Genet Family
Papers, 1794-1846


Quantity: 2 Boxes (0.50 cubic ft.)
Access: Open to research
Acquisition: Collation of single items and collections, March 1999; see provenance note for further information.
Processed By: Fred Bassett, Senior Librarian, Manuscripts and Special Collections, July 1999; revised October 2011

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Biographical Note:

Edmond Charles Genet was a French diplomat, who was also known as Citizen Genet. He was born in Versailles, France, January 1763, the son of Edmond Jacques Genet, a career civil servant with the French foreign ministry.  He succeeded his father in 1781 in the foreign ministry as a translator and interpreter. In 1788 he was appointed diplomat at the French embassy in Saint Petersburg, Russia. He had become disenchanted with monarchy as a form of government by time the French Revolution began in 1789 and so he remained in Russia. His revolutionary ardor, however, eventually led to friction with the Russian Empress, Catherine, who demanded his recall in 1792. That same year, the Girondists had risen to power in France and appointed Genet minister to the United States.

His coming to the United States was the first of several events that became known as the “Citizen Genet affair.” He landed in Charleston, South Carolina, on April 8, 1793, and, instead of traveling to Philadelphia as planned, he stayed in South Carolina, recruiting and arming American privateers and militia to fight for France against England and Spain. He finally arrived in Philadelphia on May 18, and continued similar actions which defied George Washington's neutrality proclamation of April 22. Thomas Jefferson, who was then Secretary of State, informed him that his actions were unacceptable, and demanded his recall. Meanwhile the Jacobins had seized power in France and issued a warrant of arrest for Genet.  Knowing he would be guillotined upon his return, he sought political asylum in the United States. This was granted by Washington, with the rare joint concurrence of Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson and Secretary of the Treasury Alexander Hamilton (who had joined Washington in condemning his actions).

Genet then moved to Jamaica, Queens County, New York, and married Cornelia Tappen Clinton in 1794, the daughter of George Clinton, who was prominent in New York State politics and government. She died in 1810 and in 1818 Genet married Martha Brandon Osgood, the daughter of Samuel Osgood, the first United States postmaster general. Records indicate that both his first and second wife bore children. About 1800 the Genet family settled on a farm called Prospect Hill located in Greenbush, Rensselaer County, New York, which was situated on the opposite side of the Hudson River from Albany. Here he lived the life of a gentleman farmer and authored a book about farming techniques. He also wrote essays and opinion pieces related to political issues. He died on July 14, 1834 and is buried in the churchyard behind the Greenbush Reformed Church, about two miles east of his farm.

Scope and Contents Note:

The Genet Family Papers is organized into two series:  letters and papers of Edmond Charles Genet, 1794-1829, and the Genet family papers, 1832-1847.

The first series consists chiefly of letters written by Edmond Charles Genet from 1805 to 1834, which relate mostly to matters of his interests in farming, the lumber industry, and the building of bridges and canals. Genet’s personal finances are also considered in a number of letters.  Issues relative to Genet’s career as a diplomat, particularly the “Citizen Genet” affair is considered only in the letter of April 29, 1794.  The letter of May 1, 1821, is the only other letter that appears to concern diplomatic relations between France and the United States. Other papers of Edmond C. Genet include drafts of letters to the editor of the Albany Register concerning the War of 1812; drafts of essays regarding his endorsement of DeWitt Clinton for president in 1812; and petitions for the incorporation of the Hudson Ship Canal Company in 1826.

The second series consists chiefly of correspondence, legal papers, and financial records related to Genet family real estate holdings in the Greenwich Village area of New York City.  A plat map in folder 34 indicates that several lots were distributed to the sons and daughters of Edmond Charles Genet: Henry James Genet, Maria Louisa Genet, Charles Alexander Genet, Cornelia Tappen Genet, and George Clinton Genet.  They were party to a chancery dispute brought against Anthony Carroll. Charles Alexander Genet died in 1839, which apparently complicated the matter.  Correspondence and other papers indicate Timothy R. Green and John W. Mitchell, attorneys of New York City, were handing the case.

Provenance Note:

The collection originally consisted of the documents in Box 2 that were purchased from Argasy in September 1972. Later many items that were originally accessioned separately were collated with the existing group to form a single collection. The original accession number of these items appears in parenthesis following the description of the item in the inventory list.

Box and Folder List:

Box Folder Description
    Charles Edmond Genet – Letters and Papers, 1794-1829 (Accretion to the collection from items originally accessioned separately)
1 1 Letter from Michael Ange Bernard de Mangourit, Baltimore, [Maryland], to Edmond C. Genet, New York, April 29, 1794.  Regarding the request of the United States government to have Genet recalled as ambassador from France. (in French) A.L.S. (15039)
1 2 Letter from Edmond C. Genet, Prospect Hill, [Greenbush, New York], to [?], October 1, 1805. Concerning balance due on account. A.L.S. (15326)
1 3 Letter from Edmond C. Genet, Prospect Hill, [Greenbush, New York], to General Bayley, New York, January 22, 1808. Regarding the shipment of a parcel containing a seed of Patagonia wheat. A.L.S. (14427)
1 4 Letter from Edmond C. Genet, Prospect Hill, [Greenbush, New York], to John V. Yates, Albany, [New York], March 25, 1809. Pertaining to legal matters relative to John Brees. A.L.S. (14581)
1 5 Letter from Edmond C. Genet, Albany, [New York], to [?] Read, Lansingburgh, [New York], December 15, 1813. Addressed to the cashier of the Bank of Lansingburgh; concerning arrears in making payments due on bank stock. A.L.S. (15136)
1 6 Letter from Edmond C. Genet, New York, to [?], January 27, 1816. Concerning investments in bank stock. A.L.S. (14674)
1 7 Letter from Edmond C. Genet, New York, to Staffords, Spencer & Co., Albany, [New York], March 9, 1817. Informing this Albany firm that he is making payments on bills past due and requesting it to order more clover and timothy seed for him. A.L.S. (14493)
1 8 Letter from Edmond C. Genet, New York, to [?], September 1, 1817. Concerning a legal dispute with the Farmers Turnpike Company. A.L.S. (12733)
1 9 Letter from Edmond C. Genet, to John Taylor, March 1, 1819. Concerning arrears in interest payments on a loan Genet received from the New York State Board of Regents. A.L.S. (7262)
1 10 Letter from Edmond C. Genet, Prospect Hill, [Greenbush, New York], to Staffords & Co., Albany, [New York.], September 16, 1819. Regarding the purchase of military equipment for his son. A.L.S.  (16719)
1 11 Letter from Edmond C. Genet, Prospect Hill, [Greenbush, New York], to [?], September 30, 1819. Regarding the development of canals and the lumber industry; also discusses personal and family matters. (in French) A.L.S. (13486)
1 12 Letter from Edmond C. Genet, Prospect Hill, [Greenbush, New York], to [Hyde de Neuville], May 1, 1821. Discussing diplomatic relations between the United States and France; also contains comments on the Jacobin papers and the French monarchy. (in French with English translation). L.S. (14646)
1 13 Letter from Edmond C. Genet, Albany, [New York], to Committee on Canal System and Internal Improvement, February 23, 1823. Regarding the construction of a basin at Albany for the proposed Erie Canal. A.L.S. (15451)
1 14 Letter from Edmond C. Genet, New York, to [?], May 4, 1827. Concerning payment for land sold to the state. A.L.S. (14675)
1 15 Letter from Edmond C. Genet, Prospect Hill, [Greenbush, New York], to [?], May 3, 1828. Regarding the renewal of a loan made to his son, Charles Genet. A.L.S. (15335)
1 16 Letter from Edmond C. Genet, Prospect Hill, [Greenbush, New York], to [?], April 3, 1829. Concerning a payment due on an account and the opinion of Judge Lansing in a pending court case. A.L.S. (15347)
1 17 Letter from Edmond C. Genet, Prospect Hill, [Greenbush, New York], to [?] Olcott, August 27, 1832. Seeking a loan from the bank in order to pay a bill due to Dr. Charles Hale. A.L.S.  (14465)
1 18 Letter from Edmond C. Genet, Prospect Hill, [Greenbush, New York], to Hamilton White, Cortland, [New York], May 18, 1834. Regarding legal protection of land situated in the Town of Virgil, Cortland County, that was bequeathed to Genet’s children from George Clinton. A.L.S. (15370)
1 19 Draft of a letter from Edmond C. Genet, [1812] to the editor of the [Albany?] Register commenting on the War of 1812. A.D. (15202)
1 20 [Edmond C. Genet]. Drafts of five essays on the next election for President of the United States, [c.1812], in which Genet explains his reasons for endorsing DeWitt Clinton for the presidency and discusses the structure of the American government and its political process; the proceedings of the Constitutional Convention of 1787; and the role of delegates from New York State. Signed: A State Republican. 48(50)p.; 5 parts. A.D. (14852)
1 21 Account (debit-credit) of Edmond C. Genet with David Lamberson for sundry goods, 1798. (15137)
1 22 Proposals for the erection of bridge across the Hudson River at points north of the City of Albany, 1813. (2 items)
  1. Edmond Charles Genet. “Plan for the erection of a bridge above the northwest boundary of Albany,” 1813. A.D.S. (2674)
  2. Edmond Charles Genet. “Plan for the erection of a bridge above the northwest boundary of Albany,” [1813]. A.D. (12056)
1 23 Documents related to the construction of canal in the Hudson River basin south of Albany, 1826. (16773)
  1. Letter from [Edmond Charles Genet], Office of the Hudson Ship Canal Company, 66 Hudson street, Albany, [New York], to [William Allen?], January 9, 1826. A.L. (draft)
  2. Letter from William Allen, Troy, [New York], to Edmond Charles Genet, Albany, January 10, 1826. A.L.S.:
  3. Letter from [Edmond Charles Genet], Albany, [New York], to the editor of the Albany Daily Advertiser, [Albany, New York], April 6, 1826. A.L. (draft)
  4. Partial letter from [Edmond Charles Genet]. [1926?]. A.N.
  5. [Edmond Charles Genet]. Petition of the subscribers, inhabitants of Greenbush, Schodack, and Albany to the New York State Legislature. [1826]. A.D. (draft).  
  6. “To the Honorable the Legislature of the State of New-York in Senate and Assembly convened. The memorial and petition of the subscribers, inhabitants of the counties of Rensselaer and Albany, and others respectfully sheweth that your petitioners have associated for the purpose of constructing a ship canal on the east shore of the Hudson River …” [1826]. D. (printed)
1 24 [Edmond Charles Genet]. Notes relative to the first meeting of supporters of the Hudson Ship Canal Company at Greenbush, [New York], and bank account of said firm. [1826]. A.D.
1 25 Pierre Papineau, Prospect Hill, [near Albany, New York], September 14, 1829. Copy of a contract with Edmond Charles Genet in which Pierre Papineau agrees to rebuild a mill according to specifications listed in the contract. A.D.S. (in French; with translation). (14673)
    Genet Family Papers, 1832-1847
(Items in Box 2 originally were cataloged as SC15309.)
2 26 Letter from Henry J. Genet, Albany, [New York], to Edmond C. Genet, Greenbush, [New York], March 20, 1832. Regarding finances and other personal matters. A.L.S.
2 27 Letters from Henry J. Genet to Timothy R. Green of New York City, regarding Alexander Genet’s estate and litigation against Anthony Carroll, 1838-1839.
  1. Greenbush, [New York], January 30, 1838. A.L.S.
  2. Greenbush, [New York], February 7, 1838. A.L.S.
  3. Greenbush, [New York], April 30, 1838. A.L.S.
  4. Greenbush, [New York], March 19, 1839. A.L.S.
2 28 Letters from Cornelia T. (Genet) Hale to Timothy R. Green and John W. Mitchell, attorneys, concerning Alexander Genet’s estate and other legal matters, 1839-1840.
  1. Greenbush, [New York], August 18, 1839. A.L.S.
  2. Greenbush, [New York], February 6, 1840. A.L.S.
  3. Greenbush, [New York], February 27. 1840. A.L.S.
  4. Greenbush, [New York], March 15, 1840. A.L.S.
  5. Greenbush, [New York], July 13, 1840. A.L.S.
2 29 Letters of Maria L. (Genet) Van Rensselaer concerning family real estate and other legal matters, 1838-1840.
  1. George A. Fürss, New York, to Maria Louisa Genet, Greenbush, [New York], February 26, 1835. A.L.S.
  2. Maria L. Genet, Greenbush, [New York], to Timothy R. Green, New York, December 12, 1838. A.L.S.
  3. Maria L. Genet, Greenbush, [New York], to Timothy R. Green, New York, January 12, 1839. A.L.S.
  4. Maria L. Genet, Greenbush, [New York], to Green & Mitchell, New York, March 9, 1840. A.L.S.
  5. Maria L. Van Rensselaer, Greenbush, [New York], to John N. Mitchell, October 15, 1840. A.L.S.
2 30 Letters of various members of the Genet family regarding personal and family matters, 1846-1847.
  1. Henry J. Genet, Greenbush, [New York], to [Cornelius] Van Rensselaer, Greenbush, [New York], March 24, 1841. A.L.S.
  2.  [Cornelia Genet], [Greenbush, New York], to George C. Genet, New York, [postmark: August  7, 1846]. A.L.S.
  3.  [Cornelia Genet], [Greenbush, New York], to George C. Genet, New York, August 13, 1846. A.L.S.
  4. George C. Genet, New York, to Mrs. E.C. [Maria B.] Genet, Greenbush, [New York], January 26, 1847. A.L.S.
  5. Letters – three undated and unsigned drafts
2 31 Letters addressed to Timothy R. Green and John W. Mitchell concerning Genet estate and claims of Anthony Carroll, 1837-1840. Includes letters from Anthony Carroll (11 items)
2 32 Papers of Green and Mitchell related to court proceedings of John Rathbone, Jr. v. Cornelius and Maria L. [Genet] Van Rensselaer, 1840-1843. (7 items)
2 33 Legal papers of Green and Mitchell related to the Genet family litigation against Anthony Carroll regarding the estate of Charles Alexander Genet, 1838-1840. (25 items)
2 34 Land titles and power of attorney documents of the Genet family, 1838-1840. Includes plat map showing lots in New York City that were subject to litigation between the Genet family and Anthony Carroll. (12 items)
2 35 Debit-credit accounts of various members of the Genet family with Green and Mitchell for legal expenses, 1839-1840. (19 items)
2 36 Real Property Tax Assessment Bills and Receipts, New York City, 1839-1840. (ca. 48 items)
2 37 Photocopy of an original letter of Edmond C. Genet to Stephen van Rensselaer, January 15, 1826, held by the Institute of Aeronautical Science (New York, N.Y.). This letter contains a proposed design for an airship and plans for improving navigation on the Hudson River.
Last Updated: May 24, 2021