Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Preston-Woodward Correspondence, 1845-1858

Finding aid created by
Shannon Wait, April 2010, and Meg Hixon, June 2012

Summary Information
Title: Preston-Woodward correspondence
Creator: Woodward, Jackson
Inclusive dates: 1845-1858
Extent: 78 items
The Preston Woodward correspondence contains letters by Paul S. Preston and Jackson Woodward, mainly discussing political topics such as the Mexican-American War, the Locofocos, and elections.
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:

1998, 2002. M-3457, M-4199.3.

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.

Cataloging partly funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC).

Preferred Citation:

Preston-Woodward Correspondence, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The correspondence is arranged chronologically.


Paul S. Preston was born August 24, 1796, in Stockport, Pennsylvania, the son of surveyor Samuel Preston and Marcia Jenkins. He was raised a Quaker. In 1818, he married Henrietta Maria Mogridge (1797-1875). Preston was very active in civic life; he studied law and worked as an attorney and, beginning in 1850, as judge of the court of common pleas of Wayne County. He also established a newspaper, the Wayne County Free Press and Bethany and Honesdale Advertiser, in 1838, and was a commissioner of Honesdale Bank. Preston died in 1874.

Jackson Woodward was born September 1, 1821, in Bethany, Pennsylvania, the son of John Kimball Woodward and Mary Ann Kellogg. For many years, he worked as an attorney in Honesdale, Pennsylvania. In 1854, he married Augusta Manning, and they had at two children, Edward and Amy. Woodward died in 1866.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Preston-Woodward correspondence contains letters written to Jackson Woodward by Paul S. Preston and business letters addressed to Woodward. The earliest items in the collection relate to Nathaniel A. Woodward of Bethany, Pennsylvania. Of these early letters, two from 1836 (also addressed to Jacob Faatz and Lucius Collins) discuss the election of delegates to amend the Pennsylvania state constitution and, to a lesser extent, national politics prior to the 1836 presidential election. The bulk of the collection pertains to Jackson Woodward, a lawyer from Honesdale, Pennsylvania, including incoming business-related correspondence and a personal letter from his brother, W. Woodward. Of particular interest within the collection are 58 letters composed by Paul S. Preston, as well as two by Jackson Woodward, discussing contemporary politics and prominent national and local political figures. Preston, who lived in Stockport, Pennsylvania, often took a scathing and humorous tone, as in his letter of November 29, 1845, in which he claimed that "since the day that the iron willed Tennessean, your illustrious namesake [Andrew Jackson] dressed despotism in the garb of Democracy, there is very little difference between an Emperor and a President."

A number of Preston's letters criticize the Locofocos, a radical wing of the Democratic Party founded in 1835 to protect the interests of workers and oppose monopolies and tariffs. Preston frequently characterized them as hypocritical, as in a letter of February 18, 1847, in which he compared the high salaries paid to Locofocoism's "panderers" and low wages earned by American soldiers fighting in Mexico. Preston also praised the Whig generals in the Mexican-American war as aggressive fighters (October 28, 1847), and included political poetry in several of his letters. His letter of January 2, 1850, contains a humorous petition in verse. Scattered letters concern presidential and midterm elections, and a lengthy letter of January 22, 1851, compares the attitudes of Yankees and Southerners, offering the opinion that the Southerners underestimate their dependence on slaves. On January 7, 1851, Preston criticized the Fugitive Slave Law and expressed his unwillingness "to be turned into a hound to run down a runaway negro."

Although the letters provide a much clearer picture of Preston than Woodward, the two men seemed to have held differing opinions on many issues, including slavery. In one of the two items he wrote, dated September 23, 1852, Woodward defended the Fugitive Slave Law and called abolitionism a "most mischievous, damnable doctrine."

Subject Terms

    • Antislavery movements.
    • Compromise of 1850.
    • Democratic Party (U.S.)
    • Elections--United States.
    • Equal Rights Party (N.Y.)
    • Honesdale (Pa.)
    • Jackson, Andrew, 1767-1845.
    • Lawyers--Pennsylvania.
    • Mexican War, 1846-1848.
    • Pennsylvania--Politics and government--1775-1865.
    • Political parties.
    • Polk, James K. (James Knox), 1795-1849.
    • Slavery.
    • Stockport (Pa.)
    • Tariff--United States.
    • Taylor, Zachary, 1784-1850.
    • United States. Fugitive Slave Law (1850)
    • United States--Politics and government--1815-1861.
    • Wayne County (Pa.)
    • Whig Party (U.S.)
    • Preston, Paul S., 1794-1874.
    Genre Terms:
    • Letters (correspondence)
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   8, Small Collections  
    Preston-Woodward correspondence [series]
    Folder   7  
     July 3, 1845-December 29, 1847
    Folder   8  
     August 3, 1848-December 29, 1849
    Folder   9  
     January 22, 1850-September 19, 1850
    Folder   10  
     October 3, 1850-August 10, 1851
    Folder   11  
     August 15, 1851-November 6 1858
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Related Materials

    The Wayne County Historical Society holds papers of Jackson Woodward.