Manuscript Group 540, Samuel Baldwin (1754-1850) Papers, 1780-1849


Documents, Manuscripts, Maps, & Photographs

Manuscript Group 540, Samuel Baldwin (1754-1850)

Papers, 1780-1849 (Bulk dates: March 20-April 20, 1780), 0.1 linear feet / 2 folders
Call Number: MG 540



Baldwin was a native of Newark, New Jersey and a 1770 graduate of the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University).  His diary chronicles the events of March 20 – April 20, 1780 in Charleston, South Carolina, which came under British attack in February of 1780 and fell in May of that year.  After the war, Baldwin returned to Newark.  Also includes an indenture and a promissory note and protest.

Gift of Alex B. Thompson, 1847.

Biographical Note:

Samuel Baldwin was born in 1754 in Newark, New Jersey, one of the nine children of Mary Congar and Nehemiah Baldwin.  His father, a farmer, died in 1769, leaving Samuel money specifically intended to pay for his schooling.  Samuel attended the College of New Jersey (now Princeton University) and graduated in 1770 at the age of 16.  After graduating, he was appointed usher of a local academy in Elizabethtown, New Jersey where Alexander Hamilton was one of his students.

Samuel Baldwin journeyed to Charleston, South Carolina upon the news of a brother’s death, and decided to stay there to open his own school.  In 1780, the British attacked Charleston, and Baldwin joined with other patriots in its defense. He was captured in April of 1780 and was required, like all prisoners, to take an oath of loyalty to the British or face banishment from the city.  Baldwin, being a bachelor and having no immediate family to worry about, refused to take the oath and was exiled from Charleston to the countryside.

After the Revolution was over, Baldwin returned to Charleston before heading back north to Newark where he taught for a number of years.  By 1835, he was retired and living off of his investments.

Samuel Baldwin lived in Newark for the remainder of his life, never married, and died on March 2, 1850 at the age of 95.

Provenance Note:

Alex B. Thompson, with Samuel Baldwin’s permission, donated the diary in this collection to the New Jersey Historical Society in 1847.  The source of the other documents in the collection is unknown.

Scope and Content Note:

The papers consist of two folders of materials dating from 1780-1849. The main document in the papers is the diary of Samuel Baldwin, written from March 20 – April 20, 1780 in Charleston, South Carolina during the British attack on that city.  Baldwin describes such things as British troop movements; the departure of the North Carolina militia as their term of service expired; the sinking of ships; desertion; offensive and defensive preparations; fighting; and the capture and killing of men on both sides.

The diary was transcribed and published in the New Jersey Historical Society Proceedings, Series 1, Volume 2, pages 77-86.

There are only three additional documents in this collection. They are: an indenture for the purchase of land from Ephraim Bolles by Samuel Baldwin, Jr., dated April 4, 1849; a promissory note for $250 from A.C. Ward to Abijah Baldwin, dated 1836; and a related protest of A.C. Ward’s note for A. Baldwin and Caleb W. Bruen, dated September 29, 1837.

Related Collections:

Manuscript Group 123, Jemima Condict (1754-1779) Diary

Manuscript Group 291, Baldwin-Brown-Coe Family Papers (Newark, NJ): Contains letters of Samuel Baldwin

Container List:

Folder Title Dates
1 Diary 1780
2 Legal documents 1836,1849

Processed by Kim Charlton, November 1999 as part of the “Farm to City” project funded by a grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

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