Folded letter by US Navy Surgeon David Shelton Edwards
The letter was sent unpaid and the Pensacola postmaster marked it in the upper right corner for 25 cents postage due at destination, the correct rate for a single sheet letter going a distance more than 400 miles.
David Shelton Edwards focuses this missive to his wife Harriet on their future plans since he does not feel he has given that enough attention since he has been on the Constellation. He knows she will agree with him that he should not "think of giving up his situation" but "it has become necessary for our mutual happiness that we should be together" thus insinuating that she should come for another visit. He explains that while some men, such as Mr. Ward, spend time with other women when their wives are far away, "there is no fair one so attractive as to cause me even for a short period to forget my own Harriet." He goes on to tell of a Mrs. Stewart that Mr. Ward has been keeping company with and claims she is the same person as a Mrs. Richards that caused a stir in Tallahassee by getting divorced last winter. He relates news of people Harriet met in Pensacola and asks again for her to visit again in the autumn and concludes the letter with his thoughts on leaving the next summer with Com. Dallas. He asks her to make a sketch of the house at Sing Sing, New York with the street layout and asks for news from home.
This letter is part of the correspondence of David Shelton Edwards between the years 1835 and 1848. The 48 letters from this period held by the National Postal Museum are primarily addressed to Edward's wife Harriet; in 1830, Edwards married Harriet Eliza Henry and they had two children, William and Harriet. They kept up a frequent correspondence when his naval service kept them separated. Between 1835 and 1848, Edwards served as a Surgeon at the hospital in the Pensacola Navy Yard, Florida; Fleet Surgeon to the West Indies Squadron; and Surgeon aboard many vessels engaged in the Mexican-American War. His naval career spanned from 1818 to 1861 and his last sea cruise ended in October of 1859 after which he retired to his family home in Connecticut except for a brief time spent at New Bedford, Massachusetts recruiting for the Union Navy during the Civil War. He died in Trumbull, Connecticut on March 18, 1874.
National Museum of American History, Naval History Archives. David Shelton Edwards Papers. Accession Number: 1978.0652.
New York Public Library, Rare Books and Manuscripts Division. "David S. Edwards papers, 1818-1865."
U S F. Constellation
Aug 4 1837-
My dear Harriet,
Since joining this ship I have hardly been able as yet to give a good account of myself, and my views & intentions in the present posture of our affairs. You will agree with me that I ought not at present to think of giving up this situation. and I know you will agree with me that it has become necessary for our mutual happiness that we should be together altho I am treated very kindly here I still [inserted from above: feel] very lonely & forsaken during your absence. There are some who seem to raise up a sort of attachment (pro tem.) during the absence of wives - with constant and unremitting attentions to some fair one they may meet with, but Dearest there is no fair one so attractive as to cause me even for a short period to forget my own Harriet.
[written above the line: Private] Among the fair ladies here is a Mrs. Stewart from Mobile - I presume a friend of Mrs. Ward - as Mr. W I am told spends much of his time with her at Wilkin's, at Pic-nic's - balls &c. she is called a most Splendid woman —— I have just heard that she was the Mrs. Richards - who produced so much excitement at Tallahassee two winters ago - when she obtained a Divorce - fond of intrigue and is of rather suspicious, or doubtful standing in some points of view. [inserted from above: Mr. W is now his very shadow.]
In company with Coulter & McIntosh I went in at Mr. Easton's the other evening, we saw only the Miss C. Easton - who was very polite to me - & when I bowed good night - presented her hand - enquired after you - & the Col. E - almost embraced me next day so that I cannot think they are unfriendly. the younger girls have gone to the North. I do with Breeze would try and do some thing for himself - but I am afraid he is too lazy - up nights & sleeps days - wants energy & enterprise; but he would not thank me [inserted from above: for telling you this.] besides I think gambling and buying lottery tickets will keep any man's pockets empty. (but that is between us.) - I will now return to our own affairs. And since I cannot come to you, why you must come to me - and I hope if you have any arrangements to make you will make them so as to come out in the Fall - October is as soon as you can leave, for August & Sept. you know are bad months to be at sea - As for Willy & Hatti I leave you to do as you please with them - only I cannot advise keeping them in the City - not if you care for their health - wherever they are We must expect of course to pay their expenses - and that would probably be less in the country than in the City. I can hardly think it advisable to bring William out with you. he might stay either with his aunt - or with Miranda - of at Mother's. It is most probable you will return North again next Summer Com: Dallas' term will be out next August & he will probably leave there - (and between ourselves, I may perhaps leave then too.) I should be very glad to be able to return North not only to see all our friends; but to settle the difficulty if possible with Mr. B. & others - also to see the House at S. S. and if necessary put out some fruit & other trees - stick down some trigs of currant bushes - plant grape vines - &c. &c. many of these things which I could do at very little expense would be of infinite advantage in a few years. I hope Mr. C. will not suffer the place to be injured. I think he must have been holding out too long for too high a price under the present unfavorable circumstances. If there is any small family who would not abuse it - who would wish to occupy it - you may give Mr. C. any directions about it you think proper but as he is the agent it would not be proper for you to do anything before mentioning it to him. or advising him of it.-
I wish you would take a sketch of it - & put down everything in its place as it stands.-and the new streets about it. my love to Mrs. & miss Fowler when you see them-find out where the Croton aqueduct runs thru S. S. — - I would not advise Mr. Cartright to make any expensive improvements at present. I would not even insure it. I would like to know if the well affords plenty of water & of a good quality. where is your furniture? - where does Mrs. Fowler live(?) now? when will they get thru(?) with the water works? How is it about the ferry there? & where is the Great New York & Erie railroad to touch the Hudson? My love to all at home Mother & Father & Miranda when you see her.
I told you I did not want any clothes - but I should like to have a fashionable undress uniform Coat. and 2 or 3 white vests. & one black satin - or blue black. & two pair of pumps from Mr. Herbert's - (pumps with heels for walking preferred) I have written by Mr. Swartwout. to the care of the Navy Agent. - a letter with an allotment & with 10 ½ eagles - for you. the allotment is payable on the 1st of each month to the 1st of Oct. - I would not keep bills by me unless it of the very best - such as the Bank of America or the Long Island Bank - better deposit them to my credit in the Long Island - Bank.
I suppose I shall begin to receive answers to my letters in a few days I have the great pleasure of receiving your letters very regularly.
How was the dance did you know I was here? -
Kiss Willy & Harriet for me & tell them to be good, and always mind Ma. & when you write to me you must tell me if they are good children.
ever & ever yours - DS. E.
Purser Taylor of the Grampus as well as many others desire to be remembered to you.