This volume, titled "Puerile Essays addressed to the Philomathian Society," contains 11 essays (93 pages) composed by Joseph Hopkinson for the Philomathian Society of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and for other debating societies between March 17, 1787, and October 1789. He discussed a variety of topics related to contemporary American social customs, such as dancing, happiness, the desirability of luxury, family relationships, and astronomy.
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
The collection is open for research.
Copyright status is unknown
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.
Lathrop C. Harper gave the book to Randolph G. Adams around 1930. Adams donated the book to the Clements Library in 1937.
Joseph Hopkinson, Puerile Essays , William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan
Joseph Hopkinson, the son of Francis Hopkinson (1737-1791) and Ann Borden, was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, on November 12, 1770. Hopkinson graduated from the College of Philadelphia (now the University of Pennsylvania) in 1786. Following his admittance to the bar in 1791, he briefly practiced law in Easton before returning to Philadelphia, where he participated in several high-profile trials. Hopkinson was elected as a Federalist to the United States House of Representatives between 1815 and 1819, and practiced law in Bordentown, New Jersey, between 1820 and 1822, during which time he served as a member of the New Jersey General Assembly. In 1828, he was appointed a federal judge for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, a position he held until his death in Philadelphia on January 15, 1842. He and his wife, Emily Mifflin, had nine children.
Collection Scope and Content Note
This volume, titled "Puerile Essays addressed to the Philomathian Society," contains 11 essays (93 pages) composed by Joseph Hopkinson for the Philomathian Society of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and for other debating societies between March 17, 1787, and October 1789. He discussed a variety of topics related to contemporary American social customs, such as dancing, happiness, the desirability of luxury, family relationships and astronomy.
Joseph Hopkinson joined the Philomathian Society on March 14, 1787, and left in June 1788, shortly after the Philomathians joined with the Commercial Society to form the Literary and Commercial Society. The essays, each between 5 and 12 pages long, record Hopkinson's views on a diverse array of topics, many of which reflect contemporary social customs and concerns. Hopkinson defended dancing as a method to develop gracefulness and good health, denounced the development of national prejudices, and discussed development of customs as individual habits and as societal norms. He reflected on the idea of universal happiness, suggesting that it is tied to wealth, and supported the pursuit of luxury as a desirable moral aim. Two essays pertain to relationships between parents and their children, and one briefly relates the history of astronomy. Though Hopkinson left the literary society in 1788, he continued to compose essays until October 1789. In one piece, addressed to the Belles Lettres Society, Hopkinson gave his negative opinion of juvenile debating societies, arguing that they foster disagreement rather than promote original thought. In another, he countered an argument about the desirability of periodical publications, originally presented by a man named Wilkins.
The volume has Randolph G. Adams's bookplate. An obituary for Major Charles Biddle Hopkinson, Joseph Hopkinson's grandson, is pasted in the inside front cover.
Astronomy--History--Early works to 1800.
Debates and debating--Societies, etc.
Happiness--Early works to 1800.
Parent and child.
Philomathian Society (Philadelphia, Pa.)
United States--Social life and customs--1783-1865.
Clippings (information artifacts)
Container / Location
Joseph Hopkinson Puerile Essays addressed to the Philomathian Society [series]
"On Astronomy," March 17, 1787
"On Dancing," April 7, 1787
"On Custom," June 2, 1787
"On the advantage of allowing Children Reasonable Amusements," July 21, 1787
"Happiness[:] Not equal and universal," undated
"The Folly and Absurdity of National Prejudice," undated
"On the Affections subsisting between Parent and Child," February 9, 1788
"A Defence of Luxury," May 3, 1788
"The Disadvantages of Juvenile Societies," delivered before the Belles Lettres Society, July 25, 1789
"On Solitude," September 1789
"A Reply to an Essay read by Mr. W[ilkin]s," October 1789
Additional Descriptive Data
The Clements Library holds additional works by and about Joseph Hopkinson. The following manuscript collections contain manuscripts by Joseph Hopkinson: