Letter from William Henry Seward to Frances Miller Seward, January 20, 1831

  • Posted on: 11 January 2016
  • By: admin
Letter from William Henry Seward to Frances Miller Seward, January 20, 1831



student editor


Distributor:Seward Family Papers Project

Institution:University of Rochester

Repository:Rare Books and Special Collections


In the context of this project, private URIs with the prefix "psn" point to person elements in the project's persons.xml authority file. In the context of this project, private URIs with the prefix "pla" point to place elements in the project's places.xml authority file. In the context of this project, private URIs with the prefix "psn" point to person elements in the project's staff.xml authority file. In the context of this project, private URIs with the prefix "psn" point to person elements in the project's bibl.xml authority file. verical-align: super; font-size: 12px; text-decoration: underline; text-decoration: line-through; color: red;

Letter from William Henry Seward to Frances Miller Seward, January 20, 1831

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: anb 

revision: ekk 2015-09-09

Page 1

Mr Lynd
Birth: 1790 Death: 1860
a clever man Senator from the
6th district called upon me and I went with
him to call on “Gov” Granger
Birth: 1792-12-01 Death: 1868-08-31
who had arrived
on the day before. We found him arraying
himself for making a visit to come ladies
His Excellency was graciously pleased to say he
was very happy to see us promised to call on
us and we took our leave. I believe I have
never told you all I thought about this star of
the first magnitude in Anti-Masonry, and the
reason was that with a limited personal
acquaintance I dared not least I might give you
erroneous impressions which I should afterwards
be unable to reverse. Premising then that on
comparing notes with Weed
Birth: 1797-11-15 Death: 1882-11-22
. I am satisfied that
I was correct in my estimate of “the young lion”.
He is six feet and well proportioned as you well
know handsome and fine looking, graceful, dignified
and affable as almost any hero of whom you
have read, is probably about thirtysix or seven years
old. In point of talent he has a quick and
ready apprehension, a good memory, and an
ordinarily Sound judgement. Has no genius
in its restricted sense not a very brilliant
Page 2

imagination nor extraordinary reasoning faculties.
Has no deep store of learning nor a very extensive
degree of information. Yet he is intimately acquainted
with politics and with the affairs, and interests of
the men [ of ]


his native state. He is never great but always
sucessful. He writes with ease and speaks with
fluency and elegance. Never attempts an argument
beyond his capacity and being a good though not
like Tracy
Birth: 1793-06-17 Death: 1859-09-12
a shrewd Judge of mens character, motives
and actions he never fails to command unlimited
admiration, respect and esteem. Not a man do I
know who is his equal in the skill of exhibiting
every particle of his stores with great advantage.
You will enquire about his manners. I protest
to you I think him rather too much of a dandy.
His hair is ever gracefully curled, his broad
and expensive brow is always exposed, his
person is ever carefully dressed to exhibit his
face and form aright and with success.
He is a gallant and fashionable man. He
seems often to neglect great matters for small
ones and I have often thought him a trifler.
yet he is universally by the common people
esteemed grave and great. He is an aristocrat
in his feelings though the people who know him
think him all condescension. He is a prince
among those who are equals, affable to inferiors
and knows no superiors. In principle he has
redeeming qualities more than enough to atone
Page 3

for all his faults, is honorable and just, first
and beyond comparison with other politicians
of the day honest and enthusiastic.
You will ask impatiently, has he a heart.
Yes! Although he has less than those who
do not know know him believe him to possess.
he has much more than those who meet
him frequently but not intimately will
allow him to have. He loves, esteems, and
never forgets his friends but you must not
understand me that he possesses as confiding
and true a heart as B.
Birth: 1766 Death: 1821-12-20
had or as you
think I have and we both know L.
Birth: 1803-11-01 Death: 1875-10-03Certainty: Probable
There is yet one quality of Grangers character
which you do not dream of he loves money
almost as well as power. And now you
have the best description in my power to
give of both these distinguished men, who,
if as all signs indicate Anti Masonry becomes
predominant will he will he long the objects of their
countrys confidence and in some sort the
conducters of her interest. Which do you like
best? I know you will say Granger, and
yet if you knew them both you would yield
your whole confidence, respect, and esteem as
between both to Tracy. But one thing is certain
you would as I do like Weed more than either.
Tell me frankly if you do not care to have
so much of my letters devoted to characters.
Page 4

I give them because I always prefer my
letters should be transcripts of my every
days opinions and feelings. Next I went
to call on Collier
Birth: 1778-06-06
and his daughter.
He is
one of our cleverest fellows and great men,
recently elected to Congress. Not finding
him, I left my card, then called on
Birth: 1787-08-14 Death: 1855-08-16
and Fillmore
Birth: 1800-01-07 Death: 1874-03-08
, stayed there till 11 1/2 ,
came home, ate supper, and went to bed.
moralizing upon the difference in point of
comfort between my present life and that of
having you in your rocking-chair, Fred
Birth: 1830-07-08 Death: 1915-04-25
his cradle, and Gus
Birth: 1826-10-01 Death: 1876-09-11
on my knee.
At dinner today met Henry Webb
Birth: 1795-04-05 Death: 1846-10-12Certainty: Possible
. we have
taken a great liking to eachother as he boards
in this house. went to his room saw his
bachelor comforts, drank a glass of ^his^ wine,
and went with him to Dr Spragues
Birth: 1795-10-16 Death: 1876-05-07
heard a good sermon to a congregation
among whom there seems to be a revival.
Came down State Street before the wind,
and here I have been since telling you all
the things I have seen and heard.
Last evening Weed came in, and, was anxious
to know how far I as correct in my estimate
of Granger, I could not resist reading to
him that part of the foregoing page. He
made me read it twice and made his
Page 5

comments upon it and told me to make
the following alteration. “Granger is not
aristocratic, the manner which sometimes
makes him appear so is the result of
education at Washington. But he is a
Democrat in all his thoughts and feelings."
I think Weed correct, so you have the
two characters. I anticipate you may be
disappointed in both. Nevertheless very
few men have fewer faults than either
of them. I mean of course political great
men. a Although I have heard so
much and so long of the necessary
To scatter; to disperse; to separate into parts and disappear • To expend; to squander; to scatter property in wasteful extravagance • To scatter the attention •
of members of the Legislature
I have thus far escaped it. I have been
twice to the theatre. It must be some
great novelty, or a desire to oblige some
particular friend which should induce me
to go there again. At dinner a glass
of wine constitutes all the pleasure of
that kind in which I indulge. I have
eaten but one supper in a week. I spend
one, two or three hours in visits every day
and this is about the extent of my
dissipation. Yet little as is the indulgence
I fear the effect of it upon my business
habits at home. You know I never did
like my profession, although the desire to
have comfort and independence for you
Page 6

and Fred and Augustus and myself
has made me its slave. That necessity
will now be increased. I would not
encourage a distaste for professional
pursuits, but I will hope that ^after^ separating
myself for a period from business
connections I may be able to renew them
again. Is it not passing strange that
for four year past I have not had
to my own use so much time which I
might devote daily to domestic enjoyments
as I now occupy in writing a page for
your perusal. And the time which I
have had has been almost always
swatched with a feverish excitement
from perplexities and cares which dis-
colored most of the hours that might
otherwise have been so happy. Well!
after all perhaps I ought to have learned
that it is the lot of no man to have more happiness.