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Thomas H. Robinson papers

Identifier: MS 1473


This collection primarily contains the correspondence of Thomas H. Robinson, Attorney General for Maryland from 1924 until his death in 1930. Other records describe his law practice, as well as his involvement as a Democratic leader in Harford County.


  • 1877-1930


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research use.

Conditions Governing Use

The reproduction of materials in this collection may be subject to copyright restrictions. It is the responsibility of the researcher to determine and satisfy copyright clearances or other case restrictions when publishing or otherwise distributing materials found in the collections. For more information visit the MCHC’s Rights and Permissions page.

Biographical / Historical

Thomas Hall Robinson was born on a farm in Harford County, Maryland in 1860. Son of Dr. Samuel S. and Mary E. (Prigg) Robinson, the young Robinson grew up in a well-to-do Catholic household. His education was received from the county's public schools and from private tutors.

In 1884, two years after his admission to the Bar, Robinson became a member of the Daniel Scott and Henry D. Farnandis Law Firm in the Harford County town of Bel Air. Here he assumed responsibility for a general load of legal casework. Evincing an interest in politics, Robinson successfully ran for the State Senate in 1891 on the Democratic ticket. Despite his avid desire to remain in the Senate, Robinson lost his re-election bid in 1893.

Robinson had a marked ability to make crucial political contacts while assuming numerous and influential responsibilities in the Democratic organization. He rapidly became a power in Harford County Democratic politics, eventually becoming party boss. He developed direct connections with members of the State Democratic hierarchy such as Murray Vandiver, Spencer C. Jones, Stevenson A. Williams, Lloyd Wilkinson, John Walter Smith and Fred C. Talbott. With these connections, Robinson became arbiter for all aspects of the party in Harford County, including the dispensation of patronage.

Robinson regained his State Senate seat in the 1901 elections. Firmly entrenched in Harford County, he held onto this office for several terms. In 1923 and again in 1927 Robinson was elected as Attorney General of Maryland. He died in the midst of campaigning for a third term in 1930.

The singlemost remarkable attribute Robinson possessed was his capacity for being deeply involved in a number of pursuits concurrently. In addition to his duties as an elected official, Robinson was also long-time President of the Second National Bank of Bel Air as well as five-time delegate to the Democratic National Convention (He was Chairman of the Maryland delegation in 1920 and in 1924.) His law practice was busy at all times, dealing mostly with civil and corporate disputes. The emphasis on corporate law was probably a direct result of Robinson's position as Counsel for several large businesses such as the Pennsylvania Railroad. In addition to these responsibilities, Robinson was also active in the support of the Conrad Sanitarium and the Female House of Refuge.


18.46 Linear Feet (15 full Hollinger boxes 1 half Hollinger box 12 flat boxes)

Language of Materials



Thomas H. Robinson, incoming correspondence


Arranged chronologically by year.

Letters sent to Robinson discussing political and legal activities. Subjects include Robinson's campaigns for the State Senate and for Attorney General; state and local Democratic party strategies; legal case work, especially in regard to the Pennsylvania Railroad. Those writing most frequently include: Herman Stump, Charles F. Bonaparte, Daniel Scott, Henry D. Farnondis, Murray Vandiver, John Z. Bayless, James P. Gorter, G. S. Hawkins, Spencer C. Jones, Rep. J. Fred C. Talbott, Stevenson A Williams, John Walter Smith, Samuel Bradford, Benjamin W. Carskadden, W. J. Harwood, C.A. Macatee, Stacey B. Lloyd, T. Scott Offutt, A.P. Gorman, Francis J.Gowen, Father James P. Fitzgerald, Walter Dulany and Co., The Front Royal and Riverton Improvement Co., James A. Logan, John S. Wirt, Marion De K. Smith, C.C. Pusey, William S. Bryan, A. Freeborn Brown, W. Calvin Chestnut, Millrd E. Tydings, Rep. Canville Benson, Samuel K. Dennis, James J. Archer, John E. Semmes, John M. Dennis, Thomas F. Cadwalader, F. Howard Warfield, J.H.C. Watts, H.P. Blair, and John J. Donaldson.

Thomas H. Robinson, outgoing correspondence (Letterpress copies)


(3 volumes missing: Aug 16, 1902 to Mar 6, 1903; Jun 10, 1904 to Jan 14, 1905 Feb 2, 1910 to Aug 28, 1910)

Arranged chronologically by day; bound into volumes.

Copies of Robinson's letters to political and legal associates and to his law practice clients. Those written to most frequently include: James J. Archer, George R. Allen, A.J. Bradly, H.P. Blair, John Blakely, R.W. Baldwin, W.R. Barnard, Charles P. Bentley, W.N. Bannard, Henry Bikle, James A. Logan, Messrs. John and C.W. Sparhawk, J.H.C. Watts, John S. Wirt, members of the Farnandis family, M.A. Prigg, Murray Vandiver, James S. Calwell, Benjamin W. Carskadden, Francis J. Gowen, Herman W. Hansen, Frank W. Hunt, George V. Massey, John R. Ramsay, Elmer J. Cook, Bernard Carter, Henry Flottemesch, James H. Harlow, Stacy B. Lloyd, William Middendorf and Co., T. Scott Offutt, F. Howard Warfield, William F. Coale, Arthur O. Fording, P.B. Prince, W.A. Hulshart, A. Freeborn Brown, Alfred Edge, C.C. Mahoney, Richard A. Maloney, Lloyd D. Reynolds, Joseph C. France, W. Calvin Chesnut, and George M. [UNK] George R.E. Gilchrist, Wilfred C. Roszel, Lt. Col. John S. Dean, Harry B. Wolf.

Thomas H. Robinson, legal papers

ca. 1880-1930

Arrangement by case title

Materials relating to Robinson's legal casework. Includes legal briefs, writs, warrents, notes, some items of correspondence, statements, affadavits, deeds, and other related items. The series is divided into two parts: large groups of related legal papers that have been identified and pulled together under the case title and a body of unseparated material labelled Legal Papers. Both groups deal heavily with civil and corporate law, especially with respect to cases involving the Pennsulvania Railroad and its affiliates.

Thomas H. Robinson, accounts, bills, and receipts

ca. 1880-1930

No arrangement.

Personal and some business accounts, bills and receipts of Robinson. Includes items relating to liquor, food, clothing and sundries purchased. Also a number of bills for legal services performed by Robinson.

Scope and Contents

This collection consists primarily of Thomas H. Robinson's correspondence, both incoming and outgoing. The nature of the correspondence is directly related to Robinson's political involvement as a State Senator, Attorney General, and Harford County Democratic Party leader. Robinson's legal practice is also well represented. Other materials include a variety of papers associated with legal cases handled by Robinson along with a number of his personal accounts, bills and receipts. Most of the items in the collection are dated from 1890 to 1924, a period covering most of Robinson's political and legal activities.

The numerous letters detailing political strategy on both the local and state levels are a clear strength of this collection. Workings of the Democratic State Central Committee, especially as it related to Harford County, are well illustrated. Letters exchanged by Robinson with Democratic leaders such as A.P. Gorman, Charles J. Bonaparte, John Walter Smith, Albert C. Ritchie, Murray Vandiver and Stevenson A. Williams deal with topics such as political patronage, campaign issues, fund raising activities and general electioneering.

The one major gap in the collection is the period Robinson served as Maryland Attorney General. What material does exist between 1925 and 1930 concerns general political matters and does not give much information as to Robinson's official activities. These files no doubt were kept separately from those comprising this collection.

Robinson's correspondence also reflects an extensive legal pracice dealing primarily with civil and corporate suits. Content of these letters usually relate to details and particulars of specific cases, of which there are many. Often, correspondence is associated with the group of legal papers contained in the collection.

Much of Robinson's legal work from about 1893 to 1924 was related to his position as the local Counsel for the Pennsylvania Railroad and its affiliates such as the Philadelphia, Wilmington and Baltimore Railroad. Many letters were exchanged with the chief legal personnel of the railroad discussing elements and strategies of pending civil suits. Standard communications regarding Company policy and administrative details are also included.

Robinson also did much legal work for other concerns such as the Havre de Grace and Perryville Bridge Company, the Conowingo Bridge Company, the Maryland Shell Fish Commission and the town of Havre de Grace. Large amounts of correspondence were generated from his extensive activities on the behalf of these clients. Largely dealing with the particulars of active suits, this correspondence reveals a great deal about the legal, social, and political problems faced by early 20th Century institutions in Maryland.

Personal and family items are rare in this collection. Small groups of letters to Robinson from his daughter Madeline and son Thomas, Jr. are included, but other family connections are difficult to locate. Personal items are for the most part confined to accounts, bills and receipts.

Guide to the Thomas H. Robinson papers
Under Revision
William G. LeFurgy
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Revision Statements

  • 2019-10-25: Manually entered into ArchivesSpace by Mallory Herberger.

Repository Details

Part of the H. Furlong Baldwin Library Repository

H. Furlong Baldwin Library
Maryland Center for History and Culture
610 Park Avenue
Baltimore MD 21201 United States