1838: Charles Frederick Mott to Samuel H. Owen

Edwin Forrest

Edwin Forrest

I believe this letter was written by Charles Frederick Mott (1815-1872), the son of James Mott (1787-1871) and Eleanor Hamblin (1791-1857) of Sarasota Springs, New York. I also believe it was addressed to Samuel H. Owen (1810-1870) who appears to have been, like his friend Mott, a native of New York State and worked for a time in New York City. From the letter we get the impression that Owen has recently relocated to Louisville. Samuel later relocated to New Albany, Indiana.

In his letter to Owen. Mott brings his friend Mott up-to-date with the social gossip and business dealings of their mutual acquaintances in New York City. Most importantly, however, — at least historically — Mott informs Owen that he had the pleasure of being among the 4,000 people who crammed into the Broadway Tabernacle on July 4, 1838 to hear the widely-renowned Edwin Forrest, a great 19th century Shakespearian actor, deliver a public oration espousing Jeffersonian democratic principles.

1838 Letter

1838 Letter

Addressed to S. H. Owen, Louisville, Kentucky

New York [City]
July 5, 1838

Respected friend Owen,

I received yours on the 26 ultimo. and much pleased was I. I said to myself the long looked for has come at last. Am greatly rejoiced to hear that you have given up the vain things in this world and the wrong idea you formerly had of hereafter life and seek for something there is happiness in. I  wish I could be brought to think the same but it seems not to be my lot to be blest with such a goodly way of thinking. I still cling to the motto (do unto others as you wish them to do unto you) — which example I am to follow though perhaps vary from it sometimes.

I have been very steady since you left, run about very little, spend my evenings at home most, occasionally give the virtuous ladies a call (as you know I called on no others) and pass an hour or two with them very pleasantly, have nearly spent an evening at No. 4 since you left, call about once in three weeks, and sit a few moments and then leave (though much against their wishes) they have spent their last was___ very different from what they formerly have. No gentlemen visit there now, I believe, except William Jewel. He was called there (now in the country) occasionally during the winter. They both go to church quite often (but mind you no reform). Mary Walsh is now at Capt. Platt’s. She and the No. 4 folks are now on good terms). I saw Grace Purdy a few days since, enquired often of you. She is now living with her brother formerly of King Street, noww in Orchard Street. It was the first time I had seen her since you left. She remains the same as when you left — a good-hearted creature full of talk. Wish she could get a good husband — someone who was worthy of her (as she now is getting far advanced in maturity &c. Ms. Pickett (Rachel) is yet at her fathers as her husband is West yet. Thinks of returning in about a year. Fairman and all are near there. Samuel Mott and Fairman have had a falling out as near as I can learn. Ms. Dolly Mott thinks very hard of _. Fairman. She learns that he has been trying to hurt Samuel by saying that he had to pay his 4 penses out and that he is a workman not fit to put up a building &c. You well know how such stories prejudice her. Dewitt is out of business. He has been tending grocery for Lawrence Mott but is now playing hurt — living on the interest of his money.

I went to a party with the girls at Ms. Burgess and saw the Miss Dunbar’s. Sophia is as handsome as ever. The little widow in Cherry St. is well, enquire after you, pretty as a doll. By the by, there are the dear Miss Adams in Orchard Street. They make great enquiries after you. They are not yet married and no strong symptoms of it, They are sweeter than ever this summer. I taste of them occasionally in your name. I have got to be quite a hand for kissing the dear creatures. I saw Acker yesterday. He is well and out of business. Foster is at Sing Sing in a grocery. Comes, however, to No. 4 once in awhile. He has become very thick. There he was almost one of the family when he was in New York. He taught school in the country last winter (he does not ____ retire as often as when on that winter before you left). Deb often puts me in mind of my narrow escape as the young bachelor B. She has many laughs at our expense. George Purdy is soon to be married to his cousin Miss Proost in Bowery.

The weather has been very pleasant and very warm — very dry most of the time. B. W. Ryder is yet at Red Bunk stands on a pivot as near as I can learn, has not paid up all his old debts yet and I am afraid will not in some time.

John B. Buggs has gave up in Greenwich near the parade ground. Purdy has moved down by us and taken a wife. Miss Debbervorce on the island and ____ on the strength of it ____ they do but little business. Since they have married, have lost all their ambition as to making money. Vail & Keresett have left Grand Street, gone in Catharine Street. The report is that Keresett is soon to marry Al. Ira B. Wheeler (Youngest daughter of the truth I know not Sharpsteen is in ______ with Patten formerly of William Street. As for me, I am here. Messrs. Lo____’s have dissolved on Febriary last and I have an interest in the business, one third very good lay for me though it is not known ever our boys know nothing of it and am in hopes of something better in the _____ next. Business has been very fair. We are and have been trading for most of the spring on an average 1,000 a week and make very good profits — much better than ever before — so I am in hopes of clearing twelve or more hundred dollars if trade continues and I know of no one at present that would like to go South that would suit you. Cash is not as plenty as when you were here. Every dollar almost is in use. I may see some one soon that would like to go. I’ll make good enquiries.

The Broadway Tabernacle

The Broadway Tabernacle

Yesterday was the fourth. The day was very warm. Thermometer stood at 90. I went to the tabernacle to hear Edwin Forrest deliver a true democratic oration — the greatest one I ever heard delivered by man. It was done so easily with gestures to suit each sentence. It made every Federalist (or Whig of 1834) flush with shame — at least it would me. It cannot be surpassed by any. It will be published and then I’ll send you a copy. The Whig Papers make a considerable noise about it. Complain much. The day went off very pleasantly. All visiting places were crowded to excess. Nothing important transpired. The Common Council gave a large dinner – cost $2500. Considerable [given] these hard times. Excuse all errors as am in haste.

Your friend — Charles F. Mott, 418 Grand Street, N.Y.

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