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Collection Overview

Johnson, Simeon, 1770-1807
Simeon Johnson Papers
Manuscripts Division
Permanent URL:
1 box
Storage Note:
  • Firestone Library (scamss): Box B-001096
French English


Consists of papers of Simeon Johnson (1770-1807), an American merchant residing in Gonaïves, Haiti, following the Haitian Revolution, including a journal about the conflicts between rival Haitian leaders Henri Christophe (1767-1820) and Alexandre Pétion (1770-1818), as well as legal documents signed by Henri Christophe and Jean-Jacques Dessalines (1758-1806) and financial documents and correspondence pertaining to Johnson's business and social affairs.

Collection Description & Creator Information

Scope and Contents

Consists of legal and financial documents, correspondence, and a journal belonging to Simeon Johnson (1770-1807), an American merchant residing in Gonaïves, Haiti, following the Haitian Revolution. Johnson's thirteen-page journal, which he labeled "Journal and notes written during the disturbances at Haiti," spans the period from January 10 to February 3, 1807, and details the conflicts between rival political leaders Henri Christophe (1767-1820), who became President of the State of Haiti in 1807, and Alexandre Pétion (1770-1818), who was then President of the Republic of Haiti.

Additional materials relate to Johnson's business affairs in Haiti. The earliest document is a license to do business issued to Powell, Kane & Co. in 1805, signed by Jean-Jacques Dessalines (1758-1806), who was then the Emperor of Haiti. The license was endorsed in 1806 to indicate its transfer to Simeon Johnson. There is also a detailed list of debts owed by Simeon Johnson to various people totaling $2697.72 (April 7, 1807); a receipt for the purchase of provisions from Charles McNeill "payable in good coffee" (March 14, 1807); an envelope addressed to Johnson at New York Coffee House, Royal Exchange; and a passport, signed by Henry Christophe (1767-1820), allowing Simeon Johnson to travel to London in April 1807.

A few items related to Johnson's social life are also present, including two invitations to events in 1806, a birthday feast for Empress Marie-Claire Heureuse Félicité Bonheur and a wedding. Both invitations are annotated with Johnson's translations into English and labeled as "specimens" of the "manners" and "politings" of Haiti. Johnson had sent this collection of papers, including the journal, to his wife, and many items are annotated with his English translations.


Arranged chronologically.

Collection Creator Biography:

Johnson, Simeon, 1770-1807

Simeon Johnson was an American merchant who resided in Gonaïves, Haiti, following the Haitian Revolution. Johnson was born in Berlin, Connecticut, in 1770 to Samuel Johnson (1740-1798) and Ann Hopkins (1742-1816), descendents of English settlers who arrived in the Americas in the mid-17th century. Simeon Johnson married Lucretia Ranney (1769-1820), with whom he had four children. He died in Haiti on November 5, 1807.

Collection History


Gift of Frederic Leake, Princeton Class of 1908, in 1954 (AM 16859).

This accession was separated from the Princeton University Library Collection on Slavery in the Americas (C1210), formerly known as the Miscellaneous Slavery Collection, during 2017 reprocessing.


No materials were separated during 2017 processing.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Kelly Bolding in December 2017. Finding aid written by Kelly Bolding in December 2017.

Access & Use

Conditions Governing Access

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:

Simeon Johnson Papers; 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 B-001096