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Carroll Spence Papers

Identifier: GTM-GAMMS149

Collection-level Scope and Content Note

The Carroll Spence papers consist of material originally pasted/sewn into a folio scrapbook album, probably by Spence, chiefly concerning his career as U.S. envoy extraordinary and minister plenipotentiary to the Sublime Porte (Turkey). Includes correspondence and addresses sent and received by Spence by high ranking officials, diplomats, as well as various American and foreign residents in Turkey. Also included is some correspondence to Robert Traill Spence, father of Carroll Spence, as well as to Keith Spence, the latter's grandfather. Other material conists of autograph notes, possibly by Spence and/or members of his family concerning the family's genealogy.


  • 1822 - 1888
  • Majority of material found within 1853 - 1858

Collection-level Access Restrictions

Most manuscripts collections at the Georgetown University Booth Family Center for Special Collections are open to researchers; however, restrictions may apply to some collections. Collections stored off site require a minimum of three days for retrieval. For use of all manuscripts collections, researchers are advised to contact the Booth Family Center for Special Collections in advance of any visit.

Biographical note

Carroll Spence was born on February 22, 1818, into a family of distinguished naval heritage, at Clare Mount, Maryland, the Spence family country seat. His mother was Mary Clare Carroll of Annapolis, and his father was Robert Traill Spence who had served with Stephen Decatur in the Tripolitan War (1804), and had been active in the defense of Baltimore against the British (1814). Carroll Spence's grandfather, Keith Spence of Portsmouth, New Hampshire, had been purser in the U.S. Navy (1800-1805), a mentor and friend of Decatur's. He was purser of the frigate 'Philadelphia,' at the time it was captured by the Tripolitans (October 31, 1803), and was held prisoner in Tripoli during the ensuing attack on August 7, 1804, in which his son, Robert Traill Spence distinguished himself in the liberation of the ship and its crew. (For further biographical and genealogical information about the Spence family, refer to Series 2.) Carroll Spence completed his studies in his home state of Maryland at Dickinson College where he earned an LL.B; and at Mount St. Mary's College, where he earned an M.A. and later his doctorate in law. In 1842 he was elected to the Maryland legislature, and in 1852 was chosen as a presidential elector. He campaigned actively for Franklin Pierce, who in 1853, appointed him U.S. minister resident to the Sublime Porte. Spence officially received the assignment on August 23, 1853. In 1856, he received the title of EEMP. During his four-year tenure in Turkey, Spence concluded the first treaty between the United States and Persia, and opened up Turkey to American interests. At this time, immediately after the Revolution of 1848 and the Crimean War, there were numerous European political refugees in Turkey seeking protection and assistance from the U.S. legation. Spence took an active interest in the exiles and later succeeded in using his extensive influence with the Turkish government to obtain a certain amount of religious and political freedom for Christian subjects in Turkey. In 1855, with the assistance of Reverend William Goodell, he established the Protestant Bible Society in Constantinople. After four years as the ninth U.S. minister to Turkey, Spence returned to the U.S. in 1858, and retiring completely from diplomatic and political work. On August 9, 1896, Carroll Spence died at his home on St. Paul Street in Baltimore, Maryland, after an illness of several years.


2.5 Linear Feet (3 boxes)

Language of Materials


Carroll Spence Papers
Georgetown University Library Booth Family Center for Special Collections
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository

Lauinger Library, 5th Floor
37th and O Streets, N.W.
Washington DC 20057