Manuscripts Division
William L. Clements Library
University of Michigan

Finding aid for
Samuel Sitgreaves Papers, 1800

Finding aid created by
Shannon Wait, May 2010

Summary Information
Title: Samuel Sitgreaves papers
Creator: Sitgreaves family
Inclusive dates: 1800
Extent: 13 items
The Samuel Sitgreaves papers contain letters primarily from Sitgreaves to his sister-in-law concerning observations about European society and politics, as well as descriptions of daily life and travel.
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:

2002. M-4219.1.

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.

Preferred Citation:

Samuel Sitgreaves Papers, William L. Clements Library, The University of Michigan


The letters are arranged chronologically, with undated items at the end.


Samuel Sitgreaves was born March 16, 1764, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, the son of merchant William Sitgreaves, Jr., and Susannah Deshon. Sitgreaves studied law and was admitted to the Philadelphia Bar in 1783, the same year that he married Francenia Allibone. He began practicing law in Easton, Pennsylvania, in 1786. In 1790, he served as a delegate to the state constitutional convention, and was elected to Congress as a Federalist, serving from 1795 until his resignation in 1798. In 1796, after the early death of his first wife, he married Mary Kemper. In 1798, the House of Representatives chose Sitgreaves to conduct impeachment proceedings against Senator William Blount, who had allegedly conspired with a British agent to seize Spanish territory in Florida and Louisiana for the British. In August of the same year, he became a United States commissioner to Great Britain, to hear British debt cases under Article VI of the Jay Treaty. Sitgreaves also served as burgess of Easton, Pennsylvania (1804-1807); treasurer of Northampton County (1816-1819); and president of the Easton Bank (1815-1827). He died April 4, 1827.

Collection Scope and Content Note

The Samuel Sitgreaves papers contain 13 letters written by Sitgreaves during travels around England, France, and the Netherlands. Ten items date from March to November of 1800; Sitgreaves likely also wrote the collection's three undated items during this period, while serving as U.S. commissioner to Great Britain. Sophia Kemper, Sitgreaves' sister-in-law, was the recipient of at least nine of the letters, while two items are Sitgreaves' retained copies of letters to fellow Pennsylvania politician, Thomas FitzSimons. Timothy Pickering is the recipient of an additional letter. Most of the letters are fragmentary, but still substantial.

Letters to Kemper contain rich details of daily life and travel, as well as observations on European society and politics. Two letters describe Sitgreaves' journey from London to Calais, including topics such as the necessity of bribing French officials (May 20, 1800), the sick and dying French expatriates on his ship, and his observations of the scantily-clad peasant women of Calais, which he found "at once distressing and disgusting beyond measure" (May 27, 1800). In many of the letters, he expressed surprise at the poverty of the French and English populations, and particularly the "universal suffering" of the inhabitants of London (November 8, 1800). In other letters, Sitgreave reflected on particular topics, including the English theater, which he attended four nights per week (October 17, 1800) and the State Opening of Parliament by King George III (November 16, 1800).

Sitgreaves' correspondence to FitzSimons relates to foreign relations with France and Great Britain and the ongoing issues arising from the Jay Treaty. In a letter of August 7, 1800, Sitgreaves translated for FitzSimons his letter to the Doctrina et Amicitia , a Dutch patriot society, in which he described the "three Points constitut[ing] the Subject of the Negotiations" with France. In another letter, dated August 12, 1800, he further discussed the group, as well as negotiations with the French regarding ports and asylum, and his suspicions about their motives and desire to influence American politics.

Subject Terms

    • Calais (France)
    • FitzSimons, Thomas, 1741-1811.
    • France--Description and travel.
    • Great Britain--Description and travel.
    • Great Britain. Parliament.
    • Great Britain. Treaties, etc. United States, 1794 Nov. 19.
    • Kemble, John Philip, 1757-1823.
    • London (England)
    • Poor--France.
    • Poor--Great Britain.
    • United States--Foreign relations--1789-1809.
    • United States--Foreign relations--France.
    • United States--Foreign relations--Great Britain.
    • United States--Politics and government--1797-1801.
    • Sitgreaves, Samuel, 1764-1827.
    Genre Terms:
    • Letters (correspondence)
    Contents List
    Container / Location Title
    Box   8, Small Collections  
    Samuel Sitgreaves papers [series]
    Folder   15  
     March 18-November 16, 1800
    Folder   16  
    Additional Descriptive Data
    Related Materials

    The Samuel Sitgreaves collection at the Washington National Cathedral Rare Book Library contains 1,200 books collected by Samuel Sitgreaves.

    The Clements Library holds many items related to the Jay Treaty, including materials in the Thomas Paine papers and the Alexander Wedderburn papers.