Description: This letter, one in a decades-long chain of correspondence between Buchanan and his nephew, James B. Henry, was written a little over a year before Buchanan's death (from respiratory failure and "rheumatic gout"); he was ill on and off for his last few years, and clearly expected to pass away even sooner than he did.
After opening the letter with a vague discussion of an "unfortunate affair" that his banker, Mr. Riggs, of Riggs & Company bank in Washington D.C. - known as 'The President's Bank' - "has already had too much trouble with," Buchanan writes to his nephew: "I have determined to make you a present of the interests due on your Bond...If I should live until the 1 April 1868, I shall then expect you to pay the interest... if not, the principal & interest... will be a charge against whatever I may leave you by my will [Buchanan wrote his will three months prior to this letter, so he already knew what he planned to leave to Henry, but clearly was keeping quiet about that]. I enclose you a check in favor of Mr. Scholl for $4000, which he may invest in New York City Loan, or any other secure loan that you may deem more advisable."
Buchanan then asks Henry to find out if Mr. Scholl would be available "to dine with me on my birth day the 23 or any other day more convenient to him; as I wish to invite a few friends to meet him. I have never celebrated my birth day; and it is not material that he should be with me on that very day." Buchanan closes the letter with a personal update - regarding a funeral he attended and the recovery of Miss Hetty, Buchanan's longtime housekeeper and friend of both men, from an accident - "The doctor says she may now walk on a crutch. She sends her love to you." Buchanan signs, as he did many letters to Henry, "Yours affectionately, James Buchanan"
James Buchanan (1791-1868) was a lawyer, US Representative, US Senator, Minister to Russia and Great Britain, and Secretary of State before being elected the 15th President of the United States. He served from 1857-1861; the devolving debate over slavery and the Panic of 1857 dominated his term in office.
Written on two pages of a sheet of plain white writing paper. Buchanan's handwriting is smaller and slightly wavery compared to his younger days, but is still easy to read. Measures approximately 8" x 12.5" when unfolded. Item #A00727
Condition: A few short separations at the edges of some of the fold lines. Generally in very good condition.