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Important Presentation Copy

Hawthorne, Nathaniel. Life of Franklin Pierce

Boston: Ticknor, Reed, and Fields, 1852

Original brown cloth. Some chipping to spine ends and joints. Cloth case.

First edition. A fine presentation copy linking three Bowdoin friends, inscribed by Hawthorne: “For Dr William Mason, with the regards of Nath. Hawthorne.”

Pierce, Hawthorne, and Mason had attended Bowdoin College together, with Pierce and Mason in the class of 1824 and Hawthorne in the class of 1825. All three were members of the Democratic Athenaean Society, a literary group chaired by Pierce. In an 1832 letter to Pierce, Hawthorne had reflected: “You cannot imagine how proud I feel, when I recollect that I myself was once in office with you, on the standing committee of the Athenaean Society.” Hawthorne also intimated to Pierce—then speaker of the New Hampshire legislature and candidate for Congress—that he might one day become president. In 1852, Hawthorne wrote this presidential campaign biography for his oldest and closest friend.

That same year, Mason, a physician, moved from Bucksport, Maine, to Charleston, Massachusetts, near Boston. Perhaps the move brought the two former Athenaean Society members into renewed acquaintance. Hawthorne would later dedicate his 1863 collection of essays on England, Our Old Home, to Pierce, who had facilitated for him the Liverpool consulship that led to its writing. In 1864, on a trip with Pierce in New Hampshire, Hawthorne died. In 1869, Pierce died. And when, in 1881, Dr. William Mason died, he was described in his obituary as a “life-long” friend of the late former president (Boston Evening Transcript). Clearly, college ties had endured.

In this historically important presentation copy, one old friend of Franklin Pierce recognizes another.

Clark A21. BAL 7612.