Collection on William Harris Crawford
New Search | Return to Search Results | View/Save/Print PDF

Collection on William Harris Crawford

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Georgia Historical Society
Title: Collection on William Harris Crawford
Dates: 1814-1833
Extent: 0.59 cubic feet (1 oversize box)
Identification: MS 0186

Biographical/Historical Note

William Harris Crawford (1772-1834) was the son of Joel and Fanny Harris Crawford. He was an educator, lawyer, politician, and planter. Early in his career, he taught at Richmond Academy in Augusta (1796-1798) and created a law practice while becoming involved in Georgia politics. As a result of his involvement in local politics, Crawford frequently met opposition from John Clarke (1766-1832), governor of Georgia (1819-1832) and son of Revolutionary War hero Elijah Clarke. This rivalry resulted in two duels. A victorious Crawford killed Clarke champion Peter Van Allen in 1802, but an 1806 duel with John Clarke himself left Crawford with a permanently damaged wrist. Crawford's career survived both of these episodes. Crawford was elected a member of the Georgia House of Representatives in 1803, a position he would hold until 1807. He also served the United States as Senator from Georgia (1807-1813), Minister to France (1813-1815), Secretary of War (1815), and Secretary of the Treasury (1816-1825). In 1824, Crawford was a candidate for the presidency along with Henry Clay, Andrew Jackson, and John Quincy Adams. Adams was named president by the House of Representatives. Ill health forced Crawford to return to Georgia around 1825, where he served as Circuit Court Judge until his death near Elberton, Georgia in 1834. Crawford married Susanna Gerardin in 1804, a union which produced nine children. He and his family resided at Woodlawn, a plantation near Lexington, Georgia.

Scope and Content Note

This collection consists of materials focusing on Crawford's political career. The correspondence in the collection includes both letters written to and from Crawford. Noteworthy letter authors in the William Harris Crawford Papers include Henry Clay, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, and Matthew L. Davis (an author and journalist who was on hand to support Aaron Burr during his 1804 duel with Alexander Hamilton). See inventory for descriptions of letters.

Index Terms

Chauncey, Isaac, 1772-1840.
Circular letters.
Clark, John, 1766-1832.
Clay, Henry, 1777-1852.
Crawford, William Harris, 1772-1834.
Davis, Matthew L., (Matthew Livingston), 1773-1850.
Gallatin, Albert, 1761-1849.
Georgia--Political activity--19th century.
Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826.
Letters (correspondence)
Madison, James, 1751-1836.
Monroe, James, 1758-1831.
Oglethorpe County (Ga.)
Presidential candidates--Georgia--1824.
Slavery--United States.
United States--History--War of 1812--Treaties.
United States. Department of the Treasury--19th century.

Administrative Information

Custodial History


Preferred Citation

[Item identification], Collection on William Harris Crawford, MS 186, Georgia Historical Society, Savannah, Georgia.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Hugh H. Hill, 1957 (Item 5); Dr. A. Gatewood Dudley, 2000.


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.


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

Container List



1Item 1: Albert Gallatin to William Harris Crawford in Paris. London, 1814 April 21 ( 5.0 p. )
This letter is from American statesman Albert Gallatin, former Congressman, diplomat, and Secretary of Treasury under Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. He discusses peace negotiations with Great Britain, unrest and a "hostile spirit" in Europe, and the possibility that the New England states might break off to rejoin the Mother Country. Mentions statesman James A. Bayard and Emperor Alexander.


2Item 2: Henry Clay to William Harris Crawford. Ghent, 1814 July 18 ( 3.0 p. )
American statesman Henry Clay discusses the transference of diplomatic news, the treatment of American diplomats, and American victories in North America under Commodore Isaac Chauncey.


3Item 3: Henry Clay to William Harris Crawford in Paris. Ghent, 1814 August 8 ( 1.0 p. )
Henry Clay addresses the arrival of Mr. Baker, Secretary of the British Commission. Unrest in America is also addressed with Clay commenting that Commodore Chauncey accomplished little in the month of June but that otherwise American news is "enlivening."


4Item 4: Albert Gallatin to William Harris Crawford in Washington. New York, 1816 May 29 ( 2.0 p. )
Gallatin reassures Crawford that although some of James Monroe's friends may be hostile towards him, Monroe himself is not. Gallatin also addresses the subject of his own career plans and upcoming retirement.


5Item 5: Circular from Crawford as a representative of the Treasury Department to the representatives at Ports of Entry, 1817 May 7 ( 1.0 p. )
Crawford addresses frauds which are being committed in connection with imported goods as well as unpaid duties. He suggests a more thorough inspection of imports.


6Item 6: James Monroe to William Harris Crawford. Oak Hill, Va., 1819 October 20 ( 2.0 p. )
President Monroe writes of papers delivered to the Treasury Department. He also mentions a missing document concerning the importation of slaves into Charlestown, asking Crawford if he can recall the contents of the missing document. The end of the letter discusses the Office of Marshal for West Tennessee.


7Item 7: William Harris Crawford to James Monroe. Lexington, Ga., 1820 October 1 ( 2.0 p. )
Crawford explains that he has been delayed from reaching Washington until the end of the month. The remainder of the letter concerns a pamphlet published by Governor John Clarke of Georgia that contained information concerning Crawford. Crawford felt this information to be negative and incorrect. In his letter to the president, Crawford refutes the governor's charges and explains the political situation in his own terms. Some of Clarke's charges included involvement with the illicit abduction of slaves.


8Item 8: James Monroe to William Harris Crawford. Charleston near Shannon Fork, 1821 August 27 ( 2.0 p. )
President Monroe sends some documents to Crawford and asks him to look over the accounts for mistakes. (The documents in question are not present.)


9Item 9: J.M. to William Harris Crawford, 1822 May 2 ( 1.0 p. )
President Monroe sends a report on a legal case concerning the Collector of St. Marys, asking Crawford's opinion on the matter. (The documents in question are not present.)


10Item 10: Chauvet Fils to William Harris Crawford. London, 1822 July 23 ( 1.0 p. )


11Item 11: James Monroe to William Harris Crawford. Washington, 1822 August 22 ( 3.0 p. )
President Monroe explains his delay in answering Crawford's last letter and discusses his hesitancy to reply to a communication that relates to Crawford. Monroe also advises Crawford on how to effectively handle political discord.


12Item 12: James Monroe to William Harris Crawford. Washington, 1824 April 13 ( 1.0 p. )
Former president Madison addresses the resignation of a member of the War Department and discusses Crawford's health.


13Item 13: Ruggles and Collins to William Harris Crawford in Washington. Washington, 1824 May 8 ( 1.0 p. )
Two supporters urge Crawford to accept a nomination for the presidency.


14Item 14: Thomas Jefferson to William Harris Crawford. Monticello, 1825 February 15 ( 1.0 p. )
Former president Jefferson expresses disappointment over Crawford's loss of the presidential election.


15Item 15: William Harris Crawford to Matthew Livingston Davis in New York City. Lexington, Ga., 1833 August 22 ( 3.0 p. )
Crawford is gathering information concerning a proposed railroad between Athens, Ga. and Augusta, Ga. for the citizens of Oglethorpe County. He lists fourteen questions concerning railroad construction. Crawford then turns to brief discussion of state and national politics.