Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Wordplay

Wordplay (but no fun at all) - Before the 20th century, the word sex did not refer to sensual pleasures, simply to the "other sex"
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Wednesday, May 18, 2011

19th-Century American Couple

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1829 Ohio George Washington's Birthday Ball

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Frances Trollope, Domestic Manners of the Americans. Written during her stay in America, 1827-1831

1829 Ohio George Washington's Birthday Ball

In noting the various brilliant events which diversified our residence in the western metropolis, I have omitted to mention the Birthday Ball, as it is called, a festivity which, I believe, has place on the 22nd of February, in every town and city throughout the Union. It is the anniversary of the birth of General Washington, and well deserves to be marked by the Americans as a day of jubilee...

The dancing was not quite like, yet not very unlike what we see at an assize or race ball in a country town. They call their dances cotillons instead of quadrilles, and the figures are called from the orchestra in English, which has a very ludicrous effect on European ears.

The arrangements for the supper were very singular, but eminently characteristic of the country. The gentlemen had a splendid entertainment spread for them in another large room of the hotel, while the poor ladies had each a plate put into their hands, as they pensively promenaded the ball-room during their absence; and shortly afterwards servants appeared, bearing trays of sweetmeats, cakes, and creams. The fair creatures then sat down on a row of chairs placed round the walls, and each making a table of her knees, began eating her sweet, but sad and sulky repast. The effect was extremely comic; their gala-dresses and the decorated room forming a contrast the most unaccountable with their uncomfortable and forlorn condition.

This arrangement was owing neither to economy nor want of a room large enough to accommodate the whole party, but purely because the gentlemen liked it better. This was the answer given me, when my curiosity tempted me to ask why the ladies and gentlemen did not sup together; and this was the answer repeated to me afterwards by a variety of people to whom I put the same question...

In America, with the exception of dancing, which is almost wholly confined to the unmarried of both sexes, all the enjoyments of the men are found in the absence of the women. They dine, they play cards, they have musical meetings, they have suppers, all in large parties, but all without women. Were it not that such is the custom, it is impossible but that they would have ingenuity enough to find some expedient for sparing the wives and daughters of the opulent the sordid offices of household drudgery, which they almost all perform in their families.
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19th-Century American Woman

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19th-Century American Woman

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1828 Life on a Farm in Ohio

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Frances Trollope, Domestic Manners of the Americans. Written during her stay in America, 1827-1831

1828 Life on a Farm in Ohio. Spring 1828.

We visited one farm which interested us particularly from its wild and lonely situation, and from the entire dependence of the inhabitants upon their own resources. It was a partial clearing in the very heart of the forest.

The house was built on the side of a hill, so steep that a high ladder was necessary to enter the front door, while the back one opened against the hillside; at the foot of this sudden eminence ran a clear stream, whose bed had been deepened into a little reservoir, just opposite the house.

A noble field of Indian-corn stretched away into the forest on one side, and a few half-cleared acres, with a shed or two upon them, occupied the other, giving accommodation to cows, horses, pigs, and chickens innumerable. Immediately before the house was a small potato garden, with a few peach and apple trees.

The house was built of logs, and consisted of two rooms, besides a little shanty or lean-to, that was used as a kitchen. Both rooms were comfortably furnished with good beds, drawers, &c.

The farmer's wife, and a young woman who looked like her sister, were spinning, and three little children were playing about. The woman told me that they spun and wove all the cotton and woollen garments of the family, and knit all the stockings; her husband, though not a shoemaker by trade, made all the shoes.

She manufactured all the soap and candles they used, and prepared her sugar from the sugar-trees on their farm. All she wanted with money, she said, was to buy coffee, tea, and whiskey, and she could "get enough any day by sending a batch of butter and chicken to market."

They used no wheat, nor sold any of their corn, which, though it appeared a very large quantity, was not more than they required to make their bread and cakes of various kinds, and to feed all their live stock during the winter.

She did not look in health, and said they had all had ague in "the fall;" but she seemed contented, and proud of her independence; though it was in somewhat a mournful accent that she said, "'Tis strange to us to see company: I expect the sun may rise and set a hundred times before I shall see another human that does not belong to the family."
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19th-Century American Woman

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1827 New Orleans' Quadroon Women

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Frances Trollope, Domestic Manners of the Americans. Written during her stay in America, 1827-1831

Quadroon Women in New Orleans, Louisiana. December 1827.

Our stay in New Orleans was not long enough to permit our entering into society, but I was told that it contained two distinct sets of people, both celebrated, in their way, for their social meetings and elegant entertainments.

The first of these is composed of Creole families, who are chiefly planters and merchants, with their wives and daughters; these meet together, eat together, and are very grand and aristocratic; each of their balls is a little Almack's, and every portly dame of the set is as exclusive in her principles as a lady patroness.

The other set consists of the excluded but amiable Quadroons, and such of the gentlemen of the former class as can by any means escape from the high places, where pure Creole blood swells the veins at the bare mention of any being tainted in the remotest degree with the Negro stain.

Female Quadroon (Quadroon, a name given to the offspring of a mulatto and a white.)

Of all the prejudices I have ever witnessed, this appears to me the most violent, and the most inveterate. Quadroon girls, the acknowledged daughters of wealthy American or Creole fathers, educated with all of style and accomplishments which money can procure at New Orleans, and with all the decorum that care and affection can give exquisitely beautiful, graceful, gentle, and amiable, these are not admitted, nay, are not on any terms admissible, into the society of the Creole families of Louisiana.

They cannot marry, that is to say, no ceremony can render an union with them legal or binding; yet such is the powerful effect of their very peculiar grace, beauty, and sweetness of manner, that unfortunately they perpetually become the objects of choice and affection. If the Creole ladies have privilege to exercise the awful power of repulsion, the gentle Quadroon has the sweet but dangerous vengeance of possessing that of attraction. The unions formed with this unfortunate race are said to be often lasting and happy, as far as any unions can be so, to which a certain degree of disgrace is attached.
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19th-Century American Women

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1831 America's Grim, Determined Women

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Frances Trollope, Domestic Manners of the Americans. Written during her stay in America, 1827-1831

1831 America's Grim, Determined Women

EN ROUTE TO NIAGARA BY CANAL BOAT THROUGH NEW YORK. Spring 1831. 

There is a great quietness about the women of America (I speak of the exterior manner of persons casually met), but somehow or other, I should never call it gentleness.

In such trying moments as that of fixing themselves on board a packet-boat, the men are prompt, determined, and will compromise any body's convenience' except their own.

The women are doggedly stedfast in their will, and till matters are settled, look like hedgehogs, with every quill raised, and firmly set, as if to forbid the approach of any one who might wish to rub them down.

In circumstances where an English woman would look proud, and a French woman nonchalante, an American lady looks grim; even the youngest and the prettiest can set their lips, and knit their brows, and look as hard and unsocial as their grandmothers.
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19th-Century American Woman

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A 19th-Century American Woman

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1824 On Clothing, Make-Up, & Natural Beauty

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James Fenimore Cooper, Notions of the Americans

1824 American Women - Their Clothing, Make-up, and Natural Beauty

It has always appeared to me, that manner in a woman bears a strict analogy to dress. A degree of simple, appropriate embellishment serves alike to adorn the graces of person and of demeanour; but the moment a certain line is passed in either, the individual becomes auxiliary to the addition, instead of the addition lending, as it should, a grace to the individual. It is very possible, that, if one woman wears diamonds, another must do the same thing, until a saloon shall be filled with the contents of a jeweller's shop; but, after all, this is rather a contest between bright stones than bright eyes...

I think the females of the secondary classes in this country dress more, and those of the upper, less, than the corresponding castes in Europe. The Americans are not an economical people, in one sense, though instances of dissolute prodigality are exceedingly rare among them...

The facility with which the fabrics of every country in the world are obtained, the absence of care on the subject of the future, and the inherent elevation of the character which is a natural consequence of education, and a consciousness of equal rights, cause all the secondary classes of this country to assume more of the exterior of the higher, than it is common to see with us. The exceptions must be sought among the very poorest and most depressed members of the community...

Now the fashion of the attire, and not unfrequently the material of the dress of an American girl of a similar class, differs from that of the lady only in quality, and perhaps a little in the air in which it is worn. As you ascend in the scale of society, the distinctions, always excepting those delicate shades which can only be acquired by constant association in the best company, become less obvious, until it requires the tact of breeding to trace them at all...The distinguishing feature of American female manners is nature. The fair creatures are extremely graceful if left to exhibit their blandishments in their own way; but it is very evident, that a highly artificial manner in those with whom they associate, produces a blighting influence on the ease of even the most polished among them...

In general they are delicate; a certain feminine air, tone of voice, size and grace being remarkably frequent. In the northern, eastern and middle states, which contain much more than half the whole population of the country, the women are fair; though brunettes are not unfrequent, and just as blondes are admired in France, they are much esteemed here, especially, as is often the case, if the hair and eyes happen to correspond.

Indeed it is difficult to imagine any creature more attractive than an American beauty between the ages of fifteen and eighteen. There is something in the bloom, delicacy, and innocence of one of these young things, that reminds you of the conceptions which poets and painters have taken of the angels...

Perhaps a great majority of the females marry before the age of twenty, and it is not an uncommon thing to see them mothers at sixteen, seventeen, or eighteen. Almost every American mother nurses her own infant. It is far more common to find them mothers of eight, or of ten children, at fifty, than mothers of two or three...

Even so common an ornament as rouge is denied, and no woman dares confess that she uses it. There is something so particularly soft and delicate in the colour of the young females one sees in the streets here, that at first I was inclined to give them credit for the art with which they applied the tints; but Cadwallader gravely assured me I was wrong; He had no doubt that certain individuals did, in secret, adopt the use of rouge; but within the whole circuit of his acquaintailce he could not name one whom he suspected of the practice. Indeed, several gentlemen have gone so far as to assure me that when a woman rouged, it is considered in this country, as prima facie testimony that her character is frail.

It should also be remembered, that when an American girl marries, she no longer entertains the desire to interest any but her husband. There is perhaps something in the security of matrimony that is not very propitious to female blandishments, and one ought to express no surprise that the wife who is content with the affections of her husband, should grow a little indifferent to the admiration of the rest of the world. One rarely sees married women foremost in the gay scenes. They attend, as observant and influencing members of society, but not as the principal actors. It is thought that the amusements of the world are more appropriate to the young, who are neither burthened nor sobered with matrimonial duties, and who possess an inherent right to look about them in the morning of life in quest of the partner who is to be their companion to its close. And yet I could name, among my acquaintances here, a dozen of the youngest-looking mothers of large and grown-up families that I remember ever to have seen.
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19th-Century American Woman

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1824 Gentlemen - Always Avoid Using the Language of Idle Gallantry

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James Fenimore Cooper, Notions of the Americans

1824 Beware of Using the Language of Idle Gallantry

The language of gallantry is never tolerated. A married woman would conceive it an insult, and a girl would be exceedingly apt to laugh in her adorer's face. In order that it should be favourably received, it is necessary that the former should be prepared to forget her virtue, and to the latter, whether sincere or not, it is an absolute requisite that all adulation should at least wear the semblance of sincerity.

But he who addresses an unmarried female in this language, whether it be of passion or only feigned, must expect to be exposed, and probably disgraced, unless he should be prepared to support his sincerity by an offer of his hand. I think I see you tremble at the magnitude of the penalty!

I do not mean to say that idle pleasantries, such as are mutually understood to be no more than pleasantries, are not sometimes tolerated; but an American female is exceedingly apt to assume a chilling gravity at the slightest trespass on what she believes, and between ourselves, rightly believes to be the dignity of her sex. Here, you will perceive, is a saving custom, and one, too, that it is exceedingly hazardous to infringe, which diminishes one half of the ordinary dangers of the free communication between the young of the two sexes.

Without doubt, when the youth has once made his choice, he endeavours to secure an interest in the affections of the chosen fair, by all those nameless assiduities and secret sympathies, which, though they appear to have produced no visible fruits, cannot be unknown to one of your established susceptibility.

These attractions lead to love; and love, in this country, nineteen times in twenty, leads to matrimony.

But pure, heartfelt affection, rarely exhibits itself in the language of gallantry. The latter is no more than a mask, which pretenders assume and lay aside at pleasure; but when the heart is really touched, the tongue is at best but a miserable interpreter of its emotion; I have always ascribed our own forlorn condition to the inability of that mediating member to do justice to the strength of emotions that are seemingly as deep, as they are frequent.
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19th-Century American Woman

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1824 On Chaperones for American Women

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James Fenimore Cooper, Notions of the Americans

1824 About the Custom of Chaperones for Women

Because American women are very reserved in conversation, "you will readily perceive that the free intercourse between the unmarried is at once deprived of half its danger.

"But the upper classes in this country are far from neglecting many necessary forms. As they have more to lose by matrimonial connections than others, common prudence teaches them the value of a proper caution.

"Thus a young lady never goes in public without the eye of some experienced matron to watch her movements. She cannot appear at a play, ball, etc. without a father, or a brother, at least it is thought far more delicate and proper that shc should have a female guardian.

She never rides nor walks - unless in the most public place, and then commonly with great reserve - attended by a single man, unless indeed under circustances of a peculiar nature. In short, she pursues that course which rigid delicacy would prescribe, without however betraying any marked distrust of the intentions of the other sex.

These customs are relaxed a little as you descend in the scale of society; but it is evidently more because the friends of a girl with ten or twenty thousand dollars, or of a family in middle life, have less jealousy of motive than those of one who is, rich, or otherwise of a particularly desirable connection."
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19th-Century American Woman

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1824 Conversations of American Women Are More Reserved

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James Fenimore Cooper, Notions of the Americans

1824 Reserved Conversations of American Women

There is another peculiarity in American manners that should be mentioned. You probably know that in England far more reserve is used, in conversation with a female, than in most, if not all of the nations of the continent. As, in all peculiar customs, each nation prefers its own usage; and while the English lady is shocked with the freedom with which the French lady converses of her personal feelings, ailings, &c., the latter turns the nicety of the former into ridicule...the women of America, of all classes, are much more reserved and guarded in their discourse, at least in presence of our sex, than even the women of the country whence they derive their origin...

The vast majority of the men like it, because they are used to no other custom. Many, who have got a taste of European usages, condemn it as over-fastidious; but my friend Cadwallader, who is not ignorant of life in both hemispheres, worships it, as constituting one of the distinctive and appropriate charms of the sex. He stoutly maintains, that the influence of woman is more felt and revered in American society than in any other; and he argues, with no little plausibility, that it is so because, while she rarely or never exceeds the natural duties of her station, she forgets none of those distinctive features of her sex and character, which, by constantly appealing to the generosity of man by admitting he physical weakness, give strength and durability to her moral ascendancy.

I think, at all events, no intelligent traveler can journey through this country without being struck by the singular air of decency and self-respect which belongs to all its women, and no honest foreigner can deny the kindness and respect they receive from the men.
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19th-Century American Woman

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1824 On American Women Traveling Alone

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James Fenimore Cooper, Notions of the Americans

1824 On Women Traveling in America

There is something repugnant to the delicacy of American ideas in permitting a lady to come, in any manner in contact with the world. A woman of almost any rank above the labouring classes, is averse to expose herself to the usual collisions, bargainings & etc of ordinary travelling.

Thus, the first thing an American woman requires to commence a journey, is a suitable male escort; the very thing that with us would be exceptionable. Nothing is more common, for instance, when a husband or a brother hears that a respectable acquaintance is about to go in the same steam-boat, stage, or on the same route, as that in which his wife or sister intends to journey, than to request the former to become her protector. The request is rarely refused, and the trust is always considered flattering, and commonly sacred.

Here you see that the very custom which in Europe would create scandal, is here resorted to, under favour of good morals and directness of thought, to avert it. Cadwallader assures me that he was pained, and even shocked, at meeting well-bred women running about Europe attended only by a footman and a maid, and that for a long time he could not divest himself of the idea, that they were unfortunate in having lost all those male friends, whose natural duty it was to stand between their helplessness and the cold calculating selfishness of the world.
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19th-Century American Woman

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1824 On Doweries in America

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James Fenimore Cooper, Notions of the Americans

1824 America's Lack of Doweries

...an American lady would be very apt to distrust the affection that saw her charms through the medium of an estate. Indeed he mentioned one or two instances in which the gentleman had endeavoured to stipulate in advance for the dowries of their brides, and which had not only created a great deal of scandal in the coteries, but which had invariably been the means of defeating the matches, the father, or the daughter, finding, in each case, something particularly offensive in the proposition.

A lady of reputed fortune is a little more certain of matrimony than her less lucky rival, though popular opinion must be the gage of her possessions until the lover can claim a husband's rights; unless indeed the amorous swain should possess, as sometimes happens, secret and more authentic sources of information.

From all that I can learn, nothing is more common, however, than for young men of great expectations to connect themselves with females, commonly of their own condition in life, who are pennyless; or, on the other hand, for ladies to give their persons with one or two hundred thousand dollars, to men, who have nothing better to recommend them than education and morals.
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19th-Century American Woman

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19th-Century American Woman

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1824 The Surprising Literary Knowledge of Young American Women

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James Fenimore Cooper, Notions of the Americans

UPSTATE NEW YORK. 1824. Literary Knowledge of American Women.

I found an intelligence that surprised me at every turn, and which, in itself, gave the true character to the humanity of which I was the subject. I repeatedly found copies of your standard English authors, in retired dwellings where one would not expect to meet any production of a cast higher than an almanac, or a horn-book; nor were they read with that acquiescent criticism which gives a fashion to taste, and which makes a joke of Moliere better than a joke of any other man.

Young women (with whom my situation, no less than my tastes, oftenest brought me into literary discussions) frequently surprised me with the extent of their acquaintance with, and the soundness of their opinions concerning the merits and morality of Pope and Addison, of Young and Tillotson, and even of Milton and Shakspeare. This may sound to you ridiculous, and certainly, if taken without a saving clause for the other acquirements of my female critics, it is liable to some exception; but I repeat I have often known professed blues acquit themselves with less credit than did several of my passing acquaintances at the tea-tables of different New-England inns.
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Tuesday, May 17, 2011

19th-Century American Woman

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19th-Century American Woman

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19th-Century American Woman

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19th-Century American Woman

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19th-Century American Woman

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19th-Century American Woman

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19th-Century American Woman

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19th-Century American Woman

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19th-Century American Woman

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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl of North Carolina - Childhood

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INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF A SLAVE GIRL. WRITTEN BY HERSELF. WOMAN OF NORTH CAROLINA.  Harriet Ann Jacobs 1813-1897

EDITED BY L. MARIA CHILD. BOSTON: PUBLISHED FOR THE AUTHOR. 1861
1861.  Lydia Maria Francis Child 1802-1880

From the Documenting the American South project of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

CHILDHOOD.

I WAS born a slave; but I never knew it till six years of happy childhood had passed away.

My father was a carpenter, and considered so intelligent and skilful in his trade, that, when buildings out of the common line were to be erected, he was sent for from long distances, to be head workman. On condition of paying his mistress two hundred dollars a year, and supporting himself, he was allowed to work at his trade, and manage his own affairs. His strongest wish was to purchase his children; but, though he several times offered his hard earnings for that purpose, he never succeeded.

In complexion my parents were a light shade of brownish yellow, and were termed mulattoes. They lived together in a comfortable home; and, though we were all slaves, I was so fondly shielded that I never dreamed I was a piece of merchandise, trusted to them for safe keeping, and liable to be demanded of them at any moment.

I had one brother, William, who was two years younger than myself—a bright, affectionate child. I had also a great treasure in my maternal grandmother, who was a remarkable woman in many respects. She was the daughter of a planter in South Carolina, who, at his death, left her mother and his three children free, with money to go to St. Augustine, where they had relatives. It was during the Revolutionary War; and they were captured on their passage, carried back, and sold to different purchasers. Such was the story my grandmother used to tell me; but I do not remember all the particulars.

She was a little girl when she was captured and sold to the keeper of a large hotel. I have often heard her tell how hard she fared during childhood. But as she grew older she evinced so much intelligence, and was so faithful, that her master and mistress could not help seeing it was for their interest to take care of such a valuable piece of property. She became an indispensable personage in the household, officiating in all capacities, from cook and wet nurse to seamstress. She was much praised for her cooking; and her nice crackers became so famous in the neighborhood that many people were desirous of obtaining them. In consequence of numerous requests of this kind, she asked permission of her mistress to bake crackers at night, after all the household work was done; and she obtained leave to do it, provided she would clothe herself and her children from the profits. Upon these terms, after working hard all day for her mistress, she began her midnight bakings, assisted by her two oldest children. The business proved profitable; and each year she laid by a little, which was saved for a fund to purchase her children. Her master died, and the property was divided among his heirs. The widow had her dower in the hotel, which she continued to keep open.

My grandmother remained in her service as a slave; but her children were divided among her master's children. As she had five, Benjamin, the youngest one, was sold, in order that each heir might have an equal portion of dollars and cents. There was so little difference in our ages that he seemed more like my brother than my uncle. He was a bright, handsome lad, nearly white; for he inherited the complexion my grandmother had derived from Anglo-Saxon ancestors. Though only ten years old, seven hundred and twenty dollars were paid for him. His sale was a terrible blow to my grandmother; but she was naturally hopeful, and she went to work with renewed energy, trusting in time to be able to purchase some of her children. She had laid up three hundred dollars, which her mistress one day begged as a loan, promising to pay her soon. The reader probably knows that no promise or writing given to a slave is legally binding; for, according to Southern laws, a slave, being property, can hold no property. When my grandmother lent her hard earnings to her mistress, she trusted solely to her honor. The honor of a slaveholder to a slave!

To this good grandmother I was indebted for many comforts. My brother Willie and I often received portions of the crackers, cakes, and preserves, she made to sell; and after we ceased to be children we were indebted to her for many more important services.

Such were the unusually fortunate circumstances of my early childhood. When I was six years old, my mother died; and then, for the first time, I learned, by the talk around me, that I was a slave. My mother's mistress was the daughter of my grandmother's mistress. She was the foster sister of my mother; they were both nourished at my grandmother's breast. In fact, my mother had been weaned at three months old, that the babe of the mistress might obtain sufficient food. They played together as children; and, when they became women, my mother was a most faithful servant to her whiter foster sister. On her death-bed her mistress promised that her children should never suffer for any thing; and during her lifetime she kept her word. They all spoke kindly of my dead mother, who had been a slave merely in name, but in nature was noble and womanly. I grieved for her, and my young mind was troubled with the thought who would now take care of me and my little brother.

I was told that my home was now to be with her mistress; and I found it a happy one. No toilsome or disagreeable duties were imposed upon me. My mistress was so kind to me that I was always glad to do her bidding, and proud to labor for her as much as my young years would permit. I would sit by her side for hours, sewing diligently, with a heart as free from care as that of any free-born white child. When she thought I was tired, she would send me out to run and jump; and away I bounded, to gather berries or flowers to decorate her room. Those werehappy days—too happy to last. The slave child had no thought for the morrow; but there came that blight, which too surely waits on every human being born to be a chattel.

When I was nearly twelve years old, my kind mistress sickened and died. As I saw the cheek grow paler, and the eye more glassy, how earnestly I prayed in my heart that she might live! I loved her; for she had been almost like a mother to me. My prayers were not answered. She died, and they buried her in the little churchyard, where, day after day, my tears fell upon her grave.

I was sent to spend a week with my grandmother. I was now old enough to begin to think of the future; and again and again I asked myself what they would do with me. I felt sure I should never find another mistress so kind as the one who was gone. She had promised my dying mother that her children should never suffer for any thing; and when I remembered that, and recalled her many proofs of attachment to me, I could not help having some hopes that she had left me free. My friends were almost certain it would be so. They thought she would be sure to do it, on account of my mother's love and faithful service. But, alas! we all know that the memory of a faithful slave does not avail much to save her children from the auction block.

After a brief period of suspense, the will of my mistress was read, and we learned that she had bequeathed me to her sister's daughter, a child of five years old. So vanished our hopes. My mistress had taught me the precepts of God's Word: "Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself." "Whatsoever ye would that men should do unto you, do ye even so unto them." But I was her slave, and I suppose she did not recognize me as her neighbor. I would give much to blot out from my memory that one great wrong. As a child, I loved my mistress; and, looking back on the happy days I spent with her, I try to think with less bitterness of this act of injustice. While I was with her, she taught me to read and spell; and for this privilege, which so rarely falls to the lot of a slave, I bless her memory.

She possessed but few slaves; and at her death those were all distributed among her relatives. Five of them were my grandmother's children, and had shared the same milk that nourished her mother's children. Notwithstanding my grandmother's long and faithful service to her owners, not one of her children escaped the auction block. These God-breathing machines are no more, in the sight of their masters, than the cotton they plant, or the horses they tend.
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19th-Century American Woman

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19th-Century Woman

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19th-Century Woman

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Thursday, May 5, 2011

1830 A Few Home Remedies for Ailments from the American Frugal Housewife

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Lydia Maria Francis Child
The Frugal Housewife - Dedicated to Those Who Are Not Ashamed of Economy 2nd Edition To Which is Added Hints to Persons of Moderate Fortune
Boston: Carter and Hendee. 1830

SIMPLE REMEDIES.

Cotton wool wet with sweet oil and paregoric, relieves the ear-ache very soon.

A good quantity of old cheese is the best thing to eat, when distressed by eating too much fruit, or oppressed with any kind of food. Physicians have given it in cases of extreme danger.

Honey and milk is very good for worms; so is strong salt water; likewise powdered sage and molasses, taken freely.

For a sudden attack of quincy, or croup, bathe the neck with bear's grease, and pour it down the throat.
A linen rag soaked in sweet oil, butter, or lard, and sprinkled with yellow Scotch snuff, is said to have performed wonderful cures in cases of croup: it should be placed where the distress is greatest.

Cotton wool and oil, are the best things for a burn.

A poultice of wheat bran, or rye bran, and vinegar, very soon takes down the inflammation occasioned by a sprain. Brown paper wet is healing to a bruise. Dipped in molasses it is said to take down inflammation.

In case of any scratch, or wound, from which the lock-jaw is apprehended, bathe the injured part freely with lye, or pearl-ash and water.

A rind of pork bound upon a wound occasioned by a needle, pin, or nail, prevents the lock-jaw. It should be always applied. Spirits of turpentine is good to prevent the lock-jaw.

If you happen to cut yourself slightly while cooking, bind on some fine salt:
molasses is likewise good.

Black, or green tea steeped in boiling milk is excellent for the dysentery.  Cork burnt to charcoal, about as big as a hazle nut, macerated, and put in a tea-spoonful of brandy, with a little loaf sugar and nutmeg, is very efficacious in cases of dysentery and cholera-morbus. If nutmeg be wanting, peppermint water may be used. Flannel wet with brandy, powdered with Cayenne pepper, and laid upon the bowels, affords great relief in cases of extreme distress.

Dissolve as much table salt in keen vinegar, as will ferment and work clear. When the foam is discharged, cork it up in a bottle and put it away for use. A large spoonful of this in a gill of boiling water is very efficacious in cases of dysentery and cholic.

Whortleberries, commonly called huckleberries, dried, are a useful medicine for children. Made into tea and sweetened with molasses, they are very beneficial, when the system is in a restricted state, and the digestive powers out of order.

Blackberries are extremely useful in cases of dysentery. To eat the berries is very healthy; tea made of the root and leaves is beneficial; and a syrup made of the berries is still better. Blackberries have sometimes effected a cure when physicians despaired.

Loaf sugar and brandy relieve a sore throat; when very bad, it is good to inhale the steam of scalding hot vinegar through the tube of a tunnel. This should be tried carefully at first, lest the throat be scalded. For children, it should be allowed to cool a little.

A stocking bound on warm from the foot, at night, is good for the sore throat.

An ointment made from the common ground-worms, which boys dig to bait fishes, rubbed on with the hand is said to be excellent, when the sinews are drawn up by any disease, or accident.

A gentleman in Missouri advertises that he had an inveterate cancer upon his nose cured by a strong potash made of the lye of the ashes of red oak bark, boiled down to the consistence of molasses. The cancer was covered with this, and about an hour after covered with a plaster of tar. This must be removed in a few days, and if any protuberances remain in the wound, apply more potash to them, and the plaster again, until they entirely disappear: after which heal the wound with any common soothing salve. I never knew this to be tried.

If a wound bleeds very fast, and there is no physician at hand, cover it with the scrapings of sole-leather, scraped like coarse lint. This stops blood very soon. Always have vinegar, camphor, hartshorn, or something of that kind in readiness, as the sudden stoppage of blood almost always makes a person faint.

Balm-of-Gilead buds bottled up in N. E. rum, make the best cure in the world for fresh cuts and wounds. Every family should have a bottle of it. The buds should be gathered in a peculiar state; just when they are well swelled, ready to burst into leaves, and well covered with gum. They last but two or three days in this state.

Plantain and house-leek, boiled in cream, and strained before it is put away to cool, makes a very cooling, soothing ointment. Plantain leaves laid upon a wound are cooling and healing.

Half a spoonful of citric acid, (which may always be bought of the apothecaries,) stirred in half a tumbler of water is excellent for the head-ache.

Boiled potatoes are said to cleanse the hands as well as common soap; they prevent chops in the winter season, and keep the skin soft and healthy.

Water gruel, with three or four onions simmered in it, prepared with a lump of butter, pepper, and salt, eaten just before one goes to bed, is said to be a cure for a hoarse cold. A syrup made of horse-raddish root and sugar is excellent for a cold.

Very strong salt-and-water, when frequently applied has been known to cure wens.

The following poultice for the throat distemper, has been much approved in England. The pulp of a roasted apple, mixed with an ounce of tobacco, the whole wet with spirits of wine, or any other high spirits; spread on a linen rag, and bound upon the throat at any period of the disorder.

Nothing is so good to take down swellings, as a soft poultice of stewed white beans, put on in a thin muslin bag, and renewed every hour, or two.

The thin white skin which comes from suet, is excellent to bind upon the feet for chilblains.

Always apply laudanum to fresh wounds.

A poultice of elder-blow tea and biscuit is good as a preventative to mortification. The approach of mortification is generally shown by the formation of blisters filled with blood; water blisters are not alarming.

Burnt alum held in the mouth is good for the canker.

The common dark blue violet makes a slimy tea, which is excellent for the canker. Leaves and blossoms are both good. Those who have families should take some pains to dry these flowers.

When people have a sore mouth, from taking calomel, or any other cause, tea made of low-blackberry leaves is extremely beneficial.

Tea made of slippery elm is good for the piles, and for humors in the blood. To be drank plentifully.

Winter evergreen is considered good for all humors, particularly scrofula.
Some call it rheumatism-weed; because a tea made from it is supposed to check that painful disorder.

An ointment of lard, sulphur, and cream-of-tartar, simmered together, is good for the piles.

Elixir Proprietatis is a useful family medicine for all cases when the digestive powers are out of order. One ounce of saffron, one ounce of myrrh, and one ounce of aloes. Pulverize them; let the myrrh steep in half a pint of N. E. rum for four days; then add the saffron and aloes; let it stand in the sunshine, or in some warm place, for a fortnight; taking care to shake it well twice a day. At the end of the fortnight fill up the bottle, (a common sized one) with N. E. rum, and let it stand a month. It costs six times as much to buy it in small quantities, as it does to make it.

The constant use of malt beer, or malt in any way, is said to be a preservative against fevers.

Black cherry tree bark, barberry bark, mustard-seed, petty-morrel root, and horse-radish, well steeped in cider is excellent for the jaundice.

Cotton wool and oil, are the best things for a burn. When children are burned it is difficult to make them endure the application of cotton wool. I have known the inflammation of a very bad burn extracted in one night, by the constant application of brandy, vinegar, and water, mixed together. This feels cool and pleasant, and a few drops of paragoric will soon put the little sufferer to sleep. The bathing should be continued till the pain is gone.

A few drops of the oil of Cajput on cotton wool is said to be a great relief to the tooth-ache. It occasions a smart pain for a few seconds, when laid upon the defective tooth. Any apothecary will furnish it ready dropped, on cotton wool, for a few cents.

A poultice made of common chickweed, that grows about one's door in the country, has given great relief to the tooth-ache, when applied frequently to the cheek.

A spoonful of ashes stirred in cider is good to prevent sickness at the stomach. Physicians frequently order it in cases of cholera-morbus.

When a blister occasioned by a burn breaks, it is said to be a good plan to put wheat flower upon the naked flesh.

The buds of the elder bush, gathered in early spring, and immersed with new butter or sweet lard, makes a very healing and cooling ointment.
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19th-Century American Woman

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A Look at the Frugal Patchwork Quilt by Harriet Beecher Stowe 1811-1896

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Harriet Beecher Stowe
The Minister's Wooing, Derby and Jackson, 1859

The Quilting

Harriet Beecher Stowe tells of Mary and her intended preacher husband and an 1859 New England tradition for brides-to-be...

The quilting was in those days considered the most solemn and important recognition of a betrothal. And for the benefit of those not to the manner born, a little preliminary instruction may be necessary.


The good wives of New England, impressed with that thrifty orthodoxy of economy which forbids to waste the merest trifle, had a habit of saving every scrap clipped out in the fashioning of household garments, and these they cut into fanciful patterns and constructed of them rainbow shapes and quaint traceries, the arrangement of which became one of their few fine arts. Many a maiden, as she sorted and arranged fluttering bits of green, yellow, red, and blue, felt rising in her breast a passion for somewhat vague and unknown, which came out at length in a new pattern of patchwork. Collections of these tiny fragments were always ready to fill an hour when there was nothing else to do; and as the maiden chattered with her beau, her busy flying needle stitched together those pretty bits, which, little in themselves, were destined, by gradual unions and accretions, to bring about at last substantial beauty, warmth, and comfort,—emblems thus of that household life which is to be brought to stability and beauty by reverent economy in husbanding and tact in arranging the little useful and agreeable morsels of daily existence.


When a wedding was forthcoming, there was a solemn review of the stores of beauty and utility thus provided, and the patchwork-spread best worthy of such distinction was chosen for the quilting. Thereto, duly summoned, trooped all intimate female friends of the bride, old and young; and the quilt being spread on a frame, and wadded with cotton, each vied with the others in the delicacy of the quilting she could put upon it. For the quilting also was a fine art, and had its delicacies and nice points, — which grave elderly matrons discussed with judicious care. The quilting generally began at an early hour in the afternoon, and ended at dark with a great supper and general jubilee, at which that ignorant and incapable sex which could not quilt was allowed to appear and put in claims for consideration of another nature...


By two o'clock a goodly company began to assemble... Good Mrs. Jones, broad, expansive, and solid, having vegetated tranquilly on in the cabbage-garden of the virtues since three years ago, when she graced our teaparty, was now as well preserved as ever, and brought some fresh butter, a tin pail of cream, and a loaf of cake made after a new Philadelphia receipt.


The quilt-pattern was gloriously drawn in oakleaves, done in indigo; and soon all the company, young and old, were passing busy fingers over it and conversation went on briskly.


At the quilting, Madame de Frontignac would have her seat, and soon won the respect of the party by the dexterity with which she used her needle; though, when it was whispered that she learned to quilt among the nuns, some of the elderly ladies exhibited a slight uneasiness, as being rather doubtful whether they might not be encouraging Papistical opinions by allowing her an equal share in the work of getting up their minister's bed-quilt...


This speech was founded on a tradition, current in those times, that no young lady was fit to be married til she could construct a boiled Indian pudding of such consistency that it could be thrown up chimney and come down on the ground, outside, without breaking...


"Girls a'n't what they used to be in my day," remarked an elderly lady. "I remember my mother told me when she was thirteen she could knit a long cotton stocking in a day."


"I haven't much faith in these stories of old times, — have you, girls?" said Cerinthy, appealing to the younger members at the frame.


"At any rate," said Mrs. Twitchel, "our minister's wife will be a pattern; I don't know anybody that goes beyond her either in spinning or fine stitching."


Mary sat as placid and disengaged as the new moon, and listened to the chatter of old and young with the easy quietness of a young heart that has early outlived life, and looks on everything in the world from some gentle, restful eminence far on towards a better home. She smiled at everybody's word, had a quick eye for everybody's wants, and was ready with thimble, scissors, or thread, whenever any one needed them...


The husbands, brothers, and lovers had come in, and the scene was redolent of gayety. When Mary made her appearance, there was a moment's pause, till she was conducted to the side of the Doctor; when, raising his hand, he invoked a grace upon the loaded board.


Unrestrained gayeties followed. Groups of young men and maidens chatted together, and all the gallantries of the times were enacted. Serious matrons commented on the cake, and told each other high and particular secrets in the culinary art, which they drew from remote family-archives. One might have learned in that instructive assembly how best to keep moths out of blankets,— how to make fritters of Indian corn undistinguishable from oysters, — how to bring up babies by hand, — how to mend a cracked teapot, — how to take out grease from a brocade, — how to reconcile absolute decrees with free will, how to make five yards of cloth answer the purpose of six,— and how to put down the Democratic party. All were busy, earnest, and certain,—just as a swarm of men and women, old and young, are in 1859.


Vain, transitory splendors! Even this evening, so glorious, so heart-cheering, so fruitful in instruction and amusement, could not last forever. Gradually the company broke up; the matrons mounted soberly on horseback behind their spouses...
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1830 On Frugality and Economy in Housekeeping

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Lydia Maria Francis Child
The Frugal Housewife - Dedicated to Those Who Are Not Ashamed of Economy 2nd Edition To Which is Added Hints to Persons of Moderate Fortune
Boston: Carter and Hendee. 1830

Introduction to Frugality and Economy

THE true economy of housekeeping is simply the art of gathering up all the fragments, so that nothing be lost. I mean fragments, of time, as well as materials. Nothing should be thrown away so long as it is possible to make any use of it, however trifling that use may be; and whatever be the size of a family, every member should be employed either in earning, or saving money.

'Time is money.' For this reason, cheap as stockings are, it is good economy to knit them. Cotton and woollen yarn are both cheap; hose that are knit wear twice as long as woven ones; and they can be done at odd minutes of time, which would not be otherwise employed! Where there are children, or aged people, it is sufficient to recommend knitting that it is an employment.

In this point of view, patchwork is good economy. It is indeed a foolish waste of time to tear cloth into bits for the sake of arranging it anew in fantastic figures; but a large family may be kept out of idleness, and a few shillings saved by thus using scraps of gowns, curtains, &c.

In the country, where grain is raised, it is a good plan to teach children to prepare and braid straw for their own bonnets, and their brothers' hats.

Where turkeys and geese are kept, handsome feather fans may as well be made by the younger members of a family, as to be bought. The earlier children are taught to turn their faculties to some account, the better for them and for their parents.

In this country, we are apt to let children romp away their existence, till they get to be thirteen, or fourteen. This is not well.--It is not well for the purses and patience of parents; and it has a still worse effect on the morals and habits of the children. Begin early is the great maxim for everything in education. A child of six years old can be made useful; and should be taught to consider every day lost in which some little thing has not been done to assist others.

Children can very early be taught to take all the care of their own clothes.

They can knit garters, suspenders, and stockings; they can make patchwork and braid straw; they can make mats for the table, and mats for the floor; they can weed the garden, and pick cranberries from the meadow, to be carried to market.

Provided brothers and sisters go together, and are not allowed to go with bad children, it is a great deal better for the boys and girls on a farm to be picking blackberries at six cents a quart, than to be wearing out their clothes in useless play. They enjoy themselves just as well; and they are earning something to buy clothes, at the same time they are tearing them.

It is wise to keep an exact account of all you expend--even of a paper of pins. This answers two purposes; it makes you more careful in spending money; and it enables your husband to judge precisely whether his family live within his income. No false pride, or foolish ambition to appear as well as others, should ever induce a person to live one cent beyond the income of which he is certain. If you have two dollars a day, let nothing but sickness induce you to spend more than nine shillings; if you save one dollar a day, do not spend but seventyfive cents; if you have half a dollar a day, be satisfied to spend forty cents.

To associate with influential and genteel people with an appearance of equality, unquestionably has its advantages; particularly where there is a family of sons and daughters just coming upon the theatre of life; but like all other external advantages, these have their proper price, and may be bought too dearly. They who never reserve a cent of their income, with which to meet any unforeseen calamity, 'pay too dear for their whistle,' whatever temporary benefits they may derive from society. Self-denial, in proportion to the narrowness of your income, will eventually be the happiest and most respectable course for you and yours. If you are prosperous, perseverance and industry will not fail to place you in such a situation as your ambition covets; and if you are not prosperous, it will be well for your children that they have not been educated to higher hopes than they will ever realize.

If you are about to furnish a house, do not spend all your money, be it much, or little. Do not let the beauty of this thing, and the cheapness of that, tempt you to buy unnecessary articles. Doctor Franklin's maxim was a wise one, 'nothing is cheap that we do not want.' Buy merely enough to get along with, at first. It is only by experience that you can tell what will be the wants of your family. If you spend all your money, you will find you have purchased many things you do not want, and have no means left to get many things, which you do want. If you have enough, and more than enough, to get everything suitable to your situation, do not think you must spend it all, merely because you happen to have it. Begin humbly. As riches increase, it is easy and pleasant to increase in hospitality and splendour; but it is always painful and inconvenient to decrease.

After all, these things are viewed in their proper light by the truly judicious and respectable. Neatness, tastefulness, and good sense, may be shown in the management of a small household, and the arrangement of a little furniture, as well as upon a larger scale; and these qualities are always praised, and always treated with respect and attention. The consideration which many purchase by living beyond their income, and of course living upon others, is not worth the trouble it costs. The glare there is about this false and wicked parade is deceptive; it does not in fact procure a man valuable friends, or extensive influence. More than that, it is wrong--morally wrong, so far as the individual is concerned; and injurious beyond calculation to the interests of our country. To what are the increasing beggary, and discouraged exertions of the present period owing? A multitude of causes have no doubt tended to increase the evil; but the root of the whole matter is the extravagance of all classes of people! We never shall be prosperous, till we make pride and vanity yield to the dictates of honesty and prudence! We never shall be free from embarrassment, until we cease to be ashamed of industry and economy! Let women do their share towards reformation--Let their fathers and husbands see them happy without finery; and if their husbands and fathers have (as is often the case) a foolish pride in seeing them decorated, let them gently and gradually check this feeling, by showing that they have better and surer means of commanding respect--Let them prove by the exertion of ingenuity and economy, that neatness, good taste, and gentility, are attainable without great expense.

The writer has no apology to offer for this cheap little book, of economical hints, except her deep conviction that such a book is needed. In this case, renown is out of the question; and ridicule is a matter of indifference.

The information conveyed is of a common kind; but it is such as the majority of young housekeepers do not possess, and such as they cannot obtain from cookery books. Books of this kind have usually been written for the wealthy: I have written for the poor! I have said nothing about rich cooking; those who can afford to be epicures will find the best of information in the 'Seventyfive Receipts.' I have attempted to teach how money can be saved, not how it can be enjoyed. If any persons think some of the maxims too rigidly economical,--let them inquire how the largest fortunes among us have been made. They will find thousands and millions have been accumulated, by a scrupulous attention to sums 'infinitely more minute than sixty cents.'

In early childhood, you lay the foundation of poverty or riches, in the habits you give your children.--Teach them to save everything,--not for their own use, for that would make them selfish--but for some use. Teach them to share everything with their playmates; but never allow them to destroy anything.

I once visited a family where the most exact economy was observed; yet nothing was mean, or uncomfortable. It is the character of true economy to be as comfortable and genteel with a little, as others can be with much. In this family, when the father brought home a package, the older children would, of their own accord, put away the paper and twine neatly, instead of throwing them in the fire, or tearing them to pieces. If the little ones wanted a piece of twine to play scratch-cradle, or spin a top, there it was, in readiness; and when they threw it upon the floor, the older children had no need to be told to put it again in its place.

The other day, I heard a mechanic say, 'I have a wife and two little children; we live in a very small house; but, to save my life, I cannot spend less than twelve hundred a year.' Another replied, 'You are not economical; I spend but eight hundred.' I thought to myself,--'Neither of you pick up your twine and paper.' A third one, who was present, was silent; but after they were gone, he said, 'I keep house, and comfortably too, with a wife and children, for six hundred a year; but I suppose they would have thought me mean, if I had told them so.' I did not think him mean; it merely occurred to me that his wife and children were in the habit of picking up paper and twine.

Economy is generally despised as a low virtue, tending to make people ungenerous and selfish. This is true of avarice; but it is not so of economy. The man who is economical, is laying up for himself the permanent power of being useful and generous.--He who thoughtlessly gives away ten dollars, when he owes a hundred more than he can pay, deserves no praise,--he obeys a sudden impulse, more like instinct than reason: it would be real charity to check this feeling; because the good he does may be doubtful, while the injury he does his family and creditors is certain. True economy is a careful treasurer in the service of benevolence; and where they are united, respectability, prosperity, and peace will follow.
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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

The Dreaded Dentist

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I had a tooth pulled Monday, and I am still regretting it. Today Accessible Archives posted this 1859 notice.

June 18, 1859, Vincennes Indiana Gazette

Notice. - A couple of men whom I believe to be downright imposters , and who call themselves by the name of Jones, have been traveling about over this country pretending to be dentists , and circulating the report that I had left. Now this is a falsehood, I am here yet and intend remaining here.


The public is informed that I may be found at my office one door north of Van Trees' store.


The persons referred to, know nothing about the profession, and mutilate most horribly, all on whom they operate. I believe them to be impostors of the most dangerous kind. Look out for them.

J.A. DALE. Washington, Indiana Washington Telegraph
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Tuesday, May 3, 2011

1803 Washington DC - History of 19C Capitol Hill

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On this day in 1802, Washington DC was incorporated as a city. And it is a great opportunity to look at the development of the gardens around the White House and the United States Capitol.

Classical Temple Dedicated to Liberty, Justice, and Peace. James Trenchard. Temple of Liberty. The Columbian Magazine, (Philadelphia) 1788, Library of Congress.

Below this engraving was written,

"Behold a Fabric now to Freedom rear'd,
Approved by friends, and ev'n Foes rever'd,
Where Justice, too, and Peace, by us ador'd,
Shall heal each Wrong, and keep ensheath'd the Sword,
Approach then, Concord, fair Columbia's Son,
And faithful Clio, write that "We Are One."

In 1788, Philadelphia's Columbian Magazine published an engraving by James Trenchard called the Temple of Liberty. Trenchard, born in 1746, at Penns Neck in Salem County, New Jersey, was an engraver & seal cutter in Philadelphia, and the artist for many of the plates for the Columbian Magazine, whose circulation was the largest of any 18th century magazine published in America.

The engraving of a classical temple building depicts statues on the roof, including Libertas (liberty), Justicia or Themis (justice), & Ceres (peace). Libertas is at the peak with the others on the corners. In the background a rising sun radiating beams of light with one shining upon Libertas holding her staff & freedom cap. Emerging from the pure, bright sunlight in the distance is the new nation--lady Columbia with an eagle headdress. Standing below is Concordia holding a horn of plenty; Columbia's winged son holding a scroll with CONSTITUTION written on it; and Clio, the muse of history, beginning to write the history of the new nation. Scrolling across the front of the classical temple are the words: SACRED TO LIBERTY, JUSTICE AND PEACE.

While studying 18th century buildings which were sited on the highest prospect, I kept running into depictions of the United States Capitol building, America's Temple of Liberty.

Dr. William Thornton [Sketch of Section of Monument and Conference Room], c. 1797 Prints and Photographs Division Library of Congress. Thornton's drawings and concept won the contest to design the capitol.

Built on what came to be called Capitol Hill, its grounds changed greatly over the first half of the 19th century. I thought you might enjoy seeing the various depictions of the changing landscape.

Dr. William Thornton [East Elevation for North Wing], 1795-1797 Prints and Photographs Division Library of Congress.

Fierce competition over the site of the capital city had raged for years, reaching its height during the First Federal Congress, in New York between 1789 - 1790.

Dr. William Thornton [Plan of Ground Story of the Capitol,] c. 1795-1797 Prints and Photographs Division Library of Congress.

The always clever Alexander Hamilton helped broker a compromise in which the federal government would assume the war debt incurred during the Revolution, in exchange for support from northern states for locating the capital further south than New York or Philadelphia.

Dr. William Thornton's winning plan for the Capitol of the United States of America.

The compromise between the advocates for the North and those favoring a Southern location ended the feuding by agreeing on a nearly neutral location on the Potomac River, equidistant between North & South, and easily defended. (It had been George Washington's choice all along, and it was Hamilton's goal to please the General.)

c 1800 A View of the Capitol of Washington Watercolor by William Birch.

The agreement called for a 100-square mile federal district to be located somewhere along the Potomac River at a site to be chosen by fellow river-property owner, George Washington. Washington picked the junction of the Potomac & Anacostia Rivers. He then chose Pierre Charles L'Enfant, a military artist who had served under him at Valley Forge, to design the new federal city.

An 1801 View of George Town and the Federal City, or the City of Washington before its development into the federal city. Color aquatint by T. Cartwright of London after George Beck of Philadelphia. Published by Atkins & Nightingale of London and Philadelphia.

The Capitol of the United States crowns what was then Jenkins Hill in Washington, D.C., and houses the legislative branch of government, the House of Representatives & the Senate.

1806 Benjamin Latrobe View of the Capitol of the United States.

Pierre Charles L'Enfant chose Jenkins Hill as the site for the United States Capitol building, which rose 88 feet above the Potomac River, and sat 1 mile from the White House. L'Enfant declared, it "stands as a pedestal waiting for a monument."

A view of the still undeveloped East Branch of Potomac River at Washington. Watercolor by August Kollner (1813-1906) in 1839.

"Jenkins Hill" was owned at that time by the well-to-do Marylander Daniel Carroll of Duddington, and it stood on a tract of land originally known by the more classically-inspired name of "New Troy."

1814 George Munger (1781-1825). United States Capitol after the British burned the capitol.

Thomas Jefferson came up with the name Capitol Hill, consciously invoking the famous temple of Jupiter Optimus Maximus on the Capitoline Hill in ancient Rome. The building would be America's Temple of Liberty.

Depiction of the United States Capitol before the fire of 1814.

George Washinton & his allies wanted buildings that would embody the nation's hoped-for future. "In our Idea the Capitol ought in point of prosperity to be on a grand Scale, and that a Republic especially ought not to be sparing of expenses on an Edifice for such purposes."

1815 1st known depiction of the Capitol in Relation to Its Grounds by Benjamin Henry Latrobe [Plan of the Mall and the Capitol Grounds], Geography and Map Division Library of Congress.

The 1792 competition for its design was won by Dr. William Thornton (1759–1828), a physcian & an amateur architect, with a proposal for a Palladian-inspired building featuring a central domed rotunda flanked by the Senate & House wings.

Watercolor Presented to Marquis de Lafayette to Commemorate His 1824 Visit to Capitol. Charles Burton's West Front of the Capitol of the United States. Metropolitan Museum of Art.

President George Washington, dressed in masonic attire, laid the cornerstone in 1793, in a masonic ceremony.

1828 Contrast Between the Temple of Liberty and Nearby Log Cabins by John Rubens Smith. [West Front of the Capitol]. Prints and Photographs Division Library of Congress.

Construction proceeded slowly under a succession of architects, including Stephen Hallet (1793), George Hadfield (1795-98) and James Hoban (1798-1802), architect of the White House, who completed the Senate wing in 1800.

1830-40 Early Perspective Drawing of Completed Capitol Attributed to George Strickland [Perspective drawing of the Capitol from the Northeast,] In the Collection of the Architect of the Capitol.

Though the building was incomplete, the Capitol held its first session of United States Congress on November 17, 1800.

Das Capitol in Washington. Steel engraving by E. GrĂ¼nenwald after an earlier drawing by H. Brown. Published in 1851.

Benjamin Latrobe took over in 1803; by 1811 he had renovated the Senate wing and completed the House wing.

1839 Capitol Overlooks Pastoral Landscape by Russell Smith. Capitol from Mr. Elliot's Garden. In the Collection of the Architect of the Capitol.

Benjamin Latrobe first considered the Capitol building in relation to its grounds and made a watercolor of the possible landscape design in 1815.

1839 Charles Fenderich's Elevation of the Eastern Front of the Capitol of the United States.


The Senate wing was completed in 1800, while the House wing was completed in 1811. However, the House of Representatives moved into the House wing in 1807.

August Kollner (1813-1906). West Front of the United States Capitol. New York: Goupil, Vibert, & Co., 1839. Library of Congress.

The Capitol was burned by British troops in 1814; and in the following year, Latrobe began its reconstruction and redesign.

1840 W.H. Bartlett's Ascent to the Capitol in Nathaniel P. Willis, American Scenery, vol. 1. London Virtue.

Boston architect Charles Bullfinch succeeded him in 1818; and completed the building, with only slight modifications of Latrobe's master plan, in 1830.

1840 W.H. Bartlett's View of the Capitol at Washington in Nathaniel P. Willis, American Scenery, vol. 1. London Virtue.

By 1837, the Washington Guide reported, The Capitol Square has been enlarged to the west, by taking in that part of the Mall extending from the circular road to First street, west; making about eight acres additional. This space has been properly graded and planted with trees and shrubs by Mr. James Maher, the public gardener:—the other part of the square was planted by the late John Foy, a man of excellent talents and taste. A good substantial stone wall, surmounted by an iron-railing, surrounds the whole square. When the walks are completed, and the water-fountains arranged, this square will afford the most beautiful and healthful walks: a subject well deserving public attention.

1839 South Gateway of the Capitol at Washington, D.C. showing stone walls & iron rails. Gray and sepia wash drawing by August Kollner (1813-1906).

The Capitol Grounds cover approximately 274 acres, with the grounds proper consisting mostly of lawns, walkways, streets, drives, and planting areas.

Daguerreotype by John C. Plumbe, Jr., taken about 1846, is the earliest known photographic image of the Capitol. Library of Congress.

Finally, on June 23, 1874, Congress passed an act making Frederick Law Olmsted (1822-1903) the first landscape architect of the United States Capitol.

Arieal view of the United States Capitol.

The neoclassical Capitol building (or as Pierre L'Enfant called it in 1791--Congress House) has housed the legislative chambers of the U.S. Congress since 1800, and was home to the U.S. Supreme Court from 1800 until 1935. Presidential inaugurations are traditionally held here, the physical symbol of the United States of America, the Temple of Liberty.
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