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^^c/"^ J^ajy^^^tMf 










Ignited States Senator, Maine 






STATES FROM 1843 TO 1847, AND A 


1840, 1842 AND A PART OF 1843 


From the original correspondence, now in possession of the Library 
of Congress, Washington, D. C. 



special Subscribers Edition, Issued under Direction of the State of Maine 
and the family of John Fairfield 


Lewiston, Maine 



This Edition is strictly limited to 
seven hundred 
this is Number . 

seven hundred copies, of which 

The Letters of John Fairfield 

Copyrig-ht 1922 by 

Lhwiston Journal Company 

Lewiston, Maine 


Office of thk Governor 



Governor of Maine 

Man's outward surroundings, changeable though 
they be, make but slight impression upon his in- 
herent character, and his inward self remains un- 
altered by passing generations. Unlike the cut of 
his garments, his ambitions, loves, successes and 
failures remain the same throughout the centuries. 

In the rush of current events but little heed 
is paid the lessons of the past, and the men and 
women of the present are prone to disregard them. 

The letters of John Fairfield portray the 
lives of the citizens of this State of eighty 
years ago who faced and overcame the difficult 
problems of the early days. Those actors on the 
stage of Maine's life moved and felt, thought and 
talked just as do their successors of today. 
History and biography are the refineries in which 
the nobler metals of man's character and achieve- 
ments are separated from the baser. They furnish 
an unfailing standard of value by which to judge 
the deeds of the past and to measure the merit of 
those of the present. 

Inspired by unselfishness Mr. Arthur G. 
Staples has rendered a distinct public service in 
collecting and editing these letters. Mr. Staples 
loves "people" whatever be their generation, and 
by the skilful touch of his pen makes others love 

John Fairfield, Governor of Maine for the 
years 1§39» 1§42> 1§4'5» is taken from comparative 
obscurity and placed in a conspicuous position in 
the long line of Maine's Chief Executives. 

October, 1922 

Governor of Maine. 

5[a tljc Eiuitt^ OlljilJirett 
of Soljtt Slaitfielb 

Martlia m. 3Faxrfiel& 

3(ul}n Baltrr Jfairftelft 

Anna Pain? 3fairfiplb PerkinB 

(2[t|XH look ia ieliuateti 


The letters of John Fairfield, Congressman, U. S. Senator 
and Governor of Maine are believed to be unique. They were 
written between the years 1835 and 1847, while he was in Con- 
gress or in the Executive chair at Augusta, Maine. There is 
no contemporary correspondence of that period to compare 
with them and no student of history of that period can afford 
to slight them. They have the candor of Pepys and the sim- 
plicity of the Puritan. Intimately personal, they betray many 
things which never would have been written by Governor 
Fairfield had he known that they would become public. No- 
where else does one find such direct personal comment on Jack- 
son, Adams, Webster, Clay, Calhoun, Benton, Buchanan, 
Preston, Prentiss, Wise and others, as in these intimate, every- 
day letters written by this delightful gentleman of the old 
school to his wife and children, and which, after the passing of 
nearly a century, are now made public, for the first time. 

If there is any peculiar charm in these letters, it is in their 
very lack of effort, their freedom from attempt at literary or 
high-sounding phrase. It is said that when these letters 
reached the town of Saco, Maine, where Governor Fairfield's 
family lived and where his wife ran the great farm and cared 
for her large family, the neighbors came from many miles 
around to listen to the reading of them — so scant was the news 
of the day, so gossipy and clever the letters, to them. Some 
discussion has arisen during the publication of these letters in 
serial form in the Lewiston Evening Journal of Lewiston, 
Maine, by whom they were originally collected, as to the wis- 
dom of publishing all of the minor detail of these letters. The 
statesman's personal wardrobe ; his directions as to the affairs 
of his farm ; trivialities such as an absent and loving husband 
might write to his wife at home on the farm and all of his direc- 
tions to his law-partner carrying on their large law business 
in Saco, seemed to many not to be of historical worth. But it 
has happened that in many cases, the publication of these 


seeming trivialities has led to the revelation of collateral inci- 
dents of much interest to the localities to which they relate and 
to the clearing up of matters of concern to students of Maine 
history, in particular. 

They have come therefore in this way to have a value, 
wholly apart from their political or historical interest. To 
have changed them would have been to mutilate them. Their 
affectionate and loving concern; their spontaneity and humor; 
their graphic descriptions and their chance observations are too 
intimately interwoven with these family concerns, to permit of 
any elimination. They are published therefore as human- 
interest documents, covering a period of singular interest, con- 
cerning which there is very little correspondence of this 
familiar and candid nature. There may be plenty of formal 
correspondence relative to the period and there are one or two 
volumes of unusually interesting memoirs relative to it, such as 
Ben: Perley Poore's, but nowhere else, we are assured, the 
revelations of a harmless gossip and a Puritan Pepys. 

We need hardly suggest the great interest among students 
of American institutions and politics in this period of the rise 
of popular sovereignty, through the social and political revolu- 
tion brought about by the election of Andrew Jackson to the 
presidency of the United States. It was the bii^h-time of the 
inquisitive newspaper press, continually asking questions about 
Federal affairs ; it was the beginning of the self-assertion of the 
commoner in public affairs ; it was the beginning of the down- 
fall of the so-called aristocracy of culture and education as an 
essential of high office and of the first entrance of rough soldiers 
and rugged leaders into public life. It was over all, the begin- 
ning of the slave issue, the golden-age of the nullification doc- 
trine and of the titanic debates in which Webster, Adams, Clay, 
Calhoun and Preston participated, the outcome of which yet 
dominate our policies as a nation. It begins in the blazing sun 
of a triumphant Jacksonian Democracy ; it ends with the coming 
shadows of the great conflict of the Civil War; for, when Fair- 
field lay dead in the city of Washington in 1847, Stephen A. 


Douglas and Abraham Lincoln were coming to the front in their 
political life, both of them in the Congress of 1847, Douglas as 
a Senator and Lincoln as a Congressman from Illinois. 

Certain effort has been made to give a background to these 
letters of John Fairfield by some running commentary on poli- 
tics and on the leaders of these times, as well as by some depic- 
tion of the social life of the times in which the letters were 
written. These conclusions have come from many sources to 
which, in general, sufficient reference has been made in the text. 
The spelling, the use of the characters of writing as used by Mr. 
Fairfield have been followed in the publication of the letters 
themselves. The originals of these letters are in the Library 
of Congress, where they are frequently consulted by writers, 
upon that period. "There is no other source of original con- 
temporary correspondence comparable to the Fairfield letters" 
is the conclusion of the Custodian of that library in a letter to 
the editor of this volume. 

For these reasons and others — such as a vital interest in 
the preservation of even the least of the records of the past — 
we have undertaken the publication of these letters. We make 
acknowledgment to the Governor of Maine, Hon. Percival P. 
Baxter, for a lively and continued interest in the work ; to Henry 
E. Dunnack, Librarian of the State of Maine, for his assistance 
and favors ; to Hon. John Francis Sprague of Dover-Foxcroft, 
Maine, for his authoritative paper on the Northeastern Bound- 
ary Dispute, which is made an appendix to these letters ; to offi- 
cials of the Library of Congress for certain favors; to Miss 
Martha Fairfield, daughter of Governor Fairfield, who resides in 
Washington, D. C, and to whom we are indebted for the 
preservation and the copying of these letters in the present form 
and for many personal reminiscences of her father ; to the 80th 
Legislature of Maine for its concern in the publication of this 
volume, and finally to the Maine Writers Research Club for a 
personal interest that has been friendly and helpful in many 
Lewiston, Maine, October, 1922. 

Arthur G. Staples. 







CHAPTER I— The Time and the Place 1 

CHAPTER II — The Letters of Fairfield 17 

Arrives in Washington — Seeks Lodging — Senator Smith's Sudden 
Death — Pays $8 Week for Room Including Fire and Two CandLes — 
Attends a Funeral — To Buy Bed Cord for Fire Escape — The Death 
of a Messmate — Anxious About the Home Folks — Another Son Bom 
to the Fairfields— The "Bill of Fare"— Fairfield and Col. Johnson of 
Kemtucky — Calls on Oabineit Minister and Mends Hd!s Trousers — A 
Metamorphosed Oongressmiafn ! — Objects to Abolition Fusses — The 
Admission of Michigan — Walks Out to Georgietown — A Voice From 
the Ladies' Gallery — A Pictui-e of Calhoun — Sees Hope in Hi's Eldest 

CHAPTER III— The Year 1836, as Fairfield Saw It 49 

The Year 1836— The Waltz— Comments on Religion— Some Re- 
markable Pen Pictures — He Has His Bumps Located — Squally News 
From France — In a Playful Mood — Col. Benton Characterized — Lively 
SpaiTing in the House — Gov. Fairfield's Opini/on of Weljster — Davy 
Crockett's Successor — Talks About Duelling — Slavery the Subject of 
Debate — While John Quincy Adams Si>eaks — A Dinner with Van 
Buren — Several Speakers Described — Anxious to Speak — His First 
Writing with a Steel Pen' — On His Birthday — Hears Secretary Cass — 
Slavery Question Discussed — Listens to Eloquence of Buchanan — 
Gives His Opinion on Dancing — Patriotic Speech by Clayton — Describ- 
ing the New Vapour Baths — The Maine Delegation on Sliavery — In 
Regard to Wife's Birthday. 

CHAPTER III ( Cow ewmed)— Letters of 1836 101 

The Bankruptcy of the City of Washington in 1836 — No More 
Parties for Fairfield — Home Folks in Washington^ — A Chapter of 
Politics — A Maine Private Squabble — One of Judge Shepley's Speeches 
— Almost Breaks the Sabbath — Clay is Impudent and Envious — Ink- 
lings of a Duel — Tyler Resigns — Mr. Fairfield Moves Down and Up — 
"Calhoun Is Crazy" — Almost Makes His Speech — His Religious and 
Political Duties Conflict — Michigan in the Senate — The Expunging 
Resolutions Again — Discussing Old Economies. 

CHAPTER IV— Letters of 1836 (Continued) 125 

A Trip to Harper's Ferry — He Makes a Speech — They Experi- 
ment with Mulberry Trees — Sees the First of the Steam Navy — 
Hears Taylor Preach — Trouble on the Texas Border — Attends a Boat 
Race^ — The Small-Pox Epidemic — Daniel Webster Plants Mulberry 



Trees — A Trip to Mt. Vernon — Made a Short Speech — World 
Loses Another Speech — Spends His Sabbaths Profitably — A 25-Hours' 
SessioJi — A Quarrel in -the House — Michigan >and Ai'kansas Make 26 
States in Union — Duel a Farce — The First Beet Sugar — A Satisfying 
Vote — Killed in a Duel — Last Letter Before Adjournment — Back in 
Washington — A Room Third Story Back — News From the Farm — 
The Women of the Mess Described— The Post-Office Burned— A Little 
Romance — One of His Messmates. 

CHAPTER V— The Last Days of Jackson; 1837 155 

The Burglar Hunt — Arrival in Washington, 1837 — Describing His 
New Quarters — The President's Message — Mess Is Increased — Buys 
Bancroft's History — He Beats at Ghess — Appointed on Committee on 
Foreign Relations — A "Thrashing" in the House — The Day's Routine 
— Abolition Speech Excites House — Mentioned for Governor — Adams 
Makes Trouble. 

CHAPTER VI— The Year of the Cilley Duel 179 

The President's New Year's ReceT>tion — Gaieties Continue — Lost 
Hymn Book Found — Abolition Debate Begins — He Observes the 
Fashions — Maine Man Burns Up His Money — Anxious About Maine 
Governorship — Another Duel Threatens — A Theatre Party Planned — 
"Rachael" Compliments Mrs. Fairfield — Fairfield "Talked of" for 
GJovernor — Fairfield Discussies Saco "Revival" — Calls Prentiss "Vain 
and Saucy" — "Wise Roared Like a Madman" — First Mention of 
Northeastern Boundary — Robert Fulton's Children Given Aid — A 
Hypnotic Demonstration — Charges of Corruption — Attack on Judge 
Ruggles — Visit From Indian Chiefs — The Eulogist of the Kitchen 
Cabinet — Speech Again Postponed — The Cilley Duel "Brewing" — 
"Cilley's Death Was Murder" — Resolutions on Death of Cilley — 
Fairfield Calls for Investigation — Dentistry One Hundred Years Ago 
— Runaway Accident at Home — Petitions Pour In — Delivers Speech 
on Northeastern Boundar3' — Mr. Carter Near to Death — Course in 
Cilley Investigation Approved — Writing Out Bound)ary Speech^ — 
Death of Congressman Carter — Maine Demands Investigation — A 
Scrap in the Senate — Longs for Home Breakfast — Doesn't Want to 
Be Governor — Prentiss' Bill to Prevent Duelling — Hotly Pressed to 
Run for Governor — Death of Congi'essman McKim — Wants to Get 
Back to the Farm — Sends Grafts for the Apple Trees — Judge Ruggles 
Exonoralted — An April Snow Storm — Reports Northeastern Boundary 
Bill — Beginning of U. S. Weather Bureau? — Planning the Garden — 
Makes a Speech — Indignation Over Cilley Report — More on Cilley 
Reiport — Disapprove of Monument to Cilley — No Quorum — Members 
Attend Races — His Views on the Races — Boarding House Burglarized 
— Take Vote on the Cilley Duel Case — The Reissue of Treasury 
Notes — Hopes Soon to Get to Boundary Bill — Would Give Ninepence 
to See the Pigs — A Bit of Home Gossip — Mr. Parris Arrives — 
Disgraceful Quarrel, Blows Being Struck — Nobody Dares Fight a 
Duel — State Convention Day Approaches — Bill to Regulate Steam- 
boats — Taking Up the Sub-Treasury Bill — Two Terrible Disasters — 
Gives His Views on Forrest, the Actor — Is Nominated for Governor — 
Appropriation for Kennebunk — Leaving for Home — Finds Changes 
in House — Lost Thanksgiving Dinner — Resolutions on Slavery — Death 



of Cousin Dolly — Mrs. Madison Attends Funeral — Entertained by 
Russian Minister — High Cost of Living — A Sensational Report. 

CHAPTER VII — John Fairfield, Governor op Maine 247 

The Inaugural "Agony Is Over" — Geftting Used to Being Gov- 
ernor — The Inaugural Ball — Describes His Council — A Letter From 
President Van Buren — A "Secret" Messiage to Legislature — A Regular 
Hurricane — Bridges Swept Away — Governor Fairfield's 42d Birth- 
day — Meets Some Inttere^ting People — Aroostook War Clouds' — 
Collision Seems Inevitable — Orders Ouft the Militia^ — "Now Is the 
Time to Strike a Blow for Our Rights" — Reviews the Drafted Troops 
— Waiting for Word From Washington^ — A Letter to His Son 
Walter — Reviews the Troops From Oxford — Points a Way Out of 

CHAPTER VIII— The Year 1840— Second Year as Governor 273 

Second Winter at Augusta — Finds Times for Charades — Sunday 
Afternoon, January 12 — Many Social Fesltivities — Death of a 
Friend — G<)veTnor Fairfield's Views on Total Depravity — A Tea Party 
at Gardiner — Governor Fairfield's 43d Birthday — A Round of Gaiety — 
Mrs. Longley's Cheese — Whigs Carry the State — Making the Be'st of 
It — May Not Be Defeated for Governor — A Christmas Party and 
an Old Fashioned Sing— Believes Kent Will Be Elected— Election Still 

CHAPTER IX— Letters of 1842-1843-1844. Governor and U. S. 

Senator 297 

Makes More Nominations — Remembers 45th Birthday — Buys 
Cambric Pantalettes for One of the Girls — Temperance Convention — 
Letters to the Children — May Run Again for Governor — A Woman's 
Diplomacy — Insane Hospital Investigation — An Exciting Trip to 
Augusta — Inaugural Ball — "Bumps" — Politics — Views on Capital 
Punishment — The Political Skies — Elected to U. S. Senalte — Back 
in Washington — Chooses His "Mess" — Thanksgiving in December — 
Fairfield's Committee Appointments — Old Maids and Other Things — 
The Daily Menu — President's New Year's Reception — The Lost Cloak 
Is Found — The Passing of Porky — A Letter to Sarah — Nominations 
Made^ — A Sunday Chat — Heard the Hutchinsons — A Letter of 
Laments — Visitors From Maine — To Make a Speech — As a Match- 
Maker — A Picture of Home — A Father to Love — A Horrible Ca- 
tastrophe — Memorial Services for the Dead — Calhoun Secretary of 
State — Miasquerades in Col. Cutts' Clothes — Letter to His Daughters — 
Death of a Cousin — An Invitation — Keener for Politics Than Ever — 
On Current Politics — Worried About Lame Knee — On "Early 
Rising" — Exhibition of Colt's Submarine Battery — Annexation of 
Texas — On Business MaJbters — Fondness for Politics Not Diminished — 
Opposes Annexation of Texas — Morse Experimenting in Telegraphy — 
Traitors in Camp — Political Cauldron Boiling — A Shocking Death — 
Attended Mrs. Madison's Party — Polk Nominated for Presidency — 
Voted on for Vice-President — No Desire to Be Vice-President — Texas 
Treaty Delbate Ended — Wouldn't Travel on Sabbath — Senator Fair- 
field Campaigning — Goes to Boston Physician — "Husking Night" — 
Visit From Bancroft — Excitement Among Millerites — Returned to 


OHN Fairfield's ancestry may be traced to John Fair- 
field, a freeman of Salem in the year 1640. He came 
from England with his wife Elizabeth and his son, 
Walter, who was born in 1631. Walter was the father 
of William (b. 1662), who was delegate to the Com- 
mittee of Safety in 1689, Representative of Wenham 
to the General Court of Massachusetts for twenty- 
seven years, for nine of which he served as Speaker of the 
House, and he was Moderator of Wenham, Mass., from 1706 to 
1709. His son William, who was born in 1693, died upon May 
13, 1770. His son, John, was Parson Fairfield of Saco, who was 
many years a beloved minister of the town. He was born in 
Wenham in 1736, was graduated from Harvard College in 1757, 
and was settled over the First Church of Saco in 1761. The 
ordination of Mr. Fairfield took place October 27, 1762. 

Before his engagement at this place, Mr. Fairfield supplied 
the desk at Leominster, Mass., nearly five months, 1760; and 
subsequently preached at the warehouse at Arrowsick, George- 
town, in the First Parish at Scarboro, and at Dunstable, Mass. 
He was engaged as a teacher at Manchester and Roxbury, Mass., 
until he commenced preaching Feb. 1760. Previously to his 
settlement July 20, 1762, he was married to Mrs. Mary, daugh- 
ter of Capt. Ichabod Goodwin, and widow of Foxwell Curtis 
Cuttle, Esq., of Berwick. His wife died April 16, 1774, at the 
age of thirty-seven, leaving a family of six children, five of 
whoni were daughters, and all at a tender age. Mr. Fairfield 
was twice subsequently married. The ministerial labors of the 
Rev. Mr. Fairfield were continued during a period of thirty- 
six years. Mr. Fairfield resided in Biddeford several years 
prior to his decease ; he died December 16, 1819, aged eighty- 
three years. 

In his last three years this parson of Revolutionary time 
became a picturesque figure as he walked about the town, his 
long, white hair surrounding a face whose eyes were sightless 
and whose cheeks were bright and round and his short, spare 
form clad in a flowing red cloak. 

Parson John's only son was Ichabod, who was born in 
1783 and died in 1824. He married Sarah Nason, widow of 
Daniel Scamman. Their oldest son, John, is the subject of 
this volume. His brothers and sisters were Mary (who became 
the wife of the Reverend Jason Whitman), Benjamin, Martha, 
Cleaves and George Ichabod. 


John Fairfield was born in Saco, Maine, January 20, 1797. 
Of his boyhood, little is now known. As a mere boy he was on a 
privateer in (the War of 1812. He was educated in Saco, attend- 
ing Thornton Academy from October 4, 1813, to April 10, 1814, 
and Limerick Academy. On September 25, 1825. he married 
Anna Paine Thornton, whose fa4:her was Thomas G. Thornton, 
United States Marshal in the War of 1812. Her grandfather 
was Col. Thomas Cutts whose mansion on the crest of the hill 
on Cutts' Island was her home. She was named for her aunt 
Anna Paine Cutts, wife of Richard Cutts and the sister of 
Dolly Paine Madison, the President's wife. Although a rare 
thing in those days in -Saco, Ann Thornton was reared in 
luxury. She often accompanied her father on his long drives, 
for they enjoyed each other, her father being proud of her 
good "attic furniture" as he said. She inherited from him 
a comfortable sum of money of wliich she never knew even 
the exact amount, for it was given, as was the custom in those 
days, by her guardian to her husband at her marriage, and 
was subsequently lost. In 1824 her father died, as did also Mr. 
Fairfield's father. 

As soon as John Fairfield finally decided to study law, 
he entered the Saco office of Judge Shepley, who was then 
U. S. district attorney. Being admitted to the bar in 1826, he 
formed a partnership with George Thacher, Jr., who managed 
the business of the office while Mr. Fairfield attended to their 
pleadings and court practise. Mr. Thacher was the son of 
Judge Thacher of the U. S. Supreme Court. In 1832, John 
Fairfield received an appointment as reporter of decisions of the 
State Supreme Judicial Court. In this capacity he traveled 
throughout the Maine towns, much of the time upon his own 
horse. His daughter, Mrs. Sarah F. Hamilton, in an interesting 
paper upon her father's letters, says concerning this: 

"If the slowness of the means of business traveling strikes 
us forcibly so would also the social friendly intercourse pro- 
moted by it. . . . At that time when the line of march lay 
directly through the town, it would seem careless incivility to 
neglect a friendly call. Among his letters to his wife, many 
of which are now in the possession of his daughters, the earliest 
is dated May 21, 1832, while he was reporter of decisions. 
There are several other letters written while he held this 
appointment, all of them without an envelope but addressed 
upon the fold of the paper and sealed with red wax. These tell 
of his experiences, but filled from first to last with love for his 



home. One was written from Augusta, April 24, 1834. "In 
something of a hurry, for I write this while taking notes at 
court." He asks her to ride into Portland to meet him on his 
return and bring him home. Incidental to George Thacher, Jr., 
it may be said that both he and his father, George Thacher, 
were members of the Maine Constitutional Convention of 1820, 
that the elder had been delegate to Congress and Associate 
Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. 

In 1835 Mr. Fairfield was elected representative in the 
U. S. Congress. It was not a pleasant thing for him to con- 
template leaving his wife and their children for so many months, 
but he yielded to the unsolicited honor, going to Washington 
in December, 1835. His daily letters throughout his Washing- 
ton residence, during a period of more than ten years, are most 
valuable and interesting. By them he kept the affection of his 
children strong and lively. The father's letters were the chief 
events in the life of the family circle. Now and then "a wee 
bonbon from the gold and silver dishes of the minister pleni- 
potentiary's banquet table made the tales of the Arabian Nights 
more real to us," says Mrs. Hamilton. Poetical effusions, 
acrostics and charades, and sketches of the men he saw about 
him found their way home from Washington. 

From the first he had the advantage of friends in Wash- 
ington, for Richard Cutts, his wife's uncle, one of Saco's former 
citizens who had served seven terms in Congress, 1800 to 1813, 
was there. Mr. Fairfield often speaks of visiting him, his son, 
Madison, and daughters, Mary and Dolly, and often he speaks 
of Mrs. Madison, the widow of the President, who was of much 
importance in Congressional society. Mr. Fairfield attended 
many receptions, for he enjoyed social life and all this Washing- 
ton society was new and delightful to him. He was a prime 
favorite among the ladies to whom he was charmingly courteous. 
He laughed at the youthfulness they accorded him, guessing his 
age much too young and judging him to be single because he 
was so polite. His favorite entei-tainments were dinner parties 
where business often mingled with pleasure, wit and refresh- 
ment enlivening more serious purposes. 

Amid the glow of social enjoyment he was, however, 
thoroughly statesmanlike. His chief complaints are at the 
waste of time and the irregular attendance at the meetings 
of the House. He finds fault with the extravagant speech- 
making members who use for commonplace matters a style 


of speech suited only to great crises. "I am agin' 'em all and in 
favor of business." 

Meantime Mrs. Fairfield and their children were much 
in his mind. He approved her plan of sending the boys to 
dancing school, and wishes them to be diligent in their studies 
at "Aunt Cutts' School." As many other Congressmen did, 
he bought a farai where they might bring up their children 
better, and enjoy the delights of their own orchard, poultry, 
cattle and garden. They also were anxious to attempt silk- 
growing, so they raised mulberry trees and purchased silk- 
worms. It promised to be a northern industry at the time. 
Mrs. Fairfield's pluckiness showed plainly when she resolved 
to move to their farm in the Ferry Road, on the height near 
the cemetery of today, before her husband's return, since it 
was the long session of Congress which would keep him there 
until summer time. He warns her against doing so, fearing the 
work will be too much for her, suggesting the additional burden 
incurred in boarding the workmen. Through his law partner, 
Mr. Haines, Mr. Fairfield bought a horse, oxen and dairy cows, 
and made inquiries for a suitable chaise. 

The long session having finally terminated in July, he 
hurried back eagerly to his home and his new farm whose 
further establishment occupied most of his intermission. He 
was very apt in domestic affairs; if the children felt that 
mother had all the courage, firmness, decision and strength of 
a man, they also felt that father had the tenderness, considera- 
tion and housekeeping abilities of a woman. It was a rare com- 
bination which Mr. Fairfield had, that of real statesmanship 
and a genuine love of domestic duties, but it was not more 
remarkable than the good sense of his luxuriously reared wife. 
There was much of Puritan simplicity, patriotism and strength 
in both characters. 

When Congressman Fairfield returned to Congress in 
December, 1836, he begged her to write often, more often than 
before. She had written somewhat irregularly once a week 
in response to his daily letters, but then, it was easy for him 
to write with his desk ready both at the House and at his room 
at any time; it whiled away the loneliness of many a solitary 
moment and the tedium of many a ranting speech, while for 
her it meant a collecting of pens, paper and ink and a half 
hour away from the children or a turmoil of their playing for 


In March, the short session being over, he starts again 
for home, planning to take the mail stage from Boston and ride 
all night. 

In 1837 he was re-elected for a second term, and upon 
his return was placed upon the Committee on Foreign Relations. 
He reports much excitement over slavery questions so that 
the business of the House is seriously impeded until a vote 
is taken not to consider any such matters. It is interesting 
to follow the course of events which led to his governorship as 
they show forth in his letters which, being meant solely for his 
wife, show his character in perfect sincerity. 

It is little wonder that the Democrats of his state wished 
him to be Governor and insisted upon it, for he was not only 
well known to them and trusted with important offices in their 
keeping but he was also at this time covering himself with 
laurels in the House and gaining a national reputation. Upon 
March the eighth, after repeated postponements, he delivered 
his speech upon the North-eastern Boundary, a question with 
which his name has become inseparably linked. 

It was not, however, Mr. Fairfield's North-eastern Bound- 
ary speech which made his name familiar to all the nation. 
His chief part in that question came later. It was his action 
concerning the Cilley-Graves duel which gave him national 
importance. Mr. Cilley of Maine was challenged by Col. Webb, 
editor of the New York Courier, on account of some words 
used by Mr. Cilley on the "corruption case." Mr. Cilley refused 
the challenge. Then Mr. Graves, a friend of Col. Webb, chal- 
lenged Mr. Cilley, who was forced by the custom of the day 
to accept or prove himself a coward. An attempt to prevent 
the duel was too late. After firing three times ineffectually, 
Cilley's seconds tried to stop the affair, but the opposition of 
Graves's friends was irresistible. The next shot killed Mr. 
Cilley. The next day in the House, Mr. Fairfield, contrary to 
the custom of the time, startled the members by his courage 
in demanding that an investigation of the affair be made. 
Upon this point the Maine Democrat says : 

"We were tauntingly told that no Northerner would dare 
incur the fearful responsibility of demanding an investigation 
of the affair by a Committee of Congress. Mr. Fairfield proved 
himself possessed of sufficient moral courage to meet this 
critical emergency, unintimidated by the menaces of his oppo- 
nents, and he forever silenced the foul aspersion flung in the 


teeth of Northern men, that they dare not resist the current 
of prejudice in favor of the infamous code of the duello." 

Upon the 5th of March, the members of the Democratic 
party at Augusta sent him the following resolution : 

"Resolved, That this meeting view with pride and 
admiration the course adopted by the Hon. John Fair- 
field in the House of Representatives in demanding an 
investigation into the manner and circumstances of the 
death of the Hon. Jonathan Cilley; it has anticipated 
the demands of the people and will be by them fully 

The historical importance of Mr. Fairfield's action is that 
it stopped duelling forever in Congress. 

In the midst of all these excitements, he misses home as 
much as ever. In place of his luxuriousness he longs for a 
breakfast at the farm. It was a pure delight to him when his 
last session in the House was over, for he might then return 
to Saco and his legal work, knowing that if he should be elected 
for Governor he would not be far away from home. 

At the time of his election a courier was sent from Port- 
land by night to carry the news. Mrs. Hamilton tells a char- 
acteristic story of Mrs. Fairfield in this connection. "My mother 
went to the door to inquire the cause of a visitor at that time 
of night. Upon learning his errand, she simply thanked him, 
and concluding that a good night's rest was worth more to her 
sleeping husband than the announcement of his governorship 
at that hour, she returned to her slumbers and in the morning 
quietly but with a little sly fun, informed him of his election. 

Hardly was the inauguration over before the boundary 
question threatened trouble. Oflficials who had been sent 
down to the disputed territory had been captured by Great 
Britain's subjects and were held in prison. With commendable 
promptness and decision which contrasted strongly with the 
dilatoriness of all previous authorities. Governor Fairfield sent 
troops to the line and prepared others to reinforce them. Of 
the whole disgraceful action of the United States in connection 
with the North-east Boundary question, Governor Fairfield's 
act is the one commendable proceeding. He writes upon Feb- 
ruary 13 : 

"There is but one course in this thing, and that is to go 
ahead. No backing out and no flinching." 


In the Life and Times of Hannibal Hamlin, by Charles E. 
Hamlin, the matter of the Aroostook war is explained thus 

"In a short time after the Governor had defined the position 
of Maine towards the disputed territory, the State was elec- 
trified at the news that a large body of Canadians were robbing 
the disputed land of its timber. The Governor promptly or- 
dered Sheriff Hastings Strickland of Penobscot County to 
organize a posse of men and drive out the intruders. Great 
excitement prevailed, and an unmistakable war fever arose. 
With two hundred men the sheriff rapidly proceeded to the 
scene of action in what is now Aroostook County. The Cana- 
dians heard of the sheriff's movements and possessing them- 
selves of arms in the province arsenal of Woodstock, Maine, and 
New Brunswick began to arm themselves. The legislature 
appropriated $800,000 and the Governor ordered a draft of 
10,000 to protect our claims. Congress appropriated $10,000,000 
and authorized the President to call for fifty thousand vol- 
unteers to help Maine. General Scott came to Augusta to take 
charge of the military operations. He opened up diplomatic 
negotiations between Governor Fairfield and Governor John 
Harvey, of New Brunswick, with the result that each promised 
to withdraw his forces from the disputed territory and leave 
it in charge of a peace posse until a settlement should be arrived 
at by diplomatic methods. Thus ended the famous Aroostook 
war. It was a bloodless affair, and yet it was a narrow escape 
from a collision between the two governments. Both sides were 
prepared to fight, and the loss of a single life might have pre- 
vented a peaceful settlement. The wonder is that no harm 
came out of all that excitement and manoeuvering." 

Three times Governor Fairfield was re-elected, though by 
small majorities such that he feared defeat and that, too, rather 
with a feeling of personal relief than of chagrin. This was not, 
however, the result of any personal unpopularity but rather 
the proof of it, for no other man of his party could have secured 
the election. Amid great and unusual responsibilities, he dis- 
played a decision of character which commanded the attention 
and respect of the whole nation. As the result of this action, 
he became the favorite son of the State, being sent to the Senate 
chiefly to defend Maine's right to her North-east territory. 

During his last term as Governor, in 1842, the resignation 
of Ruel Williams from the U. S. Senate resulted in Mr. Fair- 


field's appointment for that office for the remainder of that 
term. It is worthy of notice that John Fairfield never com- 
pleted his term of office in any position, being elected to 
some higher office before its expiration. While reporter of 
decisions of the Maine Supreme Judicial Court, in 1835, he was 
elected U. S. Representative of the First District of Maine, to 
which office he was re-elected in 1837, resigning the office in 
1838 to become Governor of Maine ; after his fourth election in 
1842, he resigned to accept a seat in the U. S. Senate to which 
he was elected by the Legislature. He was re-elected to this 
office in 1845, not completing his term before his death. 

He regretted leaving his wife to so many domestic cares 
for so long a time again, but the next session of Congress found 
him once more in Washington. The handwriting of his almost 
daily letters is coarser ^nd more irregular than before. He 
was not well. For years he had had trouble with his joints, one 
knee suffering most, his whole state of health being uncom- 
fortable and nervous in consequence, a steady increase of the 
malady continuing during his term of service in the Senate, ^ 
as his letters clearly indicate. There is less description of 
Washington and more yearning for home than in his former 
letters, yet there is no diminution of his interest in government 
affairs. Upon March 24, 1844, he writes : 

"You asked me at a wrong moment if I was not sick of 
politics. The fact is I feel a deeper interest in them than 

Upon the 30th of May of the same year he writes, "To my 
astonishment I received yesterday in the Baltimore Convention, 
the highest vote for Vice-President (with James K. Polk, Pres- 
ident) on the first trial, but not a majority. I had nine states, 
to wit, Maine, Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, New 
York, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Missouri, making a hun- 
dred and six votes. I am informed I should have been nom- 
inated on second ballot if it had not been thought that my 
course when Governor in the controversy between Maine and 
Georgia and my views on the treaty would operate against me 
in the South. With the result I am entirely satisfied — it is 
honor enough for me to have been a candidate for nomination." 
Senator Fairfield was a popular man in government circles 
and the disappointment of his friends at this result was keen 
and as great a surprise to him as was the unanticipated sug- 
gestion of such a nomination. Upon June 2, he writes to his 
wife : 


"What the deuce has got into the people? I would prefer 
a much humbler station — one better suited to my talents and 
tastes. (Ain't I modest?) Well, I don't care whether I am 
believed or not — I speak the truth." 

During the forming of the new Cabinet, there was much 
talk of making Mr. Fairfield Secretary of Naval Affairs, a posi- 
tion which he himself would have liked as much perhaps because 
of the benefit the increased salary would be to his growing 
family for whom he felt he ought to be making surer future pro- 
vision as for the honor and personal liking for the task itself. 
His rival was George Bancroft, the historian, who had often de- 
clared that he was more than ready to leave his chance to Mr. 
Fairfield. To his secret disappointment, the seat in the Cabinet 
was not, however, given to him. The disappointment of his 
friends was such that his popularity increased and there w^ere 
prophecies of his future presidency. 

During the summer of 1847 at home, he wrote some de- 
lightfully characteristic sketches, including a Ride to the Pool, 
which were printed in the Maine Democrat of which he had 
charge in the editor's absence. These now exist in the form 
of clippings arranged so as to form a neat little volume. The 
face side of the fly-leaf is inscribed in his own hand, "John 
Fairfield ;" the reverse side says : 

"Letters of 0. K. published in the Maine Democrat, Saco. 
The whole dedicated, and this volume affectionately presented 
to his beloved wife by 


Since these letters not only reveal the character of John 
Fairfield but also give a glimpse of some Saco scenes of the time, 
some quotations may not be inappropriately inserted in this 
place. He begins by telling of his ambition to write some great 
travels, not knowing where to go to find a suitable journey 
for his description. 

"Almost on the point of yielding in despair, we were most 
happily relieved by one at our elbow having a conjugal right 
to advise us, with one of those looks you have no rig'ht to inter- 
pret into anything in particular, and yet which might be made 
to mean anything in general, according to one's fancy, said, 
'Why don't you go to the Pool, my dear, and then you can 
return the same day, you know.' Mountains and Molehills! 
Think of that. Was there ever a finer specimen of pathos in 
prose? What a descent. From the tour of Europe— the visit- 
ing of Rome — the Holy Land — tracing the sources of the Nile — 


exploring the interior of Africa — peeping into the craters of a 
dozen volcanoes, putting our finger upon the North Pole, etc., 
etc., down to a ride to the Pool. The idea was capital — decided 
fun. We seized it with avidity and settled the whole thing in 
our own mind in a moment. Next to doing a great thing, you 
know, is the doing a little thing in a great way. One morning 
we were off with old Switchtail and the buggy at the rate of 
three miles an hour." 

He speaks of the "white and yellow house formerly owned 
and occupied by the late Richard Cutts (his wife's uncle) , once 
the most elegant house in town, but now surrounded and thrown 
back, as it is, by splendid new brick blocks with iron fronts, it 
looks like some old, faded belle who is endeavoring to com- 
pensate for the loss of her lovers by flaunting a portion of her 
finery that appropriately belonged to the day of her youth and 

He says of the old mansion house (his wife's girlhood 
home), home of the original proprietor of Indian Island, and 
indeed of almost all creation. Colonel Cutts (his wife's grand- 
father) : "It is a substantial and elegant building, with a gam- 
brel roof, luthern windows, small glass and other insignia of a 
former age. ... On either side of the road, fronting the man- 
sion house, were two fields formerly known under the significant 
sobriquet of the Colonel's vest pockets. One of these is now a 
brick yard, and the other is covered with factories. The 
Colonel, if permitted to revisit us, would probably be not a little 
puzzled in regard to his identity, finding his pockets thus 
stuffed — one with clay and brick, the other with spindles and 
pretty girls." 

Of the Pool he says : 

"It was almost entirely monopolized both by land and by 
water, by Ithe fishermen, and has often, with its nets spread 
to dry, its boats resting lazily upon the shore and the fishermen 
lying about the rocks in scattered groups, reminded us of 
what we suppose the villages to be on the shores of the Sea of 

About this time, a poem appeared, praising the Andro- 
scoggin above all other Maine rivers, to which a response was 
made in favor of the Kennebec. Mr. Fairfield added his voice 
to the chorus, singing his admiration for the Saco in the fol- 
lowing verses : 


"Oh, hush, ye brooks, pray did you e'er of such a stream as 

Saco hear? 
If not, 'tis plain enough ye ought to. 
The whole of babbling Androscoggin 
Perhaps might fill a toddy noggin ; 
And so perhaps the Kennebec would, 
Including mud, sawdust and driftwood. 
But Saco's full and rapid stream 
Old ocean fills up to the brim: 
And many think if it should halt. 
The sea would be one cake of salt. 

for 'mixing grog' 

Or 'floating log' 

Or 'drowning dog' 

Or 'breeding fog' 
It yields at once and oughter. 

It scorns to take 

From muddy lake, 

Or slimy brook, 

By hook or crook, 
Its daily draught of water. 

On mountain-side 

E'er eventide 

The sun from sky 

Comes down to lie 
Upon the fleecy banks of snow: 

And there distills 

Those gentle rills 
That sparkling down to Saco flow. 

Oh, Prince of Streams! 

The poet's dreams 
Ne'er formed a fairer vision. 

Compared to thee 

Most streams will he 
But subject of derision." 

Mr. Fairfield had a decided aptness for such verse making, 
which enlivened many a letter or entertainment, or now and 
then ornamented an album. 

The following letter, now in possession of John Fair- 
field's children, is presented here as a sample of an old-fashioned 
love-letter and as showing in John Fairfield, the young man, 
the same characteristics of serious-mindedness, strong con- 
viction, and firmness, tempered with consideration, that dis- 


tinguished him in later life, both in public matters and in his 
domestic relations. 

The letter has the old4ime dignity of phrasing, in those 
days considered the proper form of correspondence between 
lovers, and it expresses his concern over the apparent reluctance 
of his sweetheart to enter into an early marriage. At this time 
John Fairfield was twenty-six years old and Ann Thornton 
was nineteen. 

There is no doubt that Miss Thornton was deeply devoted 
to her fiance, nor was she given to caprice and coquetry. She 
was a shy, sensitive person, and not fond of dress and social 
functions and her daughters have suggested as the explana- 
tion of her attitude that she dreaded "the fuss and feathers 
of a fashionable wedding," which seemed inevitable, as her fam- 
ily belonged to York Coun/ty's best society and would be certain 
to insist on the proper observances of such an important 

At the time the letter was written Miss Thornton was 
in Machias at the home of an older sister, who, after being 
informed of the engagement, wrote to her: "I should think 
you would like to come away as soon as your engagement is 
announced." This seems to have been considered the proper 
proceeding at that time. This is the letter: 

Saco, October 12, 1824. 
Dear Ann, 

I have just received your last letter dated the 10th, but as I should 
very much deprecate the charge of hypocrisy against me, more particularly 
by you, I shall give no opinion respecting it — but proceed in this letter to 
notice an expression in your letter last but one in which you say "I 
mean to put off your marriage as long as I can." — In the first place I say 
that I have ever been an advocate for early marriages, and I believe my 
reasons for it have their foundation in common sense. If they have not 
be so good as to sihow me wherein, and you will not find me so obstinate 
and self-willed as not to acknowledge the force and justness of an argu- 
ment, when they are made clearly to appear to my mind. First, then, 
I contend that while we are young all the generous and noble feelings 
of our nature are alive, active, and in full play — our hearts are warm, 
and overflowing with kindly & disinterested feelings. We are now more 
susceptible to the tender and bewitching charms of love, than we are 
in after life — consequently there is less of that cold, calculating policy 
in attachments between youth, than we almost daily observe in matches 
between older people. As the blood in young persons flows rapidly and 
freely through the veins and arteries uncorrupted by dissipation or lux- 
urious living, so in their passions & feelings we observe a corresponding 
playfulness and purity, and disinterestedness — we observe a certain buoy- 
ancy of spirits and feeling, which is an indication of honesty and virtue — 
which knows no wrong and intends none. Consequently friendly and 
aff"ectionate attachments formed in youth are purer and less disinterested 


than in after life — and although they are sometimes imprudent, and the 
subjects of them are consequently exposed to many temporal evils and 
sufferings, yet in the main I suspect they receive as much enjoyment and 
real pleasure, as those of another class and description. It is a melancholy 
truth that the older we grow the more refined (in fashionable language) 
we grow, but in correct language the more corrupt. The pernicious 
influence and sample of a wicked world does have an effect upon us, and we 
have much reason to fear not a very salutary one. It is then most prudent, 
bestest, and safest to marry young. We are more likely to get husbands 
and wives who will love us, and adhere to us in life through good report, 
and through evil report. 

In the next place as life is short we ought to set about the great 
day's work of life early. When 'marriage takes place late in life, the 
subjects of it almost invariably find that when their services are most 
required here, they ibave become incapacitated through the infirmities 
and imbecilities of age — or their time and attention taken up with the 
concerns of futurity. Besides I have always found on all subjects that 
"delays are dangerous." And then again if considered in a moral point of 
view it is expedient that we marry young. It is more particulaly true 
if considered in regard to males than females. Young men who are not 
engaged in such business as requires all their attention, are apt to pass 
their spare time in acquiring habits of dissipation and extravagance. But 
when they have become engaged to a female whom they love — or have 
taken unto themselves wives, they acquire a more permanent interest 
in the affairs of the world. They then feel more of the importance and 
dignity of human nature, for instead of standing alone, solitary, isolated 
beings, they then have others depending upon them. They then feel that 
they have a character to establish and preserve, not only that they may 
advance their pecuniary interests, but that their offspring may not 
blush to own them as the authors of their existence. Do you not 
perceive in daily life that all this is the effect of early marriage? I do. 
And even in myself I perceive a wonderful change in the tone of my 
feelings since I was first engaged to you — I do not now, and cannot take 
the same pleasure, that I used to do in dissipation of any sort. I used 
to be fond of what we called a good blowout, but now I feel myself more 
of a man, and above such puerilities to call them by no harder name. Now 
I take more interest in life, because now there is a prospect that I shall 
have one whom I love to lean upon me, and accompany me through life. 
One who will participate with me in all my pleasures and divide with 
me all my griefs. I feel now that my time and talents are not my own, 
and that I have no right to waste either, but that there is one at least, 
who has a claim upon the proper use of them, which I ought not, and cannot 
in justice dispute. 

With these views of the subject, it appears to me that nio two persons 
situated as you and I are ought to delay marriage longer than circum- 
stances absolutely require. And if in our case good reason should exist 
for such a postponement or delay, it appears to me I could wait for you 
twenty years. But if the determination on your part to delay proceeded 
merely from a caprice of the mind — from the consciousness of possessing 
my entire affection, and consequently of having a power over me — from 
Whim or some idle phantasy of the brain, or from some worse motive, 
it cannot, and I presume will not be expected that I should consent to delay 
our marriage a great length of time. In our conversation upon this 
subject heretofore, there has seemed to be a sort of tacit agreement that 


it should take place in May next. I have so far calculated upon it, and 
presume that no objection would be made to it on your part. For if 
we love each other, and ever intend to be married the sooner the better. 
But if in May any good reason can be urged why it should not take place, 
you will find me as willing as yourself to postpone it. But no such reasons 
appear to me to exist at the present time — and I pray most heartily they 
may never exist. Not perceiving any reasons for delay as I have just said, 
I am utterly at a loss to account for your wishes "to postp>one it as long 
as you can." Many in my situation would conclude it proceeded from 
want of affection — ^but I do not and cannot believe it to be the cause, 
and I think nothing shall tempt me to believe it, but a declaration to that 
effect from your own lips or pen. 

I hope, my Dear, I have not treated the subject too seriously, for I 
think it requires some seriousness, and much candour. You are dearer to 
me than you can imagine, and I feel an interest in you which I never 
have and never can feel for any other being, always excepting the ties 
which bind me to a mother & sisters, and which can in no way interfere 
with the ties which bind me to you. Answer this soon — speak freely — 
confide in me — and believe me forever yours in affection if not in marriage. 


In the winter of 1847, his chronic lameness confined him 
to his room for some days. It made all his walks so uncom- 
fortable and uncertain that he considered it unsafe to try to 
get about much in the evening darkness. At the urgent advice 
of friends he consulted Dr. McGruder who had had some 
success in curing such cases and submitted to an operation 
which proved not unsuccessful. He prepared carefully for this 
operation, being well provided with nurses and sending for 
his son, George, who was then at Bowdoin, to come and help 
care for him. The operation did no permanent good, how- 
ever, and upon his return in December, he visited him again. 

Another operation was then performed, concerning the 
danger of which he does not seem to have been quite cognizant, 
although dreading the anticipated pain. He did not send the 
letter telling the anticipated pain, meaning to finish it when 
all was successfully completed. The letter was never finished, 
for after suffering intense agony from the time the poison was 
injected into the knee-pan until seven o'clock in the evening 
he died, the victim of gross malpractice on the part of the phy- 
sician. So sudden an ending of so promising a life just when a 
more brilliant future was in prospect was lamentable in an 
exceptional way. He had the admiration, not only of his 
political friends but of those of the opposing party, was of 
keen statesmanship, and was the pride and hope of a warm 
circle of adherents, who recognized that his ability was of a 


superior type, capable of executing greater responsibilities than 
he had yet been entrusted with. 

Among his eulogies may be noted the following para- 
graphs : 

Hon. James W. Bradbury addressed the Senate in these 
words : 

"I need not speak of his honorable career in this body. You 
will bear witness to the sound judgment and ready zeal which 
he brought to the discharge of his varied duties ; to that honesty 
of purpose which knows no guile; to that frankness and sin- 
cerity incapable of concealment; to that firmness of resolution 
which no difficulties could shake nor dangers overcome ; and to 
that purity of life and conscientious regard to his convictions 
of right which distinguished him as a man and as a Christian." 

Senator Niles said that he was 

"A plain, unassuming man, never attempting to shine or 
attract attention to himself, but with his strong sense, sound 
judgment and practical views was content with his honest and 
faithful discharge of his public duties. He was true to his con- 
stituents, true to his country, faithful to his party and faithful 
to his principles." 

Representative Hammond said of him : 

"His fine manners and affable deportment attracted public 
attention. His public career was not long but brilliant. He 
possessed in an eminent degree all the elements of popularity." 

Prior to his death the New York Herald spoke of him in 
the following way: 

"Governor Fairfield of Maine is a man whose noble heart 
beajt for his country when the British invaded the territory of 
his native state and it was he who stood nobly for her rights, 
her honor, and her glory during the timid administration of 
Martin Van Buren. I have carefully studied his character and 
believe we have few more patriotic and none more honest. He 
is one of the strongest men in the Senate. I look upon him as 
one of the last of the seventy-sixers in everything that dignifies 
a patriot and gives force to a statesman; and the only thing I 
regret is that we have not more such men. He will yet write 
his name in letters of glory upon the brightest page of his 
country's fame." 

If his loss to the public was great, that of his wife and chil- 
dren was incomparably harder to bear. Then it was that his 
remarkable wife showed in full strength her power. A widow 


with eight children, the eldest in college, and the youngest a 
baby in anns, with a farm to manage and less than three hun- 
dred dollars of income, she immediately assumed the responsi- 
bility of keeping her family together and rearing them into 
manhood and womanhood. Her work was heroically done, she 
lived 35 years after her husband's death, having educated her 
family and seen them well started in their ways of life, leaving 
a larger property than had been left her. Her business ability 
was of no small kind as is evidenced by an incident of which 
Mrs. Hamilton writes in "Mothers of Maine :" 

"The first evening, after the tidings of my father's death 
in the morning, when my mother was alone with her children, 
the remembrance of her quietly putting out one wick of a com- 
mon oil lamp, saying, "Children, we cannot afford to burn two 
wicks of the lamp when one will answer," has always remained 
vivid in my mind; but the grim pathos of the act was only 
appreciated in maturer years." 

That she was able, not only to care for her own family, but 
also to think of those more unfortunate ithan herself, is shown 
in the custom she had of sending the children to school with 
calico bags filled with apples to give to the children who had 
none ; when they remonstrated, she would say very quietly, 

"Then go without apples yourself until you know how much 
other children like them who have none." 

Of the personal characters of this remarkable husband and 
wife but little needs to be added. Mr. Fairfield was fond of 
many people, enjoyed both the giving and the receiving of hos- 
pitality, was quite at ease among a concourse of friends. His 
wife was of a singularly retiring nature, her real personality 
known only to her friends and her family. In later years her 
embarrassment before strangers melted away into a genial, 
sunny old age. Both were fun-loving people, their humor 
sparkling over all domestic matters and making as much com- 
fort at home as their keen common sense. In appearance Mr. 
Fairfield was short, with a boyishness about him that made him 
seem younger than he was even after he was somewhat crippled 
by his lameness. He refers to himself as "the little old man ;" 
we are told that "the affable little man" would better describe 
him. Throughout the state he was known as "Honest John." 


John Fairfield first went to Washington as a member of 
Congress in 1835. It was a period of intense partisanship, of 
approaching financial depression, of multiplying perplexities in 
foreign affairs and of bitter feeling among statesmen of that 
time, surpassing in personal acrimony that perhaps of any 
other period in our national life. 

The central figure of the day was Andrew Jackson, near- 
ing, in 1835, the end of his service as President of the United 
States; but, like some of our other strong men in the Presi- 
dency, forcing a successor to the Presidency upon his party and 
fighting, with all of his fiery temper, the battles of his party 
and his pride. The spoil of his quarrels lay about him ; the har- 
vest of his triumphs was at his feet. He commanded, de- 
manded, and, swearing strange oaths, had his way. He had 
upset an ancient aristocracy of power. He had overthrown 
social traditions. He had introduced a new policy of party 
patronage and spoils. He had called the common people to the 
support of a rough and rugged soldier, in the chair of the Pres- 
idency, hitherto consecrated to "gentlemen and scholars." 
Thus he had become the idol of Democrats. He was undoubt- 
edly the one person whom the young Maine congressman, John 
Fairfield, most desired to see, to know and perchance to 

Jackson was now, in 1835, serving the third year of his 
second term of ofiice — the protagonist in the longest and per- 
haps the most dramatic play of political passion and prejudices 
that ever was enacted in this nation. It had been more than 
ten years in the setting. Though it was nearing the end, it was 
none the less in its climaxes, and the principal actors were yet 
about him — John Quincy Adams, Clay, Calhoun, Webster, Ben- 
ton, Van Buren, Mrs. Eaton (Peggy O'Neill) and his "kitchen 
cabinet" of eager advisers who never left his side. A moment's 
review may be illuminative of the substance of the correspond- 


ence of John Fairfield which is to cover the next ten or twelve 
years subsequent to this year of 1835. 

Andrew Jackson was elected President in 1829 and inau- 
gurated in December of the same year. He had been a candi- 
date for President in 1825 against John Quincy Adams of 
Massachusetts, William H. Crawford of Georgia, and Henry 
Clay of Kentucky, then Speaker of the House. Of these four 
candidates, Jackson had the largest number of electoral votes, 
but neither one of the four received a majority and according 
to the law, the election went forward to the House of Repre- 
sentatives for election of a President. As the law required that 
the choice be limited to the three candidates who were highest 
on the list, Henry Clay, having the fewest electoral votes, was 
excluded. Exercising, as he did, great personal control over 
his supporters, it was in Clay's power to elect the President. 
He elected Adams, and he did so against the wish of his state 
of Kentucky and against its vote to that effect. The triumph 
of Jackson was thus delayed for four years, solely by Clay's 
coalition with Adams. The Adams-Clay coalition was a polit- 
ical agreement that left its trail through years and years of na- 
tional political life. Jackson never forgot it or forgave it. It 
rankled for the rest of his life, and though he could extend his 
hand to President Adams on the night of Mr. Adams' inaugu- 
ration, he never failed to allude to Henry Clay as "the Judas 
of the West ; the traitor who received his thirty pieces of silver 
by being made Secretary of State in Adams' Cabinet as the 
payment for his treachery." But there is no evidence in his- 
tory, dispassionately reviewing Mr. Clay's procedure, to prove 
that the coalition between Mr. Clay and Mr. Adams was cor- 
rupt. Mr. Clay stood, in all his thought, with Mr. Adams, for 
the same principles of construction in applying the Constitu- 
tion, protective tariffs, internal improvements, and a deliberate 
binding together of the states into a nation. Gen. Jackson's 
friends, on the other hand, were found among those who re- 
acted against such a program — a scrupulous limitation of 
the powers of the government and a studious regard for state's 
rights. Yet it was a bitter thing to see the support of Clay 


given out of the West to a gentleman from New England. "A 
coalition," cried John Randolph, "of the Puritan and the black- 
leg." Calhoun was elected Vice-President and re-elected Vice- 
President four years later with Gen. Jackson. 

The four years of Adams' administration were therefore 
tense and tempery. From 1825 to 1829 Aaron Burr, Martin 
Van Buren and Edward Livingstone, men of peculiar charm, 
political sagacity and executive power, had charge of the for- 
tunes of General Jackson. Sensing the areas of popular revolt 
against Adams and Clay, they persuaded Jackson to resign 
from the United States Senate, lest he make some mistake to 
damage his popularity; and, establishing organs of publicity, 
with the brilliant Livingstone to write the propaganda of the 
Jackson campaign, the hero of New Orleans, in his retirement, 
was made the "man of fthe people" and the essential Democratic 
candidate for Presidency. The country was flooded with tales 
of his military exploits and his peculiar trait of loyalty to 
those who befriended him in any way. Daniel Webster 
told Samuel Breck, as will be found in Breck's diary, that he 
knew more than fifty members of Congress who had expended 
or pledged all their fortunes in setting up presses and employ- 
ing other means to secure Jackson's election and the defeat of 
Adams, in 1829. 

It is quite probable that there have been other political 
campaigns as virulent and deliberately personal as that of 
Adams and Jackson in 1829, but they have been few. Jack- 
son's youthful indiscretions, his brawls and duels, his mar- 
riage to Mrs. Robards before she had been legally divorced from 
her first husband, his summary handling of deserters in the 
Florida campaign were subjects of handbills and posters. A 
campaign book, entitled "Reminiscences: Or an Extract from 
the Catalogue of the Youthful Indiscretions of General Jackson, 
between the Age of Twenty-three and Sixty," especially attack- 
ing his beloved wife, was circulated broadcast over the coun- 
try, leaving a wound in the breast of General Jackson that 
never healed and that opened afresh in a manner later to be 
indicated. Jackson's election was therefore one of unique im- 


portance. It was the victory of class against class. It was the 
overthrow of a political and intellectual aristocracy by a "pop- 
ular hero and a man of the people." It dethroned an austere 
and powerfully cultured dynasty, and set up the political 
dynasty of a man who could not write his own speeches, could 
not observe the full requirements of a traditional etiquette, or — 
what was worse — could not fail to reward his friends without 
regard for merit and bitterly despise and punish his enemies. 

The upheaval was social as well as political. It commenced 
a new chronicle in the life of the Capitol. Those who had 
known the Presidents of the United States as educated and cul- 
tivated gentlemen saw to their consternation a military hero, 
who had lived a life of brawls and duels, who had given repeated 
evidences of disregard of laws and statutes, who had swept 
away enemies by pure farce ; who had no learning or education 
and who, as a member of the U. S. Senate, had given no 
evidences of his ability as a legislator. And behind him 
loomed the faces of the imperturbable Burr, the smiling and 
the unctuous Van Buren and the alert and the capable Living- 
stone. It was the beginning of a period of tense and eager 
partisanship; of profound emotional legislation; of war upon 
the Bank of the United States; of bitter Congressional duels; 
of the installation of the Spoils system so-called ; of the Webster- 
Hayne debate; of the stamping out of nullification; of the 
"Kitchen Cabinet"; of the Peggy O'Neill scandals; of the 
expunging of the resolutions of censure against President Jack- 
son ; through which and through many more besides. President 
Jackson sailed along on a growing sea of popularity — so great 
that it was believed he could have been again and again elected 
President if he would have consented to be a candidate for 
additional terms of office. 

It is not the purpose of this consideration to pass upon the 
life or character of Andrew Jackson, but rather to indicate if 
possible the background of the letters which make up this sub- 
stance of John Fairfield's impressions of the times. The polit- 
ical scope of his epistles to his wife is evinced in his estimate 
of that able and honest statesman, John Quincy Adams, for 


whom Mr. Fairfield had no words strong enough to express 
disapproval, and his admiration of that shrewd and smooth gen- 
tleman, Mr. Van Buren, the most consummate of politicians 
who ruled by indirections and handled the temper and the dis- 
position of "Old Hickory" with a skill that bent it always in 
the direction of his own purposes. 

And Mr. Fairfield was going into a company that might 
well arouse his interest and stimulate his ambitions. Henry 
Clay returned to the Senate after his service as Secretary of 
State and became recognized leader of the Whigs ; for he would 
recognize no other leader. His oratory was persuasive and 
winsome, stirring and suggestive. Daniel Webster even yielded 
to Mr. Clay the leadership of the Whigs in the Senate, although 
never yielding, so far as any individual was concerned, his own 
personality or independence. 

Calhoun was there, no longer Vice-President but a Sen- 
ator from South Carolina; best hated of Jackson. "What act 
of mine," said the old hero, "will God not pardon when I die ; 
what will posterity most condemn in me? I will tell you; not 
for the specie-circular; not the removal of the deposits (which 
was the material of the 'expunged resolution') ; none of these, 
but because I was persuaded not to hang John C. Calhoun as 
a traitor, which I fully intended to do." And Calhoun was the 
leader of the Democrats, although Thomas H. Benton repre- 
sented the Jackson adherents in the Senate, thus "dividing the 
House against itself" in many an issue; for it was "Old Bullion," 
as Senator Benton was called, who fought President Jackson's 
personal battles against the United States Bank and forced 
through the resolution "expunging" the resolution censuring 
Jackson for removing the deposits from the Bank of the United 
States. All through the early days of John Fairfield's service 
in the House, this expunging resolution took up the debates; 
forced the bank issue on the attention of the nation and in the 
campaign of 1832 was the political rallying call of the loyal 
Jackson Democrats from sea to sea. Names familiar enough 
are recalled from the Senate of that day. Tom Ewing, John J. 
Crittenden, William C. Rives, Richard H. Bayard, Thomas H. 


Benton, John M. Niles, Daniel Webster, John Davis, George 
Evans, Judge White of Tennessee, successor of Jackson in the 
Senate and later his political foe — these are some of the men 
whom the young Congressman was eager to see. 

In Mr. Fairfield's own deliberative body, the House, 
Andrew Stevenson of Virginia had long been Speaker, but was 
to be succeeded by James Knox Polk. Stevenson served for 
four terms and was a most adroit parliamentarian and tacti- 
cian. He went from the Speaker's chair to the Court of St. 
James as Ambassador and John Bell of Tennessee succeeded 
him ; but later, in Fairfield's first term, Mr. Van Buren secured 
the election of Mr. James K. Polk and thereby passed the suc- 
cession of President down the line. Mr. Van Buren was indeed 
adroit. There was also, in the House, that interesting man, 
"Parson" Brownlow. He was a tall, spare man, with long, 
black hair and black eyes, sallow of complexion, and spare of 
figure. Parson Brownlow led the editorial forces of the Judge 
White party against President Jackson, and he acquired a na- 
tional reputation by his trenchant writing, his defiant person- 
alities in debate and by his marvelous hold on the popular fancy 
of the East Tennessee contingent. He was a curious subject 
of general interest because of his persistent support of denom- 
inational doctrines of immersion, and the political doctrine of 
emancipation of the slaves. And he was a Methodist without 
fear or favor. In Fairfield's time the first representative of 
labor was elected to Congress in the person of Eli Moore of 
New York, a journeyman printer and a very able and powerful 
speaker. He made a sensation in a reply to Waddy Thompson 
of South Carolina and after his impassioned and dramatic per- 
oration fell forward on the floor insensible. Churchill Cam- 
breling, chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, leader 
of the Jackson men in the House, was an able man. Millard 
Fillmore, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, James K. Polk, 
afterwards Presidents of the United States, were in Congress 
in this period. A character of whom Mr. Fairfield speaks was 
Richard Mentor Johnson, a burly and slightly educated Ken- 
tuckian, who was reputed to have killed Tecumseh, the great 


Indian leader, at the battle of the Thames, Gaily dressed in 
fine colors, smooth of face and piercing of eye, he looked more 
like Tecumseh, than did Tecumseh's portraits of the time. 
Johnson was afterwards elected Vice-President of the United 
States with Van Buren, but was later defeated in the Harrison 
campaign four years later. Elisha Whittlesey of Ohio was in 
the House. He became auditor of the United States after six- 
teen years of service as a Representative. Gulian C. Verplanck 
and Thomas J. Oakley, two members of the New York state bar, 
were prominent men in a way and esteemed for pure ability. 
A character of the House was Dixon H. Lewis of Alabama, the 
largest man who had ever occupied a seat, or rather two seats, 
in Congress and for whose ponderous figure, special chairs were 
made. Tom Corwin, a wit and a scholar from Ohio, was a true 
personage. His name yet endures for the brilliancy of his re- 
partee and the chaste and elegant style of his oratory. 

Such were a few of the familiar characters among the men 
of the times of which we write, under the attention of some of 
whom Mr. Fairfield immediately came. General Jackson had 
already served as President for six years and had passed 
through the most stormy period of his administration. The 
first shock of the nation at the entrance into power of a rough 
and ready President, of courtly address when he pleased, and of 
a certain natural grace, sweetness and winsomeness of manner, 
but of a determined fixity of policy and a rude disregard of the 
etiquette of kings and princes, had passed away. His delib- 
erate purpose to sweep from power all political opponents and 
reward by office all party and political friends had been forced 
upon the nation to the joy of the partisanship of a triumphant 
democracy. Old Hickory had made his place in popular esteem. 
He had an impressive dignity and power. He was regarded as a 
man of destiny and of prescience. And he had lived through a 
period of fierce and bitter controversy, some of it based on suffi- 
ciently solid grounds of contention. He believed that those who 
were with him in any issue were friends and those opposed 
were enemies. He rarely left the White House and passed most 
of his time in the second story of the White House where he 


kept his ofRce, smoking, it is said, a long-stemmed corn-cob pipe 
and surrounded by such of his friends as he particularly- 
esteemed. He was sixty-two years of age when he came to the 
Presidency. He had a high forehead from which the hair was 
brushed back, a decisive nose, searching, keen eyes and an 
almost childish expression about his mouth. Ben : Perley Poore, 
a famous correspondent of that time who knew him well, de- 
scribes him as a "self-reliant, prejudiced and often irascible 
man whom it was a very hard task to manage." Some of his 
advisers were always with him. These made it a point to keep 
others from ingratiating themselves into his good will and 
some of these, especially in the first years of his administration, 
1828-32, were chronicled in the ballads of his times as follows : 

King Andrew had five trusty squires 
Whom he was wont to do ; 
He also had three pilot-fish 
To give the sharks their cue. 

There was Mat and Lou and Jack and Lev, 

And Roger of Taney hue. 

And Blair, the book, 

And Kendall, chief cook, 

And Isaac, surnamed the true. 

These were "Matt" Van Buren, Secretary of State at the 
time the foregoing was written ; Lou McLane, Secretary of the 
Treasury; John Branch, Secretary of Navy; Levi Woodbury, 
his successor; and Roger B. Taney was Attorney General. 
Francis P. Blair, Amos Kendall and Isaac Hill were a group of 
newspaper editors and staunch supporters (Hill being respon- 
sible for swinging New Hampshire toi Jackson's support). 
These three last named were more especially known as the 
"Kitchen Cabinet," a term that was bandied about from sea to 
sea. They were able and, for the most part, decent men. Blair 
and Kendall had been partners in the publication of the Frank- 
fwt Argus and both had deserted Henry Clay when he broke 


for Adams against Jackson ; had raised the cry of "corruption 
and bargain" and had joined in the movement that gave the 
electoral vote to Jackson. Blair came to Washington, entered 
into partnership with William C. Rives as "Blair and Rives" 
and published the Washington Globe, a Jackson organ, that had 
the name of every Federal office-holder on its subscription list. 
Perley's Reminiscences of the times says that no hesitation was 
shown in sending this paper to the office-holders under Jackson ; 
of sending the bill and, if it be unpaid, notifying the recipient 
that unless he paid, his position would be filled by someone who 
would pay. Such was the legitimate outcome of the new policy 
of Mr. Jackson, "to the victors belong the spoils," the policy of 

Mr. Fairfield does not allude in any of his letters to his 
wife of the Peggy O'Neill affair. He would not speak probably 
Of such a matter to a lady, and it had measurably passed out 
of notice in 1835. But even in his time, the politics of this 
pertinent imbroglio could not have been unknown to Mr. Fair- 
field. There was not a Whig newspaper in New England that 
did not teem with allusions to Mrs. Eaton, even then. Some of 
them were not chaste or nice. We may find in Maine news- 
papers of that period allusions to President Jackson's friend- 
ship for the charming lady, that are as coarse as possible and 
as unkind as could be imagined even by the most callous and 
brutal enmity. The politics behind this subject demands a mo- 
ment of consideration in any attempt at an effective setting of 
the stage upon which this young Maine Congressman was 
entering. Mr. Webster's speech in reply to Hayne was delivered 
January 20, 1830, and published to the country on Feb. 23d, 
after having been carefully revised from the notes taken at the 
time. Mr. Webster himself did this work of revision. The 
debate continued long after this date, and it was not until May 
21st that Col. Thomas H. Benton delivered the final speech, on 
the South Carolina doctrine of nullification. President Jackson, 
at first, spoke highly of Hayne's speech and said that he con- 
sidered it abler than Webster's speech ; but the astute and long- 
headed Van Buren, alarmed at this doctrine of nullification and 


fearful of its effect on the North, set about slowly and silently 
to demonstrate to the imperious old soldier, who occupied the 
Presidential chair, that this doctrine could not fail to be de- 
structive of the Union. The reasons behind Mr. Van Buren's 
attitude are variously explained. The political reasons, usually 
ascribed, lead up to John C. Calhoun, whom Mr. Van Buren did 
not desire to see further advanced in favor or power. Mr. 
Calhoun was not aware of Mr. Van Buren's intri^e and it was 
he who organized for April 13th, the birthday of Thomas Jef- 
ferson, the Democratic dinner of that year, 1830, in Wash- 
ington. When the toasts were prepared and published, in ad- 
vance, as was then the custom, it was found that they were 
so strongly "States' Rights," so strongly anti-tariff and pro- 
nullification, that many Pennsylvania Democrats declined to 
attend the meeting; and got up an opposition dinner of their 
own. General Jackson had, by this time, been persuaded of Cal- 
houn's purposes. He attended the dinner but left early, leaving 
a volunteer toast which, when read, fell like a thunderbolt into 
the midst of the plotters. "The Federal Union: It must and 
shall be maintained." This was President Jackson's toast. 
It stunned the South and electrified the North. This was a 
severe blow to Calhoun who had labored hard to break down 
Mr. Adams's administration, in order that a Democratic party 
might be formed which would elect Mr. Jackson first for Pres- 
ident and himself as his successor. But Mr. Van Buren had 
other plans. Van Buren and others found a letter which 
William H. Crawford, a very powerful and prominent man of 
the period, published, showing that Calhoun had once advocated 
severe punishment of Jackson for his procedure in the Florida 
campaign — a tender topic to Jackson. President Jackson began 
to suspect and finally to discredit Calhoun and finally to hate 
him, with a bitterness that lasted to his death. 

Mrs. Eaton, or Peggy O'Neill, was a very fascinating and 
beautiful daughter of William O'Neill, an inn-keeper in Wash- 
ington. She was somewhat acquainted with General Jackson 
when he was a Congressman. She married a handsome naval 
officer, John Bowie Timberlake, who died under a cloud of sus- 


picion, leaving his accounts in a mixed condition. Much con- 
tention arose over the death of Timberlake. Defalcation was 
charged that led up either to him or to Lieutenant Randolph, an 
officer of prominence at that time. Randolph was acquitted. 
Amos Kendall, fourth auditor of the Treasury at that time, 
claimed that Randolph was guilty. President Jackson dismissed 
Randolph from the navy and Randolph pulled President Jack- 
son's nose in the cabin of a steamboat at the wharf in Alex- 
andria. He charged openly that Jackson had dismissed him 
and sustained Kendall's findings because he wished to relieve 
his friend. General Eaton, from liability as bondsman of 

General Eaton subsequently married Mrs. Timberlake. 
She was the most beautiful woman of Washington, but of a 
reputation for easy life and virtue that kept busy the tongue of 
gossip and perhaps of slander. President Jackson had come 
to Washington fresh from the griefs of the death of his wife 
whom he had idolized and whom the tongues of slander had 
often hurt. He breathed vengeance against all who had de- 
famed his wife in the campaign and he swore by the eternal 
that they should never drag the name of his "old friend Peg" 
through the mire. His kindness to her was undeviating and 
his support was loyal. He deluged the press with letters in 
support of her. He discussed the most outspoken attacks upon 
her life and virtue. There is nowhere any suggestion, in his- 
tory, of any motive or animus that is not the most pure and 
honorable on the part of General Jackson. It appears to have 
been altogether a chivalric devotion to the purpose of sustain- 
ing the good name of a difficult lady. Enchanting, unscrupu- 
lous and ambitious, Mrs. Eaton had the old soldier completely 
under the influence of her troubles and her griefs. She went to 
him with every sort of a complaint. He defended her at a cost 
of his own good name and his political career. Pages of the 
various biographies of Jackson are given over to this contro- 
versy. It flooded the press. It kept society alert and conscious. 

This was Mr. Van Buren's opportunity. A widower with a 
fine house and abundant means, he made Mrs. Eaton his hon- 


ored guest. He entertained with great dinners to which he 
invited the society of the day and of which the society of the day 
refused to take notice. Mrs. Calhoun especially refused to rec- 
ognize or to sit at table with Mrs. Eaton. She led indignant 
squads of her women-friends away from the tables when Mrs. 
Eaton was installed as guest. Clergymen denounced Mrs. 
Eaton. But Old Hickory attended the dinners; gave her all 
attention; made her the principal guest at state affairs, and 
forced her to the best of his ability on Washington society. Van 
Buren was his able assistant. Every day he won thereby the 
favor of President Jackson and every day Calhoun lost it. Mrs. 
Eaton determined, without doubt, the succession of the Pres- 

History has long since written the story of the fight over 
the United States Bank and the power and vigor of President 
Jackson's course. While Jackson reigned, he seemed rather 
the maker than the representative of policies. He had headed 
a Democratic revolution. He was the last of the great makers 
of that revolution. When Fairfield went to Washington, the 
Democratic party, powerful, popular, with a leader of magnet- 
ism and of strength was at the climax of its glory. Already 
the seeds of dissolution were sown. It had been a man rather 
than a party that had won in 1832, for the contest had been on 
the re-election of General Jackson rather than on his record as 
President. The nullification issue was not made a test of doc- 
trine in that campaign although General Jackson took it as a 
verdict against South Carolina and Calhoun. The Bank was 
the General's hobby and the Bank was the issue. He had been 
tractable on the tariff and on internal improvements. On the 
matter of the Bank he stood resolute and unmoved. He won 
on personal popularity and the people's love of a fighter and of 
a man of resolute convictions. 

This is not the place to enter on a discussion of the Bank. 
The purpose of this chapter is to set up a background of the 
politics and the social life of the period, of which historians 
have written so much and so interestingly; for it was perhaps 
the most vital and climacteric period of our national life. When 


Jackson asserted that the Bank had spent its money — the money 
of the people — to defeat him, he believed it. And he believed 
it because such men as Isaac Hill and Levi Woodbury of New 
Hampshire, bankers themselves and men of influence, told him 
so, and when Amos Kendall of Kentucky "proved" to him that 
the Bank had spent money in Kentucky to defeat him, Old 
Hickory believed that he was on safe ground in asserting it 
and maintaining it. And this swung the popular vote. The 
charter of the Bank was safe until 1836 ; it were wise for its 
friends to have let the subject drop; but they did not. In the 
summer of 1832, they applied for a new charter. It passed both 
houses. Jackson met it on the eve of election with a veto that 
was delivered point-blank and without equivocation and the 
Clay men and the Jackson men turned to the country for its 

We hardly appreciate at this time what a turmoil this 
thing made as an issue. Such men as Fairfield fought this to 
the finish. Statesmen might approve of the Bank, but under 
the circumstances, the people regarded it with suspicion; else 
why General Jackson's opposition? The people saw in Jackson 
a defender against Capitalism. They saw in him a deliverer. 
He interpreted the verdict of that election as a command to 
destroy the Bank. Its fate was sealed. He began immediately 
his work. He asked for an investigation as to whether or not 
it were safe to peirmit the deposits of the United States to 
remain longer in the Bank. No one had doubted its solvency, but 
this act of Jackson cast discredit upon it. The House immedi- 
ately declared that the deposits were safe in the Bank. General 
Jackson decided to act on his own responsibility. He resolved 
that the Bank should no longer be custodian of the Federal 
funds. Lou McLane of Delaware, a friend of Jackson, was Sec- 
retary of the Treasury. He was favorable to the Bank. Jack- 
son transferred him from that place to Secretary of State; 
appointed Edward Livingstone, then Secretary of State, to be 
minister to France ; put William J. Duane of Pennsylvania, an 
opponent of the Bank, in the Treasury Department, and the way 
was thought to be clear. Mr. Duane showed scruples and was 


removed. Roger B. Taney of Maryland, Attorney General, later 
a figure in the Dredd Scott decision, was more placable and he 
accepted. An order from Taney removed the Federal deposits 
on September 26th, 1833, and the thing done at infinite hazard 
of a financial panic was accomplished. 

The turmoil of the country may be imagined but not de- 
scribed. The President took all the responsibility. His own 
Cabinet had been opposed to the removal of the deposits. Taney 
was admittedly only the servant of the President in the matter. 
Jackson declared that the issue was clear, and that, simply 
stated, it was as follows : "Whether the people were to govern 
or whether the power and the money of a great corporation were 
to be used to influence their judgment and control their decis- 
ions." How like the frequent utterances of the present day ! 

The House of 1832 was controlled by friends of Jackson. 
The Senate, led by Clay, was controlled by Jackson's foes. The 
Senate spread on its records the resolution of a formal censure 
of President Jackson for the removal of the Federal deposits 
from the Bank of the United States, which was the issue of the 
tremendous agitation of debate on a motion to "expunge" that 
runs through the letters of John Fairfield. General Jackson 
replied to this resolution with vigor and force. He asserted 
that he was bound by no precedent and recognized nothing else 
but his own conviction of duty as a representative of the people 
under the Constitution. The fate of the Bank was sealed. It 
gave up its charter in 1836 and accepted, instead, a charter from 
the State of Pennsylvania. 

By 1835, when John Fairfield went to Congress, the results 
of Jackson's policies had begun to be felt. Jackson said that the 
Bank did not give a stable currency. The death of the Bank 
was followed by inflation of bank issues, and the establishment 
of so-called "pet-banks" in which the funds of the Federal gov- 
ernment were deposited, all of them Democratic banks, and 
charged with political power. State banks came in again. 
State legislatures multiplied charters without safeguards and 
without limit. All banks were banks of issue. Paper money 
began to pour out without limit and without security. It was 


a period of inflation, of glittering optimism and of joy. In 
1835, the close of the year when John Fairfield went to Con- 
gress, the nation was out of debt and Jackson had declared for 
a distribution of the surplus among the States. He pricked the 
bubble of his own making. For this joyous experience of a 
surplus of cash was soon to be followed by another sort of 
financial experience — ^the experience of the panic of 1837, in 
which business was prostrated, ruin followed upon the heels of 
success and business concern after business concern, banking 
institution after banking institution went down in one nation- 
wide crash. 

It was indeed a period worth chronicling, and any sort of 
comment, even the most trivial, throwing light upon the con- 
temporary state of mind or upon the character and abilities of 
the actors in this great political drama of 1835 to 1847 is of 
interest to those who are to write the history of this nation in 
the years to come. 


The Letters of Fairfield 

The locomotive and the steamboat were new things even in 
1835. The first locomotive in America was then only ten years 
old. Mr. Fairfield's predecessors from Maine in the early years 
of its statehood, which began in 1820, went to Washington by 
stage. The old stage route from Maine to Boston continued 
from Boston via Worcester, Springfield, Hartford and Norwalk 
to New York. Passengers paid ten dollars a seat from Boston 
to New York and were fifty-six hours on the road. In about 
1825, this gave way to a steamboat line, via Providence to New 
York, which carried passengers in twenty-four hours, at a fare 
of five dollars each. 

Stage books for the Providence line were kept in Boston in 
various places and those wishing to go, registered their names. 
The central stage office was at the Marlboro Hotel. At four 
o'clock in the morning, a man started out in a chaise and went 
about, waking the people who had registered. As the Old South 
Church clock struck five, whips cracked and the stage coaches 
started at ten miles an hour for New York, stopping at Timothy 
Gay's tavern in Dedham for breakfast. 

The steamboats lay at India wharf in Providence and the 
stages reached there at about half-past eleven o'clock. There 
were no staterooms and the 24-hour trip imposed many incon- 
veniences and even some hardships. Arriving at New York, 
the passengers were landed at the foot of the pier. The city 
did not then reach above Broome Street, although above that 
point there were the villages of Greenwich, Bloomington, York- 
ville and Harlem. The Boston stages stopped at Hall's "North 
American Hotel" at the corner of Bayard Street and the 

From New York, travelers to Washington in 1825 to 1830 
went south probably by steamboat to Elizabethsport and were 
transferred across Jersey to Bordentown on the Delaware River 
where a steamer transported them to Philadelphia. Many of the 


passengers remained over a day at Philadelphia as the journey- 
had by this time become fatiguing. From Philadelphia by 
steamboat to New Castle; thence by stages to Frenchtown on 
the Elk River ; there re-embarking on steamers, they went down 
around into Baltimore. This was another long and wearisome 
trip. At each change the passenger had to look after his own 
baggage. Checking systems were unknown. Between Balti- 
more and Washington they went over the old turnpike, where 
many daring hold-ups by highwaymen had been perpetrated 
and where in those days the agent carried a blunderbuss loaded 
with slugs for protection of mail and passenger. 

It appears from Mr. Fairfield's letters that he went all of 
the way from Boston to Washington by steam ; and part of the 
way at the speed of 26 miles an hour ; which must have meant 
by railroad for a portion of the way. In 1828, there were six 
hotels in Washington, the favorite being the Indian Queen, kept 
by Jesse Brown, who used to come to the curbstone to welcome 
his coming guests. The price of board was ten dollars a week, 
and the food was sumptuous and plentiful. Brandy and whis- 
key were on the table in decanters without extra charge. 

In 1830 to '35, the city of Washington was decidedly a "city 
of magnificent distances." The capitol had been pronounced 
"complete" in 1825. There was a group of shabby houses 
around the Navy Yard ; another cluster on the river bank just 
above the arsenal, which was then set out for the business cen- 
ter of the city; and Pennsylvania Avenue from the Capitol to 
Georgetown was lined with tenements, many of them with shops 
on the ground floor. The executive departments in 1835 were 
located in four brick buildings on the corner of the square in 
the center of which was the "White House." There was one 
small theatre occasionally opened for plays; and perhaps an- 
other had been opened by the time of Fairfield's coming to 
Washington. At this theatre Junius Brutus Booth, Forrest 
(not yet famous), Cooper and others are said to have played. 
Fanny Kemble was a favorite of President Adams. The pop- 
ular performance of the days of President Adams was "Tom 
and Jerry, or Life in London." There was much of gambling, 


Mrs. Clay saying that she did not object to Mr. Clay's whist, 
because he almost always won. There was much of dueling, 
much of social life and many balls and dances in which the most 
rigorous of evening dress was demanded, silk hose, knee 
breeches and pumps, a good deal of drinking and roistering. 

The most elegant estate in Washington in Jackson's time 
was the Van Ness mansion on the banks of the Potomac at the 
foot of Seventeenth Street. John Van Ness had been a mem- 
ber of the House from the state of New York, but gave up his 
seat in the House for an appointment as Major of the Militia 
in the District Volunteers. 

Here was a "mansion" which cost the then fabulous sum 
of $30,000 in which entertainments the most costly and lavish 
were given ; "a mansion," as a chronicler of that day says, "fit 
for a king." Major Van Ness was president of a bank, mayor 
of Washington, philanthropist and benefactor of all, and yet 
always just a little short of ready money. General Jackson was 
a frequent guest at this home. It was during Mr. Fairfield's 
term in Congress that the automatic chess-players and other 
automata made such a deep impression on the public life of the 
nation. In the current journalism of the times, there is no sub- 
ject more under comment. In this period (the subject may be 
hardly worth notice) Mrs. Alexander Hamilton, widow of the 
great Hamilton, introduced ice-cream into the cuisine of Wash- 
ington. Mr. Fairfield refers to viands which may be fairly sup- 
posed to be this delectable which at the time made the most tre- 
mendous sensation in fashionable society. President Jackson 
was fond of ice cream and served it at all White House affairs. 

Although debates in Congress were of the most vital and 
interesting sort, the attendance of the public upon them was 
very small, owing to the limited room for visitors. The Senate 
Chamber was small and while ladies managed to get seats either 
on the floor of the Senate as was then permitted or in the lim- 
ited gallery space, the men had to be content with uncomfortable 
positions leaning against pillars or peeping through the doors. 
Mr. Van Buren presided as Vice-President with imperturbable 
grace and fairness and stood for the gibes of his political ene- 


mies with a smile and a politeness that never were disturbed. 
John C. Calhoun who had resigned as Vice-President that he 
might be elected a Senator was almost the only Senator who 
broke the unwritten law of the Senate and appeared in anything 
but the dress suits of black broadcloth which were the require- 
ments of the time. With his pale attenuated look, his scholarly 
face and his reputation for the strictest probity and the finest 
personal character he was a personage to attract the attention 
of the young Congressman from Maine and he frequently 
alludes to him. Congress usually convened at about noon and 
adjourned at 5 P.M. and almost always adjourned over from 
Thursday until Monday. 

On January 8th of 1835, the year of John Fairfield's ar- 
rival in Washington, President Jackson gave a dinner. It was 
not only the anniversary of the battle of New Orleans but on 
that day the last dollar of the national debt was paid. General 
Jackson was jubilant. "At last the apparition so long unseen 
on earth," said he, "a nation, a great nation without a national 

Such, in a brief way, is the environment and such are the 
political conditions into which Mr. Fairfield goes and under 
which he writes. It is agreed by all historians and commen- 
tators that the company of statesmen was brilliant. Moore's 
History of Congress says that it was the most brilliant of our 
national life. 

In the period covered by Mr. Fairfield's letters, seven Pres- 
idents were seat mates with him, either in the House or the 
Senate. They were Polk, Buchanan, Johnson, Pierce, Tyler, 
Fillmore, and Lincoln, who was in Congress in 1846. His let- 
ters of the year 1835 cover the period of the debates over the 
resolution to expunge the censure of the President and the final 
days of the Bank. Up to 1830, members had usually sat in the 
House with their hats on, a custom that had come down from 
the Continental Congress. It was thought to be a great honor 
for the House to "uncover" for anything or anybody. The 
Speaker would sit through all the session with his hat on, but 
when he rose to call the attention of the House to any matter 


he would remove his hat. About five years previous to John 
Fairfield's entrance into Congress "cloak rooms" were intro- 
duced and gradually members discontinued the habit of wear- 
ing hats during the session. It was the habit in both branches 
of Congress to have great silver urns filled with the choicest 
and most fragrant "Maccaboy" and "Old Scotch" snuff placed 
where members could help themselves freely. It was no un- 
common thing to see a speaker who was delivering an epoch- 
making address to the House or Senate, stop suddenly, go over 
to the silver urn, take a sniff, sneeze once or twice, flourish his 
bandana and resume his eloquence. Mr. Macon and Mr. Clay 
were esteemed to be the most graceful snuff -takers in the Sen- 
ate, Mr. Clay affecting the French manner in so doing. The 
representatives were partial to a beverage called "Switchell," 
supplied by the nation generously and in charge of a dispensing 
official. It was made of molasses, ginger, pure water from the 
Capital spring and "flavored" with Jamaica rum. During ex- 
citing debates vast quantities of it were consumed. It will be 
noticed that Mr. Fairfield speaks often of writing with a steel 
pen. In each house were official pen-makers who mended the 
goose-quills used by the members, and official sealers who sealed 
the letters of the members with red wax. Everything was ex- 
ceedingly formal and simplicity was far from fashionable. The 
steel pen was introduced just previous to 1835 by Nathaniel 
P. Willis, a son of a Portland, Maine, editor, himself a poet 
and a literateur, then a Washington correspondent. Mr. Willis 
had been traveling in Europe, had visited Charles Lamb, 
Bulwer-Lytton, Barry Cornwall and many others of the lions of 
the day and had brought to Washington steel pens made by 
Joseph Gillott. 

It will be noticed in the beginning of Mr. Fairfield's letter 
how close and intimate was the life. He might have "messed" 
with "Old Bullion," Col. Benton, but did not like the appear- 
ance of the house. He meets Judge White, Senator from Ten- 
nessee, the implacable foe of Jackson and leader of an opposi- 
tion to him. He meets John Bell, Speaker of the 22d Congress, 
soon to resign — a person of fine imposing presence and great 


natural ability. He messes with Buchanan whom he admires, 
and has apparently unusual opportunities for close acquaint- 
ance with the men of the times, as is indicated in the letters 
which follow. 


Arrives in Washington 

Washington, Dec. 4th, 1835, 
Dear Wife, 

Here I am at Washington — and embrace the first moment 
to write you a line. We arrived here last evening Thursday as 
we calculated. Our passage a part of the way was not very 
comfortable in consequence of the extreme cold. From Boston 
our progress has been altogether effected by steam — and a 
part of the way at the rate of 26 miles an hour. My health is 
good — and Oh, how I long to hear the same of the rest of you 
at home. I reproach myself that I did not make you promise 
to write me by the next mail after 1 left, and so on every mail 
afterward for an indefinite time. I had no idea before being 
put to the trial, how hard it would be for me to quit you and 
ours. But I need say nothing in regard to this — you know 
what I feel — and I know whose sympathies mingle with mine. 


On our way, we fell in with Smith^ from own State — Bean, 
Hubbard, Hill, Burns & Pierce- from N. Hampshire and sev- 
eral members from other States with whom we came on. We 
arrived here about 8 o'clock, and the N. Y. members having 
left one of their number in charge of the baggage ran up to 
the Capitol to secure seats — most of them having been taken 
before, many of the members having been here a week. With 
the N. H. members I went up this morning by daylight, and 
selected a seat from among those that were left which I think 
almost as good as any in the house. It is in the 3d row from 
the Speaker's chair and a corner box. I will by and by make 
a little diagram of the house and show you where I and all 
the other great folks are located. 

When we got to Baltimore, whom should we meet but Par- 
son Clark — and on his saying that he was going on to Wash- 
ington in the car with us I asked him as a matter of joke 
whether he was going to put in his claims for Chaplain to Con- 
gress, when what should he do but hand out letters of recom- 
mendation from gentlemen in B. to members of Congress, 
nominating him for that place. He did not ask for my vote. 

Tell Mr. Haines that probably Polk will be elected Speaker 
on the first ballot — Mason having most magnanimously de- 
clined being a candidate. The news here from Mississippi 


leaves it very doubtful as to what is the result of their elections. 
Gayarre, the Louisianan Senator, has resigned. This is too 
bad, considering the present state of the Senate. You must 
now begin to take some interest in politics — or you perhaps 
won't like all my letters. Many of them, however, will answer 
for you and Mr. Haines both. Do write often. Do let the boys 
carry out the plan I laid for them — keep a diary — it will not 
only delight me, but be an excellent exercise for them. I told 
Judge Ruggles of it, and he said he should write home and 
make his children do the same. We called on the President 
today. He is in fine health and spirits. I think his message 
will not breathe much of a spirit of war. 
Yours ever, 


^F. O. J. Smith of Portland, a prominent railroad builder, business 
man and political leader, a Democrat. 

^Franklin Pierce, afterward President of the U. S. It is freely said that 
had Fairfield not died untimely, his position of prominence ■would have made 
him President rather than Pierce. He was the superior of Pierce in every 

Seeks Lodging 

Washington, Dec. 5th, Saturday. 
Dear Wife, 

Yesterday we called on the President, Mr. Woodbury and 
Amos Kendall. Today we have been running most of the time 
to obtain a boarding place. Have examined a good many rooms 
etc., but do not get exactly suited. At Mrs. Harbaugh's, there 
was an excellent mess — say Messrs. Grundy & Robinson of the 
Senate, Mann of N. Y., Johnson of Ten., and Conner of N. C. of 
the House — but then, the best rooms had been taken — and she 
wanted us to go into the third story and pay $10 — this was up 
near half a mile from the Capitol. 

Afterward we looked at Dawson's rooms on the hill near 
the Capitol. There we found Col. BentonS and would have 
been right glad to have become his messmates — but then the 
house appeared to be old, and cracky — and the furniture in 
good keeping with it — so we couldn't go that, and passed on. 
Our next place was Mrs. Hill's on Pennsylvania Avenue — a 
pretty good location — good house — good furniture — fine look- 
ing, smart landlady — and a pretty good mess of Now Yorkers 
and Connecticuters — but, then, the price was too much — $12. 
After our leaving, however, she concluded to come down to $10, 


but, then, she had in the meantime taken in an opposition man 
with his wife — so what we shall now do I don't know — we 
would rather prefer being with those of the same political 
complexion. I'll let you know more about it on Monday, till 
then we shall probably remain where we are, at Gadsby's. 

Tomorrow is Sunday and I shall go to hear Mr, Palfrey. 
There are several candidates for the Chaplaincy of the House, 
among the rest Rev. Mr. Clark, Mr. Fisk, editor of the Re- 
former, Boston, Mr. Stockton, an eloquent man who was Chap- 
^ .. lain year before last. After throwing my first vote to Mr. 
Palfrey, our Unitarian minister here, as a matter of compli- 
ment, I think I shall go for Mr. Stockton who is a Methodist. 

Today I have looked a little at the Capitol and found — 
upon the whole I have hardly time or room for description. 
Having at least six months before me I hope I shall be enabled 
to give you some definite ideas of matters and things here, so 
no more at present. Your husband, 


^Thomas H. Benton of Missouri, a great figure in the Senate for thirty- 
years, author of "Thirty Tears View"; dueUist; orator; soldier; editor; 
father-in-law of Fremont and the great representative of the Newer 
West in ante-bellum days. 

Senator Smith's Sudden Death 

Washington, Dec. 6. 
Dear Ann, 

Last night about 1 o'clock, I believe, Mr. Smith, a Senator 
from Connecticut died. His death has been most sudden and 
melancholy. He came on in the steamboat with us, having his 
wife and I believe a daughter with him. He appeared in per- 
fect health and laughed and talked much. I have not learned 
the particulars, but believe he had an apoplectic fit. He was 
a large, fleshy man, dressed in the old style, having white top 
boots, small clothes, etc., and having his head profusely pow- 

We are still at Gadsby's. Hope to get a boarding place to- 
morrow. Mr. S. and I occupy the same chamber, having all 
the time, night and day, a good coal fire. It is very comfortable, 
but accompanied with the inconvenience of having everything 
in the chamber covered with dust. 

I have met with, and been introduced to many of the great 
men. Judge White called on the President while we were 
there. Their meeting was civil, but I suspect there was but 


little of that cordiality that used to characterize their inter- 
course. Mr. Bell also I have met. He is a fine looking man, 
rather handsome, but it is said he does not feel well. I have 
no doubt Polk will take his place as Speaker. 

Ever yours, 


Pays $8 Week for Room Including Fire and Two Candles 

Washington, Dec. 8, 1835. 
Dear Wife, 

I am now writing on my own table in my own chamber, in 
the fourth story of Mrs. S. F. Hill's house, Pennsylvania Ave. 
After examining most of the houses, messes, etc., etc., I con- 
cluded upon the whole to come here with Judge Ruggles and 
Col. Hall from Maine. Mr. Shepley has not yet determined 
whether to come or not, tho I think he will. 

The prices are graduated from $12 to $8. My room be- 
ing in the 4th story and rather small, I pay $8 a week. This 
includes a fire, and lights, to wit two spermaceti candles and a 
wood fire — which I think I shall prefer to coal which some of 
the boarders have. Our mess at present is composed of 4 
from N. York, 3 from Connecticut and 3 from Maine, to wit: 
Messrs. Doubleday (who by the way, is as dark as night), 
Phelps, Hunt and Leonard from N. York; Messrs. TouceyS 

Wildman and from Conn. There is room for 3 or 4 

more, and I believe Madame is now expecting beside Mr. Shep- 
ley, Mr. Polk, the Speaker. 

The house has an excellent reputation, and judging from 
first impressions, the mess a good one. They are all good demo- 
crats and true except Hunt from N. Y., who is an anti-mason, 
and on the whole perhaps a little inclined to go with us. 

The waiter has just popped his head into the door and 
says he must have my letter, as he is going to the P. 0. The 
mail I believe closes at 9 o'clock in the evening. I will write 
again tomorrow. Love to all. Your husband, 


I enclose you my card. Should be very happy to have you 
call on me soon. You will perceive I have had a fac simile en- 
graved. I have regretted it since I ordered it, as it affords fa- 



cilities to those disposed to counterfeit. Hope I shall hear from 
you tomorrow, I have not time to read this over, etc., etc. 



'Isaac Toucey of Hartford, Ct., was quite a "big gun" for the young 
Maine Congressman to meet, altho this was his first term in the House. 
He became Governor of Connecticut, U. S. Senator, Attorney General of 
the U. S., Secretary of the Navy under Pres. Buchanan. It was he «w<ho 
came under such disfavor among the republicans who charged him with 
active sympathy with the South just prior to secession, by sending the war 
ships of the U. S. to foreign stations where they could not be quickly re- 
called to serve against seceding states. He died in 1869. 

Attends a Funeral 

Washington, Dec. 9, 1835. 
Dear Wife, 

Today we have done nothing but attend the funeral of 
Mr. Smith, Senator from Connecticut. The order of procession 
I enclose you. The carriages in procession extended I should 
think near half a mile, furnished and all other expenses, 
amounting, it is said to about $2000, paid by the Government. 

The services on the occasion were performed by a clergy- 
man of this City as I was told by the name of Digby or Higby 
or something like it. His address was eloquent and excellent, 
and was delivered in the Senate Chamber before the Senators 
and members of the House, who filled the lower part of the 
hall, the ladies with their husbands and gallants, the gallery. 

I have been to see President Jackson twice — the last time 
was on Monday evening after the election of Speaker, Printer, 
etc. The old gentleman was highly gratified at the result, and 
in speaking of it was highly animated, giving us some slight 
specimens of his eloquence. He is a warm-hearted, honest old 
man as ever lived, and possesses talents too of the first order, 
notwithstanding what many of our Northern folks think of 
him. He talks about all matters freely and fearlessly without 
any disguise, and in the straightforward honesty and simplic- 
ity of style and manner which you would expect from what I 
have before said of him. I wish some of our good folks North 


could hear him talk upon a subject in which he was inter- 
ested, — say the French question, which he talked about on Mon- 
day evening. I think their opinions would undergo some 

Mr. Shepley has come to our mess tonight, so we now 
stand four from Maine, Shepley\ Ruggles-, HalP, Fairfield; 
four from N. York, Leonard, Hunt, Doubleday and Lee, and 3 
from Conn., Toucey, Phelps and Wildman. 

To Buy Bed Cord for Fire Escape 

We have just had the cry of fire, which I believe turns out 
to be in Alexandria, but I am determined on one thing, and 
that is to buy me two bed cords, connect them, and have them 
lying near my window constantly, so that in case of fire, I 
may have some way of escape. Lodging in the 4th story, it 
seems to me imprudent to be without something of the kind. 
1 shall attend to it tomorrow. 

I rec'd. a line from Mr. Haines today, and was shocked to 
hear of the sudden illness and probable death of Cousin Mari- 
anne Storer. But it is a consolation to know that she is pre- 
pared for death, and that an exchange of worlds will be with 
her but an exchange of cares, vexation, sorrow and death for 
rich and ever enduring happiness at the right hand of her God. 

I was introduced today to Bellamy Storer, member from 
Cincinnati, Ohio, to whom I communicated the above. He is 
a cousin to Marianne. 

Dear Wife, give my love to the children. Tell Walter I 
shall write him tomorrow if I can, and to George very soon. 
Kiss Sarah and Augusta for me, and tell all of them if they 
want to please Father, they must be good children, do as Ma 
wants them to do, and try to help her all they can. 

Love to Sister Martha and all inquiring friends. 
Your affectionate husband, 


^Ether Shepley (dem.), Saco, who was a U. S. Senator for 1833-36, re- 
signed to accept an appointment to the Supreme Court. 

'John Ruggles, U. S. Senator (dem.), Thomaston, 1835-41. 

'Joseph Hall (dem.), Camden, member of House in the 24th Congrress, 

John Fairfield's Law Partner in Saco 


The Death of a Messmate 

Washington, Dec. 10, 1835. 
My Dear Wife, 

In the forenoon I wrote to Walter, not intending to write 
again today, but an event has occurred which induces me to 
write again. 

When I came from the Capitol at 3 o'clock I was aston- 
ished to learn that Judge Wildman, one of our Messmates, was 
dying. How sudden, and awful. When we came here, he was 
afflicted as we thought with a slight cold, by which, however, 
he was confined to his room. 

Yesterday he wanted to go out and attend the funeral of 
his Colleague, Mr. Smith, but was dissuaded from it by one of 
our boarders, Mr. Hunt. He sat up last evening and wrote 
letters home, and no one dreamed of his being dangerously ill. 

Thus things remained until we were met with the as- 
tounding news on returning today that he was dying. He is 
somewhat advanced in life, perhaps from 60 to 65 or more, and 
appeared to have a very feeble constitution, one that was incap- 
able of resisting a severe attack of any disorder. It is hard 
to realize the fact that he is gone, so late was he among us 
talking about and taking an interest in the things of the day. 
Such events are calculated to impress us strongly with a 
sense of our frailty, and admonish us to have our houses set in 
order, and be ready whenever our Master calls. Mr. Kane of 
the Senate, I understand, is also sick in this City and is not ex- 
pected to recover. Why these numerous deaths in the national 
delegation I cannot tell. It seems otherwise to be healthy. 
As for myself I hardly ever enjoyed better health, and such 
is apparently the case with Mr. Shepley and Mr. Ruggles, ex- 
cept a slight cold. 

The House adjourned over today until Monday next. What 
I shall do with myself tomorrow and next day I have not con- 
cluded on — perhaps I shall go out to Georgetown, or down to 
Alexandria. Ever yours, 


Anxious About the Home Folks 

Washington, Dec. 12, 1835. 
Dear Wife, 

It is now 2 o'clock and I have just returned from attend- 
ing the funeral of our messmate Judge Wildman. I wish I 


could stop here in the record of melancholy occurrences, but 
am obliged to say that last night another Senator died at his 
lodgings, Mr. Kane of Illinois. Three deaths within the first 
week. It is really awful. But I pray that you may not be 
alarmed on my account, there is really no reason for it. 

In regard to these deaths that have occurred, there have 
been special causes in operation, applying peculiarly to those 
individuals, and not to all of us. Judge Wildman was a very 
feeble old gentleman, having no strength of constitution, and 
besides suffered under mismanagements. His friends here ad- 
vised him to have a physician, but he declined; said he knew 
his own constitution best, and what would be best for him, 
and procured a considerable laudanum. This he diluted and 
had it by him to drink. Now altho I do not think he drank 
enough to poison him, yet I believe that he stimulated the vi- 
tal powers to a very great degree, which was followed, as it 
always is by exhaustion and consequent reaction, and in this 
case the reaction was so powerful that his constitution was un- 
able to resist it, and he sank. 

In the case of Mr. Kane who died last night, it seems that 
he has been sick at home of a fever which has been pretty ex- 
tensively prevailing in Illinois, from which he had not entirely 
recovered when he came here. The fatigue of the journey, and 
a cold added, caused a relapse which terminated his life. 

Mr. Smith's case I believe was one of apoplexy, which may 
happen to fleshy people, those of plethoric habits, at any time 
or in any place. 

I allude to these circumstances that you may not be 
alarmed. The fact is that the City is very healthy, and the 
members generally in good health and for myself, I have seldom 
been better. 

Mr. Palfrey, the Unitarian minister, performed the funeral 
services today. He was brief but impressive, and I think left a 
good impression. 

I look for the boys' letters with some interest and wonder 
why I have not received one before. Daily memoranda of 
events not in the family merely, but in the town, etc., will 
possess a deep interest to me, or as John Pierson used to say : 

"A faithful list of Saco annals, 
Will warm me more than all my flannels." 

Your Husband 



By Mr. Thatcher I regret to learn the death of our Cousin 
Mary Ann Storer. I believe if anybody is prepared for death, 
she was. She always appeared to me to possess great purity 
of heart and purpose, and I think she is in Heaven. 

Another Son Born To the Fairfields 

Washington, Dec. 14, 1835. 
My Dear Wife, 

I wept for joy at the information just received from 
home. You are comfortable, and I am the father of another 
fine boy. This is another link added to the chain that binds 
our souls in love, a love from which I have derived more pure 
and unalloyed happiness than from any other earthly source, 
a love that I find daily increasing and strengthening in my 
heart. There, having indulged in this ebullition of feeling, the 
overflowing of, I trust, an honest heart, I will endeavor here- 
after to be more sober and fashionable. I cannot write more 
at present. 

Yours in the depths of a Husband's love. 


The "Bill of Fare" 

Washington, Dec. 15, 1835. 
Dear Wife, 

I remain in the enjoyment of good health and spirits. 
The change in mode of living does not, that I preceive, 
affect me injuriously. Three o'clock comes round each day 
without my feeling any more hungry than usual. Our fare 
is, for breakfast, coffee, tea, green and black, beefsteak, mut- 
ton cutlet, sausage meat, hominy, buckwheat cakes, or flap- 
jacks, "com cakes," or biscuits, flour biscuits, etc., etc. Din- 
ner, roast beef, boiled turkey with oyster sauce, boiled ham, 
roast duck, no gravys except what is in the dish, which to me 
is a great deprivation, puddings, tarts and apples. 

This has been the most common bill of fare so far, and 
it is as good as I want, indeed I as usual make my dinner from 
one dish, except that I first take a small plate of soup, which 
I forgot to mention, by way of an anti-eat-voraciously-appe- 


I cannot say that I like their cooking — things are too 
fleshy — they use too little salt, and regard fashion and gen- 
tility at the expense of real wholesome substance and gusto. 
That is a very homely sentence I must confess, if it is correct, 
of which I much doubt, but I have not seen a dictionary since 
I left home. 

Our landlady Mrs. Hill is an English woman and a widow 
of about 45. She is pretty good looking, smart, active and 
pretty generally keeping her eye on the main chance. She has 
two daughters, one of them married to a Mr. Wright, who 
has gone out to Texas to fight. The other I have only met in 
the entry. She looks Hke her mother, plays on the pianoforte 
and all that. Of our mess I can say nothing in particular at 
present. They are very clever, so so sort of folks, not re- 
markable for anything that I know of. Doct. Lee from N. Y. 
has his wife with him. We see nothing of her except at meal 
times. She is, or was, a Quakeress, is about 45 or 50, pretty 
fleshy, beautiful complexion, skin as smooth and fair as a 
child. She looks so fresh and healthy and good-tempered and 
intelligent, that I like to look at her, and think I shall try by 
and by to get acquainted with her. 

Mr. Doubleday, also from the State of N. Y. and who was 
preceded in Congress by Mr. Day, is about as black as a star- 
less night, and hair so thick all over his head, and down almost 
to his eyes, that you would think you could hardly draw a 
garden rake thru it. He is I think a man of good sense, and 
often disposed to be facetious. Mr. Hunt from N. Y. is an op- 
position man, very tall, slender, feeble and vain. Our mess 
are rather inclined to dislike him, tho I do not. 

Doct. Phelps from Conn, is a man of good sense, and ap- 
pears very well in all respects. Mr. Leonard from N. Y. was a 
Printer & Editor, I believe, of respectable talents and appear- 
ance. Mr. Toucey of Hartford, Conn., is a lawyer and very likely 
man. Of the Maine delegation I will say nothing now. 

I am writing this letter in my seat in the House while 
the election of Sergeant-at-Arms is going on, leaving off only 
occasionally to put in my vote as the box comes round. We 
have already tried four times, without making a choice, and 
I fear may have to try many times more, there being a great 
many candidates. I voted the 2 first times for John A. Webber, 
and he having fallen off in his votes, I have gone the 2 last 
times for John T. Sullivan who was once nominated as Director 
for the U. S. Banks by the President and rejected by the 


The members wear their hats, and talk and buzz while 
the business is going on so that much of the time it sounds 
like a town meeting, the Speaker only appearing to attend to 
the business of the House. 

The pronunciation I find here somewhat different from 
ours, for instance the Speaker says cheer for chair and Clark 
for Clerk. It is also very fashionable to chew words, and when 
d u come together as in duty, durance, etc., they pronounce 
them juty, jurance, etc. Oh, I despise it — it is sheer affecta- 
tion, and their style of oratory, too, is peculiar. The speak- 
ers all have abundance of action, if not the most graceful, 
many of them appearing as if cutting wood. Their style of 
speaking is declamatory, such as you would expect to see in 
times of great excitement, but unsuited to the sober business 
of legislation. 

It is now 3 o'clock, and I suppose the House will adjourn 
in a few minutes. I therefore close this long and I fear tedious 
letter. Finding that Sullivan fell off the last time, I voted for 
Dorsey who they say is the best man politically. After going 
home, and after dinner I shall write to Mr. Haines if I can, if 
not I shall write tomorrow. I feel under much obligation to 
him for his kind attentions. Love to all. 
Your Husband, 


Fairfield and Col. Johnson of Kentucky 

Washington, Dec. 17, 1835. 
My Dear Wife, 

How do you do? How does our dear little son? Who or 
what does he look like? What his complexion, his eyes, &c.? 
How much did he weigh? How do the children like him? &c. 
&c. &c. Be kind enough to write me all about it, and I hope by 
the time this reaches you, you will be able to write, though I 
would by no means have you act prematurely and in imprudent 
haste in trying to get about. 

Today we had quite a flourishing debate in the House 
merely on the motion of Col. Johnson of Kentucky^ to supply 
the Secretary of War and some of the bureaus in that depart- 
ment with Congressional documents. Mr. Wise of Virginia- 
seized upon it as a pretext for abusing the administration, and 


making a display of his eloquence & imitations of John Ran- 
dolph. "He is no great shakes" and might have been very 
easily answered by no greater man than your humble servant. 
But I must keep cool, and try to be a sober, industrious and use- 
ful member, rather than a meteor, flashing and expiring. Old 
Col. Johnson answered him, but it was rather "small potatoes." 

I like, however, the plainness and honest simplicity of the 
Col., though I don't think him the greatest man in the world. 
Mr. Patton of Virginia also made a speech, passable and that's 
all. He doesn't know which side he is on now, but I hope he & 
Wise will both find themselves past all redemption before long, 
on the side of the opposition — their friendship is more to be 
dreaded than their enmity. 

It is strange that I can't get a newspaper from Maine — 
they are the impolitest folks imaginable way down east. Ask 
Mr. Haines to ask Condon to send me a "Democrat" during the 
session of Congress. The Eastern Argus, daily, is to be sup- 
plied me by the House. The Age I have sent for. 

I think it would have been well for us to have acknowledged 
the receipt of letters with their dates. Now I have written 
some one of the family every day since Thursday the 3d. day 
of December i. e., 14 including this — saying nothing about two 
on the same day. Love to all. 

Your husband, 


^Richard Mentor Johnson, soldier, politician, Vice-President of the 
United States from 1837 to 1841. Member of the House from 1806 to 1813. 
Soldier in the War of 1812 and a colonel in William Henry Harrison's 
division of Kentucky riflemen. It is said that he shot and killed the great 
chief Tecumseh. In the House in 1814-15, elected to the U. S. Senate in 1819, 
served as Senator to 1829, and went back to the House in 1829, where he 
served until 1837. He was put on the ticket with Van Buren in 1835, but 
failed of election, thru no choice. The choice went to the Senate and 
dragged along, but Johnson was elected finally. He was a candidate for 
President in the Convention of 1844, but was defeated. Gov. Fairfield gives 
an interesting side-light on Col. Johnson. 

=Henry A. Wise of Virginia, famous in American politics and history, 
his name still perpetuated in his descendants. He was a great political boss 
in his day. Congressman, minister to Brazil, Governor of Virginia. One of 
his last acts was signing John Brown's death warrant in the Harper's Ferry 
raid. Wise opposed immediate secession in the Virginia Convention of 1861. 
He became a Major-General in the Confederate Army. He wrote a history 
entitled "Seven Decades of the Union." He died in 1876. 


Calls on Cabinet Minister and Mends His Trousers 

Washington, Dec. 19, 1835. 

My dear Wife, 

It seems you have good sleighing, and I suppose a plenty 
of bitter cold weather. Here the weather is about as cold as we 
have it in Maine the middle of Oct. About a week ago, how- 
ever, we had a little snow in the night, say i/o ^^ inch, but it 
very quickly disappeared in the morning. I have worn my sur- 
tout every day but one, and then I found my wrapper too warm. 

Today Col. Hall, myself and Mr. Leonard took a hack and 
went around leaving our cards, that is to say, with Mr. Van 
BurenS Mr. Cass-, Mr. KendalP,Mr. Butler" and Mr. Dickerson^ 
All we do is to drive up to the door, and without getting out, 
send our cards in by the driver. This, you see, places us in the 
way of invitations, and for myself I feel very much inclined to 
see & hear whatever is to be seen & heard in this great Ameri- 
can Babylon I had almost called it. Mr. Chas. Cutts has called 
to see me at my lodgings, and your Uncle Richard at the House. 
I intend soon to call on them again. But after all, I cannot find 
here a New England winter evening with all its domestic and 
social accompaniments — the closed shutters, the brisk fire, the 
table & light & books, the familiar and pleasant chit-chat, the 
plain fare of an apple & nuts, the unsophisticated honesty and 
bluntness, and absence of what is merely artificial, &c. &c. 

We have just had news of a dreadful conflagration in N. 
Y. — they say that between 20 and 30 millions of property has 
been destroyed, but I suppose you will get all the particulars be- 
fore this reaches you, so I add no more. 

If you wish to be very inquisitive and ask me about my 
small affairs, I suppose I must answer So, let's see — since I 
left home I have bought me a new hat, a silk stock, and a pair 
of overshoes, bought them all here. I have had occasion 3 
times to use my tailoring apparatus which you with so much 
wise forethought provided me with. My suspenders gave out 
twice & needed a good deal of stitching over, and once my black 
trousers gave out at the meeting of the four seams by tearing, 
and not knowing that I had any cloth scraps in my trunk until 
afterward, I darned the rent, and then sewed a piece of tape 
across the seams to hold all fast, and if I didn't have the panta- 
loons as handsome as they were before, I believe I left them 
much better able to endure a strain. 


Today my washerwoman called for her pay, and after some 
little dickering with her as to prices, I agreed to give her 6 
cents a piece, or fippenny bit as they call it here, not counting 
as many dickeys as there are shirts, but paying 6 cents a piece 
for each extra one, which is in my case today 3. I believe she 
washes very well, but now I think on't for the first time, she 
has not brought back the bag in which the clothes were carried 
away. That perhaps is a little worse than Mr. Shepley said 
would happen to me, that is, that they would, in spite of direc- 
tions, wash the bag itself and charge a fippenny bit for it. 

What do you say to the name of Hampden? If you don't 
like that, suggest some other. 

Your Husband, 


^Martin Van Buren, Secretary of State under Jackson; Vice-President 
in 1835. „ ^ - 

"Lewis Cass, the distinguished American statesman, was Secretary of 
War in Jackson's Cabinet. 

'Amos Kendall of Kentucky, Postmaster General. 

♦Benjamin F. Butler of New York, Attorney General, succeeding Lewis 
Cass as Secretary of War. 

^Mahlon Dickerson of New Jersey, Secretary of the Navy. 

A Metamorphosed Congressman! 

Washington, Dec. 21, 1835. 
My Dear Mrs. F. 

It will be three weeks tomorrow since I left home and how- 
ever ungallant it may seem I must acknowledge that the time 
has flown to me, somewhat swiftly. It seems but yesterday 
that I left you, so fresh are all the circumstances of that mo- 
ment remaining upon my mind, nay, may I not say engraven 
upon the tablets of my heart. And yet how crowded with 
events have been those short three weeks — events interesting 
not to us alone, but to millions & millions of beings — to the na- 
tion and the world. Happy shall we be if the instruction drop- 
ped from the wings of time in his rapid flight has contributed 
aught to our improvement — has made us more confiding in the 
goodness of our Heavenly Father, more grateful for benefits 
bestowed,, more earnestly desirous to attain to the moral 
purity of Him who was given to be our pattern; more fit for 
the society of the spirits of the just made perfect in Heaven. 

Today being Sunday, and having no pew in the Unitarian 
House, I concluded to attend services at the Capitol. Mr. The- 
ophilus Fisk preached — a Universalist and former, if not pres- 


ent, editor of the Republic in Boston. He has a very pretty- 
poetical style of writing, abounds in figures, piles on figures, 
and some of them very good ones, too. Has abundance of 
action, even to theatricals, a tolerable voice, but he is wanting 
in what we homespun folks away down east are apt to consider 
somewhat essential, to wit, ideas. He is a candidate for the 
Chaplaincy of the Senate — what his prospect is I know not. We 
have not chosen one yet for the House, and I don't know when 

we shall. Clark has been busy as the " in a gale of 

wind," as the sailors say, but I doubt whether he is going ahead 
very fast. I suspect that when we do choose, Stockton, a Meth- 
odist, will be the man. 

We have now added to our number at Mrs. Hill's, Mr. 
Niles, the new Senator from Connecticut, and Mr. Polk, Speak- 
er of the House, & Lady, tho Mr. Polk does not mess with us. 
I continue to like our house very well, with one exception, and 
that is my smoky fireplace. So, if you ever discover any tears 
on my letters, you must not suppose I am unhappy or give me 
credit for any extraordinary degree of tenderness, but you will 
attribute it simply to Smoke, the whole Smoke, and nothing 
but the Smoke. I keep hearing every day about a grate and 
coal, but they don't come, and I am not sorry, for this coal is 
vile stuff in some respects. It gives us heat, to be sure, but 
buries us in its ashes, and yet it teaches one moral lesson for 
which it should have credit — on examining anything in your 
chamber where coal is burnt you cannot but be ready to ex- 
claim, "We are dust." 

Mr. Hunt, one of our boarders who is a Whig (instead of 
an anti-mason as I thought) has made a speech in the House, 
and you can't think what a metamorphosis it has produced. 
Before, he spoke like a mouse in a cheese, and didn't seem to 
have courage enough to fight a sheep; now, he talks loud, has 
much to say, drinks porter at dinner and wine after it, and is 
so elated, that I shouldn't wonder if he swelled to the size of a 
gallon pot, being now not much larger than one of Deacon 
Gray's legs, though at least six feet high. He is very far from 
being a favorite with any, and to Mr. Hale and Judge Ruggles 
he is exceedingly obnoxious. The rest of our boarders, so far 
as I can judge, are capital fellows — Mr. Toucey from Connecti- 
cut in particular. Mr. Doubleday is queer as anybody's folks, 
has a sober face, a sly eye and much humor. 


Dear Ann, when am I to hear from you again ? No letters 
today, but I suppose it is in consequence of the great fire at New 
York, as we have no mail from there or beyond. 
Love to all. 

Your husband, 


Objects to Abolition Fusses 

Washington, Dec. 22, 1835. 
Dear Wife, 

I thank you for your note reed, today. I rejoice that you 
are getting along so comfortably, and pray for a continuance of 
your progress. I cannot say so much for my own comfort as 
heretofore, for I have been troubled for 2 or 3 nights past with 
a pain in my foot on the outer edge of the right foot, just back 
of the little toe joint. Last night, however, it jump'd at one 
time to the bone above the heel and there continued during the 
remainder of the night. By day it is less painful. It has now 
commenced again in the old place, and gives me some trouble. 
It causes no swelling, nor is the flesh sore, so I apprehend it 
must, of course, be in the bone. I have taken some corrective 
powder, but it does no good, so I shall try to "tough it out," 
i. e., "grin and bear it." 

Since writing to you last we have added to our mess 
Messrs. Niles and Norwell, the new Senators from Connecticut, 
and the almost a State, Michigan, and Mr. Polk, the Speaker, & 
wife, who live by themselves though under the administration 
of Mrs. Hill. 

We have had another exciting debate in the House today 
upon the subject of slavery in the Dist. of Col. It appears to 
me if the abolitionists, or those who get up these petitions, many 
of them at least, knew what mischief they were doing, that 
they would abstain. The South will not have that question 
meddled with, and if we persist in attempting it, a dissolution 
of the Union must follow. 

We had some pretty able speeches today, particularly one 
from Ingersoll of Philadelphia. Wise has also been letting off 
the steam again. Among other things he said, in answer to 
some compliments on the Ladies by Granger of N. Y., that if 
ever there was a devil incarnate, when she was a devil, it was a 
woman. How this suited the long row of ladies in the gallery 


I don't know, but it was followed by a considerable rustling of 
the silk. 

I enclose you a plan of the Hall of the House of Repre- 
sentatives, which has just been published. My position, you will 
perceive, is in one wing, a pretty good one for hearing, as you 
may face almost the whole House, and the inconvenience from 
the proximity of the door, has in some measure been obviated 
by a screen which the Doorkeeper has caused to be made. The 
back seats are considered the poorest, it being difficult there to 
hear the speakers. The circles, as I believe I have before 
stated, are marble pillars about 2i< feet in diameter, and take 
it all in all, I suspect it is the most splendid room, perhaps I 
might say, in the world. 

My twinges are so importunate in demanding attention 
that I believe I must stop writing. What shall I do for my 
poor foot? 

Your Husband, 


The Admission of Michigan 

Washington, Dec. 24, 1835. 
Dear Wife, 

The Senate yesterday chose the Revd. Mr. Higbee their 
Chaplain, the same who performed funeral services at the 
burial of Senator Smith. The House has just balloted for a 
Chaplain, without making a choice. Mr. Comstock stood high- 
est, having 50 odd; Clark next, having 33; Stockton — the elo- 
quent Stockton — 31 ; Mr. Palfrey 8, &c., &c. The boxes are be- 
ing carried round again, I believe I shall vote for Palfrey once 
more — Stockton is my second choice. 

The first hour of this morning's session was spent in dis- 
cussing the question what committee the subject of Michigan's 
application to be admitted into the Union should be submitted 
to. We had 2 or 3 short speeches from Ohio and among others, 
one from Bellamy Storer. He is a pretty good speaker and has 
considerable enthusiasm for a Northern man. Lane of Indiana 
also gave a speech. He is, they say, a real screamer, but was 
pretty moderate today. I have taken a lurch in favor of Michi- 
gan — Mr. Norwell, one of her Senators, boards with us, and is 
about my size, how much influence this has had on my opinion 
I can't say; in justice to myself, however, I should say that I 
have read the appeal of Michigan to the people of the U. S. in 


which she sets forth her claims & the foundations of them par- 
ticularly in regard to the question of her boundary. 

The 2d vote for Chaplain has just been declared — no choice 
— Comstock stands ahead — Clark, I believe, fell off, though I 
did not distinctly understand the Clerk. The boxes are going 
round again. I shall now vote for Stockton. 

Third ballot declared — no choice again. All fell off, but 
Comstock & Stockton — the former ahead. Box is going round 
again. Oh, how my foot twinges. By the way, I found a medi- 
cine last night which gave me some relief, and that was no 
more nor less than a long walk. After my return the pain 
ceased, and I have felt but little of it till within an hour. After 
dinner I'll have another walk. Tonight I go to the President's, 
and tomorrow Doct. Mason & I have agreed to walk to George- 
town, and then what do you think I mean to do? I'll tell you. 
I mean to ascertain what you & I & Doct. Mason & wife can 
get boarded for next winter with as many of our children as 
we have a mind to take with us, keeping a horse & chaise with 
which we could ride each day to the Capitol, or not keeping a 
horse but going back & forth in the omnibuses which go 
hourly. The distance is only abut three miles. I understand 
we can get boarded there pretty cheap compared with City 
board. What do you say to that? 

The result of another ballot is declared & no choice — Com- 
stock 83, Stockton 73, and all the rest but a few apiece, poor 
Clark 5. He sits in the Ladies' Gallery looking like a "mother- 
less colt." You must mind how you repeat what I say about 
Clark considering how my friend, Amos Clark, is connected 
with him. 

It is now within 5 minutes of the time of adjournment, 
and so I close. 

Your Husband, 


P. S. Stockton is elected, 1 majority. 

Washington, Dec. 26, 1835. 
Dear Wife, 

The Eastport, Calais, Bangor & Thomaston papers have 
been sent to me gratuitously, while the Saco Democrat, for 
which I expect to pay, is not sent to me. I attribute it to the 
irregularity of the mails and not to Mr. Condon's forgetfulness. 


I would thank you, however, to ask Mr. Haines to remind Mr. 
Condon of my request. 

My letters are not very valuable nor are they designed 
to be. I do not pretend to act the philosopher or scholar — to 
make profound remarks or write elegant essays, but simply to 
chat with my family as I would if I were present with them. 
And in doing this, if I contribute in any degree to relieve you 
from the tedium of daily cares, and to excite a single pleasur- 
able emotion, I am only doing that which contributes essential- 
ly to my own happiness. 

Yesterday Doct. Mason and I walked out to Georgetown 
and back before dinner. I was much pleased with my jaunt, 
though there were many things to be seen of an unsightly char- 
acter. The land all the way between Washington and George- 
town lies entirely uncultivated and the most of it unfenced. 
The houses, except here and there, are small, old, ill-fashioned, 
and out of repair. At Georgetown we found quite a city — 
buildings large — streets wide and paved, etc. But in the lower 
part of it towards the river, where the merchants, formerly, 
and what remains of them, now occupy, exhibits a most deso- 
late and melancholy appearance. A large portion of the stores 
are unoccupied, and those that are appeared to be occupied by 
the small fry, a sort of nuts, gingerbread and egg-pop gentle- 
men. The back part of the city, however, on the high ground, 
is very pleasant. There are many very fine houses and much 
more taste is displayed in laying out the grounds and decorat- 
ing with trees and shrubbery than I have seen anywhere in 
this city. I did not visit the College, the nunnery or anything 
else of a public character, but the canal, the locks of which are 
worth examining. I think very shortly, whenever we can steal 
a day or two from the press of public business, I shall get on 
board of the canal boat and go up to Harper's Ferry. We did 
not have an opportunity to make any inquiries about board 
out there, but I think there is so little doubt about our being 
accommodated to our liking, that you may if you please put 
on your bonnet and shawl. 

Last evening Mr. Shepley, myself and Doct. Mason and 
wife spent at Mr. Charles Cults', and I must say very pleas- 
antly, too. Doct. Mason and Mr. Cutts played cards, Mrs. Cutts 
talked till all was blue, and Mr. Shepley and Miss Stras (I be- 
lieve) talked till all was bluer. He is a capital hand to enter- 
tain the ladies and enjoys a little social chit-chat much. I beat 
Stephen a game at chess and then Miss Stras beat me, it was 


however through the accidental loss of my Queen. Miss Stras 
gave us some very good tunes on the pianoforte, and a few 
very pretty Scotch songs. She is I presume a little over bloom- 
ing 16 — say 45 — but that you know was of no consequence to 
us old married men. She is a sister of Mrs. Cults and I think 
it likely that you have heard of her. Next week I mean to go 
up and pass an evening at your Uncle Richard's. 

Thinking that it might afford you some amusement at 
home, I have permitted Doct. Fowler a Phrenologist to exam- 
ine my head and lay down the results of his examination on a 
phrenological chart, which I have enclosed with a document 
and shall send by the same mail which carries this letter under 
direction to Mr. Haines. Let me know where you think he 
has succeeded and where he has failed. He occupies the same 
room with Brown, the profile cutter, and it is really very amus- 
ing to sit, and hear the result of his examination of heads. He 
speaks right out plainly, and if a man has no conscience, or is 
conceited and vain, he says so. There are various opinions en- 
tertained of him and the science, but he has been remarkably 
successful, and has made, they say, $2000 here in 2 or 3 months. 
I wish I could send you my profile but I am afraid to try it. I 
think it would be injured in the mail, and shall therefore prob- 
ably retain it until I return home, and perhaps I may add to it 
those of the Pres. Mr. Van Buren and Amos Kendall. 

We have two more added to our mess but not permanently, 
Doct. Dubois and wife from N. Y., — just married. There, my 
letter is long enough — perhaps too long for your patience. You 
may not however expect such long ones by and by, when I 
have something more to do in committee, and when I begin to 
work on my reports, which I have not done yet. 

Give my love to our Dear Children and all the rest. 
Your Husband 


P. S. Doct. Fowler never saw me or heard of me before, 
and never was in our part of the country. 

A Voice from the Ladies' Gallery 

Washington, Dec. 28, 1835. 
Dear Wife, 

We have just had a sermon or exhortation from a Quaker- 
ess in the Ladies' gallery. While the members were lounging 


about, reading newspapers, writing letters, &c., &c., about 20 
minutes before the hour of meeting of the House, a female voice 
came in most sepulchral tones from the gallery. To some it 
was a source of much merriment, others looked upon her in pity 
as insane, but all were for permitting her to go on when the 
Doorkeeper attempted to stop her. I could not distinctly hear 
all she said, but it appeared to be a religious exhortation or as 
some would call it a moral one, i. e., "fiat justitia, ruat coelum." 
If the time would have permitted I suppose she would have ap- 
plied her principles to the subject of slavery. Her language 
was good, and were it not for the time, place & circumstances 
of her address, no one would take her to be insane. Who or 
what she was I know not. 

After the House adjourns I will resume my letter. 

The House has adjourned, the forenoon having been occu- 
pied with a discussion of the question of reconsideration of the 
vote by which the President's message, &c., relating to admis- 
sion of Michigan was referred to a Select Com., of which J. Q. 
A.^ was chairman. We had some very good speeches upon the 
subject. Adams became a good deal warmed up, and was very 
sarcastic. Storer, Vinton, Corwin^ Lane & others also made 
speeches — Storer's very good. The House voted to reconsider 
— myself in the minority. 

Ohio, lUinois & Indiana (29) go in a body upon these ques- 
tions, being directly interested, having all of them stolen from 
the territory of Michigan. I tho't, therefore, that Ohio start- 
ing in the controversy with 29 enlisted in her cause & Michigan 
none, we ought to let the matter go to the Select Committee tho' 
Adams' opinions were well known. 

I have not yet been in the Senate, except for one moment 
when they were about adjourning. We meet at the same hour, 
and new members, they say, are generally very sensitive at be- 
ing absent when a vote is taken — it certainly is somewhat so 
with me. I hope, however, to have an opportunity soon, when 
I will endeavor to give you some account of the members. 

I have reed, an invitation from Mrs. Cass to attend a party 
on Thursday evening, and as a specimen I enclose it to you. 
Tell Mr. Haines that today the President sent in the nomina- 
tions of Toucey for C. J. P. P., Barbour for associate hero, and 
Kendall as P. M. Genl. Speculations are various as to whether 
they will be confirmed or not. My own impressions are that the 


two first, if not all three will, and it is hard to believe that the 
opposition will be so demented as to reject Kendall, but they 
may. Today I got nothing by mail, not even a newspaper. 

I hope soon to hear from my dear children again. Oh, I 
wish I could have a smack at certain fat cheeks beneath a pair 
of black eyes that I know of. I can see Miss Bunch sitting at 
the table looking sideways, slying with the one sitting next to 
her. I would give a week's pay if I could have her here five 
minutes. Give my love to her, and Walter & George & Augusta 
and Hampden (?). Of this last name I have not yet heard your 
decision. I hope for a letter tomorrow. 
Your Husband, 


>John Quincy Adams. 

2Tom Corwin, born in Kentucky, orator and statesman, Congressman, 
Senator, Governor of Ohio, celebrated for arraignment of administration for 
War with Mexico. Secretary of the Treasury under Fillmore. 

A Picture of Calhoun 

Washington, Dec. 29. 
Dear Wife, 

I sit down to write my daily letter as regularly as if I 
always had something to say. I set the mill a-going without 
ever thinking to inquire whether there is anything in the hop- 
per, and it cannot, therefore, be very strange if you sometimes 
are obliged to take an article a little worse than bran. But I 
can't well avoid it. It constitutes a part of my daily food, that 
is, food for the mind and the affections. It seems like going 
home after the day's work is done and sitting down with my 
wife, children and friends, and if my imagination is not equal 
to hearing you talk, I can imagine that the next morning's mail 
will bring your thoughts if not your voice. 
iti * * * * 

I had written thus far last night, when I was sent for to 
go to the parlor. There I found Saml. Cutts who detained me 
until after our bag had gone to the P. Office. So I am one day 
behind-hand. Your letter, my Dear Wife, of the 24th I have 
just received — 4 pages — I thank you heartily — you are desei*v- 
ing of a pension, and if you will send on your petition I will 
present it, and make a speech in support of it. Your letter 
touched upon many interesting topics, and afforded me much 
pleasure, excepting that part relating to your cough, and indeed 


even there, though I regret your illness, yet I am pleased to 
think that you will be honest with me, and when you are really 
sick let me know it. 

To one part of a prior letter of mine I think you had a 
pretty fair offset. The fact is that many of the ills of life are 
imaginary, and all of them are much more endurable than they 
appeared in their approach to us. It is a very happy faculty 
(and I think I possess something of it) of adapting one's self 
to the circumstances in which he may be placed for the time 

I am glad to hear of Grandma, Aunt Mary, Phebe, Lucy, 
Augusta & others, besides our own family — give my love to 
them all. The children, you say, call the baby John — that 
won't do. You know I don't like the Jnrs., & 2ds. & 3ds. I 
think we had better stick to Hampden. 

H: H: ^ ^ 4: 

The House adjourned at a little before 4 o'clock, having 
spent the whole day in discussing the question whether the 
petitions of the Banks in this District for renewal of charter 
should be referred to the committee on the Dis. of Columbia or 
to a Select Com. The vote was against referring it to our Com- 
mittee, in which I concurred, together with Mr. Townes of 
Georgia — (the rest of our committee voting the other way.) 

There is a general impression here that one of these Banks 
which failed or stopped specie payment during the panic, did 
it purposely to help Clay & Co.^ along with their villainous 
projects, and our friends here are desirous that the matter 
should be thoroughly probed. Find that it was to be a party 
vote, & considering that Shepard, our Chairman, was an oppo- 
sition man, I concluded to vote against its coming to our Com- 
mittee, though it is not very usual, I believe, for members of 
Committees so to vote. 

I went into the Senate Chamber yesterday for a few min- 
utes, and heard Mr. Calhoun- make a short speech introductory 
to a resolution which he offered proposing an alteration in the 
Constitution so that the surplus revenues may be divided. He 
speaks like what he in fact is, a man of talents, but he is far 
from being an orator. His voice is not very good, and his man- 
ners are stiff, and upon this occasion, if the people could have 
heard him, they would have laughed in his face. He was croak- 
ing about the state of affairs, as if we stood upon the very verge 
of ruin. Really he & many others seem to be laboring under 


some strange hallucination of mind, which nothing can remove. 
Your Husband, 


'Henry Clay, of course. 

'John C. Calhoun, the great democratic leader, soon to split with Van 
Buren and, even then, losing- favor with such as Gov. Fairfield. 

Sees Hope in His Eldest Son 

Washington, Dec. 31, 1835. 
Dear Wife, 

From among over 20,000 volumes, contained in our library, 
I took out the other day Hazlitt's "Table Talk & Essays." In 
the chapter "on the ignorance of the learned" I found the fol- 
lowing remarks which gave me some pleasure, on the ground of 
furnishing an apology for "our eldest," and exciting a hope of 
future progress in some way if not in that of learning. 

"A lad with a sickly constitution, and no very active 
mind, who can just retain what is pointed out to him, and 
has neither sagacity to distinguish nor spirit to enjoy for 
himself, will generally be at the head of his class. An idler 
at school, on the other hand, is one who has high health 
and spirits, who has the free use of his limbs, with all his 
wits about him, who feels the circulation of his blood and 
the motion of his heart, who is ready to laugh and cry in a 
breath, and who had rather chase a ball or a butterfly, 
feel the open air in his face, look at the fields or the sky, 
follow a winding path, or enter with eagerness into all the 
little conflicts and interests of his acquaintances and 
friends, than doze over a musty spelling book, repeat bar- 
barous distichs after his master, sit so many hours pin- 
ioned to a writing desk, and receive his reward for the loss 
of time and pleasure in paltry prize medals at Christmas 
and Midsummer. There is, indeed, a degree of stupidity 
which prevents children from learning the usual lessons, 
or ever arriving at these puny Academic honors. But 
what passes for stupidity is much oftener a want of inter- 
est or a sufficient motive to fix the attention, and force a 
reluctant application to the dry and unmeaning pursuits of 
school learning. The best capacities are as much above 
this drudgery, as the dullest are beneath it. Our men of 
the greatest genius have not been most distinguished for 
their acquirements at school or at the University." 


There, though I think this would be dangerous doctrine to 
preach to boys, I cannot help thinking there is some truth in it, 
don't you? 

So far I wrote last evening. The House has just ad- 
journed, having spent the day in the further discussion of the 
submission with instructions to a select committee of the peti- 
tions of the Banks in this District. We have had speeches to- 
day from Thomas of Maryland, J. Q. Adams, Beardsley & Mann 
of N. Y., Parker of N. J., Wardwell of N. Y. and McKenman of 
Penn. The latter is a Roarer. He is almost a giant in frame, 
has a voice corresponding with his body, and flourishes a fist 
big enough to knock down an ox. Thomas has a middling 
voice, is a very good looking man and speaks tolerably fluently. 
But he is vain of his qualities as a peacock of his tail or a night- 
ingale of his voice, and speaks much too often. Beardsley & 
Mann are both men of good talents & tolerable speakers, tho 
Beardsley's voice is not very good. 

Adams^ is generally interesting from the circumstance of 
his age, former high standing and great fund of knowledge 
which he possesses. He is very often animated and sometimes 
lashes himself into a great rage, when the top of his head, 
which is usually white as alabaster, becomes as red as a came- 
lian. The members generally treat him with much respect, and 
from some he gets the highest compliments, though from a few 
he has had some pretty hard cuts. 

The debate today resulted in a reference to a select com- 
mittee with instructions to go into a thorough examination of 
the affairs of the Banks. 

Tonight we go to Mr. Cass's — Messrs. Shepley, Ruggles, 
Hall & Fairfield have engaged a carriage, as the distance is 
over a mile & a half, and the weather is somewhat threatening. 
Your husband, 


^The Ex-President of the United States. 

The Year 1836, as Fairfield Saw It. 

Frequent references will be found in Mr. Fairfield's letters 
of 1836, to affairs with France. Early in that year, the situa- 
tion was tense and war-like. For several weeks, the United 
States and France faced each other threateningly. A French 
fleet was on the seas, preparing to strike our coast. Such was 
the official announcement in Congress and, for the opening 
weeks of the session of 1836, debates focused on appropriations 
for coast-wise fortifications and naval enlargements. Through 
these, raged all of the personal animosities of the Whig and the 
Democrat; the Jacksonian and the anti-Jacksonian. 

As usual, the centre of the storm was President Jackson. 
In his annual message of 1835, he had discussed the "aggres- 
sions of France upon our American commerce" with emphasis 
and with a great deal of truth. So forcible was his address 
upon this point, that France took offence ; and, while admitting 
the justice of the indemnity claims of the United States against 
France, declined to pay them unless President Jackson offer 
suitable apologies for the expressions of his message of 1835. 
This, President Jackson declined to do; and not even his bit- 
terest political enemies, such as Clay and Calhoun, suggested 
that, as representative of the United States, the President 
should apologize to any foreign power. 

Mr. Fairfield's letters frequently refer, therefore, to the 
debates of January and February, 1836, upon the resolution 
providing an outlay of some millions of dollars for fortifications 
and naval preparations for the war that seemed impending. 
The digest of debates of the period indicate the intense feeling 
over the issue. While the anti-Jackson partisan did not as a 
rule go so far as to suggest that the President apologize, he 
did not seem inclined to help the President out of his difficulties 
by providing him any further means of national defence. 
France's position also seemed a bit puerile. After having voted 
to pay the indemnity for its spoliations and having appropriated 
the money in its assembly, it was apparently confusing its 


sense of justice with its traditional etiquette and its national 
pride. Calhoun, with his customary offense against Jackson, 
opposed any appropriation for national defense. Benton urged 
a union of all patriots against foreign aggression. The debates 
enlisted the supreme effort of the best that we had. Daniel 
Webster, James Buchanan, William C. Preston, whom Fairfield 
calls "the eminent South Carolinian," Clay and Calhoun all 
took part. 

It will be noticed that, in February, Mr. Fairfield writes 
his wife jubilantly that he has heard the rumor that England is 
to mediate in the matter. History proves the truth of Mr. Fair- 
field's gossip. Great Britain did mediate in the matter. The 
French fleet of sixty sail, for which America had been watching 
on every headland, did not come. France ultimately paid the 
indemnity. The United States did not expend the $3,000,000 
for fortifications and Jackson did not apologize. Thus, the war 
cloud passed, and the skies cleared, soon, however, to be dark- 
ened by other portents, for the financial storm of 1837 was 
already gathering in the business centres of the land. 

As a subject of a purely political and party concern, none 
is more interesting than the situation in Congress in regard to 
the expunging resolution of 1836, which reached its culmination 
in the vote of January 14, 1837, when "expunged" was finally 
written across the face of this obnoxious resolution. For a 
year, therefore, this subject of a purely personal and political 
scope, involving the censure of Gen. Jackson and the removal 
of that censure, occupied the attention of the master-minds of 
that day. The debates on it ramify into every department of 
public policy and search out every fundamental principle of our 

Another issue of importance came into being in this year, 
in the debates upon the famous Cherokee Indian removal, 
which kindled the slumbering sparks of slavery agitation into 
the fires of civil war, within the lifetime of many who partici- 
pated therein. The issue itself was apparently insignificant. 
The removal of the Creek Indians from the State of Georgia 
had been accomplished by treaty of 1826. This removal sat- 


isfied the obligations of the United States to Georgia under the 
compact of 1802. But the same obligations remained with 
respect to the Cherokee Indians, founded on the same consid- 
eration, viz., the cession to the United States of the valuable 
lands now constituting the States of Alabama and Mississippi. 
Thirty-five years had passed and the United States had not 
fulfilled her promises to Georgia with regard to the removal of 
the Cherokees. Georgia was impatient and importunate, de- 
manding the use and profit of the land to which she claimed a 
title. Gen. Jackson was anxious to effect the removal of this 
tribe. Mr. Cass, Secretary of War, seconded him. A commis- 
sion had investigated and reported in accord with the designs 
and desires of Gen. Jackson. In 1835-36 a treaty had been made 
with the Cherokees, who agreed to go West beyond the Missis- 
sippi and join a portion of the tribe which had long since jour- 
neyed westward. 

Advantageous as this treaty seemed to be for all parties 
thereto, it was intensely and almost successfully opposed in 
the Senate and finally passed by only one vote. A discontented 
party of the Cherokees invaded Washington. Mr. Clay, Mr. 
Calhoun and Mr. Webster opposed the treaty tooth and nail. 
It was a Southern question, involving the extension of slavery 
over a great tract of a slave-state. It required only a minority 
of one-third to defeat it. The South divided on it under the 
leadership of Calhoun, who was opposed on general principles 
to any of Gen. Jackson's plans. The same may be said of Mr. 
Clay. Mr. Webster was opposing it on the fundamental basis 
of anti-extension of slavery and prospective nullification. The 
treaty, thus enkindling the fierce fires of the slavery issue, was 
saved only by the votes of Northern Democrats who refused to 
take any vote or action, which should cause the South to break 
with them politically as Democrats or which should stir the 
issue of slavery, which, as a rule, they believed might slumber 
forever, if undisturbed by Northern zealots. Among the votes 
that saved the Cherokee removal treaty were those of Senators 
Ruggles and Shepley of Maine. The only Northern votes 
against the treaty were those of Webster and Davis of Massa- 


chusetts, Ewing of Ohio, N. P. Tallmage of New York, Tipton 
of Illinois, Wall of New Jersey and Silas Wright, Jr., that wise 
and capable farmer-Senator from New York. 

This treaty was therefore passed by the fourteen votes of 
free-state Senators which precisely balanced the fourteen votes 
of the seven slave-state Senators, who followed the lead of 
Calhoun. Mr. Benton, sizing up this question in his Thirty 
Years' View, says, "I, who write history, not for applause but 
for the sake of the instruction which it affords, gather up these 
dry details from the neglected documents, in which they lie hid- 
den, and bring them forth to the knowledge and consideration 
of all candid and impartial men, that they may see the just and 
fraternal spirit in which the free-states then acted towards 
their brethren of the South. Nor can it fail to be observed, as 
a curious contrast, that, in the very moment that Mr. Calhoun 
was seeing cause for Southern alarm, lest the North should 
abolish slavery in the South, the Northern Senators were ex- 
tending the area of slavery in Georgia by converting Indian soil 
into slave soil; and that against strenuous exertions made by 
himself." How short a space Senator Benton saw into the 
future ! 

Again, in this period (in the extension of the Missouri 
question) did Senator Benton extol the generosity of the North- 
ern Democrats in regard to extension of slave-soil. In his sum- 
mary of the debates and the votes of 1836 upon this important 
question embodying fundamental issues of slave-soil extension, 
he records his undying gratitude to the Senators from such 
states as Maine and New Hampshire for their "magnanimous 
assistance under such trying circumstances." In resonant sen- 
tences he testifies voluntarily and graciously his appreciation 
of their vote as a proof "of the willingness of the non-slave- 
holding part of the Union to be just and generous to their slave- 
holding brethren, even in disregard of cherished prejudices and 
offensive criminations." 

This side-light of history upon the spirit of the times is of 
peculiar interest, in view of Mr. Fairfield's letters. Again and 
again, Mr. Fairfield regrets the activities of those who would 

Sarah, Oldest Daughter of John Fairfield 

Portrait taken when a younpr woman 


disturb, by their impertinencies, the giood feeling between North 
and South. Unquestionably a hater of slavery, Mr. Fairfield, 
like many another good man of that time who later became 
abolitionists, deprecated the stirring of this issue. They would 
let sleeping lions go on dozing. His case was identical with that 
of Hannibal Hamlin, who later became so vigorously anti- 
slavery. Mr. Fairfield, undoubtedly, would have done as did 
Hamlin, for he was a man of conscience and of honor. And 
there was reason for such a feeling among Northern Democrats 
in 1836. Congress, as Mr. Benton says, "was at this time being 
inflamed with angry debates over abolition petitions, and the 
transmission through the United States mails of incendiary 
petitions imputing designs to abolish slavery." And Mr. Benton 
refers particularly to the recent appearance in the South of 
issues of a certain "criminating article entitled 'The Crisis' " 
which announced an "impending Southern convention and the 
secession of the Southern states unless certain Northern states 
took action immediately to suppress the abolition societies 
within a definite time." 

It was, therefore, a time of exciting discussion. On De- 
cember 2, 1835, President Jackson had advocated, in a message 
to Congress, the passage of a law prohibiting, under severe pen- 
alties, the circulation through the Southern states of incendiary 
publications, intended to instigate slaves to insurrection. On 
January 7, 1836, in the Senate, Calhoun opened the flood-gates 
of debate on slavery by his motion not to receive two petitions 
for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia. 

This war of words lasted until March 11, 1836. Every 
day, intermittently, this subject reopened in the Senate and 
stirred new enmities. Reference to it appears frequently in Mr. 
Fairfield's letters. Northern Democrats like Fairfield and the 
Maine Senators of that Congress did not approve this sort of 
thing. They were willing to befriend the South but disapproved 
of much mention of their generosity. Even Calhoun's Southern 
colleagues severely reproved him. They accused him of going 
on a quixotic expedition in search of abstract political prin- 
ciples. Was it not a frivolous playing with fire and powder 


thus to force on Congress, at this time, the discussion of a ques- 
tion that was inessential to the South, under the circumstances? 
Did not the condition obtain that we have indicated in our quo- 
tation from Senator Benton ? Every material right and interest 
of the South was absolutely secured by the perfect unanimity 
of Congress "energetically backed by public opinion in the 
Northern states." Would not this agitation do more to promote 
abolition than all of the pamphlets and emissaries of the aboli- 
tionists combined? And while the biographers of John Cald- 
well Calhoun assert with a show of truth, that Mr. Calhoun 
sought only the perpetuity of the Union, it is apparent that this 
eminent Southern statesman, in 1836, opened the debate that 
led to the dissolution of the Union and the Civil War. 

Such was the condition of political and national life in the 
opening of 1836, when Congressman Fairfield begins his second 
set of letters to his wife up in Maine. Through them runs occa- 
sionally reference to these deeper problems of the times. Their 
chief value is, however, as a sidelight on the men and the 

He was surrounded, especially in Maine, by a group of 
stalwart and uncompromising Democrats who followed the lead 
of the party. As a rule, their attitude is properly depicted by 
the foregoing summary of their votes on the Cherokee Treaty 
and the Missouri extensions. They were eager partisans, reli- 
ant on their solidarity with the Southern Democrat and willing 
to condone slavery within the South for a consideration of peace 
and power. With a word or two more as to the personality of 
some of these men from Maine and a few other states, the stage 
is cleared for the continuance of Mr. Fairfield's correspondence. 

The first Senators from Maine after the separation from 
Massachusetts were John Holmes of Alfred and John Chandler 
of Monmouth. Both of these men had gained prominence in 
the State of Maine Constitutional Convention of 1819-1820. 
Holmes was significantly the leader of the two. He was born 
in Kingston, Mass., in 1773, and was graduated at Brown Uni- 


versity at an early age. He settled in Maine at Alfred in 1799. 
Holmes was a stout supporter of President Madison as a mem- 
ber of Congress before the separation from Masaschusetts, from 
1817 to 1821. At first a Federalist, he was later a Democrat. 
His great abilities called him into prominent positions of trust 
and adjudication. He was a commissioner to Ghent on Passa- 
maquoddy boundary disputes in 1815. His law practice had 
been large and his reputation for ability as a lawyer had been 
based on sound results of practice in the courts, and upon his 
masterful leadership in the debates of the constitutional con- 
vention in Maine, in which he, more perhaps than any other 
one man, was responsible for our form of Constitution and for 
the several unique elements of Maine's constitutional law which 
endure to this day. 

Mr. Holmes was a very witty, powerful and intellectual 
man. In 'Terley's Reminiscences" he is called the ''leading Sen- 
ator of the North." Perley says that Holmes became famous 
for his rude speech ("at times vulgar") and for his vigor in 
debate. "Humorous, powerful, sarcastic, ever on the watch for 
some unguarded expression by some Southern Senator, he was 
the humorous champion of the North." 

John Tyler, thinking to annoy Mr. Holmes, asked him in 
debate what had become of the political firm, once mentioned 
by John Randolph as "James Madison, Fehx Grundy, John 
Holmes and the Devil." 

"I will tell you," said John Holmes, springing to his feet. 
"The first member is dead ; the second has gone into retirement ; 
the third is now addressing you, and the fourth member has 
gone over to the Nullifiers and is now engaged in electioneering 
among the distinguished gentleman's constituents. So the part- 
nership is legally dissolved." 

John Holmes's second wife was the daughter of General 
Henry Knox. Holmes lived at Thomaston, Me., from 1838 to 
1841, in the old residence of General Knox. 

Albion Keith Parris, Senator from Maine in the second 
period, was also sufficiently noted to be mentioned in the chron- 
icles of the time. Ben : Perley Poore refers to him as a blue- 


eyed giant and says that Senator Parris "is said to have filled 
more public offices than any other man of his age in the United 
States." Mr. Parris was born in Oxford County and was grad- 
uated from Dartmouth in 1806 at the age of 18. Admitted to 
the bar at the age of 21, he immediately took the State by 
storm. He was county attorney of Oxford County in 1811; 
member of the Legislature in 1813; Senator in 1814; member 
of the 14th and 15th Congresses ; appointed Judge of the United 
States District Court in 1814, when he removed to Portland; 
Governor of Maine, 1822-27 ; United States Senator, 1827 ; Asso- 
ciate Justice, Maine Supreme Court, 1828, resigning as Senator 
to accept the office ; Second Comptroller of United States Treas- 
ury, 1836 to 1840; and in 1852, when 77 years old, he was 
elected Mayor of Portland. The record of continuous office- 
holding is hardly surpassed in our public life. 

John Chandler of Monmouth, Me., a Senator in the first 
delegation from Maine after separation from Massachusetts, 
represented Maine in the Senate for nine years, when he became 
collector of the Port of Portland for eight years, retiring from 
office in 1837 at the age of 75. He was a soldier in the Revo- 
lutionary War and in the War of 1812. He represented the 
Kennebec district in Congress from 1805 to 1810, and was also 
a prominent member of the Constitutional Convention of Maine 
in 1819-20. 

Ether Shepley of Saco, Senator from Maine in 1836, a grad- 
uate of Dartmouth College and an eminent lawyer, had pre- 
viously been a representative from Maine to the General Court 
of Massachusetts ; a United States District Attorney for twelve 
years until elected to the United States Senate, from which he 
resigned to be an Associate Justice and later a Chief Justice of 
the Supreme Judicial Court of Maine. He was a most able and 
conscientious man. Of fine personal appearance and of great 
dignity of bearing, he was also of high integrity and purity of 
life and purpose. 

Judah Dana, who was a Senator in 1836 for a short term 
and of whom Mr. Fairfield speaks, was a grandson of Gen. 
Israel Putnam of Revolutionary War fame. In 1795, he opened 


the first law office in Oxford County at Fryeburg, Me. ; was ex- 
ecutive councillor, bank commissioner, Judge of the Court of 
Common Pleas and finally Senator. His son, John W. Dana, was 
afterward Governor of Maine. His wife was the granddaughter 
of Eleazer Wheelock, first president and the founder of Dart- 
mouth College. 

The members of the House of Representatives in Congress 
from Maine in 1836 were Jeremiah Bailey, George Evans, John 
Fairfield, Joseph Hall, Leonard Jarvis, Moses Mason, Gorham 
Parks and Francis 0. J. Smith. Of these the most distinguished 
in service was undoubtedly George Evans, of Gardiner, Me., 
afterward United States Senator and a personage of renown 
in the debates of succeeding years. 

Of other New England Senators and Representatives, the 
most prominent were Daniel Webster and his rugged colleague, 
John Davis of Massachusetts ; Isaac Hill and Henry Hubbard of 
New Hampshire — Hill an influential friend and counsellor of 
Gen. Jackson, reputed to be one of his "kitchen cabinet." 

The roll call of the Senate of 1836 included Nehemiah R. 
Knight and Asher Robbins of Rhode Island ; Gideon Tomlinson 
and Nathan Swift of Connecticut; Samuel Prentiss and Ben- 
jamin Swift of Vermont; Nathaniel P. Tallmadge and Silas 
Wright, Jr., of New York; James Buchanan and Samuel Mc- 
Kean of Pennsylvania; John M. Clayton and Arnold Daudain 
of Delaware; Robert H. Gouldsborough and Joseph Kent of 
Maryland; Benjamin Watkins Leigh and John Taylor of Vir- 
ginia; Bedford Brown and Willie P. Mangum of North Caro- 
lina; John C. Calhoun and William C. Preston of South Caro- 
lina ; Alfred Cuthbert and John P. King of Georgia ; Henry Clay 
and John J. Crittenden of Kentucky; Felix Grundy and Hugh 
Lawson White of Tennessee ; Thomas Ewing and Thomas Mor- 
riss of Ohio; Alexander Porter and Robert C. Nicholas of 
Louisiana; Wilham Hendricks and John Tipton of Indiana; 
John Black and Robert J. Walker of Mississippi ; Elias K. Kane 
and John M. Robinson of Illinois ; William R. King and Gabriel 
P. Moore of Alabama; Lewis F. Linn and Thomas H. Benton 
of Missouri ; Ether Shepley and John Ruggles of Maine. 


In the House there were many prominent men. John 
Quincy Adams was leader of the Massachusetts delegation with 
such men as Caleb Gushing, afterwards an ambassador to for- 
eign courts ; Abbot Lawrence, an ambitious and purposeful aris- 
tocrat; Samuel Hoar, Levi Lincoln and Stephen C. Phillips. 
Reference has been made to some of the New York delegation, 
notably Mr. Cambreling, chairman of Ways and Means Commit- 
tee, and Mr. Doubleday, to whom Mr. Fairfield often refers, in 
his letters. Mr. Doubleday has, however, no place of note in his- 
tory. John Bell of Tennessee, who had been Speaker, was back 
in his seat, having cast his political fortunes with Judge White 
as a candidate for the Presidency in opposition to the plans of 
Gen. Jackson which were identified with the ambitions of Mr. 
Van Buren; and a colleague of John Bell's was Adam Hunts- 
man, successor to Davy Crockett, whom Mr. Fairfield graph- 
ically describes in the subjoined letters. James K. Polk was 
also a member of the House from Tennessee. Richard Mentor 
Johnson, of whom Mr. Fairfield often speaks in his letters, was 
a member from Kentucky. Tom Corwin, Elisha Whittlesey, 
Sherrod Williams, Waddy Thompson, Henry A. Wise, Abram 
P. Maury, Bellamy Storer are some of the names with which 
the history of the times may have some concern. Mr. Fairfield 
frequently refers to Jesse Bynum of North Carolina but always 
spells his name as "Byrnum." He also has much to say of Dutee 
Pearce of Rhode Island. 

John Chambers of Kentucky, a "gigantic economist who 
was always ready to cut out small expenditures and who looked 
rarely at the large ones," was one of the characters of the House 
in this year, and Davy Crockett was frequently in and about 
Washington and was delving into history and biography in a 
way to arouse the concern of his friends for his outspoken com- 
ments and his curious views. 

Much of Mr. Fairfield's letters are made up of subjects that 
throw light on social festivities. Mr. Poore in "Perley's Remi- 
niscences" says that although society had been disorganized by 
the removal from ofl^ce of most of the old citizens who therefore 
kept aloof from the White House, there was no lack of social 


enjoyments at Washington during the Jackson administration. 
Mr. Forsyth, Secretary of State, gave a series of balls. There 
were large "parties" at the beautiful home of Mr. Dickerson, 
Secretary of the Navy; Major General Macomb, General Miller 
and other prominent men vied with each other in entertainment. 
At each of these Mr. Van Buren was prominent, smooth and 
easy of manner, handsome and well-dressed, shaking hands with 
everyone and never making an enemy, and "trusting that every- 
one was well and happy." Col. Richard M. Johnson was to be 
seen at all gatherings in his scarlet waistcoat and ill-fitting coat. 
Mr. Webster was seldom seen at public parties. Clay and Cal- 
houn were usually present. The foreign ministers and their 
suites, who were the only wearers of mustaches in those days, 
were distinguished attendants. There were also the magnates 
of the Senate and the House, each one great in his own esteem, 
and added to these the "chevaliers d'industrie," who lived by 
their wits on long credits and new debts. Mrs. Alexander Ham- 
ilton was yet living in Washington, widow of the great founder 
of the Constitution and Secretary of Treasury. Mrs. Hamilton 
was much troubled, it is related, by a pamphlet, pubHshed 
when Mr. Hamilton was Secretary of the Treasury, alleging an 
intrigue with the wife of one of his clerks. She paid five dollars 
a copy for every copy of this pamphlet that was brought to her. 
A cunning printer in New York republished the edition and 
sold them to Mrs. Hamilton through the second-hand book shops 
of Washington. 

Mr. Fairfield is continually referring to William C. Preston 
of South Carolina, and it is evident that the eloquence of this 
gentleman had a greater vogue in 1836 than history has since 
suggested. Senator Preston was not only a famous "orator of 
the times" but also a noted conversationalist of the monologue 
school. One of his colleagues in the House, Warren R. Davis, 
ran him a close second. On one occasion Mr. Preston had held 
the conversation at a dinner party against all comers, contend- 
ing that the classics afforded the finest examples of terse and 
expressive language that could be found. Finally he paused to 
take a pinch of snuff. 


Mr. Davis seized the opportunity ; denied that the Spartan 
mother's remarks to her son to "return with his shield or upon 
his shield" was the finest and shortest expression of speech, as 
Mr. Preston had contended. He said that he knew a better in 
English. Returning towards his home through the mountains, 
he had met a rustic Naiad crossing a brook with a piggin of 
butter on her head. 

He said to her, **My girl, how deep is the water and what 
is the price of butter?" 

"Up to your waist and ninepence," was the reply. And 
the roar of laughter silenced the voluble Preston for the 

The wedding of Robert E. Lee to Mary Custis at Arlington 
was one of the social affairs in Jackson's times and was cele- 
brated throughout the South by the first families of the day. 
No wonder that amid all this rout of dinner and "party" the 
letters of the Maine Congressman are full of tales of their 
splendor. The plain woman at home with her children up in 
Maine, must have appreciated them. 

Second Son of John Fairfield 

The Year 1836— The Waltz 

Washington, Jan. 1, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

I wish you a happy New Year — may the blessings of a good 
Providence descend on us and ours in the year before us, as in 
the year past — and may our gratitude in some better degree 
be commensurate with our blessings. 

I heard from you this morning through the kindness of 
George, and have written him in return — since which I have 
been at the President's. Oh, how I pitied the poor old man! 
There are few men of his age who can stand as he does four 
hours upon a stretch receiving callers and shaking hands with 
each. However, his health is apparently pretty good — and he 
does the thing in excellent style. He is very polite, polished and 
gentlemanly in his manners. Today I should think while I was 
there that there were 200 carriages drove up. There were at 
least 1,000 people in the House & about the door, and it is not 
impossible that the President will shake hands with 2,000 
people today. 

In the outer Hall and near the door was deposited the great 
cheese, which you may recollect to have read about, a present 
from the democratic farmers of Oswego County in N. Y., I be- 
lieve. It is over two feet thick and about five feet across it. 
Around it was a brown linen cloth with various inscriptions 
on it which I did not stop to read. The tub in which it was 
brought was standing near by. The staves were an inch thick 
at least and were bound with very stout hickory hoops, some 
of them with the bark on. In the bottom of the tub I noticed 
the following inscription, "The Union, it must be preserved." 

It, the cheese I mean, excited a great deal of attention and 
I suppose made some mouths water. A band was also placed 
in the outer Hall who kept discoursing most excellent music. 
The officers of the Navy and Army were in uniform and foreign 
ministers in their Court dresses, though I did not see the lat- 
ter. I saw a few with mustachios and with stars on their 
breasts, but these were of a subordinate grade, perhaps secreta- 

Last night I attended a party at Mr. Cass's. It was a pret- 
ty splendid affair but a terrible jam. Four rooms were filled 
except two little spots where they danced. There were besides 
a great many in the chambers. The ladies, I think, were more 


elegantly dressed than they were the other night at the Presi- 
dent's and a few of them were really beautiful. 

Here for the first time I have seen waltzing. As a matter 
of curiosity, and none of my French friends being engaged in it, 
I was gratified but I do not think the dance would be tolerated 
in the North nor ought it to be. They also danced cotillions and 
had very fine music. Your Uncle Richard & Dolly and Thomas 
& his wife were there. Dolly is not so very homely, nor so 
very cold and gloomy as I thought. Mary, they said, had a 
good crying spell because she could not attend, but did not say 
why she couldn't attend. 

I have not spent my evening with them yet, tho I intend 
to soon. As business multiplies on my hands, your letters will 
be shorter. This is the sixth written today — most of them on 
business of my constituents. Our Committee also expect to 
have a great deal to do, which we shall commence upon next 
Tuesday. Love to all. 

Your Husband, 


Comments on Religion 

Washington, Jan. 3d, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

I have been to meeting today and heard Mr. Palfrey preach. 
He is a very sensible man, and sound preacher, but he has not 
so much animation as I should like. It was communion day 
and the sacrament was administered by him in a very solemn 
manner. The ceremony and mode of administering it is very 
similar to that adopted in our churches North. Of the mem- 
bers who remained to partake I noticed only three — Lawrence 
of Boston, Hoar^ of Concord & Reed- of Barnstable. Gov. Lin- 
coln with his family attends meeting there, but was not out 

Mr. Palfrey is about leaving here — I do not know the par- 
ticular reasons, but believe it is owing to the smallness of the 
society, & their inability to support a minister. 

This is not a soil in which religion flourishes very well and 
least of all that which requires a man "to work out his own sal- 
vation." They had much rather rest in the belief that some 
one else has done or will do it for them arbitrarily & according 
to preordination. They are mostly Presbyterians & Episcopa- 


lians. The Unitarian Church here is a very pretty building and 
well located. It contains about the same number of pews as 
our house, though of a different shape, being broader. The 
congregation is not more than fds. as large as ours, but of very 
respectable appearance and are very attentive listeners. The 
music is excellent. The organ is skilfully played and there are 
two female singers with very melodious voices, and v/ho sing 
with much good taste. 

Mr. Stockton, our Chaplain, has not yet made his appear- 
ance. What the reason is I do not know. We had no services 
at the Capitol last Sabbath nor today and Wardwell of New 
York has given notice that he intends offering a resolution 
against permitting the House to be used in that way. 

Mr. Higbee, the Chaplain for the Senate, has officiated in 
our House also. His prayers are about 2 minutes long. Judge 
Ruggles has just informed me that there were services at the 
Capitol today by Mr. Higbee. 

Do you have preaching at our house now? Has Mr. 
Williams returned? Who is preaching at Mr. Whitman's 
house? In your next tell me a little of everything. Love to 
the children & everybody &c. 

Your Husband, 


^Samuel Hoar, Whig. 

^Member of Congress for Massachusetts, 1835-37. Prominent abolition- 
ist, distinguished lawyer and judge. 

Some Remarkable Pen Pictures 

Washington, Jan. 7th, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

This morning, very soon after the House convened, the 
rules & orders were agreed by vote to be suspended in order to 
make way for the introduction of petitions and, deeming it 
therefore a good time to visit the Senate, I cleared out. When 
I went into the Senate Chamber, Calhoun was speaking and, 
finding that an interesting debate was going on, I concluded to 
spend the day there, which I did. I had the good fortune to 
hear Calhoun, Buchanan, Morris, Preston, Porter, Tyler and 
Brown. The discussion was upon Calhoun's motion that a peti- 
tion for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia 
should not be received. 


Calhoun is rather tall & slender. He has a head of dark 
bushy hair and thick eyebrows of the same color. His com- 
plexion is dark, his eye deeply sunken in his head, and his 
face strongly marked. There is nothing amiable in his counte- 
nance, but the contrary. The strongest expressions are : mind, 
energy and malignity. His voice is rather harsh, but cannot be 
regarded as a bad one. He speaks with great force, but not 
with ease, not making many gestures, but expressing much by 
the muscles of his face, and his deep, dark eyes. 

After him spoke Mr. Morris, who is a very plain looking 
man, not much superior to the best looking of our farmers. 
His remarks were plain, unimpassioned, and without gesture, 
but characterized by good sense. Then followed Porter of 
Louisiana, who is an Irishman. I was very much amused 
with him. He has very much of the Irish brogue and speaks 
with great fervour and rapidity, so much so that it is dif- 
ficult to understand him. But there was at times such a queer, 
good-natured sarcasm in his smile, that I wanted to laugh out- 
right. His personal appearance is ordinary, his voice only 
tolerable and his talents not above mediocrity, so that, were it 
not for his brogue & fervour & queer look, he would not be a 
very interesting speaker. 

Mr. Preston, the great orator of the South, followed Por- 
ter. His personal appearance is very good. As much as 6 feet 
high and his size corresponding thereto. His face is rather 
full, complexion and hair sandy, features rather regular, and 
the general indications rather of an open-hearted, frank, ready, 
talented, off-hand man, than of a deep and strong mind. And 
I believe the facts correspond with these indications. His 
voice is pretty good — nothing remarkable about it — but his 
manner is inimitable. He abounds in action and most of our 
Northern friends here think there is a great deal too much of 
it — that he is far too theatrical, but his motions of hands, arms, 
head and body are so appropriate and graceful, that I must 
confess I liked him. He is very figurative — one for instance I 
recollect he used was this: He compared the petitions & me- 
morials upon the subject of slavery now flowing in upon Con- 
gress to a swollen & turbid stream, while those which came in 
formerly were merely a little rill that percolated through the 

After Preston, came Mr. Buchanan — and he is a great fa- 
vorite of mine — I liked him the first time I put my eye upon him. 
He is rather tall & large — light complexion — and a fine, open, 


manly, ingenuous face. In consequence of a defect in his eyes 
he holds his head sideways while he looks ahead and this, to 
me, makes him more interesting. His voice is clear, rather 
strong and very pleasant. He has about as much animation & 
action as is common among our Northern men. 

Brown of N. C. succeeded much better than I had antici- 
pated. He reminded me of Gov. Dunlap and is about as much 
of a man. Leigh is rather a small man & lame, having the sole 
of one boot near two inches thick. He has a short, round, hand- 
some face, black, beautiful eye, and a round, bald, shiny head. 
His voice is rather small, but sweet & musical, tho he rose only 
to make a few suggestions and not a speech ; it may be different 
with him at other times ; I must confess I was rather favorably 
impressed for the first sight & hearing. How it will be after 
next Monday, when he gave notice that he should make a 
speech, we shall see. 

After him Mr. Webster rose & after making a remark or 
two moved an adjournment, so that on Monday he will have the 
floor, when I shall try to hear him. Tomorrow is the 8th of 
Jan. and both Houses have adjourned over to Monday. I have 
reed, an invitation to attend the laying the corner stone of a new 
city tomorrow, by the Genl. We have had a rain storm for 
two or three days past. I suspect you have had a violent snow 
storm North corresponding with it. Last night about 4 I was 
waked by the cry of fire & the ringing of bells — it lasted, how- 
ever, but a few minutes. 

Your loving Husband, 


He Has His Bumps Located 

Washington, Jan. 10, 1836. 
Dear Ann, 

Our long storm has ceased, and we are left with fair 
weather and a strong wind ; but what renders the latter almost 
as uncomfortable for me as a storm, is that, instead of blowing 
horizontally as it used to in old times, it now blows perpendic- 
ularly downwards — and the cowardly smoke instead of pressing 
its way upward as it ought, retreats before the wind down into 
the room, when I have to open the door and let it escape a back 
way, but what can't be cured must be endured, so, patience is 
the word. 


I have been to meeting today at the Capitol to hear our 
Chaplain, Mr. Stockton — and I am sorry to say I am disap- 
pointed — I had heard so much of him that my expectations were 
raised too high. It is very probable, however, that he may do 
better hereafter. His manner is very fine, and he abounds in 
beautiful figures, but he is deficient in matter. His bump of 
ratiocination is very small — while that of imagination is large. 
His sermon commenced thus : "As in the natural world we some- 
times see a dark cloud, one end resting on the horizon, and the 
other illuminated by the rays of the setting sun, so in the moral 
world no cloud of sorrow is so utterly dark but that some faint 
streaks of the light of joy may be visible in its borders." I 
have not, perhaps, got his precise words, and the figure is not so 
good as it fell from him, but I have the idea. His power of de- 
scription is great. He brings unseen things before you so that 
you can put out your hand and touch them — but I cannot say 
that he touched my feelings. He cannot make the heart rise up 
in the throat, or start a tear in the eye. At least he did not 
do it; perhaps he may, and lest I do him injustice in my haste, 
I will give no opinion of him until I hear him again. So you 
will just please rub all out and let's begin anew — next Sunday. 
In enclose a specimen of my handy work in sketching. Here 
you have Old Hickory himself. It is a middling good likeness, 
not perfect. The lower lip, I think, protrudes too much, though 
there is a falling in of the upper lip owing to the loss of teeth. 
Tomorrow, if I have time, I will send you Mr. Van Buren. 

So it seems you have got my phrenological chart; well, I 
think you are right in regard to the two subjects alluded to, to 
wit, cautiousness and not being able to receive a joke unless he 
meant a joke founded in ill-nature, or of a wanton character, 
having no regard to feelings. It appears to me that Fowler was 
a good deal out in some things : for instance, before I sent you 
the chart I sat down & marked where I disagreed with him — 

Destructiveness he marked 12 I mark 9 
Secretiveness he marked 4 I mark 9 

Acquisitionness he marked 6 I mark 10 
Cautiousness he marked 19 I mark 12 

Marvelousness he marked 6 I mark 10 

Imitation he marked 9 I mark 10 

Mirthfulness he marked 9 I mark 12 


Tell Mr. Haines I should not be surprised if we should have 
a message from the President tomorrow. 

Genl. Macomb^ it is said, has had a fit of apoplexy, though 
not very severe, will probably get over it. He is fleshy, has a 
short neck, and looks like what is called a "good liver." I sup- 
pose Genl. Scott wouldn't cry much if Macomb was to die. 
Your Husband, 


^General Alexander Macomb (1782-1841) commanding general of the 
U. S. Army at the time of Gov. Fairfield's writing. Gen. Macomb was prom- 
inent in the War of 1812 and greatly distinguished himself in 1813 at Fort 
St. George and Fort Niagara. He defended Plattsburg, N. Y., in 1814, against 
a greatly superior force under Sir George Prevost. In recognition thereof 
he was made major-general, receiving a vote of thanks and medal from 
Congress. He was commanding general of the armies from 1828 to 1841, 
the time of his death. He was author of many books on law, court-martial, 
and similar matters. 

Squally News From France 

Washington, Jan. 11, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

I have time to scratch a word or two only. We have a long 
session, say from 12 to nearly 5. It is now only about 1/2 an 
hour since I rose from dinner table since which I have been 
hard at work directing some papers, &c,, in time to go in 
this mail. 

There was a long discussion whether a memorial from 
the Legislature of the State of Michigan should be reed. The 
Ohio folks stuck up their backs at once & spit like cats. After 
a long debate, however, it was reed, with some qualifying con- 
ditions appended to it. 

Then, after it was time to adjourn, Leonard Jarvis as 
Chairman of the Com. on Naval Affairs, introduced a resolution 
directing that Committee to inquire into the expediency of in- 
creasing our Naval force in commission. It was a foolish move, 
he had better waited until tomorrow when we shall probably 
have some Executive recommendation upon the subject. How- 
ever, having been introduced, it was necessary to support it; 
Wise of Virginia and Hammond of South Carolina opposed it ; 
Hawes of Kentucky & McLean of N. Y. made short but thrilling 
replies. The vote was taken by yeas & nays & stood 160 odd 
to 18. So this shows a little the spirit prevailing. The Country 
will go strong for the Country and against France. 


No message from the Pres. today. Barton has not yet ar- 
rived in this City, but expected tonight, I believe. The news 
from France — such as you will see in the papers — looks a little 
squally. And a great many of us are willing to fight if France 
will only begin — so as to let conscience have the principle of 
self-defence on her side. 

There was no debate in the Senate today on the slavery 
question, as was expected. 

Enclosed you have Mr. V. B.^ which I sketched last night 
just before going to bed. 

We have no mail today from the North, suspect there has 
been a violent storm. 

Yours truly, 


*Van Buren. 

In a Playful Mood 

Washington, Jan. 11, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

I have written you once today, and my letter is gone, but 
having returned from an evening at your Uncle Rich- 
ard's, and not feeling very much of go-to-bed-ishness, I thought 
I would devote a few minutes to the beginning of a letter which 
I could finish tomorrow after the adjournment of the House. 

I am very much pleased with your Uncle Richard and his 
family. He is very pleasant, exceedingly fond of talking over 
Saco, its people and affairs, is in good spirits, much better than 
when I was here before, and appears to be in good health. Mad- 
ison and his wife, Mary, were at the theatre. Thomas was at 
home. He is a Lieutenant in the Army ; was educated at West 
Point, and is, I should think, an accomplished officer. He exhib- 
ited to me many of his drawings, done while at West Point and 
since. They indicate much scientific skill and good taste. They 
also shew me many drawings and paintings of Mary, all of them 
good and many of them in pencil and crayon equal to anything 
of the kind I ever saw. I might say almost as much of some 
of Dolly's. 

By the way, I must do penance in some way for having 
slandered and misrepresented Dolly to you. She is not as 
homely as a log fence, as sour as buttermilk, as solemn as a 
tombstone and as melancholy as a weeping willow. No, on the 
contrary, she is very pretty, considerable handsome; laughs as 


much as common and talks a little more. She is learned, accom- 
plished and on the whole what we should call in the North a 
"pretty likely girl." Thomas's wife talks through her nose;, 
but, poor woman, I suppose she can't help that, her mouth 
being very small and her nose very large. 

If, however, it can be regarded as a defect, it is all made up 
by her cleverness, in the best sense of the term. But I must 
stop, for , 

"I feel a wicked tingling come 
Down to the finger & the thumb." That is, I am 
afraid that out of pure mischief, I shall slander and ridicule 
where I ought to praise. Tomorrow I will resume. 

Col. Benton Characterized 

Jan. 12. 
Dear Wife, 

No message yet. I shall think it strange if we do not have 
one tomorrow. I passed a couple of hours in the Senate today 
and heard Benton, Preston, Leigh, and Payton. Benton intro- 
duced a resolution in regard to an appropriation for military 
fortifications and took occasion to allude to the unjustifiable 
course of the Senate last session in not allowing the appropria- 
tion of $3,000,000, &c., &c. It caused a good deal of fluttering. 
Leigh & Clayton tried to get clear of the imputation against 
them and were willing to go all lengths now in support of appro- 
priations for strengthening the arm of defence. But Preston, 
who is honester than the rest, still insisted that he was right in 
his former opposition, on constitutional grounds. Benton has 
a fine voice and can express as much with his face and eyes as 
any other man. His contempt is withering. 

We had no Northern mail yesterday and none today, until 
very late & then bringing us papers only, no letters, and the 
papers being over a week old. Among the rest is a Register for 
which I am obliged to you. I was in hopes today of hearing 
from our Legislature, am very anxious to hear. 

This day has been about as warm and pleasant as our 
weather the middle of April. 

Tonight I go to Mr Blair's, and break off writing to dress. 
Your Husband, 



Lively Sparring in the House 

Washington, Jan. 13, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

My apprehensions, it turns out, were well founded, that is 
to say, you have had a tremendously severe snow storm at the 
North. We hear from no farther north than Philadelphia, and 
it seems that even there two feet of snow has fallen and is so 
drifted as to render travelling almost impossible. We have had 
no Northern mail now for 3 days but I trust we shall get one 

The Committee of Ways and Means called up the appropri- 
ation bills today, and Mr. Cambrelling moved an amendment to 
appropriate two millions for the fitting out of the Navy, &c. 
This called out Waddy Thompson of S. C.^ in a bitter attack on 
Genl. Jackson and Mr. Rives.- 

His speech was a real Tory French speech, said our Gov- 
ernment was wrong in every step that it had taken and that the 
French were right. That if he had been a member of the 
French Chamber he would have voted against the appropriation 
and would have gloried in it. That the French had done ex- 
actly right in making the preparation they had, but that it 
would be wrong for us to do anything of the kind and that he 
should vote against the appropriation of two millions. And 
many other things he said, so execrable that I can't think of 
them with patience, much more write them. Sutherland an- 
swered him, but it didn't suit me. It sounded like the falls of 
Niagara, while in fact it was nothing more than a shallow brook. 
He may, however, write out a pretty good one for the paper. 

When he sat down Bynum of N. C, whom Mr. Haines has 
probably heard Mr. Shepley speak of, a real fighter and duellist, 
got the floor. And though his manner is bad, that is, ranting, 
voice up and down to the two extremes almost every minute, yet 
he made a speech much more to my mind than Sutherland. He 
made some pretty hard thrusts at Thompson and brought the 
latter to his feet two or three times to explain. 

He said that during the last war we had a British party in 
the Country who rejoiced over the victories of the enemy while 
they deplored our own — burnt blue lights, &c.. — and that it 
seemed now that we were to have a French party. He poured 
in broadside after broadside, until a friend near him, finding 
him pretty much exhausted in strength, moved an adjourn- 
ment ; so that B. still has the floor and I hope he will give these 


Tory nullifiers "as much as they want." My blood boiled to 
hear Thompson talk and if I had had a little more confidence 
in myself, I would have taken the floor against him. But this 
"tarnal" great bump of bashfulness that Doct. Fowler has 
raised on my head will forever keep me in the background. 

I went to Mr. Blair's party last night — had a fine time — 
found all things pretty much as at the other parties I have at- 
tended, and came home before eleven. I have become acquainted 
with Frank Smith's^ wife notwithstanding his incivility (for tho 
we came on a considerable part of the way in company, he 
didn't even introduce me to her) and find her a very pleasant, 
companionable lady. I have written this upon a gallop and 
must now dismount and sign myself 

Affectionately Your Husband, 


" ^Waddy Thompson, American legislator and diplomat, born in Pickering-, 
S. C. He was a lawver of distinction, member of the House for 1835 to '41 
as a Whig-, in 1840 Chairman of Military Affairs, in 1846 U. S. minister to 
Mexico. He -was a fiery debater and as Whig calculated to stir the anger of 
our Maine democrat. 

=This is probably William C. Rives who had been U. S. minister to 
Prance from 1829 to 1832, U. S. Senator to 1834, re-elected in 1835. This 
French stir was spoliation claims and impending war. 

3F. O. J. Smith of Portland, Me. 

Gov. Fairfield's Opinion of Webster 

Washington, Jan. 14, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

Yours of the 6th I have just received, having been a week 
on the way — v/hich, upon the whole, considering what storms 
you have had, is a tolerable quick passage. I thank you for giv- 
ing me a peep into domestic affairs, and I am happy to find 
things so comfortable with you. I can see you and the babe 
and the children, the girls with "woolen tires" and all that, and 
the rest of the family. It is a picture that I love to contem- 

In the House today they have been discussing the Bill for 
the relief of N. Y. Merchants, i.e., a bill which proposes an ex- 
tension of credit for 1, 2, 3 & 4 years, on bonds given for duties. 
We had speeches from Lee & McKean from N. Y., Old Ben 
Harden from Kentuck., Pickens of S. C, Mann of N. Y. and 
Underwood of Kentucky. 

I heard only a part of them, being the rest of the time in 
the Senate, hearing a discussion growing out of Mr. Benton's 


resolutions. I heard Porter, Webster & Cuthbert. I continue 
to think Porter rather an interesting speaker; Mr. Shepley 
thinks otherwise. Webster made, they say, one of his best 
speeches, or rather it was one of his best specimens as to man- 
ner, &c. He is a most powerful debater, but his positions, many 
of them, appeared to me to be perfectly untenable, and easily 
overturned by much lesser minds than his own. For instance, 
he held that the 3d of March did not terminate at 12 o'clock at 
night, but when the House adjourned, even if it was 3 o'clock 
in the morning; that there was nothing in the Constitution 
conflicting with this; that tho' it said members should be 
chosen for 2 years, it did not say when the 2 years should end. 
I have not looked at the precise words of the Constitution, but 
I think his positions utterly unsound.' 

He attacked the President for saying in his message that 
the $3,000,000 bill was lost in one of the Houses of Congress, 
and then went on to prove that it was lost in the House & not 
the Senate; endeavored to escape the odium of having defeated 
it, and then said that he should not have voted for it, at any 
rate, on the ground that it abounded in unconstitutionality. On 
the whole, though a powerful speech, it abounded in inconsist- 

Cuthbert took the floor when Webster sat down. He is 
rather an ill-looking man, or rather not remarkably good-look- 
ing. He is about the middling size, bald-headed, red face and 
very much pitted by small pox. But he is made of capital stuff 
and appears to be a good, thorough-going democrat. He is said 
to be courageous as a lion and will fight like a tiger. His voice 
is very bad, and I found it difficult to understand him distinctly. 
But he turned upon Webster and answered his charges agamst 
the President and the dangers to be apprehended from his im- 
mense personal popularity and popular enthusiasm by firing a 
broadside or two at the aristocracy. He said that instead of 
dangers to be apprehended from the source pointed out by the 
gentleman, they were rather to be apprehended from a combi- 
nation of powerful minds, of men of great weight of character, 
&c., who were the leaders of the aristocratic party in the Coun- 
try, &c. After speaking 4 or 5 minutes he moved an adjourn- 
ment, so I suppose he will have the floor on Monday, to which 
day the Senate adjourned over. 

Our House sits tomorrow. Today the two Committees on 
the Dist. of Col. had a joint meeting & conference. The Com. 


on the part of the Senate are Gov. Tyler, Gov. Kent, Doctor Nan- 
dain, Col. King of Alabama & Mr. Southard. Not having time 
or paper to do it now, I will endeavor hereafter to give you a 
particular description of each — as well as the members of the 
Committee on the part of the House. 

Have an invitation to attend another party at Mr. Cass's on 
Thursday next one week. Give my love to the children and tell 
Walter and George they must write me oftener. Where is 
Martha's letter & Augusta's? I reed, today a letter from Bro. 
Wm. Cutts. So warm here today that I have been to the House 
without a surtout. We go nearly half a mile. 
Your Husband, 


^Note Col. Benton's long and interesting account of this debate in his 
"Thirty Years' View." 

Davy Crockett's Successor 

Washington, Jan. 16, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

There has been no session of the Senate today. The House 
a portion of the time has been engaged in private business, i. e., 
passing bills providing relief for individuals. After this was 
disposed of a discussion was got up in relation to the extension 
of the Charter of the Banks in this District to the 1st of October 
next. Thomas, Mann, Pearce of R. I., Parker & Huntsman took 
part. The latter is the successor of Davy Crockett. He is short 
and rather fleshy, round face and bald head, one wooden leg, and 
one not wooden. He speaks rapidly, in a small, clear voice, but 
when very earnest clips his words so that you cannot always 
understand him. He appears to be a man of good sense having 
a spice of the West in his composition. 

After that question was settled a debate commenced on the 
resolution offered by Hawes of Kentucky to raise a select com- 
mittee to look into the affairs of the West Point Academy. 
Among other speakers Frank Pierce acquitted himself very well, 
but has not yet finished his speech. We probably shall not get 
a message from the President until Monday. The news from 
France today looks favorable, it is what you will see in the 
papers. We are going to have a goodly number of the letter of 
"John Dickinson" stricken off for distribution. Nothing by 
mail today. Spent last evening at Chs. Cutts's — Miss Stras (or 
what's her name?) beat me a game of chess and I beat her a 


game of checkers or draughts as they call it. Mrs. C. sends her 
love to you and says she would be very glad to see you & I be- 
lieve her. I am afraid if I go on improving so in my hand writ- 
ing that I shall soon get to be illegible. After this I think I 
will take more pains and write less. Tell Mr. Haines tomorrow 
I shall send a draft for $200. I wrote yesterday telling him how 
much he might subscribe for me toward hose for engine. Give 
my love to our household, and everybody else. 

Affectionately Your Husband, 


Talks About Duelling 

Washington, Jan. 17, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

Your respectably long letter I reed, yesterday. It con- 
tained much to awaken pleasant reflections and to warm my 
heart. But to dispose of matters of business first, let me tell 
you that instead of mulberry for your cloak, my taste inclines 
to green if you can get a handsome one. However, when you 
suit yourself you will suit me. 

Taking up matters as they stand in your letter, I would re- 
ply to your inquiry whether it is not most time for a duel, that 
yesterday I heard that there was to be a duel between two mem- 
bers of our House, and that one of them had been practicing 
down at the Navy Yard for some time — but I could not learn 
their names. Whether Mother Rumor has anything to found 
this tale on, time will show, I agree with you that I have not 
enough of combativeness in my disposition to make me a duell- 
ist, even if there were no restraint of principle, so you need not 
be alarmed about me. I hope, however, that my dispositions or 
principles will never prevent my defending myself even though 
it should be at the expense of life. 

You say our great baby is well & improving though he is 
homely yet. It is of very little consequence how he looks, pro- 
vided he has mind & right dispositions. Indeed, I sometimes 
think it is better for a man to be homely, certainly better to be 
not handsome. So far as our own children are concerned I have 
no anxiety in regard to it. I return Miss Augusta a kiss for 
hers and wish I could lay it on myself. I think it might be 
heard all over the house — the same to Sarah. You say Walter 


& George have letters written, but have yet to copy them. As 
soon as I receive them I will write answers. 

I have been to meeting today at the Capitol, thought I 
would hear Mr. Stockton again, and make up an opinion about 
him, but we had Mr. Higbee, Chaplain for the Senate. He is 
certainly more than a common preacher, much more of a man 
in point of talents, I suspect, than Stockton. There was a man 
that responded who seemed determined to let everybody 
know it as well as the Lord, indeed, he was rather annoying 
and forcibly brought a certain gentleman in Saco to my mind 
whose name I need not mention, though I believe he has quit the 
meeting-house where the boy thought "the people mocked the 

We had last night a fall of snow of about an inch and today 
strange looking vehicles are in rapid motion about the City. The 
sun has not shone out today, but the snow is nearly gone in 
the street. 

Doct. Dubois & wife left yesterday, and Mr. Alexr. Hamil- 
ton & wife have taken their place at our table. He is a son of 
the celebrated Alexr. Hamilton and she was a rich heiress of 
N. Y. I know nothing more about them ; their personal appear- 
ance testifies very favorably of them. She is the only lady now 
at our table. Mrs. Hill & her daughter, Mrs. Wright, used to 
take the head of our table, but having two other messes to look 
after, they have entirely deserted us. 

While I think of it, what do you think I breakfast on? 
Buckwheat cakes baked thin like flapjacks, and molasses. We 
have often heard the Yankees ridiculed for their use of mo- 
lasses, but I have never seen it used in the North as it is here. 
It is not, however, a matter of complaint with me, you know 
how I love molasses, and this morning I added some pork to it, 
which is really quite delicious — pork & molasses! 

I don't know that I have before named to you that I have 
had two letters from Ruf us King and that I have written to him. 
He is in Shiloh, North Carolina, is engaged in school keeping 
yet, and judging from the appearance of his letters, very much 
improved. He appeared to be very grateful for the letter I sent 
him, in which I tried to rouse him to aspire to something better 
than what he could hope for in his present pursuit. Genl. King^ 
of Bath is here, and says he has sent for Rufus to come here, 
so i suppose I shall see him. He, Rufus, has been sick, but is 
now well, or better — whether it is best to tell anything of this 


to the family or not, you will judge. If I have been rightly in- 
formed, they have no communication with each other. 
Verj^ Affectionately Your Husband, 


^Governor King. 

Slavery the Subject of Debate 

Washington, Jan. 19, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

Today, I understand, Leigh has been making an argument 
on the Constitutional power of Congress, or rather the want of 
it, over the subject of slavery in the Dist. of Col. In the House 
the same subject was on the carpet, to wit, Jarvis resolutions. 
Peyton of Tennessee made a most violent speech & travelled out 
of his way to try to hit Mr. Van Buren, but it was a failure. He 
was followed by Bouldin of Virginia who is on our Committee 
on Dis. Columbia and with whom I am pretty well acquainted. 
His speech was a most amusing one. He comes from the Dis- 
trict formerly represented by John Randolph, and is his legiti- 
mate successor if anybody is, in some respects. His speech was 
exceedingly rambling, without much point, abounding in his- 
torical allusions, containing some wit and a good deal of humor, 
and all done up in great good nature. He stood very near me 
so that I heard all. He was not in his place and I heard it re- 
marked that he happened to stand in the very place where 
Judge Bouldin, his brother, dropped down dead, winter before 
last, I believe it was. 

He is a singular looking man in his personal appearance (If 
this is Irish I can't help it). Is rather tall & slender, round- 
shouldered, and bones looking as if they were meditating a re- 
lease from their confinement. He is very bald and has a very 
singular skull. It is all bumps, there are no smooth places on 
it. His eyes are quite small, and set farther back into his head 
than those of any man I ever saw. He has a long arm and long, 
bony fingers which he shakes after the manner of Randolph. He 
is a man of pretty good sense and very fond of talking. The 
House adjourned before he had finished. Before these speeches 
the previous question was moved by Hawes of Kentucky and I 
voted for it, but was defeated 90 to 100, so I suppose we are yet 
to be afflicted with another long debate upon this troublesome 


I promised to tell you something about the others on our 
Committees — I can say a word or two only now. W. B. Shep- 
ard of N. C, our Chairman, tho' of the opposition, is a lawyer 
about 40 years of age, middling height, straight and well- 
formed. Has a dark complexion with light eyes or rather light 
which is uncommon, I think, black hair and a fine shaped head. 
He wears gold spectacles, dresses fashionably and speaks with 
his gloves on, U somcthhig of a man, reminds me of Folsom, 
and is perhaps about as much of a man, tho I have had no par- 
ticular means of judging yet. 

Lane of Indiana is older, say 50, nose about the color of John 
Holmes'; an administrative man, and something of a debater, 
having a stentorian voice and pours forth and smashes down and 
about his eloquence in the true Western style. Washington is 
a gentleman, rather handsome, dresses elegantly, is President 
of the Potomac & Ohio Canal Co., a gentleman of fortune, I be- 
lieve, and of middling talents, is about 46 years old. Heister of 
Pennsylvania is about 45 to 50 yrs. old, tall & slender, very 
dark complexion, has a sour look, and I have not yet seen 
enough of him to know whether his heart corresponds with the 
acidity of his look or not. 

Rogers of So. Carolina is a General in the militia, tolerable 
good looking man tho rather plain & modest in his dress & ap- 
pearance, is about 42 years old, rather tall and large, and as 
to talents, I have had no particular means of judging yet, but I 
suspect nothing extraordinary. Towns of Georgia is a lawyer 
and about my age, middling size and very dark complexion. 
Judging from conversation with him & from his remarks in 
Committee I should think he was a man of considerable talent. 
Vanderpoel I have described before, tall, large, fine personal ap- 
pearance, tremendous voice, a great debater, but not a very great 
man, nor a very small one. His vanity is great, and his ballast 
sometimes too small. On reviewing this, I must say it is some- 
what indefinite, and if you can make anything out of it, you are 


P. S. I enclose you an invitation reed, today to give you an 
idea of the idea here entertained of time, &c. — dinner 5 o'clock ! 
Have also reed, an invitation today to attend a party at Mr. 
Forsyth's next Tuesday night ; Thursday night go again to Mr. 



While John Quincy Adams Speaks 

Washington, Jan. 22, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

I commence my letter today in the House of Rep. and while 
J. Q. Adams is speaking. He introduced a resolution providing 
for the appointment of a Special Committee to take into consid- 
eration that part of the President's message relating to the 
causes of the loss of the fortification bill last winter which con- 
tained the appropriation of three millions for the defence of the 
Country. He has accompanied the motion by a speech in an- 
swer to one made a few days since in the Senate by Webster. 
He has been very severe and caustic on Webster. He has proved 
that the loss of the Bill was owing to the Senate, and pro- 
nounced Webster's assertion to the contrary to be utterly desti- 
tute of truth. 

There has been a good deal of excitement from the com- 
mencement of the speech, and Mercer, Reed and some of the 
old federalists have been trying to trig and obstruct Adams, 
but without success. He made one remark which excited much 
applause by clapping and otherwise — a thing that the Speaker 
said had not occurred before for ten years and others said it 
never had. The Speaker was much excited and did the best he 
could to preserve order. I did not join in the applause, and trust 
we never shall have another instance of it. The remark was 
this: Webster had said that he would not have voted for the 
appropriation even if the enemy had been thundering at the 
walls of this Capitol. Adams said that a man who would do 
that had but one step more to take, and that was to go over to 
the enemy. 

Adams has also very severely & successfully attacked the 
Senate, denounced them for insolence to this House at the last 
session, this House, the representatives of the people. Wise^ 
has followed Adams. He is smashing away at a great rate, but 
it is more like "a tempest in a teapot" than anything else. 

I wrote thus far before the adjournment of the House. 
The debate throughout today has been of the most exciting 
character, sometimes the scene was tumultuous. Wise was 
guilty of the grossest violations of the rules & orders and of 
decency. Among other thing he said that many of the mem- 
bers of the House at the adjournment last year on the night of 
the third of March, were drunk. Lane of Indiana, like a sim- 
pleton, got up & asked him to call names. Wise replied that he 


should be sorry to do it for it might make the gentleman from 
Indiana unhappy. Wise also charged the Speaker with certain 
things which he considered wrong; that he, Polk, did when 
Chairman of Com. of Ways & Means & called upon him to ad- 
mit or deny. This was outrageous in the extreme, I think. 
But the Speaker replied, the House consenting to it. The mat- 
ter charged was this : That during the pendency of the appropri- 
ation bill last year a member asked Polk if the President wished 
the appropriation made; that he replied in the affirmative, but 
did not wish anything said about it. Mr. Polk remembered the 
conversation, but did not remember the last part. 

In too much haste to write more now. The House does not 
adjourn until 4 o'clock. We then come home & dine, and have 
a little while after dinner and a little while after tea to do our 

Your Husband, 


'Henry A. Wise. 

A Dinner with Van Buren 

Washington, Jan. 24, 1836. 

Yours of the 17th is at hand. I rejoice at your ability to 
go abroad so much, and that you are disposed to exercise it. I 
am strongly in favor of action, good health cannot be preserved 
without it. I am also strongly in favor of keeping bright the 
links of that chain which binds us to society. I am persuaded 
our happiness is essentially promoted by it, so keep it up, go 
abroad as much as is convenient for you, when your health and 
the weather will permit, until you find people begin to call you 
a gadder. You may then take in a little sail, if you please, or 
lay by in Port a while. 

Yesterday, agreeably to invitation, I went and dined with 
Vice-President Van Buren. We had a capital time, and I came 
away better pleased with the gi'eat Magician than I ever had 
been before. He is a'ltogether without stiff formality and 
stately ceremony both in his personal deportment and house- 
hold arrangement. He is very easy in his manners, plain, di- 
rect, straightforward in all his remarks, and very social. I 
walked and got there about 1/2 Past 5. In all, I believe there 
were 15 of us, viz. : Mr. Roane, Col. Barton and Mr. Morgan of 
Virginia; Judge Lansing, Judge Backee, Genl. Fuller, Doct. 


Maeon, Doct. Taylor, Mr. Hunt, Mr. Doubleday, Mr. Gillet and 
Doct. Lee of N. Y., Mr. Toucey and Doct. Phelps of Connecticut, 
and myself. Col. Hall was invited but was sick. Mr. Roane 
is an old gentleman and was elector of President in 1801. He 
was and is an old Jeffersonian democrat. Judge Backee is the 
one who wrote to Duff Green prior to the election of a printer to 
Congress inquiring whether he would support the re-election of 
Genl. Jackson. 

About 6 o'clock we sat down to the table. There were very 
few eatables on it, but the things were brought on separately 
by the servants. Before each one was a plate and napkin, a 
small decanter of water with a tumbler turned over the neck, a 
wine glass on the table, and another in a glass vessel of water 
to keep cool, I suppose, besides a long glass of champagne. 
And besides all this, a blue glass about twice as large as a wine 
glass but similarly shaped, which I suppose was a place of de- 
posit for the slops. 

In the center of the table was a long, oval waiter, reaching 
2/3ds. the length of the table. The sides were of brass and I 
believe the bottom of polished steel, of this, however, I am not 
sure; it was very brilliant. In this waiter were three stands 
for lights, each stand bearing about 8 or 10 candles; between 
them stood two wine coolers with two bottles in them, which I 
supposed to be claret, they were not broached. 

I cannot recollect all the courses, but I believe they were 
something like the following: 1st, soup, very rich and delicious; 
2d, turkey ; 3d, beef smothered in onions, as I thought, the tech- 
nical terai I know nothing about ; 4th, a la mode beef ; 5th, most 
superb mutton, which you know is a favorite of mine ; 6th, ham ; 
7th, a bird, the name of which I could not understand ; 8th, 
pheasants, and 9th, bass. I am wrong in the order, for I now 
recollect the bass followed the soup. I may have otherwise 
erred in regard to the order in which they were sent on. At 
each of these our pilates were changed and I believe I had a taste 
of everything, but the bird more out of curiosity than any 
other motive. After this came ice cream, then jelly, then two 
articles the names of which I could not understand, but very 
delicious, they resembled ice-cream somewhat, but were not cold 
& had a different flavor— then almonds, raisins, apples and 

During the eating of all this they were drinking each 
other's healths with pale & brown sherry, two kinds of 


madeira, one Tinto madeira very superior, and champagne. 
About half past 7 the V. P. said: "Come fill your glasses for the 
President of the U. S. and we will adjourn for a cup of coffee." 
Returning to the room from which we came, a strong cup of 
coffee was handed around. After partaking of this we very 
soon shook hands with the V. P. and took our leave, reaching 
home a little after 8 o'clock. 

There, what do you think of that? Am I becoming dissi- 
pated? Whatever your answer may be, I must say I never 
enjoyed a dinner party so much before, and notwithstanding the 
great variety, and the tempting shapes & taste & smell which 
everything assumed, I had so much self-control as to eat no 
more, or very little more, than I do upon ordinary occasions. At 
all events, I suffered none in consequence of it, and am able to 
write this long letter to you & subscribe myself 
Your scribbling Husband, 


Several Speakers Described 

Washington, Jan. 26. 
Dear Wife, 

The House sat from 12 to 5 today, after which we came 
home & crammed. Upon the whole I don't know but by this 
term I do injustice to myself, for notwithstanding the change in 
mode of living requiring so long an abstinence from food, I don't 
know that I have eaten too much, or at aU events so much as to 
make me feel uncomfortable. 

Very early in the session today Mr. Mason, Chairman of 
the Com. of For. Rel., introduced a Resolve to appropriate each 
day after one o'clock to the consideration of the appropriation 
bills until they finally pass. It was attacked by Bell, Ben Har- 
din & others, and sustained principally by Sutherland & Mason, 
the latter of whom is a very fine speaker. He has not much 
action, though he often speaks with much animation. His 
voice is sweet and its modulations excellent. He is a man of 
considerable talent and from his known kindness of disposition, 
and from the handsome specimens of elocution he almost always 
gives us, he is listened to attentively and with respect. 

Bell has a strong, harsh voice, speaks with a good deal of 
fluency, and is a man of good talents. I do not entertain a very 


exalted opinion of Sutherland. He mouths it too much, and 
thinks too much of himself. The vote on adopting Mason's 
resolution was carried by a majority of 100, I think. 

After that was disposed of, Cambrelling, Chairman of Com- 
mittee of Ways & Means, reported a bill making additional 
appropriations to carry on the Seminole War (which word, by 
the way, is pronounced here in four syllables, Sem-i-no-le.) I 
suppose you perceive by the papers what terrible slaughter 
there has been of our folks in Florida by the Semino'ie Indians. 
Two companies entirely cut off and destroyed with the excep- 
tion of three men. Some think here that the utter extermina- 
tion of this tribe of Indians will be the consequence of it. The 
inhabitants of that quarter will feel like taking heavy ven- 

Yesterday we reed, the good news of the election of Nich- 
olas to the Senate from Louisiana and today we have reed, the 
capital news of the election of Walker from Mississippi. Now 
if McKean & Hendricks will go right, and many think they will, 
parties wil'i be equally divided in the Senate, Mr. Van Buren 
having the casting vote. This news elates our friends here 
very much, particularly those in the Senate. Our friends 
there have had a hard time of it. 

There is to be a party at Mr. Forsyth's tonight, but I be- 
lieve I shall not go, the travelling is not good, and it is rather 
cold and uncomfortable. The snow remains on the ground yet 
and sleighs are flying about briskly. I believe I told you that a 
grate had been set in my little chamber in which I burn coal; 
so far it has done pretty well, though it will not be long before 
it will prove too warm ; by that time, however, I hope to be able 
to change my quarters — i. e., so far as regards rooms. Love 
to the children and everybody else. 

Your Husband, 


Washington, Jan. 27, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

I take some credit to myself for my self-denial in not going 
last night to Mr. Forsyth's party, and probably today I feel as 
well, to say the least of it, as if I had gone. Today we have done 
nothing in the House but hear two speeches, one from Cambrell- 
ing of N. Y., and the other from Reed of Mass. upon Mr. Adams' 


resolution instituting an inquiry into the causes of the loss of 
the three million bill last session. This is most contemptible 
business, instead of acting now, to be spending the time in in- 
quiring why they did not act last session. It, however, all goes 
to show that the President was right in asking of the Com. of 
Ways & Means the appropriation, and so far may be of some 

Reed made rather an acrimonious speech, directed, a good 
deal of it, against Mr. Adams. He has been taking notes and 
I suspect will demolish poor Reed when he can get the floor. 
Old Hardin got the floor after Reed, and then moved an ad- 
journment. He is apparently about 60 years of age, rather 
tall, light hair & red beard & whiskers. He is rather coarse 
in his dress and still more so in his manners. He is not a pleas- 
ant speaker, but is a strong debater, and oftentimes deals 
around the most cutting, or mangling perhaps I shouM say, 
sarcasm. He abounds in anecdote drawn from his experiences 
in the backwoods, and has a good deal of wit, though of a coarse 
character. Cambrelling got angry with him the other day and 
said hard things, and now I suspect Hardin intends to repay 
him with usury. 

The Supreme Court commences its session each day at 11, 
one hour before the House, so whenever I am not engaged in 
Committee, I spend an hour there. I have already had the 
pleasure of hearing Webster, Livingston, Sargent, Butler, 
Clayton & Jones. This is a treat that Mr. Haines would like 
much, but I can assure him, most of these diminish in size as 
you approach them. They, or some of them, at least, are great 
men, but I believe most of us expect in all such cases more than 
we realize. Livingston is not an interesting speaker. He is 
not rapid in utterance, hesitates somewhat for words & often- 
times makes (like Mr. Shepley) a very bad sentence. How- 
ever, you cannot listen to him without feeling you are listening 
to a man of strong intellectual powers. 

I was very much disappointed in the appearance of John 
Sargent. He is a small man, not quite so thick as myself, and 
about as tall, certainly not more than 1/2 an inch taller. His 
head is large and well formed. He dresses very plain & seems 
to be far behind the fashions. He wore a blue coat, with velvet 
on the collar, and a white cotton cravat. His voice is small and 
a little nasal, and very much resembles that of Increase Sum- 
ner Kimball, with whom Mr. Haines is acquainted. He is per- 


fectly cool and unimpassioned, and appears to have perfect 
confidence in his own powers. His manner is very plain & un- 
pretending, but he argues with great force. 

Clayton is the last man in the world you would select for an 
intellectual man, or one of considerable talents. He is very- 
fleshy and very ill-shaped. His head and face are quite large, 
his hair grey, his eyes light blue or grey and very dull and un- 
expressive. His body is large (not portly) and his legs not 
very graceful in shape and hardly large enough for his body. 
His neck, if he have one, is very short, and head stooping, com- 
plexion very white but not pale, I have not yet heard him in the 
Senate. In his argument in Court, which was in reply to Sar- 
geant, he appeared to be wide-awake, and argued with a good 
deal of power and some eloquence. He is manifestly not a 
small man. I heard Gen. Walter L. Jones this morning, and 
must say that I can find ten men at our bar and perhaps more 
who could do better. It was not, however, a good case for a 
man to show himself to advantage. 

Since I have been writing this Mr. Ela came in who was 
formerly of N. H., now resident of this City. He says Randolph 
once said of Hardin : "Oh, yes, H. is a man of genius, but then 
it is coarse. He is like a common case knife whetted on a 
brick." This you will perceive accords with the ideas [ have al- 
ready expressed. 

Granny White^ has been spouting in the Senate today: 
"The King of France with 20 thousd. men," &c., you recollect 
the rest. If this letter is too long you may console yourself 
with the expectation of my letters being shorter very soon, i. e., 
when the Judges send me some work which they have promised. 
Thy Husband, 


^Hugh Lawson White, called "The Cato of the United States" in his day. 
He was a senator from Tennessee for many years, succeeding- Gen. Jackson. 
Gov. Fairfield disliked him, doubtless because he had broken with President 
Jackson over the Bank, foug-ht Jackson with a bill to limit federal patron- 
age, pursued a most independent course; harrassed the administration con- 
tinually and fought Van Buren's succession to the Presidency by running 
himself, carried Tennessee and Georgia and got 26 electoral votes. He re- 
fused to vote to expunge resolutions censuring President Jackson and in 
1838 became a Whig. He was a man of unblemished rectitude. 


Anxious to Speak 

Washington, Jan. 28, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

We have had in the House today a continuation 
of the discussion on Adams' resolution, proposing an inquiry 
into the causes of the loss of the three million bill. Ben 
Hardin & Evans have occupied the whole day at the close of 
which little Bynum of N. C. got the floor and moved an ad- 
journment, so to-morrow we must have a continuance of this 
unprofitable debate, when we ought to be devoting all our ener- 
gies to putting the Country in a proper state of defence. I heard 
but a sma;i'l part of these two speeches. Evans, it is said, made a 
very good one, and both were very severe upon Mr. Adams. I 
divided my time between the House, the Senate and the Su- 
preme Court, which is directly under the Senate Chamber. In 
the Senate I heard Mr. Benton thunder and lighten (?) for 
about ten minutes at poor Ewing. Grundy made an excellent 
speech of an hour or more in length upon Benton's resolution 
for appropriating the surplus revenue to the defences of the 
Countiy. Isaac Hill also made one in which he lashed the 
Senate not a little, bringing up to their recollection many facts 
which I suppose they would prefer not to remember. 

There is a very strong disposition to speechify in our 
House, so much so, that when a member closes a speech upon 
any of the general exciting topics of the day a half a dozen 
& sometimes many more strive to get the floor. Under these 
circumstances it will require a good deal of assurance in a new 
and young member to enter the lists — more I am afraid than I 
possess. If I make a speech it must be upon some private bill, 
or matters of a less exciting character than the subjects now 
before Congress. 

Smith has been trying to get the floor some days, but has 
not yet been able. 

The weather is quite cold here now and has been so for sev- 
eral days. The snow remains upon the ground, and it is very 
tolerable sleighing. 

You inquire about Mrs. Cutts' school. I believe she has a 
very small one, but entirely inadequate, I apprehend, for their 
support. He has been besetting me and some others of our del- 
egation to get a clerkship for Samuel in the Post-OfRce de- 
partment, that he may help support them. We have not been 
able to effect it, and probably shall not. 


Tell my dear boys that I sha'il very soon look for some 
more letters from them. My good little Sarah can now and then 
add a word to yours. Kiss her and my sweet Augusta for me, 
as well as the little great homely boy, Hampden. 

Thy Husband, 


His First Writing with a Steel Pen 

Washington, Jan. 29. 
Dear Wife, 

I have reed, nothing from the North for three days except 
a pamphlet from Prof. Hall and an Age from Mr. Haines, which 
by the way, he need not send me again as it is sent to me from 
Augusta. I apprehend the making of the ice in the rivers, and 
the great quantity of snow south of Boston is the reason that I 
have reaped so poor a harvest from the mails. The daily Argus 
I have reed, very irregularly since they first began to send it 
to me. 

Today we have had the first part of Byrnum's speech on 
Adams' resolution. He has been paying very particular atten- 
tion to Wise of Virginia, and many think that before he finishes 
he will say enough to make matter for "a very pretty quarrel" 
as the Irish Major says in the Rivals. He has fought, I be- 
lieve, several times, and is one of those men who would as soon 
fight as eat, certainly when the passions are up if not at any 
time. And Wise, too, has fought his duel. Byrnum is a small 
man, a little taller than myself, and very slender. He looks 
pale and appears to be a man in rather feeble health, but he 
has courage equal to any undertaking, and is a sterling dem- 

Adams gave notice today, that after gentlemen had 
poured out ai'l the vials of their wrath upon him, he had some- 
thing to say in reply. I suspect he will make something of an 
effort, and will let some folks know that he can give as well as 
receive blows. But knowing the inconsistency of the man & his 
course, it would not be very strange if he undid what he has 
heretofore done. The Senate have no session today and to- 

This is my first attempt to write with a metallic pen and it 
minds me of what the countryman said of Van Buren on re- 
turning home from Washinfirton. He was very free in giving 


his opinion of all whom he saw here until he was asked what 
he thought of V. Buren. Why, as to him, said he, he is such 
d fine print I couldn't read him. Now you may find a diffi- 
culty of the same kind in this letter, and if the point of my pen 
don't very soon become blunt and make a large mark, I'll go to 
the quills again. 

I believe I told you yesterday that we were having very 
cold weather here. With unlisted doors, loose windows, and 
open-mouthed joints, I find my coal fire just the thing. The 
snow lasts yet, and there is pretty good sleighing, but now I 
think of it, you were told of the same thing yesterday; well, 
my Dear, what can you expect of a man who writes every day. 
I suppose you would not consent to let me exchange, and open 
a correspondence with some other member's wife & he with 
mine, therefore the least you can do is to let me occasionally 
preach an old sermon. 

Good night, 


On His Birthday 

Washington, Jan. 30th, 1836. 

If years were stripes, I could today, 
With good old Paul, th' Apostle, say, 
With no less truth, but more of fun, 
That I've had forty, saving one. 

There, dear wife, what do you think of that for a specimen 
of birthday poetry ? I wish I had thought of it earlier, I would 
have endeavored to have extended my rhymes through the 
whole letter, but I have a special invitation to attend a meeting 
tonight at the Capitol, of the American Historical Society at 
which Mr. Secretary Cass is going to deliver an oration — and 
so I haven't time to make poetry if I had the power. Maybe, 
however, on my return, I will sit down and write a few more 

Most of the time was taken up in the House today, discuss- 
ing a resolution introduced by White of Florida, authorizing 
the President to cause the suffering inhabitants (said to be 
500 families) who have had their property destroyed and been 
driven from their homes by the Indians, to be supplied with 
food from the public stores until restored to their homes or so 


long as the President should deem necessary. White, Holsey 
of Georgia, Harper of Penn. & others spoke in favor of it, and 
Parks Parker of N. J., Patton of Virg., Granger of N. Y., and 
others spoke against it. 

White is a very fine looking man, and is a handsome 
speaker. His voice is very musical and his manners very cour- 
teous. The vote was taken by yeas and nays and only 14 
found in the negative. It is strange that upon such an occa- 
sion, men having a particle of human sympathy and kindness 
in their bosoms should set their ingenuity to work to hunt up 
possible objections. 

The hour of meeting has arrived and I must go, stopping 
only long enough to say I hate these metallic pens. 

Ever thine, 


Hears Secretary Cass 

Dear Wife, 

Not being moved by the spirit of poetry, I cannot do what I 
promised, and must therefore perform my daily ministration 
in plain prose as I have been accustomed to do. When I ar- 
rived at the Capitol last evening I found our seats wholly occu- 
pied by ladies and their beaux, so I pushed up the gallery, 
the ladies' gallery, which is the farthest from the Speaker's 
chair, though in front of it. 

Mr. Cass has rather a small voice, and husky, so that I 
could not hear all. I, however, heard enough to satisfy me that 
it was an address of great merits, both as regards the matter, 
and the felicitous style in which it was written. I hope it will 
be published, when I will endeavor to send you one. A young 
lady, very tonish, and who talked French occasionally, sat next 
to me. After the first half hour, she slept more than half the 
time. I wanted to jog her, but I was afraid if I did that her 
big-whiskered beau sitting behind us would want to jog me. 
He didn't sleep, I'll assure you, but finding his property thus 
exposed kept a sharp look-out. 

Today I attended meeting again at the Capitol with the 
expectation of hearing Mr. Stockton, but was disappointed. I 
do not think, however, that I lost anything. Mr. Higby is very 
far superior to Stockton I think, and with the exception of the 


Trinity it appears to me that his notions are very commonsensi- 
cal as well as scriptural. 

I believe I was the only one who went to meeting from our 
House, so you see what an atmosphere I live in ; I should, how- 
ever, say that it snowed and rained a little and was very un- 
comfortable walking, and that Mr. Shepley was not very well. 
Mr. Isaac Hill has just called to see me. I like him very well. 
He is a man of good sense, and of warm feelings. He is to be 
the next Governor of N. H. I hope I shall have a letter from 
some of you tomorrow. Got nothing today but three old news- 

Your Husband, 


P. S. There is a rumor here that England has offered to 
mediate between us & France & that dispatches from that 
Government have been reed. I suspect the rumor is well 
founded, and that we may expect to hear from the Prest. soon 
in regard to it. I do not see, however, what good it will do, 
unless the mediation shall consist in advice merely to France 
to pay and us to accept. We certain'iy never shall consent for 
England or any other Power to have authority to decide that 
the Prest. shall apologize. Never — peaceable as I am, I would 
resist "even unto blood" any attempt to coerce an apology. 

Slavery Question Discussed 

Washington, Feb. 1, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

Only think of it — two months have passed since I left home 
— long enough to have made a voyage to the West Indies and 

Nothing has been done in the House today but to receive 
and refer petitions and hear a speech from Hammond of South 
Carolina on the slavery question. He is about my age, a good 
looking man, has a very pleasant musical voice, is a good 
speaker, and possesses considerable talent. I did not hear the 
whole speech, but in what I did hear, he appeared to be reiter- 
ating the aristocratic sentiments of Pickens. I think the South 
Carolina delegation is talented and most of them are eloquent, 
bold and daring. The two from that state who are on our side 


in politics, Manning & Ropes, do not seem to be debaters, but are 
plain, substantial men and men of good sense. 

In the Senate I understand Mr. Buchanan has been making 
a very fine speech on the subject of our relations with France. 
If I had anticipated it I would have gone and heard it. 

The Globe of this morning states the fact of the arrival of 
a British Sloop of War bringing dispatches to Mr. Bankhead, 
instructing him to offer a mediation. What is to be the result, 
we have yet no means of knowing. The Telegraph & Intelli- 
gencer speculate about it, but they know nothing. 

I have just reed, an invitation from Mr. Cass to supper on 
Friday evening next at V2 past 7. So about the time that you 
are reading this letter, I shall be partaking of the luxuries of 
Mr. Secretary Cass' table. I called last evening to Mr. Wood- 
bury's for the first time, except at his first party ; to his second 
I had no invitation. I spent a very pleasant evening. Isaac 
Hill, Commodore Morris & two other gentlemen were there. 
Coming home it was so slippery & windy that we could hardly 
keep on our feet and so cold that we could hardly keep from 
freezing. And, by the way, the weather is excessively cold to- 
day & night, it is seldom we have colder even in Maine. 

I had, last night, a grand coal fire, but before morning it 
was so far burnt down that I was obliged to get up and put my 
wrapper on the bed. 

Having performed my pleasing task, 1. e., spun my daily 
skein, I'll now leave it for you to reel off — so good night, taking 
with you my love. 


Listens to Eloquence of Buchanan 

Washington, Feb. 2d, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

I ran into the Senate chamber a few minutes, and heard 
Buchanan close in an eloquent manner what was said to have 
been a most eloquent speech upon the subject of our relations 
with France. He was followed by Crittenden of Kentucky. I 
staid long enough to hear his voice, see his manner, and form 
some slight opinion of him, this being the first time of his 
speaking. There is nothing remarkable in his appearance, a 
common sort of a man, but I should think a man of good talents. 
Although from Kentucky, he did not seem to have any of the 


stump eloquence that we often hear from that quarter, but 
spoke much more like our Northern logical, matter-of-fact men. 
He undertook to compliment the Senate, and spoke of its past 
efforts, as probably hereafter constituting one of the brightest 
pages in our history. A man who could do that seriously I re- 
gard as a hypocrite, or as laboring under a delusion of mind. 

Webster looks as black as a thunder cloud, and is, I think, 
rather chop-fallen. Clay's nose is about as brilliant as ever, 
but does not contain quite a sufficient amount of choloric to dry 
the moisture of his eye. The opposition in the Senate are in a 
truly pitiable condition. They do not know which way to turn 
without meeting disgrace and defeat. I don't know but this is 
too harsh, if so, 3^ou can soften it by reflecting that my words 
are always harsher than my feelings. 

I suppose Mr. Haines is thinking about going to court, for if 
I am not out in my reckoning it sits a week from yesterday. I pre- 
sume he has not a great amount of business. It is not usual for 
Feb. term. I hope, however, he will have some trials, and meet 
with abundant success. If this reaches you before he leaves, 
tell him I shall be glad to hear as soon as he returns from Court, 
a full history of matters and things. 

No information yet whether the offered mediation of Eng- 
land is accepted or not. I have an invitation for a supper party 
at Mr. Cass' on Friday, and an evening party at the President's 
on Thursday, the 11th. I have cards from J. P. Van Ness, for- 
mer Mayor & Genl. Macovent, but I believe I shall not return the 
call. With my present acquaintance I shall go abroad full 

Your Husband, 


Gives His Opinion on Dancing 

Washington, Feb. 3d, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

With regard to the boys going to the dancing school, I 
might as well as not skulk from the responsibility, you having 
sent them before receiving my advice. But I do not hesitate to 
say, I approve your step. If I had been at home I should have 
permitted them to attend if they had desired it. In dancing, 
there is no harm, I regard it as a pleasant and healthy exercise. 


It also serves to form the manners, and aids in the right devel- 
opment and expression, if I may so speak, of the body & limbs. 
But it may be abused, may be connected with dissipation, or 
indulged in to excess. For this I am no advocate. 

I hope the boys will take some interest in it, and strive to 
become graceful and elegant dancers, rather than clumsy & 
sprawling dancers. Oh! the rogues, I wish I could see them 
taking their steps! 

You ask who "Reis Effendi" is. His name is Paine, and is 
from Boston, a man about my age, less than my size, and does 
not look much like the author of such letters as you see in the 
Argus. He is a fellow of real genius, but a little odd. About 
4 weeks ago he was in at Col. Hall's room with me when we got 
entangled in an argument. Each maintained his side spiritedly 
and as well as he could. My vanity led me to suppose that I 
had the better of it, and that Reis Effendi had the worst of it. 
At all events he went out rather shortly, and I did not see him 
again for weeks, except by meeting him in the streets when it 
was difficult to get a nod from him. He now, however, occa- 
sionally comes to my room, and is apparently on good terms 
with himself and me. Who "Reis Effendi" is, is now no secret 
here, all know him. Many of his letters published in the Argus 
I presume you find very amusing. The one today comparing 
Wise to a bottle of spruce beer has a good deal of humor in it. 

This day has been taken up with a debate on the question, 
which committee, Calhoun's executive patronage bill should be 
submitted to, whether judiciary or select, and the House ad- 
journed without coming to a conclusion. Oh, what a monstrous 
waste of time is committed here. Sometimes I have no patience 
with these eternal gabblers, and wish they had their mouths 
full of hot water. I don't know what they have been about in the 
Senate. Tonight I have an invitation to go up to Chs. Cutts' & 
suppose I must go, but it is awful cold, and I had rather not. I 
forgot to name to you some time ago that I had been admitted 
to practice in the Supreme Court of U. S. It is a mere honorary 
matter and costs nothing. I presume I never shall have an en- 
gagement in it. Love to all. 

Your Husband &c. 


P. S. My Lord Coke says that "there is much excellent 
learning in all the &c. of Littleton." 


Patriotic Speech by Clayton 

Washington Feb. 4, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

One thing done today in the House which caused some lit- 
tle fluttering in certain quarters was to raise a committee of 24, 
one from each State, to look into the matter of mileage, i. e., the 
number of miles' travel for which the members receive pay. 
The course always has been for each member to fix his own dis- 
tance from home, and in consequence some — those who have 
little conscience united with great developments of the bump 
of acquisitiveness — receive much more, it is believed, than they 
ought. White of Florida, it is said, draws pay for 1800 miles. 
How he makes it out I can't conceive and no one else I suspect 
but himself. But he is not alone. 

I went into the Senate a few minutes and heard Clayton 
make a very patriotic speech. He said he was willing to vote 
for appropriating whatever was necessary to put the Country in 
.a complete state of defence if it took every dollar in the treas- 
ury and every dollar that we could borrow, and said moreover 
that France nor any other foreign Power had a right to inter- 
fere in any way with the communicating between the different 
departments of our government and that for one, he never 
would consent that the President should apologize or even ex- 

Last evening in pursuance of an invitation I went up to Mr. 
Chs. Cutts', Mr. Shepley was too unwell to go out, as he 
thought. Judge R. was under engagements to go to the theatre 
& Col. Hall wouldn't go. So I went alone. I met there a Mr. 
Sherburn, formerly of N. H., now in one of the Departments, 
and his two sisters, a Miss Van Zandis, sister of Dolly, our old 
acquaintance, a Miss Evans formerly of Portsmouth, a Miss 
Mills, formerly of S. C. and whose father I believe is now in one 
of the departments, and some others. Also Mr. Atkinson, edi- 
tor of the Casket, a periodical published at Philadelphia, and 
for which Miss Stros is a writer, poetry & prose. 

I had rather a pleasant time but liked to have frozen to 
death. I waited upon Miss Mills & Miss Evans home which 
was all on my way. I left them at the door supposing that 
their knock would be answered and that they would be let in at 
once, but, as far as I could see, after leaving them, and it was a 
very bright moonlight night, they were standing at the door 
outside. Whether they got in at all or not I have not yet heard. 


but they probably did not freeze to death, otherwise we should 
see an account of it in the morning papers. With nothing more 
to add I subscribe myself 

Forever yours, 


Describing the New Vapour Baths 

Washington, Feb. 6, 1836. 
My dear Wife, 

I expected to have reed, a letter from you this morning, but 
was in some measure consoled for my disappointment by re- 
ceiving a long and interesting one from Mr. Haines. It was 
all about business, to be sure, but I have not been long enough 
at Washington yet to extinguish my love of business, and on 
reading Haines' letter I felt as if I wanted to put the profes- 
sional harness on again and go to work. It seems he has been 
doing very well in the office, and I am glad of it for his sake if 
not for my own. When this reaches you, I suppose he will be 
away at Court. 

Today we have no session of either branch of Congress, so 
I have nothing political to communicate. Last night I went to 
Mr. Cass' supper party. There were 23 of us and though it 
may sound ungrateful, I must say we had rather a cold and 
cheerless time. In the first place it was an awful cold night and 
all the fires that could be made in his small fireplaces were in- 
sufficient to warm the rooms. We went at 1/2 past 7 and sat 
shivering from that time till 10, some playing whist and some 
talking politics. 

At 10 we sat down to supper and rose at 11. The table 
was most splendidly decorated, and we had everything and a 
little more to eat and drink. But, after all, I cannot say it was 
equal to the Vice-President's dinner party, and other con- 
siderations aside I should say so of all suppers compared with 
dinners. Mr. Cass is a very religious man and President, I be- 
lieve, of the American Temperance Society. He drinks noth- 
ing himself, but keeps his glass of wine before him, and is every 
few minutes inviting some one to take a glass with him, when 
he puts his to his lips and goes through the form without drink- 
ing any. This is one way to cheat the "Old Fellow," which I 
don't like. I should, however, add that he keeps no spirit in his 


house, except some "Port Wine" which those who tasted said 
came so near to brandy that it was not worth disputing about. 

Mr. Shepley could not go, having a bad cold. I have tend- 
ered my services to cure him of it, and he is inclined to accept, 
but don't seem to have quite faith enough. By the way, in 
connection with this subject, I would remark that a gentleman 
has two vapour baths exhibiting at the Capitol, for which he is 
asking the patronage of Congress. It is in fact an ingenious 
way of practicing on the Thompsonian principle under new 
names. In this case, however, they generally use sulphur, 
though you may use spirits or water. I like the machine very 
much, and should like to have one of them. One is portable. It 
may be folded together and put into a case 2 feet square and 
6 inches thick. 

You can form some idea of it by supposing a cross-legged 
bedstead, with a silk gum elastic canopy over it with sides fall- 
ing down round the bedstead so as to keep in all the vapor. The 
patient lies down, puts his head through a hole and lays it upon 
a movable cushion. The vapor or steam is then caused by 
burning the sulphur or spirits in a tin vessel at the foot, which 
is conveyed by a pipe in under the canopy or covering to the pa- 
tient. Another pipe leading into the fireplace carries off the ir- 
respirable vapor after it has done its office on the patient. This 
will give you some idea of it. I may, however, add that instead 
of the canvas, you may suppose a wooden frame or box a few 
inches deep, and some webbing extending across & back from 
one end to the other a few inches above the wood, on which the 
patient lies. Into this box or hollow frame, the fumes are first 
introduced, from which they come up through a hole to the 
patient, and after doing their office, as I before observed, are 
carried off by a pipe into the chimney. 

Mr. Haines says in his letter reed, today that Danl. Merrill 
wants to know whether I want him to work with me next sum- 
mer. You may tell him when he returns from Court to bar- 
gain if you please, if he will work for $120. He asked me $132. 
This, I think, is too much. I presume I can get enough for 
$120. The commencement of the year, I suppose, would be be- 
tween the 1st of April to the 1st of May, I couldn't say pre- 
cisely now. 

Well, how do the boys get along in dancing? 
Your husband, 



Steel pen again, you perceive. 

What do you think of my seal? It is my old watch seal, 
and is, I think, a very pretty one. I suppose it is the emblem of 
Pleasure, but don't know. At all events, it is a female dancing. 

The Maine Delegation on Slavery 

Washington, Feb. 8, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

Our session continued today until after 5 o'clock, by which 
time you may well imagine we wanted some dinner. The whole 
time with the exception of two short speeches has been taken 
up in voting by yeas and nays on certain resolutions introduced 
by Pinckney of South Carolina as a sort of compromise. The 
resolutions refer all the petitions upon the subject of slavery 
with all the resolutions heretofore introduced and pending, to 
a select committee of nine with instructions to report that it 
would be unconstitutional to legislate upon the question of 
slavery in the States, that Congress ought not to legislate upon 
the subject in the Dis. of Columbia, because it would be a 
breach of public faith, unwise, impolitic, and would tend to dis- 
solve the Union, &c., &c., &c. 

I found no difficulty in going for all but the breach of pub- 
he faith to legislate upon the subject for this District. How- 
ever, I did go for It. For all admit that it would be a breach of 
public faith to meddle with slavery in the States. If, then, by 
legislating upon the subject here, it should vitally affect the 
question of slavery in the States, render their property less 
secure, as well as endanger the lives of the owners, it would 
seem to me to be a breach of public faith, it would be doing indi- 
rectly what we admit we have not the power of doing directly. 
The Maine delegation all went for it but Smith. 

The President sent in a message today, stating that England 
had offered a mediation between us & France, that he had ac- 
cepted it, and recommended that we should not act upon his 
former recommendation of non-intercourse until it be seen what 
course France takes with regard to this proposition of England. 

This, I apprehend, will, as well it may, put to flight all ap- 
prehensions of war. I have no doubt England will advise France 
to pay on the ground that the explanation in the President's 
message should be regarded as satisfactory, and France will 


yield to the advice. I rejoice at this prospect. I am inclined 
by principle and feeling to peace, as you well know, but I would 
prefer fighting to degradation. 

Mrs, Cass is out with another invitation to a party for 
Thursday, the 18th. He is very rich, worth from 500,000 to a 
million of dollars, and is very desirous that his wife should 
spend freely. To this neither she nor her daughters are very 
much inclined. The daughters are very plain and simple in 
their dress and manners, & are called rather superior girls. 

Last night I went to hear a Mr. Mussey at the Unitarian 
Church. He was pretty fair, or a little better than that, per- 
haps. Mr. Palfrey has left here and I believe has gone North. 
He is a man of excellent sense, great purity of character and a 
polished writer, but is wanting, as most ministers are, in ani- 
mation. Mussey is here, I believe, only for a few weeks, whether 
they mean to break up or not, I am not informed. Their society 
is very feeble. 

This steel pen on hard polished paper enables me to write 
upon the gallop. 

Ever thine, 


In Regard to Wife's Birthday 

Washington, Feb. 9, 1836. 

Dear Wife, 

On Monday you say you was 31. I had forgotten the day 
of the month, but I know the relative difference of our ages. 
You feel like 50, or rather as others appear at 50, you say. You 
feel, then, very differently from what you appear. No one, I 
think, would take you to be over 25 by your appearance. And 
as for myself, you know my looks belie me very much — or 
rather it is so said. The other day I set our boarders to guess- 
ing my age. One went as high as 37, one as low as 27, but most 
of them, I believe, about 28 to 30. Up at Mrs. Cutts' the other 
evening I was supposed by one to be 25 only, and "so we go," as 
you say. 

Your remark that unless we alter our course we shall have 
the opportunity next winter to inquire into the causes of the 
loss of another fortification bill, has as much truth as wit in it. 


We have spent the whole of this day in discussing one item, in 
one of the appropriations, for one of the harbors of our coast. 
When we shall get through at this rate "the Lord only knows." 

In the Senate, Leigh has been making a speech about the 
lost bill, relations with France, &c. I did not hear him, but I 
understand he went almost as far as Calhoun in putting his own 
Country in the wrong and France in the right. The Lord pre- 
serve us from such patriots, say I. There is an illiberality and 
narrowness of views and feelings about the opposition that 
astonishes me, if it does not lessen my estimation of the dignity 
& worth of human nature. 

And my dear boys, how do you get along? How do you 
like going to dancing school ? Have you learnt your steps yet ? 
How many go, and who are they ? Who are the best dancers ? 
How do you get along at Aunt Cutts' school, too? For I hope 
you do not neglect that. Very soon I trust I shall get letters 
from you. I believe you are good boys, study your lessons, for 
school, get lessons for Sunday, obey your Ma in all things, are 
good natured & try to make everybody happy. 
My love to all, 



(Letters of 1836, Continued) 

Washington, Feb. 10, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

Another day has been spent in the discussion of one of the 
items in the bill making appropriation for the repair and im- 
provement of the Navy Yards, and the adjournment was 
moved by Dutee J. Pearce, who will probably spend a large part 
of the morrow in a boisterous speech if nothing more. From 
attacks on the amount proposed for the repair & improvement 
of the Navy Yard at Portsmouth, some of them have com- 
menced attacks upon the station itself, and Pearce, though an 
administration man, will probably attempt to show the vast su- 
periority of Narragansett bay over every other part of the 
Country, & propose that all other stations be dropped for Narra- 

Last evening I went up to your Uncle Richard's. I did not 
see Dolly, or Thomas' wife and Mary was just rigging off for a 
party, so I spent the evening with the old gentleman & Thos., 
of whom I have before spoken in my letters. 

Tomorrow night we go to the President's and I would give 
all my old shoes if you were here to go with me But, for the 
want of you, I shall take Mrs. Mason, if I can get her, i.e., when 
there, for one feels awkward & lonely without a lady to prome- 
nade and chat with. I have been to the President's but a few 
times since I came here, and, indeed, have been about very little. 
Just before commencing this letter I finished franking 200 
of Isaac Hill's speeches and so feel somewhat fatigued. I am 
In love and law. Your Husband, 


The Bankruptcy of the City of Washington in 1836 

Washington, Feb. 11, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

I have spent the whole of today in the Senate listening to a 
debate on a bill for the relief of the District of Col. I took a 
particular interest in the bill as it went from the Committee to 
which I belong, although I opposed it in Committee. Or rather 


the two committees, Senate & House, had two joint meetings 
& they finally agreed on the bill reported, accompanied by a long 
report, myself alone dissenting. It seems that some few years 
ago, the Cities of Washington, Alexandria & Georgetown sub- 
scribed about a million & a half of dollars to the stock of the 
Ohio & Potomac Canal, Congress authorizing them to hire the 
money for that purpose. Mr. Rush, who was then Secretary of 
the Treasury, was sent to Holland by the Corporations for the 
purpose of effecting the loan which he accordingly did. 

For the security of the creditors, the President of the U. 
States was authorized to issue his warrant and cause the prop- 
erty of the cities to be sold whenever they were delinquent. 
They have struggled along and paid the interest until now, when 
they find themselves unable to do it any longer. This City is 
literally bankrupt, and the warrant has issued for a sale of the 
property. Under these circumstances what shall be done? 
The Committee proposed by their bill to assume the debt & re- 
fund to the corporations what they had already paid ! A prop- 
osition which I considered monstrous, a gift, an absolute gift, 
of about $2,000,000! Instead of this, I proposed in Committee 
that we should pay the debt now outstanding & no more ; and 
that not by way of gift, but that we should take a conveyance 
of the canal stock to trustees or Sec. of Treasury, and that it be 
held as security for the repayment to the U. S. of the sum ad- 
vanced for the Cities. After a whole day's discussion of the 
bill in the Senate, it has been re-committed for the purpose of 
having the very amendments made in it which I proposed. 

Tyler% Clay, Benton, Southard, Leigh, Davis, Shepley, 
Goldsborough & Niles took a part in the discussion. Tyler in 
his speech said that a different ground was taken in the Com- 
mittee from that assumed in the bill, but was afterward aban- 
doned. That was a mistake, to call it by no harsher name. I 
expressly dissented, and stated my reasons and never aban- 
doned them. 

In the House the discussion of the Navy Yard bill was con- 
tinued by Pearce, Hardin & Cushing-. I understand there was 
some pretty sharp shooting between Cushing & Hardin, and that 
one man in the gallery undertook to clap Cushing, whereupon 
the galleries were cleared. A few days ago Judge Underwood 
of Kentucky broached the subject of our mileage and on reso- 
lutions introduced by him for the purpose of equalizing the 
travel a Com. of 24, one from each State, was raised, on which 


you perceive I have the honor to be placed. I suspect 
it will not be a very thankful job if we are obliged to cut down 
some of the Western members. 

Last night, for the first time, I wrote a letter to my old 
friend in the East, Rogers of Bangor, and while it lay upon my 
table this morning whom should I meet in the street but Mr, 
Rogers himself, he having arrived last night. A young man from 
Maine is also here by the name of Browne, son of the husband 
of Elizabeth Titcomb, also a Capt. Eastman of Fryeburg and 
Tom Abbott has also been here, but I believe he has returned 
home. Little Vose of Augusta is also here. 

It being now time to dress for the President's party I must 
"haul taut & belay" as the sailors say. 
Ever yours, 


ijohn Tyler, afterward President. 

=This introduces a most interesting personality, Caleb Gushing, of vast 
erudition, rare ability, imposing in person, forcible in argument; an author 
of a one-time widely useful book on Political Economy, of numerous histo- 
ries, reminiscences, historical revie'vvs and a master of parliamentary prac- 
tice. Mr. Fairfield was hearing a great man in Gushing. He was about 35 
years old at this time and had been a wide traveler, graduate of Harvard, 
and had been practicing law at Newburyport, Mass. John Tyler, who par- 
ticipated in this debate, appointed Gushing first Minister Plenipotentiary to 
China. His service there was historical. He became a brigadier-general in 
the Mexican War, Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court, Attorney 
General under Pierce. He was minister to Spain when 74 years of age. 

No More Parties for Fairfield 

Washington, Feb. 12, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

If I do not change my mind, I shall go to very few more 
parties. The fruits of my last night's party are a cold, a head- 
ache and much stupidity. The jam was tremendous, and when 
the door of the supper room was opened, there was a rush and 
a scramble disgraceful to the last degree and such an one as I re- 
joice will not again occur, for Maj. Donelson said there would be 
no more suppers given. We (Niles, Ruggles, Toucey & myself) 
got ready to leave about 12 o'clock, but it was full 1 o'clock be- 
fore we could get our carriage to the door or could find it. 

To know where to lay our hands on our coats & hats, they 
were left in the carriage, in consequence of which I had to go 
out without either and after I had been perspiring freely, to 
hunt up our carriage, which was no easy job among hundreds. 


the drivers of which were all quarreling and pushing for the 
next turn to drive up to the door. 

In this way I caught a little cold which, added to my im- 
prudence in partaking so freely of the good things provided for 
us, causes me today to feel as if I never want to go to another 
party. I would undertake to describe this one to you, but it 
would be no more than a repetition of what I have said before, 
except that this was larger than the prior one, and more 
strangers were present. 

Today we have been discussing in the House a bill for the 
relief of Jesse Smith & others, the same which was discussed 
last Friday, involving an appropriation of about 20,000 dollars. 
If I had felt well enough I think I should have had a word to say 
upon the subject. It excites much interest and has called forth 
two or three of the best speeches I have heard in the House par- 
ticularly Whittlesey's for the bill & Williams, of N. C. against 
it. In the Senate Calhoun has been making an anti-abolition 
speech and was particularly abusive of Mr. Hill as I have heard, 
and also of Mr. Pierce of the House. Hill also attacked Calhoun 
with much acrimony and I suspect pretty fairly balanced the ac- 
count. Considering all things I know you will pardon me for 
writing no more at present. 

Your Husband, 


Home Folks in Washington 

Washington, Feb. 13, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

The Senate did not sit today, and the House have done noth- 
ing but receive resolutions, memorials, &c., and refer them, so 
I have but little to say. 

We have a considerable number of Maine folks here, which 
is a very pleasant thing for us, say Mr. Rogers & Genl. Veazie 
of Bangor, John D. McCrate of Wiscasset, Mr. Cooley also of 
Bangor & wife, who I believe are coming to Mrs. Hill's to board, 
Mr. Vose of Augusta, Mr. Eastman of Fryeburg and Mr. Nor- 
ton also of Bangor. 

You will undoubtedly see by the papers that France 
has accepted of the offered mediation of England, and that con- 
sequently all apprehensions of war are entirely dispersed. 


The Bank's operations in the Legislature of Pennsylvania 
seem to be attracting as much of the public attention now as 
anything else. There is no doubt entertained now, I believe, of 
the success of the Bank through bribery the most foul and dis- 
graceful, in procuring a charter. The people are holding public 
meetings there, and expressing their feelings in the strongest 
manner, but I don't believe it will prevent the charter, and once 
obtained I see no way of getting rid of it. 

Ever thine, 


A Chapter of Politics 

Washington, Feb. 13, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

At the opening of the session today Frank. Pierce obtained 
leave to make an explanation of a statement made some weeks 
since that not one in 800 of his constituents were abolitionists 
and to repel an attack made upon him in the Senate by Calhoun. 
It seems that on Friday last when one of these abolition petitions 
was under discussion, Calhoun, in order to show that Pierce's 
statement was not true, introduced and read a scurrillous article 
from a scurillous paper in New Hampshire. 

Pierce replied with a good deal of feeling and vindicated 
himself from the charge of having stated what was not true, and 
as he had been called in the article alluded to "a dough face," 
he took occasion to say that if any gentleman was disposed to 
take that statement for truth, he would then inform him, that 
"he was ready at any time, and in any way, to test it with him." 
And I presume there is no doubt but that he would make this 
declaration good and fight if any one should challenge him. 

After this matter was disposed of, Briggs of Massachusetts 
introduced another abolition petition, which under the resolu- 
tion introduced the other day by Pinckney, should have gone to 
the Select Committee without debate, but the Speaker made an 
erroneous decision & said the question of its non reception 
might be made & debated. 

Whereupon Wise got on his tall horse & rode off, splashing 
the mud all over the House. He was soon, however, called to or- 
der for a gross personal attack on Pinckney, and before he 
could get under way again, Vinton of Ohio appealed from the 


decision of the Chair, that this question was open to debate. 
And upon this question of order a debate ensued which lasted 
the whole day, and had not terminated when the House ad- 
journed. I think the Speaker's decision was wrong & that it 
will tomorrow be reversed, the effect of which will be to stop the 
mouths of these Southern fanatics, upon the petitions of the 
Northern fanatics. 

The news from France this morning is, that Louis Phillipe 
has sent word to England that she, England, need not trouble 
herself about a mediation, for that she, France, is ready to pay 
without further delay. From Virginia, too, we not only have 
the good news that the instructions to their Senators to vote for 
the expunging resolutions of Benton have passed, — but the 
Richmond Whig, an opposition paper, says that it is the wish 
of the Whig party at home that the Senators should resign, & 
that they cannot with any propriety hold their seats. They 
must resign, they cannot stand against all this, and then we 
shall have Mr, Rives back and another democratic Senator. 

Glorious ! Soon the expunging resolution will pass and the 
day that sees that matter accomplished should be observed as a 
day of general jubilee throughout the Country^ 

If this dish is too highly seasoned with politics for your 
taste, you can hand it over to Mr. Haines. 

Affectionately Your Husband, 


^The expunging- resolution was the cause celebre of the day — the resolu- 
tion to expunge from the records the resolution of censure passed on Pres. 
Jackson for withdrawing United States deposits from the United States 
Bank. A censure of the President was unheard of until then. In 1837 the 
vote was expunged from the record. But around these votes waged bitter 
warfare. Feuds were started that never ended. It brought the differences 
between Clay and Jackson to a head. And Old Hickory stormed about 
Washington declaring that he would "cut off the ears" of his opponents, 
especially Clay's ears. 

A Maine Private Squabble 

Washington, Feb. 16, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

We have had another rather exciting time in the House, — 
the circumstances of which were thus : Some time since F. O. J. 
Smith of Maine introduced a resolve that Maj. Barry's (the old 
P. M, Genl.) letter sent to the House last session, but too late to 
be acted on, be now printed. The letter contradicted the state- 
ments of a report of a special committee who had been ap- 
pointed to investigate the affairs of the P. O. Smith's motion 


was laid over & came up regularly today. At the time of its 
introduction Hawes of Kentucky, who is a good democrat & who 
was moreover a warm friend of Barry, told me that if Smith 
persisted in his motion, he and others of the Committee would 
in vindication of themselves denounce the letter of Barry said 
to be written by Frank (F. O. J. Smith of Portland) & a clerk 
in the P. O. as a tissue of falsehood and would moreover show it 
to be so in point of fact. 

Whereupon I went to Smith & endeavored to persuade him 
to withdraw his motion and so did Hall & Doct. Mason. But 
he would not. So today when the matter came up Hawes took 
the floor & said at the commencement of it that he should go as 
far in his attacks on the gentleman from Maine as the rules 
would permit. He is very inflammable and one of the greatest 
declaimers in the House and had not, therefore, made much 
progress before he pronounced a letter which had been written 
& pubhshed by Smith during the vacation upon the subject of 
the report of Hawes' committee, to be absolutely and unqual- 
ifiedly false. 

The Speaker here called him to order and then a scene of 
much confusion commenced, a great many striving to get pos- 
session of the floor, and those who did get it, arguing with much 
vehemence & feeling that it was or was not out of order, an ap- 
peal having been taken from the Speaker's decision. Wise & 
Peyton also embraced the opportunity to be very saucy and run 
into the political topics of the day. Finally a vote was taken 
and the decision of the Speaker was sustained by a large ma- 

In the meantime, however. Smith in speaking on the ques- 
tion of order had pronounced the statement of Hawes to be 
false and he was called to order & made to sit down. After the 
decision of the question of order, Cambrelling moved that we 
proceed to the orders of the day, which was carried. 

The New York bill providing for the relief of the merchants 
who had suffered by the fire by extending the credit on their 
bonds to U. S. for duties, came up, and Phillips, a merchant of 
Salem, got the floor and made a long and able speech in favor 
of the bill, after which the House adjourned. 

There is much combustible matter in the House, and I am 
expecting every day to have it blow up. Not time to write more 



One of Judge Shepley's Speeches 

Washington, Feb. 18, 1836. 
Hon. R. Mclntire, 

Dr. Sir, 1 went into the Senate chamber about half an hour 
ago and found Mr. Shepley (Judge Ether Shepley of Maine) 
making a speech, on Benton's resolutions, I suppose, but in 
which he noticed some things that took place in the Senate yes- 
terday, and I think very happily and with much effect. 

Yesterday Calhoun used very harsh language in regard to 
the President and in substance denounced him as guilty of false- 
hood and also used very uncourteous & ungentlemanly language 
of Mr. Van Buren. Wall of N. J. upon the spur of the moment, 
and in an indignant manner, answered him and said substan- 
tially that no gentleman would use such language. Niles of 
Conn, in a very spirited speech pretty distinctly called in ques- 
tion the honesty of Calhoun & Co. 

Today when I went into the Senate, Shepley was saying 
that such matters, i. e., the course of denunciation pursued by 
the gentlemen from South Carolina, gave him no trouble — for 
he had always found that denunciations were harmless, except 
so far as they acted by way of recoil on the actors. If, he said, 
you found many political carcasses along the political highway, 
they were not the carcasses of men who had been killed by de- 
nunciation either on this floor or in the newspapers or else- 
where, but of those who were the authors of their own mire — 
i. e., it was the result of their own doctrines and course of con- 
duct, &c., &c. 

He said that the gentleman from N. Y. (Wall) would, after 
he had been there a little longer, learn to sit coolly & philosophi- 
cally & hear the system of denunciation & abuse pursued. He 
said that gentleman probably had some mistaken notions of the 
Senate, of its nature, organization, duties, &c. That he had prob- 
ably looked into the Constitution to ascertain those matters, but 
that he should recollect that in practice the Senate, instead of be- 
ing what it was designed to be, was four days out of five resolved 
into a great central electioneering committee. And that in this 
committee the parts were all regularly assigned ; that is to say. 
to the gentlemen from S. C. and one from N. C. (Mangum) was 
assigned the part of denunciation and abuse; to the gentleman 
from Mass. (Webster) to be the guardian & protector of the 
Constitution, though he didn't think he was very successful in 
that object when he took the Constitutional powers from one 


department of government & transferred them to another; to 
the gentleman from Kentucky (Clay) to originate matters for 
electioneering; to the gentleman from N. J. (Southard) to deal 
out the sops by way of increased salaries, &c. ; to the gentleman 
from R. I. (Robbins, I suppose), to distribute the various mat- 
ters concocted in committee, &c., though he never was heard to 
give a reason for anything he proposed, &c., &c., &c. 

This slight sketch is perhaps erroneous in some things, and 
I hope you will see his speech published. 

Mangum answered him, in good humor, & Shepley replied 
in fine taste and so humorously that the whole matter went off 
in good nature. 

In too much haste to add more. 

Very truly Yours, 


Almost Breaks the Sabbath 

Washington, Feb. 21, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

Here you have Mr. BentonS the noble, heroic old Tom, the 
veteran democrat & the probable successor of Mr. Van Buren. 
I have been to meeting today at the Unitarian House where I 
have hired half a pew, for which I have to pay at the rate of $26 
per year for the whole pew, or $13 for my half. This is enor- 
mous but I could do no better. I am tired of running about to 
meeting and I am loth any longer when I don't run about to be 
dependent upon first one & then another for a seat, and upon 
those, too, who have had to hire their pews. 

Mr. Farley preached and is to continue here, I believe, some 
weeks. He is a very sound, substantial preacher, but appears 
to be a little cold & artificial. Mr. Stockton, I think, has lost 
some of his popularity, he is not much run after this session. 

Last evening I was up at Mr. Chas. Cutts' again. There is 
no resisting their invitations, for, if you stay away, they are 
apt to attribute it to their poverty, &c., &c., and I would submit 
to a good deal rather than have such a notion imputed to me. 
Indeed, there is no great sacrifice about it, except that the idea 
is constantly present to your mind that they are not able to have 

Last evening I had a very pleasant time, more so than at 
any party since I have been in Washington. There were Uncle 


Richard, Thomas & Dolly, Miss Evans & Miss Mills, of whom I 
spoke once before in my letters, Doct. Mason & wife and Mr. 
Harlan, a member from Kentucky. These, added to Miss Stros, 
Mrs. Cutts & family, made a very pleasant little party. Dolly 
is really quite social, agreeable and sometimes humorous. How 
came I to be so mistaken in her at first ? 

You may be surprised that I should go Saturday evening. 
It is strange how soon we become accustomed to the habits and 
manners of those with whom we happen to be placed and how 
readily we slide into their views and modes of thinking and feel- 
ing, however adverse to them we might formerly have been. In 
this case, however, I sacrifice no principle, nor are my views or 
feelings in any degree changed. In regard to Saturday evening 
and the Sabbath I have always entertained what I deemed to be 
rational views, but I made the remark as a general one. It is, 
however, certainly true that the influences here are of an anti- 
religious character, and though I came here fully aware of that 
fact, I suppose, with all others, niy feelings may have been in 
some measure affected by them, but I trust in the goodness of 
Him who has hitherto protected & sustained me, that I may be 
enabled to cherish religious principle, if I cannot always have 
religious fervor. Wishing you an abundance of happiness, I am 
Very truly thine, 


'This is probably another of Mr. Fairfield's pen sketches which he was 
fond of making. It was then planned by the Democrats that democratic 
succession should be Van Buren following- Jackson and Benton followingr 
Van Buren. 

Clay Is Impudent and Envious 

Washington, Feb. 22d, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

There being no session of the House today, I went into the 
Senate Chamber. The President sent in his message in relation 
to French affairs accompanied by a letter from the English 
Minister stating that France had given them notice that the 
money would be paid without anything being done by way of 

After the reading of the message & documents Clay got up 
and made an impudent and envious speech. He congratulated 
the Senate & the Country on the happy termination of this dif- 
ficulty but particularly the Senate for what they had con- 


tributed toward it; charged both countries with being in the 
wrong and then went on to show wherein our Country was 
wrong, saying nothing about the errors of France. 

He intimated an opinion that France had a right to call for 
explanations of a President's message to Congress, therein dif- 
fering from Clayton and several others of the opposition. He 
tried to hit Van Buren for his instructions to McLane when the 
latter was minister to England, abused the President, the party 
& almost everybody else. No one answered him, at which I 
was much disappointed. 

As, however, in the present state of affairs, Clay can do 
nothing but growl, perhaps it is but fair to let him retain that 
privilege. It was rumored this morning that Clay was about 
to resign, and I went into the Senate Chamber with the expecta- 
tion of hearing him make a farewell speech. I was quickly un- 
deceived, however, on getting in & finding that there were very 
few ladies in the gallery. It is rumored that he will resign soon, 
whether with or without foundation, time will show. 

The weather here is beginning to be spring like, and they 
say we shall have no more uncomfortably cold weather. 

I enclose you a likeness of Chief Justice Marshall, said to 
be a very correct one by those who had seen him much. I wish 
I could shade it, it would appear much better, but I cannot. 

Robert J. Walker, the new Miss. Senator, took his seat 
today. He is about my height, if anything, under, and more 
slender, but he has a fine head and countenance. I was sur- 
prised to find a man who had acquired so much reputation and 
whom we have regarded as a great man, so small a man. I 
only had a moment's look at him. I will tell you more of him 
by and by. 

Ever thine, 


iJohn Marshall died July 6th, 1835. Mr. Fairfield must have sent a picture 
that he obtained elsewhere of the distinguished jurist who died in his 80th 
year. In other words it was not one of his own sketches from life. 

Inklings of a Duel 

Washington, Feb. 27th. 
My dear Wife, 

The Senate has not been in session today and in the House 
we have been at work upon private business, i. e., the claims of 
individuals upon the government. This generally is not verj" 


interesting, though now & then a claim comes up which excites 
a very good debate ! 

A day or two since we had an inkling of what, perhaps, you 
have been long expecting, viz. a duel. It seems that Hannegan 
of Indiana, who is about my age & size & a good deal wilder, 
when coming on, fell into the company of a Lieut, in the army, 
with whom he had rather an angiy dispute. A few nights ago 
they again met at the theatre, accidentally falling into the 
same box. The Lieut., it is said, punched Hannegan with his 
elbow, whereupon H. drew his pistol and threatened to shoot 
him — the quarrel making a good deal of noise. The next day, 
it is said, the Lieut, challenged Hannegan and the government 
thereupon immediately ordered him (the Lieutenant) off, and 
there the matter rests. For most of these facts I am indebted 
to Doct. Mason and I suppose in the main they are correct. 

By the way, did I ever tell you who & what Doctor Mason^ 
was ? I presume you may have heard of a letter he wrote home 
to Stephen Emeiy last winter, which, by hook or by crook, 
found its way into the newspaper. It must be confessed that 
in a literary point of view the letter was a wretched affair, and 
did no great credit to the literature of the State. But it would 
hardly be fair to judge the Doctor by that. It is true that his 
early advantages were small, and that he is somew^hat illiterate, 
but no one would suspect it by personal intercourse with him, 
i. e., a casual intercourse I mean. He is a man of good personal 
appearance, indeed, there are few handsomer men in the House, 
and has a good share of common sense. He seems also to be a of good principles, and of a kindly disposition. Upon the 
whole, I like the Doctor very well. 

His wife is a real, clever, good Yankee woman. In former 
days, she was a school mistress, and of course is pretty well edu- 
cated. She dresses well and appears well, though a Calvinistic 
Baptist-. By and by I will say something of the remainder of 
our delegation when I have more time. But for the present 1 
only add 

Good night, 


^Dr. Moses Mason of Bethel, Me., a physician, member of the House with 

="'Though a Calvinist Baptist." This alone is worth the price of pub- 
lishing these memoirs. 


Tyler Resigrns 

Washington, Feb. 29, 1836. 

Dear Wife, 

As was anticipated, today Mr. Tyler of Virginia sent in his 
resignation to the Senate. Leigh remains, though I think he 
will find his seat rather uncomfortable. This being petition day 
in the House, but little has been done other than receiving and 
referring petitions. On the presentation, however, of some Vir- 
ginia Resolutions upon the subject of slavery. Wise continued to 
give us another tirade — but after squirting his small beer as 
Paine says for about half an hour, the Speaker called him to 
order, directed him to take his seat. A motion was then made 
that he have liberty to proceed, which did not prevail, so he has 
been fairly choked down once, if no more. 

In the Senate Mr. King of Georgia, has been making a very 
sound speech upon some questions growing out of the abolition 
petitions. Since writing the foregoing Mr. Ela, a fine fellow, a 
Clerk in the Treasury Department, & formerly from N. H. has 
been in and says that he heard today that Leigh had concluded 
to obey instructions and vote for the expunging resolutions — 
but I doubt it. If he do, it will be swallowing a bitter pill. 

Have you got any weather at Saco ? We have a plenty of 
it here. Yesterday and today the sleighs have been flying 
briskly, though I think tomorrow, the first day of March, will 
put a stopper on them. 

One word as to matters at home. If you conclude to move 
the 1st of May I will, by and by, take measures to have a horse 
bought, that is, a farm horse, which, upon the whole, I suppose 
I shall have to buy whether you move or not, for I have con- 
cluded that it would be better for me to have one yoke of oxen 
and a horse to work before them, than two yoke of oxen. So, 
having a horse, we must borrow Uncle William's chaise, or 
somebody's else, until I return, when I shall buy one or some- 
thing that will do as well. By and by, however, when the 
weather is suitable, say in April, you had better go down and 
see the House, and ascertain whether your courage is equal to 
going into it to live before it is repaired. I shall write to Mr. 
Haines tomorrow and enclose him a draft for $500 and ask him 
to do some errands for me touching the farm, &c. &c. 

Ever Yours, 



Mr. Fairfield Moves Down and Up 

Washington, March 11th. 
Dear Wife, 

I have got the start of you in one thing at least, to wit, I 
have moved and you have not. I now write from a room one 
story lower than my old one. It is about — stop & I'll jump up 
and pace it — say 18 to 12 feet large, is on the front and has a 
pleasant aspect, burns wood instead of coal, has shelves & other 
conveniences that the old one had not. On the whole my loca- 
tion is very pleasant. There is one slight drawback, I have to 
pay $10 a week instead of $8. 

Among the pleasant things, however, connected with this 
important event is that Hunt, the only heretical fellow in the 
mess politically, has changed his quarters, leaving this very 
room. I suspect he began to find his position at our table beset 
with too many perils, or at all events rather uncomfortable — 
for we have not been much in the habit of restraining speech. 

A somewhat curious & novel case was presented to the 
House today, and one which elicited a good deal of discussion. 
It seems that last session an act passed the House directing that 
two individuals, naming them, be placed upon the pension rolls, 
and was sent to the Senate. By the Journal of the Senate it 
appears that the bill, or the report of the Senate's committee 
thereon, be indefinitely postponed. And yet by accident it was 
signed by the Secretary of the Senate and sent to the President 
who also signed his approval. 

The Secretary of War on being informed of the fact by the 
Secretary of the Senate, declined paying the pensions, and to- 
day the matter was presented to the House. Underwood of 
Kentucky, Hoar of Massachusetts, Vinton & Storer of Ohio, 
took the ground that the law was valid to all intents and 
purposes and that the Secretary was bound to execute it. 
Beardsley and some others, that it was to be regarded as valid 
by the Judiciary and the Secretary of War, but not by Congress, 
and this latter was the ground I took when the question was 
first broached — i. e., to the little squad immediately around 
where I sit, for though I don't make public speeches, we very 
often have quite a discussion among ourselves. It is a question 
of some difficulty — and where so many good lawyers differ, I 
cannot feel confident. Shepley is inclined to think that though 
the Judiciary could not go behind the law and show that the 


legal forms had not been observed in passing it, yet that the 
Secretary might. So there you have it. 


"Calhoun is Crazy" 

Washington, March 14th. 
Dear Wife, 

As I have engaged to go out tonight and have but little 
time to spare, I believe I will take for my letter to you an ex- 
tract from one I have just finished to Stephen Emery: "Well, 
how do you like Washington ?" 

That is a very natural question of yours — but in answer 1 
am obliged to say I don't know. There are so many things to 
please & so many to displease that I find my opinions constantly 
balancing — or in other words my mind is like a piece of India 
rubber, fastened in the centre while various characters, scenes, 
events, interests and objects are pulling at the circumference. 
Sometimes the tension is more one way than another, and 
sometimes equal, and — but I must leave it to your better imag- 
ination to carry out the figure — " 

In giving him a brief description of some of the Senators 
my letter goes thus: "Calhoun is crazy and malignant as a 
demon, Preston is imagination personified. Clay is ebullient 
with egotism, envy & eloquence. Leigh is an old school Syllo- 
gism, an absurdity with Reason's great coat on. Mangum is 
vain, vaunting & vituperative. Wall is a sort of 'sleepy 
David,' give him whip and spur enough and he'll run like 
Eclipse. Benton is a Seventy Four, and woe betide the barque 
that receives his broadside," &c., &c. 

In love and law Your Husband, 


Washington, March 18th. 
Dear Wife, 

I went last night to Mrs. Woodbury's party. The company 
was more select than her former ones. There was all the beauty 
& fashion of the City, and some besides. In regard to dress of 
ladies, manners, modes of enjoyment there, eatables and drink- 
ables, they were about what I have before described. 


Perhaps I should except the dress of one lady said to be the 
fashion latest from Paris. It was a gown minus the bishop 
sleeves. The sleeve was short, reaching a little more than half 
way to the elbow, snug, and three or four rows of shoal ruffles at 
the end, say something like this. (Here sketch is made.) I 
hope I was correctly informed, and that the bishop sleeves are 
soon to be among the things lost on earth. I never thought 
they were graceful or added in any way to the beauty of the 
form. If I recollect rightly, your Mother's dress in her portrait 
will be all the go, though I don't feel very positive about the 
dress in the portrait. 

I do not intend to go to any more parties. I have had 
enough of them for one winter. 

By the way, Mrs. Tooley gave me an invitation to visit Col. 
Tooley and herself during the session. I believe it is about 60 
miles from here. She planned the route and appeared to be 
very cordial in the invitation. Doct. Mason & his wife are go- 
ing, & the latter seems to be a great friend of Mrs. Tooley. 
However, I suppose I ought to tell further, and not lay my in- 
vitation to the score of her partiality, that I have been talking 
of going to Harper's Ferry during the spring, which I believe 
is only about ten or fifteen miles from Tooley's plantation. 

I have spent the whole day in the Senate hearing Mr. Ben- 
ton on the expunging resolutions. He is making a powerful 
speech, and I presume is not half through. 
Your Husband, 


Almost Makes His Speech 

Washington, March 25th. 
Dear Wife, 

I came pretty near making a speech today on the North 
Carolina contested election. I made two attempts to get the 
floor and failed in both. The last time Graves of Kentucky suc- 
ceeded and after he had proceeded a few minutes, I rose to a 
question of order and claimed the floor on the ground that 
Graves had spoken once before upon the same question, but the 
Speaker decided that it was too late to take that ground after 
the member from Kentucky had been permitted to proceed in 
his remarks. 

Third Son of .lolin Fairfield 


So there's my luck, and who knows but what it may have 
been in fact good luck, for if I lost the opportunity of making a 
good speech, I also lost the opportunity of making a poor one, so 
I'll study to be content. But I felt pretty well for a speech just 

Wise had been giving us one of his tirades and I wanted 
to answer him from the impulse of the moment, and while my 
feelings were warm. I believe I shall not renew the attempt 
tomorrow as we have stinted them (the opposition) with three 
days, closing with tomorrow, for the settling of this question, 
and the regular speakers, those to whom parts have been 
assigned, will want the whole day, probably. 
Ever Yours, 


His Religious and Political Duties Conflict 

Washington, March 27. 
Dear Wife, 

This is Sunday, and what will you say when I tell you that 
I did not get home from the session of the House until daylight 
this morning. The session was from 11 o'clock, forenoon, to 1/2 
past 4 next morning, say 17 1/2 hours. It was such a night as I 
hope never to be obliged to pass through again. 

I felt determined with the rest during the whole day to sit 
the opposition out and take the vote, not dreaming that there 
was danger of going into Sunday. But when 12 o'clock arrived 
I was in a quandary. I hesitated about my course but finally 
concluded that I would stick to my post, a post assigned me by 
the people. But then, being satisfied that more injury would 
result to the public morals by the example set, than political 
good from continuing this session into the Sabbath, I felt in- 
clined to adjourn. 

But my political friends were opposed to adjournment. 
What then, should I do? I finally concluded to stand by but 
take no part except under imperious circumstances. Accord- 
ingly there will be three lists of yeas & nays when my name will 
not be found. I declined, or rather omitted to vote, nothing, of 
course, being said about it. So my vote will not be found re- 
corded among the nays on the questions of adjournment where- 
by I should have contributed to keep the House in session & 


compelling them to act on the Sabbath, nor will it be found 
among the yeas, whereby I should appear to be acting with the 
opposition. And on the whole, considering what scenes trans- 
pired after 12 o'clock, I feel somewhat satisfied with my course, 
though I felt a little troubled about it at the time. 

Ever thine, 


Michigan in the Senate 

April 2d, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

The House today has been engaged except the first hour, in 
private business, and I have been passing my day in the Senate 
where the Michigan question^ has been under ':'iscussion. 

Yesterday we dined and took our tea without our Senators, 
after having waited for them a reasonable time. About 1/2 after 
7 in the evening I went back to the Capitol and found the Senate 
in session, and our friends manifesting a determination to have 
the vote taken at all events. 

The opposition were maneuvering just as they did in the 
House last Saturday, moving adjournments, and other ques- 
tions, to take up the time of the Senate, weary our Senators out, 
and prevent the question being taken. When they found that 
they could not accomplish their purpose in any other way, most 
of them went away, to destroy a quorum, but seven of them, it 
seems, were afraid to carry matters this length, and remained 
& voted. The bill was carried by 24 to 7. Today the question 
is on its final passage. 

One of the principal questions raised is as follows: The 
constitution of Michigan permits "inhabitants" to vote, and 
Clay & the opposition contend she may, under this, permit 
aliens to vote (indeed as a matter of fact they do), and thereby 
defeat the naturalization laws of the U. S. 

Preston broke from his party, and made a very able 
argument in favor of Michigan. He maintained that the qual- 
ifications of voters was a matter entirely for the States to set- 
tle, each State for itself; that the constitution of U. S. requires 
that the electors of members of Congress shall have the qualifi- 
cations requisite for electors of the most numerous branch of 
the State Legislature but don't say what those qualifications 
shall be, leaving it for the State to settle. He said that if Con- 


gress should go farther, they might as well add to the constitu- 
tional qualifications of members of Congress, to wit, 25 years of 
age, 7 years residence, &c. 

Clay replied to him, making one of his best arguments. The 
question is a doubtful one, though I am inclined to think our 
folks are right; indeed, on reflection, I am satisfied of it. The 
Senate have not yet adjourned. I suspect they are determined 
to have the vote tonight. 

Since writing the foregoing, finding that our Senators did 
not come home to dinner, I have been up to the Senate. They 
have just adjourned — say 1/2 past 7, having passed the bill ad- 
mitting Michigan and also the bill admitting Arkansas through 
all its stages but the lasit, which I suppose will be done on 

Your Husband, 


^The admission of Michigan as a State was a celebrated issue in Jack- 
son's day. Benton's "Thirty Years View" contains many pages of this de- 

Washington, Apr. 3d, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

For want of something better to write you, I send a letter 
reed, from Judge Mellen this morning, with my answer, which 
was as follows: 
"Dear Judge, 

Today your letter came, Bro. Pond, 
Like most men, being rather fond 
Of seeing his watery name in print, 
Inclines to think the deuce is in't, 
That his great case, Adams & Rowe, 
Should e'er by me be treated so; 
And left as if 'twere useless lumber, 
Upon the dusty shelf to slumber. 
In answer, now, I have the pleasure. 
In rickety, disjointed measure. 
To say that Adams versus Rowe, 
Will be in "Fairfield" volume two: 
"And fuddermore"* 'tis now in press, 
And soon the legal world will bless. 

My "printed speech," Oh dear. Oh, Oh, 
Existing but in embryo, 


I cannot send you ; and the best 
I can do, is, of your request 
To take the other branch ; & so I'll try. 
To send some "staves of social poet-wry." 
Your wish falls sweetly on my ears, 
That I may live a thousand years ; 
And in return, from my heart's core, 
I wish for you a thousand more. 
Respectfully & truly yours, 

J. F.— " 
(* Parson Webster) 

There, what do you think of that ? "Hain't I going to be a 
Poet?" as Hodge said, when he wrote: 
Sweetly the breezes 
Blow thro' the freezes; 
I send by the muses 
A new pair of shoeses 
Or as the Vermont Poet said, when he began his poetical career 

The sun to bed began to hitch 
And everything grew dark as pitch. 
Your opinion is respectfully solicited, and "the smallest 
favors gratefully acknowledged." 

There, if this isn't nonsense enough for one letter, I think 
it's a pity. In love & fun 

Your Husband, 


The Expunging Resolutions Again 

Washington, April 4, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

In the Senate Leigh has occupied the day in answer to 
Rives on the expunging resolutions. One side say it is a very 
able speech, and the other side say that his arguments, many 
of them, are very good only they had no application to the case. 
I did not hear it myself. 

In the House Hawes of Kentucky occupied the time till one 
o'clock in answer to Chilton Allan on the Kentucky resolutions 
in favor of dividing the moneys arising from sales of the public 
land. He didn't leave Granny Harrison in the shape of any- 
thing human. Went into his war history, and among other 
things introduced some of his correspondence. 


Hawes is naturally a man of very good powers — but he is a 
real ranter — speaks as loud as possible, and as low as possible 
and speaks not merely with his tongue, but with his hands, 
feet, head & whole body. 

After one o'clock Jarvis^ took the floor on the Naval appro- 
priation bill and made what I suppose will read as a tolerable 
good speech. He has a voice which is very feeble, and seems to 
come from a tomb, or the bottom of a well. No, I now recollect 
what it is like, — the voice of one in a chest with the lid shut 
down. He spoke to a beggarly account of empty boxes. I 
counted his audience at one time & found only 46 members there 
out of 240, and no one in the gallery. 

Robertson of Virginia got the floor after him & then moved 
for an adjournment. Now we shall have some gall & worm- 
wood. He sits directly behind our tier of boxes, and I, of 
course, hear a good deal of his talk. He is regarded as a good 
lawyer, has been Atty. Genl. of Virginia, but he is as full of 
acrimony as talent, according to my way of thinking. 

I have pretty much abandoned the idea of making a speech, 
unless it should be impromptu upon some fit occasion. The 
prejudice against speech making is getting to be rather strong, 
and I'm glad of it. 

Ever thine, 


^Leonard Jarvis, Republican from Maine, resident of Surry. 

Discussing Old Economies 

Washington, April 18, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

We have been discussing in the House today a motion to 
strike from the appropriation bill $20,000, a part payment to 
Clark & Force, two old federal printers, for what is to be called 
the Documentary History of the Revolution. The work, it is 
supposed, will cost half a million of dollars. I regard it as 
cheating the people to reward pet printers, and to appropriate 
property to the members which they have no right to, so I went 
against the appropriation, but the book folks carried it by 8 ma- 

In the Senate they have been debating Mr. Grundy's project 
of buying the use for the Govt, of all the railroads established 


in the Country, and to be established, instead of paying a yearly 
compensation for carrying the mail, &c. Jno. Hartley & Moses 
had a fine opportunity of hearing the lions of the Senate. The 
following Senators, I believe all of them, had more or less to 
say: Webster, Clay, Calhoun, Leigh, Benton, Grundy, Walker, 
Buchanan, King of Georgia, &c. They were highly delighted. 

I have two invitations before me. One for a party at 
Blair's tomorrow evening, which I think I shall not attend, and 
one from the Proprietors of the Chesapeake & Ohio Canal Co, 
to take an excursion on the Canal to Wheeling. To start Satur- 
day the 30th inst. at 5 o'clock in the morning, reach Wheeling 
the same day & return again on Monday, and this invitation I 
think I shall accept. 

It will be at the time when the House has agreed to adjourn 
over for 3 days in order to have the carpets taken up and straw 
carpets put down. This will be a very great improvement and 
promotion of health. Now, when the sun shines across the 
Hall in a line of rays of light (if that is proper) you can see 
that the Hall is full of dust. 

Ever Yours, 


April 27th, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

The trees are all leaving out and peaches, apricots & some 
others in bloom. 

This will be a beautiful City in a few weeks, for about all 
the public buildings and the whole length of Pennsylvania Ave- 
nue much attention has been paid to the planting of trees. I 
see but little shrubbery about the private houses compared with 
what we see at the North. 

We begin to find our situation rather uncomfortable in one 
respect, to wit, the great quantities of dust continually floating 
in the air. Pennsylvania Avenue was McAdamized a year or 
two since, but was done with so soft a stone that it grinds into 
dust which is between one & two inches deep at all times when 
dry, and after a rain we have that depth of mud. I wish, there- 
fore, that I was now on Capitol hill, but having been with Mrs. 
Hill during all the cold weather when much wood was burned, 
perhaps it would be hardly fair to leave her now when we can 
obtain board a little cheaper elsewhere, and when she begins to 
make a little profit. 


In the Senate today after much discussion, Clay's land bill 
passed by a vote of 25 to 21, which is, I suppose you know, pro- 
viding for the distribution among the States of the proceeds 
arising from the sale of the public lands for five years. 

Ever thine, 


Daughter of John Fairfield 

(Letters of 1836 Continued) 

A Trip to Harper's Ferry 

Washington, May 3d, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

I returned from my excursion to Harper's Ferry last night, 
but not in season to write you. It was a great treat & afforded 
the most unbounded satisfaction to all who went, constituting 
about 60 members, & some half a dozen other gentlemen. We 
were absent three days and the whole treat was gratuitous, even 
to the passage in the hacks from here to Georgetown & back, 
that being the place from which the boats start. The distance 
is something over 60 miles, and is accomplished in a day, the 
Canal boats being drawn by 3 horses and a part of the time by 
four. The topmost piece is a canvas awning, an open space con- 
stituting a long, commodious and comfortable dining hall. 
There were three boats, the largest being what I have sketched, 
the others not so large and having no awnings. I kept in the 
large boat, which afforded a fine opportunity of viewing the 
scenery in our progress up the canal, which we found to be 
really worth seeing. After getting up about ten or a dozen 
miles, we found the land rich, pretty well cultivated, and exhib- 
iting some of the most beautiful landscapes that I have ever 

In some places the Canal runs along the side of a mountain, 
there being say a precipice 100 feet high above us on our right, 
& 100 feet below us on our left. From Georgetown up there are 
33 locks, which, if you understand, you can explain to the chil- 
dren. There were also several aqueducts, one vastly superior 
in every respect to anything of the kind I have ever seen. It 
carries the canal over the river Manocasin (Fm not sure that I 
spell it right) . It is about 500 feet long & has 7 arches. It is 
built of large, square blocks of a very white kind of granite, and 
is nearly as handsome as marble. It is a noble specimen of 
mason work. 

For a considerable distance the Baltimore & Ohio railroad 
passes side by side with the canal, and in one place I recollect we 
had an aqueduct & viaduct beside each other, the first being the 
conducting of water over a river or over a road, and the latter 


being a road built over a river or road. The scenery grows 
more sublime as you approach Harper's Ferry, and when you 
get there it is truly wild. There the waters of the Potomac 
and Shenandoah meet, and seem once to have constituted a vast 
lake which had forced its way through the mountain, and that I 
believe was Mr. Jefferson's opinion. (See his notes on Virginia.) 

The tongue of land in the centre rises precipitously from 
the water for about 300 feet and is incapable of occupation by 
buildings except a narrow strip round its base, near the water, 
a narrow piece in the center, where I have placed a meeting 
house, and a Masonic hall, which are about half way up the hill. 
Much of the way you ascend by steps hewn into the solid ledge 
which seems to be a kind of slate rock. The bank on the Poto- 
mac side is 1100 feet high, and 500 of it nearly perpendicular. 
The sides also of the tongue of land in the center are very pre- 
cipitous & are entirely impassable except in one narrow, wind- 
ing, & dangerous footpath, which I descended though in some 
places it was really frightful. 

All of our Company but about half a dozen went on the 
railroad to Winchester about 30 miles & spent the day. Mr. 
Shepley & I with some others remained and visited Capt. Hall 
whom Mr. Haines will recollect as the man from whom I reed, 
some communications before leaving home on the subject of his 
patent rifle. We found Mrs. Hall to be a fine looking woman & 
quite polished, & surrounded by 7 children, one, a fine girl of 
about 19. Whom do you guess Mrs. Hall was ? One of my con- 
stituents, almost, she was an old Yorker and the sister of no less 
a personage than Judge Preble. 

Ever Yours, 


Washington, May 4, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

I have just stepped into the Library and taken down Jef- 
ferson's notes on Virginia ; I find there a description of Harper's 
Ferry which is much better than anything original I can give 
you, and therefore I transcribe it: 

"The passage of the Potomac through the Blue ridge is per- 
haps one of the most stupendous scenes in nature. You stand 
on a very high point of land. On your right comes up the 
Shenandoah, having ranged along the foot of the mountain an 


hundred miles to seek a vent. On your left approaches the 
Potomac, in quest of a passage also. In the moment of their 
Junction they rush together against the mountain, rend it 
asunder, and pass off to the sea. 

"The first glimpse of this scene hurries our senses into the 
opinion that this earth has been created in time; that the 
mountains were formed first, that the rivers began to flow after- 
wards, that in this place particularly they have been dammed up 
by the Blue ridge of mountains, and have formed an ocean which 
filled the whole vallej''; that continuing to rise, they have at 
length broken over at this spot, and have torn the mountain 
down from its summit to its base. The piles of rock on each 
hand, but particularly on the Shenandoah, the evident marks 
of this disrupture and avulsion from their beds by the most 
powerful agents of nature, corroborates the impression. 

"But the distant finishing which nature has given to the 
picture is of a very different character. It is a true contrast 
to the foreground. It is as placid and delightful as that is 
wild and tremendous. For the mountain being cloven asunder, 
she presents to your eye, through the cleft, a small patch of 
smooth blue horizon, at an infinite distance in the plain country, 
inviting you, as it were, from the riot and tumult roaring 
around, to pass beneath the breach and participate in the calm 
below. Here the eye ultimately composes itself ; and that way, 
too, the road happens actually to lead. You cross the Potomac 
above the Junction, pass along its side through the base of the 
mountain for three miles, its terrible precipices hanging in frag- 
ments over you, and within about 20 miles reach Frederic town 
and the fine country around that. 

"This scene is worth a voyage across the Atlantic. Yet 
here, as in the neighborhood of the natural bridge, are people 
who have passed their lives within half a dozen miles, and have 
never been to survey these monuments of a war between rivers 
and mountains which must have shaken the earth itself to its 

There, what do you think of that? It is poetical at least, 
and if I had placed my hand on it before today, perhaps you 
might not have had the letter I wrote you last night. 

After this extract, perhaps I ought to say no more upon 
this subject, but I cannot help enclosing you a little pencil 
sketch of what is called Jefferson rock, which I made while 
standing near it. It is situated on the tongue of land between 


the Shenandoah and Potomac, perhaps 50 rods up the Shenan- 
doah side from the end of the tongue. It is on the top of the 
main ledge which rises nearly 200 feet and almost perpendicu- 
larly, ani stands on the outer edge of the main ledge, so that 
by standing on the little flat rock, as I did, which looks like a 
cap, and looking over, it will almost make your head whirl. To 
give a better idea of it, I would add that the topmost piece is 
about 7 or 8 feet across. 


He Makes a Speech 

Washington, May 5, 1836. 
Dear Ann, 

Our session was continued until a late hour today and I did 
not get my dinner until near 7 o'clock. We have been discussing 
the bill proposing relief to the Cities of this District from the 
Dutch loan. The Dutch creditors now have a warrant issued 
for selling the City for the payment of the interest of the debt, 
which the City cannot do; I am for avoiding the national dis- 
grace if possible; I shall go for the bill; I have made a little 
speech today, which perhaps you will see in tomorrow's paper. 
Your Husband, 


They Experiment with Mulberry Trees 

Washington, May 10, 1836. 
My Dear Wife, 

After tea Mr. Shepley came in & staid until about five 
minutes before the boy came with his bag, and as soon as he 
went out Judge Ruggles came & challenged me to a game of 
chess and staid until 12! Thus you see I could not write. I 
beat the Judge three games, and indeed I believe I beat all who 
play with me. It is a great game in this City, and they have 
one. Col. Gardner, Deputy Post Master General, who beat the 
automaton chess player. Doubleday has beaten Gardner, and I 
beat Doubleday. What a brag! say you. Never mind, it is 
only to my wife. 


I thank you for your letter of yesterday, though it was 
merely a business one. Perhaps you had better, as suggested 
by Ellis, buy some of Mr. Calef's Spanish potatoes. I should 
like, however, to have many of our kidney potatoes planted, & 
perhaps all we have. Don't recollect the quantity. 

You think if every mulberry seed produces a tree we shall 
have enough to cover the whole farm, but you must recollect 
that I don't intend to make a regular orchard, placing the trees 
a rod apart, but to set them in rows a few feet only from each 
other, keeping them all down into shrubs, except one tree at the 
termination of each rod. I am glad that on experiment you 
find the seed so good. As for the pear trees & cherries I sup- 
pose it is of no use to say anything about them now, for they 
are in the ground long ago, but I gave to Mr. Billings, accord- 
ing to present impressions, written directions where to set them 
out. By the way, did Sinnott cut off the tops of the maples 
before setting them out, or any part of the tops? Such was 
my direction. How much gravel & butter & cheese have you 
sold? The first, at least, is to be a staple production of our 
farm, I presume, and by and by it will be silk & gravel. 

I am glad that the boys find amusement, but let me caution 
you about keeping all the children from the well. You know 
they are very much inclined to be playing about such places, and 
have no discretion. When I return I mean to have the boys 
learn how to swim. I suspect we have a grand place for that 
amusement down at our shore. 

Your Husband, 


Sees the First of the Steam Navy 

House of Representatives, Washington, May 15th. 
Dear Wife, 

As we may have another night session, I will drop you a 
line from the House, though I have nothing in particular to say. 
The opposition are occupying the whole time in speeches, while 
our friends are obliged to be silent, for while we charge them 
with a gross waste of time, consistency forbids our following 
in their track. 

Biddle having about one o'clock commenced a speech which 
bid fair to be of no moderate length, four of us jumped into a 


hack and went down to the Navy Yard to see the steam frigate 
which arrived here a few days since from New York. The 
officers received us very politely and shew off the lion with con- 
siderable pride. I was much pleased with her, and found con- 
firmation of my opinions that the best defense for our harbors 
will be steam batteries. 

On our return we found Biddle still speaking and sweatin^r 
like a pitcher of cold water in a warm room. As soon as he 
closed John Bell got the floor and is now hammering away like a 
blacksmith, but with the stunning clatter of a tinman. I be- 
lieve you heard him in September. 

J. F. 

Hears Taylor Preach 

Washington, May 15, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

This morning, as I have for several preceding mornings, I 
rose early and had a long walk, getting back in season for break- 
fast. Found it cold as Greenland, almost mitten cold, and after 
my return ascertained, I suppose, the cause of it, to wit, an 
eclipse of the sun. Did you see it? Here they say, for I did 
not see it myself, the sun was |ds. covered. I have had a fire 
in my room all day, and for a wl^ole week past we have had as 
cold weather, almost, as I ever witnessed at the North at this 
season of the year. You don't complain in your letters, so I sup- 
pose you have it pleasant enough. 

Today I have attended meeting at the Capitol to hear Tay- 
lor', he who preaches to the sailors in Boston. He evidently was 
not at home and did not preach so well as I once heard him to 
his own congregation. He must have an opportunity to go to 
the Ocean for his illustrations, and then he can certainly be very 
forcible, but these would not answer quite so well for members 
of Congress as for sailors. 

He prayed very heartily for the President and said his sun 
was about setting but not diminishing. I thought this was say- 
ing a good deal for a Boston minister & one who I had sup- 
posed was a federalist. In his sermon however, he shew him- 
self no narrow & bigoted sectarian. He regarded with con- 
tempt all the theological religion. He wanted the plain, prac- 
tical heart religion and if we must have sects, said he, at least 
let us live like families of the same neighborhood. Let us love 


each other like Christians, though we happen to differ some- 
what in our speculations. 

He preaches this evening at the Wesleyan Chapel and per- 
haps I may try him again. 

I bought some time ago Dewey's volume of sermons and 
have been reading it. Many of the sermons are excellent, far 
superior, I think, to Fox's, a volume you will recollect Tom Lane 
lent us, and which were quite celebrated. For this half a dozen 
last Sundays we have had to preach for us at the Unitarian 
house young Cranch, a son of Judge Cranch of this city. He is 
a fine looking young man, and I should think of pretty fair tal- 
ents, but he is too bashful to look his audience in the face, much 
more to scold at them, and reprimand them for their sins. He 
may make something ten years hence, but is not fit for a minis- 
ter now. Stockton, our Chaplain, has fallen very much in the 
estimation of the members so far as relates to his talents. Now, 
everybody entertains the opinions I expressed the first time I 
heard him. 

Only think, I have now been absent over 51/2 months. I 
hope we shall never be so long separated again. Next session, 
you know, is a short one, even if you should not come on with 
me. Ever thine, 


^"Father" Taylor, the celebrated mission-preacher of Boston. 

Trouble on the Texas Border 

Washington, May 16th. 
Dear Ann, 

Today there is great rejoicing here among those who are 
particularly interested for Texas, and all feel some degree of 
pleasure at the news from that quarter. By a handbill issued 
from the Telegraph office, it appears that Houston with 600 
Texans met Santa Anna with 1100 Mexicans and in the contest 
killed one-half the Mexicans and made prisoners of the other 
half, including Santa Anna and all his principal officers. 

It is said further that a Council of War was held and that 
Santa Anna & his officers were shot. The last step may be 
wrong, but no one having a human heart can cry at the death 
of such inhuman, fiendish monsters in human shape. The mas- 
sacre of 100 or more of Texan prisoners in cold blood after they 


had surrendered upon a promise of protection, I presume you 
have not heard. 

On a bill being called up today making an appropriation to 
carry into effect a treaty which has been concluded between us 
and Mexico, which provides for a survey & settlement of the 
line between U. S. and Mexico, Wise, Peyton & others of the 
nullifiers embraced the opportunity to make long harangues in 
favor of Texas and among other things avowed their object to 
be, to obtain by & by the annexation of Texas to the U. S., and 
thereby enable the slave-holding States to balance the power of 
the North. I think they will meet with a few obstacles before 
they accomphsh that object. 

Ever thine, 


Wednesday, May 18th. 
Dear Wife, 

This morning when I went out to take my walk I found the 
front of our building almost literally covered with a yellow fly 
somewhat resembling our miller and about as large. Vast 
quantities were also dead upon the sidewalk and in some places 
were swept into quite a windrow. It was a great curiosity to 
me, but I am told they have the same occurrence every year, 
only the flies are not usually so numerous as now. They ap- 
pear to be perfectly harmless & are ephemeral in their exist- 

The news today about the battle between the Mexicans & 
Texans is doubted, and by some papers contradicted. We shall 
know certainly soon. Today also we have news, authentic news, 
coming from the U. S. Officer commanding Fort Mitchell that 
the Creek Indians have made war upon us, and are making 
serious & disastrous inroad upon the population of Alabama. 

We have today appropriated half a million & authorized 
the President to accept of volunteers not exceeding 10,000. I 
am really afraid we are to have desperate times on our frontier 
— there seems to be some prospect of a general Indian war. 

But enough for this time. 

Your Husband, 



Dear Wife, 

Reed, your letter today. Think upon the whole you have 
done about right in not taking the Mixer chaise. It was rather 
old and rather heavy. 

I wish I could have dined with you upon head and pluck 
last Monday for, though we occasionally have that dish here, 
it is not cooked as it is at home and not so much to my taste. 
It seems that you don't conclude to raise any stock this year. 
Well, just as you say. Am sorry that the Livingston cow doesn't 
turn out to be so valuable as you expected, perhaps she may im- 
prove, for if I recollect Bro. William's statement, she is a young 
, Ever thine, 


Attends a Boat Race 

Washington, May 21. 
Dear Wife, 

After the adjournment of the House this afternoon most 
of the members, including myself, went to the Navy Yard to 
witness a boat race. The assembly of people was quite large, a 
good deal of enthusiasm prevailed among the betting gentry and 
I suppose much money was lost and won. There were 5 boats 
— four of them manned by six oarsmen and one of them by 
four. The latter was a small white boat, and won the race. A 
long, low black boat belonging to the steam frigate came out 
next. The winning boat belonged to Alexandria. 

The moral influence of the thing, I presume, you will not 
consider as much promoted by the fact that many of the ladies 
present participated in the betting as well as the men. After 
the race, ladies and gentlemen repaired to a hall at the Yard 
for a dance, but not feeling in the mood, I came home. 

I was up to Mrs. Woodbury's a few nights since, and she 
said she should look to me to chaperone her at the race, but I 
didn't see her there, so I had nothing to do but look at the boats. 
I am so clumsy that I am a poor hand to gallant the ladies. 
Yours ever, 



The Small-Pox Epidemic 

Washington, May 22d. 

Reed, a letter this morning from Mr. Haines, by which, and 
the papers it seems that the small-pox is raging up at Hollis — 
that Tom Lane had it and that Mr. Bradbury and his daughter 
died of it. The alarm and consternation up there must be very 
great, for I suppose but very few of them have ever been vac- 
cinated. Mary Lane, too, it seems has got it ; poor girl, I hope 
it will not terminate fatally with her. 

By the way, how many of our family have been vaccinated ? 
All, I suspect, but Augusta and Hampden. Had you not better 
let them be vaccinated forthwith? 

I heard yesterday for the first time that we have several 
cases of the small-pox in this City. I hope it will have the effect 
to frighten the members into doing what they ought to have 
done before, to wit, doing the business of the people and then 
going home. If it have no worse effect, I should not regret its 
appearance here. 

Today it is said by some of our boarders who have seen the 
hand bill just issued, that the first news reed, of the battle be- 
tween the Mexicans and Texans is confirmed, and that Santa 
Anna is a prisoner. It is said he offers, if they will spare his 
life, to have the independence of Texas acknowledged & to pay 
the expenses of the war. 

After the recpt. of the first news it was contradicted, the 
letter of Rush, Sec'y of War, pronounced a forgery and a vari- 
ety of reasons set forth why it could not be so. I was the only 
one of our mess, except a young man on a visit here from 
Lowell, who still believed in the truth of the first report. We 
had several controversies about it and I was almost sneered at 
for my credulity. But to my mind it bore the impress of truth, 
which it turns out to be. 

Whom do you think I have been hearing preach today ? None 
other than Mr. Lothrop. I saw him in the gallery yesterday 
and went up and had some conversation with him. It seems he 
is journeying with Amos Lawrence who is sick. His sermon 
today was of the first order, and made the Washingtonians 
prick up their ears. Among the congregation I observed Mr. 
John Q. Adams & Mr. Woodbury. 

Your Husband, 



Daniel Webster Plants Mulberry Trees 

May 26, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

By a letter from Mr. Haines today, I learn that the small- 
pox is abating at Salmon Falls and that no alarm prevails there 
now. I am very glad to hear it, but am compelled to say that 
if you are escaping there, we are just getting into it here. 
Doctor Mason says he was in at Doctor Sewall's today and that 
he told him there were 20 cases existing here, and among them 
Mr. Whittlesey of Connecticut, who has lately come on as the 
successor of Judge Wildman, who, you will recollect, died the 
first of the session. Many of the members, I believe, are about 
being vaccinated, and I don't know but I shall try it. 

I see by the papers that Danl. Webster has been planting 
mulberry trees on his farm at Marshfield, and that he intends 
quitting politics & to devote himself to the culture of silk. So 
you see we have magnificent company in some of our projects. 

But I must break off — as there is a bill now under discus- 
sion, on which, if I can get the floor, I intend to make a short 

Yours in much love, 


A Trip to Mt. Vernon 

Saturday Morning, May 28. 
Dear Wife, 

I have just (i.e. 1/2 an hour ago), jumped out of bed and 
drop you a line at this unusual hour because I am going to 
Mount Vernon today and don't know that I shall return soon 
enough to write you again. Doctor Mason & wife & myself 
constitute the party. We expect to go from here to Alexandria 
by steamboat, where we take a carriage & drive to Mount Ver- 
non, about 11 miles. 

I expected to have made a little speech yesterday, but in 
discussion of the bill organizing the Post Office department 
we did not quite reach the section to which I am opposed ; the 
bill having been postponed to Monday, perhaps I may then 
have a chance to say a word or two. The bell has begun to 


ring for breakfast, and so, my dear wife, good morning to you, 
if you are up, say 1/2 past 7. 

Ever thine, 

Doctor Lee has just been in & says he'll go, too — so making 
four of us — just a hack load. 

Washington, May 29, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

Yesterday morning at 10 minutes before 9 o'clock Doctor 
Mason & wife, Mr. Miles, a Mississippi planter, and Miss Latoo 
(that's the way it's pronounced) and myself (Doct. Lee having 
backed out) stepped into a hack which carried us one mile to the 
steamboat wharf. In a few minutes we cast loose and had a 
pleasant sail down to Alexandria. 

The distance, I believe, is only about 6 or 7 miles. The 
Potomac here is broad, and on both sides is presented very 
pretty scenery. At one or two points you have very rich land- 
scapes indeed. Alexandria is pleasantly located, but seems to 
be laboring under the effects of old age or want of stimulus. In 
some of the streets I noticed that the grass was literally grow- 
ing up among the pavements. And in these streets the build- 
ings looked old, moss covered, out of repair and forsaken. 

In other streets, however, I found the buildings good, hand- 
some, and the shops well tilled with goods. It was once a place 
of great trade. Indeed, I believe it was the first City in the 
State of Virginia. It is possible that it may be resuscitated and 
restored to its former activity and standing by the Chesapeake 
& Ohio Canal, which is soon to be extended to it — though I 
doubt it, as the principal trade will go to Baltimore, the canal 
being about to be tapped by the Baltimoreans above George- 
town, and a branch carried to their City. 

At Alexandria Doctor M. & wife & Mr. M. & Miss L. took 
a hack, and I took a saddle horse, with which we set out for 
Mount Vernon, leaving word with the landlord to have dinner 
for us at V2 past 3. The distance is about 9 miles, to pass over 
which took us two hours, as the road was very bad. Their neg- 
lect of roads in this part of the country is shameful. The horse 
I rode was the best for the saddle that I have ever known. He 
would walk at least 4 miles an hour, and when I wanted to go 


faster than that I could set him into a pace of six miles an hour 
which would carry me nearly as easy as the walk. 

On arriving at the Mount Vernon estate, or rather the 
entrance to it, we found a gate, at either side of which was a 
porter's lodge, small building, perhaps 12 or 15 feet square, 
covered with mortar rough-cast. Entering here we pursued our 
way to the mansion house which is about a half a mile from the 
road, through a noble grove of oaks, and by a way winding & 
undulating enough to make it very romantic and pleasant. 

The house is 2 stories and large upon the ground, but by no 
means handsome. Its style is old, of course, particularly in 
regard to the windows and doors. Upon the top and in the 
centre is a sort of cupola or rather steeple, which gives it the 
appearance of a public building. 

As to the tomb itself, or its peculiar location, I saw nothing 
to excite the admiration or even particular notice of anybody. 
And the whole plantation has been eulogized, in my opinion, far 
beyond what the truth would warrant. I can find hundreds of 
places in Maine excelling it in every respect, except that of con- 
taining the remains of the great Father of his Country. Indeed 
to this last circumstance is to be attributed much of the fame 
which this spot has acquired. 

The garden, however, is magnificent. It is well laid out, 
and is filled with everything to delight the eye, and indeed to 
regale all the senses. I saw many rare plants, such as I have 
never seen before or read of, and what was particularly pleas- 
ing to me, orange and lemon trees heavily laden with fruit. The 
trees were about 10 or 12 feet high, and stood in boxes about 3 
feet square. They are kept under cover during the winter 
months. After spending nearly an hour in seeing what was to 
be seen we returned the way we came & arrived at Alexandria 
within five minutes of the time we had set. And here we sat 
down to a most excellent dinner, composed of roast lamb, green 
peas and asparagus, boiled ham, veal cutlets and fried sturgeon. 
The latter is considered a great dish here, & I tasted of it as a 
matter of curiosity merely. It has the taste of veal, indeed, I 
could hardly tell it from veal, but don't like it very much. After 
this we had custard pudding & old Dutch Cheese and a dessert 
of strawberries and cream. 

We finished our dinner just 5 minutes before the hour for 
the starting of the steamboat. 


Upon the whole it was a very pleasant excursion and I 
would have given very much if my wife could have accompanied 

Your Husband, 


Made a Short Speech 

May 31, 1836. 

My dear Wife, 

I have made a short speech today on the subject of estab- 
lishing "express mails." I took ground against them on the 
ground that they would in their effect be for the benefit partic- 
ularly of the speculator. But the majority was against me, and 
the P. M. Genl. is authorized to establish the express mail for 
letters & slips from newspapers at triple the present rate of 

Perhaps my remarks may be published in tomorrow's 
Globe, if so, I will send you one. 

Ever thine, 


World Loses Another Speech 

Dear Wife, 

I was very glad to receive a letter from you today after 
waiting for it nine days. I was beginning to be alarmed, when, 
yesterday morning, came a letter from Mr. H. and you will 
judge of the shock to my feelings on reading the first line which 
was as follows : "It is melancholy, but must be told." The let- 
ter almost dropped from my hand, before I could read the next 
line, which, when read, afforded me entire relief & unbounded 
pleasure — to wit: "The Imogene is lost — not a plank of her is 

We have had a rain storm here which has lasted over a 
week. Everything seems to be afloat here and I have just heard 
that about 60 feet of the Potomac bridge has been carried away. 

In the House today we have had the Post Office bill under 
consideration, upon its last stage. I tried three times to get the 
floor to make a speech upon another part of it from that on 
which I spoke 'tother day. I wanted to answer Wise and Un- 
derwood upon some legal questions they had raised. But the 


last time I tried Speight of N. C. got the floor and moved the 
previous question, which was carried and so the world lost an- 
other speech of "the gentleman from Maine." I feel very 
grateful to Mr. Thacher for having willed me his Krout ma- 
chine, as much so, probably, as you do for your new hens. 
Ever thine, 


Washington, June 3d, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

We have just taken up and passed a most important bill 
sent down to us from the Senate. It provides that Congress 
shall meet on the first Monday of November instead of Decem- 
ber, and that the first session of each Congress, i.e., the long 
session, shall adjourn the 2d Monday of May, the other session, 
you know, being limited by the constitution to the 4th of March. 
I went for this bill very heartily. It will be much pleasanter 
coming on here in Nov. than in Dec, at the same time will have 
me at home to attend our May Court. I am glad, therefore, 
that while I think the bill will very much promote the public 
interest, I regard it as very promotive of my own. 
Your Husband, 


P. S. I feel rather easy, as you well suppose, under the 
loss of my Brig, — she having been fully insured. 

Washington, June 4th. 
Dear Wife, 

It was with deep & heartfelt regret I learned by your letter 
of this morning that Mary Lane's disease had taken an unfa- 
vorable turn & resulted fatally. Poor girl, how early her 
hopes have been cut off — and prospects blasted! 

I should be glad to learn the particulars of her death. 
Whether she retained her reason and whether she was resigned 
to her fate & diecl in hope of future happiness. I have nothing 
in particular to communicate, and if I had, I would prefer to 
postpone it to another letter. 

Your Husband, 



Spends His Sabbaths Profitably 

June 5th, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

We had no Northern mail today, and I'm thinking it is 
owing to the extraordinary fall of rain that we & probably you 
have had for a fortnight past. I am dreading to hear from our 
rivers, particularly Penobscot and Kennebeck. There must 
have been great freshets there, and perhaps the logs all swept 
away in consequence, a few days will confirm or contradict my 

We have Mr. Fox of N. Port here preaching. He gave 
us an excellent sermon today, and is a first-rate writer, but I 
do not think he delivers his sermons remarkably well. 

The people here are not churchgoing people and I am 
afraid that very few members of Congress are in the habit of 
attending meeting on the Sabbath. Most of them, I suspect, 
stay at home to write speeches, letters, &c. I believe you joked 
me once about writing letters on the Sabbath. But I have two 
things to justify me — 1st, your own example; and 2d, I do not 
in consequence neglect other duties. Now, for instance, today 
I have read the whole of Paul's 2d epistle to the Corinthians, 
one of Dewey's sermons in the Christian Register and been to 
meeting expecting also to go again this evening. And I should 
have added, taken a long walk, which I am obliged to do every 
day, Sunday not excepted, when the weather will permit, for 
my health's sake. Do you keep your Sabbaths better than that ? 
Your Husband, 

J. F. 

June 7th, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

Tomorrow has been assigned to take up the bill providing 
for the admission of Michigan & Arkansas into the Union. 
Both, I suppose, will be warmly opposed, particularly the latter 
on account of a provision in her constitution prohibiting the 
Legislature from ever abolishing slavery. It is, to be sure, a 
bad provision, but then we have nothing to do with it, each 
State has a perfect right to form its own constitution uncon- 
trolled by Congress. 

Love to all, and so — good night. 



A 25-Hours Session 

June 10, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

I intended to have written you yesterday, but the cause of 
my omission was a session of 25 hours in duration ! 

The reason of our long session is this: By an unexpected 
decision of a question of order three or four days ago the bills 
for the admission of Michigan & Arkansas into the Union were 
committed to a "Committee of the Whole House." It was a 
hard struggle on both sides. Several times in the night we 
found ourselves without a quorum, i.e., 120 — half the number 
of members & of course could not proceed until we called in 
enough to make a quorum. But at 3 o'clock this morning we 
had a call of the House, and sent the Sergeant-at-Arms with his 
assistants to take the absentees from their beds & bring them 
into the House. And then followed an hour or two in hearing 
causes of absence and granting excuses. At 11 o'clock today, 
however, the opposition perceiving that we were not to be 
wheedled or intimidated, gave way & let the committee rise and 
report the bills to the House. So now they will come up again 
on Monday. 

I hope the report will prove true that D. Webster is about to 
take Martha Freeman. He will make a good husband for her 
and she a good wife for him. 

Sarah's messages were very pleasing to me, and I thank 
her for them. I will endeavor to buy her something on my 
way home. I have sent you the two first Nos. of the Silk Cul- 
turist and today 2 more. I shall continue this until I have sent 
you the number I now have, viz., 14. In good time we will have 
them bound. Yours, 


A Quarrel in the House 

Washington, June 11, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

Soon after the commencement of the session this morning, 
we had quite a stirring event — that is to say, a personal ren- 
contre on the floor of the House between two reporters and 
hired letter writers for the federal newspapers in New York. I 
understand they are both Englishmen and named Wheeler & 


Codds. The former undertook to cane the latter, in return for a 
caning the other way yesterday. I felt very much about it as 
Jack did when he saw the skunk & hedgehog fighting, he said 
he didn't care a fig which licked. 

They were both taken into custody by the Sergeant-at- 
Arms and a select committee appointed to inquire into the mat- 
ter and report. The result, I suppose, will be a reprimand and 
expulsion from the floor of the House as reporters. And this 
will be quite mild, considering how indignant the members were 
at the outrage. 

It is also said here by many that there is to be a duel be- 
tween Bynum of N. C. and Jennifer of Maryland on account of 
some words that passed between them during the night session. 
The words, as near as I can recollect, were these : Jennifer, hav- 
ing been at home nearly all night in his bed, after being brought 
in in the morning, undertook to make a long speech. The mem- 
bers were rather impatient, and some of them cried "question" 
pretty loudly, and made some noises to express their disappro- 

After it had subsided Jennifer went on, and in the course of 
his speech denounced the course of the administration party in 
the House as ungentlemanly. Bynum sprang to his feet & said 
that it was ungentlemanly in him to say so. Said Jennifer, 
"You must take that back." Bynum replied that he wouldn't 
take it back, but would repeat it. 

There, what a great matter for men to cut each other's 
throats about! To my mind it is supremely ridiculous, if such 
a word may be used upon so grave a subject. I am clearly of 
opinion, however, that if the difficulty is not healed by the in- 
terference of friends, a duel is inevitable. I know some things 
which I cannot now state. 

Ever thine, 


Michigan and Arkansas Make 26 States in Union 

June 13, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

We took up today in the House the two bills providing for 
the admission of Michigan & Arkansas into the Union. Old 
Adams' made a speech of four hours long on the first, and as 
he sat down some one moved the previous question & it was car- 


ried. Arkansas was carried in the same way, and both are now 
among the United States of America. We have now in all 26, 
just double the original number. 

The select committee who were appointed to inquire into 
the case of contempt of the House by Wheeler & Codds, re- 
ported last night in favor of Codds & he was discharged. They 
are also now ready to report upon the other & will probably to- 
morrow morning. I understand they will report in favor of his 
being excluded from the Reporters' privilege in the House & 
imprisoned for the rest of the session. 

The duel between Bynum & Jennifer has not been fought 
yet, but I suspect will be tomorrow morning, unless the quarrel 
be settled by friends, which I hope will be the case. 

Mr. Cushman has just come in and invited me to walk with 
him to Charles Cutts', so I can write no more. 
Your Husband, 


'John Quincy Adams. 

Duel a Farce 

Washington, June 14th. 

As I suspected when I wrote you last night, Bynum & Jen- 
nifer had a meeting this morning at 7 o'clock, and after six in- 
effectual shots, a reconciliation took place. Pickens of South 
Carolina was the second of Jennifer, and Sevier of Arkansas the 
second of Bynum. 

The shots were strange ones considering the reputation 
that both of them have, particularly Bynum, and that they 
stood only 30 feet from each other. The sixth shot, Bynum's 
pistol went off before the last word was given. The signal is 
one, two, three — the firing to be at the last word. Bynum's 
pistol went off at two, altogether by accident, no doubt, but 
Pickens immediately levelled his pistol at him & was about to 
shoot him down, which is according to the laws of duelling. 
Sevier & Jennifer, however, cried out "^or him not to shoot and 
he desisted. After this Jennifer fired and missed. A Captain 
Somebody, who was present, then interposed, and made a prop- 
osition which was accepted & a reconciliation took place. 

What a farce ! to give it no harsher name. Nothing is more 
contemptible and but few things more wicked in my eye than 
this practice of duelling. At the same time I am free to confess 


that if a few of the opposition should get peppered a little, it 
would mend their manners very much in the House. 

Well, after so long time I am enabled to say that the day 
of adjournment is fixed, so far, at least, as regards the House, 
the Senate, I presume, will concur. The day fixed is the 4th of 
July, three weeks from yesterday, so I shall now begin to count 

I reed, your letter of the 9th this morning giving some ac- 
count of farming operation, growth of children, or rather of 
Hampden, &c. I should think he was a noble fellow as to size, 
at all events quite middling. Sometimes I think I can see just 
how he looks. 

How do you get along for a chaise? I presume Mr. Calef 
would lend you his occasionally. I write this from the House 
in the midst of dull speeches, &c., &c. 
Ever thine, 


The First Beet Sugar 

June 16, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

I write today from the Hall of House of Representatives 
fearing that I shall no longer have any evenings to myself, the 
House having today agreed to take a recess each day from 1/2 
past 2 to 4, thereby giving time to go home to dine. Heretofore, 
I understand. Congress has always been afraid to have a ses- 
sion after dinner, on the ground that the members would be 
rather too winy and of course too talkative. But I think the 
present Congress (and that is the general opinion), is much 
more temperate than any preceding one, and therefore I do not 
fear any great increase of talkativeness. 

I shall return home about in as good case as I left. Have 
heard nothing further today about the additional duel, hope it 
will blow over. 

I saw today a piece of sugar made from beets. It came 
from France, was as white as snow and as sparkling & clear 
as any sugar that I ever saw. They make vast quantities of it 
in France and I believe it is recommended to our folks in this 
Country. I hope you won't engage in it until after we have 
made a little silk, or at all events until I return home. 
Ever thine, 



A Satisfying Vote 

Hall of House of Representatives, June 22, 1836. 

Dear Wife, 

I have been dreadfully puzzled for near a week past to 
know how to vote on the subject of the depositer of the public 
money and a distribution of it among the States. I thought of 
it by day & by night, asleep and awake, but I came to a result at 
last and found myself on voting to be in a minority of 38. 
Notwithstanding which I never felt better satisfied with a vote 
in my life. I voted against the bill and there is more than one 
among the majority who would give a great deal to change posi- 
tions with me. 

Ever thine, 


Killed in a Duel 

Washington, June 23d, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

Yours of the 17th inst. is just reed. Your views and mine 
in regard to the kind of carriage exactly coincide and I shall en- 
deavor to get such an one as you describe, though perhaps it is 
very doubtful whether I shall be able to find one ready-made, 
and if I don't, I shall wait until I return home before I do any- 
thing more about it. I doubt whether Doctor Green's will 
answer our purpose because the wheels are too near together to 
admit of another body being placed upon them large enough for 
our purposes, and the present body is entirely too small. 

I have just learned that a duel was fought yesterday be- 
tween two midshipmen here — young Keay, a son of Francis S. 
Keay, the U. S. District Attorney here, and young Sherburne, 
either a son or brother of Sherburne who is a clerk in one of the 
departments & formerly from Portsmouth, aged about 17 or 18. 
The second fire Sherburne shot Keay through the body and he 
expired in a few minutes. 

It is a terrible affliction to Mr. Keay's family and the first 
intimation they had of it, the deceased was brought home 
dead. They, the combatants, had sailed together and returned 
from a cruise only about a month since and had been fast 
friends. The quarrel, it is said, originated in a dispute a few 


days since as to which of two steamboats would sail the fastest. 
It is a shocking case, and I hope the seconds and physicians 
will be punished with the utmost severity of the law, 

I suppose I ought to let the President know that you ap- 
prove of his veto of the bill fixing the time of adjournment for 
future Congresses, for he will be glad of all the support he can 
get, since he has been attacked by Webster, Clayton & Leigh 
in the Senate. I voted for the law myself, but I suppose I must 
give up that it is unconstitutional, though I didn't think so at 
the time. 

Your Husband, 


Last Letter Before Adjournment 

House of Representatives, June 29, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

The House has just passed an act providing for the meet- 
ing of all future Congresses on the first Monday of November 
instead of December, leaving out the time of adjournment. 

We are driving on pretty rapidly now with the business, 
and I am in hopes it will be so far disposed of as to permit 
me to leave on Saturday, or at all events on Monday morning. 
My impression now is that I shall be at home on Thursday or 
Friday of next week. I will, however, write you once more be- 
fore I set out, if no more. 
Nothing new. 

Your Husband, 


Back in Washington 

Washington, Dec. 3d, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

Here I am once more in Washington. Made no stop in 
Boston, but was detained one day in New York, the boat not 
arriving there in time for the Philadelphia boat. Nothing new. 
Have not taken quarters yet ; board is riz and they say is to be 
rizzer, from $12 to $15. 

Excuse this hasty scrawl. 

Ever Yours, 



A Room Third Story Back 

Washington, Dec. 5, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

Though this is the first day of the session I write you from 
my own chamber, having taken permanent lodgings at Mrs. 
Pitman's in 3d street. It is regarded as about No. 1 in the 
City. So far I am very much pleased. It is an excellent build- 
ing, and is elegantly furnished, and what is, if not better than 
all, certainly not to be disregarded these times, my price of 
board is very low. Generally through the City, I believe, the 
price is $12, while here I pay only $9. The reason of this is, 
that I take a small room in the 3d story and in the back part of 
the house. The room is 12 feet square and for furniture has a 
table, 3 chairs, bed and a wash stand. It is not quite what I 
should like, but then, $3 a week is a very pretty little sum to 
be saved, and when I think how much good I may do with it, for 
myself and friends, I feel willing to put up with a few incon- 

We have an excellent mess, composed at present of Brown, 
Wardwell, Chapin, Page & Lee of New York, Lyon of Michigan, 
Lane of Indiana, Buchanan of Pennsylvania, Whittlesey of 
Connecticut, Toucey of Connecticut & wife, Peirce & Hubbard 
of N. H. with their wives, — I know them all but one and antici- 
pate much pleasure from the association. 

We have had our first meeting, organized and adjourned. I 
suppose it will take two or three days to get fairly under way. 
There is a great deal of shaking hands to undergo the first day 
or two and really I did not anticipate quite so much pleasure as 
I have enjoyed from meeting my acquaintances of last session 
because I did not suppose so many would be glad to see me. 

The President's health has improved a little, but he is 
quite feeble yet, and does not see company. 
Your Husband, 


News From the Farm 

Friday, Dec. 9, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

I thank you for the letter reed, today, though it contained 
the melancholy intelligence of the death of three pigs. The 
fourth, I am glad to learn, is doing well through your kindness 


& fostering care. But what a picture ! a pig in the parlor, and 
an egg incubating, I won't say where, for I suppose you may 
have been trying experiments with the little, long, curious egg 
we found just before I left home. Really, I think you enter 
into the spirit of our occupation with commendable zeal, and 
are a complete farmer's wife even now. If I can keep up with 
you on my return, I think we'll make the thing go very well. 

I hope you will be successful in saving your pig for he will 
be a kind of curiosity. How much did the old hog weigh ? Was 
he fat? &c., &c. I am glad the old horse is gone. How much 
did Milliken give for him ? Fifty dollars, I suppose. 

In answer to your inquiries I would say that I did not buy 
the curtains or the pump, both through forgetfulness. But I 
shall write your brother James today on business, and will ask 
him to buy a pump for me. 

Among the papers furnished me this session by Congress 
is the Metropolitan. It is miscellaneous and literary in its 
character, and I shall send the most of them to you if you 
would like them. The President remains in feeble health and 
does not see company yet. 

I have called at your Uncle Richard's. They were all out 
but him & we spent a very pleasant evening together. He has 
moved, you know, from Mrs. Madison's house. Dolly is with 
him, but Mary is with Mrs. Madison. 


J. F. 

The Women of the Mess Described 

Washington, Dec. 11. 
Dear Wife, 

I find I have forgotten a few things in leaving home & 
among them my clothes brush & hymn book. The want of the 
latter I found today on going to meeting and of the former 
every morning, as the servants do not attend upon us regularly 
with their brush, as they did at my old boarding house. How- 
ever, I continue to like the house very much. Mrs. Pitman ap- 
pears to be an excellent, motherly sort of a woman, and dis- 
posed to make us all as comfortable as possible. Our mess 
(with perhaps one exception, Lane of Indiana), is composed of 
the best stuff, and if I only had you here I think I should feel as 
comfortable and happy as if I was at home. 


Youngest Son of Governor John Fairfield 

Resides in Stryker, Montana 


Night before last I had a bad coughing spell, founded, I be- 
lieve, upon a slight cold. As a cure, I have resorted to absti- 
nence — eating no meat, but living principally upon bread and 
butter. I have also begun the practice, which I hope I shall be 
able to keep up, of bathing myself all over in the morning. I 
have bought a tin thing with an iron handle holding about 2 
quarts, which I have placed on the fire after a servant has made 
it before I get up and the first thing on rising is to bathe all 
over. It would probably be better for me to use cold water, but 
I can't quite go that. 

Mr. Brown of New York, who is of our mess, and by the 
way a fine lawyer, a man of good talents, and a companionable 
fellow, says he has long practiced it, and has thereby made a 
very weak constitution, strong, and keeps himself in good 

I have been to meeting today and heard Mr. Burton. How 
long he is to continue here I know not. His manners are not 
very much in his favor, but he gave us a pretty good sermon. 
I sat with Mr. Hubbard and family, but shall hire a seat before 
next Sabbath. 

The President's health is improving, and he now sees a few 
select friends. The party-giving folks will probably lose some- 
thing by the President's illness and by Mr. Cass' absence. 

I called up one evening to Mr. Woodbury's and passed an 
hour very agreeably. Mrs. Woodbury is a very pleasant woman 
but I was sorry to hear one or two suppressed sighs, while her 
face was clothed in smiles. I also called at Mr. Polk's and 
spent part of an evening very pleasantly. Mrs. Polk is not by 
any means handsome, but she appears more like our northern 
women than any that I have met with here. She dresses with 
much simplicity, and is easy & familiar though not inelegant in 
her manners. I like her much, as well as Mr. Polk, and should 
go there oftener, if they did not have so many callers, particu- 
larly among the members. 

Of our mess Mrs. Toucey is quite handsome, has consider- 
able wit, and is very agreeable. Mrs. Chapin is not beautiful, 
but has a sweet face & is rather diffident in her manners. I 
have conversed but little, but am rather pleased with her. 

Mrs. Hubbard I have not spoken with. She is not hand- 
some nor is she very remarkable for anything, I suspect. 
Rather silent and reserved. Her mother, Mrs. Lee, is also with 
her. I never heard her speak & know nothing of her. She ap- 
pears well enough. Mrs. Peirce we have seen little of, she being 


confined to her chamber by a cold. She seems to be in very deli- 
cate health, and wanting in cheerfulness. But here I am at the 
end of my sheet before I know it — so farewell. 


December 13, Tuesday. 
Dear Wife, 

To begin with the smallest subject first, how do you get 
along with your pig? I have some curiosity to know whether 
his squeals could overcome your benevolence and love of pork 
both, and induce you to thrust out poor piggy to the cold chari- 
ties of an unfeeling world. What a chorus you must have some- 
times with the children making such a noise as we have many 
a time heard them make, and piggy in the wood box also piping 
away at the top of his voice. Oh, the thought of it is enough 
to make my ears tingle. 

Have you had snow yet? Is it cold? Look out for your 
cellar. If I lose my potatoes I'll — let me see — yes, I'll kill your 
pig. Nothing new here of consequence. Wise made one 
of his violent and ranting speeches today, but I suspect his own 
political friends were not over pleased with it. The President's 
health is improving and he will probably see company soon. 


J. F. 

The Post-Office Burned 

Washington, Dec. 16. 
Dear Wife, 

I am sorry to communicate another public loss here by fire. 
This morning between 3 & 4 o'clock the great building occu- 
pied as Genl. Post Office and Patent Office took fire and burned 
to the ground. Most of the papers in the post-office were saved, 
but all the papers, models of patents, &c., were consumed 
with the building. It is believed by many that it was the work 
of an incendiary, but no one knows anything about it. The 
Com. on Post Offices has this morning offered a resolution 
authorizing an inquiry into the circumstances. 

Electioneering speeches have been commenced with great 
violence and fury. Yesterday we had one from Wise, today 


from Pearce and Peyton. I am "agin 'em all" and in favor of 

Ever thine, 


A Little Romance 

Dec. 19, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

There was a little piece of gossip going at our breakfast 
table this morning, relating to a marriage that has lately taken 
place in Philadelphia, I think. A Capt. Reed, I think his name 
is, saw an article of poetry by a lady in one of the annuals, 
which pleased him much, so much so that he said if he knew 
who the author was he would marry her if he could. He sub- 
sequently ascertained and wrote to her, asking her for a poetic 
description of some natural scenery near where she resided. She 
answered him, complying with his request. He then sought 
some pretext or other for writing her again, and again, in his 
letters making known his feelings for her. She seemed also 
to have fallen in love with him, and at his request sent him her 
slipper and belt, that he might judge of her waist and foot. 
They also exchanged miniatures and after carrying on a court- 
ship for a considerable time through the mail in the manner 
described. Reed at last set out for Philadelphia to see his es- 
poused & to get married. 

When he went to the house where she resided, she met him 
at the door and embraced and kissed him. He was somewhat 
shocked at her forwardness and told her that he was not ex- 
actly pleased with her manners. She thought he would be on 
further acquaintance, or at all events, she was willing to con- 
form her manners in all respects to what he wished. On fur- 
ther personal acquaintance it seems he did like her and they 
were married. They are now in this City, and related all the 
particulars last evening to Mr. Lee of New York of our mess 
who related them to us. They also shew Mr. Lee their cor- 
respondence and I understand make no secret of all their little 
billing and cooing. Upon the whole, I presume you will con- 
clude with me that they are two great fools ; notwithstanding 
which I have some curiosity to see them and I understand they 
are to call at our house today. 


After such an interesting story you can't expect me to 
touch any common matter, so I close with the usual assurance 
that I am 

Ever thine, 


Wednesday, Dec. 21, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

I wrote you day before yesterday, and now sit down to 
write you again under a sort of mechanical impulse, rather than 
because I have anything in particular to say. 

If you have read the "Heart of Midlothian" you will prob- 
ably recollect "Dumbedikes" whose happiness seemed to derive 
its sole nourishment from his going daily to the house of Jean- 
nie Deans and silently watching or contemplating her as she 
moved about the house in the discharge of her domestic duties. 
It is with a similar feeling that I often sit down to write you, 
but if I should carry out the comparison farther, perhaps you 
might regard this as little too much of a love letter. 

There are very few members in the House, most of them 
having gone into the Senate to hear Webster. Lane of Indiana 
is now making a speech to us on the subject of Wise's resolu- 
tion. He roars like a cataract, & sometimes with about as 
much sense. 

Ever thine, 


One of His Messmates 

Tuesday, Dec. 27, 1836. 
My Dear Wife, 

Having just finished a political letter to one of my con- 
stituents of four pages, I find myself now with little time be- 
fore me to write you. 

My wrapper has two holes in it — one on each hip like this 

1 torn on passage to this City. I intend to mend them 

soon. Brown who lodges upon the same floor with me, thinks 
I must have a paragon of a wife, when I shew him how you put 
up a box of needles, thread, scissors, buttons, &c., for my own 
use, together with the materials for playing chess and checkers. 
He is a man of excellent habits and great economy, but he never 
tho't he could do anything of his own mending. 


In some respects his circumstances are like my own. He 
is a lawyer, & has been in practice about as long as I have. 
Lives on a farm just one mile from his office. Has a wife and 
3 or 4 children, is exceedingly attached to them, and is longing 
for the time to arrive when he shall retire from public life, to 
his farm, his profession and the society of those he loves. I wish 
the parallel could be carried farther. He is worth over fifty 
thousand dollars, and has a farm which he gave $15,000 for, 
though containing only about 30 acres, situated on the bank of 
North river about a dozen miles above West Point at the village 
of Newburg. He has been offered for one-half of his place, 
what he gave for the whole, and I believe has engaged to let it 
go. He is a good lawyer, a man of fine talents, and very com- 
panionable. How do you like him? 

Ever thine, 


P. S. The moose, alias the great hog, I suppose has gone 
the way of all the earth before this. I want the particulars 
about him. 

Friday, December 30, 1836. 
Dear Wife, 

I intended to have written you yesterday, but got engaged 
after dinner in a game of chess with Mr. & Mrs. Chapin and let 
the whole of letter time slip through my fingers. He beat me 
and I beat her, so you see I am not so much of a crack player as 
I thought I was. After tea I went with Col. Hall to visit Judge 
Parris. It is almost the only evening I have been out yet. I 
have an invitation for Mrs. Forsyth's party next Wednesday 
evening and am hesitating about making up my mind to go to 
no parties this winter. 

Ever thine, 


The Last Days of Jackson; 1837 

"The second and last term of the Presidency of General 
Jackson expired on March 3d, 1837. The next day, at 12, he 
appeared with his successor, Martin Van Buren, on the elevated 
and spacious eastern portico of the Capitol, as one of the 
citizens who came to witness the inauguration of the new Pres- 
ident, and in no way distinguished from them, except by his 
place on the left hand of the President-elect." 

Thus writes Senator Benton in his "Thirty Years View," 
unconsciously reflecting the common attitude of homage to Gen- 
eral Jackson that the times required of all true Democrats. 
With fine rhetorical fervor he describes the day with its clear 
sky, balmy, vernal sun, tranquil atmosphere, the "vast crowd, 
riveted to their places, and profoundly silent, until the ceremony 
of inauguration was over." 

To the great Missouri champion of General Jackson, there 
was no question as to the central figure of this scene of March 
4, 1837. "There was no room," declares he, "for mistake as to 
whom this mute and impressive homage was rendered. For 
once the rising was eclipsed by the setting sun. Though dis- 
robed of power and retiring to the shades of private life, it 
was evident that the great ex-President was the absorbing 
object of this intense regard." 

President Jackson retired from office at the climax of his 
power and in the full tide of popular approval. The early 
portion of the year 1837 had been taken up with the passage 
of the expunging resolution, which was the only stain upon 
his official life. The tactics of the Democratic senators led by 
Benton of Missouri, Senators Wright of New York and Allen of 
Ohio, who were leading the fight to expunge from the Senate 
records the resolutions of censure against General Jackson for 
his procedure in the matter of the United States Bank, were 
developed at a secret meeting at the then "famous restaurant of 
Boulanger, where the meeting was given the air of a convivial 


entertainment." It continued until midnight and required all 
the tact, moderation and skill of the prime movers, to maintain 
the union upon details essential to a success. They did not 
underestimate their adversaries, among whom were Clay, Cal- 
houn and Webster. Serious differences arose among the "ex- 
pungers" over the form in which the expurgation should be 
effected. This was finally determined and it was then decided 
to call the resolution immediately after the morning business 
of Monday. Expecting a protracted session, these doughty 
friends of General Jackson provided for an ample supper of 
cold hams, turkeys, rounds of beef, pickles, wines, liquors, cups 
of hot coffee, to be ready in a certain committee-room near the 
Senate Chamber by four o'clock of the afternoon of Monday. 

The motion to take up the matter was made at the ap- 
pointed time and a debate, with long speeches, immediately 
opened. The three great leaders of the opposition, Clay, Cal- 
houn and Webster did not join in the opening, but effective 
speeches were made by their friends, Preston of South Carolina, 
Richard H. Bayard and John M. Clayton of Delaware, Critten- 
den of Kentucky, White of Tennessee and Ewing of Ohio. That 
was practically the team that had led the opposition three years 
before, now reinforced by Judge White of Tennessee, Jackson's 
own state, a powerful opponent with a strong following. Dark- 
ness came on and the chandeliers flung a brilliant light over 
the Senate Chamber, crowded with members of the House. 
The galleries were filled to their utmost capacity with visitors 
and spectators. It is to be regretted that Mr. Fairfield had no 
occasion to describe the scene in these letters ; but, as indicated 
in the following chapter, Mrs. Fairfield was with him and doubt- 
less they were both in attendance. But few spoke for the 
resolution, chiefly Rives, Buchanan and Niles. There was no 
occasion. They had counted noses and knew that the resolu- 
tion would carry. It was high-tide of Jacksonian democracy. 
The Maine Senators were hand and glove with it, while Fairfield 
and his friends in the House gloried in the victory about to 
be won againsit the Clay-Calhoun wing of the democracy. Cal- 

■r ^ 

W \ ' 

1 w-^ 

,||^^H > "^^^^1 

Bl ' - ' 



The Youngest Daughter of Annie Fairfield Perkins of New York 

Photofjraphed in the Hallway of the Hamilton House in Saco and 

Wearing her Great-Great-Grandmother's dress. 

Old Cutts Clock in the corner 


houn spoke finally — in anguish at the serious condition in which 
the party found itself. 

"But why do I waste my breath," cried Mr. Calhoun in his 
matchless style, "I know it is utterly vain! The day is gone; 
the night approaches and might is appropriate to the dark deed 
we meditate. * * * This act originates in pure, unmixed, personal 
idolatry. It is the melancholy evidence of a broken spirit, 
ready to bow at the feet of power. An act like this could never 
have been consummated even by a Roman Senate until the 
days of Caligula and Nero." 

Mr. Clay also closed his argument with similar words. 
"Why," cried he, "shouHd I detain the Senate? The decree has 
gone forth. It is one of urgency. The deed is to be done — 
that foul deed which, like the blood-stained hands of the guilty 
Macbeth, all ocean's waters will never wash out. Proceed then 
with the work and, like other skillful executioners, do it quickly. 
* * * And then, go home and tell the people that henceforward 
no matter what daring or outrageous act any President may 
perform, you have forever hermetically sealed the mouth of the 
Senate. Tell them that he may fearlessly assume what power 
he pleases, snatch from its lawful custody the public purse, 
command a military detachment to enter the walls of the Capi- 
tol, overawe Congress, trample down the Constitution and raze 
every bulwark of Freedom, but that the Senate must stand 
mute, in silent submission, and dare not raise an opposing 

Mr. Webster spoke last and, presaging the passage of the 
resolution, closed by saying, "We collect ourselves to look on 
in silence, while a scene is exhibited which, if we did not regard 
it as a ruthless violation of a sacred instrument, would appear 
little elevated above the character of a contemptible farce." 

After Mr. Webster closed, no one else arose. A dead 
silence ensued. The vote was taken; carried; the expunging 
was done amid hisses, denunciation and demands that the 
"bank ruffians who hissed this act" be brought to the bar of 
the Senate — altogether the most dramatic scene peiihaps that 


ever was enacted in the United States Senate. History does 
not bear out as a Whole the estimate of Clay, Calhoun and 
Webster as to the "foulness" of the deed, nor were the "con- 
spirators" of the school of Caligula and Nero. Today, it is 
regarded as much ado about nothing and the expunging as a 
considerate kindness to a patriotic but hot-headed President 
who did things as he saw them to do. 

In the year 1837 Roger B. Taney was appointed to succeed 
Chief Justice Marshall who had died. His confirmation was 
opposed by the same group that fought the expunging reso- 
lution and Taney went on to the bench to do the bidding of 
his masters and to serve the slave-holding states by his rulings 
in the case of fugitive slaves. Maine Senators voted to con- 
firm Taney, but Webster, Clay, Calhoun, White, Preston and 
others voted against confirmation. 

The new administration retained very nearly the same 
Cabinet as that of President Jackson — Mr. Forsyth, Secretary 
of State; Mr. Woodbury, Secretary of Treasury; Mr. Poinsett, 
Secretary of War ; Mahlon Dickerson, Secretary of Navy ; Amos 
Kendall, Postmaster-General, and Benjamin F. Butler, Attorney 
General, Mr. Butler soon resigning to be succeeded by Henry 
D, Gilpin of Pennsylvania. Hardly had Jackson passed on 
to his home at the Hermitage and Mr. Van Buren and his 
Cabinet assumed control of affairs when the storm that had 
been predicted burst with all its fury in the financial panic of 
1837, the most serious period of depression that ever was 
known in the United States. The John Fairfield type of Dem- 
ocrats were in for a season of distressing experience. The old- 
fashioned aristocratic leadership that had spoken with pre- 
tentions of infallibility, unwittingly suffered its severest blow 
when Jackson himself became the head of the democracy. 
Unaware of itself, the very career of Jackson seemed to in- 
crease the ascendency of pure democracy and enhance the power 
of general opinion. Such newspapers as the Neto York Herald 
and the New York Sun, papers of a new type, had sprung up, 
asking impertinent questions and prying into public affairs. 


The upturning which General Jackson had brought upon gov- 
ernment was beginning to be noticed equally in every-day life. 

Most of the sad stories of political jobbery, malfeasance 
in office and incompetency of years long past and yet continuing 
were disclosed while President Van Buren was in office, and the 
discredit of what Jackson had done fell upon him. The "spoils 
system" which Van Buren's party in New York State was 
believed to have originated and perfected under General Jack- 
son was made the subject of rabid and unceasing attack. Van 
Buren shielded no one and excused nothing, but got no credit 
for that. His administration, clouded by panic, disrupted by 
disclosures of discreditable service under predecessors, soon 
became difficult of defense and may have led even the most 
faithful followers of Democracy to look about for preferment 
elsewhere than in Washington and in Congress. Suspension of 
banks, insolvency of the Federal Treasury, widespread un- 
employment, actual want and suffering, absolute derangement 
both of commerce and of industry, made the year 1837 memo- 
rable in our national annals. Washington must have been an 
uncomfortable residence for John Fairfield, Democrat. Small 
wonder that he was listening acutely and with new interest 
to the frequent requests from his political friends in Maine to 
come home and become a candidate for Governor. 

The situation in Maine, so far as the Democratic Party 
was concerned, was somewhat unsettled. Governor Dunlap 
had declined a nomination and the field was open. The friends 
of the young Saco Congressman were beseeching him to enter. 
He probably saw the situation better than they. There was 
a revolt against Jacksonianism and against the Democrats. 
He kept out of the fight in Maine. His party nominated Col. 
Gorham L. Parks of Bangor for Governor — a fine, conciliatory, 
able man, who happened to be unfortunate in his enemies. Six 
years previous he had quarrelled with F. O. J. Smith of Port- 
land and Mr. Smith was one of those who never forgot an 
affront. The historic campaign "when Maine went hell-bent 
for Governor Kent" was by no means so emphatic as the words 


would signify. In reality it was settled in Penobscot County, 
the home of each of the candidates. Into the Maine campaign 
were interjected the affairs of a Bangor sheriff whom Mr. Parks 
had defended as counsel. F. O. J. Smith attacked Mr. Parks 
as a Federalist and produced letters tending to prove his charge ; 
and on these two counts, chiefly, Edward Kent ran ahead of the 
ticket in Penobscot and defeated the Democracy by a small but 
significant majority that aroused the country and brought con- 
sternation to President Van Buren. 

In the session concerning which Congressman Fairfield 
writes, the fate of Texas was hanging in the balance and the 
war with Mexico was brooding. The re-establishment of credit 
and of business was brought about with little credit to the 
Democrats as a national party. Mr. Van Buren handled dip- 
lomatic matters with wisdom and good judgment, but with 
the loss of Jackson, the Democracy lost initiative. With these 
facts in mind the letters of Governor Fairfield take on new in- 
terest. It is ito be added that in point of sheer ability the 
Congress of 1837 had not been hitherto excelled. In it was 
one man who had been President and four who were to be 
Presidents, viz. Polk, who was Speaker; Buchanan, Fillmore 
and Pierce, while ex-President Adams was in the House for 
Massachusetts. Clay, Calhoun, Webster, Silas Wright and Wm. 
C. Preston were men of power and of vision. The Maine 
Senators were John Ruggles and Reuel Williams. George Evans 
of Gardiner, Maine, was in the House, a great financial expert 
and master mind ! Other Maine Congressmen were John Fair- 
field, F. 0. J. Smith, Timothy J. Carter, Thomas Davee, Jon- 
athan Cilley, Joseph C. Noyes and Hugh J. Anderson. "In my 
long service," said Senator Benton in his "Thirty Years View" 
in 1856, "I have not seen a more able Congress. It is only nec- 
essary to read the names and to possess some knowledge of 
public men to be struck with the number of names which 
would come under the description of useful or brilliant mem- 
bers." Of the Maine Congressmen Evans and Noyes were 
Whigs, the others were Democrats. Mr. Carter of Paris died 


in mid-term and was succeeded by Virgil D. Parris, Democrat, 
of Buckfield. Jonathan Cilley was killed in a duel and was 
succeeded by Edward Robinson of Thomaston, a Whig. 

This Congress, the 25th, met the first Monday in September 
and chose James K. Polk Speaker of the House. Mr. Fairfield's 
correspondence is silent on these scenes, as Mrs. Fairfield was 
with him. He resumed correspondence with Mrs. Fairfield, in 
November, 1837, after an intermission of several months. 

The Burglar Hunt 

Boston, Nov. 29, Wednesday. (1837) 
Dear Wife, 

I arrived here safely last night, though pretty thoroughly 
chilled, having rode outside more than half the way. At 12 
o'clock today I leave for New York but shall be obliged to go 
round Point Judith in the steamboat as the Stonington cars run 
only every other day. I find here Mr. Williams & family, 
Messrs. Davee, Cilley & Anderson, all of whom are going on 
today, but Mr. Anderson. 

Last night between 11 & 12 o'clock some one knocked at 
my chamber door & asked me to turn the key & let him in. 
"Who are you?" said I. "The landlord," said he. "What do 
you want?" "Some goods have been stolen," said he, "and 
we are searching the rooms." "Well," said I, "why do you come 
here ? Why not go to the other rooms ?" "I have searched all 
the rest." "I know better," said I, — "if you had I should have 
heard you." "Well," said he, "I must come in, and now I am 
pretty well satisfied that you are the rogue who has gotten the 
goods." "Well, now," said I, "you don't come into this room 
without having others present — so clear out." "Oh nonsense, 
open the door," said he, "this is all in sport, I am McCrate." I 
jumped out of bed, unlocked my door & who should enter but my 
old friend, John D. McCrate of Wiscasset. 
Your Husband, 


Arrival in Washington 1837 

Washington, Dec. 2, 1837. 
Dear Wife, 

Here I am Saturday night, in my little 7 by 9, seated in the 
old chair with a changeable bottom and back, you know, at the 
same table we had last session, once more writing to you. I 
feel rejoiced that I am settled down. 

I found here on my arrival Judge Prentiss of Vermont & 
wife & Mr. Allen, your old acquaintance. No others have ar- 
rived yet, and it is doubtful whether many of them take quar- 
ters here; McClellan, Parker, Prentiss & Birdsall engaged be- 
fore leaving. The rest, I believe, did not. 


We dined today with the mess on 'tother side. They were 
all, Mr. & Mrs. Berry, Maj. Hall, Mr. Duncan, Mr. Caster & 
others, full of inquiries about you & Augusta, and gratified me 
much by the respect & kindness which they really, I think, & 
not piquedly, manifested for you both. 

Mrs. Barry is not as big as an ox, nor could she crawl 
through an alderman's ring, but somewhere "betwixt and be- 
tween." Mr. Duncan eats enormously as usual & complains of 
a weakness in his back ; Mr. Caster's face is constantly radiant 
with smiles and Mr. Frenctchilkman, otherwise Fleshman, 
looks grave, talks queer & plays on the fiddle as he used to do. 
Mrs. Pitman was full of her kind remembrances of you & 
seemed very much to lament that you had not returned. 
As ever thine, 


Describing His New Quarters 

Washington, Dec. 3d, 1837. 
Dear Wife, 

Our mess now stands : Judge Prentiss & wife, Mr. Fillmore 
& wife, Mr. Birdsall & wife and Mr. Allen, Mr. Anderson & my- 
self. It is to be of a very mixed character as to politics, but I 
hope a pleasant one. Mrs. P. is a prim, neat, Quaker-like old 
lady, and, I suspect, a clever, so-so sort of body. Mrs. F. is 
rather plain, something of a talker & a woman of good sense. 
Mrs. B. I mean to like the best, but having been merely intro- 
duced & passed only a word or two with her you must wait for 
further developments. 

I found all my things here that we left except my Bible, 
frock coat, shoes and box of chess men. Perhaps they are still 
in our old room which is now occupied by Judge Prentiss & wife. 
I have been trying to ascertain, but have not made out yet. 
Where did you put them? I don't see why they were not re- 
moved to this room with the other things. Shelves have been 
put up against the middle door as I directed, and my books 
make quite a show upon them. There are 6 shelves & under the 
lower one stands the large trunk and it is quite out of the way. 

Between the shelves & the window stands my wash stand 
& under that a most capacious and well constructed keeler, for 
washing feet, I suppose. Against the window stands my table 
and under it the small trunk. On the other side of the window 


hangs a very respectable sized mahogany framed looking glass, 
and under that stands a chair. Then comes a closet, then the 
fireplace, then another closet, then a chair, then the door, then 
another chair, and then my bed. 

In the middle of the floor, before the fire, stands the arm 
chair occupied by his honor and thus you have the whole para- 
phernalia of the room (if I have spelt it right, look & see, to- 
morrow I mean to buy a dictionary.) Oh, dear, I can't bear to 
think that I am doomed to be from you half a year. When I see 
so many bringing their wives it makes me feel desolate, indeed. 
Your Husband, 


The President's Message 

Washington, Dec. 5, 1837. 
Dear Wife, 

Yesterday Congress met, 163 members were present, the 
usual committee was chosen to wait on the President and we 
then adjourned. Today at 12 o'clock the President sent in his 
message which was read & 20,000 copies ordered to be printed. 
It is a masterly document, and everything that his friends could 

I called up to the White House last evening with Col. Pren- 
tiss & Mr. Loomis of New York, and passed half an hour with 
the President. He appeared remarkably well. The New York 
election did not seem to disturb his equanimity in the least. He 
seems to have no doubt of the ultimate success of our party 
everywhere because it is based upon just principles and has for 
its object the maintenance of the rights of the many against 
the encroachments & usurpations of the few. 

Our mess is now nearly full ; Parker McClellan & Buchanan 
have arrived and Mr. Loomis of New York has joined us. All 
goes on pleasantly, notwithstanding our differences in politics. 
I had much rather have those who diflfer with us totally, i. e., 
the Whigs, than those who pretend to be of us & yet differ with 
us in many things, the conservatives. 

Today Rachael brought in my frock coat, shoes, Bible & 
chess men, so now I believe everything has been found that we 
left. Nancy has made her appearance, and says she will mark 
everything so that there shall be no mistake. But I have 
chosen to set down in a memorandum book the pieces she takes, 
and will give her credit for them when returned. 


Among the papers I ordered yesterday was the N. Y. Mir- 
ror for the benefit of you and Martha these long winter even- 
ings, and when I arrived here I found three or four numbers 
sent by the publishers to connect the two sessions, I suppose. 
I take also the Daily Globe, Boston Courier, N. Y. Evening 
Post, Saturday Courier (Phil.), & Richmond Enquirer. Prob- 
ably, I may also send you occasionally the Saturday Courier 
which is a great bed blanket of a thing and not political, I be- 

Good night, 

J. F. 

Mess Is Increased 

Washington, Dec. 6, 1837. 
Dear Wife, 

I have taken on going to bed, 2 Wistar's lozenges, and have 
found that they are a perfect preventive of my cough, which 
troubled me a good deal for a few nights. I find my little 
chamber very comfortable except that Sam don't keep me so 
well supplied with wood as he ought to. For servants we have 
Sam and Nat and William. The last takes the place of Robert, 
but is not half equal to him. 

Today Gov. Knight & lady from R. I. have joined our mess. 
He is a Senator, Federal in politics, but a clever, inoffensive sort 
of man. His wife has not made her appearance yet at the table. 
Col. Pratt has his fourth wife. She is apparently much younger 
than he is, dresses very much and is something of a talker. Our 
mess has now got to be large, numbering, I believe, about 17, 
including ladies. 

Carter brought his wife as far as New York, and will have 
her here in a few weeks. He goes to Berth's who keeps, if you 
recollect, nearly opposite to us. Peirce & wife, & Williams & 
wife, and Cilley, board there also. 

Today I put on my old frock coat & really it looked so smart 
that I have concluded to wear it awhile as my day coat instead 
of confining it to my chamber. I have also been contemplating 
buying a new surtout, but have given that up for the present ; 
the old one will do, perhaps, till spring or longer. Your old 
friend, the Major, has reed, an order to repair forthwith to 
Portsmouth, N. H., where he will be attached, I suppose, to the 
Navy Yard. Yesterday he dined out and, I believe, got a little 
corned. He was exceedingly talkative when he returned, and 


it was late at night before he could be persuaded to go to bed. 
Mr. Caster has improved somewhat upon both the flute & 
violin, though he does not play so much as formerly. 

I have played one game of chess with Mr. Loomis and beat 
him. Birdsall says his wife is a whole team at it. I shall try 
her soon. 

Your Husband, 


Buys Bancroft's History 

Washington, Dec. 7, 1837. 
Dear Wife, 

Today we met, spent about 10 or 15 minutes in business & 
then adjourned over to Monday next, giving us 2 leisure days. 

1 hardly know what to do with them, but if I felt better I would 
take this opportunity to visit Norfolk & Richmond. I stepped 
out just now and bought Bancroft's history of the United States, 

2 vols. These will afford me both pleasure and instruction, I 
think. He is about the best writer of the day and is a particu- 
lar favorite of mine for more reasons than one. 

Do you hear anything of your quillapi ? 
I hope, if you have good sleighing, that you will improve it. 
You must go abroad more, ride more & enjoy yourself. But I 
must go out and take a walk before dark, so good-night. 


He Beats at Chess 

Washington, Dec. 8, 1837. 

Last night I called up to Judge Parris'. Found them all 
pretty well, though they were well acquainted with all the med- 
icines for coughs, &c. I borrowed Doct. Sewall's lectures 
against phrenology and am willing to be convinced by them 
though I doubt their having that effect. After my return I 
played chess with Paine and beat him one game, at which he 
was very angry, laid it all to "that ass" as he called him, that 
sat beside him, Mr. Loomis, when Loomis did nothing & said 
nothing but look on with great earnestness. Paine is, I think, 


the most incitable man I ever met with & consequently he must 
be among the most unhappy. I have also played one game of 
chess with Mr. Loomis, and one with Mrs. Birdsall, both of 
which I beat. 

Tomorrow I think I'll call at Mr. Chas. Cutts' & then I shall 
have completed my circle of calls. Today I left cards with Mr. 
Forsyth, Sec. State, Mr. Woodbury, Mr. Poinsett, Sec. War, Mr. 
Dickinson, Sec. Navy, Mr. Butler, the Atty. Genl., Mr. Kendall, 
P. M. Genl., Mr. Fox, the English minister, & Mr. Pontois, the 
French minister. So that when the parties come round I shall 
probably have an opportunity to attend if I have the inclination. 
Your affectionate Husband, 


Washington, Dec. 9, 1837. 
Bear Wife, 

It did my heart good to get a letter from you this morning. 
You are very smart to be at the breakfast table, and to have 
finished every morning before 8 o'clock. Do persevere. I am 
well persuaded you would feel better for it. 

In regard to Walter's riding, I would suggest that you try 
him again. Don't get him dissatisfied and cross, we had better 
let him ride too fast sometimes, or err in some other respects. 
We must show him that we have confidence in him & get him 
to have a confidence in himself and a respect for himself. But 
it's of no use to preach to you, you understand the matter as 
well as I do. 

Would you believe it, we are determined to nominate Mr. 
Johnson, a Unitarian, for Chaplain, and with some hopes of suc- 
cess. He had letters from Mr. Peabody of Portsmouth to Mr. 
Parker of New York, who married sisters. Parker, although 
an Episcopalian, takes a warm interest in the thing, and he & 
Mr. Allen have waited upon Mr. Johnson who consents to be 
nominated. We have begun to make a little interest for him 
today with the members & find that the thing takes pretty well. 

We have had another added to our mess since writing you 
yesterday, a Mr. White of Indiana. He is Whig in politics, but 
appears very well at first sight. Judge Ruggles has arrived and 
has had a talk with Mrs. Pitman, but don't conclude to come 
here, her lowest price for the unoccupied room being $13.00. 
Your Affectionate Husband, 



Appointed on Committee on Foreign Relations 

Washington, Dec. 11, 1837. 
Dear Wife, 

I enclose you the card of Mrs. Kendall, left here for you to- 
day. I trust you will be polite enough to return the call. Par- 
ties have not commenced yet, but I suppose they will soon. 
Some of our ladies are ill. Mrs. Fillmore has a bad cough and 
has been confined to her chamber for several days, I fear she is 
verging towards consumption. Mrs. Birdsall was not at the 
dinner table today, though I suspect her case is not very serious. 

Our mess thus far proves to be a very pleasant one, not- 
withstanding the different complexion of our politics. Mrs. 
Knight is a very handsome, stately and dignified old lady. 

Today we have done little in the House except to choose 
Chaplain and appoint the committees. In the latter I think 
Maine has been very liberally dealt by. I remain on the Com- 
mittee on Foreign Relations tho' it has somewhat changed in 
other respects. It is now as follows: Howard, Gushing, Jack- 
son, Dromgoole, Claiborne, Fairfield, Patton, Legare, Hoffman. 
Saying nothing about myself, I think this is a splendid commit- 
tee & will compare with any other in the House. 

We had four trials, I believe, for Chaplain before a choice 
was effected. It finally resulted in the choice of Mr. Reese of 
this City and, I believe, a Methodist. Mr. Johnson, the Unitarian, 
had 50 votes the first two trials ; after these the number fell off 
to 30. But though defeated, we feel gratified at having obtained 
as many votes as 50. This is far beyond what was ever done 
before, and augurs well for the growing good sense of people at 
the South. 

I have not seen any of Mr. Dummer's folks since a week 
ftgo yesterday when I walked up there. Today I met two of the 
Misses Parris on the avenue. They had been a shopping, and 
were carrying home their purchases in large bundles. It re- 
minded me of good old New England independence. 
Your affectionate husband, 


A "Thrashing" in the House 

Washington, Dec. 13, 1837. 
Dear Wife, 

At the House today we have had one of Adams' violent & 
intemperate speeches. The question was upon referring the 


petitions on subject of Texas to a select committee or to the 
Committee on Foreign Relations. He dragged in the subject of 
slavery and among other things the affair at Alton and the 
death of Lovejoy.^ This brought the Southrons to their feet. 
Much excitement prevailed among them & a few were very 
anxious to answer him, but Wise, who was as cool as a cucumber, 
got the floor and moved to lay the whole on the table. This, 
you know, cuts off debate, and the motion prevailing, put the 
whole matter at rest. 

We have also had one other matter up today which excited 
a good deal of interest. It seems that Fletcher of Boston, after 
the special session, made a speech in Boston, in which he stated, 
or the report of his speech in the Boston papers made him say 
that all the bills reported by the Com. of Ways & Means of 
which he was a member, were procured by Cambreling, the 
Chairman at the White House, were ordered to be reported by 
the committee without examination, and were passed by the 
House without the alteration of a word, letter or comma. 

He also said many other things touching that Committee of 
the same character. This morning there appeared in the Globe 
a statement signed by 5 or 6 of the members of the Committee 
contradicting & proving to be false nearly every assertion made 
by Fletcher & lashing him a little for his course. As soon as 
the House met, F. asked leave of the House to make an explana- 
tion in regard to it, which was granted him. He then said that 
he did not publish the speech himself, nor examine the proof, 
nor did he see it until he saw it in the Boston papers, that some 
of the things there reported by him to have been said were not 
said, &c., &c. Cambreling made a short and somewhat cutting 

Atherton of New Hampshire thrashed him pretty soundly, 
and then Jones of Virginia took the floor and gave Fletcher a 
terrible castigation. He said there was no difference between 
Fletcher's writing out the speech himself and not contradicting 
what was erroneously written by others. He denounced the 
speech as false, calumnious and base, and bore down upon poor 
Fletcher with all his power and in a manner that made me feel 
for him. But Fletcher took it all in silence and did not attempt 
a reply. You will probably see it all in the Globe. 

I am writing now in a sort of gown which I bought yester- 
day. It is half way between a gown & a surtout. I like the 
fashion much. It is a real comfortable affair & will save coats 
not a little. With the aid of this I think I can make my old 


frock coat last all winter. Have not called on Mrs. Madison yet, 
but mean to in a few days. 

Your Husband, 


^Elijah Parish Lovejoy, known as the first Abolitionist martyr. He was 
born in Albion, Me., and graduated at Waterville CoUeg-e. The "affair at Al- 
ton" referred to was the destruction by a mob of L.ovejoy's newspaper press, 
and the shooting- of Lovejoy while trying to protect it. The wrath of Alton 
citizens had been aroused by the strong Abolition sentiments in the paper. 

Washington, Dec. 15, 1837. 
My Dear Wife, 

The House today have adjourned over to Monday, so tomor- 
row will be a play day for most of the members, — but for my- 
self I mean to work hard, having a good many matters on hand 
requiring my attention. Last night I went by invitation to Mr. 
Charles Cutts' where I had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Madi- 
son. I was engaged so that I was unable to get there until 
nearly 9 o'clock, & consequently did not see much of her as she 
left about 1/2 past 9. She is rather tall and large, of a com- 
manding figure and dignified and graceful in her movements. I 
had a few minutes conversation with her only. She made par- 
ticular inquiries after you and said that she had heard much of 
you, regretted that she was not to meet you here, &c., &c. I 
think I shall not be satisfied with this, but shall call upon her 
one of these days. 

Holsey of Georgia is just added to our mess. 
Affectionately Yours, 


The Day's Routine 

Washington, Dec. 17, 1837. 
Dear Wife, 

I am as comfortably situated as a man can well be who is 
600 miles away from those he loves better than all the world be- 
side. Sam comes very early, oftentimes as soon as daybreak, 
and makes a fire. After dressing and shaving, I read regu- 
larly two chapters in my Bible. Then go down & read the 
Globe and Intelligencer in the parlor until breakfast time. 

My breakfast, as of old, is principally made upon buck- 
wheat cakes and molasses, with a tumbler of milk substituted 
for coffee. I have drank but one cup of coffee, I believe, since 


I have been here ! and think I improve upon it. Once in a while 
I take a cup of black tea, which, by the way, I have just found 
out is much better than green tea. The latter almost always 
makes me thirsty and feverish. Suppose you try the experi- 
ment of black tea at home. 

I have been to meeting today & heard Mr. Berry of Fram- 
ingham, Massachusetts. He gave us an excellent sermon, and 
in good style. Text, "I am the light of the world." I sus- 
pect that it is the same Mr. B. who was once settled at Lowell 
& whom I tried to get down to Saco. 

I have changed my seat in our house here, now sitting in a 
body pew the 3d one from the front, with Reed & Hastings of 
Mass. & Noyes of our State. It is cushioned & carpeted & is verv 
comfortable. Yesterday, I went to the Capitol to hear Wolff, 
the converted Jew. The Hall was crowded and as I could not 
obtain a seat I staid only about 15 or 20 minutes. During that 
time he was relating his adventures, a part of which was quite 
humorous and a part of it rather tedious & dull. He has a rich 
voice and imitates the Persian singing admirably. He was once 
taken by the Turcomans or robbers among whom he had a 
variety of adventures. Once he hallooed to a company passing 
not far from them in the night for the purpose of procuring his 
release. They said to him : "You fellow, if you make any more 
noise we'll shoot you like von dog," "and," said he, *T was quiet 
all like von mouse." 

The Intelligencer contains Mr. Adams' short speech on ask- 
ing for the use of the Hall. He was quite eloquent & repeated 
some dozen lines from one of Bishop Heber's hymns in fine 

Mrs. Fillmore was down to breakfast this morning, but 
Mrs. Birdsall is really quite sick. 

My dear wife, good night. 


Washington, Dec. 19, 1837. 
Dear Wife, 

I commence this letter in the House, with Mr. Holsey of 
Georgia making a speech in the seat directly behind me. Doc- 
tor Duncan of Cincinnati has just closed a real slang-whanging 
speech, but it was in answer to speeches of the same kind on the 
other side, particularly one made by Wise. Duncan is a fear- 
less fellow and jusit fit for an opponent of some of the Federal 


Whigs here. Some of them on both sides are beginning to wax 
warm, but for myself I am as cool as a December morning, and 
more than that, mean to keep so. 

I intend soon to call up to Mr. Dummer's and leave them 
some franks which I forgot when I was there before. The only- 
visiting I have done, since I have been here, is once to Judge 
Parris', once to Mr. Dummer's, twice to Chas. Cutts' & once to 
Uncle Richard's. But I mean to go about a little more by & by. 
Of your Uncle Richard I bought the other day his share of the 
Uncle Dominicus Scamman estate, not because I wanted it, but 
because he wanted the money very much and could not sell it 
to anyone else. 

You forgot to put up one of my woolen waistcoats or 
guernsey frocks. When I came to change on Sunday morning I 
could not find the mate of the one taken off and so put on one 
of the blue & whites, which I find is not as thick as the other 
kind and has shorter sleeves. However, it will do well enough 
for this mild region. 

Abolition Speech Excites House 

Washington, Dec. 20, 1837. 
Dear Wife, 

I did not intend to write you again until tomorrow, but as 
an event has occurred here producing considerable excitement 
I thought I would relate it. 

Slade of Vermont presented several petitions for the aboli- 
tion of slavery in the District of Columbia and moved their ref- 
erence to a select committee with instructions to bring in a bill 
for that purpose. 

This gave him a right to discuss the question, so this morn- 
ing at it he went. His speech was of a character calculated 
under existing circumstances to produce excitement among the 
Southern members, as it did in fact. He was very frequently 
interrupted, but nothing could stop him. Finally, Wise rose 
and said that as the gentleman had begun to discuss the ques- 
tion of slavery in the States as well as in the District of Colum- 
bia, he invited the Virginia delegation to leave the Hall in a 
body and retire to one of the committee rooms. Holsey of 
Georgia gave the same invitation to his delegation, and some 
member from South Carolina, the same as to that State, and 
accordingly the most of them retired. Some one then moved 


an adjournment of the House, on which the ayes and noes were 
ordered and the adjournment carried by a large majority. 

As soon as the vote was announced Campbell of South 
Carolina invited all the gentlemen from slave holding States to 
meet in a committee room forthwith. And there they are now. 
What all this is to end in no one can tell, but I suspect it will 
blow over. The Northern fanatics, however, will push this mat- 
ter, I fear, until they lay the foundations for a disunion of the 
States, if they do not actually produce it. Holsey has just re- 
turned, but don't say what they have done and we have some 
delicacy in asking him. Nothing new beyond this worth telling. 
Ever Yours, 


Washington, Dec. 22d, 1837. 
Dear Wife, 

In my last I believe I gave you some account of the excite- 
ment produced here by Slade's abolition speech. It seems that 
the Southern members adjourned their first meeting until the 
evening when they had a full one and had a good deal of ani- 
mated discussion. They concluded to come into the House the 
following morning and offer a resolution similar to the one pro- 
posed last year by Pinckney & adopted by the House, viz., that 
all petitions, &c., touching the abolition of slavery either in the 
States or the Territories should be laid upon the table without 
being read, debated, referred or printed. This Resolve passed 
by a large majority. 

It was different from what I should have liked, but as the 
previous question had been moved & carried we were obliged 
to take that or let the whole subject remain open for a long, vio- 
lent, angry & dangerous discussion. I say dangerous because 
I believe the permanency of the Union would be endangered if 
not destroyed by it. We had another little flurry yesterday 
morning through the instrumentality of old Adams, but it soon 
blew over. 

I have got an invitation to go to Mr. Chas. Cutts' on Mon- 
day, which is Christmas, you know. Today I have also reed, 
an invitation to dine with the President on Thursday next at 5 
o'clock and requesting an answer. I shall go, of course, "wind 
& weather" permitting, as the sailors say. I found today in a 
N. Y. paper an article written by 'Judge Mellen on his 73d birth- 


day. It pleased me so much that I cut it out & herewith enclose 
it to you. 

Ever Yours, 


^Prentiss Mellen of Portland, Maine's first chief justice. He retired from 
oflfice three years previous, having reached the age of 70, vi^hich was the 
limit for holding that office. 

Mentioned for Governor 

Washington, Dec. 24, 1837. 
Dear Wife, 

I received your regular Saturday morning epistle, written 
the Sunday evening preceding. I am glad to perceive your per- 
severance in going to meeting notwithstanding you have so 
much to encounter. I can't say much for myself, however, to- 
day, for I am spending the day in my chamber, enveloped in my 
gaudy calico, and toasting my shins before a good fire. For 
my justification, however, I have to plead a swollen face, a little 
out of orderish internally, and 3 or 4 inches of snow on the 
ground, which fell during the night. There is something a 
little queer about my face, swelling unaccompanied by much pain 
or soreness. 

At tea, Mrs. Pitman & I play bo-peep and wish for you to 
join us. Mr. Buchanan sticks by the old place but is far less 
stupid than he used to be. He now talks considerably and is a 
very sensible man. The reason of all of which is, a great im- 
provement in his health. 

Congress adjourned over from Friday to Tuesday, as to- 
morrow is Christmas. Nothing new in the way of politics. 

I think it will, on the whole, be best to keep Sarah at home 
this winter. It is too far to walk in winter. Tell my dear 
Sarah I think of her much, and love her more than I can ex- 
press. She must be a good girl & read a good deal this winter. 
I shall expect, also, that she will help her mother in sewing, 
knitting, clearing away the table and in doing pleasantly every- 
thing that her mother wants her to do. I shall endeavor to send 
home to her and the rest of the children some little books as 
New Year's presents. My sweet Augusta, too, must be a nice 
girl and mind her mother in all things and learn to sew, so that 
by & by she can make some shirts for her Father. I hope, too, 
that she will soon learn her letters, for as soon as she can read 
I shall write some letters to her. 


Dear little Hammy, I wish I could hear him say "Far" 
once, & have the happiness of trotting him on my knees. He is 
a noble boy and I love him much. 

You ask if I have been at Uncle Richard's. I have been 
there but once and then did not see Dolly or Mary. I have, how- 
ever, met them in the street, and once at Chas. Cutts'. They are 
just as when you knew them. Dolly, I think, a little disposed to 
backbite. Mary is, I believe, very clever. 

A few begin to address me upon the subject of our next 
election, and of my being a candidate for Governor ! Don't be 
alarmed, nothing, I think, can ever induce me to consent, even 
if the people are silly enough to invite me. With my small 
property and large family, an election would be utter ruin to me. 
Ever Yours, 


Adams Makes Trouble 

Washington, Dec. 26, 1837. 
Dear Wife, 

I begin my letter in the House today, where old Adams is 
again making trouble for the Speaker and the House. He pre- 
sented a petition the other day from a Peace Society praying 
that our trouble with Mexico might be referred to some friendly 
power. Howard moved that it be referred to Committee on 
Foreign Relations. Adams moved with "instructions to read, 
consider & report thereon," and under this motion insists upon 
his right to discuss the merits of the memorial, which is clearly 
a violation of the rules of the House. After a great many inef- 
fectual attempts, the Speaker has finally stopped him. A 
motion is made granting him leave to proceed and on this the 
ayes & noes are being taken; I presume the motion will suc- 
ceed, and then we may expect to have a pretty copious stream 
of the bitter waters of his heart. 

Yesterday, Christmas, I spent principally in my chamber, 
the swelling in my face not having entirely subsided. In the 
evening, however, I went to Chas. Cutts'. There was nobody 
there but the little guitar player (whom you probably recol- 
lect), and myself. Had no great of a time. Egg-nog is the 
great Christmas drink here, which you know I can't drink, as it 
contains brandy or whiskey. My health, aside from my cheek, 
is very good. My cough is cured, that is, so far as a constitu- 


tional ailment can be cured. I cannot, however, preserve that 
degree of cheerfulness which I felt at the special session. 

Carter has gone to New York to bring on his wife. Ander- 
son is troubled with inflammation of the eyes, but is still able 
to attend the sessions of the House. He is an excellent chum, 
very intelligent, friendly and social. I don't know what I could 
do without him. Paine & I once in a while play a game of 
chess. Whenever he gets beaten he swears and frets as usual. 
He has the most irritable and unhappy disposition of any man 
I ever met with. Anderson is a very good player, because he 
beats me as often as I beat him. This game, however, 
is too much of a tax upon time, and I must abandon it, partially, 
at least. 

When I had written thus far our mess came off for dinner, 
leaving Adams on the floor, it then being more than 1/2 past 3. 
He may speak all night now if he chooses as he will not have 
me for an auditor. 

Ever thine, 


The Year of the Cilley Duel. 

In the letters written in the early weeks of 1838 we find 
the first serious consideration of John Fairfield's candidacy 
for Governor of Maine. Of course his name had only been 
proposed by his party, but its leaders were growing more and 
more insistent and already he is receiving pressing letters 
to allow his name to be used. Mr. Fairfield was very emphatic 
in his refusal to consider such a possibility. He was not in- 
sensible of the honor, but believed he could not afford, with his 
small means and large family, to enter the campaign. The 
first letters give no hint that any urging would cause him 
to alter his opinion. He was rather hoping that Parks would 
be mentioned as the Democratic candidate. At the last election 
Parks, Democrat, ran against Kent, Whig, and lost out by a 
small margin. He was a Bangor man, a lawyer and a good 
speaker, but was more popular in other parts of the State than 
in his home district. It transpired, however, that Col. Parks 
wisely declined being a candidate again and was rewarded by 
the oflflce of U. S. Marshal of Maine. 

However, the gubernatorial campaign was not yet on in 
earnest and many things of more immediate interest claimed 
Congressman Fairfield's attention. Abolition was assuming a 
larger and more important place in the affairs of the Nation and 
there were some hot debates inspired by it and some unpleasant 
differences. Maine had already produced one abolitionist who 
had created a nation-wide stir and sacrificed his life for the 
cause. This was Elijah Parish Lovejoy, writer and editor, who 
had gone into the cause heart and soul. To the tragedy which re- 
sulted in his death Mr. Fairfield referred briefly, but expressed 
no particular concern or indignation against those who caused 
his untimely death. At that time Fairfield was opposed to any 
interference on the part of Northerners with the slave ques- 
tion. While of course he was opposed to slavery, he held 


that the Southern States had a right to settle these matters for 
themselves and he feared a disruption of the Union if the North 
persisted in meddhng. 

Mr. Fairfield writes as delightfully as usual of the little 
doings of every-day life, and the social functions he attends, in- 
cluding the New Year reception at the President's. 

He sends the most charming messages to his beloved chil- 
dren, particularly his eldest daughter, Sarah. All the hopes, so 
often expressed by her father for her, were realized, and she de- 
veloped into a woman of strong character and inspiring person- 
ality. The Hamilton house in Saco was for many years her 
home, for she married Benjamin F. Hamilton, a merchant and 
prominent citizen of the place. Mrs. Hamilton was a prominent 
club woman and interested in all public affairs. Her house was 
a center of hospitality, not only to friends but to every good 
cause that needed a shelter. Here Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton cel- 
ebrated their golden wedding and here, in 1909, at an advanced 
age, she died. 

In the correspondence of 1838, is the first mention of the 
Northeastern Boundary question, which was to have a large 
part in the remainder of John Fairfield's life. There are 
occasional references to the subject referred to in the intro- 
duction to our previous chapter — the investigation of corrupt 
pubhc servants who had flourished under previous administra- 
tions and who were being routed out by the tireless investi- 
gations of a re-awakened public press. It concerned John Fair- 
field closely, because in the outcome of one of the "attacks" 
made against the corruptionists on charge of selling influence 
at one of the Departments, the person routed out proved to be 
Senator Ruggles of Maine. There was a great ado in the 
State of Maine newspapers of the day, but Judge Ruggles made 
an explanation in the Congressional Globe, which was circulated 
among his constituents and which explained everything as con- 
sistent with innocence. Mr. Fairfield adds: "This outcome of 
the matter will give you pleasure, I think, for you would be 



\l, ^ 

1 ' 



sorry to see your old friend convicted of corruption and expelled 
from the Senate." 

The event that most concerned the nation and that did 
most to bring Fairfield into public notice occurred in 1838, 
the duel between Representatives William Graves and Jonathan 
Cilley, which was closely connected with the foregoing incident, 
of Senator Ruggles's defense. 

Matthew L. Davis, a newspaper correspondent, had said 
in a letter to the New York Courier and Enquirer that he could 
prove that a member of Congress had offered to sell his influence 
to one of the Departments and that things did not go by merit 
but by the pulling of strings for suitable recompense. The 
statement aroused inquiry. James Watson Webb, editor of the 
Courier and Enquirer, vouched for the character of Davis, whom 
Mr. Fairfield refers to as "Old Davis," and Congress demanded 
an investigation. Henry A. Wise asked for a committee. Con- 
gressman Cilley of Maine clashed with Wise and in a fiery 
speech severely characterized the character of Webb. Mr. 
Davis, the correspondent, was called to the bar of the House 
and said that the person referred to was not a member of the 
House of Representatives. This called Judge Ruggles into the 
affair. He published his statement that he had been informed 
that he was the person referred to in the charges of Davis. 
He said that he had given purely legal services in the drawing 
up of an application for a patent; that he was promised a 
quarter interest in the patent; that the papers, though drawn, 
were never executed and that he never received any compensa- 
tion. Judge Ruggles was exonerated by a committee of the 

Meanwhile, Webb posted off in a hurry from New York 
to Washington, and sent Cilley by the hand of Representative 
Graves of Kentucky, a challenge to mortal combat, which Cilley 
declined to receive. Graves took up the matter, as personal, 
after Cilley had refused to make any statement whatever in 
regard to Webb's character. Graves then sent Cilley a personal 


challenge and they fought with rifles. Two shots were ex- 
changed without injury to either. Efforts were made to settle 
the matter. Mr. Cilley was perfectly ready to express esteem 
for Mr. Graves as he had already done ; he had no quarrel with 
him whatever. He insisted, however, that he would not be 
drawn into any controversy with Mr. Webb, would express 
no opinion as to him; would say nothing further concerning 
him and hence would not retract anything that he had said. 
At the third shot Cilley was killed, the bullet passing through 
the femoral artery and death ensuing before the blood-flow 
could be stopped. 

Northern Democrats were aroused. "Murder Most Foul" 
was the favorite headline in the newspapers. It was a plot 
of the Federalists to wipe out opposition. "Those whom they 
can not intimidate with abuse, they determine to silence by 
the bullet." Fairfield led this campaign in the House as a 
neighbor and a friend of Jonathan Cilley. President Jackson 
wrote to Van Buren, "I cannot write on the murderous death of 
poor Chilley (Cilley). If Congress does not do something 
to wipe oujt the stain of the murdered blood of Chilley from 
its walls, it will raise a flame in the public (word erased) 
mind against it, not easily to be quelled. Chilley was sac- 
rificed." Nathaniel Hawthorne, a classmate of Cilley at Bow- 
doin, wrote a sketch of his life and said that a duel was never 
pressed to a fatal close in the face of such open kindness as was 
expressed by Mr. Cilley * * * Graves and his principal second, 
Mr. Wise of Virginia, overstepped the imaginary distinction 
which on their own principles separates manslaughter from 

Mr. Fairfield's letters carry a great deal of contemporary 
historical value regarding the public attitude. His letters were 
quoted in a number of pulpits on Fast Day, 1838, with fierce 
rebuke toward an attitude of mild indifference toward the 
crime itself. Congress did nothing but give Cilley a perfunc- 
tory thirty days of mourning, meanwhile doing business as 
usual; and the Supreme Court, while expressing sorrow at the 


affair, refused according to custom to attend the funeral of 
one who had fallen in a duel. 

Mr. Fairfield's efforts to make of the Cilley duel the founda- 
tion for laws against duelling are a tribute to -his zeal as a 
Christian and a hater of such things as well as to his energy as 
a Democrat. The duel became a party matter. It was claimed 
that it was the outcome of the Bank matter, the Whigs wishing 
to remove a man who was to be feared for his brilliant invective 
and his power in debate. The Whigs replied that Senator 
Reuel Williams of Maine knew that the duel was to take place ; 
that he could have had the parties arrested and that they 
looked to certain victory over Graves. The quarrel was bitter 
and endured for generations. 

John Fairfield's resolution regarding duelling; his fearless 
advocacy of it in the face of the opposition, made him a national 
figure. It had much to do with his subsequent prominence in 
the Democratic convention when he came so near to being 
nominated for Vice-President of the United States. 

The references to the Maine gubernatorial campaign in the 
letters of 1838 require little background to make them intel- 
ligible. Fairfield was practically forced to run by reason of the 
Cilley duel and the speeches that he had made regarding the 
Northeastern boundary question which was then attracting 
attention. The campaign for Governor, bitter by reason of the 
old antipathies, was marred by personalities. The Whigs de- 
clared that Fairfield was a young, inexperienced loco-foco. The 
Democrats declared that Kent was a Federalist; that he was 
without independence of character and was the tool of the 
"irresistible cabal of office seekers." The largest vote in the 
history of the State was cast on election day and Fairfield was 
elected Governor by a majority of 3,000 in a total vote of 

His letters from Washington close with his return to Maine 
in July and resume in December after he had been elected 


The President's New Year's Reception 

Washington, Jan. 1, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

Today being New Year's day the President's House was 
thrown open for visitors, and v/as literally thronged from 12 to 
3 o'clock. On Saturday Mr. Dummer came dov/n and requested 
me to take Mary with me. Accordingly today at 1/2 after 12 
Mr. Dummer's carriage came for me, and after Mary & I 
had called on the President, Almira brought me home, so you 
see my gallantry cost me very little. 

I suspect there were at least 4,000 people called at the 
President's, and as the day was remarkably fine, the ladies 
made a great display in dress and the officers in uniform. There 
was also stationed in the outer hall a fine band of musicians 
who occasionally struck up some noble march, drowning the 
hum of voices and the tramp of a thousand feet. We stayed 
there perhaps half an hour, promenading about the great east 
room and out on the balcony, viewing faces, dresses and man- 
ners and picking out the lions. 

We met Mr. Carter & his wife there, he having returned 
from New York with her last night, after having been absent 
about a week. She is rather pretty & looks good, Anderson & 
I are talking of visiting her and our other Maine friends this 
evening, as we have not done it before, much to our shame, 
living as they do right across the street. 

I send you today a beautiful likeness of Washington Irving 
in the Mirror. I have also had presented to me by Mr. Parker 
a book of over 400 pages entitled "Embassy to the Eastern 
Courts of Cochin China, Siam and Muscat," by Edward Roberts. 
Parker & Mr. Peabody of Portsmouth married daughters of 
Roberts, it seems. Roberts went out to these eastern Courts as 
a secret agent for the government and was very successful in 
negotiating treaties with two of the Powers, and was on his 
second embassy last year when he died. 
Ever thine, 


Gaieties Continue 

Washington, Jan. 3d, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

I have time only to say a few words, for I have lo shave, 
dress & get ready to go to Mr. Kendall's this evening, and it is 


now late. I shall probably start about 8, and if you don't call for 
me before that I shall be obliged to go alone. 

Another invitation was also reed, today for a party at Mr. 
Forsyth's next Monday, so you see the days or rather nights of 
frolic and dissipation are beginning. 

You recollect there were several clothes cleansers along 
the avenue, some of them near our comer. Well, I gave one of 
them my blue pantaloons, and he has returned them "bran fire 
new" — at least, you could not tell them from such a pair. I 
shall wear them tonight, and keep them for my bettemiosts. 
I have today also given him my 2d best coat. He is to color it 
black & cleanse it. Pants, 75c, coat $1.50, coloring & all. 

Mrs. C. & Miss S. sent for me to the gallery again today, 
and S. has been down tonight to know if I will introduce him to 
Mr. Kendall this eve. Now, I'll tell you what. I'll cut their 
acquaintance pretty soon, if I don't change my mind. I have 
my suspicions that S. has no invitation and is going to ride in 
on my shoulders. If so, he'll get twig'd. But more anon. 
Ever thine, 


Lost Hymn Book Found 

Washington, Jan. 5, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

When I wrote you last I was about setting out for Mr. Ken- 
dall's where I had rather a pleasant time. It was Kendall's first, 
and was gotten up in very good style. There were four rooms 
below, all pretty well filled, and two of them with cotillion 
dancers. There were two chambers with tables, cards, chess 
boards, &c. I beat Doctor Taylor of New York, two games of 
chess, besides spending a considerable time in seeing the ladies 
dance, eating and drinking the good things provided for us, and 
playing at chit chat with A. B. C. & D. I left at about 1/2 after 
10, and got home in good season. 

Since I began this letter Nancy brought in my Hymn book 
& says "Here's your book, Mrs. Prentice says she's been read- 
ing it." So the lost is found. Well, I should have thought she 
might have informed me that she had it, even if she meant to 
keep it. But I suppose I ought to excuse her for she can't 
speak loud enough to tell anything. Her voice is about equal 
to the hum of a mosquito's wing. But she's very clever so we'll 
say no more about it. 


You recollect what I told you about S. ; well, he did not 
make his appearance there that I saw. I am inclined to think 
he saw I was not to be made a cat's paw of, for I made an occa- 
sion to tell him significantly that I had no authority to invite 
any one. Next Monday evening, which is the 8th of January, 
we are to have 2 parties, to wit, at Forsyth's & Woodbury's. 
Don't know as I shall go to either. 

Your affectionate husband, 


Abolition Debate Begins 

Washington, Jan. 7, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

Yesterday as I was walking Penn. Ave. whom do you think I 
met? Ah, guess — and as the dinner bell has this moment rung, 
you may have till after dinner for guessing. 

Here I am again after dining on roast pig and plum pud- 
ding — pretty stuff isn't it for a dyspeptic ! but I eat light, there- 
by showing a little self control. Well, whom did I meet — why, 
who, pray, but your old friend. Miss Clark ! She has been here 
but a few days but expects to spend the winter, says she shall 
stay if she don't get so wild that her father will be obliged to 
send her home. The first thing she wanted to know was why 
you had not answered her letter, said she had not heard from 
one of you and she was pretty nigh mad about it. While we 
were talking. Carter came along, going her way, I having met 
her. She asked him for leave to walk with him. Pretty much 
the same as ever, I guess, as volatile as a giddy young creature 
can be. 

We had no session of the House yesterday, and the Senate 
was occupied in discussing Calhoun's resolutions touching abo- 
lition, the rights of the States, &c. I am afraid no good will 
grow out of their introduction. The debate begins to wax 
warm. Calhoun is not practical enough for me, deals too 
much in abstractions, but I think he is now clearly a general 
supporter of the administration. 

I enclose a little knick-knack for Walter, "Before & after 
the drawing of a Lottery." Tell George I received his knife yes- 
terday, it has just arrived from England. I shall have his 
name put on it, like Walter's. 

Love to all. Ever yours, 



He Observes the Fashions 

Washington, Jan. 9, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

Last night being the 8th of January, Mr. Forsyth and Mr. 
Woodbury both had parties. I went to Mr. Forsyth's. The 
house was not so much crowded as usual, but still there were a 
great many there. The ladies were elegantly dressed and in 
very good taste. I perceive that the richest dresses are silk 
velvet; two elegant ones I noticed last night, one red and the 
other purple. One lady also, I observed, had a purple silk vel- 
vet head dress, ornamented with a bird of paradise. Not the 
tail merely, but the whole bird, and a beautiful ornament it 

^Mrs. Madison was there, and formed quite a center of 
attraction. She is not handsome. She is too large, and her 
features too coarse for that. But she is stately and indeed, I 
may say, magnificent. She dresses in black, with her neck ruf- 
fled up much in the style of Mrs. Storer of Kennebunk. Her 
head dress is a sort of turban, resembling what I have seen m 
prints as the turban of the Turks. 

Our fare was rather light. A few cakes, light enough to 
blow away, a glass of wine and lemonade, ice creams and 
grapes, constituted the whole treat. It was all well enough, but 
very cheap. And so far as it may operate as an example to 
repress extravagance & encourage simplicity and economy, it is 
all well and ought to be approved. 

Yesterday we had quite a war debate in the House in con- 
sequence of a message sent in by the President touching the case 
of the destruction of the Steamboat Caroline & murder of our 
citizens by British authorities near Navy Island on the Niagara. 
It was a gross outrage upon our rights, but I trust no war will 
grow out of it. 

I am writing in the House where Murray of Kentucky is 
making a speech. He is doing pretty well, but the House is 
nearly deserted. Old Mr. Adams is in the chair, and has fallen 
asleep half a dozen times. 

Love to all. 

Ever thine, 


^Dolly Paine Madison, widow of President James Madison. Her sister, 
Anne Paine, married Richard Cutts of Saco. uncle of Mrs. Fairfield. 


Maine Man Bums Up His Money 

Washington, Jan. 11, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

My health is pretty good now, under the influence of Peters' 
Vegetable Pills. 

The members are now engaged in a discussion which has 
arisen upon the presentation of a letter from the Sergeant-at- 
Arms, Mr. Dorsey, representing that $27,000 which he reed, or 
should have reed, from the Bank of the Metropolis at the late 
special session fell short near $4,000. From that time to this, 
he has been endeavoring to procure an examination by the Bank 
of the amount of specie in its vaults, but has so far been unsuc- 
cessful. It is now proposed to refer the matter to a select com- 
mittee, which I suspect will be the result, though it creates some 
interest and much talk. 

The other day we had another money case, growing out of 
a loss by Mr. Noyes from Maine. It seems that he reed, a pack- 
age containing gold and treasury notes. He took out the gold 
and threw the wrapper, notes and all, into the fire. On the facts 
being proved, the House ordered the loss to be made up to him. 

Yesterday I met Mr. & Mrs. Woodbury in the street, where 
she began to scold me for not going to her party on Monday 
night last. I replied, "Madam, I was so unfortunate as not 
to get an invitation from you, but having one from Mrs. 
Forsyth, I went there." She appeared to be sorry for the acci- 
dent, and Mr. Woodbury said he placed my invitation himself in 
the hands of the P. Master, who promised to deliver it. 

In your next give me some few items of domestic informa- 
tion, say, for instance, have you had your stove moved back to 
its old position? Is your glass mended? Does your pump and 
water hold out? Did Stuart bring the cider and is it good? 
One barrel I want to remain untouched. Do you make butter 
now & enough for your daily use ? By the way, I think favora- 
bly of Davis' suggestion to kill the Fogg cow, and replace her 
next spring. Love to all. 

Ever thine, JOHN FAIRFIELD. 

Anxious About Maine Governorship 

Washington, Jan. 13, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

I was much gratified to receive a letter from you this morn- 
ing. The domestic scenes it painted were pleasanter than any- 


thing I can see here. I am pleased that Walter takes some in- 
terest in his book, do all you can to keep up his interest and get 
him to prying into things a little. With regard to matters in 
mechanics I think he is somewhat inquisitive and has a pretty 
good understanding. I am glad also to learn that both he and 
George like Mr. Adams. I wish I was where I could help them 
get their Latin lessons. It would be of great service to myself, 
if not to them, and I don't think the exercise will do you any 

I suspect you are more than half right about my coat. The 
fellow brought it home tonight. It looks well, to be sure, "most 
as good as new," but I fear that it will smut. However, must 
make the best of it now. 

A select committee of 5 were appointed to investigate the 
matter of the deficiency of Dorsey's money to the amount of 
about $4,000. I am one of them, and on Monday next we go to 
the Bank in prosecution of the matter, expecting to find the 
whole riddle solved by an examination of the records & a count 
of the specie. The Committee is as follows: W. C. Johnson, 
Whittlesey, Fairfield, Thomas, De Graff. 

Today has been private bill day in the House so of course 
we have nothing interesting. The Senate did not sit. 

We are anxiously waiting to find out who is Governor of 
Maine. I pray that they may figure Parks in, — then he will, of 
course, be run again, and somebody will not be troubled with 
solicitations to be a candidate. This somebody has already had 
some pressing letters upon the subject, and one in which it is 
said they will have him for a candidate, nolens volens. In this 
instance, at least, he has more good sense than vanity, and has 
absolutely and resolutely refused to have his name used. 
After all, it may be more the partiality of a few friends than a 
general wish of the people. As to the result, however, it is of 
no consequence which. In either case he refuses. But here is 
egotism enough for one letter, so no more of it. 

Yesterday Mr. Cleaves and two of the Misses Parris rode 
to the door & sent the boy in for me. I waited upon them into 
the Supreme Court now in session & afterward into the Senate. 
When I went for them an hour or two afterward, they were 

Have had an invite to Chas. Cutts' tonight. Shan't go. 
That's poz. Yours, 

J. F. 


Another Duel Threatens 

Washington, Jan. 17, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

Yesterday the ladies in the gallery had quite a treat, and 
those who were not present regret their absence exceedingly ! 

The case of the Mississippi election being taken up, some 
discussion ensued in the settlement of some preliminaiy ques- 
tion. Claiborne, who is confined by sickness, sent in an argu- 
ment in writing maintaining the right of himself & Gholsam to 
seats in the House. Someone suggested that it should be 
printed. Whereupon Wise said that a statement of facts had 
been made by Prentiss & Word, the claimants for the seat, and 
had been printed at their own expense, and that in his opinion 
Claiborne & Gholsam should do the same. 

Gholsam, who has long been confined by sickness, came in a 
few minutes before Wise spoke, rose and replied that he wished 
the House to understand that they did not ask the charity of 
the House but were able and willing to pay from their own 
pockets the expense of printing, &c., and that the insinuation 
contained in Wise's remarks was unworthy of the State from 
which he came and of his seat in the House. 

Wise sprang up and said "if impudence & ignorance can 
make a blackguard, there is one," pointing to Gholsam. The 
latter then said that "no one but a scoundrel & a coward would 
make such a remark." The Speaker cried "order" and the mem- 
bers cried "order, order" — and the combatants were put down. 

I am told by those who sit in the neighborhood of Wise & 
Gholsam that subsequent to the above they had a conversation 
in an undertone in which they used language very angry, pro- 
fane and abusive. Under these circumstances, I do not well 
see how a duel can be avoided. 

Old Mercer, as usual, introduced a resolve of a pacificatory 
character, but it did not succeed and the House adjourned with- 
out there being any adjustment of the difficulty. 

Today Prentiss is arguing his case before the House. He 
is manifestly a talented man, and is making an able speech. 

Our special committee have been to the Bank today, made 
some progress & adjourned to the day after tomorrow. 

I received a letter from Sister Martha this morning. 
Yours truly, 



A Theatre Party Planned 

Jan. 20, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

We have nothing new here. In the House Mr. Foster has 
been making a speech in answer to Prentiss, the claimant of a 
seat from Mississippi. It is said he is doing very well. I have 
not been at the House today, but have been all day at the 
Metropolis Bank pursuing our inquiry. We adjourned over to 
Tuesday when I hope we shall bring the matter towards a close. 

There is a great comic actor coming along next week, and, 
let me whisper in your ear, Mrs. Pitman & I are going to hear 
him. I gave her an invitation and she very gratefully accepted. 
I wish you could go with us, but though you cannot, I know you 
will not envy either of us the pleasure, if it shall turn out to be 
one, of which there is some doubt. 

Good night. 

J. F. 

"Rachael" Compliments Mrs. Fairfield 

Washington, Jan. 24, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

Well, how go matters at home ? Rachael often inquires for 
you, and the other day complimented you highly. I was asking 
her about her work. She said she had several chambers to take 
care of in the front part of the house & Mr. Carter's & mine in 
the back part. That she had rather take care of half a dozen 
gentlemen's chambers than one lady's, the ladies here were so 
particular and required so much waiting upon. 

It was different, though, she said, with Mrs. Fairfield. She 
did a great deal herself, in picking up things, setting the bureau 
to rights, and I don't know what else. You & Augusta seem to 
have been great favorites with Rachael. And though she is a 
poor black girl and a slave, is it not better to have her kind feel- 
ings and good wishes than the contrary? I think so. The 
promptings of my own heart are those of universal good will. 
I cannot, therefore, be indifferent to the good will of others, of 
all others, however humble they may be. 

Good night. 



Fairfield **Talked of" for Governor 

Washington, Jan. 27, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

Our Special Committee have brought their labors to a close 
and will, I presume, report today. The Bank having intimated 
a willingness to be governed by the advice of the Committee, 
day before yesterday I introduced a resolution that the commit- 
tee were satisfied that in the money transaction between Mr. 
Dorsey & the Bank on the 13th. Oct. there was an error, and 
that the committee advise the Bank to pay him $3,886.71, that 
being the amount which I regarded as the excess found in the 
vaults, tho a few dollars short of Dorsey's loss. The resolution 
passed unanimously in the committee and I understand that the 
Bank immediately thereupon passed the amount to the credit of 
Dorsey on the books of the Bank. It was really a plain case 
when we had dived to the bottom of it, and I was astonished 
that the Bank refused for an instant to pay the money. 

Almost every day some of our delegation here are receiv- 
ing letters from Augusta in which it is said that Shepley and I 
are talked of much for Governor but myself the most. I have 
done what I could to stop it, but don't seem to succeed very well. 
I cannot for my life see why they should pitch upon me, my 
humble self, for such an important and honorable station, can 
you? I am persuaded that people think of me "more highly 
than they ought to think." My vanity, therefore, is not at all 
excited by this distinction. On the contrary, its tendency is to 
oppress me with a sense of my own unworthiness. 

I have been contemplating, you know, at the end of my 
Congressional career, and I still contemplate, returning to that 
domestic circle which contains those whom I tenderly love and 
those who I believe "love me without dissimulation," there to 
spend the remnant of my days, estranged to some extent from 
the turmoil of politics, and engaged only in those employments 
which are more consonant to my taste, and which I believe to 
accord more fully with your own wishes. Phoebus ! What a sen- 
tence, long, intricate and clumsy. Never mind, as old Emerson 
says, "you take the idea." And if you will forgive this ego- 
tism, I'll try to avoid a repetition of it. 

Last evening Parker & I went up to the President's. Mr. 
& Mrs. Polk & Mr. Attorney General Butler were there. Passed 
a very pleasant evening and came home at Vo past 9. 




Fairfield Discusses Saco "Revival" 

Washington, Jan. 29, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

Oh, dear ! lack-a-day ! Tomorrow I shall be two score years 
and one ! Who would think it on looking at me ! Last evening 
in judging of my age, the highest I was set down was 33. I do 
not regard this as at all complimentary to me, for, after all, it's 
only calling me a boyish man. And so I'm forty-one! Some- 
thing of an old man with a large family. Well, I have one con- 
solation left, and that is, that you and I are no farther apart 
than we were the 5th of September, 1825. In years I mean, and 
would I could say in distance. 

Had a line from Mr. Haines today, who says there is quite 
a revival at Saco & names T. Jordan, Mr. Saml. S. Jordan, 3 
King girls, 2 Shepley girls, Geo. Hayes, Mrs. Saml. Moody & 
daughter & Mrs. Hersey & Susan. He says there is no undue 
excitement and all moves on well and quietly. I am rejoiced to 
hear it, and hope the good will prove enduring. I hope, though, 
that Mrs. H. has not left her own fold. Haines don't say, so I 
suppose she has not. The longer I live the more strongly am 
I attached to "our views." If a rational being cannot find a 
religion suited to his wants, and really & truly promotive of his 
happiness in the Unitarian religion, then I know not where he 
should go. Mr. H. names none among the Methodists. How is 
it with them? And who is now preaching for them? Let me 
know in your next, as I want to send some documents to him. 

Nothing new. No vote on the Mississippi question yet. It 
will probably be taken tomorrow. 

Ever thine, 


Calls Prentiss "Vain and Saucy" 

Washington, Feb. 1, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

I do not feel in very good spirits, for on a vote taken last 
night we were most shamefully beaten. The House rescinded 
the resolution passed at the last session under which Claiborne 
& Gholsam have been holding their seats. This unfortunate 
result has been accomplished by the votes of six traitors to their 
party, viz., Grantland of Georgia, Patton, Hopkins & Mason 


of Virginia, Richardson of South Carolina, and McKay of North 

The other branch of the question however, to wit, whether 
Prentiss & Word are entitled to seats, has not yet been decided. 
Some think — indeed the general impression is, that the vote 
will be against them and that the election will be sent back to 
Mississippi. I hope so, and probably the vote will be taken 

Trentiss is speaking and I hope it will close the debate, it 
is now nearly dark and I feel exceedingly dinnerish. This Pren- 
tiss is the vainest & sauciest fellow 1 ever heard. His impu- 
dence is beyond all patient enduring. Should he get a seat here 
he will make a very pretty coadjutor for Mr. Henry A. Wise. 
Ever Yours, 


♦Sergeant Smith Prentiss (1808-50) born in Portland Me., graduate of 
Bowdoin at age of 19, settled in Natchez, Miss., studied law, admitted to the 
bar in 1839, at age of 21. One of the best of American orators of the florid 
style. Lived in Vicksburg, Miss., became influential, elected to Legislature 
in 1835 and in 1837 was sent to Congress but was unseated; re-elected the 
following year and this time allowed to serve. In 1840 made speeches in 
many parts of the country in support of Harrison. Withdrew from politics 
in 1843, removed to New York, in 1845, practiced with much success in that 
city. Some of his speeches are included in all collections of masterpieces 
of oratory. Only a few of them have been preserved. 

"Wise Roared Like a Madman" 

Washington, Feb. 5, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

We have finally taken a vote in the case of the Mississippi 
election and have triumphed. That is, so far as to reject the 
whole four and send the election back to Mississippi. The vote 
stood on the question of the rejection of Prentiss & Word, 117 
& 117. The Speaker gave the casting vote for us. It was a 
moment of intense anxiety and excitement, and when the vote 
was declared we "breathed freer and easier" as Mr. Webster 
said after the N. Y. election. The Feds were terribly disap- 
pointed and Wise roared like a madman. Old Boon answered 
him in a short speech, every word of which was a dagger. 

Our friends think there is no danger of our failure in an- 
other trial in Mississippi, and I think so, too, as Prentiss has 
already thrown out that he shall not enter the contest again, 
but come here again the next Congress & insist upon his right 
under the election already made. 


Since his first speech he has been losing ground, this, some 
of his own political friends admit. His two last speeches have 
been mere rant. Excuse me for dwelling so long upon this, I 
have been exceedingly interested in it, and should have grieved 
without measure if Prentiss & Word had been admitted to seats. 
As it is, I feel much elated & can talk of nothing else now. 
This has been written upon the gallop. 
Your Husband, 


First Mention of Northeastern Boundary 

Washington, Feb. 7, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

Evans made a speech today on the Northeastern boundary 
in part, finishes tomorrow. I shall follow him if I can get the 
floor and am busy in preparing. 

Ever Yours, 

J. F. 

Robt. Fulton's Children Given Aid 

Washington, Feb. 9, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

Yesterday at a little after 3 o'clock Evans finished his 
speech and I obtained the floor. But the House being very thin 
at the time and it being rather late I gave way for a motion to 
adjourn. In consequence, I am unfortunately turned over to 
Monday, Friday & Saturday being private bill days. I regret 
it much as I dislike to be burthened with a speech for three 
days, more especially when I think I have a tolerably good one, 
if delivered now. What it will be next week I can't say. 

The House has just passed a bill granting $100,000 to the 
heirs of Robert Fulton. Under the influence of the glowing 
eloquence of Mr. Hoffman of N. Y. I voted for it. The chil- 
dren, it is said, are living in penury and want. This ought not 
to be when their father devoted his substance, his time, and 
above all, his genius to his Country. 

The claim has been once submitted to the Secretary of the 
Navy & he reported $100,000 in favor of the children. This is 
enough to quiet conscience, and if I have erred I shall have the 
satisfaction of knowing that I have erred on the side of 


benevolence and kind feeling. Mrs. Pitman & I have not been 
to the theatre, as I told you we contemplated, nor shall we, as 
the theatre has closed for the season, so I am spared that 

The House have adjourned over to Monday. This is a most 
unwarrantable waste of time, considering the great amount of 
business now pending. 

Your Husband, 


A Hypnotic Demonstration 

Washington, Feb. 10, 1838. 

I went last night to see some experiments in Animal Mag- 
netism by Potter from Rhode Island. He put his subject to 
sleep in less than five minutes. He then bandaged his eyes 
with two handkerchiefs and otherwise, so that there was no 
possibility of his seeing. He then shew his power over the 
mind of the subject by making him raise his hand without 
touching it, by mere volition and by motions of his own hands. 

He also conveyed impressions of taste. For instance, Mr. 
Parker wrote on paper tobacco. Potter then, standing several 
feet from the subject, commenced chewing and imagining (as 
he said) that he had tobacco in his mouth. Very soon the mus- 
cles about the mouth of the subject began to twitch and soon 
he appeared to be sick at the stomach. Potter asked him what 
it was, but he appeared to be angry for having such stuff put in 
his mouth and refused to tell, saying in answer to his inquiries, 
"you know what it is." He also conveyed the taste of vinegar, 
and the idea of fire, as of a handkerchief burning, &c., &c. I 
have not time to tell you more about it now. I can only say that 
I believed the sleep was real, as to the rest I should rather see 
some further evidence. 

Tomorrow you know at 1 o'clock I shall have the floor & 
shall endeavor to make a speech upon the question of the 
Northeastern boundary. If it is published I will send you one. 
I have some little trepidation about it though I have a preftty 
good understanding of the subject. But it requires much more of 
an effort with me to make a speech in Congress than an argu- 
ment in Court. 

Let me have your sympathy and I'll do the best I can. 
Your Husband, 



Charges of Corruption 

Washington, Feb. 11, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

I expected to be able to give you some account tonightof my 
speech, but am disappointed. This morning when the session of 
the House commenced. Wise introduced a subject that has occu- 
pied the whole day, it now being 6 o'clock. Oh, dear, I wish I 
had some dinner! The subject of our debate is this: Old Mat 
Davis, the Spy in W. in a letter to the Courier & Enquirer, N. 
Y., charges a member of Congress with corruption, with offering 
to sell his influence at the Departments in relation to some con- 
tract. A committee of investigation is proposed and I presume 
it will be carried. It is intimated that the story implicates a 
Senator — who, I can probably tell you tomorrow. 
In haste Yours, 


Attack on Judge Ruggles 

Washington, Feb. 15, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

Two days more elapsed and I am still undelivered of my 
speech. Yesterday the whole day was taken up by the pre- 
sentation of petitions, and today the House refused to proceed 
to the order of the day (in which my case comes up), in order 
to settle a bill under consideration touching the Choctaw In- 
dians. Tomorrow and next day are private bill days, Monday 
is petition and resolution day and Tuesday Mr. CambrelHng will 
insist on having for his appropriation bill, and I fear that he 
will get it by a vote of two-thirds. So that when I shall get 
the floor, if ever, is a matter of great doubt & uncertainty. I 
regret this very much for I feel pretty well prepared for a 
speech now and I don't know how it may be by and by. 

I have not been in remarkably good health for this week 
past, I have a cold & night cough, and my digestion is constantly 
getting out of order, notwithstanding I am very careful, eating 
perhaps not more than half as much as any other one at table, 
including perhaps the ladies. Last night, for the first time, I 
took a dose of corrective and today feel much improved from it. 
Think I shall try it again tonight, notwithstanding the trial 
and conviction of Frost in New York. By the way, what an 
"infernal" crusade the regular physicians are getting up against 


the Thompsonians, causing them to be prosecuted, and then 
tried upon the testimony of the regulars. I believe it to be 
one of the grossest outrages ever practiced upon an unsuspect- 
ing community. 

Nothing new here, except the attack on Judge Ruggles. 
Old Mat Davis charged a member of Congress with corruption 
in offering to sell his influence at one of the Departments. On 
Monday Wise introduced a resolution proposing an inquiry. 
This was debated two days, and on its finally turning out to be a 
member of the Senate, the matter was permitted to subside in 
our House. Judge R. has come out in the Globe, which you 
will see and explains it all, as perfectly consistent with inno- 

This will give you pleasure, I think, for you would be sorry 
to see your old friend convicted of corruption & expelled from 
the Senate. 

Our dear children, my confounded speech has almost driven 
them from my head, nothing can drive them from my heart. 

Ever Yours, 


Visit From Indian Chiefs 

Washington, Feb. 17, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

After the hour spent in receiving Reports of Committees, 
the N. Y. bill came on, and a rather prosy speaker having got 
the floor, I pushed off into the Senate Chamber. When I went 
in Mr. Wright of New York was making a speech on Benton's 
resolutions. It was the first time I had heard him except for a 
word or two, and I was very much gratified. He is a very able 
man, and a good speaker. His voice, to be sure, is not the best, 
being rather husky and having no great compass. But his elo- 
cution is fine, manners pleasing, is exceedingly courteous and is 
listened to with much attention and apparent respect. He never 
speaks unless he has something to say, and when he has said it, 
he sits down. He was followed by Ewing of Ohio, who is a 
man of respectable talents, but is rather coarse in his manners, 
and not a very interesting speaker. 

Then came Calhoun, who is up on all occasions. He compli- 
mented himself that he had originally advocated measures in 
regard to fortifications which some gentlemen then opposed, but 
now supported, and made a low, ungentlemanly, not to say 


malignant, attack upon the President & Mr. Van Buren, the 
latter not then being in the chair. And among other things 
charged the President with falsehood. 

He was followed by Wall of New Jersey who spoke for 
the first time this session. His speech was short, but very neat 
and spirited. He rebuked severely Calhoun, and said substan- 
tially that no gentleman would use the language that he, Cal- 
houn, had used. This called out Preston in one of his most 
fiery & eloquent speeches. Then a reply from Wall, and to 
close the whole, Niles of Connecticut took the floor and gave 
Calhoun & several of the opposition leaders a pretty good drub- 
bing. He told them that the great secret of Jackson's popu- 
larity which some of them had pretended to dread so much, 
did not have its origin in any of the ways described by them. 
His popularity came in a way not to be bought — i.e., by his 
honesty, &c., &c. And advised those who coveted his popular- 
ity to pursue the same course to obtain it. The speeches, I sup- 
pose, will be published, and I think Father Niles' will be found 
worth reading. 

Last evening I called up to Mrs. Latimer's near the Presi- 
dent's house to see Mr. Parks, and there I found a company of 
Cherokees and Pottawottamie chiefs. Some of them were 
dressed as elegantly as almost any gentleman in the room and 
appeared as well in every respect. 

One of the Cherokee Chiefs, Ridge, is as tall, large and fine 
looking man as you will commonly see. He wore a frock coat 
and pantaloons and was dressed very handsomely. His head 
was quite white though he did not look to be over fifty. I 
understand he was educated in Connecticut & married his wife 
there. The Pottawottamies (I believe it is so spelt) most of 
them were dressed in Indian fashion, and one of them was 
painted and "ornamented" most hideously. The principal Potta- 
wottamie conversed through interpreters with Ridge. His 
speech was animated and accompanied by many and very nat- 
ural gestures. 

After he had finished, a second Indian translated into 
English to a third, and that third into Cherokee or something 
else to Ridge & others. The interpreters appeared to be men of 
mind & intelligence. They expressed themselves with great 
clearness and in very choice language. The Pottawottamie told 
Ridge that they had moved to the Country provided for them by 
their Great Father, the President, that they were very con- 
tented & happy and hoped the Cherokees would do the same. 


He said he hoped to meet him again beyond the Mississippi and 
should be happy then to cultivate his acquaintance. 

In the course of the evening two of them sang an Indian 
song. There was not, it is true, much music in it, but much to 
gratify curiosity. 

About 9 o'clock the Pottawottamie jumped up in the floor 
and made a speech. He was greatly animated & made many 
gestures, & once wheeled entirely round on his heel. I did not 
know what to make of it, but as soon as he had finished the one 
who had before acted as an interpreter translated it. He said 
he was very much gratified with his visit, thanked Mrs. M. for 
the entertainment, and all for their politeness to him & his 
brethren, and that he then wished to be permitted to go. This 
was the substance of it. 

Their deportment was polite, and several of the ladies 
thought that in that respect, at least, they outdid us on our 
own ground. I hope you will pardon me for spinning so long 
a yam, I probably shall not do it again. 
Your Husband, 


The Eulogist of the Kitchen Cabinet 

Washington, Feb. 18. 
Dear Wife, 

In the House today they have been debating the New York 
bill, and finally took a vote on it in committee of the whole, 
which is one important step in its progress. I went into the 
Senate and found Mr. Shepley making a speech, and it turned 
out to be the close of a very pointed and effective speech. In 
allusion to Calhoun's offensive language used yesterday, he 
said that he had learned to sit and hear coolly and philosophi- 
cally the most bitter & violent denunciations made daily on the 
floor of the Senate because he had found that they did no harm, 
or at all events no harm except by way of recoil on those who 
used such language. He said that when the gentleman from 
N. J. (Wall) had been here a little longer he would learn the 

Said he, the gentleman from N. J. has fallen into some 
error as to what the Senate was, and what were its duties. He 
supposed he had gone to the Constitution and found the Senate, 
its powers, duties, &c., there described, but then he should 


recollect that in practice, about four days in five it resolved 
itself into a great central electioneering committee, and in which 
the parts were regularly assigned. 

For instance, the part of the gentlemen from South Caro- 
lina and one of the members from North Carolina, was the part 
of denunciation and abuse, that of the gentleman from Massa- 
chusetts to preserve and protect the Constitution, tho' he did 
not do it very successfully when he took the Constitutional 
powers from one branch of the government & transferred them 
to another; that of the gentleman from Kentucky to originate 
electioneering matter; and that of the gentleman from R. I. 
(old Robbins) to give a direction & distribute the various mat- 
ters concocted in Committee — though he had wisdom enough 
never to assign a reason for any of his motions. 

After he sat down Mangum replied that in pursuing a sim- 
ilar course the other day, he had confined himself to a few of 
the distinguished men of the party, but if he had descended to 
some of the subordinate characters, he should have assigned 
the part to the gentleman from Maine of Eulogist of the 
Kitchen Cabinet. Shepley replied that his opinions remained 
the same of what they called the Kitchen Cabinet, but added 
that since he made the speech alluded to, one of that cabinet 
had been promoted, so that now the gentleman from N. C. 
would not be obliged to go into the kitchen to assail him. 

This is a very meagre sketch, and does poor justice to the 
speech. I hope you will see it in print. 
Ever Yours, 


Speech Again Postponed 

Washington, Feb. 20, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

I am again doomed to disappointment in regard to my 
speech. I had just completed arrangements with Cambrelling 
not to interfere with me at one o'clock when Howard came in 
with his bill providing for the civil war in Canada, or rather to 
enforce neutrality on the part of our citizens, and moved that it 
be taken up at 1 o'clock, which was carried, everybody seeming 
to be alarmed lest we should get into a war with England. It 
is now more uncertain than it has been at all whether I shall get 
the floor for weeks. It is extremely annoying, but I must sub- 
mit as well as I can. 


Mrs. Birdsall, Mrs. Pratt & Mrs. Fillmore are beginning to 
talk about going home. I suspect they will go in April if not 
earlier. What do you think of coming on in the spring? Let 
me know how you feel about it. It would give me great pleas- 
ure, as you well know. My little room could very readily be 
exchanged for a larger one with those who are to lose their 

Yesterday Clay made a speech in the Senate and it was 
crowded almost to suffocation. I suspect the ladies must have 
filled the galleiy long before the hour of meeting; our ladies 
here, I believe, were shut out. Allen of Ohio has made a great 
speech today. A very young, tall man with light complexion. 
I suspect you recollect him. He is very eloquent. 
Your Husband, 


The Cilley Duel "Brewing" 

Washington, Feb. 23d, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

My speech yet remains unsung. Next Tuesday I hope to 
get the floor, but of that do not feel very sanguine. 

In the way of news let me tell you that a duel is brewing, 
and more than that, Maine is to figure as one of the principals. 
The facts so far as I can gather them, are these : About a week 
or ten days ago when Wise moved a committee of investigation 
in relation to the charge made by Old Davis in the Courier & 
Enquirer of New York, Cilley opposed him on the ground that 
nothing appearing in that paper was worthy of notice, and 
alluded to the old charge of Webb, the editor, having been 
bought up by the Bank for $52,000. Although this charge has 
been repeated a thousand times, Webb took it this time in high 
dudgeon and posted off for Washington to fight Cilley. 

Some two or three days since, I believe, Webb sent a chal- 
lenge to Cilley by Graves of Kentucky. C, it is said, refused 
to take it & read it, alleging that Webb was no gentleman, and 
moreover that he would not yield the principle in the constitu- 
tion which protected him for words spoken in debate. Graves 
asked him to put his answer in writing, which C. intimated that 
he would do, but afterward thinking better of it, told G. that 
he would not put it in writing. Graves thereupon said he must, 
and that he, G., would make it a personal matter to himself, 
and here, I believe, the matter rests. 


It is expected that Graves will challenge him, and if he 
does, I think there will be a fight, not with pistols, but with 
rifles, as the person challenged has a right to select his weapon. 
This is the rumor, whether true in point of fact I do not know, 
but I have good reason to believe that the main part of it is 

Last night they had a grand ball here, by way of celebrat- 
ing Washington's birthday. It was a sort of Congressional 
ball, and I understand was quite splendid, A few of our gen- 
tlemen, say Parker, McClellan & Holsey, went, but none of our 
ladies. In the evening, Mr. & Mrs. Pratt invited the whole 
household into their chamber to take a glass of champagne, 
where Mr. Fleischman (is that the way) gave us some tunes 
upon the guitar, with a few mountain songs in Dutch. 

Judge R's case is not yet brought to a close. Judge Parris 
has moved to the upper part of the City. He is not promoted 
as I told you in my last. Wolf's place as First Comptroller is to 
be filled with a Mr. Barker of Philadelphia. 

I continue to be pestered with letters from Augusta, and 
I continue to say NO. 

Ever thinei, 


Washington, Feb. 24th. 
Dear Wife, 

Oh, I wish I could see the children taking their steps, in- 
cluding little Augusta — "one, two, three, four is five," as Cham- 
prosay used to say when I went to dancing school. I am glad 
to learn that the children are doing pretty well in some things, 
though they are becoming orthodox. 

In the House today they have been discussing further the 
N. Y. bill. As soon as Williams of Kentucky rose to make a set 
speech about one-half of the members cleared out and went into 
the Senate Chamber and I suppose they would have done the 
same let who would have risen to speak on that bill after it had 
been so fully discussed. It finally, however, came to a vote 
and passed by a majority of 41. 

In the Senate we heard a portion of a speech from Preston. 
He is certainly very eloquent, though I cannot say much for his 
logic. His figures are appropriate, poetical and selected with 
good taste. His voice is not so good as Mr. Clay's, and to tell 
the truth I do not like his oratory so well. But enough for 


Washington. What "terrible" times you are having in Saco. 
Snow five feet deep, weather cold enough to freeze mercury, 
and wood six dollars a cord. I hope the poor will find those 
who will see that they do not suffer, but it cannot be expected 
that ail will escape suffering. 

Your Husband, 


"Cilley's Death Was Murder" 

Feb. 26, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

I communicate the solemn news of the death of my col- 
league, Mr. Cilley. It is almost impossible to conceive of the 
excitement which it produces here, against Graves and his 
friends, and against James Watson Webb, who is at the bottom 
of the whole. The latter, I think, will get lynched if he do not 
leave the City or keep himself pretty close. It is a dreadful 
affair and is looked upon by most people here as a deliberate 

Cilley tried hard to keep out of it, but with his views of 
honor could not. He avoided his colleagues, and took advice 
from more belligerent characters. He is represented by all as 
being as brave a man as ever walked. His conduct on the 
ground is said to have been beyond all praise by those ac- 
quainted with and acknowledging the validity of the laws of the 

Today I announced his death in the House and offered 
some resolutions upon the subject which are contained in the 
newspaper slip which I send you, having had 8 or 10 given me 
by the Printer. It is not as it should be, but as well as I could 
do at a short notice, for it was not finally settled until this 
morning whether I should announce the death or Evans. 

The funeral you will perceive takes place tomorrow, after 
which I should not be surprised if there should be an attempt 
to expel Graves from the House and perhaps Wise, his second, 
with Jones, the second of Cilley. The feeling in the House 
against them,, is very strong. 

The matter would probably have been settled after the 
first fire, if it had not been for the objections of Wise, 8 out of 
10 on the ground saying that it was a mere point of etiquette 
and only one fire should be allowed. And even the surgeon of 


Graves, I understand, said that if Cilley was shot after the first 
fire it would be a case of deliberate murder. 

You will not think it strange that this matter fills my head 
and that I can write of nothing else. But as it is an unpleas- 
ant subject I will stop here. 

Ever Yours, 


Resolutions on Death of Cilley 

Washington, Feb. 28. 
Dear Wife, 

This morning I moved resolutions of inquiry into the 
causes that led to poor Cilley's death, which brought on a dis- 
cussion that lasted all day. I participated in it, and my friends 
say with great spirit and credit to myself & State. What my 
enemies will say remains to be seen. Tomorrow I will send 
you a Globe containing a sketch of the debate. I was not to 
be on the committee, it having been agreed beforehand that I 
should not, the moving of the resolutions being my share. 

Yours as ever, 

J. F. 

Fairfield Calls for Investigation 

Washington, March 2d, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

Yesterday the committee to look into the circumstances of 
poor Cilley's murder was appointed and was as follows : Toucey 
of Connecticut, Potter of Pennsylvania, Briggs of Massachu- 
setts, Elmore of South Carolina, Bruyn of New York, Harrison 
of Missouri, & Rariden of Indiana. Briggs & Harrison asked 
to be excused and were. You perceive I am not on it. It was 
thought to be right and proper that no one should be on the 
committee coming from either of the States where any of the 
parties resided; accordingly Maine, Kentucky, Virginia, Ohio, 
& N. C. were stricken from the list. I suppose you will not 
regret that I am left off from the Committee, though if I were 
on, I should not entertain the least fear of personal injury. 

I perceive the press, particularly from N. Y. is speaking 
out upon the subject in withering language, and I cannot but 
believe it must be so throughout the country. The sensation is 


very deep and strong here and they give me much credit for the 
step I have taken in calling for an investigation. 

I have another swelling on my jaw and went today to a 
dentist's to have it opened. Instead of that he persuaded me 
to have my teeth sawed, filed, cut, scraped, plugged, and I don't 
know what else, which I did. He worked about 21/2 hours upon 
them and will resume his job tomorrow. He has plugged 3 to- 
day, 1 with tin and 2 with gold. I feel much pleased with what 
he has done thus far, and anticipate an escape from future 

Ever thine, 


Dentistry 100 Years Ago 

March 3d, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

Nothing new or uncommon has transpired here since the 
fatal duel. The newspapers from abroad begin to come in 
teeming with heavy denunciations of the gang who murdered 
poor Cilley. 

Today the dentist completed his job on my teeth. I taste 
like a new man, if I do not feel like a new man. Several teeth 
occupying very important positions were getting into great 
danger. These he drilled and bored out, separating from the 
teeth every particle of caries, and then plugging them up with 
gold. In two instances the holes were too large for gold & so 
he used tin foil, which probably will last as long as I shall, but 
if it should be otherwise it is very easy to renew them. I wish 
you were here, I would have you thoroughly overhauled, as 
the sailors say. I know you have some good subjects to operate 
upon in your head. 

Yours truly, 


Runaway Accident at Home 

March 4, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

I have been writing for several days in regard to thrilling 
events which have occurred here, and was not prepared to ex- 
pect any information of occurrences of exciting interest at 


home. Oh, how grateful we should be that things were no 
worse. You and the children have had quite an escape, par- 
ticularly poor Walter. Nothing saved you but that Good Prov- 
idence which has ever watched over me and mine and blessed 
us immeasurably beyond our deserts. Let us gratefully re- 
member it, and act according to its wise suggestions. But 
while I am thankful the case is no worse, I regret very sincerely 
that poor Davis should have been so injured. He should be care- 
ful not to attempt to use his arm too early, and above all things 
not to catch cold in it, in which case amputation might possibly 
become necessary. Hereafter, tell Davis to use the double 
twisted bit. I believe we have two or three of them, but if he 
does not find them, let him go to Fernald's and have one made. 
The bit should be double and break joints in different places. 
With such a bit I could hold a rhinoceros. 

I am very glad you had presence of mind enough to saw his 
mouth, and wonder that you could not in that way hold him, 
more especially as he is not very hard mouthed, at least I 
never supposed him to be so. You certainly managed from 
beginning to end with great skill and good judgment and I have 
no fault to find with any body or thing, except the colt. 

I should not advise any of you to ride him again without 
Davis, and then not without the bit I have named. 

Your letter came last night, one day later than usual, and 
accompanying it was one from Mr. Haines announcing the death 
of Mr. Burbank & Mrs. Allen. Events gather upon me so fast 
that I can hardly contemplate them separately. Mr. B. I left 
in most robust and vigorous health, and bidding as fair for a 
long life as any man of my acquaintance. His death will be 
much felt in our little community, as well as in his young fam- 
ily. But, after all, how much less cause has Mrs. B. to mourn 
than Mrs. Cilley ; I forbear to refer to the circumstances of dif- 
ference, because they will all suggest themselves to your own 

Oh, how thankful I am that our dear children as well as 
yourself escaped injury. I had too many eggs in that basket, 
as your father used to say. J. F. 

Petitions Pour In 

Washington, March 6. 
Dear Wife, 

No letters or papers from Maine yet, since the receipt of 
the news there of Cilley's death, but presume I shall get some 


tonight. The committee are going busily on prosecuting their 
inquiry, but I know little of what has actually transpired be- 
fore them. 

I am daily receiving letters, some anonymous and some 
otherwise, complimenting me for the bold stand I have taken — 
and last night I reed, from Newark, N. J., a petition with 87 
names upon it calling for the expulsion of those who were con- 
cerned in this atrocious murder, as the petitioners call it. Mr. 
Adams had another with over 200 names upon it, of a like char- 
acter with mine. Hs asked for a suspension of the rule to in- 
troduce which was granted by a vote, 80 or 90 majority. Mine 
followed in the same track. I should not wonder if such peti- 
tions were sent in in great numbers. 

I am sorry to inform you that Mr. Carter is dangerously 
sick. He has been confined to his bed for about a week. His 
wife is an excellent woman and displays uncommon fortitude 
under the circumstances. 

Yours truly, 


Delivers Speech on Northeastern Boundary 

Washington, March 7th. 
Dear Wife, 

I have the pleasure to inform you that I have at last been 
delivered of my speech upon the northeastern boundary ques- 
tion. I was something over two hours in the delivery, and am 
not very well satisfied with myself, though my friends speak 
well of the speech. I shall write it out as soon as I can and 
publish it in pamphlet form. 

I reed, your letter last night, and admire the spirit it con- 
tained. You ask dare they (the murderers), hold their heads 
up? Graves I have not seen, though I believe he is in the 
House every day. It is said he looks solemn and oppressed ; 
Wise looks haggard, and feels, I apprehend, that the weight of 
public indignation is too heavy for him. The others being more 
remotely implicated in the affair, look sorrowful, and that is all. 

The committee are prosecuting the inquiry and will, I hope, 
report early. The House is now, I think, in the right state of 
opinion & feeling to act upon the subject. 
Your Husband, 



Mr. Carter Near to Death 

Washington, March 7th. 
Dear Wife, 

I feel much better tonight than I did last night at 9 o'clock. 
Then I had no expectation that Carter would live the night out 
and now the physicians, Sewall, Taylor & Lime, consider the 
danger as past and his recovery certain. Between 8 & 9 I went 
into Berth's. Carter was then bereft of his senses and tossing 
himself about upon the bed apparently in the most intense 
agony, and groaning dreadfully. Four or five persons were 
round his bed endeavoring to prevent his bounding off. His 
wife was kept out of the chamber, and was nearly as crazy as 
her husband. 

Doct. Sewall, I understood, had given him over, and he, the 
Doctor, at the time, told me that these paroxysms would occur 
until he died. About 9 the pain subsided a little & he called 
Mrs. Jones by name. They then thought it would be well 
enough to let Mrs. Carter come in. When she did come, her 
eye was glassy and wild ; she lay down upon the bed with him, 
called him by every endearing epithet that you can imagine & 
implored him to recognize her. But he took no notice of her. 
His reason had fled again, and tho' relieved from pain for a 
moment he did not seem to know anybody or be conscious of 
what was going on around him. It was an affecting scene, & 
such as I hope I shall not soon be called to witness again. 

Evans & Noyes sat up with him, and early this morning 
before I was up I sent Sam in to know if he was living, who brot 
back for answer that he had a tolerably quiet night and was 
better. This information was as joyful as it was unexpected. 
I have spent the whole day with him, having just stolen away 
to write you a letter. During the forenoon he was very uneasy 
and tossed about a great deal. This afternoon he has been 
more quiet & has slept at least 2 hours. The Doctors all concur 
in saying that the critical point is passed and that he will get 
well, though it is difficult to convince Mrs. Carter of any such 
probability. She seems to think they are either deceived them- 
selves, or else that their favorable opinions are mere pretence, 
and a deception practiced for her benefit. 

Judge Ruggles & Davee sit up with C. tonight. The latter 
appears to me rather chicken-hearted, and would be a poor 
hand as well as myself in such a scene as we had last night. 

Good night, 

J. F. 


Course in Cilley Investigation Approved 

Washington, March 11, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

Your answer to my invitation to come on here was what I 
had feared. I am aware how much you are tied down by do- 
mestic cares & duties — but hope it will not always be so. It 
would give me much pleasure to see you enjoying more of it 
(pleasure & not cares), though I am not sure that freedom from 
care would effect it. 

You ask where is Eliza Clark? Her father has just left 
my room and I am, therefore, able to give you satisfactory in- 
formation, viz.: she is in Philadelphia where she has been for 
some time, but what is of more importance she is about to be 
married. And whom do you think it is to? Why, no less a per- 
sonage than Lieut, (now Capt.) Downing of the Navy. Perhaps 
you may recollect him. He was one of Mrs. Pitman's city mess. 
I am not sure that he was there when we were on that side of the 
entry, I think he was not, but came afterward. He is quite a 
small man, of tolerable capacity, exceedingly vain & a very great 
talker. But he is a man of good habits, and I should think upon 
the whole that Miss Eliza is making out pretty well. 

Poor Carter remains in a critical state yet. I sat up with 
him night before last, and a dreadful night it was. He had five 
fits between 2 o'clock and morning — and twice the Doctor (his 
brother from N. Y.) said he was dying. Since then he has been 
lingering along, sometimes upon the very edge of existence, and 
then brightening up and appearing to be better. Today his 
friends begin to cherish some hope, but it is slight. He is blessed 
in having his wife and three brothers with him, one a physician, 
one an Episcopalian clergyman and the other, I believe, a mer- 

The death of Mr. Cilley is still the subject of conversation. 
The committee are pursuing their subject of inquiry steadily & 
firmly, and I hope will be prepared to report in a few days — per- 
haps a week. If they do not recommend an expulsion of Graves 
and perhaps the seconds, I shall be disappointed. For the part I 
have taken in this matter I am constantly receiving complimen- 
tary letters, and evidences that my course is meeting the warm 
approbation of the wise and good everywhere. To this I know 
you cannot be insensible any more than myself, approbation for 
doing right cannot be unwelcome to us. 

Among others I have just reed, the following: "At a meet- 
ing of the members of the Democratic party holden at the new 


Court House in Augusta on the evening of the 5th of March, Col. 
Geo. W. Stanley was chosen chairman & V. D. Parris, Secretary. 
Hon. Saml. Mildram of York offered the following resolutions 
which were unanimously adopted: 

Resolved, That this meeting view with pride & admiration 
the course adopted by the Hon. John Fairfield in the House of 
Representatives in demanding an investigation into the manner 
and circumstances of the death of the Hon. Jonathan Cilley. It 
has anticipated the demands of the people and will be by them 
fully sustained. 

Resolved, That the foregoing resolution be signed by the 
chairman & secretary and forwarded to the Hon. John Fairfield. 
GEO. W. STANLEY, Chairman, 
VIRGIL D. PARRIS, Secretary. 

The underscoring is not mine, but comes with the resolves. 
In one sense, to be sure, such testimonials are gratifying, but I 
do not feel that I have done anything beyond what most other 
men would have done, placed in similar circumstances. I am 
not, therefore, deserving of all the praise that is bestowed up- 
on me. 

I reed, a letter today from Bro. Whitman, giving me some 
good advice, which I needed, and which I hope to profit by. 



Writing Out Boundary Speech 

13 March, Tuesday. 
Dear Wife, 

I am sorry to be obliged to say that there is no probability 
that Mr. Carter will live through the night. He has been fail- 
ing gradually, I think, ever since the night I sat up with him. 
They sent for me about two hours ago thinking that he was dy- 
ing. Since that, however, he has revived, and seems to be 
tolerably comfortable. His wife is calm and appears very well. 

I have been hard at work for several days and nights writ- 
ing out my speech on the northeastern boundary for publica- 
tion. It is a laborious job and I shall be glad when it is over. 

I am glad to hear that Hammy is learning to talk so well ; 
by the time I get home he will talk as well as anybody. 




Death of Congressman Carter 

Washington, March 15, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

I am sorry to be obliged to inform you that poor Carter is 
dead. He died last night about 10 o'clock. I was there a min- 
ute after he breathed his last. His death was announced today 
by Mr. Evans and thereupon the House adjourned over to Sat- 
urday when the funeral is to take place. 

I hope this is the last piece of bad news I shall have to com- 
municate to you this session, though we should always be pre- 
pared for the bad as well as the good. 

Mrs. C, I believe, bears it very well, and having her three 
brothers with him, everything was done for Mr. Carter that 
could be done. Evans' announcement of the death was in excel- 
lent taste and cannot but yield much comfort to his friends. He 
spoke of him in the highest terms, as he ought. 

The committee on the murder of Cilley are making 
progress and I trust will report next week. If you see the pa- 
pers, you will find that I am reaping a harvest of glory for my 
course upon this subject, but I am not conscious of deserving it. 

Others, I suppose, in similar circumstances would have 
done the same. 

Your Husband, 


Maine Demands Investigation 

Washington, March 18, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

Yesterday poor Carter was buried, but it was so stormy 
that the concourse of people was small. Mrs. C. did not attend 
the funeral, nor any of the ladies at Berth's. Mr. Reese, our 
Chaplain, delivered a very appropriate and eloquent address. 
Two of the brothers have returned, and the third & Mrs. C. set 
out about Wednesday next. 

Mr. Prince, the father-in-law of Cilley, has written on that 
he shall send for the body. 

Whether the body of Carter is to be carried home I have 
not learnt. 

Petitions and accounts of meetings are flowing in upon me 
from Maine, demanding an investigation, and expulsion of those 



■ i- 



J. - 

-V i- 


• %• < • « ' 



Old Family Servant of the P'aii-fields 


concerned in the late murder. I have 11 to present tomorrow 

My speech on the northeastern boundary I have written 
out and carried to the printer. It is to appear in the next Tues- 
day's Globe, and immediately afterward will be published in 
pamphlet form for distribution. It is longer than I intended it 
should be, and will cover, I think, two sheets, or 32 pages. 

Mr. Buckingham, the famous English traveller, is lectur- 
ing here and I have had the pleasure of hearing three of his 
lectures upon Egypt. His lectures are very interesting, but I 
cannot help thinking sometimes that they are a little too highly 
embellished for truth. 

I am glad the colt has returned to his soberness and gov- 
emability, for I cannot help feeling some attachment to him, 
though there are a few unpleasant reminiscences connected 
with his course of life. I apprehend he wants to be worked 
more. You spoke in one of your letters of his being lame, how 
is that now? 

Your Husband, 


A Scrap in the Senate 

March 23d, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

I will just write you a line from the House today, for as 
soon as the House adjourns I must go home and go to work 
franking off my speeches, they having at last been published. 

Nothing new here. In the Senate Calhoun, Clay & Web- 
ster have been indulging in personal attacks, much to the 
amusement of the spectators, but to the degradation of the 
persons engaged in it. In the House we are engaged upon the 
appropriation bills and such other dry matter. 

The committee of investigation in the murder case will not 
report before next week, then I suppose we shall have some 
pretty warm discussion. 

Your Husband, 



Longs for Home Breakfast 

Washington, March 27, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

It seems you have a new cow, and that the colt is recover- 
ing from his lameness. This is not bad news, but it is much bet- 
ter to hear that Davis' lame hand is getting better. How does 
your other cow hold out, and your hay ? Oh, I wish I had a lit- 
tle piece of your new butter. Their butter here, you know, is 
greasy. I don't like it. Though we live here like princes, I 
want one of your Sunday morning breakfasts. A cup of coffee, 
neither too strong nor too weak, with good fresh cream in it; 
a loaf of rye & Indian with crust as thick as your foot, and but- 
ter, hard, clean, bright and sweet ; and last but not least, mince 
fish, smoking from the kettle, warmed in pork, not butter, and 
eaten with real mustard, and not mustardy flour. And then 
the pleasure of helping our children, and the rest of you all 
round, & seeing the mills set a-going at a merry rate. What a 
picture! I can't say that there is much poetry in it — but you 
won't deny, I think, that it looks a little like comfort. 

Yesterday was petition day &, today but little has been 
done. The sub-treasury bill from the Senate was, to be sure, 
laid on the table, but as there were 39 members absent, the vote 
amounts to just nothing. 

Yours ever, 


Doesn't Want to Be Governor 

Washington, March 28, 1838. 
Dear Sir, 

I concur with you fully in the views you take of poor Cil- 
ley's death and the manner in which it was compassed. The 
committee are prosecuting the inquiry steadily, industriously 
and, I trust, firmly. It will result in a resolution of expulsion, 
offered by the committee or some one else, but it probably will 
not be carried, two-thirds being required, you know. 

In regard to the other matter alluded to, I must be per- 
mitted to express my sincere regret that you should find any 
obstacles in the way of your success. For in the first place, I 
know of no man who would fill the place better than yourself; 
and in the second place I know of no man who has so great an 
aversion for it as myself. I have written many letters in which 


I have stated peremptorily that under no circumstances could I 
consent to be a candidate for Governor, and I do not wish to 
retract this at present. My inclinations for private life seem 
almost irresistible, yet there is no knowing what sacrifices one 
may make under peculiar & trying circumstances. 

I know not to whom you allude when you speak of antici- 
pated opposition from York & Cumberland, unless in C. you 
mean Smith and his few friends. If you mean these, they are 
not to be dreaded, their number is too small to be feared. Per- 
haps you may find reason to change your views upon this mat- 
ter before the Convention is holden. If public opinion should 
settle down in your favor, and you should be nominated, nothing 
could afford me more pleasure, though with yourself, I thought 
the nomination of Judge Shepley would unite more votes than 
that of any other man. But I regard him as out of the question. 
He will not consent to a nomination, and so far as regards his 
own interest, his course is unquestionably right. The office of 
Governor I regard as the least desirable of any place in the 
State or nation. Indeed, in my case, it would be next to ruin. 
You could much better afford it than myself. Upon this subject 
I have no thoughts to conceal from anybody, and least of all 
from you. For your letter, for the admirable tone & spirit in 
which it is written, you have my sincere thanks. I have not 
time to say more now. Perhaps you or I must be the victim 
(if Shepley holds out in his refusal) and time will show which. 
Write often & much oblige 

Very truly Yours, 


Prentiss* Bill to Prevent Duelling 

Washington, March 29th. 
Dear Wife, 

The Senate have been discussing the bill introduced by 
Judge Prentiss to prevent duelling, and the House have been 
engaged in the appropriation bills. In the morning, however, 
we made an attempt to have the 13th & 14th of April specially 
assigned to take up the bill for the payment of French spolia- 
tions. It requiring two-thirds, we failed, but we have had a 
vote which may be regarded as a very favorable indication. It 
was 79 to 63. The House, to be sure, was thin, but probably 
we had as many absent as the enemies of the bill had. This 
looks very much like carrying the measure. 


Old Mr. Carr, the Doorkeeper, is dead, and the appHcants 
for his place are as thick as snow fleas. I think I shall go for 
Foilansby, the man having charge of the Document Room. 

Col. Hall has got an appointment in the Boston Custom 
House,, which will give him about $1,500 a year. 

Jarvis is nominated for Navy Agent in Boston. Parks is 
to be Marshal, "and so on." 

Ever thine, 


Hotly Pressed to Run for Governor 

Dear Wife, 

In regard to your domestic operations I must say I think 
you do nobly. The amount of butter manufactured is much 
beyond what I had supposed. It is more than a pound a day 
throughout the whole year. This is pretty well. As to the 
lame colt & the proposition to take one of Uncle James' horses, 
I refer you to a letter written yesterday to Walter. 

I also send directed to Martha a caricature of Webb. It is 
no great affair. Not half so good as a caricature I saw in a 
shop window a day or two ago of most of our great men 
mounted upon hobbies. Nothing is going on in the House or 
Senate of any great consequence, except upon second thought 
the Senate are discussing the bill introduced by Judge Prentiss 
to prevent duelling. 

The fates seem to be against us in some respects. In addi- 
tion to all the other inroads that death has made upon our 
party, I am now obliged to say that Mr. McKim of Baltimore 
is considered to be dangerously ill. He is at Gadsby's and his 
wife is with him. Others are sick but none dangerously so. 

Judge Ruggles' committee, I understand, is to report today 
and that the report will probably acquit him on the charge of 
corruption. The committee on the subject of Cilley's murder 
will probably report some time next week. 

In regard to your inquiry about the question relating to 
Governor, I say that I am hotly pressed upon all sides. Many, 
however, are beginning to cease asking my consent and claim a 
right to nominate me upon public considerations. What the 
result is to be, time only can answer. We must all, however, 
"prepare for the worst." Your joke upon this subject I think 
was rather a hard one, though I must confess it seemed to be 


based upon a correct view of the case. Rice Garland has got up 
right behind me to talk and his sharp voice being no more pleas- 
ant to me than his sharp temper, I find myself unable to write 

Ever Yours, 


Death of Congressman McKim 

Washington, April 1, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

I regret to be obliged to add another to our list of deaths. 
Mr. McKim, one of the members from Baltimore, died this fore- 
noon abou^- 10 o'clock. He had been sick only about a week; 
complaint, the pleurisy originating in a cold. His death will be 
much felt in Baltimore where his benevolence has been un- 
bounded. I believe he has a left a great fortune, and a young 
widow. Perhaps you may recollect her. She is a sort of rela- 
tion of Mrs. Barry. Mr. McKim was also a staunch friend of 
the administration — and herein we meet a great loss, which we 
can ill afford to incur, after the loss of two from Mississippi 
and two from Maine. 

Night before last we had a charming serenade from the 
marine band. They came round and stood in the lane directly 
opposite our windows, and woke me from sleep about 2 o'clock 
with a tune which I admire very much, tho' I do not know its 
name. They had before this played several tunes in front of 
the house. I can hardly imagine anything more delightful than 
it was. 

Your Husband, 


Washington, April 3d, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

Today was held the funeral of Mr. McKim. At 11 o'clock 
we assembled at the Capitol, and had funeral ceremonies. Mr. 
Slicer gave us an address made up of commonplace sentiments 
expressed in the coarsest manner. There was as great a want 
of taste in it as anything I have heard of late. 

At 12 a procession was formed, which proceeded from the 
Capitol to the railroad depot, and thence to Baltimore. Most 


of the members went, conveyance being provided at the public 
expense. Not feeling remarkably bright myself, and it being 
a cold, windy day, I concluded to stay at home and try to bring 
up some of my work in which I am a little behindhand. 

Mr. McKim is said to have left an estate worth a million 
and a half. He made his will before he died but I have not 
heard any of the particulars. 

I have been to see a pair of large oxen today. The present 
owner gave $3,500 for them. They are supposed to weigh over 
3,000 lbs. each. They are of the Durham shorthorn breed, and 
are very handsome, notwithstanding their extreme fatness. I 
should think two middling sized men might lie on the back of 
the ox without rolling off. They beat all hollow, everything of 
the kind that I have seen before. 


Wants to Get Back to the Farm 

Washington, April 10, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

We have nothing new here but flowers, and they are com- 
ing out daily in beautiful variety, both as to shape & color. 
Peach trees have been in bloom a week and other trees are put- 
ting out their leaves. The walk behind Mrs. Pitman's house 
will look beautifully soon. The grass about the Capitol forms 
one of the most beautiful carpets that I ever beheld. The green 
is handsomer than anything we have at the North. 

I was up to the President's this morning to introduce 
young B — . He is a fool to be spending his time in endeavoring 
to obtain an office. He had much better go to work upon the 
land, or engage in some active employment. It is strange to me 
that people should be so fascinated with office, with a degree of 
dependence upon the humor and caprice of A. B. & C. 

The President appeared very well and indulged in a few 
pleasantries. Poor man, I should think he would regard it as a 
great luxury to laugh once in a while. Why, I would not be 
President of the United States for all the honors or wealth that 
Uncle Sam could pour upon me. 

I have not yet consented to be candidate for Governor, 
though the invitations still flow in upon me. I want to be at 


home now and go about my farming. That is the best employ- 
ment, after all. I shall try to get Uncle William to engraft the 
remaining apple trees. One row, I think, had better be grafted 
with the Island Greening. What do you think? 
Your Husband, 


Sends Grafts for the Apple Trees 

April 12, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

I reed, your letter last evening, one day in advance of the 
regular time. So it seems there is some multiplication going 
on out to the barn. I suppose you won't think of raising the 
"critter" after the experience of last year. What are the indi- 
cations in the new swine palace behind the stable? I have 
written today to Judge Hayes to send to Uncle William grafts 
enough for all trees except one row — the Island Greening row. 
I have also written to Uncle William asking him to do the need- 
ful when the grafts shall arrive. If he can't attend to it, Davis 
must get Bowden. I feel anxious to get our orchard into good 
fruit as soon as possible. 

I hope you will pay a little attention to the strawberry bed 
this spring, that is, you or Martha. Keep it clear of weeds, cut 
the runners and make the plants grow. I don't know but that 
it would be a good plan to dig trenches between the rows & cover 
up some old manure, or to spread a little about the plants them- 
selves. The ground there, I think, is not very rich. 

I don't see where your pump or pipe could have frozen up. 
If anywhere, it must have been in the well near the top of the 

Ever thine, 

J. F. 

Judge Ruggles Exonerated 

Washington, April 14, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

"Every other day" has arrived, and so I must write you 
a letter. Not that I consider it a task which must be performed, 
but then I like to have something to say. Our committee, the 


duel committee, I mean, has not yet reported. I called on 
Toucey this morning to know when we might expect the report, 
and his reply was the first of next week. What the report is to 
be I could not learn. They keep all matters secret. 

The stream of petitions continues to flow on and probably 
will continue to for a long time to come. Their character has 
been very uniform, speaking of the duel in strong language, 
asking for the expulsion of all concerned in it, and the passage 
of a law to prevent such occurrences in future. One, however, 
was presented by a Whig member the other day in which the 
petitioners prayed no expulsion might take place. 

F. O. J. has this day (through Mr. Evans) asked leave of 
absence after the first of May. So it seems he has cor-^'^ded 
not to resign. If the Cumberland people don't scold about this 
I shall be mistaken. 

The Ruggles committee have reported, exonerating him 
entirely. I am very glad of it. It would have been a sad 
affair to have had it otherwise! 

Now I am bound off to attend a caucus. 
Yours as ever, 


An April Snow Storm 

Washington, April 15, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

Would you believe it, we have had quite a snow storm to- 
day! The snow melted, to be sure, as soon as it touched the 
ground, but it snowed in tolerable earnest for several hours and 
if it had not melted, would probably have made two inches or 
more. The peach & plum trees are all in bloom, and I fear that 
the cold weather we have had for two days, aided with this 
snow, have cut off their prospect here for fruit. So you see 
there is no condition from which some comfort may not be ex- 
tracted. With you, frosts at this season can do no harm. Veg- 
etation, I presume, has not yet started, or at all events has not 
got so far along as to be liable to injury from frosts. 

I felt like meeting an old acquaintance today when I came 
across an article in a paper about old Uncle Brannan. I have 
sent you the paper — the Eastern Republican. The article, it 
seems, is extracted from a Pennsylvania paper. The account 


given must be very true to nature, there is no difficulty in see- 
ing the old man just as he was at Saco. 

I wish the members would begin to talk about adjourn- 
ment, but they don't seem at all inclined that way. 
Ever thine, 


Reports Northeastern Boundary Bill 

Washington, April 17, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

The weather here is "awful cold," how is it with you? I 
have been obliged to keep as large fires for two or three days 
past as at any time during the winter. 

The flowers in bloom look like old ladies rigged out in the 
finery of girls and everything else looks "kind of sorry." 

I got my bill for surveying and marking the northeastern 
boundary line through the Committee of Foreign Affairs today 
and reported the same to the House. I also gave notice that I 
should call it up for consideration on Tuesday, two weeks from 
today, when I shall probably make a short speech, simply to 
show that the communication from the British government, 
since I made my former speech, has not changed the state of the 
case, or diminished the necessity of passing this bill. 

In the House they have spent the whole day in discussing 
a bill providing for the taking down of the new Treasury build- 
ing and putting the materials into a post-office building about 
to be erected. The new Treasury, probably you recollect, is 
only a third built and stands at the west end of Pennsylvania 
Avenue, just this way of the President's. It is said that the 
architect, Mills, has made some great mistakes and that the 
walls are not strong enough to sustain the lateral pressure of 
the arches. A Philadelphia architect thinks that it will tumble 
down itself, if finished on the present plan. Sargeant, the other 
day, said he had often heard of things falling to ruins, but here 
a thing seemed to be rising to ruins. 

The tree bearing the large, beautiful white flower that I 
spoke about some time ago, I have ascertained is the Magnolia. 
What I once called the holly is, I believe, nothing more than a 
species of the thorn, perhaps the buckthorn. 

Ever thine, 

J. F. 


Beginning of U. S. Weather Bureau? 

Washington, April 19, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

April 19 — the thought has just occurred to me that this is 
the anniversary of the Boston massa-cre, as Aunt Rachael 
would prononnce it, jus1 before the commencement of the Rev- 
olutionary War. I do not mention it because of its appropriate- 
ness in a letter to you, but to show how I write my letters, that 
is, by taking my pen, and putting on paper the first thoughts 
that come into my head. Thus, this thought or rather remem- 
brance was suggested by dating my letter, and so down it went 
on the paper. After all, it would be laughable if I should prove 
to be mistaken in point of fact. Let the boys take down some 
book & ascertain if I am right. 

This morning from i/o past 9 to 1/2 past 10 we listened to a 
lecture in the Capitol from Professor Epsy on meteorology, 
&c. He delivered one yesterday morning which I did not hear. 
Today it was upon the winds, and so far as I could understand 
him, he was quite interesting. His object is to have Congress 
make an appropriation for the purchase of instruments, &c., 
that observations may be made and registered at particular 
points throughout the United States, in aid of science. 

The Select Committee have not yet reported and I learn 
today they will not until Saturday. I dislike this procrastina- 
tion very much. Yesterday Graves had the unblushing impu- 
dence to get up in the House and make a speech on the Cumber- 
land road bill. I took my hat and left the House, as did some 
others. It was a gross outrage upon decency. 

Ever thine, 


Planning the Garden 

Washington, April 21, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

In regard to the patch of ground between the house & the 
gravel pit, I think your suggestion a good one, that it should be 
planted with potatoes, or corn or whatever Davis may think 
best. As to the trees in which the grafts failed, I think they 
should be regrafted this spring, — but whether the same limbs 
will answer I have some doubt. Uncle William can best tell 


that. It is of no great consequence if different fruit be put 
into the same tree provided it is of the same class, i. e., summer 
or winter. Perhaps, however, some grafts of the same kind 
may be sent by Judge Hayes. I have a little memorandum in 
my pocketbook from which it appears the grafting was as fol- 

1st Row 5 winter & 3 Imperial Russets 

2d Row 13 Baldwins 

3d Row 6 Nonsuch & 4 or 5 Porter Apples 

4th Row 6 Royal Pearmain & 5 June Pearmain 

5th Row St. Lawrence apple 

(Sketch is here inserted) 

I will thank you to preserve this letter as the memorandum 
may be of use at some future time. 

Uncle Richard some time since left some tomato seed with 
me which after adjournment I will send you. Northern seed, 
however, I should think would be best if you have it. 

I think you had better not undertake to drive the colt alone. 
I will bring him to his bearings when I get home, I'll warrant 

The investigating committee have not reported today as 
was anticipated. I am almost out of patience with them. 
Your Husband, 


Makes a Speech 

April 23d, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

I have only time to say that I have made a short speech to- 
day — say half an hour long. It will be reported in the Daily 
Globe about an inch long. I have taken pains to write it out 
since the House adjournment, but was too late for the daily, it 
will appear in the weekly tomorrow. I will endeavor to send 
you one. The whole day has been spent in debating the ques- 
tion whether the report of the committee shall be printed. The 
Feds seem determined to make a political question of it. 

In haste yours, 

J. F. 


Indignation Over Cilley Report 

April 24, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

This is the third day spent in speeches for and against the 
printing of the reports of the committee. 

If the indignation of the people is not poured out upon 
these fellows for smothering the evidence in this case, then I'll 
think the worse of mankind as long as I live. 

Viewed in a political aspect, only, things are working well. 
Every speech the opposition makes is a nail in their coffin. They 
are on the side of the murderers ; they are for suppressing the 
reports, smothering the evidence, and screening the guilty. We 
are on the side of humanity ; we are against crime ; we are for 
letting facts go forth to the people ; we are for light. In such 
circumstances it appears to me we have little to fear. If we do 
not carry our point, we shall fail in a good cause, & have the 
satisfaction of having done our duty. 

It has been very cold here for a few days and part of the 
time a disagreeable easterly rain and drizzle. Best love to all. 

Thy Husband, 

J. F. 

Yesterday, sent you paper containing my speech. 

More on Cilley Report 

Washington, April 27, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

Another day has been spent in the duel case on the prelim- 
inary question to print without coming to a vote. Tomorrow 
night I think will find us voting. The opposition 

(Here part of sheet has been torn off) 
Massachusetts backed out, — took back his speech he made the 
other day, — and now says he shall vote for the printing. 

Toucey made an excellent speech today in which he lashed 
Johnny Q. rather severely. 

It is now 7 o'clock, and the Committee on Foreign Affairs 
have a special meeting at that hour, to take up our affairs with 
Mexico, so excuse me. 

Your Husband, 



Disapprove of Monument to Cilley 

Washington, April 29, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

Thank you for your letter of last evening. I must be per- 
mitted to say further that I felt proud of my wife for that part 
of her letter which related to the contemplated monument to 
the memory of Mr. Cilley. I read it to Anderson and he spoke 
of it in warm terms for its high tone of moral feeling, though 
he could not agree with you. He is for erecting the monu- 
ment & subscribing liberally toward it. I disagreed with him, 
and your letter comes in the right time to confirm my impres- 
sions which, though early taken, were not sufficiently deep and 

The funeral honors paid him here I think were justifiable 
and right. They rested on a different principle from the one 
involved in the erection of a monument. The mode in which 
he was buried here was the usual mode for the burial of mem- 
bers of Congress. We neither stepped out of our way to pay 
undue and unusual honors to his remains, nor did we under- 
take to lacerate the feelings of his friends by omitting the cus- 
tomary rites. This course I think was just right, and I have 
seen no cause to regret the part I took in inducing the House to 
adopt it. 

I have received a subscription paper from Thomaston, but 
with my present views I shall give nothing. 

The question whether the reports & evidence shall be 
printed, in the duel case, has not yet been decided, though de- 
bated a whole week. Some of them had a touch at me yester- 
day for "springing a trap upon them" and possibly I may give 
them a short reply tomorrow. I do not, however, consider it of 
much consequence. I expect as these fellows find themselves 
driven into a corner, that they will turn round and go to abus- 
ing me. I hope my philosophy will enable me to endure it. 

One word as to matters at home. If you feel very desir- 
ous of raising the two calves I will not object, though I had 
rather not. But if they are raised, I insist on their being taken 
from the cows after they are three months old ; butter is butter, 
say what you will to the contrary. Your dairy will be a small 
affair this year, I suspect. 

Hope the children are not going to have the whooping 
cough, notwithstanding your suggestions. It is a complaint I 
dread much. I would give a good deal to see them, though in 


consequence of the employment of my mind just now I do not 
think of them so much as I ought to. Right gladly would I con- 
sent to little Hammy's pinching me. 

The Senate, as you suggest, took up the subject of an ad- 
journment, but, I believe, fixed no time. There is no probability 
I think, of adjourning before the first of July. 

The weather yesterday was extremely warm and today 
differs but little from it. I put on cotton drawers & worsted 
stockings this morning for the first time, & yesterday had my 
hair cut — three things that have promoted my comfort not a lit- 
tle. I doubt whether I shall want the pair you have been knit- 
ting for me; if I should I will let you know. Did you receive 
yours through the mail? I sent them as requested. 

Have you read the nos. of the Dyspeptick in the Mirror or 
Robert Rueful? I think they are very amusing. 

Have been to meeting today & had an excellent sermon 
from Mr. Bullfinch. 

Your Husband, 

J. F. 

No Quorum — Members Attend Races 

Washington, May 1, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

Another little speech of ''our John's" will appear in tomor- 
row's Globe. It hit some sore places of the opposition, and 
caused a little wincing. Hope 1 shall not be called out again. 
Have spoken enough for one session, — want to be more quiet. 
Today, at one time, we were without a quorum, many of the 
members having gone off to the race course, where a purse of 
$20,000 was to be run for. At 3 o'clock we adjourned on ac- 
count of the absence of members ; this is disgraceful to the last 
degree. It is a foul stain upon the character of an American 

No decisive vote yet in the duel case, tomorrow I hope we 
shall bring it to some point. 


J. F. 


His Views on the Races 

Washington, May 4, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

Immediately after the House met this morning Mr. Bell 
introduced a resolution to adjourn over to Monday to give the 
officers of the House an opportunity to change the carpets, put- 
ting down straw matting, and to cleanse and air the House, 
and it was carried by a vote of more than two-thirds. I, how- 
ever, voted against it, for, tho our health requires this change 
in the House, the public business is suffering for our action. 
Besides, I was not disposed to lay the duel case aside for any- 

After the House adjourned I joined in the dissipation of 
going to the races which have been going on for two or three 
days, and by reason of which we have not been able to have a 
quorum in the House more than half the time. 

The horses, 8 or 10 in number, ran finely. The day was 
good. Much company was there though but few ladies. I saw 
but few intoxicated, but such a scene of gambling I never saw 
before. Roulette tables, faro tables, &c., &c. I have been to 
these races, I think, for the last time. They create no pleas- 
urable excitement for me at all. But for going I have high 
authority ; if I am not much mistaken I once saw several north- 
ern ladies there, who, it is to be supposed, will set themselves 
against every thing immoral. 

What shall I do with myself for the three days before me? 
I have been contemplating a journey to Richmond, but find 
that most of it will be in the night and I have no taste for that. 
So I will sleep upon the matter one night and then determine. 
It looks now like foul weather; if that comes it will, of course, 
interrupt all plans. 

No decisive vote yet on the case reported by the duel com- 
mittee. I think the Whigs will carry their point and kill the 
whole matter by indirect and unfair attacks. Well, I shall have 
discharged my duty and for the rest the House must take the 

Love to all. 


J. F. 


Boarding House Burglarized 

Washington, May 8, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

The House has just adjourned at 11 o'clock, on the an- 
nouncement of the death of another member, Mr. Lawler of Ala- 
bama. I was much astonished this morning to hear of his 
death as I had not before heard of his sickness. He had, how- 
ever, been sick for a few days only — the complaint being what 
is a very common one among Southern men, bilious pleurisy. 
The death was announced by Mr. Lyon and the funeral takes 
place tomorrow, 12 o'clock. This makes the 4th death this 

I have also another piece of news for you, to wit, that last 
night our house was entered and robbed by some villains at 
present unknown, tho the officers are in hot pursuit of them. 
They probably entered at the front window which, to my aston- 
ishment, I find was not fastened, indeed, that is the case with 
all the windows. Mrs. Pitman lost her large spoons, soup ladles, 
fish knives, rings for the napkins, &c., &c., making a loss of 
about $100, she thinks. The robbers then went to Mr. Allen's 
room, where he was asleep, and took his watch from the table, 
worth about $80, his wallet from his pantaloons' pocket, con- 
taining about $30 in money, and his gold spectacles, worth 
about $14.00. 

They went to Mr. Loomis' room, who, you know, is a little 
hard of hearing, and took from his pocket a wallet containing 
about $100 in money. His trunk was taken down into the par- 
lor and broken open, but nothing was taken from it that Mr. L. 
has yet discovered. All the rest of us escaped. Mrs. P. sus- 
pects a man by the name of William, who was with her about a 
week during the special session. I do not recollect him, do you ? 
Mr. Allen laughs very heartily about it, and Loomis doesn't 
cry; indeed, all concerned bear their loss very well. I suspect 
we all hereafter lock our rooms on going to bed. This perhaps 
is safest, though I do not like it. 

I intended to have made an asparagus bed this spring, but 
suppose we must let it go another year. 

Have the peach trees shown any signs of life yet? I'll 
thank you just to have an eye to my mulberries in the front 

Ever thine, 



Take Vote on the Cilley Duel Case 

Washington, May 10, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

We have at last taken a vote on the report of the select 
committee in the duel case, twenty days having elapsed since 
the report was made and a motion to print. The question was 
divided, and on the first branch to lay upon the table, there was 
a small majority. On the second for printing the Reports, there 
was a majority of over 50, and the third, to print the evidence, 
&c., was carried unanimously. The opposition squirmed dread- 
fully at being obliged to vote, for a motion to lay upon the 
table is not debatable, and immediately after a vote 
was taken on that, the previous question was moved and 
carried as to the printing. In this dilemma Old Adams and 
others found themselves placed and finally had to vote for the 
printing after they had wasted three weeks in opposing it. 
Adams, Gushing, Lincoln & several other Feds had to go for 
the printing. 

Old A. I believe to be a rotten, unprincipled old scamp. I 
have heretofore supposed that his course was to be attributed 
to waywardness. I now believe him to be destitute of principle, 
a man who has but little to restrain him from the gratification 
of the worse passions. May the Lord forgive me if I am un- 
charitable, but I know of no way but to judge a tree by its fruit. 
There, that is letting off a little. I hope I shall now feel easier. 
Yesterday, Anderson, Loomis & myself took three horses and 
off we started for Curtis's, which I suppose you remember as a 
sort of palace visible from the Capitol, situated on very high 
ground on the other side of the Potomac, distant, say 3 or 4 
miles. The location we found very fine, but the soil was poor, 
and much of the growth appeared to be rather stunted and 
dwarfish. The house, too, altho it makes such an imposing 
appearance from Washington, is rather shabby when reached. 

From Curtis's we went up to opposite Georgetown on the 
southern side of the Potomac intending to cross to Georgetown 
by the ferry, but on reaching it, the ferryman said the current 
was so strong he could not venture to take horses over, so we 
made back tracks, reaching home before dinner. Today, with 
the exception of two chafed spots and lame shoulders, I feel 
much improved by my ride. 

J. F. 


The Reissue of Treasury Notes 

House Representatives, May 12, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

Our friends having agreed to sit out the question now pend- 
ing, to wit, a bill authorizing the Secretary to reissue treasury 
notes, I have taken a cold bite below and am prepared for a ses- 
sion of a part, if not the whole, of the night. I regret this in- 
asmuch as it is Saturday. But the opposition grow worse & 
worse, and as we now are in committee of the whole where the 
previous question cannot be moved, we have no other remedy 
than to sit out the matter. 

The necessity, too, is exceedingly strong as the treasury is 
empty and the public business must stop and the public credi- 
tors must go unpaid unless something is done forthwith. 

Ever Yours, 

J. F. 

Hopes Soon to Get to Boundary Bill 

Washington, May 17, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

Last night about 9 o'clock we succeeded in obtaining a vote 
on the bill providing for the reissue of Treasury notes. The 
previous question was carried by the casting vote of the 
Speaker. Today a motion was made to reconsider the vote by 
which the bill passed last evening and on the vote being taken, 
it stood for reconsidering 110, against it, 109. By the rules 
of the House, when the Speaker by voting can produce a tie, 
he has a right to vote, which he did in this instance and thereby 
defeated the motion for reconsideration; so the question may 
now be regarded as settled. 

Today Gushing & Mr. Adams have been holding forth 
about the territory beyond the Rocky Mountains and the occu- 
pation of Columbia river. We shall try to get up our North- 
eastern boundary bill next week probably. Chas. S. Davis has 
been sent here by Gov. Kent to aid us in procuring the passage 
of the bill ! &c., &c. 

I want to hear from my own dear children. Hope their 
whooping cough is not to be very severe. The weather today & 
yesterday has been very warm. I have not yet doffed my 


guernsey but have put on my summer coat. I have also ex- 
changed my white summer hat for a black one of the same ma- 
terial, and which is very ''genteel." 

The ladies are all cleared out from the City and very soon 
it will be as dull and gloomy as a bachelor's hall. 

Ever thine, 

J. F. 

Would Give Ninepence to See the Pigs 

Washington, May 19, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

I was glad to get a letter from you last night and to learn 
that the children are no worse. 

I was also much gratified to learn that we have been so 
fortunate in our pigs — 10 and 7, with a loss of 2 only, I call 
capital luck. I think we had better keep 4 of them & sell the 
rest. About this, however, I will write to Davis. As to your 
inquiry about the roaster, if you are serious, let me say that I 
hope you will not deprive yourself of any comforts which the 
farm can furnish. 

Oh, the pigs, I have thought of them a good deal since last 
night. The dear little, round, plump, white squealers, how I 
should like to look down into your comfortable quarters and 
see you nestle, climb over each other's backs, and nose one an- 
other about, to say nothing of listening to the combination ot 
musical voices. Ah, I would give ninepence to see you, and 
that is saying a good deal, for it is half as much as they ask 
to see an elephant. 

Your list of news about domestic operations was very wel- 
come to me. You will have a late garden, I fear, but there is 
no help for it. I have just heard that Mr. Senator Tallmadge 
was awakened last night by some one in his chamber who was 
endeavoring to get open the drawers of his bureau. He jumped 
out of bed, when the rogue fled & escaped. If my turn is to 
come the rogues will find easy work, for I not only sleep with 
my door unlocked, but open. I should have locked it the night 
after our robbery, but could not find any key. 

The President & a few from the Senate have been down to 
Mount Vernon today in the steamship Fulton. 

Ever thine, 

J. F. 


A Bit of Home Gossip 

Washington, May 23d. 
Dear Wife^, 

Our House commenced its session today at 10 o'clock, this 
leaves us no time hardly for anything, and we seemed to have 
little enough before, in all conscience. However, I voted for it. 
But little is yet said in favor of adjournment, though that little 
is in favor of the 2d or 9th of July. Some have suggested the 
expediency of meeting a month earlier next session. If so, this 
session may be shortened thereby a little. 

I never should have thought of neighbor Dearing taking 
Widow Gould ! Hope you will leave your card early. 

If Uncle William wants the heifer calf, give it to him. 

Ever thine, 

J. F. 

Mr. Parris Arrives 

Washington, May 30, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

Yesterday, notwithstanding your injunction to the con- 
trary, I took the liberty to make another short speech upon the 
subject of the boundary. It will come out in this evening's pa- 
per, which I will send you, though I don't know as you will care 
much about it. 

We had a report here last evening of an insurrection among 
the slaves out at Georgetown, but I believe but a very small 
number were found to be implicated and they are now in jail. 

Mr. Parris, our new representative, has arrived, and aston- 
ishes everybody with his beauty. From some remarks in the 
papers about his chin, everybody was prepared to see a very 
ugly looking fellow. He is, however, very far otherwise. 
Prentiss & Word from Mississippi, have also arrived, which is 
rather a sore matter to me. I can't endure that Prentiss. 

Yesterday we had for our dessert my great favorite, straw- 
berries & cream, and better still, I had as many as I wanted. I 
wish I could send you a quart or two, don't you? 

Ever yours, 

J. F. 


Disgraceful Quarrel, Blows Being Struck 

Washington, June 1, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

I have one more disgraceful scene to record enacted upon 
the floor of the House of Representatives. Mr. Turney of Ten- 
nessee concluded a speech today, begun yesterday, in which he 
replied to a speech before made by Jno. Bell. Turney had re- 
viewed the political course of Bell with some severity but keep- 
ing himself within the rules of the House. He was followed by 
Bell, who indulged in a strain of violent and bitter invective, 
using many epithets of a personal and offensive character. 

At one of his remarks, Turney, who sat immediately before 
him, rose, and turning to Bell said, *'It is false, basely false," be- 
ing strongy excited at the time. Thereupon Bell struck at him 
with his fist. Turney parried the blow and struck at Bell. They 
continued striking at each other for some time before they 
could be stopped by the members who surrounded them. Cries 
of "Order !" "Order !" rang from every part of the Hall, and the 
Speaker (we then being in committee of the whole, Mr. Howard 
in the chair), resumed the chair without a vote of the House in 
order to bring the House to order, which he finally succeeded in 
doing. After a few short speeches upon the subject. Bell & 
Turney apologized to the House and so the matter passed off. 

It was a disgraceful scene and will go far to destroy the 
dignity & character of Congress in the eyes of the Nation and 
the world. I was in the gallery at the time with Mr. Chase & 
Mr. Balkam from Maine and had a fair opportunity to see the 

I am writing now from the House where I expect to be de- 
tained at least till 12 o'clock. The Florida war bill is to be set 
out tonight & I understand that Wise is to come in and make a 
long speech in the course of the evening. 


J. F. 

Nobody Dares Fight a Duel 

Washington, June 9, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

This has been an exceedingly warm day with us. It is 
fortunate we are not made of tallow, otherwise we might melt 
as quick as Mrs. Gage's ice creams. 


The anticipated duel between Biddle & Downing has been 
settled and a very silly & pompous announcement made of it 
in the House by Waddy Thompson. The truth is no one ever 
dreamt a duel would grow out of what passed between them; 
no one dare fight a duel here now, and this parade about the 
affair made by Thompson is merely to keep up the idea that the 
peculiar code of southern honor is still in force, and that certain 
folks are determined to be very "chivalrous" — yes, chivalrous is 
the word. 

Sunday Afternoon, June 10. 

After writing the foregoing I was called to tea last night 
and did not return in season to get into Sam's bag, so I'll finish 
it now. Another warm day. Have been to meeting and had a first 
rate sermon from Mr. Bulfinch. Moderate dinner, strawberries 
smothered in cream for dessert, short nap after it, "& so on." 

Ever thine, 

J. F. 

State Convention Day Approaches 

June 13, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

We have many important bills that must be acted on before 
we can agree to adjourn, particularly the sub-treasury, the in- 
crease of the army, northeastern boundary, &c. We are now 
debating the pre-emption bill, i. e., a bill for the benefit of the 
squatters. Gushing has just made quite a democratic speech in 
favor of the squatters, and in the course of it cited and read a 
case from 3d of Fairfield's Reports. 

Rice Garland is now at it with his sharp voice and vinegar 
spirit. He is no favorite of mine as you may well judge from 
what passed between us in regard to the duel investigation, tho 
I think he entertains harder thoughts of me than I do of him. 

I received last night from Gol. Dunn "The Old Orchard 
Sentinel" No. 2. It is quite amusing, have you seen it? Amos 
Goodwin adds a P.S. to Dunn's letter and speaks about the pros- 
pect of my descending to be candidate for Governor, 

The Convention takes place a week from today & I fear the 
result. If they nominate me I shall have to stand. What say 

Ever yours, 

J. F. 


Bill to Regulate Steamboats 

Washington, June 16. 
Dear Wife, 

How does the farm get along? By the way, just tell Davis 
I think we had better have a horse rake made before haying 
comes on. Capt. Jordan, I believe, has a pretty good one and 
Davis had better go see it before he has one made. Hope I 
shall get home, and think I shall, time enough to help get in the 
hay. My first job will be though, I think, to build a front yard 
fence, the old one probably looking very shabby by this time — 
doesn't it? 

Today we are acting on the bill regulating the manage- 
ment of steamboats. Hope we shall get through it today. It 
is an important bill & may save many lives. But everybody is 
so full of talk that I get out of patience with them. 

My colleague "Davee"^ is in the chair and presides remark- 
ably well. He is an old Speaker, you know. My colleague, Par- 
ris, has learned within a few days that his wife & child are sick 
with the small pox, he having carried it home from Augusta. 
It seems that he was not aware that he had it himself, inasmuch 
as he had before been vaccinated, and indeed it is probable that 
he only had the varioloid. The last letter he had they were 
supposed to be out of danger. 


'Thomas Davee of Blanchard, Me., a Democrat and a merchant. Served 
two terms. 

Taking Up the Sub-Treasury Bill 

Dear Wife, 

We have today taken up the sub-treasury bill which is the 
great measure of the administration and when we shall have 
reached a vote upon it, everything else will be disposed of has- 
tily and members will begin to scramble for home. We have 
all along been calculating upon a protracted debate upon this 
question, but the indications at present seem to be the other 
way. At all events, I think the matter will be disposed of this 

Mrs. Pitman says she is going to Maine to visit you, but 
won't say when. I invited her to go with me, but without 
effect. She gives us an abundance of strawberries of the largest 


& best kind. Hope you get some now and then — and yester- 
day she gave us a new article, viz.: ice custards (frozen cus- 
tards instead of cream). They were very nice. I mention these 
little things because this hot weather we cannot eat much of 
anything but nic-nacs, and to remind you of your sojourning 

Our mess has diminished somewhat, most of the ladies hav- 
ing gone & two of the gentlemen. Poor Mrs. Birdsall seems 
to be dreadfully homesick, I don't wonder at it. She never 
goes to the House or Senate and but seldom anywhere else. 

Parris' wife is like to get well, but his child is yet danger- 
ous. Judge Bruyn of N. Y., who left here some weeks since for 
home on account of his ill health, we hear has not yet reached 
home & probably never will. He is nearly gone in consumption. 

Tomorrow the great convention meets at Augusta. I hope 
Mclntire will be agreed on for Governor, but I fear otherwise. 
If they should agree upon you & I, we shall have to submit. 
How does the prospect affect you ? 

Ever Yours, 

J. F. 

Two Terrible Disasters 

Washington, June 22d, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

This morning the rules are suspended to admit a resolution 
fixing upon a day of adjournment and I have been giving some 
very reluctant votes. After amending the resolution so as to 
stand for the second Monday of July, the 9th day, the resolution 
was postponed to Friday, this day week. Much against my 
feelings I voted for the postponement. There are certain bills 
pending before the House that must be attended to and as a 
friend of the administration, I cannot consent to fix upon a day 
of adjournment until some disposition is made of them. On 
Friday I think the resolution will be taken up again & the 16th 
will be determined on for adjournment. 

We have just heard of two more terrible steamboat disas- 
ters, one, the burning of a boat on Lake Erie within 2 or 3 miles 
of the shore by which about 40 persons have lost their lives. 
The other is the case of the Pulaski, bound from Charleston to 
Baltimore, having on board about 150 passengers — 50 of them 
women — off Cape Hatteras. Her boiler burst and all were lost 


except about 20 who betook themselves to the boats. Gov. 
Hamilton of South Carolina and other distinguished men are 
among the lost. There were also, I believe, many persons & 
families on their way to spend the summer at the North. 

We have a bill pending which has for its object to prevent 
these accidents, but I fear that it will not be very effectual, tho 
it may do some good. Steam is too powerful an agent to be 
entirely within human control. 

Ever thine, 

J. F. 

Gives His Views on Forrest, the Actor 

Washington, June 25, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

I write from the House where I think we shall be confined 
to a late hour, — as there seems to be a strong desire on both 
sides of the House to take up the question of the sub-treasury 
bill tonight, and still many have speeches prepared for deliv- 
ery. The vote will be a close one, but I fear we shall get beaten. 

Tonight we shall hear who is to be our candidate for Gov- 
ernor and consequently who is to receive the outpourings of 
federal abuse for two months or more. 

I send you today two plays, "Ion" and "The Love Chase." 
I have tried to obtain the "Lady of Lyons or Love and Pride," 
but could not. It is excellent, and when I can get it, will for- 
ward it to you. "The Love Chase" is, I think, next to it. 

Without making any acknowledgments as to what I have 
seen or heard, I will give it as my opinion that Forrest as 
Claude Melnott & Miss Monier as Pauline, are inimitable. For- 
rest is a most magnificent looking fellow, and what is better, is 
a thorough-going Democrat. He has consented to deliver an 
oration on the 4th of July at New York, and it is said that, hav- 
ing acquired a fortune, he intends quitting the stage and enter- 
ing upon political life. "The Lady of Lyons" is full of noble 
sentiment and seems to have been written for Forrest himself. 

Mrs. P.'s flowers look elegantly, particularly the Tennessee 
rose, which runs up over a frame work and bears very abund- 

Today the Masons, great fools as they are, are having a 
public celebration. Mr. Allen, who boards with us you know, 
says he was once admitted to a lodge, but has never been near 


them since. He admits that Morgan disclosed the secrets and 
calls the whole institution a humbug. He offered if we would go 
to his chamber to go through the process & show us how Ma- 
sons were made, but none of us had curiosity enough to go 
with him. 

J. F. 

Is Nominated For Governor 

Washington, June 27. 
Dear Wife, 

So it seems the matter is settled, and if the doings of the 
Convention be ratified by the people you & I are to be promoted. 
You recollect the story of Major Bryant and his wife, I suppose. 
I perceive that there was great unanimity among the members, 
and so far as that goes, augurs well for our success. Our friends 
are very sanguine, and if beaten will be much disappointed. 

For myself, aside from political considerations, defeat 
would not excite any very strong feelings of regret. The 
office has nothing inviting about it in my eye. Its duties, cares, 
responsibilities, etc., are far from being desirable to one who 
loves quiet as I do. Beside, you know I hate dignity, much 
more stiff, stately form and ceremony, and Governor or no 
Governor, I never can array myself in it. 

Another of the unpleasant things connected with my an- 
ticipations is the abuse that I must receive from the federal 
papers. Slander will be heaped on slander; my conduct mis- 
represented; my motives impugned, my character traduced & 
everything done & said which may be thought necessary to 
prevent my election. Well, I must make up my mind to endure 
it. Conscious rectitude, if it will not arrest the arrows of the 
enemy, may prevent the infliction of very deep wounds. 
Nothing new here, except that speeches diminish in length and 
business men are becoming more prominent in the House as the 
session draws to its close. 

Ever thine, 

J. F. 


Appropriation for KennebunK 

Washington, July 5, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

We are having an abundance of warm weather and busi- 
ness. Yesterday Evans & I had a very pretty little skirmish 
about an appropriation for Kennebunk Harbor. The debate on 
my side, although pretty earnest, was in good nature & appar- 
ently so on the part of Evans, though his object was political and 
insidious. He is welcome to all he made by the attack. 

Ever Yours, 

J. F. 

Leaving for Home 

Washington, July 7, 1838. 
Saturday Afternoon. 
Dear Wife, 

I have not fully made up my mind yet whether I shall set 
out for home on Monday or Tuesday, that must depend upon the 
course which the business of the House shall take. I shall start 
on Monday morning at 6 o'clock if I can, in which case I suppose 
I can reach home by Thursday morning. My present impres- 
sion is, in accordance with your suggestions, that I shall not 
take the steamboat route from Boston, but shall go by the mail 
stage, reaching home, if no alteration has been made in the 
stage arrangements, at 2 o'clock in the morning. 

You may, therefore, leave open or rather unfastened the 
front door on Wednesday and Thursday nights — but don't say 
anything to the family about it. I don't want to disturb them. 

This probably is the last letter I shall write you this ses- 
sion, trusting that we shall soon have the pleasure of meeting 

Ever Yours, 


Finds Changes in House 

Washington, Saturday, Dec. 1, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

Here I am at Mrs. Pitman's up in the 3d story in a large 
room in the front part of the house. I arrived here last even- 
ing about 8 o'clock, having had a very pleasant time on, the 


weather moderating gradually as we approached the great city. 
Mrs. P. is very well, has her house newly fitted up, and is very 
anxious to have a full and a good mess. At present she has 
Parker, McClellan, Birdsall, Cushman, Jones of N. Y., Allen and 
Prentiss of Vt., Anderson & myself and Dr. Jones, minister 
from Texas. I have just returned from a call on the President. 
He appears to be remarkably well & and in good spirits. In four 
days, he says, at the springs he actually gained 5 lbs., ascer- 
tained by weighing in the scales. 

Mr. Dungan says that Mr. Dummer & family are well. I 
shall try to go up & see them tomorrow or Monday, as well as 
Uncle Richard. Mrs. Barry, I understand, is well, still keeping 
house. All inquire for you and Augusta and regi'et that you 
didn't come on with me. At present we have only one lady, 
Mrs. Judge Prentiss. Mrs. Allen is to be here by and by, now 
at her son's in Newark. 

Everything looks pretty natural here and I think I might 
spend a pretty comfortable winter if duty didn't call me back 
again. The journey back I dread; the residence nearer home I 
anticipate with some pleasure. 

The Hall of the House of Representatives has been 
entirely changed in its fitting up. The Speaker's chair has 
changed fronts, the seats of members, of course, following suit. 
It is more elegantly fitted up than it was before, and the whole 
arrangement I think is much better. 

Your Husband, 


Lost Thanksgiving Dinner 

Washington, Dec. 5, 1838. 
Dear Ann, 

Today the deaths of two members have been announced, to 
wit, Judge Bruyn & Mr. Patterson, both of N. Y., who died as 
you may perhaps recollect, during the vacation. 

The House in consequence immediately adjourned till to- 
morrow, at which time I suppose the appointment of commit- 
tees will be ordered and then the House will adjourn over to 
Monday to give the Speaker time to execute the order, and thus 
one week will have been used up. 

I have just been called upon by two ladies soliciting my 
vote for chaplain. Who do you think they were ? Do you give 


it up? Mary & Almira. What could I do — but to tell them 
I would go for their candidate, a Mr. Fowler, if I thought there 
was any prospect of electing him, but that the prospect was alto- 
gether against him. What efficient politicians, in some respects, 
the ladies might become, if they should enter the field in ear- 

Many of the members have brought their wives with them, 
and I suspect they are preparing for a pretty gay winter. I 
shall, however, gladly quit all the allurements of the great 
Metropolis to go into the cold regions of the North, inasmuch as 
I shall then be near those who fill my heart. 

Tell the boys while they were enjoying their good Thanks- 
giving dinner (as I trust you had one, tho I forgot your tur- 
key) I was going without any at all. The arrangement was for 
us to take dinner on board of the boat immediately after getting 
on board of her at Bordentown, but when we reached there on 
the railroad, the Delaware was found so frozen that the boat 
could not run, so we had to go up to Bordentown & take the cars 
for Phila., which we did not reach till night. So it was the 
next day. Instead of taking the boats by the way of Newcastle & 
Frenchtown, we took the railroad from Wilmington to Balti- 
more & so went without my dinner again. But I am alive and 
well and upon the whole, think that going without one's dinner 
once in a while is no such killing affair. 

I found but little snow west of Portsmouth in coming on. 
Here the weather is quite mild. I can't wear my new wrap- 
per and at night throw all off but the sheet & spread. 
Truly your Husband, 


Resolutions on Slavery 

Washington, Dec. 10, 1838. 
My dear Wife, 

I regret to tell you that your cousin Dolly is very sick and 
some of the family think dangerously. She was sick when 
I came here and partially recovered; since that, however, she 
has suffered a relapse. Bilious pleurisy, they call the disease. 
I believe. I have not yet been up to Mr. Chas. Cutts', tho I 
intend to in a few days. They are, however, all well, including 
"Kate," my favorite, you know. 


Today the House has been discussing a proposition to 
amend the rules so as to require all elections hereafter in the 
House to be viva voce. The proposition was carried, "the Gov." 
himself going for it. 

They are having strange times in Pennsylvania. I sup- 
pose you hear something about it. The Whigs have sent 8 mem- 
bers there from Philadelphia & seem determined to press them 
upon the House of Assembly tho they were never elected by 
the people. If they prove successful in this, the Lord only 
knows what they will attempt next. The Governor has called out 
the militia to suppress the meeting of the citizens, calling it a 
mob, &c., &c. Unless some compromise is effected soon, I fear 
some blood will be shed. 

Tuesday, Dec. 11. 

Dear Ann: I wrote thus far yesterday but did not get it 
into Sam's green bag, so I'll make it answer for my letter today. 
We had a caucus last evening which kept me out till 12 o'clock. 
Our object was to agree on some resolutions touching the 
troublesome subject of slavery, which we finally did. This 
morning they were introduced into the House by Atherton of 
New Hampshire (I having refused) by whom the p. q. was 
moved to cut off debate. The whole day has nevertheless been 
spent without taking a vote except upon the first resolution — 
tomorrow comes the rest. 

Have not heard from Cousin Dolly to-day. 

Ever thine, 


Death of Cousin Dolly 

Washington, Dec. 13. 
My Dear Wife, 

I have just heard that your Cousin Dolly is dead. She died 
last night and is to be buried tomorrow afternoon. Her death, 
following so soon after that of Thomas, must be veiy afflicting 
to them. I shall, of course, attend the funeral if I am able, but 
I am sorry to say that I am now laboring under a severe pain in 
my leg, — a touch of my old-fashioned rheumatism. Am very 
glad to hear by Walter that you are to have Mrs. Morse with 
you this winter. I shall feel much easier about you. 

My twinges are so confoundedly severe that I can't write. 
Ever thine, 



Mrs. Madison Attends Funeral 

Washington, Dec. 16, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

Cousin Dolly was buried yesterday. Poor Mary was ex- 
ceedingly affected. The attachment existing between her & 
Dolly, I am told, was uncommonly strong. The sickness, I be- 
lieve, was only about three weeks' duration, before that time she 
having enjoyed the most robust health. I am told, also, that 
her constitution was remarkably strong and vigorous. 

Mrs. Madison was at the funeral and appeared to be in good 
health, though she did not go to the grave. I rode in a carriage 
with Madison Cutts' wife and Anna Payne, a niece of Mrs. Mad- 
ison. This Anna is a plain, simple, sweet girl, and I had a great 
mind to love her for her name, if for nothing else. 

Dolly, it seems, had contemplated going to the North the 
first of January, probably with me, though it was not so said. 
I have a great mind to invite Mary, tho' I suppose it would be 
useless, she probably cannot now be spared, unless Uncle Rich- 
ard should break up housekeeping. 

I have not yet called at Mrs. Chas. Cutts' or to Mr. Dum- 
mer's, am almost ashamed of it, will try to call this week, espe- 
cially as the last of it, or the first of next, I shall start for home. 

We have nothing new here. On Friday Congress adjourned 
over to Monday. Thus two weeks have passed without our 
having accomplished much of anything, except the passing of 
some pretty important anti-abolition resolutions. 

The weather here is very mild and I am enjoying pretty 
good health, my rheumatism lasting only one day. 

I have written this with a stump pen and it is not strange, 
therefore, if the writing looks like a stump fence. 

Love to the boys & girls and to my dear wife the assurance 
that I am 

Ever Hers. J. F. 

Entertained by Russian Minister 

Washington, Dec. 16, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

I have just returned from dining out and in a few minutes 
must begin to rig for a "soiree" — the invitation to which I en- 
close. Pretty well, in dissipation, for such a steady old man as 
myself, isn't it? About 1 o'clock Mary & Almira came down 


to the Capitol & called me out. M. & I went into the Senate 
gallery, heard a couple of hours of interesting debate from Ben- 
ton, Buchanan, Davis, Wall & Calhoun, and then, Almira hav- 
ing sent the carriage back, we went to their boarding house, 
Mrs. Craven's, to dine. Staid there till after 5 o'clock, when 
they sent me home, and here I am writing to you. They are all 
well — and in good spirits and send an abundance of love to you. 

The party tonight is to be given by the Russian Minister at 
Georgetown. I understand it is to be a splendid affair. Per- 
haps I'll tell you more about it in my next. 

I had a call the other night from Mr. Papineau, the great 
Canadian orator, & Doct. Walfred Nelson, who fought the Brit- 
ish troops there and was afterward banished to Bermuda. He 
spent about 3 hours with us and interested us the whole time 
with his instructive and pleasing conversation and at times by 
flashes of the purest eloquence. Not time to write more now. 
Shall probably start Saturday morning, but will write you 
again, next day after tomorrow. 

Ever Yours, 


High Cost of Living 

Washington^ Dec. 20, 1838. 
Dear Wife, 

I have made up my mind to start on Saturday morning. 
Perhaps I might have delayed it until Monday if I was sure of 
a direct passage home without any obstructions, but I am 
afraid to risk it, and so shall start on Saturday. I shall prob- 
ably reach home Wednesday at 2 o'clock in the morning or 2 
o'clock in the afternoon, as I may feel, and the weather may 
feel, when I get to Portsmouth. It is possible I may get home 
Tuesday morning, but I don't think it very probable and I may 
not reach there until Thursday. 

Night before last I attended the party of de Bodisco, the 
Russian Minister, and such a magnificent affair as it was, I 
have never witnessed in Washington before, but I reserve my 
description of it until I get home. 

I called this morning for the first time at Mrs. Charles 
Cutts'. She was in a pretty coarse dishabille, but otherwise 
appeared very well. I had a homily upon the difliculty of liv- 
ing with eggs 50 cents a dozen, butter 1/2 a dollar a pound, beef 


Daughter of Annie Fairfield Perkins and Granddaughter of 

Governor Fairfield 


10 or 12 cents, &c., &c. Poor woman, I pity her, but how many 
are there who are worse off. Miss Stros is as handsome as ever 
and as full of flattery as an egg is full of white & yolk both. 

I also called at Uncle Richard's, but he was at market and 
the black girl said Miss Mary was not to be seen. Tonight, 
however, Uncle R. called upon me. He feels the death of Thos. 
& Dolly very much and thinks, moreover, that Walter died the 
last summer in New Orleans. He said he was not sure of it — 
but thought so — and seemed to have some information which 
he did not wish to communicate. 

Dolly, I understand, has left her property principally to 
Mary, which was between two and three thousand dollars, so 
that with what Mary had before, she is comfortably off. 

Ever thine, 


A Sensational Report 

Augusta, Dec. 27, 1838. 
My Dear Wife, 

Mr. Pratt being about to start for Saco I will avail myself 
of the opportunity to drop you a line. 

You can't think how rejoiced I was on reaching Portland 
to find myself alive. The same morning I went in, a report 
was put in circulation there that I had fallen suddenly in a fit 
and expired. Everybody seemed to believe it because the news 
was so direct — to wit — that an express had arrived at Mr. 
Whitman's announcing the fact, and that Mr. Dow who lives in 
the same house had reported it. Some of my political enemies, 
now that I was dead, began to praise me, and all began to think 
about a successor. 

Here I am at my old stand at Hutchins'. Have not suc- 
ceeded yet in making a bargain with him, but have laid a train 
for bringing him down to a reasonable sum, which I have no 
doubt he will take rather than let me leave for a private house. 

I want to know very much how little Hammy does. Don't 
fail to write by Mr. Tucker, who, I suppose^ will leave by Mon- 

Yours as ever, 


John Fairfield, Governor op Maine. 

This is the first installment of letters written by John 
Fairfield, now Governor Fairfield, from Augusta. Fortunately 
for readers of his letters, Mrs. Fairfield decided not to go to the 
capital with her husband that first session, owing to her 
domestic cares, and so we have his letters written during that 
important session. 

His letters while Governor were not so regular as formerly, 
for he usually waited to send them privately rather than by 
mail, postage no longer being free to him as it had been 
when he was writing upon his gilt-edged correspondence paper 
as Congressman. By this we see how a public man of that day, 
unless he had private means, was obliged to count the cost of 
things and practice little economies. However, he was able 
now to go home occasionally and did not need to depend so 
much upon correspondence. 

That the new Governor was of a shy and retiring nature is 
shown by his dread of the inauguration ceremonies, which he 
evidently regarded as an ordeal to be gotten thru as well as pos- 
sible and for which to be thankful when it was all over. 

That first term upon which Governor Fairfield was entering 
was one of the most important in the whole history of Maine's 
Governors. These letters are of peculiar interest revealing the 
inside affairs of the Aroostook war and also revealing the spirit 
and determination of the man when he, alone and single- 
handed, asking neither President nor Congress, declared war 
against a foreign nation. 

Readers of these letters no doubt recall how interested Con- 
gressman Fairfield had become in the Northeastern Boundary 
question, from the time the matter was first introduced in Con- 
gress, and what difficulty he had in getting an opportunity to 
deliver the speech he had prepared on it. 


Upon March the eighth, after repeated postponements, he 
delivered his speech upon the Northeastern Boundary. No 
better explanation of this trouble can be given than by direct 
quotations from this speech which is marked with clearness 
and simplicity, an eloquence which proceeds from the reason- 
ableness of the doctrine. Mr. Fairfield began his address to 
the House as follows: 

"Mr. Speaker: I am in favor of the bill which my colleague 
proposes to introduce. What is it, sir? Why, it simply pro- 
vides that the President cause the Northeastern Boundary line 
of the United States to be accurately surveyed and marked, and 
suitable monuments to be erected thereon at such points as 
may be deemed necessary and important. ... In Maine, 
there is but one feeling on this subject. That State, sir, feels 
that she has suffered deep and enduring wrongs at the hands of 
the British Government. She knows that she has been ille- 
gally and unjustly deprived of the property and jurisdiction in 
a portion of her territory; that the valuable timber upon that 
territory has been the subject of plunder and waste; that her 
citizens have been seized and imprisoned in foreign jails, with- 
out law and without right, and that the nation guilty of these 
multiplied and gross outrages not only denies redress, but re- 
fuses even to agree upon a mode by which the legality of her 
acts can be tried and an amicable adjustment of the difficulties 
can be made. That state also feels that she has not been 
treated by the General Government as she has endeavored to 
deserve. . . . Corresponding with the extent of wrongs suf- 
fered by Maine will be the measure of her right to redress. If 
she has been doubly wronged she is doubly entitled to relief." 

After showing the dispositions of the several administra- 
tions immediately preceding concerning this boundary ques- 
tion, and arguing forcibly Maine's entire right to the disputed 
territory, showing the indignity Maine had received from the 
trespassing of the British government and the neglect of the 
Federal government concerning the issue, Mr. Fairfield ends 
the speech in the following manner: 


"What, then, shall be done? Shall Great Britain be per- 
mitted to remain in the quiet and undisputed possession and use 
of our property, without making one single effort on our part to 
procure its restoration ? Shall we tamely submit to the degra- 
dation of being plundered of our property, and then spend years 
soliciting the plunderer to agree upon some mode in which 
the legality of his conduct may be tried? I trust not. It will 
not be in accordance with that spirit which has hitherto dis- 
tinguished the American character. 

"It would argue a weakness and pusilanimity disgraceful 
to us in the last degree, and cannot, I am confident, find advo- 
cate:^ upon this floor. What, then, shall be done? Shall we 
go to war? I answer, no; unless the surveying and marking 
our line, and resisting all forcible attempts to take our prop- 
erty from us, be war; I profess to be the friend of peace, and 
would not rashly and unnecessarily embroil our country in dif- 
ficulties which would result in war, but in this case, I have not 
the remotest suspicion that the measure proposed could have 
so disastrous and unhappy a result. Let this step be taken 
and the whole question is settled. Great Britain will agree to 
terms at once. . . A rupture of the peaceful conditions sub- 
sisting between that country and this would be one of the last 
things that Great Britain could regard as desirable. Nor will 
she permit it when it is so easily avoided. 

"The President in his last annual message, holds the fol- 
lowing language upon this subject: 'Of pending questions the 
most important is that which exists with the government of 
Great Britain, in respect to our northeastern boundary. It is 
with unfeigned regret that the people of the United States 
must look upon the abortive efforts made by the Executive for 
a period of more than half a century, to determine what no 
nation should suffer long to be in dispute, the true line which 
divides its possessions from those of other powers. 

" 'The time has arrived when some decisive step should be 
taken. Let there be union, energy and firmness among the 
different branches of government upon this subject; let them 


manifest the determination to submit to nothing wrong, as well 
as to ask for nothing but what is right, and this long vexed 
question will be terminated and settled forthwith.' " 

In one of the following letters to his wife, Gov. Fairfield 
tells of his confidential message to the Legislature and a secret 
session of both Houses and hints great consequences to follow, 
but even to his wife he doesn't divulge the secret. We now 
know that it had to do with the Northeastern Boundary trouble. 

One of Gov. Fairfield's first acts, after assuming office, had 
been to dispatch Rufus Mclntire, a lawyer of Parsonsfield, but 
then land agent, to the disputed territory to drive off the timber 
thieves, who were stripping the forests along the banks of the 
Aroostook River. 

Mclntire was no longer a young man and his previous eight 
years in Congress had poorly fitted him for the rigors of a win- 
ter's campaign in the Madawaska country and soon tiring of the 
rude fare and frigid nights of the cabins of the forest he sought 
more comfortable quarters. Though more comfortable they were 
more exposed and while enjoying a sound night's sleep in the 
house of one Fitzherbert, he was surprised by a force of New 
Brunswick militia and Indians who unceremoniously dragged 
the land agent from his warm nest and hurried him across the 
country to Fredericton, N. B., where he was thrown into prison. 

The news of the land agent's arrest spread like wildfire 
thru Maine and Gov. Fairfield at once sent a message to the 
Legislature then in session. This was the "secret message" 
of which he spoke in the letter, and the result of it was that 
the militia was ordered to put themselves in readiness to march 
at once. 

Three days after the "Secret message," of which Gov. 
Fairfield spoke in the letter to his wife, August 24th, he 
hastened a second message to the Legislature. He had re- 
ceived a proclamation issued by the Lieut. Gov. of New Bruns- 
wick, designating the movements of the Maine land agent and 
his posse as an "invasion" and an "outrage." In this message 
the Governor recalls the circumstances and asks: "Could a 


greater indignity be offered any people having a particle of 
sensibility to its rights and its honor or to the sacred liberty 
of its citizens? . . . How long are we thus to be trampled 
upon — our rights and claims derided — our power contemned — 
and the State degraded ?" Gov. Fairfield had already hastened 
the departure of reinforcements and issued an order to Maj. 
Gen. Hodsdon to detach one thousand men by draft or other- 
wise, to proceed at the earliest possible moment to the aid of 
the land agent who had been chosen to fill the place of Agent 
Mclntire, held captive by the Canadians. 

The Legislature gave the Governor prompt support and an 
appropriation of $800,000. In a postscript Gov. Fairfield in- 
formed the Legislature that since writing the message he had 
received another communication from Lieut. Gov. Harvey, in 
which the latter called attention to an alleged agreement by 
which the British government was to have exclusive jurisdic- 
tion and possession of the disputed territory, and urged the 
withdrawal of the land agent's party, stating that he had 
directed a strong force of troops to be in readiness to support 
Her Majesty's authority in the disputed territory. "No such 
agreement as that alluded to by the lieutenant-governor can be 
recognized by us," said Gov. Fairfield, "it is a misapprehension, 
to say the least, that such an agreement has ever been made." 

Patriotic feeling was roused to a high pitch. Gov. Fair- 
field tells of reviewing the troops that were recruited from the 
logging camps, the farms and hamlets in answer to his call for 
men to protect the State's rights. 

Meanwhile, the Governor was trying to arouse Congress to 
some action in behalf of Maine. He had written to President 
Van Buren concerning the threatening conditions that had 
forced the State to call out such large reinforcements, inclosing 
correspondence and a copy of his message to the Legislature. 
The President, in a message to Congress a few days later (Feb. 
26) referred to the matter. He said that examination of the 
correspondence showed that no such agreement as the Lieut.- 
Gov. spoke of had ever been made and that "the State of Maine 


had a right to arrest the depredations complained of." But he 
tempered this by informing the Senate that he might find it 
proper to propose to her Brittanic Majesty's government a tem- 
porary arrangement for "the mutual exercise of jurisdiction" 
by means of which border trouble would be avoided. 

There was further transmitted to Congress by the Presi- 
dent a Memorandum, dated Feb. 27, signed by the Secretary of 
State of the U. S. and the British minister in Washington, stat- 
ing terms on which it was believed that boundary collisions 
could be avoided, consistently with the claims of both coun- 
tries, the terms being that New Brunswick officials were not to 
seek to expel by military force the armed party of Maine in the 
Aroostook country, while the Government of Maine, voluntarily 
and without delay, was to withdraw, beyond the bounds of the 
disputed territory, any armed force at that time there." 

This spiritless and luke-warm attitude in Washington 
must have sorely vexed the intrepid Maine Governor, but he 
did receive some support in Congress and many encouraging 
letters. Mr. Williams of Maine expressed doubts as to 
Maine's acceptance of any such agreement as was proposed in 
the Memorandum. Mr. Ruggles of Maine spoke in behalf of 
Maine and Daniel Webster declared his belief that "if some- 
thing of her own spirit and feeling pervaded us here we should 
have now been through the controversy." 

Miss Martha Fairfield, daughter of Governor Fairfield, has 
in her possession some interesting letters of this period, showing 
that Governor Fairfield had attracted nation-wide attention and 
had support outside of New England. S. T. Carr, from Albany, 
N. Y., wrote: 

Governor Fairfield, Sir — Where National honor is con- 
cerned the voice of the humblest individual has a right to be 
raised in assisting that honor. You, I know, are fully compe- 
tent to sustain the rights of Maine and the dignity of the 
American name. But, Sir, to do this you must necessarily pay 
no attention to the "Memorandum" of Forsyth and Fox. Sir, 
that Memorandum is a foul blot upon our nation, which Gov- 

Great-Grandson and Namesake of Governor Fairfield 


emor Fairfield must wash away. Does it not plainly surrender 
up the disputed territory to the possession of the British? And 
then it stipulates that Her Majesty's officers shall not "drive" 
off the troops of Maine ! And is it possible that an American 
can be found to put his name to such a paper ? Thank Heaven 
that Forsyth is not Governor of Maine, else her dignity were 
low indeed. You, Sir, stand upon a proud eminence, — the eyes 
of the whole Nation are upon you. Assert your rights over 
the territory, occupy and hold it, and, if necessary, every state 
in the Union will pour forth her troops to sustain your just 
war against British oppression. You need not the inter- 
ference of the general government. You can contend single- 
handed — and conquer, too. And the name of Governor Fairfield 
shall be as a bright star in our national firmament, around 
which the sons of Revolutionary heroes shall rally and go forth 
"conquering and to conquer." 

Respectfully, S. T. CARR. 

Later came a letter from J. C. Bennett, Brigadier-General 
of the Invincible Dragoons of the 2d Division of Illinois Militia, 
with this substantial offer of assistance : 

Dear Sir : Permit me. Sir, though a stranger, to ask you if 
you will require any additional troops for the defence of the justt 
rights of your state against foreign usurpation? If so, will 
you be so good as to use your influence with the President to 
make a call on my brigade? By doing so you will much oblige, 
Yours respectfully, 

J. C. BENNETT, Brig.-Gen. 

The following from Hon. H. J. Anderson, of the Maine dele- 
gation to Congress, marked "Private," must have come as a 
relief to the harassed Governor, in view of the apparent deter- 
mination of the President to avoid a clash of arms with the 
British : 


"I mark this private, not from my own choice, but because 
my information comes in such a way as to forbid me from com- 
municating it in any other manner. 

"Feeling, as you will readily imagine we all do, great 
solicitude and anxiety in relation to the present posture of our 
border relations, we have had frequent conferences and con- 
sultations, as to the course it had become our duty to adopt. 

"After one of those consultations with Clifford and Davies 
day before yesterday, Mr. Clifford went to see the President 
and had a long and interesting interview with him upon the 
subject of our affairs. He was informed by the President, that 
the aspect of affairs had, in his view, essentially changed, that 
a letter of an exceedingly angry character had been received 
from Fox, and that in his opinion, the British Government had 
come to the conclusion that the negotiations should be broken 
off. To this letter they were preparing a reply with the utmost 
care and that a communication would shortly be made to Con- 
gress upon the subject. The opinions of the President, Mr. C. 
thinks, have evidently undergone a great change, and he now, 
as C. thinks, entertains much less hope of avoiding serious col- 
lision between the two countries. This information was given 
to C. in confidence and imparted to me under the same injunc- 
tion, and you may consider it as coming directly from him, he 
authorizing and seeing the communication. You will give it 
what importance you think it deserves. 

"I cannot ascertain what came by the British queen. 
Pickens spoke to me yesterday on the subject, was evidently 
somewhat alarmed and, I thought, had some information which 
he did not feel at liberty to communicate. From all the indi- 
cations I see here, it seems to me most manifest that matters 
are rapidly coming to a crisis, and, to my mind, the ultimate 
result is almost equally clear. A few regiments of troops have 
been ordered to Houlton and I think Congress will be speedily 
called upon to make extensive preparations of a hostile char- 
acter. "Very truly your friend, 



This encouragement was well founded, for soon after the 
President was empowered to employ for the defence of Maine 
the naval and military forces of the United States, the sum 
of ten million dollars was placed at his disposal and he was fur- 
ther authorized, in case of actual invasion, to accept the ser- 
vices of any number of volunteers not exceeding fifty thous- 
and. In the course of the debate on the matter of the appro- 
priation, Mr. Buchanan said : "Should Maine act in accordance 
with the spirit of these resolutions then, if war must come, it 
will find the country unanimous." General Winfield Scott was 
ordered to proceed to Maine and "Only peace with honor" was 
his instructions from the President. 

This was actually accomplished. By the Governor's mes- 
sage, following General Scott's personal efforts as a peace- 
maker, the way was prepared for action by the Legislature. A 
resolve was adopted March 23, 1839, authorizing the Governor, 
when satisfied that the Lieut. Governor of New Brunswick had 
abandoned all intention of occupying the disputed territory with 
a military force, to withdraw the Maine militia, leaving the land 
agent with a sufficient posse, armed or unarmed, carrying the 
resolve into effect. 

The Aroostook country remained in possession of Maine, 
while the Madawaska country was left in the possession of the 
British. There was no more encroachment on the timber lands 
of Maine, and there was no further seizure of Maine land agents 
or imprisonment of Maine citizens. What the Governor in- 
tended had been accomplished. 

The family has the following interesting and quaint 
anonymous letter to Governor Fairfield, which came from 
England, simply signed "John Bull." 

The Tight Little Island, April 18, 1839. 

Sir. — In the excellent letter of your Excellency to John 
Harvey of New Brunswick, of the 19th Feb., you have been 


pleased to say, you have neither "threats nor boasting" to in- 
dulge in, and that if Maine does her duty no palaver of yours 
will add to her glory, and that if she prove recreant you could 
not by any use of the same commodity, diminish her shame. 
Now I believe your Excellency has in this matter taken much 
too humble a course, for although your Excellency be but the 
temporary monarch of a petty state, that is no reason why you 
should humble yourself; and it is for the purpose of putting 
you right in your own conceit, that I take the liberty of tres- 
passing on you. 

I have for a long time studied mankind, and the knowl- 
edge that I have acquired enables me to be quite sure that none 
but a very brave man could write such a very brave letter, and 
therefore the reverse of your Excellency's modest declaration 
is the true truth; that is to say, if the State of Maine do her 
duty, her glory will be double in the renown of her Governor, 
and if she prove altogether recreant, the glory of her Governor 
will save her entirely from shame ; and that consequently both 
"threats and boastings" will very well fit your Excellency and 
become you admirably. 

I beg to assure you that your letter has my high approba- 
tion, and I am sure it would have that of all my countrymen if 
they had time to read it. 

Sir, I have the honour to be 
Your Excellency's much approving and most humble servant, 


The Inaugural "Agony Is Over" 

Augusta, Jan. 4, 1839. 
Dear Wife, 

If I cannot say that "the long agony is over" I can say 
with truth that a matter very much dreaded has been disposed 
of, to wit, the inauguration. It took place today at 12 o'clock 
in a Hall crowded to excess with spectators. I can assure you 
all my equanimity and self-possession was put in requisition. 
However, I got through it without fainting or appearing very 
much frightened. The particulars I must write you another 

I am now writing in the Council Chamber, seated in the 
Governor's great chair, the Council having taken a recess of 
half an hour to hear the message which I have just sent in, 
read in the House. 

On my way here I stopped Tuesday night at Portland & 
Wednesday night at Gov. Dunlap's and came here on Thurs- 
day, say 2 o'clock afternoon. 

Sleighing fine, weather, after Tuesday, not very cold. 
Good quarters here. A good many comforts & not a few 
friends, &c., &c. So ends the first epistle. 

Ever Yours, 


Getting Used to Being Governor 

Augusta, Jan. 6, 1839. 
Dear Wife, 

My room is now clear of callers and I can devote a moment 
to you. You have no idea how much I am favored with com- 
pany. From morning till bed-time the stream is running in 
and out. The President himself can hardly beat me in callers 
— mine, however, are more troublesome — for they stay much 
too long. I suppose, however, I should not complain, for if my 
time is the public's, why should I seek to appropriate it to 

I have taken the rooms previously engaged, you know, and 
like them pretty well, except that all the doors are whistling 
for list. I pay $14 per week which is $3 less than I had antici- 
pated, but this is bad enough in all conscience for a poor fellow 
with a small salary and a large family. 


We have two long tables set the whole length of a long 
hall, — at which are seated between 40 & 50 members of the 
Senate & House, besides others. 

Yesterday a new council was chosen and among them old 
Elder Hobbs of Waterboro! I suppose by Tuesday a majority 
of them will be here, so that we can organize & go to work. 

My message, I believe, gives very general satisfaction, 
which rejoices me much. The Printers, though, made some 
bad mistakes, which is a little annoying to me. 

Our friends here all talk of a short business session ; I pray 
that it may be so. 

I send you a few Ages, which I will endeavor to follow up 
as I receive them. Weather mild, sleighing good, "& so on." 

Went to meeting all day to Mr. Edes — capital sermons 
"and so on." 


The Inaugural Ball 

Augusta, Jan. 11, 1839. 
Dear Wife, 

My room being clear I embrace the moment to write you 
a line. You can have no idea how I am thronged. Sometimes 
my mail lies almost the whole day upon the table without my 
having an opportunity to open it. I would not, however, have 
you think that all my callers are after office, many of them 
merely want to see the Governor a few minutes, then make way 
for others. 

Six out of seven of the Council are in and we are fairly 
under way. Today I made a batch of nominations and next 
nomination day, which will be Friday, I shall make nearly all 
that remain to be made. 

Last night the folks here had an "inaugural ball." At 9 
o'clock the President of the Senate & myself went in, showed 
ourselves like lions, &c., &c. The Hall, which is very large, 
was pretty well filled, the ladies quite handsome and very well 
dressed, the music good, and every one disposed to enjoy him 
& herself. At 11 o'clock or so a most elegant supper was fur- 
nished on a table extending through two large rooms with fold- 
ing doors and a long hall between them. I have seen nothing 
superior to the supper this side of Washington. I left about 
1/2 past 12 after having enjoyed myself much. I was beau to 


our old friend, Sarah Child. She is a charming girl. Hannah 
Buckminster was also there and was really quite a belle. 

Everybody wants the Governor's wife to come down here 
& show off. What say to it? 

Yours ever, 


Describes His Council 

Augusta, Jan. 13, 1839. 
Dear Wife, 

On my way here, you know I stopped over night at Port- 
land. Sister Mary inquired of me if we had yet made any 
presents of some of Martha's things and particularly to Mari- 
anne Condon. I told her I didn't know, but would inquire. If 
you have not done it, would it not be well to do it? Marianne, 
you know, did a good deal for her, and I suppose it would not 
do to offer her pay. Should you not also give Jane Leland 
something as a remembrancer? Do. to Hepsy. 

I intended to say something to Cousin Harriet about the 
silk, but forgot it. 

Did Martha, while sick, say anything about Sarah Child? 
The other evening at the ball, Sarah talked a good deal with 
me about her, and said she had hoped that Martha had said 
something which she could have treasured up. My impression 
is that she did talk about Sarah C, but am not certain. 

Today is Sunday and I have been to hear Doctor Tappan, 
Mr. Edes being sick and unable to preach. 

He is orthodox "clear down" — but upon the whole did 
pretty well. Mr. Fletcher, one of my Council, is a Universal- 
ist minister. He is rather a young man, and I believe of very 
good talents and excellent character. Lyon of Waterville is a 
lawyer, respectable in talents and character, and nothing more. 
Cony is also a young lawyer, and a very fine fellow. I anticipate 
much aid from him. He is, by the way, the same who was in 
partnership with Albert awhile. 

Elder Hobbs is,— Elder Hobbs. 

Mr. Milliken from Waldo is a farmer of over 50 years of 
age, a man of good sense, but plain & obstinate, I think. 

Webb is a large, good-looking man who has been chiefly, I 
believe, a schoolmaster. Walker has not yet arrived. 


Our Council Chamber is the largest and best room in the 
Capitol— say 30 feet square. 

When shall I hear from you? Do write soon. 
My room has been clear the whole day, two callers only. 
Judge Weston has spent most of the evening with me. 

Ever Yours^ 


A Letter From President Van Buren 

Augusta, Jan. 20, 1839. 
My Dear Wife, 

On Friday last I made another batch of nominations which 
relieves me very much. I shall now look for some ease, though 
from my anxiety to perform my duties well and faithfully, I do 
not expect to be idle. Much is to be studied & learned, espe- 
cially by one so poorly qualified as myself for the station in 
which I am placed. 

It is amusing to see in what manner I am spoken of in the 
papers, and myself and motions described. Don't be jealous at 
my alleged familiarity with the ladies at the inaugural ball — 
much of it, I can assure you, is hyperbole. By the way, though, 
I have reed, a compliment from the President which I appre- 
ciate highly, and as you are mentioned also in his note, I will 
transcribe it : — 

"Washington, Jan. 15, 1839. 
My Dear Sir: I beg you to accept my thanks for your 
very sensible & appropriate speech and to believe that 
there is no one who more sincerely rejoices in your well- 
deserved success, or who is more anxious for its contin- 
uance. Remember me kindly to your family, and to my 
friend, Chief Justice Shepley. 

Very truly Yours, 

I have also reed, some other compliments from Washing- 
ton, well calculated to excite my vanity if I was not proof 
against it. But what an egotist I am becoming. Let's talk 
about something else. 

You will be gratified to learn that I have appointed your 
old friend, Stephen Emery, Attorney General. I have incurred 
much responsibility in doing it, but believe in the long run it will 
prove to be a judicious appointment. 


I send you today Gov. Hill's new agricultural paper. After 
Davis has read it, let it be preserved, as I intend to have them 
bound. It appears to me that few papers in the country will 
possess more value. 

I will also in a day or two after I have read them, send you 
Mr. Morris' papers on Common Schools, which you will also 
preserve, if you please. 

J. F. 

A "Secret" Message to Legislature 

Augusta, Jan. 24, 1839. 
My Dear Wife, 

Here I am sitting in my big chair, with my seven wise, 
grave and reverend Councillors around me, and seeming to 
have nothing of much importance to occupy our time just at 
this moment, I will give you a line or two. 

Yesterday I dined with Maj. Ripley of U. S. Army, who 
has charge of the Arsenal at this place, and really I have seen 
nothing equal to the treat since leaving Washington. The 
company was Judge Weston, Rob. H. Gardiner, Danl. Williams, 
Adjt. Genl. Thompson and some half a dozen others. Our en- 
tertainment was very fine, and was enjoyed much by us all. I 
have always, you know, preferred dinner parties to those of any 
other kind. 

The conversation at table was lively, interesting and in- 
structive and was only put an end to by the lighting of candles. 
We did not see Mrs. Ripley, she being unwell. Don't you recol- 
lect of seeing her & husband at the table at the Augusta 
House, when you were here with me? 

Today I dine at Danl. Williams', where I expect a rich enter- 
tainment, from his great reputation in sudh matters, and hav- 
ing dined once with him several years ago. I hope you won't 
think I am becoming dissipated, notwithstanding these circum- 
stances seem to be a little against me. 

You will see by the papers that yesterday the Governor 
sent a confidential message to the Legislature and that both 
Houses had a secret session. Now don't you wish you knew 
what it was all about? What will you give to know? If you 
have half the curiosity that is attributed to your sex, I think 
I could drive a good bargain with you. But keep quiet, you 


will find out, shortly, without paying anything for it. The in- 
junction of secrecy will probably be removed in the course of a 
week or so. 

At the end of five weeks I shall begin to think about mak- 
ing you a visit, considering that as about the middle of the 

The weather last night and today is excessively cold. All 
my Yankee ingenuity is insufficient to make my parlor com- 
fortable. The messenger calls, and so I stop. 

Ever Yours, 


A Regular Hurricane 

Augusta, Jan. 27, 1839. 
My Dear Wife, 

Since I wrote you yesterday we have had a tremendous 
wind which has done some injury and frightened a good many 
people. It blew with such violence during the whole or a 
greater part of the night as to shake the large brick house we 
occupy very sensibly. Indeed, while sitting at the table with 
one elbow resting upon it, reading, the newspaper shook in my 
hands. I can hardly say how much. Not so much as an aspen 
leaf, or a man with the ague, but considerably to say the least. 
Some dozen chimneys are blown down here, several sheds, tav- 
ern signs, &c., and our house partially unroofed. I presume 
you had a touch of the same at Saco, and I shall be anxious to 
hear whether it has done any damage. 

Mr. Edes, our clergyman, has preached but once since I 
have been here, being quite unwell. Today we had an orthodox 
clergyman by the name of Adams. He is one of the old school 
and laid out his sermon with mathematical precision into divis- 
ions, sub-divisions, points, improvement, &c., and then shelled 
it off for about three-quarters of an hour with about as much 
monotony as Pap's shelling corn. However, it was not a very 
bad sermon and perhaps many were improved by it. 

Accompanying the wind last night was a warm rain which 
has carried off all the snow, leaving us without sleighing. What 
effect this will have upon my contemplated return home on 
Saturday next, can't say. If it should be good wheeling I think 
I shall go. 


Afternoon. I have only to add that I learn several houses 
have been blown down between here & Waterville, but I be- 
lieve no lives have been lost. Tell Mrs. Freeman that two or 
three chimneys in the house of her nephew, Mr. Gillpatrick, 
have been blown down. 

Ever Yours, 


Bridges Swept Away 

Augusta, Jan. 28, 1839. 
My Dear Son, 

In my letter to your Mother of yesterday I spoke of a high 
wind that we had here on Saturday night. Since that I have 
learned that much more damage was done than I at first sup- 
posed. Many bams have been blown down and cattle killed, 
fences and trees have been prostrated and much property de- 
stroyed. The water in the rivers has also risen to a great 
height, sweeping almost everything before it. The ice is en- 
tirely broken up and is floating down in cakes from 8 to 20 feet 
square. All the bridges in this river above this place have been 
swept away, including that at Waterville, one at Skowhegan, 
one at Norridgewock, one at Anson & one at Farmington. 

The dam here & the beautiful covered bridge are consid- 
ered in danger. I have been to look at them this afternoon, 
however, and am of the opinion that they will stand, though 
some damage has already been done to some of the stone work 
upon the side of the river below the dam. 

As I was returning from my visit to the dam, my attention 
was called to a painting, suspended over a shop door in the 
lower street in this town, which I regard as a very great curi- 
osity. When I first saw it, which was about at this angle (a 
sketch inserted) it was an elegant representation of a tiger. 
When I was directly abreast of it — thus — it was a most beau- 
tiful horse upon a full gallop. After passing it, and viewing it 
from the opposite angle, thus — it had changed to a noble, great 
lion with his shaggy mane and open mouth. Now, how was all 
this done? Study it out if you can. I saw it but a minute, but 
I think I see through it, and if you can't find it out before, I will 
tell you when I go home. 

I have had for this two or three days, delegations waiting 
upon me from the Penobscot and Passamaquoddy tribes. They 


are very eloquent in setting forth their grievances and de- 
manding redress. You would be very much pleased to hear 
them talk. Tell your Mother that the letter we had in the 
paper purporting to be from Sabattis to Gov. Kent, was a 
pretty fair specimen of their talk. But I must stop until the mail 

Trusting that you are a good boy, diligent in your studies, 
obedient to your Mother & kind to all about you, I subscribe 

Your affectionate Father, 


Gov. Fairfield's 42d Birthday 

Augusta, Jan. 30, 1839. 
My Dear Wife, 

I write you now for three purposes only, 1st, to let you 
know what an old fellow for a husband you have got, being 
this day 42 years old; 2d, that I shall probably be at home on 
Saturday night; and third, that I shall not write again this 

Augusta, Feb. 6, 1839. 
Dear Wife, 

I have only time to say that here 1 am, safe & sound. 
Reached Portland just as the sun was peeping from his bed in 
the ocean, and in ample season to get on a welding heat before 
taking the stage. Our ride in it was exquisitely cold. Trist 
came near freezing his hands, though I drove. The Messenger 
stands by & says can't wait any longer. 

Ever Yours, 

J. F. 

Meets Some Interesting People 

Augusta, Feb. 10, 1839. 
My Dear Wife, 

Everything is moving on here smoothly and quietly, but 
not so rapidly as I could wish. At present there is no telling 
when the Legislature will bring its session to a close. 


Mr. Rantoul of Gloucester, Mass., is here and expects to- 
night to make an address at the Representatives Hall upon the 
subject of education. Quite a treat is expected. He has called 
upon me twice. I find him to be a very interesting man. He is 
possessed of extraordinary talents and is now exerting them to 
the utmost in endeavoring to promote the happiness of the 

In personal appearance he is said to resemble "the Gov- 
ernor," but this I know to be gross flattery to one of the par- 
ties. Mr. R. is one of the finest looking men I ever saw. 

Last night I had an invitation to call at Parlor No. 3 where 
Mrs. Hutchins, my landlady, presides. She is a very fine-look- 
ing woman and with some more mental cultivation, would make 
something of a figure. We had also Mrs. Hamlin, Mrs. Emery, 
wife of Senator Emery, and Mrs. Whidden, wife of the mem- 
ber from Calais. Mrs. E. is quite a sensible and accomplished 
lady, dresses in excellent taste and is highly polished in her 
manners. This is saying not a little for "a way down east" 
lady — don't you think so? Two of them, Mrs. E. and Mrs. H., 
started for home this morning, much to my regret. It was 
really comforting to see a few female faces at our dinner table, 
and still more so to have the privilege of calling upon them now 
and then at their rooms, to say nothing of their calling upon 
me, as they did. 

We have an invitation to attend a ball tomorrow evening 
at Hallowell. I have sent for answer that it is inconvenient 
for me to attend. You can answer for yourself. I enclose the 

Ever Yours, 


Aroostook War Clouds 

Augusta, Feb. 16, 1839. 
My Dear Wife, 

You will see by the paper sent you today that I have had a 
little something to do. Night before last between one & two 
o'clock an express arrived from our Company in the woods. I 
got up and was busy the remaining part of the night in writing 
letters, and making preparations for the extraordinary emer- 
gency. I regret exceedingly that Mr. Mclntire should have 
been captured. Everything has worked well with that exception. 


You now see what the secret session was about. The 
whole matter creates a good deal of excitement, particularly in 
Bangor and that region. We experience no difficulty in pro- 
curing men to go on this service against the trespassers. On 
the contrary, it is hard work to keep them back. Thousands 
and thousands would go if permitted. 1 am too busy now to 
extend this letter farther. 

Ever Yours, 


Collision Seems Inevitable 

Augusta, Feb. 21, 1839. 
My Dear Wife, 

Last night Mr. Mclntire returned to this place, having 
been released upon his parole of honor. McLaughlan & his 
assistants I thereupon directed to be released upon the same 
terms. Mr. Mclntire & Mr. Ropes brought me another letter from 
Sir John Harvey, from which it would appear that collision is 
inevitable. His insolent demands will never be complied with 
by us while we have a sword to draw & an arm to wield it. 

I am just about sending in another message to the House 
of Representatives, after which a large number of all the doc- 
uments will be printed. The House is thronged to hear the 
message. The deepest excitement prevails and but one spirit 
animates our whole people. Our house was thronged last 
night after Mclntire returned. He & Rodgers had to address 
the people, when they cheered with great enthusiasm. 

The sleepers gave way & they all came near going into the 
cellar, but escaped by the door without injury. 

I can write about nothing else now, and but little at that. 


Orders Out the Militia 

Augusta, Feb. 23d, 1839. 
Dear Walter, 

If you read the papers you will see that very serious 
troubles are occurring on the eastern frontier of our State. 

Certain persons from the Province of New Brunswick, hav- 
ing gone on to our territory to plunder it of its valuable timber. 


we sent an agent with 200 men to aid him in driving these 
trespassers off from the land. Sir John Harvey, Lt. Gov. of 
the Province, had the Agent seized, carried to Fredericton and 
imprisoned and says he shall send a military force and drive 
back the rest of our men. Now, although it is wicked to fight 
under most circumstances, it is not wicked, in my opinion, to 
fight for the defence of our country. Consequently I have 
ordered out about 4,000 of the militia to meet the troops of Sir 
John Harvey and resist his insolent pretensions, an unjustifi- 
able attempt to drive us from our soil. 

By looking at the map you can see all the places which are 
spoken of in the papers and your Mother can give you further 

Affectionately, Your Father 


"Now Is the Time to Strike a Blow for Our Rights" 

Sunday, Feb 24. 
Dear Wife, 

The only news I have today from the frontier is a letter 
from Mr. Wiggin who is there, in which he states that on that 
day, which was last Friday, our force there was 300. The rest 
were on their way. 

About 100 of the number had gone across from No. 10, on 
the Aroostook, the place of their encampment, to Fish river, 
emptying into the St. John, to break up the gang of trespass- 
ers there and the remainder intended to move down the river to 
the mouth of the Little Machias and fortify there. 

You had better have the map of Maine brought into the 
house and you can then see better what our troops are about. 
We shall have 1,000 troops assembled here tomorrow, who will 
immediately take up their line of march for the frontier. More 
will follow the last of the week. 

This affair, I suppose, is not very gratifying to you in 
some respects, but you must be willing to make every sacrifice 
in the cause of duty. How soon I may be able to return I know 
not. I had been anticipating an early return with much pleas- 
ure. But if the cause of my Country and my own honor re- 
quires me to remain here, I know you will cheerfully acquiesce. 
Perhaps however, things may take a favorable turn, and leave 
me at liberty soon. Can form a better opinion when I hear 


from Washington. Thus far I am happy to say that my meas- 
ures meet with almost universal approbation. Party spirit 
seems for the moment to be forgotten and all are willing to do 
me justice. 

So far as in me lies, I am determined now to have this 
boundary question settled. Now is the time to strike a blow 
for our rights. If we let this golden opportunity pass without 
improvement, we shall deserve to lose our territory and win 
the contempt of the world. 

Ever Yours, 


Reviews the Drafted Troops 

Augusta, Feb. 27, 1839. 
My Dear Wife, 

You will perhaps be surprised to learn that I have turned 
soldier. But don't be alarmed. I have no present intention of 
going to the seat of the war. 

Yesterday, the drafted troops assembled here to the num- 
ber of perhaps six or seven hundred were very anxious to have 
me review them, and Gen. Bachelder, having circulated a report 
that I was to do it, I found that it would not do for me to disap- 
point public expectation. So I mounted my horse and acted the 
Commander-in-Chief. The day, as you know, was lovely. I 
had a horse belonging to Thomas W. Smith of this place, the 
finest saddle horse I ever knew. The concourse of spectators 
was immense, perhaps some thousands. The windows of all the 
houses were full, tops of houses covered, trees full of boys, and 
the streets crowded with men. 

After reviewing the troops, that is, in the first place, by 
taking my station in front in the center with my aids, the Adjt. 
Genl., «&c., I then advance a few steps, take off my hat and the 
whole brigade salute me by presenting arms — flourish of music. 
I then go to the right of the Brigade & walk my horse down the 
whole length of the line in front, merely inspecting the men and 
their arms ; then pass back in the rear of the troops, down again 
in front to the center. The troops are then put in motion, and 
are made to pass me, I standing uncovered & receiving the sa- 
lute of the officers as they pass. 


Grandson oF George Fairfield and Great-Grandson of John Fairfield 

He was killed in Italy in the first year of the war with 

Germany at the age of 18 years 


After reviewing them, in this manner, they were drawn 
into a hollow square, and I made a short address to them, de- 
signed to infuse into them a little spirit and military ardor. My 
address was only about five minutes long, and was responded 
to by the shouts and claps of the whole multitude. It is spoken 
highly of, but whether in flattery or not, can't say. You will 
judge for yourself tomorrow, when you will see it in the paper. 

The troops are in excellent spirits and anxious to march 
for the Aroostook. 

How all this is to end, I know not, but I am conscious of 
having thus far done my duty. Events are in the hands of a 
Wise and Good Being, and with his orderings, I will endeavor to 
be content. 

Ever Yours, 


Waiting for Word From Washington 

Augusta, March 3d, 1839. 
My Dear Wife, 

No news yet from Washington. Last night we should 
have had the President's message, but there was no mail south 
of Boston. How provoking! Nothing has occurred since my 
last to change the aspect of affairs. The news from Washing- 
ton may. 

Last night I received a most elegant and valuable present 
from Col. Cross of Portland — to wit, one of "Cutting's patent 
rifles" — cost $100. Perhaps you may recollect of my speak- 
ing of the agreeable acquaintance I formed with him a short 
time since when on my way from here to Saco. He commands 
the Portland regiment and is under marching orders for the 
Aroostook. It, the present, is an elegant affair and will be 
properly appreciated. 

Your Husband, 


P. S. Charles Waterhouse, the Clerk of the House, was 
taken sick last Monday and died on Friday. He is to be buried 
today. He was a very estimable man & is much lamented. A 
very handsome contribution of over $500 has been taken among 
the members of the Legislature. 


A Letter to His Son Walter 

Augusta, March 6, 1839. 
Dear Walter, 

In reply to yours received yesterday I must refer you to 
your mother for an answer to your request to go to Standish. 
Situated as I am, it is impossible for me to say whether it would 
be proper for you or not. I don't know how good a boy you 
have been. I know nothing about the state of your clothes. I 
don't know how much Old Dick may be wanted at home, &c., 
&c. These are things about which your Mother can judge 
much better than myself. You say you have had 11 pigs, and 
that four have died. Do these include both litters? 

Poor little lamb with his bitten head. Old Dick ought to 
be deprived of his oats a whole week to punish him for his 

The troops are mustering here today from Oxford & Port- 
land. They are noble looking fellows and I believe mean to in- 
sist on my reviewing them tomorrow. 

If the news from Washington tonight should be favorable, 
perhaps I can make my arrangements so as to be at home in 2 
or 3 weeks. The Legislature will probably rise the last of next 
week, if the state of our frontier difficulties should not require 
them to remain in session. 

Very affectionately, Your Father 


Reviews the Troops From Oxford 

Augusta, March 9, 1839. 
My Dear Wife, 

The troops from Oxford and a small detachment from 
Portland were yesterday paraded on the field in front of the 
Capitol and reviewed by the Governor. I tried to avoid it, but 
it was insisted on, and I had to consent. The troops numbered 
1,000 and the spectators perhaps two thousand. I made a little 
speech to the troops which was received with tremendous 

General Scott is here, and is now the lion of the day. He is 
often at my rooms and I find him to be very agreeable. Last 
night some twenty of us were at Dan'l Williams' and had a 
splendid treat. Today we dine with Maj. Ripley. This looks 
rather dissipated, but you must recollect how hard we have 


been at work and how necessary a little relaxation is. Great 
anxiety is manifested here, to hear from me upon the subject 
of our difficulties, and the proposed arrangement between Mr. 
Fox and Mr. Fonsyth. Monday I shall gratify them and send a 
message to the Legislature. I hope I shall be able to take a 
course which shall preserve our honor and yet not unnecessa- 
rily provoke hostilities. 

The Legislature may rise the first of next week, or the first 
of the week after, in which case I hope I may be able to go home 
in the course of the same week, say by the 23d. About this, 
however, I cannot speak with any confidence. 

My health, under all the excitement and labors, remains 
good. I have scarcely had the slightest touch of a cold for the 


Points a Way Out of Trouble 

Augusta, March 15, 1839. 
My Dear Wife, 

I sent a message to the Legislature yesterday, advising 
them not to agree to the "memorandum" signed at Washing- 
ton by the diplomatic agents of the countries. You will see the 
message in the papers and my reasons. I think they will prove 
satisfactory to all. A collision of arms, however, will not neces- 
sarily follow. On the contrary, I point out a mode in which the 
whole thing may be adjusted without difficulty, and I have now 
but little doubt that it will be so adjusted. 

The Legislature are talking about getting up by the last of 
next week. 

Last night Mr. Reuel Williams gave a very fine entertain- 
ment at which I had the honor and pleasure to be present. After 
our return General Scott and myself were invited into the ball 
room, where we spent a half hour or so. 

I have an invitation to dine on Monday next with the St. 
Patrick's Benevolent Society. So you see we are endeavoring 
to enjoy ourselves here, notwithstanding the bellicose aspect 
of things. Hope soon to be able to beat the sword into the 
ploughshare and to go to work upon our humble farm. 
Ever Yours, 


The boys at the High School are declaiming my addresses 
to the soldiers here. 

The Year 1840 — Second Year as Governor. 

The political campaign of 1840 has gone on record as the 
most boisterous in American history. It was the year of 
national as well as state election and marked the great revival 
of the Whig party, culminating in the election of General 
Harrison to the Presidency of the United States. 

In no state was there greater campaign excitement than in 
Maine. In fact, it was believed, at the time, that the National 
election was much aided by the result of the September election 
in Maine, when, in the language of a poet wit of the time, 
"Maine went hell bent for Governor Kent," and this campaign 
slogan which so tickled the fancy of the throngs that crowded 
the Whig rallies and aroused the most uproarious applause 
whenever quoted by the Whig spell-binders, has come down 
to us as a part of Maine's political history. 

This was known and remains known to this day, as "the 
hard cider and coonskin campaign." The Whigs at their na- 
tional convention had nominated Gen. Harrison of Ohio for 
President and John Tyler of Virginia for Vice-President. As 
they could agree on no principle except that of opposition to 
Van Buren, they wisely adopted no platform at all. However, 
they did vote to raise money. This called forth the Portland 
Argus' pithy remark that "in money and machinery it had im- 
plicit confidence, but no faith in its principles." The Demo- 
crats were more definite in stating the Whigs' platform than 
were the Whigs themselves, for their circular declared that the 
Whigs "favored an assumption of State debts, a splendid and 
extravagant system of internal improvements, a high tariff for 
protection and a United States Bank." The Democrats, of 
course, stood for the opposite of all these. The candidates for 
Governor in Maine were Kent and Fairfield, as the year before. 

The Whigs, generally speaking, were afraid to advocate 
specific measures, except, perhaps, the repeal of the sub-treas- 
ury bill, so they resorted to spouting demagogism and abusing 


their opponents. The Democrats played into their hands. They 
sneered at Harrison and a Democratic paper in Baltimore pub- 
lished a letter stating that a Clay man had said, after the Whig 
nomination, "Give Harrison a barrel of hard cider and settle a 
pension of $2,000 a year on him, and, my word for it, he will 
sit the remainder of his days in his log cabin, by the side of a 
sea-coal fire, and study moral philosophy." 

The Whigs called their candidate a "man of the plain 
people, the honest old farmer of Ohio," and the Hero of Tippe- 
canoe. Of the latter they made much. The Democrats called 
him in ridicule, "old Granny Harrison," and "the candidate with 
a padlock on his mouth." They bitterly attacked his civic as 
well as his military record. 

In Maine each party accused his opponents of employing 
unworthy methods. A Farmington paper said that the Whig 
ladies were wearing little gold cider barrels on their bracelets 
and watchguards, and that it feared that this would result in 
their all becoming intemperate. The Saco Democrat bade its 
political brethren "Organize. Imitate the zeal but not the 
malignity of your opponents. They keep their spirits up by 
pouring spirits down." 

No political campaign in Maine either before or since was 
carried on with so much hurrah and excitement and at- 
tended by so many sensational features as was this one. And 
so it is most interesting to read these letters from the Demo- 
cratic candidate for Governor to his wife, straight from the 
political battleground, for the Governor was in Augusta at the 
time of the election and off and on subsequently while the 
election was being contested. 

The Whigs opened their State campaign with a monster 
convention that met at the State House, June 17. Although there 
had been freshets that had recently washed away bridges in 
many parts of the State, yet thousands poured into the capital 
city from the remotest sections of the State, and by every mode 
of conveyance. Some appeared on the streets on horseback, 


their garments dripping water, where they had plunged their 
steeds into the swollen water where the bridges had gone out. 

An enthusiastic partisan from an adjoining town paraded 
the streets with a long string of oxen and steers, drawing a log 
cabin, hung over with coon skins, while within, the projector 
shocked the temperance principles of the Democrats by selling 
hard cider to the shouting and thirsty Whigs. 

The convention was presided over by Rufus K. Goodenow, 
a prominent politician of the time, who severely arraigned the 
financial policy of the Democratic party, that had "hurried the 
country from an era of unexampled prosperity to the verge of 
bankruptcy." A committee on resolutions presented a lengthy 
series of resolutions, which would be looked upon today as a lit- 
erary curiosity, being nothing more than a prolonged stump 
speech. Senator John Holmes exhausted his rhetoric and wit 
arraigning the Democratic party and, at the close of the conven- 
tion, in response to the shouts of the "cider-gu^zling Whigs," 
appeared on the balcony of the State House and read a poem of 
sixteen verses understood to have been his own composition. 
This doggerel was received with the most uproarious applause 
by the masses that crowded the State House grounds. 

Here are a few of the verses, which show the sort of stuff 
which the spell-binders depended upon in political gatherings 
75 years ago: 

It rather seems that humbug schemes 
Can never more cajole us. 
There's such a run for Harrison 
That nothing can control us. 
The western world's the flag unfurled. 
No faction can divide her, 
And all the rest will sign the test — 
"Log Cabin and Hard Cider." 

Come, farmers all, attend the call, 
'Tis working like a charmer, 
Hitch on the team and start with him, 
For he's a brother farmer. 


His cabin's fit and snug and neat, 
And full and free his larder, 
And though his cider may be hard, 
The times are vastly harder. 

Let Grundy sneer and Benton jeer, 
The day of Retribution 
We firmly trust will be for us 
A day of Restitution. 

With social joys, our wives, girls and boys, 
Our Cabins and our Cider, 
We'll shout as one for Harrison, 
And spread his glories wider. 

With all this parade of log cabins and coon skins and 
expenditure for hard cider, and all the enthusiasm and hooray, 
Kent barely pulled through. In fact, the election was for a long 
time uncertain, as these letters of Governor Fairfield show. Bo^h 
parties were unwilling to admit that there had been no choice. 
The Democrats stated that 28 votes had been cast for Hannibal 
Hamlin for Governor, under the mistaken impression that he 
was the party candidate for Governor instead of for Congress, 
and that a correction of this error, with other changes which 
should be made, would give Fairfield a majority. 

The Whigs also believed that certain returns were invalid 
and it is said that some wished to have the Legislature declare 
Kent elected by the people, but more prudent counsels prevailed. 
The report of a joint committee that there was no election was 
acquiesced in, the House sent to the Senate the names of Kent 
and Fairfield, and the Senate, in which the Whigs were in con- 
trol, elected Kent Governor. 

The Whigs throughout the country expressed great elation 
because they had carried Maine and the young state was put on 
the map politically. All through the fall campaign was heard the 
famous song, or rather the ending to a song, 

"Oh, have you heard how old Maine went? 
She went, hell-bent, for Governor Kent, 
And Tippecanoe and Tyler, too, 
Tippecanoe and Tyler, too." 


The Democrats in Maine were much disappointed by the 
defeat of Fairfield, but they made a gallant attempt to rally for 
the Presidential election. The Democratic members of the Leg- 
islature issued an address which began : "The result of the late 
election has been to all a source of mortification and chagrin. 
Our partial defeat, however it may have been brought about, 
should now engage our attention, only so far as it may serve to 
throw light upon the future and guide us in the way of duty. 
Crimination and recrimination can do no good. If all have not 
done their duty, the approaching election affords ample oppor- 
tunities for amends." 

Their efforts were unavailing, however. Harrison carried 
Maine by 411 majority and swept the country. "The battle is 
over," said the Argus, "and Hard Cider is triumphant." The 
Democrats claimed that the Whigs had triumphed by means of 
fraud, slander and money, probably supplied by a British 
source. This was the opinion of Gov. Fairfield, as evidenced 
by one of the following leitters. 

Second Winter at Augusta 

Augusta, Jan. 9, 1840. 
Dear Wife, 

I have been very anxious, especially to hear about little 
Hammy. Give me full information respecting him. How did 
the tonic vermifuge operate with him? Tell me also all about 
the rest of the children and generally how you get along. My 
mind, not being so constantly employed about public business 
as it was last year, hovers about home a good deal more. Our 
notion of writing only when private opportunities occur for 
sending letters, must be abandoned. Let us write once a week 
at least, to each other. The postage is a mere trifle. 

To give you some little account of myself, I would inform 
you that I am at my old quarters at Hutchins', though my 
establishment has been somewhat reduced. I have given up the 
bed-room attached to my parlor and have taken a bed into the 
latter. This, in addition to reducing the price of board to ten 
dollars, I find to be very much promotive of comfort. You know 
I always had a strong desire for a warm room to go to bed in. 
"Sylvester" also builds a good fire every morning before day- 
light, and, would you believe it, I have several mornings got 
up and read a long time by candle light, after shaving and 
"doing my toilet." This habit I fear is too good to last long. 
I shall, however, keep it up as long as I can. 

I have already read "Nicholas Nickleby," 2 vols.; "Lord 
Brougham's Opinion," 1 vol. ; Murray's "March in North Amer- 
ica," 2 vols. ; "The Black Dwarf," 1 vol., and am now reading 
"Old Mortality," 2 vols. This, with my political reading, 
has kept me from being idle, I can assure you. Let me tell you 
also of another reform, if you choose to call it so, to wit, that 
I have not tasted a drop of coffee or tea since I have been here — 
nothing but milk, excepting at tea time, when I take a cup of 
hot water, milk it and sugar it well, and this answers all the 
purpose of the best of tea. I have not persevered long 
enough yet in the practice to judge of its effect upon my health, 
except that it is not injurious thus far. 

We are having very quiet times here, there being but few 
offices to fill, Augusta is not thronged as it was last year with 
strangers. And as for my cihamber, iit seems to be quite a 
retired and almost lonely spot. 

A Council has been chosen, but a quorum have not yet 
arrived, so we are unable to do any business. Three of the old 


Council are re-elected, to wit, Lyon, Fletcher & Webb. The 
four new ones are old Doct. Bumham of Hancock County, Col. 
Wilson of York, a Mr. Eastman of Somerset and Mr. Talbot 
of Washington. I think the Legislature has given me this year 
a very good council. 

Ever Yours, 


Finds Time for Charades 

Augusta, Jan. 11, 1840. 
Dear Wife, 

My new Council have not got in yet, and of course we are 
doing nothing. Last night I was up to Judge Fuller's where 
there were some eight or ten gentlemen and ladies. Had a 
very pleasant time, and among other amusements, played 
plays, can't describe them now. Had one game of chess with 
Judge Fuller who is an old hand at it, and beat him, at which 
he seemed a little vexed. Vows he'll pay me for it. We also 
had lots of charades, among which was the following, which by 
the way, was made last September by a Mrs. Gould of Boston 
who was visiting at Judge Fuller's. 


My first, to employ a lady's eyes. 

And hands, and heart, is seen; 

Is often used a general term. 

Though due to fresh eighteen. 

My next, the gifts of Heaven conveys. 

And makes our Country blest; 

My whole deserves to be your praise, 

And you must guess the rest. 

There, if you can puzzle it out, very well ; if you can't, I'll 
help you in my next. It is not often, however, that you need 
any aid in things of this sort. 

My washerwoman has just sent home 4 shirts, 6 collars, 
&c., white as the driven snow. She is not the one I employed 
last winter, but I am inclined to think, much better. 


Sunday Afternoon, Jan. 12 

Have been to meeting all day and had two excellent ser- 
mons from Mr. Cole of Hallowell, it being also communion day. 
Many of the members attend this meeting, so that the house is 
now pretty well filled. 

By the way, we have upon our tea table very frequently 
pumpkin preserve and it is really very good. I should like to 
have you try it. You have a way of preserving apples in a short 
time which I always liked much. I think you may use pump- 
kin m the same way. It is not 

When I had written thus far, Judge Weston gave me a call 
and after chatting with him about an hour, I resumed my pen 
but could not for my life recollect what I was saying when I 
was interrupted. Of course it was not of much consequence. 

Augustine Haines is here from Portland — came in today. 
He is endeavoring to aid John Appleton in procuring the 
appointment of Register of Probate in Cumberland, that office 
having become vacant by the death of John L. Megquier. There 
are several candidates and all very pressing. Can't please all — 
wish I could. Near 1/2 past 10, so good night. 

Monday Afternoon. — New Council came in this morning 
and were qualified, except Col. Wilson from York. Doctor 
Burnham is a real old patriarch, full of religion, politics and 
fun, all most delightfully commingled. He is not, by the way, 
the Doctor Burnham who married the quondam wife of Bill 
Fairfield and whom we saw, you recollect, at Unity some years 
ago. This one is, I should think, some 70 years old, if not 

Tuesday Afternoon. — Soon after the mail bringing your 
good letter, came in last evening. Col. Reddington of this town 
called and invited me to ride over to Danl. Williams' with him 
and pass the evening, which I did, enjoying it very much. Had 
one game of chess with the Colonel and, playing very care- 
lessly, was beaten. Augustine left this morning before I was 
up. John Holmes is here today, so I suppose something is 
brewing in favor of Granny Harrison. The session, I am in- 
clined to think, will not be long. They are now talking of hav- 
ing an extra session to take up the subject of the revised stat- 
utes. If this project should prevail, as is more than probable, 
the present session will be short — i.e., it will not extend into 


Thursday Evening, Jan. 16. — Today I nominated John 
Appleton for Register of Probate, the delegation from Cumber- 
land being equally divided between him and a Mr. Leach. 

If you can procure "Nicholas Nickleby" I advise you to 
read it. It is excellent — much better than "Oliver Twist" and 
that is saying a great deal. 

Friday Afternoon. — Have nothing new to add, except that 
it has just occurred to me to ask you to send me a box of chess 
men by Mr. Tucker, or by any other opportunity that occurs. 
Weather still very cold. I have just learned that Col. Spring 
& A. Goodwin are in town, and I am every moment expecting a 
call from them. Hope they have brought letters for me. At 
all events, their return will afford a good opportunity to send 
mine. I have also just heard of the loss of the steamboat Lex- 
ington by burning with 110 passengers on board, all of whom, 
dreadful to relate, it is said are lost, excepting three. Among 
all the late disasters this is the most horrible. I have not heard 
the names of the passengers, but have no doubt some of them 
will prove to have been from Maine. 

Mr. Goodwin & Col. S. have been in. They bring letters 
from Mr. Emery and Mr. Haines. By the former, I learn that 
L — has not yet sent the deeds of the Tennessee lands, but he. 
L — , says that "I am assured that by tomorrow I shall have the 
deeds which shall be forwarded at once." I believe him to be 
a great rogue and have pretty much made up my mind that I 
have lost my $300. 

Sunday Morning. — It seems there were very few persons 
from this State on board the Lexington — a Mr. Hinckley and a 
Mr. Peirce from Portland are the only persons I have yet heard 
named. Professor Follen & wife, it seems, were on board — 
the latter, you know, was the author of tales of married life 
that we all admired so much — Oh, how much misery this dread- 
ful accident will cause. 

We have no news here of any sort. Col. S. and A. G. G. 
are still here, and I believe expect to remain several days. I 
shall avail myself of their return to forward this long, desul- 
tory, and I fear uninteresting epistle. I enclose a receipt for 
pumpkin preserve. By the way, I have reed, a letter from 
Geo.Folsom,N. H.,to whom I had written upon the subject, say- 
ing that the publishers of the New Era had no bill against me. 
That he had sent it gratuitously and should continue so to do. 
Enough for one sheet. 

Yours as Ever, J. F. 


Many Social Festivities 

Augusta, Jan. 21, 1840. 
Dear Wife, 

Thursday night I have an invitation for tea at Mr. Allen's 
at Gardiner. The small social party here seems to be taking 
the place of jams; and plays, of dancing. For one I have no 
objection to both, regarding them as decided improvements. 

You can hardly imagine what a still and quiet time I am 
having here this winter, no war, no offices to give away, the 
Whigs as mum as oysters, and the Democrats half asleep. 
Really, unless something occurs soon to excite the political ele- 
ments, this place will be fairly entitled to the appellation of 
"sleepy hollow." I enclose you Rules & Orders of Council, a 
list of recipes and a specimen of Provincial eloquence. 

They talk here of a short session. I hope it will not end 
in talk. I long to be at home. Not that I am what we call 
homesick, but the older I grow, the more I become attached to 
home and the joys that cluster around the domestic fireside. I 
doubt, though, whether you will see me until the close of the 
session, certainly not if it be likely to terminate by the first of 

Your Husband, 


Death of a Friend 

Wednesday, Jan. 22, 1840, 1-4 past 11. 
My Dear Wife, 

It is with pain inexpressible that I inform you of the 
death of my friend, A. G. Goodwin. He expired about 10 min- 
utes ago, after an illness of a little more than a day. 

On Monday afternoon he came into my room and after sit- 
ting a little while threw himself upon the sofa where he 
remained perhaps some 15 minutes, when he arose, walked to the 
fire and seemed to be very cold, shivering much. I advised him 
to go to bed & take a sweat and he thereupon went up to his 
uncle's room, went to bed, took from his uncle some warm 
medicine and that night sweat profusely. 

The next morning the fever appeared to have been broken 
up and I thought he was in a fair way to get out again imme- 
diately. In the afternoon I went again to his room & found 


him up and dressed, the girl making his bed. Was there again 
in the evening as late as 1/2 past 10. Saw then no particular 
alteration in him and presumed that he would be out soon, in- 
deed he himself insisted that he must go out today. In the 
night — say 2 or 3 o'clock — his uncle who staid with him, says 
he grew worse, complained of pain in his head, got up once or 
twice himself and bathed it. 

Before daylight, it was concluded to send for a physician 
and at Amos' request Doctor Briggs, who was a classmate of 
his, was sent for. He immediately let blood and finding that he 
was very restless, administered a dose of opium. About 9 
o'clock I went to his room, asked him how he did. He replied 
"I am worse this morning," but I had not the least apprehen- 
sion that he was then dangerous. 

Soon after I left, say I/4 past 9, he began to be delirious and 
gave other indications of failing. Immediately after the meet- 
ing of the Council at 10 o'clock, I went to his chamber, intend- 
ing to spend the day with him. When I arrived, however, I 
found him apparently in a stupor and breathing with great 
difficulty. Soon after Dr. Hubbard of Hallowell arrived, and he, 
after many inquiries and a private consultation with Dr. Briggs, 
pronounced the difl[iculty to be apoplectic affection of the brain 
and that nothing would save him but taking blood from the 
temple, and he doubted whether even that would. This was 
done, but in less than half an hour he expired. For the last two 
hours or so, he did not appear to have his senses — and before 
that time I do not think he was aware of his danger. 

A two-horse sleigh will start with the body tomorrow 
morning & reach home tomorrow night. Col. Spring will start 
at the same time, by whom I shall send this letter & others 
heretofore written. There is nothing important in the others 
and you had better lay them aside unopened for the present. 
I fear they are much too light to be read while this affliciting 
event is so fresh in our minds. It will be a dreadful blow to 
his wife & relations. I sympathize with them deeply, but can 
do nothing for them. There is one source of consolation, how- 
ever, to which they may resort which never fails — the goodness 
of God, the benevolence of his dispensations, however grievous 
they may appear, the certainty of immortality and the union 
of friends in another world, will afford a consolation that the 
world can neither give nor take away. 

Yours as ever, 



Gov. Fairfield's Views on Total Depravity 

Augusta, Jan. 25, 1840. 
Dear Wife, 

What can have become of Mr. Tucker? We have been 
looking for him all the session. I have been the more desirous 
for him to arrive as I expect letters by him. An order was 
moved in the House the other day inquiring what members 
were absent and the reasons therefor, &c. More a matter of 
sport, I suppose, than anything else. 

I did not go down to Gardiner on Thursday evening as I 
once contemplated. The weather was cold and unpleasant and 
besides my feelings were too depressed at that time to per- 
mit my contributing a fair share to the enjoyments of a social 
party ; nor have they yet recovered from that depression. The 
death of Mr. G. was so sudden, so unexpected, and under such 
peculiar circumstances that it could not fail to make a deep and 
painful impression. But God in his goodness has so consti- 
tuted us that the afflictive events of his providence may in time 
be forgotten — or remembered only with the bright and happy 
scenes and events of life intermingled, and thereby robbed of 
all their poignancy. What a merciful provision of a Kind 
Father this is ! Were it otherwise, our lot in this world would 
be perpetual misery, our life a grievous burthen. 

Sunday Noon, Jan. 26. Mr. Crufft being too unwell to 
preach today, I strolled away to the orthodox church and heard 
Doctor Tappan deliver one of his stiffest sermons upon the 
subject of total depravity. 

He goes the whole figure, filling us from the crown of the 
head to the sole of the foot with innate, hereditary, total de- 
pravity, from which he said we had no more power to rid our- 
selves than a corpse had the power to restore itself to life and 
that we shall all, nevertheless, be eternally damned unless we 
are relieved from it. 

This doctrine is not only utterly abhorrent to all the better 
feelings of the heart, but utterly at war with the plainest dic- 
tates of common sense and common justice. And when I hear 
a man preaching it, as I did today, and illustrating by a refer- 
ence to children, I cannot help thinking that he must have a 
very bad heart himself, and must, moreover, be cursed with a 
very perverse set of children. However, I think I shall go to 
hear him again this afternoon. I do not like to stay at home, 
and I have no very great desire to go to the Unitarian and hear 


a tailor by the name of Hawes read a sermon, although it be 
one of Doctor Channing's. 

Sunday Afternoon. The doctor gave us this afternoon 
the end of what he began this morning, in inferences from the 
positions then established. Judge Weston has just given me his 
usual Sunday afternoon call, spending about an hour in inter- 
esting chat. The Judge is really a very interesting companion. 

Monday Afternoon, Jan. 27. On making this date I am 
reminded that it is Sister Mary's birthday, she being 41 years 
old. Mine comes on Thursday next. We have no excitement 
here, but little business and ample leisure to read. I went into 
the library today and took "The Court and Camp of Bona- 
parte," 1 vol. and "Russell's Life of Cromwell," 2 vols., and 
since that Mrs. Williams has sent me Stephens' travels in "Ara- 
bia and the Holy Land," 2 vols. So you see I have work enough 
before me. 

Have you got hold of "Nicholas Nickleby" yet? To give 
you some idea of the power of the author, at least in the way 
of description, let me give you his description of the house and 
furniture of old Gride, a miser. "In an old house, dismal, dark 
and dusty, which seemed to have withered like himself, and to 
have grown yellow and shrivelled in hoarding him from the 
light, as he had in hoarding his money, lived Arthur Gride. 
Meagre old chairs and tables of spare, bony make, and hard 
and cold as misers' hearts, were ranged in grim array against 
the gloomy walls — attenuated presses, grown lank and lantern- 
jawed in guarding the treasures they enclosed, and tottering as 
though from constant fear and dread of thieves, shrank up in 
dark corners, whence they cast no shadow on the ground, and 
seemed to hide and cower from observation. 

"A tall, grim clock up on the stairs, with long, lean hands 
& famished face, ticked in continuous whispers, and when it 
struck the time in thin and piping sounds, like an old man's 
voice, rattled as if 'twere pinched with hunger. No fireside 
couch wos there to invite repose and comfort. Elbow chairs 
were there, but they looked uneasy in their minds, cocked their 
arms suspiciously & timidly and kept upon their guard. Others 
were fantastically grim and gaunt, as having drawn them- 
selves up to their utmost height and put on their fiercest looks 
to stare all comers out of countenance. Others again," &c., 
but I must stop — this is enough for my purpose. Really, Boz. 
is one of the greatest geniuses living ! 


A Tea Party at Gardiner 

Tuesday Afternoon. Last night Mr. Blake of the Senate & 
myself having an invitation, went down to Mr. Allen's at Gar- 
diner and had rather a pleasant time. I would not say as one 
did after dining out with a friend "that everything was cold but 
the ice and everything sour but the vinegar." I would only say 
that if the rooms had been better warmed, the coffee not quite 
so cold, and the toast had been made of baker's bread, I think 
we should have "enjoyed our tea" a little better. But this is 
making a poor return for the extreme kindness with which we 
were treated and so I have no more to say about it. 

The whole family were very amiable and disposed to make 
everybody happy. The girls sing, play upon the piano, write 
poetry, and talk like a book and the old lady is a perfect library 
of ancient history. Fortunately, she requires but little more 
than a good listener, otherwise I should have found myself 
pretty often against a stump. 

Mrs. Cheever and daughter were there, the mother and 
sister of the celebrated George Cheever, formerly minister at 
Salem, now at New York, and the author of the famous dream 
called "Deacon Giles' distillery." I found the daughter very 
pleasant, intelligent and talented, besides playing well on the 
piano and singing pretty fair. Mr. Foote of Wiscasset had two 
daughters, but I saw but little of them except that they were 
rather pretty. In all, there were about a dozen of us, and upon 
the whole we had a very good time. 

This afternoon it is snowing again. Nothing new except 
that I think the news from Washington looks a little more 
belligerent than it has heretofore. Shall expect something 
more positive in a few days. 

Gov. Fairfield's 43d Birthday 

Thursday Afternoon, Jan. 30. This day I pass the 43d year- 
stone in the great journey of life. In casting my eye back along 
the way I have trod, I find innumerable deficiencies and sins to 
lament, and uncounted mercies of God to be thankful for. My 
life ha.« certainly been somewhat of an eventful one and though 
my path has not always been scattered with roses, I feel that 
I have enjoyed a greater measure of happiness than I deserved. 


Next month comes your birthday, when, I believe, you will 
be 35 — am I right? Let me exhort you to spend it in reflec- 
tions upon the past with a view to a better improvement of the 
future. I do not say this in my capacity of husband, finding 
fault with his wife, for in that relation, thank God, I have 
much to commend and but little to censure, but as a preacher 
to a fellow mortal. However, lest you should turn upon me 
with the charge that like a guide post I point the way in which 
I do not walk myself, I will consult discretion, the better part 
of valor, so far as to say no more about the matter. 

Nothing further yet from Washington. Shall expect 
something tonight. Our monotony was yesterday broken in 
upon by a most abusive political speech from Chadbourne of 
Eastport, who was replied to by D. in the same spirit. A little 
cayenne now & then, I'm inclined to think, won't do much harm. 
Today we have rain, but it is too cold to permit the snow to 
run off. 

Sunday Noon, Feb. 2d. Blake and I have agreed to accept 
the invitation of Mr. Allen and go down to Gardiner to church 
this afternoon. After our return I will add a word or two 

Monday Morning. After my return last evening I found 
a document on my table from Washington & so postponed my 
letter till this morning. The church at Gardiner was very 
handsomely & tastefully decorated ; we had a middling sermon, 
took tea & spent the evening at Mr. Gardiner's & altogether 
had a fine time. Nelly read to us some half hour from a poem 
which she is writing, and I must confess it surpassed a good 
deal what I had anticipated. 

I have been watching the movements of the Legislature for 
some time to see whether the session was to be a prolonged 
one or not. I am now pretty well satisfied that it will be of the 
usual length, say to continue to the last of March, and there- 
fore I am half inclined to go home next Saturday or the Satur- 
day after. I shall send this by mail, so that you may be pre- 
pared to receive the Governor and not be caught in your disha- 
bille. However, don't rely on my coming, I shall keep further 
watch upon the movements of the Legislature and if I am con- 
firmed in my present opinion and the weather is suitable, I shall 
start, otherwise not. 

Ever Yours, 



A Round of Gaiety 

Augusta, Feb. 17, 1840. 
Dear Wife, 

I had a remarkably pleasant ride down for a stage ride. 
Had the sleigh principally to myself and of course kept curtains 
rolled up and had all the benefit of the fresh air which gener- 
ally prevents my being stage sick. We reached Portland much 
earlier than was anticipated. 

When I arrived here, found that Gen. Merrill & wife had 
been occupying my chamber and my narrow bed. Things some- 
what in confusion, didn't much like the liberty taken by my 
landlord, though as there was a lady in the case, I, of course, 
smothered my wrath. 

On Wednesday evening, after my return on Tuesday, there 
was a most magnificent party at Danl. Williams', at which 
probably there were over 200 persons, and which approached 
more nearly to a Washington party than anything I have seen 
here. On Friday Genl. Chandler gave a dinner party for about 
a dozen of us which was a very pleasant one. On Saturday 
evening Judge Fuller came down, as he said, to pay me off for 
the game of chess I beat him one evening at his house, and 
thereupon I sat down and beat him four games in succession at 
which the poor Judge was considerably mortified. 

The Legislature are moving along a little more rapidly, 
though no one can predict the end of the session as yet. 

Friday Afternoon. I suppose I ought to acknowledge to 
you, between whom and myself you know there should be no 
secrets, that I have been somewhat dissipated since my visit 
home, that is to say I have attended a party at Danl. Williams', 
one at Deacon Means', do. at Mr. Potter's, do. at Judge Wes- 
ton's, do. at Capt. Berry's in Gardiner, and dinner party at 
Gen. Chandler's. This will do pretty well for so short a time, 
won't it ? Last night I was down to Gardiner, took a little, not 
half a cup full of strong coffee, and for that or some other 
reason could not sleep any. The weather is very warm and the 
roads are getting to be very muddy. 

Sunday Afternoon. I have just returned from meeting 
and am enjoying a profuse sweat, such weather, I believe, 
never grew in February before. It is really uncomfortably 
warm. The snow is all gone and the mud has taken its place. 


In addition to the parties named above I may add to the 
list, a small one at Judge Fuller's on Friday evening. It was a 
real orthodox concern — Doctor Tappan with his church deacons 
and a few of his parish. We nevertheless had a pretty fair 
time. Doctor T. and I, among other things, discussed the sub- 
ject of slavery and I must confess that out of the pulpit he is 
not so morose and so much of a tyrant as he appears to be in it. 

Tuesday night I have an invitation to Marcellus A. Chand- 
ler's, but doubt whether I shall go. 

Many of the members begin to think that they may bring 
the session to a close by the middle of March. I hope and pray 
that they may. 

Ever Yours, 


Mrs. Longley*s Cheese 

Augusta, March 8, 1840. 
Dear Wife, 

You will have seen by the two papers I sent you that my 
good friend, Mrs. Longley, has at last brought down my great 
cheese and that we have written each other a somewhat flatter- 
ing, if not loving, letter. The cheese is a beauty, finely propor- 
tioned, and I hope of a good quality. At all events it looks well. 

With the personal appearance of Mrs. Longley I was some- 
what disappointed. I expected to see a tall, large, masculine- 
looking woman, one who could shoulder a piece of artillery if 
necessary and flog half a dozen men if insulted. But I found 
her to be a lady of say some fifty years of age, of middling size, 
good personal appearance, intelligent face and modest deport- 
ment. On the whole I was very much pleased with her. But 
this, I suspect, is saying enough for you. I should be sorry to 
excite your jealousy. However, I suppose you will forgive a 
good deal if I send home a good large piece of the cheese. My 
present intention is to cut out a slice, say 10 or 20 lbs., box it up 
and send home, and the remainder to cut up here and distribute 
among the members of the Legislature. This course I pro- 
posed to Mrs. Longley and she seemed to be pleased with it. 

The Legislature talks of rising one week from tomorrow, 
but I think it will be more likely to extend the session to two 
weeks from tomorrow. 


The good people here are having a great many small par- 
ties, to all of which I have an invitation and many of which I 

In reading some of Bryant's poetry today I was struck 
with the beauty of the following: 

"So live, that when thy summons come to join 
The innumerable caravan, that moves 
To that mysterious realm, where each shall take 
His chamber in the silent halls of death. 
Thou go not, like the quarry slave at night, 
Scourged to his dungeon, but, sustained and soothed 
By an unfaltering trust, approach thy grave. 
Like one who wraps the drapery of his couch 
About him, and lies down to pleasant dreams." 

What can be more soothingly beautiful than the last two 
lines? Let the boys, aye and the girls, too, commit it to 

Wednesday Afternoon. We have cut up the big cheese 
and this afternoon at 4 o'clock it is to be distributed to the 
members of the Legislature and all others who may think a 
slice worth calling for. It has cut up finely, is rich, well-fla- 
vored, and has not crumbled. I have caused a piece, weighing 
probably 40 or 50 lbs., to be cut out in a regular shape and 
placed in a box, made for the purpose, just big enough to con- 
tain it, so that it cannot crumble, for you. You probably, how- 
ever, will not receive it until you receive me. 

The Legislature now thinks of adjourning on Monday or 
Tuesday. The Council will remain only one day after the Leg- 
islature rises, so that you may expect to see me some time in the 
course of the week — i.e., next week. 

Last night attended a very pleasant chess party at Judge 
Fuller's, say half a dozen playing chess till 10, then having a 
cold roast turkey, ham, &c., &c. 

How do you like my proclamation? It certainly has one 
good quality, to wit, its brevity. Oh, I abominate a long, pros- 
ing proclamation of all things, and so, I believe, does almost 
everybody else. 

Evening. It seems when 4 o'clock arrived the House took 
a recess of an hour. One of the Whi?s sent off and got a barrel 
of "hard cider" and a Democrat half a dozen loaves of brown 
bread and with these and my cheese they had a very merry 
time of it. 


Thursday Morning. Nothing to add except to say that I 
doubt whether the Legislature gets up before Tuesday and per- 
haps Wednesday, so that by Thursday or Friday at longest I 
hope to see my dear wife and children. 

Ever Yours, 


Mr. Fairfield wrote no more letters until September, after the election 
in which he was defeated. 

Whigs Carry the State 

Augusta, Sept. 19, 1840. 
Dear Wife, 

I regret that I have no more agreeable communication to 
make to you than the fact of the almost complete rout and 
overthrow of the Democratic party in the late election. The 
Senate is clean gone. The House is yet doubtful. The Whigs 
have now chosen 86 — eight less than a majority — and there 
are some dozen towns in which there was no choice, and in 
which another election takes place next Monday. The votes 
for Governor are all in but a few towns in Oxford, Washington 
and the whole of the County of Aroostook. My majority, sup- 
posing these towns to do as well as they did in 1838, would be 
about 100. Seven of them have just come in showing a net 
gain for us of 10. How many scattering there may be I don't 
know, perhaps enough to prevent a choice. But if there be not 
and the Whigs have both branches of the Legislature, they will 
deprive me of any majority I may have short of 400 or 500. 

The result of the election is nearly as unexpected to the 
Whigs here as to us, and is almost inexplicable. A few of the 
causes we can see and their operation in future will be pre- 
vented, but the distribution and use of British gold we cannot 
well prevent. 

I trust I shall be able to meet this disaster like a Christian 
and a philosopher. By the blessing of God, it may result more 
beneficially to both of us than success. My spirits are by no 
means depressed and I begin to anticipate with some degree of 
satisfaction when my time will be divided between my profes- 
sional duties and the society of home. Rightly viewed and im- 
proved the event may not only serve to increase the fund of 
our social happiness, but essentially to promote in our hearts a 
sounder and more healthy moral condition. 

Great-Great-Grandson of Governor Fairfield 


I have the satisfaction to believe that we have not lost the 
election through any misconduct of mine. The battle has been 
fought almost exclusively upon national ground. Van Buren 
and Harrison have been kept before the people during the con- 
test much more than Kent and myself. 

My political friends here are not dismayed or disheartened, 
and seem determined to take hold and carry the State for Van 
Buren in November, as they undoubtedly can. 

Ever Yours, 


If an opportunity occurs I wish you would send my chess 
board and men. 

Making the Best of It 

Augusta, Sept. 25, 1840. 
Dear Wife, 

It is uncertain yet who has the majority of votes for Gov- 
ernor, if any one has. Our friends still insist that I have, while 
the Whigs insist that Mr. Kent has. The certainty of the mat- 
ter will probably not be known until the votes are counted by 
the Legislature. My own impression is that there is no choice. 

The Whigs are far less boisterous and overbearing than 
they were in 1837, indeed they seem quite meek. The reason is 
that they see we have the power to choose by the present Legis- 
lature the 10 Electors of President, a U. S. Senator for the next 
6 years, and district the State for the choice of Senators and 
Representatives so that it would not be changed for five years. 
With this power in our hands the Whigs are living in constant 
alarm lest we should exercise it. 

Notwithstanding our political reverses of fortune, the sun 
still continues to shine as pleasantly as ever, and pleasant par- 
ties and happy faces are by no means scarce. I have attended 
two large family, lady & gentleman, dinner parties at Judge 
Weston's and Daniel Williams', attended one wedding and been 
invited to another party which I could not attend. So you see 
I am not disposed to cry about the election, but to "make the 
best of it." As the Legislature will probably be Whig in both 
branches, Mr. Kent will, of course, be elected by them if he is 
not by the people. So there is a pretty certain prospect of your 
having me at home one winter at least. This is no slight offset 
in my estimation for the loss of office. 


Oh, I forgot to say that I want Davis to haul up to Grand- 
mother Fairfield a cord of dry hemlock wood. This I promised 
last spring, and perhaps she may be wanting it about this time. 

Ever Yours, 


May Not Be Defeated for Governor 

Augusta, Oct. 4, '40. 
Dear Wife, 

I am much obliged to you for your kind letter. I forgive 
the rejoicing of yourself and the children over my defeat when 
I consider its inducements. There is really no little comfort to 
myself in the idea of spending one winter at home. And be- 
sides the indulgence of the affections, I have reason to believe 
that I could make myself useful to the children at least. 

But what if I am elected after all? Would you believe it, 
after all the crowing on one side and giving up on the other, 
that I have a plurality of 147? It is even so, and with a fair 
count I apprehend it would appear that I am elected, for I do 
not believe there are scattering votes enough to prevent choice. 

The Legislature are driving on as fast as they can and will 
probably adjourn in the course of three weeks and possibly 

I am astonished that you could not prevail on Cousin Han- 
nah to make you a longer visit. If she is at Aunt Hartley's 
yet, you ought to invite her again. Miss Kettell, I suspect, will 
be along in a few days. Mr. Whidden and Bion Bradbury from 
Calais have been here and said that she was about leaving when 
they left. Tell her not to get homesick before I get back and 
I'll try to find a sweetheart for her. 

We had an ordination here last Thursday. Mr. Whitman 
was here and was very well. The sermon was by Mr. Peabody 
& pretty fair. Mr. Judd, the gentleman who is settled here, is 
a young man apparently of first rate talents. His sermons 
today were more than common. 

Let me hear from you again if you can. 

Love to all. 



I have broken open this letter to say that the majority on 
the Governor's vote has been reduced by corrections to 85. 


A Christmas Party and an Old Fashioned Sing 

Augusta, Dec. 26, 1840. 
Dear Wife, 

I had a pretty comfortable ride down notwithstanding it 
was cold and snowy. The weather for a day or two has been 
awful, and I have found it difficult to keep myself comfortable 
in my ice house of a chamber. Last night I went to bed about 
11 o'clock, leaving a good fire, another being made about day- 
light this morning by my boy, and yet water froze quite hard — 
ice 1/4 of an inch thick. 

Yesterday I attended religious services at the Church. 
The house was very prettily decorated and the services appro- 
priate, bating a good deal of flummery growing out of the 
church forms. 

Last night Mrs. Danl. Williams gave a fine Christmas 
party, where we had an abundance of "creature comforts" and 
also had a fine treat in the singing of some old-fashioned tunes, 
such as "Sherburne," &c. 

Tell M — her Representative, Mr. Lowell, is elected by a 
majority of two votes. The votes stood thus: 

Lowell 5194 

Noyes 5051 

Scate 139 

Ever Yours, 


Believes Kent Will Be Elected 

Augusta, Jan. 5, '41. 
Dear Wife, 

Nothing has occurred since I have been here to give us any 
more satisfaction in regard to the state of the votes for Gov- 
ernor. Both sides seem to be pretty confident of having a ma- 
jority, while I feel pretty confident that there is no election by 
the people and that Mr. Kent will be elected by the Legislature. 

Tomorrow I shall "qualify the Legislature" by adminis- 
tering the oaths of office. The Senate and House will then 
proceed to choose their clerks and presiding officers, and per- 
haps commit the votes for Governor the same day. I am in 
great hopes that matters will progress so fast and reach a final 
result early enough, in case I am not elected, to enable me to* 


reach home by Saturday night next. At present, however, this 
may be considered doubtful, especially as Mr. Kent is not here, 
and may not be until after he shall have been notified at Bangor 
of an election. 

Election Still Uncertain 

Augusta, Jan. 9, 1841. 
Dear Wife, 

The Committee having charge of the votes for Governor 
has not yet reported. The true state of the case, however, is 
known. The whole number of votes thrown is 91,237. I have, 
including 28 returned by mistake for Hannibal Hamlin which 

were thrown for me 45,588 

Kent has 45,579 

Leaving my majority over Kent 9 

There are, however, 70 scattering, & so of course there is 
no election. 

The Whigs are talking about rejecting all the votes from 
certain unincorporated places and the 28 from Springfield and 
then declare Mr. Kent elected. If they do this, there is no 
knowing when I shall be at home, for such an outrageous course 
will be strenuously opposed by my friends in the Legislature. 

My opinion rather is, however, that the Whigs will adopt 
the easiest and wisest course for themselves, that is to say, to 
count all the votes, thereby showing no election, and then to 
choose Mr. Kent by the Legislature. 

This, I hope, will be done up soon, for such a hungry set of 
office-seekers as now throng the Capitol I suspect were never 
congregated before. There are a score, at least, of mouths for 
every teat — of course 19 must go home gaunt and growling. 
Yours as ever, 



Letters of 1842-1843-1844. Governor and U. S. Senator. 

The letters of John Fairfield which are included in this 
chapter, include those written in 1842, 1843 and 1844. 

He wrote occasionally from Augusta during the session of 
1842 foreshadowing his renominastion for Governor for the third 
term and describing with some wit and much detail the simpler 
things of life at the State capitol. He was the Democratic 
nominee for Governor in 1842 against Edward Robinson, Whig, 
and James Appleton, Liberty Party. He was elected by a 
majority of over 14,000 in a total vote of about 72,000. 

He did not serve out his term as Governor. His letters 
foreshadow a plan, concerning which he speaks guardedly but 
which appears ito have been a political secret early in January 
and which probably was antecedent to Mr. Fairfield's consent 
to run a third term for Governor — the resignation of Reuel 
Williams as United States Senator and the election of Fair- 
field to his seat in the Senate. Mr. Fairfield speaks of this in 
a letter to his wife as early as January and compliments her 
on "guessing" so shrewdly what was in the political air. The 
resignation came late in February and Governor Fairfield, 
having the situation in hand, was chosen to succeed Senator 
Williams, Edward Kavanagh of Newcastle acting as Governor 
for the remainder of the year. 

We have but few letters from Mr. Fairfield from Washing- 
ton in 1843, for he did not go to Washington until December. 
He speaks of his mess-mates at Mrs. Scott's boarding-house 
on Pennsylvania Avenue, where he paid a "stiff price" of $9 
a week, as including Wright of New York and Mrs. Wright. 
Mr. Fairfield might well feel pleased to have so distinguished 
a man as Silas Wright, Senator from New York, as his com- 
panion. He was an eminent leader of the times, a most con- 
scientious old-school Jacksonian Democrat of the loftiest char- 
acter and greatest learning and much wisdom. He was a 
progressive farmer, a man of the country-side, loving a simple 


and pure life. In the Senate he ranked with Benton and Allen 
as active iconstructive forces. For a wonderful biography 
of Silas Wright, read Mr. Benton's remarkable summary of 
his life in the "Thirty Years View." 

We find in these letters more and more allusions to Mrs. 
Madison, widow of the former President and a distant relative 
by marriage of Mrs. Fairfield. He and his aristocratic kins- 
folk, the Cutts's, were frequently at Mrs. Madison's home in 
Washingiton. In his 1844 letters are many allusions to historic 
matters, the great Princeton disaster, the annexation of Texas, 
the growing disturbances that led to the war with Mexico, 
the great Millerite agitation which swept the country at that 
period, the prospects of his nomination for Vice-President at 
the Baltimore convention of that year and his aversion to the 
same. It is interesting to note that among his acquaintances 
of that day were Samuel F. B. Morse, the inventor of the 
"electric telegraph," and a young man named Fremont, who 
was afterward to be the path-finder, as he had already crossed 
the Rocky Mountains, and who was to be a candidate for Pres- 
ident after Mr. Fairfield had passed on. 

Makes More Nominations 

Augusta, Jan 20, 1842. 
My Dear Wife, 

You can imagine something of my cares and perplexities. 
I would not go through it again for a year's salary. Rejoice 
with me, however, that it is nearly over. Today I almost fin- 
ished the batch of nominations and, of course, as Danl. Web- 
ster said, I breathe deeper & freer. All the anxiety & trouble 
is up to the point of the nomination ; the moment that is made, 
I throw care to the dogs. Having done the best I could I let the 
consequences take care of themselves. 

Aunt Cutts will be glad to learn, and you had better send 
one of the boys with a note to inform her, that I, this day, nom- 
inated Mr. Lane Register of Probate. It required something of 
an effort, but I hope it will not prove very unacceptable to the 
people and it is a fact that there is a good deal of sympathy 
felt for him. 

My health has been good since I came here, though it has 
been sickly. One member, Mr. D., as you will have perceived by 
the papers, has died after an illness of three or four days and 
several have been sick. The scarlet fever prevails a good deal 
among the children and makes me think of home with no little 

How goes the singing and dancing? your every-day affairs, 
etc., etc. 

I looked in on the ball the other evening as you perhaps 
have seen by Tom Lane's soft-soaping letter in the Argus. This 
is the only dissipation in which I have yet indulged. 
Ever Yours, 


Augusta, Jan. 24, 1842. 
My Dear Wife, 

Judge Cony died a few days since of old age, being in his 
90th year. 

I called the other day to see Messrs. Williams, Daniel & 
Reuel, but they were both out, probably with Judge Cony who 
died the next day. I am almost afraid to meet Mrs. D. Williams 
after neglecting to appoint her husband Clerk of the Courts. I 
could not avoid doing as I did without disregarding the popu- 
lar will, which as a good Democrat, you know, I could not do. 


There was the case of "Uncle Stephen." It fairly wrung my 
heart to pass him over, but I could not help it. However, as 
some balm to both his and my spirit, I appointed his son Reg- 
ister of Probate. 

But I am rejoiced that the principal portion of this busi- 
ness is over. There are but a few of the minor offices left, so if 
you come down here, it must be purely by way of a visit for I 
have no office now to give you that you would probably take. 
Ever Yours, 


Remembers 45th Birthday 

Saturday, Jan. 29. I am inexpressibly shocked and 
astounded to read in the Portland papers that Mr. Edmund Cof- 
fin of Biddeford, died in Portland yesterday. The Sabbath 
evening before I left, you know, I was at his house. He then 
appeared to be entirely well. Since which I have heard noth- 
ing of him. 

Sunday Evening, Jan. 30. In writing the foregoing date it 
occurs to me, for the first time today, that it is my birthday. 
The lapse of 45 years ! While it speaks loudly of the past, it 
admonishes me of the future. 

Have called twice to see Mrs. D. WiUiams, & both times 
found her out. Today I met her on my way to meeting, & she 
gave me a very cordial reception notwithstanding her hus- 
band's failure to obtain an office. 

Buys Cambric Pantalettes for One of the Girls 

Monday Evening, Jan. 31. I have just returned from 
attending the Temperance Fair where we had a brief off-hand 
address from Mr. Pierpont of Boston. It was very neat, and 
contained some capital stories most capitally told. Do you 
remember Film? I think he tells a story much like Flim — 
including his comical expression of face. 

I have brought away a pair of cambric pantalettes for one 
of the girls, and a butterfly pin-cushion. An ice cream, some 
grapes, &c., helped to make up my quota of purchases. When 
I was down to Gardiner the other evening Miss Elen gave me 
a beautiful little pin-cushion bird for Augusta. 

Son of Mrs. Annie Perkins and Grandson of John Fairfield 


Tomorrow is the meeting of the State Temperance Conven- 
tion and tomorrow evening we are to have another address 
from Mr. Pierpont. 

Temperance Convention 

Thursday, Feb. 3. We have been having great doings here 
in the temperance way for the last two or three days. Mr. 
Pierpont's addresses were admirable and well calculated for 
effect. I attended the Convention yesterday, but did not hear 
anything of much importance or interest. There was too much 
bickering between the Washingtonian and the Old Society. 
Both want the glory of having originated the reform and revo- 
lution in this town. How ridiculous! 

Yesterday Doctor Bumham started a Legislative^ temper- 
ance book — i. e., a large blank book headed with a pledge for 
"total abstinence from all intoxicating liquors as a beverage." 
This is intended solely for the executive & legislative depart- 
ments of government, not only the present year, but for all 
future time. It was headed by the Governor and six of his 
Councillors. I have not yet learnt how it has succeeded in the 
Senate and House, but think the thing will take pretty well — I 
hope so, at least. 

The cars, I perceive, are to start this week. 
Ever Yours, 


Augusta, Jan. 28, 1842. — Last night there was a military 
ball here and I dropped in, in the course of the evening, and saw 
them dance twice. Next Monday there is to be a Temperance 
Fair and Mr. Pierpont of Boston makes an address ; I shall en- 
deavor to attend. Last Sunday by request I addressed the Sab- 
bath School connected with the Unitarian Society here and am 
pressed to do so again, to which I may by and by consent. 

Ever thine, 



Letters to the Children 

Augusta, Feb. 6, 1842. 
My Dear Sarah, 

I would go without my supper tonight if I could hear you 
sing one of your sweet tunes — say "Upon the Distant Moun- 
tain's Head." You must write me soon and let me know how 
well you succeed, and whether George is likely to make a singer 
or not. You must both of you remember that I pay for your 
tuition not merely that you may go to Mrs. Kelley's and have 
a good time, — but that you may learn to sing. 

I have not time to write more now, best love to all. 
Your Affectionate Father, 


Augusta, Feb. 6, 1842. 
My Dear Augusta, 

I have just returned from the concert and will devote a 
few minutes before retiring to bed, to give you some account 
of it. The first part was composed of six or eight songs, glees 
and catches, sung by little girls about as old as you and Sarah 
and one little boy not much larger than Hammy. They sang 
beautifully and received abundant applause. Tell Sarah that 
one of their songs was "Oh, How Brightly" and that it sounded 
finely. The little girls, or several of them, played very well 
upon the pianoforte. They were not at all frightened, but sang 
apparently, with as much confidence as if they were singing at 

The second part of the entertainment was composed of 
songs, etc., principally by Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln of this town, 
both of whom are very superior singers. The whole closed with 
the song of "Auld Lang Syne," in the chorus of which the 
audience were invited to join. 

At the two back corners of the hall were fixed up two con- 
fectionery establishments where could be had all sorts of can- 
dies and articles made of sugar, apples & other fruits, ice 
creams, whips, custards, chicken salad, hot coffee, &c., &c. The 
hall was well lighted, prettily decorated and tolerably well 
filled, there being, I should judge, near 200 gentlemen and 
ladies. The fee for admittance was only nine pence. I wish all 


my dear children could have been present and have enjoyed it 
with me. 

Your Affectionate Father, 


May Run Again for Governor 

Augusta, Feb. 20, 1842. 

The eiTect of my course in the appointments is beginning 
to develop itself and is in accordance with my expectations. 
That is to say, knowing how much the people have complained 
for the last 8 or 10 years of the influence exerted by the repre- 
sentatives in the appointments, I have done a good deal 
toward breaking up the system. Many of the members wanted 
office themselves and many others wanted it for their relatives 
and particular friends. In many of these cases, thus far, the 
representatives have been disappointed and of course do not 
feel very kindly toward me. 

Some in Cumberland of the old Preble and Mitchell faction 
think I have given too many of the offices to the "Argus clique" 
as they call it, and they are dissatisfied and angry. The Waldo 
delegation are anxious to get up Mr. Anderson of Belfast as a 
candidate for Governor. These with some other elements that 
I could name have combined, and instead of nominating a can- 
didate for Governor by a legislative caucus, as is usual when 
the incumbent is renominated, have agreed on a State Conven- 
tion to be held at Bangor on the 22d of June. In this way the 
movers in this thing hope to defeat my nomination, presuming 
that the western part of the State will not be fully represented 
and I think such a result quite probable if I should be a can- 

It is true that a large number of those who voted for the 
State Convention insist upon it that it is not a measure un- 
friendly to me, and that they are in favor of my renomination ; 
but I have no great faith in these protestations — or at least in 
many of them. 

My own judgment and inclinations prompt me to decline 
at once being a candidate again, but my good friends here in- 
sist that I ought not, that if I do our party will become divided, 
the Whigs encouraged to exert themselves and defeat might be 
the result. They insist that among the people the most perfect 


satisfaction exists in regard to my course and that there is no 
doubt of my nomination if I will consent to it. Under these cir- 
cumstances I am not a little perplexed as to what I should do. 
Perhaps a little more reflection and the advice of friends from 
abroad may relieve me. 

We have been enjoying two or three concerts here, given 
by a Mr, Friend, who is also something of a ventriloquist. 

Dr. LefRngwell has also just commenced a course of lect- 
ures on chemistry. He has very politely presented me with a 
ticket for the course and I have attended one of them, and shaU 
attend as many of the remainder as I possibly can. Tonight, 
Mr. Judd is to give a lecture on popular amusements, in regard 
to their influence on morals. 

It has been reported here that John Batchelder and Mary 
Cutts were engaged. How is it? What a sad ship-wreck there 
has been on Wells beach — 8 lives lost and among them Capt. 
Thomas, brother of Edmund Perkins' wife. The barque was 
built last year by Perkins at Biddeford. 
Ever thine, 


A Woman's Diplomacy 

Augusta, Feb. 27, 1842. 
Dear Wife, 

I see by the paper that Sukey is at last married. The 
reason of the delay I understand to have been the sickness of 
Mr. Rice, from which, it was understood at one time, he would 
not recover. I wish them happiness. 

It is now probable that the Legislature will not rise be- 
fore the 15th of March. After which it will be my duty, as it 
will be my pleasure, "to relieve you of some of your care." I 
know how much you have had upon your hands this winter and 
while I commiserate you, I thank God that I have a wife, who 
is not only willing to assume responsibilities, but capable of 
discharging them. Near meeting time, will finish in afternoon. 

4 o'clock P.M. — Have just had a call from Mrs. Fuller, 
daughter of Judge Weston, you know, upon special and impor- 
tant business ! What do you think it was ? Why this — the Mar- 
tha Washington Society were about to apply to me to deliver an 
address to them and took advice of Mrs. Fuller in regard to it. 


She, knowing that my engagements during the remainder of 
the session would prevent my acceptance of the invitation, and 
fearing that my declining might be misconstrued, and injure 
me, told them they had better wait until she had conferred with 
me, which they consented to. And now she says she can sat- 
isfy them perfectly, and that I shall come off without blame from 
any one. Wasn't that capitally done? Is she not a fine man- 
ager? And is she not a friend worth having? 
Ever thine, 


Insane Hospital Investigation 

Augusta, March 15, '42. 
Dear Wife, 

The Legislature, I think, will rise by the day after tomor- 
row, say Thursday — in which case I hope to be at home on 
Saturday, though it depends somewhat upon a Resolve now 
pending in the Senate providing for a reference of the Insane 
Hospital affairs, which are to be investigated, to a committee 
of gentlemen not of the Legislature. If this passes, I do not 
see but I can leave the day after the Legislature & perhaps 
reach home on Friday, though probably not until Saturday. If 
the Resolve does not pass the investigation of the Hospital 
affairs will be thrown upon the Governor and Council and we 
may be detained a week longer. 

I received a letter from George yesterday. He reached 
North Yarmouth (Academy) well. Did not like Commons, but 
has taken board, he and Thornton, with a Mr. Mitchell at $1.50 
a week. He wishes me to stop at North Yarmouth from one 
stage to another. 

Ever Yours, 


An Exciting Trip to Augusta 

Augusta, Dec. 27, 1842. 
Dear Wife, 

After waiting at the depot on Wednesday night until 
about 9 o'clock for the cars, we started for Portland amidst 


Egyptian darkness and torrents of rain. Notwithstanding all 
which we reached Portland in about 35 minutes. On Thurs- 
day morning in company with two old gentlemen with baggage 
enough for a regiment of soldiers, three young ladies who had 
been attending the Academy at Gorham and an Englishman 
with a terrier which he seemed to worship, I started in the 
stage for Augusta. 

Before reaching Backbone bridge we had a very pretty 
overturn, doing no other injury than frightening the poor girls 
almost to death, one of whom was constantly "Oh dearing," the 
remainder of the day. After crossing the bridge a few rods the 
sleigh plunged into a drift, when the forward horses sprang, 
broke their traces, pulled the reins from the drivers' hands 
and ran off. Having an extra driver, one took one of the pole 
horses and went in pursuit of the runaways, while the other 
took the remaining horse and went back to Portland to get new 
harness. During which we all sat in the stage enjoying our- 
selves very well. 

After remaining thus about an hour we got all ready for 
a fresh start, when the two old men concluded that they would 
return to Portland and take another day. This was a capital 
piece of good fortune for us, for after getting rid of so much 
baggage we skimmed along like a bird, and had no more diffi- 
culty for the day, reaching Augusta about 1/2 past 7 in the 

In regard to myself, I am taking cocoa shells for break- 
fast and tea at night. By the way, is it not most time for 
me to leave off drinking tea? as the late treaty between Eng- 
land and China will probably make it very cheap again. I 
have anticipated you in this joke, haven't I? 

Went to meeting last Sunday and heard Mr. Judd all day. 
In the forenoon we had a Christmas rhapsody, and in the after- 
noon a very good practical sermon upon family worship. Mr. 
Freeman, the Episcopal clergyman, intending to have a party 
on Monday night and not wishing to be at the trouble of writing 
invitations or for some other reason, gave his invitation from 
the pulpit, extending it to the whole parish, and as many of 
other societies as should choose to come. I had a special invita- 
tion and attended. We had a very pleasant time; sang old 
tunes, such as "Sherburne," "Turner," "Lennox" and "Majesty," 
and those who chose ate cold turkey, ham, chicken salad, ice 
creams, custards, nuts, apples, raisins, &c. 


I am driving away at my message and hope soon to have it 
off my hands. All the new appointments have been made, with 
nobody to perplex and disturb me ; indeed I have had but a few 
letters in relation to them. They have seemed disposed to 
let me have matters all my own way. 
Ever Yours, 


Inaugural Ball — "Bumps" — Politics 

Augusta, Jan. 10, 1843. 
Dear Wife, 

Thus far, we move rather slowly. New Councillors not 
chosen yet, and doubt if they will be until the last of the week. 
I sent you a copy of the message. Its tone and recommenda- 
tions seem to take tolerably well with my Democratic friends 
here. And as for my political opponents, I am not very 
desirous of pleasing them. 

Last evening a Doct. Ellis, a Phrenologist, came into my 
room to ask the favor of examining my head and presenting 
me with a chart. I consented, and herewith enclosed is the 
result. I don't know how it will compare with Fowler's map, but 
it appears to me he has missed a figure in more than one bump. 
He is to deliver a course of lectures, perhaps I may attend some 
of them. 

What a horrible affair this mutiny case is. As the evi- 
dence is developed, I begin to doubt whether McKenzie was 
justifiable in executing Spencer and his confederates, if they 
were such. There seems to be little or nothing against Crom- 
well, and there is but little evidence of the danger of under- 
taking to bring them all home for trial. I am afraid the poor 
fellows have been sacrificed to the timidity of McKenzie and 
his officers. 

I have just received a card of invitation for the Inaugural 
Ball on Thursday evening next. Suppose I shall have to go in 
and look on for an hour or two. 

Friday Evening. Last night I went into the ball room 
about 9 o'clock and staid until a little after 10 only. There 
were very few whom I knew, and I found but little there to 
amuse me. The ladies outnumbered the gentlemen, I should 
think, two to one. The weather continues very warm yet, 
and the stages are beginning to go on wheels. 


Monday Morning. Yesterday I heard three sermons upon 
Millerism. Mr. Judd preached upon it all day and Dr. Tappan 
in the evening. They left nothing but a grease spot. 

Tuesday Evening. Yesterday and today I sat for my like- 
ness in India ink by a Mr. Homans — Mr. Johnson, the Secretary 
of State, takes it and pays for it for a son of his in Boston who 
is to lithograph it. I suppose I shall have an opportunity of 
purchasing some of the lithographs. 

Five of the new Council were sworn in today, so now, one 
branch is prepared to go ahead. 

Saturday Afternoon. Homans has completed my likeness, 
which everybody pronounces to be excellent, and I am not 
inclined to differ with everybody, so a good likeness it is. 

Ever thine, 


Views on Capital Punishment 

Augusta, Jan. 30, 1843. 
Dear Wife, 

Will you be good enough to find O'Sullivan's report to the 
New York Legislature on abolishing capital punishment and 
send it to me by the stage driver. If the Saco stage don't run 
now, George can take the report to the depot and give it to Max- 
well asking him to hand it to the stage driver at Portland, pay- 
ing Maxwell a ninepence for his part of the trouble. 

I am this day 46 years old — Tempus fugit — and we all fly 
with it. Happy are we if we grow wiser and better as we grow 
older. Last night, for the first time, I went over to Mr. Danl. 
Williams' and took tea. Had a very pleasant time and after- 
ward went to hear Dwight of Portland advocate his abominable 
doctrines in favor of capital punishment. 

Augusta, Feb. 3, 1843. — You are pretty good at guessing — 
I have a private intimation of Mr. W.'s intended course from 
him. Of this part of it there is no doubt, but of the successor- 
ship I cannot speak with confidence, though I have no reason 
to complain of the present aspect of things. I admit there are 
some offsets to the anticipated pleasure, but the precariousness 
of my health and other circumstances admonish me of the 
necessity of providing the means, while I can, for the future 
comfort of my dear wife and children. 


Night before last, the ladies of St. Marks had a Fair, and 
last night a concert in connection with it. Tonight, also, I 
understand we are to have the same. So you see, we are not 
entirely without amusement. 

I send you "Pauline" and "The Neighbors," both good, the 
latter excellent. You cannot fail to be deeply interested in it. 
I am astonished to find that a Swede can write anything worth 
reading. Dumas, the author of Pauline, you know, is one of 
the most learned and talented men in France, though a man of 
color. I am now trying to read Stephen's Central America, 
though I must confess my progress is very slow. It is about 
time for the meeting of the Council, so good-bye. 

The Political Skies 

Augusta, Feb. 21, 1843. 
Dear Wife, 

By today's mail I received the resignation of Mr. Williams, 
and immediately transmitted it to the Legislature. I presume 
there will be many candidates for the vacancy, but entre nous, 
I have no reason to be dissatisfied with the present aspect of 
things. Unless something occurs to change the current of 
public feeling here, I am confident I shall carry the election. 

Elected to U. S. Senate 

Augusta, Feb. 26, 1843. 
Dear Wife, 

Arrangements have been made for the nomination of a 
Senator on Thursday evening next — the election will probably 
follow on Friday or Saturday. In that case, and should I be 
elected, I shall immediately resign my present office and start 
for home on Monday. 

Present prospects are favorable to my election. What 
changes may occur between this and Thursday no one can 
foresee. The friends of Parks, who is my principal opponent. 
are very active, and I think are disposed to bargain and log-roll 
where they can. My friends will scorn every such expedient 
and stand or fall upon the merits or demerits of the case. 


At first, I supposed I might retain my present office until 
it was necessary to go to Washington — but now am inclined to 
think that course impracticable. If elected Senator, I must 
resign the office of Governor. 

Augusta, March 19. — The Legislature adjourned yesterday 
morning — but the public business will detain "the Governor 
and Council" until Monday morning. 

Augusta, March 3, 1843. — An election of Senator took 
place today and resulted in my favor. 

The vote in the House stood thus: 

Self 68 

W. S. Fessenden 40 

Scattering 4 

In the Senate whole number 22 — all of which were for me. 
So you may expect me home soon, I think. 

J. F. 

Back in Washington 

Washington, Dec. 1, '43. 
Dear Wife, 

Here I am, safe & sound. Arriving last evening (Thurs- 
day). Got here thus early in consequence of accomplishing 
my business at Philadelphia the same evening I reached there. 
The commission sent to Buenos Ayres for testimony had not 
been returned — of course no trial can yet be had. I like 
Mr. Wharton very much. He is a young man and appears to be 
a man of business. 

It is fortunate I had a piece taken from my cloak and col- 
lar — coz why? — coz the rest of it is gone — clean gone. While 
it was lying on the back of a chair in the parlor of the American 
hotel in New York, and I was in the Reading Room close by, 
some gentleman gathered its graceful folds around him and 
walked off — so, take care of the pieces, will you ? 
Ever Yours, 



Chooses His "Mess" 

Washington, Dec. 3, 1843. 
Dear Wife, 

Yesterday I connected myself with a mess at Mrs. Scott's, 
south side Pennsylvania Ave., — a little farther from the Capitol 
than I was before. Our mess, thus far, is made up of Mr. 
Wright of New York, and myself, of the Senate, and Mr. King, 
Mr. Clinton and Mr. Stetson of New York of the House. Mrs. 
Scott hopes, I believe, to have half a dozen more — Mr. Wright 
and Mr. Clinton have their wives. 

I have a room on the same floor with the parlor and dining 
room, about 14 feet square, nearly as large as our sitting room. 
It has a large bed in it, clothes press, bureau, etc. I pay $9 a 
week, which is tolerably reasonable. 

Have just returned from meeting. Mr. Bulfinch gave us a 
very fine Thanksgiving sermon. The congregation was not 
more than two-thirds as large as ours at Saco. Old Mr. Adams 
was there and I am inclined to think means to attend there. Of 
the northern folks there I noticed Danl. P. King, & Mr. Hudson 
of Massachusetts, J. P. Hale of New Hamps;hire, and Col. 
Hamlin of Maine. 

Despairing of ever hearing again of my cloak, I, yesterday, 
bought another. It is better than the other, made of as good 
or better cloth, lined two-thirds of the way down and faced 
clean down with very nice velvet. The cost was $30, after 
beating him down all I could. Cozzens, the landlord of the 
American at New York, before I left there, gave me $15, which 
was what I told him it cost me, so my loss is $15 only. 
Ever thine, 


Thanksgiving in December 

Senate Chamber, Dec. 7, 1843. — Today is Thanksgiving, 
you know, and Gov. Dunlap and I have engaged to dine at Mr. 
Dummer's. Since writing last we have had two added to our 
mess, Strong and Murphy of New York. 

I have a tolerably good seat in the Senate, say in front 
row, third from broad aisle, Gov. Sprague of Rhode Island on 
my right. Judge Semple of Illinois on my left and McDufRe of 
South Carolina immediately behind me. 


Committees are not yet appointed. Senate has just 
adjourned over to Monday! What waste of time. 

Fairfield's Committee Appointments 

Washington, Dec. 11, 1843. — It seems there has been a con- 
troversy between Mr. Clinton and his wife as to whether I was 
a bachelor — and for what reason, think you? Could you ever 
guess? Do you give it up? Because I was so polite! 

Yesterday the committees were announced in the Senate. 
They have placed me on two committees, viz.: Militia and 
Printing. Their duties, I think, will not be very laborious and 
so far I am satisfied, though if my political friends had the 
majority I should probably have received a little higher ap- 
pointment. 1 don't blame the Whigs for making the most of 
their power, the prospect being that it will be short lived. 

Today Mr. Benton announced the death of Doctor Linn. It 
was admirably done. Mr. Crittenden, a Whig, followed him, 
with a most beautiful eulogy upon the Doctor, and as just as 
it was beautiful. He was a remarkable man. His praises are 
in everybody's mouth. 

Yesterday, Stephen was removed from his place by Dow, 
the new Door-keeper. I helped our delegation "make a fuss" 
about it, when he promised to give him another place with the 
same compensation. 



Old Maids and Other Things 

Washington, Dec. 24, '43. 
Dear Wife, 

Last Sunday, I went to the Capitol to hear Rachael Barker, 
a Quakeress. I heard but little, but quite enough. She would 
have appeared to better advantage at home, knitting blue yarn 
stockings with white toes for her husband. 

The new painting by Weir of the embarcation of the Pil- 
grims has just been suspended in the Rotunda of the Capitol. 
It is highly spoken of by those who claim to be judges. It ap- 
pears to me so-so — I had a glance the other day at the collec- 
tion of birds, beasts, reptiles and curiosities, of all sorts, 


brought home by Wilkes of the exploring expedition, now de- 
posited at the Patent Office. I was delighted and mean to spend 
many hours there. The exhibition is an exceedingly interest- 
ing one, and will afford me subjects for letters to the children. 
I called at young Uncle Richard's. Found Mary had gone 
to Mrs. Madison's and Richard to the Opera. Uncle and I then 
went to Mrs. Madison's where we spent an hour or two very 
agreeably. Miss Legare, a maiden sister of the late Attorney 
General, is spending the winter with Mrs. M. She plays on the 
pianoforte most splendidly and paints admirably — but after all 
she is a real old maid. Mrs. Madison looks as young as when 
I saw her five years ago. Ann Paine I also saw there, an 
adopted daughter, you know, of Mrs. Madison's. A tolerably 
pretty, sprightly girl. 

The Daily Menu 

Washington, Dec. 30, '43. 
Dear Wife, 

We breakfast at 1/2 past 8, for the most part on buckwheat 
cakes and molasses, accompanied by a pork or beef steak and 
cup of green tea. Dine somewhere between 3 and 5 o'clock, 
usual dishes roast turkey, roast ducks, oysters in some way, 
best, however, in a fry, or fried ; rock fish ; and sometimes ham, 
corned beef, calf's head, mutton, etc., etc. Always followed 
by a dessert of preserves, apples, almonds, raisins, custards, 
puddings, pies, etc. — I mean some, not all of them. Between 
dinner and tea, Mr. King of New York or Judge Breeze of Illi- 
nois and I, play chess. At 1/2 past 6 or 7 take a cup of tea, and 
for the most part spend the evening in reading, retiring to rest 
about 11 o'clock. 

By the way, I am in the 3d volume of Prescott's Conquest 
of Mexico. It is, by far, the most interesting history I ever 
read. It is as interesting as Scott's novels. 

I have also read the mysteries of Paris which I will send 
to you. Very interesting, but too much of it. 

We have just had an addition to our mess of Mr, and Mrs. 
Hill and daughter of New York. They come only, I believe, 
for a few weeks. 

I have had a letter from George in which he asks for $5 
to buy Lemprieres Classical Dictionary and Homer. I wrote 


him that he might get trusted for the books and I would pay 
at the end of the term. On second thought, however, I think it. 
would be better for you to send him $5, for which purpose I 
enclose you an envelope. I have no money that would pass at 
the north. 

What is going on at home ? Have you killed the hog yet ? 
Has old Dick got the heaves? Does Davis keep the oxen he 
had when I left? and so on. 

Ever thine, 

What an ugly thing a steel pen is. 

President's New Year's Reception 

Washington, Jan. 2d, 1844. 
Dear Wife, 

Yesterday being New Year's day, the President's house 
was open for all, and such a jam I scarcely ever saw before. 
There was nothing agreeable about it but to see how happy 
it made the "President without a party" and the excellent 
music of the band from the Navy Yard. 

I forgot to call on Mrs. Madison and felt very much 
chagrined about it. 


The Lost Cloak Is Found 

Washington, Jan. 9, *44. 
Dear Wife, 

Mr. Murphy, from Brookline, N. Y., has just returned from 
a visit home, bringing his wife with him. She plays well on 
the piano and sings superbly. It is really a God-send to us; I 
keep her playing and singing till she fairly tires. She, how- 
ever, is not averse to the exercise of her admirable talents, 
deriving, apparently, as much pleasure therefrom as she imparts 
to others. 

By the way, Mr. King of our mess is rather too much for 
me at chess. We play between dinner and tea. Dinner at Vis 
past 4 and taking tea at 1/2 past 6. 


Did I ever tell you that my cloak had been found ? It was 
found hanging in the wardrobe of one of the boarders at the 
American Hotel. A few days since, one of Cozzen's clerks, the 
keeper of the hotel, brought it on to me. My new one I sold 
to Mr. Herrick for $25 — $5 less than cost; so I have my old 
cloak back again, with a loss of $5 only. This is doing pretty 
well, isn't it? 

Today Jno. C. Spencer was nominated Judge of the Su- 
preme Court. The nominations of Tyler's cabinet have not yet 
been acted on. What is done, you know, is in Secret Council. 
But I suppose it wiU all see the light some time or other. 

The Passing of Porky 

Washington, Jan. 10th, 1844. 
Dear Sarah, 

You are very kind to write me such good long letters and 
tell me so many interesting things, for everything, you know, 
about home, however insignificant to you, is interesting to me. 
Poor old Dick ! I am very sorry he has the heaves. He is not 
merely a faithful servant, but an old and highly esteemed 
friend. If our attachment to him should be measured by his 
kind services to us, our love for him would be strong indeed. 
Porky, too, it seems, has got into trouble, as well as old Dick, 
and far worse, too, for while old Dick's wind is merely ob- 
structed, Porky's is entirely stopped. Well, pork and greens 
is good, as Madam Malaprop would say, and so I will indulge in 
no hypocritical lament about Porky's death. If I had time, 
however, I would write an eulogium upon her character. For 
there never was a peacefuller, kindlier, cleverer critter in this 
ere world. 

Tell your mother I made a speech in the Senate today on 
a private bill in which the Jewells of South Berwick were con- 
cerned. I suppose it will come out in tomorrow's Globe. 
Your Affectionate Father, 



A Letter to Sarah 

Washington, Jan. 19, '44. 
Dear Sarah, 

I am much obliged to you for your interesting letters, and 
would write you oftener in reply were it not for my many en- 
gagements. I am obliged sometimes to write from five to ten 
letters a day besides going a mile and a half to the public 
offices on errands for my constituents. So you see I have not so 
much leisure as many suppose. 

I can well conceive of your lonesomeness while Hannah 
is at South Berwick. Might not this be relieved by a cor- 
respondence between you? This might not only afford you 
pleasure but be of mutual advantage. Mr. Bridge don't seem 
to be a favorite with you or your mother. I think if you would 
shut your eyes and listen to him, his preaching would be less 
objectionable. The matter of his sermons is far better and 
more agreeable than the galvanic twitch of his elbows, his 
awful pauses, and the painful regularity in the use of his white 

You say "Augusta is asleep in her chair." Just give her a 
jog, and tell her I shall be very happy to hear from her when 
she feels wide awake enough to write. Or, if she has the power 
of going into the mesmeric sleep, tell her to take a peep at me 
in my little chamber and describe to the rest of you what she 

And Hammy, my dear boy, and dear little Marty and Luly 
and Johnny, I should be glad to have letters from you all. 

That Johnny can make his mark my own face could once 
furnish practical proof. 

I send you a plan of the Senate Chamber, seats of Sena- 
tors, etc. 

Your Affectionate Father, 


Nominations Made 

Washington, Jan. 20, '44. 
Dear Wife, 

Have I told you how unwell I have been? One night, say 
about a week ago, was a night of great suffering. My teeth 
were chattering the whole night and no amount of clothing 


could prevent it. The pains through my body and limbs at 
the same time were excessively severe. I am not yet entirely 
clear of the violent cold that I had caught. And now my 
mouth is awfully disfigured. Large fever sores came out on 
both upper and lower lips, which with the swelling gave me 
a hideous appearance. I am on the mending hand, however, 
and hope in a few days to be entirely well. 

For news let me say: Henshaw's nomination as Secretary 
of the Navy has been rejected by the Senate, so has Isaac Hills' 
as Chief of one of the Bureaus. Porter's as Secretary of War, 
I think, will follow. Spencer's as Judge of the Supreme Court 
may be confirmed. Wise has been nominated as Minister to 
Brazil. I cannot go for him whatever others may do. 

Have just received an invitation to dine with the Presi- 
dent on Tuesday next. Don't know what I shall do. 

Sunday. Have just returned from church where I had the 
pleasure of hearing Mr. Giles, the English or Irish Unitarian. 
It was a great intellectual treat, but for a constant preacher I 
would much prefer Mr. Bulfinch. He is a dwarf & a good deal 
deformed. His head, however, is large and finely formed and 
his eye is large and full of the fire of genius. Though a dwarf 
in body he is a giant in intellect. He brought a letter to me 
from Jno. Wingate and so I stopped after meeting a little while 
to see him. He is now delivering a course of lectures at Balti- 
more and will do the same here, if he meets with encourage- 
ment. But I do not anticipate much. The prejudices against 
Unitarianism are so strong, that even philosophy would not be 
favorably received from that source. 

In the Senate, the three great guns on our side are Benton, 
Wright and Allen — or perhaps I should say four, and include 
Buchanan. Haywood of North Carolina, a new Senator, is 
also a man of fine talents and an eloquent speaker. He is very 
nice in his dress, rather fashionable and wears black gloves 
constantly in the Senate. 

Well, my dear children, how do you all do? How many 
teeth has Johnny got? Does his hair grow any and is it as 
white as tow ? Learn Luly to talk and Marty to read. I would 
give my cloak with its new lining to hear them. 
Ever thine, 



A Sunday Chat 

Washington, Jan. 28, '44. 
Dear Wife, 

Well, here we are again set down to our Sunday chat. How 
do you do ? Are you as large as your mother yet, or have you 
pined away to a delicate thinness ? How many teeth has Johnny 
got? Does he bite? Oh, the scamps! how I should like to 
wake up in the morning and have a frolic with them and hear 
mother scold a little at keeping her awake. 

Last night I went to hear Mr. Giles lecture upon Irish his- 
tory and today have heard him preach. He is a man of extraor- 
dinary talents. His subject today was "temper" and the way 
he poked some folks with a picked stick, as George would say, 
was a caution. His personal appearance reminds me of the 
"Black Dwarf" in one of Scott's novels. His body is a rough 
casket to contain so precious a jewel as his mind. 

I did not dine with the President the other day. Had too 
many black patches on my face. They are off now, thank fort- 
une, and I am well again. By the way, I don't sleep near so 
much as I used to. Don't go to bed often till 12, and wake up 
by daylight, after which I indulge in waking dreams of 
home till 1/2 past 7, when I rise, heat water, shave, wash and 
read a few chapters in the Old Testament which I am going to 
read through, and then breakfast at 1/2 past 8. That is going it 
pretty regular, isn't it? 

Let me see, when shall I hear from you? About next 
Thursday night, for I persuade myself, you are, about this 
time, getting out your writing apparatus for a letter to husband. 
Ever Yours, 


Heard the Hutchinsons 

Washington, Feb. 1. 
Dear Wife, 

Day before yesterday was my birthday — 47 years have 
rolled over my head, and have not rubbed ail the hair off yet. 

I am going tonight to hear the Hutchinsons and anticipate 
a rich feast of music. They sing "right on," as Mark Antony 
talked. They sing to make melody, instead of endeavoring to 


show the wonderful mechanical qualities of the human voice. 
I can't bear the Italian school of singing. Tomorrow night Mr. 
King — Preston King of New York, an old bachelor of our mess 
— gives a sort of dancing party here. We anticipate a pleasant 

(Next day). I had written thus far when a call compelled 
me to suspend, — so you have been delayed one mail the pleas- 
ure of reading my gossip. 

There was nothing done in the Senate today but the an- 
nouncement of the death of Judge Porter, a Senator from 
Louisiana, who died at home, not having been here during the 
session. It was done by Barrow, his colleague, and seconded 
by Col. Benton in most beautiful and eloquent terms. 

There is a duel brewing here between Weller of Ohio, and 
Dawson of Louisiana on one side, and Johnson and Shriver on 
the other. I hope, however, the fools will see their folly before 
the affair reaches a bloody catastrophe. 

Went last night to hear the Hutchinsons. Sang no better 
than when I heard them at Saco, but that is well enough to 
satisfy any reasonable expectation. 

If you can find my card plate I will thank you to enclose it 
by mail. It will probably not weigh more than two ounces. 
Your Husband, 


A Letter of Laments 

Washington, Feb. 5, 1844. 
Dear Wife, 

What an awful cold Sunday you had the day you wrote — 
30 degrees below zero! and yet you went to meeting! How 
courageous and how commendable. That is a shocking aifair 
of Mrs. F — . I remember her very well. Another shocking 
affair, it seems by the Democrat, has occurred among you. The 
attempt of a man to hack out his brains with a dull axe ! Poor 
creature — what an object of commiseration. Again, what sad 
information your letter gives me of Elizabeth Fairfield. Poor 
girl — or rather I should say poor father and mother. Her 
death would be a terrible blow to them. Elizabeth would 
exchange a world of suffering for one, I trust, of bliss. 


Have seen but very little of Daniel and Marcia Cleaves yet. 
Have not been to Mr. Dummer's since their arrival. Tomor- 
row night I have an invitation to Judge Parris' "to meet our 
northern friends" and shall endeavor to go. 

Glad to hear that Old Dick is frisky and happy and that 
Johnny is beginning "to show his teeth." Hope it may never 
be in anger. George writes again a pitiful story of his coat 
and wants a new one. I believe I will write leaving the matter 
to Mrs. Weld. If she thinks by repairing it may be made de- 
cent, he must continue to wear it this winter. Otherwise, I will 
request Mrs. W. to purchase the materials for a new one and 
have the bill forwarded to me. Shall I do right? 

Ever thine, 


Visitors From Maine 

Dear Wife, 

Last night I v/ent to Judge Parris' and had a very pleasant 
time. I was very much tempted to expose my lame leg on the 
floor when I heard Fisher's hornpipe to the figure of the Vir- 
ginia Reel. Daniel Cleaves danced and appeared quite social. 
Sarah Lord is also a dancer. I told her I didn't believe she 
learned at Kennebunk, but she said she did and moreover, that 
BiD Banks was keeping dancing school there this winter! The 
Parris girls are very lively and agreeable, particularly Sarah. 
Mr. Dummer has also a sister, Mrs. Moody, and her husband 
visiting him at this time, and a sister of Mr. Moody. 

Thursday. Dear Wife: Mr. Woodbury has been making 
an admirable speech today on the tariff, which I suppose he will 
finish tomorrow. Noticed Daniel, Marcia and Mary in the gal- 
lery but did not have an opportunity of speaking with them. 
In the Supreme Court they are trying the great case of Girard's 
will; Binney & Sergeant on one side and Webster & Jones on 
the other — very eminent counsel. I steal a moment now and 
then to run in and hear them. 


To Make a Speech 

Washington, Feb. 12, '44. 
Dear Wife, 

I intended to write you a long letter today but am pre- 
vented by the following reason — that is to say, tomorrow, wind 


and weather permitting, I am to make a short speech. I have 
just received Resolutions of our Legislature in favor of the 
French claims, and tomorrow morning I am to present them to 
the Senate, when I intend to make some remarks upon the sub- 
ject — consequently I have been obliged to appropriate that part 
of today, not spent at meeting, to the reading of documents, 
and am not yet half through. 

Ever Yours, 


As a Match-Maker 

Washington, Feb. 16, '44. 
Dear Wife, 

Entre nous, there is a match about forming and I have 
been consulted in the matter. Who do you think the parties 
are? Do you give it up? Well, if you will say nothing about 
it at present, I'll tell you. My old friend, Richard Ela — do you 
remember him? — and Lucia King. Yesterday I enclosed a let- 
ter from him to Mr. King asking consent. In mine I told what 
I know of Mr. Ela and have no doubt of the consent of Mr. K. 
Ela is an excellent fellow and Lucia is a first-rate girl. It is a 
capital match for both. Ela, as you may recollect, is a clerk in 
the treasury department and is the one who has so rich a 

Last night, for the first time, I started for a call at Mrs. 
Charles Cutts'. Not finding them at home I went to Mr. Bum- 
mer's and finished my evening there. Mr. D. and Daniel had 
gone to a lecture. 

Last night, also, there was a party at the Post-Master 
General's and the night before, the President's Levee. I go to 
none of them. I care but little about company and hate to go 
out evenings. Can't see in the night well enough to make it 
safe for me, at least without moonlight. 

Today the President sent in Mr. Wilkins of Pennsylvania 
as Secretary of War and Governor Gilmer of Virginia as Secre- 
tary of the Navy. They were both confirmed right off without 
going through the usual forms of reference to a committee. 

I have a letter from Haines by which it appears he has 
been for a fortnight at Augusta getting new charters through 


for Factory Companies. I expect we shall have smashing 
works in Saco next summer. 

Ever Yours, 


A Picture of Home 

Washington, Feb. 16, '44. 
Dear Sarah, 

I am pleased to find all my letters from home concurring 
in representing Johnny as a noble fellow. Has he any hair 
yet? He had none when I left home. I can see his great, 
white, hairless head, his mild and handsome blue eyes and good- 
natured, intelligent face as plain as if they were before me. 

Little Marty, I see her, too, with her large, full and intel- 
ligent eye, pug nose, soft flaxen hair, delicate complexion and 
funny expression of countenance, sitting at one corner of the 
breakfast table and our little brunette at the other, with her 
piercing black eye and regular and handsome features. Next 
to whom sits my not-to-be.forgotten noble boy, Hammy; on 
opposite sides my good, smart and much-loved daughters, 
Sarah and Augusta, and at the head she who constitutes the 
better part of myself. What a group! But I must not keep 
the picture before me too long, or I shall grow homesick. 
Your Affectionate Father, 


A Father to Love 

Washington, Feb. 26, '44. 
Dear Wife, 

I was delighted with little Martha's discrimination — "Well, 
that isn't a Father to love and take you on his knees" — Oh, the 
sweet one, I wish I could take her on my knees. And the 
sweet Lucy, too, it seems she begins to talk a little. How 
delightful it must be to hear them chat. 

I shall rejoice to see the flowers coming out in the grounds 
around the Capitol. Additions are made every year and I 
think they are much more beautiful than when you were here. 
1 am ashamed to say that I have not yet been out on the square 


east of the Capitol to see the statue of Washington — but I'll 
tiy to do it this week. 

Next Tuesday I am engaged to dine with Mr. Blair, which 
will be the first dinner party I have attended since I have been 
here, unless I except Judge Breeze and myself dining with Mr. 
Beale our "Door Keeper." They are trying to induce me to 
speak on the Oregon question. A day or two ago Gen. Atchi- 
son of Missouri paid me a compliment in his speech with that 
design. But I think I shall not say anything. A more war- 
like speech would be expected than I am willing to make just 
now, though I am for maintaining our rights to that territory 
at all hazards. You need not break over your rules and com- 
pliment my speech on French spoliations, for without vanity, 
I think it will stand pretty well without propping. And this re- 
mmds me of a remark of Doctor Franklin's — to wit — that when 
one said "without vanity he might say," etc., you might always 
look for a piece of most consummate vanity to follow. 

Mr. Bulfinch today alluded to the late duel between two 
young men here in a most feeling manner, but most indig- 
nantly at the conduct of those who permitted it to go on when 
both the young men would have been glad to have adjusted it. 
Ever Yours, 


A Horrible Catastrophe 

Washington, Feb. 28, '44. 
Dear Wife, 

Just before commencing my letter I received some horrible 
news which unfits me from saying anything more — to wit, that 
the big gun on board the Princeton today burst, killing the 
Secretaries of State & Navy, Upshur and Gilmer, and five or 
six others, but who the others are I know not. You will have 
the particulars in a day or two in the papers. How shocking ! 



I open my letter to add that Capt. Kennon of the Navy, 
Virgin D. Maxey and a Mr. Gardiner of New York, and five of 
the crew are to be added to the list of killed and Capt. Stockton 
and Col. Benton to the list of wounded. 


Washington, Feb. 29, '44. 
Dear Wife, 

The horrible catastrophe of yesterday unfits us all for 
everything but thinking about it. My account in letter of last 
evening was erroneous in stating that five sailors were killed. 
They were badly wounded only — a black servant of the Presi- 
dent who was wounded died soon afterward. A report has 
just started that there are many sailors missing, but I do not 
credit it. Both branches of Congress met today and ad- 
journed over to Monday. In the Senate the deaths were 
announced by a message from the President which was followed 
by a few eloquent remarks from Mr. Rives. Mrs. Gilmer, Mrs. 
Upshur and Mrs. Kennon are said to be almost distracted. Mr. 
Gardiner of New York was here on a visit with two beautiful 
daughters, both of whom were on board the Princeton. 

The time for the funeral services has not yet been fixed, or 
rather has not been announced. 

Yours as Ever, 


Memorial Services for the Dead 

Washington, March 3d, '44. 
Dear Wife, 

I have just returned from meeting. Mr. Bulfinch preached 
a sermon adapted to the melancholy occasion, but not quite up 
to my anticipations. He alluded to one of the slain on 
board the Princeton as one "who last Sabbath was seen in 
this house, his arm around one who is now an orphan." I rec- 
ollect very well that in the pew immediately back of me was 
a large, noble-looking man who, during the prayers, stood with 
his arm around a little boy about 11 or 12 years old, pinching 
his cheeks, playing with his hair, etc., in the most aifectionate 
manner. I felt a warming of my own heart toward him but 
was not aware until today that it was Commodore Kennon. 

Yesterday the funeral services were performed and such a 
concourse of people before, I think, I never witnessed. The 
burial was from the President's house. The great East room 
was filled with members of Congi-ess, ofl^cers, civil, militaiy and 
naval, foreign ministers, etc. Coming out, we found the 
grounds around the house and the avenue thronged with 


people. Atherton and myself wishing to see the military escort 
which we could not do if we went in the procession, con- 
cluded to leave it and walk on before. From the President's 
house nearly to the Capitol we found the sidewalk nearly full 
of people. The walks, you know, are over 20 feet wide. Be- 
sides this every window of the houses was full of heads and 
the tops of many of the houses covered with people. 

The whole thing was very imposing. There were a large 
number of light companies and among them a company of 
Flying Artillery of the U. S. Army. All the officers of the 
Army and Navy were in uniform and mounted. All the for- 
eign ministers also were arrayed in their Court dresses. 

The address o^ Mr. Butler of Georgetown was highly im- 
pressive and eloquent. The other services were rather com- 
monplace. I was struck with one of your remarks, made by 
you just before the accident, and received by me just afterward 
— to wit: "You must have had a grand time on board the 
Princeton. I think I should not care to be in the way of one 
of their balls." If you had said guns instead of balls, the coin- 
cidence would have been stronger. 

Well, George, it seems, has got home, for you say his 
quarter was to terminate last Wednesday. Tell him I want to 
hear from him. He must give an account of himself and of 
the expenditure of all his money. 

I hope Augusta will go to the Academy. I think she 
would do better there, considering her age and advancement, 
than at Aunt Cutts'. 

Yours as ever, 


Calhoun Secretary of State 

Washington, March 6, '44. 
Dear Wife, 

This morning Mr. Thacher started for home, taking with 
him Lucia King, who, I presume, returns to make ready for get- 
ting married. Last night I went up to Mr. Hartley's and took 
tea, but could not stop for the evening as we had a caucus 
which I wished to attend. 

John C. Calhoun was nominated by the President today 
as Secretary of State and was immediately confirmed by the 


Senate. This is a matter of some importance and its effect 
upon our politics generally seems to excite a variety of opinion. 
Ever Yours, 


Masquerades in Col. Cutis' Clothes 

Washington, March 10, '44. 
Dear Wife, 

You say my letter did not contain the particulars of the 
awful calamity on board the Princeton. I would give them to 
you now, but I suppose you have had them long before this in 
the papers. As you say, the gloom thrown over the city will 
hardly be dispelled for the remainder of the session. All the 
parties and balls which were in anticipation have been given 
over and I presume will not be revived. 

We have had a caucus composed of the Democratic mem- 
bers of both Houses and chosen an executive committee to 
prepare and send out electioneering documents, etc. I am 
placed on it, and expect therefore that for the remainder of 
the session I shall be very busy. 

Mrs. Wright and Mrs. Murphy insist that you must come 
on here and spend the remainder of the session. They say they 
will take care of your baby for you all the time. Mrs. Wright 
never had children and therefore would be delighted to have a 
baby to tend and Mrs. M. has seven, so that she understands it. 
You see how the case stands. I told them I would write you 
as requested and would rejoice if you could see your way clear 
to come. Is the thing possible? 

I am disappointed, and I wish you would tell George so, if 
not gone before this reaches you, in not receiving a letter from 
him giving a detailed account of all his expenditures as well as 
of his studies, as I had directed him. I couldn't help laughing, 
though, at the idea of his strutting about in one of Col. Cutts' 
old waistcoats. I hope you did not let him carry the gun. It 
would interfere too much with his studies. If Augusta remains 
at home this quarter, and I don't know but what it would be as 
well for her, I hope the opportunity will be embraced to make 
her familiar with all household duties, including cooking. 
I hope when I come home we can have the breakfast table set 
with the cookery, and good cookery, too, of Sarah and Augusta. 


If they read Frederika Bremer's novels they will never omit to 
learn cookery and other household duties. 

I have received a copy of the Columbian Ladies' and Gen- 
tlemen's Magazine which, after I have read one or two of the 
articles I will send you. I find little time for reading anything 
now, except political matter, which I regret. 
Yours as ever, 


Letter to His Daughters 

Washington, March 10, '44. 
My Dear Daughters, 

With your sleigh-riding, sled-riding, going over to see Han- 
nah, Hannah coming over to see you, going up in town, up to 
Mr. Locke's, etc., etc., etc., I think you must be having a pretty 
merry time. Well, enjoy yourselves. I like to see it. Inno- 
cent pleasures are the sweeteners of life. But we should 
always be careful that our pleasures are innocent. Never do 
that, or say that, which will cause you to look back upon it 
with regret or shame. Preserve an entire innocence in thought, 
word and action if you would be entirely happy. 

I have written much in my letter to your mother today 
which I should have reserved for this. I will, therefore, refer 
you to it. It is, to be sure, about common, every-day matters, 
but you must not think lightly of it on that account, for the 
greater part of life is made up of such matters. 

I met a little girl at the door just now as I returned from 
meeting and gave her a good smack ; another little one ran and 
hid behind the door. Oh, how it reminded me of home and 
made me long to be among you ! 

I had a japonica given me the other night which I intended 
to send home to you in a letter. But in the morning, lo and 
behold ! there was nothing left but the leaves. 

Death of a Cousin 

Washington, March 14, '44. 
Dear Wife, 

Your letter informing me of the death of Elizabeth Fair- 
field is received. It must be most grievous and afflicting to 


Seth and Phebe, and I have written them a letter expressive of 
my sympathy. 

You must have had a beautiful ride to Portland. I always 
liked spring sleigh rides. Am very glad Sister Mary is going 
to make you a visit. 

I have sent to Sarah and Augusta today a package of 
flower seeds. Would it not be best to start some of them in 
pots ? Before any seed is sown in the flower garden, the weeds 
and roots, etc., should be thoroughly eradicated. The ground 
is full of them. 

Mr. Strong from New York, who has been home on a visit, 
writes that he is about to bring his wife and three children — 
the youngest eight weeks old. Perhaps this may operate as 
some inducement for you to come on. Our weather here is de- 
lightful. I have thrown off all outer garments, given up my 
silk lung protector, taken my summer stockings, and am enjoy- 
ing myself "as well as could be expected." 

Ever Yours, 


An Invitation 

Dear Wife, 

We have had several very pleasant meetings lately — meet- 
ings in which nothing occurred to mar our mutual enjoyment, 
but awaking and finding it all a dream. I suppose my invitation 
lately given you to come on here and spend the remainder of the 
session may have particularly induced these pleasant dreams, 
so I have gained something by it, even if you should not come 
on. Mr. Evans introduced a resolution into the Senate today 
for an adjournment on the 20th of May. I shall vote for it and 
hope it will pass. 

I wish sometimes I could have a lump of your good butter 
for breakfast. The butter here is grey, greasy and rancid. 
However, the envy shan't be all on one side, so let me tell you 
that we have beautiful Carolina potatoes on the table every day 
— what say? Is not that an additional argument for you to 
come on? Where shall I meet you, at N. Y. or Boston? 
Ever Yours, 



Keener for Politics Than Ever 

Washington, March 24, '44. 
Dear Wife, 

Your answer to my invitation is about what I expected, 
though I thought I could see a way in which it could be done, 
i. e., by placing three of the children at Aunt Cutts' and two at 
Aunt Augusta's and bringing Johnny with you. But if a reso- 
lution just introduced into the Senate should pass, I should care 
less about your declining to come on. The resolution fixes 
the day of adjournment on the 20th of May. 

What a queer blunder I must have made in my letter to 
Mrs. Allen. I must have gathered up everything on my table 
after finishing my letter to Mrs. Allen and put them in the same 
envelope with hers. Mine to you, I suppose of course, was not 
sealed. I cannot remember its contents, but trust there was 
nothing in it that I should wish to keep from the eye of anyone. 

Mrs. Murphy promises to comply with your request and 
look after your husband a little, and she is an excellent hand 
for the purpose, I can assure you. Already has she reformed 
three of our mess in regard to smoking and some, I believe, in 
regard to drinking. 

Have just had a call from General Scott. He is nearly as 
tall as the steeple of St. Paul's, and seems to feel "*as huge as 
Olympus." However, I ought not to complain of him or any 
other vain man, inasmuch as they add to my stock of happi- 
ness. It always gives me pleasure to see people happy and 
especially well satisfied with themselves. 

You asked me at a wrong time if I was not almost sick of 
politics. The fact is, I feel a deeper interest now than ever and 
mean to go into the coming contest with all my soul and "feel 
it in my bones" that we shall triumph. 

Love to everybody who loves me, and in a Christian sense 
to everybody else. 

Ever Yours, 


On Current Politics 

Washington, March 26. 
Dear Wife, 

I write you one day in advance merely to say that the reso- 
lution fixing on the 27th of May as the day for adjournment, 
passed the Senate yesterday without opposition. 


Yesterday Mr. Benton made the first half of an excellent 
speech on the tariff, which is lo be continued today. By the 
bursting of the gun on board the Princeton he has lost the 
hearing entirely in one ear. By stopping the nostrils he can 
force the air through his ear, making a noise equal to the wind 
coming from bellows. 

The anticipated annexation of Texas to the United States 
seems to be creating a terrible commotion at the North. 

I suppose the report is true that the President is negotiat- 
ing a treaty for that purpose but I have no idea that it could 
be ratified by a two-thirds vote of the Senate, — especially if 
slavery should not first be abolished therein. 

Yours as Ever, 


Worried About Lame Knee 

Washington, March 29, ^44. 
Dear Wife, 

Your note of 26, is received. It grieves me much to hear 
that Augusta's swollen knee is growing worse. The complaint 
is precisely like my own and I have pretty much made up my 
mind, on my return home, to have an operation upon the knee, 
or something done to attempt a cure, for I am satisfied that the 
difficulty is increasing, and unless something be done, I shall in 
time lose the use of my leg. 

With these views I cannot hesitate to say I very much 
approve of the suggestion of Sister Mary. By all means let 
Augusta stay at Portland and let Doctor Clark do what he can. 
I have no faith in salt and water and besides if she came home 
to try that experiment, it would not be constantly attended to. 
By all means let her stay. It is possible that by taking the 
thing in hand thus early Doctor Clark may be able to do some- 
thing for her. Poor girl, I can't bear to think of her being 

I send you a recipe for making a syrup the best, the very 
best thing I have ever seen, tasted, or heard of for a laxative. 
The receipt which I send made 6 bottles, champagne bottles, 
two of which I gave away, cost 50 cents a bottle. 


Syrup for Dyspepsia or Costiveness 

8 oz. Lig. Guiac (Lignum vitae shavings) 

2 oz. Rose Leaves 

4 oz. Senna 

4 oz. Strong extract of Sarsaparilla 

21/2 qts. Water 

4 qts. Maple or sugar house molasses 

Flavor with wintergreen. 

To make it: Make a decoction by simmering the Lig. 
Guiac, Rose leaves and Senna in the water. Strain the decoc- 
tion, and in it dissolve the sarsaparilla, or mix if fluid, and mix 
with the molasses and simmer until thoroughly mixed 10 or 15 
minutes, and it is ready for use. 

Dose — From one spoonful to a wine glass full — one, two 
or three times a day as the patient may find necessary. 

On "Early Rising'' 

Washington, April M, '44. 
Dear Wife, 

I thank you very much for a lock of Johnny's hair. It is 
beautiful, fine and soft as silk and many shades darker than I 
supposed it was. I know he must be a good looking little fel- 
low, but I care less about that than other things. Is he not 
good? He don't get angry and show temper at nothing, does 

You are right in your conjectures that the information you 
had to communicate would give me pleasure. I was very glad 
to learn that for several weeks you have risen and breakfasted 
by 7 o'clock. Not that I would complain of your lying longer 
if you wished, for you know my sentiments upon that subject. 
I always knew of your habit and how much it apparently con- 
tributed to your comfort. I had, therefore, determined, on our 
marriage, that I had no right to complain of it and would not 
complain of it, which you know I never have done. 

Nevertheless, if, of your own accord, you are inclined to 
rise early, I must admit that it gives me pleasure. 
Ever Yours, 



Exhibition of Colt's Submarine Battery 

Washington, April 14» '44. 
Dear Wife, 

Yesterday everybody went to see the grand exhibition, to 
wit, the blowing up of a ship under full sail by means of Colt's 
submarine battery, and I, of course, among the rest. There 
were a few explosions before the blowing up of the ship, as 
matter of exhibition, by which the water was thrown into the 
air, a distance, I should think, of two hundred feet. 

All things being ready, about 5 o'clock in the afternoon 
the ship was got under way, sailing up the east branch of the 
Potomac towards the Navy Yard. In a few minutes the helm 
was lashed and the crew left her. Once she careened, alone in 
her glory, for about five minutes after the men left her, when 
the explosion took place. The battery was let off when the bow 
of the ship was over it. The bow was apparently raised some 6 
or 8 feet, breaking the ship in the center and coming down a 
perfect wreck. All the fore part of the ship seemed to be en- 
tirely demolished. The stern stuck up out of water apparently 
but little injured. The water was shoal, otherwise I suppose, 
the whole hull would have disappeared. 

The experiment, on the whole, I suppose, may be regarded 
as a successful one, and Colt will, of course, become a Lion. 
The battery, as it is called, is, I believe, a keg or large quantity 
of powder sunk under the place where the vessel is to pass. This 
is connected by a tube with a galvanic battery on the shore and 
by which the powder under water is ignited at any desired mo- 
ment. Its proposed use is to defend our harbors from attack 
by an enemy. A string of these batteries might be placed 
across the mouth of a harbor, over which no ship could pass 
without being blown up. 

The idea that all these inventions are for the destruction 
of men as well as property, is horrible. But they carry with 
them, I think, one consolation, and that is, that the more per- 
fect these instruments of destruction become, and the more the 
horrors of war increase, the chances for actual war will di- 
minish. It being nearly meeting time I will leave my letter 
unfinished and perhaps add a word on my return. 

Am sorry to be obliged to say that my knee is worse than 
it has ever been. The joint is becoming stiff er and weaker and 
is, morever, just now not a little sore and painful. I wish 
Hewitt was here, I would set him to work upon it at once. 

Ever Yours, 



Annexation of Texas 

Washington, April 13, '44. 
Dear Wife, 

The treaty for the annexation of Texas to the United States 
has been signed but not yet sent to the Senate, I doubt if two- 
thirds of the Senators are in favor of it, which is necessary to 
secure its confirmation. Opinions, however, are daily changing 
and no one knows what the result may be. 

Judge Niles is still here with us and declines taking his 
seat. He spent last evening in my room and talks as rationally 
as he ever did on any subject that may be started. His com- 
plaint is not insanity but hypochondria. We hope he will be 
well enough by and by to take his seat. If he does not, you 
know, the Wliig legislature of Connecticut will choose a Whig 
in his place. This would be joy to the Whigs but mortification 
to us. 

Ever Yours, 


On Business Matters 

Washington, April 20, 1844. 
Dear Wife, 

I don't know how early in May the Rumery estate is to be 
sold, before which I should like to know how many acres, or 
about how many there are in the pasture adjoining 
mine. I wish, therefore, you would ask Davis to ascertain, or 
by looking at it to give me his judgment. Should the sale take 
place before I give further directions about it, I am willing 
Davis should bid as high afe $180 for it. Perhaps on ascertain- 
ing the quantity I may be willing to go higher. 

One thing further I wish to suggest, and that is the sale 
of the buggy wagon. If you and the children have not become 
attached to it, I think, as soon as the travelling becomes dry, 
Davis had better wash it and carry it up to T. K. Lane and 
have it sold at auction. 

I can get something when I get home^ if needed, which will 
suit us much better. 

Yours as ever, 



Fondness for Politics Not Diminished 

Washington, April 21, 1844. 
Dear Wife, 

Mr. Bulfinch having lost his father, Charles Bulfinch of 
Boston, did not preach today. In the forenoon we had Mr. Pea- 
body, I believe that is the name, of New Bedford, and Mr. Moor, 
a Free Will Baptist clergyman of this city in the afternoon. 
Mr. Peabody's sermon was beautiful and excellent and if he 
had had sense enough to know when he was done the sermon 
would have done good, but it was spun out to such an intolera- 
ble length that vexation overcame all the previous good im- 
pressions. Mr. Moor was so-so — couldn't sleep under it more 
than half the time, 

I dined today at your Uncle Richard's expecting to meet 
Mrs. Madison, but she was unable to go out. Cousin Mary 
sends her love. I invited her to go North with me this sum- 
mer. Possibly she may. By the way. Cousin John Hartley 
was here last night and wanted me to let one of our girls come 
on and make them a visit, saying that they were very lonesome 
since Lucia went away. I told him I thought it was out of the 
question, but that I would name it to you. 

You think my verses to Ellen show that I am not entirely 
devoted to politics. Hope, therefore, your regret will some- 
what diminish. Again let me tell you that my madness in pol- 
itics (if you think there be any) is not without method. I am 
not fond of constant turmoil and excitement but am always 
looking ahead to a haven of quiet happiness. If you fear that 
politics will supplant you in my affections you are mistaken. 
Everything in which I engage is subsidiary to the main desire 
of promoting and securing the happiness of those I love. 
I have no ambition as connected with myself that I could 
not crush in a moment if the happiness of wife or children 
required it. 

Yours as Ever, 


Opposes Annexation of Texas 

Washington, April 28, 1844. 
Dear Wife, 

Mr. Stetson, one of our mess, has brought his wife, so we 
have now four ladies. Of course it is four times as agreeable 
as it would be without them. 


You will see by the papers that we have lost another mem- 
ber of the House of Representatives, Mr. Bossier of Louisiana. 
Two others, Mr. Campbell of South Carolina and Mr. McKay 
of North Carolina, are quite sick. 

Mr. Clay is here and many of his friends, who are on their 
way to the Baltimore Convention to be holden on Tuesday next. 
He had a greeting for me in the publication of my letter writ- 
ten to a Louisiana Democratic Association last February, a 
copy of which I sent you in the Globe. 

Mr. Clay and Mr. Van Buren are both out in opposition to 
the annexation of Texas, and I am glad of it. Our people in 
Maine, I found by letters and otherwise, were getting to be 
strongly in favor of it. Mr. Van B.'s letter will check them a 
little and set them to thinking. Nothing can be clearer than 
that by adopting Texas we adopt the war between her and Mex- 
ico. Now when I consent to going to war, I want something 
better to stand on than the acquisition of Texas, which, under 
any circumstances, would be a little questionable. A bill has 
been reported to the House providing for the appointment of 
Commissioners to examine claims for French spoliations. If 
it pass, about which I have doubts, the great difficulty will have 
been gotten over. An appropriation for the payment of the 
claims would follow by and by. 

Thine as Ever, 


Morse Experimenting in Telegraphy 

Washington, May 5, 1844. 
Dear Sarah, 

I have just received a letter from George which I enclose 
to you. If the old saying be true that "brevity is the soul of 
wit," what a very witty fellow George must be. 

I was much delighted a day or two since in witnessing the 
operation of Prof. Morse's telegraphic apparatus. He has wires 
extending now from the Capitol, some 22 miles towards 
Baltimore, on the track of the railroad. At each end is what is 
called a galvanic Battery, by means of which and the connect- 
ing wires, persons may converse as readily as if standing ten 
feet only apart. When I went into his room, which is one of 
the lower rooms in the Capitol, he said his man at the other end 


would not be ready to converse until after 5 minutes had 
elapsed. At the end of that time the machinery began to be 
operated upon by the galvanic battery at the other end 22 miles 
off. When a strip of paper was drawn off from a wheel and 
through rollers, a pronged hammer or whatever you might call 
it, kept striking up against the paper, making impressions upon 
it representing letters of the alphabet. 

The first thing he, the man at the other end of the wires, 
did, was to write "junction," which I enclose. This was simply 
to let him know from which one of two places he was writing. 
After which Professor Morse asked him several questions, an- 
swers to which commenced immediately after the question was 
asked. "Where is Jim?" said Mr. Morse. "He went to Balti- 
more last night," was the immediate reply. Taking but little 
more time than it would to write down the matter with a pen. 

It is said this would be the case if the wires extended 
round the globe. An instant of time would be sufficient for the 
passage of the electric fluid over the whole distance. All this 
you will see when you study natural philosophy. It is hard to 
explain such difficult matters in a letter. 

When I come I can tell you more particularly about it. As 
it is about meeting time I must say I am very affectionately, 
Your Father and friend, 


Traitors in Camp 

Washington, May 5, 1844. 
Dear Wife, 

Johnny is one year old today, and as he took one step a 
week ago, I suppose he can almost run now. 

Mr. bummer was here last night and says Sarah Lord 
starts for home tomorrow, and that he and Cousin Mary Cleaves 
go with her as far as New York where they will spend a week. 

Our troubles here thicken and multiply greatly and it is 
not easy to tell what the result will be. Our camp is full of 
traitors and there is danger in letting them remain and danger 
in exposing them. The latter course has been thought to be 
best. The great object of these fellows now is to prevent the 
nomination of Mr. V. B. who is the strong man, each in hopes 
that his favorite, whether it be Johnson, Cass, Stewart or an- 
other, may be the next successful one. I trust they will all be 


disappointed. Would you believe it, I find myself, in these 
stormy times, one of five or six who consult about and give 
some direction to, affairs. This I attribute, not to talents, but 
to my associates' belief, whether true or not, in my honesty, 
and firmness and perhaps political sagacity. This will do to 
say to one who is bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh, and 
nobody else. 

Yours as Ever, 


Political Cauldron Boiling 

Washington, May 8, 1844. 
Dear Wife, 

Don't all speak at once now, you and the flock around you 
— who wants some green peas? Wish I could send them to 
you, but inasmuch as I could not, why I did the next best thing 
yesterday, at dinner, to wit, ate them myself. But now just 
hold your lips together while I inform you that our dessert yes- 
terday and today was strawberries and cream — i. e.„ southern 
cream, which is very nearly as good as Yankee skim-milk. The 
strawberries were rich and of a good size ; the crushed sugar, of 
course white as snow and sweet as sugar; the milk as good as 
could be expected, being "the product of slave labor," the 
right hand ready to replenish the saucer every three minutes. 
Wasn't this comfortable? I can only ease my conscience for 
provoking your appetite in this way, by considering that you 
and I are one. The Good Book says so. Then, if I have eaten 
strawberries and cream, haven't you? There now, don't that 
philosophy make you feel as comfortable as if you had just 
sat down your emptied saucer? 

To be serious — if you have read the Globe, you will have 
seen that on the 30th of April, I think it was, I presented the 
credentials of Judge Niles. Objection was made to his being 
sworn. A little discussion arose in which I took part, a com- 
mittee was appointed to investigate the case and there it rests 
for the present. He will undoubtedly be permitted to take his 
seat in a few days, as soon as the committee can get time to 
tend to the case. 

The political cauldron still keeps boiling, sometimes 
threatening the overthrow of our party and again brightening 


up. For myself I think I see a clear sky through the storm and 
my faith satisfies me that all will come out right at last. 

These rascally steel pens make me look on paper like a 
stranger to you, I fear, but they are better than my quill pens, 
for these, the moment they are split, seem to be negatively 
electrified, the points standing as far from each other as possi- 
ble, looking more like pitchforks than pens. 

Love to you and ours in a hurry. 
Ever thine, 


A Shocking Death 

Washington, May 12, '44. 

I was shocked to learn by your letter received this morn- 
ing of the death of your Uncle Dominicus. And such a death, 
too ! From the circumstances which you relate, it would seem 
that he must have committed the act under some sudden im- 
pulse or at all events did not contemplate it in the morning. 
Immediaftely after breakfast I went up to your Uncle Rich- 
ard's and communicated the sad news to them. 

Tomorrow is the day when the resolution of the Senate 
fixing the day of adjournment is to be taken up in the House. 
I should not be surprised if they should extend the time to the 
10th of June or possibly the 17th. I suppose I shall be obliged 
to remain until the close of the session, as there will be some 
very important questions to be acted upon perhaps the very last 
day of the session. The political skies remain somewhat 

I can see little John tottling along to his mother's knees 
and jumping with delight to find that he can go alone. Poor 
Hammy, tell him the next time I write, I will endeavor to write 
better and plainer. Am sorry he was puzzled to find out his 

Ever Yours, 


Attended Mrs. Madison's Party 

Washington, May 19, 1844. 
Dear Wife, 

I regret to be obliged to say that Mr. Bulfinch has left us. 
His pastoral duties and services as instructor of a large school 


were too much for his health and the parish is not able to give 
him an ample support independently of the school and he has 

Judge Reddington and wife and Ann Longfellow are here. 
Mrs. R.'s health has improved greatly since she left home two 
or three weeks ago. Ann is very well apparently, except her 
voice which is somewhat husky yet. I met them last evening 
at Cousin John Hartley's. Our day of adjournment is not fixed 
yet, though I am strongly inclined to the belief that we shall 
ultimately settle down upon the 17th of June. 
Yours as Ever, 


Washington, May 23, '44. 
Dear Wife, 

Night before last I attended a select party at Mrs. Madi- 
son's. Last night had an invitation to Doctor Sewall's and to- 
night to Mr. Dummer's. Didn't go to first and can't to last, I 

If you can't read this, have patience and I'll read it for you 
in a few weeks. 

Ever Yours, 


Polk Nominated for Presidency 

Washington, May 29, '44. 
Dear Wife, 

I have but a minute to write in. This morning, or rather 
this afternoon, after 8 ineffectual ballotings, 7 yesterday, and 
one today, James K. Polk of Tennessee, was unanimously nomi- 
nated for the Presidency. 

This evening, say about 1/2 past 6, Mr. Wright was nomi- 
nated for the Vice-Presidency, and in a minute or two after- 
ward sent back to the Convention by Morse's telegraph an abso- 
lute refusal to be run. Gov. Morton, I think, will now be nom- 
inated and we shall have a good ticket. 

Mrs. Cutts came down today and says Martha wants to go 
on with me. Have an invitation to dine with British Minister 
on Saturday. Shan't go, I think. 

Ever Yours, 



Voted on For Vice-President 

Washington, May 30, '44. 
Dear Wife, 

To my astonishment I received yesterday in the Balti- 
more Convention the highest vote for Vice-President on the 
first trial, but not a majority. I had 9 states: to wit, Maine, 
Massachusetts, Vermont, Rhode Island, New York, Indiana, 
Illinois, Kentucky and Missouri, making 106 votes. Wood- 
bury had 44 ; Dallas, 13 ; Cass, 39 ; Johnson, 26 ; Stewart, 23 ; 
Marcy, 5; self, 106. On second ballot, Dallas had 220; Fair- 
field, 30 ; Woodbury, 6. I am informed that I should have been 
nominated on 2d ballot if it had not been thought that my 
course when Governor in the controversy between Maine and 
Georgia and my views on the treaty would operate against me 
in the South. With the result I am entirely satisfied. It is 
honor enough for me to have been a candidate for nomination. 

I am writing in the Senate and am happy to be able to say 
that the Senate have this moment concurred with the House 
in fixing the 17th of June as the day for adjournment. 

This morning a bill was sent to me by Wm. Fischer as fol- 
lows, viz.: 

"Mrs. Fairfield to Wm. Fischer, Dr. 

1841, July 1. To curling fluid $1.00" 

I wish I had time to crack some jokes upon this ; it affords 
a fine subject. The mystery probably may be solved by insert- 
ing before your name, Mrs. Sumner L. 

Ever thine, 


No Desire to Be Vice-President 

Washington, June 2d, '44. 
Dear Wife, 

Two weeks from tomorrow, Providence permitting, I trust 
I shall be on my way home. 

I presume you were as much astonished as some other 
folks, not omitting myself, at my being a "prominent candi- 
date for the Vice-Presidency" in the Baltimore Convention. 
What the deuce has got into people! They seem to be deter- 
mined to consider me a very clever fellow to thrust honors upon 
me "whether I will or no." Yesterday it was reported here 


that Dallas had declined, whereupon not a few here began to 
rejoice and to talk of my immediate nomination by a Congres- 
sional Convention. The rumor, however, turns out to be untrue, 
and I am glad to it. I would prefer a much humbler sta- 
tion, one better suited to my talents and tastes. "Ain't I mod- 
est?" Well, I don't care whether I am believed or not, I speak 
the truth. 

Yesterday I met Mrs. Cutts and Miss Stross in the street. 
I could have brought away a bushel of compliments if I had 
gullibility enough to swallow them. Mrs. C. complains dread- 
fully of poverty and wants me to get some place for Stephen. 
He has been out of employment the whole session. Sam owns 
a farm 3 or 10 miles out of the city and lives on it. I don't see 
that she and her husband can do better than to doff their gen- 
tility and go on to the farm with Sam. Met Cousin John Hart- 
ley also and his wife yesteiday. They are both well and happy. 
John has a good salary and his wife is an excellent manager, 
and so they get along, I should think, right comfortably. 

Heard Mr. Buckingham again today. His sermon was as 
long as a turnpike and sleepy as a pillow of hops. He needs a 
little more worldly wisdom. 

Ever thine, 


Texas Treaty Debate Ended 

Washington, June 9, '44. 
Dear Wife, 

Last night we had an evening session for the first time, 
and terminated the debate on the Texas treaty. The vote was 
15 for the ratification and 35 against it. I was among the nays. 
Col. Benton gave immediate notice of his intention to bring 
in a bill on Monday morning, providing for the annexation of 
Texas in a way which should not be attended with war nor 
violate our faith with Mexico. I can go for such a measure as 

You will perceive that the papers insist upon it that I went 
to Philadelphia and in the dead of night and to the alarm 
of everybody announced to Mi. Dallas his nomination to the 
Vice-Presidency, while in fact 1 was snugly ensconced in my 
bed at Washington, dreaming Df far more agreeable matters 


than politics, to wit, of wife and children and all the dear 
delights of home. I don't know how the mistake orginated, but 
I have not deemed it of sufficient consequence to make a public 
correction of it. When you wrote last you had not heard of 
my being a candidate in the Baltimore Convention. I can 
assure you I am much better pleased with the result than if I 
had been nominated. 

Heard Mr. Buckingham again today at our church. Don't 
like him. His sermons are unendurably long. It is bad 
enough to sit and take his cold water without being obliged to 
drink a hogshead at a time. This, I learn, is his last Sabbath 

Ever Yours, 


Wouldn't Travel on Sabbath 

Washington, June 15, '44. 
Dear Wife, 

T am pretty much over my ill turn. Hope to be entirely 
well before reaching home. Martha Cutts goes with me to 
Kennebunk. Cousin Mary can't go now, — but says she may 
come along by and by. Shall try to call on Cousins Hartley 
and Dummer before I leave. 

Thank you for your very judicious suggestion against 
travelling on the Sabbath. It accords precisely with my own 
views and feelings. I had not intended to start on Saturday. 

When shall I start? That's the question. As near as I 
can guess on Monday or Tuesday morning. If the business 
is pretty much all done up by tomorrow night, leaving little or 
nothing for Monday, I shall start on that day. 
Yours E/er, 


Senator Fairfield Campaigning 

Waterville, Aug. 14, '44. 
Dear Wife, 

I arrived here last night after a very pleasant passage. 
My present arrangement is to go to Boston tomorrow afternoon 
by steamboat, and return home on Saturday by railroad. 
Should I change my plans I will endeavor to notify vou of it. 

J. F. 


Norway, Sept. 3d. 
Dear Wife, 

My engagements remaining unfulfilled are at Casco tomor- 
row, Wednesday; Gray, Thursday; Freeport, Friday, and Sac- 
carappa Saturday afternoon. I wish Davis or somebody to be 
at Donnell's tavern in Scarboro Saturday afternoon, where I 
shall endeavor to be by 6 o'clock. Health remains good. 
Glorious meeting today. Only 3,000 of the Oxford bears pres- 
ent. Wait for the rest till I see you. 

Portland, Sept. 5th. 
Dear Wife, 

I write to say that you need not send to Scarboro for me 
on Saturday. The Standish folks have persuaded the Sacca- 
rappa folks to let me go to the former place on Saturday after- 
noon, Col. Pool agreeing to see me home Saturday night. 

I have just arrived here from Gray where I spoke today. 
Tomorrow I go to Freeport. 

Ever thine, 


Goes to Boston Physician 

U. S. Hotel, Boston, Oct. 15, '44. 
Dear Wife, 

Arrived here last evening about 10, "safe" if not "sound." 
This morning called on Dr. Hewett and had another examina- 
tion of my knee. He says it is much worse than it was when 
he examined it a year and a half ago, and does not speak so 
strongly as he did as to an entire cure. The process that he 
deems the most effective and most certain to cure would require 
months, say 3 or 4, of confinement. That is out of the ques- 
tion with me at this time, at all events. The next best course, 
in his opinion, is to get rid of the diflficulty by absorption. This, 
he says, may be done externally and internally (How it is to 
be done internally is beyond my comprehension). And I am 
inclined to think he prefers this course himself. If the cure 
should not be so radical, there will be much less danger in the 
process than in the other. Indeed, in this I presume there can 
be none. 


He says he must have me with him a fortnight, at least, 
and I have concluded to stop and let him go to work. He com- 
menced operations this forenoon, occupying less than an hour. 
Beginning with a hot bath of a very strong decoction of some 
very strong articles and following it with friction or a sort of 
animal magnetism manipulations and bathing with what smelt 
like alcohol or ether. On leaving he gave me two bottles from 
each of which I am to bathe and rub three times a day, the two 
kinds not interfering with each other, making, as you per- 
ceive, six times a day. 

His house was full and consequently he could not take me 
in. I am at the U. S. Hotel now, but think I shall look out for a 
private boarding house tomorrow. 

Ever Yours, 


"Husking Night" 

Boston, Oct. 17, 1844. 
Dear Wife, 

After wearisome travellings and various discussions with 
landlords and landladies, at last here I am set down at "No. 24 
Franklin Place" where Mr. Calef and Hannah boarded. Hewett 
and his operations are going on as usual. Every forenoon I go 
to his house, where my knee goes through the hot bath and 
then the process of friction by Hewett. After which 4 times a 
day thus far (ought to be 6) I bathe and rub myself. Can't 
say that I feel any great improvement yet, but have confidence 
that the improvement will come. I talked with Hewett today 
about Augusta. He says send her along and I'll cure her. 
When I return we will talk about it. 

This is husking night! isn't it? Oh, what a grand time 
you are to have — success to ye — "Away with melancholy" and 
let all hearts be tuned to happiness and husks. 
Yours as Ever, 


Visit From Bancroft 

Boston, Oct. 21, 1844. 
Dear Wife, 

I was very agreeably surprised today on going down to 
dinner to meet Mary Calef on the stairs. Mr. Calef I have not 


seen yet. Mary sails tomorrow in the ship Milton for Mobile. 
She seems to be pleased with the idea of going, and I hope it 
will prove a happy expedient for restoring her to health. 

Am sorry to say that I can feel and see no improvement 
as yet. Indeed, I have slept but little for the last three nights, 
such has been the pain in my knee and shin. 

Yesterday I went to hear Mr. Gannett, but found Mr. 
Morrison of New Bedford. He gave us, however, a very good 
sermon for a metaphysical one. In the afternoon Gannett him- 
self preached. He is lame and awkward in appearance but 
gave us such a sermon, practical though it was, as no one but 
a man of genius and fervent piety could give. 

In the evening, Gough Green, the reformed gambler, held 
forth at the Odeon, — but I did not attend. Indeed, ever since 
I have been here there have been a variety of entertainments, 
intellectual and otherwise, going on in the evenings, but I have 
eschewed them all. I find it difficult enough to get about by 
day with my game leg, without risking the perils of the night. 

Saturday night I had a long and interesting visit from 
Mr. Bancroft. I admire him, his greatness is so tempered by 
simplicity. I like him again because our thoughts are so much 
alike on political subjects and our views of political men. 

J. F. 

Excitement Among Millerites 

Boston, Oct. 24, '44. 
Dear Wife, 

For the last two days I have had strong hopes of improve- 
ment. The knee is not so stiff or so weak as it was last week. 
This morning, however, I have those nervous pains in my shin 
and foot which have so long troubled me. 

Mary Calef is still here, the vessel not having sailed for 
want of a wind. Lewella Bell is also here, and we are having 
fine times, I assure you. Mary's health is pretty good, and 
she appears to be in fine spirits. Lewella is the picture of 
health and beauty and charms us with her music and pleas- 
antry. She well remembers and speaks of George and Walter 
and the sport they used to have in the old Tapley house. She 
and Mary accompany each other to Mobile. The ship in which 
they go (the Milton) is a large, noble looking ship, nearly new, 
and having very fine accommodations. I wish you would let 


them know into Mr. Calef s that the ship has not sailed and 
why. I told Mary I would write today for that purpose. 

Since I have been here there has been a good deal of ex- 
citement among the Millerites. The great day, however, is past 
and it is said that Himes, the principal, has gone to Europe 
with a large amount of money. There may be something 
in it, but exaggeration is to be expected now when so many are 
suffering the mortification of their delusion. 

Ever Yours, 


Returned to Washington 

Washington, Nov. 29. 
Dear Wife, 

I hail once more from the great City, having arrived here 
last night at about 1/2 past 7. Came directly to Mrs. Scott's, 
where I found only my old friend, Mr. King, I have taken my 
old room and shall probably keep it, especially as Mrs. Scott 
has been sprucing it up a little. Mr. Wright, I learn, very 
much to my regret, is not coming on. On looking for my letters 
for delivery I find some of them missing. I have the package 
that Edward Hartley brought down for his Father, a letter to 
Mary Cleaves and one to Mrs. Ela. These are all I find in the 
trunk or in pockets. Now where are the rest? I guess they 
must be in my wrapper pocket hanging in the entry. Do look 
and see and if they are there send them on as soon as possible. 

Did I not also leave on the parlor table letters for Reuel 
Williams and some others? If so, I wish them put into the 
post-office. What a confounded careless fellow I am. 

Yours as ever, 


Mrs. Madison Grows Younger and Handsomer 

Washington, Dec. 22d, 1844. 
Dear Wife, 

I have an invitation from Cousin Mary to dine with heir 
today, when I am to meet Mrs. Madison, I believe. After my re- 
turn, if I have time, I will give you some account of it. We 
dine at 2. Uncle Richard bought a great turkey and other 
things last week to give Mrs. Madison and me a dinner, but 


in the night some one carried them all off. They were 
placed in a refrigerator standing in the back yard. Very cool, 
wasn't it? 

5 O'clock. Just returned. At dinner met Mrs. Madison, 
Anna Paine, Madison Cutis and wife and a Mr. Hayes, member 
of Congress from Pennsylvania. Had an excellent dinner and 
very pleasant time. Bill of fare, roast turkey, boiled chickens, 
boiled ham, stewed oysters, venison steak, etc. Mrs. M. is a 
pretty good trencher man, I can assure you. I thought she 
ate enormously. She appeared, though, younger and handsomer 
than I ever saw her before and was in fine spirits. Anna Paine 
is all life and animation, full of fun and up to all sorts of jokes. 

Love to our dear little chips. 

Ever thine, 


George at Bowdoin 

Washington, Dec. 23d, 1844. 
Dear Wife, 

I enclose George's term bill, the amount of which you can 
furnish him when he leaves for Brunswick. I like the account, 
etc., at the bottom with the exception of the "2 mornings ab- 
sent without excuse." Let George make his excuse to you if he 

24th. I have just received an invitation to dinner next 
Saturday, 6 o'clock, from Mr. Packenham, the British minister. 
Believe I shall accept it, though I had rather stay at home by a 
great deal. 

Now don't laugh. There is nothing like the hair mittens. 
I get up pretty early, and after rubbing or washing with a wet 
towel and wiping dry, I spend from I/4 to 1/2 an hour with the 
mitten. I "fancy" it has improved me much generally and par- 
ticularly. Your steam engine lays snugly stowed away in the 
trunk. Its proximity has done some good, perhaps, without 
other use of it. 

Ever thine, 



Dinner at British Minister's 

Washington, Dec. 29, 1844. 
Dear Sarah : 

Tired of waiting for your letter, I have concluded to send 
you mine, hoping that you may thereby be waked up to a little 
effort for my gratification. I ought, however, to submit with 
tolerable patience to this absence of letters from you, inasmuch 
as I have you in propria persona before me every day at the 
breakfast, dinner and tea-table, grown up to twenty-one. "Why, 
Father, how you talk!" Wait a moment and let me explain. 
Opposite to me at the table every day sits Miss Lucalia Niles, 
niece of Judge Niles, between whom and you there is a very 
striking likeness. The shape of the head, color of hair and 
features of the face, are alike. The differences are that you 
have rather the blackest eye and she has the softest complex- 
ion. If I add to this, my opinion, that she is quite handsome, 
I suppose you will not be disposed to find fault with my apti- 
tude at discovering resemblances. 

Yesterday, agreeably to invitation, I went to dine with 
Mr. Packinham, the British minister. He is an old bachelor, 
say about 55 years old, and lives in the house owned and for- 
merly occupied by Danl. Webster. The hour of dining was six. 
The door was opened by a servant dressed in uniform — say 
blue coat, faced with white, very similar to the uniform coats 
of our militia captains, white small clothes, white silk stock- 
ings and shoes. Another in the same uniform took my cloak 
and hat and a third, I believe, opened the parlor door and an- 
nounced me by name, having first inquired what it was. 

After exchanging salutations, I looked about and found 
the company to consist of the following persons: Seven Sena- 
tors, Col. Benton, Gov. Woodbury, Mr. Allen, Mr. Haywood, 
Mr. Sturgeon, Mr. Semple and himself. Also, Mr. Ellsworth, 
commissioner of patents, Mr. Dickens, secretary of the Senate, 
Mr. Morse, the inventor of the famous electric telegraph, Mr. 
Greenhow, the author, Lieut. Fremont, who has several times 
crossed the Rocky Mountains and published accounts thereof, 
and one young gentleman whose name I did not learn. 

The table was covered with a rich, massive service of pure 
silver, consisting of a large and elegant candelabra in the cen- 
ter and two smaller ones at either end of the table, large and 
elegant dishes holding oyster pies and things of that descrip- 
tion. Our knives and forks were also of solid silver. The first 


course was soup; 2d, fish, bass; 3d, "sweetbread" with tomato 
sauce; 4th, chicken curiously cooked; 5th, je ne sais quoi; 6th, 
canvas back ducks; 7th, boiled ham; 8th, oyster pie; 9th, sad- 
dle of mutton. All intermixed with jelled jams, sauces, etc., 
etc., and followed by ice creams, cakes, grapes, knick-knacks, 
etc., etc. I have not enumerated probably much more than 
half, and don't suppose I have them arranged in exact order, 
but it is as near as I can recollect. 

As a matter of curiosity I ate a little from almost every 
dish and in consequence thereof had rather a sleepless night. 
Today, however, I found I could eat my allowance at dinner as 
well as others. We sat at table about two hours, a light, pleas- 
ant conversation going on the while. After leaving the table 
and retiring to the parlor again strong coffee was brought in. 
Soon after which we "old uns" made our bow and got home 
about 9 o'clock. How long the others staid, can't say. There, 
what do you think fo such a dinner as that? How would you 
and George like to show your skill in despatching it? 

There was one thing about it, which I had forgotten, and 
which I particularly liked, to wit, there were no black odor- 
iferous niggers about. 

I think, however, this will be the last dinner party I shall 
attend this session. They wiU do for some folks better than 
they will for me. 

Your Affectionate Father, 



Early in the year of 1845 Senator Fairfield was re-elected 
to the U. S. Senajte and with an unanimity thait surprised 
and gratified him. During the forming of the new Cabi- 
net that year there was much talk of making Mr. Fairfield Sec- 
retary of the Navy. He admits in the following letters to his 
wife that it is a position which he would like, as much, perhaps, 
because of the benefit the increased salary would be to his 
growing family, for whom he felt he ought to be making surer 
future provision, as for the honor and his liking for the task 
itself. That position would give him $6,000 a year and he felt 
that he could make good use of it. 

His rival was George Bancroft, the historian, for whom he 
has already expressed a liking in former letters. Mr. Bancroft 
had repeatedly declared that he was more than ready to give 
his chance to Fairfield. This is plainly stated in a letter to Mr. 
Fairfield, in which he said: 

"Some persons are suggesting my name for consideration 
in making up the Cabinet. This is done by some personal 
friends with the kindest motives; by some with a view to 
counteract your wishes ; by some for ulterior purposes. I can- 
not directly take notice of this myself in the present aspect of 
things ; but I have written to several whose friendship I cherish 
and avowed to them my views with the same frankness with 
which I opened myself to you. I am convinced that a position 
like that at Berlin would be considered as better suited to my 
purposes of life than a seat in the cabinet; and I write this 
letter, of which you will make none but a discreet use, that you 
may be able, if opportunity offers, to interpret my feelings 
without fear of mistake. 

"With regard to yourself, the opposition to you in Maine is 
comparatively feeble ; I advise you through your friends to urge 
on the period of your re-election. That should be done at once 
at the meeting of your Legislature, and then you may safely 
leave affairs to their natural development. 


"Mr. Henshaw's friends speak of him with some hope that 
he may one day resume the Navy Department, and as that 
could not be accomplished immediately, it is possible that some 
might wish to see the post filled temporarily. You do not need 
any assurance from me that I shall lend myself to no such pur- 

"Thanks for your maps and the pamphlet. Very valua- 
ble they are, to me. The Whigs are dreadfully savage, worse 
than I ever knew them. Write to me." 

The letter marked "very private," is dated Boston, Dec. 26, 
1844, and bears this signature: 

Senator Fairfield did leave things to their natural develop- 
ment. He was a man who never pushed his candidacy or 
worked for office. Notwithstanding Mr. Bancroft's protesta- 
tions that he did not want the office, it was given to him and he 
accepted it. In doing this, Senator Fairfield, always fair and 
generous-minded, always maintained there was no hypocrisy in 
his attitude at the time he wrote the letter and he never laid it 
up against Bancroft for changing his mind. It was believed that 
Senator Fairfield was secretly disappointed that the secretary- 
ship was given to another, but if so he covered his disappoint- 
ment well, consoling himself with the thought that he could 
the sooner get home to his loved ones and that he still held a 
good office. 

The disappointment of his friends, as usual in the case of 
his defeats, outweighed his own. The incident only increased 


his popularity and there were prophecies of his future Presi- 
dency. What the future would actually have brought him we 
can never know, for his career was cut off in its prime. The 
letters continue: 

Aspires to Seat in Cabinet 

Washington, Jan. 3, 1845. 
Dear Wife. 

Your last letter, dated the 28th, was quite philosophical 
And I must confess it requires some philosophy to live as you 
do, with all the family cares thrown upon you, having not only 
no help from, but not even the countenance of, your husband. 
But these are evils. Dear Wife, that are unavoidable for the 
present. We must hope for better things by and by. 

The honors of public office, I don't care a rush about. My 
object now is to scrape a little something together for the ben- 
efit of those whom I love beyond all the world beside. How I 
shall succeed, time only can show. A seat in the Cabinet with 
$6000 a year, if I have my health, would probably aid me in 
cariying my projects into effect, better than almost anything 
else that could be given me. About that, however, I shall not 
be sanguine. And if I can get my re-election to the Senate, I 
shall not have any great degree of solicitude about the other. 

By night the swelling in my foot and ankle subsides, so 
that I can wear my boots, both boots. During the day, how- 
ever, it (the ankle, not the boot) swells up again. No inflam- 
mation or soreness. 

Ever Yours, 


I have a ten dollar bill of Saco money that I can send you 
when you want it. 

Sees Mrs. Alexander Hamilton 

Washington, Jan. 10, 1845. 
Dear Wife, 

I attended a large party at Blair's on night of 8th January, 
the only one I intended to attend for the session. It was a 
splendid affair. Got home at 12 and then sat up till one, read- 
ing letters. Yesterday the widow of Alexander Hamilton, near 
90 years old, I believe, was in the gallary of the Senate. She 
looked like one of our plain old-fashioned ladies, cap and all. 
She appeared to take a deep interest in the debate, and is, I am 
told, a very intelligent and interesting lady. 

It is rumored today that Clingman of North Carolina and 
Yancey of Alabama have gone somewhere out of the city or 


rather out of the district to prepare for a duel. I fear there 
may be some truth in the rumor. Clingman is a bitter Whig 
and a few days ago made a bitter and abusive speech. Yancey 
replied and made, it is said, one of the most eloquent speeches 
ever made in that Hall. He was very severe and sarcastic 
upon Clingman who, it is said, means to seek his remedy by 
challenging Y. to fight him. 

Ever thine, 


Consults Dr. Harris 

Washington, Jan. 12, '45. 
Dear Wife, 

Judge Mason, Secretary of Navy, has been urging me for 
some time to permit him to introduce me to Doc. Harris, Chief 
of the Bureau of Medicine, etc., a branch of the Navy Depart- 
ment, for the purpose of procuring his opinion and advice upon 
my knee. He thinks Harris has not his superior in the United 
States, so yesterday I went with him. After examination, the 
Doctor said that the collection about the knee was water, and 
that he could cure it, making the joint as good as it ever was, 
whenever I would consent to lay by two months. 

He said it would never do to use caustics and make a sore 
— that it would be attended with great danger. That a mere 
puncture was sufficient through which to draw off the water, 
and that then the air must be entirely excluded from it. That 
it must be kept tightly bound up and the leg not used for about 
two months. He thinks I might be a good deal benefited by a 
laced stocking which I can get made in Philadelphia, in which 
the whole leg is kept tightly bound. Capt. Tallcott of the 
Army, he says, had just such a knee^ and has been entirely 
cured by him. All this is encouraging, and when I can get 2 
months leisure I think the experiment will be tried. I keep up 
the use of the hair mitten yet, and find it useful, so far as re- 
gards my general health and by consequence, probably, the par- 
ticular difficulty. 

Nothing particularly new here, except the rumor that a 
duel is in process of being got up between Clingman of North 
Carolina and Yancey of Alabama. They are both in Maryland 
carrying on a correspondence preparatory to a duel. 


I hope they will both be arrested and they probably will be 
before anything serious occurs. 

In bonds of love and matrimony 
Ever thine, 


Yancey-Clingman Duel 

Washingrton, Jan. 15, 1845. 
Dear Wife, 

Accorciing to my letters today (Wednesday) is the day 
fixed for an election of U. S. Senator in Maine Legislature. 
So before this time the deed is done and I am re-elected, or I am 
not. My anxieties upon the subject are not very great. That 
may, however, be owing, in part, to the pretty strong probabil- 
ities that I have a very considerable majority of the Democrats 
in my favor. As, however, "there is many a slip between the 
cup and the lip" I will endeavor to be tolerably modest. 

Yancey and Clingman exchanged shots and "nobody was 
kilt." The tragedy was turned into a farce. 

Just had a call from Mr. Dummer, Almira in the mean- 
while taking a ride. I see nobody who seems to be more in- 
terested in my re-election and appointment to the Cabinet than 
they are. 

Ever thine, 


Re-elected to U. S. Senate 

Washington. Jan. 19, '45. 
Dear Wife, 

Yesterday I received news of my re-election to the Senate, 
and with a degree of unanimity that I had not been anticipat- 
ing. If anybody has reason to be grateful, am I not the one? 
Now, I feel but little solicitude about being invited to a seat in 
the new cabinet. With the latter place, to be sure, I could 
make most money, but then it has some offsets. My condition 
upon the whole, is rather comfortable, that is, an alternative 
between two good offices. Nothing has transpired to change 
the aspect of the case so far as regards the Secretaryship, since 


I wrote last. Mr. Polk will not be here until about the 20th of 
February and I doubt if there be any amiouncement of ap- 
pointments until after that time. 

Ever Yours, 


Annexation of Texas 

Washington, Jan. 26, 1845. — The resolutions for the an- 
nexation of Texas passed the House yesterday by a vote of 119 
to 98. I do not exactly like the resolutions, inasmuch as they 
have nearly the whole territory a slave territory. Think we 
shall amend them in the Senate. Our Legislature, I perceive, 
are discussing the question of instructions to the Maine dele- 
gation in Congress. It will be queer if the whole thing is set- 
tled here before they come to any conclusion among them- 
selves. , 

Washington, Jan. 30, 1845. — Dating my letter reminds me 
that this day I am 48 years old — "Tempus fugit" — and we fly 
with it. 

Happy should we be if we could always truly say that the 
years marked our progress in wisdom and virtue as weU as 
our progress towards the grave. But most of us live on to 

"Resolve, and re-resolve and die the same." 

Dined once with the British minister and attended one 
party at Blair's. This is about the extent of my participation 
in high life. 

Ever Yours, 


Texas, Callers, Hopes and Fears 

Washington, Feb. 2, 1845. 
Dear Wife, 

Talking as I do about the anticipated appointment, "should 
I not be dreadfully disappointed and mortified if I failed to re- 
ceive it?" No, by no means, my dear child. 

The truth is I think it is very doubtful what the President 
will do in this respect, and in the next place I don't care much 
what he does. If the appointment possesses many advantages, 


it has also its offsets. To you, however, I need not enumerate 
them, they will occur to your mind as readily as to my own. 

Nevertheless the balance is probably in favor of the ap- 
pointment, so if it comes I will take it thankfully. If it do not, 
I will submit without murmuring or repining, and believe that 
all is for the best. 

On Sunday we dine at 2 o'clock and immediately after, I 
commenced writing the above, intending to write at some 
length and afterward to go up to Mr. Ela's and take tea. But 
when I had gotten thus far Gen. Dix, senator from New York, 
and Judge Niles, came into my room and have been here talk- 
ing, talking and talking until it is now near tea time. Judge 
N. is the most inveterate talker I ever knew. Stand a barrel 
of water on its head, pull out a small spile near the bottom, and 
the running stream will give you some idea of his stream of 
conversation. Genl. Dix, the successor of Mr. Wright, I like 
very much. Modest and unassuming, but a man of superior 
talents. The Legislature of Maine, it seems, has postponed in- 
definitely the resolutions introduced there to instruct its Sen- 
ators how to vote upon the question of annexation of Texas. 
As they have left it entirely to my discretion, I am the more 
anxious to do what I believe they would have me do. My im- 
pression is that Texas will be admitted in some shape or other, 
and probably with my vote. Gen. Dix has just come to Judge 
Niles and me from Col. Benton to tell us confidentially that he 
intends tomorrow to introduce a new scheme and make a speech 
upon it — a scheme that all of us can go for. And we learn, 
moreover, that it will have the approbation of Gen. Jackson, 
which will be a great point gained. 

Ever Yoursi, 


Meets President-Elect Polk 

Washington, Feb. 14, 1845. 
Dear Wife, 

The President arrived here last night. This morning Judge 
Niles and I called upon him. Found him just what he used 
to be, plain, frank, honest and agreeable. Did not see Mrs. 
Polk. She is a good deal used up by her journey. Nothing 
new as to Cabinet. A few days must give us some important 
developments. Yours ever, 



Doubts About Cabinet 

Washington, Feb. 16, 1845. 
Dear Wife, 

A friend has just been in to give me his opinion that I am 
not to be selected for one of the Cabinet. His reasons are 
these, Parmenter of Massachusetts received a letter a few days 
since from Mr. Bancroft, in which he positively said that he 
should not be in Washington until after the inauguration of 
President. Last night, however, he arrived, and Hallett of 
Boston and Parmenter intimate that they have good reason to 
believe that he has been invited to go into the cabinet, and has 
come on by invitation of the President for that purpose. 

Now all this may be so, but I shall not give credence to 
it without the strongest proof. Bancroft, you know, has all 
along been corresponding confidentially with me, and has pro- 
fessed to be warmly in favor of my going into the cabinet, he 
not wishing the place himself, but having his eye on another 
thing. My friend thinks this is all gammon and that Ban- 
croft has been playing double with me. I don't believe it. I 
have more faith in man. I have full confidence that in his let- 
ters to me he has been perfectly sincere and honest, and that 
time will demonstrate it. Tomorrow probably he will call on 
me, when I can guess the true state of the case if it is not com- 
municated to me. 

The interest taken in this matter by everybody as the time 
approaches for action, is very deep. Shall be glad when it is 
all over. I can derive some consolation from my failure should 
I fail, inasmuch as I shall sooner be at home. 
Ever Yours, 


Meets Bancroft at Mrs. Polk's 

Washington, Feb. 18, 1845. 
Dear Wife, 

I told you that Bancroft arrived Saturday night. Monday 
forenoon he called to see me and left his card, but while he was 
doing that I was calling upon him and leaving my card. Last 
night I called up again at Colman's where he stops and where 
the President also has quarters, and finding him (B.) out again, 
I improved the occasion to call on Mrs. Polk whom I had not 


seen. While spending a very agreeable half hour with her, 
Bancroft came in. He was very cordial, and notwithstanding 
what has been insinuated, I believe perfectly sincere. I, of 
course, invited him to call upon me, and expected he would 
today, but he has not. 

Judge Niles saw him yesterday and from the conversation 
the Judge gathered that he had been urged by certain persons 
(my opponents in Maine, I presume) to become a candidate 
for a place in the Cabinet. That, he was half inclined to, but 
was unwilling to thwart or interfere with my wishes. In this 
state of the case, I think the appointment lies between us. I 
hope to see him tonight, and bring him to an explanation. The 
President, it is thought, will announce his selection in two or 
three days. 

There is hardly anything else talked of, and a deep interest 
is manifested, for on this the character and complexion of his 
administration is supposed to depend. Rumor is constantly 
making up tickets or lists of the Cabinet on half of which, per- 
haps, my name may be found. 

Have an invitation tomorrow night to Mrs. Tyler's ball, 
but I won't go. Yesterday he sent in another nomination for a 
Collector in Maine ! For one who will act so outrageously I can 
have no respect and can't conscientiously attend his balls or 
parties. For Thursday night have an invitation to Doctor 
Sewell's and another to Mrs. Ela's. Think I shall accept the 
latter, if any. Love to all. 

Ever Yours, 


Much Doubt on Cabinet 

Washington, Feb. 20, '45. 
Dear Wife, 

I have seen Mr. Bancroft and am satisfied that he has 
changed his views and is now desirous of going into the Cabinet 
himself. I cannot and will not think he was insincere when he 
wrote me heretofore. His ambition is too strong to keep it in 
subjection to his former disposition to oblige me. What is to 
be the result of all this I cannot guess. The President still 
maintains his imperturbable silence. Everybody guesses his in- 
tentions but no one knows them. I shall be as well prepared now 


to hear of the appomtment of another as of my own, and in 
that case I shall the sooner be with my loved ones. I am pre- 
pared for anything. Is not my condition a happy one ? 
Ever Yours, 


Texas Annexation Bill Passes Senate 

Washington, Feb. 28. 
Dear Wife, 

The bill providing for the annexation of Texas passed last 
night by a vote of 27 to 25. All the Democrats and 3 Whigs 
composed the majority. 

It creates a time of general rejoicing here. During the 
voting, the Senate was thronged and the most intense interest 
prevailed. Nothing yet known about the Cabinet, but I fear 
Maine will have no lot or part in the matter, so expect me home 
along by and by. 

Ever Yours, 


Gives Up Cabinet Hopes 

March 2, 1845. — Time only for a word. The letters throng 
in upon me so that weeks will be required to answer them. We 
are also up to our chins in business in the Senate. The session 
continued last night (Saturday) until 12 o'clock. Tomorrow is 
the last day of the session and the last of the Tyler dynasty, 
at which I rejoice. I am satisfied now that I am not to go 
into the Cabinet and I can assure you I feel quite reconciled to 
it. Home looms up at the reflection. 

Ever thine, 


Bancroft Named for Cabinet 

March 7, 1845. 
Dear Wife, 

Day before yesterday the Cabinet was nominated thus: 
Buchanan, Secretary of State ; Walker, Secretary of Treasury ; 


Gov. Marcy, Secretary of War; Bancroft, Secretary of Navy; 
Jno. J. Mason, Attorney-General, and Case Johnson, Postmas- 
ter-General. All have been confirmed by the Senate except 
Bancroft, I think he will be on Monday next. The opposition 
to him does not come from me. On the contrary I have been 
appointed Chairman of Committee on Naval Affairs and have 
to defend him. Is not that a little curious? 

We have adjourned over (wrongfully though) until Mon- 
day, so I shall get a little respite. For the last week or so, I 
have not been able to get more than 4 or 5 hours sleep out of 
the 24. 

Last night we had a great fire here, burning the National 
theatre and the roofs and insides of several dwelling houses. 
The fire took, I believe, among the scenery while the play was 
being performed. Have not heard of anybody being injured. 
Ever Yours, 


President Polk Explains 

Washington, March 9, '45. 
Dear Wife, 

By special appointment of the President I went to see him 
at 5 o'clock yesterday and had a private interview with him. 
He was desirous of explaining the appointment of Bancroft, 
and of driving away any hard feelings on my part if I should 
entertain them. He was very kind and assured me that he had 
not passed over Maine in the formation of his Cabinet from any 
want of respect or esteem for me, for I had not a better friend 
on earth than he was, and he hoped some place would present it- 
self during his four years which would suit me better than 
the one he now sought, etc., etc. Our interview was brief but 
very satisfactory. In all the appointments in our State, I shall 
have all the influence that I ought to have, and no mistake. 

I have had one letter from George since he went to Bruns- 
wick and shall try to give him one before I leave Washington. 

Ever Yours, 



Some Maine Appointments 

Senate Chamber, March 13, 1845. 
Dear Wife, , 

Senator Bates of Massachusetts now lies dangerously ill. 
The President has requested me to remain a few days after the 
adjournment of the Senate, consequently I am unable to say 
precisely when I shall be at home. 

Yesterday Capt. Jordan was nominated Collector of Cus- 
toms at Saco. Today Osborne of Kennebunk was nominated 
for Collector at that place and one of my old Councillors, N. C. 
Fletcher, as Chaplain in the Navy. Our postmaster at Saco 
will not be appointed until after my return home. 

Love to all. 

Ever thine, 


A. G. Jewett was yesterday nominated as Charge d'affaires 
to Peru. 

Death of Senator Bates of Massachusetts 

Washington, March 17, '45. 
Dear Wife, , 

Mr. Bates died last night about 6 o'clock and is to be buried 
tomorrow, or rather the funeral ceremonies will be performed 
and then the corpse will be taken to the cars and carried to 
Massachusetts. , 

In consequence of this the Senate will not probably ad- 
journ until Thursday. 

Ever Yours, 


Hasting Back to Washington 

Washington, April 12. 
Dear Wife, 

Thus far, I have succeeded pretty well in my objects and I 
am very glad I came on. I fear that most mischievous conse- 
quences would have resulted from my absence. 


Washington, April 13, 1845. — Almost the first news that 
met me on my arrival here was the death of your Uncle Rich- 
ard. He died last Monday after having been confined only a 
few days. He was buried yesterday. I attended the funeral 
and rode with Mrs. Madison. President Adams was one of the 
pall bearers. 

Can't tell as yet when I may be home. My presence was 
necessary here, and I am very glad I came on. 

Washington, April 18. — I shall probably leave here for 
home tomorrow, Sunday will stop me one day, and a visit to 
Gov. Wright at Albany, perhaps another day. 

Dr. Nourse was appointed Collector at Bath today, and 
other arrangements made of which I am not at liberty now to 
speak. Some things are well and some not quite so well, but 
all might have been much worse. 

Ever Yours, 


Once More in Washington 

Washington, Nov. 29, '45. 
Dear Wife, 

Once more located in my little 12 by 14, 1 embrace the very 
first leisure moment to commence my old and agreeable occupa- 
tion. I reached here last night about 8 o'clock and came di- 
rectly to Mrs. Satts', who I found very glad to see me and all 
prepared for us — I mean Judge Niles and myself. The Judge 
I fell in with at Philadelphia, having with him his bran new 
young, accomplished and amiable wife, to whom he was very 
slyly united on Wednesday last in New York, and having with 
him also his niece, Kate Robinson, both of whom, I suppose, are 
to spend the session with us. I will tell you more about them 
by and by. Mr. King, our good-natured bachelor, is to come 
here tonight, and a Mr. Gordon, another member from New 
York. Farther than this, our mess is not made up. 

Called upon the President today but finding him busy in 
Cabinet meeting, went in to see Mrs. Polk. Had a very pleas- 
ant call and among others met our sweet cousin, Anna Payne. 
She wants to see you much and regretted that you had not 


come on with me. Cousin Mary has been here a couple of weeks 

and is now at her Aunt Madison's. Richard is not married yet 

but expects to be, as Anna said, about the 16th of December. 

Ever Yours, 


Washington, Dec. 1, 1845. 
Dear Wife, 

Went to meeting twice yesterday carrying "Kate Robin- 
son" with me. She is a very handsome, sensible, witty, humor- 
ous, amiable and excellent girl and if she were not engaged and 
expecting to be married shortly, would captivate half the beaux 
in Washington. Mrs. Niles, also, I like much. She is about 35 
or 40 and is a woman of mind and good education. I think my 
old friend has made a very happy choice. Yesterday he gave 
me a detailed account of his courtship and marriage which I 
may give to you some time when leisure will permit. 

Ever Yours, 


Brother George's Case 

Washington, Dec. 3\, '45. 
Dear Wife, 

I am sorry to say that the verdict in Brother George's 
favor at Philadelphia does not seem to be so secure as I at first 
thought. I have received another letter from Mr. Wharton by 
which I learn that a motion for a new trial has first to be de- 
cided by the Judge who tried the case. Generally, of course, 
this is mere matter of form, because it is to be presumed that a 
Judge will adhere to the same doctrines for a few days at least. 
The Judge, in this case however, it seems, doubts the correct- 
ness of his ruling at the trial. That is to say, he doubts if it 
was correct in him to leave it to the Jury to determine whether 
Bro. George returned the machine within a reasonable time, 
that being a question of law which he should have determined 
himself. The point is to be argued in a few days and I am 
very fearful of the result. 

Called last night at Mrs. Madison's, saw Cousins Mary 
and Anna Payne, both well and frisky. Richard is also stop- 
ping there. Expects to be married the 16th inst. and has in- 
vited me to the wedding. As the ceremony, however, is to be 


performed at Norfolk, a day and night's journey from here, I 
shall ask to be excused. 

I am having some shelves put up and fixing my room for 
a six years' residence, some alone and some with wife. 

Ever Yours, 


Called on President 

Washington, Dec. 7, '45. 
Dear Wife, 

A few nights since I called at Mrs. Madison's, saw Mary 
and Anna, etc. The latter was very much pleased that you 
sent her your love. Mrs. M. appears about as she did last win- 
ter. The footprints of age are no more distinctly seen upon her 
brow than they were years ago. Mr, Buchanan, the Secretary 
of State, also came in (an old bachelor, you know), and the 
girls plagued him almost to death, including among them Mrs. 
Governeur, daughter of President Monroe^ and Mrs. Haskell, 
her daughter. 

Called last evening to see the President and had an hour's 
private chat with him and was well satisfied with the result. 
The only addition to our mess since I wrote you last is that of 
Mr. and Mrs. Dillingham from Vermont. They are "nice" 
folks I believe, she being a Methodist. Mrs. Niles is a Presby- 
terian, Miss Robinson an Unitarian, and goes to meeting with 
me regularly, thus far. 

Our minister, Mr. Augier, is very much of a man. His 
sermons are finely written, but at the same time are very forci- 
ble and pungent. His voice and manner are also good and, I 
think, draws a larger congregation than any of his predeces- 
sors. Ever Yours, 


Chosen Chairman Naval Committee 

Washington, Dec. 9, '45. 
Dear Wife, 

Your humble servant was again chosen Chairman of the 
Committee on Naval Affairs. The honor is a good deal, but I 
dread the labor and responsibility. 

Am sorry to say my lameness does not improve. 


Since I wrote you last we have had additions to our mess. 
It now stands thus : Judge Niles, wife and niece ; Senator Dick- 
inson, wife and two daughters ; Mr. Dillingham, representative 
from Vermont, with wife and little boy ; Mr. King, Mr. Gordon 
and myself. We have one room not yet taken up. Hope to get 
Judge Pennybacker from Virginia. 

Ever Yours, 


Dined with Bancroft 

Washington, Dec. 14, '45. 
Dear Wife, 

Day before yesterday dined with Mr. Bancroft. Had a 
very agreeable time, Mrs. B. being particularly agreeable. 

Our mess remains as before. Kate Robinson is an excel- 
lent creature; shall be sorry to lose her from our mess, when 
she goes home to be married. Yesterday she helped me direct 
documents, one of which was to you. I continue to like Mrs. 
Judge Niles. Miss Virginia Robinson is a first rate pianoforte 
player and she and Kate both sing, so we have tolerably agree- 
able times. 

My old friend Nancy has been after a batch of clothes. 
She is as homely and as good as ever. 

Yours as Ever, 


Things Look Belligerent 

Washington, Dec. 17, '45. 
My Dear Wife, 

Yesterday and the day before we had quite an animated 
debate the aspect of which many regard as somewhat belliger- 
ent. I always go for the most warlike measures you know, 
though really a peace man. For one, I do not apprehend war, 
but if it comes while we are only contending for what is true 
and right, why let it come. There are worse evils than war, 
and national dishonor is one of them. 

Our session continued until 4 o'clock. Hungry as a bear, I 
have eaten, if not a peck of oyster patties and three-quarters of 


a big turkey, accompanied by a gallon of water and followed 
by pies and tarts without number, then I am no Turk. 
Ever Yours, 


Called on New Cousin 

Washington, Dec. 20, 1845. 
Dear Sarah, 

I called up this morning to see our new cousin, Mrs. Rich- 
ard D. Cutts at Mrs. Madison's where they are to stay for 
the present. Her name was Martha Jefferson something, I 
have forgotten what. She is rather handsome, at all events 
very good looking. 

Richard is as happy as a clam on Cape Cod beach, and 
bears jokes extremely well. Cousin Anna Payne is full of her 
fun and Mrs. Madison looks as though she had retrograded in 
years about a quarter of a century. Cousin Mary had gone 
out and I did not see her. Whenever I have seen her, she has 
been full of inquiries about my children and Saco matters. 

A Mrs. Bun who keeps a school in the city has sent me an 
invitation to attend a concert of her pupils on Tuesday even- 
ing next. If my engagements will let me go, I shall anticipate 
much pleasure. Perhaps I may write you about it. 
Your Affectionate Father, 


Declined French Claims Chairmanship 

Washington, Dec. 23d, '45. 
My Dear Wife, 

What will you say when I tell you that I yesterday intro- 
duced you into the Senate of the United States in a few re- 
marks that I deemed it necessary to make. Can you imagine 
how or wherefore it was done? I guess not. And yet it was 
certainly done. And I hope your vanity will not be wounded, 
when I tell you that it created no extraordinary sensation at all. 
The Senators kept right along, some reading, some writing and 
some taking snuff, just as if nothing had happened! 

Seriously, upon sober reflection, I felt that I could not 
properly act as Chairman of the Select Committee on French 
claims, interested as I was. I therefore stated the facts that by 
the death, within a few weeks, of a relative of my wife, she 
had become entitled to l-60th part of the claim of Thos. Cutts, 


and though the laws of Maine secured to the wife her property 
both real and personal, yet the interest of the husband in this 
instance, might be of such a character, in the opinion of the 
Senate, as to disqualify him from acting or voting upon the 
subject. Upon this statement the Senate excused me from 
acting, and Mr. Webster was appointed in my stead. 

Thursday, Christmas day, I am engaged to dine with Mrs. 
Madison, Friday with the President, and Saturday with Mr. 
Corcoran, the rich banker. 

Shall try to write some of the children tomorrow. 
Ever Yours, 


Dines with President 

Washington, Dec. 28, '45. 
My Dear Wife, 

Thursday, Christmas, I dined at Mrs. Madison's, was the 
only guest. Had a capital old-fashioned frolic. Mrs. Madison 
to redeem a pledge had to take off her shoes, place them in the 
middle of the floor and run and jump over them, which she did 
with a good deal of agility for a lady of 80. On Friday dined 
with the President. The company consisted of about 30 ladies 
and gentlemen. Particular ladies were assigned to particular 
gentlemen and their places at the table designated. Mrs. Mc- 
Clemand, wife of a member from Illinois, was assigned to me 
and placed next to the President on his left, Mrs. Niles occupy- 
ing the right. I found Mrs. Mc. a very sprightly, intelligent 
and interesting lady. On my other hand was Mrs. Walker, 
the wife of the private secretary of the President, celebrated 
for her beauty. I found her also quite chatty and agreeable. 
Mrs. Mc. asked me when I was married, told her 1825 — "the 
very year," said she, "that I was bom!" 

On Saturday I dined with Mr. Corcoran, the great Banker. 
Found a very select company. Col. Benton, Allen and myself 
of the Senate, Hilliard from the House, Judge Woodbury, Sec- 
retaries Buchanan and Bancroft, Commodore Morris and the 
Portuguese, Dutch and Brazilian Ministers. 

I have not seen such gorgeous furniture in Washington. 
Nor have I seen such a splendid dinner served up. Have an 
invitation for Capt. Wilkes' party on Monday, but think I shall 
not go. Ever Yours, 


The First Year of President Polk's Administration 

It will be noticed from Senator Fairfield's correspondence 
in the year 1846 that he seemed to lose interest in Washington 
life, especially in its social affairs; that politics wearied him 
and that he esteemed his position as Senator of the United 
States higher than he did any prospects of succession to the 
place in the Cabinet, which George Bancroft, the historian, was 
about to give over, through weariness. 

As a matter of fact. Senator Fairfield was chiefly interested 
in his Naval Bill, providing for an augmentation of the United 
States Navy, although he had an incidental interest and concern 
in the war with Mexico (1846-1848). His first mention of 
the Mexican War is in a letter to his wife of May 18th, 1846, 
in which he says, "The news just received from our army is that 
Taylor with a part of his force went down to Point Isabel to 
get provision. After he had left, the remainder were attacked 
by the Mexicans. The latter were repulsed and Matamoros was 
battered dov/n and burned, etc." "This," adds Senator Fair- 
field, "I have had from a friend verbally. The papers may give 
different accounts." 

History says that on March 12th, 1846, under orders from 
the U. S. Government, Taylor advanced into territory, the pos- 
session of which was then in dispute. After a march of sixteen 
days he reached the Rio Grande at a point opposite to the Mex- 
ican city of Matarnoros. This was March 28th. This was con- 
strued as an offensive by the Mexicans and was the de facto 
beginning of the Mexican War. The battle to which Senator 
Fairfield refers is Matamoros or Palo Alto. General Taylor 
had about 3000 men. Leaving a regiment and two companies 
of artillery, early in May, 1846, to garrison Fort Brown, which 
was an earthwork in front of Matamoros, he proceeded with 
the remainder of his command to Point Isabel, in order to 
effect his communications. During his absence, the Mexicans 


attacked the fort vigorously but to no avail. As Taylor was 
returning May 8th, he encountered General Arista, the Mexican 
leader, who with 6,000 men and ten guns barred the road, at 
a place nine miles from Matamoros, known as Palo Alto. 
Taylor's force numbered 2300 officers and men and ten guns. 
After a fight of four hours. Arista fell back through Resaca 
de la Palma with a loss of 252 men and officers. The American 
casualties comprised seven killed and 47 wounded. On the fol- 
lowing day Taylor continued his march and by a series of brill- 
iant encounters finally took the city of Matamoros on May 17th. 
On May 18th Taylor crossed the Rio Grande and took possession 
of the city. 

This is the incident to which Senator Fairfield refers in 
his letter of the same day. Senator Fairfield wrote no letters 
home during the earlier period of the Mexican War excitement, 
from April 26th to May 16th, 1846. On May 11th President 
Polk sent to Congress his famous message in which he declared 
that Mexico had invaded the territory of the United States 
and had shed American blood on American soil. Two days 
later. Congress issued its formal declaration of war. 

Mr. Fairfield's Naval Bill was the object of his chief solici- 
tude — that and his rapidly failing health. This bill indicates 
that Senator Fairfield was one of the early advocates of a 
"bigger navy." In it he advocated the construction of ten steam- 
ships, vessels of war, to be constructed of iron, to wit; three of 
the class of frigates, five of the class of sloops of war, two of a 
smaller class. His bill also authorized the President any time 
before the commencement of the next session of Congress, if the 
public exigencies should require, to cause to be completed all 
the frigates and sloops of war now upon the stocks, and to repair 
and put into active service all the sloops or vessels of war, now 
in ordinary." This bill carried an appropriation of $5,625,000. 
Senator Fairfield introduced this bill in a vigorous speech in the 
U. S. Senate January 28th, 1846. 

President James Knox Polk had been inaugurated in 1845, 
a staunch Democrat, formerly a stout adherent of General Jack- 


son, Speaker of the 24th and 25th Congresses, an industrious 
man and a consummate politician. He stuck by Van Buren 
through all his difficulties, and after Van Buren's nomination 
became politically impossible, became a compromise candidate 
in the Democratic convention of 1844, unanimously nominated 
on the ninth ballot as the man to beat Henry Clay, the candi- 
date of the Whigs. He carried the country by 170 electoral 
votes to Clay's 105, and with him was elected George M. Dallas 
of Pennsylvania as Vice-President. 

This had been a great relief to the feelings of Fairfield and 
his friends: for the election of General Harrison in 1840 was 
so severe a blow to the Democrats that for a time it had stunned 
them and abased them; for they felt themselves measurably 
betrayed and fooled by their own tactics. The Whigs had 
come into power in masquerade. Instead of putting one of 
their true leaders, such as Clay, into the nomination they had 
copied a leaf out of the book of the Jacksonian democracy and 
had nominated a western soldier whose rugged strength made 
him a popular favorite. In reality they had nominated a Whig 
Jackson, with hardly a single tie to the Whig party, and they 
elected him in a noisy, riotous campaign of torch-light parades, 
barbecues and general "hooray." Their emblems were hard- 
cider and the log cabin, "Tippecanoe and Tyler too !" a staged 
effect of democracy. With Harrison and Tyler they had also 
a majority of both houses of Congress, narrow margins that 
made them uncomfortable. Fairfield was out of Congress a 
portion of this administration, returning as will be recalled 
in the last years of President Tyler's term, Tyler succeeding 
to the Presidency on the death of General Harrison, only about 
a month after his inauguration. 

Tyler was a President to whom no Whig looked for leader- 
ship. He was a Southern Democrat opposed to the bank on gen- 
eral principles; but he had held away from his leader in the 
matter of deposits and credits and had opposed Jackson's blows 
at Calhoun and the doctrines of South Carolina. He was nom- 
inated Vice-President in an attempt to unite with the Whigs 


a section of opposition to radical Jacksonianism, which they 
believed might add to the chances of success. In the mid- 
term elections, the Whigs lost their command of Congress and 
here they were ; led by a Democratic President and a Democratic 
Congress after all. 

Mr. Fairfield was chairman of the committee of the Demo- 
cratic Convention which he attended in 1844, to notify George 
M. Dallas of Pennsylvania of his nomination as Vice-President. 
On his return from Philadelphia he told an amusing story of his 
experiences of this occasion. This story is related in the book 
known as "Perley's Eeminisceiices" by Ben: Perley Foore, a 
famous Washington newspaper correspondent of that period: 
"The committee reached Philadelphia about three o'clock in the 
morning and were piloted to Mr. Dallas's house by his friend, 
Senator Robert J. Walker. Loud knocks at the door brought Mr. 
Dallas to the chamber window. Recognizing Mr. Walker and 
fearing that his daughter, who was in Washington, was ill, he 
hastened down stairs, half dressed, and in slippers, when to his 
utter amazement, in walked sixty or more gentlemen, two by two 
with the tread of soldiers, passing him by and entering his 
front parlor, all maintaining the most absolute silence. Mr. 
Dallas, not having the slightest conception of their object, stood 
thunderstruck. Mr. Walker then led him into the back parlor. 
"My dear Walker," said he in amazement, "what is the matter?" 
"Wait one moment, if you please, Dallas ; wait one moment if 
you please." In a few moments the folding doors connecting 
the parlors were thrown back, and in the front parlor, which 
had meanwhile been lighted up, Mr. Dallas saw a semi-^circle 
of gentlemen, who greeted him with applause. Governor Fair- 
field then stepped forward and briefly informed Mr. Dallas 
what the action of the convention had been. The candidate 
for Vice-President, who had recovered from momentary sur- 
prise, eloquently acknowledged the compliment paid him, and 
promised to reply more formally by letter. He then opened his 
side-board and all joined in pledging "success to the ticket." 


At the "birth night" ball, February 22, 1845, President 
Tyler was accompanied by President-elect Polk. Mrs. Mad- 
ison, of whom Mr. Fairfield always speaks so pleasantly, was 
also present with Mrs. Alexander Hamilton. A few nights 
later President Tyler gave a parting ball at the White House, 
his young and handsome wife receiving the guests with dis- 
tinguished grace. Mr. Polk was not present but the Vice- 
President-elect, Mr. Dallas, with his splendid crown of white 
hair, towered above all other guests, except General Scott 
and "Long John" Wentworth. This night ended the "cavalier" 
reign within the White House, which was soon ruled with the 
Puritan austerity of Mrs. Polk. 

Mr. Polk was inaugurated on a rainy day, the fourth of 
March, 1845, Pennsylvania Avenue being so slippery with 
mud that many soldiers fell ingloriously on the march. Pres- 
ident Polk was a spare man of unpretending appearance and 
middle stature, with a rather small head, full angular brow, 
penetrating dark eyes and a firm mouth. He was calm, cold, 
intrepid in moral character. He was ambitious and success- 
ful, methodical and remarkably industrious. 

There were two inaugural balls in honor of the new Pres- 
ident's accession, one at $10.00 a ticket and the other at $2.00 
a ticket. The $10.00 ball was at Carusi's Saloon, of which 
Mr, Fairfield speaks often in his letters. One of the features 
of the ball was the dress worn by Madame De Bodisco, wife of 
the Russian minister, "superb court dress which she had worn 
on her bridal visit to St. Petersburg, and which contrasted 
strongly with the attire of Mrs. Polk, which was very plain. 
There was a great scandal over the ball at $2.00 a ticket, held 
at the National Theatre, which ended in a riot, and where pick- 
pockets stole hats, coats, canes and pocketbooks. A suggestion 
of the social life at the White House may be inferred, from the 
statement of Mr. Poore, that Mrs. Polk was a strict Pres- 
byterian, that she shunned what she regarded as "the vanities of 
the world" and that while she did not possess the queenly grace 
of Mrs. Madison or the warm-hearted hospitality of Mrs. Tyler, 


she presided over the White House with great dignity. She was 
of medium height with very black hair, dark eyes and com- 
plexion, and formal yet graceful deportment. 

The most important men in Washington life during the 
Polk administration, which was the last that Mr. Fairfield 
ever knew, were James Buchanan and William Learned Marcy. 
Mr. Buchanan was Secretary of State, a bachelor, and in full 
training for the Presidency, which he subsequently attained. 
Mr. Marcy was Secretary of War and was called the "wheel 
horse" of President Polk's cabinet. He used to write his most 
important dispatches in the library of his own house, where 
he usually sat in his dressing gown with an old red hand- 
kerchief on the table before him. One could judge of the rel- 
ative activity of his mind by the frequency of his application 
to the snuff box. Silas Wright was offered the position of 
Secretary of the Treasury but declined it, having been recently 
elected Governor of New York. Robert J. Walker, Senator 
from Mississippi, who had advocated the admission of Texas 
and opposed the protective tariff, was made Secretary of the 
Treasury. George Bancroft, the historian, was appointed Sec- 
retary of the Navy, and Cave Johnson of Tennessee, Postmaster- 

During his term the Oregon boundary dispute was settled 
with England, a subject to which Senator Fairfield frequently 
refers, the United States accepting the parallel of 49 N. as the 
northern limit, although the party cry of the Democrats who 
elected Polk had been for "54.40 or fight." 

Frequent references are made by Senator Fairfield to the 
Tariff law of 1846, with references to men in Congress who 
resigned from their seats, rather than vote as they felt re- 
garding this Tariff, in opposition to the mandates of their con- 
stitutuents. This Tariff was modeled on the principles of 
Tariff for Revenue Only and the establishment of an inde- 
pendent treasury system. The famous debate over the Wil- 
mot Proviso, and the bill to organize the Territory of Oregon 
were incidental to this period. 


This was an age of distinguished men in Washington and 
the names that run through the pages of these memoirs are 
those that posterity yet cherishes. 

In the presidential terms of Tyler and Polk, during part 
of which Mr. Fairfield was Governor of Maine and part of 
which he was United States Senator, Henry A. Wise, John C. 
Calhoun, Daniel Webster and John Qunicy Adams were potent 
men. Mr. Wise was Tyler's chief adviser and it was he who 
forced Calhoun on Tyler as Secretary of State, directly after 
the Princeton disaster. Stephen A. Douglas had just entered 
Congress, later to be the chief adversary of Lincoln in the great 
debates over slavery. In Congress in this period were Ham- 
ilton Fish of New York, Alexander Ramsay — a worthy de- 
scendant of the Pennsylvania Dutch; the loquacious Garrett 
Davis of Kentucky, the emaciated Alexander H. Stephens of 
Georgia, who apparently had not a day to live, yet who lived on 
for many years; John Wentworth of New Hampshire, trans- 
planted to the prairies of Illinois; Andrew Johnson, subse- 
quently to be President on the death of Lincoln; John Slidell 
of New Orleans ; Robert Dale Owen, the visionary socialist and 
communist from Indiana; Howell Cobb of Georgia and Jacob 
Thompson of Mississippi, who were even then laying the founda- 
tions for the Southern Confederacy; the brilliant Robert C. 
Schenck of Ohio and the genial Isaac E. Holmes of South Caroli- 
na, who softened many of the asperities of debate by their kindly 
comments in an undertone. 

This was the evironment of Governor Fairfield and this 
is the background against which these casual letters are to 
be read. 

A Pleasant Mess 

Washington, Jan. 7, 1846. 
My Dear Wife, 

Balls and parties are beginning to abound, but those, you 
know, I eschew, the first peremptorily and the latter when I 
can and be civil. I have an invitation to dine with Mr. 5th 
Auditor Pleasonton next Saturday, but as I have advised the 
President to remove him, I think I shall ask to be excused. A 
dinner is hardly sop enough to stop my mouth, in such a case. 

Our mess continues to be very agreeable. Kate Robinson 
is full of life and animation. Virginia Dickinson plays and 
sings and is very agreeable and matron ladies are very little 
older than they should be. King is fat, hearty and good na- 
tured as ever. Gov. Dickinson is a good punster and not a bad 
story teller. Of Judge Niles I can say "Richard's himself 
again." Our good Methodist friends, Mr. and Mrs. Dillingham, 
have shaken many of the puckers out of their risible muscles 
and nothing is wanting but your company to make me as happy 
as a — senator. 

I have heard that there is a young collegiate from Bow- 
doin spending his vacation with you. If it be so, I should be 
very happy to cultivate his acquaintance. Give him my best 
respects and tell him that a letter from him will be most 
graciously received and duly answered. 
Ever thine, 


Birth of Daughter Anna 

Washington, Jan. 14, 1846. 
My Dear Wife, 

I have not words to express my gratification at the news 
communicated to me in a letter just received from Doctor 
Goodwin, to wit, that on Saturday night about 9 o'clock, after 
an illness of yourself of about three hours, a little daughter was 
added to our present string of jewels, as a Roman matron once 
called her children. The same happy information was given 
in Augusta's interesting note received at the same time. 

For this, my dear wife, and our other multiplied favors, we 
cannot be too truly thankful. 


Augusta says it has Father's eyes and Mother's nose. It 
is, of course, a beauty. What shall we caU her, says Augusta. 
If I have my way the name shall be Anna Payne. Sarah says, 
I understand, that it should be Kate Robinson. If you should 
object to the first, I have no objection to the last, for which 
Kate prays very hard. For myself I cannot hesitate between 
the two, though I must confess I like very much the name of 
Kate and the original Kate here is an excellent girl and a great 
favorite of mine. Was she weighed? If so, how much? Do, 
some of you, write daily or often and let me know all about 
both young and old Anna. 

I have not time to say more now. God bless you and all 
the dear pledges of our love. 

Ever Yours^ 


Fairfield's Naval Bill 

Washington, Jan. 21, '46. 
My Dear Wife, 

Tonight the President has his first levee. I had rather be 
whipped than go, but circumstances render it unavoidable. 
There will be no dancing and no refreshment of any kind. The 
dish will be standing, marching, talking, walking, &c., &c., 
until everybody is tired to death, especially those who have 
lame knees, and then go home. 

On Friday night Mr. Buchannan, Secretary of State, who, 
you know, is an old bachelor, gives a large party at Carusi's 
saloon. I send you his card. Think I shan't go. 

My bill providing for an augmentation of our naval force 
was taken up today and assigned for nex* Tuesday. Upon this 
motion quite a debate sprang up, in which I slightly partici- 

How is my sweet little Anna? If you can find nobody to 
love her at home, send her on here ])y mail, I can assure her a 
welcome reception from one at least. 

Tell George, I saw Professor Upham' here yesterday, and 
what may surprise him somewhat, tell him the Professor spoke 
very well of him. 

'Professor Thomas Croswell Upham, a distinguished teacher of Mental 
and Moral Philosophy, Bowdoin Collef^e, author of a much-used text-book of 
the times, "Elements of Mental Philosophy (1831)," commonly known as 
"Upham's Philosophy," and of many other similar works, of advanced 


Did I tell you that I had a letter from Mr. Wharton inform- 
ing me that the verdict recovered in Philadelphia had been set 
aside and a new trial ordered. What will be the result now, no 
one can tell. I believe the trial is expected in February. It 
is possible I may be there. 

There is a report that Bancroft is to leave the Navy De- 
partment and go to Prussia. I doubt some whether it be well 
founded, but if it is, I feel no interest in it. The vacant place 
will probably not be offered to me and if it should be, I should 
not accept it. My present position is much better. 



The Ninth Wonder 

Washington, Jan. 23d, 1846. 
My Dear Wife, 

I rejoice to learn that you are getting along so smartly. 
Take good care of the "9th wonder." In my imagination I can 
see her "as plain as day" and could draw her profile as thus : I 
find on trial, I can't make what I want to. Thank you for 
adopting my name, notwithstanding your joke about first and 
second mother, but let it be spelt and pronounced Anna Payne, 
making two syllables of the first. 

I have sent Sarah a paper today, directing it to Sarah E., 
as she signed her last letter to me. I know not what it means 
unless she designs to change Thornton to Emery, after Aunt 
Emery, to which I have no objection if you have not, or to 
C. for Cutts. 

Mrs. Madison was at the President's levee and looked as 
young as half the people there. She is a most remarkable 
woman. I have not been there since Christmas and got a good 
scolding for it from Richard's wife. Last Sunday went and 
took tea with Mr. and Mrs. Ela and afterward called and spent 
an hour at Dummer's. All well. 

Am preparing for a speech and so have but little time to 

As Ever, Yours, 



Preparing a Speech 

Washington, Jan. 25, '46. 
My Dear Wife, 

I have but a moment to give you today, being very busy 
in examining documents, etc., and preparing for my speech on 
Tuesday. Oh, how I wish it was over. I fear I must fall far 
short of what my friends seem to be expecting of me. Let 
me have your prayers. 

My friend. Judge Niles and family here, are in no little 
trouble. It seems that a Mr. Grant of Hartford, a relative of 
theirs and for a long time a resident in the family of the Judge, 
one of whom they evidently thought much, and to whom they 
were much attached, especially Kate Robinson, has failed in 
business, dragging in the Judge for some two or three thousand 
dollars. And what is worse than all that, it is supposed has 
been forging the name of his father, if not of others. It throws 
something of a gloom over our little circle but I trust will not 
last long. 

Mr. Buchanan gave a great party on Friday night at 
Carusi's saloon at which it was supposed there were present 
about 1500. I was not fool enough to be there, I can tell you. 
I think I have done with balls and parties for this winter. 

Ever Thine, 


A Wedding Brewing 

Washington, Jan. 28, '46. 
My Dear Wife, 

I received your note this morning, and feel rejoiced that 
you are getting along so comfortably, and that, too, without a 
regular nurse, for I suppose Sarah would be unwilling to take 
the title tho' she performed the duties of the office. 

I shall begin to count weeks now when I am to see you. 
My present impression is that if business here will permit, and 
nothing occurs at home to make one time better than another, 
I may select about the middle of March. 

And so Davis and Hepsey are to be married right away? 
Having made the cake, pray why don't you fit up the other 


front room and let them have a good frolic ? Oh, I wish I was 
at home. I would have a real good old-fashioned wedding and 
a dance. 

Ever thine, 


Speech Is Complimented 

Washington, Jan. 31, '46. 
My Dear Wife, 

Have you seen my speech yet ? I shall have it by Monday 
I think, in pamphlet form and will then send you one. Whether 
it was published in the semi-weekly Union, as it was in the 
Daily, I do not know. I get a good many compliments for it, 
but how they are no one can know. 

My bill has been under debate since Tuesday, one or two 
days more I think may be taken up with it, and then I shall 
probably consent to let it lie over without taking a vote upon 
it, until the 10th of February, when the resolution for giving 
notice to England, etc., will be taken up. After which I shall 
make another speech in reply to those who have spoken against 
the measure. 

Saw Mrs. Dummer yesterday at the Capitol. She was 
with Cousin Moses and appeared very well. I can't find time 
to go about much, and so get a good many scoldings. Have not 
been to Mrs. Madison's since Christmas. Have you any choice 
about the time of my coming home ? If so, speak freely. Per- 
haps I can arrange matters here so as to suit you. I shall also 
write to Bro. Emery and ascertain if one time would be prefer- 
able to another on the score of business. 

I don't see why Davis and Hepsey should want to leave 
unless they intend to buy a farm. At all events I hope they 
will stay, until I come home and make new arrangements. 

Has George his last quarter bill and do you know what 
money you will want? You must preach economy to him, for 
at the rate he has been going on it will cost me $200 more to 
get him through college, than it costs for most other boys of 
whom I have inquired. How does my sweet little Anna Payne 
and all the rest? Can little Lucy talk yet? Oh, how I long to 
see you all. But patience and red baize, you know, is the old 

Ever thine, 



Advice to Son George 

Washington, Feb. 1, 1846. 
Dear George. 

I am not sure whether I answered your "solitary and 
alone" epistle, as Col. Benton would say, or not. No matter, 
having a leisure moment I feel inclined to devote it in a brief 
line or two to yourself. And first let me say that I had the 
pleasure of meeting one of your Professors here the other day, 
Mr. Uphams, though but for a moment. I was very glad to 
hear him speak well of you and trust that you will never give 
him cause to speak otherwise. Oh, if children only knew how 
the heart of a parent bounds with delight at hearing their 
praise, and how it sinks and is distressed at the recital of their 
misdeeds, I know they would strive harder to do right, and 
shrink dreadfully at the idea of wrong-doing. 

I have been looking for President Wood/ having under- 
stood that he was to spend a portion of his vacation here. As 
yet, however, he has not made his appearance. I should have 
been very happy to see him. 

When does your next term commence? I hope, George, 
you will write me oftener, when you get to Brunswick, than 
you have from home. Give me particulars. Whom do you 
room with, if anybody? Whom board with and at what price? 
and who are your fellow-boarders? Your studies, arrange- 
ments of time, professors and tutors, to whom you recite, and 
"a' that and a' that" as Burns would say. I want to know. 
Don't fail to tell me all about it. After what has passed be- 
tween us heretofore about economy, running in debt, etc., and 
your promises upon the subject. I have no more to say now. I 
feel a strong confidence that you will keep your word and give 
me no more cause of complaint. 

I hope, George, you will be constant in your attendance at 
Mr. Wheeler's meeting at Topsham. No matter if it be some 
way off. The exercise will do you no harm. 

Tell your mother I have just received a letter from Mr. 
Wharton, in which he says that the Court, at which your Uncle 
George's suit is to be tried, commences its session a week from 
tomorrow, the 9th of February, and he thinks that this may be 

President Leonard Woods, D.D., of Bowdoin College; Gov. Palrfleld has 
made a common error in the name of this distinguished educator, who was 
a remarkable conversationalist, preacher and lecturer. 


the first trial. If it be possible for me to leave here, I shall at- 
tend the trial. My presence, may, in various ways, be useful. 
Besides, I hope the ride may not prove detrimental to my 

Mr. Amory Edwards informs me he is going out to Rio 
Janeiro and will take letters to Bro. George. And for the pur- 
pose of writing him, I break off yours somewhat abruptly. 
Your Affectionate Father, 


Washington, Feb. 4, '46. 
My Dear Wife, 

I write from the Senate and as Allen of Ohio is making a 
speech directly behind me, it would not be strange if I should 
fill it, my letter, I mean, with thunder. Of all the roarers that 
ever I heard, I think he stands No. 1. There is nothing in na- 
ture with which to compare him that I know of except the faDs 
of Niagara. 

Other business has crowded out my bill for the War Steam- 
ers for the last two days. Tomorrow, I presume, it will be re- 
sumed again. I shall probably feel obliged to make another 
speech upon it, by and by. 

The President's second levee is tonight and I have also an 
invitation to a party at Commodore Shubric's. I have, how- 
ever, determined to attend neither. 

On S'^turday I have an invitation for dinner at Bancroft's. 
This, I think I shall accept. 

Ever thine, 


Starts for Philadelphia 

Washington, Feb. 8, 1846. 
My Dear Wife, 

Yesterday, I dined with Mr. Bancroft. Had a very pleas- 
ant and agreeable time. Our second course was halibut, ap- 
parently as hard and fresh as thouorh just taken from the water. 

To avoid travelling on the Sabbath, I shall start this even- 
ing for Philadelphia and ride all night, reaching Philadelphia, 


I believe, about daylight. I don't dread it much, as I have the 
power of sleeping in the cars almost as well as in a bed. The 
dangers, I suppose, are greater, but I see no way to avoid them, 
as it is supposed our case will be the first one for trial tomorrow 

Mrs. Madison has just lost a sister — a widow Todd. Anna 
Payne, I understand, also is sick and has not been able to leave 
her chamber for two weeks or more. 

I shall write you from Philadelphia. 
Ever thine, 


The Suit Settled 

Philadelphia, Feb. 9, 1846. 
My Dear Wife, 

Here I am safe and sound in the City of Brotherly Love 
having reached here about 3 o'clock this morning. My trip was 
not a very unpleasant one, inasmuch as I am able, you know, 
to spend my time in sleep and pleasant dreams, 

I have been disappointed in not finding our case ready for 
trial. Mr. Wharton now thinks it will not come on before 
Thursday, if so soon. I shall be at a loss what to do, if the 
case is not settled. I have this evening, however, been holding 
a conference with Mr. Merrick with a vifew to an adjustment 
and my impression is that it may result favorably. He offers 
$2,700, payable on time. I have offered to take $3,000 and pay 
the cost, about $30, and Mr. Wharton's fees, which will be I 
don't know what, perhaps $300. Mr. Merrick has agreed to 
consult his partner, and let me know by one o'clock tomorrow. 
I am rather inclined to think that either of these offers will be 
better than to go to trial again, inasmuch as the Judge has de- 
cided the point against us, that George did not return the ma- 
chine in due season, as a matter of law. Hence under the new 
ruling of the Court, all we can recover is the difference between 
the defective machine and a good one, leaving the old machine 
on our hands. 

It is late bed time and so I will postpone the finishing of 
this letter until after I get an answer from Merrick. Good 

Feb. 10. — I have only time to say that the suit is settled. 
They pay $3,000 in 8, 10 and 12 months. Mr. Wharton's charge 


is $200, leaving about $2800 clear. There is, I believe, some 
$14 cost that I have to pay. Under all the circumstances the 
adjustment is a favorable one. Laus Deo. 

Ever thine, 


Messages to the Children 

Washington, Feb. 12, '46. 
My Dear Wife, 

Leaving Philadelphia yesterday morning, I reached this 

place, last night, about 8 o'clo(3k, in good health and feeling 
well for having made my visit to Philadelphia so successful. 

This morning your last letter was received. Am glad to 
find you so smart as to ride out. 

Hope you will get George away without much trouble. Haa 
he said anything about the watch? If he wants it, you may 
let him have it. Hope the effect will not be unfavorable. 

And so the baby is a little troublesome, is she? A trol- 
lop! I'll see to her when I come home. Poor Hammy, too, it 
seems, is offended because I have not written him. I was not 
aware of my neglect and will try to remedy it, by and by. Tell 
him, in the meantime, that I bought for him at Philadelphia 
"The Fortunes of Frank Fairfield," which I think he will like 
very much. Will send it by first opportunity. 

Ever thine, 


A Comforting Sermon 

Washington, Feb. 15, '46. 
My Dear Anna, 

I have just returned from meeting, where I heard one of 
the most eloquent and excellent sermons that I ever had the 
pleasure of listening to. Mr. Dewey preached from the text: 
"It is appointed unto all men once to die." His leading idea was 
that death was not a penalty, a doom, a calamity, but an ordi- 
nance of God, an "appointment" in the general economy of the 
Universe, designed for the benefit and glory of humanity. He 
considered it in a variety of moods with a great variety, beauty 


and force of illustration. No one could come away without 
feeling himself of more consequence and that without vain 
boasting and feeling better reconciled to the ills of life and the 
event of death. 

His allusion to death as it invades the family circle, 
brought tears to my eyes, but joy beamed through my tears 
as he proceeded to show how, instead of severing the bond that 
connects us, it only strengthens it, consecrates the memory of 
those who have gone, enshrines them in our hearts, perpetuates 
their virtues and reunites us in Heaven. Oh, it was a glorious 
discourse! I wish you could have heard it. He only arrived 
last night, but the House was crowded. I shall look for a pile- 
up tonight. 

By the way, I suppose you have seen by the papers, the 
death of Mrs. Todd, the sister of Mrs. Madison. She was the 
wife of Judge Todd, formerly a Judge of the Supreme Court of 
the United States, who, I believe, was also a cousin to Mrs. 
Madison's first husband, whose name you know was also Todd. 
Mrs. M. I understand, in consequence, does not see company. 
She will, however, probably see me, and I intend soon to call. 
Richard is about going to housekeeping. Mary will hover be- 
tween the two, that is, her aunt's and Richard's. 

I have asked, I don't know how many times, when George 
is going to Brunswick, but I get no answer. I want, also, reg- 
ular bulletins arjout the health, condition, appearance, etc., etc., 
of Miss Anna Payne. 

Did I ever tell you that the February number of the Dem- 
ocratic Review, is to contain my likeness or rather what is 
called my likeness. I have been furnished with several copies 
of the picture and I do think it is horrible. It is not only no 
likeness but represents an ugly man enough. It is a real mon- 
key, face, I think. As soon as I saw it. I wrote im- 
mediately to O'Sullivan to suppress it if not too late. I fear it 
was too late. In a day or two, however, we shall see. I send 
you one of them. I have many others but I think I shall never 
dare to give them away. Let me know at once, what you 
think of it. 

Ever thine, 



Plagued by Nominations for Maine 

Washington, Feb. 18, '46. 
My Dear Wife, 

I am plagued to death with the nominations for Maine. I 
have, in the first place, to fight the battle before the Presi- 
dent, then before a committee of the Senate and lastly before 
the Senate itself. Thus far I have been successful and hope 
my good luck will continue. 

Oh, dear, Oh dear! Would you believe it? I have had to 
change my glasses numbered 30 for a pair numbered 25. Is 
there no recipe for advancing age? Should you discover any- 
thing of that sort, I hope you will not keep it all to yourself. 
Only think, if while I was growing older you should be growing 
younger? I should very much fear we should reach a point 
when you would cease to love me. So remember, if you dis- 
cover the philosopher's stone, we are to participate jointly in 
its benefits, and I will make the same promise on my part. My 
specs work beautifully, the glasses are very clear and easy to 
the eye. 

We are having a visit from Gov. Anderson, arrived yester- 
day, very glad to see him, but sorry we could not find room for 
him in our mess. By the way, Mrs. Dillingham has left us and 
Miss Robinson and Miss Dickerson are to leave us the first of 
April or thereabouts to be married. Their absence will make 
a great hole in our society. Judge Johnson of Belfast with his 
daughter came with Gov. Anderson. The daughter has the 
reputation of being a great beauty. 
Ever thine, 


Fears George Is Extravagant 

Washington, Feb. 20, '46. 
My Dear Wife, 

Yours was received last night in which you informed me 
of the cashing of Dr. Nourse's check, — the receipt of the Wig- 
gin money, and above all, of giving George $100. 

What upon earth could he want so much for! I was 
astounded. But I suppose you have looked into the particulars 
and know that it was needed. I shall write him again and in- 
sist on accounts being regularly and truly kept and upon a rigid 


system of economy. I will sooner take him from College than 
permit him to remain to acquire habits of extravagance, to say 
nothing of dissipation. 

It seems you have been enjoying a tremendous snow storm. 
The papers inform us of a good many shipwrecks with a great 
loss of lives. 

Ever thine, 


Oregon Question Nears Settlement 

Washington, Feb. 22d, '46. 
My Dear Wife, 

22d — Washington's birthday, isn't it? Dr. Dewey 
preached at the Capitol today, had a full house, and gave us a 
splendid sermon. 

The probabilities against a war are daily increasing and I 
should not be surprised if very soon a treaty is concluded by 
which the whole Oregon question will be settled, 

I see by the papers today that the Democratic Review is 
out without my likeness, or rather unlikeness. I rejoice that 
my request to suppress it was not too late. I suppose you have 
received one of the pictures, I sent you one by mail. 

Ever thine, 


Four Maine Governors in Washington 

Washington, March 1, 1846. 
My dear Wife, 

I received a line from you day before yesterday in which 
I perceive you have been permitting some one else to hold the 
pen. Who could it be? I thought I recognized the handwrit- 
ing but not the style. I refer to the very flatfooted contradic- 
tion about my inquiries as to George's going to Brunswick. 
However, I forgive the author whoever it was, as I am confi- 
dent no unkindness was intended, and because it is more than 
probable that I was wrong in the matter. The only explana- 
tion I can give is that my questions were addressed to some of 
the children instead of to yourself. If that is not so, then I 
had the questions in mind but never committed them to paper. 


By Sarah's letter it seems she is to go into the kitchen. I 
like the idea of her learning everything in the way of house- 
hold matters, but really you must not think of getting along 
without a girl. It will never do. With your baby to take care 
of. you will do a great deal more than you ought to do, either 
for your health or comfort. 

I want you to tell me again the color of the baby's eyes 
and hair, complexion, resemblance, etc., etc. I want to form 
some opinion of her before I see her. 

I am very sorry to hear that poor Augusta's lameness is 
not quite so well. Your course is probably right. If another 
trial of Colby's system does not succeed, I think we should try 

Night before last I was at Judge Parris', where there were 
near 40 persons, and all from Maine but two, to wit Mr. Ela, 
and Dr. Oilman, who married a daughter of Judge P. And 
what, perhaps, may be regarded as another curious coincidence 
was the presence of four Governors of Maine. One live one 
and three dead ones — to wit : Gov. Parris, Gov. Dunlap, Gov. F, 
& Gov. Anderson. 

Ever thine, 


On Receiving Baby's Sock 

Washington, March 8, 1846. 
My Dear Wife, 

Thank you for the dear little specimen you sent me of 
Anna Payne. You know it is said of naturalists that show 
them a single bone of an animal and they will give you its 
genus, species, and describe it with almost as much particular- 
ity as if it stood before them. My imagination will enable me 
to go a good way in building a superstructure upon the sock, 
but I confess myself unable from the sock to imagine the color 
of the baby's hair. 

I re-enclose it as Miss Anna may want it more than I do. 
Besides, it makes me homesick to look at it. You remember 
my story of the green hand at sea who, after being out a month 
or so, used to go down into the hold and smell of the ballast, as 
being the nearest approach to home that he could get. I re- 
garded the sock much in the same light. It smells of home 
most delightfully. I am glad to find that you and the girls are 


so independent and are enabled to get along without a new 
Hepsey or any other help. It is a good thing to know how 
things should be done and to do them upon a pinch. Our girls 
should fully understand and appreciate this. However, I hope 
you will not extend this experiment too far. You cannot get 
along without help, and good help, too, and you must not think 
of it. 

Am glad our Society have a singing school. Hope you 
will let our children go if practicable. 

Think you are right about Augusta. If Colby can't help 
her and that without delay, we must send her to Boston. 

If company, nor anything else prevents, I think I shall go 
up and see Cousin Richard tonight, who has gone to house- 
keeping. Cousin Mary is at present with him. 

Mrs. Madison has been in mourning for a sister, and Anna 
Payne has been sick, so I have a tolerable excuse for not going 
there since Christmas. 

Ever thine, 


Reports a Suicide 

Washington, March 20. 
My Dear Wife, 

We are having a most delicious day, if such a term can 
properly be applied to weather. Doors are open, windows up. 
fires out, crocuses blooming, grass springing, birds warbling, 
women shopping, etc., etc. 

I regret to be obliged to pass from this beautiful picture 
to one so sad as that presented by a suicide. The day before 
yesterday Commodore Crane severed his ties with this world 
by cutting his throat. The cause no one knows unless it is to 
be found in his long physical suffering by gout and other com- 
plaints. He has left a wife, but no children. His pecuniary 
circumstances were comfortable. 

A few days since Mr. Ezra Holden's card was laid upon my 
table, by which I was also informed where he was to be found. 
viz., at Gadsby's. I returned his call the next day, he be- 
ing out. I left my card for him. This man, I am just informed, 
is dead. He died this morning of mania a potu. He was 
brought up in the Argus office. Afterwards kept a book store 
in Portland and for several years has published the Saturday 

To Anna Payne 

\JAlJl^ jfu^4y^ —.^^ve^ Ur-iJf^-^ yy-C^lje_ iJy OcT^TX^ 

(^ f ^ 

The above lines were penned by John Fairfield to Dolly Madison*^ 
young niece, Anna Payne, who bore the same name as his wife, 
the two having been named for Anna Payne Cutts, sister of Dolly 
Madison and wife of Richard Cutts, Mrs. Fairfield's uncle. This Payne, who inspired the versos, was a southerner and spent 
much time with her aunt, Mrs. Madison. It was at Mrs. Madison's 
home Mr. Fairfield met her. He speaks with admiration of her a 
number of times in his letters to his wife and in one of them 
mentions these verses. 


Courier at Philadelphia, a very valuable family paper. These 
cases are sad enough and abound in instruction to us. I re- 
ceived a letter yesterday from George which I enclose. I dis- 
like very much his suggestion about a clerkship and have writ- 
ten him pretty plainly upon the subject. 
Ever thine, 


Made Speech Off-Hand 

Washington, March 24th. 
My Dear Wife, 

I made a little speech today upon the subject of the fisiimg 
bounties, which you will see in a Union which I will send you. 
It was entirely off hand and without a minute for reflection. If 
it is published as it ought to be it will not appear very bad. 
There was some talk today about endeavoring tomorrow to fix 
upon a day for taking the question on the Oregon resolutions. 
When that is done I can begin to make my calculations about 
going home, I hope. 

I sent you yesterday, the lines I have written for Anna 
Payne's Album, but have not yet put them in the book. How 
do you like them? 

Love to all. 

Ever thine, 


Washington, March 27, '46. 
My Dear Wife, 

Yours is rec'd. I think you were very moderate in your 
purchases and I enclose you a check for $100 for which Uncle 
Seth will give you the money. Am sorry you could not get 
the side saddle. As Uncle James had one of his own, it ap- 
pears to me he might have been liberal enough to let you have 
this one. Yesterday an understanding was entered into to take 
the question on the Oregon resolutions on Friday of next week, 
which will be the 3d of April, I believe. Immediately after 
that, I shall call up my War Steamer Bill. How long a discus- 
sion it will provoke it is impossible now to foresee. I cannot, 
however, think it will exceed from one to five days. When that 


is disposed of, I shall start for home like a streak of lightning. 
So that I think there can be but little doubt of my being at home 
by the middle of April and perhaps by the 10th. 
Ever thine, 


Washington, March 29. 
My Dear Wife, 

Had the pleasure of a letter from Augusta today, but none 
from you. She says you are almost tired out and I don't won- 
der at it, being, as you are, without a girl. You must have one 
before I come home and no mistake. Why would not Hepsey 
come down and stay while I am at home, if no longer? Tell her, 
I insist upon it. I can't get along a single week without Hep- 
sey. Am sorry to learn that old Dick is no better. Poor old 
fellow, I fear he has "eat most of his wild oats." Well, when 
I come home I will try to get you a new horse. Perhaps I 
might get one cheap in Boston, at this time of year. 

Mrs. Richard Cobb and daughter of Boston, are in the City. 
Having heard that she said should like to have me wait upon 
her to the President's, I, day before yesterday, made a call upon 
her, and offered my services. She was a little too unwell to go 
that night and goes Tuesday night which is the next regular 
one. She is very ladylike and handsome, and "entres nous," 
learn she says that she was very much pleased with me. A 
rich, handsome widow! Only think of that! I scarcely ever 
perpetrate a joke upon such subjects, without, upon the second 
thought, thinking it to be wrong. So you will consider the 
above as sponged. 

I wrote you two days since that the prospect was I might 
be at home by the middle of April, if not sooner. Should any- 
thing occur to change this prospect I will inform you of it. 

An April Fool Joke 

Washington, April 1, 1846. 
My Dear Wife, 

On dating my letter the thought occurred of sending you 
a blank envelope. But, upon "sober second thought," as Mr. 
Van Buren says, I have concluded that you and I are a little 
too old to be made April fools of. 


The bell ringing for dinner after writing thus far I went 
out and found a very pretty cake, a present from Anna Payne. 
I felt, of course, highly gratified. On tasting it, however, I 
found it full of salt and everything else that could make it of- 
fensive. I was not only thus fooled by Anna, but was also fool 
enough to spit out my bite of it, with a wry face instead of 
smacking my lips and sending it round the table. 

Wonder if I shall get any fooleries from home or did you 
all forget the first of April. 

I have nothing new to tell you. Gen'l Cass made a great 
speech yesterday on Oregon and so forth. Col. Benton made 
a queer one today. Last evening, I went to the President's 
with Mrs. Cobb and her daughter. They were both highly de- 
lighted as I took a little pains to have some attention paid to 
them. Mrs. Cobb, you know, was the daughter of Abial Wood 
of Wiscasset, and is now the widow of Richard Cobb, formerly 
of Portland, but who for many years resided in Boston. The 
President and his lady were both very gracious and gained 
golden opinions. 

The great Texan Senator, Gen'l Houston or President 
Houston, was there. He wears a sort of Indian blanket, very 
beautiful, and appears as though he represented an Indian 
tribe, instead of a sovereign State. Nevertheless, thus far, I 
am pleased with him. He has eccentricities, but he is a fine 
looking man, and unquestionably possesses a good deal of tal- 
ent. His colleague, Gen'l Rusk, is nearly as tall, say 6 ft. 3 or 
4 in., but I suspect is not so much of a man. 

I begin to fear we may not get the vote on Oregon by Fri- 
day. Today has been lost from the regular debate. 
Your Affectionate Husband, 


Washington, April 3d, 1846. 
My Dear Anna, 

Sorry you remain without a girl, but as Sarah is learning 
to make a good brown loaf, we may well exclaim, "It is an ill 
wind that blows nobody any good." I suspect you will have 
Hepsy before I get home. When will that be, do you say? Oh 
dear! I am farther from certainty now unon the subiect than 
ever. Today was the day assigned for taking the vote upon 
the Oregon resolutions but from present prospects, if we can 


get it by the last of next week, I shall regard it as fortunate. 
Tomorrow McDuffie is to speak and Webster on Monday. 

By the way, you say nothing of Augusta, but I suppose you 
have recommenced your experiments with her. I do hope and 
pray that she may be benefited by them, though I must confess 
my faith is not very strong. 

So the babe, little Miss Annie Payne, grows fast and 
grows good. Am glad to hear it. Fancy I can see how she 
looks. Would give all my old shoes and throw in a hat be- 
sides, for one good kiss. Marty, Luly and Johnny I can see as 
distinctly as ever — their talk, their smile, walk, etc., etc. 

Ever thine, 


My company having left I will add a word or two. And, 
imprimis, had you not better take the side saddle of Uncle 
James at what he would give ? Or would it be better to buy a 
new one, which I suppose would cost $15? Leave it all to you. 
We shall probably be obliged to have one of some sort as horse- 
back riding, I think, will be almost indispensable for Augusta. 

I was engaged to go to Mrs. Madison's last evening, but was 
so lame I could not. My lameness for three days has been 
rather worse, paining me also by night. 

Ever thine, 

J. F. 

Fairfield Answers Webster 

Washington, April 10, *46. 
My Dear Wife, 

I write from the Senate. I am getting to be quite talkative. 
Day before yesterday I made a short speech upon a bill chang- 
ing the duties of the naval bureaus and now I have just fin- 
ished a speech of about an hour in answer to Mr. Webster upon 
the Northeastern boundary question. It is some credit to be 
engaged in a contest with the "Godlike," but in addition to that 
can't say much. However, you will judge of the speech your- 
self, as I will tomorrow send you a paper containing it. 

Have rec'd your note giving an account of the fire. It is 
well that Adams was out of town, for as his goods were insured, 
many would have been uncharitable enough to have charged 
him with setting the fire himself. 


It grieves me much to hear you say poor Augusta's troubles 
are spreading and that her elbows are now affected. If some- 
thing effectual is not soon accomplished by the sweating process 
she must go to Boston. 

Ever thine, 

J. F. 

Thinks Webster's Reply Inefifectual 

Washington, April 12, '46. 
My Dear Wife, 

I sent you a paper yesterday containing my little speech on 
the Ashburton treaty. I wish I could have sent you a better 
one, but you must be content with such as I have. I shall print 
it in pamphlet form, with a note appended, improving it some- 
what. Webster replied to it very mildly and very ineffectually, 
as I thought. The Whigs probably think otherwise. Tomorrow 
we are to have a speech from Upham, and I begin to feel some 
confidence in getting the vote this week. 

Last night I was up to Mrs. Madison's and had a very 
pleasant evening, though Mrs. M. was alone. Anna was visit- 
ing at Commodore Morris'. Mrs. M. is in apparently fine health 
and spirits and is as magnificent as ever. 

I think I shall not attempt to write poetry again, if I can 
get no better compliments for it than Sarah's. And, by the 
way, you did not say which piece it was about, that written to 
Cousin Mary or Anna Payne. 

As I have many, or rather several other letters, to write 
today, I will break the thread here and ask you to reel up what 
I have spun. 

Ever thine, 


From Speeches to Pigs 

Washington, April 14, '46. 
My Dear Wife, 

We begin to see daylight. Yesterday it was agreed to 
take the vote on the Oregon resolutions on Thursday next — 
say, the day after tomorrow. After that I shall permit noth- 
ing to interrupt my arrangements for going home but two or 


three nominations now pending, viz.: Gov. Morton's, J. H. 
Wright's and Dr. Nourse's, and these I hope will be de- 
termined without much delay. 

Miss Harper left us four or five days ago and this morning 
Miss Virginia Dickinson did the same uncivil thing. Miss Rob- 
inson goes soon and then we shall be left for the lady branch of 
our mess with Mrs. Niles and Mrs. Dickinson alone, and the 
latter an invalid. These losses will be severely felt by all of us, 
not omitting myself, although I spend but very little of my 
time in the parlor. 

I write from the Senate where Wescott is making a speech 
on the Oregon resolution and is so highly charged with electric- 
ity that his queue sticks out behind at an angle of 90 degrees 
with his back, looking something like a pump handle. Tomor- 
row we are to have one from the veteran, Gen'l Houston. I an- 
ticipate for him crowded galleries. Did you have patience to 
wade through mine upon the Ashburton treaty? I assure you 
I shall not think hard of it if you did not. How glad I shall be 
when I escape from the region of speeches and get into the re- 
gion of pigs and calves. By the way, I have heard nothing of 
pigs this spring, how is it? Are we to have any? 
Thine as Ever, 


Dick's Demise 

Washington, April 17, 1846. 
My Dear Wife, 

Thank you for your note received today, but regret very, 
very much to learn that "poor old Dick has breathed his last." 
My affection for him had a good foundation. He loved me and 
more than that he served me well. There never was a more 
faithful creature. Now that he is dead and gone, his virtues 
cluster about the memory in great profusion. Think how much 
he has contributed to our pleasure, how useful he has been in the 
"field" if not in the "cabinet," how careful he always was of the 
children, how considerate he has been upon all occasions, except 
now and then in refusing to be caught when I was in a hurry, 
how gentle, how sagacious, how kind and good, alas poor Dick! 
I loved thee living — I'll mourn thee dead. Though thou hadst 
many excellent and shining qualities, I can say of thee as Hal 


said of Falstaff, "we could have better spared a better" horse. 
To change the subject: 

"From grave to gay, 
From lively to severe:" 
Am glad to hear that the baby is growing and is "a cunning 
little thing," but sorry to hear that you are still without 
**help." Glad to learn that Augusta is a little better, but sorry 
to find that she is still so lame. Happy that Johnny is fat and 
good natured, but not so happy at the idea of all the children 
staying away from school. Rejoice that you are able to work, 
but regret that you have to work so hard. Oh. these buts! 
What ugly things they are and how full life is of them, good 
and evil, roses and thorns, sweet and bitter are inextricably 
commingled in all the scenes and events of life. Wise and 
happy is he whose regrets for the latter do not exceed his grat- 
itude for the former or prevent his rightful enjoyment of them. 
But, intending to write a letter and not a sermon, I pass on: 

Yesterday the question was taken in the Senate on the 
Oregon resolutions, and, would you believe it! I voted against 
them ! In which I found myself in company with my colleague, 
Mr. Evans, but for very different reasons. He voted against 
the resolutions because they were too strong and I, because 
they were too weak. 

This out of the way, 1 begin to feel homewardish. I think, 
as soon as the action of the Senate can be had on Dr. Nourse's 
nomination, I shall set my face against the East wind "like a 
flint." When that will be "not knowing, can't say," but hope 
it will be by the middle of the week. I shall be highly honored 
with my escort inasmuch as I am to have Cousin Mary Cleaves 
all the way and Miss Robinson to New York, and perhaps to 
Hartford. Am I not highly favored? 
Ever Yours, 


Went to the Circus 

Washington, April 21. 
My Dear Wife, 

One event has occurred today which will hasten my return 
home and were it not for this effect among others I should re- 
gret it deeply. I mean the rejection of Dr. Nourse by the Sen- 


ate. We had a hard battle. I did the best I could, but a com- 
bination of Whigs and spurious Democrats was too much for us. 
Unless something occurs to prevent my present arrangement I 
think I may get away from here by Monday next — the 28th — 
reaching home by the first of May. I am anxious to vote on 
Gov. Morton's nominations and would like to move my war 
steamer bill before I go — both of which I think may be done 
this week. However, I shall write you again once or twice be- 
fore I start, when I can probably speak more definitely. 

Mr. J, M. Clayton has made a good speech on the claim for 
French spoliations. I hope a bill may pass this session but 
have very strong doubts about it. 

I have attended but few amusements here, but a few nights 
since could not resist the inclination to go to the circus, per- 
forming here for a week from the Philadelphia Company. 
There were between three and four thousand people there and 
among them many members of Congress and much of the elite 
of the City. 

Tomorrow night our Sergeant-at-Arms, Mr. Beale, gives a 
party, and I think I shall yield to his pressing invitation to 
attend. I have an invitation also for dinner next Saturday 
with Mr. Buchanan. So you see after denying myself for a 
good while, I am about to repay myself for lost time with in- 

Ever thine, 


Washington, April 26. 
My Dear Anna, 

The prospect now is that I may be able to leave here on 
Tuesday next. A motion has been made to reconsider the vote 
by which Dr. Nourse's nomination was rejected. We shall en- 
deavor to have this acted upon tomorrow. If we succeed in this 
I shall be ready to go the next day. I have heretofore told you, 
I believe, of two companions I am to have. The prospect now 
is that I may have two more. A Mr. Sylvester has just been 
in to ask me to take charge of his daughter, and some one told 
me last night that Mrs. Dunlap was thinking of offering her- 
self to me. Four ladies, four trunks and thirteen bandboxes I 
am inclined to think will give me something to do. Aren't I a 
good-natured man? 


We are having a cold rain storm today. I fear it may be 
snow with you. Yesterday morning I changed my thick under- 
vest to thin, and my woolen drawers to cotton. Now don't 
laugh and say I told you so, but the truth is that before 10 
o'clock the weather changed, it became as cold as Greenland 
and I had to change "back again." 

Probably this is the last you will receive before seeing me. 
Love to all. 

Ever thine, 


Delayed by a Washout 

Washmgton, May 16, 1846. 
My Dear Wife, 

I reached here last night (Friday) one day earlier than I 
had anticipated but not until after 12 o'clock at night, when we 
should have regularly reached here at 7. The reason whereof 
is this. A bright morning sun went into a cloud before noon. 
About 2 o'clock the rain began to come down in torrents and 
continued its outpouring without intermission through the day 
and night. Per consequence a deep cut in the road extending 
some mile or two was filled (comparatively) with water, so 
that the track was covered to the depth of a foot. After mak- 
ing this water passage through great perils, we reached a point 
within about 3 miles of Washington where the mud had washed 
in, covering the rails two feet. And there, as the boy said who 
was learning to spell, having reached m-u-d, we stuck. The 
"distress whistle" was blown, but no one came to our relief. 

A man was then dispatched on foot to the city for aid and 
for near five mortal hours we had to wait until relief came in 
the shape of negroes and shovels. However, as we reached here 
safely at last, perhaps it is best to say no more about the mat- 
ter. Gratitude at not being compelled to wait all night, is far 
better than unavailing complaints at having to wait half the 
night. I found the mess all statu quo, with the exception of 
some half dozen of its best members. All were right glad to 
see me, apparently, and I have the vanity to believe, really. 

Have just had a call from Cousin Mary and Isabella Batch- 

Went to my trunk and got all the things supposed to be- 
long to Cousin Mary, one package of which she opened with 


great avidity, supposing it to contain wedding cake, but lo and 
behold ! nothing was found within but my — charcoal ! What a 
laugh and shout and boxed ears followed you may guess. They 
regarded it as a hoax of mine, when in truth it was one of my 

Everybody exclaims: "How you have improved!" and in- 
deed I am fully convinced, whether the fact be so or not, that 
I am many years younger than when I left Washington some 
three weeks ago. 

My room has been whitewashed during my absence, the 
bed has put on a new dress and everything looks nice and clean. 

I found a mail that would fill a diver eel pot and shall have 
to work night and day for a long time to catch up with my cor- 

Ever thine, 


Trouble in Mexico 

Washington, May 18, '46. 
My Dear Wife, 

Green peas, strawberries and cr — no, milk, etc., etc. Don't 
your mouth water? Such has been my fare since my return. 
I wish right sincerely you could participate with me. 

The news just received from our army is that Taylor with 
a part of his force, having left his encampment at Matamoros, 
went down to Point Isabel to get his provision. After he had 
left, the remainder in command of Capt. Ringgold were at- 
tacked by the Mexicans. The latter were repulsed and Mata- 
moros was battered down and burnt so that hardly houses 
enough are left to protect the sick. Taylor was on his way 
back to the camp, and when the vessel left, cannonading was 
heard in the direction of Matamoros ; so it is probable that the 
attack of the Mexicans was renewed upon Ringgold. This I 
have had verbally from a friend. The papers may give a little 
different detail. The next news will be looked for with great 

Cousin Moses has received his appointment to a clerkship 
in the P. O. Department and is very happy about it. 

As many inquiries are made for you as if they were all in- 
timate acquaintances of yours. Written upon the run. 

Ever Yours, 



Sail Down the Potomac 

Washington, May 22, '46. 
My Dear Wife, 

Yesterday I took a sail down the Potomac in the Massa- 
chusetts from Boston. A ship combining the two forces of 
steam and wind. Forbes wants to sell her to the government 
and so invited the naval committees and some naval officers to 
witness her powers. Had a delightful time. Another invita- 
tion to go again tomorrow with the ladies, but cannot. Plenty 
of business on hand, I can tell you. Have also an invita- 
tion to a menagerie but can't go. Do. to the National Fair 
where I shall go, although it is a sort of humbug affair designed 
to have some effect upon the tariff. 

Remember what I told you about Brother Emery's note. 
You must collect that to rig out George with and before he goes 
I will send you the needful for Brunswick. 

Thine ever 


Calls Gen. Scott an Old Granny 

Washington, May 24, 1846. 
My Dear Wife, 

Today we have a confirmation of the news of yesterday 
that two battles had been fought between our troops and the 
Mexicans on the 8th and 9th of May, in which our troops were 
signally victorious The particulars you will see by the papers. 
Maj. Ringgold of Baltimore and several other valuable officers 
on our side killed, in all men and officers about 60, while on the 
other side there are several hundred. Gen. Scott has gone to 
take command of the Army, much to my regret. He has seen 
his day and is now too much of an old granny. Besides, as Mrs. 
Gaines says, I never knew a man to be much whose mouth you 
could cover with a button. 

Some expect to make a speech tomorrow on my war 
steamer bill, so must abbreviate this letter and set about mak- 
ing some preparations. 

Very truly, 

Your Husband and Prochein Amie, 


Attends Big Fair 

Washington, May 26. 
My Dear Wife, 

Hot, hotter, hottest!! For two or three days eggs might 
be pretty thoroughly roasted in the sun. I have not doffed my 
flannel, but I must confess it is pretty hard to keep it on today. 
As an offset, if one needed, we have an abundance of strawber- 
ries and for two days past, cucumbers. I would go without a 
week if I could only pass you a dish of each. Isn't that tolera- 
bly magnanimous ? 

Last night after visiting the President, called at Mrs. Mad- 
ison's. She is complaining and Anna Payne is sick abed. 
Cousin Mary is right well. I was not able to give her any mes- 
sage or vote of thanks from you or the girls for her generous 
presents for I believe I received none from you for that pur- 
pose. I came near melting in walking home, and of course of 
leaving a great grease spot on the sidewalk. 

The great Fair here is all the go. I went in before they 
had their things arranged and may go again. I saw a bed- 
stead, cost $2,500, chamber furniture to match. I think I could 
sleep sounder on a two and three penny bedstead in the north 
corner of the west chamber of an old house on Beach street. 

Ever yours, 


Troops Winning in Mexico 

Washington, May 31, 1846. 
My Dear Wife, 

Am right glad you have been successful in obtaining 
"help." Hope she may have the bump of inhabitiveness as 
strongly developed as Hepsey. Bob ought to be ashamed of 
himself. I have no objection to his being polite, but he need not 
carry the accomplishment so far as to be falling on his knees 
to little school girls. Well, under the circumstances, you will 
perceive the propriety of using him altogether in the wagon or 

You ask if the war is to prolong the session. I hope not. 
Day before yesterday Hannegan introduced a resolution into 
the Senate fixing upon the 20th of July for the adjournment. 
Dayton moved to amend by inserting 20th of June. After 


some little talk the whole matter was postponed to the 8th, one 
week from tomorrow. The probability I think, is, that the 
20th of July may be fixed upon. Certainly nothing short of it, 
but as old Ritchie says, nous venons. I shall soon begin to 
count the weeks that separate me from my beloved ones. 

Let me know how Augusta gets along under Dr. Colby. I 
will some time this week send you some money, as it seems the 
Doctor has exhausted you. I forget precisely how much George 
wanted but if I send you $125 it will probably be all you will 
want for the present. If you do want more let me know and it 
shall be forthcoming. I enclose George's term bill which I be- 
lieve is about what we reckoned. 

Our troops are winning honors thick and fast in Texas. 
The war, if prosecuted as vigorously as I think it will be, will 
be a short one. 

Gov. Morton has been confirmed. Good! I have not been 
expecting it, but think Calhoun has become a little frightened 
at his position and thinks it best to stay his hand. 

Hope you have not forgotten to have some mushmelons 
planted; lettuce sowed, etc., etc. 

Ever Yours, 


Maine Officers Killed 

Washington, June 7, 1846. 
My Dear Wife, 

I suppose you get papers enough to give you the news from 
the seat of war. Nothing else constitutes news here now. Our 
army has covered itself with glory. Maine, however, has suf- 
fered more than her share among the officers. Lieut. Chad- 
bourne who was killed was a son of Ichabod R. Chadbourne of 
Eastport, and Capt. Page who was so badly wounded, having 
his lower jaw shot away, was from Fryeburg. Notwithstand- 
ing this, in the appointment of officers for the new Mounted 
Riflemen, Maine, and indeed New England, got nothing. This 
is treating us rather shabbily and causes a good deal of com- 

Tomorrow, the Senate will take up the resolutions fixing a 
day of adjournment. My impression is, that the 20th of July 
will be selected. I think I shall vote for it, although some of 
our party scold a good deal about it, especially the Southern 


men, who say, if we do that, nothing will be done with the tariff. 
But I am not owing the Southern gentlemen any special favor 
just at this time. 

Washington is really getting to be rather a dull place. 
Most of the ladies are gone and parties, balls and public enter- 
tainments seem to have subsided, while business grows more 
pressing and wearisome. 

Ever thine, 


French Spoliations Claims 

Washington, June 9, '46. 
My Dear Wife, 

Finding Senators engaged in rather a dry discussion, I 
avail myself of the moment to drop you a line or two. Yester- 
day the bill appropriating five millions of dollars in the public 
lands to the Claimants for French spoliations was carried by a 
majority of 4, myself not voting, feeling myself restrained 
by the small interest which you have. What will be its fate in 
the House is now very doubtful. Its friends, however, seem to 
feel much confidence in its success. A short time will deter- 

Yesterday, also, the resolution for fixing a day of adjourn- 
ment was taken up, and after discussion was postponed an- 
other week. You must not scold when I tell you that I voted 
for the postponement. It was very hard for me to do so, but 
the debates gave it such a political aspect, that I felt bound to 
yield my own feelings and opinions to those of my friends. I 
hope, however, that on Monday next, the 20th of July will be 
agreed on. 

George, I suppose, is gone. Tell Sarah to write and let me 
know something about Miss Haines' school. How does Augusta 
get along? Is little Anna's head as square as a horse block 
yet? Or does it change? 

My dear wife, ever thine, 


The Oregon Question Again 

Washington, June 11, 1846. 
My Dear Wife, 

Yesterday, the President sent us confidentially, a message, 
accompanied by a proposition of the British Govt, for the set- 


tlement of the Oregon question. It will probably be under dis- 
cussion several days. Of the particular terms, you know, I am 
rr t at liberty to speak, the subject being, at present, in secret 
session. Nor of the result can I speak with certainty. My 
impression, however, is that the proposition will be agreed to 
substantially and so the whole matter ended. But this I know, 
that my Country shall never be disgraced by my vote, if I know 
what I am about. 

Ever thine, 


Took an Electric Treatment 

Washington, June 14, 1846. 
My Dear Wife, 

There was a fellow here two or three nights ago, pretend- 
ing to be an astrologer. Says some 6 years ago he wrote to me 
for the day, month and year I was born, in order to make some 
calculations touching my fortune and that I did not answer. I 
have no recollection of it, have you? He said, after making 
some calculations, that we should not have fair weather until 
after the 14th (today). 

There is a Mr. Goad here from Philadelphia with apparatus 
invented by himself for administering the electric fluid in an 
unbroken stream, to any extent, and without shocks. I let 
him have my committee room to exhibit in and he has twice 
tried it upon my knee. It is produced by a galvanic battery. I 
hold the two poles, one positive, the other negative, each side of 
the knee, and the electric fluid passes from one to the other 
through the knee joint. There is no shock nor is the sensation 
more disagreeable than two hot irons would produce. It some- 
times agitated the limb so that I could hardly hold it still. The 
immediate effect is very favorable. Stiffness is removed and 
the knee strengthened, but the effect is not permanent. Goad, 
however, is satisfied that by perseverance my knee may be 
fully cured. Who knows but it might be a good thing for Au- 
gusta ? 

Tomorrow we take up the resolution for adjournment. 
My impression now is that I shall go for it, let who will scold. 
I have no idea, for one, of staying here all summer. 
Ever thine, 



Treaty Confirmed 

Washington, June 19, '46. 
My Dear Wife, 

Nothing new. Treaty is confirmed. Rumor says by vote 
of 41 to 14. If there is any glory in it, let those wear it who 
have won it. I covet none of it. 

Another picture auction tomorrow night, am afraid to 
trust myself there. Hope to hear from some of the children 
soon. "Brevity is the soul of" — short letters. 

Affectionately your husband, 

J. F. 

Illness of Cousin Anna 

Washington, July 3d, '46. 
My Dear Wife, 

Last night I called at Mrs. Madison's and Mr. Dummer's. 
At the former, I regretted to learn that Anna Payne was dan- 
gerously ill. I believe she has not been very well since early 
in the spring, but she has been confined to her bed but about 
three weeks. I have not seen her, I believe, since March, then 
she was complaining a little, but appeared pretty well. Cousin 
Mary calls her case one of consumption, but it strikes me it 
must be a severe case of dysentery, or hemorrhage of the 
bowels. The Doctor, they say, gives them but very little 
encouragement. I was there not more than five minutes and 
Cousin Mary was sent for, the girl saying that Anna was 

I regret also very much to inform you that Mr. Ward was 
called to Virginia to see Lauriston who was there for the pur- 
pose of keeping school. He found him feeble, and more than 
that, his mind affected, probably much as his mother's was. 
He did not recognize his Father. Mr. W. brought him to this 
City and placed him in the hospital, where he will be well taken 
care of. Probably the most judicious thing he could have done. 

Mrs. Dummer was just recovering from the effect of her 
trial of Goad's galvanic apparatus, about 10 days ago. It does 
not agree with her at all. 

I have something curious to tell, which is just brought to 
my mind by John's bringing me a note requring an answer. A 
gentleman, perhaps for himself and others, has requested me to 
consent to have my bust taken in plaster. I consented and a 


few days since he came with a carriage and carried me about 
2V2 miles to one of the most beautiful country seats I ever saw, 
owned by a Mr. Stone, who for many years was an engraver in 
this City and has retired with a large fortune. Being a man of 
genius and having a particular fondness for sculpture he is 
now passing his time very pleasantly in making busts. 

He commenced taking measurements of my head that day 
and has been at my room once since to complete them. His 
note is to inform me that the clay is up, and that he wishes for 
a sitting tomorrow morning. He says that he shall want about 
24 hours sitting, say about 2 hours at a time. He proposed the 
other day that I should go out early in the morning and break- 
fast with him. This will be delightful, especially when the 
weather is good and I can go on horseback. The bust will be 
just the size of life. A complete model, you know, is first made 
of clay and upon this the mould is made in which the busts are 
run. Perhaps you had better not say much about it at present. 

Ever thine, 


An Agreeable July Fourth 

Washington, July 5, '46. 
My Dear Wife, 

Yesterday was the glorious fourth and what has been very 
unusual, it rained half the day. At V2 past 6 in the morning I 
started for Stone's, arrived there at 7, breakfasted with him, 
sat down to the bust where he kept me until dinner, say 2 
o'clock. After dinner he made me take the chair again where 
he kept me as long as I could keep my eyes open, after which, 
say at 4 o'clock, he sent me home. His relative, an old maid, 
read a fine story to us. His sister, another old maid, kept the 
flies off from me and upon the whole, I spent a very agreeable 
Fourth of July. He is to let me know when he wants me again. 

Have not heard from Anna Paine since I was up there on 
Thursday or Friday. If I can get waked up enough, shall walk 
up there by and by. Mrs. Ogle Taylor, a near neighbor of Mrs. 
Madison's, I learn, died very suddenly yesterday. She went 
into the bath well, for aught that any one knew. Afterward 
was found in her room on the floor senseless and soon after 


The great tariff bill has passed the House. I fear it wiir 
take a good deal of time in the Senate. We are deter- 
mined, however, to try our resolution for adjournment again, 

Ever thy Affectionate Husband. 

Anna Payne Reported Dead 

Washington, July 8. 
My Dear Wife, 

Yesterday morning at the breakfast table Mrs. Scott told 
me that Anna Payne was dead, and after going to the Senate 
Chamber, I wrote you a letter informing you of the fact. Not 
finding the news confirmed, however, during the day, I began to 
doubt its correctness, and so retained my letter. Last night I 
went up to Mrs. Madison's and was told by the servant that she 
was living but very low. 

The weather has now got to be very warm. So much so as 
to enable me (almost to the vexation of other members) to say 
that it is very comfortable. 

Yesterday the House voted to fix the day of adjournment 
at the 3d of August and afterwards reconsidered it, and post- 
poned the matter to a week from next Monday. Oh ! the block- 
heads ! I wish I was a Doctor and could have the physicing of 
them a little while. I think I could set their eyes and their 
hearts homeward pretty soon. Nevertheless, I am still in- 
clined to think we may adjourn about the time named. 

We are now beginning to have apricots, apples and pears 
among our fruit. Blackberries and raspberries are about dis- 
appearing. Apricots resemble a peach having a plum stone, 
nectarines are plums on a peach stone. Is this new or can you 
say "Who didn't know that?" 

Your Affectionate 


Negro Humor 

July 10, 1846. 
My Dear Wife, 

This morning while I was dressing Mr. Stone's son called 
for me with his buggy and took me out to the studio. Break- 


fasted there and sat about 2 hours. Stone is proceeding admir- 
ably. You can almost hear the bust speak now. We are get- 
ting along pretty well now with business and I begin to have 
some hope of getting home before autumn. 

Yesterday I made a little speech upon the question of tak- 
ing the Texan officers into our Navy with their Texan rank. I 
send you a Union containing it. 

Have not heard from Anna Payne today. 

Cousin Moses has just come in laughing "to kill" at some 
negro remarks he had just heard. One was going along plum- 
ing himself upon a new dress, white gloves, etc., etc. Another, 
a little envious perhaps, says, "Ah, you poor nigger, all you 
brought 'tother day was $150." So you see nigger merit is 
measured by price. Another negro was sitting on his hack at 
the door of the Post Office Department when Pakenham's 
servant drove up and told him to get out of the way. He re- 
fused, said he paid the Corporation $10 for the right to drive 
his hack and he had as good a right to the shade as any one. 
"You need not tink you can cheat us poor hack niggers out of 
our rights as your Master cheated Congress out of Oregon," 
& so forth. 

Ever thy Affectionate 


Fairfield's Bust Nearly Completed 

Washington, July 16, 1846. 
My Dear Wife, 

I have the pleasure to inform you that the Senate has just 
passed the resolution by a large majority fixing the day of 
adjournment on the 10th of August. This was farther off than 
suited me, but no better terms could be obtained. 

Last night I walked up to Mrs. Madison's to inquire about 
Anna. They say she continues about the same. Upon the 
whole, I should think there was now much hope of her. Cousin 
Mary is well and talks a little about going North with me. 

This morning I went out to Stone's again. He is getting 
an excellent head, I think, or I should rather say, an excellent 

You ask about my galvanic operations. I have had but 
one operation since I wrote you last about it and that was night 
before last. The night before that I lay awake all night with 


pain in my legs. Not wishing to pass such another I went to 
O'Reilly's who succeeds Coad, and stood fire for about half an 
hour, went home and had a good night's sleep. So much for 
galvanism. Have not time to follow it up, especially as we have 
changed our hour of meeting to 10, nor do I see how I can go out 
to Stone's any more. 

I write from the Senate while a prosy tariff speech is ding- 
ing in my ears, so excuse me if I stop here. 

Ever Your Affectionate 


Anna Payne Recovering 

Washington, July 22d. 
My Dear Wife, 

Madison Cutts was here last night and said they began to 
have strong hopes that Anna Paine would recover. Cousin 
Moses came in soon afterward bringing news from Mrs. Hart- 
ley, not so favorable. He says Mr. Ela told him they feared 
she would not recover. 

In consequence of the Senate's meeting at 10, I had yes- 
terday morning to get up at 5 o'clock and ride on horseback to 
Stone's. Gave him two hours and a half sitting, breakfasted 
with him, and returned by half-past nine. Expect to do the 
same again tomorrow morning if the weather is suitable. Had 
a hard fight today in executive session upon the nomination of 
Joseph H. Jordan as Collector at Frenchman's Bay in our 
State, but ultimately carried the nomination by 3 majority. 
Some of the most interesting sessions we have are the secret 
ones. The tariff bill is creating a good deal of excitement. It 
will probably be carried by the casting vote of the Vice-Presi- 
dent. Have just received a letter from George, which I enclose. 
It is better written, I think, than his former letters. I can't go 
the watch trade, though. I shall send him five dollars. 

Every once in a while they get up a report that I am going 
into the Navy Department. It is all gammon. I don't think 
the President contemplates making such an offer, and if he 
should, I should tell him I preferred my present position to any- 
thing in his gift. 

Ever Your Affectionate 



Made Speech on Navy Pension Bill 

Washington, July 23d, '46. 
My Dear Wife, 

I write from the Senate, and almost directly under the pelt- 
ing of a speech from Gov. Bagby against the Harbor Bill. Yes- 
terday I had the honor to make a speech on the Navy pension 
bill, and tho' I say it myself, one of my best, for a short one, 
and yet not a word of it is reported in the Union. 

Night before last, I had the pleasure to meet a large num- 
ber of the old Commodores at Mr. Bancroft's. It was a noble 
sight and a most agreeable time we had. 

Anna Payne, I hear, can walk across the chamber. Have 
not heard from Mrs. Hartley since I wrote last, either to you 
or to Augusta. 

Ever Your Affectionate 


Excitement Over Tariff 

Washington, July 26, '46. 
My Dear Wife, 

I regret to be obliged to inform you that Mrs. Hartley died 
last night and Cousin John has just left in the cars with the 
corpse, so that he will probably reach Saco, one mail before this 
letter. He seems to bear up under the loss pretty well but in 
my opinion it will be more and more afflictive to him for a long 
time to come. 

Anna Paine, I have not heard from since I wrote you last. 
We are having very exciting times. The tariff is trembling 
upon the verge of success and defeat. It is rather difficult to 
say what will be the end. We have been calculating all along 
that it was to be carried by the casting vote of the Vice- 
President. Yesterday, however, Haywood of North Carolina 
sent in his resignation. 

All sorts of stories are in circulation as to the means used 
to bring this about. For myself, however, though I think he 
has acted very foolishly, I believe him to be entirely honest and 
conscientious about it. Jannagan, however, of Tennesssee, a 
Whig, is instructed to go for the Bill, by a democratic Legisla- 
ture. Lf he obeys, as he probably will, the bill is safe yet. 

Ever thine. 

J. F. 


Washington, July 28, 1846. 
My Dear Wife, 

We are in a state of very considerable excitement, I assure 
you, growing out of the new tariff bill. The Senate, for a long 
time has been considered to be equally divided, and that the 
fate of the bill would depend upon the vote of the Vice-Presi- 
dent. On Saturday, however, Haywood of North Carolina re- 
signed, rather than vote upon the bill against his party one 
way or his conscience the other way, and Janngan, a Whig, who 
has been instructed by a democratic Legislature to vote for the 
bill, is continually backing and filling, so that all are in doubt 
what he will finally do. Under these circumstances there is, of 
course, not a little excitement. 

Tell Augusta I have received another letter from her, for 
which I am much obliged. She says you have received from 
Uncle Emery $270, and want to know what is best to do with it. 
I think it would be better for you to ask Uncle Seth to buy you 
stock in the Manufacturers' Bank. As it will probably be about 
$100 a share, you may draw upon my funds in the Bank for 
enough to make up three shares. If Uncle Seth should doubt 
whether this is the best way for you to invest, you can then let 
it remain until I get home. If stock is bought, the certificates 
will, of course, be made out in your name. I want you to keep 
all your property in your own name. 

I called up to Mrs. Madison's last night. Anna is better 
and will probably recover. Rode out to Stone's this morning 
horseback. Had a delightful ride, rising at half-past 4. How 
would you like that? 

Servier, who sits by my side, thinks I am a very cool fellow 
to be writing my wife in a state of such excitement. 
Ever Your Affectionate 


French Claim Bill Passed 

Aug. 4, 1846. 
Dear Wifey, 

The French claim biU has passed both Houses and is now 
a law. 

It appropriates five millions of dollars in public lands. 
Laus Deo. 

In haste ever thy 

Affectionate Husband. 


A Difficult Passage to Washington 

Washington, Dec. 6, '46. 
My Dear Wife, 

I am happy to be able to say that I reached this City last 
evening safely and in a condition of health somewhat im- 
proved. There has been no repetition of my nightly attacks of 
any consequence since I left home and I begin to entertain 
strong hopes of staving them off entirely or for the present at 

Our passage on was not entirely free from obstruction and 
difficulty. I left Boston, you know, on Wednesday morning for 
the Long Island route. When we reached Allyn's Point at Nor- 
wich, the place from which the ill-fated Atlantic sailed, we 
found no boat to take us over to Long Island and had to wait 
in the cars for one nearly two hours. After she arrived we 
found her very slow and what was worse got aground on the 
Long Island side of the sound and had to lie nearly two hours 
before the boat could be got off, so that we did not reach Green- 
port until after dark. 

When there we found that a baggage car of the train go- 
ing North had run off the track and we had to wait a long time 
for the track to be cleared. In consequence of all these mis- 
haps we did not reach New York until one-half pa^t 2 in the 
morning when we should have reached it at 8 in the evening. 
Our baggage we had to leave in the cars and did not get it early 
enough in the morning to take the train for Philadelphia and so 
had to wait and take the night train. Since then things have 
gone well enough. 

I stopped at Philadelphia on Friday and dined with Mr. 
Pettit in company with a Russian Count and Baron. The Count 
is soon to be married to a Miss McKnight of Bordentown. The 
Baron certainly cannot marry anybody until he "gets out of the 
woods." He is now buried up in hair. 

Took the morning train yesterday (Saturday) and reached 
this city about 8. Found Mrs. Scott hauled up with a lame 

ankle. Mrs. King, Mr. Gordon and Mr. , Vermont, had 

already arrived and taken their old quarters. Have seen noth- 
ing of Judge Niles or Gov. Dickerson. Cousins John Hartley 
and Moses Titcomb met me at the Depot. 

Had a magnificent sermon from Dr. Dewey this morning 
and I anticipate another this evening. He has as much true 
warmth of piety as he has of splendid talents. 


Perhaps Augusta had better postpone going to Hewett's 
until spring when you can make sister Mary a visit and go in 
to Boston and see Augusta often. 

Your Affectionate 


The Senator is "Worsest" 

Washington, Dec. 8, '46. 
My Dear Wife, 

You may expect, for the present at least, to be a good deal 
bored with my complaints. So let me say that yesterday I felt 
finely. Thought I was going to get well at once. Today I am 
worse, worser, worsest, troubled with flatulency, low spirits, 
etc., etc., etc. Did I tell you that Dr. Peirson put me on a 
somewhat restricted diet? He says in his memorandum "For 
diet use plain food, avoiding gross articles, such as fat, gravy, 
melted butter, etc., and all flatulent substances such as cab- 
bage, turnip, baked beans, pickles and the like. Avoid pastry 
and made dishes. Abstain from coffee and green tea." 

There, what do you think of that? How would you like it? 
For myself, I can conform to his directions without any diffi- 
culty. Gravy is the only thing I part with, with much re- 
luctance. In conversation, he added some other things such as 
hot bread, etc., etc., so I am now confining myself to the Gra- 
ham loaf. I like it very well, but think they extract too much 
of the bran. It is that mainly, I think, which gives it its effi- 
cacy. The Doctor also prescribed a medicine composed of 
aloes, myrrh and some kind of tincture of iron — a teaspoonful 
in water just before eating — a teaspoonful of soda in water on 
going to bed. 

Cousin Richard called last evening. Cousin Mary and all 
the rest, he says are very well. Hope to be able to go and see 
them soon. President's message came in today. Very good, 
I think, tho rather too long. 


Your Husband. 

Uses a Lard Lamp 

Washington, Dec. 13, '46. 
My Dear Wife, 

You will be pleased to hear that my health is still improv- 
ing and persevering in the diet prescribed by Dr. Peirson and 


a liberal and faithful use of hair mittens (which I have bought) 
with cold water baths, I hope to be as well as ever, in a short 

I keep a light burning all night and Mr. Gordon who sleeps 
in the adjoining chamber is appraised of my difficulty and will 
come to my aid if necessary. Mrs. Scott also sleeps in a room 
directly under mine and says she will be on hand in a moment 
at my tap upon the floor. 

For a light I have bought a lard lamp and like it much. I 
am inclined to think you might introduce it at home with good 
economy. The light is white and soft, almost, as gas. My 
lamp will hold about 2 cents worth of lard and but a little more 
than one-third of it is consumed in a night. The lamp is so 
constructed that the lard will burn until entirely consumed. 
My lamp is common tin, painted. The wick is flat and is placed 
beneath a tin holder something like this (sketch here). This 
runs down into the cold lard near to the bottom of the lamp and 
being heated by the blaze keeps the lard melted sufficiently to 
burn well. 

We have had a most capital sermon today from Dr. Dewey. 
House full. I observed Mrs. Madison among the multitude. 
Have not yet called upon her. Understand that Anna Payne is 
quite well again. Called at the President's night before last, 
small party, but a very cheerful one. Never saw the President 
and Mrs. P. in better spirits. The City, by the way, is very 
dull. Never saw the public houses so little thronged. Very 
few of the members have their wives or children with them and 
the lovers of high life are anticipating a duU winter. 

Our mess at present is Judge Niles (and lady next week), 
Gov. Dickerson, Yules and myself of the Senate, and King, Gor- 
don, and Dillingham of the House. Yules is to come tomor- 
row with his wife. Mrs. Scott has still two rooms vacant. 

Tomorrow is assigned for the choice of our Committees. 
Expect a hard day's work and a day of grievance and disap- 
pointment to many. I wish all felt as easy and indifferent as I 
do upon the subject. 

By the way, a Mr. Hume is pressing me to let Dr. McGru- 
der operate upon my knee. He had precisely such an one which 
the Doctor has entirely cured. I can't bear to think, in my pres- 
ent health, of 3 weeks' confinement to my chamber. However, I 


am determined to consult the Doctor and see what encourage- 
ment he can hold out. If you can read this, give me credit for 
letter No. 5 and believe me to be 

Ever your affectionate 


Examined by Dr. Magruder 

Washington, Dec. 15, '46. 
My Dear Wife, 

On calling a few days since at the 6th Auditor's office, Mr. 
Washington's, he inquired very particularly about my knees, 
seemed to take great interest in the case and said he had a clerk 
in the office who, a few months since, had just such a knee 
which had been entirely cured by a Dr. McGruder of this City. 
He sent for the Clerk who confirmed all that Washington had 
told me. They both pressed me hard to let him operate upon 
me. Day before yesterday, Hume, the Clerk, came to my room 
and urged me most strenuously to go and see Dr. McGruder. 
being sure, he said, that he could cure me. 

In consequence of all which, I took some pains to find out 
who and what this Dr. McGruder was. The result is that he 
is regarded here as an exceedingly skilful physician and sur- 
geon, is rather rough and odd, but a kind-hearted man, and one 
in whom his employers have great confidence. I learn also that 
he is physician for Pakenham, the British minister, Bodicke, 
the Russian minister, Papor, the French minister, and was 
physician for Fox before he died. In addition to all this I find 
his reputation to be first rate among the citizens. 

Whereupon today I took Hume with me and called upon 
him. I liked his looks much. He is no dandy, but he has a 
broad, good-natured Scotch face and looks like a man of genius. 
Said he, "I should have known you without an introduction." 
"How so, my dear sir?" "Because I have seen your head out 
at Stone's." 

Well, after some conversation, he said he would prefer 
calling on me at my rooms this afternoon when he would ex- 
amine my knees and give me his opinion. At 4 o'clock, he 
called, examined, etc., and says the case is one of dropsy and 
that he can cure it. I told you the other day that they had not 
been better for years. Strange to say, the next day they were 
hardly ever worse and now my legs and ankles are much 
swollen. He says the dropsy is beginning to spread and will 


soon extend upwards to the abdomen unless something is done. 
In the case of Hume, he put an instrument entirely through the 
knee under the pan. In my case he said he should not. Would 
merely make an incision and draw off the water. He says I 
shall not be confined more than a week and that mainly to pre- 
vent my catching cold. He speaks with perfect confidence of 
success, and I am free to say that he has inspired me with a 
similar confidence. 

The result of all which is, that he is to come here next 
Saturday to fix on a day next week when he will come and per- 
form the operation. I asked him, in reference to a particular 
matter (entre nous) whether I should want a nurse or any one 
to take care of me, and he said no — not at all. So you see I am 
fairly committed. The deed is to be done. I am determined 
on the trial, especially as he says there is not the least danger 
of producing a stiff joint or doing any other injury. He has 
given me some medicine to take to prepare me for the opera- 
tion for which I have discarded everything else. I am all anx- 
iety until the day arrives. 

As ever, 

Your Affectionate Husband. 

Arranges for George to Come to Washington 

Washington, Dec. 16, '46. 
My Dear Wife, 

Mrs. Scott says that if I will let George come on and take 
him into my bed, she will charge but $3 a week for him. In 
view of this and the convenience of having him with me just 
now, I have concluded to let him come unless you should see 
some strong objection to it. I have marked my letter private 
in order that if you should think George had better not come on 
you can destroy it and say nothing of its contents to any one. 
I suppose he is now at home; if so, the sooner he comes the 
better. You can probably get what clothes he wants at the 
shop in Saco, if not, he can buy them in Boston. He will prob- 
ably want a frock coat, pants and overcoat. His dress coat, I 
think, had better be postponed for the present. I enclose you 
a check for $100. After you have fitted George out with 
clothes you can give him $30 in money. 

If you think best for him to come on, write me immedi- 
ately on the receipt of this. I want to know, one or two mails 


in advance of the time of his starting. I will write him by this 
or the next mail, giving him some directions. I will enclose the 
letter to you, which you can give him or not according to cir- 

My health, I think, continues improving, except my lame- 
ness. That just now is very bad. The swelling extends to my 
ankles and feet, and has compelled me to buy some thin merino 
socks. If George comes on, you had better send, by him, my 
worsted socks. 

Ever Yours, 


Washington, Dec. 17, '46. 
My Dear Wife, 

I wrote you yesterday saying that if you saw no insuper- 
able objection to George's coming to W. I was willing he should 
set out, and that the sooner he came the better. A violent 
storm occurring has induced me to write again by next succeed- 
ing mail, to say that there is no such urgent necessity for his 
coming as would justify his setting out when the passage might 
be attended with danger or even with much discomfort. Last 
night, for instance, would have been dangerous upon the 
Sound. I do not know when it began to storm, but this morn- 
ing when I waked, I found some 3 or 4 inches of snow on the 
ground, and snow then falling fast. It has since turned to rain 
and I hope will carry all the snow off. 

I received your note this morning which gave me much 
pleasure. The "blues" are not upon me very hard now, but I'll 
assure you a letter from you will always tend to dissipate any 
little gathering clouds. Had forgotten about George's term 
and supposed him to be at home. It seems, however, that you 
will be likely to get my letters written yesterday as early as, if 
not before, he returns. 

Ever thine, 


The items about Black Charley, the curtains, children, etc., 
etc. are all interesting. How is Lion and how does he behave? 
I wrote you about Augusta some days since, giving my opinion 
that Augusta had better not go to Hewett's until spring or sum- 
mer when you could go to Lexington and make a long visit, 
going to Boston often to see her. However, I am not very 
sanguine in my opinion and will leave all to you. 


which John Fairfield was instrumental in founding and which the Fairfield 

family attended 

in Unitarian Church, Saco 


Date Set for Operation 

Washington, Dec. 19, 1846. 
My Dear Wife, 

Today, for the first time, I have called at Cousin Richard's 
and at Mrs. Madison's. Did not see Mary, she being engaged 
at church decorating it for Christmas. Richard has a boy, a 
few weeks old, of which he and his wife are proud enough. Mrs. 
Madison appeared to be well and Anna Payne extremely so. 
Never saw her looking better. They were both preparing to 
ride out so that I stopped but a moment. 

Dr. McGruder has just been here agreeably to his appoint- 
ment and has designated Tuesday next at 11 o'clock to perform 
his operation upon my knees. He still speaks with the utmost 
confidence of a cure. Cousin Moses will probably sleep with me 
until George comes, i. e., should it seem to be at all necessary. 

Sunday — The foregoing was not early enough for the mail 
last night and as we have no Sunday mail, this will not go until 

Mr. Burnap of Baltimore, preached for us today, a very 
good philosophical essay from the text "The rich and poor meet 
together, the Lord is the maker of them all." 

I feel pretty well today and begin to have confidence in my 
full restoration — i. e., to my ordinary state of health, perhaps 
better if Dr. McGruder's operation should prove successful, for 
I am not sure that the difficulty in the knee may not be the 
source of my other troubles. 

I shall endeavor to write you again on Tuesday after the 
operation or the next day. Hume says the Dr. gave him some- 
thing after his operation which made him sleep several hours. 
I may possibly in the same way be prevented from writing to 
you on Tuesday. Love to little Marty, Luly & Donny, and all 
the rest. 

Ever Your Affectionate 


The Senator's Knee Operated On 

Washington, Dec. 22d, 1846. 
My Dear Wife, 

"The long agony is over," as once was said upon a more im- 
portant occasion. My knees have been operated upon and so 


far as we can now judge with the most perfect success. It is 
now 12 o'clock, meridian, an hour not having elapsed since the 
operation was perfonned. 

I am sitting up in my bed, with very little pain, and devot- 
ing the first moments, after thanks to my Heavenly Father, to 
gratifying and allaying what I know must be the anxiety of 
my dear wife. When the Doctor got ready to put in his knife, 
"Now," said he, "if I am right in my opinions of your case a 
yellow gelatinous fluid will follow the knife." He then in- 
serted the instrument on the outside of the knee joint and just 
above it and his prediction was fully verified. From both 
knees there was drawn about a pint and a half of yellow fluid, 
nearly the consistency of the white of an egg, not quite so thick. 
He says that at least a pint more will yet be drawn off. He 
then bandaged my knee and leg below it tightly, and left me, 
saying that he will call again this evening and relieve the ban- 
dages, one of which already begins to give me considerable 

Cousins Moses Titcomb and Richard Cutts were present at 
the operation and are delighted wiith Dr. McGruder and the 
apparent success of the operation. Richard pressed me very 
hard to call in Dr. Hall as advising physician, but I declined, 
having full confidence in McGruder's honest face, strong good 
sense, his siimplicity and want of pretension, and apparent 
frankness and honesty. 

I will leave ithe next page to add anything that may occur 
before the hour of sending to the mail. 
Ever Yours, 


4 O'clock. Nothing to add. Just time to send to P. O. 

A "Port Wine" Operation 

Washington, Dec. 23, 1846. 
My Dear Wife, 

I have just received yours of the 20th. If your calcula- 
tions were correct, George would start this morning and may 
be expected here by Saturday night. Shall be glad to see him, 
wish he was here now. 

The Doctor has just left me. He opened my knees again, 
in new places, and drew off about another pint of blood and 
matter and poked pieces of cloth into the orifices to keep them 


open. He hurt me much more today than he did yesterday and 
the irritation caused by the pieces of cloth in the holes is by 
no means agreeable, I can tell you. He has postponed the op- 
eration with the Port wine until tomorrow. As I understand 
him, the coming away of the wine will be accompanied by the 
remaining fluids and the knees will then be in a proper condi- 
tion to heal, or rather for the parts so long separated to come 
together again. 

Cousin Moses slept with me last night and probably will 
continue to until George comes on. I am troubled with wake- 
ful spells occasionally, but not more so than I was at home. If 
you were only here, I should feel quite happy. Nevertheless, 
I ought not to complain. Under all the circumstances I am 
getting along very well. 

I had a letter from Augusta a few days since, written, I 
should think, the day before the burning of the meeting house. 
She appears quite happy and says she would like to stay aU 
winter and study with Uncle Whitman, which I think would 
not be an injudicious move, if you should not conclude to put 
her to Hewett's now. 

By the way, if her disease is like mine, I should be in favor 
of having the knee opened. Of all that, however, we can con- 
fer again. The weather is, and has been for several days 
delightful, so I presume there is not much doubt of George's 
starting this morning. 


Your Husband. 

Washington, Dec. 24, '46. 
My Dear Sarah, 

Thank you for yours received some time since but must 
postpone answer until I am in better condition to write. My 
principal object now is to give you a bulletin of my health. This 
morning the Doctor opened my right leg upon the inside but 
got nothing but blood. He then with a syringe forced cold 
water into it and afterwards Port wine, both of which were 
almost immediately ejected, and the leg bound up. The oper- 
ation this morning was very severe and my leg is yet, say 3 
o'clock, in a good deal of pain. To the left leg he did nothing 
more, believing that there had been already inflammation 


Excuse me for brevity. WiU try to make up for it another 
time. My confidence in the Doctor remains undiminished and 
believe I am getting along better than could be expected. 
Your Affectionate Father, 


The Operation Successful 

Washington, Dec. 25, 1846. 
My Dear Wife, 

Am happy in being able to inform you that thus far, the 
operation proves successful. Yesterday the Doctor made a 
new opening which brought on my old neuralgic pain which 
lasted all day. In the evening, by direction of the Doctor, I 
enveloped one knee with a bread and milk poultice. This re- 
lieved the pain, and was followed by one of the best night's 
sleep I have had since leaving home. Consequently today, I 
am bright, cheerful and full of hope. The Doctor has just been 
in, but has done nothing, says everything is working to his sat- 
isfaction. There is considerable inflammation in both knees, 
but no more, the Doctor says, than he wants to make the 
parts knit well together. 

I walk my chamber a good deal, by direction, for the pur- 
pose of producing irritation and consequent inflammation, — the 
very thing that most other surgeons seem to dread. I have a 
capital appetite for breakfast — but for dinner I have hard work 
to dispose of a small bowl of gruel, taking nothing at tea time. 

Cousin Moses continues to sleep with me, and is very kind 
and attentive. Tomorrow night I hope I shall have George. 
His letter was received this morning, by which I learn that he 
was to start Wednesday, day before yesterday morning. The 
letter, I suppose, passed him in Boston where he probably 
passed the night. Today is Christmas and the weather is mild, 
but a rain storm I can see, is brewing. George may have some 
of it tomorrow, but he will be across Long Island Sound, which 
is some comfort. I have an invitation to dine with the Presi- 
dent on Wednesday next, but suppose I shall have to forego 
that pleasure, although my week will then have been out which 
the Doctor limited for my confinement. 

Had a call at the door some days ago from Cousin Mary. 
She appears to be in prime health and in good spirits. 

Ever thine, 

I write every day. J. FAIRFIELD. 


Caucus in the Sick Room 

Washington, Dec. 26, '46. 
My Dear Wife, 

About an hour since I found half the democratic Senators 
rushing into my room, to hold a caucus, by appointment of 
General Cass without a word to me upon the subject. We 
have had, however, an agreeable consultation and pleasant time 
of it. And now as all are gone I will spend the next few min- 
utes in writing you. 

The Doctor came while they were here, and I had to with- 
draw to an adjoining chamber. The opening on the left knee I 
found very sore and beginning to fester. On opening it, how- 
ever, we found that the piece of cotton cloth had never been ex- 
tracted. I told him on Wednesday that it was out, and he took 
it for granted that I was right. That part of the knee has, of 
course, been very sore. Upon the whole, I am getting along 
finely. Slept well again last night and feel 20 years younger 
than I did a week ago. The Doctor thinks I may safely go out 
on Monday. I almost fear he is a little too liberal and shall 
endeavor to be careful. 

I see by the New York Herald that George was at New 
York on Thursday night. Of course I shall expect him here 
this evening. He will come just in time to do a job which the 
Doctor has this morning directed, that is, to bathe my legs in 
bay rum and then rub them well. The weather today is de- 
lightful, quite contrary to my expectations and George will, of 
course, have a pleasant passage. 

The report is that Bailey of Virginia and Davis of Ken- 
tucky have gone out to fight a duel. Poor fools. I pity them 
and sincerely hope that nothing worse will result than a flesh 
wound to each. It is said that Bailey was arrested and gave 
bail, that Davis avoided the officer and went to Baltimore 
where, it is supposed, Bailey will follow him despite of his 

The law upon this subject is very severe here now, and I 
hope it will be enforced. 

When George comes I hope I shall be able to make him do a 
part of the writing. 

Your Affectionate 



Announcing George's Arrival 

Washington, Dec. 27, '46. 
My Dear Wife, 

You will be happy, I know, to learn that no danger thus 
far, appears to attend the operation upon my knees. The in- 
flammation has nearly ceased and the healing process appears 
to be going on gradually and healthily. The knees, to be sure, 
are still swollen — but the swelling is mainly, I apprehend, in 
consequence of the incisions, or the sores made by them. It 
will probably be months before an entire restoration to the 
original strength of the joints, — though for most purposes I 
may be considered well. 

George arrived last night about half past 7, having had a 
safe and pleasant journey, both by land and water. He has 
been today to hear Dr. Dewey. He paid a pretty extravagant 
price for his clothes, it appears to me, or perhaps I should 
rather say, he bought better than he need to have done, to wit, 
$18 for his frock coat, $18 for his overcoat and $3.75 for his 
vest. However, they are quite large and I hope he may be able 
to keep (at least the great coat) many years. 

Last night I had a call from Mr. Dummer and Cousin Mary 
Cleaves. Mr. D. brought me his pocket full of big apples 
which were very acceptable. 

Regret very much poor Luly has burned her face. Hope 
you used Connel's pain extractor, for if there is any faith in 
certificates it would have instantly relieved the pain. I tell 
George he must write by and by and I suppose he will. The 
Doctor says I may go to the Senate tomorrow, but I doubt if 
I shall avail myself of his liberality. Tomorrow morning, he 
says, he shall bandage both knees tightly. 

Found George very handy last night in bathing my legs 
in bay rum and this morning in rubbing my back with a hair 
mitten. But enough and more than enough of this everlast- 
ing talk about myself. If you find me tiresome, give me a hint 
and let me try to amend. 

Yours in the bonds of love and matrimony, 



Unhappy Sequel to a Duel 

Washington, Dec. 29, '46. 
My Dear Wife, 

I omitted to write you yesterday, and directed George to 
take my place, which he did. He has now gone to the P. O. 
Dept. to visit Cousin Moses, so I will drop you a line myself. 

My knees are getting along better than I expected, which 
you would probably infer from the fact that yesterday, Mon- 
day, one day within the week set by the Doctor, I went to the 
Senate Chamber. The joints are now considerably swollen 
and are bandaged tightly, I suppose to reduce the swelling and 
to aid the healing process. 

I have not been to the Senate today, understanding that 
there was to be no session, in consequence of the death of Sen- 
ator Barrow from Louisiana. This death has been sudden and 
melancholy. It is not three days. General Dix told me, since 
he was boasting of a constitution that was capable of resisting 
any and everything. Now he is a corpse. His death was 
caused by bilious colic. He went to Baltimore with Garrett 
Davis and Bailey. While there he was attacked with the bil- 
ious colic and died last night. What an unfortunate sequel to 
the unfortunate drama of the abortive duel! 

Poor Barrow! of all the men in the Senate, he is the last 
whom I would have selected for so early a death. He was, say, 
6 feet 2 or 3 inches tall and otherwise large; he had a very 
broad chest and was a man of great muscular power and always 
appeared to be in the very best of health. No order has yet 
been taken for his funeral. 

Last night I had a very pleasant call from Mrs. Ela, ac- 
companied by Cousin John. George has had an abundance of 
invitations and will soon, I suppose, begin to avail himself of 
some of them. He caught a slight cold coming on and I, not 
finding any corrective in my medicine chest, advised him to 
take a couple of pills which he essayed to do, but was unable. 
He tried them with water and without, with apple, etc., etc., but 
it was no go, he could not get one of them down, scolding nor 
ridiculing had any effect. I send you a letter I have received 
from Augusta. 

Ever thine, 



Dined with President 

Washington, Dec. 31, '46. 
My Dear Wife, 

By a misunderstanding between George and myself you 
had no letter yesterday, or rather there was none written yes- 
terday. In the way of news, the duel between Davis and Bailey 
turned out to be no duel, probably just as the chivalrous parties 
wanted. These Southern men, while they like to have the repu- 
tation of fighters, do not like actual fighting better than others. 
Mr. Barrow was buried today with all the usual forms and cere- 

Yesterday, contrary to my expectations I dined with the 
President. I did not, however, risk so much without the advice 
of the Doctor. Today I went to the Senate, attended the fu- 
neral and afterward with George went and dined with Cousin 
Richard. Tomorrow is New Year's day, when all the world 
will be agog. I think I shall participate but little in the festiv- 
ities (if so they may be called) of the occasion. 

My lameness is about the same as it has been for three 
days. There is a little soreness, some pain and weakness. I 
walked tonight, however, from Cousin Richard's. I do nothing 
now but bathe the legs in rum and afterward in a solution of 
potash I believe, and bandage tightly. I have a good appetite 
and am doing pretty well. 

Ever thine, 


Daughter of John Fairfield 

The Closing Year of Senator Fairfield's Life — 1847. 

The last letter that Senator Fairfield ever wrote was on 
December 23d, 1847, the Senator stopping in the middle of a 
letter, which never was completed. "So no more tonight — " 
were his last written words. 

The letters of his closing year of life are pathetically sug- 
gestive of pain and growing concern as to the state of his health. 
They breathe a fonder affection for home and assume the 
personal note almost exclusively. 

The letters of 1847 begin shortly after the first surgical 
operation was performed on his knee. This must have been 
temporarily successful, for at the close of the spring session of 
1847 he returned to Maine feeling better and looking younger. 

On the way to Maine, early in 1847, he stopped in Boston, 
to consult a prominent Boston physician as to the health of their 
daughter Augusta who was staying with her uncle's family 
in Lexington, Mass. Mrs. Fairfield met the Senator in Boston. 
The daughter Augusta, to whom reference is made so often 
in these letters, was about fourteen years old at the time when 
she began to show symptoms of a trouble very like that of 
her father. Thereafter she was always an invalid, and died 
in early womanhood. Her sister, Miss Martha Fairfield, now 
(1922) a resident of Washington, D. C, writes of this Augusta, 
"She was a beautiful character, always cheerful and sunny, 
with her father's courage and joyousness. Her wheel-chair 
was always the happy center of the family circle." 

Senator Fairfield left eight children. The oldest son, 
Walter, was drowned when sixteen years of age. He gave 
his life to save a comrade in a canoe accident. In all of Senator 
Fairfield's early letters he made frequent reference to Walter. 
These references cease at a certain point in this correspondence. 
It is evident that Governor Fairfield was at home in Saco, 
Maine, at the time of this family tragedy. 


The associations of Governor Fairfield with his children 
were intimate and happy. He wrote them often and many of 
the letters in this collection were addressed to them. These 
letters show tender interest in their every-day pursuits and 
are filled with good counsels of frugality, thrift and religious 

Miss Martha Fairfield cherishes a copy of some stanzas 
written by her father, for his children to sing as a morning 
hymn at their family devotions. She remembers sitting on a 
little cricket at his feet on these occasions and singing this song 
which so well expresses the mild and beneficent theology of 
John Fairfield, at a time when the old and stern theology pre- 
vailed. Miss Fairfield says also, "My father, at an early age, 
turned from the church of which his grandfather had been 
the only minister for thirty years, and with some other young 
men founded the Unitarian Church at Saco, saying that he 
could not bring up his children on what seemed to him ter- 
rible doctrines. 

The morning hymn to which Miss Fairfield refers is as fol- 


Again a flood of golden light 
Succeeds the sombre shades of night. 
Refreshing slumber's gentle reign 
Gives way to active life again. 

Father in Heaven, thy loving grace 
In each event of life we trace ; 
Asleep, awake, we need not fear, 
A father's love is always near. 

To thee, Father, now we raise 
Our notes of gratitude and praise. 
O ! may the day we now begin 
Be free from sorrow and from sin. 


He was also given, in his spare moments, to the writing of 
charades for the diversion of his children and friends. Each 
member of the family had his or her name cleverly worked into 
a charade. The "dearest name in the world" inspired this: 
Between two interjections place 
Two times the end of pain; 
And then I think you'll plainly trace 
A much-loved, pretty name. 
This was the charade version of his daughter Martha's 
name : 

My first's a place where merchants meet, 
To buy and sell and gain; 
To this an interjection add, 
'Twill make my daughter's name. 
ThiSb the reader will readily guess, is Augusta: 
I take a month of flowers and fruit, 

And place it first in order ; 
An article to this I'll suit, 
And write another daughter. 
For his eldest daughter he composed this : 

From snow-clad mountains gently rolls 

Its tribute to the sea, 
A nobler stream of nobler Maine — 

Its half my first shall be. 
One-third a stream of Scottish fame 

Will make another letter; 
An exclamation gives a name, 
You scarce could spell it better. 
The following was written to delight the Senator's beloved 

My first is one who braved the flood. 

In Noah's noble barque; 
And, landing safe on Ararat, 

Descended from the Ark. 
My next a vegetable is — 

But for rhyme and meter, 
I'll further add, without its aid, 

We could not have a Peter. 
My third is sought by brigands bold, 

To hide their ill-got gain ; 
The whole, when fairly ranged and told, 
Will show my son his name. 


During the summer of 1847, Senator Fairfield took charge 
of the Maine Democrat during the absence of the editor. It 
was in this connection that he wrote the series of "Letters of 
O. K." which were collected in a book and given to his wife. 
He returned to Washington for what proved to be his last 
session, on the first of December. He wrote but four more 
letters, particularly chatty, making but little mention of his 
illness, although it was apparent to him that his condition was 
by no means reassuring. He says in' one case that his health 
was "as good at least as when I left home." 

New Year's Calls 

Washington, Jan. 1, 1847. 
My Dear Wife, 

There — hit it right, the first time writing — that is to say, 
have written 1847 instead of 1846. 

The weather is delightful. In going to make some calls 
put on George's coat (which by the way just fits me) and found 
it uncomfortably warm. The day will compare very well with 
our early days in September. 

I have called at the Vice-President's, Mrs. Madison's, Mr. 
Dickens' our Secretary, Mr. Rives', Gov. Parris' and Col. Ben- 
ton's and have just returned somewhat fatigued. I could not 
undertake to crowd my way through the throng at the Presi- 
dent's with my game legs. George is out upon an expedition 
with Moses. I met them a short time ago and urged them to 
call at Mrs. Madison's where I suspect they are now gone. 

I never saw Mrs. M. looking better, Anna Paine and Cousin 
Mary supported her, — i. e, in a military sense, not that they 
have hold of her. 

When George returns, will make him write some of you 
if I can. I wish he had more of an inclination to write. Of 
my lameness I am obliged to say that the joints are yet weak, 
and it is with some difficulty that I can walk a considerable dis- 
tance, but I still have confidence that they are improving, and 
that an entire cure is in prospect. 

Ever Yours, 


Had almost forgotten to wish you and all our household a 
happy New Year. 

George Having a Good Time 

Washington, Jan. 3d, 1847. 
My Dear Wife, 

As George wrote yesterday it has become my turn today. 
As Ego, I, I, myself, have been the absorbing topic of my let- 
ters, I begin by saying that I am getting along "as well as could 
be expected." Nay, better than that. There is now no in- 
flammation in the knees, the swelling is subsiding gradually, 
and the only pain is an occasional one of my old neuralgic 


pains. I walk well, at least as well as I did before the opera- 
tion, which is saying a good deal, when you consider how 
tightly my legs are bandaged. The Doctor has not been here 
for two days, shall expect him today. The only thing now done 
is to bathe in New Rum, and a kind of alkali. George is of 
some service though he gets terribly sleepy before we finish 
at 11 o'clock. Have been at church today and heard the inimit- 
able Dr. Dewey. Of all the men whom I ever heard preach he 
is my favorite. He draws crowded houses and is doing a great 
amount of good. 

George is busy examining curiosities at the Patent Office, 
and seems to be enjoying himself. This week he means to at- 
tend more to the debates in the Senate and House of Repre- 
sentatives. I shall take him with me to the President's, I 
believe, on Tuesday evening. 

New Year's day he and Moses strolled about, but I suspect 
made but few calls. Moses has two things in his composition 
that keep him back, to wit, diffidence and laziness. 

I called at Mrs. Madison's New Year's day. Never saw 
her looking better. The President's jam I very prudently de- 
clined attempting to penetrate. 

One month nearer seeing my dear, dear home than I was. 
Two months will soon slip away. I begin to anticipate with 
great delight (if my knees are cured) the taking hold actively 
of my agricultural pursuits. I am persuaded it is the only way 
to ensure good health, without which, what is wealth or fame ? 

Tomorrow I intend to take my seat in the Senate and go to 
work. I have several bills to report from Committee on Naval 
Affairs which may give me something to do. 

In reply to your inquiry I know not who and what "Mar- 
garet" is. Who is the author? I have never seen or heard of 
the work. 

Yours in love and marriage. 

J. F. 

Knees Are Improving 

Washington, Jan. 5, 1847. 
My Dear Wife, 

Yesterday, I believe, escaped without a letter either from 
myself or George. He says he will write today. I am happy 
in being able to say that my knees are gradually improving. 
The swelling is subsiding and the joints gaining strength. I 


walk today better than I have for years, I think. It may be 
imaginary, — but I hope not. At all events I know I am im- 
proving. I spend over an hour morning and evening in bath- 
ing in New Rum and afterward with an alkali. If I have told 
you this seven times before, hope you will pardon me. 

The weather here continues to be delightful. George and 
I are talking of attending a party tonight at Capt. McCauley's 
at the Navy Yard. 

Yesterday, I understand, a young man, son of a Judge re- 
siding at Richmond, Va., committed suicide. I have no in- 
formation of the cause or particulars farther than that he went 
into a "Pistol Gallery," as it is called — a sort of shooting school 
— and after firing 11 shots at a mark, the 12th he put through 
his own head. Poor fellow! Intemperance and gaming lie 
at the bottom of most of these things. Don't know how it may 
be here. 

I write from the Senate and as an order has passed to go 
into executive session I must close. 

Ever Yours, 


Plans for Augusta 

Washington, Jan. 8, 1847. 
My Dear Wife, 

I was willing to leave everything in regard to Augusta to 
you, having more confidence in your judgment than my own. 
However, as you seem to insist on my views, I will give them 
freely. I enclose a letter received today from Bro. Whitman 
from which it appears that Augusta is happy where she is, and 
is in better health. Moreover, she is now studying Latin, etc., 
with her uncle and is probably doing better than she would any- 
where else. 

The winter will be an uncomfortable time for you to go to 
Lexington and to pass in and out to and from Boston once or 
twice a week and it may be a bad time to leave Annie. 

Upon the whole, it appears to me, it would be better to per- 
mit Augusta to remain where she is until spring (say March, 
if that suits you better than any other month) when you can 
go up and make your visit and superintend the operations upon 
Augusta at Hewett's. After my return, which will be early in 
March, I can go up with you, if necessary. 


If we take this course, perhaps it would be better to sug- 
gest to Mr. W. that Augusta should be a boarder and a pupil, 
instead of a visitor. However, upon this point, I am not clear. 
In regard to Augusta's ailment, I am confident, it differs en- 
tirely from mine. I doubt if any water or fluid is collected 
about her joints. 

If I am right in this, no surgical operation would be re- 
quired. Hewett's course is probably the best that could be 
adopted. There — "them is my sentiments, Mr. Speaker." If 
you differ from me, say so, and wherein. You will find me very 
tractable. I am happy to repeat that I am still improving. 
I was so imprudent at McCauley's party night before last, as to 
eat a hearty oyster supper about 11 o'clock, for which I suffered 
all day yesterday. A good night's sleep, however, has dissi- 
pated the effects and today I am feeling remarkably well, and 
walking better than I have for years. 

I got a letter out of George yesterday for Sarahs but there 
are so many things to take up one's attention here, that I can- 
not promise myself success in attempts to draw one from him 
daily. I owe my dear little Martha a letter which I must write 
very soon. Her letters have amused George very much. To 
me, they have certainly been quite interesting. 
Your Affectionate 


If you should deem it better, from any considerations, to 
meet me in Boston, so let it be. 

Calls Mexicans "Rascally" 

Washington, Jan. 10, 1847. 
My Dear Wife, 

Oh, what magnificent preaching we are having. Never in 
my life, have I heard preaching half so interesting, or half so 
well calculated to do good. I shall go to meeting again this 
evening if I have to wade knee deep in the snow. 

Congress is very dilatory in all its proceedings. Nearly 
half of the session is gone, and yet nothing of importance ac- 
complished. I wish the war could be brought to a close, but I 
fear very much that it is to be procrastinated indefinitely. The 
Mexican Congress has met — and has declared they will not 
treat for peace while any of our troops remain in Mexico or any 
of our ships remain upon her coast. War, then, and war to the 


knife and the hilt must be the consequence. She said once be- 
fore, if our ships were withdrawn from her coast she would re- 
ceive a minister from the U. S. The ships were withdrawn and 
then she refused to receive the Minister. The truth is, the 
Mexicans are a rascally, perfidious race. No reliance can be 
placed in their most solemn compacts. They are little better 
than a band of pirates and robbers. 

I had a call from Mrs. Chas. Cutts the other day. First, to 
tell me that she called her last session to pay me my $5 but 
found me out, etc., etc., will pay it soon. Second, to ask my 
advice about her proposed attempt to raise money on her furni- 
ture to help Mrs. Madison ! ! ! Think of that ! I could not help 
laughing in her face. She immediately dropped that topic and 
did not again recur to it. How ridiculous! Suppose Mrs. M. 
is poor. She has friends by whom she could raise money at 
any time ; while poor Mrs. C. is much more destitute than Mrs. 
M. and without the means of raising the wind I presume except 
to a very limited extent say a few dollars. But the whole thing 
is in character just like her! 

Bulletin No. 40, — save one. Knees growing better. Have 
not seen the Doctor since a week last Thursday and don't know 
what has become of him. 

Ever thy affectionate 


Death of Judge Pennybacker 

Washington, Jan. 12, 1847. 
My Dear Wife, 

I have the melancholy intelligence to communicate of an- 
other death in our body. Judge Pennybacker of Virginia died 
last night after an illness of only a few weeks. At the com- 
mencement of the session perhaps no two men would be more 
likely to be selected from the Senate for long life than Barrow 
and Pennybacker. Now! alas! neither of them are among the 
living. Truly the race is not always to the swift or the battle 
to the strong. The death of Mr. Pennybacker will be an- 
nounced today, when the Senate will adjourn over today until 
tomorrow, probably. 

Night before last we had a fall of some eight inches of 
snow, which makes capital sleighing. Never saw better in this 


city. Being under the necessity of going to the War Depart- 
ment, I took 25 cents' worth in a big, oblong willow basket, 
drawn by two queue-up-tailed nags. 

I received another letter from Martha this morning for 
which I am much obliged to her. I think she improves in writ- 
ing very fast. 

Ever thine, 


Archer has just made his announcement„ and the funeral 
is to be tomorrow. 

Washington, Jan. 16. 
My Dear Wife, 

The weather is very changeable and everybody is contin- 
ually catching cold. My brushing and washing in the mornings 
I believe saves me. They are, I think, the best preservatives. 
Wish you would try them yourself, one or both. 

George has had a cold ever since he has been here, at- 
tended with sore lips. Tonight, I mean to dose him well with 

Have not seen my Doctor yet, it being a fortnight yester- 
day since he was here. I don't know that I suffer from his ab- 
sence. My limbs, I think, are gradualy gaining, though not 
quite so fast as I could wish. 

When ought George to start for home? His term com- 
mences about the middle of February, and I suppose it would 
be well enough for him to be at home one or two weeks before 
going to Brunswick. Consequently, unless you have some sug- 
gestion to make to the contrary, I shall start him off towards 
the close of this month. It would, perhaps, be well to give him 
one day at Lexington. 

I shall be glad when the time arrives for me to set my face 
homeward also. The attractions of home seem to me to deepen 
and gather force, the older I grow and I will add what I said to 
O'Sullivan last night, who is now revelling in his honeymoon, — 
that although I had been married over twenty-one years, I could 
say with truth that I loved my wife better now than I did the 
first month of my marriage. There, — was not that a pretty 
gallant speech? Don't you "owe me one"? O'Sullivan was 
delighted to hear me say so and has no doubt he can say the 
same at the end of 21 years. Perhaps he may — I hope he may. 


Not knowing anything of his wife I ought not to doubt it. He, 
himself, is an excellent fellow and moreover is an excellent 
friend of mine. 

I write from the Senate, while Badger of North Carolina 
is making a speech against tht Bill providing for the appoint- 
ment of a Lieutenant General. 

Yours in the bonds of love and wedlock, 


Visit to Annapolis 

Washington, Jan. 19, 1847. 
My Dear Wife, 

Grand levee of the President tonight. Vidt of Naval Af- 
fairs Committee to Annapolis postponed until tomorrow. Spe- 
cial train got up for us. In addition to examina'iion of Naval 
School, there is to be a grand naval ball. If I shoald attend it 
and dance you shall be duly informed thereof by \he earliest 
mail thereafterwards. 

Another member of Congress almost dead. Sinirns of 
South Carolina has been suffering, I am told, for several days 
with mania a potu. 

George and I went night before last to hear Lover, th« 
author of several amusing books. The audience laughed heart- 
ily at stories old as Methuselah, but the whole affair was a 
humbug. Balls, parties, concerts, theatres, etc., etc., are 
abounding. Have attended only the one named and McCau- 
lay's party. Next Saturday, however, dine with Mr. Buch- 
anan. Although something of a politician, yet like a dinner 
party about as well as any party. 

George will probably leave on Wednesday, one week from 
today. This will enable him to spend one day at Lexington and 
get home on Saturday night, the thirtieth. This also wiU give 
him about a fortnight at home before going to Brunswick. 

Ever Yours, 


Washington, Jan. 22, 1847. 
My Dear Wife, 

Yesterday morning I went to Annapolis as I contemplated. 
Had a very pleasant time, but am suffering from late hours 



and extra eating and drinking. Returned this morning, time 
enough for the session. The ball was a most magnificent one. 
The school is first rate. Upon the whole I was very much grat- 

Ever thine, 


Mr. Buchanan's Dream 

Washington, Jan. 28, '47. 
My Dear Wife, 

I have alrea(^ written you that George's departure is to be 
delayed another week, so I hope you will not worry about him. 
He is enjoying himself very well, but in a very quiet, steady 
way. Not a+ all disposed, so far as I know, to any unlawful or 
improper indulgences. 

I thin-^ you have done right in informing Augusta that she 
might sia.y at Lexington until I return. Am glad, also, that 
you h«ve concluded to meet me in Boston or Lexington. I am 
sure that Augusta will need you for a while. 

Let me suggest that you should get some one who can 
fake your place and devote herself entirely to Annie. Sarah, I 
should think, could take charge of the rest. 

George and I have an invitation to a small party at Mrs. 
Dickens' on Saturday evening next. Mrs. D., the wife of our 
Secretary, I mean. We go, of course. 

By the way, I have often laughed at a dream of Mr. Buch- 
anan which he related to us the other day at his dinner. That 
is to say: He dreamed that he had a shirt made of gun cotton 
and a big, ugly looking fellow was continually in chase of him 
with a red hot poker to blow him up. A Daniel might perhaps 
connect it with his waking thoughts in a manner not entirely 
complimentary to the Secretary. 

I cannot close without alluding to my knees, and I am 
happy to say the two last days they have been much better than 
they have been since the operation, while the two days before 
they were worse. If things go on as favorably as they have 
for the two last days, you and I will dance a jig when we have 
the pleasure of meeting. 

Ever thine, 



Completes a Half Century 

Washington, Jan. 31, 1847. 
My Dear Wife, 

Yesterday was my fiftieth birthday. Half a century have 
I lived. Half a century been subject to all the vicissitudes of 
life. Half a century have I suffered and enjoyed. "Half a cen- 
tury!" In what solemn tones it strikes upon my ear. How 
old and sombre it looks upon paper. I can almost see the moss 
gathering about it and fancy a necessity for the chisel of Scott's 
"Old Mortality." I am, nevertheless, unable to indulge in any 
sorrowful reflections of the past or gloomy forebodings for the 
future. Though a cloud has occasionally overshadowed my 
path — and for brief periods, the way before me has appeared 
dark, — yet on the whole, my life, thus far, has been a happy 
one — and in looking back, I can find nothing but causes for 
gratitude, deep and heart-felt gratitude to my Heavenly Father. 
In my wife and children I find the most abundant source of 
gratitude for the past and solicitude for their welfare and hap- 
piness in the future, mingles with every thought by day and 
every dream by night. Two pages to this topic, however, I be- 
lieve, is about enough. I have no news, moral or political, that 
I know of. The weather, a universal topic, you know, is very 
fine. Today is Sunday, and we have had two magnificent ser- 
mons from Dr. Dewey. I long for Sunday to come round. 
Such treats, intellectual as well as moral and religious, I have 
never enjoyed before in the shape of preaching. The Doctor is 
a whole head and shoulders above any man living in the minis- 
try, and in my opinion is superior to Dr. Channing. Mrs. Niles 
went with me tonight, and though a strong Presbyterian, she 
admitted that she was perfectly fascinated. 

George, I suppose, will leave some day this week. Last 
night we both attended a small party at Mr. Dickens' and to- 
day we dined with Cousin Richard. After dinner I walked up 
to Dr. Magruder's, say two miles or more, and back again. 
George went to meeting with Cousin Mary and afterward to 
Mrs. Madison's. We have yet to visit the Navy Yard and the 

Ever thine, 



The Senator's Youthful Appearance 

Washington, Sept. 5. 
My Dear Wife, 

I have nothing to tell you today but an anecdote which I 
got at Gov. Marcy's dinner yesterday. I sat near Professor 
Henry, who has lately been chosen superintendent of the Smith- 
sonian Institution in this city. He asked me if I had any of my 
family with me. I told him no; that my son had just left for 
home, who had been spending his college vacation with me. 
"College!" said he, "is it possible that you have children old 
enough to go to College! Why you must have begun young." 
"Why," said I, "how old would you take me to be?" "About 
35," said he. His astonishment was great on being informed 
that I had completed my half century last Saturday. 

On telling the anecdote at the breakfast table this morning 
Mrs. Niles said it was manifest that I was 10 years younger this 
session than I was last session. The Judge said he could not 
answer to that but he was sure I was at least 5 years younger 
now than I was at the commencement of the session. 

From all this you will draw your own inferences. 

George had a pretty windy day yesterday, but I trust he 
got along safely. 

If you can't decipher this, lay it aside and I will help you 
when I get home. 

Ever thine, 


The Starving Irish 

Washington, Feb. 8, 1847. 
My Dear Wife, 

George left on Wednesday and a windy time he had of it. 
Not having heard anything to the contrary I presume he got 
along safely. 

Last night I walked up to Ela's and took tea. In the 
evening, tho it rained hard, went and heard an excellent sermon 
from Dr. Dewey. I have also met the Doctor two or three times 
in private circles and I find him to be as playful and agreeable 
as he is profound and learned in the pulpit. 


Tomorrow night there is to be a meeting to raise subscrip- 
tions for the poor Irish who are absolutely dying of starva- 
tion. The descriptions of their sufferings are horrible and we 
cannot be held guiltless, if, with such an abundance as we have 
in this country, we do not contribute to their aid. 

I regret to be obliged to say that we are likely to lose an- 
other Senator. Dixon H. Lewis, the fat man, is now lying in a 
lethargic state, from which his friends fear he will be never 
fully aroused. He was in the Senate about a week ago, though 
not very well. Everybody has seen that his prospects for a 
much longer continuance of life were rather poor. 

Hope to hear from George immediately upon his reaching 

Ever Yours, 


Carried Through Two Bills 

Washington, Feb. 16, 1847. 
My Dear Wife, 

Yesterday I had the good fortune of carrying through two 
important Bills reported by my Committee, — a bill gi-anting 
pensions to widows under certain circumstances, and a bill 
providing for the building of four war steamers. They cre- 
ated a pretty little discussion in which I participated and car- 
ried my measures against the expectation of everybody. The 
Naval appropriation bill comes up tomorrow when for one day 
at least, I shall be pretty busy. 

Last night I attended a jamb — literally a jamb — and at Mr. 
Secretary Mason's. I can eat now as much ice-cream, Char- 
lotte Russe and even boned turkey and chicken salad as other 
folks without being troubled by it afterward either asleep or 
awake. I know nothing now to prevent my leaving here on 
the 4th of March and meeting you either at Boston or Lexing- 
ton on Friday or Saturday. If you stop at Boston, you will, of 
course, go to the Tremont House. Of this, however, we will 
talk further by and by. And, by the way, why don't you talk? 
I have not received a letter from you for a fortnight, I think. 

I suppose Sarah is all agog to get her ring and pin. George 
lost some of our most interesting debates. I regretted that he 
could not have been here. 

Love to all. Ever thine, 



Plans for Meeting 

Washington, Feb. 24, '47. 
My Dear Wife, 

Our session will terminate just one week from today, that 
is, Wednesday night at 12 o'clock. My present intention is to 
start the next morning at 5 o'clock and, having good luck and 
no interruptions, to reach Boston on Friday night. 

I think you had better come to Boston on Friday and stay 
there Friday night. On Saturday we can see Hewett and then 
go to Lexington. Stop at the Tremont. 

Col. Benton is just going to commence a crack speech, 
everybody is on the tiptoe of expectation. 

Soule of Louisiana made a most eloquent speech day before 
yesterday. He is a Frenchman, or rather was bom in France, 
speaks with a brogue which renders him quite interesting. 
Ever yours, 


Begins His Last Session 

Friday Night, Washington, Dec. 2d, 1847. 
My Dear Wife, 

Here I am again snug and safe in my old quarters — and 
right glad I am for a chance to rest and to get a modicum of 
sleep, very little of which precious article have I been favored 
with since leaving home. On Monday I stopped and dined 
with Mr. and Mrs. Batchelder and a right pleasant time I had 
of it. I think they are very agreeably situated, and appear to 
be very happy. The farm, though small, is a very good one. 
The house is very convenient and comfortable, it's old-fashion- 
able-ness don't hurt it any. They were very sorry that neither 
you nor one of the children came with me. 

The next day I went out and spent a good part of the day in 
Lexington. Sister Mary and family are all well (Oh, I forgot 
to say that Aunt Augusta is as fat as one of Hepsey's lumps 
of butter — and the story of the dimples, I verily believe is no 
fiction). Mr. Whitman went to Boston on business by the same 
cars that brot me, returning at 3 o'clock, and at 4, left again 
with me to deliver a lecture at Medford, so I saw but little of 
him. All were delighted with my family picture and I hope 
you will not fail to go up to Ormsby's and have yours and 


Annie's retaken. You can probably send it on to me by Mr. 
Haines, who, I understood, was talking of coming on in a few 

On Wednesday after leaving Boston, we had a tolerably 
pleasant day, though it was constantly threatening to be worse. 
We did not cross the sound as I had anticipated, that route not 
being in operation now. On Thursday and Friday we had 
pretty constant rain, but in good, comfortable cars it made 
but little difference to us. Mr. Bradbury and Mr. Hammons 
came with me from Boston. They will both look at rooms 
here tomorrw morning and I am in great hopes of having 
them both for messmates. Judge Niles and wife are expected 
tomorrow, who take their old room. There is no one else 
here or engaged except a Mr. Collins and wife from New 
York, whom I have not yet seen. Mrs. Scott is very well and 
apparently improved from last year. 

Cousin Moses was the first to see me. He is fat, hearty 
and good-natured as ever. He says our friends are all well ex- 
cept Mrs. Dummer, who has sprained her ankle and is quite un- 
well. My own health since I started has been pretty good, and 
my appetite enormous. 

Oh, how the wind whistles about my feet and ankles. If I 
should undertake to quote from Shakespeare just now I should 
begin "List, oh, list." My room has been newly painted, 
whitewashed, etc. but my old patchings and listings have all 
disappeared consequently the wind is as antic as a young colt 
and as noisy as a brazen trumpet. I'll bridle it tomorrow. 

I will write you again soon. With the hope that you and 
all of you will throw laziness to the winds and write me very, 
very often, I remain 

Yours as ever, 


Gas Lighting Put Into Capitol 

Washington, Dec. 4, 1847. 
My Dear Wife, 

Our minister is a boy the name of Allen, son of the Allen 
who is the author of Allen's questions. But though a boy in 
stature and personal appearance, he is a giant in intellect. Sel- 
dom have I listened to a sermon more crowded with thought, 
or one more beautifully and forcibly written. 


Crutchet's big light on the dome of the capitol I don't 
think much of. It affords a tolerable light immediately about 
the capitol, but the light is not extended so far as had been 

The Senate Chamber was lighted up last evening with gas, 
and looked splendidly. The light proceeds from a sort of chan- 
delier suspended in the center and quite up to the ceiling. This 
alone makes light enough to write by and read the finest print 
in any part of the chamber. 

Thus far our mess is composed of Mr. and Mrs. Collins and 
Mr. Lawrence from New York, Mr. Hammons from Maine and 
myself. Judge Niles and wife have spoken rooms and are ex- 
pected here tonight. 

Mr. Bradbury is balancing whether to come here or go to 
Gilbert's. All are anticipating the collection of a great many 
people, and a brilliant winter. Landladies, therefore, are a lit- 
tle exorbitant as to prices. I should not be surprised at a good 
deal of disappointment on their part by and by. 

When shall I have a letter from home? Who will write 
first? Don't all speak at once. 

Your Affectionate 


Scores Politics in the Pulpit 

Washington, Dec. 16, 1847. 
My Dear Wife, 

A letter from you is like medicine for the soul, I know how 
little time you have to write, but really I cannot relinquish the 
hopes of one letter from you a week. Am happy to inform you 
that my health is as good, at least, as when I left home. Strange 
that I have not seen Dr. Magruder yet. 

Tell George I thank him for his letter and am glad to learn 
that he takes good care of Billy. When I come home in the 
spring I shall want a good horse to ride. 

How did you like the new painting of the sleigh? I 
did not see it. It was to be a little darker than the old color 
and a light color inside. 

None of you tell me how much the hog weighed. Perhaps, 
however, he was not weighed at all. I should have set him at 
about 425. Have not heard from any quarter what was done 
with the $100 I left with George for Uncle Seth. Suppose, 
however, I shall hear from Uncle Seth soon. 


If I had been at home when Tenney preached I should have 
left the meeting house. I was right glad to see that Hans- 
com put the lash on to Dwight about right. If such men want 
to become politicians, let them doff the parson's robes and go 
into the arena where they can take knocks as well as give them. 
But "nuff ced." 

Yours forever, 


Last Letter to Sarah 

Washington, Dec. 19, 1847. 
My Dear Sarah, 

I am unable to answer your letter today, for a reason 
which you can probably guess: 

"Sharp optics it must need, I ween, 
To see what is not to be seen." 
However, I presume what with your studies and what with 
household work your time is pretty fully occupied. I excuse 
you, therefore, and will only ask you for a letter when you can 
spare time as well as not from other engagements of more im- 

Yesterday, for the first time, I called at Cousin Richard's. 
Saw only Cousin Mary, Mrs C. being too unwell to make her 
appearance. I carried up my family picture which seemed to 
afford Mary great pleasure. She thought it was admirably 
done and insisted on my leaving it with her to show to Mrs. 
Madison. By the way, where is your mother's new one? Tell 
your mother I have written to Mr. Haines to inform her of the 
time he intends leaving for Washington in order that she may 
send whatever she may wish to send. Among other things I 
had hoped for a new picture of your mother. George says 
Ormsby says he would have to lose the plate. Very well, pay 
him for another plate. I hope it will be done. The rest of you 
must not be offended when I tell you that Mrs. Scott picks out 
Lucy and Johnny as the handsomest of the group. Madison 
Cutts wants me to lend it to him for the purpose of having an- 
other taken from it. 

How do you get along at the Academy? Does Mr. P. tell 
as many stories as ever? He will, I suspect, learn you all to be 
talkers. I hope you will improve well your present opportuni- 
ties whatever they may be, as preparatory to going to a school 


abroad next year. They have some pretty good schools here 
but they are too expensive for my short purse. 
Your Affectionate Father, 


The Final Operation 

Washington, Dec. 23d, 1847. 
My Dear Wife, 

We have nothing new here of any importance. On Thurs- 
day the Senate regularly adjourns over to Monday, so that we 
have considerable leisure. And yet with newspaper letters, er- 
rands at the Departments, calls, etc, we have not a great deal 
of spare time. 

Mrs. Madison's bill, giving her $25,000 for her husband's 
papers, was introduced into the Senate today and will probably 
pass on Monday. I am almost ashamed to say that I have not 
called upon her yet, and as I am to be "operated upon" probably 
shall not call upon her for weeks. 

Dr. Magruder called to see me today for the first time. 
His confidence in his ability to cure me is not only undiminished 
but strengthened by the success of other cases which he has 
had. So it is all arranged. He is to be here tomorrow morn- 
ing and operate upon my knees. He is unwilling that I 
should inhale ether and that project is abandoned. He says in 
addition to his prejudices against it, that in my case it would 
do no good, inasmuch as the vitriol is to be kept in the cavities 
of the knee twelve hours or more, and that the pain will be 
more severe at the close than at the commencement. Oh, dear ! 
What a prospect I have before me. The fire burning into my 
flesh for 12 hours! 

It is hard to think of, but I submit willingly under the 
probable chance of a cure. Cousin Moses and Mr. Hammons 
are to be here. 

I did intend to send this letter by this night's mail, but 
not wishing to give you 24 hours' anxiety about me, I think I 
will keep it until after the operation and then finish it, so that 
you will have the annunciation and result together. So no 
more tonight 

And indeed no more forever! The Senator died from 
this surgical operation, after a few hours of intense suffering. 
As has been said often in reference to Senator Fairfield's death, 
he was the victim of gross malpractice. The shock to Mrs. 
Fairfield was intensified from the fact that she was not aware 
that her husband was contemplating this surgical operation, at 
the hands of Dr. Magruder. 

The funeral services of Senator Fairfield took place at his 
residence in Saco. The Senate and its officers, the delegation 
from the State and other members of the House and friends ac- 
companied his body from his boarding house to the depot, where 
it was received by the Hon. Mr. Clark, one of the members of 
the House of Representatives from Maine and accompanied by 
him to Saco. A Washington paper of that date said: 

"The solemn procession which, on Tuesday last, followed 
the last remains of Senator Fairfield, afforded a most impres- 
sive tribute to his worth. The long array of mourners on foot, 
told an earnest tale of national loss ; for there was mingled the 
Chief Magistrate of the Union, with the principal officers of 
the nation — its senators, its representatives, and its citizens — 
all intent to evince sincere respect to the memory, and sorrow 
for the loss, of one suddenly withdrawn from the councils of his 
country, where his purity of purpose and patriotism were ever 
respected, even by political opponents. 

"It had been the request of Governor Fairfield's most 
heavily-afflicted family that his remains should be sent on, to 
be entombed in the family vault at hom_e. This desire was sig- 
nified, by telegraph from Maine, to the committee appointed to 
celebrate his obsequies here. Hence, as announced by this 
paper, the funeral procession moved, at half-past four o dock, 
P.M., from the late lodgings of the deceased, through Pennsyl- 
vania avenue, clad in snow, to the railroad depot, where the cof- 
fin was placed in charge of the Hon. Franklin Clark, member 
from Maine, to return his remains to his native State which had 
so often and so long honored him while living, and will mourn 
him dead. 


"We know not when we have been more impressed with 
the solemn effect of a funeral procession. It was not alone that 
we knew the worth of the deceased — that we remembered the 
enthusiasm which pervaded the whole nation at Governor Fair- 
field's firm and patriotic stand when England was thought to 
have invaded the soil of Maine — that we vividly recollected the 
moment of patriotic excitement in the House of Representatives 
which gave Mr. Van Buren, the President, fifty thousand men 
and ten millions of dollars to second the call of this same Gov- 
ernor Fairfield, should British troops tread the soil of the State 
of Maine, of which he was then chief magistrate; but that we 
felt, as all felt, how just, how sincere was that tribute which 
commingled the wise and the good of all parties — the exalted in 
station and the humblest in station — in this most impressive 
republican demonstration of respect to worth and patriotism." 


The Northeastern Boundary Dispute 
by john francis sprague 

A serious disagreement existed between the United States 
and Great Britain from the treaty of peace (1783) to the Web- 
ster-Ashburton treaty (1842), respecting the boundary hne be- 
tween what is now. and what was in 1841, the State of Maine 
and Canada, and known in history as the Northeast Frontier. 

The beginning of this story of a serious international dis- 
agreement and diplomatic struggle for a half century 
crowded with exciting events and at times shadowed by clouds 
of war, starts when, on the 10th of September, 1621, James I. 
granted to Sir William Alexander a certain territory under the 
name of Nova Scotia, afterwards known in North American 
history as Acadia. 

The "eastern boundary" of the United States, as described 
in the peace treaty of 1783, differed in vital respects from the 
western boundary of this grant, as set forth therein. 

Sir Ferdinando Gorges received his grant of territory from 
Charles I., by the name of "Province or Country of Mayne," 
April 3, 1639, which was purchased in the year 1674 by the col- 
ony of Massachusetts. 

By the twelfth article of the Treaty of Utrecht, in 1713, 
"the Most Christian King of France" ceded to the Queen of 
England in perpetuity, Acadia or Nova Scotia entire, "according 
to its ancient boundaries." 

But what its ancient boundaries were, was for nearly fifty 
years after that a matter of dispute between England and 
France, and more especially betv/een the pioneers and settlers 
of New France and the Massachusetts Colony and the inhab- 
itants of the Province of Maine, who had settled east of the 
Kennebec river. 

The Governor of New France contended that the ancient 
bounds of Acadia extended as far west as the Kennebec river 
under the grant of Charles I. to Gorges, and had never been 
changed by any act of England. 


Attempts at a settlement were made between the two gov- 
ernments at various times, but the results were futile. 

When Wolie conqiiere;' Quebec m 1759, all of Canada 
passed to the domain of the English by conquest and the minor 
question of boundary lines was lost sight of and remained 
obscure for thirty or more years thereafter. 

Incidental to this long contention as to what was the west- 
erly line of Acadia, was the destruction of the Jesuit mission at 
Norridgewock and the killing of its missionary, Father Sebas- 
tian Rale, in 1724, by the Massachusetts colonists. 

The Northeastern Boundary Situation 

At the opening of the 19th century or a few years there- 
after, when complex boundary questions were arising, mark- 
ing the beginning of what is known in the history of Maine and 
of the country as the "Northeastern Boundary Controversy," 
this entire subject was in a chaotic state. 

The second article of the peace treaty of 1783 contains 
these words : 

"And that all disputes which might arise in future, on 
the subject of the boundaries of the said United States 
may be prevented, it is hereby agreed and declared, that 
the following are and shall be their boundaries, viz: From 
the northwest angle of Nova Scotia, viz., that angle which 
is formed by a line drawn due north from the source of St. 
Croix River to the Highlands ; along the said Highlands 
which divide those rivers and empty themselves into the 
Atlantic Ocean, to the northwesternmost head of Connecti- 
cut River. * * *" 

From the first a misunderstanding regarding the correct 
interpretation of the second article of this treaty appears to 
have existed between the inhabitants of that part of Nova Sco- 
tia which is now the Province of New Brunswick, and the peonle 
of what is now the State of Maine. At the close of the War 
of 1812, the Treaty of Ghent (1814) recognized this contention, 
which was acute between the two peoples for more than half 
a century. 

The fifth article of this treaty was as follows : 

Article V. — Whereas neither that point of the High- 
lands lying due north from the source of the river St. Croix, 
and designated in the former treaty of peace between the 
two powers as the northwest angle of Nova Scotia, nor the 
northwesternmost head of Connecticut River, has yet been 


ascertained; and whereas that part of the boundary line 
between the dominions of the two powers which extends 
from the source of the River St. Croix directly north to the 
aoove mentioned northwest angle of Nova IScotia, thence 
down along the middle of that river to the forty-fifth de- 
gree of north latitude; thence by a line due west on said 
latitude until it strikes the river Iroquois or Cataraquy, 
has not yet been surveyed: It is agreed that for these sev- 
eral purposes two commissioners shall be appointed, sworn 
and authorized to act exactly in the manner directed with 
respect to those mentioned in the next preceding article, 
unless otherwise specified in the present article. The said 
commissioners shall meet at St. Andrews, in the Province 
of New Brunswick, and shall have power to adjourn to 
such other place or places as they shall think fit. The said 
commissioners shall have power to ascertain and determine 
the points above mentioned, in conformity with the pro- 
visions of the said treaty of peace of one thousand seven 
hundred and eighty-three, and shall cause the boundary 
aforesaid, from the source of the River St. Croix to the 
River Iroquois or Cataraquy, to be surveyed and marked 
according to the said provisions. The said commissioners 
shall make a map of the said boundary, and annex to it a 
declaration under their hands and seals, certifying it to be 
the true map of the said boundary, and particularizing the 
latitude and longitude of the northwest angle of Nova Sco- 
tia, of the northwesternmost head of Connecticut River, 
and of such other points of the said boundary as they may 
deem proper. And both parties agree to consider such 
map and declaration as finally and conclusively fixing the 
said boundary. And in the event of the said two commis- 
sioners differing, or both or either of them refusing, de- 
clining or wilfully omitting to act, such reports, declara- 
tions or statements shall be made by them, or either of 
EIGN OR STATE shall be made in all respects as in the 
latter part of the fourth article is contained, and in as full 
a manner as if the same was herein repeated. 

The two governments appointed commissioners conform- 
ably with this provision. 

This commission, after sitting for five years, could not even 
agree on a plan for a general map of the country exhibiting the 
boundaries respectively claimed by each party ; much less could 


they settle any of the matters referred to them. They accord- 
ingly dissolved and made separate reports to both governments, 
stating the points on which they differed and the grounds of 
their difference. 

Soon after the close of the War of 1812^ settlements, not 
only in the northeastern parts of the District* of Maine, but in 
Nova Scotia and Quebec as well, began to increase; business 
was expanding and land under both flags was becoming more 
valuable. All of these things tended to re-awaken the interest 
in the question of boundary lines between the two dominions. 

Maine became a state in 1820, and by the Articles of Separa- 
tion the Commonwealth of Massachusetts reserved to herself 
one-half of the unincorporated lands within the Province of 
Maine. Hence, not only the inhabitants of eastern Maine, but 
both State governments were intensely interested in having the 
matter decided. 

Finally, the statesmen of both the United States and Great 
Britain concluded that a condition had arisen which made it nec- 
essary to refer the points of difference to a friendly sovereign 
under the terms of the Treaty of Ghent ; and on the 29th day of 
September, 1827, a convention to that effect was concluded. 

The King of the Netherlands was selected as arbiter, and 
when he heard the case of the high contracting parties, changes 
of magnitude had taken place both in the American and English 
possessions since the treaty of 1783. The District of Maine was 
independent of the mother Commonwealth of Massachusetts 
and had entered upon her career as a sovereign state of the 
Union. Nova Scotia had been divided and a new province 
erected called New Brunswick, within the borders of which was 
the territory about which the contention had arisen, and Quebec 
had been made into two provinces, then known as Upper Canada 
and T ower Canada. 

He was to construe the provisions of the treaty of 1713. 
The potential points which he was to decide and which were 
for more than 20 years, subsequent to 1820, ever accentuating 
in vehemence and bitterness were: 

1. What was the "north-west angle of Nova Scotia"? 

2. The "Source" of the St. Croix River? 

3. What were the "Highlands " which "divide those riv- 
ers that empty themselves into the River St. Lawrence from 
those which fall into the Atlantic Ocean"? 

4. What was the "Northwesternmost head of the Con- 
necticut River." 


The "Highlands" Causes Confusion. 

It was undoubtably unfortunate for all parties to this im- 
broglio, that, in designating the northerly boundary between 
the territory of Massachusetts (Province of Maine) and Nova 
Scotia, in the treaty of 1783, the term "Highlands" should have 
been used. It should be observed that this word was not used 
in these treaties except in the sense of dividing rivers, and that 
in the early grants the intention of making the St. Lawrence 
River the northerly boundary of Maine seemed to be apparent. 

This was the position taken by the American commission- 
ers before the King of the Netherlands, and it was furthermore 
contended by them that taking the whole article together, the 
word "Highlands" as therein expressed, referred to an unex- 
plored country and was applicable to any ground, whatever 
might be its nature or elevation, along which the line dividing 
the rivers was necessarily more elevated than those rivers and 
their banks, was sufficient to entitle it to the designation of 
"Highlands" in relation to those rivers. 

The British theory from first to last was that "Highlands" 
represented a mountainous or hilly country or district. They 
would not admit its American significance as a continuous hne 
dividing rivers, regardless of whether such line was mountain- 
ous or not. 

The north line would terminate at Mars Hill as the British 
construed the treaty, while under the American construction it 
would run as far north as the sources of the Restigouche river, 
which empties into the Bay des Chaleurs. The St. John River 
was midway between the two lines, or in about the central part 
of the disputed territory. 

Had the British claim prevailed all of what is now Aroos- 
took County, north of Mars Hill, and the most of what is now 
Piscataquis County, northerly of the Penobscot waters, would 
be a part of Canada ; and if the Americans had finally been sus- 
tained in all for which they contended, the rich St. John river 
valley and a large stretch of territory northerly, easterly and 
northwesterly would now be a part of the State of Maine. 

Finally, on the 10th day of January, 1831, the decision of 
the King of the Netherlands was made public, and it was a sur- 
prise to both governments and to all parties of interest. When 
his award was analyzed, it was found that he had sustained in 
words the American contention that the term "Highlands" was 
applicable to ground which, without being mountainous or hilly, 


divided rivers flowing in the opposite directions ; but that it v/as 
not shown that the boundaries described in the treaty of 1783 
coincided with the ancient hmits of British provinces; and that 
neither the line or "Highlands" claimed by Great Britain so 
nearly answered the requirements of the treaty of 1783 in re- 
spect to division of rivers as to give preference one over the 

Abandoning therefore the attempt to determine this part 
of the boundary according to the treaty of 1783, he recommend- 
ed what was termed a line of "convenience" or, in other words 
he made an arbitrary line, not found in Mitchell's map, or in 
any of the maps used by the negotiators of the treaty of 1783, 
of the treaty of Ghent, or by either party before him. It was 
evidently intended by him as a compromise, pure and simple. 
This award was such a strange proceeding that the reason 
for it immediately interested American statesmen and Maine 
public men. They had a feeling that the arbiter was deter- 
mined not to decide against the contention of Maine. The more 
it was discussed and analyzed the stronger this sentiment 

The conclusion at which they finally arrived is interesting. 
An expression of this sentiment is found in resolutions reported 
by a joint committee of the Legislature of Maine of 1831, of 
which John G. Dean was its chairman. They stated that the 
King of the Netherlands, when selected by the United States 
and Great Britain to arbitrate their dispute, was then an inde- 
pendent sovereign, exercising dominion over more than 6,000,- 
000 subjects, but that political events since that time had over- 
thrown his power to a great extent and made him a dependent 
upon Great Britain. 

These resoiutlop.s clo^e as follows : 

And Whereas, the King of the Netherlands had not 
declared before his Kingdom was dismembered and he con- 
sented to the division, and his public character had 
changed, so that he had ceased to be that public character, 
and occupying that independent station among the sov- 
ereigns of Europe contemplated by the convention of Sep- 
tember, 1827, and which led to his selection. 

Therefore, Resolved, In the opinion of this Legislature, 
That the decision of the King of the Netherlands, cannot 
and ought not to be considered obligatory upon the govern- 
ment of the United States^ either on the principles of right 
and justice, or of honor. 


Resolved, Further, for the reasons before stated. That 
no decision made by any umpire under any circumstances, 
if the decision dismembers a state, has or can have, any 
constitutional force or obligation upon the State thus dis- 
membered unless the State adopts and sanctions the 
The final result of this award by the King of the Nether- 
lands, was its rejection by the United States Senate. 

Conditions as Fairfield Found Them 

From this time on, until 1839, conditions became more and 
more inflamed on both sides of the border. Inhabitants of New 
Brunswick and subjects of Great Britain who were residents 
of New Brunswick, commenced trespassing upon timberlands 
within the disputed domain ; altho the contentions between the 
people on both sides had been constantly increasing in bitter- 
ness and turbulence ever since the first decade of Maine's state- 

At this time a portion of the public lands of Maine were 
owned jointly by the State of Maine and the Commonwealth 
of Massachusetts. When John Quincy Adams was President 
(1825-29) Governor Enoch Lincoln made strenuous efforts to 
interest the government at Washington and awaken it to the 
dangers which the people of Maine believed threatened the fu- 
ture welfare of their State. His attempt at this was not suc- 
cessful and the tactics of the American government then and 
until the difficulties finally culminated in preparation for war, 
were dilatory under all of the federal administrations. 

President Jackson (1829-37) did not during his adminis- 
tration, act with his usual vigor and aggressiveness in any at- 
tempts to settle this question with England and preserve our 
rights and honor of a sovereign State against the overt acts of 
a foreign power. He disappointed his political friends and 
lent encouragement to his enemies in both Maine and Massa- 

President Van Buren took his seat in 1837, and, altho the 
situation was more serious than at any time during Jackson's 
administration, he was as inclined to procrastinate if not to vac- 
illate about this subject of such vast importance, as was his 

There was never any disagreement between the political 
parties in Maine as to the rights of Maine to this disputed ter- 


ritory or to the justice of her cause. And yet, hke public agi- 
tations of our own day — prohibition, waterpower, taxation, 
woman suffrage, etc., — this subject at times became a sort of 
football between the Democrats and the Whigs; whichever 
chanced to be the minority party, devoted a part of the time in 
charging the party in power with indifference or mismanage- 
ment and that thereby the cause of Maine in this diplomatic 
battle of magnitude between England and the United States 
was suffering. 

The legislatures, governors and pubhc officials of Maine 
were continually urging the Washington government to take 
decisive action in opposition to the multiplying endeavors of the 
Canadians to extend their jurisdiction over the disputed region, 
without avail. These efforts on the part of British subjects 
were of grave and serious import, all of them oppressive, aggra- 
vating and harrassing to the inhabitants along the Maine bor- 
der, and yet, some so absurd as to be humorous. 

One George Morehouse resided in Tobique, in a newly or- 
ganized parish known as Kent. He had a magistrate's com- 
mission from the Province of New Brunswick, and the first of 
the Madawaska troubles originated from a process which he had 
issued as magistrate against an inhabitant of the Madawaska 
settlement which was a part of the controverted section. 

Criminal processes were also frequently issued against 
these inhabitants by Morehouse. 

New Brunswick oppressed the settlers by levying and 
assessing upon them an alien tax. They were treated as out- 
laws, intruders and trespassers; their property seized and con- 
fiscated by the government. 

John Baker Arrested 

The hero among the American settlers was John Baker, 
whose home was on a farm which had been conveyed to him 
by a joint deed from the Land Agents of Maine and Massachu- 
setts. He was arrested, tried and imprisoned for about a year 
for sedition and conspiracy, based upon facts which today 
would appear grotesque as grounds for treason. 

When these settlers had endured the methods and prac- 
tices of Morehouse and others as long as they felt it was pos- 
sible, instead of organizing an armed revolt, which might have 
been natural under the circumstances, they conceived the idea 
of a general agreement to avoid all resort to courts or legal pro- 
ceedings whatsoever. 


The plan was simple and yet unique and perhaps in a de- 
gree communistic. 

A paper was accordingly drawn up and signed by the Amer- 
ican inhabitants generally, constituting a sort of compact, by 
which they mutually agreed to adjust all disputes of whatever 
nature which might arise among themselves, by virtue of ref- 
erees, without admission of British authority, and that they 
would support each other in abiding by this determination. 

This was to be a provisional agreement, to continue in force 
for only one year; and, in the meantime, application was to be 
made to the government, in order to obtain, if possible, the 
benefit of some regular authority. 

Thus these isolated and primitive people in that desolate 
and remote region, buffeted by the persecutions of one govern- 
ment, and forsaken and abandoned to their own resources by 
another government, more than half a century after the treaty 
of 1783, proposed to free themselves from the tyranny of all 
magistrates, courts, lawyers and officers. 

The redoubtable Morehouse appeared upon the scene as 
soon as he learned of the existence of this written agreement 
and demanded it of them, but it was in their estimation too 
sacred a document to part with, and they refused to deliver it 
up as did the people of Connecticut refuse to surrender their 
ancient charter to James II in 1637. 

At the Hilary term of the Supreme Court in 1828, the 
grand jury for the County of York in the Province of New 
Brunswick found a true bill of indictment against John Baker, 
James Bacon and Charles Studson for sedition and conspiracy. 

The defendants. Bacon and Studson, were never taken into 
custody, but John Baker was arrested and arraigned Thursday, 
May 8, 1828, before the Honorable Chief Justice Saunders, Mr. 
Justice Bliss and Mr. Justice Chipman. 

The indictment alleged that the defendants "being persons 
greatly disaffected to our said lord the now King, and his Gov- 
ernment, within this his Majesty's Province of New Brunswick, 
and being factiously and seditiously disposed, on the fourth day 
of July in the eighth year of the reign of our sovereign Lord 
George the Fourth, with force and arms, at the Parish afore- 
said, in the county aforesaid, did amongst themselves, conspire, 
combine, confederate and agree together, falsely, maliciously, 
factiously and seditiously, and to bring hatred and contempt 
on our said lord the King," etc., etc. 


The first overt act complained of in this indictment was that 
on the said fourth day of July at the place above named, the 
defendants "in pursuance of, and according to said conspiracy," 
'■' * '■' did "cause to be raised and erected, a certain flag- 
staff, and did place thereon a certain flag, as the Standard of the 
United States of America." 

The second overt act relates to the provisional paper which 
the inhabitants had signed as above referred to and alleged 
that the defendants had "applied to divers liege subjects of our 
said lord the King, and then and there presented to the same 
subjects a paper writing, which the said John Baker, 
Bacon and Charles Studson, then and there requested the said 
subjects to sign, then and there declaring that, by the said pa- 
per, they the said subjects would bind themselves to oppose the 
execution of the laws of Great Britain, to wit, in the Mada- 
waska settlement, so called." 

The third overt act states that the defendants "did oppose 
and obstruct the post man" in carrying the mail through Mada- 
waska settlement, etc. 

Arrest of Ebenezer Greeley 

In June, 1837, Ebenezer Greeley of Dover, Maine, was em- 
ployed by the State of Maine as an agent to take the census of 
the people of Madawaska, and at the same time, to distribute 
their share of the surplus money which had accumulated in 
the United States Treasury as had been ordered by President 

A provincial constable arrested Mr. Greeley and carried 
him as a prisoner to Fredericton, N. B. 

But while the Fredericton officials had for some time un- 
hesitatingly imprisoned humble and uninfluential citizens of 
Maine when brought to them in custody, they were alarmed at 
this bold procedure. The sheriff there feared to detain in gaol 
an agent or officer of the State of Maine while in the discharge 
of his duties, and refused to receive the prisoner. After being 
liberated, Mr. Greeley returned to the Aroostook and resumed 
his labors as census-taker and distributor of the federal sur- 
plus funds. 

A short time after this, however. Governor Harvey of New 
Brunswick, hearing that Mr. Greeley was distributing money 
to the people, assumed, without making any attempt to obtain 
evidence of the facts, that it was done as a bribe to induce the 
inhabitants to continue their allegiance to the United States. 


He, therefore, ordered Mr. Greeley to be re-arrested, and 
he was lodged in Fredericton jail and afterwards released with- 
out trial. 

Upon this disputed territory or "no man's land," were 
tracts richly covered with pine timber. Ever since Maine had 
become a state the Canadians had engaged more or less in cut- 
ting and removing this timber. As the years passed these 
operations increased until the people of Maine saw the possi- 
bility of an almost complete devastation of this immense 

It was this more than the minor depredations and oppres- 
sions, some of which we have hastily considered, that finally 
produced the climax in 1839. 

When Fairfield Became Governor 

This was the condition which confronted John Fairfield 
when he was inaugurated Governor of Maine in that year. 

During this period Maine had been ably represented in 
both houses of Congress. In the Senate had been such men as 
Ether Shepley, Peleg Sprague, John Holmes and Reuel Will- 
iams. In the lower house had been George Evans, F. O. J. 
Smith, Edward Kavanagh, Gorham Parks, Leonard Jarvis and 
Virgil D. Parris. The Maine delegation, heartily supported by 
the Massachusetts delegation, had been incessant in their effort 
to force the administration to action. Of their vigilance and 
faithfulness in this respect, their endeavors to constantly keep 
this issue a prominent one before the country, there can be no 

And yet eloquent speeches in Congress, convincing pas- 
sages in Governor's messages and exciting reports and resolves 
of legislative committees, however much they might have 
aroused public sentiment in Maine, failed of having any salu- 
tary effect upon their neighbors across the border, sustained as 
they were by the powerful arm of Great Britain, so long as the 
policy of the national government was a passive one. Rather 
did their magistrates become more defiant in claiming jurisdic- 
tional rights over the disputed territory, by issuing civil and 
criminal processes against the settlers along the Aroostook, 
Madawaska and Upper St. John rivers, and their officers more 
arrogant, bold and domineering, and trespassing on these lands 
was increasing. 

Conditions were equally as grave when Edward 
Kent was the Whig Governor. He was one of Maine's 


ablest men of that day, later serving as Associate Justice of the 
Supreme Court, but the procrastinating tactics and slow devices 
of the government at Washington prevented him or the Legis- 
lature from making any aggressive move. 

In 1838 reports of rapidly increasing encroachments of New 
Brunswick inhabitants upon the timberlands of Maine, were so 
frequent and alarming that on December 14 of that year the 
land agents of Maine and Massachusetts appointed George W. 
Buckmore, their agent, to visit and explore these lands and make 
report to the next Legislature. Based upon this report and 
other information received, Governor Fairfield, Jan. 23, 1839, 
submitted to the Legislature a message in which he asserted 

"By this report it appears that a large number of 
men, many of them, I am informed, from the British 
provinces, are trespassing very extensively upon the 
lands belonging to this State; that they not only refuse 
to desist, but defy the power of this government to 
prevent their cutting timber to any extent they please. 
"Upon the Grand River, it is estimated that there 
are from forty to fifty men at work. On the Green 
River from twenty to thirty. 

"On the Fish River, from fifty to seventy-five men 
with sixteen yoke of oxen and ten pairs of horses, and 
more daily expected to go in. On township H ten m_en, 
six oxen and one pair of horses. On the Little Mada- 
waska seventy-five men, with twenty yoke of oxen and 
ten horses. At the Aroostook Falls fifteen men, with 
six yoke of oxen. 

"The quantity of timber which these trespassers 
will cut the present winter is estimated in value by the 
land agent, at one hundred thousand dollars." 
And the government very pertinently remarked that it was 
not merely the property that was at stake, but "the character 
of the State is clearly involved." He recommended to the Leg- 
islature that the land agent be instructed forthwith to proceed 
to the place of operation on the Aroostook and Fish Rivers with 
a sufficient number of men suitably equipped, to "seize the 
teams and provisions, break up the camps, and disperse those 
who are engaged in this work of devastation and pillage." 


Mclntire Taken Prisoner 

January 24, 1839, the Legislature passed a resolve instruct- 
ing and empowering the land agent to carry out the recom- 
mendations of the Governor, and appropriated ten thousand 
dollars for the purpose. Pursuant to this resolve, Governor 
Faiiiield ordered the land agent to go to the Aroostook and 
Madawaska country for the purpose of carrying out iits provis- 
ions. Eufus Mclntire was land agent and he employed Major 
Hastings Strickland of Bangor, sheriff of Penobscot County, to 
accompany and assist him in the work. They took with them 
a large civil posse. They proceeded to the mouth of the Little 
Madawaska River, where they encamped. During the night of 
February 12, the house or camp, where they slept, was sur- 
rounded by armed men from New Brunswick, who captured 
Land Agent Mclntire, Gustavus G. Cushman, and Thomas B. 
Bartlett of Bangor, who were forthwith marched to Fredericton 
and lodged in jail. On February 13, 1839, Sir John Harvey, 
Lieutenant Governor of New Brunswick, issued a proclamation 
which the people of Maine regarded as a declaration of war. 

On March 1, news was received in Bangor that a regiment 
of eight hundred Fusilliers had arrived in the city of St. John 
from Cork, Ireland, and would march at once to the disputed 

Five hundred British regulars had already arrived at Mad- 
awaska from the city of Quebec and eight pieces of cannon had 
been transported up the St. John river from Fredericton. Im- 
mediately after the land agent was taken prisoner, Mr. Strick- 
land went from Madawaska to Augusta as rapidly as relays of 
swift horses would carry him for the purpose of prevailing upon 
the State Government at Augusta to mobilize troops upon the 
border without further delay. The National Government was 
also at last awake to the seriousness of the situation. 

Congress passed a bill authorizing the President of the 
United States to raise fifty thousand troops for the support of 
Maine and appropriated ten million dollars to meet the expenses 
if war became unavoidable. 

At about the same time the Legislature of Maine made an 
appropriation of eight hundred thousand dollars to be used by 
the State for the protection of the public lands. A draft was 
ordered for ten thousand three hundred and forty-three men 
from the militia to be ready for immediate action. Besides 


these, many volunteers from the eastern part of the state, Pen- 
obscot, Piscataquis and Somerset Counties, were also arriving 
at Augusta for service. 

Winfield Scott Ordered to Maine 

The President ordered General Winfield Scott to proceed to 
Maine to take charge of the situation. In taking leave of the 
President, General Scott said: "Mr. President, if you want 
war, I need only look on in silence. The Maine people will 
make it for you fast and hot enough. I know them ; but if 
peace be your wish, I can give no assurance of success. The 
difficulties in the way will be formidable." 

"Peace with honor," was the President's reply, that being 
also General Scott's own wish, as he has recorded. 

He started on his mission with the President's "hearty 
good will." He was accompanied by Captain Robert Anderson, 
22 years later to be the hero of Fort Sumter, and Lieutenant E. 
D. Keyes, later Major General Keyes. a distinguished officer in 
the Civil war. 

General Scott arrived at Augusta, March 5, 1839, and im- 
mediately opened headquarters. He first conferred with Gov- 
ernor Fairfield, his council and leaders and prominent members 
of the Legislature. At these conferences Gov. Fairfield, upon 
one occasion, said : "The people of this State surely are not de- 
sirous of hurrying the two nations into a war. Such an event 
is anxiously to be avoided if it can be, without dishonor; we 
owe too much to the Union, to ourselves and above all to the 
spirit and principles of Christianity to bring about a conflict of 
arms with a nation having with us a common origin, speaking 
a common language and bound to us by so many ties of common 
interest, without the most inexorable necessity. 

"Under these circumstances I would recommend that when 
we are fully satisfied either by the declarations of the Lieu- 
tenant Governor of New Brunswick or otherwise, that he has 
abandoned all idea of occupying the disputed territory with a 
military force, and of attempting an expulsion of our party, 
then, the Governor be authorized to withdraw our military' 
force, leaving the land agent with a sufficient posse, armed or 
unarmed, as the case may require, sufficient to carry into effect 
your original design, that of driving out or arresting the tres- 
passers, and preserving and protecting the timber from depre- 
dations. From such an act of jurisdiction — an attempt so 
right and proper in itself, and so imperatively called for by the 


circumstances of the case, we should not be driven by any 
power on earth. We ought not, however, wantonly to do more 
than is necessary. We want no military force against us." 

Fairfield Wanted "Peace Without Dishonor" 

This was the spirit — peace without dishonor — the shib- 
boleth of Maine ever after until the Webster-Ashburton treaty 
was made and finally ratified by the two governments. It was 
undoubtedly providential that during this period the two great 
leaders of the two political parties controlled the destinies of 

John Fairfield, the leader of the Democratic party, was 
Governor in 1840, and Edward Kent, the great leader of the 
Whigs, was Governor in 1841. 

Maine was never entirely satisfied with this treaty ; neither 
was England or the Canadians. It is however evident that the 
latter criticised and blamed Lord Ashburton to a far greater 
degree than did the Americans and the people of Maine blame 
Mr. Webster. 

My investigation of this matter for several years past has 
convinced me that no one can carefully and impartially consider 
the facts regarding Governor Fairfield's management of State 
affairs at this time, without being convinced that we owe much 
to his thoughtfulness, wise forethought, broad vision and real 
statesmanship. It was at a moment when a single misstep 
might have produced disastrous results. 


For purposes of general reference we include tlie list of Members of 
Cortgress, in the years when Mr. Fairfield was a member, excluding extra 
sessions and these in which there was a continuing membership without 
intervening elections. 

Commencement of Twenty-Fourth Congress — 1835. 

The following was the list of members: 

MAINE — Ether Shepley, John Ruggles. 
NEW HAMPSHIRE— Isaac Hill, Henry Hubbard. 
MASSACHUSETTS— Daniel Webster, John Davis. 
RHODE ISLAND— Nehemiah R. Knight, Asher Robbins. 
CONNECTICUT— Gideon Tomlinson, Nathan Smith. 
VERMONT— Samuel Prentiss, Benjamin Swift. 
NEW YORK— Nathaniel P. Tallmadge, Silas Wright, Jr. 
NEW JERSEY— Samuel L. Southard, Garret D. Wall. 
PENNSYLVANIA— James Buchanan, Samuel McKean. 
DELAWARE— John M. Clayton, Arnold Naudain. 
MARYLAND— Robei't H. Goldsborough, Jcs. Kent. 
VIRGINIA— Benjamin Watkins Leigh, John Tyler. 
NORTH CAROLINA— Bedford Brown, Willie P. Mangum. 
SOUTH CAROLINA— John C. Calhoun, William C. Preston. 
GEORGIA— Alfred Cuthbert, John P. King. 
KENTUCKY— Henrry Clay, John J. Crittenden. 
TENNESSEE— Felix Grundy, Hugh L. White. 
OHIO — Thomas Ewing, Thomas Morris. 
LOUISIANA— Alexander Poi-ter, Robert C. Nicholas. 
INDIANA— Wm. Hendricks, John Tipton. 
MISSISSIPPI— John Black, Robert J. Walker. 
ILLINOIS— Elias K. Lane, John M. Robinson. 
ALABAMA— Wm. R. King, Gabriel P. Moore. 
MISSOURI— Lewis F. Linn, Thomas H. Benton. 


MAINE — Jeremiah Bailey, George Evans, John Fairfield, Joseph Hall, 

Leonard Jarvis, Moses Mason, Gorham Parks, Francis 0. J. Smith — 8. 
NEW HAMPSHIRE— Benning M. Bean, Robert Burns, Samuel Cushman, 

Franklin Pierce, Jos. Weeks — 5. 
MASSACHUSETTS— John Quincy Adams, Nathaniel B. Borden, George 

N. Briggs, William B. Calhoun, Caleb Gushing, George Grennell, Jr., 

Samuel Hoar, William Jackson, Abbot Lawrence, Levi Lincoln, 

Stephen C. Phillips, John Reed— 12. 
RHODE ISLAND— Dutee J. Pearce, W. Sprague— 2. 
CONNECTICUT— Elisha Haley, Samuel Ingham, Andrew T. Judson, 

Lanceli^t Phelps, Isaac Toucey, Zalmon Wildman — B. 
VERMONT— Heman Allen, Horace Everett, Hiland Hall, Henry F. Janes, 

William Slade— 5. 


NEW YORK — Samuel Biarton, Saml. Beardsley, Abraham Bockee, Mat- 
thias J. Biovee, John W. Brown, C. C. Cambreleng, Graham H. Chapin, 
Timothy Childs, John Cramer, Ulysses F. Doubleday, Valentine Efner, 
Dudley Parlin, Philo C. Fuller, William K. Fuller, Ransom H. Gillet, 
Francis Granger, Gideon Hard, Abner Hazeltine, Hiram P. Hunt, 
Abel Huntington, Gerrit Y. Lansing, George W. Lay, Gideon Lee, 
Jioishua Lee, Stephen B. Leonard, Thomas C. Love, Abijaih Mann, Jr., 
William Mason, Jo'hn McKeen, Ely Moore, Sherman Page, Joseph 
Reynolds, Davis Russell, William Seymour, Nicholas Sickles, William 
Taylor, Joel Turrill, Aaron Vanderpool, Aaron Ward, Daniel 
Wardwell— 40. 

NEW JERSEY — Philimon Dickerson, Samuel Fowler, Thomas Lee, James 
Parker, Ferdinand S. Schenck, William N. Shinn — 6, 

PENNSYLVANIA— Joseph B. Anthony, Michael W. Ash, John Banks, 
Andrew Beaumont, Andrew Buchanan, George Chambers, William P. 
Clark, Edward Darlington, Harmar Denny, Jacob Fry, Jr., John Gal- 
braith, James Harper, Samuel S. Harrison, Joseph Henderson, William 
Hiester, Edward B. Hubley, Joseph R. Ingersoll, John Kingensmith, 
Jr., Joihn Laporte, Henry Logan, Job Mann, Thomas M. T. McKen^ 
nan, Jesse Miller, Matthias Morris, Henry A. Muhlenberg,