Our Collection

At the Institute’s core is the Gilder Lehrman Collection, one of the great archives in American history. More than 70,000 items cover five hundred years of American history, from Columbus’s 1493 letter describing the New World to soldiers’ letters from World War II and Vietnam. Explore primary sources, visit exhibitions in person or online, or bring your class on a field trip.

Webster, Daniel (1782-1852) to James William Paige

High-resolution images are available to schools and libraries via subscription to American History, 1493-1943. Check to see if your school or library already has a subscription. Or click here for more information. You may also order a pdf of the image from us here.

Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC01946.05 Author/Creator: Webster, Daniel (1782-1852) Place Written: New London, Connecticut Type: Autograph letter signed Date: 25 November 1827 Pagination: 4 p. : docket ; 25 x 20.2 cm.

Relates his tumultuous travels to brother-in-law Paige en route to New York while on board the ship, "The Fanny." Informs that he acquired a team of horses to continue by land to New Haven, Connecticut, and attests to his family's well-being, stating that the worst they experienced was seasickness. Instructs Paige to inform Mr. Blake (possibly George Blake, a family friend in Boston) of the family's location. Document written at eight o'clock. Year added in pencil at a later date.

Webster served as Massachusetts Senator 1827-1840. Serving as Senator, Webster travelled with his family to Washington, D. C. for a Congressional Session. He intended to rest in New York on his way due to Grace's ill health, which was later identified as cancer.

25 November 1829, New London
Sunday Evening, 8 o'clock
Dear William,
You are probably expecting to hear from us, by this time, from N. York. But here we are. Our history is shortly this. We left Providence, on Thursday, at 12 o'clock - made Newport, in 2 & 44 hours; and were off Point Judith, at 4 o'clock. So far, all was smooth. But here our troubles began. As we turned up the Narraganset shore, we found the wind had a head, & the Boat would hardly turn it. We got on, however, & about midnight were opposite Saybrook. At this time something happened to disable one of the wheels, for a moment & the other could not keep the Boats head to the wind. She of course fell into the trough of the sea, & we had such a rolling as I should not wish to repeat often. Pretty soon, however, she brought round with her head to the leeward & the Captain then put back & came into this port about 2 o'clock. We rode at anchor, much uncomfortably for all ? to be seasick, just this side the light till sunrise on Friday morning, when the Captain put forth again. In harbor, there seemed little wind; but as soon as we got out we found the same strong western gales blowing down the sound. Nevertheless, the Boat was pushed on, by prodigious power, thirty or forty miles, when we came to anchor, under the lee of Folchom. Now, some twenty miles from this side ?. It blew too hard to get farther & there we lay from Friday 2 o'clock to Saturday, the same hour, when we hauled up our anchor & came back to this port. The same wind still continues. We came up to the tavern on our arrival yesterday at sunset & have quite recruited ourselves. Both the ? & both the New London boats were in the river this morning. The Fanny made two or three attempts Friday & Saturday, to get up the sound, but could not. The Connecticut, from Providence on Saturday (yesterday) come to anchor under the end of Fisher's ?, last night but dragged her anchor, & was obliged to put round, & came inside of the ?, & got into this harbor this morning. Her passengers are transferred to the Washington, & she goes back to Providence. The Washington, & also the Long Branch, are now here, waiting for some abatement of the wind. It is a steady wind, varying but a point or two from the west & blowing ? straight down the sound, & has been so blowing for ten or twelve days. Tonight, it has shifted a little to the north & I have engaged a pair of horses, however, & expect to set off for New Haven in the Morning. We are all very well, & have suffered nothing except from seasickness. Mrs. Webster's health is other respects has been quite as good as when we left home. Of the wind, in the course of the night, should decisively change, we even yet go in the boat; but I have little hope of it.

The children & mama send a great deal of love to you & Daniel. We shall write again from our next stage. Let Mr. Blake know where we are.
Yours always truly
Danl. Webster

Order a CopyCitation Guidelines for Online Resources