November 2, 1852


William R. King

(1786 – 1853)

Tuesday Nov 2d  Sewed on cambric sleeves for

Susan this forenoon very quietly with

Miss Alger  It has rained since Saturday

morn but this afternoon has cleared 

off Mrs Ames & self have been to Mr

Swains & called at Doct Wales & Augustus

Miss Alger & O Angier took tea in Olivers


Back from her quick day trip into Boston, Evelina spent the morning “very quietly” in her sitting room, sewing. The piano teacher, Miss Alger, was still visiting.  Outside, “it rain[ed] by spells […] wind north east it stormd all the forenoon and was cloudy about all day – there has bin one inch + a quarter of water fell since Sunday”*

After midday dinner, when the storm had stopped, Evelina and her sister-in-law, Sarah Lothrop Ames, went out to check on Ann and John Swain, whose infant son had died on Saturday. Evelina would have taken with her the mourning accoutrements she had purchased for Ann in the city. No doubt the Ames women continued to comfort the forlorn parents. From the Swains they paid other calls in North Easton, to the home of Ephraim and Maria Wales and to see Evelina’s nephew, Alson “Augustus” Gilmore and his wife Hannah. Hannah had lost her infant son Willie back in the summer. The women would have had much to talk about.

On the national scene, the day was momentous. As we have read previously in this blog, General Franklin Pierce, a Democrat, was elected President of the United States, defeating Whig candidate General Winfield Scott (incumbent Whig Millard Fillmore hadn’t been renominated) and Free Soil candidate John P. Hale. Easton historian William Chaffin writes: “In 1852 the vote for President was one hundred and seventy-one for Winfield Scott, one hundred and forty-three for John P. Hale, forty-nine for Franklin Pierce, and four for Daniel Webster, who was dead. This vote shows the political complexion of the town, and confirms the statement of the adoption of the Free Soil position by many Democrats.”**

The vice-president-elect was William R. King, a senator from Alabama who believed strongly in the Union. He had helped draft the Compromise of 1850. Unfortunately, King was suffering from tuberculosis and would soon die in office, one of the shortest-termed vice-presidents and the only Alabaman. He was also the only vice-president to take the oath of office on foreign soil; he was in Cuba taking the cure when he was inaugurated.


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

**William L. Chaffin, History of Easton Massachusetts, 1886, p. 630


August 2, 1852


Aug 2d 1852

Monday  Was about house most of the forenoon and this

afternoon have been to work on my traveling

dress again had to let out the front & widen

the arm it was so tight  Helen spent the

afternoon here  Mrs G & Mrs S Ames called

in the furnace neighborhood and coming home 

got caught in a heavy shower

Evelina and her father-in-law, Old Oliver, had a different perspective on the afternoon’s rainfall. She called it “a heavy shower,” while he wrote that it was “a small shower.”* Because her female relatives, Almira Ames and Sarah Lothrop Ames, “got caught” in it and probably arrived home soaked, Evelina would have seen the rainfall as torrential. Old Oliver, on the other hand, would only have considered the rain in terms of the measure of water it delivered, whether he was indoors or out. From his dual position as farmer and shovel manufacturer, he considered today’s rainfall as modest. As often happened, the two in-laws differed on details.

While the rain fell in Easton, important politics were getting underway about a thousand miles to the west. In Iowa and Missouri on this date, elections to the 33rd session of the U.S. House of Representatives were being held. It was the beginning of the campaign season, something that might sound familiar to today’s readers. Between them, these two states (which, except for California to the far west and Texas to the far south, were perched on what was then the frontier between the eastern states and the western territories) would send nine representatives to Washington, the majority of them Democrats.

As we have mentioned previously, this 1852 election would be won by the Democrats, in sufficient strength to sound the death knell of the old Whig party. From its ashes would rise the new Republican party.


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


November 24, 1851


Monday Nov 24  Mary the new girl came last night and

she has done the washing very well it has

been very pleasant and they are all dry and brought 

into the house  Another town meeting to day and 

the Los & free soilers joined and elected Mr. Silvester

for representative.  The whigs are not a little agrieved

Mended Oakes Angiers coat  Frank Heath has

been getting the boards ready for the porch

More bad news for the disintegrating Whigs. In Easton,“there was a Town meeting for the chois of representative and the freesoil + Democratic parties united + chose a locofoco Galon Silvester”. The new representative from Bristol County for the General Court of Massachusetts was Galen Sylvester, a carpenter and former selectman.

Originally from Vermont, Sylvester was a member of the Locofoco faction of the Democrats, which had developed in the 1840s in protest against Tammany Hall in New York City. Their hero was Andrew Jackson. Their name came from some friction matches they once used to light candles to illuminate an evening meeting that had been interrupted when Tammany men turned off the gas lights on them. By 1851, the label had become somewhat derogatory. Ralph Waldo Emerson said of them, ” “The new race is stiff, heady, and rebellious; they are fanatics in freedom; they hate tolls, taxes, turnpikes, banks, hierarchies, governors, yea, almost laws.”** By the middle of the 1850s, the “Los” were no longer a viable political group.

Having gotten past last night’s quarrel with Oakes, Evelina seemed to sympathize with her husband and the other Whigs over their loss. But she was again focused on her domestic responsibilities, keeping her eye on a new servant, Mary, who had done a good job with the laundry. Evelina was also minding the work of a carpenter named Frank Heath, who was building or repairing a porch.


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

**Bill Kaufman, The Republic Strikes Back, The American Conservative


November 23, 1851



Sunday Nov 23d  Jane with Michaels sister got the

breakfast this morning but after breakfast Jane 

went to bed  I could not go to church this morning

Augustus came home at noon and brought Mr

Davidson  Mrs Meader Hannah & self went

back with him  This evening sat with my shawl

& bonnet on from 6 to 8 Oclock waiting for Mr

Ames to go to Mr Swains and then took them off did not go


For the second time this month, Oakes Ames forgot to take his wife somewhere. On this occasion, they had planned to visit Ann and John Swain.  Evelina had missed the morning meeting and although they had company at noon, and she made it to the afternoon service, she was still eager to get out and socialize. As night fell, she put on her “shawl & bonnet” and waited for her husband to pick her up. He didn’t show. She “did not go.”

Evelina had been disappointed two weeks earlier when Oakes had forgotten her, but the tone of her diary entry on that day had been tolerant. This time, she was likely less forgiving. Once Oakes finally walked in the door, more than two hours late, Evelina must have let him have it. Surely she got mad. Surely they argued.

Oakes’s excuse would’ve been that he’d been off electioneering, just like the last time he forgot to fetch his wife.  The next day was another town meeting and, in anticipation, he’d obviously gotten sidetracked, probably with friends. At least Evelina could be certain that he hadn’t been out drinking; Oakes was a teetotaler. But she would have been left to wonder what the outcome would be of her husband’s absorption into politics, and how it might alter their relationship.

Jane McHanna, meanwhile, was still sick.  Evelina was not having a great week.

*Image courtesy of


November 9, 1851



Sunday Nov 9th  Did not go to meeting to day on account of

Bridgets being sick.  Expected Mr Ames home at noon to carry

me this afternoon but he went off electioneering and 

forgot all about it.  This evening have been to Mrs

Swains with Mr Ames & Susan  Her nurse is there

and her brothers wife and daughter of about Susans

age  Mr & Mrs Meader returned home about a week since


Not only did Oakes Ames stop in Canton for a Whig meeting on Saturday, but he spent Sunday afternoon “electioneering” and forgot to go home at noon to take Evelina to church for the afternoon service.  In personal terms, this was not an auspicious beginning to his political career, but it was certainly indicative of the wholeheartedness and zeal with which he approached politics.  If Oakes and Evelina had, in fact, reached an understanding about his getting into politics – about which we can only conjecture – we have to wonder if that understanding had already been violated.  Yet Evelina’s diary is not particularly dispirited; she writes matter-of-factly and without obvious annoyance.  Perhaps she already understood and forgave her husband’s capacity for preoccupation.

After missing church in the morning because of a sick servant and in the afternoon because of an absent-minded husband, Evelina must have been pleased at last to go out in the evening. She, Oakes and their daughter Susie paid a call on Ann and John Swain, a younger couple who were relatively new in town.  New parents, their infant son was being tended by a nurse, while two relatives, the last remainders of a crowd who had arrived to tend at the birth, were still visiting.  Ellen Meader, a little girl about Susie’s age, was there with her mother, Sarah Bliss Meader, wife of Ann Swain’s brother, Reuben Meader.