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Sidney Breese Papers

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: BC199

Scope and Contents

The Sidney Breese Papers, 1731-1896, consist of 0.83 cubic feet of personal letters, correspondence, legal documents, unpublished papers, copybooks, speeches, published material, clippings, and laws, bills and resolutions. The collection reflects the personal as well as the public life of Sidney Breese, an early Illinois lawyer and political figure. Collection includes personal letters, correspondence, legal documents, unpublished papers, copybooks, speeches, published material and clippings, laws, bills, and resolutions. Among the topics covered are the legal affairs of William Morrison, Smith Thompson, Elias Kent Kane, William Engle, and George Forquer; the Black Hawk War, 1832; construction of railroads; abolition of slavery; the Mexican War; the Mormons in Utah; and Democratic Party politics of the 1840s. Major political correspondents include William H. Bissell, Stephen A. Douglas, James A. Shields, Matthew C. Perry, Alexander Bryan Johnson, Darius B. Holbrook, Jeremiah Black, John Dean Caton, J.L.D. Morrison and Richard Young. Also included is family correspondence from Breese’s sons; letters from Breese’s grandfather Henry A. Livingston; and the legal copybooks and will of Breese’s father Arthur Breese.


  • Created: 1731-1896
  • Other: Date acquired: 00/00/1913


Conditions Governing Access

Open for access.


0.83 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Arrangement Note

Dated correspondence is arranged chronologically, followed by published material, newspapers and clippings, and copybooks of Arthur Breese, Sidney Breese’s father. The first folder of the collection (Box 1) contains partial inventories of correspondence and printed material in the collection, arranged alphabetically by author. The lists were compiled prior to some additions to the collection, and are therefore incomplete. Correspondence dating from 1731 to 1896 (Boxes 1 and 2) includes a diploma from Union College, 1818; several letters of recommendation, 1819; various certificates for public and military office; letters and documents concerning the legal affairs of William Morrison, Smith Thompson, Elias Kent Kane and George Forquer; four documents from the Black Hawk War, 1832; deeds and legal documents, including material on the Slade Family dispute, 1834-1835; a power of attorney for descendants of Antoine Bienvenue, 1834; five letters, 1836-1837, concerning the business affairs of Dr. Thomas B. Afflick and George Rockwell; a copy of Breese’s letter of October 16, 1835, to John Y. Sawyer, on the subject of a central railroad; a letter from John C. Calhoun, July 27, 1839, about the extension of railroads from the east coast into Illinois; a letter from Gideon B. Smith, 1837, about importing special kinds of oil; letters of acknowledgement, 1834, from John Marshall and Daniel Webster; a personal letter, December 14, 1834, from senator John McCracken Robinson; letters about Democratic Party politics from Solon Borland, 1849. William H. Bissell, 1849, Stephen A. Douglas, 1846. Richard Mentor Johnson, 1843, Charles Lanphier, 1846, James Shields, 1844-1849, Martin Van Buren, 1842; two letters, February 3, 1847 and April 6, 1848, from Matthew C. Perry about naval affairs and the Mexican War; six letters, 1848, from author Alexander Bryan Johnson about fugitive slaves and politics; a letter, October 23, 1847, from Augustus C. French about public lands; letter from D.B. Holbrook of New York, about railroads and other matters; a group of about thirty letters written in 1858, urging Breese to run against Douglas for United States Senator on National Democratic Ticket, which Breese finally did, from the United States Attorney General Jeremiah Black, editor of Illinois State Democrat, James J. Clarkson, Chicago postmaster Isaac Cook, J.S. Coulter of Belleville, Jacob Gale, Archer G. Herndon, Phillip A. Hoyne of Chicago. Iowa Senator George. W Jones, S.H. Martin of Grayville, Judge O.C. Skinner of Quincy, and J.H. Sturgeon of St. Louis; copies of Breese’s remarks in the Senate on the deaths of Samuel McRoberts, 1843 and Chester Ashley, 1848; a fifty-one page paper, June 1848, on “the merits of the two candidates who have been nominated for president;” a seven-page letter by Sidney Breese to the editor of the Democratic Press, February 2, 1854, about Thomas Hoyne, free soil, abolitionists and the Nebraska Bill; a letter by Breese to James Duncan, November 19, 1852, regarding war with Mexico; two letters about Mormons in Utah, one from O.C. Skinner and the other from Breese to Lewis Cass, 1856; railroad letters from Mason Brayman and D.B. Holbrook; two letters from John Reynolds; one letter from Gustavus Koerner; five letters from jurist John Dean Caton; copy, October 2, 1877, by Breese, of notes that Caton made in an issue of Fremonts First and Second Expeditions in which Caton stated “this is the book which first suggested the idea of the Salt Valley as a retreat for the Mormons…”: a letter, September 15, 1863, from Breese about reconstruction; three letters, 1863, from lawyer Melville W. Fuller; a letter, 1863, from John Reynolds; and a business letter, 1875, from Edmond Menard. Family related materials includes letters from Breese’s grandfather Henry Livingston; two letters from Breese’s uncle Jedidiah Morse, 1821; five letters from Breese’s cousin Samuel F.B. Morse, 1854, 1863-1867; letters from Breese’s sons Joseph, Charles, Henry, Samuel, Sidney, Morrison and William; and the last will and testament of Arthur Breese, 1825, Sidney Breese’s father. Printed material in four folders (Box 2) includes printed bills; unpublished papers regarding railroads and the right of way through public lands in Illinois; several pamphlets about the Hudson’s Bay Company in Oregon and Breese’s speech on the Oregon Question, 1846; holograph papers by Breese on the Bank of Illinois at Shawneetown, constitutional amendments, and internal improvements; a list of Francis Charleville’s volunteers entitled to 200 acres of land each; an 1877 patent favor of William Morrison, 1824; and a response to resolutions of the Illinois Supreme Court on the death of President Lincoln. Two folders contain newspaper clippings dating from 1838 to 1879. Two copybooks, ca. 1788, used in legal practice by Arthur Breese are also part of the collection.

Accruals and Additions

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Other Unmapped
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Repository Details

Part of the Manuscript Collection Repository

112 North Sixth Street
Springfield IL 62701 US
(217) 558-8923