Processing and conservation of this collection
were funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.
The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Huntington & Fitz (Salem, Mass.)
French Spoliation Claims
2.5 linear feet (5 boxes)
The French Spoliation Claims
Records, 1796-1928, contain United States Government printed material and attorney's
manuscripts from the Salem office of spoliation claims attorneys, Arthur Lord
Huntington and Ulysses Grant Haskell.
SERIES I. Government Administration Reports SERIES II. Vessel Files SERIES III. Estate Files SERIES IV. Attorney's Papers
Scope and Content Note
The French Spoliation Claims Records, 1796-1928, contain United States Government
printed material and attorney's manuscripts from the Salem office of spoliation
claims attorneys, Arthur Lord Huntington and Ulysses Grant Haskell. The collection
traces spoliation claims from initial determination of claimants' heirs to final
opinions and settlements made by the U.S. Court of Claims. The Records are divided
into four series.
Series I. Government Administrative Reports contains
printed materials, published by the United States government between 1886 and 1913,
which provide an overview of the spoliation claims process. Included are the rules
of the Claims Court, docket books, court opinions, and volumes listing claims
allowed or dismissed. Also found here are volumes enumerating the French claims of
1803 and 1831, and the Spanish claims of 1819. These claims were not covered by the
Congressional act of 1885.
Series II. Vessel Files is arranged alphabetically by
ship and is comprised of government printed court documents: petitions, briefs,
statements, evidence, and conclusions. Appendix I provides an index to the files,
listing vessel, voyage and date of capture, master, owners, and claimants. Known
Salem vessels are also marked, including those of such notable Salem merchants as
Pickering Dodge, Dudley L. Pickman, Samuel, John, and Elias Hasket Derby, William
Orne, Clifford Crowninshield, and Joseph Peabody.
Series III. Estate Files are arranged alphabetically
by original claimant's surname. Appendix II lists the estates and the vessels
mentioned in each file. Some files contain more than one individual, the claimants
being associated through a particular vessel named in the papers. Included is
correspondence with claimants' heirs, genealogies, copies of ships' papers, legal
papers, and financial papers reflecting settlement figures and attorney's fees. Of
interest in the William Appleton file is a letter which describes Arthur Lord
Huntington's activities as a spoliation claims attorney. The James Dunlap file
includes Dunlap's will of 1800.
Series IV. Attorney's Papers, 1796-1928, contains
correspondence, legal papers, lists of Essex County cases, and original ships' and
claims' papers. The bulk of the correspondence is to Salem attorneys Arthur Lord
Huntington and Ulysses Grant Haskell from their Washington counterparts, C.W.
Clagett, Edward Lander, and M.T. Hitchcock. These letters mention the status of many
Essex County cases. The correspondence also includes letters with the heirs of
miscellaneous claimants. The legal papers contain documents settling the percentages
of attorney's fees and powers of attorney or estate administration. The original
ships' and claims' papers consist of protests, insurance policies and masters'
correspondence (see Appendix III for a list of vessels found in these papers). Also
included are papers relating to the Salem insurance office of John G. King which
paid out a number of insurance claims in the early 1800's on spoliation cases. The
memorandums include miscellaneous genealogies and notes of ships or estates. Also
found here is a 1901 publication on claims relative to lands in the Fiji
In 1885, the United States Congress passed an act which allowed American citizens to
file French Spoliation Claims with the U.S. Court of Claims. This was an attempt to
reimburse the heirs of the U.S. merchants, ship owners, and insurance underwriters
whose vessels or cargo had been captured and condemned by the French from 1794 to
1801. The United States assumed the claims of its own citizens as part of the treaty
made with France in 1800. In this treaty, France relinquished their claim on the
United States for violations of the cooperative treaty of 1778. In return, the
United States assumed the costs of American citizens' French Spoliation Claims.
The firm of Tuckerman Huntington & Fitz, 256 ½ Essex Street, Salem,
Massachusetts, handled the spoliation claims of many Salem area residents. It
appears that circa 1900, the firm's primary claims attorney, Arthur Lord Huntington,
passed his cases on to Ulysses Grant Haskell, who worked in the same office. The
Salem attorneys were responsible for determining the heirs of original claimants, a
task which often involved considerable genealogical investigation. They also
attempted to garner as much substantiating shipping documents as possible to serve
as evidence in the claims cases. Although the Salem attorneys made initial contact
with heirs and performed background investigation, the actual prosecution and
collection of claims was left to Washington lawyers who satisfied the Claims Court's
A number of printed volumes in this collection contain a description and history
of the French Spoliation Claims. See, for example, the preface to the Court Opinions
volume in box 1 folder 7.
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.
Appleton, William, 1786-1862
Balch, John, 1742-1798
Barr, John, 1758-1832
Brown, Thomas, 1785-1862
Chever, James, 1752-1839
Clagett, C. W.
Crowninshield, Benjamin, 1758-1836
Crowninshield, Clifford, 1762-1809
Haskell, Ulysses Grant
Hitchcock, M. T.
Huntington, Arthur Lord
King, John G.
Toppan, Enoch C.
West, Benjamin, Jr.
Huntington & Fitz (Salem, Mass.)
Administration of estates
Capture at sea
United States--Court of Claims
United States--History--Spoliation claims
Restrictions on Access
The mold-damaged and brittle acidic original documents in box 5, folders 5-7 are
restricted from general use due to their extremely fragile condition. Photocopies of
these materials are located in the main body of the collection.
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 French Spoliation Claims Records are an integration and reorganization of 2 boxes
and 4 envelopes of manuscript and printed material. The source of the collection is
unknown. Removed from the records are duplicates of U.S. Government printed
materials and blank acidic envelopes (see Separation Sheet for listing).
Collection processed by Sylvia B. Kennick, December 1984. Updated by Catherine
Robertson, March 2015.
The French Spoliation Claims Records, 1796-1928, contain United States Government printed material and attorney's manuscripts from the Salem office of spoliation claims attorneys, Arthur Lord Huntington and Ulysses Grant Haskell.