A1746 Wilkinson, James Collection Inventory of James Wilkinson Collection A1746 EAD by Jaime Bourassa using ArchivesSpace Missouri Historical Society Library and Research Center 2017 225 S. Skinker Blvd. St. Louis, MO 63105 firstname.lastname@example.org URL: This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on 2018-09-27 06:36:03 -0500 . English Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Missouri Historical Society Library and Research Center
James Wilkinson Collection
0.15 Cubic Feet
Some French and Spanish
Processed by Paul Huffman, August 2006.
The documents in the James Wilkinson Collection were acquired by the Missouri Historical Society by donation and purchase from several sources. Where available, accession information is noted after the description of the document.
Born in Calvert County, Maryland, in 1757, James Wilkinson’s early years were spent on the family farm until the age of seven when his father died. It was at this time that Wilkinson became apprenticed to the physician John Bond. At the age of seventeen Wilkinson relocated to Philadelphia to continue his medical training. James Wilkinson initially opened his practice in Monocacy, Maryland, in 1775, but soon lost interest in medicine when he became caught up in the revolutionary fervor of the age. By 1776, Wilkinson had become acquainted with General Nathaniel Greene and Benedict Arnold, and decided to embark upon a career in the military.
After quarreling and fighting a bloodless duel with General Horatio Gates, Wilkinson resigned his staff position only to be secure a position as clothier general in George Washington’s army. Due to deficiencies in his accounts, Wilkinson was forced to resign his office in 1781.
During the 1780s, Wilkinson first moved to Pennsylvania and then to Kentucky. It was during this time in Kentucky that Wilkinson attempted to persuade Spain to open up the Mississippi River to Kentuckians’ trade. This was done by pledging an oath to Spain and promising to help Spain gain possession of Kentucky. At the same time, Wilkinson was also lobbying the United States to grant Kentucky statehood.
In 1791, Wilkinson was commissioned as a lieutenant colonel in the battle against the Indians in the Northwest Territory. Wilkinson quickly rose to the position of brigadier general. Once the war was won, Wilkinson was reassigned to the southern frontier.
Between 1805 and 1806, Wilkinson became Territorial Governor of Louisiana until rumors began circulating that he was conspiring with Aaron Burr to separate the Mississippi Valley from the United States. Wilkinson testified against Burr in an effort to clear himself. Many of Wilkinson’s contemporaries were not convinced that he had not played a part in the plot.
During the War of 1812, Wilkinson once again commanded an army, but was soon demoted for drunkenness and neglect of duty when he failed to invade Canada as he had been ordered to do.
Falling upon difficult financial circumstances Wilkinson traveled to Mexico City in 1822 in an effort to obtain Texas land grants. In 1825, Wilkinson died penniless and alone in Mexico City.
Scope and Contents
The collection consists primarily of correspondence to and from General James Wilkinson with several government officials and military officers. The bulk of the correspondence is dated 1805-1806, when Wilkinson served as governor of the Louisiana Territory, and discusses administrative affairs of the territory.
The collection is arranged chronologically.
Conditions Governing Access
The collection is open for research use.
Conditions Governing Use
For permission to publish, quote from, or reproduce material in this collection, please contact the Archives Reference Desk at email@example.com . Copyright restrictions may apply. The researcher assumes full responsibility for comforming to the laws of copyright.
Physical and Technical Requirements
There are no physical or technical restrictions.
Existence and Location of Originals
Some of the documents in the collection are photostats, the original documents being held by other repositories.
James Wilkinson Collection, Missouri Historical Society Archives, St. Louis.
Sources Consulted During Processing
Information in the biographical sketch was derived from the American National Biography (1999, v. 23, p. 400-402.
Burr Conspiracy, 1805-1807
Governors -- Louisiana
Indians of North America
United States -- Armed Forces
United States -- Politics and government
Wilkinson, James, 1757-1825
Correspondence between the Missouri Historical Society and descendants of Gen. James Wilkinson regarding the acquisition of the collection. Auction listing, Dec. 12, 1961. 1961 Dec 12 1 1 Unsigned letter, Philadelphia, to Dr. Wilkinson. Discusses the new constitution adopted by the Eastern states, Col. George Morgan’s proposals for the purchase of lands about Kaskaskias, and a newspaper story concerning the purchase of tobacco for New Orleans. (accession number 58-0048) 1788 July 2 1 2 Letter signed James Wilkinson, Kentucky, to Alexander Moultrie. Discusses Wilkinson’s appointment to the Indian agency for the Choctaw Indians. Claims that this is a necessary step in order to gain control of the land. (gift of Mrs. James C. Durham [courtesy of Bernard DeVoto], June 1953) 1790 Oct 20 1 2 Letter signed James Wilkinson, Greenville, to Thomas Chapman, Elizabeth Town, New Jersey. Discusses that he knows people have considered him either a British spy, Spanish spy, or insurgent. Also discusses the increase in land sales as Britain prepares to abandon Detroit. (Includes typescript copy.) (Purchased from Goodspeed’s Book Shop, August 1950.) 1796 Apr 22 1 2 Letter signed James Wilkinson, South West Point, to Major Thomas H. Cushing, inspector of the army. Criticizes Col. Hamtramck for trying to repair the fort in Detroit; mentions that Capt. Hancock has swindled the country out of “several years pay.” 1801 Sept 1 1 2 Letter signed James Wilkinson, Fort Pickering, to Captain R. Sparks. Leaves Captain Sparks in command of the post with his company and a detachment of artillery for the garrison. Gives orders on what to do. Tells him that the Indians, especially the Chickasaws, are to be treated with consideration and kindness, but that interaction with them should be discouraged. 1801 Oct 29 1 3 Letter signed James Wilkinson, Fort Adams, to General Dearborn. Discusses “taking the profiles of the country,” and discovering individuals intent on undermining him. Speaks of devoting as much of his (Wilkinson’s) time as may be judged requisite to Indian business. 1803 May 7 1 3 Document signed Antoine Soulard to General James Wilkinson. Certified copy of a petition from inhabitants of Ste. Genevieve for protection of their rights in the adjacent Mines a Breton. (Document is in French with typescript translation.) 1805 1 3 Photostat copy of letter signed James L. Donaldson to James Wilkinson. Discusses Wilkinson’s proclamation that forbade individuals to survey without employing the surveyor general and how that irritated an officer named Lucas who stated that he would never be commanded by General Wilkinson. (Donated by Dr. Clarence E. Carter, October 1953; original is in the National Archives.) 1805 1 3 Document signed James Wilkinson and Thomas Cushing. Duplicate copy of General Orders issued by James Wilkinson to Captain Russel Bissell concerning the court martial and trial of Col. Thomas Butler. 1805 Feb 15 1 3 Letter signed James Wilkinson, St. Louis, to Charles Gratiot, August Chouteau, and David Delauny. Grants the application of the Justices of the court of quarter sessions that the guardhouse of the post may be employed as a jail, but that he cannot be responsible for any escapes. 1805 Apr 4 1 3 Letter signed James Wilkinson to August Chouteau. Will thank him for a buffalo robe, if he has one to spare. (Document is in French.) 1805 July 17 1 4 Photostat copy of document signed James Wilkinson. Notification concerning land claims. (Donated by Dr. Clarence E. Carter, October 1953; original is in the National Archives.) 1805 Sept 18 1 4 Photostat copy of letter signed James Wilkinson, St. Louis, to John B.C. Lucas and R. Easton. Discusses the delay of convening the territorial legislature due to an “object of National interest now pending.” (Donated by Dr. Clarence E. Carter, October 1953; original is in the National Archives.) 1805 Oct 12 1 4 Photostat copy of document signed James Wilkinson, Daniel Hughes, August Chouteau, St. Louis. Discusses land claims situated near the Arkansas River, granted by the Spanish governor general at New Orleans. (Donated by Dr. Clarence E. Carter, October 1953; original is in the National Archives.) 1805 Oct 16 1 4 Photostat copy of letter signed James Wilkinson, St. Louis, to J.B.C. Lucas and R. Easton. Sets appointment time for meeting Lucas and Easton for holding sessions and securing the records of the legislature of the territory. (Donated by Dr. Clarence E. Carter, October 1953; original is in the National Archives.) 1805 Oct 28 1 4 Photostat copy of letter signed James L. Donaldson, St. Louis, to General Wilkinson. Discusses Donaldson’s appointment as attorney to the District of St. Louis by Wilkinson, and how Judge Lucas and Easton object to the commission on the ground that the governor has no power to make such an appointment. (Donated by Dr. Clarence E. Carter, October 1953; original is in the National Archives.) 1805 Oct 29 1 4 Photostat copy of letter signed James Wilkinson, St. Louis, to Judges Lucas and Easton. Discusses the postponement of the territorial legislature. (Donated by Dr. Clarence E. Carter, October 1953; original is in the National Archives.) 1805 Nov 2 1 5 Photostat copy of letter signed James L. Donaldson, St. Louis, to General Wilkinson. Discusses how the territorial court declared Donaldson’s appointment to the commission of attorney general (by Wilkinson) to be absolutely void. (Donated by Dr. Clarence E. Carter, October 1953; original is in the National Archives.) 1805 Nov 3 1 5 Document signed James Wilkinson, Ste. Genevieve, appointing Thomas Oliver to administer the oath of office to James Maxwell, Camille DeLuzier, Amos Bird, John Hawkins, Charles Smith, Andrew Henry, and Francois Valle. 1805 Nov 21 1 5 Photostat copy of letter signed Robert Wescott, St. Louis, to James Wilkinson. Discusses how Judges John Lucas and Rufus Easton consider themselves to have equal power with Territorial Governor Wilkinson. (Donated by Dr. Clarence E. Carter, October 1953; original is in the National Archives.) 1805 Nov 25 1 5 Photostat copy of letter signed James Wilkinson, St. Louis, to James L. Donaldson, recorder of the Territory of Louisiana. Wilkinson warns Donaldson not to accept any plats of survey, unless they are done by the surveyor general or his deputies. Discusses the confusion caused by Judges Lucas and Easton because they are honoring land claims based on other surveys. (Donated by Dr. Clarence E. Carter, October 1953; original is in the National Archives.) 1805 Nov 25 1 5 Photostat copy of letter signed James Wilkinson, St. Louis, to James Madison. Discusses the promotion of the presidential views of joining the territory to the rest of the country, and how the settlers are responding to it. (Donated by Dr. Clarence E. Carter, October 1953; original is in the National Archives.) 1805 Nov 26 1 5 Photostat copy of document signed Sam A. Otis. Announces the nominations to office for the Territory of Louisiana. (Donated by Dr. Clarence E. Carter, October 1953; original is in the National Archives.) 1805 Dec 23 1 6 Typed copy of declaration of confidence in Governor Wilkinson. (Copied from the original, which at one time was in the possession of Mrs. Nichols of Farmington, Missouri.) (Document is in French, with a translation.) 1805 Dec 27 1 6 Document signed James Wilkinson and Joseph Brown. Commission appointing Pascal Cerre as 2nd lieutenant of dragoon of militia in the District of St. Louis. 1806 Jan 24 1 6 Letter signed A. Stewart to Thomas Moulton. Discusses 1000 Spanish troops moving through the area, and Gen. Wilkinson’s determination to fight them if they come within our limits. Also mentions that “a report has been in circulation that the Floridas were purchased and that with them we had purchased peace.” [1806?] Sept 10 1 6 Letter signed S. Herrera [Governor Simon de Herrera], Camp of the Sabines, to James Wilkinson. Communication between the two over the retiring of troops to either side of the Sabines River until the differences between the United States and Spain can be sorted out. (Document is in Spanish, with a translation.) 1806 Nov 4 1 6 Letter signed James Wilkinson, New Orleans, to Governor Williams. Writes in regard to sending Blennerhassett, Tyler, and Ralston to the City of Washington. 1807 Mar 27 1 6 Photostat copy of document showing allowances to Gen. James Wilkinson as a witness at the trial of Aaron Burr. (Donated by Dr. Kate L. Gregg.) 1807 May 1 7 Letter signed James Wilkinson, Carlisle, Pennsylvania, to Col. Cushing. Discusses military matters. (Includes typescript transcription.) (Purchased from Walter R. Benjamin, May 1951.) 1808 Sept 1 1 7 Photostat copy of document signed Walter Jones, Jr, Washington, to Thomas Power, New Orleans. Summons Power to come and testify in the trial of Brigadier General Wilkinson. Gives a list of documents that Power should bring. (Donated by Dr. Kate L. Gregg.) 1811 June 21 1 7 Letter signed James Wilkinson, Germantown, to Thomas Biddle, Philadelphia. (Includes typescript transcription.) (Purchased from Walter R. Benjamin, May 1951.) 1815 Sept 30 1 7 Letter signed James Wilkinson, Philadelphia, to [Solomon] Van Rensselaer, New York. Wilkinson discusses having written a book. Also defends his loyalty to his country. Offers to sell Van Rensselaer’s slaves for him. Mentions the slave trade. (Includes typescript transcription.) (Purchased from Walter R. Benjamin, May 1951.) 1816 Nov 7 1 7 Letter signed James Wilkinson, below New Orleans, to Henry Thompson, Baltimore. Wilkinson discusses the reversal of his financial circumstances (for the worse). Speaks of the indebtedness that plantation owners are getting themselves into by buying slaves. Speaks despairingly of James Monroe’s presidency. (Includes typescript transcription.) (Purchased from Walter R. Benjamin, December 1950.) 1819 Aug 10 1 7 Letter signed James Wilkinson, Mexico City, to General S. (Solomon) van Rensselaer. Letter of introduction for George Lionel Dawson. 1824 July 27 1 8 Letter signed James Wilkinson to an unknown addressee. (Document is in French with translation.) No date 1 8 Antiques magazine article titled “Another Miniature by Gilbert Stuart” by Susan Clay Sawitzky. Shows miniature of General James Wilkinson. 1932 May 1 8 Two copies of a portrait of General James Wilkinson. No date 1 8