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

August 2, 1853

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Jane Pierce, Recalling Her Deceased Child, is Haunted by Happier Times
Autograph Letter Signed
4 pages | SMC 979

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      Background

      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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      Washington Aug 2nd - "53 

      Your last little note was dated on the 19th July, my beloved sister, and while I have heard of you, yet it seems long since I have heard from you.  I trust after you return from Manchester or while you are there you will have time to say a few words to your sister who loves and thinks of you so much.  I think Rebecca said you went to [...] 

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      ten days since - and therefore I imagine you may be at home again, unless you should find the change decidedly beneficial to Alfy and yourself.  I hope so, and that all has gone well at home during your absence, and that you found Sarah Hayes letter.  I hear from Abby since she has been settled in her mountain home - quietly & pleasantly.  I expect Thomas Smithson in an hour or two to pass the day (the rest of it).  The rain of [...] have had a great deal prevented him yesterday - 

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      Page 3 transcript
      Mr Pierce is well as is Mr [...] but a few warm days such as we had [...] a few weeks since wears upon him -  I have not been at all well within a week but better for a day or two, and on the whole my health is much as usual during the summer months -  My thoughts dwell on each day and week of the last summer - and the [...] ever fretting, seems sometimes too great to be endured - Did you see the sad misfortune met [...] by Prof Nyman and 

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      his poor wife - in travelling in South Ireland  My heart aches for them - if you hear anything more about them will you write it to me -  Ah! I well know how agonized they are - their only son & child! --

      Dear Mary if you come across any old letters of mine that speak of dear Ben, will you just save them for me - I [...]been [...] and [...] in regard to Mr Jackson of Salem -  I find on asking, that no office could be given to him -  I hope he will be able to get some other and better employment, not dependent on government -  Give much love to all dear ones around you Fanny Packard included. 

      In haste, your affectionate sister

      J M PIERCE