To William B. Howell
Washington D.C. 22 Oct. 1854
My Dear Sir,
I am in receipt of yours of the 16st Inst enclosing a check for three
hundred dollars drawn by Pickett, McMurdo & Co. in my favor, on
Saml. Harris & Sons.
The proceeds will be placed at the disposal of Mrs. Howell as
instructed. Present circumstances render it difficult to say when and by
wha[t] route she had best return home. The western rivers are too low
to be relied on and Fever and Cholera combine to render that route
objectionable. The sea voyage would bring them throug[h] a tropical
climate to your city fro[m] which it appears the yellow fever h[as] not
entirely disappeared and the se[ason] is such as suggests rough weather
off the Atlantic coast. The Southern or Rail Road route has such
frequent changes as to be scarcely suitable for a Lady with helpless
children. It has seemed to me proper under this stat[e] of case to delay
for a while the contemplated journey, but I will confer more fully with
Mrs. H. and advise you before any action is take[n.]
I must ask your forgiveness for my failure to reply at an earlier
date to your’s of the 16th Ult. and can only say in extenuation that I
should have been more prompt if I had been able to make a definite or
important reply. The Post Master at New orleans has not been removed and
I have not learned that it had been decided to remove him. Mr. Nevitt
wrote to me on the subject and I referred his letter to the P.M. Genl.
with such an endorsement in relation to Mr. N’ character and position as
information derived from you and others justified. The office as you
are aware has no official relation to the War Dept. and I could not give
any assurance as to the selection which would be made in the case of a
new appointment. Several persons of much influence have been strongly
recommended as a su[c]cessor to Mr. Kendall and if Mr Nevitt wishes to
be considered as a Candidate it would be well for him to send on his
recommendations and have them on file in the event of a vacancy.
Mrs. Howell is in better health than when she arrived, the children have improved more than their Mothe[r.]
Varina is not well, for some time past has suffered greatly fro[m] a
nervous cough and is subject to painful depressions the consequence
[of?] irreparable grief.
I hope William will have returned to New Orleans before this reaches
and have received the promotion which I have learned is designed for
him. The duty on which he went to Arkansas was important and difficult
beyond the trusts usually confined to persons of his age, but I
anticipate success and increased consideration for him as the result. I
have much confidence in him and look forward to his future career as
likely to be you asource of pride and pleasure.
It always gives me real gratification to receive a letter from you
and though I should seem negligent in replying it cannot proceed from a
want for either regard or respect or of that affectionate solicitude
with which I am ever yours
From The Papers of Jefferson Davis, Volume 5, pp. 91-92. Transcribed from privately owned original.