Simeon Johnson Papers
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
Simeon Johnson was an American merchant who resided in Gonaïves, Haiti, following the Haitian Revolution. Johnson was born in Berlin, Connecticut, in 1770 to Samuel Johnson (1740-1798) and Ann Hopkins (1742-1816), descendents of English settlers who arrived in the Americas in the mid-17th century. Simeon Johnson married Lucretia Ranney (1769-1820), with whom he had four children. He died in Haiti on November 5, 1807.
Consists of legal and financial documents, correspondence, and a journal belonging to Simeon Johnson (1770-1807), an American merchant residing in Gonaïves, Haiti, following the Haitian Revolution. Johnson's thirteen-page journal, which he labeled "Journal and notes written during the disturbances at Haiti," spans the period from January 10 to February 3, 1807, and details the conflicts between rival political leaders Henri Christophe (1767-1820), who became President of the State of Haiti in 1807, and Alexandre Pétion (1770-1818), who was then President of the Republic of Haiti.
Additional materials relate to Johnson's business affairs in Haiti. The earliest document is a license to do business issued to Powell, Kane & Co. in 1805, signed by Jean-Jacques Dessalines (1758-1806), who was then the Emperor of Haiti. The license was endorsed in 1806 to indicate its transfer to Simeon Johnson. There is also a detailed list of debts owed by Simeon Johnson to various people totaling $2697.72 (April 7, 1807); a receipt for the purchase of provisions from Charles McNeill "payable in good coffee" (March 14, 1807); an envelope addressed to Johnson at New York Coffee House, Royal Exchange; and a passport, signed by Henry Christophe (1767-1820), allowing Simeon Johnson to travel to London in April 1807.
A few items related to Johnson's social life are also present, including two invitations to events in 1806, a birthday feast for Empress Marie-Claire Heureuse Félicité Bonheur and a wedding. Both invitations are annotated with Johnson's translations into English and labeled as "specimens" of the "manners" and "politings" of Haiti. Johnson had sent this collection of papers, including the journal, to his wife, and many items are annotated with his English translations.
A transcription of the diary has been published in: Hoffmann, Léon-François. "An American Trader in Revolutionary Haiti: Simeon Johnson's Journal of 1807." Princeton University Library Chronicle 49, no. 2 (1988): pp. 182-199. http://libweb5.princeton.edu/visual_materials/pulc/pulc_v_49_n_2.pdf
Gift of Frederic Leake, Princeton Class of 1908, in 1954 (AM 16859).
This accession was separated from the Princeton University Library Collection on Slavery in the Americas (C1210), formerly known as the Miscellaneous Slavery Collection, during 2017 reprocessing.
This collection was processed by Kelly Bolding in December 2017. Finding aid written by Kelly Bolding in December 2017.
No materials were separated during 2017 processing.
- Dessalines, Jean-Jacques, 1758-1806
- Henri Christophe, King of Haiti, 1767-1820
- Pétion, Alexandre, 1770-1818
- Manuscripts Division
- Finding Aid Author
- Kelly Bolding
- Finding Aid Date
- Access Restrictions
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.