ASSOCIATE JUSTICE LEVI WOODBURY - MANUSCRIPT LETTER SIGNED 04/10/1832 - HFSID 59107
Sale Price $467.50
WOODBURY SEEKS TO EXPEDITE INVESTIGATION OF A NAVAL OFFICER WHO LATER PULLED PRESIDENT JACKSON'S NOSE IN A BIZARRE SIDE NOTE TO THE "PEGGY EATON" SCANDAL
Manuscript Letter signed: "Levi Woodbury" as Secretary of the Navy, 1p, 7½x9¾. Navy Department, 1832 April 10. To Henry M. Morfit, Judge Advocate, Washington. In full: "I will thank you to prepare the specifications in the case of Lieut. R. B. Randolph, so soon as your other engagements will conveniently permit. I am Respectfully Sir, Your obedient servant." Levi Woodbury, a former Governor of New Hampshire and U.S. Senator and a future Supreme Court Justice (1845-1851) was Secretary of the Navy from 1831-1834. (He served next as Secretary of the Treasury under Presidents Jackson and Van Buren (1834-1841). John Eaton, a close protegé of Andrew Jackson's, was that President's first Secretary of War (1829-1831). Beginning in 1823, according to Washington gossip, Eaton, then a U.S. Senator, had carried on an affair with a married woman, Peggy Timberlake, better known to history by her maiden name, Peggy O'Neill. Eaton, meanwhile, used his influence on behalf of husband John Timberlake, a navy purser; the gossips said he did so to keep the husband constantly at sea and out of the way. On April 2, 1828, Timberlake died of heart failure; the wagging tongues said it was really suicide after he discovered his wife's affair with Eaton. On New Year's Day, 1829, John Eaton married Peggy, elevating the affair to the level of a national crisis. Most of official Washington, including the wife of Vice President Calhoun, snubbed Peggy Eaton.President Jackson, who blamed his wife's death the previous year on aspersions on her character cast in the Presidential campaign of 1828, took Peggy Eaton's side aggressively, even demanding from officials affidavits as to her good character. Meanwhile, a dispute arose concerning Navy funds in the possession of the late Timberlake. Mutual accusations were made by Secretary Eaton and by Navy Lieutenant Robert Beverly Randolph, alleging embezzlement of funds supposedly held by Timberlake.The investigation was inconclusive, but Randolph was obliged to resign his commission.In 1833, President Jackson was visiting Fredericksburg, Virginia, Randolph's home town. Randolph stepped forward through a crowd seeking to greet Jackson and pulled the President's nose. The fiery Jackson shoved Randolph away and vowed revenge. However, when Randolph was later apprehended, Jackson insisted that no charges be brought against his assailant. The Eaton affair had already played a role in bringing Woodbury into the Cabinet. In 1831, President Jackson shook up his Cabinet, in part to purge Peggy Eaton's detractors but more importantly to outmaneuver his first term Vice President and outstanding rival, John C. Calhoun of South Carolina. Woodbury joined the Cabinet during this shake-up. Lightly soiled. Nicked at corners. Otherwise, fine condition.
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