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B[enjamin] F[ranklin] B[utler] to Harriet [Allen Butler], 7 May 1823

My dear Harriet,

I am at length at this fam famed metropolis, where we arrived at 5 O'Clock this afternoon & having been more fatigued by the ride from Baltimore here, than by all the former part of the journey, I shall say but little to you to night. The road from Baltimore was uncommonly good, which was to me an agreeable disappointment, as the members of Congress who pass it in the wet seasons in the fall & spring, give it an unfavorable character. There is little to interest the traveller in the route from Baltimore, until you arrive within ten miles of this place, when the Country becomes pleasant, particularly at this season of the year. Indeed it would be impossible to visit this section of the country at a more favorable period than the present, the weather being as warm, & the season already as far advanced as among us in June. We have taken quarters at Dowsons, directly opposite the Capitol. This is quite out of town, but the V.P. staid there last winter, & the situation, is the healthiest, & one of the pleasantest in the place. The house is now an exact picture of the town. There are about 30 rooms, & not a boarder, but the V.P. & myself. They do not expect boarders in the summer, & were obliged to prepare rooms for us, which however they have done in very comfortable style. After resting a few minutes, I went to the Post Office, 1/2 a mile from Dowsons, expecting to receive a package of letters. You may imagine my disappointment & vexation, when I found the P.O. closed. This is the only place in the Union where they shut up the P.O. at 6. P. M, & I could not refrain my from grumbling at the arrangement. Tomorrow however, I shall receive from my dear H. some proofs of her ^remembrance &^ regard, and until then I must bid her, & the dear little ones, good night.

Thursday P.M. This forenoon I recd. your letter of the 1 of May & 2d of May, also one from Charles dated 2d May. The mail this evening will probably bring me further & later intelligence. The illness of our little ones at first alarmed me, but on recollection & reflection, I thought they must have recovered almost wholly, or you would not have gone to Stuyvesant, which Mr Talcott told me was the fact. The assurances of affection contained in your letter made my heart bump, as it will whenever I think of you which will be pretty constantly until my return. You know by this time what I felt when I heard the news of poor Spencers death. The first paper I took up after arriving at Staten Island contained the sad tidings, and I could not, while I read it restrain my tears. It is another melancholy warning to prepare for that solemn event.

As yet we have done nothing towards the object of our visit, nor do I know that we shall, the President having this morning left town for his seat in Virginia & having left word for us (for it seems he had heard of our being on the way) that he should not return until the first of June, and that we need not follow him, for he would not take up the business until his return. This is a scurvy trick (between us) and I am not without my suspicions that it was done for the express purpose of avoiding us. The old gentleman (Mr Monroe) is a wavering, undecided, timid, fickle minded man. So I have discovered by a great variety of circumstances.

I have seen the Secy. of the Navy, Mr. Crawford, & Mr. Lear. I have yet to call at three or four places, among others on Judge Anderson, who I find is Mr. Crawfords right hand man. Mr. Crawford is a plain giant of man, very affable and talkative, seems to be a man of good sense & sound judgement, though I should not think him, (and his friends do not represent him as such) a man of brilliant talents. He was (of course) very I civil &c. &c.

I have discovered that Mr. V. B. will not probably be appointed Judge of the S. C. of the U. S. The Prest. is vacillating about, and I should not be surprized if he should ultimately select some person out of our state.

The public buildings are the principal objects of interest here. The Capitol, tho' yet unfinished is the most splendid edifice in the Union. The Presidents House (the Peoples palace) is also an honour to the nation, and would not disgrace any capital on the world. The Chamber of the H. of Repes. & of the Senate, are very magnificently furnished, and were it not that the former echoes & reechoes so widely that no one can either hear himself or any body else, ^it^ would probably be one of the finest rooms in the world.

When the improvements ^in^ around and about the Capitol are completed, it will be a splendid monument of the arts, the a brilliant proof of the wealth & resources & grandeur of the nation. There is in front of it a square containing about 25 or 30 acres, inclosed by an iron f railing, and laid out in squares &c. On Along the fence, and on the inner side, is a strip of about 1 Rod wide filled with threes plants & flowers of every description so that when the time has perfected what art has planned, the whole square will be inclosed in what Milton calls "a wilderness of sweets." Already it has become a delightful walk, and early this morning I inhaled it, as a sort of morning repast.

I shall write you again tomorrow, until which time adieu, & adieu. May God preserve & bless you, & our dear little ones, and make us all the trophies of his grace, & the objects of forgiving & redeeming love.

Dear H. adieu


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Source: N New York State Library
Collection: Benjamin Franklin Butler Papers (N)
Series: Series 4 (3 December 1821-31 December 1824)