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Cornell University Library 
F 198 C95 

Letters of Mary Boardman Crowninshield 


3 1924 028 857 682 

Cornell University 

The original of this book is in 
the Cornell University Library. 

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the United States on the use of the text. 








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IN going over a file of family correspondence I 
was much interested in some letters from Wash- 
ington, written by my great-grandmother, Mary 
Boardman Crowninshield, in the years 1 8 1 5 and 
1 8 1 6. Thinking that they would prove of interest 
to her descendants, to friends of the family, and pos- 
sibly to some others, I am publishing them with a few 
notes, telling who some of the persons mentioned in 
the letters are. If I have made any errors in these 
notes {and I am afraid I have), I should be much 
pleased to have them brought to tfty attention. 

As the Crowninshield family of Salem, Mass., 
had been identified for a number of years with the 
shipping industry of the country, and all the members 
of it were strong supporters of the government, it 
was not unnatural that, in the year 1805, Presi- 
dent fefferson should have appointed the Honorable 
facob Crowninshield, then a member of Congress 
from Massachusetts, to the office of Secretary of the 
Navy. Mr. Crowninshield never entered upon his 
duties, on account of a sudden illness which finally 
terminated in his death, at Washington, April 1 4, 


On December 15, 1 8 1 4, while the War of iS 12 
was still in progress. President Madison appointed 
Benjamin W. Crowninshield, a brother of yacob, 
to the Secretaryship of the Navy from which Mr. 
William Jones had just resigned. Mr. Crownin- 
shield accepted the appointment and immediately 
started for Washington. He served through Presi- 
dent Madison's administration, and held the same 
position in President Monroe s Cabinet until he re- 
signed, in November, 1818. 

Mr. Crowninshield married on January i, 
1 804, Miss Mary Boardman of Salem, and at the 
time he removed to Washington (1815), they had 
six children. As Mrs. Crowninshield disliked the 
long separations from her husband which his duties 
in Washington were making necessary, she deter- 
mined to accompany him thither when h& returned 
in October, 18 15. 

Accordingly, toward the end of that month, they 
set out from Salem in a private carriage, and drove 
to New Haven, Connecticut, accompanied by their ' 
two eldest daughters, Mrs. Crowninshield' s maid, 
and a manservant. At New Haven they took the 
steamboat for New York, en route for Washington. 

The following letters tell of her journey to Wash- 
ington, of her life there, and of her arrival home, 
in Salem, June 2, 18 16. 


In order properly to understand Washington 
life of that time, we must hear in mind that, only 
the year before, the White House and most of the 
public buildings had been burned by the British. 
This made it necessary for many prominent people to 
live a " boarding house" existence, and accounts for 
much of the simplicity of the life set forth in these 

The letters are published exactly as they were 
written, with the exception of a few paragraphs of 
a too personal nature which have been stricken out, 
and the addition of an occasional word to make the 
meaning clearer. 

The letters from President Madison and Mrs. 
Willson serve as an interesting introduction to 
Mrs. Crownins hie Id's account. 

Francis B. Crowninshield. 

Boston, March i, 1905. 


The frontispiece is the picture of Mrs. Crowninshield 
painted by Vanderlyn in Washington in 1816. It is 
mentioned in the letter on page 65. 

the portrait of Mr. Crowninshield facing page 44 was 
also painted by Vanderlyn at the same time. Mention is 
made of it on pages 46 and 47. 

Both of these paintings are now in the possession of 
Mrs. John ^incy Adams, a granddaughter of Mrs. 


ff^ashingtan, December 15, 1 8 14. 

Benjamin W. Crowninshield, 

Salem, Mass. 
Sir : — 

Mr. Jones ' having retired from the 
Secretaryship of the Navy, my thoughts have 
been turned to you as a desirable successor, and 
I have this day sent in your name to the Senate 
for the appointment. I hope you v^ill excuse 
my doing it without your consent, which would 
have been asked if the business of that Depart- 
ment had less urged an avoidance of delay. 
The same consideration will apologize for my 
hoping that it will not be inconsistent with 
your views to aid your country in that station, 
nor with your convenience to repair to it as 
soon as you may receive notice that the Senate 
have given effect to the nomination. 

Accept, Sir, assurances of my esteem and of 
my friendly respects — 

James Madison. 

' William Jones of Pennsylvania. 


Washington^ December 17, 1814. 

Benjamin W. Crowninshield, 

Salem, Mass. 
Sir : — 

You were yesterday nominated to the 
Senate for Secretary of the Navy. As there is no 
doubt but the nomination will be confirmed, I 
have taken the liberty to write you a few lines 
to offer you a room in my house. I can now if 
agreeable to you give you an excellent South 
room. It is large and pleasant. Perhaps it will 
be more agreeable to you as it is very near and 
convenient to the house now occupied as the 
Navy Office, and I believe every Secretary 
almost has lived in my house. Mr. Dallas and 
family are now with me, and a most agreeable 
family they are. If you should want two rooms, 
you can have them, and after the fourth of 
March as many as you may want. I refer you 
to Mr. Pitman and to Mr. Jones, late Secre- 
tary of the Navy, for any information you may 
want regarding my house, etc. etc. Your 
brother, Mr. Jacob Crowninshield, boarded in 

[ *"i ] 
my house until the last winter he was here. 
He only left me then because I was removed 
too far from the Capitol, which he after re- 
gretted. We regretted it very much also as he 
was a most amiable character and esteemed by 
us all. 

Should you be inclined to be one of my 
family, I shall be much gratified. I pray you 
to pardon me for the great liberty I have taken, 
and believe me. Sir, to be with much respect 
your Obedient servant — 

Sarah Willson. 

N. B. Should you see Mr. Pitman I will 
thank you. Sir, to present my kind regards to 
him and tell him we all hope to see him here 
in February next. 

S. W. 


Washington^ January 3, 18 15. 

Hon. Benjamin W. Crowninshield, 
Salem, Mass. 

Dear Sir : — 

I have just received yours of the 
28th of December communicating the agree- 
able result of your reconsideration of your first 
determination on the subject of the Secretary- 
ship of the Navy. It only remains to say that 
no obstacle has been erected by another nomi- 
nation to the Senate, and to repeat my hopes 
that you will be with us as soon as possible. 
Accept my friendly respects. 

James Madison. 



Steamboat, 1 1 o'clock, Thursday. 
[November, 1815.] 

Dear Mother' and Sisters^: — 

Here we are on board the boat since 
five this morning. The wind is not fair, con- 
sequently there is more motion than is usual. 
I feel a little dizzy. Mary ^ is having a grand 
frolic — says she has heard so much of the 
steamboats she is determined to enjoy it. Is 
really amusing all the passengers with her fun. 
There are eight on board The cabins are very 
fine. I was astonished when we were called to 
breakfast, to be carried to a very long room, 
two very long tables spread with everything 
good, for I thought I had seen every part of 
the boat before. It is a charming way of trav- 
elling. There is an elderly lady on board, 
about your age, who lives in Washington. 
Has been from there about a month. She tells 
me all about it — says they expect to have a 

' Mrs. Crowninshield's mother was Miss Mary Hodges. 
She married Francis Boardman of Salem. 

' Her sisters were Sarah, who married Zachariah Silsbee, 
and Elizabeth, who married Nathaniel Bowditch. 

' Their second daughter, who married Charles Mifflin. 


gay winter there. She was acquainted with 
Mr. C. last winter. I expect to go on in com- 
pany with her. There is a family of children 
here whose parents are moving to Baltimore — 
a little girl who is playing with Mary, and 
boys about as big as ours, and make about full 
as much noise. And we have the British Ad- 
miral Coffin,' and many others not worth men- 
tioning, — a very pleasant lady and her daugh- 
ter, belonging to New York. Not a word 
about Elizabeth.* When we stopped to dine 
the first day, she was sick a little and could 
not eat her dinner, but slept grandly all night 
with me, and Mary with her Pa. The second 
day she was sick several times, once in the 
carriage all over her Pa's cloak and mine. The 
third day she was not sick [at all], only dizzy, 
and I think if we had ridden to-day she would 
have felt nicely. Mary feels sick now in the 
boat, but she is playing about and eating boiled 

We have really had a very pleasant journey, 
— everything good to eat for breakfast, dinner 
and supper, — chickens, oysters, pies, waffles 

' Sir Isaac Coffin, an illustrious admiral of the British 
Navy. Born in Boston, 1759. "He never forgot that he 
was an American." 

^ Their eldest daughter; married the Rev. William 
Mountford, author of Euthanasy, 

[5 1 
and preserves. I have not taken any cold. 
The first night was very tired, — since then 
have not felt the least fatigue. Uncle George' 
has been grand company and we are very glad 
he came with us. Shall be sorry to part with 
him. He and Mary would try who could eat 
most ; he always finished the pie he began. 

Well, now for yourself and the dear chil- 
dren. How do you all do ? How often we 
talk of you ! Uncle G. would say, " Now, 
Mary, Francis's* fingers are in the sugar bowl, 
and now grandma 's catching him." The dear 
babe,3 what can I say of her ? Tell the boys to 
kiss her a dozen times a day for me. I really 
feel too dizzy to write. I could not write at 
New Haven. We got there late in the after- 
noon ; — so much company, and so many con- 
tinually arriving, and so much noise and con- 
fusion, I thought it best to wait till to-day. 

I wish you could see what a pretty place we 
are in. The girls are now in one of the berths. 

' George Crowninshield, Mr. Crowninshield's brother, 
a Salem merchant and owner of the celebrated yacht Cleo- 
patra's Barge. Mr. Crowninshield was then starting on a 
journey to New Orleans. 

* Their second son, Francis Boardman Crowninshield ; 
married Sarah Gooll Putnam. He was the first president of 
the Somerset Club of Boston. 

5 Their youngest daughter ; married Jonathan Mason 


There are a dozen around the cabin, covered 
with nice white counterpanes — look very 
neat. Tell Mrs. Dodge Sophia' is nicely. 
Has fared as well as any of us, ate and drank 
at the same table with us so far, and is very 
attentive. Think we shall like her very much. 
We shall arrive at New York about dark, so 
shall not see Sally "^ to-night. The steamboat 
leaves New York to-morrow morning, and we 
ought to go on, but we must see Sally and 
shall have to stay till Monday ; but the man 
who attends here says we cannot go sooner, so 
many are wanting to see Mr. C. ; for the last 
dozen trips as soon as the boat arrives there are 
a dozen down to inquire for him. You can let 
both Aunt Sally see this, and Aunt Silsbee.^ I 
will write to her after seeing Sally. Tell the 
children all about it. I hope they got the sugar 
plums from Boston. 

Good bye — good bye. 

Your affectionate daughter, 

M. B. C. 

' Maidservant. 

^ Mr. Crowninshield's niece, daughter of Jacob Crown- 
inshield ; married Richard S. Rogers. 

5 Mr. Crowninshield's sister; married the Honorable 
Nathaniel Silsbee, United States Senator from Massachu- 


New Tork, ^th November, 1815, 
Saturday Afternoon. 

Dear Mother and Children : — 

Benjamin,' Francis and George/ 
don't you long to see us ? and dear little babe 
too ; she could give us a pretty little smile. 
Have you been good ? It is Saturday, and I 
think you are playing in the yard. Now mind, 
don't run away nor plague Grandma. We are 
still in New York and shall remain here till 
Monday morn, seven o'clock. The steamboat 
does not go till then and it is so much easier 
to go in that way. Our girls enjoyed the day. 
They were on the water more than any other 
day. We arrived here late on Thursday even- 
ing. Mr. Bailly came on board and had his 
carriage waiting, put us in and carried us to 
his house, where we were very kindly received 
by his wife. She had her tea all in waiting, 
and fixed a trundle bed in my chamber, think- 
ing I should bring children with me. I now 

' Their eldest son, Benjamin Varnum Crowninshield. 
He died on his twenty-first birthday. 

^ Their third son, George Caspar Crowninshield ; mar- 
ried Harriet Sears. 

[ 8 ] 
feel quite at home. The next morning, as 
soon as breakfast was over, to Mrs. Brenton's' 
we went. Mrs. B. went in the carriage with 
us. We did not know as we should see Sally, 
but without any hesitation we were admitted. 
Uncle George and Mr. Dodge went with us. 
We were shown into a parlour, and soon after 
Sally appeared. She saw the carriage and knew 
us, but was not certain she should see us. 
She has grown very fat. Her cheeks are as 
plump and she looks more like Aunt Silsbee 
than ever. Mrs. Brenton was very sick the day 
before ; it was not thought she would live ; 
but is better ; I did not see her, but she de- 
sired Mrs. Bailly to show us the house, which 
is opened to company only on Wednesdays. 
This was a great favor and gratified Sally 
very much. I was a little disappointed in 
seeing the garden, for it was not larger than 
ours, but the house very large and spacious. 
We went in the school room, saw the young 
ladies, some very little girls, many not bigger 
than Mary Silsbee, but some eighteen. We 
stayed more than an hour, but how to part 
from her, — it was very painful. If I had 
been at a public house I should have requested 
Mrs. Brenton to let her go in to town with 

' The head of a boarding-school for young ladies. 

[ 9 ] 
us, but as Mrs. Bailly did not mention it I 
could not invite her, but we left her in tears 
on the steps, promising to see her again if 

To gratify our girls we went last eve to the 
theatre. We were late and the play begun, 
but Mary was so frightened, — " O ! do let 
me go, I shall die if you don't," — we could 
not coax her to stay ; she declared, if we did 
not let her go home, she would scream as loud 
as she could, so Mr. Dodge had to carry her 
home, and she passed her evening with Mr. 
Bailly reading religious tracts and saying hymns. 
You can't think how frightened she was — 
everybody in the next boxes was so amused 
with her. You boys would have been de- 
lighted. There were four live horses came on 
the stage. They looked like the Troop. Eliza- 
beth was very much pleased. I have been 
walking all the morning. While I was out a 
number of ladies called on me. I was invited 
to dine today at the Navy Yard. Mrs. Evans' 
called herself for me, but I was not at home. 
Her husband urged me very much (when he 
came for Mr. C), but I did not want to go as 
I should have to cross in a boat. I had rather 
be here. Mrs. Bailly says she shall carry us 

' Mrs. Evans was probably the wife of the Commander 
of the Navy Yard. 


all to meeting to-morrow. Tells Uncle George 
he must and shall go, and I hope he will, but 
I am afraid he will set out this afternoon. He 
dined here yesterday, went to the theatre with 
us, and you can't think how agreeable and po- 
lite he has been. 

Mary is now out walking with Sophia. 
Hanson ' has gone to show them the way ; they 
were out all yesterday afternoon and bought 
sugar plums. I wish you boys had some too. 
Everything pretty to sell here, but I have made 
no purchases — I forgot to take my money ; I 
am sorry ; — I shall make my purchases in 

Good night, dear children, 

M. B. C. 

' Manservant. 


Philadelphia^ November 7, 18 15. 

Dear Mother : — 

We arrived here this morning at 
twelve, after a most deUghtful sail down the 
Delaware. We started in the steamboat at seven 
o'clock. We saw most elegant country seats 
along the banks of the river on both sides. At 
several little towns stopped to take passengers on 
board, which made it very pleasant. I ought to 
have begun with our leaving New York on Mon- 
' day at seven o'clock, in the boat. It was very 
foggy so that we could see very little till noon. 
Had not very smart passengers. The old Eng- 
lish Admiral came part of the way with us. 
We_^ have seen him so that much it seemed like 
meeting an old acquaintance, and he is pleased 
with our girls. Calls Elizabeth his sweetheart, 
but she runs from him. We stopped at Bruns- 
wick and there met Uncle George. He got 
there a day before us. We left there about four 
o'clock in the stage, to go nearly thirty miles. 
I was dreadfully frightened, as our horses were 
gay to go so great a distance by night. We 
had four stages in company, but go we must 


or lose our passage. This morning we arrived 
at Trenton at ten, safe and sound ; Elizabeth 
was not sick ; had a good supper and went to 
bed. Up this morning before six to be in time 
for the boat again. We had many passengers. 
A lady with her two daughters about the age 
of ours and the same ijames. They had a good 
frolic together, but the mother was unsociable 
so that I did not get acquainted with her on 
the passage, but the same lady has called on 
me this evening with Mr. Meany, as his wife 
was sick and this lady was their sister. They 
wish us to stay in this city several days, but we 
are determined on leaving to-morrow at three 
o'clock in the steamboat, and shall have to ride 
again to-morrow evening, but we shall have a 
moon. It will be only sixteen miles, and the 
next morning early we shall take the boat for 

I have been about the city with the girls 
and Hanson for my guide, but dare not venture 
far. We found much difficulty in getting lodg- 
ing. We are at a Quaker lady's — nothing 
smart. Her daughter is now amusing our girls — 
about their age — telling them about her school. 
Here is Mary and she says I must tell you she 
doesn't like Philadelphia half, nor a quarter, 
so well as she does Salem, and Elizabeth says 
she wishes she was at home. We have found a 

new carriage and horses here, tell the boys, but 
I have not seen it. Pa says it is a handsome 
one. I can't tell them what color the horses 
are, but I don't believe they will be so good 
as the old gray. It is to be sent to Washington, 
and we are going in the stage and the boat, as 
it would take us too long to go in a private 
carriage. Uncle George is going to Baltimore 
with us.- You can't think how agreeable we 
find him. He is much pleased with this city, 
says the turkeys are up to your knees — such 
good eating. 

Well, how do you make out ? How I long to 
hear from home. Are the children well — are 
they good ? Have you begun to repent yet that 
you engaged to have the care of them ? I am so 
impatient to hear. Does George go to school? 
yes, indeed, and learns beautifully, and I hope 
Francis gets his Sunday lessons, and Ben, I am 
sure, is a good boy because he is the eldest. 
Does the babe grow ? 

M. B. C. 


Washington^ November 1 1, 1815. 

Dear Mother : — 

We arrived here yesterday afternoon 
early enough to see the city. It looked dreary 
to be sure on our first getting here, we were 
so cold and fatigued. We left Philadelphia on 
Wednesday at three o'clock in the steamboat. 
Had a very pleasant sail to New Castle, where 
we arrived about ten. Had very bad lodging 
that night. Were up at four o'clock, to take 
the stage about sixteen miles. We had six 
stages in company, all filled with passengers. 
We arrived at French Town about nine o'clock. 
We found a fine breakfast ready for us on board 
the boat ; were all proper hungry. We have 
excellent fare on board the boat. It was a 
rainy day and considerable wind, so that we 
had not so pleasant a passage. Many were very 
sick indeed. We all were a little so ; Mary 
could not sit up, but Elizabeth did not feel 

We arrived at Baltimore about nine in the 
eve — found excellent lodgings, but left the 
city at eight o'clock the next morning. This 

we regretted, as we wanted to see more of Bal- 
timore ; and here we left Uncle George to go 
on his journey Westward. He had made him- 
self so agreeable I was unwilling to part with 
him. We always had a grand time when we 
sat down to table, all had such excellent appe- 
tites. We had an addition to our party. We 
took a young lady with us from Philadelphia 
who wanted to visit her friends here. Quite a 
pleasant girl, and looked so much like Priscey ' 
that I could not but like her. 

Well, here we are. All the folks ran to the 
door to welcome us — so glad to see my hus- 
band. We soon had tea by ourselves. All 
looked so strange. We went to bed early. 
Com'r Porter's ^ family is at this house. She 
[his wife] came in to see me soon after I ar- 
rived. She is a very pretty little woman — 
looks like Abigail Knapp. I was introduced 
to many gentlemen, but should not know them 
again, although I met them again this morn- 
ing at breakfast. 

About twelve o'clock Mr. C. came in and 
said I must go immediately to see Mrs. Madi- 
son. Our girls went with me. She lives in the 

' Priscilla Webb, an intimate friend of the family. 

' David Porter, an illustrious American naval officer ; 
born in Boston, 1780. Married Elvira Anderson of Ches- 
ter, Pennsylvania. 


same block' with us. I did not alter my dress. 
Well, we rung at the door, the servant showed 
us to the room — no one there. It was a large 
room, had three windows in front, blue win- 
dow curtains which appeared to be of embossed 
cambric, damask pattern, red silk fringe. The 
floor was covered with dark gray cloth, two 
little couches covered with blue patch, a small 
sideboard with I don't recollect what on it. 
In about two minutes the lady appeared, re- 
ceived us very agreeably, noticed the children 
much, inquired their names, because she told 
them she meant to be much acquainted with 
them. You could not but feel at your ease in 
her company. She was dressed in a white cam- 
bric gown, buttoned all the way up in front, 
a little strip of work along the button-holes, 
but ruffled around the bottom. A peach-bloom- 
colored silk scarf with a rich border over her 
shoulders by her sleeves. She had on a spencer 
of satin the same color, and likewise a turban 
of velour gauze, all of peach bloom. She looked 
very well indeed. 

Since returning home, Mrs. Porter has called 
in my room with her sister and cousin, two 

' For a year after the burning of Washington, President 
Madison occupied the Octagon, a spacious mansion on the 
corner of New York Avenue and i8th Street. This house 
was built in 1798 by Colonel John Tayloe of Virginia. 

very young ladies, and Mrs. Lear who came 
from Portsmouth. Mrs. Porter brought in her 
babe about twelve weeks old. I was delighted 
with seeing it, but it did not look much like 
my dear babe. 

I received Betsey's ' letter written last Sun- 
day. I was gratified to hear from home and 
that all was well. Well, what good boys ! — 
I wish I could say our girls were as good — 
they have the worst time going to bed every 
night. " Oh, if I only had my own bed," 
Elizabeth says ; she is not willing to sleep with 
Mary. We have a bed for them in our cham- 
ber, and we have a very pleasant parlour which 
opens immediately into our bedchamber — this 
we have to ourselves ; dine with the boarders 
and sit in the family parlour below when we 
choose. Dined with a table full of gentlemen 
— just left them at table. The dining-room is 
next to ours. I can now hear the gentlemen 
talking and telling stories. 

Our carriage has not come yet. May be 
here to-morrow. I rode a little in it at Phila- 
delphia. It was a very easy one, rather too 
gay — the horses are a chestnut color, rather 
light, but very large and appeared very gen- 
tle. The coachman is a white man and recom- 

' Elizabeth Mead, a distant relation ; married Francis 
Boardman, Mrs. Crowninshield's brother. 


mended as a very good one. We shall keep 
him if he will stay. We shall keep Hanson 
too. At Philadelphia, at our boarding-house, 
I became acquainted with a Miss Custis, a 
grand-daughter of General Washington's Lady. 
She carried me to the most fashionable milli- 
ner ; — elegant goods we saw, but I did not make 
many purchases. Saw most elegant white vel- 
vet for gown, and everything that was pretty. 

I really think Washington much pleasanter 
than I expected. From my window now it 
looks like a common ; houses about as far dis- 
tant as from your window. As we went up to 
Baltimore I could not but think of poor Aunt 
Wellman ' ; how many times have I heard her 
tell of her journey there ! 

Tell the boys there is a little boy here who 
has a little brass cannon that he can fire. His 
name is William Porter. He is six years old, 
but not so big as Francis, and I don't believe 
that he can read so well or studies Latin, but 
I will ask him next time I see him. I wish 
we had brought George. This letter is as much 
to Sally, and she must write me ; and Frank,* 
— why does he not write ? M. B. C. 

' Mrs. Wellman was a sister of Zachariah Silsbee. She 
was called Aunt by many persons who were not really re- 
lated to her. 

' Francis Boardman, Mrs. Crowninshield's brother. 


Friday^ December I, 1815. 

Dear Mother: — 

We are just up, and Mary says, "you 
must write. Ma, that I may send my letter." 
Elizabeth is not out of bed yet. She is always 
the last one; — we are earlier than common, 
for the first bell has not rung yet for break- 
fast and it is half-past eight. Indeed, every 
day when I get ready to take my work, I am 
astonished to hear it is twelve o'clock. We 
never dine till after three. Soon after rising 
from table it is candle-light and then we go 
in to tea — have it sent round. We have excel- 
lent tea, but nothing very good to eat with 
it. After that, if we choose, we can play 
whist, chess or [back] gammon, for there are 
always enough to make up a party. I gen- 
erally return to my own room till the girls 
tease me so to go visiting in some of the other 

I think I told you we were to dine at Mrs. 
Monroe's ' the day before yesterday. We had 

■ James Monroe was then Secretary of State. 


there the most stylish dinner I have been at. 
The table wider than we have, and in the mid- 
dle a large, perhaps silver, waiter, with images 
like some Aunt Silsbee has, only more of them, 
and vases filled with flowers, which made a 
very showy appearance as the candles were 
lighted when we went to table. The dishes 
were silver and set round this waiter. The 
plates were handsome china, the forks silver, 
and so heavy I could hardly lift them to my 
mouth, dessert knives silver, and spoons very 
heavy — you would call them clumsy things. 
Mrs. Monroe is a very elegant woman. She 
was dressed in a very fine muslin worked in 
front and lined with pink, and a black velvet 
turban close and spangled. Her daughter, Mrs. 
Hay, a red silk sprigged in colors, white lace 
sleeves and a dozen strings of coral round her 
neck. Her little girl, six years old, dressed 
in plaid. The drawing-room was handsomely 
lighted — transparent lamps I call them; — 
three windows, crimson damask curtains, tables, 
chairs and all the furniture French ; [and] and- 
irons, something entirely new. This would suit 
Aunt Silsbee. 

After breakfast, Pa and the girls have been 
sitting here and we have had a good talk about 
home — wondering if Grandma would come 
on next winter with us and you boys. I think 


she would like to be here very well and live 
just as we do now at a monstrous expense. I 
do not know what we are giving, but gentle- 
men give fifteen dollars per week. We shall 
give more as we have a drawing-room. It 
costs us seven hundred dollars a year to feed 
our horses, — the coachman's wages and board 
over twenty dollars a month. Pa says Grandma 
must not let you eat too much sugar. How 
does the cow do ? Does she give milk ? 

Tell Aunt Priscey nothing I have worn has 
been more complimented than the ruff she 
netted for me. Mrs. Madison was in one morn- 
ing, took hold of it and said she had been 
admiring it; so if she will net me one I will 
present it. She could send it in a letter. I 
wish I had some of the old net Van Dykes. 
Betsey, is yours done, or can you get Priscey 
to lend me hers. She shall have it again next 
summer. It can be sent in a letter, — it would 
not be larger than a newspaper. 

Why does n't Aunt Silsbee write me, or 
Sally ? Almost five weeks from home, and 
no letter from them. Don't tell all my nonsense 
to everybody, only our own folks — for I 
write anything. — Elizabeth reading French, 
but don't try, — her master has no idea how 
much she knows ; — and as to music, she will 
not take a lesson ; so you may expect to see 


Mary very accomplished, for she does her best. 
The EngUsh Admiral has arrived here. It 
seemed like seeing an old acquaintance, for he 
called on us as soon as he arrived. 

Good morning, I hope to have a letter to- 

M. B. C. 


Thursday Mornings December "Jth^ 1815. 

Dear Mother : — 

Just up — the girls still in bed. I 
arose on purpose to write, as it is some days 
since I wrote you. I received Betsey's letter 
yesterday, written on Thanksgiving. She says 
you had unpleasant weather on that day. Here 
it was almost a summer's day. It gives me the 
greatest pleasure to hear you are all so well and 
the children so good. How I long to see them 
and the dear babe. I feel more contented than 
I expected, but I shall never wish to live here. 
[Shall be] glad to get home again ; however, 
as I am here, will stay to see the winter out. 

Ball to-night. Last eve I went to the draw- 
ing-room. We were not crowded, but one 
room well filled ; — all much dressed, but their 
new dresses saved for this eve. Mrs. Madi- 
son's is a sky-blue striped velvet, — a frock, — 
fine elegant lace round the neck and lace hand- 
kerchief inside and a lace ruff, white lace tur- 
ban starred in gold, and white feather. Clothes 
so long that stockings or shoes are not seen, 
but white shoes are generally worn. Mrs. Dal- 


las' a dark green velvettrimmed with a lace foot- 
ing half a quarter wide. It was beautiful lace, 
but did not look well on so dark a color — a 
green and white turban helmet front and green 
feathers waving over. Several black velvets, 
crepes, brocades, satins ; — any one who has 
tolerable hair does not care to cover it up, — 
the object is to look as young as you can. 
The folks here in the house say I must dress 
my hair, not cover it up, so last eve it was 
combed up as high on the top as I could get 
it, braided, and a bunch of flowers pinned in 
with one of my best ornaments — the green 
and gold one. In the evening Mrs. Madison 
said, " Oh, Mrs. C, your butterfly is too much 
hidden." I asked what she meant. She re- 
plied, " that elegant ornament in your hair — 
it is superb indeed." I imagine she took a lik- 
ing to it, for she had little neat ornaments — 
emeralds set in gold. I had on my plain mus- 
lin trimmed with lace over white satin. The 
newest fashion to make a gown is like my 
English ones that go down in a peak before 
and behind. L have just brought in a pretty 
white silk one that is made in that way, but 
I have no pretty trimming for it, so think of 

' Wife of Alexander James Dallas, Secretary of the 


preparing my gold muslin for this eve ; as I 
got in Philadelphia a beautiful gold trimming 
for that and we do not have many balls here 
— perhaps not one again till Washington's 
birth-night. I am so sorry I did not take on 
my feathers, for I have to give nine dollars for 
tvv^o to wear this eve. You cannot get the 
most ordinary headdress for less than eight, up 
to fifteen dollars, and you must have a new one 
almost every time you go into company, so I 
save much expense by not wearing turbans. 

The gentlemen last eve did not sit to take 
their tea ; those in uniform had their chapeaux 
under their arms, but others had on hats. 
Richard Derby ' was there. His wife was not 
well enough [to be there]. He did not choose 
to recollect me ' till [we were at] table, then 
said, " I forget Mrs. C. — are you married or 
not .? " — " NOT." Sol heard no more of 
him. He sang and ladies played on the piano. 
There were three rooms open, so we walked 
through and through as the company chose. 
We had tea and coffee on* a small waiter, with 
four plates and a little confectionery ; cake, 
one little frosted cake, fluted. After [wards] 
we had punch, wine, etc., sent round a num- 
ber of times. Ice-cream, put in a silver dish, 

' Richard Derby was Mr. Crowninshield's cousin. 


and a large cake — not good — on the same 
waiter ; and saucers instead of plates, — very 
common ones, like your old china cup, — all 
put on the same one waiter. Then came in an- 
other with grapes and little cakes. We returned 
about nine. 

The girls are very unwilling I should go 
to-night, as all in the house [are going], Mrs. 
Willson and her daughters, and they think it 
will be so lonesome with only Sophia. I tell 
them I will buy them some molasses and they 
can make candy. That suits Mary but don't 
satisfy Elizabeth. Mary is not well, — a sore 
throat and cold, but is up and playing about. 
Their French master is here. Miss Sarah, 
Mrs. Willson's daughter, is a very fine woma,n. 
She is going to dress my head — has taste and 
is very kind — far superior to any of the fam- 
ily. Mrs. Jackson ' wears a white lace dress. 
Mrs. Porter a black crepe bugled a quarter of 
a yard high. I have not seen it — she has 
been fixing it. She always dresses in black, 
and her little sister about fifteen and her cou- 
sin. Miss Beal. The young girls would look 
much prettier in colors. I can't find that they 
wear it for any friend. 

It is raining fast — the roads will be bad to- 

' Wife of General Andrew Jackson. 

night and the moon will be down. Tell Mrs. 
Dodge Sophia is well — she cannot write to- 
day but will soon. She must write to her and 
enclose it in one of yours. I wish you would 
ask Aunt Sally about the blue velvet. I have 
left the red in my trunk. I don't think it will 
be too much for a dress ; — but I forget how 
many yards I left, — and you send it by Judge 
Story.' First ask him if he can put it in his 
trunk, for it will not do to send it in a bun- 
dle ; but he will not come till the last of Jan- 
uary — perhaps you may hear of some oppor- 
tunity sooner. 

Well I am in a dreadful hurry — have my 
muslin to make over and hair to curl. Tell 
Mrs. Rogers "^ that I will write her very soon. 
Tell Priscey no letter yet. Say everything to 
the children — that I love them dearly. 

Adieu — your affectionate daughter 

M. B. C. 

I hope you won't give out — don't run home 
till I return. 

" Joseph Story, at that time an Associate Justice of the 
United States Supreme Court. 

' Mrs. Rogers was the mother of Richard S. Rogers, 
who afterwards married Sally Crowninshield, Mr. Crown- 
inshield's niece. 


IVashington, December 24, 18 15- 

Dear Mother : — 

It has been a most delightful day — . 
almost summer — ^you don't have such weather 
with you. The Jacksons are gone — set out 
about eleven. The house was crowded with 
folks to bid them good-bye. The General sent 
twice this morning to G. Town to get our girls 
some little ornament from the jewelers; but 
no shops open, so could not get anything. It 
was so rainy yesterday he could not go out. He 
gave Elizabeth his inkstand and I write this 
letter with his pen and ink, Mrs. J., little An- 
drew and black Hannah in the carriage, and four 
horses. The General mounted on sweet Sally, 
and his servant on horseback by the side of his 
carriage; — then followed Betty, Mr. Donaldson 
and his servant ; Mayor Reid ' and his servant ; 
the hostler, — all on horseback, — and two spare 
horses ; — they made quite a dash. I feel it a 
great loss to have them gone. We set off soon 

' This probably refers to Jacob Read of South Carolina. 
He served in the Revolution as Major of South Carolina 

after for church in Congress Hall. It was much 
crowded. The Chaplain of the Senate preached, 
a Mr. Glandi. He was very liberal, but his 
manner very different from what we are ac- 
customed to. He had a glass of water handed 
him and kept it on his desk, — drank very often. 
Our girls wanted some, it was so warm, and yet 
they wore white gowns and the new cape I 
made them yesterday. After meeting we called 
at Mr. Dallas's — not at home; at Mr. Dexter's' 
— he was not at home, but his wife and daugh- 
ter received us very agreeably. They live at a 
very small house — take the whole and say they 
find it very lonesome ; — no such sociable 
evening visits as we have in New England. 
They were so glad to see us and I should have 
stayed longer, but other company called in. 
Called — when we got almost home — at Mrs. 
Pleasenton's, — at home, and a pretty room 
furnished with scarlet woolen furniture. Then 
at Col. Lear's, but did not get out, as Mrs. Lear 
was not at home. Mr. C. went in and we pro- 
mised to pass a sociable evening there soon. At 
our own door was Mr. Crawford's '' carriage — 
the driver's seat just even with the top of the 
carriage, but the horses very ordinary. They 

' Samuel Dexter, ex-Senator from Massachusetts and 
Secretary of War under President Adams. 

^ William Harris Crawford, then President of the Senate. 

came in with us. He is a very agreeable man. 
His wife says but little — dressed in a light 
green pelisse with bonnet. 

Christmas morn. It seems more like our 
Independence — guns firing all night. I am 
going to the Catholic church — it is their great 
day. Last eve we passed at the President's, — 
took the girls with us. Found several gentle- 
men there and a young lady from Kentucky 
who is come to make a visit there. She had 
the parrot brought in for the girls, and he ran 
after Mary to catch her feet. She screamed 
and jumped into a chair and pulled hold of 
Mrs. Madison. We had quite a frolic there, 
returning soon after eight. Tea was brought 
in after we went. Mary has gone there again 
this morning to know what time she wishes to 
go to church, as she invited us to go with her. 
[We are] to set out at the same time, for we 
must ride. 

It was rather lonesome at home. Mrs. Por- 
ter and family dined at her Uncle's and many 
of our gentlemen dined out. At dark Mrs. 
Madison called in and passed part of the eve. 
She is very sociable and agreeable when alone 
with her. Our tea was sent in but she never 
takes tea. Mrs. Chapel and Mr. Porter came 
in soon after and we had quite a pleasant party. 
This was in my own parlour. Soon after Gen. 

Ripley' called in — he has just arrived and tells 
us the weather is very mild w^ith you for win- 
ter. He puts up here and is a very agreeable 

I have had the mantua-maker here, for she 
did jiot make my gown to suit me, but she 
will fix it right now. I would have you take 
off as much of the red velvet as there is over 
of the blue, for it will always be useful for 
trimming, and you must first send to Judge 
Story and know if he will bring it to me, for 
if he cannot you need not exchange it at pre- 
sent. I hope you have bought some logs, for 
you must want some. I know the wood was 
split up too much, but Mr. C. thinks not. 

The Assemblies begin this week in the city ; 
suppose I shall go if everybody goes, but it is 
too hard work to fix dresses so often, — for to- 
morrow eve is the drawing-room again, and I 
shall sometimes have to go to George Town 
as we have been invited ; so we go on. I shall 
begin to be tired soon and want to go home. 
I have quite a cold in my head to-day — shall 
not go out. The girls are going to take a walk 
with Sophia. It is a fine day, but rather cold. 
The children I hope are well. Tell Francis I 
cannot believe he gets fifteen verses ; does he 

' General Eleazar Ripley, a very gallant soldier of the 
War of i8i2. 

remember how he used to plague me last sum- 
mer and would not get his Sunday lesson ? I 
am delighted to hear such good things of him ; 
and George got a new book and read in a tes- 
tament, and Benjamin is good ; — well, I wish 
you had the girls if you could make them bet- 
ter, for they are not half so good as they ought 
to be. I wish I could send the boys something 
for New Year's gifts, but you must get some- 
thing for them — such good boys must have 
pretty things. And how is little Kiddy, doesn't 
she want something ? Tell them I wish them 
a happy New Year. Sally has not written 
lately, nor yet Mrs. S., nor Mrs. Rogers, and as 
to Priscey, she does n't intend writing. Well, 
goodbye ; I must go to work. I believe I am 
the only one who works here excepting Mrs. 
Porter. The girls are plaguing me to death. 
I wish I had sent them to school. 

M. B. C. 
Com. Tingey ' has just been to invite us to 
dine on Thursday with him. They always 
have high times there. Mrs. Dallas has been 
here almost an hour with Miss Patterson, — a 
very sensible young lady, — and we had a good 
talk. She asked my opinion about her opening 

' Thomas Tingey, British naval officer; entered the 
American Navy during the Revolution, and remained in that 
service until his death, in 1829. 

a drawing-room. It would be so much easier 
for her to have some particular evening in the 
week to receive company than to send out for 
a party, as it would take her servants two or 
three days to give out invitations ; and she 
would prefer much to have a fixed evening, 
and then she would be always ready and her 
friends would be sure to find her at home. 
Two drawing-rooms in a week would keep the 
ladies always at it ; and a ball every week. Oh, 
dear, a new investment this morning, — ele- 
gant ball dresses, millinery, etc. etc. — this 
will set the carriages flying. 


Washington, "January 2, 1816. 

Dear Mother: — 

I believe it is some days since I wrote 
you, but I don't know what has prevented me. 
I grow lazy, I believe. Yesterday was New Year's 
day and we thought of you all. Tell the boys 
we were packing up some little presents for 
them, to send by Mr. Storrow, who has set 
out for Boston, but will be a long time going 
on, perhaps three weeks; but he has promised 
to send the package safe to Salem. I wrote by 
him to little Sally. He has two nieces at Mrs. 
Brenton's ; — he has been here longer than 
we have and I felt sorry to part with him; 
he is a very agreeable young man. I sent in 
the bundle a ruff that is much worn here — 
it is only made for a pattern, but perhaps 
nothing new. They sell them here worked 
at the edge with a scollop, or peaked, with a 
pink ribbon through the collar, for 30 dollars. 
Sometimes the ruffles are plaited. I made this 
by Mrs. Porter's, made of plain muslin with 
edging. I have not made the ruffles at top 
full or wide enough, for it was made in a great 
hurry. Betsey must show it to Aunt Silsbee. 

Yesterday I was at the President's levee. 
Mary went with us, but Elizabeth would not 
go. Such a crowd I never was in. It took us ten 
minutes to push and shove ourselves through 
the dining-room; at the upper part of it stood 
the President and his lady, all standing — and a 
continual moving in and out. Two other small 
parlours open and all full — likewise the entry. 
In every room was a table with wine, punch, 
and cakes, and the servants squeezing through 
with waiters for those who could not get to 
the table. Some of the ladies were dressed very 
elegantly, beautiful bonnets and pelisses, shawls, 
etc. Mrs. Madison was dressed in a yellow 
satin embroidered all over with sprigs of but- 
terflies, not two alike in the dress ; a narrow 
border in all colors ; made high in the neck ; a 
little cape, long sleeves, and a white bonnet with 
feathers. Mrs. Baldwin, a sister of Mrs. Bar- 
low,' was dressed first in a pretty white gown, 
high and much ruffled, the ruffles worked, 
which is thought handsomer than lace, and 
over it a scarlet merino dress made short above 
the ruffles of her gown, crossed before and be- 
hind about the waist, and short sleeves; itlooked 
very tasty, trimmed with merino trimming with 
fringe; a black velvet hat turned up in front, 

' Widow of Joel Barlow of Kalorama. 

with a large bunch of black feathers. Mrs. 
Clay,' a white merino dress with a deep bor- 
der and a shawl to match. Mrs. Brown/ an 
orange dress of the same kind. Mrs. Decatur,^ 
a blue lustre trimmed with satin ribbon high 
like a pelisse, a white hat turned up in front. 
Mrs. Dallas, a light pelisse trimmed round with 
velvet the same color. Her daughter, who had 
just arrived from Philadelphia, a brown merino 
pelisse trimmed with a rich trimming all colors. 
Matilda, a very young girl, a scarlet merino, 
a blue hat with a large blue and white feather. 
In short, the greatest variety of dresses, for all 
the ladies in the city were there ; — began to 
go at one o'clock. At three it was all over and 
done. I was disappointed in my pelisse. First 
it was made too short — it was then pieced 
down and the border quilted; it really looked 
handsomer, but she charged me ten dollars 
more than she engaged to make it for, so I 
sent it back. I ought to go out to-day and get 
another, or I shall not have one till spring. 

Com. Decatur and his family arrived on Sat- 
urday eve. I have heard much of this lady. She 
looks much as Mrs. Colton used to, and is cer- 

• Wife of Henry Clay. 

' Wife of General Jacob Brown. General Brown was 
then Commander-in-chief of the United States Army. 
3 Wife of Commodore Stephen Decatur. 

tainly very agreeable. She passed all yesterday 

afternoon with me — I like her much, a 

very sensible woman. 

You have dined, and [are] sitting comfortably 
round the fire, — boys fixing to go to school. 
Little Ann is up I know, for I hope by this 
time she has regular naps. It is past one, but 
it seems as though we hajl just done breakfast. 
Here sits Mary working a ruff, — finds it diffi- 
cult and is out of patience. Elizabeth doing 
the same in the bedchamber with Sophia, who 
is making a lace and cord trimming for my 
gown. To-morrow evening is dance night. 
Thursday we are invited to dine at the Presi- 
dent's. Friday eve we are engaged to Mr. 
Dallas, to a large party. My dresses have been 
almost worn through twice; I must get a new 
recruit soon. 

I am worried about the children having the 
measles ; Betsey says you think that the boys 
have had them, but they have not, Elizabeth 
and Mary had them, but the boys did not. Do 
take good care that they do not get cold if they 
take the disorder. Sally's children got through 
nicely, and I hope ours will, for I should prefer 
they should have them when young, but should 
wish to be with them. 

Mrs. Decatur and others wonder I do not let 
the girls wear black silk aprons ; they would look 

so pretty with their scarlet gowns. They are 
worn much in New York, — I saw a great many 
in Philadelphia, and Mrs. Jackson said the grown 
ladies as well as children wore them in New Or- 
leans ; so I wish Betsey would cut each of them 
one out of their black gowns, put a waist to 
them like their old ones left at home trimmed 
with blue ; and have you not some old black 
fringe or narrow lace [with which] to trim 
them ? She need not make them, and if you 
could fold them small and send one at a time 
in a letter — if not, send them with the velvet. 
Send a little piece for shoulder straps, for you 
can't think how much I miss my old bundles. 
The girls dirty their white aprons very soon, 
and the woman takes our clothes on Monday 
morn and we do not get them again till Satur- 
day or Sunday. Give seven dollars a month. 
Sophia sometimes washes little things, but not 
often, as it is almost impossible here with such 
a house full. 

How I long to see you all. Two months 
gone — a third part of the time. What joy to 
meet again. I did wrong to take the girls — 
they would be better at home to go regularly to 
school ; they have here so much idle time it 
makes them cross, and my time is all taken up 
visiting and preparing to visit. I am afraid they 
will forget all they have learned. I have some 

thought of sending them to school here, but 
they don't want to go. They have been teasing 
me all the morning to ride, but it is not pleasant 
— looks like rain ; the ground is covered with 
snow and has been since Saturday. I think you 
must have had a good snowstorm with you. I 
hope to have a letter to-day. I wish you would 
look at my new knives in the sideboard. I am 
afraid they will rust. Aunt Silsbee says it is best 
to wrap them in flannel, and the others may want 
looking at. I should admire to just peep round 
a little, [but I] don't get homesick. How does 
Mrs. Brooks do ? Has she got out yet ? Tell 
Priscey I thank her for all her letters. Tell Aunt 
Sally to write often. Mr. C. thinks she writes 
better than any one. 

M. B. C. 


Washington, January i6, 1816. 

Dear Mother : — 

The letter I sent yesterday had been 
written several days — it was too late for the 
mail on Saturday, and Sunday no letters go from 
Mr. C.'s office. I mention this that you may 
not think any letter is missing. I yesterday re- 
ceived Priscey's letter and was gratified that she 
condescended to let us know she thought there 
were such beings in existence. Tell her I will 
write her soon when I have something pretty 
to tell. 

It was planned just now at breakfast for me 
to go with Mrs. Chappell to Capitol Hill, make 
calls, and then go to the House of Representa- 
tives. We wanted the girls to go, as it is ex- 
pected several will speak ; but it is now raining 
and we are quite disappointed, but if it should 
be pleasant in an hour we shall go. It is fine 
sleighing — better than ever was known here 
for so long a time. There is a level snow, but 
not such good banks as you have. This rain 
will make horrid going. 

How are the children .? It will soon be Ben- 

jamin's birthday — on the 26th. Don't for- 
get it ; he will be eight years old and I hope a 
better boy than he was when he was seven. 

All the ladies have new caps. They will not 
believe that I let my children go without caps 
this cold weather. I called on a lady late on 
Saturday. She told me she had two children 
with her, the youngest about ten months. She 
told me what a beautiful boy he was. On Mon- 
day morning I heard this babe was dead with 
the croup. This disorder prevails here in the 
winter with young children. I can't but think 
how glad I am mine are at home. I have fre- 
quently wished I had her with me ; I can't bear 
to think she is growing so fast and I not witness- 
ing her improvement — but she is better off at 

Yesterday was a clear cold day. I was at 
home making the girls new bombasets ; their 
red ones are worn out. They sometimes put 
on white, which is not a day's wear. I have not 
been able to get them stockings, — the other 
day I found some cotton ones at a store, but they 
want clean ones every day. I continue to like 
Mrs. Decatur. She says she must adopt Mary, 
for it is thought here that she resembles her 
very much, — just such a dimple. The Com'r 
says, "Mary, I must have you." Mary has been 
so gay lately, she astonishes every one. Sunday 


eve she had one of her high times. No whoa to 
her. Mrs. Chappell says, " Oh, Mrs. C, what 
a time you will have with her when she is 
eighteen ! " She thinks Elizabeth one of the 
sweetest children she ever saw, — wants her 
little Eugenia to be just like her. I tell this to 
please Grandma. 

I have no engagements at present. The ladies 
here who are inhabitants do not give any par- 
ties, — it is a continual succession of morning 
calls, — never are offered anything to eat or 
drink. Mrs. Todd ' and Miss Inis ' called yes- 
terday morning, — I had not seen them for 
some time. Begged I would be at the drawing- 
room on Wednesday, not send an excuse again. 
[I said] I might be taken for a piece of furniture, 
I was there so often, although last week Mr. 
C. went without me. The first thing Mrs. Todd 
does on her coming in is to take from the shelf 
a tin box of snuff and pass it round. I keep this 
box handy as all the ladies take snuff, but I have 
not got in the fashion yet, nor I don't mean to 
learn any bad habits. The rain continues, so 
I shall not go to-day. I am glad you have 
bought pork and wish I had some of the scraps ; 
are they good ? We have no such things here. 

' Wife of Thomas Todd of Virginia. 
^ Probably the daughter of Harry" Inis, jurist ; married 
John J. Crittenden. 

I was asking Mrs. CRappell how many hams 
she thought I put up ; — she said, if a large fam- 
ily, she supposed three hundred. She generally 
had that number. Laughed very much when I 
told her only four single legs, for here at the 
South they eat ham morning, noon and night. 
Good day. 

M. B. C. 


IVashington, "January 19, 18 16. 

Dear Mother : — 

It is Saturday, and if I do not write 
a few lines to-day, it will seem a long time to 
you, as I cannot send conveniently a letter on 
Sunday. It is now two o'clock and I have just 
returned from George Town. Have been shop- 
ping all the morning with the girls. Bought 
them new rings with which they are much de- 
lighted. I am now waiting with my things on 
for Mrs. Decatur to get home, to go out with 
her to make several morning visits, although it 
is past two o'clock. 

I feel anxious to hear how the children are, 
— if the boys have the measles. I really hope 
they will have it, and do not let them get cold. 
How will the babe have it ? is she not too 
young ? Sometimes I feel like flying, I want 
to see the children so bad, as they say here ; but 
if all continues well, I shall not return till 
spring. The going now must be dreadful. Our 
sleighing here is all gone. 

Com'r Chauncey ' came here last eve. He 

' Commodore Isaac Chauncey of the American Navy. 

S^el; M-3 

says the travelling is very bad since the rain. We 
go out every pleasant day — to ride ; the two 
last days we have been to the Senate and House 
of Representatives, but it was so crowded and 
so very warm, the girls begged to come away ; 
not very good speaking. We made several 
morning visits. Mrs. Monroe and Miss King 
have just been to see us. Almost three, so I 
think it will be too late to go out with Mrs. 
Decatur, and she is not come yet. 

I hope Mr. Story will bring the velvet. How 
I want a new dress. But there is no visiting. 
Mrs. Dallas's is the only party we have had. I 
don't mean to go to another assembly. I wish 
I could have a party, but it is impossible in this 
house, for I must invite all the boarders, and, 
what would be worse, Mrs. Willson and her 
daughters ; but this I would not do. However, 
it is not expected that I should. There are many 
strangers here, — foreigners from every nation. 

Tell Aunt Silsbee I have met DashkofF de 
Kantson,' Don de Onis, and many more hard 
names. I was introduced to many at the Presi- 
dent's last levee, but don't tell everybody this 
silly stuff. There is a fine painter ^ here, — the 

' Russian Minister at Washington. Not long after this 
he was disgraced ; was dismissed by request of Secretary 
Monroe, and finally was exiled to Siberia. 

^ John Vanderlyn. 

one who took W. Rogers's likeness in France. 
He is taking Mr. Monroe's family and the 
President's. We talk of having ours done. Mr. 
C. is now sitting, but he can't stay long enough 
to take mine. Those he is now doing are ex- 
cellent likenesses. I cannot write another word. 
I have received the black silk and expect a let- 
ter to-day. Remember me to the children. 

M. B. C. 


IVashington, January 28, 1 81 6. 

Dear Mother: — 

It is Sunday, but we are none of us at 
meeting. I did not want to go to the Capitol. 
I don't like the minister who preaches to-day. 
We have a Baptist [church] very near, and the 
minister is a very good man. I wanted to go, 
but it is not far enough to ride, and the walking 
is bad, so I have stayed at home. 

Mr. C. has gone to the President's to see the 
painter who is taking his likeness. He sits for it 
at Mr. Monroe's, as we had no convenient room 
for him at this house, and he stays there, and has 
all his apparatus. Here are the girls with a plate 
of crackers, cheese and grape jelly for a luncheon, 
but are quarreling who shall have the most and 
are hardly willing I should take any. I wish they 
were at a good school. Do tell Mrs. Rogers she 
must take them when they return. They are 
improving in their French and music since we 
have had the piano. Their French master is an 
old man, and so good-natured and pleasant that 
the girls have become quite pleased with him. 
He says Mary reads French best when she is a 

little cross, and is more agreeable to him, and he 
tries to coax her up : — " Why, Miss, you are 
one of my best scholars. You are so young, you 
do read French very well." The music master 
tells the Misses C's they will be great belles, — 
but Miss Elizabeth is told of it too much, that 
she is very handsome. This is only to please 
Grandma,. — don't tell of it, for I really don't 
think either will be very handsome. If they are 
only good [that] is all I want. 

Mr. C. has returned, — says Mrs. Monroe is 
quite sick to-day, — she is n ot up . She often has 
the rheumatism, but now has a cold. I have not 
been out to see any one since the levee, so have 
no news to tell. Great talks here of who is to 
be the next President, but I really hope it will 
be Mr. Monroe, — he is a very good man and 
deserves it. Some think Mr. Crawford stands 
some chance, but he has not been long enough 
in the Cabinet. I don't know what his wife 
would do, for she dislikes so much to go into 
company and appears there to no advantage ; is 
a good woman I have no doubt. 

Just had a call from two young ladies — very 
pretty — introduced by their brother who is a 
clerk in Mr. C's office. They were dressed in 
white cambric high in the neck, ruffled round, 
merino shawl, both alike, and very pretty white 
satin bonnets. Stayed about three minutes. Here 

are the girls laughing in quite a frolic. Pa says, 
" Done, done, Mary ; " but she won't be still. It 
is almost two o'clock and I want my dinner, but 
it will not be ready this long while. We pretend 
to dine earlier on Sundays, but we do not. Mary 
had been writing to the boys, but Elizabeth is 
too lazy to write. I long to see Judge Story, — 
he will be here this week, I hope. I begin to 
think of home and I wish I could be there for a 
minute and see you all. So Benjamin is learning 
his piece, and will be willing to speak it often at 
home. He must send us word what it is. And 
how does Francis come on ? I am glad to hear 
he gets his Sunday lesson so easily ; and George, 
don't you want to begin your Latin grammar ? I 
would get a little lesson every day if I were you ; 
— come, I would try, for you are almost as old 
as Francis was when he began. 

Give my love to Aunt Sally C. Tell her she 
might write me. Here is the man to take the 
letters, so good bye. Past three — no table set. 

M. B. C. 


Thursday Morning, 
Washington, February I, i8i6. 

Dear Mother : — 

Here is Mary taking her French les- 
son, and is so cross I wonder her master puts 
up with it ; but he says so frequently, " Oh, I 
love to see her so, she speaks French so much 
better." Elizabeth is reading and her Pa look- 
ing over letters. It is ten and we have just 
come from breakfast. I arose earlier this morn- 
ing to mend the girls' gowns. The bottoms of 
the sleeves were worn out. Mary put on her 
new one yesterday, but she dirted it so much 
I won't let her wear it any more, for she must 
keep a best one. How do you make out with 
the boys' clothes ? Do they want new ones ? 
Does Francis wear his knees out as fast as he 
did ? I think you must have got George new 
clothes, — I long to see him with his trousers. 
I suppose he despises frocks and trousers. Has 
he begun his Latin ? I don't want him plagued 
much about it, but should think he might 
get a few lines. It is three months since I left 
you all. In three more I expect to see you 
all again. How often we talk of going home. 

[Do you] think you will know us ? George, 
do you remember how we looked ? I wish you 
could see Mary, she is crying and scolding the 
poor French master. I wonder he don't flog 
her. You are never so bad, I hope, boys. How 
I shall delight in seeing three good boys. I 
wish I could exchange you for the girls. Does 
little Ann grow prettier, for Grandma says she 
is not handsome. Does she love to look at the 
candle yet ? Kiss her a hundred times for me. 

We dine out to-day, at Mr. Jones's;' — I 
have never seen them and wish I was not go- 
ing, as the ladies in the house are not going, — 
I expect to meet only strangers ; — this is not 
pleasant. I have quite a headache to-day. 
Mrs. Madison has been sick since Sunday — 
bilious colic. I have seen her once since, and 
she left her chamber to meet a party in her 
drawing-room who dined there, but she could 
not go to table and has been more unwell 
since — had no levee last evening. 

For several days I have been making morn- 
ing visits with Mrs. Decatur. Tuesday morn- 
ing called on fifteen — only two at home. 
Mrs. Crawford was at home making up her 
window curtains, — one green curtain drawn 
on one side, — yellow drapery trimmed with 

' William Jones, ex-Secretary of the Navy. 

handsome silk fringe ; only two windows in 
the room, — pretty French chairs, — mahog- 
any backs and bottoms stuffed, covered with 
striped rich blue silk, some with arms ; carpet 
blue ground, crossed with rich yellow flowers ; 
an elegant pianoforte. I do not recollect any- 
thing else. Met there half dozen ladies. Stayed 
ten minutes. But Mrs. Crawford has never be- 
fore been from the country, — seldom looks neat. 
I have never seen her children ; they say they 
are fine looking children, but dressed dreadfully. 
They are about the age of mine, and the same 
number. And yet it is thought here she will 
succeed Mrs. Madison — what a change this 
will be ! — but I still hope Mr. Monroe will be 
the next President. 

Elizabeth wants my pen, so good morning. 

M. B. C. 


Washington, i6th February, 1816. 

We have received no letter from 
home since last Saturday. I hope you are not 
sick. Perhaps the babe has the measles and 
you will not let me know it till she is well 
again. I dreamed last night of seeing her — 
she was so fat but not very pretty. She let me 
take her but would go to no one else. Seemed 
not to think me a stranger, which will not 
happen if I ever do see her, for she won't let 
me touch her. Do take good care of her till 
I get home, which will be in May I think, for 
we begin to talk of it. We are very much 
urged to take a house but we should have to 
build one for there is not a vacant house in the 
city. Com'r Porter has been round this week 
to find one. His wife is going home soon to pack 
up her things to move on, and Com. Decatur 
is determined on taking a house here. Mrs. 
Decatur is going soon to Norfolk to see her 
father. She has not seen him for two years, 
and she is his only child ; and she will pack 
up and send on her furniture and come herself 
about the time we shall be going home. 


The girls are going to a dancing party this 
evening and we are going to Mrs. Cutts's.' She 
invited me to pass a sociable eve, but I hear 
everybody is also invited, but she don't wish to 
have it called a party. We have an invitation 
to dine on Tuesday at Gen. Van Ness's ^ ; sup- 
pose I shall go, — they are some of the smart- 
est folks here. 

I was at the drawing room on Wednesday — 
expected to be the only one, as there were so 
many the last Levee, and there was another 
party on the same eve. Soon after I got in 
Mrs. Madison said how much we think alike 
— both with a little blue and flowers. I had 
on my blue velvet, and flowers on my head. 
Mrs. Madison a muslin dotted in silver over 
blue — a beautiful blue turban and feathers. I 
have never seen her look so well. There was 
a lady there I had never seen — monstrous large, 
dressed in a plain muslin, not even a piece of 
lace about the neck — just like a little girl's 
frock. Neck bare, a pink turban with a black 
feather. All the gentlemen thought her very 
handsome, but Miss Randolph is the most 
admired, — not pretty but very accomplished. 
Her grandfather, Mr. Jefferson, has taken much 

' A sister of Mrs. Madison, wife of the Honorable 
Richards Cutts of Maine. 

' John Van Ness, Mayor of Washington. 

pains in educating her. I can never get a 
chance to speak to her, she is so surrounded 
by gentlemen — for here there are half a dozen 
gentlemen to one young lady. 

Tell the boys we often talk of them and 
would give I don't know how much to see 
them. Mr. Porter who went from here some 
time since promised to call on you. He was 
on here and lived with us two months. He is 
a cousin of William Woodbridge, who plays 
with out boys. I forgot to mention it before 
and suppose you have seen him by this time. 
Just had a call from Mrs. Telfair ' from Georgia, 
and a strange gentleman with her. 

It is now three o'clock. Another call from 
Mrs. Monroe, our next door neighbor — a very 
large woman. She had on a white wrapper 
gown, a black lace cap, a pretty worked cap 
tied with yellow ribbon. Miss King, her niece, 
in white, a merino shawl, black straw with 
feathers. She is very pretty, — reminded me 
of our Hannah Hodges.* Tell Sally this letter 
is to her too, — I neglect her more than any one, 
but it is because she will forgive me, knowing 
I don't intend it, — for I have not much time 
to write, and yet I have if I would; — can you 
understand this? Tell the boys to tell Mrs. 

" Wife of Thomas Telfair, Congressman from Georgia. 
' A cousin of Mrs. Crowainshield. 

Rogers I received her letter and will write her 
soon. She is very good to have the children so 
often. Good bye — 

M. B. C. 


TVashington, February 24, 1816. 

Dear Mother : — 

I have forgotten to number my last 
letter, but I am inclined to think you get all. 
We have had quite a dissipated week. You can 
have no idea of the great crowd at the ball. 
The hall was as full as it could possibly be. 
They danced cotillions, but you could only see 
the heads. We stood up on the benches. I was 
afraid to move about much lest I should lose 
the girls. Mrs. Chappell took care of Mary. 
Finally the heat was so great, I moved on for 
the bottom of the hall, but was half an hour 
getting there. After taking some refreshment, 
one of the managers said there was a parlor 
opened below for the ladies who wished to go, 
so I took the girls down. It was more pleasant 
there. From this room we went to the supper 
table. The managers appoint gentlemen to wait 
on the ladies, and take their seats according to 
their rank. Mrs. Madison headed the table, Mrs. 
Brown on her right, Mrs. Dallas on the left, 
then came my turn. Gen. Brown was my gal- 
lant. My dress got entangled in his spurs and 

I fell over his sword going upstairs, but arrived 
safe at the table, w^hich w^as very large, but not 
one quarter could come to table ; indeed, half 
of the company did not get anything. The 
girls fared very w^ell. Don't, dear, tell every- 
body what I write — it might be thought van- 
ity for me to tell who waited on me or where 
my seat was at table, so don't say I wrote it. 
Mrs. Madison, dressed in black velvet trimmed 
with gold [and] a worked lace turban in gold, 
looked brilliant, — a lace and gold kind of a 
something over her shoulders. The greatest 
variety of dresses as to colors and materials, but 
nothing entirely new. We came home some of 
the first. I bought the girls new white kid 
shoes. Gave five dollars for both, and new 
gloves, but such sights when they got home, — 
so dirty, and yet they did not dance. 

Yesterday was delightful weather. I rode 
out. Mrs. Decatur went with me to make calls, 
— first on General Brown's lady. They have 
just arrived in the city. Then we went to the 
hill to call on Mrs. Dexter. There we found 
the Brown party and went with them to the 
Navy Yard to see the monument and the ruins. 
Heard good music. Returned and walked the 
pavement till dinner time. It is paved in front 
of the seven buildings, so we go out of our 
houses, and sometimes we muster a large party 

if it is pleasant. Mrs. Madison and Mrs. Todd 
on one side and Mrs. Monroe's family on the 
other, and the ladies of our family, and we 
can always find gentlemen. They sit in the 
doorway reading papers, and yesterday was so 
warm I sat here a long while with the win- 
dow up, but it is colder to-day. Last eve I was 
at Mrs. Monroe's our neighbor — quite a large 
party, but I was only invited to pass a sociable 
eve. We played loo and I won — I am afraid 
to say how much, but shall give it to the or- 
phan asylum. I am going this morning to carry 
my winnings to Mrs. Madison. 

Well, how do you all do ? I have written so 
far without mentioning home. Tell the chil- 
dren I long to see them. I am delighted to 
hear the boys are so good, and when you have 
company too ; — quite a party I think — do 
have another. Here is Elizabeth playing away 
on the piano, but can you believe she does n't 
play so well as Mary } — but it is true. The 
ladies here think they improve very fast. I 
cannot write any more and I have told you all. 
Will write Sally soon. Let her see this letter. 

M. B. G. 


Washington, March, 1816. 

Dear Mother : — 

Well, I have returned from Balti- 
more, which is more than I expected after I 
set out, for such horrid roads I never saw. I 
suffered everything. Stayed one day longer for 
the roads to dry, and they were tolerable when 
we came back. The girls were so glad to see 
me, it seemed like getting home again. Mr. 
Allen, a young gentleman who has boarded 
with us all winter, went with us and showed 
us all about the city. By us I mean Col. Chap- 
pell and his wife. Mr. Smith,' a son of Gen. 
Smith, found us out and was very attentive. 
We told him we should certainly go on Tues- 
day, for we did not want him to invite us to 
his house, but the next day he heard we were 
still there and brought his wife and another 
lady to call on us and invited us to take tea 
and pass the eve ; but we declined going. In 
the eve Mr. Patterson, a brother of Madam 
Bonaparte, called with Miss Carter, his wife's 

' John Spear Smith, son of General Samuel Smith of 


sister, one of the most dashing belles in the 
country. They were going the next day to 
Washington and called to invite us to go with 
them in the stage, but we had engaged pas- 
sages in another and were obliged to take our 
seats. They said they were desirous to get 
here early as they wished to be at the drawing 
room to see Mr. and Mrs. Bagot.' I arrived 
at sunset, but tired as I was, I dressed for the 

But I first must tell you that on Saturday 
the English minister's carriage drove up to the 
door to call on me. I had been expecting 
them as I saw them go to the President's. I 
did not know how I should make out. He 
came in first and introduced his lady ; — she 
looked elegantly — her hair dressed high, 
braids, and curls, a muslin dress over satin 
trimmed with a thread lace a quarter wide, 
most elegant, and two rows let in in front ; two 
narrow rows of lace round the neck, rather 
high ; no handkerchief, a bead or pearl neck- 
lace, and a gold watch chain round her neck ; 
long sleeves with several rows of gold chain, 
clasped with a large emerald bracelet. The 

' Sir Charles Bagot, second son of William, first Lord 
Bagot, British Minister Plenipotentiary at Washington. 
Later he became Governor - General of British North 


chain was large and perhaps looked clumsy, 
and just above, two rows of beads or pearls, — 
looked more like beads, — a scarlet shawl 
thrown over her shoulders, no bonnet or veil. 
Mr. dressed in uniform ; both very agreeable. 
Gave an account of their voyage — expected 
to be pleased with Washington. Talked all 
the time. I had sent Hanson for Mr. C, but 
he would not come home. Stood just below 
the door with some gentlemen, laughing to 
think how I should make out. Round the door 
a dozen children collected to see the carriage 
and servant so smart. At the drawing room 
they came in late. She was dressed in white, 
a figured lace over satin, very much trimmed 
at the bottom, long sleeves. The short ones 
very full and trimmed below, very close, and 
the same ornaments I had seen before, but 
round her neck diamond necklace, and ear- 
rings. Her hair dressed, a narrow gold band, 
and nine white ostrich feathers. Looked very 
beautiful indeed. Aunt Silsbee would have 
been pleased with this dress. The rooms very 
much crowded and very warm. Even Miss 
Pickering and her brother Henry appeared. 
They could not be there to see the President 
as this was their first appearance. I came away 
very early and this morning my husband went 
with me to call on these new folks. I put on 

a new chip bonnet with flowers, that I bought 
in Baltimore, a plain cambric gown, but only 
left my cards, — not at home. When I re- 
turned, called in to the President's — found 
ladies with Mrs. Madison. They soon went 
away. I sat a long while with her. She is a 
very pleasant woman, — had really a good talk 
with her. 

Mr. and Mrs. Patterson and Miss Carter 
have taken rooms here in this house. They 
were at breakfast, after which I called down 
to see them, but some gentlemen soon came 
in and I was off. They will only stay one 
week — are going this spring to England. 

Com. and Mrs. Decatur are gone. How 
much I miss them. Mrs. Porter calls every 
day — has taken lodgings near us. 

You must let all see this who feel interested 
in hearing about the English minister — Aunt 
Silsbee and Sally, etc., etc. Tell her that Mr. 
C. had his letter, which he wrote to Uncle 
George at New Orleans, sent back in one from 
a gentleman, saying that he had left there for 
New York on his way to Washington ; so we 
are expecting him here, but perhaps he may 
be in Salem. 

Well, how do you all do ? We have not 
had any letter for some days. I could not bear 
to come back when I was at Baltimore. I 

wanted to proceed towards home. Judge Story 
will be home before this reaches you, and I 
hope the boys will be pleased with their pre- 
sents. I saw nothing pretty in Baltimore for 
them. Tell them we talk of them and we 
think of them so often and tell everybody what 
fine boys we have at home, and they must 
love little Ann and kiss her for us all. We 
shall now soon be at home. 
Dinner time. 

M. B. C. 


fVashington, April 6, 1816. 

Dear Mother: — 

It is some days since I have written. 
I have been engaged w^ith Vanderlyn. He has 
now almost finished my portrait,' but I cannot 
as yet say the likeness will be good. The girls 
say, "Oh, Ma, it is too handsome for you." 
But he has not flattered Mr. €.== Mrs. Madi- 
son says it is not half handsome enough for 

Well, how are you all? — I have not heard 
this long while. I hope the children were 
pleased with the bundle Judge Story brought 
them. You will think the box too big, but it 
was the prettiest we could get. I have sent a 
trunk with some clothes that we should not 
want, by Silver, and think I shall put up some 
more to send by him, — he has not sailed yet. 
Hanson bought at Alexandria a barrel of crack- 
ers and some marbles for the boys, to send in 
the vessel. Mary is now teaching Elizabeth a 
tune. We have just breakfasted — past nine. 

' Mrs. Crowninshield's ^orttdit, frontispiece. 
' Mr. Crowninshield's portrait, page 44. 


Mrs. Patterson and Miss Carter left here this 
morning. It is so disagreeable to part with 
those we like, — for certainly they were as fine, 
elegant women as I ever knew, — so amiable 
and agreeable. They dressed elegantly, — had 
the most superb ornaments I have seen here, 
— one comb cost two hundred dollars, — ame- 
thyst set and necklace, earrings and bracelets, 
etc., etc. to match. Mrs. P. told me she spent 
$ 1 200 in two days for jewelry. They are very 
rich — are going this spring to Europe. 

I have not been out for several days. We 
dined at the President's on Tuesday. The din- 
ner very handsome, more so than any I have 
seen, — the heads of departments and all the 
foreign ministers there. Mrs. Bagot dressed in 
a light green Italian crepe, striped with folds of 
white satin about a quarter apart, a roll of satin 
at the bottom with large braids of satin. It 
was shorter than the satin dress under it. It 
stuck out very much at the bottom. Three 
bracelets on one arm, two on the other — all 
different. A string of pearls round her neck, 
— dress very low behind. She has the whitest 
neck I ever saw, for she has black eyes and hair 
and her hair dressed very high ; wreath of red 
roses and purple and white flowers round her 
head, and her hair was above it, — a great wave 
on the top. This for Betsey to improve on. And 

she is a very agreeable lady — is determined to 
be pleased with everything. All the other ladies 
in old dresses. Mrs. King and Mrs. Gore' 
there, — two old ladies. I had not seen them 
before, for they do not visit any in cold weather. 
We dined part of the time by candle light, 
drank coffee in the drawing-room and came 
away immediately — almost nine. 

At the drawing room the next eve Mrs.Bagot 
was dressed superbly — lace dress embroidered 
with gold and a turban of the same. I did not 
go, so cannot tell any more. And this is all 
the news, excepting the Bank Bill has passed 
both Houses, and no doubt the President will 
sign it. 

We have had rain for several days — the roads 
must be very bad and I cannot say when I shall 
be at home, but certainly the last of May, I 
think. Mr. C. says Frank will be home first. 
We were very glad to hear he had arrived safe, 
but I am afraid he will not make much money. 
How glad the boys will be to see Uncle George. 
I long to hear about his getting home. Where 
does he live.? I am sorry he did not come here. 
I think we must have letters to-day. How I 
do long to see the babe. Does she continue as 
good as ever? How we shall plague her when 

' Wife of Christopher Gore, United States Senator from 


she sees us, dear creature! I suppose the boys' 
exhibition is over by this time. Nathaniel sent 
me their pieces and they must not forget them, 
for we will want to hear them when we get 
home, George learns Latin — I can hardly be- 
lieve it. Why, what a great boy he will be. 
I shall not know him in his new clothes. He 
wore frocks when I was at home. Does he 
have a new suit like the boys ? How much they 
will be grown, — for the girls are a great deal 
taller — I have to let out all their tucks. 

I cannot say any more — here is my painter. 
Hope to have a letter. Tell the children I long 
to see them, and Betsy must write me oftener. 

M. B. C. 


To Francis B. Crowninshield, 
Salem, Mass. 

fVashington, April i8, 1816. 

Dear Francis: — 

I wrote yesterday to Grandma on 
purpose to tell her it will be your birthday 
next Tuesday, 23 rd. I was afraid you would 
not remember it, — but I forgot it until after 
I sent the letter. So we will think and talk of 
you on that day. Seven years old — time for 
you to be a very good boy. Do you go to dan- 
cing school ? I think you had better go, if any 
boys go [that] you and Ben know. Go next 
quarter. Don't you sometimes practice your 
steps with Betsey Mead? I am willing Ben 
should go if he wants to. George will go next 
year. Grandma must go with you and tell 
Turner not to scold you too much. And when 
will little Anstiss go? — but I suppose that 
she dances now better than she can walk. Oh, 
how I want to see her. Were you glad to see 
Uncle George ? Does he come to see you often ? 
Tell him he must take you to France with 


him,' Should you Hke to go ? Give my love 
to your brothers and sister and tell Grandma 
we shall be at home soon. The girls are play- 
ing with little George and Benjamin Campbell 
who live here — two very little boys. 

Good bye, dear boy. 

Your affectionate mother, 

M. B. Crowninshield. 

I would write more, but I am dressing to dine 
out and write this in a hurry. 

■ The following winter Mr. George Crowninshield set 
sail for Europe in his yacht, Cleopatra's Barge. 


To Benjamin W. Crowninshield. 
Salem, Mass. 

Steamboat, Chesapeake, Saturday. 

My Dear Husband: — 

We have just passed Com. Porter's 
house. Saw the children run to see the boat 
pass. I held out my white handkerchief in 
vain for Mrs. Porter — could see nothing of 
her. We arrived this morning at French Town 
and took the stage about four o'clock and got 
to New Castle about seven ; had a very cold 
morning ride. We had the stage with Mr. 
and Mrs. Dallas — they continue very polite 
to me. We had the cabin so crowded last 
night we did not get much sleep, although 
we had the best berths. How much we wish 
you were with us. The girls do finely. I filled 
Mary's bag with candy and she is buying nuts 
on board the boat. — " Why, Ma, you know 
this money will not pass after to-day." Eliza- 
beth is not sick, — complained of the headache 
this morning. It was because she did not sleep 
any in the night. 

Mrs. Payson called on me in Baltimore; 


says Shillaber will sail perhaps in a week. He 
has the trunk and box at his house. You will 
see him at Annapolis, for I hope you will go. 
Mr. Dallas will go with him to Mrs. Camp- 
bell's, and he will send out for lodgings for 
us ; — this I shall not like to do, and I cannot 
but hope that Mrs. Meany may be at the 
wharf to receive us. I shall not stop long in 
Philadelphia. To-morrow being Sunday I 
shall see but little, and so I may stay over 
Monday ; but if there is any trouble about 
getting lodgings, I shall go on immediately. 
Saw nothing pretty to buy in Baltimore. Mr. 
King will arrive to-day about the time we 
shall be in Philadelphia. How astonished you 
will be to see him. But we do so well I do not 
feel at all anxious. We shall get home safe — 
you will be glad to hear when we get there. 

Mary gave me a piece of her hard candy 
yesterday and said to tell you I broke a large 
piece of my front tooth. I was quite alarmed, 
but it does not show much. It split from the 
back part, but another hard bite and it is gone. 
I am almost afraid to eat. 

Adieu — I hope we shall get a letter in 

Your affectionate wife, 

M. B. C. 

My best love to Mrs, Madison. Tell her 

she must go to Annapolis ; everybody is going 
from Baltimore, expecting the President to 
be there. Sunday : We arrived in Philadelphia 
yesterday about four o'clock. Went with Mrs. 
Dallas to Mrs. Campbell's. How delighted 
they all were to see their parent again. They 
had dined but got us some dinner. George 
D. went out in pursuit of lodging for us. He 
got us one very near, but when there I was so 
discontented that I sent John to Mr. Meany 
to inquire about Hanson, and when he left [I 
was] in hopes we should be invited there, and 
I was not disappointed. Mrs. M. came imme- 
diately down and would have us go with her 
and we are there [now]. The girls are much 
delighted — the little girls they saw on board 
the steamboat when they came on, are here 
with their Aunt, so they have fine frolics. I 
have been to-day to the Catholic Church — 
far superior to what I saw in Washington. 
Matilda has just been to see me — said when 
I wrote I must send her love to you. I must 
stay one day more here as I can see but little 
on Sunday and the boat goes to-morrow and 
not again till Wednesday, but I feel very im- 
patient to be home. They say I must stay a 
week, but I shall certainly go on Wednesday 
morning, seven o'clock. Good bye. ^ 

M. B. C. 

Mr. M. said he had written you about the 
horse and given Hanson his own, which was 
far better than ours but a good match. 


Philadelphia, May 19, 181 6. 

Dear Mother: — 

We arrived here yesterday in safety. 
We set out from Washington last Thursday 
morning. Mr. King was to accompany us to 
this place, but at Baltimore Mr. Pinkney' told 
him he would not have time, as they would sail 
in a few days, and he was going with him to 
Naples. I was quite distressed, for I had stayed 
there one day on his account. Mr. and Mrs. 
Dallas were at the same house with us and they 
concluded to take the steamboat with us and 
send on their carriage. We had a pleasant pas- 
sage. Set out at five o'clock, sailed all night, got 
in the stage about four o'clock, then we took 
the steamboat at French Town and arrived here 
about four o'clock. Mrs. Dallas would make us 
go with them to their daughter's, and their son 
went out to get us lodgings. Regretted very 
much that they had not a house to take us to — 
all their family were at their daughter's. At our 
new lodgings I felt quite disconsolate, but Mrs. 

■ William Pinkney, Maryland statesman ; then on the 
point of sailing for Europe as special envoy to Russia. 

Meany soon called and would have us go home 
with her, so here we are. She is a charming 
woman. I regret that it is Sunday, as I cannot 
go on to-morrow, for I want to stay here one 
day to see all the pretty things. The girls are 
quite pleased here as there are two little girls 
that they saw before. This morning we went 
to church and walked round. This is a most 
delightful city. We shall not go from here till 
Wednesday morning. I was in hopes to meet 
Aunt Silsbee here, but cannot find her. There 
are a number of Navy officers going on to Bos- 
ton. Com. Bainbridge' has written them to 
call on me, so I can have a choice. Indeed, I 
don't care about going alone. I do not feel so 
much in a hurry, as Hanson^ only left here the 
day before we came and we wish to go on from 
New Haven in our carriage — and he had to 
stop here to get a new horse, for one of ours 
never seemed strong and Mr. C. wrote to Mr. 
Meany to try to get a match for the best one, 
and he says he has got a very fine one. 

I am afraid you will expect us too soon — 
shall not get home till sometime next week. 

' Commodore William Bainbridge. 

" As it was necessary to drive from New Haven to 
Salem, they sent on their carriage in advance, so that it 
should be ready for them when they arrived there in the 

We shall get to New York on Thursday and 
must stay one day to see Sally. I shall feel 
much disappointed if Mrs. Silsbee is not there. 
We will probably leave there on Saturday, if 
the boat goes on that day, and it will take us 
five or six days to get from New Haven home. 
How I long to see you all. Will the boys be 
glad to see us ? Little Ann will not, I am 
sure. Poor Pa — left behind. He did not like 
it very well, for he wants to be home as much 
as I do. Give my love to everybody. I expect 
to see a great many pretty things tomorrow 
and shall I buy some ? — I am afraid my money 
will not hold out. Good bye. 

M. B. C. 


To Benjamin W. Crowninshield. 

Salem, June 2, 1816. 

We have arrived safe home, my dear 
husband, found all well. Took the steamboat 
from New York on Monday. Had the pleasure 
of meeting Mr. Frazier on board. He andCapt. 
Read were very attentive. Arrived at New 
Haven before night, [and] took a walk out. We 
started the next morning at six. The horses 
in good order and the weather very fine. Got 
to East Hartford, forty one miles, that night. 
The gentlemen overtook us in the stage. Han- 
son went with them — I preferred John ' to 
drive us on. Capt. Silsbee gave me a list of the 
towns and the distances to stop, on the Wor- 
cester road, which I found much better than 
the road we went. As soon as we got into 
Massachusetts, we found election at all the 
public houses, and slept at a tavern where they 
had a ball the next room to us ; but we slept 
the better for it. The third night we arrived 

' Their regular coachman. 

within seven miles of Boston. Went in the next 
morning to breakfast. All the Republicans 
were at Merriams, but I waited for breakfast, 
and who should pop in but Uncle Zac and 
Aunt Sally — so unexpected that we were quite 
delighted. They expected to meet us in the 
course of the day. Told us Grandma and the 
boys were in Andover, but they had sent for 
them as we were expected, — so we dined in 
Boston as I did not wish to go home first. Oh, 
how pleasant to see again dear Salem ! We 
passed through about five, at a time no one was 
in the streets, and stopped at our own door and 
saw Grandma and the children at tea. Such a 
start from the table — all out in the yard in 
a moment. George was the first, — so altered 
I should not have known him if I had met him. 
Francis next, and looked much the same as 
when we left him. Benjamin not at home, but 
the babe — I would not believe her ours — not 
the least look of the others. I told them I was 
sure they had changed her; — not so pretty as 
I expected — very light blue eyes and almost 
white hair, — looked more like little Mary, but 
she was quite good to let us take her. Stared 
at us, — followed the girls about. They are 
delighted with her and she with them. I think 
her more gay and lively than any of the others. 
Grandma was so delighted to see us again. 


We were all very happy and enjoyed it much. 
Soon Uncle George came in with Ben, He has 
grown very much indeed. They got so burned 
being in Andover a few days that they looked 
rather badly and their clothes shabby. I gave 
out the presents, but a little brass cannon, very 
small, pleased the most, and I had only one. 
Ben has been firing it to-day, but he will not 
again often ; — I am so afraid of powder, for be- 
fore I got home he got his hair and eyebrows 
and lashes scorched with gunpowder and it has 
altered his looks very much. 

They admired the horses and carriage. The 
old gray is sent to Grandma's barn. We cannot 
get oats and I don't know what we shall do. 
Uncle George has been in to-day ; — had a let- 
ter from you, — the first time I had heard from 
you since I left Washington, — but I got one 
since from New York. I was disappointed in 
not getting one there. Saw by the papers you 
were having your frolic at Annapolis. I should 
have enjoyed being there, but enjoyed getting 
home much better. You tell Uncle George you 
shall be home soon, and soon let it be. It will 
be so good to have you here again. 

Mr. Bentley ' called to see me this morning. 
Inquired much about the President. "Well, 

' The Rev. William Bentley. 

ma'am, you have seen what I so much wish to 
see — the good President." Asked if I found 
his good lady a pleasant woman. You may be 
sure I said yes; and how does she do? I sup- 
pose by this time she is in Virginia and you left 
alone. I pity you for I am so happy and all the 
boys — Jacob' and William* and Nathan — soon 
came; and here sits Edward not improved any, 

— grown taller, — says they are all well and have 
a master to teach them at home. The factory 
going on very well, etc., etc. 

Aunt Sally C. has not been down to see us 
yet. Our girls called, — she was very glad, they 
said, to see them. They have been all round 
to see their girls, as there is no school election 
week. Elizabeth says she never enjoyed any- 
thing so much as getting home, and Mary is 
so happy and the boys so pleased ! — how grate- 
ful I ought to be to get home again without 
any accident and find all well, — nothing want- 
ing but yourself. 

Frank has not arrived yet, but will soon, I 
hope ; — no news. Mrs. Cummings has a son 

— when you were home last year she was not 
married. Been at home one day — our house 

' Jacob Crowninshield, Mr. C.'s nephew ; married Mary 
Miller Schuyler. 

'■ William Crowninshield, Mr. C.'s nephew, was lost at 


looks like a palace — my chamber so comfort- 
able. George slept with me. I think I never 
shall want to go from home again. The girls 
are frolicking with the babe, — say I must tell 
you they think her very pretty, as much so 
as Thomas Porter whom they used to love so 
much. Mr. and Mrs. Silsbee did not leave New 
York the day I did, — the rain prevented, — 
but they had determined on going to Baltimore, 
but should not go to Washington. Mrs. Silsbee 
wished you would meet them in Baltimore, but 
I told her you had so lately been to Annapolis 
that I did not think you could, and you would 
so soon be home. Remember me to all the 
folk — the girls say you must give their love 
to Emily and Frances and Debby — and you 
must not forget it — they must write to them. 
And you must tell Mrs. Willson that they were 
so happy to get home, and the boys so glad to 
see them. 

Good night — tea is ready. 

Your affectionate 

M. B. C.