Skip to main content

Benjamin Tallmadge collection


Identifier: 1933-19-0

Scope and Contents

The Benjamin Tallmadge Collection documents the personal life and professional career of Colonel Benjamin Tallmadge through his correspondence as well as his legal, financial, and personal papers.  An army officer, chief intelligence officer, and organizer of the Culper spy ring during the Revolutionary War, Tallmadge became a businessman and U.S. Representative from Connecticut in Congress after the war.

The collection contains Tallmadge's duplicate original letters to George Washington concerning military operations and Tallmadge's operations of the secret service during the Revolutionary War.  These letters record  not only detailed summaries of battles, movements of troops, and requests for provisions, but also the activities of spies and communications of their intelligence.  Many of the letters are written in cipher.  Also included are two original letters from Washington to Tallmadge concerning military administration. 

The letters also record Tallmadge's business activities after the war, especially in his correspondence with his son-in-law, John Paine Cushman, a lawyer in New York and, from 1817-1819, U. S. Representative of New York in Congress, whose advice and assistance Tallmadge frequently sought for his financial transactions.

In addition, legal documents, accounts, and bills and receipts illuminate Tallmadge's business ventures, especially his purchases and sales of land in Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, and Ohio, with references to the Ohio Company and Western Reserve.  Other items include accounts for Tallmadge's store in Litchfield, Connecticut; receipts documenting his investment in privateering ships; and indentures of African Americans and bills of sale of enslaved people. 

Moreover, his letters to Cushman reveal their opinions on national politics and government, especially during Cushman's own service in Congress.  Meanwhile, his letters to his daughter, Maria (Tallmadge) Cushman, document the religious revival movement in New England, in which Tallmadge took great interest, describing the activities of such revivalist preachers as Lyman Beecher, Asahel Nettleton, and Nathan Beman.  These letters also provide insight into the social and personal activities of the Tallmadge and Cushman families in Litchfield and elsewhere.  Occasionally, the letters are appended by notes to Maria from Tallmadge's second wife, Maria (Hallett) Tallmadge.

The collection also contains correspondence and business papers of Tallmadge's son, Frederick Augustus Tallmadge, which primarily concern Frederick Tallmadge's publication of his father's memoirs.


  • Created: 1777-1864
  • Other: Majority of material found in 1778-1833
  • Other: Date acquired: 01/01/1933


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Unpublished materials authored or otherwise produced by the creator(s) of this collection are in the public domain. There are no restrictions on use. Copyright status for other collection materials is unknown. Transmission or reproduction of materials protected by U.S. Copyright Law (Title 17, U.S.C.) beyond that allowed by fair use requires the written permission of the copyright owners. Works not in the public domain cannot be commercially exploited without permission of the of the copyright owners. Responsibility for any use rests exclusively with the user.


2.08 Linear Feet

Language of Materials


Arrangement Note

The collection is arranged in 5 series:

I. Correspondence

II. Legal papers

III. Financial papers

IV. Miscellany

V. Frederick A. Tallmadge papers

Physical Access Requirements

A few originals are not available due to fragility.  Use photocopy.

Custodial History

Descended in the family prior to donation to LHS.

Source of Acquisition

Mary Floyd Williams

Method of Acquisition


Accruals and Additions

Gifts from Emily Noyes Vanderpoel; Dorothy A. Johnson; Mary Floyd Tallmadge Seymour (1911); Elizabeth Delafield (1914); Morris W. Seymour (1917); L. J. Carrington (1923); Mary Floyd Williams (1942); White Memorial Foundation (1952); R. W. Belfit (1965); O. B. Swift (1971);  Lynne Brickley (2004, 2005); and Malcolm and Carol Bramley (2005).

Existence and Location of Originals

Transcriptions are available for some documents.

Related Materials

Mary Floyd Tallmadge Recipe Book, Litchfield Historical Society collection.

Maria (Tallmadge) Cushman Recipe Book, Litchfield Historical Society collection.

Connecticut Historical Society Hartford, CT

Connecticut State Library Hartford, CT

New York Historical Society New York, NY

New York Public Library New York, NY

Historical Society of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA

Henry E. Huntington Library and Art Gallery San Marino, CA

Yale University Library New Haven, CT

Related Publications

Benjamin Tallmadge, Memoir of Benjamin Tallmadge, Prepared by Himself at the Request of his Children (New York: Thomas Holman, 1858).

Charles Swain Hall, Benjamin Tallmadge: Revolutionary Soldier and American Businessman (New York: Columbia University Press, 1943).

Artifact Collection

Material objects at the Litchfield Historical Society relating to the Benjamin Tallmadge Collection include: -2 portraits of Benjamin Tallmadge and Mary Floyd Tallmadge by Ralph Earl (1917-04-01, 1917-04-02) -silver teaspoon (1907-02-14) -silver tablespoons (1907-02-13, 1907-02-12, 1958-09-8) -Chinese export porcelain coffee cup (1908-07-01) -portrait miniature of Benjamin Tallmadge by John Ramage, 1783 (1986-17-1) -silver tea service (1992-13-1 a-d) -Benjamin Tallmadge & Co. trade sign (1971-06-0) -oil painting of Benjamin Tallmadge by Ezra Ames, ca. 1825 (1974-09-1) -oil painting of Maria (Hallett) Tallmadge by Ezra Ames, ca. 1825 (1974-09-2) -hair cutting of Benjamin Tallmadge (1949-25-1) -mourning pin with cutting of Benjamin Tallmadge's hair (ca 1910-01-19) -silver salt spoon (1907-02-16) -silver sugar tongs (1912-14-3) -2 silver salt spoons (1912-14-4) -silver mustard spoon (1907-02-15) -large silver urn (1972-05-8) Contact museum curator for further information at This collection was processed with support from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR).

Separated Materials

Account books, diplomas, certificates, and military commissions are housed in oversize boxes.

Processing Information

The bulk of this material was formerly arranged, in chronological order grouped by type of material, in scrapbooks.  This finding aid retains the chronological arrangement by type of material.

Benjamin Tallmadge collection
Anna Chen
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Litchfield Historical Society Repository

7 South Street
P.O. Box 385
Litchfield CT 06759
860-567-3565 (Fax)