1844: H. N. Clark to William Whitford Reynolds

This letter was written by H. N. Clark of House Creek, Irwin county, Georgia. I cannot confirm his identity though he may be Horatio N. Clark (b. @ 1815) of Troy, Rensselaer county, New York, who was in Georgia prior to the Mexican War and enlisted as an artificer at the Augusta Arsenal. Another person—perhaps the same individual—with those same initials and a native of New York, is enumerated in the 1850 US Census at Notasassa, Hillsborough, Florida.

Clark wrote the letter to William Whitford Reynolds (1816-1876), son of Parley and Esther Reynolds. William was about the same age as Clark. He was born in Petersburg, Rensselaer county, New York, on Sept. 25, 1816. William received a common school education, and at the age of fifteen had completed his studies. About this time he settled on a farm with his parents, following the occupation of a farmer and receiving his property from his father. He married Mary, daughter of Braddock Peckham, of Grafton, by whom four children were born, of whom one only, Charles W., is living. Mrs. Mary Reynolds was born in Grafton.

Both Clark and William Reynolds were staunch supporters of the Democratic party.

Polk & Dallas Campaign Banner 1844


Irwin county [Georgia]
Tuesday morning, October 29th 1844

Dear Sir,

Yours of September 20th came duly at hand stating your health was not very good at present. I am very sorry to hear that you have not got rid of that sore throat yet. If you will make a cup of strong sage tea and put eight or ten drops of egg fortes to it and gargle it for three times a day, you will soon get rid of it. My health is very bad at present.

Judge Lott Warren of Georgia warned fellow members of Congress in 1841, “…no power, earthly, can can control them [Georgians] in their resistance to the death of any interference with their property rights.”

I attended court in the city of Hawkinsville [Pulaski county, Ga.] last week and as court adjourned, I proposed that we have a meeting for political discussion. Accordingly a meeting was appointed on Saturday. N. V. Johnston being present [and] he being a Democratic Candidate for elector, he was first called for I never heard a more powerful speaker than he was. He was then replied to by Judge [Lott] Warren, ex member of Congress, for two hours. We then adjourned for dinner. After dinner, my having called for the meeting, I was called on and spoke for three hours and a half. My lungs having failed me, I was obliged to sit down for I commenced bleeding at the lungs. A doctor being present, it was soon stopped. I was replied to by William H[arris] Crawford who had been beaten for Congress by Seaborn Jones, a thorough Democrat. It has been said by many who are good speakers that my speech was the most powerful speech ever delivered in Georgia and N. V. Johnston has requested me to write the speech. I shall comply with his request.

I have made 78 speeches since I started on the campaign and never exerted myself as I did on the last occasion. I promised Johnston to meet him in the city of Savannah next Saturday to speak at a meeting held by the Whigs. I am sorry that my lungs cannot hold out till the Presidential Election to speak daily.

“The Whigs may talk and sing over their Clay and Frelinghuysen. Harry may go home to Ashland and stay there and his Frelinghuysen may sing psalms and shed his tears in sympathizing over the unfortunate Indians that were in Georgia while he preaches and prays to his Abolition brothers for the slaves of the South. Georgia knows them both too well.”

— H. N. Clark, 29 October 1844

Since our October election, it seems that Federalism has no resting place in Georgia. The triumph is overwhelming for the cause of Democracy. Georgia is safe-sure for Polk and Dallas. The Whigs may talk and sing over their Clay and Frelinghuysen. Harry may go home to Ashland and stay there and his Frelinghuysen may sing psalms and shed his tears in sympathizing over the unfortunate Indians that were in Georgia while he preaches and prays to his Abolition brothers for the slaves of the South. Georgia knows them both too well. This Indian government they wanted to establish within the limits of Georgia is too well recollected if they were not Federalists and tariffites and not opposed to Texas and the South, for the voters of Georgia to support them for President. It would be with affectation to conceal the sincere and heartfelt gratification which pervades the bosom of every friend of the Republican cause on the glorious triumph that has crowned the efforts of the Democracy.

We had confidently anticipated a majority favorable to our cause. But when the gales brought on their wings the glad tidings of a radical and overwhelming Revolution, we experienced a thrill of joy which we are proud to acknowledge. The result is one of transitory importance but has decided issues of transcendent magnitude. It is not investing it with too great importance to say that it decides the question as to the vote of the state in November next for the Presidency. It proves that 1844 is not 1840, and that the coons [Whigs] of that period “fat and sleek” have dwindled down to a lean, lank, decrepit animal—a fair representation of Federal Whiggery. It demonstrates too that Henry Clay is not Harrison, and that hundreds and thousands who enlisted under “Tip and Ty” have now returned to their first love.

All recollect the chilling influence pronounced upon the Democrats of 1840 by their unexpected defeat in Georgia. All acknowledge the encouraging effect of the glorious triumph now. It has inspired the patriot with renewed confidence in the stability and prosperity of our happy institutions affording the most cheering evidence of the increasing attachment of the people of Georgia to the principles of the South and of the firm devotion to the constitution of the government. We are entitled to eight members to Congress and two Senators. We now stand equal 4 & 1.

When I commence writing upon politics, I don’t know when to stop. For fear of saying too much on politics, I will close by saying that you must excuse my bad writing. You know that I never was a writer.

I am glad to hear that Noyes is at the study of law. He must also make politics his study. I am likewise very sorry to hear of Stiles meeting with such a misfortune. You never have let me into the mystery of your own case. I hope you will not withhold it from me any longer. You did not write whether any of those young married people have children yet nor whether you have had anymore marriages. I suppose Emily has an heir by this time. Write what the people are all doing. I expect M. child is walking about and talking. Write me when you have seen her and what she is doing. Tell M. C. and the old man they must go for [ ] for I have a thousand dollars but that they are elected and will stake another thousand.

You must write as soon as you receive this for soon after election which comes the same day yours does, I shall start for East Florida to my plantation and from there if my health continues bad, I will either go to Key West or Texas. I want to wind up my business so that I can come North to spend some four months at Saratoga or Lebanon [Springs]. My partner tells me we can do it is people won’t [ ] on us as they have this year.

Give my respects to your father’s family and Z. M. C. I remain yours till death, — H. N. Clark

Send me the names of your candidates for electors and of the county officers.

I intend coming North in time to spend the Fourth of July if you should have a celebration. You might perhaps give me a chance to speak for you on the occasion if you should think me worthy. I would endeavor to do my best. I have no doubt but Noyes is a good speaker by this time. Direct your letters as you have done before at House Creek Post Office.

Last year the Whigs elected their Governor by 3,000. We now have a popular vote of 3,000 and will enlarge it in November.

This letter was neglected to be mailed by my servant until I arrived home from Savannah. This letter was mailed in Jacksonville in consequence of my being attending court.

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