Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Andrew Billings Papers, 1776-1806

Finding aid created by
Rob S. Cox, October 1997

Summary Information
Title: Andrew Billings papers
Creator: Van Cortlandt family
Inclusive dates: 1776-1806
Extent: 8 items
Abstract:
The Andrew Billings papers contain letters concerning his business transactions, hardships in raising troops for the Revolution, the poor business climate of the early national period, the scarcity of money, and the new laws concerning the abolition of primogeniture. He also outlines an idea for creating a co-operative among Poughkeepsie-area merchants.

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:

Donated by Mrs. John Cuneo, 1985. M-2199o.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.

Copyright:

No copyright restrictions.

Preferred Citation:

Andrew Billings papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Biography

Pierre Van Cortlandt (1721-1814) was one of the aristocrats of the Hudson Valley, presiding from his estate near Croton, N.Y. His marriage to Joanna Livingston united two of the Valley's elite lineages, and his connections to the Schuylers and other prominent families ensured his standing.

Despite British efforts to win his support during the Revolution, Van Cortlandt sided with the colonists, accepting a commission as Colonel of the 3rd Regiment, Westchester Militia. Following the war, he was rewarded for this prescient choice, becoming the first Lieutenant Governor of New York state, and for many years thereafter, he was a loyal supporter of the political titan, George Clinton. Van Cortlandt was noted for his graciousness and hospitality.

After the war, Pierre's son, Gilbert, entered into a business partnership with a fellow Revolutionary veteran and relative, Andrew Billings. The partnership proved to be both brief and unfruitful. Gilbert's death, some time before 1790, apparently left Billings saddled with expenses, leaving him to plead with Pierre and later, Pierre, Jr., to help settle the debt.


Collection Scope and Content Note

The Andrew Billings papers contain six letters written by Andrew Billings, two of which are addressed to Pierre Van Cortlandt, Sr., three to Pierre Van Cortlandt, Jr., and one to Gilbert Van Cortlandt, Pierre's son and Billings' partner in the failed firm, Cortlandt, Billings & Co. The collection also includes two account sheets and a letter written by Gilbert during the Revolution, probably addressed to Pierre Van Cortlandt, Sr.

Three letters in the Billings Papers are of substantial interest beyond the information they provide on the business transactions of the Van Cortlandt and Billings families. In the first, dated March 6, 1776, Billings discusses his hardships in raising troops in Westchester County. In the later two letters, dated June 15, 1785, and October 16, 1790, he bemoans the poor business climate of the early national period, the scarcity of money, and the new laws concerning the abolition of primogeniture. In the 1785 letter, he also outlines an interesting idea for creating a co-operative among Poughkeepsie-area merchants.

Subject Terms

    Subjects:
    • Debtor and creditor--New York (State)
    • Merchants--New York (State)
    • New York (State)--Economic conditions--18th century.
    • United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783--Recruiting and enlistment.
    Contents List
       Container / Location    Title
    Box   1, Small Collections  
    Andrew Billings papers,  1776 March 6-1806 December 27 [series]:
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Related Materials

    Collections relating to the Van Cortlandt family are housed in several institutions, including Van Cortlandt Manor, Pierre Van Cortlandt's estate and the New York Historical Society.

    Partial Subject Index
    Billings, Andrew
    • 1793 May 11
    • 1794 September 14
    • 1806 June 21
    • 1806 December 27
    Debtor and creditor--New York (State)
    • 1793 May 11
    • 1790 October 16
    • 1794 September 14
    • 1806 June 21
    • 1806 December 27
    Jews--New York (State)
    • 1790 October 16
    Merchants--New York (State)
    • 1785 June 15
    • 1790 October 16
    • 1794 September 14
    • 1806 June 21
    • 1806 December 27
    New York (State)--Economic conditions--18th century
    • 1785 June 15
    • 1790 October 16
    New York (State). Militia
    • 1776 March 6
    Prices--New York (State)
    • 1785 June 15
    • 1790 October 16
    Primogeniture--New York (State)
    • 1790 October 16
    United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783--Recruiting, enlistment, etc.
    • 1776 March 6