John Pendleton Kennedy papers
- Kennedy, John Pendleton, 1795-1870 (Person)
Conditions Governing Access
Conditions Governing Use
4.75 Cubic Feet (1 half-size legal box, 1 full-size letter box, 116 bound volumes)
Biographical / Historical
Kennedy was also very involved in politics. He was an active Whig party member, elected to the Maryland House of Delegates in 1820 and later to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1838. As a congressman, he engineered the appropriation that underwrote Samuel Morse's successful experiment with the magnetic telegraph between Baltimore and Washington in 1844. In 1852, President Millard Fillmore appointed Kennedy to the post of Secretary of the Navy. During his time serving as Secretary, Kennedy organized several important naval expeditions, including Commodore Matthew Perry's voyage to Japan. Kennedy supported the Union during the Civil War and urged passage of the Emancipation Proclamation. He used his influence to create legislation in Maryland that would ultimately end slavery in the state in 1864.
Kennedy was close friends with George Peabody, supporting him in his mission to bring education in the arts and humanities to Baltimore. Kennedy worked with Charles James Madison Eaton and other trustees to outline a formal plan for building the Peabody Library and Peabody Conservatory of Music. Kennedy served on the Board of Trustees for the Peabody Institute, serving as the second President of the Board of Trustees. He was also influential in establishing St. Mary’s College of Maryland and the U.S. Naval Academy Band, and protecting the historic city of St. Mary’s City, Maryland.
Scope and Contents
The papers have been organized into five series. Series 1 contains 34 volumes of manuscript correspondence between Kennedy and his wife, his publishers, and many prominent people in American life. Series 2 contains an extensive collection of Kennedy's journals, notes, and speeches. Series 3 includes clippings and scrapbooks that relate to politics, history, and literature. Series 4 contains manuscripts of Kennedy's books, including the two-volume manuscript of Swallow Barn. Series 5 includes miscellaneous business documents and legal papers collected by Kennedy over his career.
As an author, statesman, and attorney, Kennedy was well connected to other important figures in American cultural and political life in the 19th century. Included in his voluminous correspondence are letters by John Quincy Adams, George William Brown, Henry Clay, Charles Dickens, C.J.M. Eaton, Millard Fillmore, Washington Irving, Andrew Jackson, Elisha Kane, Robert E. Lee, George Peabody, Matthew C. Perry, Edgar Allan Poe, W.M. Thackeray, Daniel Webster, Robert C. Winthrop, and many more.
The documents within items 9 and 10 in Series 5 (call numbers 77a and 77b) have been taken out of their original housing. Each of the accordion files were filled with documents organized under specific months. These documents have been taken out of the files, but left in original order. Each folder corresponds with the month those documents were filed within.