(1815-ca.1842). Lear's 25pp. speech, approx. 4000 words, selfwraps with ms. title page, bound at left margin with a thin ribbon. Lear's prose celebrates the 40th anniversary of the founding of the United States, its Constitution and first President, but also speaks of the more recent events of the War of 1812. Lear's summation of the country's virtues include "extensive territory, a salubrious climate, a fertile soil, & a people hardy, enterprising, brave & virtuous," and a Constitution which has proved its excellence and efficacy in both peace and war: "These are some of the blessings which distinguish us from every other state which has ever been prophesied in history. These attract to our shores the virtuous & the persecuted, and will soon raise us to a proud preeminence among the nations...." The speech was apparently published in the July 9, 1816 edition of the "Daily National Intelligencer," in Washington, DC. An autographed note, signed by Mayor James H. Blake [1p., approx. 26 words], is included here, congratulating Lear and requesting a copy for publication, though we have found no record of a separate printing. Blake was mayor during the siege and burning of the city by the British in 1814.
This group of material also includes two ms. letters from Benjamin Lear in Washington to his stepmother Fanny Dandridge Henley Lear, one from May 7, 1815 [2 1/4 pp., approx. 400 words], and one from May 21, 1815 [3pp., approx. 625 words]. Fanny was away from home visiting relatives in Surry Co., Virginia and Benjamin was reporting on his stewardship of the household, his attempts to sell a calf, and his settling into the house enough to invite people to dinner. He tell her his business in the city has increased greatly and "my dear father [Tobias Lear] advises me to go to Philadelphia in the course of the summer to purchase a library- oh! I shall yet be a great man. I trust, and it is the height of my ambition to be the greatest lawyer in this country...." He also says his father has been suffering with a rheumatic headache. Lear mentions that friends from Gibraltar and Tripoli have recently arrived in the city, including Mr. Morgan who "never heard from any of [their friends in Cadiz] the slightest hint of the malicious report which we had here" regarding Richard S. Hackley, Consul to Cadiz.
The remaining three ms. letters in this collection are joint letters from Benjamin Lear's young daughter Louisa [nicknamed 'Loulean'] and his widow Louisa Sophia Bomford Lear [who had married Richard Derby following Benjamin's death], to her former mother-in-law Fanny Lear. Though none of the three have year dates, Loulean's activities indicate she was under 10 years old at the time. The first letter, dated Dec. 30 [no year] is 3 1/2 pp., approx. 700 words. The first two pages are written in a child's careful hand, complete with smudges, reporting on practicing her Catechism, dancing the "Cachucha," and performing in plays. Her mother's note follows explaining why she has not heard from them sooner, saying it took Loulean about three weeks to write what she did. The next two letters, from July are equally charming and full of the little girl's activities. Item #61758
Benjamin Lincoln Lear was the only child of Tobias Lear, most well known as George Washington's personal secretary and tutor to his step grandchildren. Benjamin was born at the President's house in Philadelphia in 1792 and Washington was named his godparent. His mother Mary "Polly" Long died when he was two, and Tobias married second Frances Bassett Washington, widow of President Washington's nephew George Augustine Washington, and third Frances Dandridge Henley, Martha Washington's niece. Benjamin spent his youth at boarding schools or with his grandmother in New Hampshire. In these letters Benjamin addresses Fanny Dandridge Lear (1779-1856) as "dear mother."
Benjamin Lincoln Lear had a successful career as a lawyer in Washington, DC, until cholera claimed his life in 1832 just shortly before the birth of his only child Louisa.