Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Josephus Stuart Papers, 1775-1895; bulk 1810-1834

Finding aid created by
Caitlin Marineau, March 2011

Summary Information
Title: Josephus Stuart papers
Creator: Stuart, Josephus, 1787-1828
Inclusive dates: 1775-1895
Bulk dates: 1810-1834
Extent: 91 items (0.5 linear feet)
The Josephus Stuart papers contain correspondence, diaries, and documents related to Stuart's early medical practice and his service with the 29th regiment of the United States Infantry. The collection also includes a series of diaries written by Stuart between 1815 and 1821, which document Stuart's service as chancellor to the U.S. Consulate in London, a visit to former president Thomas Jefferson at Monticello in 1816, and Stuart's experiences operating a steamboat.
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:

1990. M-2596.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information:

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

Preferred Citation:

Josephus Stuart Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The Josephus Stuart papers are arranged in five series:

  • Correspondence
    • Josephus Stuart Correspondence (1810-1824)
    • Gerrit Wendell Correspondence (1826-1834)
  • Diaries
  • Documents
    • Josephus Stuart Documents (1810-[1821])
    • Enoch Leonard Family Documents (1775-1834)
  • Newspapers and Architectural Plans
  • Genealogical Materials


Josephus Bradner Stuart was born on July 26, 1787. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a degree in medicine in 1810, but appears to have spent little time in the medical profession. During the War of 1812 Stuart served as paymaster in the 29th Infantry, and after the war was appointed chancellor to the U.S. Consulate in London, where he served from October 1815 until June 1816. He spent some of this period traveling around Europe, including Ireland, Scotland, the Netherlands, and France.

After returning to the United States, Stuart engaged in several diverse business pursuits, including operating the Walk-in-the-Water , one of the first steamboats on the Great Lakes. Stuart launched the steamboat in 1818, and for the next three years it made regular runs between Buffalo and Detroit. His other pursuits included acting as an agent for William Temple Franklin, Benjamin Franklin’s grandson, and for Francis Cazeau, a French citizen who presented a claim for Revolutionary War reparations to Congress fpr the period when Cazeau lived in Canada. In addition, Stuart speculated in land in Ohio, ran a saw mill and store in Sandusky, Ohio, and attempted to open a branch of the Bank of the United States in Albany. After 1819, Stuart’s finances took a turn for the worse as the result of the Panic of 1819 and of a series of lawsuits involving him. Stuart and his wife, Ann Leonard, eventually settled in Jamesville, New York, where he worked in farming, distilling, and milling. He was admitted to the bar in 1821, and worked as an attorney until his death on January 28th, 1828.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Josephus Stuart collection contains 34 letters, dated 1810-1834, the majority of which belonged to Stuart, though six letters are addressed to Gerrit Wendell, a Washington county judge and former member of the New York state senate. In addition, the collection contains 38 documents, nine of which are associated with Stuart's father-in-law, Enoch Leonard. Several of the papers deal with Stuart's early medical practice, including a letter regarding research related to Stuart's medical thesis, which was a defense of cutaneous absorption. Other documents concern Stuart's military service with the 29th regiment, United States Infantry, including his commission as paymaster, signed by President James Madison.

Of primary significance are Stuart's eight diaries, written from 1815 to 1821. The early diaries document Stuart's period as chancellor to the U.S. Consulate in London. He records the sea voyage, as well his observations of English life and customs, often unfavorably comparing them with his views on conditions in America. The diaries also record trips Stuart took to Ireland, Scotland, France, and the Netherlands; he took care to note his observations during his travels, including the landscape, sights, lifestyle, living conditions, economy, and politics. Diaries four and five recount Stuart's return to the United States and include a detailed account of his visit with Thomas Jefferson at Monticello on December 24 and 25, 1816. He recorded Jefferson's views on a wide variety of topics, and made notes on his appearance and home. Also contained within diary five are accounts of Stuart's role as agent for Francis Cazeau, James Monroe's inauguration, travels to Ohio, encounters with Native Americans, and various business transactions, including his steamboat venture. The next several diaries record his experiences running the Walk-in-the-Water , his marriage to Ann Leonard in May 1818, and the beginning of his financial troubles in 1819. In the last diary (#8), Stuart had settled in Jamesville, New York, as an attorney. The last month of the diary records the loss of the steamboat, which ran aground during a gale in 1821.

Also included in the collection are a set of architectural plans by noted New York architect Philip Hooker. Hooker designed a house for Stuart in 1818, which was apparently never built; the plans are contained within a small booklet. The Stuart papers also have eleven items related to family genealogy, and three 1810 New York newspapers.

Subject Terms

    • Architecture--New York (State)
    • Europe--Description and travel.
    • Hooker, Philip, 1766-1836.
    • Indians of North America--Ohio.
    • Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826.
    • Ohio--Description and travel.
    • Steamboats--History.
    • United States--History--War of 1812.
    • Walk-in-the-Water (Ship)
    Genre Terms:
    • Building plans.
    • Diaries.
    • Genealogies.
    • Letters (correspondence)
    • Military records.
    • Newspapers.
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Correspondence [series]
    Josephus Stuart Correspondence [subseries]
    Box   1 Folder   1
     17 December 1810-10 December 1813
    Box   1 Folder   2
     2 April 1815-6 June 1817
    Box   1 Folder   3
     26 September 1817-14 March 1818
    Box   1 Folder   4
     17 March 1818-9 May 1818
    Box   1 Folder   5
     16 May 1818-12 October 1818
    Box   1 Folder   6
     19 June 1819-3 January 1824
    Box   1 Folder   7
     4 February 1824-4 December 1824
    Gerrit Wendell Correspondence [subseries]
    Box   1 Folder   8
     12 July 1826-16 January 1834
    Box   1 Folder   9
     20 January 1834-14 March 1834
    Diaries [series]
    Box   1 Folder   10
    1: Josephus B. Stuart,  8 October 1815-12 December 1815
    Box   1 Folder   10
    2: Josephus B. Stuart,  13 December 1815-19 January 1816
    Box   1 Folder   11
    3: Josephus B. Stuart,  20 January 1816-2 April 1816
    Box   1 Folder   11
    4: Josephus B. Stuart,  3 April 1816-24 December 1816
    Box   1 Folder   12
    5: Josephus B. Stuart,  24 December 1816-3 December 1817
    Box   1 Folder   12
    6: Josephus B. Stuart,  4 December 1817-20 November 1818
    Box   1 Folder   13
    7: Josephus B. Stuart,  1 January 1819-31 March 1821
    Box   1 Folder   13
    8: Josephus B. Stuart,  1 April 1821-24 November 1821
    Documents [series]
    Josephus Stuart Documents [subseries]
    Box   1 Folder   14
     18 April 1810-31 December 1813    [Note: Several items housed in Oversize Manuscripts]
    Box   1 Folder   15
     31 March 1814-10 April 1817    [Note: Several items housed in Oversize Manuscripts]
    Box   1 Folder   16
    [ 1824]    [Note: Several items housed in Oversize Manuscripts]
    Enoch Leonard Family Documents [subseries]
    Box   1 Folder   17
     24 January 1789-29 December 1810    [Note: One item housed in Oversize Manuscripts]
    Box   1 Folder   18
     3 October 1817-17 January 1834
    Newspapers and Architectural Plans [series]
    Box   1 Folder   19
    Genealogical Materials [series]
    Box   1 Folder   20
     8 November 1859-3 October 1895
    Box   1 Folder   21