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General Joseph W. Brown papers

 Collection
Call Number: MS 106

Scope and Contents

The General Joseph W. Brown Papers consist of about 220 items removed from four bound volumes, covering the period 1818-1882. The items are divided into correspondence and other papers, each group being arranged chronologically. An alphabetical index to the correspondents is provided. Among the correspondents are Lewis Cass, William Henry Harrison, Stevens Thomson Mason, and Winfield Scott.

The bulk of the material dates from 1832 during and following the Black Hawk War. The letters and orders together present a picture of Indian attacks in Michigan and Illinois and answering military measures (see letters of 1832 May 18-30, Jun 4, 6, 9, Jul 24), including a council with the Potawatomis confirming their status as allies of the militia (for the procedings of the council, see folder 17, 1832 May 27). Brown was much concerned with problems of raising troops (letters of 1832 May 30, Jun 10) and finding arms and other supplies. The government was not always willing to issue him equipment, and when arms were forthcoming, they were not always fit for use (1830 Jan 15, 26, 1832 May 22-23, 28, 30, Jun 1). Brown felt that he received less cooperation than might be expected both from his troops and from his superiors, justifying his own actions as the result of conflicting orders from above (1832 May 23, Jun 17, 19-20, Aug 13, 1833 Sep 28, n.d.). Also active in the Toledo War, Brown discusses troop movements and the loyalty of his men in letters of March 26, June 17, and December 15, 1835.

There are in addition several personal letters in the collection. William Henry Harrison writes on December 5, 1835, about the death of Brown's brother, and Brown replies on December 15, writing again on March 31, 1840. That Brown was a Harrison supporter is shown by an invitation to speak before the Tippicanoe Club of Kalamazoo, June 27, 1840. A letter of March 6, 1833, from Robert Newlin discusses family matters and the activities of Andrew Jackson. Other personal letters of the 1860s and 1870s concern Brown's friends, family, and genealogy, and letters of the 1880s deal with Supreme Court Justice M. R. Waite's interest in a colonial powder horn.

Aside from correspondence, there are a variety of orders to subordinate officers in the militia, as well as military commissions and other certificates. Included are documents with the signatures of Lewis Cass, DeWitt Clinton, Andrew Jackson, Stevens Thomson Mason, and George B. Porter. There are also several items relating to Brown's family, such as a marraige certificate of 1773.

These papers were donated to Yale University by Charles Eberstadt in 1963.

Dates

  • 1773-1882
  • Majority of material found within 1818 - 1882

Creator

Language

English

Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection are in the public domain. There are no restrictions on use. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Charles Eberstadt, 1963.

Arrangement

Arranged by correspondent.

Extent

0.25 Linear Feet (1 box, 1 folio)

Catalog Record

A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog

Persistent URL

http://hdl.handle.net/10079/fa/mssa.ms.0106

Overview

General in the Michigan militia. Correspondence, military orders and documents, and a marriage certificate. Most of the papers relate to the Black Hawk War of 1832 waged between the United States and the Fox and the Sauk Indians. The correspondence describes the war in Michigan and Illinois and a council with the Potawatomi Indians who were allies of the militia. There were also letters on contemporary politics and the Toledo War (1835) in which Brown participated. Principal correspndents are Lewis Cass, William Henry Harrison, Stevens Thomson Mason and Winfield Scott.

Biographical / Historical

Joseph W. Brown, who was born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, held positions in the New York State Militia by signed appointment of Governor DeWitt Clinton from 1818-1824. In 1826, he was appointed Chief Justice of Lenawee County, Michigan Territory, by Lewis Cass, followed by his appointment as a colonel in the Michigan Militia in 1829. He held several other positions during the 1830s, the chief one of which was Brigadier General of the 3rd Brigade, Michigan Militia, having been appointed by Andrew Jackson. General Brown was in charge of this brigade during the Black Hawk War of 1832. Although the conflict was limited to Illinois and Wisconsin, Brown issued many orders, including some which seemed contradictory. As a result, his troops were weary and unwilling to serve due to excessive marching and countermarching for no real purpose. At least one other general wanted him courtmartialed for incompetence. However, his associations with the "boy wonder" Governor Stevens Thomson Mason (1811-1843) undoubtedly prevented any action from being taken. Mason also appointed Brown Major General of the Fifth Division of the Michigan Militia {1838), Brigadier General of the Michigan State Guard (1838), and a Regent of the University of Michigan (1839). These positions followed Brown's leadership of Michigan forces in the so-called Toledo War, a boundary dispute with Ohio, of 1835-1836. The later years of Brown's life were spent in retirement.

Index of Correspondents

  1. Anderson, John H.1832 May 25; 1833 Jan 1
  2. Bacon, Daniel S.1832 Jul 21, 29; 1860 Jun 19
  3. Bacon, Marshall J.1835 Sep 4
  4. Baldwin, H. N.1832 Jun 17
  5. Beeson, Jacob1832 Jun 18, 23, Dec 1
  6. Biddle, John1830 Jan 15, 26
  7. Boardman, W. E.1835 Mar 23
  8. Bowford, G. W.1830 Jan 9
  9. Brooks, E.1835 Sep 4
  10. Brounson, Amos1840 Jun 27
  11. Brown, Isaac B.1835 Dec 15; 1870 Nov 3
  12. Brown, Joseph W.1831 Mar 21; 1832 May 21, 22, 24, 25, 27, 28, 30, 31, Jun 2, 3, 10, 11, 12. 17, 19, 20, 21, 23, Jul 5, 20, 24, 30 Aug 1, 13; 1835 Feb 23, Mar 26; 1840 Mar 31; n.d.
  13. Cass, Lewis1826 Dec 6; 1830 Aug 13; 1831 Apr 6
  14. Clark, E.1833 Jul 24
  15. Clybourne, A.1832 May 18
  16. Comstock, A. J.1832 Jun 19
  17. Corbus, Richard W.1831 Jun 1
  18. Curtenius, F. W.1840 Jun 27
  19. Dunham, Seth1834 Jul 7
  20. Edwards, T. A. W.1832 Apr 3; 1833 Sep 1, 12
  21. Ellis, Edward1832 Jun 19
  22. Eustis, Abraham1832 Jul 15
  23. Evans, S. B.1835 Feb 27
  24. Gale, George L.1840 Jun 27
  25. Harrison, William Henry1835 Dec 5
  26. Heald, Alva1832 May 18
  27. Hoffman, George W.1833 Sep 13, 28
  28. Howard, Joshua1833 Mar 13
  29. Huston, Gen. A.,1832 May 19, 23, Jun 18; 1833 Feb 1
  30. Jackson, John,1832 May 24, 28
  31. Jones, Benwick1831 Jun 1; 1832 Jun 11
  32. Jones, Edmund1831 Jun 1
  33. Kirby, Maj. E.
  34. Knight, George T.1866 Dec 29; 1869 Jun 15, Oct 14; 1870 Mar 14; 1872 Feb 27
  35. McBride, Jonathan H.1840 Jun 27
  36. McGaffey, T.1833 Aug 22
  37. McNair, Col. W.1832 May 28; 1835 Jun 17
  38. Mason, Stevens Thomson1832 May 22, Jun 1, 4, 5, 6, 9, 12, 19
  39. Mower, Hon.1840 Jun 27
  40. Newberry, Walter L.1830 Mar 4, 11
  41. Newlin, Robert1833 Mar 6
  42. Noble, Thas.1835 Mar 4
  43. O'Brien, A.1840 Jun 27
  44. Owen, Th. J. V.1832 May 18, 21, 24
  45. Poinsett, J. R.1840 May 12
  46. Porter, George B.1832 Jun 15, Jul 21, 24
  47. Schwarz, J. E.1831 Nov 7; 1835 Mar 28
  48. Scott, Gen. Winfield1832 Jul 24; 1839 Dec 24
  49. Stewart, J.1832 May 19, 28, 29
  50. Stewart, Col. H. L.1832 May 20, 23, 28, Jun 23
  51. Tilghman, Lenchn.d.
  52. Tyler, John1843 Jan 8
  53. Ullman, J. J.1831 Jun 18; 1832 Dec 30; 1835 Feb 21, Mar 9
  54. Waite, M. R.1882 Oct 13
  55. Webster, D. B.1840 Jun 27
  56. Williams, In. R.1832 May 22, Jun 17, 20
  57. Winder, Col. John1829 Nov 12; 1830 Jul 27, Sep 30
  58. Winslow, Erasmus1832 May 18
  59. Winter, E. C.1832 Jun 21
  60. Winthrop, Robert1881 Nov 3
  61. unidentified1832 Jun 1; 1851 Feb 24
Title
Guide to the General Joseph W. Brown Papers
Author
compiled by Janet Elaine Gertz
Date
May 1983
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.

Revision Statements

  • May 1998: Finding aid revision description not supplied.

Repository Details

Part of the Manuscripts and Archives Repository

Contact:
Yale University Library
P.O. Box 208240
New Haven CT 06520-8240 US
(203) 432-1735
(203) 432-7441 (Fax)