is the Monroe Doctrine. The document is the Senate version the 36-page text of President James Monroe’s seventh annual Message to Congress on December 2, 1823. The Monroe Doctrine, hand-written by an administrative assistant and signed by the President, was a defining moment in American foreign policy. We’ll explore its conservation treatment in the next few posts.
Lincoln at Gettysburg
150 years ago on November 19, 1863, four months after the battle, President Abraham Lincoln came to Gettysburg to dedicate the national cemetery for the Union dead. In his remarks, he paid tribute to the brave men who died there and insisted that their sacrifice would increase the will of the people to fulfill America’s promise. Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address, a rhetorical masterpiece delivered in less than three minutes, defined the war as necessary for the survival of the nation and its ideals.
This rare photo from a glass plate negative by Matthew Brady is the first–and possibly only–photograph of Lincoln at Gettysburg.
Signatures and Pictographs
Representatives of the Ottawa, Chippewa, Potawatomi, and Wyandot tribes signed this treaty with the United States on November 17, 1807, ceding millions of acres in Ohio and Michigan. Each tribal representative signed with a pictograph. President Thomas Jefferson and Secretary of State James Madison signed at the bottom. The tribes received $10,000 collectively, $2,400 annually, and reservations of 1 to 6 square miles.
Treaty between the Ottawa, Chippewa, Wyandot, and Potawatomi Indians, 11/17/1807
(November is Native American Heritage Month!)
Census of the First Christian and Orchard Parties of Oneida Indians, residing at Green Bay, Wisconsin Territory, taken by Henry S. Baird, U.S. Commissioner, on November 15, 1838…
(first and signature pages)
Taken 175 years ago today on November 15, 1838, a census of the Oneida Indians at Duck Creek (now Oneida), Wisconsin.
(November is also Native American Heritage Month!)
The movie “12 Years A Slave” tells the story of Solomon Northup, a free black man who was kidnapped. His journey into slavery can be found in our records.
In the slave manifest for the brig Orleans, Solomon Northup is gone, but Plat Hamilton is present.
A ban on federal slavery legislation was written into the Constitution in 1787. But an 1807 Act of Congress outlawed foreign importation of slaves. Slave manifests that documented each slave’s name, sex, age, and color were then required.
When slaves were forced into the haul of the Orleans on April 27, 1841, the Port of Richmond collector Thomas Nelson approved the slave manifest. When the ship docked in New Orleans on May 24, 1841, the inspector matched Solomon Northup’s description to the name Plat Hamilton. And Solomon Northup the free man of color ceased to exist.
Northup was transported on the Orleans with approximately forty other slaves to New Orleans where he was later sold to Edwin Epps, who owned a cotton plantation in the Louisiana Red River area. Northup was enslaved for the next twelve years. All rights and privileges that come with freedom, beginning with his given name, were stripped away from him.
To see more documents related to the life of Solomon Northup, go to the National Archives Education blog: http://go.usa.gov/WBjw
Image: Slave Manifest for the Brig Orleans, including Solomon Northup, listed as Plat Hamilton (#33)
Sgt. Thomas Shaw: Buffalo Soldier & Medal of Honor Recipient
Did you know Thomas Shaw, the subject of yesterday’s post, was a Buffalo Soldier and Medal of Honor recipient, and is interred at Arlington National Cemetery?
Feast your eyes on this historic booty our mateys at congressarchives have dug up, those scurvy dogs!
'Tis Speak like a Scurvy Pirate Day, 'n what better way to celebrate than wit' some scurvy pirate documents!
Band o’ pirates from th’ Barbary States preyed on ships off Africa’s western ‘n Mediterranean coasts fer centuries. After gainin’ independence, th’ U.S. lost British protection on th’ seven seas. In th’ 1780s ‘n 1790s, band o’ pirates captured ‘n enslaved many American sailors ‘n demanded exorbitant ransoms fer their return. Wit’ diplomatic means failin’, Congress authorized th’ creation o’ th’ U.S. Navy to defend against further attacks on American commerce.
In 1802 Congress responded to years o’ attacks by Barbary band o’ pirates. Though not a declaration o’ war, it supported President Jefferson’s decision to send a U.S. Navy squadron to th’ Mediterranean ‘n to use force to protect American citizens ‘n property.
An Act for the Protection of Commerce of the U.S. in the Mediterranean, 2/1/1802, Records of the U.S. Senate
"A Signal Victory"
"U.S. Brig Niagara off the Western
Sister Head of Lake Erie, Sept. 10th, 1813
It has pleased the Almighty to give to the arms
of the United States a signal victory over their enemies
on this Lake. The British squadron consisting of
two ships, two brigs, one schooner & one sloop
have this moment surrendered to the force under
my command, after a sharp conflict.
I have the honor to be
Your Obed. Servt.
Letter from Commodore Oliver Perry to Hon. Wm. Jones, Secy. of Navy, September 10, 1813
Early in the War of 1812, the Americans lost control of Detroit and Lake Erie to the British and their Native American allies. The U.S. Navy sent 28-year-old Oliver Hazard Perry to Lake Erie to build a squadron and retake that important waterway.
On September 10, 1813, the Americans defeated the British on Lake Erie. Commodore Perry declared the naval battle “a signal victory.” In a war marked by early failures, this victory secured Ohio and the territories of Michigan and Indiana. It also provided a needed boost in national morale and marked a rare surrender of a complete Royal Navy squadron.
With a crew that Perry once described as “a motley set, blacks, soldiers and boys,” the Americans met Britain’s powerful Royal Navy on Lake Erie. A flag flew above Perry’s ship, the Lawrence, emblazoned with the words “Don’t Give Up the Ship.” This battle cry was the dying command, in an earlier battle, of Perry’s friend Capt. James Lawrence (for whom the ship was named).
In the middle of the battle, however, Perry abandoned the Lawrence because it had become disabled and two-thirds of its crew were casualties. Refusing to surrender, Perry was rowed to the Niagara and then commanded his squadron to an unprecedented victory. After the battle was won, Perry wrote a short report about the victory in a letter to Secretary of the Navy William Jones, shown here.
Perry’s Letter will be on display in the East Rotunda Gallery of the National Archives through September 19, 2013.
"We have met the enemy and they are ours…"
Battle of Lake Erie. September 1813. Oliver Hazard Perry, standing. Copy of engraving by Phillibrown after W. H. Powell, published 1858.
An American squadron commanded by Oliver Hazard Perry defeated a British naval force 200 years ago in the Battle of Lake Erie on September 10, 1813. The victory secured American control of the lake for the remainder of the War of 1812.
Perry’s Letter to the Secretary of the Navy announcing “A Signal Victory” is on display at the National Archives through September 19. (Ed note: Updated 9/10/2013)
Mr Burr’s respectful Compliments. He requests Dr. Hosack to inform him of the present state of Genl. H. and of the hopes which are entertained of his recovery.
Mr. Burr begs to know at what hours of the [day] the Dr. may most probably be found at home, that he may repeat his inquiries. He would take it very kind if the Dr. would take the trouble of calling on him as he returns from Mr. Bayard’s.
Aaron Burrs inquires about Alexander Hamilton’s condition following their duel the previous day. Hamilton had been mortally wounded by Burr’s shot, and would succumb to his injuries on July 12.
This letter, my very dear Eliza, will not be delivered to you, unless I shall first have terminated my earthly career; to begin, as I humbly hope from redeeming grace and divine mercy, a happy immortality.
If it had been possible for me to have avoided the interview, my love for you and my precious children would have been alone a decisive motive. But it was not possible, without sacrifices which would have rendered me unworthy of your esteem. I need not tell you of the pangs I feel, from the idea of quitting you and exposing you to the anguish which I know you would feel. Nor could I dwell on the topic lest it should unman me.
The consolations of Religion, my beloved, can alone support you; and these you have a right to enjoy. Fly to the bosom of your God and be comforted. With my last idea; I shall cherish the sweet hope of meeting you in a better world.
Adieu best of wives and best of Women. Embrace all my darling Children for me.
July 4. 1804
On July 11, 1804 Alexander Hamilton was mortally wounded in duel with Aaron Burr, and would succumb to his wound the following day. This letter to his wife was written in the days prior, during which he noted his other reflections on the upcoming “interview.”
On my expected interview with Col Burr, I think it proper to make some remarks explanatory of my conduct, motives and views.
I am certainly desirous of avoiding this interview, for the most cogent reasons.
1 My religious and moral principles are strongly opposed to the practice of Duelling, and it would even give me pain to be obliged to shed the blood of a fellow creature in a private combat forbidden by the laws.
2 My wife and Children are extremely dear to me, and my life is of the utmost importance to them, in various views.
3 I feel a sense of obligation towards my creditors; who in case of accident to me, by the forced sale of my property, may be in some degree sufferers. I did not think my self at liberty, as a man of probity, lightly to expose them to this hazard.
4 I am conscious of no ill-will to Col Burr, distinct from political opposition, which, as I trust, has proceeded from pure and upright motives.
Lastly, I shall hazard much, and can possibly gain nothing by the issue of the interview.
But it was, as I conceive, impossible for me to avoid it. There were intrinsick difficulties in the thing, and artificial embarrassments, from the manner of proceeding on the part of Col Burr.
Intrinsick—because it is not to be denied, that my animadversions on the political principles character and views of Col Burr have been extremely severe, and on different occasions, I, in common with many others, have made very unfavourable criticisms on particular instances of the private conduct of this Gentleman.
In proportion as these impressions were entertained with sincerity and uttered with motives and for purposes, which might appear to me commendable, would be the difficulty (until they could be removed by evidence of their being erroneous), of explanation or apology. The disavowal required of me by Col Burr, in a general and indefinite form, was out of my power, if it had really been proper for me to submit to be so questionned; but I was sincerely of opinion, that this could not be, and in this opinion, I was confirmed by that of a very moderate and judicious friend whom I consulted. Besides that Col Burr appeared to me to assume, in the first instance, a tone unnecessarily peremptory and menacing, and in the second, positively offensive. Yet I wished, as far as might be practicable, to leave a door open to accommodation. This, I think, will be inferred from the written communications made by me and by my direction, and would be confirmed by the conversations between Mr van Ness and myself, which arose out of the subject.
I am not sure, whether under all the circumstances I did not go further in the attempt to accommodate, than a pun[c]tilious delicacy will justify. If so, I hope the motives I have stated will excuse me.
It is not my design, by what I have said to affix any odium on the conduct of Col Burr, in this case. He doubtless has heared of animadversions of mine which bore very hard upon him; and it is probable that as usual they were accompanied with some falshoods. He may have supposed himself under a necessity of acting as he has done. I hope the grounds of his proceeding have been such as ought to satisfy his own conscience.
I trust, at the same time, that the world will do me the Justice to believe, that I have not censured him on light grounds, or from unworthy inducements. I certainly have had strong reasons for what I may have said, though it is possible that in some particulars, I may have been influenced by misconstruction or misinformation. It is also my ardent wish that I may have been more mistaken than I think I have been, and that he by his future conduct may shew himself worthy of all confidence and esteem, and prove an ornament and blessing to his Country.
As well because it is possible that I may have injured Col Burr, however convinced myself that my opinions and declarations have been well founded, as from my general principles and temper in relation to similar affairs—I have resolved, if our interview is conducted in the usual manner, and it pleases God to give me the opportunity, to reserve and throw away my first fire, and I have thoughts even of reserving my second fire—and thus giving a double opportunity to Col Burr to pause and to reflect.
It is not however my intention to enter into any explanations on the ground. Apology, from principle I hope, rather than Pride, is out of the question.
To those, who with me abhorring the practice of Duelling may think that I ought on no account to have added to the number of bad examples—I answer that my relative situation, as well in public as private aspects, enforcing all the considerations which constitute what men of the world denominate honor, impressed on me (as I thought) a peculiar necessity not to decline the call. The ability to be in future useful, whether in resisting mischief or effecting good, in those crises of our public affairs, which seem likely to happen, would probably be inseparable from a conformity with public prejudice in this particular.
On July 11, 1804, Alexander Hamilton was mortally wounded in his duel (“interview”) with Aaron Burr. In this entry, he states his intention to deliberately miss:
"…I have resolved…to reserve and throw away my first fire, and I have thoughts even of reserving my second fire—and thus giving a double opportunity to Col Burr to pause and to reflect.”
"Photograph of an Indian Man on a McCormick Reaper"
From the Glass Negatives and Photographs File of the Bureau of Indian Affairs
Cyrus McCormick, inventor and founder of the McCormick Harvesting Machine company (later International Harvester), filed his first patent for a mechanical reaper on June 21, 1834.