Letter from Benjamin Jennings Seward to William Henry Seward, January 3, 1824

  • Posted on: 9 March 2016
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Letter from Benjamin Jennings Seward to William Henry Seward, January 3, 1824



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Letter from Benjamin Jennings Seward to William Henry Seward, January 3, 1824

action: sent

sender: Benjamin Seward
Birth: 1793-08-23  Death: 1841-02-24

location: New York, NY

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

location: Auburn, NY

transcription: mec 

revision: crb 2016-01-28

Page 1

New York 3 Jan 1824 Dear Henry, your very
affectionate letter of the 11 Dec lies before me – accept
my sincere thanks for the interest you express in
my welfare – and to your question "how stands mat-
ters with you & John Steward
Birth: 1777-04-04 Death: 1854-12-19
; and to the suggestion
that it might be well to change employers &c &c
allow me briefly to state, that my illness occurred
in a state of the case between J. S. & myself like what
you saw when here – since my recovery nothing
has occurred to change affairs between us. I pass
in and out claiming no notice & obtaining none.
It would be impossible to make an effort to change
without it coming to his ears, and that would
rob me of my present place, & leave me in a bad
box if my application failed - Still, I shall make
an essay to restore matters to their original good
understanding or break off in a failure, let the
risque be what it may, the Ithica scheme is blown
to the moon – "so quick bright things come to confusion"
The Dr
Birth: 1768-12-05 Death: 1849-08-24
may make this a matter of reputation & feel
disappointed but for myself I rejoice in the failure –
I have no wish to leave the city & had made up
my mind from the first of this scheme to make the
sacrifice if he succeeded, to his ambition for the
love of peace & harmony, but all the while felt
it to be a great cross to my feeling.

[left Margin] to procure for us the patronage we so much need. We ask not for
Relating to money • Consisting of money •
aid to build edifices to other cities or vilages
– to erect altars for strangers to worship at – to knock the shackles
from the enslaved of other nations but we ask the countenance &
aid of the wise – the liberal the good, for the moral & intellectual
improvement of their children & brethren – to elevate the character
& morals – the high distinction of a no less distinguished class
of our community then the merchants of New York - It must
certainly be singularly useful for the Commercial Man to
be familiar with the regions of successful trafic – theirs
differing policies – their resources &c – to be well versed in
the history of their times & other men – and even his more
light reading will tend to exalt his estimate of self respect
and usefulness in the world -Hardly an institution that hat attracted
the attention of the lovers of [ youtful ]

Alternate Text

Alternate Text: youthful
cultivation – received the
in the progress of its affairs of the Chamber of Commerce
been honored by the Coldens
Birth: 1769-04-04 Death: 1834-02-07
, the Clintons
Birth: 1769-03-02 Death: 1828-02-11
– the Cambrellengs
Birth: 1786-10-24 Death: 1862-04-30

at home & the Cannings
Birth: 1770-04-11 Death: 1827-08-08
& LaFayettes
Birth: 1757-09-06 Death: 1834-05-20
from abroad

Page 2

Some four years since the clerks of this city erected a
library for themselves – the first year the merchants
viewed it with suspicion & gave it no countenance –
the second they abated their opposition – the third
the[ y ]


Reason: hole
lent a partial aid – and the fourth its board
of Directors were distracted in the operations by un-
happy divisions – little or nothing done – only 75
volumes added. In this institution I have been a
member, but had no agency or knowledge in its opera-
tions, nor was I known to their deractors – but
from some circumstance which I am yet to learn
I have been singled out by strangers to preside over
this institution – nor is this all – it seems to be
expected of me by the friends of the association that
I should be the instrument of healing its devisions
– uniting public confidence it it and of building
it up to reputation & usefulness. How shall I
sustain this accidental reputation? How shall I
accomplish the fond hopes of these blind choosers
of its patrons & officers? Why I have thought of
adopting the popular method of making public ap-
peals by eloquence & standing which must attract
notice & ensure support – I think I shall bring
about a meeting at the City Hotel and if possible
obtain a speech from two or three men of scienc and
literature, say the Griscoms
Birth: 1774-09-27 Death: 1852-02-26
, the Renwicks
Birth: 1792-05-30 Death: 1863-01-12
– the Staple's
Birth: 1776-08-31 Death: 1861-11-06

ought not will not be suffered to languish amid the opulence of the
Merchants of New York – to the Members it will be
well for me to say that amid all these discourgmts there are
still many circumstances of encouragemt. While the board of
Directors observe & wittness your zeal & support they will not
fail studiously to seek the prosperity & further the great designs
of the association- Soon their ^present stock of^ members will have advances
on the theatre of mercantile life & assumed the attitude of
merchants, may we ask your remembrance of us after
you shall then be incapacitated to serve in our ranks
& honor us with your continued support- To the merchants
it will be well to say that our hopes & confidence are in
them liberally &c – but this appeal, thanks to the kindness
of more able friends friends to our fraternity, I shall resign
to their hands – &c &c
Page 3

the Ackerly's
Birth: 1785-05 Death: 1845-07-06
, the Shroeder's
Birth: 1800-04-08 Death: 1857-02-26
or somebody that shall
answer our purpose – to accomplish I have the assurance
of help from the Chamber of Commerce – if all this
can be accomplished, we shall not fail to obtain
I think a library room in the New Exchange
if so I shall then have attained the utmost of my
wishes in this business & be ready to withdraw.
Should such a meeting take place it will
be expected of me to make some little general
statement of the situation & wants – & usefulness
of the association –(it will not be an annual
meeting & no Report will be expected) it will
become me to say that it has outlived or converted its
enemies – confirmed its doubting
supporters & encouraged the hopes
of its friends – all now agree in
its utility and none extend it their opposition – but still
it is obliged to contend with an obstacle no less formidable
than open opposition, even apathy – tho all approve, none
come forward to encourage (I mean of merchants) the board
have not been wanting in making respecful application
to the merchants Commercial community, but the deficiency
of weight of character, & the unobtrusiveness ^imbecility^ of youth give
little encouragement to such appeals. We however would
hope that its character known, its increasing usefulness
investigated – its wants fully understood, will not fail

[left Margin] The object of all this, beyond what I have stated is to beg
of you to forge me out as I have not time, talent or
disposition, a sharp speech of about six or eight
minutes long, touching the things whereof I have
briefly hinted. Mould it in some sort as if it came
[ for ]

Alternate Text

Alternate Text: from
my unskilled hand. On the subject of the moral cul-
ture of the mind of the vexing generation I said little
you must say much.
But above all things I wish most to impress you
with the importance of furnishing this little matter & sending
it to me promply -Do not fail - Do not be squeamish
about it – do not procrastinate – but just set about
it at once while it is on your mind, make & send me
what you please
Accept the assurance of unabating esteem & affection
of yourself & two spouses
Unknown Birth: 1805-09-24  Death: 1865-06-21 
(prety word) by myself and
my half spouse
Birth: 1794-07-23 Death: 1839-10-25
B. J. Seward

Page 4

Wm Henry Seward Esq


Type: postmark

Hand Shiftx

William Seward

Birth: 1801-05-16 Death: 1872-10-10
B. J. Seward
Jan 3 1824