Partial ALS, six pages, 5 x 8, no date [mid-to-late 1859]. Written from Europe, a letter to his former private White House secretary Sidney Webster, in part: "…these resolutions cannot fail to be earnest and able. Will rampant abolitionism burst out again as in 1854 and assert boldly its principle and its object, or will it take up the key note sounded by Mr. S. and follow the canting: halt conciliatory hypocritical tone of his speech? This debate will exert a powerful influence upon the public mind and also upon the two conventions. The Democratic convention would I have no doubt, in the absence of all personal consideration, unhesitatingly adopt them. The nearly if not quite unanimous vote of the senate will send them forth to the country backed by high authority. I see that the letter writers have got hold of the remark of Mr. D. made to you & others with regard to myself. I think it was, under the circumstances, and after knowing from Judge Smalley & yourself just what my views are, as unwise for him as unjust toward me. The very suggestion that my name may by possibility come before the convention, becomes daily only more and more repugnant to my feelings and wishes. I am not encouraged to expect, that our friends have carried the election in N.H. but I do anticipate such gains as may serve to animate & strengthen the democracy of Connecticut and R.I. in third canvass. Colo. S's personal popularity would under ordinary circumstances ensure his election, but now every inch of ground will be contested. I can conceive of circumstances under which the 'lightening,' as you express it, might be as likely to strike there as anywhere else…Mrs. P. desires to be warmly remembered to Miss. F. & yourself. I am glad to be able to report continued improvement in her heath. She is out every day and I think has not been so well since we left Venice as within the last fortnight. I am reading Dumas' 'Impressions de Voyage' which answers the triple purpose of instruction, occupying time pleasantly and improving the facility with which I read French." Pierce adds a postscript: "Do not fail to write by the next steamer which I suppose will leave New York about April 2nd." In fine condition.
Shortly after leaving the White House in 1857, Pierce returned to his native New Hampshire and then embarked on a three-year tour of Europe and the Bahamas. Though far removed from the political battles taking place in Washington, Pierce remained well informed of the goings-on in America by reading the newspaper and corresponding with friends like Sidney Webster, a New Hampshire native who served as President Pierce’s private secretary and, in 1892, published the biographical work Franklin Pierce and His Administration. Pierce’s opposition to abolition never wavered during his sojourn, with his opening query “Will rampant abolitionism burst out again as in 1854” no doubt a reference to the Kansas-Nebraska Act that repealed the Missouri Compromise and successfully widened the North and South division. As the Democratic Convention of 1860 approached, some asked Pierce to run as a compromise candidate that could unite the fractured party, but Pierce, as he plainly acknowledges in this letter, was not interested, noting that the “very suggestion...becomes daily only more and more repugnant.”
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.