This collection consists of an account of the USS Princeton disaster, handwritten by United States Congressman George Sykes and sent as a letter to his sister. The first-hand account describes the lead-up to the disaster, the explosion itself that killed six people, including the Secretary of State, President John Tyler's enslaved servant, and the father of Tyler's fiancée, and the aftermath and funeral. Also included are Sykes' official invitation to the event that led to the disastor, and a newspaper clipping giving another witness' account.
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Collection is open to all researchers. Manuscript collections and archival records may contain materials with sensitive or confidential information that is protected under federal or state right to privacy laws and regulations, such as the Virginia Public Records Act (Code of Virginia. § 42.1-76-91); and the Virginia Freedom of Information Act (Code of Virginia § 2.2-3705.5). Confidential material may include, but is not limited to, educational, medical, and personnel records. If sensitive material is found in this collection, please contact a staff member immediately. The disclosure of personally identifiable information pertaining to a living individual may have legal consequences for which the College of William and Mary assumes no responsibility.
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George Sykes was born in Sykesville, New Jersey in 1802 and served as a Democrat from New Jersey in the United States House of Representatives from 1843-1847. Sykes later served in the New Jersey General Assembly from 1877-1879 and died in 1880.
George Sykes Letter and Ephemera, Special Collections Research Center, Swem Library, College of William and Mary. https://scrcguides.libraries.wm.edu/repositories/2/resources/1877 Accessed February 27, 2021.