The Peter J. Sullivan Papers document the life and times of Peter J. Sullivan (1821-1883), who was a Union officer in the American Civil War and the U.S. Minister to Colombia from 1867 to 1869. While there are a limited number of documents concerning his Civil War career, the majority of the papers describe his work as U.S. Minister to Colombia. The papers include a large run of letters to and from U.S. Secretary of State William H. Seward; U.S. Consul in Cartagena, Colombia Augustus S. Hanabergh; and U.S. Consular Agent in Barrouquilla, Colombia E.P. Pellet. Other correspondents include Hamilton Fish, Thomas K. Smith, and notable Colombia politicians and leaders of the era, such as Santos Acosta, Santos Gutierrez, Rudecindo Lopez, Carlos Martin, Tomas C. Mosquera, Santiago Perez, and Miguel Samper.
The dispatches sent by Sullivan and received by him while he was U.S. Minister to Colombia highlight his efforts to conclude a treaty with Colombia for the construction of a ship canal across the Isthmus of Darien. Darien, and for that matter Panama, was part of the nation of Colombia at that point in history. In the end, Sullivan's efforts did not succeed, and the canal was not built across Darien, after all. In addition, the letters describe the turmoil present in Colombian politics and society during those years. The letters back and forth with the Colombian government also detail U.S.-Colombian relations during the term of his posting in Colombia. Some of Sullivan's letters relate to the riot in Cartagena, Colombia in September 1867 which resulted in the death of two Americans.
The Civil War related documents include a few of his commissions, copies of certain general orders, letters from Sullivan to Ohio Governor Salmon P. Chase, and speeches by Sullivan after the war focusing on the exploits of the Union army. The Sullivan Papers also contain some family correspondence, photographs, many calling cards of Sullivan's associates, and printed materials. Some rare Colombian imprints are contained in the collection. The Peter J. Sullivan Papers are preserved in 11 archival boxes (5.5 linear feet).
Series 1 - Peter J. Sullivan correspondence to his family. Series 2 - Peter J. Sullivan correspondence to individuals. Series 3 - Peter J. Sullivan correspondence to Hamilton Fish. Series 4 - Peter J. Sullivan correspondence to Augustus S. Hanabergh. Series 5 - Peter J. Sullivan correspondence to E.P. Pellet. Series 6 - Peter J. Sullivan correspondence to William H. Seward. Series 7 - Peter J. Sullivan correspondence to Thomas K. Smith. Series 8 - Peter J. Sullivan correspondence to Colombian Government. Series 9 - Correspondence from individuals to Peter J. Sullivan. Series 10 - Correspondence from Augustus S. Hanabergh to Peter J. Sullivan. Series 11 - Correspondence from E.P. Pellet to Peter J. Sullivan. Series 12 - Correspondence from William H. Seward to Peter J. Sullivan. Series 13 - Correspondence from Colombian Government to Peter J. Sullivan. Series 14 - Correspondence from others to Peter J. Sullivan. Series 15 - Correspondence of others. Series 16 - Manuscripts. Series 17 - Civil War career. Series 18 - Colombian government documents. Series 19 - Notebooks. Series 20 - Peter J. Sullivan's financial accounts. Series 21 - Addicks family correspondence. Series 22 - Photographs. Series 23 - Calling Cards. Series 24 - Printed materials.
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Status: Open. Provenance: Purchased from L&T Respess Books, 5/2/2008. Processed by Scott S. Taylor, August 2008.
The following article may be of use to researchers:
Taylor, Scott S. "Peter J. Sullivan and the Darien Canal: A Forgotten Mission," "Manuscripts," Vol. 70, No. 3 (Summer 2018). See copy of the article in the curatorial file.
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.
Peter John Sullivan, a noted American Union Civil War officer and U.S. Minister to Colombia from 1867 to 1869, was born in Cork, Ireland on March 15, 1821. After immigrating to the United States with his family in 1823, Sullivan studied at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Sullivan's military career included service in the Mexican War. As a civilian, he worked as a stenographer in the U.S. Senate. He was admitted to the bar in Ohio after moving to that state in 1848. In 1855, he became a colonel in the Ohio militia. During the American Civil War, Sullivan rose to the rank of Brigadier General of U.S. Volunteers. He began in 1861 as a Lt. Colonel in the 48th Ohio Infantry. On January 23, 1862, he became a Colonel. He was wounded at the Battle of Shiloh in April 1862. He resigned on August 7, 1863. On March 13, 1865, he became a Brigadier General. After the Civil War , Sullivan was appointed by President Andrew Johnson to be U.S. Minister to Colombia. He was appointed to that post on March 19, 1867, presented his credentials on July 25, 1867, and ended his mission on June 26, 1869. As Minister to Colombia, Sullivan tried to conclude a treaty with Colombia for the construction of a ship canal across the Isthmus of Darien. At the time, Panama was a state under the control of the nation of Colombia, and various other outside interests, including the French and the British, proposed canal sites near the eventual choice of Panama. Sullivan was unable to obtain a treaty for construction of the canal across Darien. Peter J. Sullivan died in Cincinnati, Ohio on March 2, 1883, and he is buried in Spring Grove Cemetery in Cincinnati.
- Delaney, John J. and James Edward Tobin. "Dictionary of Catholic Biography" (New York: Doubleday, 1961). - Eicher, John H. and David J. Eicher. "Civil War High Commands" (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2001). - Obituary of Peter J. Sullivan from the "Cincinnati Enquirer" dated 3/7/1883. - Parks, E. Taylor. "Colombia and the United States: 1765-1934" (New York: Greenwood Press, 1968). - "Who Was Who in America: Historical Volume, 1607-1896" (Chicago: Marquis, 1963).
5.5 Linear Feet (11 boxes)
Purchase: L & T Respess Books, 5/2/2008 Provenance: Purchased from L & T Respess Books, 5/2/2008. Processed by Scott S. Taylor, August 2008.
Part of the Georgetown University Manuscripts Repository