Lilly Library Manuscript Collections


The Meigs mss., 1794–1831, are letters and papers of Return Jonathan Meigs, 1764–1825, governor of Ohio, United States senator, and postmaster general during the administrations of Presidents James Madison and James Monroe.

Career: born, November 17, 1764, in Middleton, Connecticut; son of Joanna (Winborn) and Return Jonathan Meigs; graduated from Yale College, 1785; studied law and was admitted to the Connecticut bar; married Sophia Wright, 1788; moved to Marietta, Ohio, 1788; appointed one of the judges of the Ohio territorial government, February 12, 1798; elected to the Ohio territorial legislature, 1799; chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court, 1801–Oct. 1804; appointed commandant of United States troops and militia in the St. Charles district of Louisiana, October 1, 1804; appointed a judge in Louisiana Territory, March 11, 1805; returned to Ohio and called to Richmond, Virginia, on business relating to Aaron Burr's trial; transferred to serve as a judge in Michigan Territory, April 2, 1807; resigned to run for governor of Ohio; elected but declared ineligible because of long absence from state; in United States Senate, December 12, 1808–May 1, 1810; governor of Ohio, 1810–March 1814; Unites States postmaster general, March 17, 1814–June 30, 1823; died at Marietta, Ohio, March 29, 1824; survived by wife and only child, Mary (Mrs. John George Jackson).

The collection contains letters and papers relating to Indian disturbances in Indiana and Ohio in 1811; the participation of Ohio volunteers in the Hull campaign which culminated in the surrender of Detroit to the British on August 16, 1812, including Meigs' orderly book, March 28–May 23, August 8, and October 1–8 and 16, 1812; Meigs' accounts of disbursements, June 8, 1812–September 14, 1813, in connection with a council at Urbana, Ohio, May 6, 1812, with chiefs of the Shawnee, Delaware, and Wyandot nations to obtain a cession of land for a road through the Indian country for the use of General Hull's army, and a council at Piqua, Ohio, August, 1813; a petition of the Wyandot Indians for a redress of land grievances, October 4, 1806; George Washington Indian Peace Medal dated 1792 with a portion of the original ribbon and specimen card clearly identifying "Col. Meigs Trading Medal"; a plat map of square no. 449, Washington, D.C., showing lots owned by Meigs, January 1, 1795; letters, September 17 and November 2, 1804, from Henry Dearborn in regard to Meigs' appointment and duties as colonel and commandant in Louisiana; a letter, August 11, 1807, from Meigs to his wife about the trial of Aaron Burr; a letter, January 28, 1823, describing the death of Return Jonathan Meigs, Senior, and an undated document recounting his Revolutionary War service; a letter, August 21, 1822, from Henry Clay in regard to his presidential prospects in the election of 1824; an undated letter of Meigs relating to the collection of balances due the Post office department from postmasters; invitations to social functions in Washington, D.C.; and Meigs' commissions as deputy postmaster, Marietta, Northwest Territory, July 4, 1794, as a judge in the Northwest Territory, February 12, 1798, as brevet colonel and commandant of the United States army and militia in the district of Louisiana, October 1, 1804, as a judge in Louisiana Territory, March 11, 1805, and January 30, 1806, as a judge in Michigan Territory, April 2, 1807, and as Postmaster general of United States, March 17, 1814.

Included also are some personal and business letters to Mrs. Sophia (Wright) Meigs.

Part of the collection is in a folio folder.

Filed with the collection is positive and negative microfilm (one reel of each) containing letters and papers from this collection and from that of Meigs' son–in–law, John George Jackson.

Names of writers of letters and signers of documents: John Adams, John Armstrong, John Caldwell Calhoun, Lewis Cass, Henry Clay, Henry Dearborn, William Eustis, William Hull, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Return Jonathan Meigs, 1740–1823, Return Jonathan Meigs, 1764–1824, Return Jonathan Meigs, 1801–1891, Mrs. Sophia (Wright) Meigs, James Monroe, Timothy Pickering, Mrs. Louisa (St. Clair) Robb, and Richard Rush.

Acquired: 1953

Collection size: 85 items

NOTE: Access to this collection requires advance notice. Please contact the Curator of Manuscripts for additional information.

For more information about this collection and any related materials contact the Public Services Department, Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, IN 47405. Call (812) 855-2452 or send an email using our Ask a Question form.