Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Ebenezer Hoar Papers, 1852-1875

Duane Norman Diedrich Collection

Finding aid created by
Rob S. Cox, July 1996

Summary Information
Title: Ebenezer Hoar papers
Creator: Hoar, Ebenezer, 1816-1895
Inclusive dates: 1852-1875
Extent: 16 items
The Hoar collection consists mainly of letters written by Ebenezer Rockwood Hoar to William Maxwell Everts. Both men were distinguished attorneys in the mid-19th century. The letters regard political topics of the time, and especially the United States Supreme Court.
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:

Donated by D. N. Diedrich, 1985. M-2244.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown.

Preferred Citation:

Ebenezer Hoar Papers, Duane Norman Diedrich Collection, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan.


Ebenezer Rockwood Hoar and William Maxwell Evarts were among the most distinguished attorneys of the mid-19th century, both rising to the position of Attorney-General. Hoar (1816-1895), was born in Concord, Mass., the son of Samuel Hoar and Sarah Sherman. An 1835 graduate of Harvard (Law, 1839), he entered into public life during the waning years of the Whig Party. A strong antislavery man, Hoar left the Whigs to joined the Free Soil Party in 1848, and ultimately became a Republican. He was appointed a judge of common pleas in 1849, resumed private law practice in 1855, and from 1859 to 1869 was an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Massachusetts. He became Attorney-General under Ulysses S. Grant in 1869, but when nominated for a seat on the Supreme Court in 1870, his insistence that circuit court positions be filled on merit rather than patronage led to his rejection in the Senate. He served a single term in Congress, 1873-75, then retired to Concord. He married Caroline Downes Brooks in 1840 and they had seven children.

Hoar's first cousin, William Maxwell Evarts (1818-1901), was the son of Jeremiah and Mehitabel (Sherman) Barnes Evarts. Born in Boston, he graduated from Yale in 1837, was admitted to the New York bar in 1841, and in 1843, married Helen Minerva Wardner of Windsor, Vt. They had twelve children. A Whig in politics, Evarts supported the legality of the Fugitive Slave Act (1850), but in 1855, gave one-quarter of his assets to the Emigrant Aid Company, an abolitionist cause. In 1860 he chaired the New York delegation to the Republican national convention, but was defeated by Ira Harris for a senate seat from New York in 1861. He was twice sent to England on diplomatic missions, 1863-64, seeking to stop the building and equipping of Confederate naval vessels. His superb defense of Andrew Johnson during the 1868 impeachment trial led to his appointment as Attorney-General which position he held through the end of Johnson's administration. Among his other famous courtroom trials were his defense of Henry Ward Becher in Tilton vs. Beecher (1875) and his counsel for the Republican Party in the Hayes vs. Tilden election dispute (1877). He died in New York City.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Ebenezer Hoar papers span twenty-three years of deep friendship between the distinguished attorneys, Ebenezer Hoar and William M. Evarts, a friendship owing to family ties, and similar professional pursuits and political beliefs. All but one of the letters in this collection was written by Hoar to Evarts. Close in age, they attended different schools, but both entered the legal profession and enjoyed similar political views. Each served several months, in succession, as Attorney-General of the United States.

The letters cover a myriad of political concerns, centered on the turbulent years leading up to the Civil War, the War itself, and Reconstruction. Particularly useful are the insights into political machinations, the personalities of various statesmen, and the intrigues of capturing political appointments. The Supreme Court is especially singled out for detailed commentary.

The collection includes one letter to lawyer Peleg W. Chandler, considered the best jury pleader in Massachusetts in his day.

Subject Terms

    • Lawyers--Massachusetts.
    • United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865.
    • United States. Supreme Court.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   : Duane Norman Diedrich Collection  
    Ebenezer Hoar papers,  1852 March 8-1875 January 29 [series]
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Related Materials

    The Concord Free Public Library in Concord, MA, has a large collection of Hoar Family Papers, 1738-1958 (bulk 1815-1935).

    Partial Subject Index
    Beecher, Henry Ward, 1813-1887
    • 16
    Black, Jeremiah Sullivan, 1810-1883
    • 6
    Boston (Mass.)--Description and travel
    • 6, 12
    Burnside, Ambrose Everett, 1824-1881
    • 6
    Chase, Salmon Portland, 1808-1873
    • 8, 9, 15
    Emerson, Ralph Waldo, 1803-1882
    • 4, 6
    Grant, Ulysses S., 1822-1885
    • 12
    Johnson, Andrew, 1808-1875
    • 10
    Johnson, Andrew, 1808-1875--Impeachment
    • 10
    • passim
    Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865
    • 9
    Merrick, Pliny, 1794-1867
    • 6
    Morton, Marcus, 1784-1864
    • 6
    Presidents--United States--Election--1864
    • 6
    Republican Party
    • 2
    Taney, Roger Brooke, 1777-1864
    • 6, 7
    Thompson, George, 1804-1873
    • 6
    Tudor, Frederic, 1783-1864
    • 6
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865
    • 3, 6
    United States--History--Civil War, 1861-1865--Participation, British
    • 4, 5
    United States. Attorney General
    • 10
    United States. Congress. Senate
    • 3
    United States. Supreme Court
    • 6, 7, 8, 9, 14, 15