The papers of Henry Shelton Sanford (1823-1891), Doctor of Laws, University of Heidelberg, 1849; Secretary of American Legation, St. Petersburg, Russia, 1847-1848; Secretary of American Legation, Frankfort, Germany, 1848-1849; Secretary of American Legation, Paris, France, 1849-1853; Charge d'affaires, 1853-1854; Minister to Belgium, 1861-1869; Representative of the American Geographical Society at the African International Conference, 1876; Representative of the United States at the Berlin Conference, 1884; Stockholder and organizer of the Sanford Exploring Expedition, 1886; and Representative of the United States at the Anti-Slavery Conference held in Brussels, 1890; are the property of the City of Sanford, Florida. They were loaned to the Tennessee State Library and Archives for processing. This task was completed on June 1, 1960 and the papers are now housed in the Sanford Museum.

This collection of papers containing approximately fifty thousand items covers a span of years beginning in 1569 and ending in 1901. They are composed of correspondence, diaries, biographical and genealogical data, legal documents, briefs, speeches, articles, accounts, and business memoranda, in the fields of Latin American, European, African, and United States history. There are about 1000 items which deal with the business interests of Henry Sanford's father, Nehemiah Curtis Sanford, who owned a tack factory in Derby, Connecticut, and also had large holdings in Michigan lands. Henry took over his father's business at his death in 1841 and continued to enlarge and add other interests to those of his father. The accounts and business correspondence for Henry's interests compose 3000 items. By 1869 a distant kinsman, William Shelton, warned Henry against so much expansion. He wrote, "No man can manage; a plantation in Louisiana, shipbuilding in. Maine and other remotely situated points of business without being ruined. It is a simple question of tune." This proved to be a prophetic statement for Henry did run into financial difficulties and after his death Mrs. Sanford was forced to sacrifice some of her husband's holdings in order to save others.

Two thousand items deal with Sanford's schooling both in the United States and abroad and his correspondence and diaries while serving as Secretary for the American Legations at St. Petersburg, Frankfort, and Paris. He was Charge d'affaires at Paris for one year l853-1854. These diaries cover one of the most critical eras of European, history - the period of German unification and the seizure of power by Napoleon III. Sanford records many interesting details of these revolutions in France and Germany. There are also diaries kept during trips to Smyrna, Central and South America, and Michigan, including a hunting trip into the country west of the Mississippi in the 1840's. They contain interesting accounts of this sparsely populated area and the dangers encountered by travelers during this early period.

In 1854 Sanford gave up his position as Charge d'affaires at Paris and returned to the United States. In January 1855 he took over the Aves Island case for his Uncle Philo S. Shelton. Approximately 3000 items make up this portion of the papers which is centered upon the Venezuelan government's seizure in 1854 of the Aves Island. This small island, possessing large quantities of the rich fertilizer, guano, was located about three hundred miles from the coast of Venezuela. Philo Shelton had sent employees to dig the fertilizer and load his ships. They built houses and occupied the island for about six months before they were expelled by Venezuelan troops. Efforts to settle the claim against Venezuela occupied much of Sanford's time for the rest of his life, and he was never completely satisfied with the settlement. There was, however, one important result of this case. The United States set forth the "Doctrine of Sovereignty of the United States over Derelict Islands." The adoption as a policy of this doctrine in the relations of the United States with her Hispanic American neighbors was one of the far reaching results of this litigation. The most important correspondents in the Aves, Island portion of the papers include John Appleton, Guzman Blanco, Lewis Cass, E. D. Culver, Charles Eames, John Me Foster, Jacinto Gutierrez, James S. Mackie, W. L. Marcy, H. Nadal, Jose A. Paes, A. Parra, A. M. G. Pennington, R. Phelps, G. H. Preston, Luis Renshaw, Jose M. Rojas, Philo S. Shelton, E. G. Tilton, W. H. Trescot, E. A. Turpin, Charles Wilkes, and several business firms.

About 2000 items deal with Sanford's missions to Colombia, Venezuela, Panama, and Honduras in the years 1857 - 1860 on behalf of the interests of United States citizens in those countries. One large United States company had sold arms and munitions to the Colombian government and had been unable to obtain settlement for them; another group had suffered from damages to the Panama Railroad by the revolutionaries and were demanding payment for their losses; and the third group of citizens, interested in building the Honduras Interoceanic Railroad, deputized Sanford to organize a survey and arrange for the construction of the road The correspondents for these Central and South American projects are represented by W. H. Aspinwall, Henry Birchall, G. C. Crane, John M. Dow, Amory Edwards, Horatio Freeman, G. R. Gliddon, David Hadley, G. Holland, W. N. Jeffers, J. H. Jenney, Dr. J. N. Livingston, Albert Mathieu, C. Michelsen, G. M. Totten, J. C. Trautwine, and P. W. Turney.

The Civil War portion of the papers covering the period when Sanford was Minister to Belgium in charge of Secret Service and United States fiscal agent make up another 2000 items. In his position as fiscal agent, Sanford purchased arms, munitions, blankets, cloth, and saltpetre for the United States. The correspondence, vouchers, insurance, and accounts dealing with his purchases as well as reports of his Secret Service activities, and his private and official dispatches to W. H. Seward are among these papers. The correspondents dealing with Civil War subjects are H. B. Anthony, James H. Anderson, Joseph Antoni, W. S, Bailey, John Bigelow, N. M. Beckwith, R. S. Chilton, Cassius M. Clay, A. W. Crawford, Thomas H. Dudley, Louis A. Dochez, E. G. Eastman, J. B. Fitzpatrick (Bishop of Boston), L. F. S. Foster, Aaron Goodrich, W. Hunter, Frederick Krupp, James S. Mackie, F. H. Morse, Horatio J. Perry, Detective Pollaky and his associates, J. 0. Putnam, G. C. Ripley, George Sauer, B. W. Saunders, George Schuyler, William H, Seward, Gilead Smith, George P. Smith, Truman Smith, Marshall Talbot, W. T. M. Torrens, W. H. Trescot, W. S. Underwood, W. M. Walker, Thurlow Weed, W. G. Wainwright, and others.


After the Civil War Sanford continued to serve as Minister to Belgium until 1869. Some 5000 items deal with a variety of business enterprises during this period There is much correspondence concerning certain patents, the Suez Ship Railroad, electro-mechanical development schemes, railroads and Western lands, the Barnwell Island cotton plantation, the Oakley sugar plantation, and the Arkansas zinc venture. Certain business associates were partners of Sanford in several of these ventures. They were James S. Mackie, Jules Levita, Aaron Goodrich, E. G. Eastman, and Alex Trippel. Alex Trippel handled almost all of Sanford's business involving patents and the Arkansas zinc business. Other correspondents in these projects are certain European inventors, Aerts, Haeck, Roberts, and Sturrock. The electro-mechanical development schemes and the Suez Ship Railroad project were handled by James M. Ormes, S. Schofield, and G. Buckley of the English firm, Schofield, Ormes, and Buckley. The agents in charge of the Barnwell Island cotton plantation, located, off the coast of South Carolina, were J. W. Patterson, J. M. Shackelford, Stuart Middleton, and W. H. Trescot.

Oakley sugar plantation in Louisiana was purchased by Sanford and his brother-in-law. S. B. Rogers, in January 1869 for $24,000. It originally contained approximately 500 acres but additional lands were purchased over the years. Rogers was unable to provide his share of the funds necessary for improvements and operating expenses, and Sanford eventually became sole owner of the Oakley plantation. In later years Oakley became a liability, and it was sold in 1889 for $20,000. The most significant correspondents concerned with this project were S. B. Rogers and M. L. Williams, successive managers of the plantation, and B. Maes, who became bookkeeper for the plantation and manager of the Oakley store.

In 1870 the Sanford Grant containing 23 Square miles of land in central Florida was purchased for 30 cents per acre and from time to time other large acreages were added to this original grant. Another 5000 items deal with St. Gertrude's Orange Grove, the Belair Experiment Station, and the Florida Land and Colonization Society. The development of the Florida lands brought Sanford many labor difficulties. In an effort to settle his labor problems he brought one hundred Swedish immigrant workmen to Florida. They founded the town of New Upsala. The papers dealing with Belair, St. Gertrude's and the Swedish immigration contain correspondence from Henry L. DeForest, G. H. DuPont, George B. Forrester, Eleazer K. Foster, John J. Foulkrod, Josef Henderson, W. A. Henschen, Donald Houston, T. F. Huggins, James E. Ingraham, John Millar, Rev. Lyman Phelps, H. B. Whipple, and John Wennstraum. The Land and Colonization Company organized in 1880 was primarily British owned. Its capital holdings consisted of over 100,000 acres in the counties of Brevard, Hernando, Hillsborough, Manatee, Marion, Monroe, Polk, and Sumter. The two largest stockholders in this company were Sanford and the Scotchman, William MacKinnon. The most important correspondents for this portion of the Florida papers are William MacKinnon, A. W. Macfarlane, Frederic H. Rand, B. F. Stevens, E. R. Trafford, and Gerald Waller. The political interests of Sanford in Florida and his efforts to establish the Republican Party on a more solid conservative white foundation is a subject dealt with in the papers.

In 1876 Sanford was a delegate of the American Geographical Society to a conference called by King Leopold II of Belgium. The conference convened at the King's palace in Brussels and the African International Association was organized with the philanthropic purposes, according to Sanford, of opening up equatorial Africa to civilizing influences and for the ultimate suppression of the slave trade. Sanford was made a member of the executive committee, and it was the beginning of one of his most important services. He worked with Senators John Tyler Morgan of Alabama and R. L. Gibson of Louisiana in an effort to put a measure through Congress setting forth inducements of lands and favorable trade agreements to American Negroes who would migrate to Africa for the purpose of helping to civilize the natives. It was believed the American Negro would be more acceptable to the African as a civilizing influence than the white man. Henry Morton Stanley worked with the African International Exploring Expedition and together they were able in four years beginning in 1878 to set up five stations along the Congo manned by one hundred and fifty European and American officials and supplied by four steamers. Five hundred treaties had been made with the native chiefs, and Leopold had spent $10,000,000 in this work. In November 1884, the Berlin Conference was held and Sanford and Stanley spent the winter in Berlin working with the United States Minister, John A. Kasson, to make secure with the great European powers certain concessions. The Independent State of the Congo with Leopold II as its sovereign was the outcome. In June 1886 the Sanford Exploring Expedition was sent out in the interest of trade, and two steamers, the "Florida" and the "New York" were carried in sections by 1500 porters around the cataracts to the Upper Congo and there reassembled. Sanford was greatly disappointed that he could get no response from American business interests in his Congo project, and the flags of the two steamers were eventually replaced by those of European countries. The Sanford Exploring Expedition was liquidated in 1888 and in its place the Belgian Anonymous Society was established as a purely commercial company. The most significant correspondents for the African part of the papers are H. P. Bailey, Chatrobe Bateman, James G. Blaine, Cambier, F. F. Carter, F. DeWinton, Frederick T. Frelinghuysen, Baron Greindl, George Grenfell, E. J. Glave, Cam Janssen, John A. Kasson, J. B. Latrobe, Amos A. Lawrence, Leopold II (through the agency of Barons Borchgrave, E. Beyens, and DeVaux), Jules Levita, Montefiore-Levi, John Tyler Morgan, W. G. Parmenter, Capt. Popelin, A. Rabaud, Henry Morton Stanley, Col. M. Strauch, A. B. Swinburne, E. H. Taunt, Edwin Terrell, Capt. Albert Thys, W. P. Tisdel, A. J. Wauters, T. Wauters, and others. In 1890 Sanford was sent by the United States as Plenipotentiary and Envoy Extraordinary to the Anti-Slavery conference held in Brussels. The papers dealing with all of Sanford's activities in Africa are composed of approximately 5000 items.

There are about 5000 items of family papers containing the correspondence of Sanford's mother, father, aunts, uncles, cousins, and children. In addition to the family letters written to Sanford there are a large number of letters written by friends of the family to his mother, father, aunts, and uncles which are a part of the collection. There are letters from the Episcopal Bishop, Philander Chase, who was one of the founders of Kenyon College, at first called Jubilee College. Another 5000 items are contained in Mrs. Sanford's correspondence with her husband, son, daughters, friends, and other relatives. About 1000 items make up Sanford's own drafts of his letters, his writings on the penal codes, postal regulations, the German Educational System and some of his speeches. These drafts are in addition to those which are incorporated under the various subject headings. There are six boxes of letterbooks containing copies of Sanford's letters and dispatches.

The Special correspondence, separated because of the prominence of the correspondent as well as the volume of letters, is composed of approximately 8000 items. It contains references to all of the various categories in the collection. An index of all the correspondents who have thus been separated is attached. It includes the number of letters for each correspondent, the inclusive dates of the letters, and an identification of the writers, if possible.

There are about 300 items dealing with art and artists. Among the artists who corresponded with Sanford are George Catlin, De Haas (Dutch animal painter), Scheyer (German animal painter), Gudin, and Van Gogh. The social correspondence composed of invitations, social notes, letters of introduction, and some important autographs, together with the general correspondence in English, French, German, Italian, and Spanish, and the general memoranda, memorabilia, programs, notices and 20 maps make up the remaining 5000 items.