Letter from William Henry Seward to Benjamin Jennings Seward, April 25, 1837

  • Posted on: 10 March 2016
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Letter from William Henry Seward to Benjamin Jennings Seward, April 25, 1837



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Distributor:Seward Family Papers Project

Institution:University of Rochester

Repository:Rare Books and Special Collections


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Letter from William Henry Seward to Benjamin Jennings Seward, April 25, 1837

action: sent

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

location: Auburn, NY

receiver: Benjamin Seward
Birth: 1793-08-23  Death: 1841-02-24

location: Westfield, NY

transcription: gew 

revision: crb 2015-10-22

Page 1

Auburn April 25, 1837.
My dear Jennings,
You have doubtless been surprised that I have
not written on the way. There have been various causes pre-
venting, but it would be unprofitable to detail them. I came
in, last night, and found all my family
x Birth: 1830-07-08  Death: 1915-04-25  Birth: 1826-10-01  Death: 1876-09-11  Birth: 1805-09-24  Death: 1865-06-21 
in better health than
usual. The experience of the ride has left me with inflamed eyes
which might become a serious matter but a few days rest
and releasing, them from occupation will probably restore
them. And now for what I have done and have
to do ctouching the Chautauqua matters. I called at Steele’s
x Birth:   Death: 1844-09-18  Birth: 1805-12-16  Death: 1879-11-11 

in Buffalo and ordered all the books and blanks required
and received a promise that they should be all sent you
in good order next this week – and I presume they will.
At Batavia I found Mr Cary
Birth: 1787-08-11 Death: 1869-06-20
and Mr Evans
Birth: 1788-03-19 Death: 1850-05-17
with the worst alarm about the pressure. I ascertained
that Rathbones
Birth: 1791-08-02 Death: 1845-05-13
fears are true, that from them at present
we are to expect no help in our Eastern engagements. I
paid $1000. on my note to Cary and made an arrangement to
postpone $2750. of the balance until 1 October. So that I have
on the 1st July to pay $1750. which puts that matter at rest.
I find here a letter of Rathbone, saying that he hourly expects
the demand to be made upon him of his $26000 note in the
Clinton Bank (payable on demand.) He says he cannot pay
it and is awfully alarmed, but this time his fears do
not exceed those of everybody else. You can have no idea
of the consternation
Amazement or horror that confounds the faculties, and incapacitiates for consideration; excessive terror, wonder, or surprise; dismay •
that overwhelms everybody. I found
a set of covenants here with bills for repairs after the
fire, and fences and gardening. At the same time my insu-
rance owing had been lent out, my bank account overdrawn
Page 2

and everything indicating that my tenants will not be able to pay their
rent. I have not yet been long enough among them to find out how
matters are like to be. But there are trifles too small to trouble
me. Rathbone writes me ungently to go forthwith to Albany.
I have written that I will be there next week. There seems
to be no alternative but to ask Mr Vanderkemp
Birth: 1783-04-22 Death: 1855-12-04
to let our
$50,000 debt go into the general concern and be paid out
of the office. This I shall try but not with any hope of suc-
cess. If I do not altogether mistake the Banks all expect a
suspension of specie payments. I am sure that their alarm
is contributing to that deplorable result. One of our banks
refused today to receive Chautauqua bills, and all act
as if confidence was destroyed. Money is nowhere to be
found, at any rate of interest. Bank stock is below par
and indeed unsaleable as real estate. What is to be the
end of all this I cannot foresee. It is certain however that
the crisis must come soon – there is but one step from the
present to the general catastrophe[ . ]


If that does not come
soon matters must mend. But I think the former most likely.
I will write you once or twice before I go Eastward and often
wheresoever I may be. In the meantime, I am compelled to
say that until our business is placed upon a footing of some
permanency I think you cannot leave Westfield. I know
how painful this will be to you. But it is a crisis big with
responsibilities, and both of us must be devoted to their dis-
charge. For the present you must convert all small mat-
ters into money, collect all you can, and remit nothing.
Accumulate whatever you can and hold it, subject to order
from me, letting not a dollar slip away. I hope by this
means to extend our $50,000 loan. Do not delay upon any
consideration to have the Abstract completed without a
Page 3

day’s delay. Put all your force upon it that can be spared
and get help if necessary. Let me know by letter to the
care of TJared L. Rathbone Albany when I may expect
it, and advise me what are your funds? As soon as
the abstract is ready let Geo. Humphreys
Birth: 1814-03-15 Death: 1885-06-09
bring it togeth-
er with a volume of mortgages (the recapitulation of
the first schedules which is in the closet at the home
and some dozen of the bonds. I will advise you where
these papers will find me.
Cannot you write to Augustus
Birth: 1803-07-03 Death: 1871-10-30
or some clerk in the
depository to accompany Marcia
Birth: 1794-07-23 Death: 1839-10-25
to Westfield? If this will
not do you must be content to leave your family at
Cincinnati, I think until after the first of July when
the crisis in our business will be passed.
We must abandon all idea of coercive meas[ ures ]


Reason: hole

for the present on bonds and mortgages . It would [ not ]


Reason: hole

be right or expedient to oppress while this state of th[ ings ]


Reason: hole

I hope to have a letter from you this evening.
Write me often addressed to care of Rathbone Albany and give
me full details.
The deeds &c from the Batavia office were to go to you
on Tuesday. Frances desires to be remembered affectionately
by you.
I shall in some way draw on the office for $500 to $1000
in a few days. I cannot yet learn how I am to negotiate
the draft, but shall find out some way.
Your brother,
W.H. Seward
B.J. Seward Esq.
Page 4

Benjamin J. Seward Esq.
Chautauqua bond office
APR 26


Type: postmark

April 25, 1837