Document 12: Martha Coffin Wright to David Wright, 18 February 1859, Garrison Family Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College.

Introduction

       Martha Wright wrote to her husband from Philadelphia describing her visit with her brother-in-law William Pelham, who was soon to return to his post of Surveyor General of New Mexico. Martha and William “had some talks on Slavery” during this visit, which was the last time she would see him. Relations between them were still quite cordial, despite their difference over slavery.

                                                             127 South Twelfth St. Phila.
                                                                                Feb 18th, 1859

My dear husband

       What can have become of your letter? Thos[A] is going to enquire to day at the Post Office--your note with the bill of lading, came yesterday, and the bbl. has just come--the apples will be very acceptable. Thos. pays at the rate of $2 a bushel. (I paid the man $1.25 was that right?) The other day Marianna sent out to get some commoner apples for cooking, not liking to use the pretty red Spitzenburgs that Thos. sent up, and on comparing notes found that she had paid nine or ten cents more a half peck. I am in haste for Marianna to come home to have the bbl. opened. She is at the Academy, drawing, this morning. Brother Wm. leaves to day for Washington, to return in a week & stay a few days, & then he will take his final departure for [New] Mexico. His appointment was confirmed for the seventh time--Surveyor Genl.[B] He does not expect now to hold it after Mr. Seward[C] is elected. I am very glad to have seen him. Have had some talks on Slavery, wh. he bears very well, not being one of the fierce & excitable kind, but I think the consciousness that we are diametrically opposite in sentiment, throws a little restraint over his manner. When Ellen comes in from her Junior society,[D] he says “Well Miss Ellen, have you dissolved the Union yet?” or “How comes on the Union Miss Ellen?” I proposed to him to go with me to their last meeting, but he didn’t want to, and I didn’t like to urge tho’ he said to me “Do you care particularly?” and perhaps wd. have gone. After dinner--I am afraid I never shall see your first letter--so do tell me all you can remember, that was in it. Thomas enquired at the Post Office to-day, and cd. hear nothing of it.[E]

*       *       *

       Do you remember that pretty little piece about little Bell & the blackbird, in a Liberator[F] several months ago. I supposed they had seen it here, and didn’t bring it. Next Sunday, after you have read all the papers, and planned pear orchards and whistled--(do you ever whistle) I wish you would look over those papers that I am saving in the entry, and see if you can find it. I am afraid it is lost. I think often of the pleasant quiet Winter we have just passed, that seems so far off now. I trust that to you the remembrance is equally pleasant and that you will think often & lovingly of

                                                                                 Your M.--

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A. Thomas Mott, Lucretia Mott’s son and husband of Martha’s daughter Marianna.
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B. This was William’s last appointment as Surveyor General of New Mexico, the position he first held in 1854 (see Document 9).
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C. At the time, William Henry Seward of Auburn, a neighbor and friend of Martha and David, was expected to receive the Republican nomination for President in 1860. However, as a Senator, Seward had become widely known for his antislavery views, and the Republicans chose instead the less controversial and relatively unknown Abraham Lincoln.
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D. Martha’s daughter Ellen, then 19, was active in the Junior Anti-Slavery Society.
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E. Several pages of family news reporting visits of Philadelphia friends and relatives followed and have been omitted.
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F. William Lloyd Garrison’s antislavery newspaper, The Liberator. The Wrights had been subscribers since the 1830s.
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