Hattie White Williams to Cary T. Grayson




Hattie White Williams writes to Cary Grayson about an historic cannon that she is willing to sell for $15,000.00. She thinks it will make a wonderful wedding gift to Woodrow Wilson.


Cary T. Grayson Papers, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library, Staunton, Virginia


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162 N. Broadway,
Green Bay, Wis.

Dear Sir:-

I have in my possession a sword, a very old relic, but in first class condition. It first belonged to King Caesar presented to him by his nation. At his death it fell to Nero, and at his death it was lost sight of for years until finally it was resurrected, and at the first sitting of parliament it was voted give it to the first Earl of Shaftersbury and from thence to be handed down to first Earl of Shaftersbury as they came, some of them having their names carved on the handle in old English letters, such as were used in their time. The name of George Villiers who was Earl of Shaftersbury under King Henry VIII appears there, also Fitzgerald and Mac Williams.

It fell later to Lord Burghley KG under Queen Elizabeth 1520 - 1598. He was the Lord Burghley who fought the French duel and cut his enemy in two with one slash of the sword. The blood spots are prominent, but still not rusted. After the death of Burghley it went at auction and was bought by Samuel Pratt. Was handed down a few generations in the Pratt family. Samuel Pratt brought it to the United States in the time of the “Mayflower”. One of the Pratt brothers fought with it under Washington. Also one of them used it at the time of Perry’s victory. At the death of Daniel Pratt it was given to a grandson, Daniel Pratt White, who was my husband and we have always kept the sword. The earliest date visible is 1141 on the eagle’s neck, also another date 1441 under the mouth of the cannon. It bears the old English Hall marks of the “five petal rose” “The Crown, “The Fluer-de-lis” and “The Thistle”, also two coats of arms. The handel is gold and the blade inlaid half way with gold flowers. There has been offered for it Fifty Thousand Dollars, but I did not see the ad. until too late. They bought a substitute for $10,000, but I still hold the genuine article, and I would let it go for $15,000, providing you and the Cabinet would like to purchase it for a wedding gift for President Wilson. I should love to see him have it, and it is only that I am a poor woman that keeps me from giving it to him outright. It is an article he would surely feel proud to possess. I would very much like to hear from Dr. Grayson on this matter.

Truly yours,

Mrs. Hattie White Williams.

Original Format






Williams, Hattie White, “Hattie White Williams to Cary T. Grayson,” 1915 December, WWP20926, Cary T. Grayson Papers, Woodrow Wilson Presidential Library & Museum, Staunton, Virginia.