Letter from William Henry Seward to Frances Miller Seward, December 15, 1834

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Letter from William Henry Seward to Frances Miller Seward, December 15, 1834



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Letter from William Henry Seward to Frances Miller Seward, December 15, 1834

action: sent

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

location: Newburgh, NY

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

location: Auburn, NY

transcription: rag 

revision: ekk 2015-08-21

Page 1

NewBurgh Tuesday December 15th. My dearest, It is not quite so easy to keep ones good promises as it is to make them. I
hoped when I left Albany that I should be able to write to you daily as I had done while there, but this is
the first time circumstances have permitted me to do so. I received no letter from you on Thursday morning
and of course am yet ignorant of all that has happened in your circle since Friday of the week before
last. That I have much solicitude concerning you and the little boys
x Birth: 1830-07-08  Death: 1915-04-25  Birth: 1826-10-01  Death: 1876-09-11 
you will readily imagine and I need
not occupy this time with expressing it. I doubt not I shall find one or more letters from you in New York.
Mr Cary
Birth: 1787-08-11 Death: 1869-06-20
and I came down the river to this place on Thursday evening last. We had many passengers. There
was Mr B.F. Butler
Birth: 1818-11-05 Death: 1893-01-11
with his entire family on their way to Washington to spend the winter. It appears
that they have never removed to the Capital. Possibly the experience of other chosen cabinet counsellers
of General Jacksons
Birth: 1767-03-15 Death: 1845-06-08
Arbitrary conduct has rendered the Attorney General prudent. But I think his
prospects are now fair for holding his post much longer than any of his recent predecessors. Mrs B.
 Death: 1853-07-22

has five or six very handsome children and her appearance indicates that she will soon contribute
a further blessing of the same kind to swell the happiness of her Lord. I had not much conversation with either.
They had some political friends who formed a circle around them. Rufus H King
Birth: 1795 Death: 1867-07-09
Jared L Rathbone
Birth: 1791-08-02 Death: 1845-05-13
others were on board and with them and others we had a party of defeated Whigs. The severity of our
disappointment had greatly mitigated and we had as pleasant a season as a December trip on board
a steamboat usually affords. After spending a night at this place Mr C. and I proceeded by stage
and private conveyance to Florida at which place we arrived at 3, o'clock on Friday. We found our
Birth: 1768-12-05 Death: 1849-08-24
and mother
Birth: 1769-11-27 Death: 1844-12-11
in comfortable health although both are more infirm than you have ever known
them. Their household has undoubtedly gained much in tranquility and order within the last year.
It consists of themselves, an Irish servant
, Julia Ann
Birth: 1811-08-26 Death: 1847-07-24
and black Mary
. There was some of that incessant
labor for Lucie
which we have always observed before. The house is in many respects improved in
comfort and they have new furniture where it was necessary. There was a visible improvement in the
cleanliness and order of the rooms and on the whole there is no doubt that they have adopted a much
more philosophical mode of life than they have pursued for some years past. Our good mother set her-
self as of old immediately about procuring us a dinner and in less than an hour the table groaned
with good things to which we did all the honor our kind hostess could have desired. I called
at Polidore
Birth: 1799 Death: 1872-04-23
's on our way to Florida. He it seems remained at Florida in my father's employ
until about a fortnight since, having in the mean time one or two drunken seasons, and at last
went when sober to New York with the purpose of obtaining employment in more humble ca-
pacity of laborer and clerk in a coal yard or other similar place. A letter received at Florida
from Marcia
Birth: 1794-07-23 Death: 1839-10-25
says that he arrived at her house sick after a weeks delay on the way but where
she did not know. He is now sick from drunkenness at her house, and there can be no hope of his
reform. Father has taken an assignment of his property and will convert into money what Lockey
Birth: 1805-07-15 Death: 1848-05-14
does not
need. He is paying off Polidore's debts as he says for the last time. He has already sold 130 acres of
the farm at Somerville and will as soon as possible sell the remainder which will that already
sold produce about 10,000 dollars. This fund he intends to invest for the benefit of Polidore's
family, so that they can from time to time use the interest. He says he shall have no more to do with
Polidore. Lockey was cheerful and resigned and appeared to me eminently good as I saw her
at Somerville. That our father intends to and will provide for her & her children in a way worthy
of them and himself I have no doubt, but it is equally certain that so long as he is the dispen-
ser of the means of their support she will have frequent cause of complaint and dejection. His
views upon such subjects are so very widely different from her own as well as those of half the
world. George
Birth: 1808-08-26 Death: 1888-12-07
and Tempe
Birth: 1812-09-30 Death: 1848-10-18
are living apparently comfortable in their new house. He came over
to see us as soon as we arrived and although Tempe is far &c he was with us at breakfast
dinner supper and wherever we went. He is so miserably deficient in energy and industry that
I fear for him. Tempe was perhaps not very well, at all events she was not communicative, or social.
Their little girl is pretty but in very delicate health.
On Saturday morning we all received an invitation to take tea at Mr Cummin's
Birth: 1776-07-15 Death: 1863-01-09
, which was
accepted. Mr Cary[ , ]


George and I rode to Goshen where we found our friends all well with the
only exception of Tommy Thorne Evans
, who fails fast. Our cousins were as affectionate and kind to
us as ever and pressed upon me the mention of their love toward you, of all which I hereby
discharge myself and commit their remembrance to your keeping. The politicians Van Duser
Birth: 1802-05-08 Death: 1841-11-27
among them spent an hour or two with us at the hotel. But you have had enough of politics and
Page 2

I confess to you my appetite for that food is considerably palled. So I pass over the political conversation
I dropped in at Horace Elliotts
Birth: 1788 Death: 1864-09-21
and found my old friend Charlotte Westcott
Birth: 1804-04-16 Death: 1880-01-15
(now his wife) nursing a sick
child. She has faded much. A daughter of Miss Duser
was with her, this young lady was a child of four or
five years when I visited in the family. I called at Dr Daniel Seward
Birth: 1768 Death: 1839-03-13
's. A few weeks ago he fell from
the stoop and ^was^ severely hurt, but the cutting of a blood vessel let blood so freely that his life has probably
been protracted by the accident. He appears very infirm. Mr Cary Mr Van Duser and I called at Gen.
Birth: 1772 Death: 1845-11-16
, and declined invitations to tea dinner &c for the active period of our stay in Orange County[ . ]



We spent the evening at Mr Cummins, Mary
Birth: 1816-05-11 Death: 1892-01-18
is now a young lady, sensible enough I believe and well
educated, but very far indeed from being handsome in form or feature. Sunday (what a severly cold
day Sunday was! How did you manage to keep warm?) we went to Church, and heard a very dull ser-
mon from Mr Cummins. After dinner I walked out over the farm with Mr Cary but the cold was so
intense we were soon driven into the house where we were content to remain until yesterday morning[ . ]



All the gossip I learned at Florida can be speedily communicated, there are to be four or five wed-
dings there between this time and the first of January. The only one which can at all interest you is
that of Emily Curtice
Birth: 1812 Death: 1864
the deaf mute. She is to be married to a merchant at Florida named
Birth: 1810 Death: 1892
. What think you of such a connection? Does it promise domestic happiness? I should fear it.
But it promises the bridegroom at a distant day, money. Mrs Post
(Mrs Randolph
's daughter)
is still at Florida and will remain there during the winter. Yesterday morning George brought us to
Goshen where we dined at Mrs Evans
and thence came to this place in a small stage with nine
other passengers, three of these were Mr Wisner
Birth: 1777 Death: 1842-02-20
, S.J. Wilkin
Birth: 1793-12-17 Death: 1866-03-11
and Van Duser. These and other political
friends spent the evening with us. It was our intention to go to New York last evening, but the
weather has been so severe since Friday that the river is closed as far down as Red Hook, the
boats now run irregularly. There has no boat been here since we arrived. We expect one down
the river at about 12 at noon. Feeling little inclination to mingle with our race Uncle and I have with
higher gratification in recording for you the journal of our wanderings and doings. We will probably
remain in New York until Saturday or Monday next. I believe both of us find this end of our public
life uncomfortable. If you and Aunty Carey
Birth: 1788 Death: 1863-06-22
were with us we could be content at Bements, at
Florida Goshen Newburgh, New York or any where. Now we are restless and desirous of change
every where. I am inclined to believe that just such a termination of my Senatorial term was desirable.
Had it been abruptly cut off I might have reluctantly consented to remain at home about my own
affairs when the commencement of the legislative session came – but I shall now go home and
into any business or occupation which offers with more satisfaction than I have left it. I
regret very much that I cannot be with you during the holy days. It would be a good and agreeable
way of commencing the domestic duties and enjoyments from which I mean to derive so much
more pleasure than they have afforded in the years lately passed. I am yet unable to determine
how long it will be necessary for me to remain in Albany after the first of January. One of the cause
I was to argue there has been already disposed of.
Again I ask how you lived through those three cold days Saturday Sunday and Monday. I have ima-
gined that Peters improvidence left you without broken coal in the scuttle or wood in the box and
that you and the little boys shivered around the half warmed box stove in your immense cham-
ber. We will have these matters ordered better dearest when I return home, and when the winter
nights come, I shall go home and we will get around the table and read away the dull
evenings which you have to spend with a shade over your weak eyes.
I am grieved for Debby Wood


and for George
Birth: 1799 Death: 1870-08-24
- the loss of their little girl
 Death: 1834-12-01
is a severe affliction for both
and what is worse, it is not easily to be conjectured how the place it has left can be filled in
their affections. That one or both will mourn its death less than parents who have more tender
hearts is probable but it was a chain to bind them together by common sympathies and destitute
as both are in a great degree of resources for mutual improvement or feelings out of which mutual
affections could spring they have a dull prospect before them.
You will have perceived that I am not in the best vein for writing, while on the qui vive for a boat
I bring this letter to a close that I may make some calls which I ought not to omit. I hope to-
morrow to be able to answer one of your dear good letters and to write more in the spirit of our
mutual love. Remember me to all the family and tell the little boys that I hope to hear when
I return home that they have been kind and dutiful to you and their Grandpa
Birth: 1772-04-11 Death: 1851-11-13
and Grandma
Birth: 1751 Death: 1835-10-03
Page 3

Mrs. William H. Seward
DEC 16


Type: postmark

Hand Shiftx

Frances Seward

Birth: 1805-09-24 Death: 1865-06-21
Henry. Dec 16