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Copp, Timothy
Autograph Letter Signed, as a Dartmouth College Student, Hanover, New Hampshire, April 18, 1840, to Joseph B. Parsons, Gilmanton, New Hampshire

quarto, three pages, plus stamp-less address leaf, folded, small hole and damp-stain, affecting text slightly on all three pages, last leaf has another hole due to rough opening, else good.

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“… War! War!!! War !!!! D’ye know there was a goin to be a war down East!!. Bout 200 of Uncle Sams soldiers passed through here, part about three weeks ago and part last Friday or rather staid here Friday night. We had a good time. A Band of musicians played all the evening. Col. Pierce the commanding officer was expelled about 25 years ago for firing the cannon in the College building. I had the honor of being introduced to him as well as most of the Students…”


The long-simmering confrontation between the United States and Great Britain over the international boundary between the British Colony of New Brunswick and the State of Maine reached a head in 1839 when Congress authorized a force of 50,000 men to be placed at the disposal of the President in the event that “foreign military troops” crossed into United States territory. That no one took the so-called ‘war” very seriously is reflected in Copp’s account of the US troops passing through Hanover on the way to the border.


Colonel Benjamin Pierce was the older brother of the US Senator – and future President – Franklin Pierce. While studying at Dartmouth College in 1810, he had been expelled for carrying out pranks and practical jokes, including damaging a campus building by firing a loaded cannon during a Fourth of July celebration. He then became a career US Army officer, serving in the War of 1812 and the second Seminole War. When this letter was written, he had just been reassigned from a barracks in upstate New York to one near Houlton, Maine, and was apparently on his way there when he stopped at his old school. He became ill during the Mexican War and died in 1850, three years before brother Franklin became President.