1834: Melzar Gardner to William S. Holabird

This letter was written by Melzar  Gardner (1810-1843), an editor and publisher of various Connecticut newspapers and literary publications. His politics were Republican. He married Martha Griswold (1814-1890) in 1832.

Gardner wrote the letter to William S. Holabird (1794-1855), the son of William D. Holabird and his wife, the former Dorcas Bird. He married Adaline Catlin, daughter of Abijah and Orinda (Williams) Catlin. In 1831 and 1833, Holabird was unsuccessful as a Democratic candidate for Congress and was appointed by Andrew Jackson in 1834 as U.S. Attorney for the District of Connecticut. As such he presented the government’s argument in the Amistad case. Holabird was later elected the Lieutenant Governor of Connecticut for two consecutive terms, serving from May 4, 1842 to May 1, 1844, while Chauncey Fitch Cleveland was governor. Cleveland was succeeded as governor in 1844 by Roger S. Baldwin from the Whig party. Baldwin was known for his defence in the Amistad Case, where Holabird had been the government’s attorney. William S. Holabird died at Winchester, Litchfield County, Connecticut, on May 20, 1855. Source: Wikipedia

Stampless Letter


Addressed to William S. Holabird, Esq., Post Master, Winchester, Connecticut

Page 1

Litchfield [Connecticut]
January 15th 1834

Dear Sir,

I have just received the doings of our Convention, and am not a little surprised at the result. However, to use a lackadaisical expression, “I suppose it’s all for the best.”

But the maneuver of the Enquirer today is the most astonishing. Who would have thought it? [Elisha] Sterling is nominated in that paper as the National Republican Candidate for Senator from the 17th District. To be sure, it is a private nomination, but that is the course usually pursued by the Nationals in that District, and coming out as it does on the day for holding the Convention, where he will probably be nominated also, places me in a dilemma. What shall I do? If he accepts the Federal nomination, he may get Federal support if he can, for aught I shall do for him. If he accepts the nomination of the Convention, he must disclaim and reject the other, or ——–

Page 2

I intend writing to him as soon as I can learn the result of their Convention, or in case he is their nominated, and unless he will positively and unequivocally deny all previous knowledge of the article in the Enquirer, and deny also what is there asserted with regard to his Nationalism (with permission to publish his letter), I shall not support him. In fact, believing as I do, that an honorable defeat is better than an inglorious victory, that the votes of the Democracy of that District had better be lost upon a true man than given to a doubtful or a false one, who by refusing or neglecting voluntarily to deny an article like the one in question, tacitly assents to it. I should think it best under such circumstances to call exclusive Jackson Democratic Meetings in the several towns, call another Convention, and nominate some one who is either one thing or another.

Bottom Page 2

I intend writing to Mr. [John M.] Niles on this subject tonight. It is a critical case with us throughout the whole county. I could if time permitted state some suppositions (but still probabilities) in relation to the 16th District, which if they prove realities, will render our success there, with merely a nominal Democrat for a candidate, to say the least extremely doubtful. Write me soon as convenient.

Page 3

Very Respectfully, — Melzar Gardner


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