Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Henry and Lucy Knox Collection, 1777-1807

Finding aid created by
Philip Heslip, June 2011

Summary Information
Title: Henry and Lucy Knox collection
Creator: William L. Clements Library
Inclusive dates: 1777-1807
Extent: 50 items
Abstract:
The Henry and Lucy Knox collection contains miscellaneous letters and documents related to Henry Knox, Continental Army officer and 1st United States secretary of war, and his wife Lucy Flucker Knox. The bulk of the collection is comprised of War Department documents concerning the American forces on the Ohio Frontier between 1791 and 1794.

Language: The material is in English
Repository: William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan
909 S. University Ave.
The University of Michigan
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1190
Phone: 734-764-2347
Web Site: www.clements.umich.edu


Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1931-2011. M-123, M-342, M-500, M-920, M-921, M-1047, M-1058, M-1069, M-1073, M-1074, M-1076, M-1094, M-1102, M-1105, M-1162, M-1214, M-1227, M-1328, M-1923, M-4868.1.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Copyright:

Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the "We the People" project.

Provenance:

The bulk of Henry Knox's War Department manuscripts, related to the Old Northwest, came to the Clements Library through a generous donation of John H. Martin, 2011.

Preferred Citation:

Henry and Lucy Knox collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Arrangement

This collection is organized chronologically.


Biography

Henry Knox (1750-1806) was born in Boston to William Knox and Mary Campbell. He married Lucy Flucker (1756--1824) in 1774. They had 12 children, but only three lived to adulthood. Before his military career, Knox owned a bookstore in Boston. He joined the local militia, and at the outbreak of the American Revolution, befriended General George Washington and served as his civilian military advisor. In November 1775, Washington appointed Knox chief of artillery for the Continental Army. Knox participated in many key events in the Revolution. He headed the mission to bring the arsenal at Fort Ticonderoga to Cambridge, Massachusetts, which Washington used in the siege of Dorchester Heights. He accompanied Washington in the campaigns in New York and New Jersey (1776-1777); trained troops and officers in the use of artillery at Pluckemin, New Jersey (1778-1779); and was a member of John André's court martial in 1780. He was promoted major general in 1782, and established a headquarters at West Point.

The Continental Congress appointed Knox secretary of war on March 8, 1785, and he retained the post until 1794. Knox focused much of his attention on managing Indian affairs in the Ohio territory. He was in charge of supplying the frontier forces, and involved in the decision-making that lead to Brigadier General Josiah Harmar's defeat at Fort Washington in 1790, St. Clair's defeat (Battle of the Wabash) in 1791, and the ongoing negotiations with the Western Indian Confederacy (the Miami, Shawnee, and Delaware Indians) between 1792 and 1794. Knox left the War Department in 1794 and retired to a mansion called Montpelier, in Thomaston, Maine, which Lucy Knox had inherited. Henry speculated heavily in land and various local industries, such as lumber, shipbuilding, brick making, and quarrying. His investments all failed and debtors forced him to sell much of his land. Knox died in 1806 from an infection after swallowing a chicken bone.

Lucy Flucker Knox was born in Boston to Thomas Flucker, the royal secretary of Massachusetts Bay. Her family, who had strong Loyalist ties, disapproved of her marriage to Henry, and became estranged from her after the Revolution. During the war, Lucy split her time between staying with friends and living with Henry at various military camps. After Henry's death, Lucy was forced to sell much of her belongings to pay off outstanding debts. She remained in Montpelier until her death in 1824.


Collection Scope and Content Note

The Henry and Lucy Knox collection (50 items) contains miscellaneous letters and documents related to Henry Knox, Continental Army officer and 1st United States secretary of war, and his wife Lucy Flucker Knox. The bulk of the collection is comprised of War Department documents concerning the American forces on the Ohio Frontier between 1791 and 1794.

The collection contains 4 items related to the American Revolution, including three letters to Benjamin Lincoln concerning military intelligence and prisoner exchange with the British (1780-1781), and a draft of an 11-page letter to General George Washington, in which Knox discussed possible courses of action for the Continental Army to take after their winter training at Valley Forge (April 23, 1778).

Material related to Knox's activities in the War Department comprise the bulk of the collection. These document his decisions regarding military provisioning (food and arms), recruiting, troop payments and pensions, and logistics, and his leadership role under the Continental Congress and President Washington. Of note are 20 letters from Henry Knox to Quartermaster Samuel Hodgdon concerning preparations for war with the Western Indian Confederacy of the Miami River Valley in the Ohio Territory (1791-1794).

Items of note include:

  • September 28, 1789: Knox to Arthur St. Clair concerning a bill about troops is postponed; Senate postponed treaty with Six Nations; advised president to ratify treaty with Wyandot
  • June 27, 1792: Henry Knox to Joseph Brant, inviting Brant, a Mohawk, to a treaty with the Six Nations
  • February 28, 1793: Henry Knox to William Hull concerning American relations with Indians and a council with hostile Indians to negotiate peace. Discusses arrangements that need to be made with Lieutenant Governor of Upper Canada John Simcoe
  • May 3, 1794: Henry Knox to Samuel Hodgdon regarding the inspection of articles for the United States Army and complaints made by General Anthony Wayne

The collection contains six items related to Lucy Flucker Knox. These include one letter from Henry to Lucy, four from Lucy to Henry, and one from Lucy to Henry Jackson.

  • May 13, 1777: Lucy Knox to Henry Knox, discussing the prices of local goods, the health of their child, and advice on attacking Boston and the attitudes of the people of Danbury, Connecticut, toward the war
  • October 25, 1777: Lucy Knox to Henry Knox expressing tenderness, love, and concern for the effect the war will have on him: "I fear I greatly fear, that in the soldier I shall lose the lover, the tender, delicate engaging friend…"
  • June 11, 1780: Lucy Knox in Morristown, New Jersey, to Henry Knox, discussing Dr. Shippen's treatment of her poor health, news of their children, her lack of tea and spirits [liquor], and waiting for a black servant to arrive
  • August 11, 1806: Henry Knox to Lucy Knox discussing business matters and the Thomas O. Selfridge and Benjamin Austin affair
  • February 17, 1807: Lucy Knox to General Henry Jackson, discussing her recovery from an illness, and news of her son Henry Jackson Knox
  • Undated: From Lucy Knox in Boston during the Revolution to Henry Knox, relating her recent stiff neck, her growing anxiety over not hearing from him, and her plan to join him soon in New York
Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • Hodgdon, Samuel, 1745-1824.
    • Indians of North America--Ohio.
    • Indians of North America--Wars--1790-1794.
    • Kekionga, Battle of, Ohio, 1791.
    • Northwest, Old--History--1775-1865.
    • Selfridge, Thomas O. (Thomas Oliver), d. 1816.
    • United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783.
    • United States. War Dept.
    • Wayne's Campaign, 1794.
    Contributors:
    • Fish, Nicholas, 1758-1833.
    • Knox, Henry, 1750-1806.
    • Knox, Lucy Flucker, d. 1824.
    • Mentges, Francis, d. 1805.
    Genre Terms:
    • Letters (correspondence)
    • Orders (military records)
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
    Box   1  
    Henry and Lucy Knox collection [series]:
     
     1777 May 13: Lucy Knox to Henry Knox
     
     1777 October 25: Lucy Knox to Henry Knox
     
     1778 April 23: Henry Knox draft to George Washington
     
     1780 June 11: Lucy Knox to Henry Knox
     
     1780 October 30: Henry Knox to Benjamin Lincoln
     
     1781 February 13: Henry Knox to Benjamin Lincoln
     
     1781 April 3: Henry Knox to Benjamin Lincoln
     
     1784 January: Henry Knox to Captain Joseph Williams
     
     1789 September 28: Henry Knox to Arthur St. Clair
     
     1789 December 21: Henry Knox to John Doughty
     
     1791 March 25: Henry Knox to Thomas Smith
     
     1791 April 1: Henry Knox to Samuel Hodgdon
     
     1791 June9: Henry Knox to Samuel Hodgdon
     
     1791 June 23: Henry Knox to Samuel Hodgdon
     
     1791 July 7: Henry Knox to Samuel Hodgdon
     
     1791 July 14: Henry Knox to Samuel Hodgdon
     
     1791 July 20: Henry Knox to William Knox
     
     1791 July 21: Henry Knox to Samuel Hodgdon
     
     1791 July 22: Henry Knox to William Knox
     
     1791 August 8: Henry Knox to Captain John Pratt
     
     1791 August 18: Henry Knox to Samuel Hodgdon
     
     1793 September 1: Henry Knox to Samuel Hodgdon
     
     1792 May 3: Henry Knox to Messrs. Elliot and Williams
     
     1792 June 27: Henry Knox to Joseph Brant
     
     1792 July 26: Henry Knox to Colonel Benjamin Walker
     
     1792 August 4: Henry Knox to Samuel Hodgdon
     
     1792 August 29: Henry Knox to Nicholas Fish
     
     1792 September 7: Nicholas Fish to Henry Knox
     
     1793 February 1: Henry Knox to William Imlay
     
     1793 February 28: Henry Knox to William Hull
     
     1793 May 8: Henry Knox to Samuel Hodgdon
     
     1793 May 23: Henry Knox to William Marts
     
     1793 June 17: Henry Knox to Samuel Hodgdon
     
     1793 July 5: Henry Knox to Samuel Hodgdon
     
     1793 July 5: Henry Knox to Samuel Hodgdon
     
     1793 August 16: Henry Knox to Samuel Hodgdon
     
     1793 September 17: Henry Knox to Samuel Hodgdon
     
     1793 November 19: Colonel Francis Mentges to Henry Knox
     
     1793 December 7: Henry Knox to Jonathan Cass
     
     1794 February 1: Henry Knox to William Imlay
     
     1794 March 26: Henry Knox to the Governor of New Hampshire [Josiah Bartlett]
     
     1794 May3: Henry Knox to Samuel Hodgdon
     
     1794 May 10: Henry Knox to Samuel Hodgdon
     
     1794 June 27: Henry Knox to Samuel Hodgdon
     
     1794 October 10: Henry Knox to Samuel Hodgdon
     
     1794 December 13: Henry Knox to Samuel Hodgdon
     
     1795 April 1: Henry Knox to James Swan
     
     1806 August 11: Henry Knox to Lucy Knox
     
     1807 February 17: Lucy Knox to Henry Jackson
     
     Undated: Lucy Knox to Henry Knox
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Related Materials

    The following Clements Library collections contain approximately 300 letters by or to Henry Knox between them:

    The Benjamin Bussey collection contains two letters from Lucy Knox to Benjamin Bussey (December 26, 1813 and January 20, 1822)

    Knox Portraits in the Clements Library Graphics Division:

    Broadsides and Printed Material:

    Bibliography

    Ward, Harry M. "Knox, Henry." American National Biography. Oxford University Press, 2000.