ALS signed “Fr. Pierce,” four pages on two adjoining sheets, 8 x 10, Jessup & Brothers stationery, no date but circa 1841. In part: "A few words tonight to be sent out tomorrow with an addendum. I came on in company with…Woodbury from Boston. Our joining has been contemplated by an accident and unusually pleasant. Arrived here at about 12 o’clock today and am pleasantly located with Allen Tappan Miller & wife…The federalists had a caucus last night and nominated [John] White of Kentucky who has been here four years…for Speaker. Dawson of Georgia is the next highest candidate—a good deal of dissatisfaction I understand on the part of Wise & others. Still the probability is that White will be elected on the first ballot. I shall not be surprised if the Democrats shall pay a compliment to the Granite State by putting Atherton in nomination. I think you will be surprised, as I certainly was, to hear that F. O. J. Smith was nominated for Clark. The inhabitants of the City, it is said, are extremely indignant at Clark's defeat in caucus and are making great exertions to defeat Smith—but the conservatives must be appeased. I shall be able to give you more information if not ascertained results tomorrow." The following day, Pierce notes that White was elected Speaker and shows the breakdown of votes, of which White received 121, with his closest rival, J.W. Jones of Virginia receiving 84. Pierce adds that the House proceeded to ballot “viva voce for Clark” and gives the breakdown on that vote. Pierce continues to note that the “second ballot was in progress” when he left, and proceeds to make a pun on the name of candidate F. O. J. Smith of Maine: "Fog was in the fog—probably cannot be elected. Our friends will go for any one rather than him…I shall feel much interest to know how the examination of the books proceeds…You must write me all about this matter and also about the currents & counter currents in the Legislation. I have just heard from the Capitol that M. St. Clair Clark was elected Clerk on the 4th ballot…Our delegation voted to a man for Clark on the 4th ballot. It is impossible to form any conjecture as to the tone and principles of Vice President Tylers message you will probably have received it by express before this reaches you…My communications you know are for yr own eye alone." In fine condition. This lengthy letter relays the thoughts and response of Pierce following the House of Representatives elections for the 27th Congress, which were held between July 1840 and November 1841. In the wake of a depression caused by the financial panic of 1837, trust in President Martin Van Buren, a Democrat, had waned enough to give the Whigs their first control of the House, with John White of Kentucky, as Pierce predicted, elected as speaker.
Terms and abbreviations used in our descriptions.