Letter from Benjamin Jennings Seward to William Henry Seward, August 10, 1836

  • Posted on: 10 March 2016
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Letter from Benjamin Jennings Seward to William Henry Seward, August 10, 1836



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Distributor:Seward Family Papers Project

Institution:University of Rochester

Repository:Rare Books and Special Collections


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Letter from Benjamin Jennings Seward to William Henry Seward, August 10, 1836

action: sent

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

location: Chicago, IL

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

location: Auburn, NY

transcription: gew 

revision: mhr 2015-10-08

Page 1

Chicago Augst 10. 1836
My dear Brother,
Never was a man more disappointed
in a letter, than I, in your last. I thought
mine had been everything that was conciliating
& satisfactory & dreamed not that it might by
any possibility bring an answer shewing increas-
ed irritation. But I see that I am still
wholly misunderstood.
I wrote you to ask some pecuniary
Relating to money • Consisting of money •
and such advise as upon personal intercourse you
might give me – and also that you would bring
Birth: 1805-09-24 Death: 1865-06-21
with you on a visit to our place. You
answered me that your resources were so fully
in use that you had nothing at command
(and I did not & do not doubt your sincerity)
that your business imperiously required you to
be at home & that Frances health was wholy
inadequate to such a journey as I proposed.
In regard to your duty in attending to your own
business at home in preference to coming out
to attend to mine, – and in regard to a visit
from Francis, I certainly never expected or meant
more than this – that if the state of her health
rendered it necessary for you to leave home with
her, my invitation might be in the way of
leading you to the West in preference to any
other direction – with this additional thought perhaps
that if you were poising the question in your own

[left Margin] Poor Berdan
Birth: 1805-07-04 Death: 1884-08-24
in Jacksonville is turning drunkard so far & so fast that
his friends say
he is gone.
Page 2

mind, whether you should leave home or not, my
letter might fall into the sclale among other
inducements, to help you off. The last
years experiment with Frances – & what you said
of her feebleness, induced me to take such a
view of the of the case at the time –
and when I expressly disclaimed as I did in
my last letter all intention of making the
unreasonable requisition upon you which your
previous letter imputed, judge of my surprize at
the language of your last, accusing me of finding
fault with you for not coming over the
to do me a favour:
I purposely avoided repeating in my last
the only expression in my letter of complaint, this
to which as I suppose you had taken offence.
I did so, because, I sincerely wished that there
might be no interruption to harmonious [ intercoure ]

Alternate Text

Alternate Text: intercourse

between us. It seems needful that I advert
to it here, not for reiteration but for explanation.
I said it was hard for me under my circum-
stances to recieve such a letter from such
a brother. You know me to be struggling to
provide a house, a little one – an humble one for
the residue of my days – a shelter for myself & wife
Birth: 1794-07-23 Death: 1839-10-25
in old age, if spared, & you knew the difficulties
by which I am encompassed in such an effort –
you know my depressed, exiled, repudiated situation
(and though it might not have come into your
recollection at the moment of writing) yet you
knew it all. Time had been when you
could not have seen me thus struggling in
deep waters – the surf threatening me – & heard
me call aloud and urgently for help, without

[left Margin] It is 2 months since we left home & one since we heard from our children
x Birth: 1828-10-07  Death: 1897-07-24  Birth: 1820-05-18  Death: 1889-05-08 
We are getting awfully anxious.
Page 3

feeling a desire to aid me – without sympathy
for me. You know how long & ardently
Hot or burning; causing a sensation of burning • Having the appearance or quality of fire; fierce • Warm; much engaged; passionate •
& how
sincerely, we both in times past planned, to aid
each other – to live together ^&^ to be mutual sup-
ports to each other – and was it marvellous
when I had perused & perused & reperused your
letter, written under the circumstances it was
& also the two previous letters recieved from you ^since I left the East^
and sought in vain (perhaps very unreasonably)
for some evidence of continuing sympathy & at-
tentiveness: that I should say that it was hard
to recieve such a letter from such a brother?
Possibly I wrote what I ought not. I do not re-
collect precisely, if I did I am sorry –
perhaps I had no reason to mistrust
you of unabated affection, you can tell; but
if in fault, the fault originated in love
to you. Your letters have long been brief &
almost without particulars – owing doubtless
to the natural alienations of time & the proper &
increasing attachments & cares in your own family.
Possibly to the apprehension that I feel no interest
in you or in your happiness. Never was a greater
mistake. I shall not cease to love you & admire
you and pray for you – nor will it be the recep-
tion of a captious half sheet, nor thalf a dozen
such letters, that shall banish my hope of and
desire for affectionate brotherly intervention with you.
Your letter was deeply cutting to me for a few
days – but thank God, it has laid me under no
self reproaches. You talk about the discontinuances
of all communication upon the subject of what I must
still think is misunderstanding between us, if this must
be so, the responsibility must be yours. I have no
fancy for a rupture with any brother alive, & would
rather write long letters of explanation to the day of
my death then agree upon a pouting silence.

[left Margin] The improvements of this state, since we left it, strike us with exceeding pleasure.
Page 4

You speak disparagingly of my magnanimity, & the
little concern it gives you whether I think well or
ill of you – may answer is that whether I shall be
so happy as to retain your respect, I cannot certainly
know. It is a pleasure to me to think that I once
enjoyed ^it^ – it is a comfort to feel that it has been my
steady purpose & desire not to be less worthy of it
and if I cannot return yours, I shall try not to for-
feit my own.
I shall be glad to hear from you whenever you have
leisure & inclination to write – & where you write. I hope
you will remember that we will be thankful for infor-
mation about the state of Frances health. We pressed
our friends, the Sewards

at Hillsboro a few weeks since –
all well – as also our Kinsfolk, the Browns
x Birth: 1807-04-20  Death: 1883  Birth: 1796-11-09  Death: 1867-06-17 
of this place,
Marcia is travelling with me, when she is able for the ben-
efit of her health – but is miserable & seems not to improve.
The Lord bless you, in your wife & in your children
x Birth: 1830-07-08  Death: 1915-04-25  Birth: 1826-10-01  Death: 1876-09-11 
– in your
basket and in your store. Yours Truly, B.J. Seward
Wm H. Seward Esq
New York
AUG 12


Type: postmark

[right Margin] Chicago is the commanding place we have
been told it is, but there is a vast deal
of fiction here. A breath will blow
it away as a breath has made.
I meet your acquaintances here
as well as mine. Fare thee well.

[left Margin]
Hand Shiftx

Benjamin Seward

Birth: 1793-08-23 Death: 1841-02-24
B.J. Seward
Aug 10. 1836