New York State Governor Daniel D. Tompkins Gubernatorial and Personal Records

Held by the New York State Archives

Overview of the Records


New York State Archives

New York State Education Department

Cultural Education Center

Albany, NY 12230

This series contains mostly correspondence but also some accounts, essays, and related records documenting Daniel Tompkins' public and private life from his college years through his term as vice president. Included are letters from Thomas Jefferson, James Monroe, Martin Van Buren, DeWitt Clinton, and Henry Dearborn. Records relate to the War of 1812; appointments; Indians; political disputes; state prison administration; slavery; John Jacob Astor’s arrest for treason; morality issues; and Tompkins' finances and property. These records are restricted due to damage.
18.1 cubic feet (52 boxes)
Inclusive Dates:
Series Number:


Original chronological arrangement needs to be restored.

Scope and Content Note

This series contains mostly correspondence but also some accounts, essays, and related records documenting Daniel Tompkins' public and private life from his college years through term as Vice President under James Monroe.

The bulk of the records is incoming correspondence and copies and drafts of outgoing correspondence generated by Tompkins as governor of New York from 1808-1817. The series includes letters from: Thomas Jefferson; James Monroe; Martin Van Buren; DeWitt Clinton; Eli Whitney; John Jacob Astor; Henry Dearborn; and William Eustis. The records cover a variety of topics as outlined below.

1) Military matters, especially relating to the approach and conduct of the War of 1812: from President Thomas Jefferson (1809) expressing determination to uphold American rights; offers to serve in the military; recruiting troops and ordering them into active service; payment and supply of militia troops; movement of troops; requests from various towns to aid in their defense; recommendations for appointments of military officers; disputes over appointments and promotions; resignations of officers; notification of declaration of war (1812) from Secretary of War William Eustis, President James Madison and Secretary of State James Monroe (printed proclamation), and U.S. Congressmen from New York State; assignment of officers to command after declaration of war; delivery of arms and ammunition to troops; relations with and the role of Indians (e.g. some Indians receiving arms from the British); from Eli Whitney concerning his delivery of muskets; and from Secretary of War James Monroe informing Tompkins of the peace treaty (1815).

2) Other administrative matters: recommendations for and appointments to government offices; Governor Morgan Lewis' dispute with Tompkins, who had just defeated him in the 1807 gubernatorial election, over Lewis' failure to account for money taken from the Treasury; objections to and support for Tompkins' proroguing the legislature to prevent passage of a bill to incorporate the Bank of America; relations and discussions with Indians (e.g. purchase of land from St. Regis Indians); Tompkins' accounts with New York State; overcrowding of the state prison and the possibility of building a new state prison and prison for young criminals; compensation to citizens who had suffered losses in the War of 1812; from Society of Friends pleading with Tompkins to end slavery in New York State (1816); request for tax and military service exemptions for manufacturers; from John Jacob Astor concerning his arrest on treason charges (1812) and settling with the state (1817); official notifcation of Tompkins' reelection as governor (1816), signed by Attorney General Martin Van Buren and the the secretary of state, comptroller, and treasurer; acknowledgments from several persons that received appointment notifications as presidential and vice presidential electors (1816) (including one from Nathaniel Rochester, founder of Rochester, N.Y.); proposal from Reverend Samuel Miller for U.S. Constitutional amendment acknowledging God (1817);

official notification from Henry Clay of Tompkins' election as Vice President (February 22, 1817); and arguments to John C. Calhoun against charges that Tompkins owes the U.S. money from War of 1812 loans, and related records (1821, 1822).

3) Personal matters: draft and completed essays and orations (1792-1795) from Tompkins' years at Columbia College concerning such topics as: criteria for electing a man to office; the Greek and Roman languages; the need to "civilize" and ally with the Indians instead of warring against them; the need to free and "civilize" the slaves; the need to prohibit plays because they are "replete with lewdness and debauchery"; record of deposits into or payments from Tompkins' account; letters from friends and acquaintances concerning banks, war, and other issues; appraisal of and offers to sell part of Tompkins' real property on Staten Island; and letter to his wife Hannah Minthorne, January 24, 1820, in Castleton, New York ("shall be home soon").

Use of Records

Access Restrictions

Restricted: Because of severe burn damage to the records, researchers should first consult Public Papers of Daniel D. Tompkins.

Alternate Formats Available

Much of the correspondence related to military affairs, especially the War of 1812, is published in Public Papers of Daniel D. Tompkins (3 volumes, Albany and New York, 1898-1902); available at the New York State Library, Albany, N.Y.

Related Information

Other finding aids

Remaining index pages from letter books provide name of correspondent and date, but only some portions of the letter books survived the 1911 New York State Capitol fire.

Public Papers of Daniel D. Tompkins (3 volumes, Albany and New York, (1898-1902) contains an alphabetical name and subject index to correspondence concerning military affairs.

Related Publications

Irwin, Ray Watkins, Daniel D. Tompkins: Governor of New York and Vice President of the United States (1968).

Custodial History

Purchased by the State from the Tompkins family for $5,000 in 1885. Papers were bound into volumes by the State Library in the 1880s and disbound after suffering extensive burn damage in the State Capitol fire of 1911.

Access Terms

Personal Name(s):
Corporate Name(s):
Geographic Name(s):