John W. Williams correspondence
Held at: University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts [Contact Us]3420 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-6206
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Overview and metadata sections
John W. Williams was born November 17, 1803, the son of John and Mary Bliss Williams, in Wethersfield, Connecticut. After graduating from Yale University in 1822, Williams moved to Philadelphia to practice law. In 1835, however, he decided to change careers from law to literature and took over from Robert Walsh as one of the editors of the magazine American Quarterly Review and of the National Gazette. Under his editorship, the National Gazette became a daily newspaper, after years of being published only three times a week.
In April 1836, Williams married Anne Keppele and they had one son, John. Unfortunately, shortly after their marriage, Williams became ill and he died in September 1837.
Following his death, his widow Anne remained in contact with Williams' correspondents and family. Thomas S. Williams, an uncle of John W. Williams, was instrumental in helping Anne with inheritance and estate issues.
The John W. Williams correspondence dates from 1822 to 1853 and largely documents Williams' personal and business life until the time of his death. The collection is arranged in three series: Letters to John W. Williams , Letters to Mrs. John W. Williams (Anne Kappele), and Miscellaneous letters. These letters are mostly personal, being written by family or friends, but do include some business letters from authors and editors.
Letters to John Williams includes letters from family members, many of whom request favors and services from Williams, friends, and colleagues. Family correspondents include cousin John Howard and his wife Mary, father John Williams, O.E. Williams (relationship unknown), uncle Thomas S. Williams, and cousin S. Worthington. There are also letters from friends, including James Amory, Ed. E. Law, E.E. Lewis, and I.H. Townsend, whose letters discuss fellow classmates and friends and personal accounts of their lives. Williams received letters relating to his career, both as a lawyer and as an editor from George Bancroft, Park Benjamin, William B.O. Peabody, Amos Pilsbury, William Sullivan, and B.B. Thatcher. These letters address topics such as writings for American Quarterly Review and National Gazette, politics, and business in Philadelphia and elsewhere. Through these letters, researchers will also find information about other writers with whom Williams did not correspond, including Harriette Newell Woods Baker and Elizabeth Palmer Peabody.
Letters to Mrs. John Williams (Anne Keppele Williams, 1807-1853) are entirely personal in nature. Correspondents include Williams' friend James S. Amory who wrote to Mrs. Williams during Williams' illness and after his death; J. Parsons; Williams' sister Hannah H. Williams; and Williams' uncle Thomas S. Williams. These letters are largely distressing, informing Mrs. Williams of the deaths of family members and discussing her inheritance from her husband John W. Williams, his father John Williams, and his grandfather Colonel John Worthington.
The last series, Miscellaneous letters, are not addressed to either John W. Williams or his wife. These letters include letters from James S. Amory to Johnnie Williams; from Hungerford & Sons to James S. Amory; from Anne Keppele to John Hall, just before her marriage to John W. Williams; and from John W. Williams to his mother.
The bulk of these letters are family related, however, there are some letters that are strong in literary and political interest and provide the background of a well-educated young man who wished to leave his mark on the world of letters.
Sold by Charles Apfelbaum, Rare Books & Collections, New York, 1989.
- University of Pennsylvania: Kislak Center for Special Collections, Rare Books and Manuscripts
- Finding Aid Author
- Holly Mengel
- Finding Aid Date
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