September 13, 1852

Towel

Monday Sept 13th  Catharine has washed all the fine

clothes & towels &c  We had 26 towels and 21 shirts

Hannah got up about nine or ten and went to

work some  I have starched most of the clothes

Have passed the afternoon in the other part

of the house with Mother & Mrs Stevens.  William

& Angier are there came three or four days

since

With the addition of all the new men’s shirts that Evelina had been sewing, the laundry this week was heaping. Two servants worked on the wash, while Evelina set items in starch. Fortunately, the day was sunny and the laundry could be hung outside. It was a busy Monday around the wash tubs.

On or close to this date in 1852, a campaign biography of Franklin Pierce was published in Boston by Ticknor, Reed and Fields. The Life of Franklin Pierce was written by Nathaniel Hawthorne, a friend of Pierce since their days at Bowdoin College. The purpose of the bio was to present the Democratic candidate to the voting populace at large, particularly in the areas of the country, such as the burgeoning northwest, where he was less well known. Publishing a biography was a typical campaign strategy at the time for major presidential contenders.

Although Hawthorne, who was famous as the author of The House of Seven Gables, readily admitted that this kind of writing was “remote from his customary occupation,”* he threw himself into the project. He softened Pierce’s well-known pro-slavery stance by emphasizing his friend’s peaceful and pragmatic nature. He explained Pierce as believing that slavery would disappear on its own without human intervention. It needed no management or interference. In sour jest, some abolitionists and others responded that this biography was Hawthorne’s best work of fiction yet.

As we know, Pierce did get elected; perhaps the campaign biography helped. With gratitude, Pierce appointed Hawthorne to a consulship in Liverpool, a lucrative post. Hawthorne needed the money. The two men remained friends for the rest of their lives, until Hawthorne’s death in his sleep in May, 1864, while visiting the Pierces.

*Nathaniel Hawthorne, Life of Franklin Pierce, Boston, 1852, Introduction.

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