A Guide to the James M. Mason Papers, 1853 Mason, James M., Papers, 1853 13775

A Guide to the James M. Mason Papers, 1853

A Collection in
the Library of Virginia
Accession Number 13775


Library of Virginia

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© 2006 By The Library of Virginia. All Rights Reserved.

Processed by: Trenton Hizer

The Library of Virginia
Accession Number
James M. Mason Papers, 1853
Physical Description
2 leaves and 9 pages

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

Collection is open to research.

Use Restrictions

There are no restrictions.

Preferred Citation

James M. Mason Papers, 1853. Accession 13775. Personal Papers Collection, The Library of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia.

Acquisition Information

Gift, 26 October 1914, of John Mason of Richmond, Virginia.

Biographical Information

James Murray Mason was born 3 November 1798 in Georgetown, District of Columbia, to John Mason and Anna Maria Murray. Educated at schools in Georgetown, he graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 1818. Mason studied law at the College of William and Mary, then moved to Winchester, Virginia, in 1820 to practice law. Mason served in the Virginia House of Delegates from 1826 to 1831, except for 1827-1828. Elected to Congress, he served from 1837 to 1839. The Virginia state senate sent Mason to the United States Senate in 1847, and he became chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations and Finance Committees. When the Civil War began, Mason left the Senate and offered his services to the Confederate States of America. He was appointed the Confederate diplomatic commissioner to Great Britain. Taken from the British ship Trent, Mason spent a brief time in U.S. custody before being released. He went to Great Britain to carry out his duties. After the Civil War, Mason moved to Canada where he stayed before returning to Virginia in 1868. Mason died near Alexandria, Virginia, 28 April 1871, and was buried at Christ Episcopal Church. He married Elizabeth Margaretta Chew (b. 1798) 25 July 1822, and they had eight children.

Scope and Content

Papers, 1853, of Senator James M. Mason (1798-1871), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee regarding the importance of the botanical and zooological discoveries made by Lieutenant Colonel James D. Graham (1799-1865) in Texas and New Mexico while on an expedition with the Scientific Corps of Survey, including a proposed Senate appropriation for funding the publication of the discoveries. Correspondents include Spencer F. Baird (1823-1887) of the Smithsonian Institute and Asa Gray (1810-1888) of Cambridge, Massachusetts, one of the United States' leading botanists.

Contents List

Letter, 6 January 1853, to Mason from Spencer F. Baird (1823-1887) of the Smithsonian Institution forwarding a memorandum of Graham's collections and commenting on the richness and importance of the discoveries, and on the importance of publication of such findings by Europeans, recommending $5,000 appropriation for the costs, and adding a post script that thirty new species of reptiles have been found.
A copy of Baird's 6 January 1853 letter to Mason without the post script.
Letter, 20 January 1853, Asa Gray (1810-1888) of Cambridge, Massachusetts, to Lieutenant Colonel Graham discussing plans to publish Graham's collections.
Draft of a proposed appropriation for $5,000 for the publication of Graham's collections.
An envelope addressed to Senator Mason in the Senate with a note referring to pages in Graham's report.