David Tilden Brown Papers
Scope and Content of the Collection
Letters, receipts, contracts, 2 manuscript maps, and a drawing pertaining to Brown’s activities in Nicaragua around 1848-1850. Many are dated 1849, and concern his company Compañía de Vapores de Nicaragua. Included are: the Articles of Agreement between the company and Nicaragua in rough draft form and the grant of the transit route, dated March 14, 1849, and signed by Brown and Nicaraguan chief of state General José Trinidad Muñoz. (For an English translation along with other materials by and about Brown, cf. Compilation of executive documents and diplomatic correspondence relative to a trans-isthmian canal in Central America, vol. I, New York : 1900.)
Also included: letters from U.S. Secretary of State James Buchanan; General José Trinidad Muñoz; E.G. Squier, canal expert and, at the time, chargé d’affaires in Nicaragua; Brown’s business partners Simeon H. Ackerman and Asher Kursheadt; and Joseph L. White, Vanderbilt’s representative for the American Atlantic and Pacific Canal Company in Nicaragua. Periodicals of 1849 (located in oversize) --Correo del Istmo, and El panameño--and a broadside "Lamento patriotico", illustrate public opinion favorable to Brown’s proposed project. Finally, a folding blue silk portfolio or wallet, bearing Brown’s name, and stamped "Yengfoong", was possibly used to record purchases or other commercial transactions.
- Creation: 1848-1866
- Creation: Majority of material found in 1849 - 1849
Materials are in English and Spanish.
Conditions Governing Access
The David Tilden Brown Papers are open for research in the Special Collections Reading Room; 1 box at a time (Priority III).
Ownership and Literary Rights
The David Tilden Brown Papers are the physical property of the Newberry Library. Copyright may belong to the authors or their legal heirs or assigns. For permission to publish or reproduce any materials from this collection, contact the Roger and Julie Baskes Department of Special Collections.
Biography of David Tilden Brown
Psychiatrist, explorer and businessman.
Brown practiced psychiatry from 1844-1849 in various asylums in the eastern U.S. Once gold had been discovered in California, Brown traveled to Central America in 1849 planning to establish a cheaper and faster commercial route west from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean across the isthmus of Nicaragua. Brown and several associates, Willard Parker (his former teacher), Simeon H. Ackerman, E.G. Squier, and Asher Kursheadt formed the Compañía de Vapores de Nicaragua and, on March 14, 1849, negotiated the first treaty with General José Trinidad Muñoz for exclusive rights to steamship travel up the San Juan River and across Lake Nicaragua, where passengers and cargoes were then transported by mules to San Juan del Sur on the Pacific coast. The treaty was never formally ratified, and later that year, the company was absorbed by the American Atlantic and Pacific Ship Canal Company, formed by Cornelius Vanderbilt to build a canal across Nicaragua. Back in the U.S., Brown practiced from 1852-1877 when he retired due to poor health.
2 Linear Feet (1 box, 1 oversize folder)
Letters, receipts, contracts, 2 manuscript maps, and drawings pertaining to Brown's activities in Nicaragua around 1848-1850. Brown traveled to Central America in 1849 planning to establish a cheaper and faster commercial route west from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean across the isthmus of Nicaragua. Brown and several associates formed the Compañía de Vapores de Nicaragua and, on March 14, 1849, negotiated the first treaty with General José Trinidad Muñoz for exclusive rights to steamship travel up the San Juan River and across Lake Nicaragua.
Arranged by type of material.
Collection Stack Location
VAULT 50 2
Gift, Mrs. Barton S. Snow, 1972.
- Ackerman, Simeon H. (Person)
- Buchanan, James, 1791-1868 (Person)
- Compania de Vapores de Nicaragua (Organization)
- Kursheadt, Asher (Person)
- Munoz, José Trinidad (Person)
- Parker, Willard, 1800-1884 (Person)
- Squier, E. G. (Ephraim George), 1821-1888 (Person)
- Brown, D. Tilden (David Tilden), 1822-1889 (Person)
- White, Joseph Livingston, -1861 (Person)
Genre / Form
- Nicaragua -- History -- 1838-1909 -- Sources
- Nicaragua Canal (Nicaragua) -- History -- 19th century -- Sources
- Inventory of the David Tilden Brown Papers, 1848-1866,bulk 1849
- Martha Briggs and Virginia Hay Smith
- Language of description
- Script of description