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John Mills Hale collection of letters, autographs, and images of the signers of the Declaration of Independence


Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts. 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

John Mills Hale was born in Lewistown, Pennsylvania in 1839. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1862 and practiced as a lawyer. He was an avid collector of autographs, letters, and other historical documents from the era of the American Revolution. He died in Philipsburg, Pennsylvania in 1894.

This collection consists of a complete set of autographs of the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence. It also includes prints and engravings, which depict either a portrait of a signer and/or a view of his domicile. The set of portraits is not complete.

Bequest of John Mills Hale, 1894; received 1906.

University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
Finding Aid Author
Holly Mengel (collection processed before 2013)
Finding Aid Date
2020 June 17
Access Restrictions

This collection is open for research use.

Use Restrictions

Copyright restrictions may exist. For most library holdings, the Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania do not hold copyright. It is the responsibility of the requester to seek permission from the holder of the copyright to reproduce material from the Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Collection Inventory

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Adams, John, 1735-1826, a United States diplomatic agent in Europe, letter to Henrik Calkoen, an Amsterdam jurist, the last of 26 letters written in an effort to explain the origins, progress, and nature of the American Revolution to the Dutch people; describes the effect of the loss of Charleston and the defeat of Gates upon the American people (1 item), 1780 October 27.
Box 1 Folder 2
Adams, Samuel, 1722-1803, tax collector for Boston, receipt acknowledging the payment of Samuel Gridley's 1760 taxes, received and signed by Adams (1 item), 1762 March 8.
Box 1 Folder 3
Bartlett, Josiah, 1729-1795, an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court of New Hampshire, correspondence with John Scribner, the attorney acting on behalf of Joshua Abbot of Poplin, New Hampshire, relating to a complaint about a "certain negro fellow, James or Jem Nokes," who was accused of stealing a yoke of oxen from another resident of Rockingham County, Abbot; includes Bartlett's notes, on the back, for the trial which found Nokes not guilty of the charges (1 item), 1784 December 10-14.
Box 1 Folder 4
Braxton, Carter, 1736-1797, Virginia planter whose fortune was largely depleted during the Revolution, letter to Benjamin Harrison, governor of Virginia, thanking him for altering the manner in which Braxton was required to make certain payments and asking him to fix the price of tobacco (1 item), 1783 June 24.
Box 1 Folder 5
Carroll, Charles, 1737-1832, formerly a Maryland senator, letter to Virgil Maxey, Maryland statesman, regarding Maxey's failure to send to Carroll a bond worth {dollar}1500 to his estate (1 items), 1824 July 15.
Box 1 Folder 6
Chase, Samuel, 1741-1811, justice in the district of Baltimore, letter to William Smallwood, governor of Maryland, regarding a Mr. Russell's application to relieve his debt, which Chase believes to be "just and reasonable" (1 item), 1788 September 6.
Box 1 Folder 7
Clark, Abraham, 1726-1794, legal document stating that Abraham Clark, an attorney in New Jersey, and Aaron Clark served as witnesses in a pledge of 328 pounds to Benjamin Bonnell of Elizabeth, New Jersey, from John Clawson, Jacob Crane, and William Peirson of the same town; document is signed by Abraham Clark, Aaron Clark, Clawson, Crane, and Peirson; Benjamin Bonnell notes (with signature) the ongoing payments of his debtors from July 1769 to July 1771 on the back (1 item), 1769 April 4-1771 July 25.
Box 1 Folder 8
Clymer, George, 1739-1813, president of the Philadelphia Bank, letter to George Simpson, cashier for the Bank of the United States regarding a transaction of 480 dollars (1 item), 1805 January 2.
Box 1 Folder 9
Ellery, William, 1727-1820, first customs collector for the port in Newport, Rhode Island, letter to LeRoy Bayard and M. Evers, New York merchants, refuting a notation error for a shipment of pipes and casks of wine to come through his port. The error, he argues, did not occur at his port, but at the New York port. Also included is a brief printed biography of Ellery and the auction listing for this manuscript, labeled "very neat" (2 items), 1806 October 4.
Box 1 Folder 10
Floyd, William, 1734-1821, letter to John Ingraham, including letters and orders for payment to be delivered to men who owed money to Floyd, who was representing New York at the Continental Congress (1 item), 1780 October 30.
Box 1 Folder 11
Franklin, Benjamin, 1706-1790, letter to Richard Neave, a merchant, confirming that Baynton, Wharton, and Morgan, the firm that evaluated his land, conducted a fair survey (1 item), 1767 January 27.
Box 1 Folder 12
Gerry, Elbridge, 1744-1814, governor of Massachusetts, letter to Charles Bigelow, discounting a former employee's claim of not being paid, by stating that Gerry and his family found receipts proving the payment of this employee (1 item), 1810 December 13?.
Box 1 Folder 13
Gwinnett, Button, planter in Georgia, circa 1735-1777, legal document pledging 14,365 pounds to John Neufville, merchant of Charlestown, South Carolina; signed, sealed, and delivered by Edward Neufville; includes John Neufville's notes on payment installments from Gwinnett, the signatures of John Neufville and his attorney William Houstoun, and three brief, printed biographies of Gwinnett (2 items), 1774 July 8.
Box 1 Folder 14
Hall, Lyman, 1724-1790. a physician in Georgia at St. John's parish, letter to Mary McPherson, recognizing her as the executioner of William McPherson's (her deceased husband) last will and testament (1 items), 1761? February 14.
Box 1 Folder 15
Hancock, John, 1737-1793, statesman in Massachusetts, , letter to John Watts, In this letter from Massachusetts commissioners Hancock, Brattle and Hawley, they attempting to draw up an agreement with New York commissioners Watts, Smith, Livingston, and Nicholls over the Massachusetts/New York property boundaries for the Massachusetts Bay. (1 item), 1773 May 14.
Box 1 Folder 16
Harrison, Benjamin, circa 1726-1791, Speaker of the House, letter to Thomas Jefferson, governor of Virginia, alerting him that "three hundred of the enemy" had landed at Sandy Point in Virginia (1 item), 1781 October 11.
Box 1 Folder 17
Hart, John, 1711?-1779, legal document binding John and Daniel Hart, brothers who were farmers and owned a milled called Daniel Hart's Mill, to Benjamin Temple (John Hart's brother-in-law) for 660 pounds; signed by John and Daniel Hart and witnessed by Edward Cooper; and a bill worth fifteen shillings, dated 1776, signed by John Hart (2 items), 1752 August 15-1776 February 20.
Box 1 Folder 18
Hewes, Joseph, 1730-1779, a delegate from North Carolina at the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, letter to Samuel Johnston, a North Carolina planter and lawyer who presided over the provincial congress for North Carolina, informing him of the Congress's plan to send two Presbyterian clergymen to North Carolina to explain the nature of the dispute between the colonies and Great Britain (1 item), 1776 January 4.
Box 1 Folder 19
Heyward, Thomas, 1746-1809, judge in South Carolina, signature (1 item), undated.
Box 1 Folder 20
Hooper, William, 1742-1790, Wilmington representative in the General Assembly of North Carolina, letter to Richard Bannehan, informing him that his "Boy" was making his way to Granville, and he would be staying with Bannehan on his way and on his return (1 item), 1773 August 8?.
Box 1 Folder 21
Hopkins, Stephen, 1707-1785, legal document binding John Whipple to Prince Smith for the amount of 218 pounds, 10 shillings; written and signed by Hopkins, who was a judge in Providence, Rhode Island (1 item), 1743 April 27.
Box 1 Folder 22
Hopkinson, Francis, 1737-1791, treasurer of loans for the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, letter to Thomas Harwood, commissioner of loans for Maryland, granting him {dollar}1,920 for the use of Maryland's Continental Loan Office and listing the number of certificates granted the state, their values, and their identification numbers (1 item), 1779 March 2.
Box 1 Folder 23
Huntington, Samuel, 1731-1796, governor of Connecticut, letter to George Clinton, governor of New York, informing Clinton that the persons responsible for the recent murder of the sheriff of Columbia County, New York, were apprehended in the eastern part of Connecticut and have been escorted back to New York to be tried (1 item), 1791 November 11.
Box 1 Folder 24
Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826, president of the United States, letter to John Shee, a general in Philadelphia, agreeing to pay the bill for the whaling ship Fabius as soon as he received the goods as stated in the bill (1 item), 1808 January 29.
Box 1 Folder 25
Lee, Francis Lightfoot, 1734-1797, a member of the Virginia House of Burgesse, , letter to William Lee, his brother, regarding dividing up their estate and of engaging their mutual friend, a Dr. Mortimer, into a financial partnership (1 item), 1770 June 5.
Box 1 Folder 26
Lee, Richard Henry, 1732-1794, Virginia representative in the Continental Congress in Philadelphia, letter to unknown recipient, stating that the enemy will not be attacking Virginia as Lee had thought, but would rather concentrate their efforts on New England and that Great Britain was engaging in an "acrimonious and foolish display of tyranny," regarding the treatment of the colonists. (1 item), 1777 May 6.
Box 1 Folder 27
Lewis, Francis, 1713-1803, a member of the Continental Congress, letter to Frank Lewis, his son, asking him to pay William Smith {dollar}6,000 for the flour etc. he purchased for the Commercial Committee of Congress (1 item), 1778 March 6.
Box 1 Folder 28
Livingston, Philip, 1716-1778, merchant in New York, letter to Samuel Storke and Thomas Gainsborough, with a memorandum of sundry merchandise he would like them to procure for him via their London mercantile business; includes a list of the merchandise on the back of the letter (1 item), 1736 September 15.
Box 1 Folder 29
Lynch, Thomas, 1749-1779, a delegate from South Carolina at the Continental Congress, signature and booklet with three brief biographies of Lynch (2 items), 1876 July 4.
Box 1 Folder 30
McKean, Thomas, 1734-1817, chief justice of Pennsylvania, letter to Matthew Irwin, Philadelphia Master of Rolls and Recorder of Deeds, asking for money to help with the last payment of his house and promising to send his nephew Thomas to be Irwin's apprentice in Philadelphia at the end of the summer (1 item), 1785 June 29.
Box 2 Folder 31
Middleton, Arthur, 1742-1787, South Carolina representative in Congress, letter to Robert Way, promising to pay him the sum of {dollar}20 (1 item), 1782 August 6.
Box 2 Folder 32
Morris, Lewis, 1726-1798, receipt noting Lewis Graham's payment to Lewis Morris of five pounds to pay for Graham's land survey, probably relating to his rebuilding his manor, Morrisania, in New York (1 item), 1792 July 24.
Box 2 Folder 33
Morris, Robert, 1734-1806, letter to John Nicholson, his partner relating to some financial matters for their business of land speculation and development (1 item), 1797 September 25.
Box 2 Folder 34
Morton, John, circa 1724-1777, land survey in which Morton, a land surveyor, divided 10 acres of land of meadow on Racoon Creek for Andrew and Jacob Jones, with their consent. (1 item), 1755.
Box 2 Folder 35
Nelson, Thomas, 1738-1789, governor of Virginia, letter to Daniel Morgan, Brigadier General from Virginia, who defeated the British troops at the Battle of Cowpens, South Carolina, agreeing to present the "House Sword" to Morgan as a reward for distinguished merit (1 item), 1781 July 20.
Box 2 Folder 36
Paca, William, 1740-1799, governor of Maryland, letter to James Brice, giving Brice, a planter and member of the Maryland Governor's Council, permission to take the necessary steps in protecting the city against disorderly soldiers (1 item), 1783 November 25.
Box 2 Folder 37
Paine, Robert Treat, 1731-1814, attorney general for Massachusetts, legal document containing his verdict on the State of Massachusetts v. Thomas Brindley, in which he stated that Brindley, who had pledged allegiance to the King of Great Britain since 1775, was now considered an alien in Suffolk County, Massachusetts, and would be banished from the state (1 item), 1780 February 5.
Box 2 Folder 38
Penn, John, 1740 or 1-1788, a member of the Continental Congress, letter recounting the battle between Generals Washington and Howe in Germantown, Pennsylvania and a copy (written in Penn's hand on the back of the letter) of a letter from General Washington describing the details of the battle, including the presence of fog and the casualties (1 item), 1777 October 10.
Box 2 Folder 39
Read, George, 1733-1798, judge on the Court of Appeals in Delaware, legal document written by Read, detailing the debt David Brinton owed to John Hill, both of Newcastle County, Delaware (1 item), 1781 May.
Box 2 Folder 40
Rodney, Caesar, 1728-1784, member of Congress in Philadelphia, letter to Thomas Rodney, his brother who was also a statesman, about his "disorder," which he and his doctor thought to be lessening; the rigorous British campaign against America; and the imminent American independence (1 item), 1782 February 21.
Box 2 Folder 41
Ross, George, 1730-1779, the Crown Prosecutor (attorney general) for Carlisle, Pennsylvania, letter to Edward Shippen, a member of Philadelphia's common council, asking him to renew the writs he numbered below (1 item), 1756 March 12.
Box 2 Folder 42
Rush, Benjamin, 1746-1813, treasurer of the U. S. Mint and a professor at the University of Pennsylvania, letter an unknown recipient introducing the son of John Barker (sheriff of Philadelphia city and county) who wished to join a possible expedition of the recipient (1 item), 1806 August 19.
Box 2 Folder 44
Rutledge, Edward, 1749-1800, South Carolina legislator, letter to Richard Lushington, commander of a militia in South Carolina during the Revolution, informing Lushington that he has been charged with a debt to John Banks and Company, where he is a partner and that he should find a lawyer if he wishes to contest this second notice of the debt (1 item), undated.
Box 2 Folder 43
Sherman, Roger, 1721-1793, U. S. Senator from Connecticut, report on the findings of the committee that was to look in to the receipts and expenditures of Robert Morris during his term as Superintendent of the Finances; these findings included the decision not to extensively examine his public accounts, but rather submit the public records for one year, 1784, to each member of Congress (1 item), 1791.
Box 2 Folder 45
Smith, James, circa 1719-1806, a lawyer in Philadelphia, letter and list to John Whitehill, president and the supreme executive of the Council of Pennsylvania, recommending a John Clark as an appropriate candidate for the office Prothonotary in York County, Pennsylvania, as well as an undated list of legal guidelines concerning marriage and orphan's court (2 items), 1786 May 1.
Box 2 Folder 46
Stockton, Richard, 1730-1781, legal document , an agreement (signed and delivered in the presence of Samuel Stockton) of Joseph Stockton to pay the debt he owes to Richard Stockton, a lawyer in New Jersey, with Richard Stockton's handwritten acknowledgement of the agreement on the back (1 item), 1768? April 1.
Box 2 Folder 47
Stone, Thomas, 1743-1787, Maryland representative in Congress, letter to Matthew Tilghman, president of the Convention at Annapolis, Maryland, informing him that New York was in need of assistance, and hoping the Convention would be able to help; includes a typed copy of this letter; originally included part of an Indian Speech which "respects Maryland" (1 item), 1776 September 4.
Box 2 Folder 48
Taylor, George, 1716-1781, estate inventory (total inventory of the estate is 81 pounds) compiled and signed by appraisers John Dunlop and Neigel Gray of all the goods and chattel of Samuel Carruthers; Taylor, a county judge in Pennsylvania, made notes on this inventory on 7 March 1771 and 2 May 1772; and it was signed by executrix Margaret Carruthers and executor William Carruthers on 14 July 1772 and exhibited 27 July 1772 (1 item), 1769 September 18-1772 July 27.
Box 2 Folder 49
Thornton, Matthew, 1714?-1803, physician and representative of Londonderry in New Hampshire's provincial assembly, receipt acknowledging payment of 15 pounds from the widow of William Chambers to Matthew Thornton for medical bills (1 item), 1759 February 9.
Box 2 Folder 50
Walton, George, 1749 or 50-1804, Georgia representative in the national legislature, letter asking, on behalf of himself, Joseph Pannel, Robert Walton, and Samuel Scott, permission of the "Honorable President of the Convention" to recruit 300 men from the inhabitants of the colony of Virginia to armed service in Georgia; includes a note dated 6 June 1776 from the Convention stating that a Mr. Drayton and a Mr. Elliot of South Carolina would also be allowed to recruit in Virginia (1 item), 1776 June 6.
Box 2 Folder 51
Whipple, William, 1730-1785, list stating what slight cargo William Whipple had on his brigantine bound for the West Indies. (1 item), 1755 May 4.
Box 2 Folder 52
Williams, William, 1731-1811, town clerk for Lebanon, Connecticut, who also represented the town in the general assembly of Connecticut, legal document dealing with a case between Elisha Edgerton and Jonathan Avery of Lebanon, Connecticut, relating to a monetary dispute (1 item), 1764 July 16.
Box 2 Folder 53
Wilson, James, 1742-1798, lawyer in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, letters to Edmund Physick, an attorney in Philadelphia, and John Montgomery, a colonel for the Pennsylvania militia, regarding land Wilson had acquired in Westmoreland County, Pennsylvania, as well as asking Physick to pay Wilson a retaining fee (signed by John Penn, lieutenant-governor for Pennsylvania) (2 items), 1773 August 17-1775 September 14.
Box 2 Folder 54
Witherspoon, John, 1723-1794, a delegate from New Jersey to the Continental Congress, letter to William Woodford, general from the French and Indian War, informing Woodford that his son arrived safely in Philadelphia and was being cared for (1 item), 1779 November 8.
Box 2 Folder 55
Wolcott, Oliver, a judge in Connecticut, 1726-1797, letter addressed to the County Court of Litchfield, Connecticut, nominating Mary Weller to keep up a "public house of entertainment" in Litchfield following the death of her husband, Joseph Weller, owner of a Litchfield tavern; signed by Wolcott and Lynde Lord, the sheriff of Litchfield County, Connecticut (1 item), 1769 April 25.
Box 2 Folder 56
Wythe, George, 1726-1806, judge of the Chancery Court in Virginia, letter to Alexander Donald, a Richmond tobacco merchant and associate of the London mercantile firm Burton and Donald, regarding the rate of engage and the price of tobacco (1 item), 1790 April 20.
Box 2 Folder 57

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