Radical Equality: 1842-1846

Letter, Dolly W. Stetson to James A. Stetson, Sept. 1, 1844

Dolly expresses her concerns about money owed the family from the silk department, and whether the family should move to a different house on the property.
She also praises her lack of housekeeping worries.

Transcript:
[Sept 1, 1844]

Northampton Sept 1st _1844

My Dear Husband – While the most of the people have gone up to the hall to meeting I will sit down to tell you some of my impressions concerning the convention –
Perhaps you may not know that a conferance of delegates from the different Associations in this state were to meet here on Friday or the day previous to the convention Mr Ballou and Mr Draper from Hopedale and Mr Wrightman from Brookfarm1

We hoped to have had the pleasure of seeing and hearing Mr Ripley and Dana2 but I suppose they did not think it worth their time – I went up on Friday evening to hear their reports or conversations – Mr Wrightman appears like a thorough practical man – one who has seen much of the world as it is – and has long had a desire to make it better – he is a thorough Fourriaite3 and most he had to say was upon the advantagies found in their present arrangement of their labourers into Groups and series over their former disultory mode: he holds it a primary truth that all the oppression and suffering and wrong under the sun is oweing to repulsive labour when labor is made attractive by a propper division and succession of employments when each is left to choose his or her work every person will fall into their right place and perfect harmony will be the result as certainly as from an instrument perfectly tuned in the hands of a skillfull musician -He said much of the advantagies of a unitary building for the accomodation of a large number over isolated houses and thinks it not best to commence with less than 150004 persons – I should call his talk the poetry of Association Mr Ballou talked more of Association as it is and many things they have experianced we could likewise attest too he goes for single dwellings for families. I should think they were getting along slowly and surely – Mr Ballou is a fine speaker and I doubt not an excellent man and some of our people are quite captivated with him and his Association. I wish you had been here to see and hear for yourself. I suppose a report of the sayings and doings of the convention will be printed as it was voted to have a reporter that they might be – the more I hear of the sacrfices that are required and the labors to be performend in this cause I can but say “who is sufficient for these things, my conscience tells me that my motive in entering association was to better my own condition and that of my children and not the elevation of the race –

Monday Morn
The convention is over – I have not attended all the sittings of the meeting – I cannot take care of children and go to meeting at the same time – a great deal of discussion on the test question – our preamble was construed into a creed and we were attempted to be used up for haveing a creed Henry Clapp was the principle opposer of tests – He is a transcendentelest5 and would not bind himself much less a fellow man to a fixed and unmovable standerd hoping as he says under God to grow wiser every day.

I think that as far as our association is concerned it will prove to have been “all talk and no cider” but perhaps it will prove vinegar as I think it will widen rather strengthen the impression in the mind of Mr Rosebrook and some others that the decleration of sentiments is a creed6 Doct Jocelyn who came here with a view to join goes away saying that he will never join a Non Resista[nt] Community7 – The convention was very respectable in point of numbers – the men looked like hard working Farmers and mechanics – There were none of the stars of Association here such as Channing Greely &c &c8

After reading the call at the opening of the convention . . .9 stated that some explanation was nessesary to prevent a missunderstanding of it – He said that at the time of the issueing of the call they supposed that the 25000 $ that was nessesary to put us in easy circumstances was actually subscribed – but circumstances had arisse[n] that had wholey changed the affair – I suppose that as it was not filled up before the 1 July that some of the subscribers refuse to pay – but I have not authority for saying this – I have been told that Auth Ruths heirs intend to contest the 1000 $ she gave us —10

LMother,s Stetson and Witter are both well. Mother Stetson is comeing down here to spend the week after we get settled from Convention – I have had an attack of Dysentary and was very sick one night – and was cured as by a charm by a few doses of homopathic medicine – If I had 5$ to spend I think I would sooner by a box of that medicine and a book of Directions for its use than allmost any thing else

Almira has made acquantance with a daughter of Francis Jackson11 who has been here and would like to go to Boston with her but she cannot start on a journey at a moments notice — Every moment of my time has been so occupied that I have not had time to come to any conclusion about either her or myself making a visit to Boston you but it takes no time at all for me to conclude that you had better come hom as soon as you can – you have money in your hands that you can use and I have not — —-

Last week we had a regular blow up from Sojourn and Boyle12 about the young people – Thomas Hill and Mary Ann Smith had to take the most of the cursing for being together so much – Swazy and Lucy R came in for a small share – Boyle used most unjust language and prodused a great deal of disgust W. Basset says if he and his children have got to hear such language here he shall go some where else
you see that I have written things just as they occur to my mind and as fast as I could write you DWStetson

Addressed: J. A. Stetson / 228 Washinton St / Boston

Notes

  1. An account of the Northampton Convention on the Reorganization of Society, held at the NAEI on August 31 and September 1, 1844, was published in the Liberator, September 6, 1844.
    Adin Ballou was founder of the Hopedale Community; “Draper” was either Ebenezer or George Draper, brothers who were prominent members and financial supporters of the Hopedale community.
    Lewis Ryckman was a New York cordwainer (shoemaker) who was already interested in Fourierism when he joined the Brook Farm community in 1843, and assisted in its conversion to Fourierism the following year. Ryckman subsequently became the founding president of the New England Working Men’s Association and remained at Brook Farm until 1846.
  2. Charles Anderson Dana (1819-1897) had joined Brook Farm in 1841 and soon became one of its leading advocates of Fourierism.
  3. Fourierite.
  4. Dolly wrote “15,000,” but Ryckman almost certainly meant 1,500, which was much closer to the number prescribed in Fourier’s own writings and those of his American followers.
  5. Transcendentalist.
    Henry Clapp (1814-75) was a temperance and abolitionist lecturer, and for a time editor of the Lynn Pioneer.
    According to the report in the Liberator, September 6, 1844, debate had focused on the question “ought Associations to have any moral or religious test of membership, and if so, what?” As Stetson’s account suggests, there was “considerable diversity of opinion” though, thought the Liberator, “apparently one spirit.”
  6. Ezra Rosbrooks (1794- ) had come to the NAEI from Cicero, N.Y., in January 1844, with his wife Polly Rosbrooks (1794- ) and children.
  7. This is probably the Dr. H. Jocelyn discussed in note 29.
  8. William H. Channing (1810-1884) was a Unitarian minister and prominent advocate of Fourierism; on July 23, David Mack had written to invite Channing to the convention, offering to pay his expenses (NAEI Records, vol. 4, p[67]), but Channing did not come. Horace Greeley (1811-1872) was publisher of the New York Tribune, whose columns promoted reform causes, including Fourierism and abolitionism.
  9. The name was omitted from the text here, but this was most likely George W. Benson.
  10. Ruth Stebbins’ heirs prompted a bitter correspondence from NAEI leaders over their refusal to pay her $1,000 legacy to the Association; see NAEI, Records, vol. 4, pp. [78, 108, 128-129].
  11. Francis Jackson (1789-1861) was a wealthy Boston merchant and abolitionist, a close friend and supporter of William Lloyd Garrison.
  12. Sojourner Truth and James Boyle.
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