My esteemed friend Chilton Williamson, as is his wont, makes the most concisely brilliant characterization of the Clintons that has been set down on paper (“Four More Years,” February 1997). However, even though I know the reference was ironic, I must take issue with his mentioning the honorable President Franklin Pierce even in the same article with those people.

No, Pierce was not a bachelor. One of his children was killed in a train wreck on the way to his inaugural. He continued about his public duties with Roman courage. During the Mexican War, he resigned political office to enlist in the Army as a private, something neariy unknown in American history outside the Confederacy. Hawthorne valued him as a personal friend. (Lots of politicians have cultivated cultural figures, but this was a real friendship; the book is yet to be written.) While the battle of Cettysburg was raging, and before the outcome was known, the ex-President stood on the Capitol steps at Concord, New Hampshire, and denounced Lincoln and his war against the South and the Constitution. American patriots should always speak of Franklin Pierce with respect.

—Clyde Wilson Department of History University of South Carolina Columbia, SC