Washington, D. C., January 4 and January 31, 1868. 2 letters: January 4/January 11, 1868 letter, 4 pp. approx. 9.75 x 7.5 inches plus a 1 pp. penciled addendum on lined 8 x 5 inch paper. January 31, 1868 letter: 4 pp., lined bifolium, approx. 8 x 5 inches. Some iight wear and soil to the cover; in fine condition, easily legible. Item #17073
Good content and keen observation in the Reconstruction Era from a veteran now in Washington with the Quatermaster Corps, His earlier letter refers to Washington as “so far from civilization (don’t let any of the natives see this)” and after some banter suggesting Lizzie marry a Cape Cod fisherman, “none of your taper waist, Yellow Kid stock, but stout healthy boys,” he notes a visit from Mr. Hopkins, “he has been to Richmond, Petersburg and Fredericksburg since he arrived.” Smith resumes this first letter on January 11 and notes, “Washington is gay as ever in the winter season. On New Years day Mr. Hopkin and I visited the president (A. J .) Gen. Grant, Gov. Sprague - where Mr. Hopkins got up quite a flirtation with his wife - Chief Justice Chace and a few lesser lights, where we were asked to take a cracker and cheese (not a whole cheese) and for fear they would not go down far enough made us drink some eggs, sugar, spice, and water and for fear the eggs *might* be bad, soe of them, some whiskey was put i to keep them from hurting us or bringing on a pain under the vest. But I felt as though towards night that some of the eggs must have been bad for I had to unbutton my vest.” (He notes that during last year’s New Year’s calls he visited “eight places and they had coffeee at seven of them and would have had it at the eighth only it was more work to wash cups and saucer than wine glasses they thought, having only one wine glass, but coffee has not tasted so good to me since.”) Presumably President Johnson did not have many opportunities for convivial eggnog over the course of the new year given the impending impeachment, etc. The letter from January 31 notes that Smith has received a letter from their Aunt Lizzie, “Her letter was five pages long, and four pages on *politicks*, as ‘Pollard’ spells it. But you know I like to have her write on such subjects, for her opinion is worth more than half the opinions of me.” Smith asks Blanding to supply local opinions on current taxation, “Now you know the mills are stopping, wages being reduced, and the channels of propserity being completely blocked up. Here South I know what ought to be done, and know the *voice* of the the *people.* I know that the tax on cotton should be taken off as it is, it does not pay to raise it. . . . Rice is the only thing that is paying South and that is raised by Northern capital. Southern men never did work, and *will not* now. They lay round idle, letting their plantations run to tack and ruin, waiting for ‘something to turn up.’ They have great faith in A. J. [President Andrew Johnson] and the late elections has led them to do less than ever, for they think that by some means or other the old times will come back, *or* that they will get compensation for the slaves that they lost.” (Smith supplies other examples of the economic situation in the South.) “Now Lizzie in regard to the North, just enquire as I said before what the people think your way. Send me a paper if you have one handy.” One original cover included.