Discussion of the duel in which Whig editor John Hampden Pleasants was killed

Date Written

Feb. 28, 1846

Elizabeth Langhorne Leitch was 17 years old when this was written.
The recipient, Anne Anderson Langhorne, was 59 when it was received.

Elizabeth Langhorne Leitch died 31 years, 2 months, 1 day after writing this.
It was written 177 years, 7 months, 5 days ago.
It was a Saturday.

February 28th Your birthday

I sincerely congratulate you dear grandmother on having attained your “fifty-ninth” year and wish you many happy returns of “this your natal day”. May heaven’s riches & favors continued to be bestowed on you and the remnant of your days be unclouded by care, is the heartfelt prayer of your devoted grandchild. I have delayed answering your last letter much longer than I attended; when it was received I was on a visit home, from school and having to return shortly afterwards, and resume my studies with renewed vigor to make up for lost time; I was so completely immersed in “literary lore”, that I hardly snatched time from my studies to write home and I had no earthly idea of writing a hurried letter to your sister and Ma have both corresponded regularly with you I believe; and I have often thought of adding a postscript to one of their letters, but really they filled them so closely that I had not room to insert a line. We have not heard from you for a long time now, but Papa is gone to the office and we are expecting and hoping to receive one of your long interesting letter which are truly a great treat to us all. Since sister last wrote to you, we have been spending the time very agreeably; been invited to several “molasses stews” only one of which we attended; while I was up at Willow Hill (Mr. Robert Boiling’s), a ticket came to New Canton inviting us to Mr. Jack Page’s to a “stew”, but sister had such short notice that she did not have time to prepare for it, however we went to one at Mr. Foster’s tavern Cumberland C. H. and saw a great deal of pleasure; sister was surrounded by widowers and old bachelors & all the evening made many conquests, and seemed to enjoy herself very much indeed, but I was contented with the attention of the more youthful portion of the crowd, and played “Miss Consequential” as Mrs. Branch calls me, to perfection. We staid in Cumberland two or three days; came back home on Monday, and Saturday evening who should come in all “booted and spurr’d” but Mr. Creed D. Coleman, one of sisters admirers; how she begged me not to come out of the parlor and leave them alone, but not withstanding all her remonstrances, I persisted in coming out and permitting them to enjoy half an hour “tete a tete”. I don’t reckon she was much edified, for I can’t say he is remarkably interesting, seems to be much more interested in his own conversation than anything else. While I was at Willow Hill I went up to see old Mrs. George Nicholas Lorenzo’s mother. She made a quantity of inquiries about you and after I had told her everything I knew, she said I must write to you and tell you that I had been to her house and sent her love, said you must write to her; old Mrs. Ayers was there too; she says she’s going to write to you shortly.

The celebrated Temperance Lecturer, Mr. John B. Gough [John Bartholomew] will deliver an address in our city, N. Canton, next Friday; we will all try by all possible means to get there and I have an idea of joining, William Fuqua says he will sign the pledge if I do. I will try to influence some others of my male acquaintances to put their name down so as to have a praiseworthy object in joining myself; the speech was to have been delivered last Wednesday, but it was snowing and Mr. Gough did not go. Fifteen or twenty had assembled at Upper Trinity; among them was cousin Lenceus and Pocahontas Bolling; sister was there and cousin L___ made her a present of Mr. Gough’s autobiography (by himself); it is extremely interesting; and describing the thoughts and feelings of a drunkard very acutely; he is about 28 years old, has been married twice; is said to be a very handsome, intelligent man; his life is written very prettily indeed. We heard from Aunt Thompson about a week ago, all were well, no change in little Sarah, only she is somewhat taller; Ann Elizabeth says they have not received a letter from you since the one announcing Uncle Wesley’s marriage. You seem to be very much pleased with his wife; I have a notion of writing to them shortly; how does his little children come on; can Mary Eliza read? Give our best love to all of them and a kiss to the children. I expect Bettie is preparing rapidly in her studies; can write by this time, tell her as soon as she can to write to some of us; how I want to see you all; if a fairy were to step in and grant me two or three wishes, the first would be “to see Grandma”. Mrs. Branch staid with us two or three days a few weeks ago; Bettie Bradley was on her way to Goochland, where she has a school, at Colonel Wyatts I believe and Mrs. B. staid with us while the carriage went on with her. I reckon you have heard of Joe Sweeny, the great banjoman, he will give a concert in New Canton next Wednesday. There is a juggler with him who will perform great wonder I am told I should like very much to hear him and will try to get there. Ma or sister will want to add something to this badly written letter so I will stop. Believe me dear grandma your affectionate granddaughter as of your,

Bettie Leitch

March 3rd As we have not sent Bettie’s letter to the Office yet, I will add a postscript. Ann Jane and I have both written since we received a letter from you & don’t know what to make of it. We have had a very severe winter here & a snow once a week upon an average ever since Christmas, three of them within the last week; & Tom & Bet are going up to Canton this morning in a sleigh.

You know of old, no doubt that old Mr. Ritchie & Mr. Pleasants, editor of the Whig, have been sparring at each other for a long time; well after the former went to Washington, it was kept up by Pleasants and the young Ritchie’s, until Mr. P. challenged the younger R. to a duel, which was fought last Wednesday morning with pistols, and sword canes & resulted in the death of Mr. Pleasants; he lived until Friday morning, & Ritchie has disappeared. The immediate curse of the challenge was in consequence of a charge of cowardice against P. in the Enquirer, but everything is not fully explained yet, & nothing has come out in the Enquirer about it yet. Some time ago, one of the correspondences of the E. understood that P. was about to edit an abolition newspaper, the elder of the young Ritchie’s was absent at the time of its publication, and apologized for it promptly on his return home, but Mr. P. wrote the most abusive letter in the Whig about them you ever heard & also wrote to a gentleman in Washington abusing them very much & bringing up old quarrels. I believe the charge of cowardice grew out of those circumstances.

Mr. Leitch has cut down all the poplars in front of the house and is building a garden there. I have another piece of dimity in the loom. Give love to all of our friends. I am as ever your affectionate daughter.

I beg leave to say that I had many other mentions besides those of the old bachelors and widowers and my little sis was so much pleased with the company of some of them, as of any others. Cousin Jack Thornton enquires after you every time I see him; he says none of Uncle T’s family have ever received a letter from you, and it has been a long time since they have heard through Uncle Dabney’s letters.

Scans of Letter