A one-and-a-half page holographic bifolium letter written in June 1827 by Edward Everett to J.R. Poinsett, the first U.S. Minister to Mexico, concerning a Mexican hieroglyphic manuscript he gifted to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Everett was an American politician, pastor, educator, diplomat, and orator from Massachusetts. As a Whig, he served as U.S. Representative, U.S. Senator, the 15th Governor of Massachusetts, Minister to Great Britain, and United States Secretary of State. He also taught at Harvard University and served as its president. At the time of this letter, Everett was the corresponding secretary for the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, on whose behalf he wrote to Poinsett to officially acknowledge the donation and “to assure you that the Academy regard it as a highly valuable accession to their collection.”
Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences honors excellence and convenes leaders from every field of human endeavor to examine new ideas, address issues of importance to the nation and the world and work together “to cultivate every art and science which may tend to advance the interest, honor, dignity, and happiness of a free, independent, and virtuous people.”
According to the Academy’s archives, Everett read a letter from Poinsett at its January 28, 1827 board meeting. The minutes note “presents a gift of ‘an engraved copy of the most ancient hieroglyphical manuscript now in existence’. States intention to send specimens of ancient sculpture. Note: Wrapper annotated: Mr. Poncet with Wm Bullock / Prese.”
Poinsett (1799–1851) became the first U.S. minister to Mexico in 1825, a post he held until 1829. An American physician, he was a member of the South Carolina legislature and the United States House of Representatives, a Unionist leader in South Carolina during the Nullification Crisis, Secretary of War under Martin Van Buren, and a co-founder of the National Institute for the Promotion of Science and the Useful Arts (a predecessor of the Smithsonian Institution). His chief claim to fame in the United States is as the individual who brought home the Mexican "Christmas flower" which came to be called the poinsettia.
In the letter, Everett also wrote that he hoped to correspond further with Poinsett. “I should feel myself much flattered, in occasionally hearing from you on the political state of Mexico, which probably no foreigner understands so well as yourself,” he wrote.
The letter is creased from prior folds, which are cleanly split in a few places. The manuscript is accompanied by a one-page typescript of the letter. Item #73704