I think you would not be so apprehensive of a dissolution of our glorious Union


Date Written

Dec. 24, 1850

Harriet Coit Towner was 52 years old when this was written.
The recipient, Daniel Coit Towner, was 19 when it was received.

Harriet Coit Towner died 30 years, 1 month, 23 days after writing this.
It was written 172 years, 9 months, 9 days ago.
It was a Tuesday.

Michigan City
December 24th 1850

My dear son,

Your welcome letter mailed the 13th reached me this morning. More than three weeks had elapsed since I had heard a word from you; consequently was feeling exceedingly anxious, fearing you were ill. Rejoice to learn you are well, tho’ from the frequent invitations of friends, to dine, sup etc., should not wonder if you were sick by this time. Oh that ride with that unruly horse made me tremble all over, & Aunty said she expected nothing but you would venture, till some of your limbs if not your neck would be broken! I wish you would exercise prudence, & not “risk your neck for a sleigh-ride.” Why was the animal’s mouth all bloody? Should not think you gained much in the adventure. Your only compensation — lame back, arms, & probably a severe cold! Would you not have thought to have suffered as much from sawing wood, would have been a pretty hard case. It only shows what a youth will do for self-gratification.

I am greatly obliged to Mrs. Colton for her kindness to you, & would be still more so, if she would not offer you cider to drink! I don’t believe in Temperance people’s using it as a drink at all. Cold water is the drink for all!

And so you have seen Mr. Allen again. Did he speak of Mary? Oh if he only knew about Mr. Coulton’s interference in his behalf & what mischief he wrought, guess he would not thank his Rev. brother-in-law. Don’t know all Mr. Colton said or did, but in his endeavors to interest Mary in Mr. Allen (after he could not get her himself), he quite over did the matter, & so disgusted her that I very much doubt whether she could or did act herself while in Allen’s presence. Mr. Colton is a good man, but so injudicious in some things. Perhaps you can obtain light from Mary on the subject, but you need not tell her what I have written. I am really vexed with Mr. Colton for I think highly of the Allen family & would like to cultivate their acquaintance. Wonder how he dare venture South since refusing to approve the “Union Meeting” in New York. His Southern customers will hardly receive him courteously.

What papers do you read? Wish you would read the ‘National Era.’ Then I think you would not be so apprehensive of a dissolution of our glorious Union. I have no fear of that. The South know full well that it would not be for their interest, & they will be careful to prevent such an issue. They would fain hold up such a scare-crow to frighten the North, & bring them to yield to their terms. I’ve read the President’s Message. It is very smooth & for the most part, I like it very well. Hope the measure for the reduction of postage will be carried into effect as speedily as possible.

I will soon send you an “Evangelist” which has an amusing article entitled, “Men’s RIghts,” which after you’ve read, please see to Mary. By the way, I’ve not yet told you that the same mail that bro’t your letter, bro’t also a long one from Mary enclosing a pretty note from Hetty. So we’ve had a richer feast than any Thanksgiving dinner! Letters from my dear absent ones, I prize above every earthly good — I mean when we must be separated — (Turkeys, oyster soup, & tripe not excepted!) Yesterday I made a chicken pie & even Aunty said it was unexceptionable. So you may conclude it was good, & how I wished in my heart you & Mary could have shared it with us. I also made mince pies. Of those, we’ve not yet tasted. We have every comfort that heart could wish, only it is hard to be so long separated from my earthly [friends] and my dear children. Coit, if you have wanted money, why have you not written sooner? Believe I’ve asked you several times when I should send more. Aunty has gone over to Mr. Miller to get $50 which I deposited with him till you should call for it. Hope he will obtain a draft in time for me to send in this by next mail. Think I can also send you $50 of this quarter’s salary which I trust will come early next month. Shall I do so, or do you prefer not to have it so soon?

I often think of you & feel that I am ignorant of your situation & circumstances, so far as knowledge of your particular comforts are concerned. I know nothing about your wardrobe, & wonder whether you are provided with all you need to make you comfortable this cold winter? And so you are anticipating with pleasure the close of vacation, & commencement of another term! Hope it will be a pleasant and profitable one, & that in your next vacation you will arrange so that you & Mary can be together a part of it, at least.
I thank you for so long & good a letter & hope another will be forth-coming ere the close of another three weeks. You see I keep up the line of correspondence on my part. Almost weekly I send you a whole or half a sheet. Wish you would send through Mary as I do, & should hear more frequently from you.

I wish you a merry & happy Christmas, tho’ it will be past ‘ere this reaches you, but I also wish you a happy new year & hope this will reach you in season for the salutation (it ought to). We are invited to dine at Mr. C. A. Barker’s tomorrow (Christmas) & to a party at Mr. Dresden’s for Thursday eve. The Cutter, of course, we shall not accept.

Thursday morning. There are to be two weddings at Doct. [Sylvanus] Everts, viz. their daughter Julia [Elvira Everts] to Mr. [George G.] Stevens of St. Charles, Illinois [on 26 December 1850], and Miss [Lydia A.] Dutton — a young lady who has been spending some months in the family to one of the Doct’s sons, [Eudorua Everts,] who is also a physician.

Sarah Flint was last week married to William Miller, grocer, & on the same evening Mrs. C. A. Barker made a party for her niece (Miss Chapman) & invited all the young people in town. Many attended the wedding at Mr. Kellogg’s & then went to the party.

I have told you of the Wells’ troubles, have heard nothing new. Mrs. Wells does not look as tho’ she would ever smile again. Everyone thinks the boys ought ‘ere this to have been established in business, but somehow they are not, tho’ I believe P’s uncle at Whitehall has got him into some iron works, how or where I know not. I am aware, mt dear, that a youth without a father to advise & aid him & limited resources, is in rather a straitened situation. Still if he has an education, with respectable talents & energy & perseverance of character with an unwavering trust in God, he can command a good situation in the line of business, & if he is so disposed, he can contrive a way to obtain a profession, tho’ it may occupy a longer time than if he had plenty of funds at his command. Such a one often becomes not only great in the world’s estimation, but exceedingly useful. I believe Mary feels & I’ve no doubt you do, that your dear father left you a richer inheritance than wealth!

“My Father blessed me”

“My father raised his trembling hands,
And laid it on my head:
‘God bless thee, O my son, my son,’
Most tenderly he said.

He died & left no green or gold,
But still I was his heir —
For that rich blessing which he gave
Becomes a fortune rare.

Still in my weary hours of toil
To earn my daily bread,
It gladdens me in thought to feel
His hand upon my head.

The next verse is not yet applicable to you my son, but there I do believe you can adopt, especially the two first, can you not? The 3d perhaps has not yet become your experience, & may not in all its force, but still to me, it is beautiful. The two first ones so appropriate & expressive, I could not forbear to copy.

Presume by Aunty’s staying she will bring the draft, so I can send by the morning’s mail, which I wish much to do. Hope this will reach you by New Year’s! Only think, 1850 has almost gone & its records are being sealed up for the judgement!

Evening. Mr. Miller could not get the draft today, so letter will be a day later. Am sorry, but you should have written sooner. Aunty sends you, “A Happy New Year.” I must now write to Mary to send with this. How I wish they could have gone so as to reach you 1st day of 1851.

Good bye, my dear son. Your mother,
H. C. T.

Scans of Letter