Gilmer [Upshur Co.], 16 July 1857. Large Octavo (ca. 24,5x19,5 cm). 3 pp. Brown ink on bluish laid paper. With the original envelope, addressed to “Mrs. Mary Key, Marshall, Texas,” with a postage stamp. Fold marks, the envelope with minor tears on extremities, but overall a very good letter, written in a legible hand.
An historically interesting original letter, written by a Resident of Gilmer, Texas, with a first-hand account of the election campaign run in Texas before the voting for the two seats in the United States House of Representatives on August 3, 1857. Addressing his sister, the author of the letter announces: “I am a Democrat and never deny it & intend to vote a full Democratic Ticket.” He then describes the debates between “Judge Evans” (Lemuel Dale Evans, 1810-77, a Texas politician, later a Unionist leader and presiding judge of the Texas Supreme Court) and “Reagan” (John Henninger Reagan, 1818-1905, a ”states’-rights Democrat”). The debates ended unsuccessfully for Evans, and he lost the upcoming election. Although admitting he would not vote for Evans, the author reveals his sympathies for the politician, whose “character is as pure as any man I know, one of the most spotless in fact of any man in the state.” The letter also shares some family news and notes on the extreme heat and drought in Gilmer that summer. The receiver of the letter was possibly Mary Key (née Hill, 1833-1908), who married Hobart Key (1821-1855), a resident of Marshall (Harrison Co., TX) and moved there in 1850. Her younger brother James Hill worked as a clerk in the store of Mary’s husband, Hobart Key (1821-1855), opening his own business in 1868 (see more: Obituary// Tri-Weekly Herald. Marshall, Texas, 7 May 1881, p. 3). Overall an interesting early account of the Texas politics and elections.
Excerpts from the letter:
“Dear Sister, <…> You say this has been a delightful summer. I am glad it has been so to you, but with me it has not, for I have had a great deal to do and much to perplex and annoy me as every one must have in business in this country. I never knew how much it was until now when the whole weight and responsibility rests on me. I think the last few days have been as hot as they well could be. If you have not suffered with heat by this time, you could stand any place on Earth or under Earth, for it could be no hotter there. I am sorry RH did not call to see you, he had no time to spare <…> I got a letter from him in New Orleans. He was going up the Ohio and across through western Va to see about some land Mama has there and will stay at home part of his time and a part at the Springs. I expect he will return about 1st of September, but perhaps not so soon. <…>
We have had no rain here for some time and many parts of our country will not make half crop of corn unless it rains in a few days. The weather as I before said is intensly [sic!] hot and I hope we may have rain in a few days. I hear that in Harrison you have had plenty of rain & good crops. There is no news here, times most distressingly dull, but very few people in from the country, and consequently but very few goods selling, but July and August are always dull months, so I look for dull times. <…>
Politics appear to be the all absorbing topic of conversation here now. There was a fight on the subject yesterday, and one or two before that. I am not taking stock as I once did. I find there is no money or friends either made by it and somebody else may do my share of talking this year. I am a Democrat and never deny it & intend to vote a full Democratic Ticket, but I have nothing to say about how other men should vote. We have had all the speaking that you have had until I am tired out with it. I felt very sorry for Judge Evans the day that he and Reagan spoke. Reagan made a splendid effort and was constantly applauded. He reviewed Evans whole political life and gave him an awful raking down. The Judge’s speech did not do him justice, it was in fact a perfect failure. The Judge lost at least fifty votes by his visit to this county, many of his own party on that day declared they could not & would not vote for him.
I dislike very much to have to vote against Judge Evans for personally I entertain for him none but kindest and most friendly feelings, but I cannot approve his course in the last […?] or subscribe to his political creed, consequently I cannot conscientiously vote for him, but I could not help feeling sorry for him, if he is beaten, as I believe he must be as a private gentleman. Judge Evans character is as pure as any man I know, one of the most spotless in fact of any man in the state. His public acts are all that I condemn or have in any way against him.
Most of the girls and young gents have gone off today on a fish fry. I as usual stay at home as something might occur in which I should be wanted at the store and I do not intend to leave unless on business. I believe I will now close as it is about dinner time and I have nothing more to write. I send this by Mr. Rain (with Sanders & Sears) <…>”.
Price: $950.00 USD