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Collection Overview

Biddle, Nicholas, 1786-1844
Princeton University. Library. Special Collections
Nicholas Biddle Collection
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
2 boxes and 1.5 linear feet
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1-2


Consists of material, primarily correspondence, relating to Nicholas Biddle, one of the first directors of the Bank of the United States and author of the official Lewis and Clark narrative.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of material, primarily correspondence, relating to Nicholas Biddle. There are financial documents and letters by explorer William Clark concerning Biddle's role as Clark's lawyer relating to the publication of the Lewis and Clark expedition history and the disposition of specimens and journals to President Thomas Jefferson. In addition, the collection contains Biddle's correspondence with John Sargeant, John Cumming, General S. Smith, and Samuel L. Southard regarding the Bank of the United States, and with Biddle's brother and his friend "Watts" from Athens, Greece. Also included are correspondence and documents relating to a suit of the Spanish government against Craig and Oliver, two merchants who were represented by Biddle, and a three-page manuscript signed by Biddle, titled "A valedictory oration on the part of the Cliosophic Society, composed and delivered on the twenty fifth day of Sept. [1800] by Nicholas Biddle."


Arranged alphabetically by correspondent. The William Clark material is housed in Box 2.

Collection Creator Biography:

Biddle, Nicholas, 1786-1844

Nicholas Biddle was a litterateur, a scholar, a statesman, and a financier. At the age of ten he entered the University of Pennsylvania and was ready to graduate at thirteen; however, he was not allowed to receive his degree because of his youth. He then entered the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) in 1799, and graduated in 1801 as valedictorian. Although he was devoted to the study of the classics, he selected the law as his profession. He was a contributing writer to the Port Folio, which became the leading literary periodical in America, and became its editor in 1812. In 1810, after the death of Capt. Meriwether Lewis, Gen. William Clark asked Biddle to write the narrative of their expedition into the Louisiana country, which Biddle worked on from 1810 to 1812. He entered the state Senate in 1814, which forced him to give up his post as editor and to turn over the work of carrying through the press his History of the Expedition of Captains Lewis and Clark (1814) to Paul Allen. In 1819 Biddle became one of the five government directors of the Bank of the United States, and its president in 1822. He resigned in 1839 and retired to "Andalusia" on the Delaware, which became the scene of an intellectual and social life not common in the United States.

Collection History


Correspondence and documents relating to the suit of the Spanish government were purchased on March 3, 1948 .

Letter to Biddle's brother and letter to "Watts" were purchased in June 1943 .

"A valedictory oration ..." was purchased in January 1943 .

Various AM.

Custodial History

The collection was formed as a result of a Departmental practice of combining into one collection material of various accessions relating to a particular person, family, or subject.


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

Finding aid written by James Flannery in January 2006. Folder Inventory added by Hilde Creager (2015) in 2012.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

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.

Physical Characteristics and Technical Requirements

For preservation reasons, original analog and digital media may not be read or played back in the reading room. Users may visually inspect physical media but may not remove it from its enclosure. All analog audiovisual media must be digitized to preservation-quality standards prior to use. Audiovisual digitization requests are processed by an approved third-party vendor. Please note, the transfer time required can be as little as several weeks to as long as several months and there may be financial costs associated with the process. Requests should be directed through the Ask Us Form.

Credit this material:

Nicholas Biddle Collection; Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

Permanent URL:
Firestone Library
One Washington Road
Princeton, NJ 08544, USA
(609) 258-3184
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1-2