Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Creator:
Dayton, William L. (William Lewis), 1807-1864
Title:
William L. Dayton Papers
Repository:
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/8g84mm267
Dates:
1791-1897 (mostly 1861-1864)
Size:
6 boxes
Storage Note:
Firestone Library (mss): Box 1-6
Language:
English

Abstract

William Lewis Dayton, Princeton Class of 1825, served as U.S. senator (1841-1850) and U.S. minister to France (1861-1864). His papers are largely from his years in France and consist of diplomatic dispatches, legation accounts, personal correspondence, documents pertaining to household affairs in Paris (insurance policies, leases, etc.), and material relating to his sudden death. Also included is a box of correspondence to and from his son, William Lewis Dayton Jr., Princeton Class of 1858, along with other papers concerning other members of the family.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Description:

The Dayton Papers consist, for the most part, of correspondence and documents illustrative of the role of Dayton as U.S. minister to France (1861-1864) during most of the Civil War. Included are diplomatic dispatches, legation accounts, personal correspondence, documents pertaining to household affairs in Paris (insurance policies, leases, etc.), and material relating to his sudden death. In addition, there is a box of others' papers, most of which contains correspondence written to and by his son, William Lewis Dayton Jr., Class of 1858, who served as second secretary in the Legation of Paris during his father's lifetime and who was later himself minister to the Hague 1882-1885, together with a few papers concerning other members of the family.

An item of historical interest is William L. Dayton, Jr.'s eye-witness account (in a 30-page letter) of the naval battle (June 19, 1864) between the Union steamer Kearsarge and the Confederate steamer Alabama off the coast of Cherbourg, France, which he observed from shore after delivering a dispatch to the Kearsarge's Captain Winslow. There are also catalogs of Dayton's law and general libraries in Trenton, New Jersey.

Collection Creator Biography:

Dayton, William L. (William Lewis), 1807-1864

Born in Somerset County, New Jersey in 1807, Dayton attended Trenton Academy and graduated from Princeton College with the Class of 1825. He studied law and became a practicing attorney in Freehold, New Jersey. In 1842, Dayton was tapped by Governor William Pennington to fill a vacant U.S. Senate seat, and he was then elected for a full term as a Whig. After a defeat for reelection in 1850, a failed bid for vice president in 1856, and a failed bid for president in 1860, Dayton was appointed U.S. minister to France (1861-1864). While in Paris, Dayton suffered from depression and other physical ailments, and he was unable to stop Napoleon III from invading Mexico. He suffered an untimely death in Paris in 1864.

Collection History

Acquisition:

The Collection of materials known as the William Lewis Dayton Papers, which was for some time on deposit in the Manuscripts Division of the Princeton University Library, was given to the Library in November of 1953 by A. Dayton Oliphant, Class of 1910, a collateral descendant of Dayton and a Justice of the Supreme Court of New Jersey.

Appraisal

No appraisal information is available.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single photocopies may be made for research purposes. No further photoduplication of copies of material in the collection can be made when Princeton University Library does not own the original. Inquiries regarding publishing material from the collection should be directed to RBSC Public Services staff through the Ask Us! form. The library has no information on the status of literary rights in the collection and researchers are responsible for determining any questions of copyright.

Credit this material:

William L. Dayton Papers; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
http://arks.princeton.edu/ark:/88435/8g84mm267
Location:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
Firestone Library (mss): Box 1-6

Find More

Bibliography

Material from the Dayton Papers has been used in the following articles: Dictionary of American Biography "Americans in Paris," a catalogue of a Princeton Library exhibition, Princeton University Library Chronicle, XVII, 4 (Summer, 1956), Nos. 86-110. "A Diplomat's Mailbag: William Lewis Dayton in Paris, 1861-1864," ibid., XX, 3 (Spring 1959).

The following books have been consulted in the course of arranging the papers: Dictionary of American Biography United States Diplomatic Correspondence, Papers Relating to Foreign Affairs, 1861-1869. Bigelow, John. Retrospections of an Active Life. New York, 1909. 3 vols. 1083.179 Jordan, H. Donaldson, and E. J. Pratt, Europe and the American Civil War. 1931. 1084.27.502 Owsley, Frank Laurence, King Cotton Diplomacy, Foreign Relations of the Confederate States of America. Chicago, 1931. 1084.75.692 Wilson, Beckles, America's Ambassadors to France, 1777-1927. 1928. 1096.974 Material from the Dayton Papers has been used in the following articles: "Americans in Paris," a catalogue of a Princeton Library exhibition, Princeton University Library Chronicle, XVII, 4 (Summer, 1956), Nos. 86-110. "A Diplomat's Mailbag: William Lewis Dayton in Paris, 1861-1864," ibid., XX, 3 (Spring 1959).

Subject Terms:
Diplomatic and consular service, American -- 19th century.
Diplomats -- France -- 19th century.
France -- Foreign relations -- United States -- 1852-1870.
Insurance, Fire -- France -- 19th century.
Private libraries -- New Jersey -- Trenton -- 19th century.
Genre Terms:
Diplomatic documents -- United States -- 19th century.
Insurance policies -- France -- 19th century.
Leases -- France -- Paris -- 19th century.
Passports -- United States -- 19th century.
Wills -- United States -- 19th century.
Names:
College of New Jersey (Princeton, N.J.). Class of 1825.
College of New Jersey (Princeton, N.J.). Class of 1858.
Alabama (Steamer : 1850)
Kearsarge (Screw sloop-of-war)
Dayton, William L. (William Lewis), 1839-1897
Dayton, William L. (William Lewis), 1839-1897
Places:
United States -- Foreign relations -- France -- 1861-1865.
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865 -- Naval operations.
United States -- History, Naval -- To 1900.