St. Augustine. July 9, 1837. [4]pp. autograph letter, signed, on a folded folio sheet, addressed for mailing and with a circular "St. Augustine" postal stamp on the fourth page. Old folds. Remnants of wax seal on fourth page. Short, closed splits along a few folds, with no loss of paper or text. Very good. Item #WRCAM57704

A lengthy and informative letter from S.P. Anderson to United States Navy Captain David Conner, congratulating him on the birth of his son and offering insight on the prospects of finding a winter home in Florida. After some hearty and cheerful words of encouragement and advice to the new parents, Anderson offers a verbal tour of the homes around St. Augustine that might be for sale. Conner and his family lived in Philadelphia, and Anderson writes:

"I am gratified indeed to learn that you have some idea of spending your winters in Florida. I should suppose it most desirable to for you & Mrs. C both to avoid the severe weather of that season in the North. I believe you suffer from rheumatism, for which Mr. Waller[?] thinks he has found a certain remedy in a mineral spring at Pablo....The wooden [house] which you may remember...has been lately repaired, a piazza and some few other improvements made which have added to its appearance and comfort. The lot also is in good order and now full of mulberry and orange trees. It is now owned by Major Sykle whose increasing ill health I believe should induce him to sell it. He purchased it for $2000 & it was considered cheap in account of the vast number of trees – but I am not sure that the house would answer your purpose or rather your wishes. There is one tolerably sized sitting room downstairs, a small bedroom without fireplace and a narrow passage between back piazza and shed room. I have never been above, but believe it is something even less than a half story – one fireplace – you would I suppose here, consider yourselves almost as marooning...."

Anderson goes on to provide similar descriptions of several other homes, noting that "Houses are very much in demand" around St. Augustine. The demand for housing in Florida is perhaps surprising given the ongoing Second Seminole War – which at this early point had been progressing rather poorly for the United States military. Anderson alludes to the war briefly at the close of his letter, when he notes that he will "send the latest Herald, for I am always afraid to say anything about the war, one report contradicting another so quickly." The latter part of Anderson's letter discusses the election of Charles Dowling as Florida representative "by a very large majority," which meets with Anderson's approval as he considers Dowling "the only man in this territory worthy of succeeding [Joseph] White....He is employed in almost all the claims for losses in 1812-13 as well as those of the Indian war." Anderson himself appealed for losses sustained in 1812, and expresses a cautious optimism for their redress.

The recipient of this letter, David Conner, was a noteworthy figure in the United States Navy in the early 19th century. During the War of 1812 he served on the Hornet and saw considerable action, eventually suffering grave wounds and capture as a prisoner of war. He returned to service after a prisoner exchange, and in the years between the war and this letter was steadily promoted until becoming a Captain. He is most well known for commanding the Home Squadron during the Mexican-American War, which included the unprecedented landing of 10,000 soldiers during the siege of Veracruz. His wife, whom Anderson affectionately refers to as "Mrs. C," was the daughter of Dr. Philip Syng Physick, known as the "Father of American Surgery." Appropriately enough, a slightly later pencil note on the address panel labels the contents as "Congratulations on my birth – PSPC;" that is, Philip Syng Physick Conner, the very child discussed in the letter. Philip would fight briefly for the Union during the Civil War as part of a Pennsylvania volunteer artillery regiment.

An interesting and informative letter to an important American figure, with much content on Florida real estate and politics at the start of the Second Seminole War.