Letter from William Henry Seward to Alvah H. Worden, March 19, 1833

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Letter from William Henry Seward to Alvah H. Worden, March 19, 1833



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Institution:University of Rochester

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Letter from William Henry Seward to Alvah H. Worden, March 19, 1833

action: sent

sender: William Seward


Name: William Seward Birth: 1801-05-16 Death: 1872-10-10

location: Albany NY


Name:  City:  Albany County:  Albany State:  NY Country:  US

receiver: Alvah Worden


Name: Alvah Worden Birth: 1797-03-06 Death: 1856-02-16

location: Auburn NY


Name:  City:  Auburn County:  Cayuga State:  NY Country:  US

transcription: lxw 

revision: lxw 2015-12-01

Page 1

Albany March 19th 1833.
Dear Worden,
When I left home about two months ago you parted with me without
giving me cause to suspect any change of views or feelings on your part
in relation to our private social or political connections which you
will recollect I had a right to presume were not disagreeable to
you. No communication passed between us except that I wrote to
you now as I did a year ago and in equal freedom and confi-
dence suggesting the propriety of adopting measures prepara-
tory to the town meetings. You wrote in reply (I have the letter
now before me) stating as you say from a sense of duty which
our past intercourse demanded that you declined further agency
in the conduct of the affairs of the Anti Masonic party. You
proceeded to assign your reasons for this determination. One
reason was that your past exertions had been received by those
who assume to have influence with distrust and reluctance.
Another was that you doubted whether political Anti Masonry
had been productive of any beneficial effects, the third was
that you were convinced the leaders of the Anti Masonic
party set political power above the legitimate object of the party
to wit the abolition of Free Masonry, that you were further
convinced that the object of any organization now of the Anti-
Masonic party is to bring it into market and sell it for what
it will buy to some aspirant for the Presidency. Without stop-
ping to inquire whether I was justified as I had the presumption
to think I was in supposing I was intended to be included
among those to whom your first and third reasons applied I
could not doubt that I ought not in justice to you and others
as well as myself ^to^ reply to the reasons assigned. I did so and
Page 2

in my reply repelled briefly so far as my own knowledge extended all the
facts you alleged. You will remember your propositions were all stated as
opinions and conclusions derived from your observation. My denial was
of the same kind. In answer I have a letter from you of the 14th instant, full
of crimination reproach dark innuendo open denunciation and defiance –
which certainly could not have been expected to convince me that your
views of facts were right and I so mine wrong. The respectful dissent from
your opinions could not have provoked the extraordinary ebullition. I
have looked in vain for its provocation. You infer from my letter that I accuse
you ^of^ a craven heart and purpose, (I use your own language), and proceed
to assert that the aspersion is unjust. I made no such accusation,
I used no language from which it can be inferred. I referred to the disas-
trous result of the late Election in preparing for which you and all others
made so many sacrifices as furnishing a proper opportunity and suffi-
cicent reason to each member of the party to determine whether he would
act in future and if so to what extent and in what mode. I did so
regard the result of the election because it was anticipated and is by
many regarded as decisive of the fortunes of the Anti-Masonic party ^and the success of Anti Masonry^ .
So far from intimating that your motives were improper I expressly ad-
mitted your right to take such course as you think proper and
only protested against the correctness of the reasons you assigned so
far as the facts assumed seemed repugnant to very own observation and
experience. I also expressed my determination to adhere to the organi-
zation of the Party and gave my reasons as you had done yours for
your course – but I impugned not your motives while I explained my
own. I have thought it necessary to review the correspondence for the purpose
of giving you an opportunity to be convinced that your long catalogue of grievances
is not justly swelled by the supposed offence in my former letter.
As to the letter before me I shall have little to say. Were I convinced it is the
Page 3

deliberate production of your head and heart I should deem you in-
fected with the insanity and therefore could not be provoked by it. Regar-
ding it as proceeding from a distemperature a morbidness of feeling
I shall be content to respond to your communication of your past
feelings and doubts your present convictions and deliberate pur-
poses towards and concerning me by stating mine in relation to you.
You complain of wrongs committed by me against you, the charge is
comprehensively expressed but the specifications are of course all I can
be expected to notice and these are too vague and unsatisfactory
to receive explicit reply. One is that I have come into your do-
mestic circle and made arrangements with your family


Name: Frances Chesebro Birth: 1826-12-12 Death: 1909-08-24 Name: Lazette Worden Birth: 1803-11-01 Death: 1875-10-03
some portion of it without consulting your feelings. I have turned
this matter many times in my mind and am unable to fix upon
any act of mine which can have been much misconstrued. I there-
fore deny it absolutely. You will not understand me however as
admitting that it is improper for me to ^desire to^ preserve and cherish the
respect and esteem of any member of your family No act of my whole
life in relation to you and your family has been inconsistent with
the just claims of your authority if you so be pleased to call it
while I frankly avow and confess myself guilty of the offence
in an imperfect way of endeavoring to contribute to both your
happiness and comfort and theirs. You charge me very vaguely
of having "sent tokens of proud and impotent imperiousness
to your heart" If this means that I have been proud and af-
fected to be imperious over you in my demeanor and my
actions I can only say in reply that I am utterly unconscious
of any such offence. You allege that I "have refused to acknowledge
you as a friend, a confidant, a brother." To all which I shall
very briefly answer that you have always been suffered by me
Page 4

to determine as suited your own feelings the nature of the intercourse and the extent
of the friendship confidence and affection which should from time to time
be manifested between us. Although some years ago I was grieved by
the caprice which I supposed governed your conduct you have never failed
when yourself were willing to assure the relation to be recognized as my
nearest friend, have had all my confidence and all the affection which
the connection between us should inspire. Such is what my conscience
approves as a just review of the wrongs of which you complain. And
now in return I have treasured no wrongs of which to accuse you. I
have made it a rule to obliterate them as soon as they were committed,
and as God and Heaven are my witnesses always to all and each member of
the family in which we both are united I have endeavored faith-
fully to persuade them to forget the recklessness of passion with
which at times you have assailed them all. For all of kindness and
attention and solicitude you have manifested for my family and
it has been considerable you have my acknowledgements. If at times
you have wrought tears from eyes that I love not should weep
you may rest assured there remains no spark of anger.
You remind me of support and services rendered me. I acknowledge
much, very much, so very much as to render it impossible for me
to credit the evidence afforded by your letter that you have always
regarded me with feelings of suspicion and distrust. And against
this array of generous devoted aid and assistance I do not claim that
I have any set off, that I have done anything which has been
or ought to have been of use ^advantage^ to you. If in assuming to state a final account
you can find nothing to my credit where you seem to have kept so close the Debtor
side I shall not be tempted by that injustice to refer to a single incident which you
do not to remember or remembering are unwilling to acknowledge.
You express your entire conviction and certainty of the justice of suspicions long
Page 5

indulged that I am a cold calculating ——. You allow me
the credit of understanding men. You will allow me to say I do
understand you, I think and that you have no pretensions just
now of that sort. It is immaterial what is the process by which you
arrive at your conclusion or under the influence of what passion
you utter such an aspersion. I know myself quite well enough
to be satisfied that you will sooner convict yourself of lunacy
than me of pride, injustice, ingratitude, or hypocrisy or deceit,
the qualities you profess to have discovered in me. In return for
your frankness, I will take the liberty to say that I regard you
as generally just, candid, sincere and generous, but at some
times unjust, infuriated supicious ^suspicious^ and ungenerous. These are
dark hours I fear gradually becoming of more frequent occurrence.
They are produced I know not how but I have long since ceased
to hold you responsible for the outbreakings which distinguish
them. You tell me there has been for years a mistake of
some sort between us. I assure you there has been none on
my part. I have relied upon you, confided in you esteemed
you in your better hours as I shall do hereafter. I have
felt and borne the influence of your malignant star when
it was ascendant without indulging even a sense of inquiry.
I shall do so hereafter, and a ream of angry querulous letters
redundant of denunciations as your last cannot provoke
a feeling of anger. You imtimate darkly that in an honera-
ble ^way^ you are the destiny to destroy me. You pronounce there
in a gulph between us neither can pass and name me of the
consequences of the absolute withdrawal of your friendship.
These are the fitful imaginings of a mind disturbed. I enter-
tain no fear they will endure. They will vanish before the
Page 6

influence of returning reason reflection and justice. They shall produce no
effect upon me – nor shall my actions or thoughts towards you be
changed and for obvious reasons. My conduct in reference to you
has always been and shall be regulated by a strict regard to the
duties and claims mutual between us growing out of the relation
in which we stand to each other. If it had been affected or could
be by the capriciousness of your sense of duty, or your sense of justice
it would be impossible that I should not be as unequal as your-
self. But I thank God I have a temper, which can endure much
reproach and suspicions without seeking ^exciting^ to involve me in retaliation
or revenge. Your thoughts were on to our graves as the burial place
of animosities which cannot cease but in death. This is madness
without method, it is the madness of melancholy. If we are spared
to enjoy the ordinary life of man, you will still continue to be
the same ardent enthusiastic generous friend in your general
conduct but suspicions irascible violent and unjust in particular
seasons. If you die before me I will write such an epitaph
for you leaving out the qualifications. ^As for me, if I go first^ Dying soon or late you
will write for me an epitaph which will falsify every
word in you letter. He was not unjust, he was not sordid
he was not unsincere. If you write otherwise the world
will believe of you then what I do not now, that you are
deliberately unjust. I burn your letter – because I will not
preserve a document which does you so much injustice
how much will ever be preserved by me.
Yours sincerely
W. H Seward.
Alvah Worden Esq.
Page 7

Lazette and Frances


Name: Frances Seward Birth: 1805-09-24 Death: 1865-06-21
are both entirely well.
Page 8

Alvah Worden Esq


Name: William Seward Birth: 1801-05-16 Death: 1872-10-10
letter to A. Worden in
1833 retained by

Tuesday, March 19, 1833