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Thomas family papers

 Collection
Identifier: MS-0763
Included is a large group of letters and ephemera from the Thomas family, a family with deep Maryland roots known for its ancestors, politicians John Hanson and John Hanson Thomas. John Hanson (1715-1783) was the first elected President of the United States in Congress Assembled, the first to serve a one-year term under the provisions of the Articles of Confederation. Dr. John Hanson Thomas (1813-1881) was a renowned Maryland legislator arrested during the Civil War for voting for Secession, and grandson of John Hanson, President of the "United States in Congress Assembled". The papers range from 1835 to 1976.

Dates

  • 1835 - 1976

Creator

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is housed off-site and requires 48-hours' notice for retrieval. Please contact Special Collections for more information. Collection is open for use.

Conditions Governing Use

Single copies may be made for research purposes. Researchers are responsible for determining any copyright questions. It is not necessary to seek our permission as the owner of the physical work to publish or otherwise use public domain materials that we have made available for use, unless Johns Hopkins University holds the copyright.

Extent

2.26 Cubic Feet (4 letter size document boxes, 1 flat box, 1 oversize flat box)

John Hanson Thomas (1813-1881)

Rewritten from dealer description:

Dr. John Hanson Thomas was born in 1813, the son of John Hanson Thomas of Frederick, Maryland and Mary Isham Colston of Berkeley County, Virginia. Dr. John Hanson Thomas was the grandson of John Hanson (1715-1783) a Maryland native who was born in Charles County and spent most of his life in Frederick County. This John Hanson is best known as the so-called first president of the United States original government as laid out under the Articles of Confederation called the "President of the United States in Congress Assembled."

Dr. Thomas was born in Frederick, Maryland, and raised in Virginia. He came to Baltimore about 1834 and commenced to study medicine. He was appointed one of the resident students of the Baltimore Infirmary, and was graduated in March of 1836 and practiced medicine a short time. He soon became involved in politics and banking. He was a noted bank president in Baltimore (Merchant's Bank) and a member of the City Council, and later a member of the Maryland legislature during the Civil War from 1861 to 1865.

He was arrested with ten others at the beginning of the Civil War and imprisoned for six months at various Federal forts because he voted for secession. After his arrest on September 12, 1861, he was initially confined at Fort Monroe, then transferred to Fort Lafayette on September 26, and on October 30, 1861 sent to Fort Warren. Friends and associates lobbied for his release, including the cashier of the Farmer's Bank, who stated that "his absence has caused some inconvenience in the administration of the business of the bank." On January 9, 1862, U.S. Secretary of State Seward authorized Major General John Adams Dix to release Thomas, "granting or withholding it with such conditions or limitations as you may deem proper," that is, allowing Dix to set the parole terms, if any. But Thomas would not cooperate, declined a parole, and thus guaranteed his continued incarceration. Nevertheless, on February 20 1862, Dix still recommended his release, again, subject to parole. Sometime around February 21, Thomas apparently gave his parole and was released. General Dix is the officer who arrested the Maryland legislature.

Postwar, Thomas was director of several insurance companies and the first president of the Baltimore Academy of Music Company. He died in 1881. Dr. Thomas married Annie Campbell Gordon of Falmouth, VA, daughter of Basil and Anna Campbell Gordon. They had at least six children: Basil Gordon Thomas; John Hanson Thomas who married Mary Howard Beirne, daughter of Hon George P. Beirne, of Huntsville, Alabama; Nannie Gordon Thomas; Mary Randolph Thomas; John Marshall Thomas; and Douglas Hamilton Thomas who was President of Merchant's Bank in Baltimore for thirty five years and was a well-known Baltimore socialite.
Douglas Hamilton Thomas (1847-1919) Rewritten from dealer description:

Douglas Hamilton Thomas was the President of Merchant's Bank in Baltimore for thirty five years and was a well-known Baltimore socialite. Douglas Hamilton Thomas was named for his uncle Douglas Hamilton Gordon, who during the Civil War raised and equipped a company of soldiers at his own expense, and entered service of the Confederacy as quartermaster, being so near-sighted that he could not serve actively in the field. He was offered the Secretary of Treasury of the Confederacy, but declined.

Douglas Hamilton Thomas married Alice Lee Whitridge, daughter of Dr. John and Catharine C. Whitridge and had three children: son Douglas H. Thomas, Jr.; son John H. Thomas; and daughter Alice Lee Whitridge Thomas. Alice Lee Whitridge Thomas married Robert Hooper Stevenson, Jr. in 1916. The correspondence deals mainly with this line of the Thomas family: Dr. John Hanson Thomas, his son Douglas Hamilton Thomas, his grandson Douglas Hamilton Thomas, Jr., all three of the men's wives, and Douglas Hamilton Thomas, Jr.'s daughter Alice Lee Whitridge Thomas, which is presumably the line that the collection came down from, as Alice's children Katherine and Alice Lee are represented in this collection, and in particular the son of Katherine L. Thomas (1901-1972) and her husband Count Mathias Oppersdorrf (1899-1969) of Germany are represented. Their son Mathias Oppersdorff (born 1935) of Wakefield, Rhode Island, is a published travel writer and photographer.
John Hanson (1715-1783) John Hanson (1715-1783) was a merchant and public official from Maryland during the era of the American Revolution. In 1779, Hanson was elected as a delegate to the Continental Congress after serving in a variety of roles for the Patriot cause in Maryland. He signed the Articles of Confederation in 1781 after Maryland finally joined the other states in ratifying them.

In November 1781, he was elected as President of the United States in Congress Assembled, and became the first president (third overall) to serve a one-year term under the provisions of the Articles of Confederation. While George Washington is recognized by historians as the first President of the United States, having served under the current United States Constitution, some biographies of Hanson have made the unconventional argument that Hanson was the first holder of the office.

Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Hanson

Content Description

Rewritten from dealer description:

Included is a large group of letters and ephemera from the Thomas family, a family with deep Maryland roots known for its ancestors, politicians John Hanson and John Hanson Thomas. The papers most notably include members from the four generations of Thomases: John Hanson Thomas, his wife Anne "Annie" Campbell Gordon, their son Douglas Hamilton Thomas, his wife Alice Lee Whitridge, their son Douglas Hamilton Thomas, Jr., his wife Bessie Lee Chadwick, and their daughters Katherine and Alice Thomas; most of materials were created or written in the Baltimore or Frederick, Maryland area. There are also other letters from various friends and family, as well a large collection of both printed and manuscript ephemera from the family. The papers range from 1835 to 1976.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Purchased from M. Benjamin Katz Rare Books in July 2016.

Processing Information

Processed by Annie Tang in November 2016. Much of the descriptive notes were derived from the dealer descriptions which accompanied this collection.

Repository Details

Part of the Special Collections Repository

Contact:
The Sheridan Libraries
Special Collections
3400 N Charles St
Baltimore MD 21218 USA