Stephen Elliot papers


Stephen Elliot papers

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Series: Colonial North American Project at Harvard University

Series: Nineteenth-Century North American Project at Harvard University

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Elliott, Stephen, 1771-1830




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The Stephen Elliott papers consist of manuscripts and research notes, some in Elliott's hand and some in other hands; subscription forms for his A sketch of the botany of South-Carolina and Georgia; and correspondence, mostly to Elliott from fellow botanists, dated from 1791 to 1829. Also includes some twentieth century material related to Elliott's botanical research. There are almost 90 letters to Elliott from about 20 correspondents, dating from 1808 to 1828, mainly concerning the collection, identification, and exchange of botanical specimens. In this group, 31 letters are from Henry Muhlenberg (1753-1815) and about 25 are from James Macbride (1785-1817). The only other correspondents represented by more than one letter are François André Michaux (1770-1855), William Darlington (1782-1863), and Samuel Boykin (1786-1848). Eight of the correspondents are included in Joseph Ewan's list of collectors cited in A sketch of the botany of South-Carolina and Georgia. The collection also includes an article on botany; broadsides related to the Literary and Philosophical Society of South Carolina; lists, invoices, and correspondence related to the purchase of books by Elliott for the Charleston Library Society; and slave records. The bulk of the material is in English, with some correspondence in French and German.

Stephen Elliott was born on November 11, 1771, in Beaufort, South Carolina, the third son of William Elliott, a merchant. His father died when Stephen was a boy, and his older brother is said to have taken charge of his education. He was sent to New Haven, Connecticut, in December 1787 to be tutored by Judge Simeon Baldwin (1761-1851) and entered Yale College in February 1788. Elliot received his B.A. from Yale in 1791, with valedictorian honors. His English oration was on "The Supposed Degeneracy of Animated Nature in America" (Ewan xxvii). Elliott then returned to South Carolina and became a planter. He was elected to the South Carolina legislature in 1793 or 1796 (sources disagree) and served until about 1800. In 1796 he married Esther Habersham, with whom he had a large family. From 1800 to 1808 he seems to have devoted himself to his plantation and to the study of natural history. In 1808 he was re-elected to the legislature, where he was active in promoting the establishment of a state bank. When the bank was established in 1812, he ceased legislative work and was appointed President of the "Bank of the State," moving to Charleston. He remained president of the bank until his death. | In Charleston, Elliott was involved in a number of scientific and cultural concerns. He was active in the founding of the Literary and Philosophical Society of South Carolina and served as its president from 1814 to 1830; he was president of the Charleston Library Society; and he co-founded the Southern Review with Hugh Swinton Legaré (1797-1843) in 1828. In 1820 he was elected president of South Carolina College (now the University of South Carolina); most accounts say he declined the post, but according to one version he served a short term. He was an early and active campaigner for the establishment of the Medical College of South Carolina, where he taught natural history and botany from 1824 until his death.

Elliott carried on an active correspondence with Henry Muhlenberg (1753-1815) and other people interested in botany and natural history. He published A sketch of the botany of South-Carolina and Georgia from 1816 to 1824 and thereby established himself as a major figure in the history of American botany. He received Honorary Doctor of Law degrees from Yale University (1819), Harvard University (1822) and Columbia University (1825) (Ewan xxx). Elliott has been memorialized in a number of ways. The Elliott College building on the University of South Carolina campus was named for him, and 1853 the Elliott Society of Charleston was founded. In 1933 a monument was erected over Elliott's unmarked grave in St. Paul's churchyard, Charleston (Ewan xxxi). Elliott is remembered also "in a genus of plants of the Heath family...established by Dr. Muhlenberg" (Sargent 202). Sargent is probably referring Ericaceae Elliottia racemosa (IPNI). Elliott died "of Apoplexy" (most likely a stroke) in Charleston on March 28, 1830.


(James Francis), , (William Paul Crillon), , 1747-1824 , 1751-1840 , 1753-1815 , 1756-1841 , 1764-1831 , 1766-1842 , 1770-1855 , 1771-1830 , 1771-1839 , 1780-1834 , 1782-1863 , 1786-1848 , 1786-1856 , 1787-1857 , 1789-1855 , 1789-1870 , 1793-1872 , 1799-1868 , 1892-1976 , 19th century , Abbot, John, , Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia , Barton, William P. C , Beaufort (S.C.) , Bills of lading , Birds , Boie, Friedrich, 1789-1870, , Botanical specimens , Botanists , Botany , Boykin, Samuel, , Brace, John Pierce, 1793-1872, , Broadsides , Charleston (S.C.) , Charleston Library Society (Charleston, S.C.) , Classification , Collection and preservation , Collins, Zaccheus, , Commonplace books , Correspondence , Darlington, William, , Elliott, Stephen, , Entomology , Georgia , Herbaria , Herbemont, Nicholas, , Historical Society of Pennsylvania , History , Identification , Invoices , Jackson, James, , Lancaster (Pa.) , Lists , Literary and Philosophical Society of South-Caroli , Macbride, J. Francis , Manuscripts (document genre) , Michaux, François André, , Mineralogy , Mollusks , Muhlenberg, Henry, , Natural history , Natural history specimens , Nomenclature , Pennsylvania , Periodicals , Philadelphia (Pa.) , Plant collecting , Plants , Prince, William, , Publishers and publishing , Research , Research notes , Schweinitz, Lewis David von, , Slave records , Slavery , Societies, etc , South Carolina , Stats (copies) , Swainson, William, , Therapeutic use , Thouin, André, , United States , Vaughan, John, , Walker-Arnott, George Arnott, , Zoology


OCLC: 40879911


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