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Guide to the Alexander Addison Papers, 1786-1803 DAR.1925.06

ULS Archives & Special Collections

Summary Information

Repository
ULS Archives & Special Collections
Title
Alexander Addison Papers
Creator
Addison, Alexander, 1759-1807
Collection Number
DAR.1925.06
Date [inclusive]
1786-c1805
Extent
0.63 linear feet  (2 boxes)
Abstract
This collection contains correspondence to Alexander Addison, the president judge of the Fifth District Court of Pennsylvania from 1791 to 1802. His correspondents include Hugh Henry Brackenridge, William Findley and Charles Nisbet. It also contains two letters written by Alexander Addison to Hugh Henry Brackenridge. The bulk of the correspondence discusses political events in the United States and Europe, particularly the Constitutional Convention, Jay and Pinckney Treaties, Indian wars, and the Whiskey Rebellion. The majority of the correspondence has typed transcriptions that are included within the files. Digital reproductions of this collection are available online.

Preferred Citation

Alexander Addison Papers, 1786-1803, DAR.1925.06, Darlington Collection, Archives & Special Collections, University of Pittsburgh Library System

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Biography

The last quarter of the eighteenth century saw the formation of the United States government after the end of the Revolutionary War. Constitutional ratification, following the 1787 Constitutional Convention, was a tremendously contentious issue, as were issues of foreign policy surrounding the 1795 Jay Treaty with Britain, the 1796 Pinckney Treaty with Spain, and the Treaty of Tripoli. Westward expansion created significant legal questions about land ownership, development, and taxation, while Indian wars raged from the 1780s to the 1790s. Unrest over the excise tax on whiskey that swept through the American frontier came to a head in western Pennsylvania in 1794.

The papers of Alexander Addison address most of these major happenings in post-revolutionary America. Born in Scotland, Addison (1758-1807) received his Master of Arts from Aberdeen University at age nineteen. He subsequently trained as a minister, and was admitted by the Presbytery of Aberlowe in 1781. However, upon immigrating to the newly independent America in 1785, the Redstone Presbytery in western Pennsylvania refused to license Addison as a minister. As an alternative, he apprenticed as a lawyer and was later admitted to the Washington County, Pennsylvania, bar in 1787. Addison started his legal career as an itinerant lawyer. When Addison began practicing law, many of the judges and justices of the peace were men without formal education in law who were appointed by the state executive. However, the 1790 State Constitution required each district court to be headed by a President Judge educated in the law. In 1791, Addison was appointed the president judge of the Fifth Judicial District of Pennsylvania, which included all of western Pennsylvania. For thirteen years Addison presided over the nascent Fifth District when both state and federal laws were being written and little legal precedent existed.

During the Whiskey Rebellion, Addison upheld the authority of state and federal law. In 1802, he was impeached from the bench as a result of ongoing and politically motivated conflict with fellow Justice John B. C. Lucas. Addison published various political tracts many of which are now available in digitized form. His papers trace extended correspondence with three notable men of Pennsylvania, each highlighting a different type of relationship and set of i nterests and issues detailed below. Addison died in 1807.

Charles Nisbet (1736-1803) was born in Scotland and educated at the University of Edinburgh and Divinity Hall. He served as a minister for various Scottish congregations. He was recruited by Dickenson College, in Carlisle, Pennsylvania, and became Principal there on July 5, 1785. A respected scholar, Nisbet was deeply committed to traditional Scottish-style university education and the ministry. He was consistently disappointed with what he viewed as an American disrespect for authority and tradition.

William Findley (1741/1742-1821) immigrated to Philadelphia in 1763. He was politically active at the state and federal level. Between 1789 and 1791 he variously served Pennsylvania in the General Assembly, the State Supreme Executive Council, the State House of Representatives, and the State Constitutional Convention. For the duration of 1791 through 1799 he served as an Anti-Administration and later as a Republican candidate in the second through fourth congresses. During this time, Findley worked to quiet the Whiskey Rebellion. Following his time as a federal congressman, Findley served in the Pennsylvania State Senate from 1799 to 1802. He was successfully elected back to the House of Representatives, as a Republican, in the eighth through fourteenth Congresses.

Hugh Henry Brackenridge (1748-1816) was a well-known lawyer, newspaper publisher and political agitator in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Born in York County, Pennsylvania, he attended college and Divinity School at Princeton. Following his service as a chaplain in the Revolutionary War, he moved to Pittsburgh and was admitted to the Allegheny Country Bar with Alexander Addison and John Woods. After his mixed role in the Whiskey Rebellion and a failed U.S. congressional race against Albert Gallatin, he was appointed to the Pennsylvania Supreme Court. Throughout his life, Brackenridge wrote and published the Pittsburgh Gazette, and penned a number of books, most notably his multiple editions of  Modern Chivalry. He started his family in Pittsburgh and had four children, Henry Marie who went on to fame in government service, Cornelia, William, and Alexander Brackenridge. He later moved to Carlisle, Pennsylvania, where he continued to conduct affairs in Pittsburgh until his death.

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Scope and Content Notes

This collection of correspondence contains long runs of letters from newspaper publisher Hugh Henry Brackenridge and from the Reverend Charles Nisbet of Dickinson College, and a short run of letters from Congressman William Findley. Addison, Brackenridge, Nisbet and Findley were all educated men of Pennsylvania. To Addison, Brackenridge was a fellow lawyer and writer. Nisbet was Addison's friend and a fellow Scottish theologian. Findley's relationship to Addison is less clear, although they both worked to quiet the Whiskey Rebellion. The bulk of the correspondence relates to the time and place in which they were written. All correspondents mention constitution ratification and early congressional events. Brackenridge writes repeatedly about the Jay Treaty and Pinckney Treaty. Brackenridge also references events surrounding the Whiskey Rebellion, and writes about his political enemy, Albert Gallatin, a federalist and foil to Alexander Hamilton's fiscal policy. Brackenridge provides editorial feedback on Addison's political tracts and essays. Findley's few letters detail events in the House of Representatives. Nisbet's letters are the most colorful, and touch upon the broadest range of domestic and foreign issues, most notably his openly sarcastic hostility towards post-revolutionary politics, both American and French. Nisbet also corresponds extensively with Addison about deeply personal problems related to Nisbet's alcoholic son.

Names of people and events that are inferred, rather than explicitly stated in the correspondence, are bracketed in the item level scope content notes. The majority of the correspondence includes typed transcriptions, which are filed with the original letters. Address information within the correspondence varies and is noted at the item level when known.

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Arrangement

The collection is arranged into series by correspondent. Series IV contains two small silhouette drawings not directly related to the correspondence.

  1. Series I. Correspondence between Hugh Henry Brackenridge and Alexander Addison, 1796-1798
  2. Series II. Correspondence between William Findley and Alexander Addison, 1791-1794
  3. Series III. Correspondence between Charles Nisbet and Alexander Addison, 1786-1803
  4. Series IV. Miscellaneous

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

ULS Archives & Special Collections, July 2007

University of Pittsburgh Library System
Archives & Special Collections
Website: library.pitt.edu/archives-special-collections
412-648-3232 (ASC) | 412-648-8190 (Hillman)
Contact Us: www.library.pitt.edu/ask-archivist

Revision Description

 Addition of Folder 90 September 2016

Access Restrictions

No restrictions.

Copyright

No copyright restrictions.

Custodial History

This collection was located in the Darlington Memorial Library in the University’s Cathedral of Learning until 2007 when it was moved to the ULS Archives Service Center for processing, storage, preservation and service. However, it remains in the custodianship of the ULS Special Collections Department.

Acquisition Information

Part of the original donation of William M. Darlington’s family library to the University of Pittsburgh in 1918 and 1925 by his daughters, Edith Darlington Ammon and Mary Carson Darlington.

The Manuscript fragment contained in Folder 90, was purchased by the University Library System in 2016.

Processing Information

This collection was processed by Angela Manella in November 2006.

Existence and Location of Copies

Digital reproductions of this collection are available online.

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Related Materials

Related Materials

Many digitized copies of Alexander Addison's published works are available in the Early American Imprints, Series I: Evans, 1639-1800 database indexed by Newsbank, Inc., in their  Archive of Americana.

Hugh Henry Brackenridge and Andrew Watson Papers, 1784-1827, DAR.1925.04, Darlington Collection, Archives & Special Collections, University of Pittsburgh Library System

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • Great Britain. Treaties, etc.. United States, 1794 Nov. 19.
  • United States. Congress. House.
  • United States. Constitutional Convention (1787).

Genre(s)

  • Correspondence
  • Drawings (Visual works)

Geographic Name(s)

  • Carlisle (Pa.)
  • France -- History -- Consulate and First Empire, 1799-1815
  • France -- History -- Revolution, 1789-1799
  • Haiti
  • Haiti -- History -- Revolution, 1791-1804
  • Philadelphia (Pa.)
  • United States -- History -- Constitutiional period, 1789-1809
  • Washington County (Pa.)

Personal Name(s)

  • Addison, Alexander, 1759-1807 -- Correspondence
  • Brackenridge, H. H. (Hugh Henry), 1748-1816 -- Correspondence
  • Findley, William, 1741 or 2-1821 -- Correspondence
  • Gallatin, Albert, 1761-1849 -- Correspondence
  • Nisbet, Charles, 1736-1804 -- Correspondence

Subject(s)

  • Government
  • Indians of North America -- Wars -- 1750-1815
  • Lawyers -- Pennsylvania -- Correspondence
  • Personal papers
  • Politics
  • Slavery -- Haiti -- Insurrections, etc.
  • Whiskey Rebellion, Pa., 1794

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Previous Citation

Alexander Addison Papers, 1786-1803, DAR.1925.06, Darlington Collection, Special Collections Department, University of Pittsburgh

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Bibliography

Bell, Albert H. Memoirs of the Bench and Bar of Westmoreland County. Batvia, NY: The Batvia Time Publishing Company, 1925.

History of Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Chicago: A. Warner Co., 1889.

Morgan, James Henry. Dickenson College The History of One Hundred and Fifty Years 1783-1933. Carlisle, PA: Mount Pleasant Press J. Horace McFarland Company, 1933.

Biographical Directory of the United States Congress 1774-2005. Washington, DC: U.S. Government Printing Office, 2005.

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Collection Inventory

Series  I. Correspondence between Hugh Henry Brackenridge and Alexander Addison, 1796-1798 

Scope and Content Notes

It is likely that Brackenridge writes from Pittsburgh to Addison in Westmoreland County. This run of letters is a political discussion between two legal and literary peers. Addison published a number of political works from 1796 to 1798. Brackenridge comments on a variety of political issues, including his opposition to the Jay Treaty with Britain and the Monroe-Pinckney Treaty with Spain, as well as events related to the Whiskey Rebellion. Also, Brackenridge makes references to Albert Gallatin, who defeated him in the 1795 congressional race. Brackenridge discusses Addison's political writings as both an editor and as a fellow writer. Conflict arose between the two men in September 1798 when Brackenridge published a piece in the Pittsburgh Gazette that affected Addison personally, professionally and politically. In 1802, Brackenridge's friend, John B. C. Lucas, was appointed to the Fifth District court. Conflict between Lucas and Addison led to Addison's subsequent impeachment.

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Hugh Henry Brackenridge to Alexander Addison, January 7, 1796 11

In this letter, Brackenridge writes about legal cases and Judge Smith.

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Hugh Henry Brackenridge to Alexander Addison, February 15, 1796 2

Brackenridge discusses a letter of [Jean] Fauchet and a proposed treaty. He mentions various Pennsylvania judges and cases in which he is involved. Halfway through the letter, Brackenridge apologizes for his worse than average handwriting in the first part of the letter and admits to writing it late at night after drinking.

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Hugh Henry Brackenridge to Alexander Addison, April 26, 1796 3

Brackenridge makes editorial comments about an article Addison has drafted for Brackenridge's Pittsburgh Gazette regarding the [Pinckney] Treaty. He encourages Addison to sign the article to give it greater weight in public debate.

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Hugh Henry Brackenridge to Alexander Addison, April 27, 1796 4

Brackenridge writes to Addison to persuade him to publish a piece of writing. He goes on to comment on the conflict in the [presidential] cabinet concerning French and Spanish diplomatic actions.

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Hugh Henry Brackenridge to Alexander Addison, April 30, 1796 5

[It is possible this letter is a copy.] This letter discusses plans to organize a meeting to protest the Spanish Treaty [Pinckney Treaty] and British Treaty [Jay Treaty] in support of a petition opposing [congressional] appropriations [for the British Treaty]. Brackenridge also discusses W. Findley, W. Woodbridge, Cardinal McMillan, and Gallatin.

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Hugh Henry Brackenridge to Alexander Addison, May 20, 1796 6

This letter relates to Brackenridge's previous correspondence from April 30, 1796. In it, Brackenridge plans to publish a work of Addison's related to the ongoing treaty negotiations abroad.

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Hugh Henry Brackenridge to Alexander Addison, May 1796 7

Brackenridge makes editorial comments on one of Addison's essays. He has apparently shared Addison's essay with John Lucas, who agreed with Gallatin and disagreed with Addison, and Dr. Stephenson. Brackenridge also writes that the appropriation they had petitioned against has gone through. Brackenridge discusses himself and Addison as writers, his desire to write a history of America, and his alienation from both political parties.

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Hugh Henry Brackenridge to Alexander Addison, June 29, 1796 8

Brackenridge asks Addison to settle some business affairs on his behalf and also requests that he purchase some books. Additionally, he refers a merchant to Addison for legal advice.

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Hugh Henry Brackenridge to Alexander Addison, July 1, 1796 9

This is an addendum to a previous letter requesting additional legal texts. Brackenridge also refers to a colleague's case in Uniontown, Pennsylvania, and writes of distributing Addison's publication.

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Hugh Henry Brackenridge to Alexander Addison, November 22, 1796 10

Brackenridge clarifies a conversation Addison had with John Lucas about an article in the Pittsburgh Gazette. He also discusses General Washington and the Miller's Run Lands and talks of elections in a postscript.

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Hugh Henry Brackenridge to Alexander Addison, April 7, 1798 11

In this brief letter, Brackenridge critiques Addison's draft and jokes about his negligent treatment of Addison's, and his own, drafts.

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Alexander Addison to Hugh Henry Brackenridge, September 3, 1798 12

In his letter, Addison calls Brackenridge to task for an article he published in the Gazette that embarrassed Addison professionally.

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Hugh Henry Brackenridge to Alexander Addison, September 3, 1798 13

This is a Brackenridge's response to Addison's letter of September 3, 1798. In the postscript, Brackenridge asks for an interview.

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Hugh Henry Brackenridge to Alexander Addison, September 3, 1798 14

Brackenridge writes to rescind his request for an interview because Addison may soon hear a case against him.

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Hugh Henry Brackenridge to Alexander Addison, September 1798 15

In this letter, Brackenridge makes reference to a previous letter and some publishing issues. He also refers to his conflict with Addison and Wood.

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Alexander Addison to Hugh Henry Brackenridge, September 4, 1798 16

Addison writes to Brackenridge confirming receipt of his two letters. He suggests that Brackenridge apologize to the court for publishing comments that made it look foolish and asks permission to show Brackenridge's letters to the court. He also accepts Brackenridge's offer of an interview.

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Hugh Henry Brackenridge to Alexander Addison, September 1798 17

Brackenridge gives Addison permission to show his letter to the court.

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Hugh Henry Brackenridge to Alexander Addison, undated 18

In this fragment, Brackenridge discusses political developments between the French and the Spanish. He also writes with news of settlers in Detroit, a visit from Sebastion [sic] and Powers, and a letter from Mr. Ross predicting war between Spain and Britain.

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Hugh Henry Brackenridge to Alexander Addison, undated 19

Brackenridge opens the letter satirizing a French tutor he knows, and the French nobility in exile. He goes on to counter an argument made by Gallatin, and published by Brown, concerning treaties. He briefly describes Fergus Ferguson.

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Hugh Henry Brackenridge to Alexander Addison, undated. 20

Brackenridge discusses Madison's speech. Brackenridge also mentions the petition he co-authored with Addison opposing the [Pinckney] treaty, suggesting that Gallatin and Findley found the petition treasonous.

Online

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Series  II. Correspondence from William Findley and Alexander Addison, 1791-1794 

Scope and Content Notes

Findley writes from Philadelphia to Addison in Washington County. The majority of this correspondence concerns events in the House of Representatives, in which Findley served as an Anti-Administrative and Republican congressman from 1791-1799 in the second through fifth congresses. Findley also served in the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives in 1791.

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William Findley to Alexander Addison, December 13, 1791 21

Findley discusses his experience as a congressman in the first session of the second Congress of the United States, and his work on a bill 'fixing representation' addresses current problems with representation in the Senate. He also mentions the poor state of the militia, future congressional candidate, Mr. Woods, and the Revolution in France.

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William Findley to Alexander Addison, January 9, 1792 22

Findley thanks Addison for his letter and writes that he has published some extracts from it. He makes observations about the failure of the Representation Bill and debate over the Post Office Bill. He vents his frustrations about getting work done in Congress and trouble with record keeping of proceedings. A postscript discusses Congressional inability to pass measures on the protection of the frontier and thanks Addison for sending along a packet of clippings about Mr. Woods.

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William Findley to Alexander Addison, February 10, 1792 23

Findley writes to inform Addison that the bill to raise the army to protect the frontier was rejected because a new commander had not yet been approved. Additionally, Findley acknowledges the problem with [Northwest] Indian Wars.

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William Findley to Alexander Addison, November 30, 1792 24

Findley's letter discusses postal restrictions and rates. He also mentions Claypole and Cal Biddle.

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William Findley to Alexander Addison, December 20, 1793 25

Findley's letter discusses how the British do not fulfill their treaty and mentions paying the militia troops in the recruit service.

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William Findley to Alexander Addison, March 28, 1794 26

Findley writes that he has been ill and has not written Addison sooner because he feels more comfortable receiving news about Washington and Fayette counties from Representatives of those areas. He discusses tension between his party and Hamilton, who he believes is setting up a monarchical administration. Findley also discusses the impact of French and British hostilities on American trade routes.

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William Findley to Alexander Addison, April 30, 1794 27

Findley discusses the senate’s rejection of the prohibitory bill and that it was probably Mr. Hamilton’s plan. Also how the senate rejected the bill for encouraging the recruiting service.

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William Findley to Alexander Addison, November 28, 1794 28

Findley discusses the consideration to authorize the president to allow to keep 2,000 men in our county. He also wishes to know the stability of Addison’s county and the militia they kept.

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William Findley to Alexander Addison, January 9, 1795 29

Findley states how he believes the Constitution was violated and the Judiciary Authority abused due to the Senate expelling the western members. Findley wishes that all expelled members would return if they we not offended.

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William Findley to Alexander Addison, January 3, 1796 30

Findley describe how most believe that the news of the French defeat in Germany is a fabrication to help quite the English at home from rioting. Also he mentions talking with Mr. Brackenridge.

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William Findley to Alexander Addison, May 6, 1796 31
Online

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Series  III. Correspondence from Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, 1786-1803 

Scope and Content Notes

Nisbet wrote from his home in Carlisle, Pennsylvania to Addison at his residence in Washington County, Pennsylvania. His letters from 1786 to 1795 are steeped in Nisbet's colorfully articulated and overwhelmingly negative view of revolutionary politics. Nisbet's common complaint that the world had gone "liberty-mad" extends to American politics, Revolutionary and post-revolutionary France, and his professional frustrations as Principal of Dickenson College. Some of Nisbet's comments about the French may be related to John B. C. Lucas, the French-born Fifth District judge whose actions precipitated Addison's impeachment in 1802. Nisbet critiques them all with a sense of humor. A number of significant events are addressed in the letters, including; the progress of the French Revolution and its impact on Europe and the Americas; the Northwest Indian War led by General "Mad" Anthony Wayne; the Chickamauga Wars with a branch of the Cherokee Nation in the South; African slave revolts in the French Caribbean; unproven bribery allegations against Secretary of State Edmund Randolph; the early Federal Congresses; and the Whiskey Rebellion. Nisbet revels in pointing out hypocrisy and inconsistency in American and French politics. However, the correspondence takes a very personal turn in 1797 when Nisbet's son moves to Washington County to live with Addison. Between 1797 and his death in 1803, Nisbet and his wife tried desperately, with Addison's help, to deal with their son's descent into alcoholism and debt.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, January 26, 1786 32

Nisbet confirms the receipt of Addison's letter and acknowledges Addison's relocation to Pittsburgh. He makes negative comments about the frontier, the average pioneer, and the threat of Indian war. He discusses news from abroad, especially the threat of Algerines [Algerian pirates]. Addison also disparages Spanish civilization and encourages alliances between government and clergy.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, May 26, 1786 33

Nisbet describe the neighboring Indians and their unwillingness to concede tracts of land or to keep treaties. He realizes that they can not continue communicate with the Indians this way and fears an insurgence of Indiana to come in the summer.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, October 21, 1786 34

Nisbet replies to Addison's request for advice on his career and strongly discourages him from leaving the clergy to become a lawyer. Nisbet argues that reasonable educated clergy are the only hope for America.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, December 7, 1787 35

Nisbet tells Addison that he respects his decision to become a lawyer, despite Nisbet's advice. He discusses the [Federal Constitutional] Convention and criticizes Pennsylvania's lack of support of its government. Nisbet supports the Constitution.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, November 5, 1790 36

Writing to Addison, Nisbet apologizes for not visiting him in western Pennsylvania. He recommends Richard Henderson, a recent seminary graduate, for a teaching position near Addison's home. Additionally, he derides revolutionary trends in European politics.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, July 22, 1791 37

In his letter, Nisbet discusses the effect of the French revolutions and their ill-advised support by some Americans, particularly [Paine] and Franklin.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, September 29, 1791 38

Nisbet congratulates Addison on his appointment as judge. He remarks on the hypocrisy of Pennsylvanian and American response to slave revolts in St. Domingo [Dominican Republic] and criticizes Paine for not considering the rights of slaves. Nisbet predicts the fate of the French royal family and compares the French, Polish, and American revolutions.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, November 12, 1791 39

Nisbet writes to Addison to recommend an acquaintance, Mr. Wilson, for any teaching positions near Addison. He describes the political situations in Poland and France and again refers to slave uprisings in Hispaniola [Haiti/Dominican Republic], and the ideological shortcomings of [Paine] Payne's writing.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, December 26, 1791 40

Nisbet thanks Addison for finding Mr. Wilson a ministerial and teaching position. He criticizes the inability of officials to govern the frontier, especially from a distance, and writes unsympathetically about both Washington and Adams as current and prospective presidents. Nisbet also criticizes Brackenridge's opposition to the Constitution.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, May 10, 1792 41

References are made to a recent disturbance in western Pennsylvania and the previous massacre of "Moravian Indians." Nisbet discusses an inquiry into General Sinclair's conduct and the appointment of General Wayne as commander in chief of the Army. He criticizes debate in the Congress about its form and function. He discusses predictions of a Prussian-assisted counter-revolution in France and goes on to describe bankruptcies in New York.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, May 11, 1792 42

Nisbet shares, in confidence, his problems with the Trustees of Dickinson College. He describes and criticizes the character of American students and education and critiques European books on American society and education.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, April 16, 1793 43

Findley talks about the armament of the land and sea by the French mob against Great Britain. He said that his will deprive the English mob for any correspondence with the French National Convention and Jacobin Club. The French mob was ordered to leave London when British Court received advice of the murder of the King. They must now conquer all Europe or be knocked on the head by the combined powers. He also describe that if Great Britain is drawn in to a war with this country, it is by it own stupidity of our politicians, we soon be freed from Indians to be occupied by English Garrisons.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, June 11, 1793 44

Nisbet writes that he is thankful that Addison hasn't had problems with Indians, despite Indian conflicts [Chickamauga Wars] in the south. He writes of his hopes that [western Pennsylvanians] are still in opposition to the Excise Act. Nisbet discusses European politics, especially the war between England and France, and revolutionary developments in France.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, June 14, 1793 45

Nisbet remarks on the President's futile negotiations with the Canadian governor to end conflicts with the Indians. He mentions an intended duel between Mr. Jamieson and Cook the Methodist, and supposes that the Gazette will print something about it. Nisbet argues that it is Europe's duty to crush expanding French military and ideological influence.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, October 29, 1793 46

Nisbet facetiously discusses French incursions into Holland, commenting, "the Army under Pichegru have made a full stop on the Borders of Holland, some say owing to hydrophobia & others to Dysentery, which has reduced many to a State of Equality."

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, November 8, 1793 47

Nisbet is concerned about conflicting reports about General Wayne's success in the West [Northwest Indian War]. He complains about conflicts between American generals, including General Mifflin. Nisbet mocks Findley and Brackenridge's diametrically opposed views on Indian affairs and remarks on Jacobin clubs in America. He also mentions a ship that has returned from St. Domingo [Dominican Republic].

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, January 27, 1794 48

Nisbet writes that the Republic of France has a great victory over Marie Antoniette, widow of the late tyrant of France, whose picture is still to be seen in the senate house of congress, as they thought him to Benefactor of America. This victory has given great joy to the friend of Liberty and Equality, both in France and America and is expected to contribute as much to the success of the French Convention, as it has done to their reputation for Generality, and Justice.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, October 29, 1794 49

Nisbet is astonished in the age of reason that has done so much deserved honor to true republicans, any should choose to run away from promotions. But the modesty of some Gentlemen seems to be equal to all their other virtues.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, January 13, 1795 50

Nisbet congratulates Addison on his address published in the Gazette. He goes on to discuss the situation with the militia and Nisbet inquires about troop presence in Addison's region, and describes plans of The Democratic Society to publish a counter-revolutionary paper. Nisbet criticizes Brackenridge for spinning the truth about Dutch land purchases in Allegheny County.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, February 20, 1795 51

This letter satirizes Gallatin and the treaty under debate in Congress. Nisbet refers to congressman as " prisoners in Philadelphia."

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, March 4, 1795 52

Nisbet says that the truth is that this country is in much greater danger of undergoing a revolution a revolution, from the diffusion of French Doctrines, than Great Britain can possible be, as the government there never gave them any countenance and discovered from the beginning their pernicious tendencies. Whereas our government from all total want of sense, could not discern that these doctrines tended to be destructive of all Governments.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, April 18, 1795 53

Nisbet describe England gain from the French reign over Holland. England is said to have, than all our democratic societies, being now without a rival in the commercial world, though fie this advantage are indebted to the French.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, June 17, 1795 54

Nisbet mentions mutual acquaintances and discusses events in France concerning [Charles] Pichegru, and the hypocrisy of American alliance with Prussia. He closes with satirical remarks about the Treaty with Britain.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, August 6, 1795 55

Nisbet preys that the country does not have a civil war, otherwise it is possible that America will be a first bone of Contention among the powers of Europe, if their present difference were settled. We are a divided people without wisdom, strength or Union and would be easy pray to the sans culottes, if they were able to establish their republic.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, October 3, 1795 56

Nisbet describes increased local interest in politics in opposition to Jay's Treaty. He discusses events surrounding dispatches by M. Fauchet intercepted by the British and forwarded to the President. According to the dispatches, Fauchet had been funneling large sums to Secretary of State Mr. [Edmund] Randolph and American Democrats. Randolph resigned after the dispatches were discovered.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, February 24, 1796 57

Nisbet writes to Addison giving him consolation on the sudden death of his son. He also address activates such as purchasing land in the western territories and a bought of the yellow fever going around.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, April 25, 1796 58

Describe that the price of grain is triple to what they were before the reign of Liberty and Equality. Also mentioning that the British be deprived of an opportunity of getting their debt by treaty, must operate payment to themselves by taking American vessels.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, June 17, 1796 59

Nisbet write to Addison that he ought to now be afraid to writing him, or to write to Addison with great reverence, as you are a man famous in history, Nisbet says famous in history for the Insurrection, which is in many respects the most wonderful.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, October 26, 1796 60

Nisbet says that the democrats in Philadelphia are busily employed in procuring Mr. Jefferson to be elected president of the United States and enabling the French to conquer Great Britain, Portugal, and Switzerland before the approaching winter reserving the conquest of Germany, Poland, Russia, and China till the next campaign.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, December 3, 1796 61

Nisbet describe that the drought was long and severe and the sovereign people are very happy notwithstanding as they are in hopes of getting a Sans Culottes president and a war with great Britain by which they are in expectation of producing a revolution in both countries and extending the interest of Liberty and Equality.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, January 31, 1797 62

Nisbet talks about the burning of cities and in Philadelphia. It is in this manner that our democrats show their love to their country by flattering its enemies, and endeavoring to ruin its friends. I would no be surprised to hear that they assist the French in setting fire to our towns, so entirely are they devoted to that terrible nation.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, February 23, 1797 63

Nisbet describes that our government has offended the terrible nation, who takes thus method of being revenged on us as well as that of capturing our ships. If the French should obtain Louisiana from the Spaniards, and Canada and Nova Scotia from England in the Event of a Peace, the United States would quickly become a municipality of the terrible republic.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, June 9, 1797 64

Nisbet tells Addison that his daughter has arrived ahead of schedule for her visit at their home and will be treated as one of family. Nisbet also said that the next session of congress is likely to be a turbulent one.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, July 31, 1797 65

In this brief letter, Nisbet discusses his son's weather-delayed plans to travel west and satirizes Findley, Gallatin, and the French Revolution.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, April 12, 1797 66

Nisbet describes in a private letter to Addison of his son’s twelve year battle with alcohol. After taking one glass, nothing is to easy as to take another and so on without limits. Nibet’s son is staying under the Addison care as Nibet asked that Addison to impart some advice of which his son would be more apt to follow because of his respect for Addison.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, August 31, 1797 67

In his letter to Addison, Nisbet discusses his son's request for money and depends on Addison to determine his son's financial situation. He discusses an illness in the East and refers to American sympathizers of the French Revolution as "Democ-Rats."

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, September 9, 1797 68

Nisbet sends money to Addison to give his son who is under Addison’s care. However Nisbet tells Addison to only give the money to his son if he deserves the twenty dollar note on the agreement that he continues to remain sober.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, October 30, 1797 69

Nisbet inquires about is wayward son under Addison’s care and again sends a twenty dollar note to be given to his son. He then goes on to talk about world events such as the rebuilding of the Turkish Empire and College of Cardinals election of a new Pope.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, November 5, 1797 70

This personal letter discuses the increasingly unstable behavior of Nisbet's son, who has been staying with Addison. He concurs that Addison should put the son out of his house, but asks that Addison help him find new lodging and continue to keep an eye on him.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, November 27, 1797 71

Nisbet thanks Addison for dealing with his son, and admits to sending his son more money. Upon Nisbet's request, a young woman and family friend named Miss McFarquhar talked with his son, but to no effect. He also writes that his newborn grandson died, and his wife is still ill.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, February 17, 1798 72

Nisbet continues to inquire about his alcoholic son who has stopped writing to him. He mentions a neighbor whipping a slave and Nisbet's wife and another woman successively trying to intervene. He asks Addison to use the enclosed twenty dollars to keep his son housed and fed.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, February 24, 1798 73

Nisbet writes to Addison to apologize for his son. Nisbet, desperately and facetiously, proposes to hire a woman of bad reputation to verbally abuse his son in order to reform him.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, March 10, 1798 74

Nisbet continues to inquire about his son. He thanks Addison for giving Nisbet's money to the son's landlady. He discusses his son's debts from drinking on borrowed money. Nisbet pledges to continue sending Addison money to pay for his son's room and board, but not his alcohol.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, April 5, 1798 75

Nisbet writes that he is in ill health and bad spirits. He inquires about Gallatin's recent speech, references a Spanish agreement to cede Louisiana and Florida to the French, and touches on Continental politics with sarcasm.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, April 30, 1798 76

Nisbet requests that Addison pass an enclosed letter on to his son and relates his plans to travel to Philadelphia with his wife to recover their health. Nisbet shares that a letter he received from Findley complained about Addison.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, November 19, 1798 77

Nisbet informs Addison that his son has finally written and informed him of his debts. Nisbet writes that he has sent his son money and asks Addison to make sure it is spent on debts.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, December 15, 1798 78

Nisbet talks about his son’s recovery from alcohol and his health has much improved. He spends his time now reading law books instead of novels. Nisbet also mentions that Congress is trifling about the Alien and Sedition Act, but the defense of the country is entirely forgotten.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, February 25, 1799 79

Nisbet discusses friends and happenings in the House of Representatives. He is disappointed that the president has sent another ambassador to France. Nisbet is concerned the French will take advantage of the political divisions between the North and South.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, March 18, 1799 280

Nisbet mainly describes that a war has broken out in Germany and 23,000 French soldiers have been killed near the Rhine, among who is said to be General Jourdan. Nothing is to be said of the troops of the King of Naples, so that perhaps you may soon hear of the Pope of Rome.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, May 3, 1799 81

Nisbet believes that the war in Europe could last until the end of the year as in any proceeding, the French will find or make enemies as long as any inhabitants are found on the face of the Earth, that possess any properties. The Confusions in Ireland have been renewed, on occasion of the proposed union with England, though the English Ministry has abandoned this project for the present.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, November 9, 1799 82

Nisbet writes about being indebt due to this wretched and worthless son who as begun drink hard spirits once again. He feels shame and disgrace has been brought on his family due to his son’s activities. Nisbet feel if he could purchase a passenger trip back to Scotland he would soon go back as a venture, as he can not live in disgrace.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, September 19, 1803 83

Nisbet states if Bonaparte miscarries in his designs on Great Britain, as I hope he undoubtedly will, it will be hurtful to his interest in France, if not fatal. He soon to have enough to do at present to turn the attention of the French to many points abroad, in order to make their slavery at home. But as he is at odds, with his general, it is not probable that his attempts against Germany, Italy, Egypt, Great Britain, Spain, and Portugal will all of them be equally successful, though he is supported by the powerful Batavian Republic.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, March 16, 1802 84

In this letter, Nisbet shows distaste for student unrest, relating it to public criticism of the judiciary and French slave revolts.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, June 7, 1802 85

Nisbet writes that his son is in the Pennsylvania hospital, and his debtors are threatening to sue Nisbet personally. He is doubtful that the case will succeed, but he asks Addison to advise.

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Charles Nisbet to Alexander Addison, February 12, 1803 86

Nisbet encourages Addison to write a fair treatment of a judge who lost his office after an incident involving a French citizen. [This comment may refer to Addison's own impeachment]. He mentions trouble with the trustees of Dickinson College and discusses unsatisfactory French influence on American politics.

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Series  IV. Miscellaneous, undated 

Scope and Content Notes

This series contains a set of two artistic renderings of Addison's profile, and an 1807 letter to Jonathan Smith.

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Alexander Addison to Jonanthan Smith, March 19, 1803 87

Addison writes that Mr. Monroe’s mission is considered as a wonderful stroke in Politics, as while he is negotiating the French will be acting and taking possession of Louisiana, so that the citizens will arrive at St. Cloud, just in time to congratulate Bonaparte on the addition made to the territories of the republic by the possession of Louisiana and to entreat him not to turn his arms against the United States till Mr. Jefferson’s Presidency is expired. The French put in possessions of Mexico and Peru that the Unites States say have the inestimable privilege of being the last devoured by the Great Nation.

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Alexander Addison to Jonathan Smith May 20, 1807 88

Addison writes to Smith regarding a transfer of funds facilitated by Mr. McKnight of Shippensburgh.

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Silhouette, undated 89

The folder contains two small, profile silhouettes, one rendered in charcoal and one in ink. Both are labeled as Judge Addison.

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Manuscript fragment (4 pages), c 1805 90

A portion of an unpublished autobiographical account scathingly condemning Judge Hugh H. Brackenridge for orchestrating a betrayal resulting in Addison's impeachment by trail in 1803.

("Manuscript fragment (4 pages), " online pending)

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