Letters of Rensselaer William Foote; the 1830s

From Main Street Museum Catalog Wiki
Jump to: navigation, search



A Letter of Introduction from Aaron Vanderpoel, City Hotel, New York, to Martin Van Buren, Kinderhook, New York, 10 November, 1832

Dear Sir. I take the liberty of introducing to you master Rensselaer Foote, a son of your deceased friend Charles A. Foote, who was once a Member of Congress from Delaware County
Rensselaer is a young man of industrious habits, and excellent character. He is very anxious to get a situation at West Point. If you will aid him in his application, you will not only serve a very meritorious youth, but confer a favor upon his friends, and particularly upon
Your friend, A Vanderpoel


Letter of Recommendation,

To the Hon Martin Van Buren.—

City Hotel, N. York, this a copy of a letter of recommendation.—

Letter from Rensselaer Foote to his brother Charles, ____ stating arrival in Newark, N.J. in company of Harriet & Aaron Vanderpoel, 20 November, 1833

Dr Brother.--

Arrived here safe and well-- I have sent to Delhi an overcoat, which, if it fits you, you can have— Aunt Harriet Vanderpoel is here, and Uncle Aaron is expected the later part of the week-- They go on to Washington about the 25th—I got your letter out of the Post Office, with some papers— I cannot write but a few lines, as I have half a dozen letters to write— I hope you like your situation— Your Affectionate Brother, Rensselaer W. Foote.


Letter from family to Charles Foote, Auburn, New York, From Arbor Hill, Delhi, New York, 30 May 1834

My Dear Cousin,
As so good an opportunity offered I thought I would not let it pass with embracing it, though I think it doubtful if you receive many lines, for I have very little time of late, to devote to writing I do it mearly to let you see that you are still remembered by your friends at Arbor Hill, yes believe me my dear little fellow, you are often spoken ,the subject of our conversation, we are rejoiced to hear that you are so well situated, and are beloved by all, continue to behave well, and you will gain many friends. I hope that you are still contented and will be willing to remain their as long as you think it necessary, but I hope that you will find it convenient to come and visit us by next year, for we are all very anxious to see you

Accept this little [cuchiom?] of my work Dear Charles as a token of friendship, from me, whenever you look at that think of your cousin Margaret as one who will ever remember and pray for you, that you may walk in that straight and narrow path that leads unto life eternal. may you grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and be prepared to reign with him above; when you are cal-led to leave this world. oh, what a beautiful day it will be to us all if we are permitted to meet in heaven, to spend an endless eternity with that blessed Savior, let us so spend our time and improve our privilege; that we may be prepared to render our account, one that will [stand] us at the day of trial;

I shall have to bid you good night for it is after eleven O clock Catherine is here and is going to write in this letter. I should be much pleased to receive a letter from you, when a convenient opportunity offers... Adieu Dear Charles, and believe me, that I remain your affectionate cousin
Margaret P. Foote

My Dear Brother
Margaret ha left the letter for me to fill up which I will do if I have time I am very glad to hear you are contented, and happy, continue to do your duty. and you will always be so, ever make your employers interest yours and unto others do as you would have others do toyou to you, do not forget my dear boy what you have [professd] but strive to live in conformity with the gospel of l Jesus Christ, and in such a way that others may take knowledge of you that you have been Christ, do not forget daily prayer without it you not grow in grace, prayer makes the Christians armour bright, and Satan tram trembles when he sees the weakest Saint upon his knees, we are only strangers and pilgrims here, and soon the the places that now know us no more forever, then let us live as pilgrims do. let not the world our rest [apear], but let us haste from all below study your Bible daily make it the man of you counsel, the guide of your life the rule of your actions

I have sent you some shugar it is not very good but it was the best I had I wish you would write to me very soon and tell me everything you are doing I intended to write you a long letter but have not time now if Mr Marv[] should not go as soon as he expects to I will try and write again good [___] do not forget to write, and may the Lord bless you and keep you your way's through grace unto salvation, yours affectionately Catherine Foote

PS Ebenezer is very anxious to have you write to him. he will answer it if you will. Aunt sends you a little cake of maple sugar, she and Uncle both send a great deal of love to you and want to see you, So my Dear little fellow write soon, to us, we will pay the postage, adieu yours [afec] Margaret
"politness of Mr Marvine"

United States Military Academy, Register of Cadet Admission, 1800–1845. Special Request: S. 192. Post Orders, U.S. Military Academy, 1832–1837. Sp Request: S. 167

  • Foote, Rensselaer W., Class of 1838
  • Date of admission, 1 July, 1834
  • Age at date of admission, 18 years, 9 months.
  • Cadet's Legal residence, Newark, New Jersey
  • Name and address of parent or guardian, James Buren, Newark, N.J.
  • Remarks, Discharged 2 July, 1835 for deficiency in studies.


"I should like to see you very much- but it will be a long while before I do I think." Letter from Rensselaer Foote to his brother Charles, Auburn, New York, 5 April, 1835:

My dear Brother Charles,

I received your letter some days ago with much pleasure, dear brother. and regret you had not time to write a longer letter— I am very sorry to hear you hurt yourself badly— or rather, I believe that you are afflicted badly—you say the gentleman you live with is very kind to you ; and I hope you will soon get well— I am glad you like your place. Do you think you like your trade better than the business of a merchant? — If you prefer it, I hope you will succeed well— I should like to see you very much— but it will be a long while before I do I think. I have not heard from Delhi lately, but I wrote to sister Catharine the other day, and enclosed her $2 which I had to spare— a small sum to be sure— but for a poor person not so little might seem to be— I wish I had more for her— I had a letter from Humphrey Gilbert the other day— and I hear from Henry Payne some times— I had a long letter from Newark the other day— They were well at Grandpa's, with the exception of some slight colds which some of them had— Aunt Vanderpoel wrote to me the other day from Washington she is at Newark now, or else they are on their way home— Uncle Vanderpoel has been elected to the next Congress_

My time here is very much occupied with studying and tending to military duty— We have commenced drilling— That is being exercised in the use of arms everyday— My respects to Mr. and Mrs. S/Ja/uy/gdem.— You must write when you get time, as I shall— Aunt Thompson whom I go down to see sometimes sends her love to you. In haste Believe me, as ever,

Your affectionate Brother, Rensselaer W. Foote
no. 43 South Barracks, Mil. Academy, West: Point, New York—

"Old Davies Sir, in my opinion has always had a settled determination to find me deficient," Letter from Rensselaer Foote, New York, July 3d August 3d 1835

My Dear old Friend

I can assure you it was with the greatest pleasure that I received last evening your kind and interesting letter which has at length reached me after come half a dozen forwardings — It was unexpected, and yet still, besides all, it came from an old friend, a harassed and oppressed old soldier, with whom he has partaken of come, a portion at least, of the sweet & blissful dreams of a soldier's life — and who together have seen times that tried men's souls; who have felt the soft and gentle pressure of the hand of tyrrany — who have bowed, like christians to the yoke of their masters, to the formidable mandate of an unprincipled set of self styled momentary despots, whose will is law, and whose sense of Justice is very similar to what we may attribute to a snarling cur — The Institution, friend Cab, is as corrupt and unpalateable to the mass of the people as Cozzins' 25 or 30 year old Beef to us poor fellows— excuse this writing—I have an old steel Pen—and no sharp knife to make a Quill Pen —

When you left the Point I was as much astonished as grieved at the causes which led to it — but time & my studies in a measure soon took me from their contemplation — I little dreaming at the time my turn was so near at hand, and disappointment so hard on my heels — but this is a changing world — I felt myself to be secure — But my Castle, it would seem was built on the sand hill, and not on the Rock — I came to the Institution wholly unprepared — my father dying when young, I was neglected But, Mr. Van Buren and my friends told me I could get along; and so I went — I could not rank or compete in Mathematics with those who were prepared on their courses because my taste for Mathematics is too limited — and I could not recite as well as those who were prepared on their course, and consequently, I was put low _ but in french, though I knew but little of my course it I ranked many who studied it — I rose at both examinations;— and the last examination I did splendidly in French, and was marked down only 2,— whilst the others in the section were marked from 3 to 15, excepting one or two;— and yet I rose only 5 or 6,, which put me about the middle of my class—

  • Foote is ranked number 35 out of 67 classmates in French in January, 1835. (Beauregard ranked first in their class in French.) In Mathematics, Foote is 55th out of 67, but not marked as "deficient." United States Military Academy Library, Archives, Record of Cadets Admitted, 1800–1845

And in Mathematics I missed only two questions — whilst Throop passed who missed a dozen,— while Kennedy passed who was marked down a few days before the examination more than I was and Boswell who passed one day in the section room on one of the simplest of the 16 Problems in our [of] Descriptive Geometry — that of passing a Plane through three Points — and I poor ^who^ was never marked down in it, was packed off home — its really too bad, really — too much for one dose —

Had they given some half a dozen others permission to return home also, it would not have been so unjust — half a dozen did I say — rather so — my class mates, or rather, section mates said I would pass my examination, and they thought I would rise some _ At the examination I mistrusted something from their giving me such a simple demonstration — to find the area of a circle I believe,— where you inscribe a Polygon in the circle, and produce the sides— If they had given me a + b to multiply I would have been about as much surprised and perhaps not able to do it — at least until I should have recovered from my surprise — Norfleet had a simple thing in Plane Geometry, and could not do it, but they gave him something difficult in Descriptive, and he did it well. He was found deficient in Math & French both, and yet he was turned back — Old Davies Sir, in my opinion has always had a settled determination to find me deficient.— He came down to hear our section 2 or 3 weeks about 10 days before we were examined — He was obliged to let the section out an hour earlier than usual as he had to go to the Steam Boat, and I being up at the Board with some three others he asked me if I was ready to demonstrate — I told him I would be in few moments — I had my figure all right, but there were some two or three proportions I had yet to arrange — He hesitated for a few moments without speaking to the others, and then said — "That's sufficient gentlemen"—"sections dismissed." Well, Sir, the scoundrel marked me down three, and the others none at all !! — I thought it would be very prejudicial to me at my examination, so I went to see him about taking it off — he said he would see Bliss about it — I saw Bliss on the subject who said he could not have given me a worse one had I fessed cold as we express it — But he did not take it off.— As I expected I had passed my examination I did not trouble myself about being certain of it, by inquiry — and knew nothing of until the day before the returns were read out — so I had no opportunity to resign — All appeared astoneshed—

I left the Point on the 4th — and directed my steps to my Uncle Vanderpoel's at Kinderhook — But found that he was travelling with his family so I posted off to New Jersey — I called on the Vice President at the City Hotel who said he would do every thing in his power for me with the greatest pleasure; and advised me to wait Uncle Vanderpoel's return — He seemed very glad to see me, and shook me heartily by the hand on coming in and going out — I returned only day before yesterday from Kinderhook — Uncle Vanderpoel is taking active measures to have me re=instated — He don't like my being sent off so at all — I know if Justice is done me I can go through the Institution — But is there not some prospect of a Midshipman's birth — I should like that — I don't know what to do yet — I was up to Kinderhook last week — I find I have attained the end of my sheet — I hope I shall be able to write you a more interesting letter soon,— in answer to another one from you very soon — Adieu San [Jan/Jen?]

I am ashamed of this letter —/— Rensselaer W Foote


Letter from Rensselaer William Foote, New York, to his brother Charles, Auburn, New York, 31 May, 1836

My dear Brother
I send you a line by a Mr. Bailey who goes to Ithaca or Utica. He is a cousin of Henry D Paine's—I wanted some money so I started from here last Thursday night and arrived in Delhi Friday morning—They were all somewhat surprised to see me as I was out there some three weeks ago—They told me you had been out ther and I was very sorry I did not see you—They are all well—I returned the next morning—and arrived here yesterday morning—I saw Mr. Locke there <by> he said you had been at his house — by the bye give my respects to Miss Mary locke when you see or hear of her—she is a good girl. You heard all about my trip to the West Indies at Delhi,—and as I have a miserable pen, and do not now feel in a humor to write a long account of it I will defer it.
I may go to Texas yet—I am all ready and have my Uniform—Uncle Vanderpoel is trying to get me in a Land Office out West—There is a fine prospect for me in Texas—<my frie> I have a great many friends there—Burnet, the President of the Republic of Texas is Grandma Baldwins' cousin—and Gen Austin is some relation. If I should go I will write to you again. I am glad to hear you have a good and pleasant situation —
write to me immediately
as Ever you affectionate Brother Rensselaer W Foote

Letter to Mr. Charles Foote, Canandaigua, from "politeness of Mr Underwood," Nevada Valley, 23 December, 1836

Dear Charles
Your letter was received this morning and as I have an opportunity of sending by Mr Underwood I thought I would write a few lines although it is late I was as I always am glad to hear from you—I had thought you would have been out here either Christmas or New Years but as usual am disappointed— but hope you will come as soon after as you can—only think one days ride Surely you will come— Charley I have been quite homesick today [___] dont say I always am for that would not be true part of the time I am very well contented— going to school you ^know^ employs my mind— but then thoughts will come sometimes and with them their train— low spirits— but I have tried to shake them off so that you might not be infected with them— yet when I consider the good ness and tender mercy of God toward me and my ingratitude to him I have to exclaim surely his patience and long suffering toward me is great he has surrounded me with blessings and I do feel unworthy of them— at times when I consider his goodness and love I wonder that all are not Christians and then when I look into my own heart I wonder that any are—such depravity and deceitfulness— so prone to seek for pleasure in the things of this world and when experience has so often one that they are not to be found— oh I have many dark hours many doubts and fears and am at times almost led to give up any hope I have— I have thought more about it today than usual you wished me to remember me in any prayers— oh thought I to myself they will do but little good- proceeding from such a cold and stupid heart-- but with all fears and doubts— Christ is still precious— do you remember my favorite hymn "How sweet the name of Jesus sounds in a believers ear" Yes it is sweet to the Christians is it not through him that we can approach the mercy seat and were it not for his atoning blood only think my Brother what would we be— could we ever answer [___] of a thousand of our sins— my mind was so much taken up this afternoon in school that I could not study I was led to look forward and I thought— in a few years where will we all be how short will our life be at the longest and I thought of the passage "he will come like a thief in the night" may we both be prepared for his coming—
I am glad to hear that you have so good a boarding place— Mrs Allen you know I suppose is an old friend of Marys— but the bell is ringing for nine and I have to write to [Lawrence] yet— perhaps he will come back with Underwood if so he will stop and bring you along at any rate you must come as quick as you can excuse any poor writing for me eyes are so weak I can hardly see and I am not very well—
all. send love and [___][___][___] your f[___] a Merry christmas and happy New Years to you--


Letter to "M: R.W. Foote, Somerville, New Jersey," from Lewis Cass, former Secretary of War (serving under Andrew Jackson) on 29 December, 1837. Franked from Washington City:

Dear Sir:
I have red. your letter, and will, with great pleasure, contribute my humble aid towards affecting your wishes. i have already spoken to the Secretary of War in your behalf, and will do whatever else i can for you. There is, at this time a vacancy in the Army, and I think you would do well to come on here and make some exertion in person. The Secretary I know, generally wishes to see the applicants and converse with them— Besides they are subjected to a brief examination as to their education and attainments, before their appointment.
Yrs. respectfully, L. Cass.


Letter to Rensselaer Foote from Senator Thomas Hart Benton 11 January 1838

Your several letters have been received, and Have to say to you that I see nothing to prevent me from co-operating with your friends in accomplishing your wishes. Yours respectfully, Thomas H. Benton.

Letters of Recommendation

Trenton, 4 July 1838.
Hon. Sec. at War Dear Sir I take great pleasure in adding to the many highly respectable recommendations already procured by Mr. Rensselaer Foote, my Sincere and earnest hope that he may receive a commission in the Army. Though personally almost a Stranger to me, he come recommended to me in a manner which commands my entire confidence, in his talents, acquirements and patriotism. I am with great respect
Your most ob't Servant, Stacy G. Potts

New Brunswick, 10 July, 1838. To the President of the U. States,
D. Sir: Permit me to recommend to your favorable consideration, Rensselaer Foote, Esq. He is an applicant for a commision in the U.S. Army. His appointment would, I think, be creditable to the Service, and gratify his numerous friends. I am your ob't Servt James C. Zabriskie.

New York 11 July, 1838. Excellency m Van Buren, Pres:
Dear Sir: allow me to bring to your favorable notice, for an appointment in the army, Rensselaer Foote, Son of our deceased friend, C.A. Foote, Esq. and grandson of a Revolutionary Patriot, whose days are also numbered. Young Foote has good blood for the Service, and, I think, would do credit to his country.
With great respect, Respectfully, Your ob't Servt S. Sherwood.

Letter from Churchill Caldom Cambreleng Washington 9 July 1838

Dear Sir I have your favor and will cheerfully give you all the aid I can— Very [respectfully] C C Cambreleng

Board of Examination to J.R. Poinsett 20 October 1838

Honorable J R Poinsett Secretary of War Board of Examination October 20th 1838
Sir I am directed by the Board to report that Ren. W. Foote, a candidate for appointment in the Army, has passed a satisfactory examination and is classed as regards merit with G W Wallace, examined on the 11th, instant. Very respectfully Sir Your Most Able Servant C. Gratiot President of the Board

War Department 25 October 1838

Sir: You are hereby appointed Second Lieutenant in the Sixth Regiment of Infantry to take rank from 1st Novemb. 1838, in the service of the United States: should the Senant advise and consent thereto you will be Commissioned accordingly.— ...You will report to Fort Monroe Va. without unnecessary delay and report to the Commanding Officer for duty. J. R. Poinsett Seceretery of War.
For 2 Lieut. R. W. Foote
6: Reg: of Infantry Summerville N. J.
Note: Report the State in which you were born

Hand written Invitation 10 December 1838

The Florida Military Thespian Society, respectfully invite Lieut. Foot, to witness the performance at the Theatre this evening at 7 o'clock—Rob Lambert Secretary Fort Brooke 10th Dec. 1838


"You have no idea what this Florida war is— Every one detests it—" Letter from Rensselaer Foote to his Brother Charles from St Andrew's Bay, 22 September 1839

My Dear Brother

It is a long time Since I have heard from or written to you—but, as I have an opportunity to send a letter down to St. Joseph, (the post office,—70 miles distant by water.) I conclude to drop a line to you— I am in excellent health— and hope you are all So— I came into Florida last Nov.— Since then I have been all over Florida, except the Southern part— marched through Sand— Swamps—hammocks—and almost melted down with the heat of the Sun— We generally travel 25 miles per day—equal to 35 at the North— I found a good deal of trouble in finding and getting to my Regiment— after I found my Regiment a good deal of trouble in finding and getting to my Company— I was about [thru] in joining my company—in the meantime I did duty with the other companies. At this point where I lately arrived, I am pleasantly Situated—and we live well too—the officers are pleasant gentlemen—I am acting first Lieutenant of a Company now— the fst Lieut. of my company has resigned— the day after I arrived here Some half a dozen Creek Indians came in—part of them children—You will probably see it noticed in the papers—I have a good deal of fun with the children— I sometimes put up a piece of paper for them to shoot arrows at— Set them to wrestling,etc— and frequently the little rascals get to Singing and dancing their war songs— We have plenty of oysters and fish here, etc— and live well— but, most of the time I have been in Florida I have lived in the woods and Eat hard bread & pork— glad to get that I should be glad to hear from you— very glad indeed— give my love to brothers and sisters— Tell James to be a good boy—and steady— not to follow me— remember me also to Uncle Maxwell, and Aunt, and Ebenezer— and tell them they must write— and Mr. Marvine also—

you have no idea what this Florida war is— Every one detests it— it is no nearer an end than it was a year ago— So far as I can see-- The old Indian that came in the other day, we have sent out, together with an Interpreter, to try and bring others in— We have lately heard of an other murder of two families, only 10 miles from Tallahassee, on the road to St. Augustine— only a mile from the road— ten days ago I travelled alone on horseback that road for 25 miles— to Tallahassee— Capt. Thompson, who, you may recollect some year and a half ago was burnt out of a light-house by the Indians— Some 75 in number, and who defended himself so bravely, is here— He travels about in a small sloop— The old man brings us oysters, some shells, etc— sometimes and we occasionally give him some bread and pork To-day he showed me the dried hand! of an Indian he killed— The Indian held him by the throat, and he stabbed him— I have got, my dear brother, at least, five thousand things to tell you—but I don't know where to begin— is one reason. It is expected that our Regiment will leave Florida in the Spring— and we are all highly pleased at the prospect— [____]
(In haste) Your affectionate brother RenSs W Foote 2nd Lieut. 6th Infantry Comp G.
So write, and direct to "2" Lieut. RWFoote, 6th Infantry, Compy G. Ft. Joseph, Florida—

The contents of this web-site, wiki-site and documents contained within them are under the ownership of The Main Street Museum. With permission of the Museum licensees may copy, distribute, display, and study the work and make derivative works based on it only for non-commercial purposes only if they give the author or licensor the credits (attribution) in the manner specified by these.