Letter written by Samuel Andrews, postmaster of Rochester NY to Alexander Abell, who was commissioned by President Tyler to write an anonymous flattering biography of him, to improve his public image. In exchange Abell was given an appointment as consul to Hawaii.
Notes from Abell on envelope:
Red ‘ROCHESTER DEC 10 NY’ and ‘FREE’. Also has the PM's handwritten name for free franking.
4 pages, one with text. Folded into an envelope.
In early 1843, President John Tyler began his quest to annex Texas into the union, believing this initiative was his only chance to get reelected. Though elected on the Whig ticket as a Vice President to William Henry Harrison, and elevated to the Presidency after Harrison’s death in office, Tyler showed his true colors as a Democrat while President and alienated himself from his Whig supporters. To secure the annexation of Texas, Tyler began the process of replacing cabinet members with pro-annexation politicians and to improve his public image. In exchange for an appointment as consul to Hawaii, journalist Alexander G. Abell — a former secretary of President Tyler — wrote a flattering biography called The Life of John Tyler.
The library at Syracuse University houses a collection of 26 letters (see Alexander G. Abell Correspondence) of a similar nature as this letter which were all between 1843 and 1844 in response to a mail canvass for subscribers to Abell’s Life of John Tyler, issued by Harper & Brothers. Their collection is summarized: “Published anonymously, the book was written in an effort to neutralize public opinion toward Tyler, who had succeeded to the American Presidency upon the death of incumbent Benjamin Harrison only a month after taking office. Shortly thereafter, Tyler lost the battle for Whig Party leadership to Henry Clay, and became a President without a party. The letters in the collection reflect an interest in restoring Tyler’s reputation before the American public, which largely regarded his term in office as a failed presidency.”