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Secretary of State Buchanan signs a handwritten letter to Secretary of the Navy John Y. Mason, declining to intervene on behalf of his misbehaved nephew , a midshipman: "I have not one word to say in his defense, nor any request to make."
Autograph Letter Signed: "James Buchanan" as Polk's Secretary of State, 1 page, 8x10. Washington, 1848 April 27. Polk's Secretary of State writes to his colleague, Secretary of the Navy John Y. Mason. Headed: "Private" by Buchanan. In full: "I return you the papers in the case of Midshipman Yates. I have not one word to say in his defence (sic) nor any request to make. I would merely suggest, that should you determine to dismiss him, you would suffer him to remain until I could write to his father, Dr. Yates, so that he might come on & take him home, if he thought proper." Midshipman JAMES B. YATES was Buchanan's nephew, the son of his sister. Yates served in the Navy from 1841 to 1848, when he resigned on May 11, 15 days after this letter. In 1843, his Commanding Officer aboard the U.S.S. John Adams wrote to Secretary of the Navy Abel Upshur: "He is a young gentleman of promise always obedient and ... attentive to his duty, keeps a remarkably neat journal, his moral character is good and I think him entitled to a warrant." Yates received his warrant on April 20, 1843. Later, however, he faced disciplinary action for several infractions, including drinking and not returning to his ship as scheduled. Letters between Cabinet members are scarce. Ink transference at blank areas from being folded. Folds, vertical fold touches the "m" in James. Overall, fine condition.

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Born: April 23, 1791 in Cove Gap, Pennsylvania
Died: June 1, 1868 in Lancaster, Pennsylvania

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