Collection Number: 00459

Collection Title: James McDowell Papers, 1728-1896

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 Duplication Policy section for more information.


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Size 4.5 feet of linear shelf space (approximately 1900 items)
Abstract Papers of James McDowell (1795-1851) document the white politician from Virginia who held state and national offices, various white McDowell, Preston, and Venable family members, and people enslaved at Col Alto, McDowell's plantation near Lexington, Va. The collection includes a list of people enslaved by McDowell at Col Alto; an emancipation contract with Lewis James, a person enslaved by McDowell; personal and family correspondence; financial and legal materials; writings; printed material; and genealogical papers. Topics include slavery in the territories; colonization societies; economic conditions and policies; internal improvements and public works, such as the James River and Kanawha Canal project; temperance; nullification; Democratic party politics and campaigns; public education; collegiate and literary societies; colleges in Virginia, especially Washington College (later Washington and Lee University); agriculture and plantation management; McDowell family history; and land transactions in Fayette County, Ky. Also included is the will of Colonel James McDowell (1770-1835).
Creator McDowell, James, 1795-1851.
Language English
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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Information For Users

Restrictions to Access
No restrictions. Open for research.
Restrictions to Use
Retained by the descendants of writers of items in these papers, as stipulated by United States copyright law.
Preferred Citation
[Identification of item], in the James McDowell Papers #459, 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 antebellum southern plantations from the Revolution through the Civil War, Series J.
Acquisitions Information
Received from Mrs. Francis P. Venable of Chapel Hill, N.C., and her daughters, Mrs. Leo Gardiner and Mrs. W. C. Coker, also of Chapel Hill, in 1938, with additions in 1956, 1960, 1980, and 1983.
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

1795: Born, 13 October, Cherry Grove Plantation, Rockbridge County, Va., son of Colonel James McDowell and Sarah McDowell.

1805-1812: Attended William McPheeters's classical school in Greenville, Va., and a boarding school in Brownsburg, Va.

1812: Attended Washington College (now Washington and Lee University) in Lexington, Va.

1813: Attended Yale College, New Haven, Conn.

1814: Transferred to the College of New Jersey (Princeton University); graduated salutatorian, circa 1818.

1818: Married cousin, Susanna Smith Preston, 7 September; moved to an estate called "The Military," near Lexington, Ky.

1823: Returned to Virginia; began construction on Col Alto Plantation, near Lexington, Va.

1827: Served as justice of the peace for Rockbridge County, Va.

1831: Joined the Presbyterian Church; elected to Virginia House of Delegates, where he served until 1835.

1833: Defeated by John Tyler in U.S. senatorial election.

1837: Re-elected to the Virginia House of Delegates, where he served until 1838.

1838: Delivered "West Augusta Speech" at Princeton, calling for reconciliation between the abolitionists and the proponents of slavery.

1842: Elected governor of Virginia; served until 1846.

1846: Seated as member of U.S. House of Representatives, 6 March, replacing William Taylor.

1847: Elected to U.S. House of Representatives, where he served until 1851; death of wife in October.

1848: Partially paralyzed as result of heart attack.

1850: Enslaver of 17 people, according to the 1850 U.S. Federal Census Slave Schedule (Virginia: Rockbridge: North East District).

1851: Died, 24 August, at Col Alto.

Additional biographical information can be found in James Glen Collier, "The Political Career of James McDowell, 1830 1851" (Ph.D. dissertation, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1963).

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Scope and Content

Papers of James McDowell (1795-1851) document the white politician from Virginia who held state and national offices, various McDowell family members, and people enslaved at Col Alto, McDowell's plantation near Lexington, Va. Included are personal and family correspondence, financial and legal materials, writings, printed material, and genealogical papers.

McDowell's personal correspondence, his addresses and essays, and printed materials reflect his interests in the public affairs and intellectual life of Virginia and the nation, especially in the 1830s and 1840s. Topics include slavery in the territories; colonization societies; economic conditions and policies; internal improvements and public works, such as roads, railroads, and the James River and Kanawha Canal project; temperance; nullification; Democratic party politics and campaigns; public education; collegiate and literary societies; and colleges in Virginia.

Financial and legal materials chiefly concern white McDowell family members, but of note are a list of the people enslaved by James McDowell, and an emancipation contract, circa 1831, between McDowell and Lewis James, an enslaved person, that required that he both purchase his freedom and apply for emigration to Liberia. Other materials include sales receipts, statements of accounts, lists of expenditures, indentures, notes and briefs for legal cases, vote tallies, and court dockets. Also included are a fragment of a deed, 1728, involving Alexander McDowell, an ancestor of James McDowell; the will of Colonel James McDowell (1770-1835); and records of land transactions in Fayette County, Ky. There are only a few items after James McDowell's death in 1851. The 1864 item is a series of Confederate bonds. (For other papers relating to colonization and emancipation, see Series 3.)

Family correspondence and other items relate to James McDowell's father and mother, Colonel James McDowell and Sarah McDowell; his wife Susanna Preston McDowell; son-in-law Charles Scott Venable; and brother-in-law Virginia statesman Thomas Hart Benton. Many family letters, especially those from James McDowell to his wife, discuss agriculture and plantation management. Other materials include records pertaining to Washington College (later Washington and Lee University), McDowell family genealogical research, and the childhood reminiscences of Francis Preston Venable, James McDowell's grandson and professor of chemistry and president of the University of North Carolina.

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Contents list

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series Quick Links

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 1. Correspondence, 1770-1896 and undated.

About 1,300 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.1. Correspondence, 1770-September 1813.

Early items are chiefly correspondence of James McDowell's father, Colonel James McDowell in Rockbridge County, Va., with various individuals concerning land speculation and business affairs in Fayette County, Ky., and other places. Many letters relate to Colonel McDowell in his capacity as inspector of revenue. Also included is Colonel McDowell's personal correspondence with his wife, Sarah McDowell, especially in 1813 when he was serving in the U.S. army near Richmond.

Correspondents include: James Breckenridge (3 letters, 1796-1802); Edward C. Carrington (many letters from Colonel McDowell to Carrington, 1801-1810); John McDowell, Colonel McDowell's brother(?) (14 letters, 1792-1800); and Francis Preston (1 letter, 1796).

Folder 1

Correspondence, 1770-1799 #00459, Subseries: "1.1. Correspondence, 1770-September 1813." Folder 1

Folder 2

Correspondence, 1800 #00459, Subseries: "1.1. Correspondence, 1770-September 1813." Folder 2

Folder 3

Correspondence, 1801 #00459, Subseries: "1.1. Correspondence, 1770-September 1813." Folder 3

Folder 4

Correspondence, 1802-1808 #00459, Subseries: "1.1. Correspondence, 1770-September 1813." Folder 4

Folder 5

Correspondence, 1811-September 1813 #00459, Subseries: "1.1. Correspondence, 1770-September 1813." Folder 5

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.2. Correspondence, October 1813-1830.

Correspondence of James McDowell begins around October 1813. Of note are letters, 1820s, reflecting James McDowell's involvement with the American Colonization Society, which encouraged migration of free Blacks from the United States to Africa. Otherwise, Colonel McDowell's correspondence with his wife continues through 1832, and there are many letters between father and son. James McDowell's first letters are about his life as a student at Yale in 1813 and 1814. Later, there are many letters from James McDowell to his wife, Susanna Preston McDowell, before and after their marriage in 1818, as well as correspondence of James and Susanna with Susanna's sisters Eliza (Mrs. Edward C. Carrington) and Sally (Mrs. John B. Floyd), and with other members of the Preston and McDowell families, including James's brother-in-law, Thomas Hart Benton.

Correspondents include: Thomas Hart Benton (9 letters, 1821-1830); James Breckenridge (3 letters, 1817-1830); Ralph Gurley, secretary of the American Colonization Society (2 letters, 1828 and 1830); and Francis Preston (3 letters, 1818-1828).

Folder 6

Correspondence, October 1813-1814 #00459, Subseries: "1.2. Correspondence, October 1813-1830." Folder 6

Folder 7

Correspondence, 1815-1818 #00459, Subseries: "1.2. Correspondence, October 1813-1830." Folder 7

Folder 8

Correspondence, 1819 #00459, Subseries: "1.2. Correspondence, October 1813-1830." Folder 8

Folder 9

Correspondence, 1820-1822 #00459, Subseries: "1.2. Correspondence, October 1813-1830." Folder 9

Folder 10

Correspondence, 1823-1824 #00459, Subseries: "1.2. Correspondence, October 1813-1830." Folder 10

Folder 11

Correspondence, 1825-1827 #00459, Subseries: "1.2. Correspondence, October 1813-1830." Folder 11

Folder 12

Correspondence, 1828-1829 #00459, Subseries: "1.2. Correspondence, October 1813-1830." Folder 12

Includes a letter, 1828, from Ralph Gurley, Secretary of the American Colonization Society.

Folder 13

Correspondence, 1830 #00459, Subseries: "1.2. Correspondence, October 1813-1830." Folder 13

Includes a letter, 1830, from Ralph Gurley, Secretary of the American Colonization Society.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.3. Correspondence, 1831-July 1851.

There are many letters written home by McDowell as he traveled either for the government or to check on lands he apparently held near Columbus, Miss. Until her death in October 1847, most of these letters were written to his wife, Susanna Preston McDowell, and deal chiefly with family matters. They also offer her instruction and advice on how to manage Col Alto, the McDowell plantation near Lexington, Va., which, considering McDowell's heavy travel schedule, she seems to have handled on her own.

Many letters concern McDowell's commitment to temperance and his belief in the value of college groups, especially collegiate literary societies. Other letters are concerned with such topics as internal improvements in Virginia, slavery in the territories, the Nullification crisis, colonization societies, Virginia politics, currency and credit issues, public education, and colleges in Virginia. While there is surprisingly little about the political campaigns that McDowell must have mounted to win office, many letters relate to his responsibilities after those offices were attained (Virginia House of Delegates, 1831-1835 and 1837-1838; governor of Virginia, 1842-1846; U.S. House of Representatives, 1846-1851).

In addition to the continued family correspondence between Colonel McDowell and his wife and between the Colonel and James McDowell (until the Colonel's death in 1835), there are letters to James McDowell from friends, U.S. congressmen and other national figures, state legislators and other members of the Virginia elite, students, college presidents, and constituents in the 1830s and 1840s. Correspondents include: Joseph Bell (3 letters, 1831-1834); Thomas Hart Benton (over 60 letters, 1830-1838 and 1843-1846); James Breckenridge (1 letter, 1831); Joseph Cabell (2 letters, 1843-1844); Charles Dimmock, Captain at the Richmond Armory (several dozen letters, 1844-1847); Lyman Copeland Draper (1 letter, 1847); Landon C. Garland (2 letters, 1847-1848); Samuel E. Goodson (9 letters, 1837-1838 and 1842-1847); Archibald Graham, a doctor of Lexington, Va. (over 30 letters, scattered over this period); Reuben Grigsley of Rockbridge County, Va. (9 letters, 1830-1835 and 1846); Ralph Randolph Gurley (1 letter, 1846); Thomas Henderson of Lexington, Va. (2 letters, 1846); George Washington Hopkins, U.S. congressman of Abingdon, Va. (over 20 letters, 1830s); John Letcher, Lexington, Ky., attorney and editor, later governor (numerous letters, 1830s and 1840s); Francis McFarland, Presbyterian minister (4 letters, 1848-1851); Francis McGavock of Nashville, Tenn. (1 letter, 1838); John Marsh, temperance reformer (12 letters, 1851); John Murray Mason (2 letters, 1844); Samuel McDowell Moore, U.S. congressman (1 letter, 1832); Francis Preston (2 letters, 1832-1833); Thomas Jefferson Randolph, grandson of Thomas Jefferson (7 letters, 1838-1846); Benjamin Wood Richards, classmate of McDowell and later mayor of Philadelphia (7 letters, 1842-1850); William H. Richardson, adjutant general of Virginia (over 50 letters, 1842-1850); William Taylor, U.S. congressman, and other members of the Taylor family (numerous letters, 1831-1846); John H. Wartmann of Harrisonburg, Va. (over 20 letters, 1840s); Thomas Willis White, founder of the Southern Literary Messenger (4 letters, 1834-1838).

Folder 14

Correspondence, 1831 #00459, Subseries: "1.3. Correspondence, 1831-July 1851." Folder 14

Folder 15-16

Folder 15

Folder 16

Correspondence, 1832 #00459, Subseries: "1.3. Correspondence, 1831-July 1851." Folder 15-16

Folder 17-19

Folder 17

Folder 18

Folder 19

Correspondence, 1833 #00459, Subseries: "1.3. Correspondence, 1831-July 1851." Folder 17-19

Folder 20-22

Folder 20

Folder 21

Folder 22

Correspondence, 1834 #00459, Subseries: "1.3. Correspondence, 1831-July 1851." Folder 20-22

Folder 23

Correspondence, 1835 #00459, Subseries: "1.3. Correspondence, 1831-July 1851." Folder 23

Folder 24

Correspondence, 1836 #00459, Subseries: "1.3. Correspondence, 1831-July 1851." Folder 24

Folder 25-26

Folder 25

Folder 26

Correspondence, 1837 #00459, Subseries: "1.3. Correspondence, 1831-July 1851." Folder 25-26

Folder 27-29

Folder 27

Folder 28

Folder 29

Correspondence, 1838 #00459, Subseries: "1.3. Correspondence, 1831-July 1851." Folder 27-29

Folder 30-32

Folder 30

Folder 31

Folder 32

Correspondence, 1839 #00459, Subseries: "1.3. Correspondence, 1831-July 1851." Folder 30-32

Folder 33-34

Folder 33

Folder 34

Correspondence, 1840 #00459, Subseries: "1.3. Correspondence, 1831-July 1851." Folder 33-34

Folder 35

Correspondence, 1841-1842 #00459, Subseries: "1.3. Correspondence, 1831-July 1851." Folder 35

Folder 36-37

Folder 36

Folder 37

Correspondence, 1843 #00459, Subseries: "1.3. Correspondence, 1831-July 1851." Folder 36-37

Folder 38-39

Folder 38

Folder 39

Correspondence, 1844 #00459, Subseries: "1.3. Correspondence, 1831-July 1851." Folder 38-39

Folder 40

Correspondence, 1845 #00459, Subseries: "1.3. Correspondence, 1831-July 1851." Folder 40

Folder 41-44

Folder 41

Folder 42

Folder 43

Folder 44

Correspondence, 1846 #00459, Subseries: "1.3. Correspondence, 1831-July 1851." Folder 41-44

Folder 45-48

Folder 45

Folder 46

Folder 47

Folder 48

Correspondence, 1847 #00459, Subseries: "1.3. Correspondence, 1831-July 1851." Folder 45-48

Folder 49-50

Folder 49

Folder 50

Correspondence, 1848 #00459, Subseries: "1.3. Correspondence, 1831-July 1851." Folder 49-50

Folder 51-52

Folder 51

Folder 52

Correspondence, 1849 #00459, Subseries: "1.3. Correspondence, 1831-July 1851." Folder 51-52

Folder 53-54

Folder 53

Folder 54

Correspondence, 1850 #00459, Subseries: "1.3. Correspondence, 1831-July 1851." Folder 53-54

Folder 55-56

Folder 55

Folder 56

Correspondence, 1851 #00459, Subseries: "1.3. Correspondence, 1831-July 1851." Folder 55-56

Folder 57

Correspondence, Undated before August 1851 #00459, Subseries: "1.3. Correspondence, 1831-July 1851." Folder 57

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 1.4. Correspondence, August 1851-1896.

Correspondence after James McDowell's death in August 1851 consists of letters of condolence written to McDowell's daughter, Salley Campbell Preston Miller. There are also letters involving another McDowell daughter, Margaret Cantey McDowell Venable, her husband Charles Scott Venable, a professor of mathematics at Hampden Sidney College, and their son Francis Preston Venable, later professor of chemistry and president of the University of North Carolina. There are few letters during the Civil War period.

Folder 58

Correspndence, August-December 1851 #00459, Subseries: "1.4. Correspondence, August 1851-1896." Folder 58

Folder 59

Correspndence, 1852-1855 #00459, Subseries: "1.4. Correspondence, August 1851-1896." Folder 59

Folder 60

Correspndence, 1861-1870 #00459, Subseries: "1.4. Correspondence, August 1851-1896." Folder 60

Folder 61

Correspndence, 1875-1896 #00459, Subseries: "1.4. Correspondence, August 1851-1896." Folder 61

Folder 62

Correspndence, Undated after July 1851 #00459, Subseries: "1.4. Correspondence, August 1851-1896." Folder 62

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 2. Financial and Legal Materials, 1728-1864 and undated.

About 130 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Financial and legal materials chiefly concern white McDowell family members, but of note are a list of the people enslaved by James McDowell, and an emancipation contract, circa 1831, between McDowell and Lewis James, an enslaved person, that required that he both purchase his freedom and apply for emigration to Liberia. Other materials include sales receipts, statements of accounts, lists of expenditures, indentures, notes and briefs for legal cases, vote tallies, and court dockets. Also included are a fragment of a deed, 1728, involving Alexander McDowell, an ancestor of James McDowell; the will of Colonel James McDowell (1770-1835); and records of land transactions in Fayette County, Ky. There are only a few items after James McDowell's death in 1851. The 1864 item is a series of Confederate bonds. (For other papers relating to colonization and emancipation, see Series 3.)

Folder 63

Financial and legal materials, 1728-1799 #00459, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Materials, 1728-1864 and undated." Folder 63

Folder 64

Financial and legal materials, 1800-1828 #00459, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Materials, 1728-1864 and undated." Folder 64

Folder 65

Financial and legal materials, 1831-1864 #00459, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Materials, 1728-1864 and undated." Folder 65

Includes emancipation contract, circa 1831, of Lewis James, who was enslaved by James McDowell. The contract requires that James buy his freedom and apply to emigrate to Liberia.

Folder 66

Financial and legal materials, undated #00459, Series: "2. Financial and Legal Materials, 1728-1864 and undated." Folder 66

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 3. Writings and Notes, circa 1815-1850.

About 200 items.

Drafts of speeches, addresses, essays, and reports that James McDowell presented to various groups, societies, and organizations, including the Virginia House of Delegates and the U.S. House of Representatives. McDowell's writings reflect his interests in the public affairs and intellectual life of Virginia and the nation, especially in the 1830s and 1840s. Many items are speeches to citizens, legislators, and members of collegiate societies on topics such as slavery in the territories, internal improvements, and constitutional government.

Most items have been grouped by topic; those not arranged by topic are arranged by type (e.g., miscellaneous speeches and resolutions before the Virginia House of Delegates).

expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 3.1. Writings on Slavery

Folder 67-69

Folder 67

Folder 68

Folder 69

Writings on slavery in the territories, 1847-1851 #00459, Subseries: "3.1. Writings on Slavery" Folder 67-69

Speeches and articles, some fragments, by James McDowell, 1847-1851. Topcis include the Wilmot Proviso, the Oregon Bill, territorial governments for Utah and New Mexico, the Compromise of 1850, and the Northwest Ordinance (1787). Included are portions of a book length essay on the latter. Titles include:

  • "First Oregon Bill," [1847?]
  • "Upon the formation of territorial governments upon grounds of mutual deference and concessions," 1850
  • "Speech in the House on ...the boundary of Texas and the imposition of the Wilmot Proviso upon the territorial governments of Utah and New Mexico," 1850

Folder 70-72

Folder 70

Folder 71

Folder 72

Writings on slavery in the territories, 1850 (formerly volumes 3, 4, and 8) #00459, Subseries: "3.1. Writings on Slavery" Folder 70-72

Three small volumes of speeches on slavery in the territories made by James McDowell in the U.S. House of Representatives in 1850. There are printed copies of speeches on the Wilmot Proviso and on the formation of governments in New Mexico and California. (See also the section below on the United States Constitution for essay on the Northwest Ordinance in relation to the United States Constitution.)

Folder 73

Writings on African-American colonization #00459, Subseries: "3.1. Writings on Slavery" Folder 73

Essays, speeches, and resolutions, some fragments, by James McDowell concerning efforts to form colonies for free Blacks outside the United States.

Folder 74

"Writings on slavery debate," Virginia General Assembly, 1831-1832 #00459, Subseries: "3.1. Writings on Slavery" Folder 74

Speeches and fragments of other writings by James McDowell on the question of the gradual emancipation of enslaved people in Virginia.

Folder 75

Miscellaneous notes on slavery #00459, Subseries: "3.1. Writings on Slavery" Folder 75

Notes for speeches and other writings on various topics having to do with slavery.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 3.2. Writings on Economics

Folder 76

Writings on economic conditions in the United States #00459, Subseries: "3.2. Writings on Economics" Folder 76

Speeches, resolutions, and other writings, some fragments, by James McDowell about United States government policies on currency, credit, taxes, and tariffs. Titles include:

  • "Remarks on the effects of banks in a agricultural community," 1825
  • "Resolution against the removal of the U.S. government deposits from the Second Bank of the United States," circa 1833
  • "Remarks on tea and coffee tax and the Walker Tariff," circa 1847

Folder 77

Notes on economic conditions, currency, and credit in the United States #00459, Subseries: "3.2. Writings on Economics" Folder 77

Folder 78-79

Folder 78

Folder 79

Writings on internal improvements #00459, Subseries: "3.2. Writings on Economics" Folder 78-79

Speeches, essays, reports, and resolutions, some fragments, by James McDowell on canals, roads, turnpikes, and railroads for Virginia, particularly the James River and Kanawha Canal project. Titles include:

  • "Baltimore & Ohio Railroad," 1828
  • "Internal improvement," circa 1830s
  • "Remarks on road law and bill," circa 1830
  • "Resolution supporting the joint stock principle of the Internal Improvement Fund and the Staunton and Potomac Railroad," circa 1831
  • "James River and Kanawha Company," undated
  • "Memorial supporting the Richmond and Cartersville Turnpike," undated

Folder 80-81

Folder 80

Folder 81

Writings on internal improvements (formerly volumes 7 and 10) #00459, Subseries: "3.2. Writings on Economics" Folder 80-81

Bound materials: "Remarks on the construction of a general system of internal improvements in Virginia," 1831 (formerly volume 7); and a notebook containing, in addition to a few scattered accounts, notes on internal improvement (formerly volume 10).

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 3.3. Writings on Politics and Government

Folder 82-83

Folder 82

Folder 83

Writings on the United States Constitution #00459, Subseries: "3.3. Writings on Politics and Government" Folder 82-83

Speeches and fragments of writings by James McDowell on the federal system of government and the power of state governments. Titles include:

  • "Our American federal union," 1851
  • "Some hasty remarks on state sovereignty," undated

Folder 84-85

Folder 84

Folder 85

Writings on the United States Constitution (formerly volumes 6 and 9) #00459, Subseries: "3.3. Writings on Politics and Government" Folder 84-85

Two small volumes, one containing an essay on the Northwest Ordinance in relation to the Constitution (formerly volume 6) and the other a speech on the concept of federal union (formerly volume 9). There is also a printed copy of the speech on federal union.

Folder 86

Writings on nullification #00459, Subseries: "3.3. Writings on Politics and Government" Folder 86

Speeches, resolutions, and essays, some fragments, by James McDowell on the 1832 Nullification Crisis. These writings were prepared for delivery before the Virginia House of Delegates and elsewhere.

Folder 87

Notes on nullification #00459, Subseries: "3.3. Writings on Politics and Government" Folder 87

Folder 88

Writings on Virginia politics and government #00459, Subseries: "3.3. Writings on Politics and Government" Folder 88

Speeches and essays by James McDowell on such topics as constitutional conventions, the rights of citizens, and the duties of a representative in the Virginia House of Delegates. Titles include:

  • "Staunton convention: a few observations upon it," 1825
  • "James McDowell vs. unlimited convention," 1826
  • "Charlottesville convention," circa 1830
  • "On the right of instruction," circa 1834

Folder 89

Writings on party politics in Virginia and in the United States Congress, late 1840s #00459, Subseries: "3.3. Writings on Politics and Government" Folder 89

Two articles and two fragments by James McDowell.

Folder 90-91

Folder 90

Folder 91

Writings on election campaigns, 1824-1848 #00459, Subseries: "3.3. Writings on Politics and Government" Folder 90-91

Speeches and writings, some fragments, relating to various elections. Included are outlines and drafts of speeches by James McDowell supporting Democratic candidates in the presidential elections of 1824, 1828, 1836, 1840, and 1848, and a lengthy essay defending Andrew Jackson and questioning the constitutionality of congressional procedures in the disputed election of 1824. There are also speeches and essays that relate to McDowell's political campaigns, particularly in the 1830s, and a few that relate to candidates in non-presidential races. Included are an essay on McDowell's candidacy for the U.S. senate in 1833 and a speech, circa 1831, in support of Virginia Governor James Barbour.

Folder 92

Notes on election campaigns #00459, Subseries: "3.3. Writings on Politics and Government" Folder 92

Folder 93

Miscellaneous speeches and resolutions before the Virginia House of Delegates, 1831 #00459, Subseries: "3.3. Writings on Politics and Government" Folder 93

Writings by James McDowell on points of law, legislative procedure, and public education, including "An outline of remarks on the creation of the court of appeals."

Folder 94

Miscellaneous speeches and resolutions before the United States House of Representatives #00459, Subseries: "3.3. Writings on Politics and Government" Folder 94

Drafts and fragments of speeches and resolutions by James McDowell, 1847-1851, on various issues before the House of Representatives, including the election of Howell Cobb as speaker of the House.

Folder 95-96

Folder 95

Folder 96

Miscellaneous notes on politics #00459, Subseries: "3.3. Writings on Politics and Government" Folder 95-96

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Subseries 3.4. Other writings and notes

Folder 97

Speeches on Western Virginia, undated #00459, Subseries: "3.4. Other writings and notes" Folder 97

Writings by James McDowell on the historical problems of western Virginia, including an address entitled, "The historical division of counties in Virginia."

Folder 98-99

Folder 98

Folder 99

Miscellaneous presentations to collegiate and literary societies, circa 1815-1843 #00459, Subseries: "3.4. Other writings and notes" Folder 98-99

Drafts of and notes for addresses given by James McDowell before various collegiate societies at Washington College, Virginia Military Institute, Amherst, Princeton, and other colleges. Some of the topics covered are temperance, Bible study, and general morality.

Folder 100

Miscellaneous writings on liberty and patriotism #00459, Subseries: "3.4. Other writings and notes" Folder 100

Addresses by James McDowell to various audiences on liberty and patriotism.

Folder 101-104

Folder 101

Folder 102

Folder 103

Folder 104

Speeches, addresses, and articles on civic, humanistic, and other concerns, circa 1816-1850 #00459, Subseries: "3.4. Other writings and notes" Folder 101-104

Miscellaneous writings by James McDowell. Included are addresses on the power of conversation, 1815; on the association of ideas, 1816; on Lafayette and James Madison, 1824 and 1836; and on the benefits of agricultural societies, undated.

Folder 105-107

Folder 105

Folder 106

Folder 107

Miscellaneous notes on temperance and other topics. #00459, Subseries: "3.4. Other writings and notes" Folder 105-107

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 4. Genealogical Materials, circa 1810-1893.

About 50 items.

Genealogical notes, correspondence, and clippings, chiefly of James McDowell's daughter, Sally Campbell Preston Miller, circa 1884-1891, relating to the life of her father and to other members of the McDowell family. Included is a list, circa 1810, of the descendants of Andrew McDowell (born 1710).

Folder 108

Genealogical correspondence, 1884-1893 #00459, Series: "4. Genealogical Materials, circa 1810-1893." Folder 108

Folder 109

Genealogical notes #00459, Series: "4. Genealogical Materials, circa 1810-1893." Folder 109

Folder 110

Genealogical clippings #00459, Series: "4. Genealogical Materials, circa 1810-1893." Folder 110

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 5. Other Papers, circa 1800-1879 and undated.

About 65 items.

Arrangement: chronological.

Miscellaneous papers relating to Washington College; printed memorials and circulars received by James McDowell, chiefly about internal improvements; and other materials, including draft constitutions for agricultural, collegiate, and debating societies.

Folder 111

Washington College #00459, Series: "5. Other Papers, circa 1800-1879 and undated." Folder 111

Folder 112

Printed material #00459, Series: "5. Other Papers, circa 1800-1879 and undated." Folder 112

Folder 113

Miscellaneous #00459, Series: "5. Other Papers, circa 1800-1879 and undated." Folder 113

Extra Oversize Paper Folder 1a

Oversize papers #00459, Series: "5. Other Papers, circa 1800-1879 and undated." 1a

Oversize Paper Folder 1b

Oversize papers #00459, Series: "5. Other Papers, circa 1800-1879 and undated." 1b

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Series 6. Volumes, 1818-circa 1840 and undated.

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expand/collapse Expand/collapse Items Separated

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Processing Information

Processed by: Lynn Roundtree, 1983; Pamela Dean and Tim West, 1986; Roslyn Holdzkom, 1991

Encoded by: ByteManagers Inc., 2008

Conscious Editing Work by: Nancy Kaiser, October 2020. Updated abstract, biographical note, subject headings, scope and content note, and container list.

Since August 2017, we have added ethnic and racial identities for individuals and families represented in collections. To determine identity, we rely on self-identification; other information supplied to the repository by collection creators or sources; public records, press accounts, and secondary sources; and contextual information in the collection materials. Omissions of ethnic and racial identities in finding aids created or updated after August 2017 are an indication of insufficient information to make an educated guess or an individual's preference for identity information to be excluded from description. When we have misidentified, please let us know at wilsonlibrary@unc.edu.

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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