French, B. B.
Autograph Letter Signed, Washington, December 29, 1833 to his wife Elizabeth, in New Hampshire

quarto, 4 pages, inscribed in in ink, very good, clean and legible condition.

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 French, a New Hampshire native, and engaged as a clerk in the House of Representatives writes his wife, back home in New Hampshire describing his life in Washington, his work, interactions with his friend Franklin Pierce, the future 14th President, and his lodgings, his fellow lodgers  and he comments upon the “between a dozen and fifteen” slaves who worked there as “servants”:

 

      “My own dear Elizabeth,

          … Since the removal of the Clerks and the appointment of the new ones, there is a great excitement among the opposition, at first they were ever so fierce about it and were bent upon having the whole matter of Franklin’s election reconsidered, and, if possible turning him out of office. Now, it is rumored, that tomorrow there will be an attempt in the House to restore the discarded Clerks by resolution, if such a project succeeds I shall, of course, lose my office my office very soon, but I hope, and trust, such will not be the case. I am determined not to fret myself, but take things calmly and coolly. Should I be removed I am ruined, there is no doubt about that. I must inevitably fail, but I won’t despair. I have many warm friends here besides the N. H. folks… last evening I spent at Mr. Woodbury’s. There was, what they call here “a sociable”, what we should call a large and elegant party. … Mrs. W is a most elegant woman, as you already know. After our return Pierce and I sat down and had a long talk about love &c. He is most devoted to Miss A. and his life, here, is that of a perfect Anchorite. He is in his room nearly all of his time when he is not at the Capitol, and is as perfectly abstemious as any man can possibly be. Were it not for his society I hardly know how I should live, he is as dear to me as a brother. Mr. Webber & Mr. Thornton, call upon me almost every day & appear to take a great interest in my welfare. … I am fully convinced that you would be delighted with Washington in a short time, if I retain this Clerkship there is not a doubt that we shall spend much of our remaining lives here, for I am determined to exert myself to become as efficient a Clerk as they will have… You, my own dear wife, are seldom, if ever, absent from my mind. Pierce thinks it quite astonishing that we should entertain so much love for each other after being married so long…

 

I believe I have not told you exactly how I am now situated here. I board at Mrs. S. A. Hill’s, on Pennsylvania Avenue, about half a mile from the Capitol. I occupy a neat little room in the 4th story, and have a servant to wait on me when ever I call. I should think there were between a dozen & fifteen servants about the house, all negro slaves, but apparently as happy a set of beings as ever you saw. The males and females are married, and there is one little “nigger baby” [sic] about the house, which I hear squalling once in a while. The servants are almost always singing and dress neatly. I sincerely believe they are far better off than though they were free. …”