Letter from Frances Miller Seward to Lazette Miller Worden, February 10, 1850

  • Posted on: 17 July 2019
  • By: admin
Letter from Frances Miller Seward to Lazette Miller Worden, February 10, 1850



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Distributor:Seward Family Digital Archive

Institution:University of Rochester

Repository:Rare Books and Special Collections


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Letter from Frances Miller Seward to Lazette Miller Worden, February 10, 1850

action: sent

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

location: Washington D.C., US

receiver: Lazette Worden
Birth: 1803-11-01  Death: 1875-10-03

location: Canandaigua, NY

transcription: meb 

revision: tap 2019-01-24

Page 1

Washington Feb 10th
My dear Sister,
I feel reproached that I have
not been to Church this fine day but I do
find it so unpleasant to be without a
seat to which I feel a right that I have
more than half concluded not to go
again — there is no Church at Dr Bulers
Birth: 1810-10-16 Death: 1890-03-05

in the afternoon and to Mr Pine
Birth: 1803-01-09 Death: 1875-12-07
cannot go without the carriage and
I feel disposed to allow William every
other Sunday —The three first days of
last week were exceedingly cold though
the Thermometer was not so near zero
as it was with you — Monday we
went out to make visits but after
making three or four the cold drove
us home. While driving through one
of the principal streets one of our horses
became frightened ran against a man

and knocked him down — a white man
of the lower class — I saw him after getting
Page 2

up walk off apparently not much hurt —
Just then we stopped at the door of a boarding
house when a number of men rushed
up and assailed William with the most
abusive and threatening language — (he had
come down from the box to open the carriage
door for Mrs Sackett
Birth: 1822-02-06 Death: 1874-11-17
to get out — we were
leaving her at her boarding house —) Seeing
among them one well dressed man
I said
to him "I would thank you not to quarrel
with our driver in the street, if you have
any complaint to make come to Mr Seward
Birth: 1801-05-16 Death: 1872-10-10
he answered that the man ^William^ deserved to have
his head broken for his carelessness — I told
him that I had seen William try in vain
to manage his horses — Another man
stepped up and told William he would have
him taken up — he then took the number of the
carriage — I told William to get on the box
and drive to the Capitol — William was
much frightened expecting nothing less than a
beating in the street this being the manner
in which southern Chivalry punishes the offences
Page 3

of persons of his color — the fear of a mob prevented
my returning to enquire after the man who was
knocked down — Arriving at the Capitol I sent
my card to Henry desiring him to come to the door
he came out and down with us to the scene
of the accident but the crowd had dispersed and
no man was to be found — Henry told William that
if they too came for him he must tell them
Mr Seward would be his bail — but this was
not what William feared — Black men are punished
without the form of a trial and the poor fellow
was in bodily fear for two or three days — He
also feared some injury to the horses another device
of Southern Chivalry to punish coloured offenders
When we reached home I sent Dennis
Birth: 1827
down to
make enquiries — he ascertained that the man was
not seriously hurt — had he been black no one
would have thought of noticing him — we have
since heard he was intoxicated or he would
probably have kept upon his feet — This little
incident made me uncomfortable the whole day —
had William been severely beaten there would have
been no redress supposing the laws here to be such
as they are in most of the slave states — is it not
disgraceful to a civilized community —
Page 4

I thought of Henry's amendments just as you do but
I much doubt whether they will elicit the same
opinion from any other person — If I feel provoked with
southern people for their persever[ ance ]


in wrong my
indignation is mixed with pity that they have
been made by education unable to distinguish
wrong from right — But for a northern man who
advocates slavery my contempt is unmitigated
yet how many there are — Yes I went to hear
Mr Clay's
Birth: 1777-04-12 Death: 1852-06-29
great compromise speech — and am
thankful that it did not make a "dough face"
of me as it did of half the men in Congress —
Mr Clay himself obviously thought that this speech
was to stop the progress of humanity — that all
the differences of opinion between the North & South
were to be settled and forever by his persuasion —
He took the position that Northern men were only
activated by policy and party spirit — Now if
Henry Clay has lived to be 70 years old and still
thinks slavery is opposed only from such motives
I can at only say he knows much less of human
nature than I supposed — Our father
Birth: 1772-04-11 Death: 1851-11-13
has been able
to keep better pace with the intelligence of the age
and I reverence him the more when I see how
much is this respect he is elevated above
the mass of men of his years — You will
read Henry Clays speech and will discover how
little there is in it which will really have
the effect desired — the Southern men are of course
dissatisfied and for true Northern men it is enough
that he insisted that they relinquish the Wilmot
Birth: 1814-01-18 Death: 1868-03-16

Page 5

He is a charming orator — I have never heard but one
more impressive speaker and that is our Henry —
(dont say this to any body) — 20 years ago I doubt
not he would have carried my understanding
captive as he did that of a great proportion
of his audience — I did not lose one word and
I believe throughout felt the fallacy of his arguments
Mrs Willard
Birth: 1787-02-23 Death: 1870-04-15
said to Henry after he had concluded
the 1st day — "Mr Seward there is a great deal
in what Mr Clay says about the change in
the feelings of your constituents since it has
been known that California has made a government
of her own in which slavery is virtually excluded
dont you think so" — "No" said Henry "besides
it is not true that it was not known at the
North two months ago" — she said no more
but I suppose lamented that Henry was incorrigible
She made me promise to attend one of her readings
at Gadsby’s Thursday morning — I went reluctantly
and was fortunately an hour too early — that being
the only hour I could spare I came home
again — Thursday we had a dinner party of
Page 6

6 ladies & gentlemen — Mr
Birth: 1810-01-10 Death: 1872-07-26
& Mrs
Birth: 1811-02-20 Death: 1854-12-20
Edward Stanly ^ N Carolina ^ Mr
Birth: 1798-12-12 Death: 1870-10-06

and Mrs
Birth: 1808-02-05 Death: 1888-07-12
Hugh White of N. York (state) and Mr
Birth: 1816-01-11 Death: 1878-06-21

and Mrs
Birth: 1815-03-15 Death: 1877-04-15
Warren. Mr Warren is the 2d assistant
Post Master General — a warm friend of Henry's —
Our dinner was served in the French manner
Mrs White who is au fait in these matters said
it was the best cooked dinner she had ever seen
in Washington — Although I had a professed cook
Birth: 1819-11-24 Death: 1854-12-18
did more than half — Mrs White is
very pleasing — fine looking — but a little deaf,
Mrs Stanly is too brusque to suit my taste
while Stanly is the personification of gentleness —
Mrs Warren is a plain sensible little woman —
The dinner came at 6 — guests stayed until
9 — part of them went to other parties — Frances
Birth: 1826-12-12 Death: 1909-08-24

and Fred
Birth: 1830-07-08 Death: 1915-04-25
went to two — Yes Friday we
received visitors all the morning — I went to
bed early with nervous headache — Yesterday
it rained all day — I was refreshed by a
quiet day at home — Frances talks of going
home in a few weeks — Willie
Birth: 1839-06-18 Death: 1920-04-29
is determined
to come with her — the poor boy is very homesick
I would rather he would stay until Fred
goes home but that seems to him too uncertain
and indefinite — I hope you will not give
up coming with Clarence
Birth: 1828-10-07 Death: 1897-07-24
— I know I am
not mistaken in thinking it very important that
you should have medical advice — We hear
nothing further from Augustus
Birth: 1826-10-01 Death: 1876-09-11
and know not
when to expect him — his movements will in some
degree regulate mine — I shall not be willing to
stay if he goes North and I have little hope
of keeping him here long — I send a copy of Gen
Page 7

Birth: 1786-06-13 Death: 1866-05-29
letter — it is pleasant to be sure of keeping him
at least some months —In fulfilment of a
promise I have written Mrs Pitney
Birth: 1797-12-04 Death: 1862-05-06
a short letter — I
fear it will not be very satisfactory but I have no
time to write long letters to any one but you — I have
not now told you about my last interview with
Lady Bulwer
Birth: 1817 Death: 1878
— While we were out Monday a lady
told me that some of the ladies of the Senate com-
plained that I had placed them in a false position by
calling first on Lady Bulwer — I acknowledged that
I did call first and that I did so knowing that
I was acting contrary to the established etiquette
but that Sir Henry
Birth: 1801-02-13 Death: 1872-05-23
first sent his card and that
I had ventured to deviate in favour of a lady
coming to a strange land — however I said if
it had occasioned any misunderstanding I would
see Lady Bulwer and explain — I came home and
sent a note to Lady Bulwer requesting an interview
on business — She Dennis conveyed the note and
returned with the answer that Lady Bulwer
was ready to receive me — Henry and I drove
round after the adjournment of the Senate —
We found the hall filled with boxes and quan-
tities of unpacked furniture — we were ushered into
the dining room — Lady Bulwer soon came in
received us cordially — I explained the object of my
visit — She said she had recently learned that
she was required to call first on the senators wives
Page 8

and being desirous to comply with the established customs
had immediately sent her card to every one — She
added that her mother
Birth: 1786-03-20 Death: 1860-01-18
had been at three different
courts in Europe as Ambassadress where it was
only customary for them to make the first
visit to the ministers, though she did not under-
stand the distinction here she was very willing
to comply with the requisitions — Henry explained to
her that this custom was established in ^at^ the early ^time^
of the formation of our Government — That there is not
in any monarchical government any body precisely
corresponding to our Senate — &c &c — Sir Henry was
ill with nervous headache — we did not see him —
I took my leave after proffering my services if
I could be useful in any way — It really did
seem hard to me that a lady who had always
occupied a position of distinction at home should be
compelled to make advances to some persons here
who occupy the situation of Senators — Lady Bulwer
is daughter of Lord Cowley
Birth: 1773-01-20 Death: 1847-04-27
— and has spent
most of her life abroad — I forgot to say
that Mr Corwin
Birth: 1794-07-29 Death: 1865-12-18
was one of our dinner party
and a very agreeable person he is – very
humourous withal – I shall be obliged to take
another half sheet for Gen Scott's letter — I
did not think I should spin mine out
in this way — Frances will tell you that
she spent Wednesday with Mrs Brooks
Birth: 1816-03-06 Death: 1882-08-07
New York — formerly Mrs Randolph when she
presided at the White House — and before that
Mrs Cunningham of Virginia


— She seems to
have a fancy for Frances and has kindly vol-
unteered to matronize her on all occasions —