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Joseph Vincent Browne (1803-1868) Papers

Joseph Vincent Browne (1803-1868) Papers

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Open Finding Aid

JOSEPH VINCENT BROWNE (1803-1868) PAPERS, 1774-1874

Sponsor:

Processing and conservation of the collection were funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.





Collection Summary

Repository:The Phillips Library at the Peabody Essex Museum 132 Essex Street Salem, MA 01970 Phone: 978-745-9500 Fax: 978-531-1516
Creator:Browne, Joseph Vincent, 1803-1868
Title:Joseph Vincent Browne (1803-1868) Papers
Dates:1774/1874
Quantity:2 linear feet (4 boxes)
Abstract:The Joseph Vincent Browne papers document his varied political and maritime career and contains items documenting Browne's tenure as Boston Navy Agent, his interests in the American Hemp Company and the Western Mining Company, his duties as San Francisco Custom House appraiser, his work in Essex County as Collector of Internal Revenue and Receiver of Commutation Money, and the political interests in which he was avidly involved.
Collection Number:MSS 201

Series List


SERIES I. Navy Agent and Hemp Merchant Papers
SERIES II. Appraiser and Mining Papers
SERIES III. Collector's Papers
SERIES IV. Political and Business Papers
SERIES V. Family and Miscellaneous Papers

Scope and Content Note

The Joseph Vincent Browne papers document his varied political and maritime career and contains items documenting Browne's tenure as Boston Navy Agent, his interests in the American Hemp Company and the Western Mining Company, his duties as San Francisco Custom House appraiser, his work in Essex County as Collector of Internal Revenue and Receiver of Commutation Money, and the political interests in which he was avidly involved. The papers are organized into six series.


The Letterbooks provide an overview of Browne's activities from 1842 to 1863. The first volume contains Navy Agent and Navy Pension Agent correspondence, letters closing the accounts of Brown's early merchant firm, J. Vincent Browne and Company, and political and general financing correspondence. The second volume includes Navy Agent and San Francisco appraiser's correspondence.


Series I. Navy Agent and Hemp Merchant Papers contains correspondence, reports, and legal and financial papers reflecting Browne's tenure as Boston Navy Agent and Navy Pension Agent, and his interest in the growth and sale of hemp to the United States Navy. The correspondence includes purchase and transport orders for Navy goods and machinery, pension requests and news of the Springfield, Illinois, hemp farm. Also included are letters and memorials regarding Browne's conflicts with the government: questions concerning his Navy Agent accounts and the prices of hemp shipments delivered to the United States navy. The case materials also document a disagreement between Browne and the government.


This series includes Browne's 1841 navy Agent appointment (signed by President John Tyler), receipts for Navy stores and repairs, reports on the international hemp market, accounts for raising and manufacturing hemp, a contract for building a hemp factory, and 1850 navy Pension Agent accounts.


Series II. Appraiser and Mining Papers documents Browne's activities on the west coast of the United States from 1848 to 1855. The correspondence contains descriptions of cargo appraisal difficulties, smuggling, questions regarding use of the San Francisco storehouse and refunds of erroneously collected duties. Also included are letters documenting Browne's interest in the purchase and operation of the Western and Merced Mining Companies (both near San Francisco). It appears that Browne and his mining partners were also interested in developing San Francisco wharves and warehouses. The miscellaneous papers contain legal papers questioning appraisers' valuations, cargo invoices, and duty accounts, lists of vessels sailing out of Boston and Baltimore to California (1847-1849), and 1848-1849 duty accounts collected before California imposed revenue laws. The miscellaneous papers also include 1851 incorporation papers of the Western Mining Company, shares in mining companies and contracts, maps and receipts for construction of wharves and warehouses in San Francisco and Benecia, California.


Series III. Collector's Papers contains correspondence, accounts and enrollment lists, reflecting Brownes' position as Essex County Collector of Internal Revenue and Receiver of Commutation Money. Included in the miscellaneous paper is a petition of Danvers' "manufacturers and slaughterers" for their own Deputy Collector.


Series IV. Political and Business Papers reflects Browne's interests in national and New England politics, non-California mining ventures, savings banks, ship timber bending, and maritime law. The correspondence contains fascinating accounts of Washington and New England politics during the presidency of John Tyler. Included is news of the cabinet's resignation, reorganization of the Navy, the popularity of Henry Clay (1777-1852), and the Tyler re-nomination convention. Brownes' interest in maritime law is documented in two 1858 cases for which he acted as an attorney: the collision of the US Release and Brig Leontine, and the impressment of an American seaman off the Salem brigantine Rockingham by a French vessel. The miscellaneous papers contain deeds for land in Maine, incorporation papers of the Essex County Institute for Trusts and Deposits, petitioners for the Salem Five Cents Savings Bank, and a list of delegates to the 1850 Salem Representative Convention.


Series V. Family and Miscellaneous Papers includes receipts and poetry of Browne's grandfather, Joseph Vincent (1737-1832), shipping and business papers of Captain George Hodges, and miscellaneous essays, poetry, sheet music, memorandums, a deed, an index, and 1861 testimonials promoting Newell A. Thompson as Boston Navy Agent.


Biographical Sketch

Joseph Vincent Browne was born in 1803 in Salem, Massachusetts, to James (1759-1827) and Lydia (Vincent) Browne. In the 1830s he operated a shipping merchant firm, J. Vincent Browne and Company. In 1831 he married Mary P. Hodges (1805-1836).


From 1841 to 1845 he was a Navy Agent and a Navy Pension Agent in Boston. From 1845 to 1849 he was involved in supplying hemp to the United States Navy. As agent of the American Hemp Company, he developed interests in hemp fields near Springfield, Illinois, and in Missouri hemp preparation factories. Misconduct charges were brought against Browne concerning his handling of the Charlestown Navy Yard steam engine contract. These charges may have led to his dismissal from the position of navy agent in 1845.


From 1850 to 1853 he worked as an appraiser at the San Francisco Custom House. In 1851 he developed interests in western mining operations and was president of the Western Mining Company.


By 1858 he had moved back to Salem and worked as an attorney dealing with maritime cases, specifically cases regarding the collision of the USS Release and brig Leontine, and the impressment of an American seaman off the Salem brigantine Rockingham by a French vessel. In 1859 he served on a committee to promote savings banks. From 1862 to 1866 he worked as a collector of Internal Revenue and receiver of Commutation Money. As receiver, Browne collected fees from draftees who wished to be exempted from military service. Such funds were used to benefit sick and wounded soldiers.


He died in Salem on August 29, 1868.


Index Terms

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.

Browne, Joseph Vincent, 1737-1832
Clay, Henry, 1777-185
Hodges, George, Captain
Thompson, Newell Aldrich, 1808-1874
Tyler, John, 1790-1862
American Hemp Company
Charlestown Navy Yard (Mass.)
J. Vincent Browne & Co. (Salem, Mass.)
Leontine (Brig)
Merced Mining Co.
Rockingham (Brig)
USS Release
Western Mining Co.
Banks and banking
Customs administration
Hemp industry
Impressment
Marine protests
Maritime law
Merchants--Salem (Mass.)
Mineral industries
Mines and mineral resources
Mining engineering
Pensions, military
Poetry
Shipping
Smuggling
Salem (Mass.)
United States--Custom House, San Francisco
United States--Navy
United States--Navy--Supplies and stores
United States--Politics and governement

Restrictions

Restrictions on Access

This collection is open for research use.


Administrative Information

Copyright

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.

Preferred Citation

Joseph Vincent Browne (1803-1868) Papers, MSS 201, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, Mass.

Provenance

This collection is an integration and reorganization of two letterbooks, three scrapbooks, and one blotter. The blotter was donated by Mary O. Hodges in July 1913. The remainder of the collection is from an unknown source.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Sylvia B. Kennick, September 1985. Updated by Tamara Gaydos, December 2015.


Related Material


Ancestry.com. Massachusetts, Death Records, 1841-1915 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations, Inc., 2013.


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