French. B. B.
Autograph Letter Signed, Washington City, December 19, 1835 (Capitol, Saturday noon) to his sister Mrs. Louise Richardson, Chester, New Hampshire

quarto, three pages of a four page bi-folium, formerly folded, postal markings and sealing wax on integral address leaf, some light and minor staining, short tear into foredge of second leaf, else in good legible condition.

      

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      Mr. French, apparently a journalist or newspaper man, writes discussing life in Washington and goes on to describe a contentious debate over slavery in the District of Columbia:

       "Well, My Dear Sister Louise, didn't you begin to imagine that "The valiant Major, at Uncle Sam's chief city," was determined to keep his almost promise not to write another letter to Chester this winter? ... You would like to know, I suppose, what I have been about - I will endeavour to tell you, though it shame me to do it. As soon as Congress came all my literary feeling, as usual, fled - my journal became a sealed book - my French Grammar began to grow dusty, & Bess stowed it away in the closet - my desire to interest my friends or be interested by them forsook me - and all my desires resolved themselves into good dinners - & politics. It is entirely useless for one who has ever dabbled in politics once, to give up, or get rid of, his political biases and feelings. There is not a single member of Congress feels more interest in the event of certain political movements than I do - and I cannot, for my life, divest myself of this interest - I do not know that I ought to attempt to do it, but I sometimes think I will. It is now impossible to follow any literary pursuit were I ever so inclined, for my duties call me to this place as soon as I have eaten breakfast, & I have, thus far, remained here until between 3 & 4 P.M. We are seldom without company at our room evenings & I have no time, except Sunday, to read. I write political letters to some of the newspapers, but do it at odd jobs, when I can seize a little time, which, perhaps, Uncle Sam is entitled to. Burying the dead & organizing the living has taken nearly all the time of the two Houses, thus far. Yesterday was consumed, in the House, upon a debate in relation to abolishing slavery in this District. A petition was presented by Mr. Jackson of Massachusetts & the question debated was whether it should be laid on the table or rejected. The merits of the main question were occasionally touched upon & there was much warmth of feeling exhibited, especially by Southern members. Mr. Wise of Va. said (substantially) "Sir, if such petitions are received by this house if the least favour is shown them, I will go home to my constituents I will no longer hold a seat here, but will go home to my constituents and we will prepare for the consequences!" Mr. Hammond of S. C. said, with great emphasis, "Gentlemen need not expect to get rid of a direct vote upon this question, - they shall meet it, Sir, I am determined that every member here shall record his vote for or against the rejection of these incendiary petitions - let no one "lay the flattering unction to his soul" that he shall escape the trial - for sooner or later it shall come & every member of this House must meet it." Mr. Pickens of S. C. blazed away like a Vesuvius in eruption, but he was so furious that his language cannot be reduced to any shape by me - I should as soon think of making any sense of the growling of a bear or roaring of Lion. The question before the House is "shall the petition be rejected?" and I should not be surprised if it should lead to a long & very angry debate. There is a perfect unity of feeling upon the subject, but the Southern Hotspurs are not contented with the North will rave & roar against any attempt to change the relation of Master & slave, as long and loud as they do. - ..."