The John Magee collection is made up of correspondence, financial records, and legal documents related to Magee, a United States representative from Bath, New York, and later Watkins, New York. The material primarily pertains to his business interests and to contemporary politics.
The Correspondence series contains around 200 incoming letters to John Magee from 1824 to 1867. Some of the earliest correspondence regards political issues, including a series of letters about a proposed post office in Lodi, New York, in 1830. Congressman Edward Howell wrote to Magee about national politics and James K. Polk after Magee's return to New York in the early 1830s. Some of the later letters (1850s) respect New York State political issues. One writer, George F. Freer, speculated on the economic effects of a "threatened war with England" (June 1, 1858).
The majority of Magee's correspondents discussed business and financial affairs, including Magee's involvement with railroad construction in New York and Michigan, and interests in lumbering, milling, and banking. The bulk of the correspondence ends in 1859, and is followed by a group of 4 letters to Magee dated in 1867.
The Documents series is comprised of around 140 manuscript and partially printed legal and financial documents related to John Magee, the Watkins family of Naples, New York, and other residents of the Finger Lakes region. Many of the earliest items (1820s) pertain to Magee's duties as Steuben County sheriff. Other materials include a business partnership agreement, deeds for lands in New York, a list of proposed stagecoach lines, a document regarding the purchase of a steamboat, and items related to railroad companies in New York and Michigan.