Leading the Future: Rare Land Grants of Founding Father, Patrick Henry

*Post written by Aaron Allen, student assistant of the University Archives and Special Collections.

Most people would never think of Virginia as part of the United States’ western boundary; however, this was not always the case. Through much of the late eighteenth century, America’s early territories did not extend past the Mississippi River. Virginia, a state that today is only 42,775 square miles was more than twice that size between 1755 and 1792. Even after the formation of Maryland, Carolina, and Pennsylvania reduced, its size Virginia still had more than 100,000 square miles (Exploring land Settling Frontiers, 2016).

Portrait of Patrick Henry, n.d. (© iStockphoto/Thinkstock)

Portrait of Patrick Henry, n.d. (Credit: Encyclopædia Britannica)

Records of ownership and receipts of sale of this vast land are currently preserved today. Inside of the Schlamp-Meyer Family collection at Rice Library, there are multiple land grants from the commonwealth of Virginia in 1786. Three of these documents in particular award. “tracts or parcels” of land to three different men. Three land grants are signed Patrick Henry, then governor of Virginia and one of the Founding Fathers of the United States. Patrick Henry is famous for his role in the American struggle for Independence, namely for his quote “Give me liberty or give me death”. He served as the first governor of Virginia and served two different terms (1776-1779; 1784-1786) (Meade, n.d.).

 

Map of the United States in March 4, 1789. This image was taken from http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~walker/1789usmap.jpg

Map of the United States on March 4, 1789 (Credit: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~walker/1789usmap.jpg)

In 1786, America’s western border did not stretch past the Mississippi River. At the time, Virginia was comparable to Great Britain in land mass (Exploring land Settling Frontiers, 2016).  Documents from the period make it possible to literally touch a tangible piece of our country’s past. Bearing the signature of a prominent early American political figure makes them even more significant.

The University Archives and Special Collection at Rice Library, Patrick Henry’s land grants from the Schlamp-Meyer Family Collection (MSS 157) is available for viewing online, 24/7. If you are interested in viewing these documents in person, feel free to come in during the archives’ normal business hours or set up an appointment.

References

Exploring land, settling frontiers (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.virginiaplaces.org/settleland/

Meade, R. D. (n.d.) Patrick Henry. Retrieved from https://www.britannica.com/biography/Patrick-Henry

A Nation Divided: Confederate States of America War Bonds

*Post written by James Wethington, library assistant of the University Archives and Special Collections.

The Confederate States of America was a group of eleven Southern states who seceded the Union following the election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860 because of his anti-slavery platform (Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, n.d.).

Secession started in 1860 until mid-1861 as the following (University of Georgia, 2016):

  • South Carolina: December 20, 1860
  • Mississippi: January 9, 1861
  • Florida: January 10, 1861
  • Alabama: January 11, 1861
  • Georgia: January 19, 1861
  • Louisiana: January 26, 1861
  • Texas: February 1, 1861
  • Virginia: April 17, 1861
  • Arkansas: May 6, 1861
  • North Carolina: May 20, 1861
  • Tennessee: June 8, 1861

The creation of government of the Confederacy began in February 1861 until the Confederate Army’s surrender at Appomattox Courthouse, Virginia on April 9, 1865 (Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica, n.d.). Rick Winters, an Evansville-native who served in the Vietnam War, donated this piece, donated this rare piece of American history.

One thousand dollars. No. 28123 Eight per cent, July 1, 1868. The Confederate States of America Loan. Authorized act of Congress. C.S.A. February 20, 1863 On the 1st day of July 1868, the Confederate States of America will pay to the Bearer of the Bond, at the seat of government or at such place of deposit as may be appointed by the Secretary of the Treasury, the sum of ONE THOUSAND DOLLARS with interest there on from date, at the rate of eight per cent per annum payable sum annually on the surrender of the annexed Coupons. This contract is authorized by an act of Congress approved February 20, 1863 entitled [and set to] authorize the issue of BONDS for funding Treasury notes and is upon the [express] conditions that said Confederate States may from time to time extend the time of payment for any period not exceeding thirty years from this date at the rate of interest, upon the surrender of the Bond. In Witness whereat the Register of the Treasury in pursuance of said act of Congress hath here unto ser his hand and affixed the seal of the Treasury at Richmond, this 2nd day of March 1863.

Confederate States of America bond, March 

Numerous novels such as North and South trilogy by John Jakes, Cold Mountain by Charles Frazier, Gone with the Wind by Margeret Mitchell, The Red Badge of Courage by Stephen Crane, and so many more have used the American Civil War as a background for their stories. If you are interested in viewing this artifact, you may schedule an appointment or come in during normal operating hours.

 

References

Editors of Encyclopædia Britannica. (n.d.). Confederate States of America. Retrieved May 03, 2017, from https://www.britannica.com/topic/Confederate-States-of-America

University of Georgia. (2016, April 6). Dates of secession. Retrieved May 03, 2017, from http://www.libs.uga.edu/hargrett/selections/confed/dates.html

The New England Connection: Isaac Lyon & John Quincy Adams

*Post written by James Wethington, library assistant of the University Archives and Special Collections.

Isaac S. Lyon, Esqr. Parsippany, Morris County, New Jersey Washington 21, March 1831 Sir, In compliance with the request contained in your letter of the 15th inst. I take pleasure in enclosing herewith a pamphlet copy of the Address, delivered by me in this City on the 4th of July 1821, and of which I request your acceptance. I am respectfully your fellow Citizen and Servant, J.Q. AdamsLocated in the Isaac Lyon collection (MSS 068) holds a correspondence written by a prominent American politician in 1831. Who? It was John Quincy Adams, son of former President John Adams. He served as a U.S. Senator (1803-1808), Secretary of State (1817-1825), President of the United States (1825-1829), and House Representative (1831-1848) (Bemis, 2012).

There is little information over the receiver of Adams’ letter, Isaac Lyon. According to the New Jersey Historical Society (2005), Isaac Lyon was a blacksmith in Morris County, New Jersey. Lyon requested a copy of Adams’ address during his tenure as Secretary of State in July 4, 1821 in Parsippany, located in northern New Jersey. Letter correspondence has improved immensely along with the ability to “speak” with others through social media.

J.Q. Adams: from the original painting by Chappel in the possession of the publishers. Johnson, Fry, and Company. Publishers, New York.

References

Bemis, S. F. (2012, October 22). John Quincy Adams. Retrieved April 25, 2017, from https://www.britannica.com/biography/John-Quincy-Adams

New Jersey Historical Society. (2005). Guide to the Phineas Horton (fl. 1809-1835), Merchant Record Books 1802-1852. Retrieved April 25, 2017, from http://www.jerseyhistory.org/findingaiddirnb.php?dir=EAD%2Ffaid0500&aid=mg0112

Blogging down Route 66:The Road to Americana Part 1

When you think of uniquely American culture, what comes to mind? The American Melting Pot? Bald Eagles? Tailgating, cheap beer and football? Put all those together, and you get Americana- which is basically defined as artifacts related to the history, geography, and culture of America, things that have a distinctly American flavor. America is a geographically large and diverse country, having been shaped by Native American culture and history, and its immigrant heritage, with people from every corner of the world settling here and adding to the exchange of cultures.  All this has given birth to a number of themes, styles, and traditions that are distinctly American, many of which are seen in the literature that we have created. Alright, it’s a bit hard to actually define Americana, but you know it when you see it, I think. What does or what does not fall under Americana can be confusing, but I’m going to try anyway. Tall Tales, ghost stories, poems, I am going to try to figure this out! Wish me luck, as I drive down the Route 66 of Americana!

I guess the best place to start is at the beginning, or at least the beginning of classic American traditions  we know today. Washington Irving (1783-1859) was one of the earliest American writers who made a huge international splash. He’s also one of the pioneers of the short story as a legitimate literary style, with a distinct American flavor. If you look his two most famous stories, ‘The Legend of Sleepy Hollow’, and ‘Rip Van Winkle’, you notice some very similar themes. They both take place in small farming communities in the early days of the United States as a country separated from England, they both deal with the conflict between the contemporary and supernatural worlds, and they both warn about the dangers of the woods. Both are stories based on Old World tales of ghosts and curses, with Irving applying them to the New World in some of the earliest stories in the American tradition of Romanticism. So, we owe a lot to Irving, for his contribution to American literature and culture, and many a Halloween haunted trail. Oh, he also had a particular nickname for New York City: Gotham. This was later borrowed by some comic book writers who were creating this new character, around sort of bat theme…. Yeah, it turns out that Christopher Nolan owes Irving a writer’s credit or something. Strange how often literary creations can end up influencing each other, even influencing different genres and time periods. Speaking of…

                    Tall Tale America, a Legendary History of our Humorous Heroes

Americans have long been fascinated by the outdoors, by the wildness of nature, and what better place to exemplify that then the American (often wild) West? That’s how we get to tall tales. Tall tales were sort of like old timey Chuck Norris jokes. They were a bragging contest about how big and bad they could make the hero of the story sound. Sometimes called Big Men stories (although they weren’t actually just about the guys) these were larger than life tales of courage, strength, and cleverness, usually told in a humorous, good natured way. The heroes range from working men like John Henry, the railroad man who died proving a man could do the work of a machine, or Paul Bunyan, the lumberjack with the size and power of a giant, to wild frontiersmen like Pecos Bill, who lassoed a tornado, or Davy Crockett, part time hunter and explorer, part time politician. Those are just a few of the many heroes of Tall Tale stories, more of which can be read about in Tall Tale America, which not only lists several of the tales, but also gives some historical context about American folklore, and how it differs from lore in other parts of the world. The book frequently uses regional dialects in the stories, which can get rather distracting, and it’s definitely an older book, but it’s still a good place to start looking if you’re interested in knowing more about these American myths. 

                                    Voices from the Harlem Renaissance

The Harlem Renaissance was an explosion of African American culture, centered in the NYC neighborhood of Harlem in the 1920s. This book gives both a history of the Harlem Renaissance, as well as examples of the poetry and essays of the time, covering authors such as Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, and Wallace Thurman. This is just a small sample of the work coming from this era, and from African American culture in general. Much of this material deals with African American identity; the writers and poets of the time were attempting to find where they stood in a country that seemed to be progressing, but no one was sure how much. With the book having so much history in it,  it may be more for history buffs than poetry lovers, but it has some great writing here, and is a good book to check out if you’re a fan of history, writing, or art (of all kinds).

I’m going to exit the highway and rest now….but check back for Part Two!