Letter from Mahlon Dickerson Canfield to William Henry Seward, February 18, 1833

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Letter from Mahlon Dickerson Canfield to William Henry Seward, February 18, 1833
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transcriber

Transcriber:spp:keh

student editor

Transcriber:spp:sss

Distributor:Seward Family Digital Archive

Institution:University of Rochester

Repository:Rare Books and Special Collections

Date:1833-02-18

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Letter from Mahlon Dickerson Canfield to William Henry Seward, February 18, 1833

action: sent

sender: Mahlon Canfield
Birth: 1798-11-26  Death: 1865-01-05

location: Bargaintown, NJ

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

location:
x

transcription: keh 

revision: crb 2016-03-17

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Page 1

Bargain Town Feb. 18th 1833.
My Dear Sir,
Lots on this evening. (I see I have begun
my letter in a most alarming manner, but don’t be
frightened, we are all alive & pretty well.) The mail
brought your letter to Cornelia
Birth: 1805-10-29 Death: 1839-01-04
and your speech vs
Mr Tallmadge
Birth: 1795-02-08 Death: 1864-11-02
, or as you would say in favor of the
constitution. I read it immediately and with attention
and really I feel much of a loss as to which side of
the question ought to have the benefit of my opinion.
I cannot help thinking your argument would
have been stronger if it had contained less of the
Atty general's, & at the same time an attempt to
reason away the most literal & safe constructions of
the constitution, ought not to pass for much.
You have a great man in your State, one Dr
Barstow
Birth: 1784-07-20 Death: 1865-03-30
who possesses the useful gift of deciding
in favor of both sides of a question. I once rode
with him a long distance in the stage, and
although some fierce disputes arose by the way, he
contrived to preserve his popularity by observing on
every occasion, “it is a question in which much
may be said on both sides.” –
He was an utter stranger to me. I did not even know
his name, but I did know he must be one of those
Page 2

politicians who rise & fall unnoticed, & from that
moment to this, I have never thought of him with
any other feeling than that of contempt.
But I did not mean to trouble you with
my opinions of Dr Barstow, nor to say anything
disrespectful of honest & patriotic politicians.
I was only going to observe that the question
of taking Mr Tallmadge from the Senate of N. York
to that of the U.S. was one that would suit the
cautious Dr to a charm, for really it will admit
a great deal to be said on both sides.”
I was at Washington about the first of the
month. General Jackson
Birth: 1767-03-15 Death: 1845-06-08
is certainly becoming
popular. What do you think of his late
expositions in relation to S. Carolina? Is he not
right?– Some ultra democrats condemned him but
it seems to me they have no ground to stand on.
I heard the speech of Wilkins
Birth: 1793-12-17 Death: 1866-03-11
on bringing in the
important bill now before the Senate. He was
quite happy & Calhoun
Birth: 1782-03-18 Death: 1850-03-31
quite otherwise, as he
sat & listened to Mr W.
If you should conclude to spend a few winters
at Washington, take my advice & speak for a seat
in the Senate. The House is certainly a vulgar
concern, and unworthy of the regard of any man of
Page 3

character or pretensions. But candidly, the
lower house does contain some, indeed many, unworthy
members. Some are dunces, some get drunk, &
some do worse. Among a thousand other
stories, the following true one was current while
I was there (I mean at W– not in Congress) old Judge
White
Birth: 1773-10-30 Death: 1840-04-10
, V. P. of the Senate a man whose very appear-
ance tells he has outlived even the recollection of
his youthful sins, was walking with an aged
friend a few evenings since, & observed a conflu of
girls following close at their heels, and going
wherever they went. The old man a good dear
nettled, turned to them and
said, “girls what do you
want do you take us for
members of Congress?”
As I do not often trouble you to read my letters,
I hope you will be kind enough not to preserve this.
Tell Mrs Seward
Birth: 1805-09-24 Death: 1865-06-21
(by the by I love & respect her much)
you had a letter from me, but that it is burnt up.
We are as I said pretty well. Cornelia has a
little of the sickheadache very often, which troubles
her very much. Our children
x Birth: 1834-07-25  Death: 1922-02-28  Birth: 1832-02-20  Death: 1876-01-14  Birth: 1829-12-04  Death: 1867-10-25 
are uniformly
well, not even troubled with a cold. My neigh-
bors much the same. Yours affectionately
M. D. Canfield
Page 4

Hon. W. H. Seward
In Senate
Albany
N. York
Free
x

Stamp

Type: postmark
. M.D.Canfield
P.M.
Hand Shiftx

William Seward

Birth: 1801-05-16 Death: 1872-10-10
M. DCanfield
20 Feb, 1833