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Charles Ward Papers, 1746, 1796-1888

Identifier: MSS 47

Scope and Content Note

The Charles Ward Papers contain his business, personal, and civic papers for the years he was the United States Consul to Zanzibar (1845 to 1850) and a shipping merchant in Salem (1851-1876). The collection has been arranged into three series.

Series I. Consular Papers covers the years 1845 to 1852 and contains Charles' correspondence and account books while he was the United States Consul to Zanzibar. The consular correspondence is comprised of one folder and two letter books of Charles' correspondence while in Zanzibar. Included in the correspondence are copies of Charles' letters to the State Department regarding his progress and problems in Zanzibar, letters to other consulates and officials in Zanzibar, letters to merchants that Charles was consul for in Zanzibar, and correspondence with Michael Shepard, a Salem shipping merchant. Of note in the State Department letter book are the September 14, 1846 letter that relates Charles' involvement in the escape of an American sailor accused of killing an Arab, and the March 13, 1851 letter describing the events leading to Charles' resignation of his post. The account books contain Charles' records of the consulate's daily financial transactions.

Series II. Shipping Papers covers the years 1831 to 1874, and contains ships' papers for vessels Charles consigned cargo on, was an agent for, or owned. Also included is shipping correspondence and miscellaneous shipping papers. Included in the ship's papers are masters' correspondence, bills, accounts, invoices, receipts, crew lists, and outfitting papers. Any ships' papers accumulated by Charles while acting as U. S. Consul have also been included here. The shipping correspondence, filed chronologically, contains letters to Charles from merchant houses and business regarding cargo accounts. The miscellaneous shipping papers include accounts, invoices, and receipts relating to Charles' shipping ventures as well as some shipping papers with no apparent connection to Charles' business.

Series III. Personal and Civic Correspondence contains correspondence from 1852 to 1876. This includes Charles' letters from friends, his letters to local officials, and some letters from U. S. Congressmen. Among the correspondence are letters regarding the selection of a new minister for the Tabernacle Church, a letter from Charles to Scientific American concerning Charles' patent on a screw for drawer knobs (December 5, 1861), and two letters regarding Charles' presentation of a sword from the city of Salem to Colonel Arthur Devereaux. One of these letters (dated July 7, 1863), Colonel Devereaux's acknowledgement, describes his regiment's journey into the battle of Gettysburg.


  • Creation: 1746, 1796-1888


Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.

Biographical Sketch

Charles Ward was born in 1816 in Maine, to Nathaniel and Sarah (Miller) Ward. Because of his experience as a prosperous Maine shipping merchant, Charles was appointed the United States Consul to Zanzibar in 1845. Due to Charles' frequent disputes with the British Consul over protocol and his estrangement from the Sultan of Zanzibar over Charles' aiding the escape of an American sailor accused of the murder of an Arab, Charles resigned his post in 1850. During his years as Zanzibar, he formed strong business ties with the Salem firm of Bertram and Shepard. As a result of his relationship with this firm, Charles settled in Salem upon his return to the United States in 1850. From 1851 until 1856, Charles established a shipping business in Salem. He was owner of the ship Margaret, bark Waverly, and the ship Golden Cross. He was also master of the ship John Wills in 1856. In 1852, Charles married Margaret F. Haraden.

A man of strong beliefs, Charles used the written word to express his views on political events. He was an outspoken critic of the Southern secession from the nation. Detesting the Northern abolitionists, Charles wrote letters to President James Buchanan in 1861 denying the right of the South to secede. His 1863 letters to the Boston Courier advocated a plan to apprentice the freed slaves to the Pacific Railroad. He also corresponded with several U. S. Congressmen and senators, including Congressman Benjamin Butler.

Charles' patent on a new drawer knob screw was published in Scientific American in 1861. He was also active in the Tabernacle Church. Charles died in Salem in 1876 after many years of suffering from heart disease.


2.25 linear feet (3 boxes)

Language of Materials



The Charles Ward Papers contain his business, personal, and civic papers for the years he was the United States Consul to Zanzibar (1845 to 1850) and a shipping merchant in Salem (1851-1876).

Series List

SERIES I. Consular Papers

  • A. Correspondence
  • B. Account Books
SERIES II. Shipping Papers

  • A. Ships' Papers
  • B. Miscellaneous Shipping Papers
SERIES III. Personal and Civic Correspondence

Physical Location

Phillips Library Stacks


This collection is a reorganization and integration of three boxes and seven account and letter books. The materials are from an unknown source.

Bibliography and Related Collections

Bennett, Norman Robert. "Americans in Zanzibar, 1845-1865." Essex Institute Historical Collections. 97 (1961), 31-56.

Ward, Charles. Contrabands: Suggesting an Apprenticeship, Under the Auspices of Government, to Build the Pacific Railroad, January 8, 1863: With Other Matters Relating to the State of Public Affairs. Salem: Salem Gazette, 1866.

Ward, Charles. Letters Addressed to Hon. James Buchanan, President of the United States, January 10th and 16th, 1861, on the Impending Crisis of the Country, Denying the Right of Secession, Advocating Measures to Secure Tortugas, Key West and Fortress Monroe. Salem: Salem Gazette, 1866.

Ward Family Papers, 1718-1946. MSS 46

Processing Information

Collection processed by Nancy C. Barthelemy, March 1982. Updated by Hilary Streifer, October 2014.


CHARLES WARD PAPERS, 1746, 1796-1888
Processed by: Nancy C. Barthelemy; Updated by: Hilary Streifer; machine-readable finding aid created by: Rajkumar Natarajan.
Language of description
Script of description
Processing for 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