April 24, 1851

Slave_kidnap_post_1851_boston

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!

February 15, 1851

Chemise

Chemise

Sat Feb 15  This morning mended a pair of pants for Frank

and some other things.  Finished two chemise for Susan

made her a skirt out of an old quilted one of mine.

It has been a very stormy day.  the public school

finished this afternoon.  Oakes A, Mr Pratt, Davidson,

Barrows, R. Willis, Lillie & one or two others visited the 

school.  There were no ladies on account of the rain

Mr Ames went to Boston.  Brought Miss Eaton some maple sugar

While her husband went into Boston today despite poor weather, Evelina stayed in, mended clothes and completed two chemises for Susan. The chemise, a forerunner of today’s slip, was a standard undergarment for women and girls in the 19th century, worn right under the dress (and under the corset, when corsets were worn.)  As Evelina suggests, some undergarments were quilted for warmth, an essential consideration in cold New England. On stormy days like this one, women needed all the padding they could accommodate under their wide skirts.

Oakes Angier Ames visited the local schoolhouse today with men from the school’s superintending committee: Amos Pratt, a teacher; Thomas Davidson, the town’s postmaster; Joseph Barrows, a “shovelmaster” with legal training who lived in a house built by Old Oliver; Rufus Willis, a shoe manufacturer; and Daniel Lillie, another employee of O. Ames & Sons.  Daniel and Oakes Angier were in their early twenties, while the other men were older.  Daniel would be close to the Ames family over the years, and ultimately serve as a pallbearer at Oakes Ames’s funeral in 1873.  Today, however, in the rain, without their wives, the men appeared at the public school on the last day of this session.  Why was Oakes Angier along?  He wasn’t a member of the committee, but perhaps he was developing an interest in local politics.

Oakes Ames, meanwhile, returned from Boston in the evening, bringing with him a gift of maple sugar – a sign of spring – for the failing Miss Eaton.   He may also have returned with news of a serious incident in the city.  Shadrach Minkins, a fugitive slave living and working in Boston, was arrested today by federal marshals at a coffeehouse on Cornhill Street. Minkins would be taken to court, only to be rescued by an anti-slavery group, the Boston Vigilance Committee, who hid him and helped him escape to Montreal.  The controversial new Fugitive Slave Law was being tested.  Had Oakes witnessed any of this?