• Daniel Webster Responds to Misdirected Mail in His Final Year -- Two Signatures

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    DANIEL WEBSTER (January 18, 1782 – October 24, 1852) served twice in the United States House of Representatives, representing New Hampshire (1813 – 1817), as a U.S. Senator from Massachusetts (1827 – 1841) and twice as Secretary of State, under Presidents William Henry Harrison, John Tyler and Millard Fillmore. Webster also sought the Whig Party’s nomination for President three times.  As with his colleague Henry Clay, Webster worked for compromises to stave off the sectionalism that threatened war between the North and South. His support of the Compromise of 1850, devised in part by Clay, proved crucial to its passage.


    2 pp, 7 ¾ x 9 ¾ ALS, Somerville [MA], Jan. 5, 1852, to J.M. Billings, very possibly a printer to the U.S. government, signed twice by Webster and written in the last year of his life.  He mentions York Road, which is located in Mansfield, MA, where he once resided, and a statue that had been placed on that road. He also mentions donation parties.  Webster would have been Secretary of State when he wrote this letter, serving under President Fillmore.


    “Yours of Dec. 6 enclosing Ten ($10) & a blank receipt for my signature was received after it had been sent to Somerville, NY & then re-mailed for this place. Some 2 weeks from its date, I answered it immediately with all the reasons for my lousy silence, receipt signed! Thanks. Love & good will & hearty good wishes as contents of said missive…If my last containing receipt is not in hand, I will, on advice from you forthwith forward another.  Had I failed to reply & promptly too (as would appear from the miscarriage of the mail I did not) – a censure is justified…demanded & you as its minister.  I doubt not on a 2nd offense as you suggested would have been swift in mailing in Large Capitals high above that tall Indian at the terminus of York Road (immediately after he had been taken down for reasons) to be made of all men & women & Irishmen the name of him who had so…offended decency, decorum, good breeding…to all good men & Daniel Webster would exclaim Amen & Amen.


    “Hall & Chaffee are in town & in good spirits. Mild weather ground…  snow & business dull are the prevailing characteristics of the times; chickens, turkeys, spare ribs, loaf cake & all the unmentionable dainties served up at donation parties together with spirited rapping are indications of the tone of…stomachs. Wife & babies are well & send love. I hope to hear from you soon. Truly yours in a cold room where I shake so that I can’t read it…Write me soon. Good By, Daniel Webster.


    Folds, even toning, some staining, but very readable and unusual to find a Daniel Webster letter with two signatures.


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