Gideon Lee correspondence (1807-1839, bulk 1823, 1832-1839)

Collection processed and finding aid created by Meg Hixon, September 2012
Manuscripts Division, William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan

Summary Information

Title: Gideon Lee correspondence
Creator: William L. Clements Library
Inclusive dates: 1807-1839
Bulk dates: 1823, 1832-1839
Extent: 0.75 linear feet
Abstract:
This collection is comprised of letters to Gideon Lee, a New York City politician, during his service in the New York State Assembly (1822-1823), as New York City mayor (1833), and in the United States House of Representatives (1835-1837). Lee's correspondents discussed local and national political issues, particularly during the Jackson administration.
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

1977-2003. M-1811, M-1892, M-1901, M-1906, M-1925, M-1939, M-1948, M-1985, M-1996, M-2064, M-2086, M-2145, M-2537, M-4320.1.

Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Copyright

Copyright status is unknown

Processing Information

Cataloging funded by the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). This collection has been processed according to minimal processing procedures and may be revised, expanded, or updated in the future.

Preferred Citation

Gideon Lee Correspondence, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan

Arrangement

The collection is arranged chronologically.

Biography

Gideon Lee was born in Amherst, Massachusetts, on April 27, 1778, the son of Gideon Lee and Lucy Ward. He learned the shoemaking and tanning trades and lived in Worthington, Massachusetts, before moving to New York City and, later, to Georgia. He returned to New York in 1807, where he continued to work in the leather industry. That year, he married Laura Buffington (1790-1818), with whom he had 3 surviving children: Lucy Ward Melvin (b. 1809), Laura Theresa (1813-1840), and Samuel Buffington (b. 1816). Lucy Lee married Samuel Ward (d. 1879).

Gideon Lee married his second wife, Isabella Williamson (b. 1800), in 1823; the two had 4 sons: Gideon (1824-1886), David (b. 1826), Charles Henry (1828-1831), and William Creighton (b. 1830). While living in New York City, he served in the state assembly (1822-1823), on the city's board of aldermen (1828-1830), as the city's mayor (1833), and in the United States House of Representatives (1835-1837). Lee retired in 1836 and moved to Geneva, New York, where he died on August 21, 1841.

Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection (0.75 linear feet) is comprised of letters to Gideon Lee, a New York City politician, during his service in the New York State Assembly (1822-1823), as New York City mayor (1833), and in the United States House of Representatives (1835-1837). Lee's correspondents discussed local and national political issues, particularly during the Jackson administration.

Lee often received letters from New York City residents, who commented on political issues such as commerce, taxation, and the city's infrastructure. Others requested Lee's assistance in securing political appointments or military commissions, and some stated their opinions on proposed bills. Many writers encouraged Lee to support particular pieces of legislation, and some late letters contain the authors' opinions on political patronage. Temperance advocate E.C. Delavan wrote to thank Lee for his donation to the cause (October 11, 1832).

During Lee's term as mayor in 1833, citizens wrote to Lee regarding matters such as gas lighting (January 17, 1833 and February 15, 1833) and public health (January 25, 1833 and June 29, 1833); a correspondent who signed himself "Justice" enclosed a newspaper article alerting Lee, then chief magistrate, to the "very many serious, and shocking abuses" of the city's government (January 10, 1834). Around 15 letters concern the Great Fire of New York City in December 1835, including eyewitness accounts (December 17, 1835 and December 21, 1835); additional letters pertain to federal legislation and financial compensation after the event. During Lee's service in Congress, his letters often focused on national political affairs, such as the Locofocos and foreign relations with countries such as France and Great Britain.

Lee also occasionally received personal letters from his daughters, Lucy Lee Ward and Laura Lee. His son, Samuel Lee, wrote about meeting President Andrew Jackson, whom he deemed an "agreeable pleasant old gentleman" (February 10, 1835). The collection also contains 2 personal letters between Gideon Lee and his first wife, Laura Buffington (June 10, 1807 and January 28, 1818); a letter from his second wife, Isabella Williamson (January 5, 1837); 2 printed letters; a printed address; and a printed invitation.

Subject Terms

Subjects:
  • Equal Rights Party (New York, N.Y.)
  • Gas-lighting--United States--History.
  • Great Fire, New York, N.Y., 1835.
  • Jackson, Andrew, 1767-1845.
  • Lee, Gideon, 1778-1841.
  • Legislators--United States.
  • Mayors--New York (State)--New York.
  • New York (N.Y.)--Commerce.
  • New York (N.Y.)--History--1775-1865.
  • New York (N.Y.)--Politics and government.
  • Public health--New York (State)--New York--History.
  • Taxation--New York (State)
  • United States. Congress. House.
  • United States--Politics and government--1829-1837.
  • Van Buren, Martin, 1782-1862.
Contributors:
  • Delavan, E. C. (Edward Cornelius), 1793-1871.
  • Lee, Gideon, 1778-1841.
  • Lee, Isabella, 1800-.
  • Lee, Laura Buffington, 1790-1818.
  • Lee, Laura, 1813-1840.
  • Lee, Samuel, 1816-.
  • Ward, Lucy Lee, 1809-.
Genre Terms:
  • Circular letters.
  • Invitations.
  • Letters (correspondence)
  • Speeches.

Contents List (Request Materials)

Request materials for use in the Clements Library
Container / Location Title
 
Gideon Lee correspondence [series]
Box   1  
 June 10, 1807-November 25, 1835
Box   2  
 December 4, 1835-April 23, 1836
Box   3  
 May 1, 1836-November 25, 1839

Additional Descriptive Data

Related Materials

Four items have been catalogued separately:

The Lucius Lyon papers hold items by Gideon Lee.

Bibliography

Anderson, Bethany. "Political Fire." The Quarto 29 (Spring/Summer 2008): 5-7.

"Gideon Lee." Heywood Genealogy. Web. 11 June 2013.

"Lee, Gideon." The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography. New York: J. T. White, 1894.

"Lee, Gideon (1778-1841)." Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. Web. 2013 August 7.