• Rev. Guiteau, Relative Of Assassin, Writes To Missionary Of Virginia Slaves About Poor Blacks

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    One page, 7 ¾ x 12 ½, ALS, Montgomery, Orange County, NY, May 30, [1834], by REV. SHERIDAN P. GUITEAU (1801-1872), a Presbyterian minister. Guiteau, like the notorious assassin Charles Julius Guiteau, was a great-grandson of Francis Guiteau (1690-1760) of Connecticut. He writes to CORTLAND VAN RENSSELAER (1808-1860), son of Maj. Gen. Stephen Van Rensselaer, and one-time missionary to slaves in Virginia, about helping “poor blacks” and hoping a society will be formed to assist the blacks.

     

    In small part, “I have been longing to see you, particularly, since I read in the Observer an account of your labors the past winter & the results to which they were likely to lead in connection with the account of anniversaries in Petersburg, Va. Those facts opened to my mind a new field of thought. I think I see in these efforts the gem of immense good!...

     

    “I have not abandoned the cause of poor blacks. Circumstances have compelled me for a time to leave this field of labor. I hope to re-enter it hereafter. I was installed over the church in this village...on the 9th of April. And I am pleasantly settled over a united people...

     

    “I was in hopes to have seen you in NY at the Anniversaries, or at Phila at the meeting of the Genl Assembly. I hope to see a soc[iety] formed in B on my next visit there to act extensively upon the free blacks...”

     

    GUITEAU was ordained at Andover Theological Seminary. He was Maryland secretary and general agent of the American Tract Society, and publisher of religious texts. When he wrote this letter, he was pastor of a church in Montgomery. Months later, he moved to Baltimore and organized the Fourth Presbyterian Church. He was related to the notorious assassin Charles Julius Guiteau, who shot President James Garfield.

     

    CORTLANDT VAN RENSSELAER (1808-1860) was a New York politician and one-time its Lieutenant Governor. Cortlandt was a Presbyterian minister, graduating from Yale, Union Theological Seminary and Princeton Theological Seminary. He was a missionary to slaves in Virginia in the early 1830s, pastor of several Presbyterian churches, agent of Princeton Theological Seminary in 1844, secretary of the Presbyterian Board of Education from 1846 to 1860, and founder and editor of the Presbyterian Magazine and The Home, The School, and The Church.

     

    Letter has folds, a couple of ink smears and a beautiful integral address leaf with a Montgomery, NY, postmark and manuscript postage of 50 cents. Seal tear, affecting nothing. The final page includes three lines of Greek characters.

     

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