Oregon Trail notebooks, 1852–1853. Luzern Humphrey,

Luzern Humphrey Nez Perce listOhio farmer Luzern Humphrey recorded his overland journey from Kanesville, Iowa, to the Oregon Territory, as part of his efforts to create a travel guide. Shown here are his descriptions of Fort Laramie and the rocky scenery of the Nebraska Territory, as well as a list of English words and their counterparts in the language of the Nez Perce Indians. Gift of Philip Ashton Rollins, Class of 1889. Luzern Humphrey Papers, Manuscripts Division.

Geography schoolbook, 1750. Benjamin Lincoln (1733–1810),

Benjamin Lincoln schoolbook no retouchIn his notebook of extracts from the popular school text Geography Anatomiz’d by Patrick Gordon (ca. 1700), 17-year-old Benjamin Lincoln studied the government, religion, climate, and commodities of the major countries and continents of the known world, along with the American colonies from New York and New Jersey, shown here, to Carolina. Lincoln would serve as a major general in the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. General Manuscripts Bound, no. 608, Manuscripts Division.

FOR FURTHER EXPLORATION: See this item’s catalog record.

Account book of the slave ship Nancy, 1793.

Nancy account book C0199_no1226_v2_pp2_3

Although Rhode Island enacted a law in 1787 forbidding its citizens to participate in the slave trade, the ship Nancy, captained by James B. Cook, continued to sail from Providence to the Upper Guinea coast between 1791 and 1803, trading rum and other goods for African slaves. This account book records the number and price of slaves and the South American plantation owners who purchased them. Gift of Capt. Edward Naumberg, Jr. General Manuscripts Bound, no. 1226, Manuscripts Division.

FOR FURTHER EXPLORATION: See this item’s catalog record.

“A Plan of the Boundary Lines…between the Provinces of Maryland and Pennsylvania,” 1768. Charles Mason (1728–1786) and Jeremiah Dixon (1733–1779),

Mason Dixon C1311_MS Map_23From 1763 to 1768, Charles Mason and Jeremiah Dixon surveyed the boundary lines between Pennsylvania and Maryland, and between Maryland and Delaware. Drawn and signed by both men, this map shows the eastern section of the boundary. The first official use of the term “Mason’s and Dixon’s Line” appeared over fifty years later in the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which decreed that slavery would be prohibited above the line and allowed below it. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John H. Doran, in memory of their son, Joseph I. Doran II, Class of 1935. Manuscript Maps Collection, Manuscripts Division.

FOR FURTHER EXPLORATION: See the finding aid for this item.

Thirteenth Amendment, 1865.

13th Amendment cropThe Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution formally abolished slavery in the United States. It was passed by Congress on January 31, 1865. The next day, President Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865) and the members of Congress who voted for its passage signed this souvenir copy, one of at least fourteen such copies. The amend-ment was ratified by the states on December 6, 1865, eight months after the end of the Civil War. Gift of William G. Mennen, Jr., Class of 1936. Abraham Lincoln Collection, Manuscripts Division.

FOR FURTHER EXPLORATION: See the finding aid for this item.

Letter to Harriet Cook Young, June 23, 1846. Brigham Young (1801–1877),

WC004_Bx1_F1_BYoung_ltr_rectoAfter Joseph Smith (1805–1844), the founder of the Mormon faith, was killed by a mob in 1844, Brigham Young took over the leadership of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To escape anti-Mormon persecution, he led a vanguard westward, reaching the Salt Lake Valley in July 1847. During the journey, he wrote this letter to his fourth wife, Harriet Cook Young (1824–1898), whom he had secretly married and left in Nauvoo, Illinois, urging her to come west. She arrived in Salt Lake City in September 1848. Gift of Edith Young Booth. Brigham Young Collection, Manuscripts Division.

FOR FURTHER EXPLORATION: See the finding aid for this item.

Letter to William Sprague, May 1, 1861. Frederick Douglass (1818–1895),

C1210_Bx1_F7_Douglass_ltr_p1Two weeks after war had been declared, the orator, writer, and former slave Frederick Douglass wrote to clergyman William Sprague (1795–1876), “I find life no burden but rather a precious privilege. . . Once the cause of the country has become the cause of the slave, the difficulty of separating the one from the other, is a ground of hope that in the almost certain triumph of the country the cause of justice and freedom to the bondman will triumph.” Miscellaneous Slavery Collection, Manuscripts Division.

FOR FURTHER EXPLORATION: See the finding aid for this item.

Civil War diary, 1863. A. C. Barber,

Barber Diary C0938_no132_pp14_15The United States Christian Commission was formed in 1861 to respond to soldiers’ needs after the First Battle of Bull Run. Five thousand volunteer delegates distributed millions of dollars’ worth of supplies to battlefields, camps, hospitals, and prisons. Walking among still-unburied soldiers and horses after the Battle of Gettysburg, A. C. Barber distributed tracts and writing paper to wounded Confederate soldiers, wrote letters to the relatives of those who had died in battle, and recorded his observations in this Christian Commission notebook. General Manuscripts Bound, no. 132, Manuscripts Division.

FOR FURTHER EXPLORATION: See this item’s catalog record.

Letter to Hannah Thomson, September 15, 1783. Charles Thomson (1729–1784),

C0892_Bx2_F21_Thomson_ltr_p1Charles Thomson served as secretary of the Continental Congress for 14 years. At Princeton, the first seat of Congress after the Revolution, he wrote this letter informing his wife Hannah (ca. 1729–1807) that Virginia had ceded its claims to land beyond the Ohio River to the newly sovereign United States. This territory, he says, “will give a great weight to the authority of Congress. It gives them the sovereignty and property of a country at least five hundred miles square.” Charles Thomson Letters, Manuscripts Division.

FOR FURTHER EXPLORATION: See the finding aid for this item.

Letter to Robert Livingston, January 16, 1804. James Madison (1751–1836),

C0207_Bx1_F20_Madison_ltrAs Secretary of State under Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826), James Madison supervised the Louisiana Purchase, which doubled the size of the United States by adding more than 800,000 square miles and paving the way for westward migration. In this letter to Robert Livingston (1746–1813), who had negotiated the purchase with France, he announces the formal delivery of the “Province of Louisiana” to the United States for $15 million. James Madison Collection, Manuscripts Division.

FOR FURTHER EXPLORATION: See the finding aid for this item.

Letter to Nicholas Roosevelt, June 24, 1810. Robert Fulton (1765–1815),

C0199_no406_Fulton_p2Robert Fulton is widely credited with developing the first commercially successful steamboat in 1807, which revolutionized American transportation and commerce. He wrote this letter, with specifications for building a steamboat engine, to his partner Nicholas Roosevelt (1767–1854), a fellow inventor who introduced vertical paddle wheels for steamboats. Gift of Mrs. Marshall L. Brown in memory of Cyrus H. McCormick, Class of 1879. General Manuscripts Bound, no. 406, Manuscripts Division.

FOR FURTHER EXPLORATION: See this item’s catalog record.

Journal, 1773. Philip Vickers Fithian (1747–1776),

C0199_no349_Fithian_p33The diary kept by Philip Vickers Fithian (Class of 1772) while working as a tutor to the family of Robert Carter III (1728–1804) is a rich source of information about early Virginia plantation life. His diary is open to the conclusion of an entry dated December 21 describing the sounds of a harmonica being played after dinner, and to the beginning of an entry dated December 23 criticizing the treatment of slaves at Carter’s Nomini Hall and neighboring plantations. After the American Revolution, Carter came to believe that slavery was immoral and implemented a program of gradual manumission that freed his nearly 500 slaves. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. E. W. Hitchcock. General Manuscripts Bound, no. 349, Manuscripts Division.

FOR FURTHER EXPLORATION: See this item’s catalog record.

“Lectures on Moral Philosophy,” 1774. John Witherspoon (1723–1794),

Witherspoon C0199_no233_TPIn 1768, John Witherspoon traveled from Scotland to New Jersey to become the sixth president of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University). He was not only a scholar and administrator, but also an influential politician. From 1776 to 1782, he represented New Jersey in the Continental Congress, where he signed the Declaration of Independence and served on more than 100 committees. In his college lectures on moral philosophy, he cautioned undergraduates like John Ewing Colhoun (Class of 1774), who took these notes, against the excesses of tyranny and unjust government. Gift of John Adrian Larkin, Sr., Class of 1913, in memory of John Adrian Larkin, Jr., Class of 1944. General Manuscripts Bound, no. 233, Manuscripts Division.

FOR FURTHER EXPLORATION: See this item’s catalog record.

Farm Book, 1816–1824. Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826),

Jefferson Farm Book C0190_Bx1_F30_p152Thomas Jefferson popularized the idea of the independent farmer as the linchpin of American government, economy, and society. From 1774 until his death in 1826, he kept careful records of his own building, planting, and livestock, as well as a census of the slaves on his estates. Among the names listed on these leaves from his Farm Book are those of Sally Hemings and her children Madison and Eston. Gift of Roger W. Barrett, Class of 1937. Thomas Jefferson Collection, Manuscripts Division.

FOR FURTHER EXPLORATION: See the finding aid for this item.

Letter to James Harrison Wilson, May 27, 1865. Adam Badeau (1831-1895),

C0097_Bx1_F4_Badeau_ltr_insideAs military secretary to General Ulysses S. Grant (1822–1885), Adam Badeau witnessed the surrender of Confederate General Robert E. Lee (1807–1870) at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, effectively ending the Civil War. He describes the occasion in this letter to his friend, General James Harrison Wilson (1837–1925), commending both Grant and Lee for their dignity and magnanimity. Gift of Shirley W. Morgan. Civil War Letters of Adam Badeau, Manuscripts Division.

FOR FURTHER EXPLORATION: See the finding aid for this item.

Letter to Adam Badeau, May 13, 1865. James Harrison Wilson (1837–1925),

C0097_Bx1_F4_Wilson_ltr_insideGeneral James Harrison Wilson commanded the cavalry unit that captured Confederate President Jefferson Davis (1808–1889) on May 10, 1865. In this letter written three days later to his close friend Adam Badeau (1831–1895), military secretary to General Ulysses S. Grant (1822–1885), Wilson vividly narrates the possibly apocryphal story of Davis’s attempt to escape disguised as a woman. Gift of Shirley W. Morgan. Civil War Letters of Adam Badeau, Manuscripts Division.

FOR FURTHER EXPLORATION: See the finding aid for this item.

Letter to Uriah Forrest, December 31, 1787. Thomas Jefferson (1743–1826),

Jefferson to Forrest C0063_Bx18_F24_31_Dec_1787_p1As state ratification conventions debated the new Constitution submitted to them in September, Thomas Jefferson wrote this letter, from Paris, to Uriah Forrest (1746–1805) expressing both his admiration for the framers and his concern over the “seeds of danger” they had sown by presuming that succeeding rulers would be as honest as themselves. Gift of André de Coppet, Class of 1915. André de Coppet Collection, Manuscripts Division.

FOR FURTHER EXPLORATION: See the finding aid for this item.

Petition to the General Court of Massachusetts, May 14, 1676. Peter Freeman,

Freeman C0077_Bx2_F72_rectoIn 1676, an Indian named Peter Freeman asked the General Court of Massachusetts for his wife’s freedom “by reason of services rendered the English and as promised by Gov. [Josiah] Winslow.” Near the end of King Philip’s War, there was confusion about which Native Americans were English allies, which had surrendered, and which were still enemies, and many were mistakenly imprisoned or punished. Gift of Gladys Straus. Straus Autograph Collection, Manuscripts Division.

FOR FURTHER EXPLORATION: See the finding aid for this item.

Draft of inaugural address, January 1789. George Washington (1732–1799),

C0063_Bx38a_F15_Washington_Inaugural_Bd_MS_1st_pgIn preparing to become the country’s first president, Washington asked his aide David Humphreys (1752–1818) to help him draft remarks for an inaugural address to the first Congress. Washington rewrote Humphreys’ lengthy draft (now lost) in his own hand, but eventually decided to deliver a much shorter speech. Only fragments like this one remain of his copy of Humphreys’ version. Gift of André de Coppet, Class of 1915. Manuscripts Division, André de Coppet Collection.

FOR FURTHER EXPLORATION: See the finding aid for this item.

List of slaves, 1752. George Washington (1732–1799),

C0063_Bx38a_F10_GWslave_list_rectoThis document records the slaves that George Washington and his younger brothers inherited after the death of their brother, Lawrence (1718–1752). By the time George Washington died, several hundred slaves lived on his estate. However, he evidently came to believe that slavery contradicted the principles of the new nation. In his will, he arranged for his slaves to be freed after the death of his wife Martha (1731–1802), and provided pensions for their care and education. Gift of André de Coppet, Class of 1915. André de Coppet Collection, Manuscripts Division.

FOR FURTHER EXPLORATION: See the finding aid for this item.

Letter to Jefferson Davis, April 12, 1864. Robert E. Lee (1807–1870),

C0063_Bx20_F9_Lee_ltrStruggling to provide for his army, Confederate General Robert E. Lee wrote to the Confederate President, Jefferson Davis (1808–1889), to plead for supplies lest he be forced to retreat for lack of food. Gift of André de Coppet, Class of 1915. André de Coppet Collection, Manuscripts Division.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION: See the finding aid for this item.

Friendship album, ca. 1827. Anicartha Miller,

C0938_no577_Catlin_WC_spreadLike many young people today, Anicartha Miller, the daughter of a New York City judge, asked her acquaintances to contribute poems, sketches, and other mementos to fill her friendship album. The artist George Catlin (1796–1872), who would later be celebrated for his depictions of Plains Indians and the American West, gave her two watercolors, including this view of Niagara Falls. Acquired with support from the Barksdale-Dabney-Henry Fund. General Manuscripts Bound, no. 577, Manuscripts Division.

FOR FURTHER EXPLORATION: See this item’s catalog record.

Captivity diary, 1758. Thomas Gist (d. 1786),

Gist C0199_no376_pp52_53The son of Ohio Valley explorer and Indian agent Christopher Gist (1706–1759), Thomas was captured in 1758 during the French and Indian War by Wyandot (Huron) Indians near Fort Duquesne (Pittsburgh). Taken with other prisoners to the Huron town opposite Fort Pontchartrain (Detroit), Gist was adopted by a Wyandot family and well treated. He escaped after a year of captivity. This account may have been written by a family member after Gist’s return. Gift of P. Blair Lee and E. Brooke Lee. General Manuscripts Bound, no. 376, Manuscripts Division.

FOR FURTHER EXPLORATION: See this item’s catalog record.

“The Particulars of & Sketches Taken during a Voyage to and Journey over the United States of America and Back,” 1810–1811. James Glennie,

Glennie C0063_no8_p67_detailAs transportation improved in the 19th century, America became an increasingly attractive tourist destination. James Glennie was one such tourist, sailing from London on September 24, 1810, to travel through the Atlantic states. He kept this journal in the form of letters to his mother, in which he described visits with President James Madison (1751–1836) and other statesmen, and composed more than sixty drawings, including views of Boston, Charleston, and Washington, D.C. Gift of André de Coppet, Class of 1915. André de Coppet Collection, Manuscripts Division.

FOR FURTHER EXPLORATION: See the finding aid for this item.

Letter to Elizabeth Blair Lee, August 25, 1865. Mary Todd Lincoln (1818–1882),

Mary_Todd_Lincoln_Aug_25_1865_p1Mary Todd Lincoln wrote this letter on mourning stationery to her friend Elizabeth Blair Lee (1818–1906). In it, she grieved over her husband’s death but also looked forward to the nation’s future, sharing her thoughts on the presidential aspirations of Secretary of State William Henry Seward (1801–1872) and General Ulysses S. Grant (1822–1885). Gift of P. Blair Lee and E. Brooke Lee. Blair and Lee Family Papers, Manuscripts Division.

FOR FURTHER EXPLORATION: See the finding aid for this item.

“Proclamation to the People of South Carolina,” 1832. Edward Livingston (1764–1836),

Livingston Nullification C0280_Bx68_F11_1st_pg cropThe authority of the central government over the states was tested during the presidency of Andrew Jackson (1767–1845). South Carolina, perceiving a series of national tariffs to be responsible for its economic problems, declared the tariffs of 1828 and 1832 unconstitutional and unenforceable within its boundaries. In response, Jackson issued the “Proclamation to the People of South Carolina” on December 10, 1832. On display is U.S. Secretary of State Edward Livingston’s draft of this document. It declared South Carolina’s actions to be “incompatible with the existence of the Union” and threatened military force. Congress passed a compromise tariff the following February, and South Carolina repealed its Nullification Ordinance on March 11, 1833. Gift of J. Dennis Delafield, Class of 1957, and Penelope D. Johnson. Edward Livingston Papers, Manuscripts Division.

FOR FURTHER EXPLORATION: See the finding aid for this item.

Letter to Francis Preston Blair, Sr., December 21, 1860. Abraham Lincoln (1809–1865),

Lincoln to Blair am21313_Lincoln_ltr_p1 cropAfter Abraham Lincoln won the presidential election in November 1860, seceding states seized federal forts within their own borders. In this confidential letter to politician Francis Preston Blair (1791–1876), Lincoln orders that federal forts lost before his inauguration in February 1861 must be retaken afterwards. In April 1861, his attempt to send supplies to Fort Sumter in South Carolina resulted in the first shots fired in the Civil War. Gift of P. Blair Lee and E. Brooke Lee. Blair and Lee Family Papers, Manuscripts Division.

FOR FURTHER EXPLORATION: See the finding aid for this item.

“The First Decade Conteyning the Historie of Travell into Virginia Britania,” 1612. William Strachey (1572–1621),

Strachey_Secota_at_Roanoke croppedThe first permanent English settlement in North America was Jamestown, Virginia, founded in 1607. William Strachey sailed to Jamestown in 1609 and became the Virginia Company’s secretary to the colony. This manuscript is a contemporary scribal copy of Strachey’s eyewitness account of the colony, with his handwritten corrections and signature. It was extra-illustrated with 27 hand-colored engravings made in 1590 by Theodor de Bry (1528–1598). Depicted here is the Algonquian village Secotan. The continent’s Native American population may have numbered in the tens of millions before European settlement. In 1612, Strachey presented the manuscript to Henry Percy (1564–1632), 9th earl of Northumberland, known as the “Wizard Earl” for his interest in science. Gift of Cyrus H. McCormick, Class of 1879. General Manuscripts Bound, no. 1416, Manuscripts Division.

FOR FURTHER EXPLORATION: See this item’s catalog record.

Map of Princeton, 1781. Louis-Alexandre Berthier (1753–1815),

Berthier Princeton map cropLouis-Alexandre Berthier joined the army of Comte de Rochambeau (1725–1807) to fight for the American cause during the Revolutionary War. A topographical engineer, Berthier produced more than 100 maps of the historic march of Rochambeau’s army from Rhode Island to Virginia in 1781. Displayed here is the army’s camp at Princeton from August 31 to September 1. The “Collège” is Nassau Hall. The crossroads at the lower part of the map is the current intersection of Nassau and Harrison Streets. Gift of Harry C. Black, Class of 1909. Louis-Alexandre Berthier Collection, Manuscripts Division.

FOR FURTHER EXPLORATION: See the finding aid for this item.

Document box, ca. 1815. Livingston family,

Many of the treasures that fill this exhibition were once stored in document boxes like this one. It was probably made in New York around 1815, since it is lined with print­er’s waste from an address on infectious diseases by Dr. David Hosack (1769–1835), Class of 1789, which was published in New York in 1815. The wooden box is cov­ered in pat­terned wall­pa­per, with its orig­i­nal hand-wrought iron han­dles and clasps. Gift of J. Dennis Delafield, Class of 1957, and Penelope Johnson. Edward Livingston Papers, Manuscripts Division.

FOR FURTHER EXPLORATION: Read more about this item on the Manuscripts Division blog.