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GIDEON WELLES - AUTOGRAPH LETTER SIGNED 08/24/1853 - HFSID 174748

Two-page handwritten letter to his brother in law, describing his "mournful journey" to bury his son in 1853. Their mutual loss of young children would become a strong bond between Welles and President Lincoln.

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GIDEON WELLES
Two-page handwritten letter to his brother in law, describing his "mournful journey" to bury his son in 1853. Their mutual loss of young children would become a strong bond between Welles and President Lincoln.
Autograph Letter signed: "Gideon Welles", 2 pages, 8½x12. Hartford, Connecticut, 1853 August 24. To "Dear Brother","Dr. E. W. Hale" [Elias White Hale], in full: "I presume Reuben [Hale, another brother of Welles' wife] has written you that we reached Hartford Monday a little past noon - about twenty four hours after parting with you. It was a mournful journey, and brought sorrow and sadness to our home, where they were all taken by surprise not having seen a word of intelligence that led them to apprehension. They would never again see little Bertie [Hubert Welles] alive. Under the circumstances our dreary side was performed with as few things to disturb us as would have been expected. The kind, considerate attention of Reuben, relieved us of a [?] and provided for all emergencies. No mortal could have done more or better or more thoughtfully and kindly than he did for us. Indeed we felt our obligations to not only him but you and to all for not only the sympathy but the [?] kind acts we received from you all. The shock to our little house here was great, and to neighbors and friends here, who are all kind. It was a great trial for poor Anna Jane who has also been quite sick but is improving today. Edgar felt it almost as much as she, and poor little John, when he saw the coffin let into the ground cried aloud and would not be comforted. Maria has not quit weeping yet, and poor Rose declares her heart is broken. Mary Jane {Mrs. Welles] has sustained herself better than I feared she would, and I hope will survive the affliction without its being detrimental to her health which I was apprehensive might be severely affected. The care of Anna Jane requires her attention, and I think it best she should be engaged with her, and endeavor to have it so arranged. Friends call in to see them both and keep her employed, and the others of the family who seem [?] also called out her efforts. They all limit her mind and attention. She is also anxious to hear from mother and thus engage her mind, so that she keeps [?], and time will ameliorate her grief. She inquires every minute if there is anything from sister, and wants to hear from mother and Henry and all of your clan. She is afraid that Caroline will overdo herself, and is anxious about her. I talk with her on all these subjects, and her own strong good sense, her Christian faith, her [?], and care for us all are doing much to relieve her grief. Mr. Rex has called yesterday & today, and with other friends has done much to satisfy her that her reproaches of herself are wrong, and that God has ordered all for the best. Yu must write a line frequently and also Caroline. A few brief lines - you cannot either of you have to time to write a long letter. But a word or two will do her good. The facts, just as they are, will enlist her attention. Give our kindest, tenderest love to Mother. [?] to Caroline & Mary Ann, who have indeed a trial; but the world is full of trials for us all. Remember us most affectionately to her, and to others. We are all quite well except Anna Jane, and she will be about as usual I think by tomorrow or next day. Believe me every my dear Brother most truly yours". The year after he wrote this letter, Gideon Welles (1802-1878), a journalist and Jacksonian Democrat, would join the new Republican Party, motivated by his strong opposition to slavery. An early supporter of Abraham Lincoln, he became Lincoln's Secretary of the Navy, and is credited with able leadership of that service during the Civil War. Welles was close to Lincoln, who called him "Neptune." One factor in the close friendship between Gideon and Mary Jane Welles, and Abraham and Mary Lincoln, was their shared experience of losing young children. The Lincolns lost young son Edward in 1850, three years before the Welles' loss described in this letter, and they would lose another - Willie - in the White House, February 20, 1862, despite the sympathetic ministrations of Mrs. Welles. Anna Jane Welles, the ailing daughter in this letter, did not recover as Welles hoped, but joined her brother Hubert in the grave a few months later. Other Welles children mentioned in this letter are Edgar, John and Maria. Elias and Reuben Hale were brothers of May Jane (Hale) Welles, Gideon's wife. Mary Lincoln called Mrs. Welles to her side as her husband lay dying in 1865, with Gideon Welles at the President's bedside. Unlike most of his Cabinet colleagues, Welles would remain loyal to President Andrew Johnson, supporting him in the impeachment crisis and serving through the end of his term (1869). Multiple mailing folds. Lightly toned and creased. Torn at right edge from seal. Otherwise, fine condition.

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