Friday, April 19, 2024

Senator Henry Clay to James B. Clay, December 4, 1849

WASHINGTON, December 4, 1849.

MY DEAR SON,—I left home the first of last month, which throughout was a most delightful one, and, after passing two or three weeks in Philadelphia, New York, and Baltimore, arrived here last Saturday, the 1st instant. My presence in those cities excited the usual enthusiasm among my friends, and the customary fatigue, etc., to myself; but I rejoice that my health is good, with the exception of a bad cold, which I hope is passing off. I have not yet seen the President, although I called yesterday and left my card. I have seen Mr. Ewing, and other members of the Cabinet have left their cards. Up to this time there is no organization of the House, which is in a very curious state. Neither party has a majority, and divisions exist in each; so that no one can foresee the final issue. The elections this year have gone very unfavorably to the Whigs, and without some favorable turn in public affairs in their favor, they must lose the ascendency.

I received Susan's letter of the 19th October and yours of the 5th November, and the perusal of them afforded me satisfaction. I observe what you say about Mr. Hopkins' kind treatment of you. He has gone home, but if I should ever see him, I will manifest to him my sense of his friendly disposition toward you. I am acquainted with him as a former member of the House of Representatives. I shall seize some suitable occasion to examine your dispatches at the Department of State, and I am glad that you entertain confidence in your competency to discharge the duties of your official position. That is a very proper feeling, within legitimate bounds; but it should not lead to any relaxation of exertions to obtain all information within your reach, and to qualify yourself by all means in your power to fulfill all your official obligations. How do you get along without a knowledge of the French language? Are you acquiring it?

I have heard from home frequently since I left it. John had taken a short hunt in the mountains, but returned without much success. Thomas had gone down the Ohio to see about the saw mill, and is still there. All were well. Dr. Jacobs is now here from Louisville. His brother with his wife have gone to Missouri, where he has purchased another farm. You have said nothing, nor did Susan, about Henry Clay or Thomas Jacobs.

Give my love to Susan and all your children, and to the boys. I will write to her as soon as I am a little relieved from company, etc.

I hope you will adhere to your good resolution of living within your salary. From what you state about your large establishment, I am afraid that you will exceed that prudent limit. How did your predecessor in that particular? I believe he was not a man of any wealth.

SOURCE: Calvin Colton, Editor, The Private Correspondence of Henry Clay, p. 590-1

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