Lot 8019: John Tyler Signed Handwritten Letter
28th June 2018
ALS, one page, 7.25 x 9.25, February 7, 1861. Letter to "Mr. French," written from "Brown's Hotel" on the eve of the Civil War. In part: "Many thanks for the beautiful copy of Mr. Webster's letter to John Taylor which you…presented to me. I have directed it to be placed in a suitable frame forthwith, and shall hang it up in my parlour here…Be assured, my dear sir, by whatever party name you may prefer to be known by your fellow men, I shall never be able to regard you as other than a patriot because of your devotion to the principles contained in the letter you have sent me. I trust that the Commissioners who are here assembled will act under the influence of its patriotic language and precepts. In that event we shall have but little to fear." A brief transmittal note by the recipient is penned on the second integral page. In fine condition, with light staining from an old repair to a fold split, and a strip of old mounting residue along the reverse edge. Three days before this letter was written, the 70-year-old Tyler headed a Peace Conference at the Willard's Hotel in Washington in a final effort to resolve sectional division and avert Civil War. The conference featured a total of 131 representatives from fourteen free and seven slave states—none of the seven secession-committed Deep South states attended—with Tyler making opening remarks to the audience that included six former cabinet members, nineteen ex-governors, fourteen former senators, fifty former representatives, and twelve state Supreme Court justices. The three week convention culminated with the drafting of a seven-point constitutional amendment that was soundly rejected in the Senate by a 28-7 vote, and a last attempt for negotiations between Unionist southerners and representatives from the incoming Republican government was nullified by the First Battle of Fort Sumter on April 12, 1861. Tyler, twice a voter for secession, passed away less than a year later. The gifted letter was likely a piece of correspondence between New York Congressman John W. Taylor and New England representative Daniel Webster, who served as Secretary of State under President Tyler from 1841 to 1843.
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