Skip to main content
View PDF

[Benjamin] Franklin [Butler] to Harriet Allen Butler, 26 June 1818

My dear dear wife,

For the first time I have the pleasure of addressing you on paper by this most endearing & beloved appellation. But happy as I am to be enabled to confer it I would gladly have escaped if I could, the necessity of doing it in this instance. I can talk & think of a fond & invaluable wife, but the more I do so, the more I am led to remember that we are seperated by from each other, & must for some days to come endure the pains of absence & anxiety.

I shall give you a very particular account of my movements though to any one but you they could not be interesting. I found the people at the flats (Mr. Ten Eycks) awaiting my arrival & ready to receive me. Dinner was preparing & we concluded to make use of it before we started. In the mean time the Capt. (for you must know that my companion has acquired that illustrious title) & myself took a walk into the garden, which is truly a fine one, and amused ourselves by eating as many garden strawberries as we chose, after which we assisted in picking a large supply for the <dessent> (oh dear how I wished that wife & sister could have joined us in the feast.) We stopped a short time at Troy, and with the exception of about two hours ^for^ which we stopped on account of the rain, had a very pleasant ride to the hospitable inn of Joey Brown of facetious memory, where we are quartered for the night. It is the same place at which Mr. Lansing & myself passed the first night ^when^ we were on our jaunt, and is a most excellent house. At tea we had a large party, four y ladies, one married & the rest wishing to be, who arrived about the same time we did, and the table was furnished with every thing you would wish. As the Capt. & myself are pretty spruce young fellows, he is ^for^ becoming a beau, but I being an old married man have left him chatting to the ladies & engaged in the more pleasing task of conversing with the girl of my heart & the wife of my bosom. Don't be surprised if I bring that word wife in at every other breath, for I think it the sweetest in the language & am very fond of repeating it. The place where we now are is beautifully situated on the banks of the Hudson, which here is of considerable size & much more beautiful & romantic than in the neighborhood of Albany. It is nearly as wide, and altho both below & above this place its <shower> is rapid & shallow, yet here it is quite deep & the placid stillness of the water gives its name to the town. Tomorrow we reach Sandy Hill. I hope my dear wife is now happy. I do not suppose she is as <illegible> much so as she would be if her husband was with her, for I know full well how tenderly she loves that fortunate little fellow & how fond she is of enjoying his society. I hope too that sister is well pleased with Albany and will make herself pleasant while she remains with you. I wish most sincerely that I was with you, or that you was with me, but as that pleasure is denied me for the present, it my wishes can answer no other purpose than to convince me of & my inability to fulfill them. My companion is a very talkative good natured merry fellow, about thirty five I would say, altho he is yet unmarried. We have a very fine horse & shall get along with considerable speed. We might have gone further to night, but Joey Browns wife makes the best bread in the world, much better than Mrs.<Hoose> & gives every thing else in good order & great profusion, and we therefore concluded to remain. Since we came there have been several arrivals, at the port, and we are now so full that Mrs. B. says she doesn't know what to do with us. I dare say however we shall make out in one way or other. The good folks are in very good spirits to judge from their noise, & all together make a pleasant party. We have one clergyman & his wife among the members a gentleman whom I heard twice at Saratoga last fall, & some of them I believe came up in the same boat with sister. This is a very long <illegible> scrawl about nothing, but when I am writing to you I take pleasure in saying just as much as I would if I was with you. I shall put it in the first post office I come to and write again tomorrow evening. 

My dear wife knows how much I love ^her^ and she will do me the justice to believe me when I say, that I would give almost any thing to be with her this evening & every evening of my life. To leave you is a gre^a^t trial, but it must sometimes be done, & in this case I indulge the hope of meeting you in a few days and of enjoying without interruption ^in^ your dear presence. The happiness which you alone can afford and which surpasses every thing else the world can give me. How happy will it make us when we can once more press to <illegible> our bosoms, the best & dearest of our friends.

I have been obliged to write for some time in the Bar room. The other rooms are all occupied, and as it is growing late I must retire from your room to my room, where my companion tonight, is my friend the Captain! Dear Harriet take good care of yourself be cheerful & be happy, give my best love to sister & try to make her visit as agreeable as possible, and expect me to return as soon as my business will a permit. May the Lord bless you my Dear wife, build you up in the faith, & make you entirely his own. May he preserve you this night & <illegible> ^enable us^ once more to acknowledge that his goodness has been great in protecting us when absent & bringing in together in happiness & peace. 

Dear wife, my own Dear

Harriet, your own affectionate and

unalterable husband.


Images for this document are currently unavailable.
Source: N New York State Library
Collection: Benjamin Franklin Butler Papers (N)
Series: Series 3 (17 February 1815-2 December 1821)