Letter from William Henry Seward to Frances Miller Seward, November 23, 1834

  • Posted on: 6 April 2016
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Letter from William Henry Seward to Frances Miller Seward, November 23, 1834



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Distributor:Seward Family Papers Project

Institution:University of Rochester

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Letter from William Henry Seward to Frances Miller Seward, November 23, 1834

action: sent

sender: William Seward
Birth: 1801-05-16  Death: 1872-10-10

location: Albany, NY

receiver: Frances Seward
Birth: 1805-09-24  Death: 1865-06-21

location: Auburn, NY

transcription: djg 

revision: crb 2014-06-22


Page 1

Albany Sunday 23d November 1834
My own Frances, I fear to write in the vein in which my feelings are flowing. Lest this
letter may find you sick and desponding. But I will endeavour to avoid gloomy appre=
hensions concerning you and Fred
Birth: 1830-07-08 Death: 1915-04-25
, and will atone for any desertion of you by making you
participate in the scenes I am witnessing. This journaling mode of correspondence is
for many reasons the best, but principally because it is most acceptable to you.
It was 12 o'clock at night when the telegraph arrived at Syracuse. I felt some twinges
in the nerves of my decayed teeth and thus admonished determined not to provoke
the fiend by traveling in the stage the residue of the night.
In the morning I met Harvey Baldwin
Birth: 1797-02-04 Death: 1863-08-22
at the table,, he was quite as kind and
friendly as before he changed his politics. He invited me to go into his room, but as
it was not yet 8 o'clock, I excused myself. He communicated to me the important
information that the loss of his child had been already supplied by the birth of a–
nother, a girl if I recollect aright, who was very pretty and intelligent. Your ancient
friend Mrs Montgomery
was at the breakfast table, and it was evident, from
the peculiar attention paid to me both by her herself and her husband, that, the
visit she made you at Auburn had renewed in their minds an affectionate
regard for you. I met Rayner Breuster
V– P., and others of the earnest and
patriotic politicians, and the interview was painful to me. They were yet smart–
ing under the sore discomfiture of our good cause, and it was evident that
the only cure for their dejection was must be derived from ^the healing hand of time^
I found on board of the Canal boat ^no person^ with whom you are acquainted, but the
party which was numerous consisted of none but Whigs, with the exception
of one Tory Congressman. The excitement of traveling had aroused the whigs from
the despondency which they felt while they remained at home, and as I neededno introduction to persons, all of whom had so recently deposited their votes for
me, we were very soon very well acquainted and had a very pleasant
voyage to Utica. The Eastern boat having left Utica before we arrived, I
staid that night at Bogg’s
and at eight o'clock in the morning resumed my
journey. Their party in the boat were with some additions the same as that
with which I travelled the preceding day, and the hours passed well every.
I arrived here yesterday morning, and, after much doubting, determined to take
lodgings in our old quarters at Bements. I found Caleb
Birth: 1791-09-25 Death: 1868-12-22
dejected, as were the
whole household, but they were evidently gratified that I had adhered to
them with the same tenacity they had to me. Our old room is as yet occupied,
so that I have now the chamber formerly used by our estimable friend Mr
. Tomorrow I am to have the apartments in which we passed so
many pleasant hours last winter. Here I found Fillmore
Birth: 1800-01-07 Death: 1874-03-08
on his way to
Washington. After having paid my respects to my old friend John
the barber,
whom I found willing to cut the throats of all the “damned Irish” for preventing
my election as he expressed himself. I went down to Weed’s
Birth: 1797-11-15 Death: 1882-11-22
. I found him dejected
beyond measure. The gloomy complexion of his thoughts was so unyielding that
my own feelings took its cast. I never saw him so unhappy. After a very ^heavy^ half hour
Page 2

I left him, and went up to the Capitol where the Court of errors were in session. Although I had
been the subject of much political action since I had last been among the members, there was noth-
ing peculiar in our meeting except that Tracy
Birth: 1793-06-17 Death: 1859-09-12
was evidently gloomy, and appeared utterly indif=
ferent to me and all that appertained to me. The others gave me a greeting neither unwelcome
nor embarrassed. At dinner I found Mr Caldwell
really glad to see me and learn some-
thing concerning you. Dr Beck
Birth: 1798-10-04 Death: 1853-04-21
was with him and I congratulated both upon the tenacity
with which they clung to the habit of dining together on Saturday. Mr Bleecke
not of the party, and it may be regarded as an evidence that Mr Caldwell is growing old
that he forgot to ask him to come. My word for it B. would not have declined. Cary

had met George Lay
Birth: 1798-07-26 Death: 1860-10-21
at Utica. They stopped at Bements’ one day and Cary went on with
his friend to New York. He has not yet returned. Poor Uncle, “it must be very hard for
him at this time to stay any where. He needs as he deserves to find ^his friends^ happy in
order that he may be happy himself. He finds nobody happy now, but those whose
happiness arises from the same cause which works all his woe. I found all the
young men here who were as you recollect so ardent and sanguine last spring, dejected
and desponding. My buoyancy of spirits had returned as soon as I left Weed and I have
succeeded in bringing back the hopes and confidence of them all. On coming up from
dinner I found Weed and Tracy in my room. Tracy urging Weed to adopt a certain course
in his paper, which he recommended on the sole ground that it was for Weeds benefit and
happiness, and assigning that as his only motive, it being to him a matter of absolute
utter indifference what the paper or the party or the world do, he being altogether
out of politics, now henceforth and forever. Weed was dogged sullen spiritless and rather
morose. Tracy appealed to me for my influence in bringing Weed to that course. I protested
against dwelling now upon the past or future action of parties, and advised to forget
our recent defeat before we began to make calculations. Weed ill concealed a spirit
of personal unkindness which Tracy laboriously affected not to perceive. Both staid until
eight oclock (We dined at two.) both unhappy. Mr Benedict
Birth: 1785-11 Death: 1862-07Certainty: Probable
and Mr Hart
came in
and staid until their equanimity just recovered was put to flight, and Tracy emerging
from the entrance of Jared Rathbone
Birth: 1791-08-02 Death: 1845-05-13
that my room was a levee for the Whigs took his
leave. Fillmore Rathbone and Weed staid with me until quite late. Fillmore
was open manly and firm. Weed’s spirits rose, and we parted, feeling that it was well
for us that we had been together. I asked an explanation of Tracys course from last
January until this time, which Weed gave and in unmeasured language alleged that
T. had been most anxious for my defeat. T. said S. wrote to him frequently from Nor-
wich expressing the most anxious solicitude for my success. Fillmore also said that
he and Leeve
had warned Tracy that he was losing his friends and that his conduct
was to him (F.) inexplicable. All he could discover was that T. was both exceedingly
selfish and miserable.
I went this morning to Church with Rathbone. The new Baptist Church is finished and
its is very magnificent. The interior is neatly finished but its disproportion is
so apparent that the elegance of the architecture only enhances the evil. Mr W.
a most eloquent sermon. Rathbone has a pew furnished and carpeted &c, as you can imagine,
Mrs J. B. Yates
Birth: 1802 Death: 1882
was at Church. I saw her but a moment. I shall call on her tomorrow
morning. She stays of course at the American.
Page 3

Fillmore and I dined with Rathbone at the Eagle. I availed myself of his first invitation for the
purpose of paying my duty at the earliest opportunity to Madame R.
Birth: 1810 Death: 1894-01-15Certainty: Possible
I found at table three
or four of my past political friends unknown to you. They could not have been more mel–
ancholy had they been attending my funeral. They were all astonished to find that I was
not as weak as they were. Henry Webb
Birth: 1795-04-05 Death: 1856-10-12Certainty: Probable
was with them, and was a sincere mourner of our
great political calamity. His grief however did not prevent his informing me that while
he and his friends understood and appreciated my policy in stopping at Bements they
regretted the necessity of my submitting to the privation of being denied Gents'
table, and
the other fact in which you may possibly take a deeper interest that Eleazar Hills
Birth: 1785-11-04 Death: 1856-09-25

bought a new coach in New York, the first in the city and which originally cost
$400 but was made to cost more by reason of certain additions thereunto. He was
surprised that I had not seen it, and I was still more surprised that I had not
heard of it. After dinner Rathbone showed me upstairs into his lodging room where
he introduced me to his bride by the words “My love This is my old friend Mr Seward.
My love you have a cold fire &c.” His love is young, was fashionably dressed, is far
prettier then most young women, appears intelligent and by no means awkward
although perhaps for certain reasons known to you and me I thought she seemed
diffident. I made your congratulations as well as my own, but this I soon found
superfluous, when her husband communicated to me the important fact that although
the Regency People had unanimously visited him with vindictive punishment
for political offences by refusing or neglecting to call upon Madame, the Whig
ladies, “from the Van Renssalaers
x Birth: 1800  Death:  Certainty: Probable Birth: 1789  Death: 1868 Certainty: Probable
down” had bestowed upon her that honor.
I was told that our friend does not go South this winter because his lady has
been visited by an inexplicable illness which causes her to faint. You perha[ ps ]


Reason: wax-seal

may guess a secret which fills the happy bridegrooms cup to overflowing.
In the afternoon I went to Mr Campbell’s
Birth: 1798-03-04 Death: 1864-03-27
church. His sermon was tolerable. I
sat in Mr Caldwells pew, where I met the Miss Webster’s
xMiss Webster’s

, whose acquaintances
I for the first time made ^now^ without introduction, but presuming upon the fact that
I was their candidate at the last election. Alas they, even these young ladies
had bright hopes founded upon the success of the Whig ticket. But Mrs Marcy

and not you gives laws to fashion this winter my dear F. I found none but
Whigs of both sexes at this church. The Kane


family have removed to New
York. I walked home with Gilchrist
. After tea went down to Weeds, found
he had been here in the afternoon. He is quite revived already. We set out to–
gether for Tracy’s, but concluded rightly that Tracy did not desire to see us both
together, so I went to T’s alone. He overlooked all political subjects, read
a letter from Aunty
Birth: 1794 Death: 1862-09-05
who is smart, and overjoyed by the fortunate possession of
a treasure which when she thought ^it^ could never be obtained was despised. T. told me
of her extreme suffering at her confinement which he described with all the expression
of intense interest becoming a husband, but with the surgical skill and accuracy
of a professed man and wife. From Mrs Lockwoods
returned home, and
here have written this letter before eleven o'clock. Am not I your own Henry.
P.S. Eli Hart’sdaughter
^sole^ heir apparent of $200,000 was married two or three
days since. R – says her for the occasion cost two dollars per yard and her wedding dress $2,500.
Page 4

Mrs. William H. Seward
Hand Shiftx

Frances Seward

Birth: 1805-09-24 Death: 1865-06-21
Henry, Nov 25