Repatriating the American Archive in the Antebellum U.S.

Edward Everett, circa 1858, reprinted in Carl Schurz’s The Reminiscences of Carl Schurz, vol. 1 (New York: The Maclure Company, 1907), 162.

Edward Everett’s diplomatic bag

From his post as U.S. Minister to the Court of St. James in the early 1840s, Edward Everett (1794-1865) worried often about his diplomatic bag. It oscillated across the Atlantic, swinging from London, through Liverpool, and westward to the United States. He was persistently anxious about its whereabouts, how it was packaged and secured, whose hands it passed through, and what postage fees it incurred. From London, the canvas bag was padlocked and borne by someone vetted by Everett. It departed for Liverpool, where the U.S. consul could see that it embarked unmolested for Boston. There, Everett’s agent removed certain letters and papers, then sent it southward to New York, where the same process was repeated, before it finally arrived at the State Department in Washington, D.C.[1]

The sanctity of a diplomatic bag is a basic feature of inter-state relations. While the real power among states can be starkly unequal, the bag serves as a metonym—twice removed— for the abstract legal equality of nations. Seasoned diplomat and preeminent U.S. legal scholar Henry Wheaton, who served as the minister to Prussia during Everett’s tenure,[2] cast the diplomat as a roving repository of national sovereignty in his major work, Elements of International Law (1836): “Representing the rights, interests, and dignity of the sovereign or State by whom he is delegated, his person is sacred and inviolable.”[3] Diplomats, in short, could be under only the legal jurisdiction of their home, rather than host, country. The sacredness of the diplomat’s person extended to his papers. Even amid war, Wheaton wrote, couriers bearing papers to and from legations “are exempt from every species of visitation and search.”[4] These were indeed practical measures, deemed essential to carrying out diplomatic tasks. But they also show that a diplomat, such as the American minister Edward Everett, carrying his nation’s sovereignty through space, could transmute the papers into sovereign property.

Of the vast amount of correspondence that Everett received and dispatched during his four years in London, original historical manuscripts and copies of documents culled from private and state collections were legion. In London, as he negotiated a range of territorial and maritime disputes, he won access to the centralized British State Papers Office and the private collections of dispersed individuals. Everett positioned himself as an archival engine, which drew papers pertaining to colonial America and the revolutionary period to his legation. They were then packed and emitted to recipients along America’s eastern seaboard. While these historical manuscripts had never belonged in any legal sense to Everett’s nation-state, we might still consider their collection or duplication a re-patriation: extracted from one nation’s repositories and enshrined in another’s, these records from the colonial and revolutionary were meanwhile inscribed in what Everett perceived as the nation’s transcendent historical arc—that is, precisely where they ought to be.

In the diplomatic bag—sanctified, in theory, by international law, and anxiously defended by Everett—we can imagine the minister’s official business shuffling with these historical papers, destined for historical societies, historian-collectors, and other American institutions. The bag’s trajectory across the Atlantic suggests the multiple uses of this diplomatic correspondence, as it shuttled between the national, on one hand, and the local and personal, on another: destined by packet ship for Boston, rather than the swifter route to New York, or the logical destination of the District of Columbia.

The diplomatic bag’s route reflects the unlikely entwinement at the U.S. legation of Everett’s personal archival labor and the official geopolitical goals of his ministership under the Tyler administration. While Everett’s diplomatic efforts were largely consistent with the interests of the U.S. South, his archival work served to elevate the historical narrative of northern exceptionalism as the guiding force in the nation’s destiny. In 1841, it was uncertain that Everett would ever win the public position that enabled him to undertake his extensive archival collecting in Britain. His nomination to serve as U.S. Minister to the Court of St. James had languished through the summer. First proposed by newly inaugurated President John Tyler in June, the appointment then struggled through the gauntlet of sectional politics.[5] Democrats in league with southern Whigs kept it tabled as most other confirmed ministers departed for foreign posts. At the fulcrum of the dispute over Everett were competing concerns about his stance on slavery and how that would skew the nation’s affairs with its crucial foreign relationship, Britain.[6] This stalemate cast into relief the extremes of sectional anxiety: the southern press railed that the elevation of a radical abolitionist would doom the country, while northern critics charged that to demand an oath to slaveholding orthodoxy would radicalize northerners and likewise unravel the union.[7] In September, a scant majority arrayed along sectional lines approved Everett.[8] From the European continent, where he had meandered with his family since losing reelection as Massachusetts’s governor, he crossed the channel to assume the post.

Although William Lloyd Garrison’s Liberator would swiftly declare this a “Great Anti-Slavery Triumph!”, U.S. slaveholders and their advocates found an extraordinary representative   of their interests in Everett during his four-year tenure. Recently, Matthew Karp’s This Vast Southern Empire has illuminated the southern ascendency within the foreign policy machinery of the federal government in the antebellum period.[9] In most respects, Everett appeared the consummate New Englander: graduate of Harvard, Unitarian minister, friend to the European elite, congressman and then governor of Massachusetts. In London, Everett disdained the hostile bluster of his predecessor, Virginia Democrat Andrew Stevenson, who had once threatened a duel with Irish independence leader Daniel O’Connell over the latter’s charge that the U.S. minister was a “slave-breeder.”[10] Yet, in practice the bulk of Everett’s labors abroad advanced the southern foreign policy aspirations that Karp limns.[11] His deep erudition and diligence served to extract remuneration from the British for their seizure of American vessels suspected of slaving, to lower tariffs for southern goods, and to assuage fears that Britain would extend its anti-slavery efforts in the Atlantic to include Texas, where southern planters expanded the plantation complex through this decade.[12]

However, Everett’s sponsorship of southern interests related to another, larger leitmotif of his diplomacy, where it existed in surprising juxtaposition with the archival work he pursued from his first to last day in London in 1845. Everett’s tenure was consumed by the drawing and redrawing of lines, in both the defense of southern slave-based economies and a range of other issues. In the twilight of the post-colonial period of U.S. relations with Britain, he exhibited an exceptional commitment to delineate the final contours of disputes lingering from the Revolutionary War: where would the Northeast and Northwest boundaries of the U.S.-Canadian border lie, and what rights would American vessels hold in Atlantic and Caribbean waters. Alongside these geopolitical concerns, Everett worked to perforate the lines barring Americans’ access to British archives, and to reassert others around his nation’s own historical identity.

Accessing the British archive

From his first month in London, Everett displayed an impatience to secure access to historical documents in the British Foreign Papers Office, other government repositories, and the private caches of elite individuals scattered throughout Britain. Everett simultaneously pursued his own historical research while scouring the records for definitive support of U.S. land claims in the Northeast Boundary controversy, which would be concluded by Secretary Webster and Lord Ashburton in Washington, D.C., the following autumn.[13] Turning to the Pacific Northwest land dispute with Britain, he further sought to mobilize the American representatives in Madrid and Paris—Washington Irving and Lorenzo Draper—to seek precedents for American claims lodged in those national archives.[14] In these major cases, the collection of papers necessary for telling the nation’s history doubled as evidence in those ongoing territorial disputes.

Meanwhile, on a deeper personal register, Everett derived satisfaction from this access to state records of the colonies, and even more so in the act of prying documents from the descendants of illustrious British statesmen. To George Bancroft, then Collector of Customs in Boston, he bragged of his ability to communicate at will with the State Paper Office, “a privilege I presume never granted to any foreigner.”[15] Everett particularly relished the many small encounters through which he gained access to private papers. Visiting in 1842 the elderly grandson of Pennsylvania’s founding figure, William Penn, he encountered an aristocratic sanctuary of relics to Granville Penn’s grandfather: a treaty between William Penn and the Lenape Indians; a hunk of the “treaty tree” under which it was signed, and an autographed letter of Penn to James II.[16] While gathering documents crucial to the colonial history of Pennsylvania, in this pilgrimage to a scion so devoted to his ancestor, Everett felt especially justified in repatriating papers to their proper place in the U.S.

Leveraging his relationship with the recently appointed Secretary of State for Foreign Affairs, Lord Aberdeen, Everett also eased access to British archives for the sundry American agents then in Europe on collecting missions for their state historical societies. John Romeyn Brodhead, former diplomat to the Hague, was dispatched in 1841 by the New York Historical Society and state legislature to gather copies of the record of Dutch New Netherland and colonial New York; Benjamin Perley Poore, an attaché to the U.S. mission in Brussels, culled French and British archives through the 1840s for his state, Massachusetts; Israel K. Tefft, a recent founder of the Georgia Historical Society, sent his state’s representative Reverend William Howard to gain access to Georgia’s colonial record in Britain. Meanwhile, Bancroft, then emerging as the pre-eminent nineteenth-century historian, began to amass evidence for his mammoth History of the United States of America.[17] When Bancroft returned as U.S. minister in 1846, he would use this precedent to gain further access for himself and others.[18]

To make this possible, Everett developed a familiar appeal to British gatekeepers. He argued that these American interlopers were animated by abstract intellectual and literary motives, and that British acquiescence would be in the spirit of universal brotherhood. Securing this access to archives often happened on the margins of urgent affairs of state. Following an uninspired audience with the Queen at Buckingham Palace in the spring of 1842, Lord Aberdeen and Everett sequestered themselves in a picture gallery to discuss easing Brodhead’s access to the State Papers Office, which might set the precedent for future requests to access state papers.[19] In his correspondence with Aberdeen and other gatekeepers, Everett held firm in reasoning why American citizens should commission transcriptions of British government documents: they were of purely historical, literary, and local interest, concerning the realm of history rather than present affairs. The line Everett drew for their inquiries was 1783. This implied that papers relating to the interests of the United States as an equal, sovereign nation with Britain would be untouched—but, more pragmatically, it obscured his own interest in finding evidence for American claims to the Northeast around the 1783 Treaty of Paris.[20] To overcome resistance to this, however, he cast an image of himself as a reasonable, fraternal trans-Atlantic ally, and curated the impression that copies or originals of documents could safely transit the Atlantic through this channel.[21]

Everett had perfected a new method of requesting access to British archives, which other Americans would follow. Upon his arrival as U.S. minister in 1846, George Bancroft adopted Everett’s approach. His draft letter that November to Aberdeen’s successor, Lord Palmerston, reveals his close attention to the tone and justification behind the request.

My Lord,

Edward Everett, when American minister, obtained for me from Lord Arberdeen the privilege of direct corresponding directly with the chief clerk of the State Paper Office and through their arrangement for the purpose of possessing myself of copies of [“very” erased] many papers, that were of value to me illustrating our the early history of the United State. Being present, it would be a great benefit to me, if your Lordship As I now reside within sight of Westminster, I beg leave to request that encouraged by what his lordship communicated to me, to request your Lordship to give such directions, as will enable me personally to look over any papers in the State Paper office, connected with American History and Transactions, with a view to indicate what I might may wish to have copied.[22]

Here, we see Bancroft diminishing the quantity of papers sought (from “very” or “many” to simply “papers”); his subjective benefit from their value (“of value to me” to “illustrating”), and the distinctly national interest of them (“the early history of the United States” to “our early history”).

While this language implied a trans-Atlantic confraternity transcending nationalism, these American envoys were moved by strong beliefs about the nations and localities to which certain documents belonged. This question reverberated in many of the newly independent nation-states of the Atlantic world, where archivists reached across contemporary borders to gather the records belonging to their conceptions of a national past. For representatives of the U.S., these questions were especially potent: The shallow origins of their own nation compared with European nation-states and the looming existential threat of the sectional divide added exceptional urgency to the question of defining the nation’s historical identity and trajectory.

In another, broader sense, by enabling the repatriation of documents scattered in European capitals and private homes, the U.S. diplomatic and consular service added an archival component to a perennial struggle to assert what was and was not American. By the 1840s, a definition of national citizenship did not yet exist in the U.S. However, through the work of the consular and diplomatic service, Americans abroad faced less trouble proving that they were in fact Americans than ever before. Especially during the Napoleonic Wars, impressment in foreign navies was common, and consuls were beseeched daily by mariners claiming their rights as citizens. As “the embodiment of the United States in a foreign port,” consuls became a court for determining identity and then agents for shepherding citizens home.[23] In Everett’s and other US representatives’ negotiations to determine which papers belonged where, we might see a late, archival shadow of this longer federally-sponsored effort to delineate who (and what) constituted the American nation.


The past repatriated

While Everett facilitated more direct access to the British archive for a few individuals,  American historical societies across the Atlantic made these resources and the historical associations they carried available to a far larger population. By the 1840s, dozens of societies had burgeoned across the expanding U.S. They became sites for research, prestige, public lectures, and the production of history books and proceedings that were dispersed to far-flung subscribers and members.[24] Following his long archival tour as the state’s “Historical Agent” through the Netherlands, Britain, and France, John Romeyn Brodhead announced his accomplishments in a detailed account at one such archive, the New York Historical Society. His contribution to its library comprised masses of copied manuscripts, arranged in 47 folio volumes. For Brodhead, their value lay not in the precise information contained in particular original documents—indeed, he seemed unconcerned that he had amassed copies.[25] He vaunted instead the exceptional access that Everett had secured to the State Paper Office, “a privilege of a high order,” particularly given that it represented a portion of the “Sovereign’s own private library.”[26] To access and extract manuscripts—even copies—was to claim an expanse of the republic’s historical record from the monarch’s storehouse. And if not their originality, Brodhead could value their comprehensiveness, as they encompassed the full incoming and outgoing correspondence of the colonial governors of New York. The impact, Brodhead concluded, was that, “Every document rescued, every memorial preserved, every scrap added to our Records, is an additional link in the chain that binds us to our country.”[27] His address was followed by a closing benediction from a clergyman. By celebrating their retrieval from Britain, announcing their arrival—indeed, sanctification—in an American archive, and scripting the citizen’s relationship with them, Brodhead punctuated the far end of the transatlantic arc activated by Everett.

While Everett abetted a foreign policy driven strongly by southern interests, Brodhead’s remarks reflect the strongly northern U.S. historical identity promoted by his archival work. As Brodhead labored mainly to document a privileged role for his state and its elite within the national story, others used the British archives to inscribe a broader array of individuals within a transcendent history guided by the North—and New England in particular. Among the coterie of American expatriates who gathered at Everett’s London lodgings in these years, James Savage passed through in the spring of 1842 on his genealogical journey through Britain. Monomaniacal in his effort to revise the existing register of New England ancestry, he corresponded, roamed, gathered, and categorized through the following decades to build the Genealogical Dictionary of the First Settlers of New England (1860-2), a compendium of family data effectively crowd-sourced from many dozens of contributors spread across New England.[28] In Britain, he sought to trace these roots to their very ends in the parishes from which the first New England settlers hailed. Many in New England eagerly awaited the results, and indeed lived vicariously through Savage’s letters discussing his journey. Harvard Professor Edward Tyrrel Channing, for one, wrote Savage that spring, “I think of your contemplated pilgrimage to our Fathers’ home, with the feelings of a child not yet wholly weaned from the old homestead.”[29],[30]

Savage’s work reveals how this international archival access enabled a larger, but nonetheless sharply constrained, set of Americans and their families admission into a master narrative of American civilization emerging in these years. Consuls’ and diplomats’ homes often doubled as thoroughfares for American expatriates. At Everett’s home, on an evening in July of 1842, James Savage boasted to the minister that he had added fifty new names of the first New England settler families, nearly doubling the known list.[31] Learning of Savage’s headway, leading historian-archivist Jared Sparks celebrated, “What a host of Pilgrim fathers and mothers you have summoned before us. These records are realities, and will stand as beacon-lights for all future travelers in the intricate paths of historical research.”[32] These lines in Savage’s genealogical ledger may seem of quaint, antiquarian value. But for an American population increasingly preoccupied by purity, and in a nation that would soon be irredeemably riven by sectional identity, such claims to the past were hardly inert in the present. In Professor Channing’s “wean[ing] from the old homestead”, we observe him laying claim to a privileged past that could double as a claim to social and cultural centrality in the “adulthood” of his nation.

Everett repatriated

Upon Everett’s recall from London three years later, he spoke at a public dinner in Plymouth, Massachusetts on Forefathers’ Day, the forerunner to Thanksgiving, celebrated on December 22.[33] Before the audience, Everett depicted his recently ended ministership as a pilgrimage that fused filial piety and national exceptionalism. He spurred his auditors to make a physical, epistolary, or at least psychic, passage to those grounds. For those who would never physically trace his steps, he guided the assembled in a spiritual journey to the church in Boston, England:

I went many miles out of my way to behold this venerable pile; and while I mused beneath its arches, ascended its grand tower, and stood before the altar at which [John] Cotton ministered (whose blood flows in the veins of my own children,) I gained new impressions of the Christian heroism, the spiritual grandeur and beauty…that they might freely worship God…in face of the gaunt terrors of this unsubdued wilderness.[34]

Pushing against older English and mounting American prejudice that the Pilgrims were a “handful of impractical fanatics,” Everett then insisted that they were at the forefront of academic, political, and theological study in their own time. The Pilgrims’ immersion in the ancient constitutional liberties of England furnished a “precious inheritance for the United States.” Everett was quick to assert his children’s privileged biological link with Cotton, and his ideal of American identity excluded vast swaths of its inhabitants. But he nonetheless pictured a capacious, thriving family tree, which could encompass those with more glancing claims to that settler generation. Citing Bancroft, he imagined this inheritance suffusing perhaps one-third of the population, which should proudly recognize it:

May we not, without partiality, say, that to whatever portion of the common inheritance they are called, they will have no reason to be ashamed of their origin; and that the warmest local patriotism can form no wish more auspicious for the younger members of the republic, that they may grow up on the good old foundation, to which this day and this spot are sacred?[35]

Savage strived to populate the geography of England with genealogical poles to which early mid-nineteenth-century Americans could tether their identities. Celebrating the Pilgrims, Everett further sanctified those lines for a more expansive population of descendants. And by asserting the progressive values of this ancestry, he simultaneously projected this population into the nation’s future.

Much of Everett’s energy through these years was devoted to making geopolitical and legal lines indelible and securing American populations and resources behind them. He worked to disentangle the last, lingering disputes over British and American sovereignty in North America, and to check the hegemonic pretentions of the British navy in the Atlantic. Yet as he solidified these lines between nations, he helped to draw others, ones of a more sectional valence. Much of the archival labor he supported served to bind a select portion of Americans to a transcendent narrative of the nation’s history, centered in the colonial heritage of the Northeast, and the Pilgrim founding in particular. If the federal power wielded by Everett in London served mainly to advance a foreign policy that would sustain slaveholding interests until the Civil War, he also converted his office into an archival engine—moving documents across the thresholds of archives and nations, and devoted to ensconcing the North’s preeminence within the very national narrative over which the Civil War would become the brutal contest.

Derek Kane O’Leary

Derek Kane O’Leary works on the early U.S. and the World and Atlantic History. His dissertation deals with the construction of archives, historical consciousness, and Romantic historiography in the early U.S. He also co-organizes the Interdisciplinary Working Group on the Early US, which brings together graduate students and faculty in sundry departments to present and engage with new research, and co-edits the Journal of the History of Ideas Blog.


[1] Edward Everett to JW White, 3 December 1844, Ms. N-1201, Massachusetts Historical Society.

[2] Bemoaning his own workload, Everett accused Wheaton, who wintered in Paris, of “having little or nothing to do” at his post. Everett to Alexander Hill Everett, 23 December 1844, MHS.

[3] Henry Wheaton, Elements of International Law (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1855), 283. First published in 1836.

[4] Ibid., 300.

[5] Tyler’s Secretary of State, Daniel Webster, was behind the support for Everett’s nomination. Webster and Everett had a decades-old personal, political, and intellectual relationship; more immediately, Everett appeared an ideal representative in the forthcoming negotiations over the North-east Boundary Dispute between Maine and Canada. Everett’s auxiliary role in the Webster-Ashburton Treaty is dissected in John O. Geiger, “A Scholar Meets John Bull: Edward Everett as United States Minister to England, 1841-1845” The New England Quarterly, vol. 49, no. 4 (December, 1976): 577-595.

[6] Everett’s views had shifted during his political career, roughly in concert with the movement of the abolitionist movement from the margins to the mainstream of northern identity. As a congressman defending John Quincy Adams in the 1820s, he had vocally defended the institution as an unfortunate but necessary feature of the union, yet by his gubernatorial tenure in the late 1830s had become more optimistic about dismantling slavery in the U.S., as the British had in their West Indies colonies. Outlined in “Edward Everett,” Philanthropist, 1 December 1841, Proquest American Periodicals, 4.

[7] “The Tables Turning,” New York Evangelist, 4 September 1841, ProQuest American Periodicals, 142, summarized a number of northern opposition pieces. Everett was not a radical abolitionist. Though his beliefs shifted toward opposition to slavery in this period, they remained within the northern mainstream of tepid antagonism, far from Garrison’s immediatism.

[8] Senate Journal, 27th Cong., 1st sess., 13 September 1841.

[9] Matthew Karp, This Vast Southern Empire: Slaveholders at the Helm of American Foreign Policy (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2016).

[10] Francis F. Wayland, “Slavebreeding in America: The Stevenson-O’Connell Imbroglio of 1838” The Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, vol. 50, no. 1 (January, 1942): 47-54.

[11] Matthew Mason, Apostle of Union: A Political Biography of Edward Everett (Chapel Hill: UNC Press, 2016), 137-146 discusses Everett’s cognitive dissonance between his personal beliefs and promotion of a U.S. foreign policy agenda driven by southern interests.

[12] Writing to his older brother, Alexander Hill Everett, in 1844, he complained, “My colleagues have little or nothing to do. Mr. Irving spends his summers at Versailles, Mr. Wheaton his winters at Paris, Mr. Jenifer has been absent some months from Vienna, and as far as I know there is next to nothing doing at St. Petersburgh,–but I find myself obliged to work harder than ever before in my life…” Edward Everett to Alexander Hill Everett, 23 December 1844, Edward Everett Papers, P349, Massachusetts Historical Society.

[13] As late as that summer of 1842, he insisted to Webster that he believed cartographic proof of the U.S.’s most ambitious claims lay in the British archives. Edward Everett to Daniel Webster, 16 June 1842, MHS. Francis M. Carroll, A Good and Wise Measure: The Search for the Canadian–American Boundary, 1783–1842 (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2001) is the major account of this controversy.

[14] Writing to Irving that fall, he stressed, “If by a judicious application in the proper quarter at Madrid, we could procure a copy of all the documents brought forward by Spain in 1790 in her controversy with England about Nootka, it might very materially aid us as now representing the rights of Spain in that quarter. You will perceive the great delicacy of the investigation and if you think it prudent to undertake it, you will know how to put it in the most promising train. The sooner it is commenced the better. We have not an hour to lose.” Edward Everett to Washington Irving, 31 November 1843, MHS.

[15] Everett to George Bancroft, 30 September 1843, MHS.

[16] He recounted this in the 26 July 1842 entry to his journal. Everett complained about the disorganization and incompleteness of British records, which required a peripatetic collecting practice. He sniped that, “Each minister considers the letters he receives as private property and carries them off.” Quoted in George T. Gill, “Edward Everett and the Northeastern Boundary Controversy” New England Quarterly vol. 42, no. 2 (June, 1969), 207.

[17] Bancroft’s magnum opus would appear between 1837 and 1874.

[18] In a long letter to Lord Palmerston on November 28, 1846, Bancroft bolstered his case by including Everett’s 1843 letter on Bancroft’s behalf to access state records, along with Lord Aberdeen’s approval of the request. George Bancroft Papers, 28 November 1846, Bancroft to Lord Palmerston, MHS, Ms. N-1795, Box 16.

[19] Everett, journal entry, 27 April 1842, MHS.

[20] Elijah Gould, Among the Powers of the Earth: The American Revolution and the Making of a New World Empire (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2016).

[21] He did so in contrast with another ardent American collector, Peter Force, who “had frightened Lord Palmerston,” Everett learned, “by asking for copies of every thing in the public offices which had relation to the History of the Revolution.” Edward Everett to George Bancroft, 2 January 1843, MHS.

[22] Bancroft, 11 November 1846 draft letter to Lord Palmerston, MHS, Box 16.

[23] Matthew Taylor Raffety, The Republic Afloat: Law, Honor, and Citizenship in Maritime America (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013), 151-173. These questions are examined at more length in Denver Brunsman, The Evil Necessity: British Naval Impressment in the eighteenth-century Atlantic World (Charlottesville: The University of Virginia, Press, 2013).

[24] Houston Gwynne Jones, Historical Consciousness in the Early Republic: The Origins of State Historical Societies, Museums, and Collections, 1791-1861 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina, Press, 1995) provides the most detailed institutional history of historical societies.

[25] Indeed, in a period when many were stirred by the mania for autograph collecting and how handwriting could reveal one’s character, this acceptance of copies is intriguing. The connection between phrenology and handwriting is discussed in Tamara Plakins Thornton, Handwriting in America (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1996).

[26] John Romeyn Brodhead, “An Address Delivered Before the New York Historical Society” (New York: Press of the New York Historical Society, 1844), 4-8.

[27] Brodhead, “Address”, 46.

[28] The major recent work on U.S. genealogy is Francois Weil, Family Trees: A History of Genealogy in America (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2013). The field remains underdeveloped in the context of the U.S. history.

[29] James Savage Genealogical Papers, E.J. Channing to James Savage, 6 April 1842, Ms. N-142, MHS.

[30] As for other researchers, Everett modulated his request to Lord Aberdeen on Savage’s behalf to both placate and flatter. Savage’s “researches,” he explained, “are exclusively literary and historical, undertaken solely to gratify a liberal curiosity, and to throw light on the character of the founders of his native country. He has no political object whatever, and does not wish to pursue his investigations below the years 1688.” Everett successfully positioned him as emulating the British tradition of antiquarianism. And in early July, Everett could report to Savage that Lord Aberdeen had granted him access to early colonial records on the same terms as Brodhead and others: Savage would note what he wished to have copied, and Aberdeen would approve on a page by page basis. Edward Everett to Lord Aberdeen, 29 June and 2 July 1842, MHS.

[31] Everett, journal entry, 17 July 1842, MHS.

[32] Jared Sparks to James Savage, 11 September 1843, MHS.

[33] Edward Everett, Orations and Speeches on Several Occasions, vol. II (Boston: Little, Brown, and Company, 1865), 484-492.

[34] Ibid., 486.

[35] Ibid., 490-491.

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