Return to Ohio ALHN
Return to Contents


To the Executive Council of the American Historical Association:
The Historical Manuscripts Commission begs leave to submit herewith its sixtha report. In its fifth report the commission announced that it had undertaken to prepare for publication a selection of the papers of Salmon Portland Chase, which had been brought together through the efforts of Prof. Albert Bushnell Hart and Mr. James Ford Rhodes. This task was intrusted to Dr. Herbert Friedenwald, then a member of the commission, and he had made considerable progress in his labors when such restrictions were placed upon the use of the papers that he found it impossible to complete the work. The hope was then expressed that the work might be resumed at an early day.b At the close of the year 1900 Mr. Thwaites felt compelled to resign the chairmanship of the commission, and Prof. Herbert L. Osgood was appointed in his place. Some months later Professor Osgood resigned, owing to the press of other duties, and the present incumbent was appointed. So little time remained before the meeting of the association in December, 1901, that little could be accomplished save to make arrangements to resume the preparation of the Chase papers for publication. This was done in accordance with the wish of the commission as previously expressed, and with the advice of those who were most familiar with the papers. The Massachusetts Historical Society, in whose custody they were, kindly placed them on deposit at the Yale University library in December, 1901, and the task of selection was undertaken. The character of the collection and the sources from which it was gathered were indicated in the quotation from Professor Hart's account of them to the Massachusetts Historical Society, which was published in the report for 1900.c
When the chairman of the commission examined this material the great bulk of it was found to consist of letters to Mr. Chase, most of them by men of only local reputation. To examine personally the thousands of such letters preserved in this collection was an undertaking quite impracticable, and consequently the services of Dr. Ernest H. Baldwin were secured for a preliminary sifting. During the earlier years of the correspondence there was little that deserved publication, the average yield being not over four or five letters to the thousand. While this work was going on, and before the papers had been in his hands two months, the chairman was informed that the collection had been sold to the Library of Congress and would have to be sent on to Washington immediately. Fortunately Professor Hart, in pursuance of an earlier plan of publishing some selections from the correspondence of the civil-war period, had collected in one large docket the most interesting letters. Most of the rest of the correspondence was now examined cursorily under pressure of baste, and memoranda made of what seemed promising. In due time, through the kindness of the Librarian of Congress, the letters of which note had been made and the large docket of " special letters " selected by Professor Hart were returned to New Haven to be at the disposal of the commission.
The chairman feels fairly confident that the material appended to this report selected from this mass of correspondence constitutes a very large part of what it would have been found desirable to publish if the whole collection had been carefully sifted, and he doubts if the additional expense for such a complete examination would have been justified by the results. Still it was his intention to have such an examination made until it was interrupted by the transfer of the papers to the Library of Congress.
The letters of one of Chase's correspondents, Mr. George S. Denison, are printed in full, and constitute probably the most important addition to historical material that is made in the present report. Mr. Denison was familiar with the South before the war, and he was Chase's official and per- representative in New Orleans from June, 1862, till March 1865, serving in the various capacities of " special agent and acting collector," " special agent and acting surveyor," and " commissioner of internal revenue."
As Chase's personal representative and confidential agent it was his duty to observe and report the progress of events, and to assist in stimulating and encouraging the formation of a Union party and in shaping its sentiments aright. The letters which follow were written by Mr. Denison in the latter capacity. They comment freely on military matters and the delicate and embarrassing problems connected with to the regulation of trade. They also contain critical estimates of important characters, chronicle the course of political affairs, and discuss questions of policy, not omitting some references to Mr. Chase's political aspirations. Many of Mr. Denison's statements admit easily of verification by reference to the printed sources which bear on the period. Wherever thus tested, so great is their faithful- to the letter and the spirit of the facts as to justify great confidence in Mr. Denison's judgment, discernment, and conscientiousness in all matters upon which he touches.d
The letters written by Chase are a selection in the main from those written to Charles Sumner and to Mr. Edward S. Hamlin, of Ohio, an antislavery journalist and a supporter of Chase. The letters to Sumner have been printed almost entire for the light they throw on the friendly rela- tions between these two antislavery leaders and upon the personality of Chase at a period in his life which his biographers have treated relatively briefly. The chairman of the commission desires to express his appreciation of the facilities afforded by the librarian of Harvard University for examining and securing the transcription of the correspondence, and for the authorization to publish it. The Hamlin collection was transcribed under the supervision of Dr. Friedenwald. Those letters have been selected for publication which throw light upon Chase's position in the momentous Senatorial election of 1849 and upon his attitude on national issues. Those that have been omitted are merely repetitions of the matter contained in those printed, or relate to matters of purely temporary and local interest. These letters add considerably to the number printed in Warden and Schuckers. The number could no doubt have been increased by further effort, but it must be remembered that both Warden and Schuckers bad already swept the field, and, second, that Chase had no such body of correspondents as did Charles Sumner. The letter books had been gleaned by Dr. Friedenwald, and the transcripts made under his supervision have been used, as was the case with the Hamlin letters. In a few cases the illegibility of the writing has baffled the transcriber.
The text of the diary is from a transcript made under the supervision of Professor Hart. Most of this record was published by Warden, and considerable portions of it by Schuckers, and it will no doubt seem to some open to question whether it should be reprinted by the commission. In favor of such a republication it may be said that although Warden reproduced his extracts accurately enough his method is so unsystematic that the student never knows whether the whole of the entry of the day is given, and the date of the entries is not always clear. Again, the narrative is constantly interrupted by garrulous comment, and, finally, his work has long been out of print. In view, then, of the intrinsic historical importance of this contemporary record, and of the fragmentary and unsatisfactory form in which it would otherwise be accessible, it was decided to include it in this report.
Prefixed to the selections from the Chase papers will be found a brief calendar of some six hundred of Chase's private letters that have been previously published. This calendar was prepared under the supervision of the chairman by Mr. Samuel H. Dodson, of Yale University.
The chairman wishes to acknowledge the valuable work done by Dr. Friedenwald in the collection and transcription of the Chase-Hamlin letters, and of the letters copied from Chase's letter books. The editorial work for the present volume has been done by the chairman of the commission, except that upon the Denison correspondence, which was undertaken by Professor Moore, whose studies in Louisiana history since the civil war enabled him to render exceptionally valuable assistance. In regard to editorial annotation, it was thought best to err on the side of too little rather than on that of too much annotation.
Through the kindness of Mr. Worthington C. Ford, transcripts of the diplomatic correspondence of the French ministers to the United States—Ternant, Genet, Fauchet, and Adet—have been offered to the commission. The transcripts were made from the originals in the Archives des affaires etrangeres in Paris for Mr. Ford and his brother, the late Paul Leicester Ford. These papers are now in the hands of Professor Turner, of the University of Wisconsin, who will edit them for the commission, with additional transcripts procured from Paris under his direction. Professor Turner writes that these papers, which amount in the total to about 300,000 words, clearly exhibit the policy of France toward the United States from 1791 to 1797, and throw much supplementing on the struggle for the Mississippi Valley, not only material for the years preceding and following Genet's mission. Taken together with the transcripts which Professor Turner will procure from Paris, the correspondence will throw new light on the Louisiana purchase. There is good reason to hope that this material will be ready for publication in the report for 1903.
The other members of the commission would hereby express their grateful appreciation of Mr. Ford's interest in their work and his valuable cooperation before he became a member of the commission, manifested by his putting these papers at their disposal. They also feel deeply indebted to Professor Turner for undertaking the preparation of this material for publication.


MARCH, 1903.

aOwing to changes in the membershio of the commission during the year 1901, there was no printed report for that year, which was the sixth year of the commissions's activities.
bAnnual report of the American Historical Association, 1900.
cAlso Proceedings of the Massachusetts Historical Society, December, 1899.
dThis paragraph represents Professor Moore's judgement of the Denison correspondence.


Home | Ohio Counties | Ohio Biograpies | What's New?
Ohio's Fallen Officers | Ohio Military | Ohio Photo Album
Vintage Ohio Postcards | Crime & Punishment | Early Institutions
Ohio Fun Facts | Lookup Volunteers | Ohio Resources
Ohio Book Shelf

Background Design

Barbara's Bordered Backgrounds

Annual Report of the American Historical Association; Volume II; Washington, Government Printing Office; 1903

Page design © 2002 - 2008 by &