August 02, 1853

Jane Pierce, Recalling Her Deceased Child, is Haunted by Happier Times

Autograph Letter Signed
4 pages
SMC 979
Jane Pierce was melancholy by nature, and the outside world did nothing to relieve her often persuasive spirit of despair. Just seven months before this letter was penned, her beloved son and only surviving child, Bennie, was struck down before her eyes in a train wreck, in which he was the only fatality – a sign of God’s vengeance, she felt, for her husband’s excessive, and by her despised, political ambition. She so hated Franklin’s becoming president that she refused to attend his inauguration and spent the first two years of her White House sojourn locked away in her suite on the second floor.

Here she writes to her sister about family matters - “Mr. Pierce” is well, she is unwell, and no office can be found for “Mr. Jackson of Salem," for whom she hopes there will be “other and better employment, not dependent on government” - but her tragic loss is never far from her thoughts. Hearing that a “Professor Nyman” and his wife have lost their child, she writes of her own anguish:
Ah! I well know how agonized they are - their only son and child!  Dear Mary if you come across any old letters of mine who speak of dear Ben will you just save them for me...
Jane Pierce lived for ten more years, never growing any happier, nor more reconciled to her fate.
Autograph Letter Signed, as First Lady, 4 pages, recto and verso, Washington, August 2, 1853. To her sister, Mary Aiken.
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