The Alvan Stewart Papers

Alvan Stewart was born in South Granville, New York, September 1, 1790. From the age of five he lived on a farm in Westford, Vermont, and attended district schools in the county. He entered the University of Vermont in 1809, leaving in 1812 to take a teaching position in Canada. He was arrested in Canada as a spy after the outbreak of war and was for a time held as a prisoner. Upon his release he returned to the States, continuing to teach and beginning the study of law in Cherry Valley, New York. After a few years in Kentucky, Stewart returned to Cherry Valley where he acquired the reputation as a brilliant lawyer. In 1832, after travels abroad which are detailed in these diary pages, Stewart moved with his family to Utica, where he continued to practice law, but devoted a great deal of time to temperance and anti-slavery causes. In 1835 he formed and became president of the New York Anti-Slavery Society where he raised money, organized meetings, and held public debates. Several times his planned affairs were broken up by angry mobs. Stewart argued that slavery was in violation with the Constitution and should be abolished. After a brief attempt at a political career, receiving only a few hundred votes for New York governor, Stewart retired to a more private life, though remaining a member of the New York Anti-Slavery Society. Stewart died in New York City, May 1, 1849.

Dictionary of American Biography. New York: C. Scribner's Sons, 1928-58.

The National Cyclopaedia of American Biography. New York: J. T. White, 1937.