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Brown (James) Papers

(Mss. 44)


Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections

Special Collections, Hill Memorial Library

Louisiana State University Libraries

Baton Rouge, Louisiana State University

Reformatted 2007

Contents of Inventory

Biographical/Historical Note


Scope and Content Note


Series Description(s)


Cross References


Container List


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0.5 linear ft. (95 items)

Geographic locations.

New Orleans, Louisiana; Washington, D. C.; Fredericktown, Md.

Inclusive dates.


Bulk dates.



French, Spanish, and English


Business papers and correspondence of James Brown, New Orleans attorney and later U.S. Attorney



Restrictions on access.

If microfilm is available, photocopies must be made from microfilm.

Related collections.

James Brown Letter, Mss. 1195

James Brown Letter, Mss. 1240

James Brown Letter, Mss. 2261


Copyright of the original materials is retained by descendants of the creators in accordance with U.S. copyright law.


James Brown Papers, Mss. 44, Louisiana and Lower Mississippi Valley Collections, LSU Libraries, Baton Rouge, La.

Stack location(s).

U:20; OS:B; F:9

Biographical/Historical Note

James Brown (1766-1835), an attorney and politician, practiced law in New Orleans. He was named Secretary of the Territory of Orleans in 1804, and was appointed by President Thomas Jefferson as United States Attorney for the Orleans Territory the following year. In 1812 he served as a delegate to Louisiana's first constitutional convention. He was twice elected to the U.S. Senate, 1813-1817 and 1819-1823 and served as Minister to France from 1823-1829.

Scope and Content Note

This collection consists of legal and business papers and correspondence (some in French) of James Brown. Legal and business papers include a fragment of his commission (1805) from President Thomas Jefferson to the position of U. S. Attorney, documents recording sales of slaves, legal disputes, debts, and suits, papers relative to a free African-American girl, and a questionnaire relative to slavery, depositions and receipts.

The majority of the letters are to Brown from William N. Brown and General James Wilkinson; some of General Wilkinson's letters concern military matters.

Among the correspondence is a letter pertaining to the purchase of the Floridas from Spain, and a letter from Walker Baylor expressing his opinion of Colonel Burr after meeting him. There is also the correspondence of Colonel Thomas Butler containing letters addressed to him from General Wilkinson and a letter to Thomas Jefferson, President of the United States.

Series Descriptions

Series I, Business Papers, 1764-1811, undated

The majority of the collection consists of business papers, such as legal and financial documents, of James Brown. Financial papers include account sheets between James Brown and others such as Trotter & Scott (1799-1801) and Samuel Brown (May-July 1805). Three statements of account in Spanish pertain to sales of cargo of the brig Mary (1810). A receipt for four issues of La Lanterne Magique is also included (1808).

Legal documents include a summary (in French) of a lawsuit of Bécat & Dalbier v. Salomon Prévost (1764), a land patent to Patrick Stuart for 1000 acres (May 27, 1777), a certified copy of a marriage contract between Salomon Prevost and Dana Margarita Verret in 1789 (March 1811), and a number of testimonies and depositions, some in English and some in French (1806-1810, undated). One such deposition belongs to Francis Whitmell and concerns a stowaway slave on the ship Thomas Jefferson (November 28, 1808), while a testimonial in French discusses a free African-American woman, Marie Louise (December 26, 1809). Also included is a petition (in French) concerning the suit of Jacques Negle v. Jean Louis Laurent for the reimbursement of a murdered slave named Bienvenu (January 19, 1806). A number of agreements and bonds between ship masters and merchants are included (1805-1810) as are documents related to insurance claims. Other legal papers such as bills of sale of slaves are found in the collection, one, a sale between John Clay of New Orleans and Robert Perry of Kentucky (April 1807), and the other, a sale of two slaves by Hart, Bartlett, & Cox to James Brown (March 1809).

Also included is the commission of James Brown, Esq. of Kentucky, U.S. Attorney for Orleans District by Thomas Jefferson (October 21, 1805).

Series II, Correspondence, 1795-1810

Correspondence consists of personal, legal, military letters. Personal correspondence includes a letter to James Brown from his brother, John Brown in Philadelphia (May 16, 1795) discussing land opportunities and a letter to James Brown from Mr. Parrill thanking Brown for his hospitality to himself and his wife (January 25, 1805).

There is also the correspondence of Colonel Thomas Butler. An appeal (copy) from Butler to U.S. President Thomas Jefferson discusses the court's decision regarding military disobedience to the order regulating the length of one's hair (March 8, 1804). Another letter to Butler, perhaps from General James Wilkinson, provides orders to confine his route to rivers and avoid land (September 3, 1804). Also included are a letter (copied by H. Dearborn, Secretary of War) from W.S. Smith to General Wilkinson discussing the necessity for unreasoning and unquestioning obedience for an efficient army (March 14, 1805), a letter to James Brown from Gen. Wilkinson mentioning a defensive plan to take post near Fort Adams as well as the purchase of the Floridas from Spain (April 20, 1806), and a letter from Walker Baylor expressing his opinion of Colonel Burr (October 3, 1806).

Subject discussed within much of the legal correspondence include shipping matters and insurance claims (1805-1810). For example, a letter to John Clay, a New Orleans merchant, from Gimbul & Scull in Havana discusses the disposition of boats and the cargoes handled by them (October 2, 1805), and a number of letters from Matias Alpuente to the New Orleans Insurance Company discuss his abandonment of the brig Roman and their decision not to pay his insurance claim (October-November 1805).

Cross References



Description of relevant documents

Actions and defenses--Louisiana--New Orleans.

1764, undated

Summary, in French, of suit of Becat and Dalbier v. Salomon Prevost, 1764;

Reasons for appeal of case, Burney v. Badins, undated

Alpuente, Matias.


Notifies New Orleans Insurance Company of abandonment of brig Roman and insurance claim, Oct. 7;

Seeks reconsideration from Chamber of Insurance on decision not to pay claim, Nov. 7.

Baylor, Walker, 1762-1822.


Writes Brown regarding collection of debt; mentions meeting Burr in Lexington and finding him good companion but poor politician, Oct. 3.

Brown, William N.


James Newrome, on United States Revenue Cutter “Louisiana,” letter regarding ship Caroline, Apr. 29, 1805;

Requests ruling from District Attorney, July 31, 1806.

Burr, Aaron, 1756-1836.


Baylor states Burr is a fine companion, but regards him as a poor politician, Oct. 3.

Butler, Thomas, Colonel.


Appeal (copy) to President from court's decision regarding military disobedience to order regulating length of hair enclosed in letter to Dearborne, Mar. 8;

Ordered by [Wilkinson] to confine route to rivers and not land, Sept. 3.

Chester, Peter.


Orders issuance of land patent to Stuart for 1,000 acres near Natchez.

Clay, John.

1805, 1807

Gimbul and Scull, in Havana, comment on disposition of boats and cargoes handled by them, Oct. 2, 1805;

Purchases slave from Robert Perry of Kentucky, Apr. 6, 1807.

Dearborn, Henry, 1751-1829.


Appeal (copy) to President from court's decision regarding his disobedience to military order of Apr. 30, 1801. 1 letter to, Mar. 8, 1804;



Description of relevant documents

Certified copy of letter from W.S. Smith to Wilkinson, Mar. 14, 1805.

Fort Adams (Miss.)


James Wilkinson mentions defensive plan to take post, Apr. 20.

Free African Americans--Louisiana.

1809-1810, undated

Testimonial, in French, by Joseph Coupely and certification, in French, favoring free African American girl, Marie Louise, Dec. 26, 1809 and Jan. 7, 1810;

Seeks legal services from Brown, undated

French language--Louisiana.

1806-1807, 1809-1810, undated

Petitions, testimonies, and related items concerning legal cases, 1806-1807, 1809-1810, undated;

Excerpt of letter from City Council to Mayor of New Orleans, July 31, 1807.

Fugitive slaves--United States.

1808 (1807 in BTC)

Francis Whitmell's deposition concerning stowaway slave on ship Thomas Jefferson, Nov. 28.

Insurance claims--Louisiana--New Orleans.


Alpuente seeks payment of claim for abandoned brig Roman from the New Orleans Insurance Company and the presidents of the Chamber of Insurance, Oct. 7 and Nov. 9, 1805;

Charles Wilkins requests Kenner and Henderson to effect claim on cargo shipped from New Orleans to Natchez, Feb. 27, 1806.

Jefferson, Thomas, 1743-1826.


Commissions Brown as United States Attorney for Orleans District, Oct. 21.

Land grants--Mississippi--Natchez.


Issued by Dunford to Patrick Stuart for 1,000 acres near Natchez on warrant from Peter Chester.

Land speculation--Kentucky.


John Brown advises his brother James, in Lexington, on matters pertaining to land speculation, May 16.

Lanterne Magique.


Receipt for 4 issues.

Lawyers--Louisiana--New Orleans.

1805-1810, undated

Commission from Jefferson as United States Attorney for Orleans District, 1805;

Correspondence, testimony, depositions pertaining to lawsuits, request for legal ruling and collection of debt,



Description of relevant documents

1806-1810, undated


1805-1810, undated

Appointment of attorney general, 1805; slave trials, legal cases and lawsuits, 1806-1810, undated;

Letters and related items regarding insurance claims and shipping matters, 1805-1807, 1810.



Certified copy, in Spanish, dated Mar. 29, 1811, of contract dated Apt. 20, 1789 between Salomon Prevost and Margarita Verret.

Michie, David.


Receipted bill for payment by Samuel Brown for James Brown for food for horse, dinner, and brandy from May 1800 to Feb. 26, 1806.

New Orleans Insurance Company.


Notified by Alpuente of his abandonment of brig Roman and claim for insurance, Oct. 7.

Prevost, Salomon.

1764, 1789

Summary, in French, concerning suit of Becat and Dalbier v. Salomon Prevost, 1764;

Certified copy, in Spanish, dated March 29, 1811, of marriage contract between Prevost and Dona Margarita Verret, Apr. 20, 1789.

Shipping--Louisiana--New Orleans.

1805-1806, 1810

Letters regarding insurance claims, disposition of boats and cargo, and difficulties with authorities in Laguna, 1805-1806;

Award, agreements, and bond between ship masters and merchants, 1805-1806;

3 statements of account, in Spanish, of sales of cargo of brig Mary, 1810.

Slave trade--Louisiana--New Orleans.

1807, 1809

Sale of slave by Robert Perry of Kentucky to John Clay of New Orleans, Apr. 6, 1807;

Sale of 2 slaves by Hart, Bartlett, and Cox to James Brown, Mar. 1809.

Slaves--Legal status, laws, etc--Louisiana--German Coast.


Jenon Trudeau's testimonial favoring Julie Brion, Oct. 30, 1807, German Coast



Description of relevant documents

Slaves--Legal status, laws, etc--Louisiana--New Orleans.

1806, undated

Petition, in French, concerning suit of Jacques Negle v. Jean Louis Laurent for reimbursement of murdered slave, Jan. 19, 1806. New Orleans;

Interrogatory referring to slave in suit of the United States v. The Neptune, undated

Smith, W. S.


States submission and not examination is military duty, Mar. 14. 1 letter (copy) to Wilkinson.

Spanish language--Louisiana.

1805, 1810

Appeal for payment of insurance claim on brig Roman. Alpuente letter;

Reference by de Haro to de la Rionda of sailing of Maria, Apr. 9, 1810;

3 statements of sales of cargo of brig Mary, Nov. 24 and Dec. 19, 1810.

Stuart, Patrick.


Land patent for 1,000 acres near Natchez issued by Dunford on warrant from Peter Chester, May 27.

Wilkins, Charles.


William Chribbs urges Wilkins, a factor of Lexington, Ky., to file suit against Daniel Bissel, and seeks advice regarding possibilities of boating or public house business in Natchez, Mar. 4, 1805;

Requests Kenner and Henderson to effect insurance claim on cargo shipped from New Orleans to Natchez, Feb. 27, 1806.

Wilkins, James Campbell, 1786-1849.


Regarding legal suit, Jan. 8, 1808.

Wilkinson, James, 1757-1825.

1804-1806, undated

Orders Butler to confine route to rivers, Maryland. 1 unsigned letter, Sept. 3, 1804;

Informed by Smith that submission and not examination is military duty, Mar. 4, 1805;

Mentions defensive plan to take post at Fort Adams, and marvels at Randolph's “invective” against Madison and Monroe. St. Louis, Apr. 20, 1806;

Unsigned memorandum mentions difficulty in securing Wilkinson's signature on deposition accompanying Bollman, undated

Container List





Contents (with dates)




94 items: 1764-1811, undated




1 volume: Bound typescript of documents




1 item: Commission as United States Attorney of Orleans District (copy of commission found in U:20, Box 1, Folder 9)