Attorney General Cuomo Recovers Historic President Andrew Jackson Letter Missing From Nys Archives

ALBANY, N.Y. (April 27, 2009) - Attorney General Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that an historic 1824 letter penned by President Andrew Jackson that was missing from the New York State Library and Archives has been recovered.

The item was discovered missing during the Attorney General’s investigation of former State Education Department employee Daniel Lorello, who pleaded guilty to stealing hundreds of historic documents and artifacts for sale on eBay. Lorello is currently serving 2-6 years in prison.

“As one of the most significant United States presidents, letters written by Andrew Jackson are of invaluable importance,” said Attorney General Cuomo.  “Returning this letter to its rightful place ensures future generations that our country’s unique history will be preserved.”

The 4-page Jackson letter was being offered online for $35,000. It is dated March 25, 1824 to Major Samuel Swartwout and is part of the State Museum’s Henry Post Collection. The sale of the letter was first reported to New York officials by Tom Coens, Assistant Editor of the Papers of Andrew Jackson at the University of Tennessee. As part of an ongoing research project into 1820’s politics Coens worked with the Henry Post Collection, digitizing its contents.

The letter is generally political in nature and was written while Jackson was a senator during the controversial 1824 presidential campaign in which he won the popular vote, but not a majority in the Electoral College. The House of Representatives decided the election, choosing John Quincy Adams. Jackson was elected president four years later in 1828, and again in 1832.

Samuel Swartwout was born in Poughkeepsie in 1783 and was an associate of Aaron Burr and old friend of Andrew Jackson’s. In 1829 Swartwout was appointed by President Jackson as a customs collector at the Port of New York. In a major scandal of the time, Swartwout fled to Europe at the end of Jackson’s second term with more than $1 million in embezzled taxpayer money.

“Documents like this Andrew Jackson letter are irreplaceable treasures linking our past with the present and beyond,” said Education Commissioner Richard P. Mills. “I thank Attorney General Cuomo for his vigilant pursuit of this priceless document that belongs to all New Yorkers.”

Attorney General Cuomo thanked Tom Coens for his assistance in identifying the letter as belonging to the state’s collection.

As a result of the Attorney General's investigation, more than 1,600 items that were stolen or missing from the New York State Archives have been recovered.

The Lorello investigation and prosecution was handled by Deputy Chief of the Attorney General's Criminal Prosecution Bureau Richard Ernst and the recovery of the Andrew Jackson letter was handled by Criminal Prosecution Bureau Chief Gail Heatherly.