Radical Equality: 1842-1846

Letter, Dolly W. Stetson to James A. Stetson, Apr. 13, 1845

Dolly attempts to convince James to remain at the Association.

Transcript:
[April 13, 1845]

Sunday Evening April 13th – 45

My Dear Husband
While most of the family have gone into town to listen to the “eloquent fugitive” I sit down between the cradle and the secretary to talk with you 1 — And in the first place your letter made me quite sad – I fear you are acting rashly in making up your mind to lieve the Association I have always noticed when you came home the longer you stayed the better you liked, and you certainly was very happy the summer that you lived at home all the time – now it seems to me that you had better come home and stay a few months before you decide to lieve and perhaps you may feel differently — I think I know that if we were to go to the farm our situation would be far less desirable than here – We should look in vain for society for ourselves and children such as we enjoy here – we could never place our children under the care of such accomplished teachers as they are now under — I say accomplished because I think Mrs Mack one of the most accomplished women I ever met and one whose influence over girls as far as education and manners is concerned is most salutary – But we ought not to be looking for our own good alone Can we do as much good to our race to return to our isolated condition where whatever of moral power we may possess will be rendered powerless because we have not the wealth and station to render us worthy of notice.
I know that many things here are not right but where shall we go where they are all right – I know not —

But I will not write any more upon this matter as you have not explained to me your views I cannot write understandingly — I hope you will not act rashly in this matter or from prejudice – but haveing once made up your mind I shall make it mine and endeavour to make the best of our lot whatever it may be. this has alway been my duty and that for which I have laboured with how much success is better known to you than to myself –
Mr Hill and family have just returned from their visit to R.I. and Conn. they stayed to Mr Scarboroughs the next night after you did. I am exceedingly sorry to hear that the health of Theodore and Herbert is so poor – Mrs Hill told me that Theodore told her that he had often been sorry that he ever left here and still looked forward to the time that he should return –

Mrs Hill says that they thought I would have come down last week2 – but I did not understand you that you thought it nessesary or that I had better go – I think that the pleasure of the visit if I went for that would be more than counterbalanced by the fatigue of taking James around with me — I did at one time last week make up my mind to wean him this month and go down to Boston to attend the Antislavery meeting, but upon more mature reflection I thought as you had so often expressed a wish to have my teeth replaced I would spend whatever I might feel that I could afford this year for that object – I accordingly went into town to Doct Smith last Wednesday morning and had three front teeth and one back one removed including the stump of the one that was broken – the other two were mere out side shells — I shall be obliged to have them set on a plate and that together with haveing a few decayed ones filled will cost me more than 20 dollars – but if I had nothing done to them they would in a short time have broken off and I should be obliged to go the rest of my life the horrid looking object I now am unable to sing or speak plainly. I shall probably have to wait 6 weeks or two months before my gums will be healed solid so as to admit of the plate being fitted to my mouth3 – We have all been suffering with colds since you were here mine is not much better now than when you left and altho it does not make me sick I am far from well —

Our celebration of the third Anniversary of the formation of the Association came off on the 8th very well we had talking, singing &c this afternoon Frederick Douglass talked to us upon prejudice against color – this is an old subject but one upon which I never heard a colored person speak in public – he did very well – Mr Mack made some very good remarks and the meeting was closed by singing4
I wish you had given me a more full account of your visit to Brooklyn who you saw &c but perhaps it is as well defered untill you come home –
I send this by Mr Clark whome I like much – I should think him a man of sterling worth – yours DWStetson

Addressed: To James A. Stetson / 25 Cornhill / Boston // Politeness of Mr Clark

Notes

  1. Dolly is referring to Frederick Douglass, who was speaking at an antislavery meeting in Northampton Center. See below, note 194.
  2. That is, to visit Brooklyn, Conn..
  3. At the Hampshire, Franklin, and Hampden Agricultural Society’s annual cattle show in October 1845, Dr. J. W. Smith exhibited “A full set of Artificial Teeth, showing great mechanical skill,” beating his rival to a $2 “premium” or prize (Hampshire Gazette, October 21, 1845).
  4. Frederick Douglass (1818-1895) escaped from slavery in 1838 and in the early 1840s became a lecturing agent of the Massachusetts Anti-Slavery Society. By the middle of the decade he was criticising northern racial prejudice as well as slavery.
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