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Collection Number: 00063

Collection Title: John MacPherson Berrien Papers, 1778-1938

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held in the Wilson Library at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the World Wide Web. See the FAQ section for more information.


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Size 2.0 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 550 items)
Abstract Lawyer, U.S. senator from Georgia, and U.S. attorney general. Includes legal papers relative to the Florida-Georgia boundary controversy, 1851-1856; financial papers of a rice plantation and farm near Savannah and Clarksville, Ga., respectively; and correspondence (1830-1852) with men prominent in the Jackson administration and in Georgia politics. Also includes papers (1778-1786) relating to the military service during the Revolution of Berrien's father, John Berrien; Civil War letters from Robert Falligant in Virginia and Phil Falligant in Georgia; letter books; a receipt book; and a ledger. Correspondents include John Quincy Adams, George Edmund Badger, Thomas Hart Benton, Francis Preston Blair, Henry Clay, Howell Cobb, George W. Crawford, Hamilton Fish, Richard W. Habersham, James Hamilton Junior, S. D. Ingram, Andrew Jackson, Alexander H. Stephens, George M. Troup, John Tyler, Daniel Webster, Thurlow Weed, and Richard Henry Wilde.
Creator Berrien, John MacPherson, 1781-1856.
Language English
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Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Restrictions to Use
Retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the John MacPherson Berrien Papers #63, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Alternate Form of Material
Available on microfilm.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Cecil B. and Eugenia A. Burroughs, of Savannah, Ga., in May 1945, and purchased from Kenneth W. Rendell, Inc., of Newton, Mass., in August 1974.
Sensitive Materials Statement
Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, the North Carolina Public Records Act (N.C.G.S. § 132 1 et seq.), and Article 7 of the North Carolina State Personnel Act (Privacy of State Employee Personnel Records, N.C.G.S. § 126-22 et seq.). Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to identifiable living individuals represented in this collection without the consent of those individuals may have legal ramifications (e.g., a cause of action under common law for invasion of privacy may arise if facts concerning an individual's private life are published that would be deemed highly offensive to a reasonable person) for which the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill assumes no responsibility.
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The following terms from Library of Congress Subject Headings suggest topics, persons, geography, etc. interspersed through the entire collection; the terms do not usually represent discrete and easily identifiable portions of the collection--such as folders or items.

Clicking on a subject heading below will take you into the University Library's online catalog.

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John MacPherson Berrien was born at Rockingham, N.J., on 23 August 1781, but grew up in Savannah, Ga., after his father, John Berrien, a major in the Continental Army, acquired a number of plantations in Georgia. Berrien attended preparatory school in New York and was graduated from Princeton in 1796. He studied law in the office of Joseph Clay and, after he was admitted to the bar, began to practice in Georgia in 1799. He was elected solicitor of the eastern circuit in 1809 and judge of that same circuit in 1810-1821. He was in the state Senate, 1822-1823, and was elected to the United States Senate as a Democrat in 1824. He served there until 1829 when he accepted appointment as Attorney General under Andrew Jackson. He resigned from Jackson's cabinet on 22 June 1831, as a consequence of the Eaton affair.

Berrien was again elected to the United States Senate as a Whig in 1841. He was a delegate from Georgia to the 1844 Whig National Convention in Baltimore. In May 1845, he resigned his seat in the Senate because of his dissatisfaction with politics in Georgia. He apparently intended to accept an appointment on the Georgia Supreme Court, but his Whig friends in Georgia promptly re-elected him to the Senate seat he had vacated. He served from November 1845 to March 1847, when he was reelected. He resigned from the Senate again in 1852 after the election of Robert Augustus Toombs, then a member of the Constitutional Union Party, to that seat. Berrien had withdrawn from the Whig Party in 1850 and had joined the American or Know-Nothing Party. He presided over the Georgia American Party convention in December 1855 shortly before his death on 1 January 1856.

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The John MacPherson Berrien collection includes legal papers relative to the Florida-Georgia boundary controversy, 1851-1856; financial papers of a rice plantation and farm near Savannah and Clarksville, Ga., respectively; and correspondence (1830-1852) with men prominent in the Jackson administration and in Georgia politics. Also includes papers (1778-1786) relating to the military service during the Revolution of Berrien's father, John Berrien; Civil War letters from Robert Falligant in Virginia and Phil Falligant in Georgia; letter books; a receipt book; and a ledger. Correspondents include John Quincy Adams, George Edmund Badger, Thomas Hart Benton, Francis Preston Blair, Henry Clay, Howell Cobb, George W. Crawford, Hamilton Fish, Richard W. Habersham, James Hamilton Junior, S. D. Ingram, Andrew Jackson, Alexander H. Stephens, George M. Troup, John Tyler, Daniel Webster, Thurlow Weed, and Richard Henry Wilde.

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Contents list

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938.

About 545 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Legal, financial, and political papers of John MacPherson Berrien with scattered items of family and correspondence. Legal papers are found throughout this series, among them briefs and notes on cases written in Berrien's hand, legal documents dealing with members of the family or clients, and correspondence dealing with matters of law. There is a large amount of material on the Florida-Georgia boundary controversy, chiefly 1851-1855, Berrien being solicitor for Georgia when the case came before the U.S. Supreme Court. Financial material consists of bills, receipts, accounts, and correspondence relative to Berrien's personal expenditures, his rice plantation near Savannah, and his farm near Clarkesville, Ga.

Materials prior to the 1830s are bills, receipts, and legal papers, with a few papers about the Revolutionary War service of Berrien's father, Major John Berrien (1778-1786). There is some correspondence concerning various appointments, business and legal matters, and slaves. The political emphasis of the papers begins with Berrien's activities as Attorney General in 1829 and continues to his death in 1856. The cabinet crisis and Jackson's popularity are frequent topics. The leading political figures, national affairs, the controversy over the Florida-Georgia boundary, secession, nullification, the Whigs, the American Party, slavery (chiefly 1848-1852), agriculture, and Berrien's legal activities are discussed. Correspondence with men prominent in the Jackson administration and in Georgia occurs primarily from 1830 to 1852 and includes such correspondents as John Quincy Adams, George Edmund Badger, Thomas Hart Benton, Francis Preston Blair, Henry Clay, Howell Cobb, George W. Crawford, Hamilton Fish, Richard W. Habersham, James Hamilton Junior, S. D. Ingram, Andrew Jackson, Alexander H. Stephens, George M. Troup, John Tyler, Daniel Webster, Thurlow Weed, and Richard Henry Wilde.

During the Civil War period, there are some letters from Robert and Phil Falligant to their mother. Falligant family papers are scattered throughout the series from 1807 to 1855 and form the bulk of the correspondence from 1856 to 1876. The papers from 1880 to 1938 are those of Lawrence Cecil Berrien, John M. Berrien's son, and his family and are generally concerned with legal and family matters. Undated genealogical material, concerning the Berrien and Falligant families and undated correspondence is filed after the correspondence. There are also a number of undated legal papers and speeches. The legal papers include briefs and notes concerning the Florida-Georgia boundary dispute and various cases in which Berrien participated. Many of the notes are in Berrien's hand. There are also some copies of wills and bonds. The speeches are also in Berrien's hand and are largely of political nature.

Folder 1

1778-1785 #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 1

Folder 2

1786-1798 #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 2

Folder 3

1800-1809 #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 3

Folder 4

1812-1819 #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 4

Folder 5

1820-1827 #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 5

Folder 6

1828-1829 #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 6

Folder 7

1830 #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 7

Folder 8

1831 January-May #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 8

Folder 9

1831 June-August #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 9

Folder 10

1831 September-December #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 10

Folder 11

1832-1833 #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 11

Folder 12

1834 #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 12

Folder 13

1835-1837 #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 13

Folder 14

1838-1839 #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 14

Folder 15

1840 #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 15

Folder 16

1841 #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 16

Folder 17

1842 #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 17

Folder 18

1843 #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 18

Folder 19

1844 January-May #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 19

Folder 20

1844 June-December #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 20

Folder 21

1845 January-March #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 21

Folder 22

1845 April-August #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 22

Folder 23

1845 September-December #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 23

Folder 24

1846 #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 24

Folder 25

1847 January-July #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 25

Folder 26

1847 August-December #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 26

Folder 27

1848 #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 27

Folder 28

1849 January-May #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 28

Folder 29

1849 June-October #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 29

Folder 30

1849 November-December #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 30

Folder 31

1850 January-April #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 31

Folder 32

1850 May-September #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 32

Folder 33

1850 October-December #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 33

Folder 34

1851 January-May #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 34

Folder 35

1851 June-December #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 35

Folder 36

1852 #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 36

Folder 37

1853 January-April #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 37

Folder 38

1853 May-December #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 38

Folder 39a

1854 January-June #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 39a

Folder 39b

1854 July-August #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 39b

Folder 40

1854 September-December #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 40

Folder 41

1855-1857 #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 41

Folder 42

1860-1876 #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 42

Folder 43

1882-1899 #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 43

Folder 44

1900-1938 and genealogical notes #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 44

Folder 45

Undated letters #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 45

Folder 46

Undated papers pertaining to Florida boundary #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 46

Folder 47

Undated miscellaneous #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 47

Folder 48-52

Folder 48

Folder 49

Folder 50

Folder 51

Folder 52

Undated legal cases and notes #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 48-52

Folder 53

Fragments #00063, Series: "1. Correspondence and Related Materials, 1778-1938." Folder 53

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Volumes, 1825-1849.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Pictures, Undated.

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Processing Information

Processed by: Suzanne Ruffing, July 1996

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

This collection was processed with support from the Randleigh Foundation Trust.

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