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The Secretary of the Navy wrote this letter to the wife of Senator George F. Edmunds to turn down a dinner invitation due to a cold (and in spite of his doctor's advice). Accompanied by original, signed mailing envelope.
Autograph letter signed "Geor Bancroft". Black ink notations on verso in unknown hand. 2 pages, 4¼x7, 1 sheet folded, front and verso, black-edged stationery. Dated "Friday; Evening.". In full: "Dear Mrs Edmunds: My physician bade me accept your most tempting invitation, saying too much of his skills: & which he would do [illegible] but I am not in condition now & am making so little progress, that I shall certainly not not be able to be your guest on Saturday. I therefore tell you Miss 'betimes'; that is, at first moment when it has been perfectly clear, that I must fail you on Saturday. I am very sorry it is so; but I still suffer so much from acold, that I must & hereby do decline your invitation. Forgive my having for a moment yielded to a [illegible]. most truly & this time also most regretfully yours". Lightly toned, stained and creased. Signature is lightly smeared but legible. Discoloration from envelop touches signature and body of letter. Random ink stains. Discoloration on back of letter and along fold. Light tear at right edge. Folded once and unfolded. Otherwise in fine condition. Accompanied by: Unsigned autograph envelope. 4½x3½ black-edged envelope. Addressed to "Mrs Senator Edmunds".  Lightly toned, soiled and creased. Worn corners. Lightly scuffed edges. Otherwise in fine condition. "Senator Edwards" is probably GEORGE F. EDMUNDS (1828-1919) represented Vermont in the U.S. Senate from April 3, 1866 until his resignation on Nov. 1, 1891. He served as President Pro Tempore of the Senate from 1883 to 1885 when, with no Vice President after Garfield's assassination, he was next in line to the Presidency. He was also a member of the Electoral Commission that decided the hotly contested election of 1876 - a squeaker with only one electoral vote between Republican victor Rutherford B. Hayes and Democratic Samuel J. Tilden, who won the popular vote. "Mrs Senator Edmunds" is probably his wife Susan Marsh Edmunds. Historian GEORGE BANCROFT (1800-1891) is best known for his ten-volume History of the United States (1834-1873). Bancroft wrote well, and was accurate with his facts, but had a partisan viewpoint. (He was a Jacksonian Democrat, although one opposed to slavery). As President James K. Polk's first Secretary of the Navy (1845-1846), Bancroft established the U.S. Naval Academy at Annapolis, finding the funds for the institution in his budget before Congress had authorized its creation. As Acting Secretary of War (1846), he issued orders to General Zachary Taylor to advance into territory disputed with Mexico, a move which triggered the Mexican War. He later served as the U.S. Minister to Great Britain (1846-1849), Prussia (1867-1871) and Germany (1871-1874). Two Items. 

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Born: October 3, 1800 in Worcester, Massachusetts
Died: January 17, 1891 in Washington, District of Columbia

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