Very scarce autograph letter, signed, by Emily Tennessee Donelson (1807-1836), wife of Andrew Jackson Donelson, who served as First Lady / White House Hostess to President Andrew Jackson from 1828 to about 1834. This letter, with both personal and political content, is dated "The Mansion, Oct. 15th, 1830," and addressed to Andrew Jackson Donelson. "The Mansion" likely does not refer to the White House but a home near Nashville where Emily stayed while her husband returned to Washington, DC; part of the reason for her remaining behind was likely the worsening of the so-called Petticoat Affair involving Secretary of War John Eaton and his wife Peggy, whom Emily had treated coldly, putting a strain on her own relationship with the President. (In early 1830, the Eatons had declined a White House dinner invitation, citing Emily's treatment of Mrs. Eaton; Emily refused to resume her White House duties as long as Peggy Eaton was accepted at the White House). Nevertheless, in this letter, Emily seeks to maintain peace in a potential rift between President Jackson and her husband. She begins with personal matters, writing "I am happy to hear that you think so highly of my portrait [probably one painted by Ralph E.W. Earl] and hope you will make it supply in some measure the place of the original. I suppose you were all at the wedding last night, and hope you all enjoyed yourselves, and that Daniel and Margaret [future CSA General Daniel Smith Donelson and Margaret Branch] were as happy as possible. I was thinking of you all the evening and would have given anything to have been there. Give my love to them and tell them I wish them every happiness and blessing that this world can afford…." The letter soon takes a political turn, as she brings up a speech by a Mr Burton. "My dear husband, let me beg you not to let it ruffle in any way your feelings toward Uncle Jackson, for such a thing would be more acceptable to your enemies than anything you could do. Mr. B shows plainly that they are all jealous of Uncle's friendship to you and are making use of every exertion in their power to separate you. I hope you will follow the advice of such friends as Mr. McLemore and suffer any mortification on his account. Burton's __ will recoil on his own head and there let it rest. Uncle [sic] last words to me were that before he would do anything to injure the honor of yourself, who he had raised as his own son, he would cut off his right arm." News of her children is also contained, and a postscript question inquiring if Major Lewis is still at the President's House. Two pages, front and back (with address and previous owner's pencil narrative en verso of the second page). 9 3/4" x 7 3/4". Provenance: the estate of Dr. Benjamin Caldwell, Jr., Nashville, Tennessee. CONDITION: Light grime and discoloration, some fading to text, light creasing, losses to second page up to 1"L. Previous owner commentary in pencil on page 2 and underlined words for emphasis en verso of page 1.
Lot 596: Catalog of Books in the Nashville Library, 1825, John Overton's copy Previous Item Lot 598: 19th century Portrait of Andrew Jackson Next Item