Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
John Cooper Papers, 1828-1859

Finding aid created by
Meg Hixon, August 2011

Summary Information
Title: John Cooper papers
Creator: Cooper, John, 1799-1863
Inclusive dates: 1828-1859
Bulk dates: 1828-1842
Extent: 0.5 linear feet
The John Cooper papers contain letters written by John Cooper, Sr., of Easton, Pennsylvania, to his son, John Cooper, Jr., in which he discussed his land and business interests and his political views.
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:

1987. M-2351.

Access Restrictions:

The collection is open for research.


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:

John Cooper Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


Most letters in the collection are bound in a series of bundles, holding roughly 6-20 items each. The bundles are arranged chronologically.


John Cooper was born in 1764 in New Jersey. He and his wife, Mary, lived in Easton, Pennsylvania, and had at least one son, John Cooper Jr., born on May 26, 1799. John Jr., moved to Erwin, New York, and later founded the village of Coopers Plains, northwest of the town. The younger Cooper died on October 23, 1863. He and his wife Elizabeth had at least seven children.

Collection Scope and Content Note

This collection consists almost exclusively of correspondence written by John Cooper, Sr., of Easton, Pennsylvania, to his son, John Cooper, Jr., of Erwin (and later Coopers Plains), New York. Cooper's correspondence often focused on land and on business matters, and he frequently mentioned various crops he grew. Cooper also gave his son business and personal advice; on April 18, 1836, he wrote, "By this time you probably know the fate of your Dam and Saw Mill. If indeed they are swept off by the flood, as we fear, I will pay for the erection of an other [sic]." Though business was a common theme in his letters, Cooper did not shy away from expressing his anti-Jacksonian political views, despite warning his son, "I beg of you to take care what you write & how you write. Political Letters may at any rate now be dispensed with. The die is cast. The vote to the Southwest places the Administration on better ground than before & that cause is gaining ground in every direction" (August 20, 1828).

Examples of Cooper's political correspondence include:

  • December 5, 1829: "In about two days Andrew Jackson must come from behind the fence & I predict a confirmation of the Sentiment which I constantly communicated to you...that he is not a friend of the American System , the essence , Spirit[ual] Substance of American Independence . He can't disguise any longer at any rate."
  • March 28, 1837: "There are several hundred on the poor list & receiving charity in some form. Several of them Leading Politicians. Altho no more deserving the name of Freeman than the Virginia Slaves. Indeed they are unfit for freedom & would be better off, as well as more useful, under the rule of reasonable Masters...I was something of an Abolitionist until I discovered this frightful state of things- able bodied Men & women are ashamed to work; but not to beg & even insult those whose Industry & Economy has enable them to acquire something."
  • March 24, 1839: "Altho I think the claim of Maine is probably right I still think she had better proceed slowly & remember that it is a National question & no State had authority to proceed to a War without she is so Authorized to do by the National authorities. It is too much like the act of an Individual who takes the Law in his own hands... As to a war, I have no idea of it. It would be madness, except as an Ultima Ratio ." [Aroostook War]
  • May 17, 1840: "We have nothing new since I wrote you that I know of Tippecanoe is going ahead at a great rate & will be taken into the Presidential Chair with a great majority as Washington & Jackson had. All seem to think something must be wrong in administration in time of Peace, expending the whole revenue of the Country...With the Purse & the Sword they have nearly nullified our Republican Institutions. I think however that I see the handwriting on the Wall...Nor will we now despair of the Republic."
  • March 17, 1842: "If Jackson should come to my door in the Midst of a Shower of Rain, I would not know how to ask him in; but I would furnish him an umbrella & show him the way..."
Subject Terms

    • Aroostook War, 1839.
    • Easton (Northampton County, Pa.)
    • Jackson, Andrew, 1767-1845.
    • Presidents--United States--Election.
    • United States--Politics and government--1829-1837.
    • United States--Politics and government--1837-1841.
    • Cooper, John, b. 1764.
    Genre Terms:
    • Letters (correspondence)
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   1 Folders   1-14
    John Cooper papers,  April 11, 1828-September 27, 1859, and  undated [series]
    Additional Descriptive Data

    Clayton, W. W. (W. Woodford). History of Steuben County, New York, with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Some of Its Prominent Men and Pioneers. Philadelphia: Lewis, Peck & Co., 1879.