American Presidents

James Buchanan

James Buchanan

In the following letter, James Buchanan, then serving as a Minster to Russia, writes to his brother on news of their mother's death.

St. Petersburg 20 July 1833

My dear Brother/

The news was a severe & unexpected blow. I had hoped, by the blessing of God, to see her once more on this side of eternity.
I received your kind letters of the 7 & 17 May, on yesterday afternoon; the latter communicating the melancholy intelligence of mother's death. The news was a severe & unexpected blow. I had hoped, by the blessing of God, to see her once more on this side of eternity. Indeed this desire was one of the chief reasons which made me so reluctant to spend another winter in Russia. But it has been the will of the Almighty to take her to himself, & we must bow in humble reverence. I received, at the same time, a letter from Mr. Henry, which gave me the consolatory assurance that she had died the death of a christian, & that her latter end was peace.

It is my present intention to leave St. Petersburg on the 7 August: and I feel almost confident, with the blessing of Heaven, that I shall be able, with propriety, to bring all the business of my mission to a close before that day. My present purpose is to go by the Steam Boat to Lubeck, & thence by Hamburg, Amsterdam, the Hague, & Brussels to Paris where I shall probably spend a fortnight. I shall then proceed to London, Edinburg,,Glasgow, Belfast & Dublin, from which City I intend to cross over to Liverpool & sail for New York by the Packet of the 24 October. It is my intention, if possible, to see Romilton & Derry. I hope to reach the United States in the beginning of December.

I have recently returned from a very agreeable excursion to Moscou; but I must defer a description of this City, the ancient Capital of the Czars, until we meet again. Whilst there I visited the celebrated monastery of Troitza at the distance of 40 miles. In the estimation of the Russians, it is a very holy place. It was anciently a strong fortress which contained a palace as well as a convent: & is much connected with the history of Russia. The sovereigns formerly made pilgrimages on foot from Moscou to the shrine of St. Sierge, at this monastery. The Empress Catherine the second was the last who performed this act of devotion. Going & returning there, I am confident we met at the least 10,000 pilgrims on foot. They appeared to be of a low order of people & the great majority were females.---I have but little time before the departure of the boat & must close. Remember me affectionately to my sister, I don't know her christian name, to the Doctor & Maria. I am glad to hear that the latter are so comfortably situated; & hope you may all live together in Christian peace & in prosperity. Remember me kindly to Judge & Mrs. Shippen, Mr. & Mrs. Barlow & believe me to be ever your affectionate brother,

James Buchanan.

P. S. I wrote to our dear mother on the 3d Instant.
Rev: Edward Y. Buchanan.

[The above letter is reproduced exactly as written and was obtained through the archives at the Library of Congress]

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