Letter from William Henry Seward to Samuel Sweezey Seward, February 2, 1819

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Letter from William Henry Seward to Samuel Sweezey Seward, February 2, 1819
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transcriber

Transcriber:spp:dxt

student editor

Transcriber:spp:crb

Distributor:Seward Family Digital Archive

Institution:University of Rochester

Repository:Rare Books and Special Collections

Date:1819-02-02

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Letter from William Henry Seward to Samuel Sweezey Seward, February 2, 1819

action: sent

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

location: Savannah, GA

receiver: Samuel Seward
Birth: 1768-12-05  Death: 1849-08-24

location: Florida, NY

transcription: dxt 

revision: crb 2016-12-02

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Page 1

Savannah Georgia, Feby 2d 1819
Respected and beloved Parents
Birth: 1769-11-27 Death: 1844-12-11

I address you at this time under circumstances
and emotions widely different from those which have hitherto
characterized my former letters. If ever my heart entertained one genero-
us feeling I have ever cultivated affection and respect for my Parents An
affection and respect which though sometimes embittered by circumstances
ever has maintained and still continues to hold the supremest situation in
my heart. And much as my present conduct may appear to militate
against my professions I appeal to my former life and (if my life be
(spared) I appeal to my future conduct to confirm my assertions. With
such feelings I do not dissemble when I declare that the step which
wounds your Parental feelings inflicts upon my heart a wound no less
poignant, But heart rendering as is the step by necessity have I been
compelled to leave my country and my Home. This procedure is grounded
on these considerations. For two Collegiate Sessions my funds have been
so contracted that with all the economy I am master of I have been unable
to defray my Collegiate expenses. Previous to leaving home the last time (p
erhaps forever) I had reflected upon the subject. I had determined with filial
deference to expostulate on a measure destructive to my happiness. But when
my remonstrances were even anticipated by the charnge of Prodigality in
silence I submitted. I considered and reconsidered resolved and reresolved
determined to remain but then I had but $95.00 out of which I must
^spend^ at the most economical calculation for travelling to Schenectady and back $22.00
for Board $26.00 for College bill which had necessarily increased and which
on penalty of your displeasure I was commanded to pay 57.00 for wood & candles books
Page 2

washing at least $15.00 besides incidental expenses I adopted the only measure left
me and determined to accept the offer which I had received of 400$ per annum
as assistant in teaching a classical school in the interior of this state.
Thus throwing myself upon the broad world for a subsistence a thou-
sand melancholy
Depressed in spirits; dejected; gloomy; dismal • Producing great evil and grief; causing dejection; calamitous; afflictive • Grave looking; somber •
sensations crowded upon my mind. I was aware of the opini-
on the World would form of me. Vagabond and Prodigal must be the char-
acter I should sustain. I well knew I suspended so near its termination my
collegiate course That I forfeited my right to expect assistance and support
from my Parents. I knew that perhaps I might be reduced to sickness
and Poverty in a foreign land. Yet I also reflected that by a few years
industry and prudence might put me in a situation to gain a Profession.
That while depending on myself for support I should be excited to dili
gence and economy that my moral character would be less endangered I
must acquiesce in the decree which wafts me at an immense distance from
my Parents my Country & my home. When first I abandoned the end-
earing retirements of home for the secluded life of a Student my
Father took me by the hand with parental apprehension and paren-
tal affection he warned me to avoid the vices of dissipation. With
undivided attention I listened to the lesson which circulated upon
my young mind the importance of the beauty and necessity of Virtue
and Morality. That lesson which every succeeding admonition
has deeper and still deeper impressed upon my heart succeeding
years have not and I trust cannot efface. When I forget to practise them
then and not till then let the World call me vagabond. The natural relati-
on between Parents and Children and still more the affectionate solicitude
which you have ever evinced
To show in a clear manner; to prove beyond any reasonable doubt • to conquer •
for my welfare gives you a right to know
Page 3

future expectations and prospects. If I succeed in gaining my School
I shall prosecute with all diligence my Collegiate studies and I trust though
I shall be unable to attend the Commencement still that I shall be able
to receive my degree at the same time. If my business be sufficiently
lucrative I shall as soon as possible commence the Study of the Law
and with such dilligence prosecute it as my practice will not
disgrace my parents or myself.
And now believe me (for God knows that I speak the truth) that
the deepest regret I ever experienced is that which attends this unfor-
tunate separation. To a feeling mind nothing can afford more sorrow
than the pain of separation from a Father & Mother & Sister
Birth: 1805-10-29 Death: 1839-01-04
& Bro-
thers
x Birth: 1808-08-26  Death: 1888-12-07  Birth: 1799-07-02  Death: 1872-04-25  Birth: 1793-08-23  Death: 1841-02-24 
whom above all I respect and whom as myself love. But
the time may come when years of successful improvement [ shall ]
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Reason: hole

introduce me to my Friends. To shortsighted Mortals
not to know the events of future times but whatever b[ ecomes the ]
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character of my future life I shall have one consolation that
if I become a man of Honor & respectability the World will
say "his Parents laid the foundation" but if I become a scoundrel
and a villain the World with justice will say "he followed not
the maxims of his Parents"
Time forbids my enlarging further but
immediately at my arrival at my place of destination I shall inform
you where if I have not forfeited all your solicitude your advice
will still comfort and assist.
dear Father & Mother your through necessity
Undutiful Son,
William H. Seward
Page 4

Samuel S. Seward Esq
Post Master
Florida
Orange Co.
New York
Unknown
Free
SAVANNAH
FEB
2
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Type: postmark

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Samuel Seward

Birth: 1768-12-05 Death: 1849-08-24
W.H. Seward
To S.S. Seward
Letter 2 Feb 1839