Guide to the Collection

Collection Summary


This collection consists of the legal papers, political campaign papers, and correspondence of John F. Andrew, U.S. Congressman from Massachusetts from 1889 to 1893.

Biographical Sketch

John Forrester Andrew (1850-1895) was a Boston lawyer, politician, and advocate for civil service reform. He was born on November 26, 1850, in Hingham, Mass., the son of John A. Andrew, governor of Massachusetts from 1861-1865, and Eliza Jones Hersey. He attended private schools in Hingham and the Phillips Grammar and Brooks Schools in Boston. After his graduation from Harvard University in 1872, he traveled abroad with his mother and siblings for a year. Upon his return, he attended Harvard Law School, from which he graduated in 1875. He was admitted to the Suffolk bar in 1875.

From 1875-1876, he apprenticed in the firm of Brooks, Ball and Storey in Boston and, in September 1876, started his own practice in association with Albert Boyd Otis, his father's former law partner.

In 1880, Andrew was elected as a Republican to the Massachusetts Legislature from the ninth ward of Boston, serving three successive terms in the House and one term as state senator. He was known as a non-partisan, independent political thinker and voted to abolish the poll tax as a prerequisite for voting. He participated extensively on committees, including the Judiciary Committee of both branches of the Legislature and the Committees on the Revision of the Statues (1881), Expediting Business (1882), and on Bills in the Third Reading and Election Laws. He also chaired the Committee on Street Railways. He introduced a bill to establish a Civil Service Commission in 1884, moved to abolish the custom of preaching the election sermon, and introduced a bill to repeal the law providing that an atheist's disbelief in God affects his credibility as a witness.

In 1883, he married Harriet Thayer, with whom he had two daughters, Cornelia Thayer Andrew and Elizabeth Andrew.

In 1884, he was delegate to the National Republican Convention in Chicago, where he was one of a small group that actively sought to prevent the nomination of the Republican candidate James Blaine of Maine, who they believed to be corrupt and a spoilsman. Soon after the convention, he joined the Independent Republican movement, taking up the issues of civil service, tariff, municipal, and currency reform. He was elected president of the Young Men's Independent Club of Boston and spoke in support of the Democratic presidential candidate, Grover Cleveland of New York, who ultimately won the election. The movement by Independent Republicans to oppose Blaine was also known as the Mugwump revolt, and Andrew was a key player in Boston. Andrew was nominated for the U.S. Senate in 1884 on the Independent Republican ticket and, with Democratic support, was elected by a large majority.

In 1886, Andrew was invited to be the Democratic candidate for governor. He initially refused but later accepted on the condition that the party endorse civil service and tariff reform. He did not win the gubernatorial race, but in 1888 and again in 1890, he was elected to Congress by the Democrats of the third district of Massachusetts. He ran again unsuccessfully in 1892.

From 1885-1889, and again in 1894, Andrew served as parks commissioner in Boston. At the beginning of his service, the Back Bay Fens was about half-finished, and the establishment of the City of Boston Parks System had just begun. Andrew was instrumental in developing the parks system, including the addition of Castle Island, and for extending the main park system from the Fens to Jamaica Pond. He also extended Arnold Arboretum and recommended the establishment of playgrounds and open-air gymnasiums around the city.

Andrew was weakened by a bout of malaria in the summer of 1891, and his wife died the following autumn. It is thought that he never fully recovered from the illness and the loss of his wife. He returned to Boston in the spring of 1893 at the close of the 52nd Congress in a weakened physical condition, from which he did not recover until the summer of 1894. On May 30, 1895, he died very suddenly of a stroke at home in Boston.

Andrew's funeral service was conducted at the First Church in Boston. He was buried in Mount Auburn Cemetery.


Biographical Directory of the United States Congress., accessed 04/18/2006.

New England Historic Genealogical Society. Memorial Biographies of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, Towne Memorial Fund, vol. 9. Boston, Mass.: New England Historic Genealogical Society, 1908. 261-263.

Wheelwright, Edmund March. Memoir of John Forrester Andrew. Cambridge, Mass.: J. Wilson and Son, 1897. Reprinted from the Publications of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, vol. III.

Collection Description

The John Forrester Andrew papers consist of four boxes, one narrow box, and one volume that span the years 1861-1897. The collection is divided into four series: correspondence, legal papers, financial papers, and printed materials.

The bulk of the collection consists of letters received by Andrew during his legal and political careers, and of retained copies of outgoing correspondence (letterpress book) sent by Andrew between 1879-1887. Correspondence to 1880 pertains primarily to his legal practice and includes letters from attorneys, clients, and others. From 1880-1894, the correspondence relates mainly to his political interests and activities, including civil service, tariff and currency reform, street railways, veterans' causes, and his work as Boston parks commissioner. Correspondents include Charles Codman, Charles F. Crisp, George William Curtis, Richard Henry Dana, Charles W. Eliot, Henry Lee Higginson, Frederick Law Olmsted, Carl Schurz, and Edmund Wheelwright, among others.

In addition to the correspondence, the collection contains papers from 1875-1886 relating to Andrew's legal practice, including cases for which Andrew served as attorney. As with the correspondence, legal papers to 1880 pertain primarily to his legal practice, and from 1880-1886 increasingly to his political interests and activities.

The collection also contains receipts received by and from Andrew for transactions related to his legal practice and for political contributions and publication subscriptions, as well as printed materials and ephemera relating to his legal and political interests, activities, education, and travel.

Acquisition Information

Gift of Mrs. Charles T. Mason, Oct. 1941.

Detailed Description of the Collection

I. Correspondence, 1861-1894

A. Loose correspondence, 1861-1894

Arranged chronologically.

This subseries contains letters received by Andrew during his legal career from 1875-1894. Correspondence to 1880 pertains primarily to his legal practice and includes letters from attorneys, clients, and others who were involved in his clients' cases. From 1880-1894, correspondence relates primarily to his political interests and activities as a member of the Massachusetts House from 1880-1882; the Massachusetts Senate from 1884-1885; commissioner of parks for Boston from 1885-1889 and again in 1894; an unsuccessful Democratic candidate for governor in 1886; U.S. Representative of Massachusetts in the 51st and 52nd Congresses from March 4, 1889-March 3, 1893; chairman of the Committee on Reform in the Civil Service (52nd Congress), and unsuccessful candidate for re-election in 1892 to the 53rd Congress. Correspondence includes letters received by Andrew pertaining to his interest in civil service, tariff and currency reform, veterans' causes, and street railways. Correspondence also reflects his active role in the 1884 Presidential race in which a group of liberal Republicans known as Mugwumps opposed the Republican candidate, James Blaine, in favor of the Democratic candidate, Grover Cleveland. Correspondents include Charles Codman, Charles F. Crisp, George William Curtis, Richard Henry Dana, Charles W. Eliot, Henry Lee Higginson, Frederick Law Olmsted, Carl Schurz, and Edmund Wheelwright, among others. The subseries also contains some personal correspondence received between 1861-1875 from his parents, John A. Andrew (governor of Massachusetts, 1861-1865) and Eliza Jones Hersey, and from his teacher, Louis Agassiz.

Box 1
Box 2

B. Letterpress book, 1879-1887

This letterpress book contains copies of Andrew's retained outgoing legal correspondence and letters related to his efforts to have his father's memoirs published in 1887.

Vol. 1

II. Legal papers, 1859-1886

A. Loose, 1865-1886

Arranged chronologically.

This subseries contains papers relating to Andrew's law practice, including drafts and copies of wills, mortgages, insurance policies, divorce proceedings, and briefs. This subseries also includes invoices and other financial papers relating to his clients' cases, general notes, and research on legal precedents.

Box 3
Box 4Folder 1-5

B. Legal cases, 1859-1882

Arranged by case.

This subseries contains four legal cases for which Andrew was attorney. It contains witness interviews related to the fatal shooting of a Catholic priest, papers related to a landlord-tenant dispute, to the settlement of an estate, and to a disputed contract of sale. Many of the papers are Andrew's legal research notes related to the cases.

Box 4Folder 6
Estate of Lydia Brown, 1859-1881
Box 4Folder 7
Boyce v. Strauss, 1870-1881
Box 4Folder 8
Keith v. Mason, 1876-1877
Box 4Folder 9
Commonwealth v. McMillen, 1881-1882

III. Financial papers, 1874-1893

Arranged chronologically.

This series contains receipts for payments received by and from Andrew for advertising and other transactions related to his legal practice. The series also contains receipts for political contributions and publication subscriptions entered by Andrew to various clubs, organizations, and campaigns.

Box 4Folder 10

IV. Printed materials, 1868-1897

A. Clippings, 1881-1886

Arranged chronologically.

This subseries contains news clippings related to Andrew's legal practice and to his interests in civil service reform, street railways, and city plumbing.

Box 4Folder 11

B. Commissions, appointments, nominations, and oaths, 1882-1890

Arranged chronologically.

This subseries contains Andrew's commissions as Massachusetts senator and U.S. Representative, appointment as parks commissioner, an oath of allegiance to the United States and the U.S. Constitution, and a petition nominating him as candidate for Congress by Massachusetts Fifth Congressional District voters.

Box 4Folder 12

C. Bills, resolutions, briefs, and acts, 1873-1890

Arranged chronologically.

This subseries contains Massachusetts House and Senate bills, resolutions, and acts pertaining to Andrew's political interests, including civil service reform, city of Boston plumbing, Boston street railways, a movement to establish a half-shire at Brockton, and other issues, many with handwritten notes. The subseries also contains plaintiff and defendant briefs for cases relating to Andrew's legal practice.

Box 5Folder 13

D. Certificates and diplomas, 1868-1883

Arranged chronologically.

This subseries includes Andrew's certificate of admission to Harvard and his diploma from Harvard Law School, as well as admissions to the bar for Massachusetts Superior Court and Circuit Court, and to the United States Supreme Court.

Box 5Folder 14

E. Memoir of John Forrester Andrew, by Edmund March Wheelwright, 1897

This subseries is a published copy of a 26-page memoir from the publications of the Colonial Society of Massachusetts, vol. III. It is a descriptive account of Andrew's birth, youth, legal practice, marriage, political career, and death.

Box 5Folder 15

F. Ephemera, 1872-1884

This subseries contains Andrew's passport, stamped for a trip to France in 1872, business cards, blank forms, printed advertisements, and materials from the 1884 Republican National Convention in Chicago.

Box 5Folder 16

Preferred Citation

John F. Andrew papers, Massachusetts Historical Society.

Access Terms

This collection is indexed under the following headings in ABIGAIL, the online catalog of the Massachusetts Historical Society. Researchers desiring materials about related persons, organizations, or subjects should search the catalog using these headings.


Crisp, Charles F. (Charles Frederick), 1845-1896.
Curtis, George William, 1824-1892.
Eliot, Charles William, 1834-1926.
Higginson, Henry Lee, 1834-1919.
Wheelwright, Edmund March, 1854-1912.


Civil Service Reform Association (Cambridge, Mass.).
Democratic Party (Mass.).


Massachusetts--Politics and government.
United States--Politics and government--1889-1893.