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Barnard, Isaac D. (1791-1834)
Collection of Correspondence of Isaac D. Barnard, Lawyer, Soldier, Politician and United States Senator, from West Chester, Pennsylvania, 1813-1836

57 letters, 87 pages, plus 10 manuscript receipts and promissory notes, two printed circulars, in generally very good, clean and legible condition, several letters with splits along folds, otherwise very good.

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An interesting correspondence pertaining to the life and career of Isaac D. Barnard of West Chester, Pennsylvania. The letters touch upon his service in the War of 1812, legal career, his terms in the State Senate of Pennsylvania and as a United States Senator. The issues and politics of the day are discussed both at the statewide level and nationally. Political factionalism and party politics are discussed, as are economic issues including the beginnings of the States identity as an industrial powerhouse, and the nuts and bolts details of politics, dealing with influence and job seekers. Barnard was an interesting and promising man whose career was cut short by his untimely death at the age of forty three.

Isaac D. Barnard was born at Chester, 1791, died at West Chester, 1834. He studied law a Chester with William Graham, Esq., and was admitted to the bar at West Chester, May 1, 1816. His legal studies had been interrupted by the outbreak of the War of 1812, he received a captain's commission in the Fourteenth U.S. Infantry. In the autumn of 1812 he was transferred to Baltimore where he remained until March 1813, when he went with his regiment under Col. Winder, by way of Philadelphia and New York, to Sackett's Harbor. He was present and served gallantly at Fort George. Winder's brigade was in the brunt of the action. Captain Barnard was promoted to Major on June 26, 1813. In the fight at La Cole's Mill he was stationed with his command to cover the artillery and rendered important service in bringing off the more advanced piece after every man belonging to it had been shot down; his horse was shot by his side. Maj. Barnard descended the St. Lawrence River with Wilkinson, but, owing to the extreme hardship of the service in the winter, he fell sick, and as he lay stretched on his back in a boat he heard the roar of the artillery during the battle of Chrysler's Farm. Afterwards he was quartered in a hut in advance of the American forces, in Indian country, and exposed to marauding parties of the British. He was with Izard's army at Plattsburg, where, in consequence of the death or captivity of his superior officers, the command of the corps devolved upon him, and for his conduct in that position he received the compliments of the commander-in-chief. He also distinguished himself at the battle of Lyon's Creek, of which Gen. Izard said: "The Fourteenth charged the enemy in front ... Maj. Barnard greatly distinguished himself by the officer-like style in which he managed his battalion." Gen. Bissell's report said: "The gallant charge of the Fourteenth soon compelled the enemy to give ground... The handsome manner in which Maj. Barnard brought his regiment into action deserves particular notice."

The Marquis of Tweedale, who was commanding the One Hundredth British Regiment, twelve hundred men, said during a visit to Philadelphia, after the peace, that he "would be glad to make the acquaintance of the young gentleman, Barnard, who had so gallantly driven him from his position at Lyon's Creek."

Upon the end of hostilities, in 1815, Barnard resumed up the law, although the War Department offered to continue him in the regular service. He began practice in connection with Archibald T. Dick, Esq., a relative. Mr. Dick, however, soon returned to Chester, while Barnard diligently applied himself to his profession in West Chester, where he established a solid practice. Within a year after his admission to the bar, Col. Cromwell Pearce, sheriff of the county, appointed Barnard as sheriff's counsel, and in the same year he was appointed deputy attorney general for Chester County, a position he held for the next four years.

Barnard was elected in October 1820 to the Senate of Pennsylvania for the district composed of the counties of Chester and Delaware. He organized the "Republican Artillerists," and was instrumental in securing the monument and grounds at Paoli. He married, Nov. 30, 1820, Harriet, eldest daughter of Judge Isaac Darlington.

In April 1824, the Governor offered him the office of president judge of the judicial district composed of Lancaster and Dauphin Counties, which he declined. About the same time he was elected major-general of the Third Division of the Pennsylvania militia, and as one of the military staff of the executive he was actively and agreeably employed in extending the hospitalities of commonwealth to General Lafayette when he visited the state. In October 1825, he was elected a member of the William Penn Society, became solicitor to the Bank of Chester County, and also a member of the board of directors.

In January, 1826, Governor Shulze appointed him Secretary of the Commonwealth. Shortly after this the Legislature of Pennsylvania elected him to the Senate of the United States, where he occupied a seat until the autumn of 1831, when his health declined to such a degree that he resigned. The New York papers of the day demanded for Barnard a seat in the cabinet. While yet in the Senate in Washington, in 1829, he was nearly nominated for Governor. He was defeated by a faction in his own county of Chester.

In July of 1832 he was chosen an honorary member of the Peithessophian Society of Rutgers College. His health shortly thereafter rapidly worsened and he died in West Chester, February 18, 1834.

Sample Quotations:

December 7, 1813, French Mills, Franklin Co., New York, Isaac D. Barnard to William H. Dillingham, Philadelphia

"My dear Sir,

You no doubt have been taxing me with negligence in not writing to you sooner - but when you know the reason I am assured of your forgiveness - My dear fellow I have been confined to my Bed by severe illness for the last 3 or 4 weeks. I am now in a very low and reduced state - I was taken ill on my passage down the St. Lawrence - I was confined to my bed in a Boat during the engagement at Williamsburg - judge what my sensations were my dear fellow on that day to be confined & hear the roaring of the Field Pieces and the rattling of musquetry during the engagement not being able to be on the field mortified me in the extreme - more so as I should have commanded the Regt. Lt. Colonal Dix being also very ill - he died on the passage a few days after the Battle... I can give no particulars of the action on the 11 ult but what I recd from others - you will probably have the newspapers filled with accts of it as a great number of officers have gone home.

I wrote you from Grenadier Island ... whether before or after recg your polite letter I have entirely forgotten I recd your letter at Grenadier Island - Our passage down the St. Lawrence was very unpleasant - in fact the campaign this autumn has been very severe upon both officers and Soldiers. It was discovered to the unspeakable astonishment of the whole army - immediately after the Battle that Genl Hampton who was to have cooperated with us in the attack on Montreal had retired to winter quarters - Our army was obliged to make this place immediately build huts for the winter. They are nearly finished - some regts are already in them - The night before last the army expected to be attacked by the Enemy every preparation was made to receive them - If the army is attacked I shall be a prisoner. I was carried in a cot on the shoulders of some of my men to what they here call a House about or upwards of mile from Camp on the road leading to the Enemy - it was the only place I could get into and was preferable to a hut - whether I shall ever get out of it alive is very questionable but I will not despond - I am reduced to a perfect skeleton and am barely able to sit up while I write you ..."

Dec. 6, 1820, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, I. D. Barnard to David Townsend, West Chester, Pennsylvania

"Dear Sir,

I got here on Friday and have got into comfortable quarters for the winter - On Tuesday last both houses met at 3 o'clock p.m. - 95 members of the H. of Representatives & 30 of the Senate being present - 3 only being absent and they detained by sickness it shows the interest felt throughout the State. The Senate elected Mr. Marks their speaker by a Majority of 2 votes only- he having 16 and Mr. Davidson the opposing candidate 14 votes - 3 Democrats who have hitherto acted with us uniting with the Federalists in opposing Marks - they will still unite with us if we pursue a proper policy - In the Lower House great difficulty arose in the choice of speaker - the House voted 9 times before they could get a majority of the whole number for any one man, when Mr. Gilmore of Butler County was elected by general consent. Mr. Gilmore is a Federalist but supported Mr. Findlay's Election for Governor last fall so that he is as good a speaker as could be had, as no Democrat could be elected.

I send on the last page the votes - The Petition for contesting the Governors Election have been sent up to this place but I doubt very much whether they will be presented - the measure is very generally disapproved of by the Democratic members of the Legislature - for my part I expressed my opinion very freely on the subject as soon as I got here... and as I knew a decided expression of opinion at such a moment might determine others I declared openly and freely that I thought the plan fraught with ruinous consequences, and ought to be at once discouraged.

This evening it is contemplated to have a meeting of the Democrats to express their opinions principally with a view to save the young man who brought the petitions up the responsibility of taking them back again. ... I am glad of the course the thing has taken as it will show the Philadelphians they are not to dictate to Pennsa any longer - they are short sighted politicians. 

The Electors of Prest & Vice Prest met this day at 12 o'clock and gave their votes for Monroe and Tompkins, - one being absent Mr. Rahm who died you will recollect before the Election and whose place ought to have been supplied by the Legislature, but as the law required the Governor to communicate to the Legislature between 9 & 10 this morning ... it could not be done... "

February 17, 1822, Philadelphia, Erskine Hazard to I. D. Barnard, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

"Dear Sir,

I take the liberty of requesting your patronage for a Bill supplementary to the Act incorporating a Coy for making a bridge over part of the Delaware opposite to Philadelphia - As I feel confident that no injury can result to the public from its erection, and some of my friends are stockholders in it, I should be much pleased if the restrictions which now prevent subscriptions to the stock could be removed - The intercourse between the City & Jersey is now very much interrupted by the bar which is created & which renders a very circuitous for the boats necessary - This inconvenience could be entirely removed by the Bridge - and subscriptions could no doubt be procured if the unnecessary clogs in the law were removed. Remember the whistle ..."

January 2, 1823, Harrisburgh, I. D. Barnard, to David Townsend, West Chester

"Dear Sir,

We have nothing very new the absent members are returning to their seats and we shall in a few days have full houses again, when I trust we shall get to business in earnest. ...

We continue to have considerable talk among the members about the next Demo Candidate for Governor. The Candidates are not so numerous as they are represented in the public newspapers - those most spoken of are I. D. Ingham, Mr. Schulze Senator from Lebanon, Dr. Darlington Geo. Bryan, Mr. Clark State Treasurer, Genl Marks our speaker & Mr. Holgate a member from Phila County - I think I stated in my last that Mr. Schulze appeared at present to have the best chance. His being of German descent is greatly in his favor the German interest in the Houses seem to be pretty decided in his favor & they are a pretty numerous body too. A great many members seem to have no particular candidate in view; they say they only want a good and undeviating Democrat & they care little who he is or where he comes from ...

Ingham is objected to on account of his opposition to Shepard ... as well as because of his supposed intimacy with certain Philada politicians & some urge strongly that it will be best to take none of the late Cabinet officers - if ths sentiment governs Shulze will undoubtedly be the man for this will entirely exclude Bryan & Clarke as well as Ingham and I do not think the friends of Marks & Holgate have any serious expectation of their success...

My belief is that the contest will eventually be between Bryan and Shulze and if it is I think Shulze will be the man - However I believe it is yet impossible to tell what course things may take - we have some trouble about the proper mode of making the Nomination I think I stated before the members appear ... to be in favor of a Convention to meet at the seat of Government during this winter or rather before the adjournment of the legislature - they say proper persons cannot be got to Lewistown & that if Delegates are Elected by the people it is of no moment when or where they meet as there is no fear of Executive influence at present  & this has been the great bug bear heretofore & that this mode will give the people the opportunity of Electing their members if they choose..."

February 15, 1823, Philadelphia, John Conrad to I. D. Barnard, West Chester

"Dear Sir,

If you can find leisure from more important avocations to give us some idea of the democratic prospects in your county, you will confer a favor that I fell very desirous of repaying whenever an opportunity resents - We have wonderful stories of defalcation from the party in Chester but I trust they are mere "wish inventions of the enemy" of this it would be serviceable to us to be correctly informed. --- In the county of Philada we shall do as well as usual, perhaps somewhat better, but in the city several things are operating against us, the most material of which is the return of J Binns & his retinue to the party, this will also operate to our disadvantage in the county but it will be more than counterbalanced by the annihilation of the old school party, which is perfect, & will yield us several hundred votes. On the whole, it may be safely put down that the federal majority in the City & county of Philada will be less than it was at the last Gov election.

A few days since I sent you a number of the Columbian Observer for the purpose of conveying to you Xtian Germans letter to the people of your county - ... It would perhaps have been better for your people if some notice had been taken of Mr. Schulzes vote on the militia bill which the federal papers are so industriously engaged in misrepresenting... If you could find leisure to place that business in a correct point of view to the public you would do "good service" to the cause of democracy. I might perhaps be excusable if I said to you that you ought to do it because there is not a man in the state so capable of doing it as you are ..."

April 14, 1828, Philadelphia, David Groves to I. D. Barnard, Washington

"Dear General,

... I would write you a long letter about the contemplated Tariff but it is not worth while as it is pretty certain that although it may be nursed into existence by the House of Rep. it is not likely to be roused to maturity by the Senate, perhaps it is as well; for there has no doubt been much visionary speculation on this subject, my own ideas upon this subject is, that all articles which can be manufactured in sufficient quantity to supply the country ought to be excluded from importation altogether and those which cannot be thus furnished should be still admitted on the terms they now are and I think it bad policy to be agitating this matter so frequently for there is no doubt but the present great and almost unprecedented pressure for money has been produced under the impression that heavy duties were to be laid on certain articles this has caused the speculating geniuses to import very large quantities and paper capitalists have been obliged to put them under the hammer to raise the necessary funds to keep their heads above water, but enough of this matter. I want to request of you the favour (and I desire you will consider it so) if you do not think as your Colleague does that Senators ought not to meddle with such matters, to write a few lines to the Governor in favour of our friend Mahony being appointed Att. General, the appointment of Judge Smith has given much dissatisfaction here to the friends of Gen. Jackson particularly, and you might if you think proper urge the appointment of Mahony as a palliative, but I am not to dictate your own discretion will be more judicious & effective all I request is that you will write in his favour as I am much mistaken if you are not well disposed to do so..."

April 15, 1828, Harrisburg, Henry Bachler, to I. D. Barnard, Senate, Washington, D.C.

"My dear Sir,

Your letter of the 9th inst was duly received - your remarks relative to the improvement of the public ground find a ready response in the bosom of every Harrisburger and should do so in that of every Pennsylvanian - I am happy to be able to inform you that the matter was somehow or other through the kindness of Genl Ogle, Mr. Duncan & some others got up in the Senate after it had been defeated in the House (by way of amendment) and has become a law - It appropriates $ 10,000, and is worded in such a way as to make that sum complete the improvement - I think however that if the commissioners are well disposed the affair can be so managed as to leave room for a little more amendment by a future Legislature - Mr. Peterkin was a warm oppose of the bill in the House - he however started home 3 or 4 days since - from the vote by which the bill passed ultimately (nearly two to one) ... The water has been occasionally let into the canal from Mr. Allisters dam within a week or two past - slight defects incident to all new canals have as yet prevented the free navigation between this & Middletown - they were all promptly repaired, and the canal is now in a fair way of being boated between the two points alluded to - there is not yet more than half enough water in it unless more leaks discover themselves (which is not improbable) it will be full in a day or two - a boat belonging at a Mr. Reese of Reading reached the lower borough lock to day with two or three puncheons for Rhoads & Casdon - it was not got up without difficulty it was under the command of a very genteel black man, who had been bribed up by Mr Morey - who assisted and took a very laudable interest in the whole proceeding - there was no public parade or anything of that sort..."

April 17, 1828, Harrisburg, Calvin Blythe to I. D. Barnard, Senate, Washington, D.C.

"Dr. Sir,

I shall give you what information I have been able to collect on the subject of the manufactory of iron - you will see I have no estimate of the quantity made in Pittsburg - The members of that district would not undertake to permit an estimate that could be relied on - neither have I any estimate from Huntingdon & Centre Counties in which there is a very large quantity of iron made. There is a statement in the report of the proceedings of the convention that met at this place last summer of the quantity of iron made in Centre County to which I would refer. There is at least an equal quantity made in Huntingdon. ...

Mr. Haldeman informs me that the furnaces will average one thousand tons of metal per year & that the quantity of metal cast might readily be increased to meet any demand that could reasonably be made.

That the forges will average about two hundred tons of hammered bar iron per year that to increase the quantity of that article to any considerable extent new forges would have to be erected which could be very easily done if there were an increased demand - water power being abundant in Penna as well as coal.

There are a considerable number of furnaces & forges in Chester Cy none of the members could give me the number but Mr. Kerlin promised me he would write to you immediately on his going home - I must refer you to Mr. Stevenson for the quantity made in Pittsburg...."

Philadelphia, February 16, 1829, Robert Patterson to I. D. Barnard, Senate, Washington, D.C.


My Dear General,

I have this moment given a letter of introduction to you to Mr. Smith one of the Editors of the Phila Gazette. I had promised him a letter some time ago - the object of this is to say to you that I do not expect or wish you to exert yourself at all out of the way on the occasion (you can treat him kindly) I know it would be improper for you to be moving in small matters - indeed I think you ought not to interfere except in some very important matters - and then only for a particular Friend - your influence should be used secretly - and none but the person for whom it is used should know it -

My respects to Major Eaton tell him to do me the favour to present my most affectionate regards to General Jackson - or do it yourself - can I do any thing for you in way of a cabinet appointment? If so write me freely..."

Carlisle, December 7, 1829 John Wightman to I. D. Barnard, Washington

"Dr Sir - Anticipating nothing but proscription and intolerance from Mr. Wolf and his administration, as already indicated by his friends in this quarter, who are in his confidence, I have come to the determination of disposing of my establishment to a younger brother who is less obnoxious to certain politicians here and who will unite it to a paper called the "Republican," which will make it one of the best in the interior of the state. There is no doubt but that your friends in this county will be swept from office - and this policy will be pursued in the other counties of the state. McKean will be Secretary and Ingham, Southerland and co. will have the management of the "whole concern." It is under these circumstances that I am induced to retire - altho I will have the management of the paper because neither my brother, nor the proprietor of the Republican is well qualified to conduct a paper. In my retirement in disguise, as it were, I can accomplish more than if I were known to be the real editor, because the prejudice of some of the leading Calhoun men will subside and a strong party can be rallied in opposition to the "family." In the meantime I am desirous of procuring a clerkship in Washington, even at a moderate salary, and I must beg the favour of you to solicit the same for me from either Mr. Van Buren or Mr. Eaton. Should you do so soon (as the present volume will expire in January, and it would be very desireable for me to know in a few weeks) I shall be greatly indebted to you and shall endeavor to reciprocate the favor...

N.B. Provided a new democratic Jackson paper were established at Harrisburg opposed to the Ingham and Sutherland party, would not Mr. Van Buren extend to it the patronage of his office, in preference to the Reporter or Chronicle? J.W."

Philadelphia, June 29, 1830, W. Stewart to I. D. Barnard, West Chester, Pennsylvania

"Dear General,

I have had a conversation with George N. Baker who is a warm friend to you and he recommends that you should decline the invitation to the Dinner in the Northern Liberties, Wolf will be attacked with great bitterness and he thinks it would be better for you not to appear as countenancing that course at this time. I concur with him in opinion on this subject and wd recommend that you transmit a toast with a letter carefully written - Irwin, Muhlenberg, Leifer &c have declined in that way. I presume you have communicated with Buchanan upon the subject If so you will have time to write to him recommending the same course to him ..."

Carlisle, January 15, 1831, Samuel Alexander to I. D. Barnard, Senate, Washington

"Dear Sir,

... In consequence of the election of Judge Wilkins to the Senate, several persons have been put in nomination for his situation on the bench. Among the number is my brother, John B. Alexander, Esq. of Greensburg....

He thinks he has some causes of claim to consideration in the present instance; because he left a very lucrative practice & all the blandishments of home, to serve his country - In Sept. 1812 he marched a company of 12 months volunteers to the frontiers of Ohio; after suffering the hardships of the Mesisinewa Expedition & the siege of Fort Meigs, in the latter of which he commanded a Battalion, he returned home in the fall of 1813. It was, too, his lot, as it was that of every officer of volunteers or militia who continued true to their posts and their duty, during the late war, to receive in his absence all the abuse which might be expected from deserters & their friends - so necessary to their own vindication!

As he is much of a military man, it might be expected that he would be among the friends of  "The Military Chieftain" - But he claims a greater merit than that & I have no doubt truly - for he was perhaps the very first man who proposed General Jackson for president; and as certainly got up the first meeting in the United States, at which the nomination was formally made, and at his instance- the same nomination which Mr. Binns so much abused, for its impudence, in an obscure frontier town!! If there be any merit in this, (and I have no inclination to deny it) he is certainly entitled to it.

Mr. Ross, of Pittsburg is also nominated, & will be strongly pressed. He certainly was a great man - perhaps he is so yet - but he is certainly not so great a man as he was. It is said there are objections to him. Of one principal one, I have some personal knowledge. Mr. Lyon & Mr. Irwin of Uniontown are also mentioned - The latter is too young a man. Mr. Lyon will, no doubt be much pressed by his brother inlaw, Mr. Coalter. My personal friend of this place, Mr. Penrose, has also been nominated; but I should suppose with but limited prospects of success. He is a very clever fellow, but much too young a man & however well suited for the meridian of the east or centre of the state; not well qualified for the west. ..."

Futhey, J. Smith and Cope, Gilbert, History of Chester County, Pennsylvania, with Genealogical and Biographical Sketches

      Philadelphia: 1881, pp., 475-476