The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Saltonstall, Leverett, 1783-1845
Leverett Saltonstall (1783-1845)
9.5 linear feet (18 boxes)
The Leverett Saltonstall Papers
document the political and legal activities of Leverett Saltonstall, attorney,
member of the Massachusetts House and Senate, first mayor of Salem, and Congressman
in the United States House of Representatives.
SERIES I. Personal Papers SERIES II. Maritime Cases SERIES III. Civil Cases
A. Real Estate
SERIES IV. Political Papers
D. Speeches and Journals
Scope and Content Note
The Leverett Saltonstall Papers document the political and
legal activities of Leverett Saltonstall, attorney, member of the Massachusetts
House and Senate, first mayor of Salem, and Congressman in the United States House
of Representatives. Included is correspondence and legal documentation pertaining to
civil and marine court proceedings, mayoral and congressional papers, speeches, and
personal financial documents. The collection is organized into four series.
Series I. Personal Papers contains personal
correspondence, business papers, and bills. Included herein are Saltonstall's
commonplace books for 1799 and 1800, his ledger for 1804, a copy of his diary
(January 1806-May 1807), and a variety of reference materials (1715-1807) that
predate Saltonstall's legal career and were used as precedents for other cases.
There are also two folders of papers relating to his handling of the affairs of Mary
Series II. Maritime Cases pertains primarily to
insurance claims against lost and/or damaged cargo, vessels damaged and/or lost, and
piracy. Documentation includes ship manifests, correspondence, bills and receipts,
lists of seamen and officers, requests for indemnification, depositions, and related
court documents. A typical case is that of the schooner Bold
Runner, a Marblehead fishing vessel that collided with an English brig on
Georges Bank, May 14, 1831. The schooner, deserted by her crew, was found by the
schooner Glide of Gloucester, towed to port, and sold
at auction. The case deals with insurance claims of rectification.
A more unusual case is that of the barque Pacific,
which was captured en route to Rotterdam by Danish privateers in April of 1809. The
ship was carried to Christiansand, Norway, and condemned as a prize. The resulting
claims against seizure and losses of flour, indigo, rice, and sugar spanned almost
twenty years and the legal systems of three countries.
A list of the marine cases is contained in Appendix I.
The majority of the collection revolves around the Series
III. Civil Cases. The papers relating to these cases run from 1755 to
1840 and involve all aspects of the law. This series is further broken down into
four subseries: Real Estate, Probate, Litigation, and
Criminal. Each subseries is arranged
One outstanding criminal case is Pike v. Green, 1835. Pike was accused of
physically abusing his seven-year-old housemaid Sarah P. Jay, and then abandoning
her in the poorhouse. The case notes are quite extensive and include depositions,
court proceedings, and newspaper accounts of the trial.
The litigation case of John Manning et al. v. The Fifth Parish of Gloucester
(1824-1827) includes a notebook detailing the history of the parish from its
separation in 1754 from the First Parish of Gloucester and its organization as an
autonomous precinct. Included is a list of individuals who, with John Manning, left
the Fifth Parish.
The 1813 litigation case of Trustees of Phillips Academy v. James King offers
documentation of the formation of the Andover Theological Seminary. King, executor
of the will of Mary Norris, widow of a Phillips Academy benefactor, was accused of
not clearing a debt for a sizeable legacy. Of related interest is the case of
Murdock v. the Trustees of Phillips Academy. Murdock, an instructor at the Academy,
was charged with the "want of sound orthodox" principles in divinity.
Series IV. Political Papers is further divided into
four subseries. Subseries A. Federal papers relate to
various federal issues, including some specific tariff issues, and constituents' correspondence.
Subseries B. State papers involve issues and acts passed during
Saltonstall's years in the state legislature and state judiciary. Subseries C. Salem papers involve various aspects of Salem government.
Subseries D. Speeches and Journals contain speeches given by
Saltonstall. See Appendix II for a list of speeches.
Leverett Saltonstall was born on June 13, 1783, in
Haverhill, Massachusetts, to Dr. Nathaniel Saltonstall and Ann (White) Saltonstall.
He was educated at Phillips Exeter Academy and Harvard College. Saltonstall received
his degree in law from Harvard in 1802 and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa the
After an unsuccessful attempt to establish a law practice in Haverhill,
Saltonstall moved to Salem, Massachusetts, and entered the law office of William
Prescott. Through the influence of Prescott, Saltonstall became active in the Essex
County Federalist caucuses. Saltonstall's oratorical skills enable him to win the
1813 election to the Massachusetts House of Representatives. There he served in the
General Court during the years 1813-1815, 1816-1817, 1822-1823, 1827-18830, 1834,
and 1844, serving during sixteen terms. Saltonstall also won election to the
Massachusetts Senate in 1817-1820, was Senate president in 1831, and served his
final term in 1844.
In March 1836, Saltonstall was inaugurated as the first mayor of Salem. This
accomplishment was the culmination of his many years of active interest in the
community both as a resident and as a representative in the Massachusetts General
Court. A popular mayor, Saltonstall was reelected in 1837 and 1838. He was also one
the founders of the Essex Historical Society and its vice-president.
In 1838, Saltonstall was elected to the United States Congress as a Whig
representative from Essex County, District Two. In Washington, he dealt with a
variety of issues, foremost among them the tariff of 1841. Saltonstall did not enjoy
public service on the federal level. He described himself as a "gloomy politician";
for this reason he did not run for a second term.
Upon his return to Salem in 1843, Saltonstall lived in semiretirement, retaining
only a few clients but accepting a nomination representing Salem to the General
On May 8, 1845, Saltonstall died of complications of gout and asthma at his
Salem residence with his wife, Mary Elizabeth (Saunders) Saltonstall, and their
children in attendance.
A biography of Leverett Saltonstall may be found in the introduction of the
first volume of The Papers of Leverett Saltonstall,
1816-1845, selected and edited with an introduction by Robert E. Moody (Boston:
Massachusetts Historical Society, 1978).
This collection is indexed under the following headings in Philcat. Researchers desiring materials about related topics, persons,
or places should search the catalog using these headings.
Saltonstall, Leverett, 1783-1845
Essex Historical Society
Fifth Parish Church of
Phillips Exeter Academy
Indians of North America
Probate law and practice
Whig Party (U.S.)
Salem (Mass.)--Politics and
United States--Politics and
Restrictions on Access
This collection is open for research use.
Requests for permission to publish material from the collection must be submitted in
writing to the Manuscript Librarian in the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex
The Leverett Saltonstall Papers document the political and legal activities of Leverett Saltonstall, attorney, member of the Massachusetts House and Senate, first mayor of Salem, and Congressman in the United States House of Representatives.
Essex Historical Society; Phillips Exeter Academy; Fifth Parish Church of Gloucester; Andover Theological Seminary; United States--Politics and government; Gloucester (Mass.); Salem (Mass.)--Politics and government; Massachusetts--Politics and government; United States--Congresses; Saltonstall, Leverett, 1783-1845; Perkins, Mary; Account books; Civil law; Letter writing; Criminal law; Indians of North America; Diaries; Insurance law; Lawyers; Law--Cases; Maritime law; Mayors; Probate law and practice; Real property; Slavery; Tariff; Trials (Fraud); Trials (Piracy); Whig Party (U.S.); Trials; Franklin (Ship); Friendship (Schooner); Alfred (Ship); Argonaut (Ship); Laura (Brig); Politicians; Shipping--Massachusetts--Salem; Mayors--Massachusetts--Salem; Letters
Requests for permission to publish material from the collection must be submitted in writing to the Manuscript Librarian in the Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum.