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Alexander G. Abell Correspondence

An inventory of his correspondence at Syracuse University

Overview of the Collection

Creator: Abell, Alexander G.
Title: Alexander G. Abell Correspondence
Inclusive Dates: 1843-1867
Quantity: 27 items (SC)
Abstract: American author, biographer; correspondence received by Abell in response to his mail canvassing for subscribers to his Life of John Tyler (1843)
Language: English
Repository: Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries
222 Waverly Avenue
Syracuse, NY 13244-2010

Biographical History

Alexander G. Abell (1818-1890) was an American author. He wrote a biography of US President John Tyler, published by Harper & Brothers in 1843. From 1845-1846 he served as United States Consul to the Island of Hawaii, where he was also briefly editor of The Sandwich Island News. Along with Charles H. Cragin, he established Sacramento Hospital at Sutter's Fort in 1849, the first hospital in what is today Sacramento, California ["Sacramento Hospital," Alta California, August 4, 1849]. From 1857-1860 he was President of the Society of California Pioneers. He was also a Freemason, being at one time the Grand Secretary of the Grand Lodge of California F. & A.M.

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Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Alexander G. Abell Correspondence is a collection of 26 incoming items written between 1843 and 1844 in response to a mail canvass for subscribers to Abell's Life of John Tyler, issued by Harper & Brothers. Published anonymously, the book was written in an effort to neutralize public opinion toward Tyler, who had succeeded to the American Presidency upon the death of incumbent Benjamin Harrison only a month after taking office. Shortly thereafter, Tyler lost the battle for Whig Party leadership to Henry Clay, and became a President without a party. The letters in the collection reflect an interest in restoring Tyler's reputation before the American public, which largely regarded his term in office as a failed presidency. Typical of the responses to Abell's request for subscriptions to his book is the following from D. D. Durboraw of Chambersburg, Pennsylvania (9 Dec. 1843):

Believe me Sir, I am please to know, that there lives an individual who can divest himself of the influence and prejudice of the factions, too [sic] undertake a compilation of the public acts of our worthy Chief Magistrate. I hope it may appear in such a form that it will disabuse the public mind in relation to this much injured man.

And a response from Henry Huggins of New Haven, Connecticut, reads (9. Dec. 1843):

The services of Mr. Tyler have been such, that though he may not now have justice down on him, yet I am sure that when his public life is fairly placed before the people, and when passion, prejudice and falsehood shall have done their work & reason & honesty have resumed their sway, a large majority of the people of this country will acknowledge John Tyler of Virginia to be a patriot, statesman, and an honest man.

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Access Restrictions

The majority of our archival and manuscript collections are housed offsite and require advanced notice for retrieval. Researchers are encouraged to contact us in advance concerning the collection material they wish to access for their research.

Use Restrictions

Written permission must be obtained from SCRC and all relevant rights holders before publishing quotations, excerpts or images from any materials in this collection.

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Subject Headings


Abell, Alexander G.
Tyler, John, 1790-1862.


Biographers -- United States.
Booksellers and bookselling.
Presidents -- United States -- Biography.

Genres and Forms




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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Abell Alexander G Correspondence,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Finding Aid Information

Created by: KM
Date: 1989-02-13
Revision history: 28 Mar 2007 - converted to EAD (MRC); 25 Sep 2013 - adds, P-13-119 (MRC); 1 May 2019 - added 1867 letter (KD) ; 9 Mar 2021 - added bioghist and related material (MRC)

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SC 74 [General] 1843
SC 74 [General] 1844-1867

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