About Peter Force
Peter Force (November 26, 1790 – January 23, 1868) was a 19th-century politician, newspaper editor, archivist, and historian. Force's lifelong desire to establish an American national library finally came to fruition in 1867 when Congress purchased his own collection of original documents for $100,000 to found the Library of Congress.
Born near the Passaic Falls in New Jersey, to William, a soldier in the Revolutionary War and descendant of French Huguenots who arrived on America's shores in the 17th century, and Sarah Force (née Ferguson), Force grew up New Paltz, Ulster County, New York, and afterward moved to New York City, where he was schooled in the printing trade.
During the War of 1812, he served in the Army, eventually rising to the rank of lieutenant. Moving to Washington, D.C. three years later, Force returned to the printing business as editor of the National Journal (1823–1841). After vigorously supporting John Quincy Adams' election to the 1824, he served locally as councilman and alderman. He was elected mayor of Washington in 1836 and 1838, but defeated in 1848, all as a member of the Whig Party.
Historian - Published works
His greatest achievement came as a collector and editor of historical documents. He published Tracts and Other Papers, Relating Principally to the Origin, Settlement, and Progress of the Colonies in North America (4 vol Washington, 1836–1846), which comprised rare pamphlets. His American Archives was a collection of the most important documents of the American Revolution, 1774–1776. Twenty large folio volumes were planned but only the first 9 volumes were published between 1837 and 1853. Force's lifelong desire to establish an American national library finally came to fruition in 1867 when Congress purchased his own collection of original documents for $100,000 to found the Library of Congress.
During the 1820s, Force was a member of the prestigious society, Columbian Institute for the Promotion of Arts and Sciences.
Force died January 23, 1868 at the age of 77. His son, Manning Force, was an officer during the American Civil War.
Peter Force, alongside his wife, is buried in Rock Creek Cemetery, Force's grave marker was designed by German sculptor Jacques Jouvenal. It is a marble obelisk that stands 16 feet high and rests on top of a square base. A relief is carved into the obelisk of a bookshelf filled with books.