This letter was written by Hon. Solomon Davis (1799-1865) of Truro, Barnstable County, Massachusetts. He was the son of Ebenezer L. Davis (1773-1858) and Azubah Hinckley (1777-1857). Davis was a selectman of the town and deacon in the Congregational Church of Truro from 1825-1865. He died 20 November 1865.
Davis wrote the letter to his friend, Hon. Daniel Paine (1809-1871), a merchant trader, who was at the time serving as a representative from Barnstable County in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. The month following this letter, Daniel Paine was numbered among the members of the legislature who boldly supported a bill to pass an act “respecting personal freedom” but its defeat meant that slave-hunting remained legal in the Bay State. After his short stint in the legislature, Paine served as the County Commissioner of Barnstable County for five years. he died on 21 May 1871.
The substance of the letter centers primarily around a temperance lecture that was delivered in Truro on March 8th & 9th, 1859 by a “Mr. Brown.” This may have been Thomas M. Brown who was the organ of the Sons of Temperance in Massachusetts. There is also a reference to the debate underway in the legislature pertaining to the recommendation of a special committee to use public funds in purchasing the estate of founding father John Hancock which included his 1737 residence on Beacon Hill. It was destroyed in 1863 to make room for a new wing of the state house, however.
Addressed to Daniel Paine, Esq., House of Representatives, Boston, Massachusetts
Truro, [Barnstable County, Massachusetts]
March 10th 1859
Daniel Paine, Esq.
My Dear Sir,
Your favor of the 1st inst. came duly to hand. I concluded to defer an answer until after we had our Parish & Temperance meeting.
On Monday, the 7th inst., we held our Parish meeting. Things went off as pleasantly as usual. We voted to raise by tax $475.
Mr. Brown, the Temperance lecturer, came here on Tuesday evening agreeable to your statement. We ascertained on Tuesday that he was not at Provincetown and we thought it doubtful whether he would be here or not. We concluded to light up the house and be in readiness. He arrived about 7 in the evening. It being very stormy, there was only about 50 out. He gave us a very pleasing introduction and concluded to stop and lecture on Wednesday evening which proved to be a very pleasant evening. Our meeting house was well filled and Mr. Brown gave us the best temperance lecture that ever I heard. He spoke about two hours to a perfect still & attentive audience. I think everyone present was perfectly satisfied with his reasoning. He handled the rum sellers without gloves. I think if any were present, they must have felt some troubled within and would have preferred to been at home. We took up a collection which amounted to a short of $7. We gave that to Mr. Brown and paid his fare while here.
Our religious meetings are about as usual. We have our weekly prayer meeting this evening.
Our communion wine is about out. I shall send the guy for two gallons by the packet. Please see they get the right kind.
I agree with you respecting the purchase of the Hancock Estate. I think Legislative bodies as well as individual are running into extremes in matters of that kind.
Your family are well and it is a general time of health among us at present.
Yours truly, — Solomon Davis