• Destitute Widow Pavy Seeks Employment From Abolitionist Cassius Clay After Husband's Demise On Franklin Expedition

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    MRS. OCTAVE PAVY, widow of the physician who died during the ill-fated Lady Franklin Bay Expedition, was a prolific journalist in the 19th century.  In this eight-page, 5 x 8 ALS, March 28 (no year), she writes to the notable MAJOR GENERAL CASSIUS M. CLAY with a request that he assist her in finding employment.   She includes a printed sampling of her work, asking Clay to return it with a reply.


    She writes, “I write to you after having read with sympathy of your loneliness and failing eyesight.


    “...I have a great desire to serve others whenever I can.


    “Besides this, for the past three years, I have had great misfortunes, losing my home and all I possessed.


    “I have been for the last eight years a home keeper and had a lovely and artistic home.  Previous to that, as a widow, I was a professional journalist, and translated a great deal both in the United States and Europe. Also in Canada, writing...for my living.


    “I enclose press notices which will indicate my work both in the world and in my home [notices present].  As a musician, I taught music before my first marriage and studied music in Paris, France...My training in English has been lifelong. My father was the owner of a college in which I was educated & graduated, of which he was President. I adopted literature as a scholar & teacher. I was fitted for it. You will see that I gave some lectures on Art, Music in the parlors of private houses.


    “I wrote for Appleton’s Publishing House on their series of six vols...I am...visiting kind friends while I seek business.  If you wish my constant service and attention as a reader or writer, compiler, or musician...I will engage with you to thus serve...Of course I need a home and also income and yet I should enjoy being of comfort as well as assistance.  My father was a clergyman and my first husband was Dr. Octave Pavy, who as a surgeon and naturalist of the Greely Arctic Expedition died in Greenland while acting as 1st Lieut of the U.S. Army. Besides references as named in the print I sent...I can furnish scores of others. Among them, the Sec’y of State...And Miss Clara Barton of Washington, DC.  I leave to you the naming of a salary for my services if I am wanted...Mrs. Octavia Pavy...”



    MAJ. GEN. CASSIUS M. CLAY (October 19, 1810 – July 22, 1903) was an American planter, military officer and abolitionist who served as the United States ambassador to Russia from 1863 to 1869. Clay is credited with influencing Russian support for the Union during the Civil War.


    DR. OCTAVE PIERRE PAVY served as the physician for the ill-fated Lady Franklin Bay Expedition of 1881-84, one of two expeditions supported by the United States during the First International Polar Year. He was one of 18 members of the expedition who died at the tragic camp at Cape Sabine while awaiting a relief party.


    Letter is in excellent condition with bold penmanship.  Print with Pavy’s press contributions is soiled and has fold repairs with archival tape. Wonderful example of Expedition Americana.


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