Thomas Jefferson Papers

Roger Sherman Baldwin to Thomas Jefferson, 24 February 1822

From Roger Sherman Baldwin

New Haven February 24th 1822


Although I have not the honor of a personal acquaintance with your excellency, yet the knowledge that you were intimately acquainted with the public character of my late Grandfather Roger Sherman, and were associated with him on some of the most interesting occasions, during the early periods of our government, has induced me to take the liberty of addressing you in re[la]tion to him.

A biography of the signers of the declaration of Independence having been undertaken in Philadelphia, the connections of his family have been solicited to prepare that of Mr Sherman; and one of them is now engaged in procuring the materials. Thinking it not improbable that some interesting facts in relation [to]1 him, may be within the knowledge of your excellency I have ventured to solicit, if perfectly convenient, a short communication of your excellency’s views of his character as a legislator and a Statesman.

Hoping that this request will not be deemed an improper intrusion upon your excellency’s retirement

I am, with the greatest respect your excellency’s most obedt servant

Roger Sherman Baldwin

RC (DLC); torn at seal; endorsed by TJ as received 7 Mar. 1822 and so recorded in SJL; with Dft of TJ to Baldwin, 9 Mar. 1822, beneath signature. RC (MoSHi: TJC-BC); address cover only; with Dft of TJ to Stephen T. Mitchell, 24 June 1824, on verso; addressed: “His Excellency Thomas Jefferson Monticello Virginia”; stamped; postmarked New Haven, 28 Feb.

Roger Sherman Baldwin (1793–1863), attorney and public official, was a native of New Haven, Connecticut. There he attended the Hopkins School before graduating from Yale College (later Yale University) in 1811. Baldwin next studied law, first with his father and then under Tapping Reeve and James Gould in Litchfield, Connecticut. In 1814 he was admitted to the bar and commenced a long legal career in New Haven. An opponent of slavery, Baldwin successfully defended a fugitive slave who had escaped from the service of Henry Clay. He played a leading role in freeing Africans brought to America on the ship Amistad in litigation beginning in Connecticut in 1839 and concluding, assisted by John Quincy Adams, at the United States Supreme Court in 1841. Baldwin served in the Connecticut Senate, 1837–38, and in the Connecticut House of Representatives, 1841–42. He ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1843 but won the next two elections as the Whig candidate, serving until 1846. The following year Baldwin was appointed to fill a vacancy in the United States Senate. In 1848 he was elected to complete that senate term, which ended in 1851, but he lost a bid for reelection. Baldwin helped organize the Republican Party in Connecticut, served as a presidential elector for Abraham Lincoln, and attended an 1861 peace conference in Washington, D.C. He died in New Haven (ANB description begins John A. Garraty and Mark C. Carnes, eds., American National Biography, 1999, 24 vols. description ends ; DAB description begins Allen Johnson and Dumas Malone, eds., Dictionary of American Biography, 1928–36, repr. 1968, 20 vols. in 10 description ends ; William Draper Lewis, ed., Great American Lawyers [1907–09], 3:493–527; Dexter, Yale Biographies description begins Franklin Bowditch Dexter, Biographical Sketches of the Graduates of Yale College, 1885–1912, 6 vols. description ends , 6:369–73; The Litchfield Law School, 1784–1833 [1900], 14; New Haven Daily Palladium, 19 Feb. 1863).

1Omitted word editorially supplied.

Index Entries

  • Baldwin, Roger Sherman; and proposed biography of R. Sherman search
  • Baldwin, Roger Sherman; identified search
  • Baldwin, Roger Sherman; letter from search
  • Biography of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence (J. Sanderson) search
  • books; biographical search
  • Declaration of Independence; signers of search
  • Sanderson, John; Biography of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence search
  • Sherman, Roger; andBiography of the Signers to the Declaration of Independence (J. Sanderson) search