1.   Historical note

2.   Scope and content

3.   Provenance

4.   Processing note

5.   Inventory

6.   Subjects

    List of finding aids

    R.I.H.S. Library page

    R.I.H.S. home page

 Silas Talbot Papers

 Military officer of Rhode Island and New York

 Papers, 1775-1813

 Size: .25 ft.

 Catalog number: MSS 747

 Processed by: Elizabeth Delmage, July 2005

©Rhode Island Historical Society

Manuscripts Division


Historical note:

            Captain Silas Talbot (1751-1813) was the ninth child born to Benjamin and Rebecca (Allen) Talbot on January 11, 1751 in Dighton, Massachusetts. By the time Talbot turned twelve, both of his parents had died and he was left to provide for himself. He had been apprenticed as a stone-mason, but was instead drawn to the sea and worked as a cabin boy. Talbot steadily rose through the ranks on the ships and soon became a captain and moved to Providence, RI.

            As Talbot became successful trading along the seas, the American colonies were beginning to fight for their independence from Great Britain. In 1775, Talbot volunteered his services in Rhode Island where he was named captain of the 9th Company of the R.I. Regiment. Talbot prospered as a self made American officer and was a great leader in both the army and the navy and was commended for his bravery by many of the celebrated political figures of the time. After the Revolutionary War (1775-1783), Talbot continued to work in the navy under President John Adams and was the Commander of the U.S.S. Constitution and the Santo Domingo Station during the Quasi War with France (1791-1800). Talbot retired from the navy in 1801 and spent the rest of his life on his farm in Johnston, Fulton County, New York.

            Silas Talbot had married three times during his lifetime. His first marriage was March 1, 1772 to Anna Richmond (c.1750-1781), the daughter of Col. Barzillai and Sarah (Knight) Richmond of Providence. Together the couple had six children, two of which did not survive past infancy. Their four children were George Washington, Cyrus, Eliza, and Theodore Foster. On May 10, 1787 Talbot married his second wife, Rebecca Morris of Philadelphia, who died in 1803. Talbot's third wife is known as Madame Pintard, the two were separated at the time of his death. Captain Silas Talbot died June 30, 1813 and was buried in Trinity Churchyard in New York City.

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Scope and content:

            This collection consists of Captain Talbot's correspondence during the Revolutionary War (1775-1783) and his career in the navy following the war. Also included are five commissions Talbot received during his military career.

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            This collection was donated in 1852, but it is unknown whether all documents included within the collection were accessioned at that time. It is probable that some of the papers were accessioned at a later date, but there is no known documentation to prove this.

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Processing note:

            Many documents within this collection were previously bound in volumes as part of the Rhode Island Manuscripts Collection (MSS 9004) as scrapbook volumes. These documents are identifiable by a pink stamp, that reads: 'Rhode Island Historical Society Manuscripts' and were numbered. These documents had been removed from MSS 9004 at an unknown date and placed in MSS 747. This collection was rehoused in July 2005 into archival boxes and folders. All oversized materials were placed in a separate box.

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Box 1, Folder 1.          List of Contents for the Silas Talbot Papers


Box 2, Folder 4.          Letter from Lafayette                                     3 Sep 1778

Box 1, Folder 2.          Letter from William Longborn                       4 Nov 1778

Box 1, Folder 3.          Letter from Horatio Gates                              15 Jun 1779

Box 1, Folder 4.          Letter from Horatio Gates                              10 Jul 1779

Box 1, Folder 5.          Letter from Henry Marchant                          9 Aug 1779

Box 1, Folder 6.          Letter from Henry Marchant                         31 Aug 1779

Box 1, Folder 7.          Letter from Horatio Gates                              12 Sep 1779

Box 1, Folder 8.          Letter from John Jay                                       18 Sep 1779

Box 1, Folder 9.          Letter from Horatio Gates                              21 Oct 1779

Box 1, Folder 10.        Letter from Horatio Gates                              22 Oct 1779

Box 1, Folder 11.        Instructions from the Assembly for                Dec 1779

                                    Capt. Talbot onboard the Argo

Box 1, Folder 12.        Letter from John Jay                                       14 Jul 1781

Box 1, Folder 13.        Letter from George Washington                     13 Aug 1782

Box 1, Folder 14.        Testimony by Horatio Gates of                      17 Jul 1783

                                    Capt. Silas Talbot

Box 2, Folder 5.          Letter from Horatio Gates                              17 Jul 1783

Box 1, Folder 15.        Letter from John Jay                                       1 Nov 1786

Box 1, Folder 16.        Letter from Henry Knox                                 24 Nov 1787

Box 1, Folder 17.        Letter from Henry Laurens                             17 Nov 1778

Box 2, Folder 6.          Letter to Theodore Foster                               26 May 1788

Box 1, Folder 18.        Letter to Benjamin Bourn                               7 Jan 1792

Box 2, Folder 7.          Letter from James Monroe                             5 Aug 1796

Box 1, Folder 19.        Letter from Henry Knox                                 8 Jun 1799

Box 1, Folder 20.        Letter from John Adams                                 1 Jul 1799

Box 1, Folder 21.        Letter from John Adams                                 1 Jul 1799

Box 1, Folder 22.        Letter to John Adams (Copy)                         3 Jul 1799

Box 1, Folder 23         Letter to John Adams (Copy)                         3 Jul 1799

Box 1, Folder 24.        Letter from John Adams                                 8 Jul 1799

Box 1, Folder 25.        Letter to the President                                    9 Jul 1799

                                    [John Adams] (Copy)

Box 1, Folder 26.        Letter to John Adams (Copy)                         12 Jul 1799

Box 1, Folder 27.        Letter from John Adams                                 12 Jul 1799

Box 1, Folder 28.        Letter from John Adams                                 13 Jul 1799

Box 1, Folder 29.        Letter to John Adams (Copy)                           13 Jul 1799

Box 1, Folder 30.        Letter to George W. Talbot                            1 Feb 1800

Box 1, Folder 31.        Letter from Toussaint Louventure                  21 Mar 1800

Box 1, Folder 32.        Letter from Toussaint Louventure                  16 Apr 1800

                                    (Translated Copy)

Box 1, Folder 33.        Letter from Sir Peter Parker, Admiral            29 May 1800

                                    of British Navy

Box 1, Folder 34.        Letter from Toussaint Louventure                  10 Jul 1800

                                    (In French)

Box 1, Folder 35.        Letter from Toussaint Louventure                  22 Jul 1800 

                                    (In French)

Box 1, Folder 36.        Letter from Sir Peter Parker,                          23 Jul 1800

                                    Admiral of Bristish Navy

Box 1, Folder 37.        Letter from Isaac Hull                                    28 Oct 1800

Box 1, Folder 38.        Letter to Benjamin Bourn (Copy)                  13 Dec 1805

Box 1, Folder 39.        Copy of part of a letter to President                n.d.

Appointments, Commissions, and Miscellaneous:

Box 1, Folder 40.        Appointment as Captain of the 9th Co.          28 Jun 1775

                                    of the R.I. Regiment

Box 2, Folder 1.          Commission as Captain of the                        1 Jul 1775

                                    Continental Army

Box 2, Folder 2.          Appointment as Captain of the                       1 Jan 1776

                                    Continental Army

Box 2, Folder 3.          Appointment as Agent of the                          10 Jun 1776

                                    United States  

Box 1, Folder 41.        Congress Resolution to promote Talbot         10 Oct 1777

                                    to a Major in the U.S. Army

Box 1, Folder 42.        Commission as Major of the U.S. Army        10 Oct 1777

Box 1, Folder 43.        Appointment as Captain of a R.I. regiment    5 Jan 1778

                                    in the U.S. Army

Box 1, Folder 44.        Congress Resolution to promote Talbot         14 Nov 1778

                                    to Lieutenant Colonel of U.S. Army

Box 1, Folder 45.        Appointment as Lieutenant Colonel               14 Nov 1778

                                    of the U.S. Army

Box 1, Folder 46.        Copies of the Congress Resolutions               1777-1779

                                    for Talbot 

Box 2, Folder 9.          Copies of the Congress Resolutions               1777-1779

                                    for Talbot

Box 2, Folder 8.          Commission as Captain of U.S. Navy            25 Jun 1799

Box 1, Folder 47.        Commission as Commander of the                14 Apr 1780

                                    sloop, Argo

Box 1, Folder 48.        Transcription of Talbot's Last Will                18 Jan 1813

                                    and Testament

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Adams, John, 1735-1826.


Argo (Brig)


Constitution (Frigate)


Foster, Theodore, 1752-1828.


Gates, Horatio, 1728-1806.


Hull, Isaac, 1773-1843.


Jay, John, 1745-1829.


Knox, Henry, 1750-1806.


Marchant, Henry, 1741-1796.


Monroe, James, 1758-1831.


Parker, Peter, Sir, 1721-1811.


Talbot, Silas, 1751-1813.


Toussaint Louverture, 1743?-1803.


United States - History - Revolution, 1775-1783.


United States. Navy.


Washington, George, 1732-1799.


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