Letter from Albert Haller Tracy to William Henry Seward, November 26, 1831

  • Posted on: 13 December 2017
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Letter from Albert Haller Tracy to William Henry Seward, November 26, 1831



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Letter from Albert Haller Tracy to William Henry Seward, November 26, 1831

action: sent

sender: Albert Tracy
Birth: 1793-06-17  Death: 1859-09-12

location: Albany, NY

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

location: Auburn, NY

transcription: smc 

revision: smc 2017-12-04


Page 1

Albany Nov 26, 1831
You are right my Dear Seward in attributing the sombre
shading of my political fancies to the moping melancholly of ill health
and the murky atmosphere of a canal boat, but now thank God

Editorial Note

reference is to the character in the play by William Shakespeare
is himself again– We arrived safely at this good city on
Monday morning and ever since I have been improving in strength
and spirits until I feel almost to have attained the picture of
perfect manhood– Good Heaven what changeful creatures we are
a breath creates and a breath destroys– It was as yesterday I felt life
but a walking shadow– “The past a blank– the future black”
With glimpses of a dreary track
Author: George Gordon Byron Publisher: Wm. Borradaile Place of Publication:New York City Date: 1825
”– Today
the summer shadows rising from the past are mingled in the gorgeous
sunshine of the present and the hopeful future is gladden’d with the
mellow beams of a golden set– But this ^is^ too rhapsodical or rather
too nonsensical for the sober certainty of an old feisty politician like
myself– What I mean to say in short hand is that I am now in much
better health and of course better spirits than when I last wrote– and that
I am ready to take back without argument all the maledictions and
gloomy prognostications with which I then troubled you– In brief, all I
have said to the contrary notwithstanding, I am prepared to say, aye
to swear too that Antimasonry is the most holy righteous and blessed
spirit that ever was or will be abroad in this land– and that our party
is the most pure, popular, permanent and prevalent that was ever or-
ganized and so far from deserting the ship I am prompt to pledge
“life, fortune and sacred honour” to stick by whilst a plank floats–
To be serious I feel as much assured as you can of the ulti-
mate triumph of the good cause– I am certain it has embodied
and is embodying all those materials which constitute efficient
political power and that nothing is to be found in the results
of the late election to depress our hopes or diminish our exertion
The history of the apparent reverses is to be read in the circumstance
of our making such a sinner of memory as to credit our own lie– We
received last year a good many Clay
Birth: 1777-04-12 Death: 1852-06-29
votes and because we did not
get all we swore we got none– In attempting to deceive others we deceived
ourselves as to the strength of real antimasonry and ended by counting cer-
tainly in our favour what reflection would have taught were certainly
against us– And thus having sown in corruption we have gathered the
fruits thereof– The lesson if well coun’d may prove instructive
Page 2

Improved health has just now made me so complete an optimist that
all that has happened seems plainly for the best– And in this conclusion
I embrace, surprizing as it may, seem John McLean
Birth: 1785-03-11 Death: 1861-04-04
declension to be
our candidate– I am convinced, indeed have always been that old
Birth: 1767-03-15 Death: 1845-06-08
reelection could no how be prevented, McLean is the only man
who can ever defeat that party– Had he been our candidate now, he
would have failed and by running would have embittered politicians who
must and who will ultimately write in his favour– Clay will be nomi-
nated and annihilated– This will leave the western states open for McLean
without a local competitor– The Jackson party will rally for VanBuren
Birth: 1782-12-05 Death: 1862-07-24

Antimasonry will form the nucleus of opposition and at the end of 5
years (a good while to be sure but better late than never) we will have
the honor of placing our candidate in the Presidential chair– This
is a matter I have figured all out, and for greater assurance have
set old Bose
to go over the calculation– He is as sure and as rejoiced
as was the old Greek(I forget his name) who bawled Eureka in the bath
I have said nothing to Weed
Birth: 1797-11-15 Death: 1882-11-22
partly because he has been absent and partly
that I know nothing will meet his views that is so far a head– Para-
dise itself (if he is ever destined to reach it) would afford him no pleas-
ure in anticipation, if the fruition is more than half an hour off– But
to ^do^ him justice he bears up well under our changed stars, and though
I think he considers all lost he has grown fat with disappointment
and is as funny and fickle as ever– Our friends in the city generally
are in good spirits and impressed more than ever with the necessity
of increased and systematic efforts– Now indeed is the time when we
all are called upon for the most strenuous and persevering exertions
Everything must be done this winter that can be to extend and
complete our organization in every county– We have too glorious a
party to be dissolved– Every consideration of principle and interest dic-
tates the preservation of our power even though it should be sta-
tionary– for even as a minority it will be more salutary and efficient
than anything which could possibly be formed from the chaotic views
that would follow our dissolution–
Now a word as to my own purpose– Though I am so much
better as to feel greatly encouraged I am not so well as that I will risk
myself here the whole winter– I have concluded therefore to leave ^at^ the end
of next week for the South to be absent till February when if I con-
tinue prospering I shall venture to enlist for the residue of the session
believing that by breaking the continuity of Winter ^of Winters^ tyrannous reign
I shall be able to manage the hideous old despot with tolerable advan-
tage– The present understanding is that Harriet
Birth: 1800 Death: 1876
will not accompany
Page 3

me South, the journey being so arduous and my stay there so much
shorter than originally contemplated– She went down last eve-
ning to New York to visit her cousins, where unless she changes her
mind about going with me, she will remain till the closing of the
river and then return here and wait for ^my^ arrival– She intends to
come to Congress Hall (where I now am) and relies on your wife's
Birth: 1805-09-24 Death: 1865-06-21

and Mrs Cary
Birth: 1788 Death: 1863-06-22
good company to solace and sustain her durante
viduate– It is possible however that when I get as far as Norfolk

I may find the road and weather so bad as to discourage
my proceeding to Georgia in which event I may return sooner
or determine on some other mode of dividing the winter
On looking at the date of your letter I am provoked
to think it may have laid some days in the post office
here– Forgetting how soon you would get mine after it was
written I never calculated on receiving the answer till
this morning and now my dilatoriness I fear will
deprive me of the pleasure of hearing again from you until
after I leave– If I do not or if I do I will write you after
I have commenced my travels letting you know where to
direct to me–
Give my best love to your wife and tell her I antici-
pate a pleasant winter for her in Albany and hope and be-
lieve instead of “a gloomy pilgrimage” she and I will pass many
cheerful hours together.
With affectionate esteem Yours
Albert H. Tra[ cy ]



Page 4

Hon. William H Seward
Cayuga County


Type: postmark

NOV 26



Hand Shiftx

William Seward

Birth: 1801-05-16 Death: 1872-10-10
Albert H Tracy Nov 26 1831