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Guide to the Thurlow Weed Papers
  AHMC Weed

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400

@ 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Teresa Mora

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on November 04, 2011
Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

Title: Thurlow Weed Papers
Dates [inclusive]: 1818-1882
Abstract: Correspondence, position papers/statements, resolution, newspaper clippings, recipes, lists, and notes pertaining to the professional and political life of Thurlow Weed, from 1818-1882.
Quantity: 0.3 Linear feet 162 items (157 pages and 4 newspaper clippings)
Location note: Manuscript Cage; Misc. Mss.
Call Phrase: AHMC Weed

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Biographical Note

November 15,1797 Born in Cairo, NY
April 26, 1818 Marriage to Catherine Ostrander
1824-1826 Owner and editor of Rochester Telegraph
1826 Published Anti-Masonic Enquirer
1829-1831 New York State Assemblyman
1832 Established Albany Evening Journal
1861 Envoy to Europe
1863 Moved to New York City
1867-1868 Editor of Commercial Advertiser
November 22, 1884 Died in New York City

Thurlow Weed was born in Cairo, New York on November 15,1797 to Joel and Mary Weed. His childhood consisted of a number of moves as his father, a farmer, searched for work. By the age of eight, Weed had started working and soon obtained a printer's apprenticeship. Continuing along this path, he became foreman on the Albany Register in 1817 where he began to make contributions as a writer. It was in this regard that his political motivations were first apparent, as Weed used his joumalistic platform to support DeWitt Clinton and his canal policy. After his marriage to Catherine Ostrander in 1818, Weed moved first from Norwich and then from Manlius, eventually securing a job at the Rochester Telegraph in 1824, which he purchased in 1825. It was in Rochester that his political intentions came to fruition as his involvement in regional politics grew, culminating in his election to the New York State Assembly in 1829.

Weed's political life soon took the forefront as he gave up the Telegraph to publish the Anti-Masonic Enquirer and he involved himself in the promotion of various candidates sympathetic to the Antimasonic platform. Despite his ties to the Antimasonic party Weed recognized the narrowness of its scope and often supported National Republican candidates at the state level. In 1831, Weed moved to Albany in order to edit the newly established Albany Evening Journal, "the official organ of the anti-masonic movement." There he continued his association with the Antimasonic party until 1832, when he became involved with the Whigs. It was through this association that he played an instrumental role in the elections of William H. Seward (a politician often supported by Weed) as governor of New York in 1838 and William Henry Harrison as president in 1840. His influence within the party grew as he continued to campaign successfully on behalf of the party candidates. However, with the refusal of Seward to run for re-election in 1842, Weed began to retreat from political life. In the following years he would continue to lend support to various campaigns, but to a lesser extent, taking time out to travel abroad.

By 1856 Weed had again realigned himself, this time with the newly established Republican party. He continued to campaign for Seward, in hopes of an 1860 presidential win, but became a staunch supporter of (and advisor to) Abraham Lincoln upon the former's defeat in the Republican primary. In 1861 President Lincoln appointed Weed, along with Archbishop John Joseph Hughes and Bishop Charles Pettit Mc Ilvaine, as envoys to secure European support for the Union.

As of 1863 Weed had left the Evening Journal, taking up residence in the city of New York. In 1867 he once again turned to journalism as the editor of the Commercial Advertiser, which he soon left due to his failing health. Weed continued to voice his political opinions as a frequent contributor to the press and as an advisor to many politicians.

Thurlow Weed died on November 22, 1884. He was survived by three daughters, one of whom, Harriet A. Weed had his autobiography, The Life of Thurlow Weed (CT.W3945A3), published posthumously in 1884.

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Scope and Content Note

The inclusive dates for this collection are 1818-1882 with the bulk dates of 1830-1875. This collection consists of a total of 162 items, the majority of which is correspondence, both to and from Weed. The papers also contain a minimal amount of position papers/statements, a resolution, newspaper clippings, recipes, lists, and notes. A good portion of the correspondence deals with politics and political issues of the time (mainly those of the Antimasonic party). Most significant are those letters written to and by Francis Granger, a prominent New York statesman, which comprise the bulk of correspondence for the years 1830-1849. In addition, much of the correspondence demonstrates Weed's prominence within the political community of the day, as some letters deal with openings and appointments to key government positions such as that of State Engineer and Superintendent of the Patent Office (1828, 1849). Key correspondents are Granger and John L. Talcott (whose letters to Weed span 1861-1868). Additional items of interest include a letter written by Cornelius Vanderbilt regarding the employment of John W. Hurst (1875), a social letter from Archbishop Purcell (1875), a letter to Horace Greeley, political and business associate of Weed (1847), in which Weed discusses Frederick Douglass and political matters, and a letter from John Alsop King handwritten on a printed Antimasonic statement (1829).

Correspondents who appear more than once in the collection or whose letters discuss topics or persons of major interest include Francis Granger, Horace Greeley, John Alsop King, J.K. McClure, Archbishop John Baptist Purcell, John L. Talcott, T.F. Talcott, James Taylor, W.H. Tobey, William B. Townsend, Cornelius Vanderbilt, ____ Van Wyck, G. Wallace, Henry D. Ward, R.N. Ward, Farris 0. Wattles, J.B. Webb, J. Watson Webb, Henry Wheaton, A. Williams, J.E. Williams, T. C. Wittenberg, George Wood, and Rich H. Woods. The collection contains additional letters to and from a variety of other people, which, as with the above, primarily deal with the politics of the day.


The Thurlow Weed Miscellaneous Manuscripts are arranged chronologically. The collection is organized in three folders: folder 1 includes materials dated 1818 and 1822-1849; folder 2 includes materials dated 1850-1878 and 1882; and folder 3 includes materials without dates.

Three folders within Miscellaneous Manuscripts.

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Douglass, Frederick, 1817-1895
  • Granger, Francis, 1792-1868
  • Greeley, Horace, 1811-1872
  • King, John Alsop, 1817-1900
  • Purcell, John Baptist, 1800-1883

Document Type

  • Clippings
  • Correspondence
  • Letters (correspondence)
  • Resolutions

Subject Organizations

  • Albany Evening Journal
  • Anti-Masonic Enquirer
  • Antimasonic Party (N.Y.)
  • Republican Party (N.Y.)
  • Whig Party (N.Y.)

Subject Topics

  • American newspapers--New York
  • Political consultants--United States
  • Political parties--United States

Subject Places

  • New York (State)--Politics and government--19th century
  • United States--Politics and government--19th century

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Administrative Information


The majority of the Thurlow Weed collection was donated by Samuel V. Hoffman on January 14., 1927; the provenance of the balance of material is unknown.

Access Restrictions

Open to qualified researchers.

Photocopying undertaken by staff only. Limited to twenty exposures of stable, unbound material per day. (Researchers may not accrue unused copy amounts from previous days.)

Use Restrictions

Permission to quote from this collection in a publication must be requested and granted in writing. Send permission requests, citing the name of the collection from which you wish to quote, to

Library Director
The New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as Thurlow Weed Miscellaneous Manuscripts, The New-York Historical Society.

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Container List

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: AHMC- Weed Folder : 1 Correspondence, statements, resolution, and notes
1818, 1822-1849
Box: AHMC- Weed Folder : 2 Correspondence, notes, and newspaper clippings
1850-1878, 1882
Box: AHMC- Weed Folder : 3 Correspondence, notes, recipes, and lists

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