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Incoming Correspondence to William Morris Davis, 1855 November 5-1861 September 11
Collection Description & Creator Information
This collection primarily consists of correspondence detailing the involvement of Quaker abolitionists and husband and wife, William Morris Davis (1815-1891), member of the 37th U.S. Congress, and Elizabeth M. Jacobs Davis (1817-1904) of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania during the antebellum and Civil War periods. This included support of John C. Frémont's presidential campaign, William running for Congress in order to advance immediate, universal, uncompensated emancipation, Elizabeth's involvement in anti-slavery societies, and their association with the Underground Railroad, specifically with John C. Lester, station master of the Underground Railroad, Richland (Quakertown), Pennsylvania.
The correspondence includes an almost daily record of William M. Davis's life in Washington as a member of the House of Representatives, in the form of letters to his wife, detailing the legislative and policy struggles faced by the 37th Congress; accounts of meetings and interactions with President Abraham Lincoln as well as members of Lincoln's cabinet, military leaders, and other members of Congress; trips to the front lines of the war in Virginia, including the First Battle of Bull Run; Davis's time in St. Louis, Missouri in September 1861 working with John C. Frémont immediately after Frémont issued a Declaration of Martial Law and Emancipation proclamation; and events leading up to the Emancipation Proclamation in 1862. Correspondence to Elizabeth M. Jacobs documents the abolitionist movement in the Philadelphia area in the 1830s and 1840s, the Underground Railroad, and women's rights. There are also primarily incoming letters to William, including from his friend, U.S. sculptor Henry Kirke Brown.
The collection also includes some ephemera related to William and Elizabeth and the Davis family, including a resolution on the division of the American Anti-Slavery Society; a manumission form used to formally emancipate slaves under John C. Frémont's Declaration of Martial Law and Emancipation proclamation; and a photograph of William M. Davis.
The collection's description is primarily based on the description provided by the dealer.
- Custodial History:
At least some of the materials, specifically letters to and from Willaim Morris Davis, belonged to Francis W. Davis, William and Elizabeth's grandson. The genealogical items and photograph of William Davis were from Thomaston Place Auction Galleries in Thomaston, ME and purchased February 28, 2020.
- Archival Appraisal Information:
No materials were removed from the collection during 2021 processing beyond routine appraisal practices.
Access & Use
- Access Restrictions:
Open for research.
- Conditions for Reproduction and 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 Special Collections 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:
Incoming Correspondence to William Morris Davis; William Morris Davis and Elizabeth M. Jacobs Davis Correspondence, C1660, Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library
- Firestone LibraryOne Washington RoadPrinceton, NJ 08544, USA
- Storage Note:
- Firestone Library (mss): Box B-001563