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E. W. Stewart Diary

An inventory of the collection at Syracuse University

Finding aid created by: MRC
Date: 12 Jan 2017

Biographical History

Nothing is known of the author of this diary other than what can be gleaned from its contents. He was evidently a lawyer in Camden, New York, well-educated, thoughtful, and eloquent, with decided opinions on various topics.

Scope and Contents of the Collection

The E. W. Stewart Diary consists of a single volume -- a notebook, printed on the cover with "The Pulaski Paper Manufacturing Company." Inside the front cover is written, "Diary from 14th Dec 1840 to the first of March 1841 being 76 days." Topics discussed in the diary include slavery, abolition, Texas, the difficulties of writing the law clearly, Blackstone and "his hair-splitting distinctions," and white settlers' treatment of Native Americans.

One entry reads, in part:

Dec. 18 To day attended a meeting which for its object the consideration of the Evils of Slevery. Slavery! A loathsome sound to greet the ear of an American at this stage of the 19th Cnetury; but loathsome as it is, it must be sounded in tones of thunder...ere it shall die away in the sweet and mellow notes of Liberty!

Another gives his opinion of the general quality of a legal arguments offered in court:

Dec. 22 To day, attended as Council before a Justice's Court, and before a perfect basswood Justice: who, though designing to do justice to the parties, would be apt to do as much injustice to the character of our Esquire, as by his tardy perception and muddy intellect, he would, through mistake, despoil the rights of those who left their affairs to his decisions. Disputation is very much recommended to sharpen the wits of men, but it must be of a higher order than we engage in before our Justice's Courts, or I am sure it would tend to sink even a splendid intellect below the zero of high-minded controversy. However, it may be said to require considerable talent to beat an idea into the head of some of our squires and consequently would tax one's ingenuity not a little to make his language clear and explicit enough to make the Justice keep on the side of truth, or rather to discover where the equity of the matter lay, or so to befog his intellect that he could not discover when he was right or wrong.

Arrangement of the Collection

Single volume.


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


Stewart, E. W.


Courts -- United States -- History.
Law -- United States -- History.
Lawyers -- 19th century -- New York (State)
Slavery -- America.


Camden (N.Y.) -- History.

Genres and Forms




Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Preferred citation for this material is as follows:

E. W. Stewart Diary,
Special Collections Research Center,
Syracuse University Libraries

Acquisition Information

Purchase, 2016.

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