Contents and Arrangement Expanded View

Collection Overview

Thomas, Edward C.
Edward C. Thomas Letters to Nicholas Biddle
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1 box and 0.2 linear feet
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1


Consists of letters by Princeton graduate Edward C. Thomas to his friend and college classmate Nicholas Biddle about news of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University).

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

The collection consists of twenty-six autograph letters of Thomas to his friend and college classmate Nicholas Biddle, chiefly about news of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University.) Thomas was plagued by ill-health during the time he wrote the letters. Though the bulk of the material is related to the College of New Jersey and its students, the letters also provide insight into social customs, balls in Princeton and Trenton, national and state politics, and race relations in the early years of the nineteenth century. The earlier letters were sent to Biddle in Philadelphia from Maryland; other letters were sent from Princeton where Thomas returned to the College to study law with Robert Stockton. In his letters Thomas writes about the riots of the senior class of the College of New Jersey and the students setting fire to the college library in Nassau Hall in January 1802, and about president Samuel Stanhope Smith's trip to Maryland to raise funds to rebuild the library. He writes about the thirty "Negroes" who were arrested for a plot to burn Baltimore, and the insurrections by "Negroes" in North Caroline in July of 1802. In several of his letters he writes about the political differences between the Federalists and the Republicans, the involvement of the American Navy fleet in fighting the Tripolitans in the Mediterranean and North Africa, and the capture of the frigate Philadelphia by the North Africans. Another topic which occupies a large portion of the correspondence is the young ladies whom Thomas meets at Princeton or while traveling, including President Smith's daughter, Susan. Thomas also writes about classmates and friends and their whereabouts, including Elias Ellmaker, George McLean Cummings, John Purdon, James Rogers, John W. Smith, and John Stoops.


The letters are arranged in chronological order.

Collection Creator Biography:

Thomas, Edward C.

Edward C. Thomas was a member of the Princeton Class of 1801. He returned to Princeton to study law with Robert Stockton. Nicolas Biddle is best know as a financier who served as president of Second Bank of the United States. Among other achievements, Biddle prepared Lewis and Clark's report of their exploratory expedition to the mouth of the Columbia River for publication, though his name is not on the ns2:title page.

Collection History


All of the materials were purchased from Parke-Bernet Galleries on December 4, 1944 (AM12822).


No appraisal information is available.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Dina Britain on November 6, 2008. Finding aid written by Natalie Kim on November 20, 2008. Folder Inventory added by Hilde Creager (2015) in 2012.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. To cite or publish quotations that fall within Fair Use, as defined under U. S. Copyright Law, no permission is required. For instances beyond Fair Use, it is the responsibility of the researcher to determine whether any permissions related to copyright, privacy, publicity, or any other rights are necessary for their intended use of the Library's materials, and to obtain all required permissions from any existing rights holders, if they have not already done so. Princeton University Library's Special Collections does not charge any permission or use fees for the publication of images of materials from our collections, nor does it require researchers to obtain its permission for said use. The department does request that its collections be properly cited and images credited. More detailed information can be found on the Copyright, Credit and Citations Guidelines page on our website. If you have any questions, please feel free to contact us through the Ask Us! form.

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:

Edward C. Thomas Letters to Nicholas Biddle; 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