Building a new nation out of a wilderness required vision, hard work, and a strong sense of responsibility to future generations on the part of the early Americans. These pioneers had to create not only a stable political structure, but also a viable economic and social system--and the success of America depended on the solidity of these early foundations.
The collected papers of both Peter Smith and his son, Gerrit Smith, span more than a century of important American history and provide a unique perspective on the vital issues of their eras. Both father and son made many valuable contributions to the economic and social development of America. Students of American history, political science, and sociology will discover documents on land development and land reform among other issues.
Peter Smith laid the foundation for what was to become one of the most reform-minded families of the period. He was a successful entrepreneur, a business associate of John Jacob Astor, and an active proponent of religious reform. The collection includes his correspondence, business records, and land records, which provide valuable insights into nineteenth-century business practices, particularly real estate and land development in the United States. These personal papers also reflect Peter Smith's dedication to religious organizations such as the American Bible Society.