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Collection Number: 03291

Collection Title: Benjamin Fitzpatrick Papers, 1819-1892

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 section for more information.


This collection was rehoused under the sponsorship of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Office of Preservation, Washington, D.C., 1990-1992.

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Size 0.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 200 items)
Abstract The collection is chiefly papers of Benjamin Fitzpatrick, along with some papers of his son, Benjamin Jr. (1854-1892). Papers of the elder Fitzpatrick consist of documents relating to his legal practice; plantation records, including receipts and bills of sale for slaves; material from his political career as governor of Alabama, 1841-1844, as U.S. senator and representative from Alabama, 1848-1860, as nominee for the Democratic vice-presidential candidacy in 1860, and attendance at the convention held in Baltimore, Md., that same year; and personal correspondence, including letters from political allies, such as Dixon Hall Lewis, and from Fitzpatrick, Sr., to his wife and son. There are also letters from other members of the Fitzpatrick family, including one describing West Texas in the 1840s. The papers of Benjamin Fitzpatrick Jr., 1854-1892, consist of school compositions and essays he wrote while a student at the Greene Springs School, run by Henry Tutwiler, in Hale County, Ala.; letters to and from his mother, Aurelia Blassingame Fitzpatrick, and other family members; and financial and legal documents relating to his law career.
Creator Fitzpatrick, Benjamin, 1802-1869.
Language English
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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Information For Users

Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Copyright Notice
Copyright is 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 Benjamin Fitzpatrick Papers #3291, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
Alternate Form of Material
All or part of this collection is available on microfilm from University Publications of America as part of the Records of ante-bellum southern plantations from the Revolution through the Civil War, Series J.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Benjamin Fitzpatrick of Jasmine Hill, Wetumpka, Ala. in 1957.
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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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subject Headings

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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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Biographical Information

Benjamin Fitzpatrick, son of William and Anne Phillips Fitzpatrick, was born 30 June 1802 in Greene County, Ga. In 1816, he moved to Alabama, where he studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1823. He retired from the practice of law in 1827 due to ill health and became a successful planter on his estate "Oak Grove" in Autauga (now Elmore) County, a few miles from Montgomery. In 1827, he married Sarah Terry Elmore (1807-1837), member of a prominent Alabama family, and became a brother-in-law by marriage to Dixon Hall Lewis (1802-1848), a powerful states rights advocate in Congress from 1829 to 1848. In 1840, Fitzpatrick campaigned for Martin Van Buren, and was awarded with the Democratic Party's nomination for the governorship of Alabama. He was elected in 1841, and served two terms. In 1844, he retired once again to his Oak Grove plantation, but reentered politics when called upon to fill the U.S. Senate seat of Dixon Lewis, who died in 1848. In 1853, he was once again appointed to fill a U.S. Senate seat, this time that of William Rufus DuVane King, and he was elected for a full term in 1855. In 1860, he was nominated by the National Democratic Convention in Baltimore for vice-president on the Douglas ticket. He refused this nomination. He opposed secession, but supported the Confederate cause. After the outbreak of the Civil War, he retired once more to Oak Grove, where he died on 21 November 1869.

Benjamin Fitzpatrick had several children with Sarah Elmore: Elmore Joseph, Phillips (1830-1901), Morris, James Madison, and John Archer. In 1837, Sarah died, and, in 1846, Fitzpatrick married Aurelia Rachel Blassingame. Their only surviving child was Benjamin Fitzpatrick Jr. (1854-1892).

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

This collection consists chiefly of the business, political, and personal papers of Benjamin Fitzpatrick from 1819 to 1869, including legal and financial documents, letters from his political allies, and other material relating to his political career; and the papers of his son Benjamin Fitzpatrick Jr., consisting of school compositions and speeches, letters from his mother, Aurelia Blassingame Fitzgerald, and other relatives, 1868-1871, and legal and financial documents, 1873-1892. There are also newspaper clippings on Benjamin Fitzpatrick's role in the Baltimore Convention of 1860 and obituaries on his death in 1869, as well a copy of his 1841 inaugural address as governor of Alabama.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series Quick Links

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Benjamin Fitzpatrick.

Business, financial, political, and personal papers of Benjamin Fitzpatrick, 1819-1869, as well as newspaper clippings on his life and reminiscences by members of his family.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.1. Business, Financial, Personal, and Political Papers, 1819-1869.

101 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Business, financial, personal, and political papers consisting of receipts for the purchase of slaves by his nephews, David and William Baldwin; Fitzpatrick's commission as a member of the Alabama state militia in 1823; receipts for the purchase of slaves and land, and for the sale of cotton; documents and correspondence relating to Fitzpatrick's legal practice; a letter dated 1831 from R. Safford regarding Andrew Jackson's election and Cabinet, and the upcoming gubernatorial race in Alabama; and letters to and from various family members, including a letter dated 1849 from A. Fitzpatrick in Arenoso near Texana, Texas, a brother of Benjamin Fitzpatrick, to his nephew Phillips Fitzpatrick, comparing the states of Louisiana and Texas in terms of quality of life and agricultural value, and describing methods of conducting business and setting up a plantation in West Texas.

Fitzpatrick's political papers include a letter from Dixon H. Lewis, 1841, on the state of the Democratic Party in Alabama, Lewis's opinions on abolitionists, various political figures in Washington, the disarray of the Whig Party, and his observations regarding Clement Comer Clay (1789-1866), fellow U.S. Senator from Alabama. There is also a printed copy of Fitzpatrick's inaugural address in 1841, and an original copy and a typed transcription of his second inaugural address in 1843.

For Benjamin Fitzpatrick's U.S. Senate career, there are documents relating to the purchase of a share of the steamboat "Watumpka" in Cincinnati; a letter, presumably by Benjamin Fitzpatrick to a constituent, describing the events leading up the the admission of Kansas to the Union; and a letter from Benjamin Fitzpatrick to Colonel Albert James Pickett (1810-1858) in Autaugaville, Ala., regarding a claim before Congress on behalf of the Creek Indian tribe, asking for his testimony. There is a great deal of material dealing with the Baltimore Convention of 1860 and Fitzpatrick's nomination for vice-president on the Douglas ticket by the National Democratic Convention, including an official letter from the Convention informing him of the nomination; telegrams urging him to accept or reject the offer; and letters to friends explaining his decision to decline and views on the upcoming election.

There are documents from the Civil War years about the embrasure of mules by the Confederate Army, a Confederate bond, records of tax payments for agricultural products, and receipts for the sale of corn to the Confederate Army. There is a typed transcription of a letter Fitzpatrick wrote his son Elmore in Mobile in which he informed his son of prominent northern statesmen who would aid him if captured by the Union Army, and a letter of acknowledgment from the U.S. State Department regarding Fitzpatrick's presidential pardon in 1865. There are also several letters dated 1868 and 1869 to his son Benjamin Fitzpatrick Jr. and his wife Aurelia giving family news. Letters to his son include fatherly advice and news from home while Benjamin Fitzpatrick Jr., was studying under the care of his uncle Albert in Mobile. There are other letters from this period in Series 2.1.

Folder 1

1819-1825 #03291, Subseries: "1.1. Business, Financial, Personal, and Political Papers, 1819-1869." Folder 1

Folder 2

1826-1829 #03291, Subseries: "1.1. Business, Financial, Personal, and Political Papers, 1819-1869." Folder 2

Folder 3

1830-1838 #03291, Subseries: "1.1. Business, Financial, Personal, and Political Papers, 1819-1869." Folder 3

Folder 4

1840-1843 #03291, Subseries: "1.1. Business, Financial, Personal, and Political Papers, 1819-1869." Folder 4

Folder 5

1844-1857 #03291, Subseries: "1.1. Business, Financial, Personal, and Political Papers, 1819-1869." Folder 5

Folder 6

1858-1869 #03291, Subseries: "1.1. Business, Financial, Personal, and Political Papers, 1819-1869." Folder 6

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.2. Newspaper Clippings and Miscellaneous Items, Undated.

15 items.

Newspaper clippings relating to Benjamin Fitzpatrick's nomination as vice-president during the National Democratic Convention in Baltimore in 1860, obituaries, and other clippings about him; a typed transcription of a reminiscence of Fitzpatrick's Oak Grove plantation by his niece Mary Glenn Brickell; and the lyrics to a song by Fitzpatrick's nephew William O. Baldwin called "Wait for the Wagon," on his decision to leave politics and not to run for a seat in the Confederate Congress.

Folder 7

Undated material about Benjamin Fitzpatrick #03291, Subseries: "1.2. Newspaper Clippings and Miscellaneous Items, Undated." Folder 7

Folder 8

Newspaper clippings about Benjamin Fitzpatrick #03291, Subseries: "1.2. Newspaper Clippings and Miscellaneous Items, Undated." Folder 8

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Benjamin Fitzpatrick Jr.

Personal, financial, and legal papers of Benjamin Fitzpatrick Jr., 1868-1892 including school compositions, letters to and from members of his family, and legal and financial documents.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 2.1. School Compositions and Correspondence and Related Items, circa 1868-1872 and undated.

81 items.

Arrangement: roughly chronological.

Benjamin Fitzpatrick Jr.'s school compositions while attending the Greene Springs School near Havana, Hale County, Alabama. This schools was directed by Henry Tutwiler and his daughters. Included are essays, course of readings, speeches, Bible lessons, and a translation from Virgil; a handwritten copy of a song or poem entitled "Little Breeches" by John Hay and copies of two debating society speeches from 1872; a number of letters written to Benjamin Jr., while at the Greene Springs School and in Mobile, mostly undated, from Fitzpatrick's mother Aurelia Blassingame Fitzpatrick, detailing family and neighborhood activities; and several letters from Benjamin Fitzpatrick Jr. to and from his cousins at home and to his mother. Note that there are letters from this period in Series 1.1.

Folder 9

Compositions and speeches, 1872 and undated #03291, Subseries: "2.1. School Compositions and Correspondence and Related Items, circa 1868-1872 and undated." Folder 9

Folder 10

Correspondence, 1870-1872 #03291, Subseries: "2.1. School Compositions and Correspondence and Related Items, circa 1868-1872 and undated." Folder 10

Folder 11

Correspondence, undated (circa 1868-1872) #03291, Subseries: "2.1. School Compositions and Correspondence and Related Items, circa 1868-1872 and undated." Folder 11

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 2.2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1873-1892.

11 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Will of Aurelia Blassingame Fitzpatrick, mother of Benjamin Fitzpatrick Jr.; several promissory notes to various individuals from Benjamin Fitzpatrick Jr.; legal documents relating to his law career; and a list of his solicitor's fees for 1890; a bill for the court costs relating to his will, 1892.

Folder 12

1873-1892 #03291, Subseries: "2.2. Financial and Legal Papers, 1873-1892." Folder 12

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Processing Information

Processed by: Elizabeth Pauk, June 1991

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

This collection was rehoused under the sponsorship of a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Office of Preservation, Washington, D.C., 1990-1992.

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