Radical Equality: 1842-1846

Letter, Dolly W. Stetson to James A. Stetson, Nov. 19, 1844

Dolly shares with James the conflict over management at the Association – a member decided to leave because he is unhappy.

Transcript:
[Nov 19, 1844]

Tuesday Morning 19th Nov [1844]
My Dear Husband

I cannot fobear taking a few moments to tell you some of the passing news of the Community
And first of all news has arived that the community at Prairie Home is blown up entirely – they found themselves unable to meet their payments and the former proprieters would not trust them
Sydney Southworth and Harriet have obtained a situation as teachers in a family and Bradbury and wife have got a shelter somewhere – the family that went from Lynn did not arrive untill after they had disbanded1

Isaac Swazey and Lucy Richardson are posted as intending marriage so I suppose you will see them in Boston as Mr and Mrs Swazey as soon as the usual forms can be gone thro with – I presume that this is quite a sacrifice for Isaac2

Mr Bassett has decided to lieve and commences packing up to day — I consider this as the death blow to our association. What will reformers think of a band of reformers that William Bassett cannot live among – He says he has for some time intended to lieve in the spring but he goes now in conciquence of some things that were said to him in a meeting holden at Samul Hills last sunday – Sojourner commenced upon Mr May for leaveing the children to play cards – Mr Bassett defended him and Mr Mack said that he did hope that that was one thing that would not be intefered that Mr May loved children and loved to make them happy that the game that he taught them was a mathamatical game and taught them to reckon numbers with ease and combined instruction with amusement he should wish his children to learn it and his pupils likewise – Mr Bassit was censured as haveing introduced cards and as haveing a bad influence – He said in reply that if after performing the labour that was required of him by the association, he could not seek relaxation of mind in his own room in the manner his conscience did not disprove he wished to know it that he might go away before winter set in

Samul Hill told him he did not hesetate to tell him he had better go – Hall Judd said he could not feel to one that would play cards as he would if they did not – Sophia Foord did not think it worse to play cards than to eat meat and that we could not establish any such test 3

I heard the story pretty much in this way – I was not at the meeting – Mr Bassett will leave a vacancy in this establishment that they will never fill.
Lucy and James continue to be rather unwell yet and cough a good deal, but I cannot decide whether or no it is the whooping cough the rest are well – I hope to hear from you soon
thine forever

Notes

  1. Hamm, God’s Government Begun, pp. 119-120 discusses the collapse of the Prairie Home community in Ohio. Of NAEI residents who had gone to join that community, Sidney Southworth and Harriet Hayden subsequently returned to the NAEI; Elizabeth and Cyrus Bradbury, who had been at the NAEI during the summer of 1844 before moving to Ohio, eventually joined the Hopedale community in Milford, Mass..
  2. Dolly Stetson is saying that going through the “usual forms” of marriage would be a sacrifice for Isaac. This is the context for Mary Stetson’s suggestion in the next letter that the formalities were in fact kept to the absolute minimum.
  3. Hall Judd (1817-1850) was a nonresistant who was among the early members of the NAEI, remained connected with it throughout its existence, and in its latter period became its Secretary; see Clark, The Communitarian Moment, pp. 15, 17, 23-24, 179-180. On Sophia Foord: see note 3.
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