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Guide to the George W. Crawford Papers

MSN/EA 0500

 

Collection Summary

Title: George W. Crawford papers
Dates: 1784-1853 (bulk 1843-1853)
Collection No.: MSN/EA 0500
Creator: Crawford, George W., 1798-1872
Extent: 36 items; 2 containers
Language: Collection material in English
Repository: University of Notre Dame. Hesburgh Libraries, Department of Special Collections. 102 Hesburgh Library, Notre Dame, IN 46556
Abstract: The collection consists primarily of manuscript letters directed to the Georgia Whig politician George W. Crawford during the 1840s and early 1850s.

Selected Search Terms

Crawford, George Washington, 1798-1872
Galphin claim
Whig Party (Ga.)
Georgia -- Politics and government -- 1775-1865
Whig Party (U.S.) -- History

Administrative Information

Restrictions: There are no access restrictions on this collection.

Preferred Citation: George W. Crawford Papers, Department of Special Collections, Hesburgh Libraries of Notre Dame.

Acquisition and Processing Note: Gift of Walter J. Trohan, 1969. Arranged and described in 2003, by George Rugg. Finding aid 2009, by George Rugg.

Biographical Note

George W. Crawford was born in Columbia County, Georgia on 22 December 1798, the son of Peter Crawford and Mary Ann MacKintosh. He was cousin to the prominent Georgia politician William H. Crawford (1772-1834), a presidential candidate in 1824. After graduating from the College of New Jersey Crawford studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1822, setting up a practice in Augusta, Georgia. His public career included service as Georgia attorney general (1827-1831); member of the Georgia legislature (1837-1842); member of the U. S. House of Representatives (1843); governor of Georgia, for two terms (1843-1847); and secretary of war in the cabinet of President Zachary Taylor (8 March 1849 to 23 July 1850). From the early 1840s he was a staunch Whig. Crawford is best remembered as a central figure in the scandal surrounding the Galphin Claim, which shook the Taylor administration in the spring of 1850. The Galphin Claim was a 77-year-old debt owed to the descendents of the Georgia Indian trader George Galphin; Crawford had long been the family's legal agent in pressing the claim upon the state and Federal governments. After becoming secretary of war Crawford received a share of a government payment to the Galphins of more than $190,000—a "raid on the Treasury" that led to intense criticism of the entire administration. After resigning his cabinet post Crawford left public life for a decade. In 1861 he served as chairman of Georgia's secession convention. He died at his plantation, Bel Air, on 22 July 1872.

Scope and Content Note

Twenty-nine of the 36 items in the collection are letters addressed to George W. Crawford, mostly from the period 1843-1853. Thirteen of these are directed to Crawford as secretary of war; 9 as governor of Georgia. There are no letters written by Crawford himself. There is no obvious common denominator that would account for the preservation of these particular letters as a group. The 29 letters were written by almost as many different individuals. Most have at least some bearing on politics. There are patronage letters; letters touching on state and national issues; and letters from fellow Whigs (including Berrien of Georgia and Cabell of Florida) dealing with party matters. There are also several miscellaneous land records, and a group of four items relating to the settlement of the Galphin Claim (though little of the correspondence touches on this issue).

Arrangement Note

The material in folders 1 through 32 is arranged chronologically, one item per folder. Folder 33 contains four items relating to the Galphin Claim.

Container List

  • Land record. Grant with attached plat, from the state of Georgia to John Leath, granting Leath 50 acres in Richmond County. 1784 April 1 and 1784 July 23. Folder 1 (MSN/EA 0500-1-F1).
    2 manuscript leaves, in ink, joined by a ribbon; the grant (27 x 30 cm.) partly printed, the plat (27 x 24 cm.) entirely in manuscript.
    The grant, dated July 23, 1784, bears the signature of Georgia governor John Houstoun; there is docketing in three separate hands. The plat, dated April 1, 1784, is signed by the surveyor general, Richard Call (?); it declares itself "[p]ursuant to a Warrant from under the Hand of the honourable Charles Crawford, Esquire, senior Justice presiding at a Land Court held in the County of Richmond . . . ."
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    • Letter. Tho[mas] H. Crawford, Milledgeville, Georgia, to George Walker Crawford Esqr., Augusta, Georgia. 1823 February 5. Folder 2 (MSN/EA 0500-2).
      ALS, 2 pages (33 x 20 cm.) on one folded sheet, w/integral address leaf.
      A personal letter, responding to George W. Crawford's inquiries about a Miss Davis. The author also discusses his political ambitions, for the office of Georgia secretary of state (T. H. Crawford was chief clerk to the incumbent secretary, Abner Hammond).
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      • Land record. W[illia]m P. Brooks, Bond for titles to land sold to George W. Crawford. 1835 January 1. Folder 3 (MSN/EA 0500-3).
        DS, 1 page (24 x 21 cm.), with docketing on verso.
        Crawford's copy of a document relating to his purchase from Brooks of several tracts of land in Jefferson County, Georgia, amounting to around 700 acres.
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        • Letter. S[amuel] J. Anderson, Augusta, Georgia, to G[eorge] W. Crawford, Waynesboro, Georgia. 1843 May 1. Folder 4 (MSN/EA 0500-4).
          ALS, 3 pages (26 x 21 cm.) on one folded sheet, with integral address leaf.
          Anderson urges Crawford to "offer yourself a martyr to Whig prosperity" and enter the Georgia gubernatorial race of 1843.
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          • Letter. W[illia]m L. Crawford, Cuthbert, Georgia, to His Excellency George W. Crawford, Milledgeville, Georgia. 1844 September 9. Folder 5 (MSN/EA 0500-5).
            ALS, 2 pages (25 x 20 cm.) on one folded sheet, with integral address leaf.
            After mentioning the recording of a mortgage, W. L. Crawford discusses the candidacy for the U. S. Congress of "[o]ur Kinsman," the Whig William H. Crawford.
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            • Letter. John Macpherson Berrien, Washington DC, to "My Dear Sir" [George W. Crawford], n. p. 1844 December 18. Folder 6 (MSN/EA 0500-6).
              ALS, 3 pages (26 x 21 cm.) on one folded sheet, with integral address leaf.
              At the time this letter was written, John M. Berrien (1781-1856) was United States Senator from Georgia, and one of the most influential Whigs in the South. The letter discusses: 1) the desirability for Georgia of Congressional legislation that would remit all duties on railroad iron, and 2) party prospects in Washington and in Georgia, and distressing rumors that Crawford is contemplating retirement from his position as governor.
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              • Letter. W[illia]m H. Crawford, Americus, Georgia, to His Excellency George W. Crawford, Milledgeville, Georgia. 1845 May 24. Folder 7 (MSN/EA 0500-7).
                ALS, 3 pages (25 x 20 cm.) on one folded sheet, with integral address leaf.
                A plea for the pardon of two non-naturalized Irishmen, Patrick Dolen and Michael Fitzpatrick, convicted of voting illegally in the elections of October 1844.
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                • Letter. I. M. Davis, Palmyra, Georgia, to his excellency George W. Crawford, Milledgeville, Georgia. 1845 October 23. Folder 8 (MSN/EA 0500-8).
                  ALS, 3 pages (25 x 20 cm.) on one folded sheet, with integral address leaf.
                  A letter of congratulation on Crawford's achievements as governor.
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                  • Letter. A. Crawford, Forsythe County, Georgia, to His Excellency George W. Crawford, Milledgeville, Georgia. 1845 November 4. Folder 9 (MSN/EA 0500-9).
                    ALS, 4 pages (32 x 20 cm.) on one folded sheet with integral address leaf.
                    A long letter requesting a position as depot agent on the Western and Atlanta Railroad. The author also voices his opinions on national affairs, directing considerable criticism at the Polk administration.
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                    • Letter. Cha[rle]s F. M. Garnett, Marietta, Georgia, to His Excellency Geo[rge] W. Crawford, Milledgeville, Georgia. 1845 December 30. Folder 10 (MSN/EA 0500-10).
                      ALS, 2 pages (26 x 21 cm.) on one folded sheet, with integral address leaf.
                      A plea to veto a bill currrently in legislation, relating to railroad construction.
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                      • Letter. A[ndrew] J. Miller, Augusta, Georgia, to His Excellency George W. Crawford, Milledgeville, Georgia. 1846 January 27. Folder 11 (MSN/EA 0500-11).
                        ALS, 3 pages (26 x 21 cm.) on one folded sheet, with integral address leaf.
                        Miller provides an opinion on which branch of the St. Mary's River was originally intended to designate a section of the border between Florida and Georgia. The ongoing boundary dispute between the states was resolved only in 1854, in the Supreme Court (Florida v. Georgia).
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                        • Letter. L. J. Anderson, Milledgeville, Georgia, to His Excellency Geo[rge] W. Crawford, Belair, Georgia. 1846 September 29. Folder 12 (MSN/EA 0500-12).
                          AL. Ink on paper, 3 pages (29 x 23 cm.), on one folded sheet with integral address leaf.
                          Accompanies a payment of $500 to Crawford.
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                          • Letter. A. W. Redding, Milledgeville, Georgia, to His Excellency Geo[rge] W. Crawford, Bel-air, Georgia. 1847 September 14. Folder 13 (MSN/EA 0500-13).
                            ALS, 3 pages (25 x 20 cm.) on one folded sheet, with integral address leaf.
                            Snippets of news, personal and political.
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                            • Letter. S[amuel] J. Anderson, Washington DC, to Hon. G[eorge] W. Crawford, Belair, Georgia. 1848 March 20. Folder 14 (MSN/EA 0500-14).
                              ALS, 4 pages (27 x 21 cm.) on one folded sheet.
                              An account of the author's trip to "Yankeedom," as purser of the Congressional committee appointed to accompany the funeral cortege of the recently deceased John Quincy Adams. Also, news of the sentiments of Northern Whigs, especially Ohio Senator Thomas Corwin, regarding prospective presidential candidate Zachary Taylor.
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                              • Letter. A. W. Redding, Ellerslee P. O., Harris County, Georgia, to Hon. George W. Crawford, Belair, Richmond County. Georgia. 1848 August 28. Folder 15 (MSN/EA 0500-15).
                                ALS, 3 pages (25 x 19 cm.) on one folded sheet, with integral address leaf.
                                Redding provides an overview of the current course of the 1848 presidential campaign in eastern Georgia. He also requests Crawford's views on Alexander Stephens's tabling of the Clayton Compromise, and the constitutional right of Congress to adopt the Wilmot Proviso.
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                                • Document. William Gregg, Resolutions adopted at a meeting of the Whig Party of Charleston, South Carolina. 1849 May 22. Folder 16 (MSN/EA 0500-16).
                                  MsS. 2 pages (34 x 20 cm.) on one folded sheet.
                                  The seven resolutions spelled out in this document appear over the signatures of South Carolina Whigs Edward Gamage, William Patton, and William M. Martin (committee members); Charles Dabney Young (secretary); and William Gregg (chairman). Copies of the document were to be sent to President Zachary Taylor and the "Heads of the several Departments"; Crawford would have received one as secretary of war.
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                                  • Letter. Ethan A. Allen, Norfolk [Virginia?], to "Hon. Secretary of War" [George W. Crawford], Washington City, D.C. 184[9] May 20. Folder 17 (MSN/EA 0500-17).
                                    ALS, 1 page (25 x 20 cm.) on one folded sheet, with integral address leaf.
                                    A patronage letter from a soldier who served under President Zachary Taylor in the War of 1812.
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                                    • Letter. Gibson F. Hill, Fredonia, Alabama, to "Hon. Geo[rge] W. Crawford Sec[retary] of War", Washington City, D.C. 1849 June 8. Folder 18 (MSN/EA 0500-18).
                                      ALS, 2 pages (25 x 20 cm.) on one folded sheet, with integral address leaf.
                                      The author seeks Crawford's recommendation for his son's entry to West Point.
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                                      • Letter. Dan[iel] Tyler, West Point, New York to Honbl G[eorge] W. Crawford, n. p. 1849 June 17. Folder 19 (MSN/EA 0500-19).
                                        ALS, 1 page (25 x 20 cm.), on one sheet.
                                        A patronage letter, written in favor of a General Miles or Miley.
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                                        • Letter. A. W. Redding, Ellerslie P. O., Harris Co. Georgia, to Hon. Geo[rge] W. Crawford, n. p. 1849 June 22. Folder 20 (MSN/EA 0500-20).
                                          ALS, 4 pages (25 x 20 cm.) on one folded sheet.
                                          Redding writes that he is seeking appointment as superintendant of the Dahlonega, Georgia branch of the U. S. Mint. News of Georgia politics, including possible Whig candidates in the upcoming gubernatorial election; news of the Milledgeville and Gordon Railroad.
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                                          • Letter. F. M. Robertson, Charleston, South Carolina, to "Dear Sir" [George W. Crawford n. p. 1849 June 29. Folder 21 (MSN/EA 0500-21).
                                            ALS. 2 pages (25 x 20 cm.) on one folded sheet, with docketing.
                                            News that a man named Jacobs is on his way to Washington to contest his replacement as surveyor of the port of Charleston by W. T. Leitch.
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                                            • Letter. Chester Griswold, Utica, New York, to "Hon. W[illia]m. H. Crawford" [George W. Crawford], n. p. 1849 June 30. Folder 22 (MSN/EA 0500-22).
                                              ALS. 3 pages (25 x 20 cm.) on one folded sheet, with docketing.
                                              The salutation of this patronage letter mistakenly identifies the recipient as William Harris Crawford, the former Presidential candidate, who died in 1834. The letter was in fact intended for George W. Crawford. The writer, Chester Griswold, clarifies his ties to W. H. Crawford (who "if I am not misinformed . . . was a near relative of yours"); and to the Whigs, and proceeds to request positions both for himself (as customs inspector in the district of Oswego, New York) and his son (as customs collector at St. Mary's, Camden County, Georgia).
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                                              • Letter. E[dward] C[arrington] Cabell, Jacksonville, Florida, to Hon Geo[rge] W. Crawford, Washington D. C. 1849 August 20. Folder 23 (MSN/EA 0500-23).
                                                ALS. 2 pages (27 x 21 cm.) on one folded sheet, with docketing.
                                                At the time this letter was written, E. C. Cabell (1816-1896) was serving as U. S. Representative from Florida. He mentions the "late outrage perpetrated by the Seminole Indians remaining in Florida," and encourages "the removal of the whole tribe" from the state.
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                                                • Letter. B[ethel] B. Quillian, Cartecay, Gilmer County, Georgia, to Hon. G[eorge]. W. Crawford, n. p. 1849 November 2. Folder 24 (MSN/EA 0500-24).
                                                  ALS. 1 page (27 x 20 cm.) on one sheet, with docketing.
                                                  Quillan repeats a rumor that a veteran who lost an arm in Mexico, and was subsequently provided for by the Polk administration, was turned out of office by President Taylor solely because he was a Democrat.
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                                                  • Letter. F. M. Robertson, Charleston, South Carolina, to Honbl.George W. Crawford, Washington D.C. 1849 December 18. Folder 25 (MSN/EA 0500-25).
                                                    ALS. 2 pages (25 x 20 cm.) on one folded sheet, with integral address leaf and docketing.
                                                    Robertson writes in support of the reappointment of William J. Grayson as collector of the port of Charleston, despite the intriguings of "a certain individual in Washington" against him.
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                                                    • Letter. W[illia]m Gould, Augusta, Georgia, to "Dear Crawford" [George W. Crawford], n. p. 1850 March 22. Folder 26 (MSN/EA 0500-26).
                                                      ALS. 4 pages (25 x 21 cm.) on one folded sheet.
                                                      Gould requests a clerical appointment for his son, John, and goes on to discuss politics in Augusta.
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                                                      • Note. Charles E. Mix, Office of Indian Affairs, to [George W. Crawford], n. p. 1850 April 16. Folder 27 (MSN/EA 0500-27).
                                                        ANS. 1 page (25 x 21 cm.) on one folded sheet, with docketing.
                                                        A note describing "[T]he extent of the grant from the Sioux Indians to the United States on the 23rd Sept. 1805" (i. e., the area around Fort Snelling).
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                                                        • Letter. A. W. Redding, Dahlonega, Georgia, to "Dear Sir" [George W. Crawford], n. p. 1850 May 22. Folder 28 (MSN/EA 0500-28).
                                                          ALS. 4 pages (25 x 21 cm.), on one folded sheet.
                                                          Redding, now superintendent of the U. S. Mint at Dahlonega, states his belief in Crawford's "unchangeable integrity" in the face of charges stemming from the Galphin affair. He also writes of the upcoming Nashville Convention, and of a petition advocating the removal of the mint's assayer, Isaac L. Todd.
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                                                          • Letter. J[ohn] H. Steele, Washington D. C., to Hon. Geo[rge] W. Crawford], n. p. 1850 August 13. Folder 29 (MSN/EA 0500-29).
                                                            ALS. 3 pages (32 x 20 cm.) on one folded sheet, with docketing and endorsement.
                                                            A request from Steele for a loan for one hundred dollars to move himself and his family back to Georgia from Washington. The endorsement, dated 18 August, reads: "Request complied with, by a check of $100 on Jos. Bryan."
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                                                            • Letter. John Hoover, Washington D. C., to Geo[rge] W. Crawford, Bel Air, Georgia. 1851 March 19. Folder 30 (MSN/EA 0500-30).
                                                              ALS. 1 page (24 x 20 cm.) on one folded sheet, w/integral address leaf and docketing.
                                                              An invoice for some beef recently shipped to Crawford.
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                                                              • Letter. Robert F. Poe, n. p., to Hon. George W. Crawford, Paris, France. [1852]. Folder 31 (MSN/EA 0500-31).
                                                                ALS, 4 pages (25 x 20 cm.) on one folded sheet.
                                                                Poe relays news to Crawford (then travelling in Europe) of the 1852 presidential election, and of Pierce's majority in Georgia; also, news of acquaintances in Augusta.
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                                                                • Letter. B. H. Hann, et al, Augusta, Georgia, to Honble George W. Crawford, Belair, Georgia. 1853 July 28. Folder 32 (MSN/EA 0500-32).
                                                                  ALS, 3 pages (31 x 20 cm.) on one folded sheet, with docketing.
                                                                  A letter, bearing 21 signatures, urging Crawdord to run for the Georgia state legislature.
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                                                                  • Miscellaneous papers relating to the settlement of the Galphin Claim. c. 1845-1848. Folder 33 (MSN/EA 0500-33).
                                                                    Three manuscripts, totaling eight pages, and one Congressional bill.
                                                                    The manuscript material includes a draft of a letter from George W. Crawford to J. M. Berrien (4 July 1845); a copy of an 18th century document entitled "The memorial of the Principal Traders to the Creek and Cherokee Nations"; and a draft by Crawford of a narrative recounting the history of the claim, to 1848. There is also a Congressional broadside, "A Bill for the relief of Milledge Galphin . . . . (29 December 1847).
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