Folded letter by US Navy Surgeon David Shelton Edwards
The letter was sent paid, one of the few that David Shelton Edwards paid in this set of correspondence. As a result, the Pensacola, Florida, postmaster struck the PAID handstamp. The "25" in the upper corner shows the payment amount of 25 cents, the correct rate for a single sheet letter going more than 400 miles to its destination. The word written on the reverse appears to be "const" and was probably placed there by the letter’s recipient and does not involve the item’s postal history.
David Shelton Edwards responds to a group of his wife Harriet's letters as, "A little spicy, but on the whole in the true spirit of love." He explains that she should not be offended when he constantly chides her in his letters and that, "I have the very best opinion of my wife's prudence and management - whatever my letters may imply to the contrary." In his own sphere, he relates that Dr. Parsons resigned his position under the threat of charges, "for various ungentlemanly & unofficerlike acts - such as cheating at Cards - Dishonesty &c. &c.". Regarding current events, he thinks Van Buren will win in the end and Alabama wishes to annex the Florida panhandle because cities like Pensacola are growing so rapidly; Edwards seems to be of the opinion that the railroad connections annexation would greatly benefit business there.
From the mid nineteenth century to the early twentieth century there were several attempts by the state government of Alabama to annex the area of West Florida into its possession. This was for a number of reasons, including the economic strength of the city of Pensacola and the ensuing increased control over the trade routes through the Gulf of Mexico. Many in Pensacola supported this plan: the Pensacola Commercial reported in 1869 that, "Since overtures are made by Alabama of such an importance as to make ours the Queen City of the Gulf, let no man throw an obstacle in the way, but put his shoulders to the wheel, and ere long we will be, where nature intended us, in the State of Alabama."
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.
"The West Florida-Alabama Annexation Scheme." New York Times. May 23, 1869.
Your letter by Express as well as those two by way of Havana I have replied to- Your last postmarked 13th Nov. as well as two by Mrs Mac are now before me. I have read them over & over with a great deal of attention and pleasure. some things a little spicy - but the whole in the true spirit of love and affection. You must not criticise too severely on my letters for you can see that I often write you without stopping to reflect or correct- leaving it for you to refine upon & make something out of it. but I will not preach any more for I should have to preach over some of my old sermons. & I have no doubt that you can do not only better than I do but better than I can preach - if you choose.
I sent your allotment early last month - I hope you will pay ma the hundred dollars - and all your debts. & take care of the balance in treasury notes - of bills of good City Banks. or the L. Island Bank. the time is no doubt approaching when many Banks will fail or depreciate so much as to be uncurrent. & every means will be used to push them upon you by some of the merchants.
I commend your prudence in making William good clothing it is much better for boys than finery -& to a certain extent for girls too.
Delia says Willy's health is much better & thinks the country agrees with him - & that she wants to keep him - if you will consent -
Dear you must not be offended if your husband sometimes chides, for you know he always confides - & talks to you as his other self - & receives your censures in turn as if some of his own reflections - & even thinks them better than his own. & I only tell you the truth when I say that I have the very best opinion of my wife's prudence & management - whatever my letters may imply to the contrary. And I do not think you could have left Ma in her present ill health & difficulties. She has ever been a good friend to me - and you cannot do too much for her.
The necessity which keeps me separated from my wife & our little ones will I hope pass away with the Winter and that we shall meet happily together next Summer is the hope which sustains me during my prolonged sojournment in this climate.
You need not send me any jellies or sweetmeats, I have no taste for them at present.
The socks you sent me are excellent. - The shoes are too long entirely You must thank Delia for me for her letter & the present - which I shall take good care of. you sent as many papers as I had time to read - I dont trouble myself much about politics - but I think when they have done firing & the smoke clears up you will see Van Buren with as large a majority as ever. Delia says you are recovering your good looks again. so I shall expect to see you a Beauty indeed when I return.
I was formerly acquainted with Gov.r Forte(?) as well as Lt F. O shall not hesitate to write him. [you need not publish D.r P's character(?)
Doct. Parsons(?) resigned - but under a threat of charges - for various ungentlemanly & unofficerlike acts - such as cheating at Cards - Dishonesty &c. &c. I would rather have nothing to do with him - or to say about him as I know very little about him. He is entirely below par with the Officers here.
Mary Warren & Mr. Wentworth are to be married soon.
Mr. Cassedy (clerk) is dead.
Mr. Buchanan is waiting for Mr. Etting's arrival to be off - I suppose he expects Mr. E to buy his things. Mr. B. says he expects to get the next Frigate that comes out here.
Lt Searcy is only waiting the arrival of Capt Linton again to be detached from the Yard.
Wiggins is adrift again - Com. Dallas dismissed him when he learned he had spoken abusively of Com. Bolton - Dont you recollect my advice to Breese when he left the yard not to indulge in idle abuse? - was I not right?
Breese is at St Marks. D. Q. M. Army. & I believe intends eventually to get into auction & Commission business - he has done with Com: D. I suppose. I belive they have not spoken except officially since you left. but mum. Col Murat is here on his way to his wife, he has dined with us two or three times, is a very jovial companion Mrs. Collins was very much gratified with the seeds you sent her & sends her respects. Mrs. Bowie her compliments - Mr. Dallas with a smile desired to be remembered the Com. too. Miss Moreno's send their love Mrs. Dade & Miss Middleton too. & a great many others & all are very sorry you are not coming out.
Mr. Cork has returned here to spend the winter & enquired for you & you are very often enquired after by the officers here. & Harriet too. Capt. & Mrs. Mac are well - they went down to Strongs the next morning after her arrival & stayed a few days - they are now at the Commodore's making a visitation - I cannot but think they will find it very unpleasant to live in this way. but between you & I Capt Mac is very much involved - and it is not certain that he will receive any thing but Lieut.'s pay during the term of his Flag Captaincy I hope he may get it.; but dont you think our plan of living within our income much better?
Miss Moreno has been spending a few days with Miss Bolton she was riding out on Capt Latimer's "beautiful horse" he ran with her, threw her & - only sprained her ancle a little.
I spent the evening at the Commodore's- Mrs. Mac was there - she bid me tell you that [inserted from above: she] should write you soon. I hardly know what to do with your silver. no vessel has sailed hence for N. York since you left. I will before Spring send it by way of Mobile. Pensacola is constantly filling up - about 30 buildings have gone up - & all the houses are occupied. Alabama is making application [inserted from above: to Congress] to have this part of Florida attached to Alabama. and then the rail road to Montgomery - when completed will add much to the business here. Mr. Barkley rec.d a letter from Mr. Ward dated N. York 10 Nov.r says he was there only on a visit. I have questioned Mrs. Mac. all about you - I find - you wear very tight sleeves - are looking very well - but I fear you live & sleep in too hot a room - bad for children as well as yourself. and you dress little Harriet with a bodice. Mrs. Dallas says she can see just how she looks now. you must teach her to sing pa a little song when he comes home & I will but her a little Guitarrh. & Wm a fiddle. & we will make a Dancingmaster of him. my love to Ma & Grandma, & remember me to friends. remember me particularly to Grandpa.& my respects to Capt Shell I am sorry for his afflictions. the mails are irregular. so This goes for the 10.th for we may not have another mail in 4 or 5 days.
as ever & affecty yours DS.E.