Confined for Two Years to the White House, President James K. Polk Tries to Plan an Out of Town Visit

May 24, 1847

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Confined for Two Years to the White House, President James K. Polk Tries to Plan an Out of Town Visit
Autograph Letter Signed
2 pages | SMC 1053

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      Polk, who once remarked that no president who performed his duty faithfully could have any leisure,  tries here to get out of the Presidential Mansion for a vacation...   After my constant confinement here, for more than two years, with the exception of less than a week last summer, I feel that some little respite from my public labours and cares  - will be proper, if not necessary. Though my general health continues to good, I am sure it would be improved by a short season of recreation. With this view - I have said to some of my friends - who invited me to do so, that I would probably visit New York - sometime in June, if the state of my public duties would permit it. Such is my intention, though I cannot now name the precise time. ..   He thanks Lawrence for offering to let him use his New York house during the visit, but is inclined, he says, to think that it would be more convenient to his fellow citizens, who may desire to see him, if he based his quarters at a Hotel, where they might have easy access. Besides, he adds, it would put a private family to great inconvenience to have him and his party as guests.  Polk was away from the White House a total of six weeks in four years. When in residence, he often worked seven days a week. He died less than four months after leaving the presidency – the general feeling being that he had worked himself to death.  


      Autograph Letter Signed, as President, 2 pages, recto and verso, quarto, Washington, May 24, 1847. To Cornelius Van Wyck, Lawrence in New York.
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      Washington City  May 24th 1847:

      (Private

      My Dear Sir:

      I enclose to you Mrs. Polk's answer to the kind letter which she received from Mrs. Lawrence.-- 

      After my constant confinement here, for more than two years, with the exception of less than a week, [text is crossed out] last summer, I feel that some little respite from my public labours and cares -- will be proper, if not necessary. Though my general health continues to good, I am sure it would be improved -- by a short season of recreation. With this view -- I have said to some of my friends -- who invited me to do so, that I would probably visit New York -- sometime in June, if the state of my public duties would permit ^it. [text is crossed out] Such is my intention, though I cannot now name the precise time.-- You may have observed ^from the newspapers that I contemplate making a short visit to the University of North Carolina, next week. I will be absent but a few days,-- and the probability is, that I can go to New York about the 15th or 20th of June.-- After my return from N. Carolina I will advise you

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      more definitely of the time.--  I thank you for your kind invitation to make your house my house, during the visit.-- It would give me sincere pleasure to do so, but I incline to think that it would be more convenient to my fellow-citizens -- who may desire to see me, that I should -- base my quarters at a Hotel -- where they could have easy access. And besides it would I know put a private family to great inconvenience to have me & those of my family who may accompany me as guests.--  In haste;--
       
      I am very faithfully

      Your friend & obt. svt.
       
      JAMES K. POLK
       

      To The Hon. Cornelius W. Lawrence
      New York.--