The Papers of Joseph Henry


My Dear H.

I wrote to you by the afternoon mail and I fear my letter[2] was rather gloomy. Since writing I have seen Mr Owen[3] the vice President Bache and others and the prospect is rather brighter. The committee on the building[4] I think will pause and I am certain they will very much reduce their plans of expenditure.
Mr Owen will stop if he is not pushed on by the others. Mr Preston[5] I found did not leave the city and is still at Gadsby's[6] his convictions of the necessity of having the whole matter reconsidered is strengthened.
Bache has come more warmly into my views—the boldness of the measure took him by surprise and alarmed his prudence but he is now fully impress with the importance of staying proceedings[7] and I think there is but little doubt that things will yet[B] go right. I am now in much better sperits than when you left. Before the break of day is the darkest time— Honest intention with industry properly applied will I am sure make head way against any thing of personal interest or local object. It is quite chilly to night the large room is not very chearful in the way of fire and Miss Frost[8] has allowed me but one candle. I regret this because it does not look quite as liberal as we had though her. I suppose hower that it is the custom and therefore I must submit.
I wrote to John Ludlow[9] and prepared a note for Mary giving her in a few words the contents of your letter and telling her that on account of your having suddenly concluded to start for home you had left a letter to her unfinished every other consideration but that of seeing your children having for the moment been driven out of your head.
This must be in the mail to night or it will not start in the morning so I must close with the assurance that I am more than ever your own
Family Correspondence, Henry Papers, Smithsonian Archives.
    [1] Harriet had been visiting Henry in Washington from February 22 until the date of this letter. Henry to James Henry, February 22, 1847, and Henry to Harriet Henry, March 13, 1847, Family Correspondence, Henry Papers, Smithsonian Archives.
    [2] Family Correspondence, Henry Papers, Smithsonian Archives.
    [3] Robert Dale Owen, chair of the building committee of the Board of Regents.
    [4] In addition to Owen, the members of the building committee were William W. Seaton and Joseph G. Totten. William J. Hough sat on the committee during Colonel Totten's absence from Washington to participate in the Mexican War. Rhees, Journals, p. 33.
    [5] Preston had attended the meeting of the Board of Regents on March 1, 1847. It was the only meeting he ever attended. Rhees, Journals, pp. 39, 747.
    [6] Also known as the National Hotel, Gadsby's was one of Washington's leading hotels and a favorite with politicians. Henry Papers, 3:134; James Goode, Capital Losses: A Cultural History of Washington's Destroyed Buildings (Washington, 1979), pp. 168–170.
    [7] If Henry was to influence the issuing of the building contract, he had to act quickly. On February 17, the building committee had ordered Renwick's specifications printed for the use of contractors, with a deadline of March 10 (later extended to March 15) for receiving construction bids. Rhees, Journals, pp. 597, 599.
    [8] John T. Frost ran a boarding house on Capitol Hill. Washington City Directory, 1846.
    [9] One of Henry's acquaintances from Albany and provost of the University of Pennsylvania. Henry Papers, 1:106n. The letter has not been found.
    [A] From internal evidence.
    [B] Altered from g