Description: Sherman's close friend, Margaret Middleton, gifted him with Henry Cabot Lodge's recently published biography of George Washington several days ahead of Sherman's 70th birthday (February 8, 1890). Middleton obviously knew that Sherman admired Washington - feelings clearly expressed again in this letter - and chose the gift accordingly, but he unfortunately appears less than enthusiastic about receiving it. He doubts that he'll learn anything new, but nevertheless pledges to read "every word" in this thank-you letter:
"I am this moment 11:30 pm back from Brooklyn whither I went to welcome back home the Rev'd T DeWitt Talmage an enthusiastic earnest and good man. Indeed I have been too busy to read enough of the volumes you were thoughtful enough to send me to answer your kind note properly; but as you date your gift Feb. 8 it gives me the Bankers grace of three days, when I may answer in person. After Washington Irving's five volumes of Washington and Sparks 12 volumes of his letters and correspondence, Lodge must be a brave man to venture any more, but in due time I will read every word of the two volumes for the sake of the donor, and it may be with instruction to myself. I have seen at Washington City some private letters which satisfy me that George had some traits of humanity and love of fun which actually elevate his memory in my estimation above the stern unbending saint he is usually represented. Every People creates its own saint, and we are especially favored in ours, for Washington was above the really great men of his period and will stand the sternest test of comparison with the patrons of Greece, Rome, France, and England. But of this after I have read this new book: meantime know that such delicate tokens of recognition on the occurrence of my 70th Birth day from friends such as you are warmly valued. Affectionately, W.T. Sherman"
This is an autograph letter signed, written on three pages of a sheet of ruled writing paper measuring approximately 9.25" x 11" when unfolded. Also included here is the transmittal envelope; the lack of stamp, cancellations, and return address on the envelope indicate that Sherman likely had a messenger deliver this letter, something he often did when corresponding with Middleton. Item #A01040
William Tecumseh Sherman (1820-1891) served in the US military for a number of years before resigning to spend more than a decade as a banker, businessman, and superintendant of a military academy. He rejoined the military for the US Civil War, becoming one of its most famous generals for leading Union troops across the south in "scorched earth" campaigns. After the War he continued his military career and was promoted to General of the Army, his troops primarily fighting Native Americans along the wagon trails and railroads. In retirement, he was a constant presence at New York's theatres, lectures, and galleries, and also occasionally thrilled audiences at speaking engagements.
Margaret Lee Middleton (1848-1921) was a Manhattan socialite, who was a skilled and respected genealogist and librarian for many years. She also dedicated a portion of her time to work with charitable organizations. Like Sherman, she was an aficionado of theatre and the arts. Although she was nearly three decades younger than Sherman, the two struck up a close relationship in the 1880s based on their common interests, and often attended events together. It seems they may have been introduced by mutual friend, Mary Thompson Hunt, whose 1884 death brought them closer.
Condition: Fold lines; generally in very good condition. An interesting insight into Sherman's views on Washington, and a candid peek at one of his somewhat less-graceful social interactions.