Copyright by the editor, Hal Morris, Secaucus, NJ 1997. Permission is granted to copy, but not for sale, nor in multiple copies, except by permission.
Jacksonian Miscellanies is a weekly (biweekly in the summer) email newsletter which presents short (typically chapter-length) documents from the United States' Jacksonian Era, with a minimum of commentary. Anyone can receive it for free by sending to firstname.lastname@example.org a message with
as either the subject line, or as the *only* line in the message body. If you want to make a comment or query, please send a separate message to email@example.com.
Jacksonian Miscellanies can also be read at http://www.panix.com/~hal/jmisc. The WWW version is augmented with much biographical, bibliographical, and other information.
Please direct responses to firstname.lastname@example.org, even though you may receive Jacksonian Miscellanies by way of a mailing list. That way I am more certain to read them, and perhaps, with your permission, post useful excerpts in a later issue.
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Starting with the August 26 issue, JM will be weekly again, and "summer reruns" will be over too.
I'd like to start out with something I may call "Whiggish Medley - Selections from The New Orleans Book; published shortly after the 1849 "Gold Rush" began, as can be guessed by the editor's avowed wish to disprove the idea that New Orleans is "a kind of half-way house between civilization and California".
I'd appreciate hearing comments on which of the following seem particularly interesting, and why (including what you know, if anything, about the author). I may want to use your comments, so please let me know whether you mind my doing so; if you do mind, I won't. Thanks, Hal Morris, editor
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Due to many schedule disruptions, this and the previous issue consist of excerpts from past issues.
I hope it is useful as a set of "highlights", or to serve as a guide to the archived back issues on the web page (http://www.panix.com/~/hal/jmisc)
Issue #14: April 15, 1997 (Trains, Stages, Canal and Steam Boats)
IN 1832 Fanny Kemble, celebrated in a former generation as an English
actressauthor, toured this country with her father, Charles Kemble,
and met with an enthusiastic reception. She recorded her impressions in
"A Journal of a Residence in America" (Henry Holt), first published
in 1835. From it is taken the accompanying account of her journey by boat
and stage from New York City to Utica via the Delaware. ...
.... These steamboats have three stories; the upper one is, as it were, a roofing or terrace on the leads of the second, a very desirable station when the weather is neither too foul, nor too fair ... The second floor or deck, has the advantage of the ceiling above, and yet, the sides being completely open, it is airy, and allows free sight of the shores on either hand. Chairs, stools and benches are the furniture of these two decks. The one below ... is a spacious room completely roofed and walled in, where the passengers take their meals, and resort if the weather is unfavorable. At the end of this room, is a smaller cabin for the use of the ladies, with beds and sofa, and all the conveniences necessary, if they should like to be sick; whither I came and slept till breakfast time. ....
Oh, these coaches! ... They are shaped something like boats, the sides being merely leathern pieces, removable at pleasure, but which in bad weather are buttoned down to protect the inmates from the wet. ... For the first few minutes, I thought I must have fainted from the intolerable sensation of smothering ... Away wallopped the four horses... bumping, thumping, jumping, jolting, shaking, tossing and tumbling, over the wickedest road, I do think, the cruellest, hardheartedest road that ever wheel rumbled upon. Through bog and marsh and ruts, wider and deeper than any Christian ruts I ever saw, with the roots of trees protruding across our path, their boughs every now and then giving us an affectionate scratch through the windows; and, more than once, a halfdemolished trunk or stump lying in the middle of the road lifting us up, and letting us down again, with most awful variations of our poor coach body from its natural position. ...
Our companions seemed nothing dismayed by these wondrous performances
of a coach and four, but laughed and talked incessantly, the young ladies,
at the very top of their voices, and with the national nasal twang...
The few cottages and farmhouses which we passed reminded me of
similar dwellings in France and Ireland; yet the peasantry here have not
the same excuse for disorder and dilapidation, as either the Irish or French.
The farms had the same desolate, untidy, untended look; the gates broken,
the fences carelessly put up, or ill repaired; the farming utensils sluttishly
scattered about a littered yard, where the pigs seemed to preside by undisputed
right; housewindows broken, and stuffed with paper or clothes; dishevelled
women, and barefooted, anomalous looking human young things. None of the
stirring life and activity which such places present in England and Scotland;
above all, none of the enchanting mixture of neatness, order, and rustic
elegance and comfort, which render so picturesque the surroundings of a
farm, and the various belongings of agricultural labor in my own dear country.
At the end of fourteen miles [we transferred to ] coaches which stood on the railway ready to receive us. The carriages were ... drawn by ... horses, ... Our coachful got into the first carriage ... [which] had but two seats ... each of which held four of us. ... [When the railroad is finished,] the whole of that horrible fourteen miles will be performed in comfort and decency, in less than half the time. In about an hour and a half, we reached the end of our railroad part of the journey .... At about four o'clock, we reached Philadelphia, having performed the journey between that and New York (a distance of a hundred miles,) in less than ten hours, in spite of bogs, ruts and all other impediments.
We proceeded by canal ... at about four miles and a half an hour ...
infinitely preferable to ... the rumble of a coach, and the jerking of
bad roads, for the gain of a mile an hour. The only nuisances are the bridges
over the canal, which are so very low, that one is obliged to prostrate
oneself on the deck of the boat, to avoid being scraped off it; and this
humiliation occurs, upon an average, once every quarter of an hour...
... We sat in the men's cabin until they began making preparations for
bed, and then withdrew into a room about twelve feet square, where a whole
tribe of women were getting to their beds. Some half undressed, some brushing,
some curling, some washing, some already asleep in their narrow cribs,
but all within a quarter of an inch of each other; it made one shudder...
. . . At Utica we dined; ... The gentlemen, I believe, went out to view the town, which, twenty years ago, was not, and now is a flourishing place, with finelooking shops, two or three hote:ls, good broad streets, and a body of lawyers, who ... kept the night awake with champagne, shouting, toasts, and clapping of hands ...
Issue #15: April 22, 1997 (First Book of History for Children and Youth, by 'Peter Parley')
8. At Boston, some years since, was commenced the ice trade, which now
amounts to an immense value every year. The ice is taken from the ponds
and collected in icehouses, in the winter. This is pretty cold work,
you may be sure. The men have thick mittens, and they thrash their arms
together, and blow their fingers with their hot breath; and when the cold
wind comes, they work away the harder, to keep themselves warm
9. You will be interested to go out to these ponds, to some of which
they have made railroads, on purpose to bring the ice to the wharves. You
would find some of the men sawing the thick ice into blocks; and others
pulling it from the water with iron hooks and long poles, and there it
is hauled by horses, and an ingenious contrivance of ropes and pulleys,
into the icehouses on the border of the pond. These houses are built
double, and the space between the outside and inside walls is filled in
with tanbark, that the ice may not melt.
10. At proper times the ice is carried on carts or railroads to the
vessels, in which it is carefully packed in sawdust, and so carried half
over the world. ... American ice has become quite famous. Sometimes they
put fish, or meats fruits, in among the ice, and they keep nicely on the
voyage, and when taken out look; as fresh, and taste as well, as when first
... Lowell is a great manufacturing town. ... . In 1825 it part of Chelmsford,
and had only hundred inhabitants; in 1847, it had about thirty thousand.
You must visit the factories there, and see how neat and clean every thing
is; the rooms and the people in them. A place for everything, and everything
in its place, is the rule there.
13. You would find, if you were to count them, nine or ten thousand persons at work; at once; seven thousand of them are women and girls, who come from all parts of the country. They stay here about five years. then return with the money they earned by industry and good behavior to be happy at home. They have books to read; and they write and publish a book, or magazine, themselves, month; it is called the Lowell Offering.
Issue #16: April 29, 1997 (The Arminianization of Granville Moody)
In Norwich Ohio, where he joins his brother in 1830, he attends the Presbyterian church, in which he was raised, and finds it cold and inhospitable. The next Sunday he attends the Methodist church where he is made to feel at home and put to work teaching Sunday School immediately. For some weeks he attends the church, attracted to the people, but sure, from his past teaching that their doctrine is all wrong. At a social gathering, he has a long debate with the junior minister of that church, in which he "had the advantage of the preacher, who had not been trained Calvinistically or polemically". ...
"Bub, will you read a book on the subjects we talked about nearly all night, without reaching any conclusions?" "Certainly I will. What is the name of the book?" "Fletcher's Checks. They are checks to the system of doctrine you defended so zealously," he replied. Said I: "I should like to see any one attempt to check the faith once delivered to the saints."
To Moody's surprise, he finds the work absolutely convincing. He concludes "That man is right in his views on all the five points of Calvinism, and I now believe with him in conditional election of believers in Christ to salvation; universal atonement in Christ for every child of man; a graciously alleviated depravity; grace resistible, but not resisted by the saved; the amissibility of grace."
I (previously) reasoned thus: "I am one of the elect, or I am one of the reprobates. If I am one of the elect, in God's time ... I shall have that effectual calling of which I have learned in the Catechism .. . I shall, under a sight and sense of my sins, have Christ revealed to me as my Savior; for thus all the elect are brought in. ... When God wants me converted, he will visit me with his effectual calling. If I am one of the reprobate, I shall be lost, do what I may; ... So, elect or reprobate, my case is fixed by the universal divine agency of God and his all-embracing decrees.
Issue #17: May 6, 1997 (Cyrus Hamlin, Bowdoin Class of '34)
... The sophomore class, though a very excellent one, had a few fellows
who determined to renew the discredited practice of hazing. ... two of
the freshman class had fitted up their rooms in a style offensively neat.
The room was newly papered, a carpet quite covering the floor was spread,
some pictures adorned the walls, a nice center table with a handsome cover
completed the outfit. ... A brute by the name of D___ resolved to spoil
that fun. He had a large tin syringe made with a jet, and filling it with
a quart or two of ink, he and his fellows broke out a pane of glass, and
injected the whole into the room with all possible force. That was bad
enough. But after that the decaying carcass of a dog was thrown in. The
poor freshmen declared they would leave college at once. Their beautiful
room had become a horror. I exhorted them to stay and see what would come
out of it. In the evening, I called together ... some ten or a dozen of
the most powerful fellows of the class, and exhorted them to inflict some
penalty upon D___ ... I promised assistance if they would utter a certain
call, and I went and engaged about twenty good fellows to answer the call,
with shillalahs ready for use. I had my own ready. I was awakened that
very night by a crash, and I sallied out with short preparation, and the
first object I saw was D___, in his nightshirt, and in the hands of a band
of stalwart freshmen.
"You hurt my right hand! "he cried." Let it go, and upon
my word of honor I won't strike."
"Let it go," said the captain; and D laid one of them on the
floor by a wellaimed blow.
... They hurried him out to the pump, and held him under the spout until
he was well drenched.
... D___ complained of the outrage to President Allen; and the president,
in his bland manner, said: "Yes, D___; the outrage shall be examined;
but all the antecedents which may have led to it will also be examined.
Knowing this, if you will make a written application, I will attend to
It is needless to say he never made it.
Issue #18: May 13, 1997 ("The News" in the Wake of the Hayne-Webster Debate)
Alexandria, Jan 29. -- The Senate was crowded. -- its galleries, lobbies, and even its floor, full to oveflowing on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. The debate between two such distinguished men as Mr. Webster and Mr. Hayne -- the various circumstances attending the debate, and the wide range which it had taken, excited the attention and interest of the people.
[describing Webster's performance:] The peroration of his speech was more than eloquent -- it was sublime. The breathless attention of the audience, while it lasted, and the murmer of applause that involuntarily broke from almost every spectator, bor witness to the orator's power. His political opponents ceased for the moment to retain a hard thought against him, and bowed to the majesty of mind.
In the course of Mr. Webster's speech, with a magnanimity which redounds to his credit, he complemented the distinguished sons of Carolina, and yielded his tribute of admiration to the services of that patriotic State. A true American in principle and feeling, he said he knew no sectional feelings which could induce him to withhold praise from Genius wherever it might be found.
We give our readers to-day a small portion of Mr. Webster's Speech. They will perceive that he has almost entirely evaded the material points of the Speech of Mr. Hayne. Such arguments -- yes, incontrovertible arguments -- as were urged by Mr. Hayne, Mr Webster thought did not come within his ken. The friends of Mr. Webster have endeavored to make out that he upset Mr. Hayne. Far from it! Mr. Hayne threw him upon his back, and there he lies, "looking up!" -- There is no person who will look upon both efforts with any other than a "jaundiced eye," but what must be constrained to say, that, for elegance of diction, force of argument, and depth of research, Mr. Haynes clearly surpasses him.
Returning to the Berkshire Journal; it was published in Lenox, Mass., a close neighbor of Pittsfield, but appears to be of the opposite persuasion from that of the Pittsfield Sun. The editor is J. Z. Goodrich; on the masthead is the motto "Neither Rash Nor Diffident". This paper began reporting the speech about as early as can be expected for a paper 300 miles from Washington in the pre-railroad and pre-telegraph age.
The following short articles illustrate the Whiggish concerns of the Berkshire Journal.
We observe, by the Baltimore papers, that several members of Congress have visited that city on successive Saturdays, attracted by curiosity to see a sample of the Rail Road, of which over a mile in length is completed, in that vicinity. Our friends at Baltimore may have the compliment returned, by paying us a visit in a month or so from this time, when we will shew them a beautiful piece of our Canals into which the water is shortly to be let, in order that the river navigation (which has been suspended for some time during the work) may be resumed. ... [National Intelligencer]
Manufacturing Corporations. A bill is now pending in the State Senate, on the subject of our Manufacturing Corporations. Next to the Railroad bill, we regard this as the most important subject, that has engaged the Legislative attention for many years. The object of this bill is, to define the general duties and powers of manufacturing corporations. ... In the emphatic language of Mr. Hastings ... "the question to be settled by it is, whether the surplus capital of the money market of New England, shall be permanently invested here, or in other States." ...
The prominent feature of this bill is, to limit the liability for the corporate debts of the concern, to its corporate property, -- thus making each stockholder's liability commensurate with the amount of capital embarked. This is manifestly the true criterion. That an individual who happpens to own a portion of the stock of a company, -- perhaps the smallest imaginable portion ... should be personally liable for all the debts of the whole company, does not comport with justice nor common sense. Reason revolts at the very idea. -- Bost. Centinel.
Issue #19: May 20, 1997 (Building Revivals and Steam Engines at Bowdoin)
[From the editor's Introduction:]
The second half of the description of his life at Bowdoin begins with an account of a revival in his Junior year whose approach was, he said "silent as the fall of dew". It followed the old pattern of Calvinistic revivals, as opposed to what some would call the "manufactured revivals" of Finney and his ken (so in the phrase "building revivals" I was taking license for the sake of a tidy title).
The revival was foreshadowed when Phoebe, the "colored sister of the church" was found praying by herself, and when asked about it said "I know the Lord is coming; I feel it in my bones". Then "We found by conversing with students that many were under serious impressions. It was so in the village also." The religious community responded. Dr. Adams "appointed a protracted meeting and called to his aid the Rev. Dr. Tappan,of Augusta, and Dr. Pond, professor in Bangor Theological Seminary."
The revival led to 50 conversions, including "the most distinguished infidel in the state of Maine" (already a man of impeccable morals), and the governor of Maine, "a pronounced Unitarian, a Democrat, and aristocrat".
In the next section, Hamlin tells how a lesson on the steam engine led him to volunteer to build one. This was far more expensive and time consuming than he expected, but he resolved to "do or die", and eventually got his expenses back plus $175, and also went on a short Lyceum lecture tour as a result of building the "first steam engine built in the state of Maine".
The affair seems to me like a very illustrative clash between an older code of hierarchy and intimate, organic, and spontaneous force, and a more modern mentality. Hamlin takes a clear stand for the idea that it is a manly and honorable thing to use the law against one who personally and physically humiliates you. His friends appropriate the language of the old code when they sign a resolution calling the offenders "unmanly and dishonorable".
Perhaps the code of "honor and manliness" is very different from the "gentleman's code of honor" that was especially prevalent in the south. I read the former, and Hamlin's position to be that "every man has a right to inviolability of his person if he will stand up for it, using the resources of the community". When Hamlin is handled bodily by a mob of rowdies and dragged to the pump, he makes light of the physical insult. When a student asks "Are you going to swallow all that, Hamlin?" he replies, "I have swallowed it and I don't see as it hurts me at all. My digestion was never better."
He then makes a direct assault on the system that would say that to be so insulted in ones person is to be "put in ones place".
Issue #20: June 3, 1997 (Parton on Horace Greeley's Apprenticeship)
The Life of Horace Greeley was the beginning of James Parton's great career as an American biographer. Following the title page is a dedication
THE YOUNG MEN OF THE FREE STATES
IS RESPECTFULLY DEDICATED
BY ONE OF THEIR NUMBER
The book is Copyright 1854. Parton was 32 years old, and Greeley was 44; nowhere near the end of his career. The excerpt given here is of Greeley, as a 15 or 16 year old boy, who looked younger, appearing at the home of a newspaper editor in a tiny Vermont hamlet, and getting accepted as an apprentice
...East Poultney is not, decidedly not, a place which a traveler -- if, by any extraordinary chance, a traveler should ever visit it -- would naturally expect of a newspaper. But, in one of the most densely-populated parts of the city of New York, there is a field! --a veritable, indubitable field, with a cow in it, a rough wooden fence around it, and a small, low, wooden house in the middle of it, where an old gentleman lives, who lived there when all was rural around him, and who means to live there all his days, pasturing his cow and raising his potatoes on ground which he could sell--but won't--at a considerable number of dollars per foot. The field in the metropolis we can account for. But that a newspaper should ever have been published at East Poultney, Rutland county, Vermont, seems, at the first view of it, inexplicable
Vermont, however, is a land of villages; and the business which is elsewhere done only in large towns is, in that State, divided among the villages in the country. Thus, the stranger is astonished at seeing among the few signboards of mere hamlets, one or two containing most unexpected and metropolitan announcements, such as "Silversmith," "Organ Factory," "Piano Fortes," "Printing Office," or "Patent Melodeons." East Poultney, for example, is little more than a hamlet, yet it once had a newspaper, and boasts a small factory of melodeons at this moment. A foreigner would as soon expect to see there an Italian opera house or a French cafe.
There happened to be among the residents of the place, during the apprenticeship
of Horace Greeley, a considerable number of intelligent men, men of some
knowledge and talent-the editor of the paper, the village doctor, a county
judge, a clergyman or two, two or three persons of some political eminence,
a few wellinformed mechanics, farmers, and others. These gentlemen
had formed themselves into a 'Lyceum,' before the arrival of Horace, and
the Lyceum had become so famous in the neighborhood that people frequently
came a distance of ten miles to attend its meetings It assembled weekly,
in the winter, at the little brick schoolhouse. An original essay
was read by the member whose 'turn ' it was to do so, and then the question
of the evening was debated; first, by four members who had been designated
at the previous meeting, and after they had each spoken once, the question
was open to the whole society. The questions were mostly of a very innocent
and rudimental character, as, 'Is novelreading injurious to society?'
; Has a person a right to take life in selfdefence?' 'Is marriage
conducive to happiness?' 'Do we, as a nation, exert a good moral influence
in the world?' 'Do either of the great parties of the day carry out the
principles of the Declaration of Independence?' 'Is the Union likely to
be perpetuated?' 'Was Napoleon Bonaparte a great man?' 'Is it a person's
duty to take the temperance pledge?' et cetera.
Horace joined the society, the first winter of his residence in Poultney, and, young as he was, soon became one of its leading members. "He was as a real giant at the Debating Society," says one of his early admirers. "Whenever he was appointed to speak or to read an essay, he never wanted to be excused; he was always ready He was exceedingly interested in the questions which he discussed, and stuck to his opinion against all opposition-not discourteously, but still he stuck to it, replying with the most perfect assurance to men of high station and of low.
Issue #21: June 17, 1997 (Home Economics and the Millennium)
[From the editor's Introduction]
Starting in the late 1820s, a demand for a truly equal role for women was made by Frances Wright, a character startlingly ahead of her time. It was not until ten years later that a succession of women -- many closely connected with abolitionism, began to form into a "movement". Angelina Grimke might be called the "thin end of the wedge" of the enduring woman's rights movement that began around 1840.
Meanwhile, a tendency grew, to make women the undisputed shapers of minds and morals, in the home and in the classroom, all the way to adulthood.
Catharine Beecher's life work was devoted to shaping this role role for women; Domestic Economy represents the purely domestic half of the picture.
The other half was her work towards making women the primary educators of young people (once the work of young male scholars, as diverse as Emerson, Stephen A. Douglas, Andrew Jackson and Sam Houston before they entered their real life's work). Beecher promoted, and helped establish, special "normal schools" for training teachers.
Unfortunately, she also busied herself combatting other views of progress for women -- i.e. as in her two years debate in print with Angelina Grimke.
The following, from Notable American Women, 1607-1950 (Cambridge, 1971) Beecher's view, with its strengths and flaws, of woman's role:
In all her writings, she sought to replace the travesties of womanhood -- whether the "nervous, sickly, and miserable" housewife or the "fainting, weeping, vapid, pretty plaything" -- with an energetic and benevolent figure who would joyfully accept as a sacred vocation the opportunity to implant "durable and holy impressions" upon the "immortal minds" placed in her care. Miss Beecher portrayed women as the saviors of society, like Christ in that their power sprang from humility and sacrifice. But, though she pressed the sacrificial role upon her feminine readers, she also ... tempted them with power, envisioning "a 'Pink and White Tyranny' more stringent than any earthly thralldom."
[From the text:]
No American woman, then, has any occasion for feeling that hers is an humble or insignificant lot. The value of what an individual accomplishes, is to be estimated by the importance of the enterprise achieved, and not by the particular position of the laborer. The drops of heaven which freshen the earth, are each of equal value, whether they fall in the lowland meadow, or the princely parterre. The builders of a temple are of equal importance, whether they labor on the foundations, or toil upon the dome.
... The woman, who is rearing a family of children; the woman, who labors in the schoolroom; the woman, who, in her retired chamber, earns, with her needle, the mite, which contributes to the intellectual and moral elevation of her Country; even the humble domestic, whose example and influence may be moulding and forming young minds, while her faithful services sustain a prosperous domestic state;--each and all may be animated by the consciousness that they are agents in accomplishing the greatest work that ever was committed to human responsibility.
It is the building of a glorious temple, whose base shall be coextensive with the bounds of the earth, whose summit shall pierce the skies, whose splendor shall beam on all lands; and those who hew the lowliest stone, as much as those who carve the highest capital, will be equally honored, when its topstone shall be laid, with new rejoicings of the morning stars, and shoutings of the sons of God.
Issue #22: July 1, 1997 (What We Did on the 4th of July)
The 17th edition (1814) since 1897 -- Boston: Printed by Manning & Loring, for the AUTHOR; and sold at his Book-Store, No. 44, Cornhill, and by the Booksellers in general.
The extraordinary events of just 20 years ago, and the more recent events in France inspire Francis Blake to a cosmic vision: "The grand POLITICAL MILLENNIUM is at hand; when tyranny shall be buried in ruins; when all nations shall be united in ONE MIGHTY REPUBLIC!" This hope and expectation of a worldwide revolution made him slow to criticize the French Revolution, and its three decades of rumbling aftermath, and zealous to defend it from its critics.
"In viewing the causes which led to the event of this joyous anniversary; in tracing the effects which have resulted to America; in searching for the principles which impelled to the contest; in recalling the feelings which supported us in the struggle, it cannot fail to occur to us that the causes have not been confined to the limits of our continent; that the effects have extended far beyond the boundaries of our nation; that the glorious example, with electrical rapidity, had flashed across the Atlantic; that, guided by the same principle, conducted by the same feelings, the people, who so gallantly fought and bled for the security of our lives and our liberties, are now fighting and bleeding in defense of their own.
"On this day, therefore, religiously devoted to the consecration of our independence, it becomes us, as the votaries of freedom, as friends to the rights of man, and bound to support them whenever invaded, to turn our attention, with a grateful enthusiasm, to the scenes of their sufferings, their revolt, and their victories. While exulting in the full enjoyment of peace and tranquillity, shall not a tear for the unexampled distresses of this magnanimous nation, check, for a moment, the emotions of our joy?
The Diary of Charles Francis Adams (Massachusetts Historical
Society 1968) relates:
(This can be taken as a sharp little word-picture of John Quincy and Charles Francis Adams too.)
"As my father (John Quincy Adams) was to deliver the Oration, I thought I would hear him for the purpose of forming a Judgment upon the character of his Oratory. To do this, I felt as if I should make sure of a good seat only bo going through all the Ceremonies. Isaac Hull and I therefore went up ... and endured all the excruciating head of the sun, ... dust, procession &ca. for three hours, until we reached the Meeting house, thus paying pretty dearly for our privelege. The Oration was and hour and twenty five minutes. The manner was as I expected, perhaps a little better though with a little of the defect I anticipated. [footnote says the main theme was an attack upon the South Carolina doctrine of nullification, which helps explain:]... I fear for him lest in his age it should bring upon him the War of words to which through all his life he has been accustomed. It is the character of my Father vehemently to attack. He does it through all his writings more or less, and attack in every community creates defence; Controversy rises, from which issue anger, and ill blood. All this is not to my taste and therefore I presume I must be set down as preferring insignificance and inglorious ease."
Issue #23: July 15, 1997 (More Domestic Economy (Catharine Beecher))
[From the Introduction, with quotes from the text interspersed:]
... she describes how to keep a baby warm, and how warm to keep it, with a great deal of explanation based on the science of the day. Likewise, and with similar scientific accompaniment, she warns against wearing wool next next to the skin, and most vociferously against tight clothing for women, for very tight corsets were the fashion.
The rule of safety, in regard to the tightness of dress, is this. Every person should be dressed so loosely, that, when sitting in the posture used in sewing, reading, or study, THE LUNGS can be as fully and as easily inflated, as they are without clothing.
She also scientifically explained the need for cleanliness:
... it is found, that the closing of the pores of the skin with other substances, tends to a similar result on the internal organs. In this situation, the skin is unable perfectly to perform its functions, and either the blood remains to a certain extent unpurified, or else the internal organs have an unnatural duty to perform. Either of these results tends to produce disease, and the gradual decay of the vital powers.
The idea that the body could be devoured, or partially devoured, or poisoned or made to malfunction by organisms too small to see had not yet a part of the medical theorist's toolkit, of course.
In the chapter "On the Construction of Houses", she presents numerous plans for simple frame houses, and advice on where to plant shade trees. She even presents a design for indoor plumbing usable even in the wilderness, provided a well is near the house. In presenting a careful privy design, she concludes with "Every woman should use her influence to secure all these conveniences; even if it involves the sacrifice of the piazza, or 'the best parlor.'"
The final selection describes how to make a "cheap couch", with a diagram to be shown to any "common carpenter" (or husband, I would guess), and directions on how to complete the work, using straw and/or hair for stuffing.