John Macpherson Berrien papers
New Search | Return to Search Results | View/Save/Print PDF

John Macpherson Berrien papers

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Georgia Historical Society
Creator: Berrien, John Macpherson, 1781-1856.
Creator: Berrien, Lawrence Cecil
Creator: Burroughs, Rosa Berrien.
Creator: Falligant family.
Title: John Macpherson Berrien papers
Dates: 1789-1942
Extent: 6.5 cubic feet (10 boxes, 8 volumes)
Identification: MS 0067

Biographical/Historical Note

John Macpherson Berrien (1781-1856) was a prominent lawyer and judge, plantation owner, and Attorney General of the United States under President Jackson. He moved with his parents to Savannah, Georgia, in 1783. He was admitted to the bar in 1799 after completing his degree at Princeton College. Elected solicitor of the eastern judicial circuit in 1809, he then became judge of the same circuit in 1810 and served until 1821. During this time, he served in the war of 1812 with the Chatham Light Dragoons and in the First Georgia Cavalry. He served in the Georgia state senate from 1822-1823 and in the U.S. Senate from 1824-1829, 1841-1852. From 1829-1831, he served as Attorney General under President Jackson. In addition, he served on the Board of Trustees of the University of Georgia, was president of the Georgia Historical Society, and was active in the Lyceum movement. He was married twice: first to Eliza Anciaux and later to Eliza C. Hunter. Between both marriages, he had fourteen children. He owned several residences in Georgia including Morton Hall Plantation.

In addition to the papers of John Macpherson Berrien, this collection also includes the papers of Lawrence Cecil Berrien (1844-1902), the son of John Macpherson Berrien and Eliza C. Hunter Berrien, as well as Rosa Berrien Burroughs (d. 1944), granddaughter of John Macpherson Berrien. Also included are papers of the Louis N. Falligant and the Falligant family, relations to the Berrien family by the marriage of Rosa McHugh Falligant to Lawrence Cecil Berrien.

Scope and Content Note

This collection consists of manuscripts, printed material, pictures, and scrapbooks. Correspondence within the collection relates to personal, legal, and political matters, specifically regarding the Peggy Eaton affair (also known as the Petticoat Affair) in the Cabinet of President Jackson. In addition, the collection contains genealogical information regarding several families.

Correspondence regarding the Peggy Eaton controversy includes letters to and from Berrien and President Andrew Jackson (1767-1845), John Henry Eaton (1790-1856), Samuel D. Ingham (1779-1869), Francis Preston Blair (1791-1876), William Thorne Williams, Richard Wylly Habersham (1786-1842), and John Branch (1782-1863). Among other correspondents in the collection are Francis Stebbins Bartow (1816-1861), Absolom H. Chappell (1801-1878), Henry Clay (1777-1852), Gen. Duncan Lamont Clinch (d. 1849), Howell Cobb (1815-1868), George W. Crawford (1798-1872), Henry H. Cumming, John Alfred Cuthbert (1788-1881), William Crosby Dawson (1798-1856), Peter Stephen DuPonceau (1781-1844), Louis N. Falligant, Hamilton Fish (1808-1893), William Gaston, George Rockingham Gilmer (1790-1859), Charles Harris (1772-1827), Charles Jones Jenkins (1805-1883), Herschel Vespasian Johnson (1812-1880), Reverdy Johnson (1796-1876), Augustus Baldwin Longstreet (1790-1870), Charles James McDonald (1793-1860), James A. Meriwether (1806-1852), John Milledge (1757-1818), Eugenius Aristides Nisbet (1803-1871), James Proctor Screven (1799-1859), President John Tyler (1790-1862), John Van Buren (1810-1866), and Daniel Webster (1782-1852). Included with the legal correspondence are other legal papers such as briefs, opinions, and interrogations.

Correspondence is arranged chronologically. An abbreviated calendar of the correspondence through 1855 has been compiled and is included in the Descriptive Materials attached to the finding aid. From 1856-1902, the correspondence is personal, of either the Falligant family or Laurence Cecil Berrien, John MacPherson Berrien's son. After 1902, the correspondence is almost entirely of Mrs. Rosa Berrien Boroughs, granddaughter of John MacPherson Berrien, and deals with family history. Family data was compiled by Mrs. Rosa B. Burroughs and is arranged alphabetically by name of family.

Index Terms

Anciaux family.
Attorneys general--United States.
Bartow family.
Bartow, Francis S., (Francis Stebbins), 1816-1861.
Benedict family.
Berrien family.
Berrien, John Macpherson, 1781-1856.
Branch, John, 1782-1863.
Burroughs family.
Carr family.
Cecil family.
Eaton family.
Eaton, John Henry, 1790-1856.
Eaton, Peggy, approximately 1799-1879.
Edsall family.
Falligant family.
Falligant, Louis N., active 1840.
Genealogies (histories)
Gibbons family.
Grymes family.
Hunter family.
Jackson, Andrew, 1767-1845.
Judges--United States.
Ledgers (account books)
Letters (correspondence)
Macpherson family.
Moore family.
Raiford family.
Rapelye family.
Richardson family.
Screven family.
Stryker family.
Traditional medicine.

Administrative Information

Custodial History


Preferred Citation

[item identification], John Macpherson Berrien papers, MS 67, Georgia Historical Society, Savannah, Georgia.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Lowry Axley, 1954-1956; Purchased from Eugenia A. and Cecil B. Burroughs, 1971.


Access Restrictions

Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

Copyright has not been assigned to the Georgia Historical Society. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Division of Library and Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the Georgia Historical Society as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the researcher.

Separated Material

Artifacts were separated and cataloged with the Georgia Historical Society Artifacts Collection. View digital images of artifacts at the end of this collection inventory or search the Digital Image Catalog for further information.


Encoding funded by a 2012 Documenting Democracy grant from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission.

Container List




111796-1831 July, 24.0 items. View online.
21831 August-October, 15.0 items.
Primarily includes political correspondence regarding Peggy Eaton Affair.
31831 November-1840, 20.0 items.
Primarily includes political correspondence regarding Peggy Eaton Affair.
41841-1842, 19.0 items. View online.
51843, 16.0 items.
61844-1845, 13.0 items.
71846-1847, 21.0 items.
81848-1849, 29.0 items.
91850-1851, 30.0 items.



211852-1853, 32.0 items.
21854-1855, 45.0 items.
31856-1899, 37.0 items.
41900-1927, 30.0 items.
51928-1933, 36.0 items.
61934-1942, 42.0 items.
7-8undated, 61.0 items.
Family data
Anciaux, Bartow, Benedict, 14.0 items.
Includes commission to Nicholas Anciaux as Q.M. 2nd Royal Regiment Inf., 1799 signed by King Louis XVI.
Berrien, 77.0 items.



31-2Berrien, 84.0 items.
3Burroughs, Carr, Cecil, 22.0 items.
4Eaton, Edsall, Falligant, Gibbons, Grymes, 28.0 items.
5Hunter, Macpherson, Moore, Raiford, Rapelye, Richardson, Screven, Stryker, 18.0 items.

1789-1808, 12.0 items.
1809-1829, 58.0 items.
1830, 33.0 items.
1831-1835, 34.0 items.
1836-1839, 15.0 items.
1840-1844, 61.0 items.
1845-1847, 36.0 items.
1848-1849, 23.0 items.
1850-1851, 44.0 items.



411852-1853, 54.0 items.
21854-1855, 28.0 items.
1856-1909, 28.0 items.
4-8undated, 154.0 items.



51-3undated, 53.0 items.
4Fragments, 40.0 items.
5Envelopes ( 108.0 items. )
Book 1: Berrien Family Scrapbook
Loose on shelf.
Book 2: Berrien Family Scrapbook
Loose on shelf.
Book 3: Berrien Family Scrapbook
Loose on shelf.
Book 4: Ashley Family Scrapbook
Loose on shelf.
Book 5: Carr Family Scrapbook
Loose on shelf.
Book 6: Cecil Family Scrapbook
Loose on shelf.
Book 7: Raiford Family Scrapbook
Loose on shelf.

Small scrapbook, I
Small scrapbook, II
Small scrapbook, III
Small scrapbook, IV
Small scrapbook, V



611835 January 10-1836 December 31
21839 January 1-1844 December 31
Includes Confederate currency laid in this ledger.
31844 August 2-1848 January 11


71839 January 1-1844 June 29


8Berrien family Bible





101Pamphlets ( 9.0 items. )
Includes The State of Florida v. The State of Georgia, The Coastal Highway Through Southeast Georgia, Washington's Rocky Hill Headquarters, Washington's Headquarters, Early Opposition to the Cincinnati, Mount Pleasant, a writing manual marked Louis Falligant, September, 1824, and the table of content to an unidentified book - Index to Congressional Records?

Arredondo v. United States
Printed book; first 64 pages missing.
Gaines v. Relf et al.
Printed book; begins with page 577 and ends with page 1120.
Online Inventory Contains Digitized Items

A - Berrien snuffbox, 53.0 items. . View images: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6.
Burroughs, 21.0 items. View online.
C - H, 37.0 items. . View images: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4.
I - unidentified, 30.0 items. . View images: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4.
A-0067-002 badge from the Savannah Anachreontic Society View online.
A-0067-003 Part of a Confederate flag View online.
A-0067-004 Lawrence Cecil Berrien’s assistant fireman patch View online.
A-0067-005 Ribbon of the Confederate flag View online.
A-0067-006 Ribbon View online.