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Library Summary

Status: Proposed
Type: Real
Size: Large (501 - 1000)

Harman Blennerhassett

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William H. Safford, The Blennerhassett Papers. Cincinnati: Moore, Wilstach & Baldwin, 1864
John S.C. Abbott, The History of the State of Ohio. Detroit: Northwestern Publishing Company, 1875
Samuel P. Hildreth, Genealogical and Biographical Sketches of the Hildreth Family from the year 1652 down to the year 1840. Privately published, 1840
Library notes
No inventory of Blennerhassett's extensive library, largely sacked around 1807, is known. Information sought
At least partially sold at auction in July 1807, when Samuel Prescott Hildreth reported that he "purchased six volumes of the Medical Repository at a sale of Blennerhassett's library in July, 1807." See Hildreth, p. 186.
Safford, p. 29: "Having supplied himself, in London, with an extensive library and a philosophical apparatus, together with other materials deemed necessary for future use ..."

Safford, p. 126: (quoting from William Wirt's defense of Blennerhassett): "'A shrubbery, which Shenstone might have envied, blooms around him: music that might have charmed Calypso and her nymphs, is his; an extensive library spreads its treasures before him; a philosophical apparatus offers to him all the mysteries and secrets of nature ..."

Safford, p. 361: (quoting from Blennerhassett's journal of 25 August 1807): "I supposed my losses by Miller's sale of my effects, which had been sacrificed in Wood county, would not be much short of $15,000, which sum would not replace two-thirds of my library, my furniture, instruments, house-linen, etc., with all my farming-stock and implements of husbandry, for all which I had no other hope of indemnity but what I could derive from the honor and resources of Col. Burr and himself: to all of which he was silent."

Safford, p. 521: "The creditors, who had advanced funds upon his obligations, finding his pecuniary affairs becoming daily more embarrassed, were insolent and exacting. Liquidation was demanded; and, when they saw that he neither had the funds to meet them, nor the ability to procure further credit, they pursued him with the precepts of the law, with a rapacity equaled only by their uncharitable invectives. A portion of his library and philosophical apparatus, which had been his amusement in prosperity, and the solace of his darker hours; the remaining furniture possessing value to him, wholly unappreciated by others, were attached and sold at a criminal sacrifice."
Abbott, p. 555: "Thus there arose, as by magic, amidst the wilds of the Ohio, one of the most elegant mansions of modern days. All its internal appliances and external surroundings were of the most luxurious character. Mr. Blennerhassett's library contained a large and choice selection of the most valuable books. With native powers of a high order, trained by an accomplished university education, by foreign travel, and by intercourse with the most cultivated men of his day, he well knew how to use that library for his constant profit and for his unceasing delight."

Abbott, p. 573: Reporting on the December 1806 loss of the island: "The [militia] immediately took possession of the house, rioted through all its elegant apartments, seized upon all the family stores, became drunk with the wine and whisky they found in the cellar, compelled the negroes to cook for them, burned the fences for bon-fires, and committed outrages which would have disgraced any band of savages. ... [On the 17th a Mr. A.W. Putnam arrived to remove Mrs. Blennerhassett]. He succeeded in providing her with a boat, in which she stored a few articles of furniture, and some of her husband's choicest books."

Abbott, p. 574: "We may here mention that one or two years after this [in 1811] the dilapidated mansion took fire, and with all its remaining furniture, books, and apparatus, was laid in ashes. Thus this vision of loveliness passed away forever."
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