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Charles Baldwin Sedgwick Papers

An inventory of his papers at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: MLB
Date: Apr 1973

Biographical History

Charles Baldwin Sedgwick (1815-1883) was an American attorney and U.S. Congressman from New York State. While an attorney in Syracuse he was a member of the defense counsel for the Jerry Rescue case.

Sedgwick was born on March 15, 1815 near Pompey, New York. His parents, Stephen and Anne Baldwin Sedgwick, sent him to Pompey Hill Academy. Later in 1834 he graduated from Hamilton College. Around 1835 he married Ellen Smith who died in 1846. In 1847 Sedgwick married Deborah Gannett of Cambridge, Massachusetts.

In 1846 Sedgwick moved from Pompey to Syracuse, N.Y. and opened a law office. During the latter part of the decade he became involved with various social reform causes, particularly the anti-slavery movement. He was affiliated with American Anti-Slavery Society, and was a member of the Syracuse Vigilance Committee which aided runaway slaves. Sedgwick was one of the attorneys for the defense in the Jerry Rescue Case.

Sedgwick was elected to Congress in 1859 where he served two consecutive terms as the representative of the twenty-forth District. As a member of Congress he distinguished himself as an anti-slavery advocate, and as Chairman of the Navy Committee. In 1863 he returned to private life, and the practice of law.

See the attached genealogical table for the Sedgwick family tree.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The Charles B. Sedgwick Papers consist of correspondence, legal and financial Records, memorabilia, and writings.

Correspondence, 1847-1891, consists largely of letters written by Charles Baldwin Sedgwick to various members of his family, especially his wife. These discuss family matters as well as subjects with broader social implications. Some of the letters concern his duties in Congress and the progress of the Civil War. About one third of the correspondence consists of letters written to Sedgwick by his family and various associates. Among this latter group are a number of notable individuals including Roscoe Conkling, John A. Dahlgren, William Lloyd Garrison, John Jay, Wendell Phillips, and Gerrit Smith. An index to selected correspondents appears at the end of this finding aid.

Legal and financial records, 1814-1879, consist of routine documents pertinent to the business affairs of the Sedgwick family. It also contains a few items that pre-date Sedgwick's birth.

Memorabilia dating from 1862 to 1883 contains various items of incidental interest including clippings, biographical material, and obituaries of Charles B. Sedgwick and his son Frank.

Writings date from 1837 to 1884. There are essays, published letters, and speeches authored by Charles B. Sedgwick. Of special interest in this section is an essay, probably written by Sedgwick, on "The Legal Conditions of Women," 1837. There is also a small group of writings by others.

Arrangement of the Collection

Correspondence is in chronological order. The remaining series are in alphabetical order by type or title.


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.

Subject Headings


Agassiz, Louis, 1807-1873.
Bowles, Samuel, 1826-1878.
Chase, Salmon P. (Salmon Portland), 1808-1873.
Child, Francis James, 1825-1896.
Clarke, James Freeman, 1810-1888.
Conkling, Roscoe, 1829-1888.
Curtis, George William, 1824-1892.
Dahlgren, John Adolphus Bernard, 1809-1870.
Dana, Richard Henry, Jr., 1815-1882.
Dawes, Henry L. (Henry Laurens), 1816-1903.
Dickinson, Daniel S. (Daniel Stevens), 1800-1866.
Fields, James Thomas, 1817-1881.
Forbes, John Murray, 1813-1898.
Frémont, John Charles, 1813-1890.
Garrison, William Lloyd, 1805-1879.
Geddes, George W. (George Washington), 1824-1892.
Hoar, George Frisbie, 1826-1904.
Jay, John, 1817-1894.
King, Thomas Starr, 1824-1864.
May, Samuel J. (Samuel Joseph), 1797-1871.
Minturn, Robert Bowne, 1805-1866.
Morton, Levi P. (Levi Parsons), 1824-1920.
Norton, Charles Eliot, 1827-1908.
Peabody, Elizabeth Palmer, 1804-1894.
Phillips, Wendell, 1811-1884.
Sedgwick family.
Sedgwick, C. B. (Charles Baldwin), 1815-1883.
Seward, William H. (William Henry), 1801-1872.
Smith, Gerrit, 1797-1874.
Washburn, Israel, 1813-1883.
Watson, Robert Spence, 1837-1911.
White, Andrew Dickson, 1832-1918.


Abolitionists -- United States.
Lawyers -- New York (State)
Slavery -- United States -- Anti-slavery movements.
Social reformers -- United States.


New York (State) -- History.
Syracuse (N.Y.), History.
United States -- History -- Civil War, 1861-1865.

Genres and Forms

Clippings (information artifacts)
Genealogies (histories)
Speeches (documents)


Social reformers.

Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

Charles Baldwin Sedgwick Papers,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Table of Contents


Legal and financial records



Selected index to correspondence


Selected index to correspondence

All items are to Charles Baldwin Sedgwick, unless otherwise noted.