1842: Richard Harvey Phelps to Chauncey Fitch Cleveland

This letter was written by Richard Harvey Phelps (1813-1885), the son of Roswell Homer Phelps (1788-1881) and Lydia Gay (1790-1826). Richard was married to Mindwell B. Griswold (1814-1854) in 1840.

Gov. Chauncey Cleveland Fitch

Gov. Chauncey Cleveland Fitch

Richard wrote the letter to Chauncey Fitch Cleveland (1799-1887). Cleveland first entered politics in 1826, when he was elected to Connecticut’s House of Representatives. He was reelected in 1827, 1828, 1832, 1835, 1836, and 1838, serving as speaker in 1835 and 1836. He ran unsuccessfully for Congress in 1838 and 1840. Cleveland won the Democratic gubernatorial nomination, and was elected Governor of Connecticut in 1842 by a legislative vote of 139 to 68. He was reelected to a second term in 1843. During his tenure, he advocated for a child labor law that prohibited children under 14 from working more than 10 hours a day, and for legislation that eliminated incarceration for debt. Also enacted during Cleveland’s administration, was funding for a new insane asylum, defensive laws for the protection of Jewish synagogues, and legislation that separated the state into four congressional districts. Cleveland’s reelection bid in 1844 was negated by a legislative vote. After leaving office, Cleveland returned to his law practice though he continued to stay active in public service. He was reelected to the Connecticut House of Representatives, serving from 1847 to 1849, 1863 when he served as speaker, and again in 1866. He served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1849 to 1853. Cleveland helped organize the state Republican Party, and served as a delegate to the Republican National Convention in 1856 and 1860; however he later returned to the Democratic Party. He also was a delegate to the Washington Peace Congress in 1861.

Stampless Letter

Stampless Letter

Addressed to His Excellency Chauncey F. Cleveland, Hampton, Connecticut

East Granby [Connecticut]
12 July 1842

Dear Sir,

I have taken the liberty to address you on the subject of an appointment of Notary Publick as I believe the appointing power now rests with your excellency. I have never before obtruded myself upon the notice of my Democratic friends for any favor, as I have never solicited one from   them before, & although exerted myself long & faithfully in our cause, the chief pleasure I have sought has been the satisfaction of witnessing the signal triumph of patriotic man, & of sound Democratic principles.

You will find no notice of myself in any act of our last General Assembly, which I generously impute to an oversight rather than design in the members, as I mentioned the subject to no one during the session, and it would be gratifying to me now to know that I am not forgotten by the Chief Magistrate of my native state.

My circumstances will now afford leisure to attend to the above or any other appointment as I have recently left successful mercantile pursuits for some years in the city of Hartford, and now attend to the more quiet employment upon my farm in this place, where I should be extremely happy to receive you should you ever be in this vicinity.

I think I may refer you to Mr. [James A.] Hovey, your partner, as I was associated with him some two years since in the convention at Middletown. Also to Gen’l [James T.] Pratt who was at my house a few days since, or to the Hon. John Milton Niles. You perceive, Sir, that I address you in open hearted Democratic confidence considering it more honest to be frank in the matter than to reply around the outskirts.

I am very respectfully yours, — Richard H. Phelps


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