Edward C. Thomas Letters to Nicholas Biddle
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
Edward C. Thomas was a member of the Princeton Class of 1801. He returned to Princeton to study law with Robert Stockton. Nicolas Biddle is best know as a financier who served as president of Second Bank of the United States. Among other achievements, Biddle prepared Lewis and Clark's report of their exploratory expedition to the mouth of the Columbia River for publication, though his name is not on the ns2:title page.
The collection consists of twenty-six autograph letters of Thomas to his friend and college classmate Nicholas Biddle, chiefly about news of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University.) Thomas was plagued by ill-health during the time he wrote the letters. Though the bulk of the material is related to the College of New Jersey and its students, the letters also provide insight into social customs, balls in Princeton and Trenton, national and state politics, and race relations in the early years of the nineteenth century. The earlier letters were sent to Biddle in Philadelphia from Maryland; other letters were sent from Princeton where Thomas returned to the College to study law with Robert Stockton. In his letters Thomas writes about the riots of the senior class of the College of New Jersey and the students setting fire to the college library in Nassau Hall in January 1802, and about president Samuel Stanhope Smith's trip to Maryland to raise funds to rebuild the library. He writes about the thirty "Negroes" who were arrested for a plot to burn Baltimore, and the insurrections by "Negroes" in North Caroline in July of 1802. In several of his letters he writes about the political differences between the Federalists and the Republicans, the involvement of the American Navy fleet in fighting the Tripolitans in the Mediterranean and North Africa, and the capture of the frigate Philadelphia by the North Africans. Another topic which occupies a large portion of the correspondence is the young ladies whom Thomas meets at Princeton or while traveling, including President Smith's daughter, Susan. Thomas also writes about classmates and friends and their whereabouts, including Elias Ellmaker, George McLean Cummings, John Purdon, James Rogers, John W. Smith, and John Stoops.
The letters are arranged in chronological order.
All of the materials were purchased from Parke-Bernet Galleries on December 4, 1944 (AM12822).
This collection was processed by Dina Britain on November 6, 2008. Finding aid written by Natalie Kim on November 20, 2008. Folder Inventory added by Hilde Creager (2015) in 2012.
No appraisal information is available.
- Princeton University. Library
- Princeton University
- College of New Jersey (Princeton, N.J.)
- College of New Jersey (Princeton, N.J.). Class of 1801.
- College of New Jersey (Princeton, N.J.). Library
- Philadelphia (Ship)
- Manuscripts Division
- Finding Aid Date
- Access Restrictions
The collection is open for research.
- Use Restrictions
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 RBSC 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.