Miscellaneous Manuscripts

Collection ID: 480
Location: MISC MSS

(Description ID: 594627)

Rutherford B. Hayes Presidential Center

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain

Misc. Mss.


Biographical Sketch

Scope and Content



The collection was acquired by the Hayes Presidential Center in 1959. The Rutherford B. Hayes Papers includes additional Chamberlain correspondence.

Biographical Sketch

Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain was born Sept. 8, 1828, in Brewer, Maine, to Joshua and Sarah Dupee Brastow Chamberlain. He attended a military academy in Ellsworth, Bowdoin College, and Bangor Theological Seminary. After graduating in 1855, he returned to Bowdoin College as a faculty member and taught a wide variety of subjects. Chamberlain married Frances Caroline Adams in 1855. The couple had five children.

Chamberlain enlisted in the Union army during the Civil War and was commissioned lieutenant colonel of the Twentieth Maine Infantry on August 8, 1862. He was promoted to colonel and regimental commander May 20, 1863. During the battle at Gettysburg the Twentieth Maine was positioned on Little Round Top, the extreme left flank of the Union line. Its heroic defense of this position played an important part in repelling the Confederate attack of July 2, 1863. Chamberlain was later awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for his actions in this fight.

Chamberlain, wounded several times during the remainder of the war, was promoted to brigadier general in 1864. His meritorious service during the war's final campaigns earned him the honor of commanding the forces designated to receive Lee's formal surrender at Appomattox Court House.

At the close of the war Chamberlain returned to Maine and Bowdoin College. He soon entered political life and was elected governor of Maine four times, serving from 1866-1870. In 1871, he was chosen as the sixth president of Bowdoin College and remained in that position until 1883. President Rutherford B. Hayes named Chamberlain as one of the U.S. Commissioners to the Paris Exposition of 1878. Chamberlain retired from Bowdoin College in 1883 and pursued several business and literary interests. He was named Surveyor of the Port of Portland, Maine in 1900, a position he held until his death in 1914.

Scope and Content

This collection contains 21 items dated 1867-1913. The bulk of the correspondence is comprised of letters directed to Chamberlain. Four additional letters make reference to the general. Most of the items concern Chamberlain's appointment as Surveyor of the Port of Portland, Maine, or the business of the surveyor. There is also a copy of an 1867 petition from Calvin Bates of the Twentieth Maine seeking a pension and back pay from his time as a prisoner of war.



21 items

Letters to Chamberlain from:

Allen, Amos Lawrence, Representative from Maine, dated 2/12/1900 and 2/29/1902
Bates, Calvin, dated 2/4/1867
Black, John Charles, Representative from Illinois, and president, U.S. Civil Service Commission, dated 8/21/1907|
Fogler, Grace Edna, dated 4/2/1899
Frye, William Pierce, Senator from Maine, dated 8/30/?
Gardner, Obadiah, Senator from Maine, dated 5/28/1912
Gilmore, Charles D., dated 1/11/1880
Gordon, John Brown, Senator from Georgia, dated 2/26/1892
Hale, Eugene, Senator from Maine, dated 11/8/1902 and 2/4/1910
Jewell, Claudius B., dated 4/23/1886 and 3/15/1889
Kean, John, Senator from New Jersey, dated 6/6/1902
Rutherford, Allan, dated 1/19/1884
Smith, George Otis, Director of U.S. Geological Survey, Dept. of the Interior, dated 6/14/1913
Spear, Ellis, dated 10/25/1883

Letters referring to Chamberlain from:

Allen, Amos, Representative from Maine, dated 12/12/1899
Claflin, William, Representative from Massachusetts, dated 1/23/1880
Cortelyou, George B., assistant secretary to President McKinley, dated 2/5/1900
Porter, J. A., secretary to President McKinley, dated 11/28/1899