Andrew Jackson (1767-1845) autograph letter, signed, as President (1829-1837), to Major Nathan Reid of New London, Virginia, detailing Jacksonâs intervention with Lt. Col. (Sylvanus) Thayer of West Point on behalf of Reid's grandson, William Steptoe Reid (roommate of future author Edgar Allan Poe), and encouraging the younger Reid to embrace and continue his education there. One page folio letter on vellum, Washington, November 16, 1830. 10" H x 16" W. Note: Major Nathan Reid's son (and William Steptoe Reid's father), Major John Reid, was Jackson's aide de camp during the War of 1812 and did not survive the conflict. Nathan Reid helped raise his grandson, while his friend Jackson, who lost his own father at a young age, became an uncle-like figure to young William. According to a privately published family history, it was Jackson who persuaded William to enter West Point although William wanted to be a doctor. While at West Point, William Steptoe Reid roomed with Edgar Allan Poe (who soon grew disillusioned with military school himself, and whose exploits ultimately resulted in explusion). Although Andrew Jackson himself rose to become one of the most prominent generals in American history, he lacked a formal military education, making his efforts to ensure a successful career at West Point for young William all the more meaningful. Ultimately, even presidential pressure was not enough to keep Steptoe in military school. He left West Point in March of 1831, the same year as Poe. William entered the Medical School of the University of Pennsylvania, and became a prominent doctor in Holly Springs, MS and later Middle Tennessee, where he married Sarah Claiborne Maury. Dr. William Steptoe Reid's medical bag and a photographic portrait, which, like this letter, have descended in his family to the current consignor, are also being offered in this auction. Transcription of letter: "My Dr Sir, On the receipt of your letter of the 14th. of October last, on the subject of your Grandson Wm. J. Reid, I lost no time in laying before the proper department, your letter that it might be forwarded to the superintendent of the military academy, that the situation of your grandson might be fully known, and such preparatory steps taken as would prevent mortification to the youth, or unpleasant feelings to you. I have now the pleasure to inclose for your satisfaction, the reply of Lt Col. S. Thayer on this subject, which I trust will be fully satisfactory to you. Permit me to recommend it to you, to write your grandson to lay out of view every idea of leaving the institution until he graduates. This will stimulate him to diligence and put out of his view all idea of leaving the institution, & when this is the case, he has genius, that will surmount all difficulty, & place him in a respectable standing in his class. Tell him that his future prospects in life mainly depend upon his continuing there & procuring when it is within his grasp, a thorough education. I assure you my affection for the father has descended to the son, and as far as I can with propriety, he will be protected in all his rights, and encouraged to do right. Accept I pray you my best wishes & believe me your friend, Andrew Jackson." CONDITION: Letter was professionally conserved by Christine Young and enclosed in japon paper to address some separations and small losses at fold lines and scattered foxing. Small stain still evident on page 2 between "Nathan" and "Reid." Signature bold and clear, untouched by fold lines.
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