Letter from Frances Miller Seward to Augustus Henry Seward, February 27, 1844

  • Posted on: 3 May 2018
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Letter from Frances Miller Seward to Augustus Henry Seward, February 27, 1844



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Distributor:Seward Family Digital Archive

Institution:University of Rochester

Repository:Rare Books and Special Collections


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Letter from Frances Miller Seward to Augustus Henry Seward, February 27, 1844

action: sent

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

location: Auburn, NY

receiver: Augustus Seward
Birth: 1826-10-01  Death: 1876-09-11

location: West Point, NY

transcription: srr 

revision: tap 2018-03-29

Page 1

My dear Augustus, I copy for you a letter which your
Birth: 1801-05-16 Death: 1872-10-10
has this morning written to you – he writes so has-
tily from the extreme pressure of his business that I thought
you might not be able to read the whole of his letter –

Editorial Note

Begins Frances Miller Seward transcription of a letter from William Henry Seward to Augustus H. Seward, February 27, 1844.
Auburn Feb – 27th – 1844
My dear Augustus,
During the last month my heart,
was gladdened by the perusal of your letters, and extracts
from them, which gave evidence of a rapidly developing
and strong mind – Now all is changed – The monthly
report from Washington
Birth: 1808-08-26 Death: 1888-12-07
informs me that you remained
during the month of January at 13 in mathematics
& at 16 in French, that your demerit for the month
was 21 and aggregate of your demerit for the
Academic year was 100, and the report distinctly
says that "that you are not attentive to the reg-
ulations" as you should be, and your "conduct not
good" – In addition to this I have received a letter
from an unofficial but watchful friend
states that you are "not doing well" not sufficiently
studious "deficient in application" — that "there must
be some evil influence operating upon you, some
untoward circumstances in connection with your
associates" and that you are in danger of falling
into bad habits – I would willingly have spared
your mother the pain these communications
gave me, but I could not suffer her to be ignorant
of the supposed danger of her child in whom she
so entirely confided – it will occasion her many
sleepless nights – I have kept this information from
the knowledge of your other friends whose affection
whose affection for you is great almost as my own
but who cannot advise and remonstrate with you.
I think you will admit that your father is one
who has always endeavored to be sparing of his
censure lest he might give you unnecessary pain –
Page 2

but my duty is now too plain to be omitted – I say
to you therefore with grief such as you have never before
given me, that your conduct as exhibited in your
monthly reports will lead to your disgrace and expul-
sion from the high and manly situation you occupy
In 7 months you have received one half the whole
amount of censure, that at the close of the year
would cause your dismission, and that the progress
now making it at such a rate, that the remaining
half is sure to follow – 21 marks per month from now
until June would end in your disgrace, and there
is no reason to hope you will have less, on the con-
trary there is every reason to fear you will have more – 
Your standing in your class in point of scholarship
affords no ground for satisfaction – From the 1st section
you have descended to the 2d – if you are content
to remain there you will probably descend lower –
This state of things cannot continue without becoming
worse and the conclusion to which it tends must
be avoided – I cannot consent that you should
be ignominiously discharged from your country's best
Academic Institution – It would be a serious evil
to you through all your future life — You must
avoid it by a voluntary resignation – That resig-
nation I insist upon your making, if you do not
I shall at once make it for you by writing to
the Secretary of War
Birth: 1779-12-20 Death: 1865-06-23
– You will then return
home and take the course you desire, either
enter the Academy preparatory to a Collegiate course
or enter my office and acquire a law education –
or take a farm or seek a trade or occupation
as you please — The prospect in any of these ways
is darkened by the disappointment of my hopes
for your education at West Point, but you have
a good mind, a good heart and we shall hope
for the blessing of God upon you –
One alternative however remains – You can resolve, deeply,
Page 3

firmly, resolve to amend and restore yourself to your rightful
standing in point of conduct and scholarship, and carry your
resolution into effect — I allow you until the 1st of May for
that purpose, provided you give me evidence in March and
April that you are doing better – February is past – I expect
no good account of you for that month – But it must not
be so in March and April – Your own good sense
guided by a knowledge of your present habits and asso-
, will enable you to determine how you can best carry
out such a resolution as I have mentioned – But I think
it right to require you to apply to Major Delafield
Birth: 1798-09-01 Death: 1873-11-05
or the
proper officer at once for leave to take a new room and
room mate, and thus separate yourself from your present
associates – When that is done, determined that the monthly
report for March shall bring in few if any demerit
marks, and for your aid in that resolution I shall
expect you to state that in your letters to your Mother every week
the number you have received & the cause – so in regard
to scholarship – determine to regain the 1st section in one or
both of your studies. Be independent of associates and
adhere to these purposes and you cannot fail – I write
to Major Delafeild to day with a heavy heart asking him
to transfer you to a new apartment – Do not forget my
dear son, that your wishes triumphed over my prudence in
your being excused from a collegiate course, and your
wishes again triumphed over your mothers apprehensions
in your being permitted to enter the Military Academy, and believe
me that affection now compels me to assume this sternness
more painful to me than it can be to you – Finally if the month
of March gives good ground of hope and April confirms it you
will remain where you are, if March gives no such ground you
will come home at the end of that month – I shall be next week
at Albany and if the roads and river will permit, shall visit
you, though I know you will not be glad to see me under
present circumstances. My visit may be averted if you write
to me, care of Mr Ward
Birth: 1806-10-28 Death: 1895-02-24
at Albany, pledging yourself with all
un necessary reservations to adopt the resolutions I have
enjoined — very affectionately, your father
W H. Seward

Editorial Note

End of transcription

Page 4

My dear child, I can only add to this the wish, that you will
seek no counsel from others with regard to your decision
about the course proposed by your Father, duty requires
you to decide for yourself – advice from others cannot assist
and may injure you – I earnestly pray that you
may be 'guided and governed by Him who never permits
us to be tempted without providing a way of escape" —
your Mother
Hand Shiftx

William Seward

Birth: 1801-05-16 Death: 1872-10-10
My dear Son, I have read this letter over since your mother copied it, and
I am almost dissuaded from sending it by my fear that it may seem very
unkind. I do not doubt that the omissions of which there are complaints
are unintentional and the complaints may be exaggerated, but remember
my child that just as otherwise they lead to the result I have indicated
You would not surely be willing to retain your place by sufferance or
new favor. You have a right to hold it by merit. Discard all things
except the desire to be independent of favor. I know how to sympathize
with you. I fell away from my collegiate studies and when I saw the
end to which my heedlessness was carrying me I made just such
resolutions as I now recommend recourse to you and I prevailed. I shall not cease
to love and to respect you whatever may be your Academic misfortunes
but I shall not have a cheerful heart nor will your mother have
peace until you write me all about these unhappy affairs and give us
hope that you are doing well. W.H Seward.
Mr Agustus. H. Seward
WP Military
Mr. Augustus H. Seward.
U.S. Military Academy.
West Point.
1 sheet-paid W.H.S.


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Type: postmark

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