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Collamer Family Papers

 Collection
Identifier: mss-093
The Collamer Family Papers consist of three cartons of letters, business papers, legal notes and dockets, account books, speeches and orations, and other manuscripts. Although the collection includes material from the early 1800s to the 1910s, the majority of the Papers fall in date between 1840 and 1865. The arrangement of the collection is chronological, within the following four major categories: Correspondence and miscellaneous papers; Legal papers; Speeches and writings; Bound manuscripts and printed volumes

The Collamer Papers contain an interesting miscellany of sources for Vermont and American historians. Students of social history will find much good material in the dozens of Jacob Collamer letters from Washington to his family in Woodstock in the 1840s-60s. There is a good deal on Vermont's role in the Civil War, including letters from such noted Green Mountain leaders as Erastus Fairbanks, Justin Smith Morrill, Frederick Holbrook, Peter T. Washburn, Eliakim P. Walton, and Frederick Billings (researchers will want to check Special Collections' holdings of the papers of notable mid-l9th century Vermonters for manuscripts that complement the Collamer collection on Vermont in the war). Collamer's legal notes and docket books offer some details on Vermont courts and legal practice in the 1810s-1850s. Three good 1813 letters to Collamer from University of Vermont friends assess the effects of the War of 1812 on UVM and the town of Burlington (carton 1, folder 2).

Although the collection is clearly not a full record of Collamer' s involvement in national affairs, there are some important pieces in the Papers. A few of the many Jacob Collamer notes and speeches in Carton 3 shed light on the antebellum and war years. Individual items of particular interest include: a series of December 1859 letters to Collamer on John Brown's visit to Vermont (1-35); Collamer's notes on the 1862 meeting of the Republicans in the U.S. Senate to discuss the prosecution of the Civil War (2-4 and 2-5); and four August-September 1864 letters between Collamer and John Austin Stevens, Jr., concerning the advisability of replacing Abraham Lincoln as Republican candidate for president (2-14). There are only a few letters from notable national leaders, and Collamer family tradition indicates that the correspondence from famous figures was pulled from the Papers in the early decades of the twentieth century. Other than Jacob Collamer's letters to his family, nearly all of the correspondence in the collection is addressed to him.

Dates

  • 1802-1918

Creator

Access:

Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Curator of Manuscripts.

Extent

3 Cartons, 5 volumes

Overview

The Collamer Family Papers consist of three cartons of letters, business papers, legal notes and dockets, account books, speeches and orations, and other manuscripts. Although the collection includes material from the early 1800s to the 1910s, the majority of the Papers fall in date between 1840 and 1865.

Biography

Jurist, United States Senator, Postmaster General of the United States, and a major figure in American politics during the Civil War, Jacob Collamer was born in Troy, New York, on January 8, 1791. He grew up in Burlington, Vermont, and graduated from the University of Vermont in 1810. Collamer studied law in St. Albans, Vermont, with time out for military service in the War of 1812, and gained admittance to the Vermont bar in 1813. After three years in practice at Randolph Center, he moved to Royalton in 1816; there he started a family with his new wife, Mary N. Stone of St. Albans, and began a steady rise in Vermont legal and political circles. His offices and service at the state and local levels included: four terms as Royalton 's representative to the Vermont General Assembly; assistant judge of the Vermont Supreme Court from 1833 to 1842; delegate to the Vermont Constitutional Convention of 1836; and president of the Vermont Medical College at Woodstock from 1855 to 1862. In 1836 Collamer moved from Royalton to Woodstock, where he made his home for the rest of his life.

Collamer exchanged state for national politics in 1842 with his election to the U.S. House of Representatives. He served three terms as a high-tariff Whig member of the House, and in 1849 became Postmaster General in Zachary Taylor's new administration. After resigning with the rest of the cabinet upon President Taylor's death in July 1850, he returned to service on the Vermont bench until his election to the U.S. Senate in 1854. Collamer joined the Republican Party soon after its formation, and became a leader in its conservative wing. Reelected to the Senate in 1860, he exerted a quiet but powerful influence in Washington during the Civil War, reportedly serving as one of Abraham Lincoln's principal advisors on the extension of the wartime powers of the presidency. Vermonters were proud of Collamer' s achievements, and his death at Woodstock on November 9, 1865, brought eulogies describing him as one of the state's greatest leaders. Sixteen years later, Vermont selected Collamer and Ethan Allen to represent the state in the national Hall of Statuary at the Capitol in Washington.

Physical Location

Special Collections, Bailey/Howe Library

Related Material

Other Jacob Collamer material is available in the department's Catalogued Manuscripts File, the George Perkins Marsh Papers, and the Henry Stevens Papers.

Separated Material

Oversize and Printed Bound Volumes
  1. Oversize bound manuscripts: Horace Chaney, general store account book, Royalton, Vermont, 1821-1824
  2. Oversize bound manuscripts: Horace Chaney, general store account book, Royalton, Vermont, 1826-1827
  3. Printed volume: Inductive Grammar. Designed for Beginners, by "An Instructer" (Windsor: S. Ide, 1829); publisher's presentation copy to Jacob Collamer 1829
  4. Printed volume: D. H. Hegewisch, Introduction to Historical Chronology, translated by James Marsh (Burlington: Chauncey Goodrich, 1837); Jacob Collamer's copy, signed, 1837
  5. Printed volume: George Perkins Marsh, Lectures on the English Language (New York: Charles Scribner, 1860); author's presentation copy to Jacob Collamer, 1860.
Title
Inventory of the The Collamer Family Papers, 1802-1918
Status
completed
Date
1998
Language of description
English

Revision Statements

  • June 2, 2006: This electronic finding aid was updated from EAD Version 1.0 to EAD Version 2002, and from SGML to XML by Chris Burns.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Vermont Libraries, Special Collections Repository

Contact:
Bailey/Howe Library
Burlington Vermont 05405 U.S.A. US
(802) 656-2138
(802) 656-4038 (Fax)