William Harris Crawford papers, 1815-1829

Emory University

Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library

Atlanta, GA 30322


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Descriptive Summary

Creator: Crawford, William Harris, 1772-1834.
Title: William Harris Crawford papers, 1815-1829
Call Number:Manuscript Collection No. 307
Extent:.25 linear ft. (1 box)
Abstract:Mainly photocopies of letters of presidential candidate and Georgia politician William H. Crawford.
Language:Materials entirely in English.

Administrative Information

Restrictions on Access

Unrestricted access.

Terms Governing Use and Reproduction

All requests subject to limitations noted in departmental policies on reproduction. Special restrictions also apply: The collection contains some copies of original materials held by other institutions; these copies may not be reproduced without the permission of the owner of the originals


Gift, n.d.


[after identification of item(s)], William Harris Crawford, 1815-1829, Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Emory University.



Collection Description

Biographical Note

William Harris Crawford (1772-1834) was born in Virginia on February 24, 1772 and as a boy moved with his family to what is now Columbia County, Georgia. He attended an "old field school" and then continued his studies under Moses Waddell, teacher of John C Calhoun. Having been admitted to the bar he was prosperous enough by 1804 to marry Susanna Girardin and to build a home, Woodlawn, near Lexington, Georgia where he lived for the rest of his life. He entered the Georgia legislature in 1803 where he quickly became the leading upland ally of James Jackson of Savannah in a faction known successively as the Jackson, Crawford and Troup party. This party embraced most of the well-to-do Georgians and insisted on conservative public finance. Upon the death of Abraham Baldwin, Crawford was chosen to fill the vacancy in the U. S. Senate. In 1813 he became minister to France and in 1815 Secretary of War and then Secretary of the Treasury where he served the remainder of Madison's and both of Monroe's administrations. He was the leading aspirant for the presidency in 1824 but intense rivalry and an attack of paralysis put and end to his hopes for that office.

Marie Joseph Paul Yves Roch Gilbert Du Motier de Lafayette (Marquis) (1757-1834) entered the American service as a major general on December 7, 1776. He became a life-long friend of George Washington. He visited the United States in 1784 as the guest of the nation. He visited America again July 1824 to September 1825. He was overwhelmed with popular applause and voted the sum of $200,000 and a township of land. Lafayette probably became acquainted with Crawford when the latter was minister to France 1813-1815. Crawford, after his return to America in 1815, was the agent for the sale of land donated to the United States government by Lafayette. The two men remained fast friends. Lafayette visited Crawford on his second trip to America after the Revolution. The both died in 1834.

Publication Note

Correspondence of William Harris Crawford to Jesse B. Thomas, 1828-1829, published in Georgia Historical Quarterly, vol. 37, 1953.

Scope and Content Note

The collection consists of photocopies and some original correspondence of William Crawford with the Marquis de Lafayette, Illinois senator Jesse B. Thomas, and John Steele. Letters are concerned with affairs in the United States and in France and discuss the U.S. presidential election of 1829, Lafayette's thoughts on Napoleon Bonaparte, Louisiana land [Crawford was the agent for the sale of land donated to the U.S. government by Lafayette, 1815], and letters of introduction. Crawford's letter to Steele (1817) directs the forwarding of olive plants to Washington and Savannah.

Arrangement Note

Correspondence grouped according to correspondents: Marquis de Lafayette to William Harris Crawford (1815-1819, 1822-1824), William Harris Crawford to Jesse B. Thomas (1821, 1828), William Harris Crawford to John Steele (1817). Lafayette and Thomas letters arranged in chronological order.

Container List

Lafayette to Crawford [Originals: University of Chicago Library]
Box Folder Content
1 1 [1815] Sunday, No place. Lafayette suggests a note from Crawford to the minister of police "respecting the arrival of Messrs. Gallatin and Bayard in Amsterdam."
1 2 [1815] Saturday, No place. Mentions Thomas Clarkson who was a British anti-slavery agitator. "I have paid a visit to Talloyrand and to M. Bernadier who is also going to Vienna ...."
1 3 [1815], [La Grange]. Debate on the "port?" bill begins tomorrow.
1 4 [1815] August 21, Paris. Presenting Jean d'Angely (apparently well known to Crawford) who was proscribed by the Royal Government.
1 5 1815, August ?, Paris. Answer to a letter from Crawford written from England which he says confirms his witness of foreign intention and his determination to come forth in defense of national independence. He is sending Crawford copies of Moniteur.
1 6 1815, September 8, Paris. Apparently a letter of recommendation brought in person and addressed to both Crawford and James Monroe.
1 7 1815, October 8, La Grange. A letter of introduction for M. de Bendel who is planning to go to America, the "natural refuge from every sort of Reaction."
1 8 1815, November 2, La Grange. Lafayette says; "It has been in the power of Bonaparte to escape to America. His hesitations in this instance, are almost incredible, considering what he is and what he has done..."
1 9 1816, August 8, La Grange. Lafayette had received a letter from Crawford "by Mr. Gallatin." He hopes that Crawford's "friendly care" of the business of his land in Louisiana "will be forwarded."
1 10 1816, August 8, La Grange. Another, longer, letter written on the same day and referred to in the other note. Gives opinion of "Holy Alliance;" misfortune of Bonaparte's return to an army which he had deserted.
1 11 1817 April 16, Paris. A letter of introduction for the Messrs. de Grouchy, sons of the Marechal, "who after having performed every filial duty on this side of the Atlantic are going on a visit to their father."
1 12 1818, August 15, La Grange. Introduces a "deserving gentlemen, Doctor Belot, physician of the faculty of Paris" who is going to America to practice his profession. The "patriots," particularly of France, are anxiously wishing for a "Republican union of North and South America."
1 13 1819, Apr. 9, No place. Asking for information about a man's son. The son had gone from France to America.
1 14 1822, January 22, Paris. "Weariness goes more to keep the peace than any other disposition in either party," he says of French affairs.
1 15 1822, April 8, Paris. Asking aid on behalf of M. Chauvre? who had participated in an unsuccessful insurrection and been proscribed.
1 16 1823, March 16, Paris. Tells of troubles in Spain and Portugal. The patent on his land near New Orleans has never reached him. He has heard about it not from his friend but from Mr. Duplaisir, a public officer in New Orleans. He would like to know what Mr. Crawford thinks about it.
1 17 1823, October 13, La. Grange. Letter to be delivered by Mde de Lahue, "Beaumarchais' amiable daughter, wife to one of my friends and former aide de camp in the national guard ..." Her son accompanies her. They, too, go to America.
1 18 1824 Oct. 8, Baltimore, Md. Now that he is near, he hopes the "pleasure to embrace you" will not be long delayed.
Crawford to Jesse B. Thomas [Originals: Illinois State Historical Society]
1 19 1821 April 6 and 10, Crawford (Washington, D. C.) to Jesse B. Thomas (Edwardsville, Illinois). Letters of instruction for Thomas who was acting for the national government as an auditor or examiner of land offices. A postscript specifies "Those in Missouri, Illinois, Indiana, Ohio and that at Detroit."
1 20 1828, October [25], Crawford (Lexington) to Thomas (Washington, D. C.) Crawford says that Georgia cannot vote for either John C. Calhoun or Richard Rush for Vice President. He intends to bring forward Nathaniel Macon of North Carolina.
1 21 1828, January 9, Crawford (Woodlawn) to Thomas. 1829 is correct date. Crawford suggests that New England name a candidate from another section for the presidency. Georgia, he said, would never support John Quincy Adams.
Crawford to John Steele
1 22 1817, August 6, Montpellier, ALS, 2 pp. William Harris Crawford to John Steele contains directions for forwarding the olive plants to Washington and Savannah.