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Chapman Family papers

 Collection 0020-MDHC
John Grant Chapman, an affluent citizen and plantation owner in Charles County, was active in state and national politics for over twenty-five years. A member of the Whig party, he served in the Maryland House of Delegates and then advanced to the Maryland Senate. From 1845 to 1848, Chapman served in the U.S. House of Representatives. Marshall Chapman, the second of John Grant Chapman's sons, inherited the Chapman estate upon his father's death in 1856. Much of the personal correspondence in this collection concerns this branch of the Chapman family. Andrew Grant Chapman, another of John Grant Chapman's sons, followed directly in his father's footsteps and served in the Maryland House of Delegates and the U.S. House of Representatives. A third son, Robert F. Chapman attended the University of Maryland Medical School in Baltimore and later moved to New York City to work for Bellevue Hospital. The papers pertain to various family members and include correspondence, financial records, and notes on medical lectures.

Dates

  • 1816-1895
  • Majority of material found within 1850-1880

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open for research.

Duplication and Copyright Information

Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.

Extent

2.00 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

The Chapman Family papers include financial and personal papers that span the years 1816 to 1895; the bulk of the material dates from 1850 to 1880. The Chapman financial papers (1816-1889) include three hundred receipts, fifty-one pieces of business correspondence, and forty-six bank statements, most of which are addressed to Marshall, as well as twenty-nine ledgers belonging to John Grant, Marshall, and Robert F. Marshall, as well as twenty-nine ledgers belonging to John Grant, Marshall, and Robert F. Chapman. Various tax records, timekeeping records, legal papers, agricultural papers, and insurance forms are also included.

The Chapman's personal correspondence (1849-1888) includes forty-one letters written to John Grant, Susan, Robert F., Marshall, Ellen, Ellen S., Ethel, Lizzie, and Nannia Kent Chapman, as well as several with the addressee unknown.

Biography

John Grant Chapman was born in 1798 in Chapmantown (now La Plata), Charles County, Maryland. He studied law at Yale University, graduating in 1817. Chapman joined the Maryland bar in 1819 and began practicing law in Port Tobacco, also in Charles County, Maryland, shortly thereafter, in addition to running his plantation. John Grant Chapman married a Virginia cousin, Susan Pearson A. Chapman, and by 1830 owned nearly 70 slaves. John Grant and Susan had five living sons: John Grant, Jr. (b. 1833?), Marshall (b. 1835?), George P. (b. 1837?), Andrew Grant (b. 1839), and Robert F. (b. 1840?). By 1840, Elizabeth Chapman, perhaps John Grant's mother, was living with the family, and they owned nearly 90 slaves. By 1850, there were 140 slaves on the Chapman plantation.

An affluent citizen of Charles County, John Grant Chapman participated in both state and national politics for over twenty-five years. A member of the Whig party, he served in the Maryland House of Delegates from 1824 to 1828 and again in 1830 and was Speaker of the House from 1826 to 1828. Chapman then advanced to the Maryland Senate, serving from 1831 to 1836 and holding the positions of President Pro Tem in 1831 and President from 1834 to 1836. He returned to the Maryland House of Delegates again in 1843 and 1844 as Speaker of the House. Chapman ran unsuccessfully for governor in 1844 but was subsequently elected to the U. S. House of Representatives, serving from 1845 to 1849. In 1850, John Grant was elected president of Maryland's Constitutional Convention.

The Chapman sons left their parents' Port Tobacco estate upon maturity. Before 1860, John Grant, Jr. married (Mary, whose maiden name is unknown) and began his own life as a planter. Nothing further is known about this couple or about one of the other Chapman sons, George. Robert F. Chapman attended the University of Maryland Medical School in Baltimore from 1864 to 1865. How he used his medical skills immediately after graduation is unknown, but, during the late 1860s, Robert busied himself with agricultural pursuits, joining his brother Marshall on the family plantation. In the mid- to late-1870s Robert moved to New York City to work for Bellevue Hospital.

Marshall Chapman, the second of John Grant Chapman's sons, inherited the Chapman estate upon his father's death in 1856. Sometime during the early 1860s, he married, and he and his wife, Ellen, had four daughters, Ellen S. (b. 1854?), Mary (b. 1856?), Etheldra (B. 1869?), and Nannie Kent (b. early 1870s?). Much of the personal correspondence in this collection concerns this branch of the Chapman family. The financial papers detail Marshall's agricultural work as a producer of tobacco and wheat.

Andrew Grant Chapman was the only son to follow directly in his father's footsteps and pursue law, politics, and farming. Andrew served in the Maryland House of Delegates from 1868 to 1872, in 1880, and again in 1886, when he was also Speaker Pro Tem. Andrew Grant Chapman served in the U. S. House of Representatives from 1881 to 1883 and was a delegate to the Democratic National Convention in 1888. Andrew lived with Marshall's family until he married Helen Mary Chapman in 1871, after which he farmed his own plantation. Andrew and Helen Mary had seven children.

Arrangement

The collection has been arranged into three series.
Series 1
Financial Papers
Series 2
Personal Papers
Series 3
Miscellaneous

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The University of Maryland Libraries purchased the Chapman family papers from manuscripts dealer Carmen Valentino in 1990 and 1992.

Processing Information

Materials in this collection were separated into three series. All metal fasteners have been removed and replaced with plastic clips. All materials were placed into acid-free folders within acid-free boxes. All oversize documents have been flattened and moved into an acid-free oversize box.
Title
Guide to the Chapman Family papers
Status
Completed
Author
Processed by Sarah Wiesner.
Date
1999-11-01
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
English
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

Contact:
University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742
301-405-9212