Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
William L. Hudson Letter Book, 1850-1851

Finding aid created by
Cheney J. Schopieray, October 2006, and Meg Hixon, June 2012

Summary Information
Title: William L. Hudson letter book
Creator: Hudson, William Leverreth, 1794-1862
Inclusive dates: 1850-1851
Extent: 1 volume
Abstract:
This 126-page letter book contains retained drafts of 20 letters that William L. Hudson wrote to his wife (10 letters), children (7 letters), and acquaintances (3 letters) while serving onboard the USS Vincennes along South America's Pacific Coast and in San Francisco Bay between April 1850 and April 1851. His letters concern his religious convictions, experiences in South America and San Francisco, advice for his family, and business affairs.
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:

1981. M-1971.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Copyright:

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:

William L. Hudson Letter Book, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Biography

William Leverreth Hudson was born in Brooklyn, New York, on May 11, 1794. He joined the United States Navy in 1815, and served onboard the Alert and Ontario in the Mediterranean Sea until 1817. He was later stationed off the coasts of Africa and South America, and at the New York Navy Yard. In 1838, Hudson commanded the Peacock as part of the Charles Wilkes Exploring Expedition, and in 1842, he received a promotion to commander. From 1849 to 1852, he commanded the Vincennes on voyages around the Pacific Ocean, and in 1855 he was commissioned as captain. Between 1856 and 1858, Hudson commanded the Niagara during two attempts to lay a transatlantic telegraph cable, and, in August 1858, he assumed command of the Boston Navy Yard, a position he held until 1862. William L. Hudson died in Brooklyn on October 15, 1862. He and his wife Elizabeth married around 1819 and had twelve children, of whom ten survived: Ann Elisa, Jane, Nell, Sarah, Susan, Nancy, William, James, Stephen, and Jack.


Collection Scope and Content Note

This 126-page letter book contains retained drafts of 20 letters that William L. Hudson wrote to his wife (10 letters), children (7 letters), and acquaintances (3 letters) while serving onboard the U.S.S. Vincennes along South America's Pacific Coast and in San Francisco Bay between April 1850 and April 1851. Hudson's letter book (13"x8") is bound with a canvas cover (15"x9").

Hudson's letters to his wife are often religious and philosophical, and he frequently considered the impact that his career and frequent separation from his family had on his marriage and family life. He also commented on financial affairs. In letters to his children, he offered advice on education, courtship, and careers. During his time on the Vincennes , Hudson wrote from Valparaiso, Chile; Guayaquil, Ecuador; Panama; and San Francisco, California. He described aspects of the local cultures in these areas, including women's lives in Guayaquil, the cost of living in Valparaiso, and political developments in Ecuador. Hudson's letters to acquaintances pertain to business affairs.

One incomplete letter to "my dear Henry," dated April 22, 1863, was laid into this volume. The anonymous author wrote from the U.S.S. Commodore Hull , off Hill's Point, Pamlico River, and described the 18-day Confederate siege of Washington, North Carolina (beginning March 30). The relationship between this Civil War letter and the Hudson letter book is unknown.

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • Ecuador--Politics and government--1830-1895.
    • Families of military personnel.
    • Guayaquil (Ecuador)--Description and travel.
    • Panama--Description and travel.
    • Sailors--Religious life.
    • San Francisco (Calif.)--Description and travel.
    • Separation (Psychology)
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • United States. Navy--Seafaring life.
    • Valparaíso (Chile)--Description and travel.
    • Vincennes (Sloop of war)
    • Washington (N.C.)--Siege, 1863.
    Genre Terms:
    • Letter books
    • Letters (correspondence)
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Volume   1  
    William L. Hudson letter book,  1850-1851 [series]
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Alternate Locations

    One manuscript, originally laid into the volume, is an anonymous, incomplete letter to "my dear Henry," April 22, 1863, written from the U.S.S. Commodore Hull , off Hill's Point, Pamlico River. The author described the 18-day Confederate siege of Washington, North Carolina, beginning March 30. The relationship between this Civil War letter and the Hudson letter book is unknown. It is located in the James S. Schoff Civil War Collection Letters and Documents.

    Bibliography

    Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships. Volume III. Reprint. Washington, D. C.: Navy Department. Office of the Chief of Naval Operations. Naval History Division, 1977.