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Browne, Mrs. Sally
Autograph Letter Signed, Belfast, Northern Ireland, November 25, 1811 to Samuel Williams, Chillicothe, Ohio

quarto, 3 pages, plus stamp-less address leaf, some minor wear, postal markings, in very good, legible condition.

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Sally Browne sends her letter by a vessel going from Belfast to Wilmington:

“… I’m sorry I can say nothing respecting the State of this Country, that will be in the least satisfactory for it I say the people are quiet at present, God only knows how long it may be the case, for they are only waiting for some favorable opportunity to shake off their Chains. Since the year 98 the Spirit of ‘Rebellion’ has never been extinguished; nor can it be expected for the[y] are groaning under the weight of their Burthens among all the grievances under which we labour: Excess of population is the only one for which the policy of our wise government has provided a remedy, as they have only to raise armies, form new Expeditions and send them off by tens of thousands to Spain and Portugal to be slaughtered; besides all the other countries that has been deluged with the blood of our countrymen, however, it is a Blessing, as you remark, that there is such a Continent as America, open for asylum for the oppressed of Every Nation to fly to. I wish we could all avail ourselves of that Blessing. I have taken an Elegant Extract from your letter for the press, it would be a pity not to have it published. The picture you have drawn of your Country, your happy form of Government, your remarks on Mr. Foster and the early meeting of Congress. Suppose it is short, the people here have penetration enough to see it does not want in depth. When compared with  our Iniquitous Govern[ment], how they must admire the one and reprobate the other …  provisions of  every kind are uncommonly high this season … It is not as yet known whether England will go to war with America or not, but if they do, there is but one opinion held here about it, that is, that it facilitate the complete ruin of the former – the latter, I believe wishes to live in peace with all the world. But war is the trade of England…”


The recipient, Samuel Williams, (1786-1859) was an Irish immigrant who came to America with his parents in 1803, first settling in present day West Virginia, then in Ohio, where he served in the Army during the War of 1812, and after working for the General Land Office in Washington, D.C. became chief clerk for the Surveyor-General of the Northwest Territory in Cincinnati. A devout Methodist, and a “gentleman of literary tendencies,” he organized the Western Methodist Historical Society and founded the Methodist sponsored “Ladies’ Repository” magazine, for which he wrote many pseudonymous articles. He was related to the writer, of the present letter, Sally [Mrs. Wodney] Browne (1775-1850) whose husband was likely a Belfast hat-maker. Twenty years later, her son-in-law and daughter moved to Ohio, as did Samuel Williams’ brother Matthew. Samuel himself was probably responsible for his extended family’s emigration as he was tireless in urging his Irish relatives to move to the American Midwest. The Clements Library holds a collection of Williams’ letters, but there is none dated prior to 1814.