Processing and conservation of this collection
were funded in part by grants from the National Historical Publications and
Records Commission and 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
Phillips, Stephen H. (Stephen Henry), 1823-1897
Stephen Henry Phillips (1823-1925)
9 linear feet (21 boxes)
The Stephen Henry Phillips
papers document the life of this Salem, Massachusetts, attorney and his
SERIES I. Personal Papers
D. Printed Matter
SERIES II. Legal
A. Legal Practice
B. Insurance Litigation/Legislation
C. Spaulding Partnership
D. Alabama Claims Papers
SERIES III. Business Activities SERIES IV. Margaret Duncan Phillips Papers
Scope and Content Note
The Stephen Henry Phillips papers document the life of this Salem, Massachusetts,
attorney and his wife. The material consists of holograph essays, correspondence,
notebooks, business papers, financial records, and legal documents. Phillips'
personal papers provide some insights to his sentiments regarding slavery, the
Hawaiian question, and American history. The professional papers document his legal
and business activities after 1846. Included are the papers of his wife, Margaret,
which consist mainly of correspondence, journals, and scrapbooks. Her papers shed
some light upon the Phillips' home life in San Francisco through letters from her
husband. The collection has been arranged in four series.
Series I. Personal Papers has been organized into
five subseries. Subseries A. Writings includes a group of
essays on topics in American history, particularly the question of Hawaiian
sovreignity in the 1870s. Of particular interest are two essays on Hawaii that are
bound with an introduction by Stephen Willard Phillips, his son. Other significant
items are a centennial address to the citizens of Vallejo, California, and an essay
entitled "Chinamen in America." Subseries B.
Correspondence includes letters and letterbooks. Drafts of letters by
Phillips to King Kamehameha V of Hawaii (1867) and Charles Francis Adams reveal his
respect for the Hawaiian monarch and his admiration of Adams and other Harvard
University graduates. The majority of the correspondence in this series concerns an
article by Phillips on the role of United States Attorney General Edwin M. Stanton
on the eve of the Civil War. Letters from George O. Holyoke and an enclosure in the
Charles W. Clifford correspondence (November 17, 1892) provide personal
recollections from the last days of the Buchanan presidency. Subseries C. Legal/Financial contains legal documents, stock
transactions, promissory notes, receipts, account books and check books. Subseries D. Printed Matter includes certificates, news
clippings, bulletins, annual reports, train tickets, invitations, and other printed
items. Subseries E. Miscellaneous contains notes,
accounts, receipts, a sketch, a blueprint, a handwritten family tree of the Appleton
family, a blank books, and more.
Series II. Legal contains a collection of documents
relative to murder trials, separation agreements, probate work, and corporate
matters. Subseries A. Legal Practice contains records
from his partnership with George P. Sanger and other law offices. Subseries B. Insurance Litigation/Legislation contains
correspondence and records from Phillips' work at various insurance companies. Subseries C. Spaulding Partnership includes a register of
cases handled in 1878 and 1879. Documentation of about 40% of the cases has
survived. Each case is separated with a blank sheet of acid-free paper. Within each
case, legal documents are filed first, then correspondence, followed by receipts and
notes. A list of cases appearing in the register, but with no documentation, is
listed in Appendix I. Of interest is an 1861 letter from Edwin M. Stanton to
Phillips regarding Massachusetts vs. Rhode Island, a border dispute. Subseries E. Miscellaneous consists of cases that could not
be associated with any particular Phillips office or partner. The cases are
separated from each other by a blank sheet of acid-free paper. Within each case
legal documents are filed first, followed by correspondence, receipts, and notes. Of
interest is a deposition relative to litigation between Edward Muybridge and Leland
Stanford concerning early experiments in motion photography.
Series III. Business Activities documents Phillips'
close association with Charles Augustus Williams, who retained Phillips as his
financial manager. Other papers illustrate Phillips' work as treasurer and trustee
for mining companies in Southern California and Nevada.
Series IV. Margaret Duncan Phillips Papers contains
documentation of her family life. Subseries A.
Correspondence begins with letters from Margaret's arrival in Hawaii and
describes her life there and in San Francisco. Later correspondence is associated
with the journals that document Margaret's travels to Europe and the Far East in the
early twentieth century. The letters to her sons, Stephen Willard and James Duncan,
describe her visits to a number of European and Asian cities. Box 21 contains
condolence letters to her son, James Duncan, and his wife upon Margaret's death in
1926. Subseries D. Photographs contains about 40
photographs of Spain, 10 photographs of Europe, 20 photographs of Hawaii, and about
50 postcards from various locations collected during her travels.
Stephen Henry Phillips was born on August 16, 1823, in
Salem, Massachusetts, at the Charter Street home of Stephen Clarendon and Jane
(Appleton) Phillips. The success of the Phillips family shipping business enabled
him to attend a number of private schools including the "Select Classical School"
founded by Salmon P. Chase in Washington, D.C. Phillips entered Harvard University
in 1838 at the age of fifteen and completed his baccalaureate in 1842. He then
entered the Dane Law School and completed the course in 1844.
Upon graduation Phillips worked for the Boston lawyer Benjamin R. Curtis and was
accepted in to the Essex County bar in 1846. He edited the Monthly Law Reporter from 1847 to 1850 when he established his own law
practice in Salem. In 1851 Phillips was appointed Essex County District Attorney and
in 1857 accepted the position of Massachusetts Attorney General, which he maintained
In 1866 Phillips accepted the post of Attorney General for the Kingdom of Hawaii
under King Kamehameha V and moved to Honolulu. As one of four cabinet ministers he
often handled foreign relations as well as the legal affairs of the kingdom. While
in Hawaii, Phillips met Margaret Duncan (1847-1926), a
Haverhill, Massachusetts native, who traveled to the island with her infirm sister
Rebecca to take advantage of the more favorable climate. Phillips married Margaret
in 1871, and with their newborn son, Stephen Willard (1873-1955), they moved to San
Francisco in 1873. There Stephen became Resident Director and Solicitor for the
Equitable Life Insurance Company and also the father of a second son, James Duncan
(1876-1954). In the latter half of the decade he served as counsel for the
California State Board of Railway Commissioners. In 1881 the family moved back to
Haverhill, and then to Danvers, where Phillips resumed his practice. In 1883 he was
appointed Assistant Counsel for the United States for Alabama Claims Cases. The last
years of his life were spent handling financial and legal affairs.
After Phillips death in 1897, Margaret (Duncan) Phillips spent much of her time
traveling throughout Europe and Asia. Between 1901 and 1911 she is known to have
made five extensive tours of Northern Europe, the Mediterranean, Japan, and China,
culminating in a trip to Bermuda and the Windward Island in 1921. She passed away in
Salem on July 31, 1926.
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.
Phillips, Margaret (Duncan), 1847-1926
Attorneys general--United States
Probate law and practice
China--Description and travel--20th century
Great Britain--Description and travel--20th century
Hawaii--Description and travel--19th century
Hawaii--History to 1893
Japan--Description and travel--20th century
United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783
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
Stephen Henry Phillips (1823-1925) Papers, E 4, Phillips Library, Peabody Essex
Museum, Salem, Mass.
This material was donated to the Peabody Museum of Salem by the estate of his
grandson, Stephen Phillips (acc #19,823). Two folders of correspondence (B12 F1A and
B13 F5) were owned by the Essex Institute, but the provenance is unknown. Papers
were removed from the Stephen Willard Philips Papers (E
3) and added to this collection. Materials associated with Margaret
Duncan Phillips were originally stored in a writing desk donated to the Peabody
Museum by the Stephen Phillips estate (acc #M15054). Removed from this collection
are four maps used in the Massachusetts vs. Rhode Island border dispute and two maps
of Kyoto, Japan, removed from the Margaret Duncan Phillips papers.
Collection processed by Robert P. Spindler, December 1986. Updated by Tamara Gaydos,
Hurd, D. Hamilton. History of Essex County, Massachusetts with
Biographical Sketches of Many of Its Pioneers and Prominent Men.
Philadelphia: J.W. Lewis, 1888.
Phillips, Albert M. Phillips Genealogies; including the
Family of George Phillips, First Minister of Watertown, Mass. ... Also the
Families of Ebenezer Phillips, of Southboro, Mass., Thomas Phillips, of Duxbury,
Mass., Thomas Phillips, of Marshfield, Mass., John Phillips, of Easton, Mass.,
James Phillips, of Ipswich, Mass. With Brief Genealogies of Walter Phillips, of
Damariscotta, Me., Andrew Phillips, of Kittery, Me., Michael, Richard, Jeremy
and Jeremiah Phillips, of Rhode Island; and Fragmentary Records, of Early
American Families of This Name. Auburn, MA: Press of C. Hamilton,
Worcester, Mass., 1885.
Whitehill, Walter Muir. The East India Marine Society and
the Peabody Museum of Salem; a Sesquicentennial History. Salem, MA:
Peabody Museum, 1949.
Stephen Willard Phillips Papers, 1604-1950, E 3
Phillips Family Papers, 1794-1943, MSS 58
Phillips Family Papers, 1636-1897, MH 4
Essex Bar Association, In memorial: Stephen Henry
Phillips, CT275.P5255 I5 1897
The Stephen Henry Phillips papers document the life of this Salem, Massachusetts, attorney and his wife.
California--History--1850-1950; China--Description and travel--20th century; Great Britain--Description and travel--20th century; Hawaii--Description and travel--19th century; Hawaii--History to 1893; Japan--Description and travel--20th century; Massachusetts--History--18th century; United States--History--Revolution, 1775-1783; Phillips, Margaret (Duncan), 1847-1926; Alabama claims; Attorneys general--Hawaii; Attorneys general--Massachusetts; Attorneys general--United States; Diaries; Lawyers; Mineral industries--Finance; Photography--History--California; Probate law and practice
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.
This material was donated to the Peabody Museum of Salem by the estate of his grandson, Stephen Phillips (acc #19,823). Two folders of correspondence (B12 F1A and B13 F5) were owned by the Essex Institute, but the provenance is unknown. Papers were removed from the Stephen Willard Philips Papers (E 3) and added to this collection. Materials associated with Margaret Duncan Phillips were originally stored in a writing desk donated to the Peabody Museum by the Stephen Phillips estate (acc #M15054).