Brackenridge, H. H. (Hugh Henry), 1748-1816

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John Blair Smith, Princeton Class of 1773.

From the description of Father Bombo's pilgrimage to Mecca : wherein is given a true & faithful account of the occasion of his journey and the innumerable ills & disasters which befell him in the course of his travels 'till he returned once more to his native country : manuscript, [1772] / by Hugh Henry Brackenridge and Philip Freneau. (Peking University Library). WorldCat record id: 49367792

Hugh Henry Brackenridge, born in 1748 in Scotland, moved to Pennsylvania with his family as a young child. Brackenridge began a teaching career when he was fifteen years old, continuing his own education in 1768 at the College of New Jersey, now Princeton University. While attending Princeton, he became an avid participant in the American Whig Society and collaborated on works in this literary society with its founders, Philip Freneau, William Bradford, and James Madison. After graduating in 1771, Brackenridge taught in Maryland while completing his Master's degree in divinity at Princeton. He went on to serve in George Washington's army during the Revolutionary War as a chaplain. Following this experience, Brackenridge published a magazine in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania called the United States Magazine between 1778 and 1780. However, the magazine was unsuccessful and Brackenridge changed professions again. Brackenridge was admitted to the bar in 1780 and moved to Pittsburgh in 1781. The formation of Allegheny County, in which Pittsburgh now resides, is partly credited to Brackenridge and his dual effort to enhance the legal system and educate the common man of the frontier. In Pittsburgh, Brackenridge started a law firm and became an active member of the Allegheny County Bar with Alexander Addison and John Woods. Brackenridge is credited with establishing the first bookstore and the first Pittsburgh newspaper, the Pittsburgh Gazette, and continued his own literary works as well as essays on law. He won an election to the state assembly, where he fought for the adoption of the Federal Constitution and obtained endowments for the establishment of the Pittsburgh Academy (University of Pittsburgh). He became unpopular locally for siding with Pennsylvania in maintaining that western lands should not become a separate state dubbed "Westylania". He also fashioned himself as a mediator who sought to preserve unity with the federal government during the Whiskey Rebellion. After this spell of bad publicity, Brackenridge ran for the United States Congress, but was defeated by Albert Gallatin in 1793, a political rival he despised. Brackenridge's opinions of Gallatin are reflected in his correspondence with Alexander Addison, and are located in the Addison papers listed in the "related materials" section below. In December 1799, Governor Thomas McKean appointed Brackenridge a justice of the Pennysylvania Supreme Court. During his years as a judge (1799-1814), beyond penning foundational legal codes for the state, Brackenridge wrote satires, narratives, and published more of his sermons. Modern Chivalry is probably the most famous of his narratives that is full of humor and truth morals and was written for the good of the public, it was published in 1796 after his political career had ended. The story brings to light political corruption, greed, poor leadership and lack of education-all characterized by Brackenridge with wit. Brackenridge wrote prolifically throughout his life, publishing such works such as The Battle of Bunker Hill (1776), The Death of General Montgomery, The Siege of Quebec (1777), Modern Chivalry (1796), and Law Miscellanies (1814). Brackenridge's family life in Pittsburgh is unclear, but he did have one son, Henry Marie, who was cared for by friends in his early life, and was sent to Louisiana by his father for a proper French education. Henry Marie Brackenridge became a prominent figure and judge during his time, and carried on the literary interests of his father. Please refer to the "related materials" section below for information about Henry Marie and other Brackenridge family members. Hugh Henry Brackenridge began a second family with his wife, Sabina Wolfe, adding two more sons and a daughter, William, Alexander, and Cornelia. Hugh Henry Brackenridge died in Carlisle, Pennsylvania on June 25, 1816. Much less is known about Andrew Watson (1755-1823). He is briefly mentioned in the 1889 book History of Allegheny County as a landowner on Market Street in 1795, and as a signatory on an 1817 petition. Andrew Watson married Margaret Thompson (1759-1829) and they had at least one child, a daughter named Elizabeth Watson. Elizabeth Watson married Reverend Doctor John Black (1768-1849) and together they had eleven children, including John Black and Andrew Watson Black. There is some confusion in the papers about who is being referenced by the name "Andrew Watson." The Andrew Watson appearing in the papers after 1823 may in fact be the grandson, son of Elizabeth Watson and John Black. Based upon the papers in this collection, land changed hands between Andrew Watson and Brackenridge, and between their family members after both Brackenridge and Andrew Watson had died. Andrew Watson also appears to have conducted business on Brackenridge's behalf, including land lease, sales, and payment of taxes, when Brackenridge was in Carlisle, Pennsylvania.

From the description of Papers of Hugh Henry Brackenridge and Andrew Watson, 1784-1827. (University of Pittsburgh). WorldCat record id: 31508338

From the description of Papers of Hugh Henry Brackenridge and Andrew Watson, 1784-1827 [electronic resource]. (University of Pittsburgh). WorldCat record id: 671399971

American lawyer and author.

From the description of Autograph letters signed (2) and letter signed : Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, 1786 Aug. 25, 1797 Apr. 1, 1798 Apr. 7. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 270131867

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Leich, Roland, 1911-1995. The town of Pittsburgh / text by Hugh Henry Brackenridge (1786) ; set to music for baritone solo, chorus & orchestra by Roland Leich. Free Library of Philadelphia, Parkway Central Library
referencedIn Brackenridge, H. M. (Henry Marie), 1786-1871. Papers of Henry Marie Brackenridge and family, 1816-1889 [electronic resource]. University of Pittsburgh
referencedIn Addison, Alexander, 1759-1807. Papers of Alexander Addison, 1786-1803 [electronic resource]. University of Pittsburgh
creatorOf Wayne family. Anthony Wayne family papers, 1681-1913. University of Michigan, William Clements Library
creatorOf Brackenridge, H. H. (Hugh Henry), 1748-1816. Autograph letters signed (2) and letter signed : Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, 1786 Aug. 25, 1797 Apr. 1, 1798 Apr. 7. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Madison, James, 1751-1836. Letters of James Madison, 1772-1775. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Brackenridge, H. M. (Henry Marie), 1786-1871. H.M. Brackenridge letter to Carey & Hart, 1846 Jan. 26. Pennsylvania State University Libraries
referencedIn Jensen, Alfred C. The theatre in Los Angeles, 1936. Huntington Library, Art Collections & Botanical Gardens
referencedIn Swank, James Moore, 1836-1914. Papers, 1785-1898 (inclusive), 1785, 1871-1898 (bulk). Historical Society of Pennsylvania
creatorOf Brackenridge, H. H. (Hugh Henry), 1748-1816. Papers of Hugh Henry Brackenridge and Andrew Watson, 1784-1827 [electronic resource]. University of Pittsburgh
creatorOf Ewart, Samuel D., Mrs. Mrs. Samuel D. Ewart papers 1786-1921. Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, Heinz History Center Detre Library and Archives
creatorOf Leich, Roland, 1911-1995. The town of Pittsburgh / text by Hugh Henry Brackenridge (1786) ; set to music for baritone solo, chorus + orchestra by Roland Leich. Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh, Main (Oakland)
creatorOf Brackenridge, H. H. (Hugh Henry), 1748-1816. Papers of Hugh Henry Brackenridge and Andrew Watson, 1784-1827. University of Pittsburgh
creatorOf Brackenridge, H. H. (Hugh Henry), 1748-1816. The battle of Bunker's Hill, 1776. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Brackenridge, H. H. (Hugh Henry), 1748-1816. Letter, H. H. Brackenridge [manuscript], 1824. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Brackenridge, H. H. (Hugh Henry), 1748-1816. Letters of H. H. Brackenridge [manuscript], 1801-1809. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Addison, Alexander, 1759-1807. Papers of Alexander Addison, 1786-1803. University of Pittsburgh
creatorOf Brackenridge family. Brackenridge family papers 1796-1963. Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, Heinz History Center Detre Library and Archives
creatorOf Linhart, Samuel B. Growth and organization of the University of Pittsburgh 1914 [manuscript] Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania, Heinz History Center Detre Library and Archives
creatorOf Brackenridge, H. H. (Hugh Henry), 1748-1816. Letter to Christian Febiger [manuscript], 1790 April 30. University of Virginia. Library
referencedIn Madison, James, 1751-1836. Letters of James Madison [manuscript], 1772-1775. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Brackenridge, H. H. (Hugh Henry), 1748-1816. Father Bombo's pilgrimage to Mecca : wherein is given a true & faithful account of the occasion of his journey and the innumerable ills & disasters which befell him in the course of his travels 'till he returned once more to his native country : manuscript, [1772] / by Hugh Henry Brackenridge and Philip Freneau. Princeton University Library
referencedIn Anthony Wayne family papers, Wayne, Anthony, family papers, 1681-1913 William L. Clements Library , University of Michigan
referencedIn Brackenridge, H. M. (Henry Marie), 1786-1871. Papers of Henry Marie Brackenridge and family, 1816-1889. University of Pittsburgh
creatorOf Jay, John, 1745-1829. Letter to Hugh Henry Brackenridge, 5 August 1779. Harvard Law School Library, HLS Library
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
correspondedWith Addison, Alexander, 1759-1807. person
associatedWith Axton, April, person
associatedWith Brackenridge family. family
associatedWith Brackenridge, H. M. (Henry Marie), 1786-1871. person
associatedWith Ewart, Samuel D., Mrs. person
associatedWith Febiger, Christian, fl. 1790, person
associatedWith Freneau, Philip Morin, 1752-1832. person
associatedWith Jay, John, 1745-1829. person
associatedWith Jensen, Alfred C. person
associatedWith Leich, Roland, 1911-1995. person
associatedWith Linhart, Samuel B. person
associatedWith Madison, James, 1751-1836. person
associatedWith Monroe, James, 1758-1831, person
associatedWith Rand, Richard, fl. 1809, person
associatedWith Smith, John Blair, 1756-1799. person
associatedWith Swank, James Moore, 1836-1914. person
associatedWith University of Pittsburgh. University Library System. Digital Research Library. corporateBody
associatedWith Watson, Andrew, 1755-1823. person
associatedWith Wayne family family
associatedWith Wayne family. family
associatedWith Yeates, Jasper, 1745-1817 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
United States
Pennsylvania--Pittsburgh
Pittsburgh (Pa.)
Pittsburgh (Pa.)
Pennsylvania--Pittsburgh
Allegheny County (Pa.)
Allegheny County (Pa.)
Subject
Lawyers
Occupation
Function

Person

Birth 1748

Death 1816-06-25

Americans

English

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