AN EXTREMELY LONG, EARLY, AND DETAILED LETTER ON THE “UNCEASING DRUDGERY” OF CONGRESSIONAL LIFE, POLITICAL ELECTIONS, CANADIAN REBELLIONS, AND IMMEDIATE FAMILY MATTERS
FILLMORE, MILLARD. (1800-74). Thirteenth President of the United States (1850-3). Exceptional Autograph Letter Signed, “Millard Fillmore”. Three very full pages, quarto. Washington, D.C., March 16, 1838. Addressed on integral address leaf to “George W. Jonson, Esq., care of A. & W. Galignani & Co., rue vive No 18, Paris, via N. York & Havre”, with Fillmore’s free-franking signature at upper right and choice postal cancellations [American and French], and his red-wax seal remnants. Folds strengthened archivally, else very fine condition. Fillmore writes:
My dear Sir, A long time since I received from you a very interesting, and welcome epistle. I intended then to have given it a prompt response. But day has stolen upon day and week upon week and month upon month without finding one hour of leisure. It is impossible that I should convey to you any idea of the unremitted labor—the unceasing drudgery—of the past 18 months. While at home, I have been literally overwhelmed with professional business. I then looked forward to my congressional labors with the confident expectation that I could at least steal some time from them for which I would atone by consecrating it to friendship. But in this I was again disappointed.
The official session commencing on the 4th of Sept. last, imposed upon me a task which my previous professional abstraction from the political world had illy [sic] qualified me to perform. I was therefore compelled to sacrifice every thing to the performance of this duty. During the short vacation I was wholly engrossed in politics and law. Our elections were held and our courts were sitting. And I had hardly arrived here at the commencement of the present session when the Canadian rebellion broke out and our border troubles commenced. And this threw upon me the labor of a correspondence that has absolutely absorbed every leisure moment. But still you may be assured I have often, very often, thought of you, and have felt pained that the force of circumstances altogether beyond my control, should compel me apparently to neglect a friend whom I highly respected and esteemed, and to forego the pleasure and advantage of a correspondence as one so interesting and instructive. And even now I am indebted to the calamity of others for these few moments of leisure. The death of Mr. Carter, a member from Maine, prevents our House from sitting. But I need not say more—my inability to write has been my misfortune, not yours. I alone am the sufferer. You on treading the classic ground of antiquity—where every step discloses new wonders to delight and protections [sic] of art to instruct. I would that I was qualified from education to be your companion. But alas in all my aspirations of bliss, I have never even hoped for this.
I suppose you are informed generally of what is passing in this country. And as I must be brief, permit me to be domestic. You may have heard that my brother Darius died on the 9th of March 1837, of a disease in the throat produced by a severe cold taken the fall before. None of us were aware of his danger until all medical skill proved unavailing. After you left the office, he was promoted to the chief clerkship and I was informed by Col. Blossom discharged the duties to his entire satisfaction. We thought this gave promise of industry and energy that would lead to distinction. But in a moment all our fond anticipations were blighted, but to no one was this painful bereavement more disturbing than to his sisters Julia and Maria—but I can not write upon it.
Mrs. Fillmore is now with me at Washington but expects soon to return. She has had the misfortune to lose her mother who died since we left home. This has dampened her spirits and increased her anxiety to return. Our children we left behind but they have been blessed with health. My sisters, Julia & Maria are at their brother in law’s in Lower Sandusky, Ohio. My father’s family are well.—Col. L.J. Woodruff died this winter of the smallpox. But I can not say more now. New York is Whig—party animosities [are] very strong.
Do with me and I will write again. Mrs. Fillmore unites with me in her best regards to you. When will you return? If before the adjournment of Congress will you not visit this city? I am truly your friend, Millard Fillmore.”
An exceptional letter from Fillmore’s pen, with content and length rarely encountered. Worthy of inclusion in the finest of Presidential collections.