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Secretary of State Evarts Accepts Invitation to Protestant Episcopal Convention: “The Bishops I think should be au gratin and the laymen chilled”
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WILLIAM M. EVARTS. Autograph Letter Signed, to William A. Seaver, Washington, DC, October 15, 1880. 2 pp., 4⅞ x 8 in.

Inventory #24958       Price: $450

Complete Transcript


Oct. 15. 1880

My dear Mr. Seaver,

Your very kind note and the menu you give of the company makes it certain that I will drive with you on Thursday if I stay on after my speech at Bklyn Wednesday night.

The Bishops I think should be au gratin and the laymen chilled. <2>

                                                            Yours very truly

                                                            Wm M. Evarts

Wm A. Seaver Ny

Historical Background

The General Convention of the Protestant Episcopal Church met in New York City from October 6 to October 27, 1880. Seaver invited Evarts to attend. Evarts was already planning to be in New York that week. On Wednesday, October 20, 1880, he gave an address to the Brooklyn Young Men’s Republican Club regarding “the Southern question,” the tariff, and labor problems. He supported the presidential candidacy of Republican James A. Garfield over Democrat Winfield S. Hancock as a successor to President Rutherford B. Hayes, who did not run for reelection.

Evarts had been instrumental in urging Congress to accept France’s 1877 offer of the Statue of Liberty, and in passing a bill that allocated funds for the construction of the pedestal. In addition to serving as Secretary of State, he directed American fundraising efforts as chairman of the American Committee of the Statue of Liberty, and spoke at the dedication in 1886, when Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi’s statue was finally inaugurated in New York Harbor.

William M. Evarts (1818-1901) was born in Massachusetts and graduated from Yale College in 1837. He attended Harvard Law School and was admitted to the bar in 1841. He married Helen Wardner in 1843, and they had twelve children between 1845 and 1862, all born in New York City. In 1849, he became an assistant United States attorney for the district of New York, a position he held until 1853. He supported William H. Seward’s presidential aspirations and chaired the New York delegation to the Republican National Convention to Chicago in 1860. During President Andrew Johnson’s impeachment trial, Evarts served as Johnson’s chief counsel. Evarts served as United States Attorney General from July 1868 until March 1869. He returned to private practice in New York, where he served as the first president of the New York City Bar Association from 1870 to 1879. In 1872, he was counsel for the U. S. before an international tribunal in Switzerland regarding claims against Great Britain for ships destroyed by the CSS Alabama and other Confederate ships that were built in and sailed from British ports during the Civil War. From 1877 to 1881, he served as Secretary of State under President Rutherford B. Hayes, and represented N.Y. in the U. S. Senate from 1885 to 1891.

William A. Seaver (1815-1883) was born in Albany, and he served as the editor of the Buffalo Daily Courier from 1848 to 1858. He moved to New York city, where he edited the weekly Protestant Churchman, and served as a correspondent for several newspapers in the South and West. In 1868, he joined the staff of Harper’s Magazine and took charge of the “Editor’s Drawer,” devoted to national contributions. He also conducted the “Personal” department for Harper’s Weekly and Harper’s Bazaar, and was well-known as a raconteur and humorist. Following his death, Harper’s Weekly noted, “a host of literary men will join William M. Evarts, Judge Brady, and scores of others eminent on the bench, at the bar, in the pulpit, as well as in the journalistic profession here, in doing honor to [Seaver’s] memory.”[1]


Fine, with light toning.


[Evarts speech at Brooklyn Academy of Music, Wed. Oct 20, 1880

[1] Harper’s Weekly (New York, NY), January 27, 1883, 51:3.

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