Henry Livingston, Jr.
Henry Livingston's Letters

Transcription - New York Public Library
Gilbert Livingston Collection

Albany 9 September 1813

Dear Papa;

I arrived in this City last evening with my Neice Elizabeth Breese and shall leave it again at four tomorrow morning, for Boston where she will spend the winter, and probably the year, with her Aunt Salisbury - I shall after spending a few days with her return by the way of Hartford and Poughkeepsie so that in about three weeks and I [presume Papa; ] I shall our [more] be rendered happy by greeting those I love- We left Utica at 6 in the morning and arrived here at 1/2 past eight in the Evening which must I think be called good traveling.

Our friends at the [west?] are in health- In the paper of this morning I observe orders for another Conscription which embraces Oneida and the Counties adjoining-

Give my best love D[ear] mama; and the children-

Affectionately Yours

H.L. Esq.

Elizabeth Breese was the daughter of Arthur Breese and Henry Welles Livingston's sister, Catharine Livingston. Catharine had died in 1808, when Elizabeth was 11 years old. Arthur was left with 9 children, whose ages ranged from 7 months (Mary Davenport Breese) to only 14 (Samuel Breese). By 1813, Samuel was probably off to the Navy (ending his career a rear admiral) and the next oldest brother, Sidney (who ended his career as Chief Justice of the Illinois Supreme Court), was only 13. This most likely explains why Henry, 35 years old at the time, was the one taking his niece to Boston for Arthur.

Aunt Salisbury was Abigail Breese Salisbury, the sister of Arthur Breese and the daughter of Colonel Samuel Breese and Elizabeth Anderson. Abigail had married Josiah Salisbury, a Boston merchant, and they had had two children of their own, Edward Elbridge Salisbury and Elizabeth Martha Salisbury. Since Edward was born in 1814, it's not unreasonable to imagine that Elizabeth Martha might have been named for her first cousin, Elizabeth Breese.

Edward ended up as a famous Yale Oriental scholar. Elizabeth married her cousin, Theodore Dwight Woolsey, another famous Yale scholar, who was also President of Yale Oct. 21, 1846, to Oct. 11, 1871. Woolsey was a grandson of Reverend Benjamin Woolsey, who was also the grandfather of Major Henry Livingston's first wife, Sarah Welles.

But the reunion to which young Henry looked forward was not to be. On Oct 13, 1813, on his way back home through Hartford, Henry Welles Livingston died. His sister Helen wrote these words of her brother.

[NYPL Livingston Microfilm]
Helen Platt Livingston
Daughter of Henry Livingston, Jr. of Po'keepsie

Oh happy youth thy virtues shine
But I am left still to repine
To sigh again, and say thy name
But I a mourner still remain.

Oh that I was a little dove
I'd sing the tender song of love
To yonder vallies I'd repair
And sing my lonely sorrows there.

I'd eat the fruit and drink the stream
While he was walking on the green
And sing soft notes of melody
While he still walk'd in reveri.

Oh were His thoughtful sighs for me
My mournful tunes would change to see
I'd tell him I was not a dove
And only chang'd my form for love.

Perhaps with anger he would say
Go foolish dove go fly away
For I have sorrows yet unknown.
Oh leave me here to mourn alone.

While he stood wondering in surprize
I'd change my form before his eyes.
Alas he'd say are you the dove?
Well! you alone are she I love.

Ah then contentment I would find
And happiness within my mind
In yonder valley we would walk
And of our former sorrow talk

Poetry of [the accomplished]
Miss Helen P. Livingston


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