1836: John Clapp to Samuel S. Randall

This letter was written by John Clapp (1805-18xx) of Norwich, Chenango County, New York. He was married to Lydia Strong and practiced law in Norwich. It’s not clear why Clapp was on his way to St. Augustine.

John wrote the letter to Samuel S. Randall who was educated at Oxford Academy in 1823, and Hamilton College in 1824-5. From 1825 to 1830 he pursued the study of law in the office of Clapp & Clark in Norwich, and was admitted Feb. 9, 1831. After practicing several years in Pitcher, New Berlin and Norwich, in 1836-37 he was appointed deputy journalizing clerk of the Assembly. In May, 1837, he was appointed to a clerkship in the office of the State Superintendent of Common Schools, continuing in it as General Deputy Superintendent, till the fall of 1846, when he resigned on account of ill health. He returned again in the spring of 1849, after a brief absence in Virginia. In 1851 he was appointed to a clerkship in the War Department at Washington, which he exchanged in 1853, for that of City Superintendent of Public Schools in Brooklyn. In June, 1854, he was elected Superintendent of Public Schools in New York City, and held the office by successive biennial elections till June, 1870, when he resigned. In November, 1873, he was appointed Inspector of Common Schools for the Eighth School District, composed of the 22d and 24th wards, and the appointment was renewed in November, 1876.

Stampless Cover



Samuel S. Randall, Esq., Norwich, Chenango Co., New York

Norfolk [Virginia]
November 10, 1836

Dear Randall,

I snatch a moment just to say we arrived here from Baltimore half an hour since, & leave here for Charleston in the Steam Packet “South Carolina” at 4 p.m.

Tomorrow I am to be as sure sick a man as was hung over a railing & prayed to have his heaving stomach keep quiet. I had a _____ touch this morning, descending the Chesapeake. Our boat will be crowded & I fear our passage will be anything but pleasant.

Let me hear from you at St. Augustine & often.

Very truly, — John Clapp

Sea sick at Norfolk!


On May 30, 1836, a Charleston, S. C., newspaper reported the arrival of “the steam packet ‘South Carolina’ … at this port on Saturday evening, in a passage of 48 hours from Norfolk.”

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