Item #8358 [Small lot of letters and other materials, mainly relating to Col. Thomas Aspinwall’s service as U.S. consul to London.]. Thomas Aspinwall, William P. Mason, William Aspinwall.
[Small lot of letters and other materials, mainly relating to Col. Thomas Aspinwall’s service as U.S. consul to London.]
[Small lot of letters and other materials, mainly relating to Col. Thomas Aspinwall’s service as U.S. consul to London.]
[Small lot of letters and other materials, mainly relating to Col. Thomas Aspinwall’s service as U.S. consul to London.]
[Small lot of letters and other materials, mainly relating to Col. Thomas Aspinwall’s service as U.S. consul to London.]

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[Small lot of letters and other materials, mainly relating to Col. Thomas Aspinwall’s service as U.S. consul to London.]

London; Boston, Massachusetts, 1853–54.

A compelling archive of letters, a cabinet photo, and other items relating to Col. Thomas Aspinwall who was U.S. Consul to London, having been appointed by President James Madison and serving in London until his removal by President Franklin Pierce in 1853. These items all date to 1853 and 1854 and relate to his removal from the U.S. Consular office in London. 

Born in Brookline, Massachusetts, Col. Thomas Aspinwall (1786–1876) was the second longest serving United States consul, holding that position in London from 1816 to 1854. He matriculated at Harvard College in 1804 and graduated three years later, delivering the Latin valedictory address. In the War of 1812, Aspinwall was appointed Major of the Ninth Regiment, U.S. Infantry. In 1813 he was made a Lieutenant-Colonel and eventually a Colonel on account of his valor in the 1813 Battle of Sacket’s Harbor. In September 1814, during the Siege of Fort Erie, he sustained an injury to his left arm that required an amputation. In recognition of his service, President Madison appointed him consul to London during a recess, and he was confirmed at the beginning of the subsequent legislative session. While in London, Aspinwall acted as a literary agent and a liaison between U.S. authors and British publishers. The U.S. historian and Hispanist William Prescott, for instance, engaged with him in this capacity, as did Washington Irving, who was a close friend. He married Louise E. Poignand in 1814, with whom he had seven children. Aspinwall died in Boston in 1876. 

ARCHIVE CONTENTS

1. ALS from Thomas Aspinwall to William L. Marcy, Secretary of State for President Franklin Pierce. Consulate of the United States, London, 29th June 1853. 12.5” x 8”. 12 pp. A retained copy. CONDITION: Very good, light wear. This letter constitutes Aspinwall’s reply to Marcy concerning instructions not to employ non-American clerks. Aspinwall describes the clerks currently working in the office and explains that the office can’t function without them and therefore he cannot comply with Marcy’s directive. 

2. Printed letter hand-signed by Aspinwall to his many business associates in London. London, February 8, 1854. 12.75” x 8”. 4 pp. CONDITION: Very good, a few light stains to page 1, old folds. This letter is addressed to thirty seven different individuals and companies including Barring Brothers & Co., George Peabody, Forbes & Forbes, and others. Aspinwall expresses heartfelt thanks for a letter received from them (the printed copy is attached) and announces his departure from London and return to the U.S. 

3. ALS with its original envelope by Aspinwall to Abbott Lawrence. London, September 16, 1853. 7.25” x 4.4”. 4 pp. in ink. CONDITION: Very good, old folds. Aspinwall thanks Lawrence for his support and mentions disagreements with General Pierce and political opponents, with its original envelope addressed by Aspinwall to Hon. Abbott Lawrence in Boston.

SOME REPRESENTATIVE PASSAGES

“I have seldom in my long life, been more deeply touched, or more highly gratified than by your generous, noble, warmhearted letter of the 30th of last month. I wish I was worth so much good feeling and kind consideration, as you manifest for me. It is an ample offset to the evil the administration have sought to do me, and will go far to reconcile me to the adverse circumstances, with which I have at present to contend. But as I wrote you some time since I do not mean to break my heart because General Pierce thinks fit to displease me. In fact since your letter came, I began to feel as if I had just been emancipated and had, all at once, regained the joyous enthusiasm that accompanied me through some of the most critical periods of my early manhood. I rejoice to hear from you that I am still so kindly remembered and esteemed by my old friends at home. They have sound hearts, sound principals, and sound hearts [sic] and it makes me proud and happy and kindly thought of by men who are the salt of the nation.” 

“I am sorry to see our chief magistrate tamely placing himself at the disposal of a party that appears to set at defiance all that has hitherto been considered respectable. For myself would sooner lose this office or any other a hundred times more lucrative than stoop to the loathsome artifices by which I have been supplanted.” 

“If I would come out to you at once I should rejoice to do so. But I am entangled by various obstacles incident to a sudden removal from a long established position. Indeed I do not see how I can be in the U. States before next spring. My [nephew? daughter?] will probably be here early in October as I learn indirectly. From the Secretary of State I had not had any notice of my dismissal I am told he opposed it as long as he could.” 

“You will see that the Gov. has refused to accept the Sultans modifications of the Vienna note of the 4 powers. Of course the chances are more on the side of __. This state of things causes a drain of bullion—the bank has raised its minimum rate of discount yesterday to 4 ½ p.c. and will no doubt raise it still higher, things in the East of Europe are not speedily adjusted. —A case or two [of] cholera has taken place in Southwark. In Newcastle it is very bad. Mrs. Aspinwall and my daughter write with me in affectionate remembrance to Mrs, Miss and Mrs. Lawrence, Your fast friend T. Aspinwall.” 

Born in Groton, Mass., Abbott Lawrence (1792–1855) was a prominent American businessman, politician, and philanthropist. He founded Lawrence, Massachusetts, and in 1834 he was elected to the 24th Congress as a Whig from Massachusetts. He did not run for renomination to the 25th Congress, but was re-elected to the 26th Congress. In 1842, he was appointed commissioner to settle the Northeastern Boundary Dispute between Canada and the U.S. In 1848, Lawrence was an unsuccessful candidate for the vice-presidency on the Whig ticket, headed by Zachary Taylor. With Taylor’s presidential victory, he offered Lawrence a choice of administrative positions. After rejecting a cabinet appointment, Lawrence chose the post of minister to Great Britain. He was involved in the negotiations of the Clayton-Bulwer Treaty. He resigned in October 1852.

4. ALS by William W. Tucker to Mrs. Lawrence. N.p., October 27, [1853]. 7” x 4.25”. 1 p. With original envelope addressed in Tucker’s hand to Mrs. Lawrence, Park Street. CONDITION: Very good, light wear. Tucker returns Aspinwalls’s letter and thanks her.

5. ALS by Robert C. Winthrop to Mrs. Lawrence. N.p., January 13, 1854. 7.1” x 4.4”. 2 pp. With original envelope addressed to Mrs. Abbott Lawrence, Park St., with initials “R.C.W.” in lower left corner. CONDITION: Very good, old folds. Winthrop returns Col. Aspinwall’s letters and thanks her for the opportunity to read them, noting that they prove “how great a wrong has been done to the best interests of the country by the proscription of the present Administration.” 

Born in Boston, Robert Charles Winthrop (1809–1894) was an American lawyer, philanthropist and Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives. A Whig, Winthrop was elected U.S. Representative from Massachusetts to the 26th U.S. Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Abbott Lawrence; he was reelected to the 27th Congress and served from 1840 to 1842, when he resigned. He was subsequently elected to the 27th Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of his successor Nathan Appleton; he was reelected to the 28th and to the three succeeding Congresses and served from 1842 to 1850, and as the Speaker of the House during the 30th Congress. 

6. ALS by William Aspinwall (Thomas Aspinwall’s son) to Abbott Lawrence addressed “My Dear Sir.” May 4, 1853. 6.9” x 4.4”. 1 p. CONDITION: Very good, old folds. This letter is accompanied by the referred to four-page manuscript copy of the letter from Abbott Lawrence to President Franklin Pierce expressing support for Thomas Aspinwall dated May 2nd, 1853 from Boston. (“I enclose a copy of your note to the President, the original I will send to my father by the next steamer. I wrote myself to the President on Monday…”) With original envelope addressed by Aspinwall to Honorable Abbott Lawrence, Park Street. 

William Aspinwall (1819–1892) was from Brookline Mass, attended Harvard, and was a lawyer. 

7. ALS on blue paper by William P. Mason to Mrs. Abbott Lawrence expressing support for Aspinwall. N.p., March 9, 1854. 7.75” x 4.8”. 2 pp. With original envelope addressed by Mason addressed to Mrs. Abbott Lawrence, Park St. CONDITION: Very good, old folds. This William P. Mason House at 5 Mason Street in Swansea, Mass. is on the National Register of Historic Places. 

8. Large envelope addressed to Mrs. Abbott Lawrence, Park Street. 4.5” x 8.5”. With a pencil notation outside the envelope, “Relating to Col. Aspinwalls’ removal” and inside written in ink, “2 letters from Wm. P. Mason Esq…Mrs. Abbott Lawrence according…to J. March.” 

9. Cabinet photo taken by Morrill’s Studio in Lowell, Massachusetts, probably of William Aspinwall as an old man. Lowell, Massachusetts, [ca. 1880]. 5.6” x 3.9”. CONDITION: Some fading, light wear.

10. Envelope addressed to G. W. Baldwin, Esq. in Austria. CONDITION: Lacking stamp. It seems to be postmarked March 22, 1901, which would be after Aspinwall died. 

Item #8358

Price: $1,250.00