Letter to Mary N. Collamer, February 17, 1844

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Washington City Feb 17, 1844Mary,

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I went last week to the party of Mr Wickliffe the Post Master General and staid about one hour. It is impossible for me to give you any description of the party but to say it was a great crowd of people of all ages & both sexes, but very well dressed, fashionable & well behaved. These parties of heads of the departments are composed only of those who have recd. invitations but, at the Presidents all go who choose & of course it is a motley company.

At Mr Wickliffes house were four parlors of ordinary size, that is two on each side of the entry or hall & each of these over threw open on into two long parlors & all was crowded so as to move with difficulty. A small space was cleared for cotillion dancing in one end of our room. A large part of the company was members of congress but many citizens of the city & a great display of ladies. I never saw such any such display of female dress, ornaments, & . I saw there Mr Upham & lady, but they were occupying but small space or attention & I there also saw Mr Geo. Marsh & lady. At these parties persons are constantly coming and going when they please & without looking back. I left in about an hour.

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I have formed a considerable acquaintance with the whig members of Congress in both houses, but with very few of the other side and indeed except in the way of duty in the house and on committee little intercourse takes place between the members of different parties with a few exceptions. At our Congressional prayer meeting, Saturday evenings, we form acquaintances with those who are professors of religion of both parties and I think the whole of that number does not exceed thirty, out of about three hundred. I have attended that meeting every Saturday evening but one since I came here.

There is not much visiting among the members & still less among ladies. Gentlemen are occasionally invited to dine with a different mess & on such occasions they go without their ladies. Several different members have dined with our mess & our gentlemen have dined out. I yesterday dined with a very fine mess & had a sumptuous dinner. All whigs.

I have adventured upon eating ice cream. I concluded it was easier to do it than make eternal apologies. I do not yet admire it.

Yesterday two young men of this city, the one about nineteen & the other twenty and fought a duel with rifles a few miles from the city & the eldest was shot in the head & carried to his mothers house for she is a widow, & died this morning. It is wonderful to learn from this proper talk of such transactions, and justify & sustain them.

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Mr. Lyman wrote to me to pay over for him here two dollars which I have done & I send you the receipt. Hand it to Mr Johnson who will give it to Mr Lyman & take the amount & hand you.

I have sent by mail a of note paper, being sound of that which is furnished to me. Hand a half quire of it to Harriet.

Tell Mary I shall call on Mrs Mayhew if I go to Baltimore but I should hardly feel authorized to go there to spend a Sabbath until I was acquainted with Mr Mayhew.

I am much relieved as to my anxiety as to the epidemic. Bless Lord.

Give my respects to Mr Wright & say to him I will write him soon.

Mrs Mary N. Collamer.

With love to our children I remain Your Affectionate HusbandJ. Collamer