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Archives & Manuscripts

Dr. Mavis Kelsey Collection of Adams-Harris Papers

 Collection
Identifier: BMC-M17
The Dr. Mavis Kelsey Collection of Adams-Harris Papers houses Dr. Mavis Kelsey’s collection of papers related to John Quincy Adams and Levett Harris. The collection, which dates from 1814-1816 and 1820, consists of correspondence from John Quincy Adams to Levett Harris and from Louisa Catherine Adams to Levett Harris, as well as the original draft of Harris’ defense against the charge that he used his office corruptly for personal gain. The collection concerns the negotiations surrounding the Treaty of Ghent and accusations of corruption made against Levett Harris.

The collection is arranged into two series: “Series I: Correspondence, 1814-1816” and “Series II: Other Materials, 1820.”

“Series I: Correspondence, 1814-1816” consists of 11 autographed signed letters and 2 signed letters to Levett Harris, the American consul and later charge d’affaires in Russia, from John Quincy Adams, then Chief Plenipotentiary of the American delegation negotiating the Treaty of Ghent, and later President of the United States of America. Additionally, it contains 2 autographed signed letters to Levett Harris from Louisa Catherine Adams, John Quincy Adams’ wife. “Series II: Other Materials, 1820” consists of the original, handwritten draft of Exposè, Levett Harris’ response to accusations that he had used his office corruptly for personal gain.

The letters in this collection provide a unique insight into the Treaty of Ghent, which ended the War of 1812. John Quincy Adams, was in charge of negotiating the treaty, and these letters contain his observations on the course of the negotiations, as related to the American consul in Russia, Levett Harris. Additionally, the collection contains the original draft of Expose, which was Levett Harris’ response to accusations of corruption made by W.D. Lewis, an American merchant residing in Russia during Harris’ time there. This collection would be a useful resource for researchers interested in the War of 1812, the early career of John Quincy Adams, and the corruption charges brought against Levett Harris.

Dates

  • 1814 - 1820

Creator

Limitations on Accessing the Collection

This collection is open for research.

Copyright and Rights Information

The Dr. Mavis Kelsey collection of Adams-Harris papers is the physical property of the Special Collections Department, Bryn Mawr College Library. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns.

Extent

1 boxes

Overview

John Quincy Adams, later President of the United States, acted as Chief Plenipotentiary of the American delegation negotiating the Treaty of Ghent, and ending the War of 1812. Levett Harris was the American Consul (later the Charge d'Affaires) in Russia at this time. Adams's letters containing observations on the course of the negotiations, mediated by the Emperor Alexander, to Levett Harris are included in this collection. Harris, when later seeking appointment as Minister to Russia, was accused of having used his previous office corruptly for his personal gain. The collection also includes a statement in Harris' hand of his defense against this charge.

W. D. Lewis, an American merchant residing in Russia during Harris' time there, returned to the U.S. in 1819 and made the accusation. S. F. Bemis describes the charge in his J. Q. Adams and the Foundations of American Foreign Policy : "The American Consul at St. Petersburg, Levett Harris, made a fortune . . . by clearing doubtful ships and cargoes through the venal Russian neutrality commission that passed upon their authenticity."

To defend himself against this accusation Harris wrote this account. "I propose it therefore in the following statements, drawn up without exageration [sic] or embellishments, not with any view of encountering my antagonists in the newspapers, Coffee Houses, and the public places, where they have maligned me, but by way of instruction to my Counsel, and as my declaration to be used in case of death, or others . . . and also for the information of some few eminent persons who have honored me with their regards."

Biographical / Historical

John Quincy Adams, later President of the United States, acted as Chief Plenipotentiary of the American delegation negotiating the Treaty of Ghent, and ending the War of 1812. Levett Harris was the American Consul (later the Charge d'Affaires) in Russia at this time. Adams's letters containing observations on the course of the negotiations, mediated by the Emperor Alexander, to Levett Harris are included in this collection. Harris, when later seeking appointment as Minister to Russia, was accused of having used his previous office corruptly for his personal gain. The collection also includes a statement in Harris' hand of his defense against this charge.

W. D. Lewis, an American merchant residing in Russia during Harris' time there, returned to the U.S. in 1819 and made the accusation. S. F. Bemis describes the charge in his J. Q. Adams and the Foundations of American Foreign Policy: "The American Consul at St. Petersburg, Levett Harris, made a fortune . . . by clearing doubtful ships and cargoes through the venal Russian neutrality commission that passed upon their authenticity."

To defend himself against this accusation Harris wrote this account. "I propose it therefore in the following statements, drawn up without exageration [sic] or embellishments, not with any view of encountering my antagonists in the newspapers, Coffee Houses, and the public places, where they have maligned me, but by way of instruction to my Counsel, and as my declaration to be used in case of death, or others . . . and also for the information of some few eminent persons who have honored me with their regards."

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift of Dr. Mavis Kelsey, February 1981.
Title
Dr. Mavis Kelsey Collection of Adams-Harris Papers
Status
completed
Author
Linda Leeuwrik Marianne Hansen Melissa Torquato Cassidy Gruber Baruth
Date
2013 November 18
Description rules
dacs
Language of description
English

Find It at the Library

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