Joseph Habersham papers
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Joseph Habersham papers

Descriptive Summary

Repository: Georgia Historical Society
Creator: Habersham, Joseph, 1751-1815.
Title: Joseph Habersham papers
Dates: 1769-1802
Extent: 0.1 cubic feet (1 folder)
Identification: MS 0339

Biographical/Historical Note

Joseph Habersham (1751-1815) was a son of James Habersham (1712-1775). He graduated from Princeton and became a merchant in Savannah, first with his brother James, and later with his cousin, Joseph Clay. At the outbreak of the American Revolution, he was a member of the Council of Safety, and took part in some of the actions of the "Liberty Boys." It was he who, with a selected party, arrested Governor Sir James Wright in 1776. He was commissioned by the Council of Safety as a Major of a battalion with the 1st Georgia Regiment, Continental Line 1776 and rose to the rank of Colonel. He resigned his commission in 1778. He was a delegate to the Continental Congress, 1785-1786, Mayor of Savannah, 1792, and Post Master General of the United States, appointed by President George Washington in 1795.

Scope and Content Note

This collection consists of an account book and personal letters. The account book is most likely that of Joseph Clay or James Habersham, Jr., as Joseph Habersham was in England, 1768-1771 and the book is dated 1769 and 1780. The letters are to Joseph Habersham's wife, Isabella, stating he and Mr. Clay will arrive soon to move the women, to Pierce Butler regarding the need to hand Butler over to the Sheriff, from John Habersham with family news and the need to remove Mr. Lange from the Post Office, from Thomas Jefferson offering Habersham the office of Treasurer of the U.S., and to Abraham Baldwin with his reasons for resigning as Postmaster General. The collection also contains a photograph of a silhouette of Joseph Habersham.

Index Terms

Account books.
Clay, Joseph, 1741-1804.
Georgia--Politics and government--1775-1865.
Habersham, James, 1745-1799.
Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826.
Letters (correspondence)
United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783.
United States--Politics and government--1775-1783.
United States--Politics and government--1783-1809.

Location of Originals

Original letter to Abraham Baldwin is in the Abraham Baldwin papers, University of Georgia.

Administrative Information

Custodial History


Preferred Citation

[item identification], Joseph Habersham Papers, MS 339, Georgia Historical Society, Savannah, Georgia.

Acquisition Information

Gift of William Neyle Habersham, 1896 (Item 5); Margaret McLaughlin, 1969 (Items 2,4,6); Calvin Smith, 1970 (Item 7).

Acquisition Information

Gift of the Wylly family, 1984.


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

Item 1: Account book, 1769-1780
Probably that of Joseph Clay or James Habersham, Jr., as their names appear also in the book and Joseph Habersham was in England from 1768-1771. In addition to the accounts of 1769 and 1780, there are legal papers of Joseph Clay and Joseph Habersham, a household list, a list of African Americans for hire, etc.
Item 2: Joseph Habersham letter to his wife Bella (Isabella), Virginia, 1780 ( 2.0 p. )
Says he does not want her and Mrs. Clay to leave Camden; he and Mr. Clay will move them as soon as possible.
Item 3: Joseph Habershamletter to Pierce Butler, Savannah, 1795 ( 1.0 p. )
Says he will have to surrender Butler to the sheriff because of two executions against him. Retained copy; file note gives date of letter.
Item 4: John Habersham letter to Joseph Habersham, Savannah, 1796 ( 4.0 p. )
News of family and friends.
Item 5: John Habersham letter to Joseph Habersham, Savannah, 1799 ( 2.0 p. )
Says he (Joseph) was correct in removing Mr. Lange from Post Office; mentions several persons; good prospects for crop.
Item 6: Thomas Jefferson letter to Joseph Habersham, Monticello, 1801 ( 1.0 p. ) View online.
Offers Habersham office of Treasurer of the U.S. Bears note of presentation from Habersham's grandson, William Neyle Habersham, commenting on above offer from President Jefferson.
Online Inventory Contains Digitized Items
Item 7: Joseph Habersham letter to Abraham Baldwin, 1802 ( 2.0 p. )
Gives his reasons for resigning as Postmaster General of the U.S.; mentions death of his wife. Reproduction.
Item 8: Photograph of a silhouette of Joseph Habersham, undated