BENJAMIN F. BUTLER. Autograph Letter signed: "B. F.
Butler", 4p (integral leaf), 7¾x9¾. New York, 1840 July 11. To
"The Hon. H. D. Gilpin", in full: "I was not aware until taking
up the Evening Post last evening of the new obligation under which your kindness
has laid me; and must ask you to bear with me whilst I convey to you what I know
your generosity does not desire, the assurance of my warm & heartfelt
gratitude. To be regarded, by a man like yourself, as deserving the public
notice you thought it right to take of me, is indeed a rich compensation for any
services I may have been so fortunate as to render to my country, and much more
than an equivalent for the labor, responsibilities and occasional obloquy, which
have attended them. In regard to the assaults sometimes made upon my personal
character, if I have not been much injured or annoyed by them, they have yet
been of this service to me: they have admonshed me of the fallibility and
imperfection of my nature, since, with the purest motives, & the greatest
circumspection I was capable of exercising, I have not always been able to
avoid, what I am bound to believe, has, at least seemed to be equivocal;
- they have taught me to seek for a higher & more durable species of
approbation, than the opinions of men; & they have induced me to guard
against lending too ready an ear, to accusations against others, by showing me,
in my own case, how easily the best intentioned acts may be misapprehended or
distorted, when viewed through the medium of personal or party prejudice.
Besides, it has sometimes occurred to me, that in addition to the uses above
referred to, it may also be a part of the design of Providence, in permitting us
to be unjustly assailed, to chastise us for those sins of which every man must
be cautious, but of which either the world knows nothing, or does not attempt to
take cognizance. However this may be, one who is anxious of rectitude &
motive, may well sustain many more & much graver assaults, than have been
made on me; especially when he has the public support & enjoys the private
friendship of persons like yourself. For the manner in which you have now given
that support & manifested that friendship, I must again request you to
accept my thanks, with the assurance that I am as always, your friend.
[signature] PS. Be pleased to tender to Mrs. Gilpin my heartfelt & most
sincere salutations." Benjamin Franklin BUTLER (1795-1858) a former
member of the New York State Assembly (1827-1833), served as Attorney General
under Presidents Jackson and Van Buren (1833-1838). In 1836-1837, he
served concurrently as Secretary of War. Following his term, he was U.S.
District Attorney for the Southern District of New York (1838-1841, 1845-1848).
He helped to organize what is today New York University's law school. Addressee
Henry D. GILPIN (1801-1860) also served as President Van Buren's Attorney
General (1840-1841), in which capacity he argued the government's (losing)
position in the Amistad case before the Supreme Court. Paper separation at
top (2-inch) and bottom (1-inch) edges of centerfold. One-inch, light moisture
stain near middle of centerfold, on both facing pages.
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BENJAMIN FRANKLIN BUTLER
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