Salem, New York: March 4th 1815. Envelope or Cover. This four-page stampless folded letter measures 15.5”x9” unfolded. It is datelined “March 4th 1815”. It bears a manuscript Salem, New York postmark of the same date and a “25½” rate mark which includes a 50% surcharge added to the normal rate of 17 cents charge to mail a letter between 150 and 300 miles. In nice shape. A transcript will be provided.
It was sent by “M T” in Salem to her sister, Mrs. Elizabeth Magee, in New York City. Although filled with news of family and friends, its primary purpose was to joyfully announce the end of the War of 1812.
“The Happy change which has taken place in Our land calls forth all my gratitude to Him who has wrought so great a deliverance for us & put to stop the effusions of human blood. . .. Fearfully have I anticipated the return of spring expecting nothing less than you would be obliged to leave your home for a shelter amongst strangers. . .. I cannot help saying the God of Battle has been on our side. . .. I am very happy to tell you that a treaty of peace was made . . . a month ago . . . but I much dread a recommencement of Hostilities, as one of the articles has been Shamefully Violated for Eight days back, but I am fully persuaded it will be borne if it is possible. . ..
Will Scott & Robert go to sea again do you think, or will they pursue some other avocation. . .. Dad ought to treat your mama & himself with a Voyage to England Scotland &c &c. I expect many will be going from all parts. I think our commissioners must have had a fine time of it, but they are heartily welcome since they have concluded with peace. . ..”. Very good. Item #009897
After the U.S. Senate unanimously approved the treaty on 16 February 1815, President James Madison exchanged ratification papers with a British diplomat in Washington on 17 February, and the treaty was proclaimed on 18 February. Therefore, it seems odd that a woman in Salem, a remote New York town on the Vermont border, would have had knowledge of that before her sister in New York City. Even more surprising, she knew that the British had already violated one of its articles; on 24 February, at the Battle of St. Mary’s, Rear Admiral Sir George Cockburn, the same British officer who directed the burning of Washington, D.C. in 1814, ordered a company of Royal Marines to attack American forces upriver near Folkston, Georgia, despite knowing full well that the war had formally ended.