Guide to the Letters of John R. Thomson, U.S. Senator 1847-1863 MG 367
TABLE OF CONTENTS
52 Park Place
Newark, New Jersey 07102
Contact: NJHS Library
(973) 596-8500 x249
© 2004 All rights reserved.
The New Jersey Historical Society, Publisher
Inventory prepared by Bob Golon as part of the “Farm to City” project funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.
Finding aid encoded by Danielle Kovacs. February 2004. Production of the EAD 2002 version of this finding aid was made possible by a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Finding aid written in English.
John Renshaw Thomson was born in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania on September 25, 1800. He attended common schools in Princeton, New Jersey, then attended and graduated from Princeton University. Upon graduation, Thomas went to work for a large importing company, and was sent to China in 1817 to represent that company as a tea trader in the port city of Canton. President James Monroe appointed Thomas as the United States Consul for the port of Canton from 1823-1825.
Upon returning to the United States, Thomas married and resettled in Princeton. He was one of the first to advocate the construction of the Delaware and Raritan Canal, and became its first director and secretary. Thomas would serve on the board of directors of the canal until his death.
A staunch Democrat, Thomas became involved in politics in the 1830s, and was a member of the New Jersey Constitutional Convention in 1844. He was extremely influential during that process, with many of his proposals being adopted. Thomas then ran unsuccessfully for Governor of New Jersey, also in 1844.
Thomas was elected to the United States Senate in 1853 to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of his brother-in-law, Commodore Robert F. Stockton. He was reelected to serve a full term as U.S. Senator in 1857. While serving in the Senate, Thomas was Chairman of the Committee on Patents and the Patent Office, and was also a member of the Committee on Pensions. Thomas died in office on September 12, 1862 and is buried in the Princeton Cemetery.
This collection contains autograph letters signed by John R. Thomson, spanning the years 1847-1863. Three of the letters are not dated, including two that were co-written by Thomson and William Wright. Wright served New Jersey as a member of both the United States House of Representatives and the United States Senate between 1843 and 1866.
Eight of the letters consist of requests and recommendations on behalf of various individuals for positions in agencies such as U.S. Customs, the United States Navy, and the Port of New York. One letter, addressed to W.B. Burtrell, asks for Burtrell’s resignation from government service over some differences in opinion on New York Navy Yard policy. The remaining seven letters are mainly general in nature; they acknowledge communications from and requests by others, with one letter that expresses sympathy to a bereaved family.
Of note is one letter written by Thomson dated December 31, 1863, even though he died in 1862. It is most probable that Mr. Thomson misdated the letter.
This collection is arranged chronologically with undated letters filed at the end.
There are no access restrictions on this collection.
Photocopying of materials is limited and no materials may be photocopied without permission from library staff.
Researchers wishing to publish, reproduce, or reprint materials from this collection must obtain permission.
The New Jersey Historical Society complies with the copyright law of the United States (Title 17, United States Code), which governs the making of photocopies or other reproductions and protects unpublished materials as well as published materials.
For collections related to John R. Thomson at The New Jersey Historical Society, see:
This collection should be cited as: Manuscript Group 367, John R. Thomson Letters, The New Jersey Historical Society.
Gift, in part, of the NJHS Women’s Branch, 1957.
Researchers using this collection may have some difficulty discerning the content of the letters due to the illegibility of the handwriting.
Cyclopedia of New Jersey Biography. New York City: The American Historical Society,
New Jersey Biographical Dictionary. vol.2. St. Clair Shores, Michigan: Somerset Publishers