Papers of Levi Woodbury, 1811 - 1851Manuscript MS-986

Full Finding Aid

Title:

Papers of Levi Woodbury, 1811 - 1851

Call Number:

Manuscript MS-986

Collection Dates:

1811 - 1851

Size of Collection:

1 box (.2 linear ft.)

Abstract:

Levi Woodbury (1789-1851), Dartmouth class of 1809. Woodbury was a U.S. Senator from New Hampshire, a Secretary of the Navy and Secretary of the Treasury. Contains personal and professional correspondence.

Access to Collection:

Unrestricted.

Use & Access

The materials represented in this guide may be accessed through the Rauner Special Collections Library at Dartmouth College. Rauner Library is located in Webster Hall. The materials must be used on-site and may not leave Rauner Library.

Rauner Special Collections Library is open to the public and in most cases no appointment is necessary. The exception is in the case of materials stored off site for which there may be a delay of up to 48 hours in retrieval. Please consult the Access to Collection statement below or contact Rauner Reference.

Access to Collection

Unrestricted.

Use Restrictions

These materials may be protected by the U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.).

Introduction to the Collection

The papers of Levi Woodbury contain correspondence with his brother, Dr. Peter Woodbury and professional correspondence. The professional correspondence documents his decades in public office as a U.S. Senator from New Hampshire, the Secretary of the Navy and as the Secretary of the Treasury and consists largely of responses to requests for favors or information from his constituents as well as legislative and administrative discussion. Of note in the collection is a letter detailing Woodbury's estrangement from an acquaintance due to the acquaintance's position on abolitionism; an 1833 letter approving the hiring of "colored seamen"; Woodbury's detailed specifications for the design and bidding process for the construction of a bridge over the Potomac River; a letter in support of New Hampshire's case against Dartmouth College in 1816; an 1839 letter from John Wingate Weeks alluding to a controversy between Dartmouth and the state of New Hampshire; and two letters of recommendation to President James K. Polk.

Biography

Levi Woodbury was born in Francestown, N.H., on December 22, 1789. He graduated from Dartmouth College in 1809, and went on to briefly attend law school in Litchfield, Conn. He was admitted to the bar in 1812, and practiced law in Francestown from 1813 to 1816. From 1816 to 1823, he served as a judge on the Superior Court of New Hampshire. From 1823 to 1824 he served as New Hampshire's fifteenth governor and in 1825, he served as Speaker of the New Hampshire House of Representatives. A Jacksonian Democrat, Woodbury served in the U.S. Senate from 1825 to 1831, when he was named Secretary of the Navy in Jackson's cabinet. In 1834, Jackson appointed him Secretary of the Treasury, a position he held until 1841. In 1841, he was again elected to the U.S. Senate by New Hampshire and served until 1845, when he resigned. That year, he was appointed Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court by James K. Polk, whose presidential bid he had supported. He was the first U.S. Supreme Court justice to have attended law school, and he served on the court until his death on September 4, 1851.

Series, Box & Folder List

Series 1, Correspondence, circa 1815-1841

Contains personal letters from Woodbury to his brother documenting planned real estate purchases, financial dealings, offers of financial assistance and travel plans. Personal news includes the correspondents' relationship to parents, marriages, deaths, and illnesses in the family. They also document the writer's political ambitions and ideology. Of note is an 1837 letter detailing writer's estrangement from an acquaintance due to his abolitionism.

Access Restrictions

Unrestricted.

Box: 1, Dates: circa 1811-1851

Access Restrictions

Unrestricted

Box Contents

  • Folder: 1, Letters to Peter Woodbury, 1815-1831
  • Folder: 2, Letters to Peter Woodbury, 1832-1841

Series 2, Senate business, 1st term, 1825-1830

Documents include letters to New Hampshire constituents responding to queries and requests about pending legislation and administrative protocol. Letters also document writer's legislative positions and hopes for the Democratic Party.

Box: 1, Dates: circa 1811-1851

Access Restrictions

Unrestricted.

Box Contents

  • Folder: 3, Letters, 1825-1830

Series 3, Secretary of the Navy business, 1831-1834

Contents are primarily letters documenting naval officer appointments and orders issued. Other letters document naval budget decisions, military deployment and supply. Several letters document the Jackson administration's opposition to the Second U.S. Bank. Of note is an 1833 letter to the Commander of the Philadelphia Naval Yard approving the hiring of "colored persons" as seamen and a portion of an 1831 document signed by Woodbury and Andrew Jackson.

Box: 1, Dates: circa 1811-1851

Access Restrictions

Unrestricted.

Box Contents

  • Folder: 4, Letters, documents, 1831-1834

Series 4, Secretary of the Treasury Business, 1834-1840

Included in the documents are letters authorizing funding and implementation of policy, including monetary policy, budget decisions and military funding. Other letters respond to administrative requests and announce official appointments. Of note is an 1834 specification for the design and bidding process of a bridge over the Potomac River.

Box: 1, Dates: circa 1811-1851

Access Restrictions

Unrestricted.

Box Contents

  • Folder: 5, Letters, documents, 1834-1840

Series 5, Senate business, 2nd term, 1841-1845

Documents consist primarily of letters to constituents responding to personal requests. Letters also document writer's feelings on current policy issues and political events, including the probable annexation of Texas by the United States.

Box: 1, Dates: circa 1811-1851

Access Restrictions

Unrestricted.

Box Contents

  • Folder: 6, Letters, 1841-1845

Series 6, Correspondence about Dartmouth College, circa 1811-1839

Documents include a letter from Woodbury seeking an M.A. degree from the college, a letter from Woodbury in support of New Hampshire's case against the college, a list of college oratory prize recipients and an 1839 letter from John Wingate Weeks documenting a controversy involving the college (possibly related to student voting laws).

Box: 1, Dates: circa 1811-1851

Access Restrictions

Unrestricted.

Box Contents

  • Folder: 7, Letters, documents, 1811-1839

Series 7, Private business correspondence, 1824-1845

Documents consist of letters providing instructions to proxies for purchase and sale of stocks and other properties.

Box: 1, Dates: circa 1811-1851

Access Restrictions

Unrestricted.

Box Contents

  • Folder: 8, Letters, 1824-1845

Series 8, Speaking engagements, 1841-1850

Documents include correspondence about speaking engagement invitations and requests for printed copies of addresses.

Box: 1, Dates: circa 1811-1851

Access Restrictions

Unrestricted.

Box Contents

  • Folder: 9, Letters, 1841-1850

Series 9, Letters of reference and introduction, 1830-1848

Documents include letters of professional recommendation and character testimonials as well as letters of introduction. Of note are two letters to President James Polk recommending particular appointments.

Box: 1, Dates: circa 1811-1851

Access Restrictions

Unrestricted.

Box Contents

  • Folder: 10, Letters, 1830-1848

Series 10, Party correspondence, 1849-1851

Included in these documents are two letters documenting writer's hopes for the Democratic Party and opinions on political strategy.

Box: 1, Dates: circa 1811-1851

Access Restrictions

Unrestricted.

Box Contents

  • Folder: 11, Letters, 1849-1851

Finding Aids