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Andrew Dunlap Papers, 1754-1847

Identifier: MSS 150

Scope and Content Note

The Andrew Dunlap Papers, 1754-1847, contain attorney's, political, personal, and estate papers of Andrew Dunlap (1794-1835), a famous United States District Attorney for Massachusetts and follower of Andrew Jackson. Andrew's attorney's papers include both marine and civil cases running from 1814, when he began his law practice in Salem, through his tenure as U.S. District Attorney. His political correspondence and speeches contain fascinating views of the political scene in New England during the 1820s and early 1830s. The personal papers include shipping papers reflecting Andrew's shares in mercantile and whaling vessels. The collection is divided into four series.

Series I. Attorney's Papers cover the period from 1814, when he first became an attorney in Salem, through his work in the Massachusetts General Court and as the U.S. District Attorney for Massachusetts, until his death in 1835. Subseries A. Marine Cases, filed chronologically, include correspondence regarding the cases, shipmaster correspondence, testimony, bills of lading, receipts, indictments, etc. Notes on marine cases are located in the civil cases notebooks. The papers cover such topics as non-payment of seamen's wages, abuse of seamen, disagreements regarding cargo deliveries, smuggling in defiance of the revenue laws, illegally collected fishing bounties, insurance disputes, theft, murder, mutiny, and piracy (see Appendix I). The vessels mentioned in these papers sailed from a number of Massachusetts ports, including Boston and Salem. Of special note are the large number of papers documenting the 1830 murder and mutiny aboard the brig Orbit, the attempted mutinies on the ship Clay (1834) and brig Parthian (1834), and the 1834 assault aboard the ship Milwood. Also included is the famous 1832-1835 case of the brig Mexican (owned by Joseph Peabody) in which the Salem vessel was plundered and fired by pirates out of Cuba. The Mexican's crew survived, and the pirates, recognized and captured by the British, were returned to the United States and ultimately sentenced to death.

Subseries B. Civil Cases are divided into correspondence, case notes, case documents, account books, and financial papers. Correspondence contains letters from associates (including Daniel Webster, Joseph G. Waters, Larkin Thorndike, Leverett Saltonstall, and Benjamin L. Oliver Jr.), correspondence from prisoners appealing for legal aid or applying for pardons, letters from the Treasury Department regarding the collection of revenues and the relief of insolvent debtors, and correspondence regarding court cases. These civil cases deal with a wide variety of subjects, including: debt, murder, assault, estate settlements, forgery, robbery, fraud, defamation of character, performing without a license, tampering with the U.S. mail, embezzlement, perjury, and counterfeiting.

The civil case notes and notebooks come from a various civil and marine cases, and include Andrew's notes and copy of a speech made by Daniel Webster as the defense attorney in an 1816 robbery trial. Case documents contain powers of attorney, summons, writs, testimony, memorials, a list of traverse jurors for 1834, a copy of Dr. Bentley's will (1819), and contemporary and older legal documents, including an 1814 patent for a plough. The financial papers, consisting of account books, accounts, bills, and receipts, include administrative costs, such as attorney's fees, office rent, employees' wages, and costs of serving writs or taking depositions; debts collected or financial business conducted for clients; and the financial outcome of trials, including court costs and settlements.

Series II. Political and Personal Papers, covering 1812 to 1835, contain personal letters from his family and friends, correspondence reflecting the political atmosphere of New England in the 1820s and 1830s, shipping correspondence and papers generated from Andrew's mercantile and whaling ventures, political and personal speeches and essays, and legal and financial papers. Personal correspondence, interfiled with political correspondence, includes letters regarding Andrew's interests in manufacturing companies and bank stocks, his memberships in the Washington Society, the companies and bank stocks, his membership in the Washington Society, the Charitable Irish Society, the Boston Debating Society, and the Republican Institution, orders for law books and literature, and letters concerning his own book, "A Treatise on the Practice of Courts of Admiralty." Also included is correspondence from actors Louisa and H.A. Williams, a small number of letters from Andrew's wife, Augusta, and a number of letters from his mother, Sarah (Stone) Dunlap.

The political correspondence illuminates contemporary political figures and issues, reflecting the upheavals of the 1820s, and the rise of Andrew Jackson and the Democratic Republicans to power. These letters describe the political stands of such national figures as John Quincy Adams, Henry Clay, Andrew Jackson, John C. Calhoun, and Martin Van Buren. Also mentioned are such issues as the Missouri question, the tariff bill, the revision of the Constitution (in which Andrew was personally interested), Indian affairs, the anti-Masonic movements, and the re-charter of the Bank of the United States. Underlying these issues is pictured the hot dissent between the Federalist followers of John Quincy Adams and the Jacksonian Democratic Republicans. Through Andrew Dunlap's correspondence one can follow the rise of Andrew Jackson, his defeat in the 1824 presidential race to John Quincy Adams, and his victory in 1828. Also recorded are inside views of Washington, D.C. (see Appendix II for a list of notable correspondents) including: political appointments and rivalries, the 1832 cholera epidemic, and the coldness which developed between President Andrew Jackson and his Vice President John C. Calhoun.

The political and personal correspondence also reflects the course of Andrew's own political interests. Letters of recommendation may be found here, including three from Dr. William Bentley and one from Joseph Story. His many political orations, editorials, and newspaper articles are also discussed. Included is correspondence illuminating Andrew's personal efforts to gather support for Andrew Jackson. Andrew Dunlap was Chairman of the 1828 Jackson Republican Central Committee and was instrumental in gathering the electorate who voted Jackson President. Because Dunlap was in the forefront of Massachusetts politics and considered controversial by some, he received a number of anonymous derogatory letters (see October 1826 and April 1830) terming him a "mean low life puppy," etc. He also received appeals from Jackson followers who wished appointment recommendations, especially following the 1828 Presidential election when opponents of Jackson were being removed from government offices. These appointments included such offices as road commissioner, post master, port collector, measurer, surveyor, and light house keeper. Of note is Andrew's letter of recommendation (February 11, 1830) written to President Jackson on behalf of John Crowninshield (1771-1842), who was appointed appraiser at Boston later that year.

Andrew's political and personal papers also contain shipping papers, drafts of political essays, personal essays including a short family history, legal papers, his will, and personal bills and receipts. The shipping correspondence and papers briefly note the mercantile and whaling vessels upon which Andrew sent cargo or in which he owned shares (see Appendix III for listing). The whaling ships sailed mainly in the Pacific, and the shipping vessels sailed to Europe, Calcutta, Sumatra, South American, and the east coast of the United States. Included is a large amount of correspondence with Abraham Osborn of Edgartown, who mastered and oversaw the building of a number of Andrew's whaling vessels. Additional shipping records may be found in account books and in the estate papers.

Series III. Estate Papers, 1835-1847, include letter and account books, correspondence, and legal and financial papers. Benjamin W. Stone, Andrew's estate executor, settled the deceased's accounts, including the sale of Andrew's comprehensive law library, maintained the estate's whaling vessels, and oversaw the publishing of the "Treatise on the Practice of Courts of Admiralty." The papers include a copyright for Andrew's book and a list of people to whom he wished the volume sent.

Series IV. Miscellaneous Papers, 1800-1846, include accounts of Andrew's son Samuel Fales Dunlap, miscellaneous clippings, a scientific notebook, and a commonplace book of his mother Sarah (Stone) Dunlap.


  • Creation: 1754-1847


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.

Biographical Sketch

Andrew Dunlap, attorney and politician of Salem and Boston, Massachusetts, was born in 1794 to Irish immigrant merchant James Dunlap and Sarah Stone of Salem. The Dunlap family moved from Salem to Boston in 1797 due to James Dunlap's ill health. Upon James' death in 1800, Sarah (Stone) Dunlap moved the family back to Salem where they lived with her parents, Robert and Anstiss (Babbidge) Stone. Here Andrew Dunlap was prepared by Dr. William Bentley for Harvard College, from which Andrew graduated in 1813. Andrew first set up his law practice in Salem, moving to Boston in approximately 1820. In 1824, he married Lucy Ann Charlotte Augusta Fales, daughter of Boson merchant Samuel Fales. Their son, Samuel Fales Dunlap, was born in 1825.

Politically active and a forceful speaker, Andrew quickly achieved notoriety in judicial and political spheres. He was elected to the General Court in 1826 and in 1829 was appointed United States District Attorney for Massachusetts under the administration of President Andrew Jackson. He handled a wide variety of civil cases, from debt to murder to counterfeiting. He also worked on a number of marine cases, including fishing bounty disputes, abuse of seamen, smuggling, mutiny, and piracy. Toward the end of his life, Andrew wrote his "Treatise on the Practice of Courts of Admiralty" which was published posthumously.

As a member of the Republican Institution and the Chairman of the 1828 Jackson Republican Central Committee, Andrew was in the center of hot debates between the followers of John Quincy Adams and Andrew Jackson. He was instrumental in solidifying the Massachusetts Jacksonians in the 1824 and 1828 elections, writing articles in newspapers and giving numerous speeches. He remained politically active throughout his life, corresponding frequently with friends and colleagues in Washington, D.C. and New England.

Andrew Dunlap died of consumption in 1835 at his mother's home in Salem.


8 linear feet (15 boxes; 2 volumes)

Language of Materials



The Andrew Dunlap Papers, 1754-1847, contain attorney's, political, personal, and estate papers of Andrew Dunlap (1794-1835), a famous United States District Attorney for Massachusetts and follower of Andrew Jackson.

Series List

SERIES I. Attorney's Papers

  • A. Marine Cases
  • B. Civil Cases
SERIES II. Political and Personal Papers

SERIES III. Estate Papers

SERIES IV. Miscellaneous Papers

Physical Location

Phillips Library Stacks


The Andrew Dunlap Papers are a reorganization and integration of 15 scrapbooks, 10 account books, 1 folder of estate papers removed from the Stone Family Papers, and several other miscellaneous folders. The collection was donated by the estate of Andrew Dunlap.

Bibliography and Related Collections

Battis, Edward C. "The Brig Mexican of Salem, Captured by Pirates, and Her Escape." Historical Collections of the Essex Institute, vol. 34, 1898. pp. 41-63.

Murdock, Richard K. "Cod or Mackerel: Bounty Payment Disputes, 1829-1832." Historical Collections of the Essex Institute, vol. 105, 1969. pp. 306-337.

Stone Family Papers, 1703-1899, MSS 65.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Sylvia B. Kennick, October 1984. Updated by Catherine Robertson, January 2015.

Processed by: Sylvia B. Kennick; Updated by: Catherine Robertson; machine-readable finding aid created by: Rajkumar Natarajan.
Language of description
Script of description
Processing and conservation of this collection was funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Repository Details

Part of the Phillips Library Repository

Peabody Essex Museum
306 Newburyport Turnpike
Rowley MA 01969 USA