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Collection Overview

Bailey, Gamaliel, 1807-1859
Gamaliel Bailey Correspondence
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1 box and 0.2 linear feet
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box 1


One of America's leading antislavery journalists, Gamaliel Bailey (1807-1859) played a prominent role in shaping the direction of the country's abolitionist movement, and helped found the Republican Party. The collection consists primarily of correspondence between Gamaliel Bailey and his close friends and associates, statesman Salmon P. Chase and U.S. Supreme Court Justice John McLean.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

This collection consists primarily of correspondence (103 letters) between Gamaliel Bailey and his close friends and associates, statesman Salmon P. Chase and U.S. Supreme Court Justice John McLean. Other friends and business associates, including John McLean's wife, Sarah B. McLean, are represented to a lesser extent. Among other things, the letters document the business of the newspapers Bailey edited as well as the business of antislavery journalism more broadly; the abolitionist movement, particularly within the state of Ohio; the political maneuvering of the Liberty, Free Soil, and subsequently, the Republican Parties at the state and national levels; and the political careers and presidential aspirations of both Chase and McLean. The antislavery philosophies of Bailey, Chase, and McLean and how their philosophies were adapted into practical strategy are discussed in considerable detail.

In documenting the establishment of the Republican Party, the letters chronicle: Bailey and Chase's dissatisfaction with the Liberty Party; the Kansas-Nebraska struggle; conflict with the Know-Nothings and the American Party; the Fremont campaign; the struggle between 1856-1859 to preserve the antislavery principles of the Philadelphia platform; and the groundwork for Lincoln's election in 1860.

A few letters and papers of Gamaliel Bailey's wife, Margaret L. Bailey, which relate to her husband, are also included.


The collection is arranged chronologically.

Collection Creator Biography:

Bailey, Gamaliel, 1807-1859

Gamaliel Bailey (1807-1859) played a dominant role in shaping the direction of the country's abolitionist movement, particularly its influence and visibility within the national political arena. He accomplished this largely through his role as editor of prominent abolitionist newspapers, such as the Cincinnati-based Philanthropist and the National Era. As a political organizer, strategist, and lobbyist, Bailey helped found the Republican Party, and worked to make the slavery issue a central feature of the Party's platform.

Bailey was born in Mount Holly, New Jersey, the son of Gamaliel Bailey, Sr., a silversmith and Methodist minister, and Sarah Page. The family moved to Philadelphia in 1816, and Bailey graduated from Jefferson Medical College in 1827. While practicing medicine, Bailey also began to pursue his interest in journalism by assisting with and editing several small religious and medical periodicals, such as the Baltimore-based monthly Methodist Protestant.

Around 1832, Bailey moved to Cincinnati, Ohio, and in 1833 married Margaret Lucy Shands with whom he had twelve children, six of whom survived infancy. There, Bailey set up a medical practice and became a lecturer on physiology at the Lane Theological Seminary.

It was in Cincinnati that Bailey became increasingly interested in the antislavery movement. He became an operator of the Underground Railroad, and served as corresponding secretary of the Ohio State Anti-Slavery Society. In 1836, Bailey became associate editor of James G. Birney's Philanthropist before becoming its editor the following year. In 1843, Bailey also started the daily newspaper, Cincinnati Morning Herald, which he ran for three years. As editor of Philanthropist, Bailey emerged as one of the country's dominant figures within the abolitionist movement and used the paper to promote his philosophy of using politics as a way to end slavery in the United States.

Bailey's efforts continued when he was selected by the nation's leading abolitionists to edit National Era, an antislavery newspaper based in Washington, D.C. Editing the paper from 1847 until his death, Bailey combined antislavery articles with popular literature, and made the Era one of the most important weeklies in the country. Notably, he published Harriet Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin in serial form in 1851-1852.

One of the founders of the Liberty Party, Bailey and his associate Salmon P. Chase later led the majority of Liberty Party voters into the Free Soil Coalition in 1848. Several years later in 1854, Bailey helped convince anti-Nebraska Whigs and Democrats to meet in common caucus during the struggle over the Kansas-Nebraska Bill, an event that contributed to the founding of the Republican Party.

By the late 1850s, Bailey was in poor health. He died on June 5, 1859, while on a voyage to Europe that had been meant to help with his recovery.

Collection History


Purchase, 2014 .


No materials were separated during 2014 processing.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Faith Charlton in August 2014. Finding aid written by Faith Charlton in August 2014.

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:

Gamaliel Bailey Correspondence; 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