Saturday, November 13, 2010

Name That "Handsome, Portly Gentleman"

In about December 1841, Julia Gardiner, then twenty-one years of age, was travelling from New York to the District of Columbia by train with her father and sister. As she describes below, she encountered a "handsome, portly gentleman". Your task is to name him. A few clues: the gentleman was a member of Congress from New York, and readers of this blog have encountered him before. I would love it if some of you who have not posted comments before took a stab at this and introduced yourselves.
My father was of an old family of New York, and possessing means and leisure, placed his time at his daughters' disposal, and there was no wish personal to ourselves which he did not attempt by every available means to gratify. Having become acquainted in former days, while a member of the New York State Senate, with nearly all the prominent politicians of the State, he conceived the idea of a visit to Washington during the session of Congress, thinking that our education would be singularly imperfect if, after seeing the capitals of nearly all the governments of the old world, we should neglect to see our own.

Impressions of our public men began with our trip from New York to Washington. A handsome, portly gentleman came several times into the car in which we were seated and excited the interest of myself and sister by the self-conscious manner in which he looked into the mirror at the head of the car and adjusted his cravat, while he cast several furtive glances in our direction. These glances were, doubtless, accidental, though, soon after our arrival in Washington the gentleman alluded to called upon our parents, in company with an old friend of my father, the Hon. Silas Wright of New York. Then we found that the handsome stranger was no less a personage than . . ..
ANSWER: The answer may be found here.

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