Scope and Contents
The collection consists principally of Richard W. Thompson’s political correspondence, including correspondence regarding state and national Whig and Republican party politics, and Thompson’s role in political campaigns (1840s-1880s); letters from constituents during his terms in Congress regarding political appointments and local politics (1841-1849); Civil War correspondence, including correspondence regarding state and national politics and Thompson’s duties in Terre Haute (1861-1865); his correspondence as Secretary of the Navy, including letters from Congressmen and others making recommendations for appointments and correspondence regarding naval contracts and policies (1877-1880); and his correspondence regarding a canal across Panama (1880-
1881). Also included is correspondence regarding his legal work, including the settlement of Shawnee, Menominee, and other Indian claims (1850s), railroads and the Wabash and Erie Canal (1850s-1880s), and Vigo County land; his correspondence with his wife and parents (1830-1853); correspondence with Harper & Brothers regarding The Papacy and the Civil Power (1876-1880); political speeches; his essay on Henry A. Wise; his notebook of expenses and speech notes(1865); his wife’s diary (1838); correspondence between relatives in Adair County, Kentucky, and Culpeper County Virginia (1818-1830); and newspaper clippings. The volumes include a Civil War scrapbook containing printed orders and clippings from Thompson’s service in the Indiana militia; a political scrapbook containing clippings and Thompson’s notes on domestic and international political affairs; and a manuscript of
Thompson’s commentary on Letters on the Spanish Inquisition by T. J. O’Flaherty, Catholic Pastor of Salem, Massachusetts.
Conditions Governing Access
This collection is open for research.
Conditions Governing Use
Legal title, copyright, and literary rights reside with Rare Books and Manuscripts, Indiana State Library, Indianapolis, IN. All requests to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted to Rare Books and Manuscripts.
Richard Wigginton Thompson was born on June 9, 1809, in Culpeper County, Virginia. In 1831, he moved to Kentucky and settled shortly thereafter in Lawrence County, Indiana. He began practicing law in Bedford, Indiana, after being admitted to the bar in 1834. Thompson served in the Indiana House of Representatives (1834-1836) and the Indiana Senate (1837-1838). In 1836, he married Harriet Eliza Gardiner with whom he had eight children. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1841 and 1847. The Thompsons moved to Terre Haute, Indiana, in 1843. He served as the city attorney there in 1846 and 1847. During the Civil War, he was the commander of Camp Thompson, Indiana, and provost marshal of the Terre Haute district. President Lincoln appointed him collector of internal revenue for the seventh Indiana district, a post that Thompson held for one term (1864-1866). From 1867 to 1869, Thompson was judge of the fifth circuit court. President Hayes appointed Thompson Secretary of the Navy. Thompson resigned from this post in 1881 to become chairman of the American
Committee of the French Panama Canal Company. He also served as a director of the Panama Railroad Company (1881-1889). In addition to his life of public service, Thompson was the author of four books including The Papacy and the Civil Power. He died on February 9, 1900, in Terre Haute, Indiana.
Biographical Directory of the United States Congress. United States Congress. 19 Jan. 2005. http://bioguide.congress.gov/scripts/biodisplay.pl?index=T000214.
Shepherd, Rebecca A., Charles W. Calhoun, Elizabeth Shanahan-Shoemaker, and Alan F. January,
comp. A Biographical Directory of the Indiana General Assembly, Vol. 1, 1816-1899. Indianapolis: The Select Committee on the Centennial History of the Indiana General Assembly, 1980.
0.6 Cubic Feet (2 manuscript boxes; 3 volumes; 2 oversize folders)