Contents and Arrangement

Scrapbook of Clippings and Letters on the Trial of John Brown, 1859-1893

1 folder

Collection Overview

Collection Description & Creator Information


Consists of affidavits, clippings, correspondence, and photographs, mostly related to abolitionist lawyer George H. Hoyt's work as an attorney for John Brown (1800-1859). Materials shed light on the Virginia v. John Brown trial that followed Brown's raid on Harpers Ferry, as well as Hoyt's participation in the American Civil War and abolitionist movements.

The collection includes a leather journal containing Ohio affidavits that Hoyt gathered on behalf of John Brown, which provide statements attesting to the supposed "insanity" of Brown and his family members. While it is unclear whether the evidence was presented during the trial or after, in seeking an appeal, Hoyt recorded affidavits from Brown's former neighbors and relatives residing in and around Akron, Ohio, in support of an insanity defense (a defense that Brown, himself, rejected). The journal's final written page contains a list of names of conspirators in the raid on Harpers Ferry, along with their respective fates. A separate scrapbook contains over 50 newspaper clippings featuring reportage of the trial and George Hoyt's life and death, including the front page of the November 12th, 1859, issue of Harper's Weekly featuring a drawing of Brown and Hoyt at the trial captioned "The Prisoner Brown and His Boston Counsel, Mr. Hoyt."

Correspondence, including both loose letters and those tipped into the scrapbook, include letters from George Hoyt to Clara Hoyt (Humboldt, Tennessee, June 30, 1862), James Redpath (1833-1891) to George Hoyt (Boston, Massachusetts, June 20, 1869), John Brown Jr. (1821-1895) to George Hoyt (Put-in-Bay Island, Ohio, June 25 and 26, 1869), Wendell Phillips (1811-1884) to George Hoyt (Boston, Massachusetts, July 5, 1869), Richard J. Hinton (1830-1901) to Clara Hoyt Burleigh (Washington, D.C, January 21, 1893), and Richard Hinton to George Hoyt (undated). These letters document the close friendship that Hoyt developed with Brown's son, John Brown Jr. (1821-1895); attestations from various people involved that Hoyt worked on the Brown case pro bono; as well as Hoyt's time serving under Kansas General Charles "Doc" Jennison, in Company K of the 7th Kansas Cavalry regiment, also known as "Jennison's Jayhawkers." There are also two unidentified tintypes of children, likely those of John Brown Jr. (1821-1895).

Collection History

Archival Appraisal Information:

No materials were separated from the collection during 2021 processing.


Processing of this collection was sponsored by the Delafield fund.

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:

Scrapbook of Clippings and Letters on the Trial of John Brown; George H. Hoyt Papers on John Brown, C1675, Manuscripts Division, Department of Special Collections, Princeton University Library

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Storage Note:
Firestone Library (mss): Box B-001561