Rhode Island Stampless Covers & Letters
April 14, 1840 Free Franked Letter - Providence CDS
From W. H. Smith to Joseph L. Tillinghast - City of Washington
Concerns the Grave Illness of Tillinghast's Mother

(Scroll Down for Background Information and Text of Letter)

The Letter is dated April 14, 1840 from W. H. Smith to Joseph L. Tillinghast in Washington, DC and concerns the very grave condition of his mother. The cover is canceled with an April - Providence Red CDS. and is marked with a Red F, (for Free Franking Privilege). The Free Franking privilege was extended to the President, Vice President, cabinet members, Postmaster General Senate and Congress.

The Franking privilege also included the right to receive mail free. This letter was sent free to Representative Tillinghast, the Franker under that privilege.

Joseph Leonard Tillinghast was born in Taunton, Massachusetts in 1791. He was a fifth generation descendant of Pardon Tillinghast, one of the original proprietors of Providence, Rhode Island. Joseph Tillinghast was a United States Representative from 1837 to 1843.

SEE: November 1817 Joseph Tillinghast Letter for additional Biographical Information

Tillinghast's mother is very ill and on her death bed. This letter is from W. H. Smith, a relative of the family, (possibly his wife is a Tillinghast) and is quite lengthy. The letter details her condition and last wishes

The text of this 2 page letter follows below:

Providence Tuesday Afternoon April 14, 1840

My Dear Sir,    
              Your dear mother had a severe sinking spell yesterday forenoon. It seemed for some time as if she could not survive it. My wife went over to watch about 8' o clock. She tells me Aunt had another sinking turn in the evening when each breath was continued very long & at times with difficulty. She however survived this time & obtained blessed sleep and rest after which she was so relieved from distress & her mind so clear & self possessed that she conversed with Mrs. Smith for some time. She said she felt sustained to a degree she had not anticipated, amounting almost to a realizing sense or consciousness of the presence of her God & Savior & other blessed agency ministering to sustain her & smooth her passage to the tomb. She maintained in particular a sort of assurance with which she was impressed that her final digression from life would be without a severe struggle & gentle. She said this impression seemed to be designed to comfort her & it did so by producing such a grateful happy sense of obligation for it & such a confidence in the power & goodness of her savior whence it was devised and disavowed death of it's terror. Mrs. Smith says she seemed calm & collected & in full possession of her faculties. She wished her to ask me to write to you that, tho it would not perhaps be reasonable for her to ask you to leave your important engagements & duties to come & see her, yet could you be present to witness her last scene, it would be a great comfort & satisfaction to her, especially on account of the salutary influence this scene was suited to leave upon your mind.

Page 2 

              She further wished I would say to you from her that her dying request to you was "to prepare to follow her in peace."
              In the above conversation she spoke very feelingly of the satisfaction she had enjoyed in the conversation & prayers of her Christian friends particularly Rev W. Othman.
              Mrs. Smith says Mr. Chase's family have been & are very kind & attentive & she is thinking it no more than an act of justice to them that I should mention the circumstance to you.
              She is in a more sinking state again this afternoon. Her extremities are cold & respiration more laborious again. The doctor gives her anodynes freely. He says they cannot injure her in her core & seem to relieve her.
              As I know it must be a satisfaction to you, I will write you further of her situation soon


From Yrs in Friendship,
W. H. Smith

P.S.  I would be remembered to Mrs. Tillinghast & then of your family who are
        with you.

RI Historical Society
Stampless I
Stampless II

Stampless III
Stampless IV
Stampless V
Stampless VI
Brown & Ives Letters
The Hazard Family Letters
Joseph Tillinghast
Free Franked Letters
DeWolf Family Letters

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