The collection consists of a series of 48 letters sent by American
Congressman Francis Baylies to General John E. Wool between 1848 and 1852. Baylies
writes extensively, and often scathingly, of antebellum era politics, statesmen,
military operations, military leaders, and social movements. Specific topics covered
include the Mexican-American War, the presidential elections of 1848 and 1852, New
York state politics, and revolutionary activity in Europe in 1848-1849.
Francis Baylies (1783-1852) was born on October 16, 1783, in Taunton, Massachusetts.
He was a great-grandson of Quaker ironmaster Thomas Baylies (1687-1756), nephew of
Hodjiah Baylies (1756-1843), an aide-de-camp to General George Washington during the
American Revolution, and brother of Congressman William Baylies (1776-1865). Baylies
studied law and was admitted to the bar in Massachusetts in 1810. He ran
unsuccessfully for Congress in 1818 before being elected to the Seventeenth,
Eighteenth, and Nineteenth Congresses. He was the only New Englander to vote against
John Quincy Adams when the presidential election of 1824 went to the House. Baylies
ran as a Federalist, Jackson Federalist, and Jacksonian before being defeated in a
re-election bid in 1827. He subsequently served as a member of the Massachusetts
House of Representatives from 1827 until 1832. He was briefly appointed as charge
d’affaires in Buenos Aires in 1832, and after returning to the United States was
re-elected to the House of Representatives. Baylies married Mrs. Elizabeth Moulton
Deming in 1822. He published An Historical Memoir of the Colony of New Plymouth in
1830 and A Narrative of Major General Wool’s Campaign in Mexico, in the years 1846,
1847, and 1848 in 1851. Baylies died in Taunton on October 28, 1852.
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