Papers of British Diplomat Sir Henry Strachey Acquired by Clements Library
Quest by Legendary Bay City Book Collector Finally Realized After 90 Years
January 8, 2011
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By: Dave Rogers
A quest begun about 90 years ago by Bay City Industrialist William L. Clements has finally been completed.
In the early 1920s Mr. Clements set out to acquire the papers of the British commanders in America during the Revolution.
He succeeded with several important collections actually being housed in his library at his home at Center and Park avenues here.
The papers eventually went to the archives of the Clements Library that he donated to the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. These were the papers of General Thomas Gage, Sir Henry Clinton and Lord William Shelburne.
The only important collection remaining was that of Sir Henry Strachey, who negotiated the Treaty of Paris ending the war.
Sir Henry was a high-ranking British diplomat who participated in the Treaty of Paris (1783-84) with the American colonies, which formally ended the Revolutionary War. His papers now are an essential part of the archives of the William L. Clements Library.
The papers from the Sir Henry Strachey Collection were purchased by the Clements Library Oct. 15 at Sotheby's New York auction of the James S. Copley Library. According to Sotheby's, the sale price was $602,500.
Strachey was from one of Britain's preeminent families, and was a noted civil servant who held several prominent posts in the British government.
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The Strachey papers soon will be available to the public for research at the library on South University Avenue, next to the U-M Undergraduate Library, in Ann Arbor.
"It is rare today to see a large collection of American Revolution manuscripts come on the market," said Dr. J. Kevin Graffagnino, director of the Clements Library.
"Adding the Strachey material to the voluminous primary sources already at the Clements makes the library even more attractive as a destination for all researchers working on Revolutionary War topics."
Specifically, the Strachey papers document his work in attempting to negotiate peace between the colonies and England in 1775-76 and during the negotiations that led to the 1783 Treaty of Paris.
The papers, Graffagnino says, give a perspective from the British side, at the highest level of strategy and negotiation. John Adams, Benjamin Franklin and John Jay represented the colonies at the negotiations, held in Paris.
Strachey's papers shed light on English investments in North America, and the social history of the late 18th-century available for the first time to researchers, he says.
In the next several months, the Strachey papers will be available to the public. The archives are open to the public and scholars researching the seminal events, personalities and issues that forged the early years of the United States.
The Clements Library houses original resources for the study of American history and culture from the 15th through the 19th century. Its mission is to collect and preserve primary source materials, to make them available for research, and to create an environment that supports and encourages scholarly investigation of our nation's past.
"In purchasing the Strachey papers, we have closed the book on an acquisitions hunt that began more than 70 years ago," says Graffagnino, who noted Randolph Adams, first director of the library, saw the Strachey collection in England in the late 1920s, but he was unable to persuade Henry Strachey's descendants to part with them.
The Clements Library bought half of the papers at auction in 1982, but the other half went to the Copley Foundation six years later, Graffagnino says.
"Now the two halves are reunited, making a rich array of unpublished material on Anglo-American relations and events of the American Revolution," said Dr. Graffagnino.
Arts/Theater Article 5540
Dave Rogers is a former editorial writer for the Bay City Times and a widely read,
respected journalist/writer in and around Bay City.
(Contact Dave Via Email at firstname.lastname@example.org)
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