Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Abbott and Amos Lawrence Collection, 1831-1885

Duane Norman Diedrich Collection

Finding aid created by
Sara Ausilio and Meg Hixon, November 2012

Summary Information
Title: Abbott and Amos Lawrence collection
Creator: William L. Clements Library
Inclusive dates: 1831-1885
Extent: 35 items
This collection is made up of letters by Amos Lawrence (1786-1852), his son Amos Adams Lawrence (1814-1886), and his brother Abbott Lawrence (1792-1855). They discussed financial and business matters, politics, and personal news.
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:

Access and Use
Acquisition Information:

1969-1994. M-1497, M-2710f, M-3011.5.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.

Preferred Citation:

Abbott and Amos Lawrence Collection, Duane Norman Diedrich Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The collection is arranged chronologically, with undated items placed at the end.

Biographical/Historical Note

Samuel Lawrence of Groton, Massachusetts, and his wife, Susanna Parker, had at least two sons: Amos and Abbott. Amos Lawrence was born in Groton on April 22, 1786, and worked as a store clerk until 1807, when he moved to Boston. He opened a dry goods store and was a successful merchant and factory owner. After his retirement in 1831, he became a prominent philanthropist. He died in Boston on December 31, 1852.

Amos Adams Lawrence , Amos's son, was born on July 31, 1814, and graduated from Harvard University in 1835. He was an investor and bank president, and supported efforts to ensure that Kansas became a free state. Lawrence served as Harvard University's treasurer from 1857-1860 and was twice nominated for the governorship of Massachusetts. Lawrence University in Appleton, Wisconsin, and the city of Lawrence, Kansas, are named for him. He died on August 22, 1886.

Abbott Lawrence , brother of the elder Amos Lawrence, was born in Groton on December 16, 1792, and worked as a clerk in Amos's store in Boston until 1814, when they formed a partnership. After his brother's retirement, Abbott invested in the textile industry, acted as a selling agent for cotton manufactories in Lowell, Massachusetts, served as president of the Essex Company, and provided the founding financial support for the Lawrence Scientific School at Harvard University. Lawrence was a member of the National Republican (later Whig) Party. He served in the United States House of Representatives (1835-1836 and 1839-1840) and as minister to Great Britain (1849-1852). He and his wife, Katherine Bigelow, married in 1819 and had seven children. Abbott Lawrence died on August 18, 1855.

Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection is made up of 34 letters by Amos Lawrence (1786-1852), his son Amos Adams Lawrence (1814-1886), and his brother Abbott Lawrence (1792-1855). One engraved portrait of Abbott Lawrence completes the collection. The Lawrences addressed subjects such as Henry Clay, the National Republican Party, education and schools, cotton mills, and national finance. Later items pertain to Amos Adams Lawrence's business affairs, including the construction of railroads in Massachusetts. A printed obituary for the elder Amos Lawrence is pasted into one letter (January 6, 1836). For more information on each item, see the Detailed Box and Folder Listing.

Subject Terms

    • Boston (Mass.)
    • Clay, Henry, 1777-1852.
    • Debts, Public--United States.
    • Education--United States--History--19th century.
    • National Republican Party (U.S.)
    • Railroads--United States.
    • Textile industry--United States.
    • United States--Foreign public opinion, British.
    • United States--Politics and government--1829-1837.
    Subjects - Visual Materials:
    • Lawrence, Abbott, 1792-1855.
    • Lawrence, Abbott, 1792-1855.
    • Lawrence, Amos, 1786-1852.
    • Lawrence, Amos Adams, 1814-1886.
    Genre Terms:
    • Clippings (information artifacts)
    • Engravings (prints)
    • Letters (correspondence)
    • Obituaries.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   : Duane Norman Diedrich Collection  
    Abbott and Amos Lawrence collection [series]
      1831 March 1 . A[bbott] Lawrence ALS; Boston, [Massachusetts]. (4 pages)
    National Republican Party. "I have taken a survey of the Political State of affairs, so far as my limited information extends, I am free to say to you that I cannot see any prospect … for the election of Mr Clay." Finding another candidate besides Henry Clay.
      1833 February 25 . A[bbott] Lawrence ALS; Boston, [Massachusetts]. (2 pages)
    Henry Clay's bill [Compromise Tariff of 1833]. "I will hold on to my principles, at the expense of my interest. I do not approve of Mr. Clay's scheme, which he knows-I pray you not to consider me as favoring any plan by which the principle of protection is eventually to be given up-the true Policy is not to act upon the tariff but pass the Enforcement bill."
      1836 January 6 . Amos Lawrence ALS to R. G. Parker; Boston, [Massachusetts]. (1 page)
    The granddaughter of Benjamin Franklin, Mrs. William J. Duane [Deborah Franklin Bache], has "a lively interest in those institutions bearing his name or connected with his fame." Franklin School. "I confess I feel a little of the pride of a citizen in showing in our sister city, a specimen of what is done in a Boston free school." A printed obituary for Amos Lawrence is affixed to the letter.
      1841 April 6 . Abbott Lawrence ALS to [S.?] Lincoln; [Boston, Massachusetts]. (1 page)
    Invitation for Lincoln to join him at an upcoming dinner of the Harmonic Society.
      1844 February 28 . Abbott Lawrence ALS to Mace Tisdale; Park Street. (3 pages)
    Condolence letter for the loss of Tisdale's son. "I do not know an individual who possessed more real friends, and those who knew him best, loved him most."
      1847 July 2 . Abbott Lawrence ALS to [Wm?] Ropes; Park Street, [Boston, Massachusetts]. (1 page)
    Is returning a letter and including one from the writer's brother. "This young man, I think most remarkable talents for teaching, and I doubt if there is a school to be found in this country, more remarkable than his under his teachings." Encourages Ropes to visit the Mather School in South Boston. Mentions Mr. Jefferies's son, attending Andover Academy.
      1847 September 7 . Abbott Lawrence ALS to B[enjamin] B[rown] French; Boston, [Massachusetts]. (1 page)
    Urges that a cotton mill be constructed and will "prove to be a permanent instrument of prosperity to your whole population." Cannot donate money to the mill. "The truth is I am full of all these things, and I fear that I shall be forced to borrow money to finish my present engagements before the end of the year."
      1848 August 14 . Abbott Lawrence ALS to Joshua Bates; Boston, [Massachusetts]. (3 pages)
    Letter of introduction for William W. Corcoran, who will be visiting London to negotiate "a portion of the Loan lately created by the United States." Current debt is between 100 and 120 million dollars. American prosperity and why America can fulfill, "even the luxurious and avaricious wants of man." "I am aware but little is known in England of the real condition of this country." Beliefs about the British public's view of America. "I look upon this Government as the most safe and permanent to be found in Christendom." He strongly believes that the country will be able to pay off the debt quickly.
      1849 July 3 . Amos Lawrence ALS to Rev. Moore; Boston, [Massachusetts]. (2 pages)
    Has arrived home safely. Will send a parcel of books for the reverend and his wife. "Our visit to Amherst and Medford is a bright spot in our memory: we lived a long time in a few days, measured by our enjoyment & altho I experienced a kindly touch from the water that kept me homed thro the Sabbath, this disappointment perhaps saved me from something worse."
      1852 March 8 . Amos A[dams] Lawrence ALS; Boston, [Massachusetts]. (2 pages)
    Respecting the placement of four brick houses to be built on their land at Longwood. Query regarding a depot. David Sears Jr. and Sr. Building will begin as soon as the supplies are settled.
      1852 October 28 . Amos A[dams] Lawrence ALS; s.l. (2 pages)
    Discussing the placement of a depot off the Brookline branch.
      1852 December 17 . Abbott Lawrence ALS to Theodore Sedgwick; Boston, [Massachusetts]. (3 pages)
    Replies to the "question respecting the sending an Agent abroad for the purposes you have indicated." "The best man I know to carry out your views in Europe is Mr. John C. B. Davis late Secretary of the Legation of the United States in London." Mr. Davis's qualifications.
      1853 August 12 . Abbott Lawrence ALS to Prof[essor] Packard; Boston, [Massachusetts]. (2 pages)
    Is sending "a copy of the note from the Secretary of the 'British and Foreign Bible Society' with the original List of Bibles." Requests an acknowledgment to send to the Secretary. Written on mourning stationary.
      1854 June 6 . A[mos] A[dams] Lawrence ALS to Judge Hopkinson; Boston, [Massachusetts]. (2 pages)
    Filling in the tidal marshes between the Brighton Branch and the Brookline Branch railroads. Who is to pay for the construction? Bathers in the creek are a nuisance.
      1856 August 30 . Amos [Adams] Lawrence ALS to Rev[erend] Bigelow; s.l. (1 page)
    Forwarding a document of interest to the Reverend. He received it from "a youth visiting Groton"-a Presbyterian clergyman's son. Concerning the "Old Presbyterian Society."
      1859 July 26 . Amos A[dams] Lawrence ALS to [Ginery] Twichell; Boston, [Massachusetts]. (1 page)
    To the President of the Boston and Worcester Railroad. Is unable to contact the "Albany Troy & Rochester buyers." "But under anything like the present arrangement have we no hope of ever recovering that great trade."
      1859 December 1 . Amos A[dams] Lawrence ALS to [Ginery] Twichell; s.l. (3 pages)
    Relates that plans have been made to create a skate park on the marshes near the Brookline Branch. Estimates and expenses have been drawn up. "The number of skaters from Boston will be larger this year that last as the lake on the pub. Garden will be required for the Irish."
      [1860?] February 7 . Amos A[dams] Lawrence ALS to Mr. Converse; s.l. (1 page)
    Wants to pay a share of "any expense incurred by the Board of Trade just as much as tho. I were a member." "The Boston N. Eng. Movement requires some one to work at it all the time." "I think we shall come up in time & have the right feeling about N. Eng., int, & State advancement. Perhaps it will be strong enough to 'pierce the Mountain.'"
      [1860?] April 2 . Amos A[dams] Lawrence ALS; s.l. (1 page)
    Mr. Saltonstall is a "good representative of the Bay State." "The Amer. Sentiment ought to be represented & Devereux is a good man."
      1860 November 20 . Amos A[dams] Lawrence ALS to W[illia]m Aspinwall; Cottage Farm. (3 pages)
    Is unable to attend a committee meeting because he must attend the funeral of a family member. Recommends an open square to be "in the midst of the Pearl Place settlement, where the land is now most uninviting, & where the population is most confined." It is necessary to grade streets and establish "a system of street cleanliness as shall prevent that growing neighborhood from becoming a great & permanent disgrace to the fair character of our Town." Taxes and public parks. Mr. Sears, his land, and his park.
      1861 August 24 . Amos A[dams] Lawrence ALS to [Ginery] Twichell; s.l. (1 page)
    Delays in sending the deed until the boundary lines can be examined. Deliberations over the name of the station: Chapel Station versus Carlton Street Station
      1861 August 30 . Amos A[dams] Lawrence ALS; s.l. (3 pages)
    David Sears's opinions of "Chapel Station" and Sunday worshippers. Thoughts on the church. Progress on draining the marshes.
      1861 October 30 . Amos A[dams] Lawrence ALS; s.l. (2 pages)
    Design of the "Chapel Station" sign. The marshes and movement of a culvert.
      1875 May 26 . Amos A[dams] Lawrence ALS to S[amuel] C[rocker] Cobb; Brookline, [Massachusetts]. (3 pages)
    Rev. A. Porter (who operates a charity school in Charleston) and his illness. Cannot participate in Cobb's plain for the S. C. Company.
      1876 July 6 . Amos A[dams] Lawrence ALS to Dr. Earle; Near Boston, [Massachusetts]. (1 page)
    "Mr. Mc Nab a bro. in law of Archibald Buchannan has come to this country for the purpose of taking back his relative to his family. He will go to Northampton immediately."
      1885 January 22 . Abbott Lawrence [Lowell?] ALS to Frederic W. Lincoln; s.l. (2 pages)
    Pays his subscription to the Bartholdi Statue
      Undated . Amos Lawrence ALS to [Shawler?] & Bremer; s.l. (3 pages)
    A visit from Father Henson. Goods from a British ship-Black Walnut and other lumber. His son, Amos A.
      Undated . Amos A[dams] Lawrence ALS to Mr. Crow; s.l. (1 page)
    Would like a letter on his views, which "can be used to subserve a very good purpose in giving a direction to the movement now making toward Kansas, & wh. May not be easily controlled." "By doing this you will confer a benefit on hundreds & perhaps thousands of persons here, & in the West."
      Undated . Amos A[dams] Lawrence ALS to [Ginery] Twichell; s.l. (1 page)
    Absence of Dr. Lawrence. Land ownership and the placement of a house on his [Amos's] land. Objections to a gravel train.
      Undated . Amos A[dams] Lawrence ALS to [Ginery] Twichell; s.l. (1 page)
    Carlton Street Station. Measuring of lots. Building plans.
      Undated . Amos A[dams] Lawrence ALS to Miss Smith; s.l. (3 pages)
    Sympathy to her mother. Amos broke his ankle when he fell off a horse. Shoulder injuries. Mentions the "loss" of one eye. "But the Lord will come and limber us up before long, we hope, and believe."
      Undated . Abbott Lawrence ALS to Fairbanks; s.l. (2 pages)
    Unable to attend the meeting of trustees. List of the Dispensary Physicians.
      Undated . Abbott Lawrence ALS to Mr. Davenport; s.l. (1 page)
    Expresses gratitude for having his remarks published.
      Undated . Abbott Lawrence ALS to John Pickering; s.l. (1 page)
    Clipped, closing portion of a letter.
    Additional Descriptive Data

    Transcriptions of some items are housed with the collection.

    Related Materials

    The Clements Library has additional books and pamphlets by or related to the Lawrence family, including:

    Additional manuscripts related to Abbott and Amos Lawrence may be found in other Clements Library manuscript collections, including:


    "Lawrence, Abbott." Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Online Edition. 2012.

    "Lawrence, Amos." Appleton's Cyclopædia of American Biography. James Grant Wilson and John Fiske, eds. Volume III: Grinnell-Lockwood. New York: D. Appleton and Company, 1887. 638-639.

    Zonderman, David A. "Lawrence, Abbott." American National Biography Online. Oxford University Press, 2000. DOI: 10-00962.