What would one do on a January day in 1836? In Farmington, one might have attended an Anti-Abolition rally. We know from Charlotte Cowles that one was indeed held in that town, and although Charlotte could empathize with slaves and indeed help them to freedom in the north, she was prejudiced against those who did not hold with her abolitionist feelings.
In her letter of January 25, 1836, she wrote:
On Wednesday, the 13th was held the terrible Anti-Abolition meeting. As my station at a window of the Academy was favorable for noticing the people who passed in, I quizzed each of them, and have now in my possession a list of names of all whom I recognized. A great number were from the adjoining manufacturing towns, — how “respectable” they were, I cannot say. It was a high day for the rioters, and all that class of people, who came in throngs. . . Some flaming resolutions were drawn up, with frightful stories about “the dissolution of the Union”, and all that sort of stuff.
She looks down her nose at people from the “manufacturing towns” and refers to them as rioters. It is a shame that we don’t know any of the names she recorded, because it would give us a good idea about how divided sentiments on slavery were in the Hartford area. Were any of those she recognized considered friends or acquaintances? Again, if only we had some names to work with!
My favorite part of this letter is her description of the reaction of Southern men to petitions delivered to Congress by “ladies”:
The “chivalrous Southrons” grow more and more frantic, and have even now got to such a pass, that on the floor of Congress, they speak of ladies in terms of too shocking for repetition. And all the matter is, that these ladies signed a petition.
Charlotte never hesitated to sign an anti-slavery petition, so she evidently did not think it such an unladylike thing to do. We need more information from Charlotte about her thoughts on woman suffrage. Maybe I will find some hints when I visit the Harriet Beecher Stowe Center later this month to read some of Isabella Beecher Hooker’s letters to her friend Charlotte. I can hardly wait.