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Stephen Simpson Letters to His Wife


Held at: Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division [Contact Us]

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the Princeton University Library: Manuscripts Division. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

Simpson, Stephen, 1789-1854

In his youth, Simpson followed his father's banking career and worked as a note clerk in the second Bank of the United States and, afterwards, as a cashier at Girard's Bank. Simpson resigned form banking and enlisted for the War of 1812. In fact, both he and his elder brother, George, Jr., were engaged under Andrew Jackson in the Battle of New Orleans on January 8, 1815. Their company was the only one in which men were killed. Simpson formed a great admiration for Andrew Jackson during the war, especially after Jackson defeated the British in the Battle of New Orleans. This admiration motivated much of his political writing a decade later. From 1816 to 1817, together with his brother-in-law, Tobias Watkins, Simpson was editor and proprietor of The Portico: A Repository of Science and Literature, a monthly periodical published in Baltimore and in Philadelphia. In 1822 Simpson was co-editor with John Conrad of the radically democratic newspaper The Columbian Observer, which was also published in Philadelphia. Simpson was the first candidate for Congress of the initial organization of workers in America "The Workingmen's Party of Philadelphia."

The collection consists of fifteen autograph letters by Stephen Simpson to his wife, Mary Chaloner Simpson, during the War of 1812. Simpson traveled to Baltimore, Pittsburgh, New Orleans, Baton Rouge, Natchez, New York, and Washington, D.C. The first two letters were written from Baltimore and are dated before his marriage. Most of the letters are quite lengthy and full of detailed information about the places he visited. Not only does Simpson make frequent references to military operations, but he also writes about the condition of the roads, the towns he passes through, and farmers who extract gallons of honey from beehives to use as a substitute for sugar. Simpson describes the city of New Orleans, its houses, the "Carnival Feast" which was attended by eighty women, and the impending British attack. In his letter dated New Orleans, January 30, 1815, Simpson writes to Mary about the festivities following the evacuation of the British troops from that city and praises Andrew Jackson. In addition, he also writese about his business projects, including the decline of the magazine The Portico: A Repository of Science and Literature, published in Baltimore and Philadelphia (1816-1818), of which he was proprietor and editor with his brother-in-law, Tobias Watkins. In several of his letters Simpson writes about the poor situation of his brother, George, who was also an officer under Jackson during the War of 1812 in New Orleans.

Folders are arranged by date.

The letters were purchased in April 1945.

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Folder inventory added by Nicholas Williams '2015 in 2012.

No appraisal information is available.

Manuscripts Division
Finding Aid Date
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Collection Inventory

2 Letters and Item Description from Auction in 1945, April 1813. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

2 Letters to Mary Simpson, Written from Baltimore and Pittsburgh, 1814. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

6 Letters to Mary Simpson, Written from New Orleans, 1814-1815. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

5 Letters to Mary Simpson, 1816-1829. 1 folder.
Physical Description

1 folder

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