Special Collections and Archives

Charles Wesley Slack papers

Special Collections and Archives

Charles Wesley Slack papers

Charles Wesley Slack, Papers, 1817-1906


Prepared by Dean H. Keller
Revised and prepared for the Web by Athena Salaba, July 1996
Updated by Cara Gilgenbach, April 14, 2004

4 record storage boxes + 1 document case + oversized folder, 4.5 cubic feet, 11th floor

Scope and Content

The collection was donated to the Kent State University Special Collections & Archives by Slack's great grandson Paul C. Kitchin, an Emeritus Professor of Political Science at Kent State University, in 1978.

A major part of the collection consists of Slack's correspondence to his wife, discussing his observations on the progress of the Civil War and his impressions of the various cities he visited. Also included are Slack's correspondence with many important political and literary figures of that period such as Henry Ward Beecher, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Wendell Phillips, Charles Sumner and Henry Wilson. While the items of the collection date from 1817 up until 1906, the majority of the letters cover the period from 1848 to 1885.

While the collection is composed primarily of Slack's correspondence there is one part at the end of the collection that includes unidentified letters, clippings and other miscellaneous items. These items are not listed in this inventory but researchers can request to have access to these materials.

The collection is arranged chronologically. Undated material are arranged alphabetical by author. The researcher can find at the beginning of the collection James Stimpert's A Guide to the Correspondence in the Charles Wesley Slack Manuscript Collection: 1848-1885, that lists the correspondents alphabetically.

This collection will be helpfull to any researcher interested in the pre-Civil War movements, and especially the antislavery movement.

Biographical Note

Charles Wesley Slack was born February 21, 1825 in Boston, Massachusetts. A lifelong resident of that city, he began his career as a journalist with the Boston Journal, and also worked in various other printing and publishing enterprises, before acquiring the weekly Boston Commonwealth in 1863. He remained edidor and publisher of the Commonwealth until his dealth on April 11, 1885.

Slack was elected to the Massachusetts State Legislature in 1855 and again in 1861. He was appointed assistant cashier in the Boston Custom House in 1861, where he served until 1869, when President Ulysses S. Grant appointed him Collector of Internal Revenue for the Third District of Massachusetts, a position he held until his death.

While employed in these diverse capacities, Slack was also active in a variety of literary, political, religious, and charitable organizations. He was deeply involved in the free soil and antislavery movements of the pre-Civil War years and was a strong advocate of the radical Republican plan for Reconstruction after the war. Early in his life Slack joined the Unitarian Church, which he enthusiastically served in and supoprted as a lay person.

In 1849 Slack married Miss Evelina E. Vannevar of Boston, and together they had a son and a daughter.

(The information for the biographical sketch was taken from James Stimpert's A Guide to the Correspondence in the Charles Wesley Slack Manuscript Collection: 1848-1885, a paper prepared on July 13, 1983.)