June 26, 1852

  • hentzcl

Caroline Lee Hentz

(1800 – 1856)


June 26th Saturday  Was assisting Hannah about house

most of the forenoon  Made pies & cake baked

in the small new tins  Have been mending

this afternoon and finished Marcus Warland

by Mrs Caroline Lee Hentz

Mr Ames brought home 1/4 lb black sewing

silk from Boston  I have a bad cough

Although her “bad cough” presaged an oncoming cold, Evelina managed to accomplish many domestic tasks today. Perhaps the best part of the day, however, came after the choring, baking and mending. She finished reading Marcus Warland; or, The Long Moss Spring. Tale of the South. by Caroline Lee Hentz.

Caroline Lee Hentz was an immensely popular novelist, “well known and much esteemed.”* In the 1850s, the Boston Library listed her as one of the three top writers of the day. A major literary figure, now largely forgotten, Mrs. Hentz described herself as a “Northerner who traveled and worked throughout the South for nearly thirty years.”** Though born and raised in Lancaster, Massachusetts, only fifty-odd miles from North Easton, Caroline and her teacher husband spent married life in various Southern states, opening and closing schools as they went along. They lived in Chapel Hill, North Carolina; Covington, Kentucky (across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, where they met Harriet Beecher Stowe); Alabama; Georgia; and Florida.

Unlike Mrs. Stowe, Mrs. Hentz was an apologist for slavery. In the Introduction to Marcus Warland, she wrote:

“We believe, if the domestic manners of the South were more generally and thoroughly known at the North, the prejudices that have been gradually building up a wall of separation between these two divisions of our land would yield to the irresistible force of conviction.”*** She believed not only that the institution of slavery was essential to the South’s livelihood, but that blacks were a lesser race who needed to be looked after. She was hardly alone in the latter belief.

After Mrs. Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin was published to both huge acclaim and vehement dissent, Mrs. Hentz penned a rebuttal novel entitled The Planter’s Northern Bride.  It came out in 1854 and found a wide audience. We can imagine that Evelina might have read it out of curiosity.

But today, while Evelina reclined with Marcus Warland, her old father-in-law was dependably keeping his eye on the sky and his finger to the wind.  The weather entry for today read “the 24 – 25 + 26 were fair cool days for the season + windy drying days wind north west + west most of the time.”**** This bode well for haying.

Anonymous, Southern Quarterly Review, circa 1851, quoted by Karen Tracey, Plots and Propsals, University of Illinois, 2000.

** “Caroline Lee Hentz,” Wikipedia, accessed June 24, 2015

*** Caroline Lee Hentz, Marcus Warland, 1852, p, 2

****Oliver Ames, Journal, Stonehill College Archives, Arnold Tofias Collection


June 1, 1852


Franklin Pierce (1804-1869)

Photograph by Matthew Brady


Tuesday June 1st  Have been to Boston with

Mrs Witherell Mrs S Ames Helen & Emily

Called at Mr Orrs the first place met

the other ladies at half past nine at Mr

Daniells & Co.  Was trying to get a bonnet

most all day at last got materials for a lace 

one  Went to Doe & Hasletons about my consol

Mrs Norris met us at half past two

Most of the Ames females decamped North Easton today and went into the city.  Even Sarah Witherell, dressed in black, rode into Boston to go shopping. Were her sisters-in-law hoping to cheer her up with an outing?

While Evelina and “the other ladies” went about Boston “most all day” in earnest pursuit of bonnets, furniture and more, a group of politicians was gathered in Baltimore some 400 miles south. The Democrats were holding their national convention for the nomination of their next presidential candidate.  Among the ten to twelve gentlemen in the running were Senators Lewis Cass of Michigan, Daniel S. Dickinson of New York, Henry Dodge of Wisconsin, Stephen A. Douglas of Illinois and Sam Houston of Texas, Governor Philip Allen of Rhode Island, former Secretary of State James Buchanan, and former Senator Franklin Pierce of New Hampshire. The latter, a dark horse candidate, was chosen.

Franklin Pierce would win the next election and serve as President from 1853 through 1857. Known as “Handsome Frank,” a sociable fellow with a difficult personal life and a probable addiction to alcohol, Pierce was an accomplished politician and fierce opponent of abolition. Once in office, he signed the inflammatory Kansas-Nebraska Act, then failed to be renominated for a second term. His purported response was “There’s nothing left to do but get drunk.”

After the Democrats’ gathering, another presidential convention would shortly be held in the same Baltimore hall, the Maryland Institute for the Mechanical Arts.  This time, the Whig Party would meet and nominate Gen.Winfield Scott, hero of the Mexican-American War.  Scott was the candidate that the Ames men would support.  The Ames women couldn’t vote, of course.

February 21, 1852


Angelina Grimke (1805-1879)


Feb 21st Sat  Spent all the forenoon mending Mr Ames

shopcoat.  Cut Susan a pink long sleeve apron and

Orinthia sewed on it  Have finished Mr Ames another

dickey which makes seven that I have made lately

This afternoon carr[i]ed Mrs Solomon Lothrop &

Orinthia to mothers.  Orinthia stopt at a sing at

the Schoolhouse near Doct Swans  Frank went and

brought her back.  Mrs S Ames called this evening to 

settle and paid me 1,70 cts which makes us even

Normal wintertime activities went on under a sky that Old Oliver described as “fair in the fornoon + cloudy afternoon + much warmer.”*  Evelina mended, sewed and socialized with her friend and former boarder, Orinthia Foss; she also settled accounts with her sister-in-law, Sarah Lothrop Ames. Per usual, Oakes Ames went into Boston.

It was in Boston, in fact, on this date fourteen years earlier that for the first time ever in the United States, a woman addressed a legislative body. On February 21, 1838, abolitionist Angelina Grimke presented the Massachusetts Legislature with an anti-slavery petition signed by 20,000 Massachusetts women. In a speech that was lauded by abolitionists, deplored by traditionalists and parsed by all, she not only called for the abolition of slavery, but declared the right of women to act politically. “We are citizens of this republic and as such our honor, happiness, and well-being are bound up in its politics, government and laws.”**

Daughter of a southern slave-holder, Angelina (known as “Nina” in her family) and her older sister, Sarah Grimke, also an active abolitionist, faced predictable opposition as they transgressed convention. Angelina’s speeches in Boston and elsewhere drew taunts, outrage, disbelief, and disrespect. The Congregational clergy of Massachusetts condescended together one Sunday and, across pulpits, accused Grimke of jeopardizing “the female character with widespread and permanent injury.” Others – men and women – were impressed. One member of the audience at the statehouse said, “Angelina Grimke’s serene, commanding eloquence [she spoke for two hours] enchained attention, disarmed prejudice and carried her hearers with her.”**

How might the Ames clan have reacted?


*Oliver Ames, Journal, Stonehill College Archives, Arnold Tofias Collection





April 24, 1851


1851 Thursday  April 24th  Julia here to finish Susans dresses

She is very slow We have got the waist done

to her Delaine & finished the print dress & cut

the lining to my dress This afternoon called 

at Augustus’ & Mr Whitwell with Mrs Peckham

A[u]gustus returned from New York this morning

and is here again to dine Hannah went to

Alsons while he was gone Pleasant weather


Evelina and Julia Mahoney sewed today, perhaps trying to make up for time lost yesterday. Evelina’s nephew, Augustus, returned to the Ames’s dinner table after a business trip to New York. Meanwhile, his expectant wife, Hannah Lincoln Gilmore, and son Eddie were staying out at the Gilmore farm with his parents, Alson and Henrietta.

Had Augustus run into any abolitionist fervor while in New York?  Probably not as great as in Boston, where controversy continued in the aftermath of the Fugitive Slave Act and the capture and rescue of Shadrach Minkins. While some of the most prominent abolitionists of the day, like William Lloyd Garrison, lived in Boston, the city was nonetheless home to many citizens who were less adamant about the issue.  They might not have liked slavery, but they feared the radicalism of the anti-slavery rhetoric more.  They were law-abiding, and the law said that slaves were property and had to be returned to their owners. Daniel Webster had decreed it, and they supported the law accordingly. The controversy pulled at everyone.

When another escaped slave, Thomas Simms, was caught in Boston, the Mayor of Boston, John P. Bigelow, ordered him sent back south. The aldermen and the police supported the move, and the black population of the city became even more nervous than before, as the poster above illustrates. Have TOP EYE Open!

April 13, 1851




April 13th Sunday.  Have been to church all day Frank

staid at home in the morning Mrs G Ames went

with us to meeting all day and liked Mr Whitwell

I staid at noon with Mother most of the time

Called at Mr Whitwells with Louisa Howard

Mrs Dr Deans & Mrs H Pool. Mrs Whitwell

has no help now & is not very well. rather cold

On this cold spring day, the Ames family, minus Frank Morton, went to church with Almira Ames, widow of Oakes’s cousin George Ames.  Perhaps Almira joined Evelina and her mother during the midday intermission when many women were welcomed into the parsonage by Eliza Whitwell, wife of the minister. Eliza was under the weather but still was under a social obligation to open her house to fellow Unitarians who could not get home and back during the pause between the morning and afternoon services.

Mrs. Dr. Deans, otherwise known as Hannah (Wheaton) Deans, wife of Dr. Samuel Deans, was also present at the Whitwell’s.  The “Dr.” title in front of her name didn’t mean that Hannah was a physician; far from it. It meant that she was married to a physician.  She was a daughter of old Daniel Wheaton who lived out on the Bay Road.

Evelina often admired Rev. Whitwell’s sermons but seldom related their content. In these tumultuous months following the enactment of the Fugitive Slave Law, did Mr. Whitwell ever speak about slavery or abolition? We know that other Unitarian ministers were quite vocal about abolishing slavery.  On this same Sunday in Philadelphia, three hundred miles to the south, Rev. William H. Furness gave a discourse on the Fugitive Slave Law, speaking from the pulpit with all the authority that his robed position could give him.  A graduate of Harvard and friend of Ralph Waldo Emerson, Furness was, like William Whitwell, an accomplished theologian.  He was also a passionate abolitionist; was Reverend Whitwell?


*First Unitarian Church of Philadelphia, ca. 1886