On December 31, 1837, Democrat Amasa J. Parker, congressman from New York, sat down in his quarters in Mrs. Pittman’s boarding house in Washington, D.C., to write a letter to his wife, miles away at their Catskills home in Delhi, New York.
You write that you are sick and have been for a fortnight and did not inform me before. Is this right? I should have informed you if I were sick…I have been meditating what I should do…I ought to be with you to take care of you for I am sure we can take care of each other better than any body else can.
Illustrated Letter, Amasa J. Parker to Harriet Parker…December 31, 1837. (Amasa J. Parker Papers). Manuscript Division
Parker’s letter of December 31 includes a seating chart indicating Mrs. Pittman’s regular diners, a group that included future presidents Millard Fillmore of New York and James Buchanan of Pennsylvania.
The Amasa J. Parker Papers, 1836-1875 contain more than sixty letters written by Parker to his wife during his term of 1837-39. Perhaps Parker’s frustration at being far from his wife during her illness was a factor in his decision not to run for reelection. At the end of his term, he returned home to Delhi to private life.
Parker resumed the practice of law and continued his political service, but confined his activities to the state of New York. Parker went on to become a circuit judge in Albany and one of the founders of Albany Law School.
- Search the collection A Century of Lawmaking for a New Nation: U.S. Congressional Documents and Debates, 1774-1875 to peruse the records and acts of Congress. Included is the text of the twenty-six volume series, Letters of Delegates to Congress, 1774-1789, which reveals, through letters to loved ones as well as to colleagues, the thoughts of individual delegates about the process they were involved in during this critical period of the founding of the United States.
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- The “birds-eye view” maps in Panoramic Maps, just one category in the Maps collections, may be viewed at different magnifications with the “zoom” feature. This feature permits the viewer to take a closer look at the fine detailing of the images of the towns pictured. To experiment with the “zoom” feature, take a closer look at the map of Delhi, New York, home to Congressman Amasa J. Parker when he served in the Twenty-fifth Congress, as it appeared fifty years after he wrote this letter. Or, browse Maps by State to locate a map of your own hometown or a nearby location.