Abbott Lawrence papers

Abstract

The Abbott Lawrence papers (dated 1844-1845; 0.1 cubic feet; 6 items) consist of 6 letters sent to Massachusetts industrialist and Whig Abbott Lawrence concerning the Henry Clay's financial problems following his failed presidential campaign in 1844.

Descriptive Summary

Title
Abbott Lawrence papers
Creator
Lawrence, Abbott, 1792-1855
Extent
0.1 Cubic Feet
Subjects
Letters.
Presidential candidates -- United States.
Arrangement
Collection is arranged chronologically.
Finding Aid Author
Megan Mummey
Preferred Citation
2016ms064: [identification of item], Abbott Lawrence papers, 1844-1845, University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center.
Repository
University of Kentucky

Collection Overview

Biography / History
Abbott Lawrence (1792-1855) was an important merchant, industrialist, and philanthropist from Massachusetts. Additionally, he was the founder of the industrial Lawrence, Massachusetts, and an influential figure in the development of New England's textile industry. Lawrence represented Massachusetts in Congress and was an active advocate of Henry Clay's "American system". An ardent supporter of Henry Clay, he was president of the Whig Convention of 1842 in Massachusetts that advocated Henry Clay for President and in 1844 he was a delegate to the Whig National Convention that nominated Clay.
Henry Clay (1777-1852), statesman, orator, and Secretary of State, was born to Baptist minister John Clay and Elizabeth Hudson Clay in Hanover County, Virginia, on April 12, 1777. Clay, with little formal education, entered the Virginia bar in 1797, shortly before relocating to Lexington, Kentucky, to open a law practice. First elected to public office in 1803, Clay's involvement in the politics of the United State lasted until his death in 1852. He served as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives (1811-1814, 1815-1820, 1823-1825), as Secretary of State for John Quincy Adams (1825-1829), and as a senator in the U.S. Senate (1806-1807, 1810-1811, 1831-1842, 1849-1852). Attempting to fulfill his ultimate dream, Clay ran unsuccessfully for president three times: in 1824 as a Democratic Republican, in 1832 as a National Republican, and in 1844 as a Whig. Dubbed the Great Compromiser for his efforts to preserve the Union, Clay helped negotiate compromises during several conflicts between the free and slave states, including the Missouri Compromise in 1820 and the Great Compromise in 1850. As well as being a skilled orator and politician, Henry Clay was also a progressive agrarian and stockman, who took great pleasure in managing his own affairs and improvements at his estate, Ashland. He brought donkeys from Spain and Malta to Ashland as well as Hereford cattle and Durham short horn cattle. Clay's stables produced several still prominent horse blood lines, including eleven descendants who won the Kentucky Derby. Furthermore, he regularly submitted articles to agricultural journals and sat on the committee of the Kentucky Society for Promoting Agriculture.
Scope and Content
The Abbott Lawrence papers (dated 1844-1845; 0.1 cubic feet; 6 items) consist of 6 letters sent to Massachusetts industrialist and Whig Abbott Lawrence concerning the Henry Clay's financial problems following his failed presidential campaign in 1844. Multiple friends of Clay took up a collection of money and sought purchasers for some of Clay's land holdings to pay his debts, reaching out to wealthy Whigs in the East, including Abbott Lawrence. These friends, all Whigs, included John Tilford, president of the Northern Bank of Kentucky; General Leslie Combs, member of the Kentucky legislature and state auditor; R. P. Letcher, member of the Kentucky House of Representatives; and Dr. B.W. Dudley. The papers include the initial letter sent to Lawrence on November 25, 1844, and signed by Dudley, Letcher, and Combs, along with a memorandum detailing tracts of land available to be sold on Clay's behalf. The papers also include a clerical copy of the letter, at the end of which it is noted that Lawrence had reached out and sent copies of it to John Jacob Astor, businessman, merchant, fur trader, and real estate tycoon; Stephen Whitney, merchant in New York City; M.H. Grinnell, merchant, shipper, Congressman, and president of the New York Chamber of Commerce; and John L. Lawrence, New York State senator and a prominent Whig. The papers also include letters from Henry Timberlake Duncan, George W. Holley, and John Tilford concerning Henry Clay's debt. The letter from John Tilford pertains the amount of money eventually raised for Clay and applied to Clay's debt at the Bank of Northern Kentucky. The letter encloses a letter from Henry Clay to Tilford discussing his financial situation and conveying thanks for the generosity of his friends.

Restrictions on Access and Use

Conditions Governing Access
Collection is open to researchers by appointment.
Use Restrictions
The physical rights to the materials in this collection are held by the University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center.

Contents of the Collection

Leslie Combs, R.P. Letcher, and B.W. Dudley letter to Abbott Lawrence, 1844 November 25

  • Box MS-43, folder 1
Marked confidential and includes memorandum of land tracts in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Ohio that the writers were proposing the industrialists buy from Clay.
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Clerical copy of letter sent to Abbott Lawrence from Leslie Combs, R.P. Letcher, and B.W. Dudley, 1844 November 15

  • Box MS-43, folder 1
Marked confidential and includes memorandum of land tracts in Illinois, Indiana, Missouri and Ohio that the writers were proposing that the industrialists buy from Clay.
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Henry Timberlake Duncan letter to Abbott Lawrence, 1844 December 1

  • Box MS-43, folder 1
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George W. Holley letter to Abbott Lawrence, 1845 July 11

  • Box MS-43, folder 1
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John Tilford letter to Abbott Lawrence, 1845 March 21

  • Box MS-43, folder 1
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Henry Clay letter to John Tilford, 1845 March 20

  • Box MS-43, folder 1
Letter originally enclosed in letter to Abbott Lawrence from John Tilford.
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Researchers are encouraged to request collections at least 48 business hours in advance for retrieval. Questions? Contact us at https://libraries.uky.edu/ContactSCRC.