letters from dickinson to austin dickinson

Thomas Johnson's Note on Letter 16

MANUSCRIPT: AC. Ink. Dated: Thursday noon. Addressed on the fold: Austin Dickinson, Esq./Amherst./Mass. Postmarked: South Hadley Mass. Oct 22.

PUBLICATION: L (1894) 65-67, in part; L (1931) 63-65, in part; Home 68-70, entire.

For Mary Lyon (1797-1849), founder and principal of the Seminary, this was the last full year of teaching. Her associate principal was Mary C. Whitman. Of the nine other teachers, only one is here mentioned, Rebecca W. Fiske, a recent Seminar graduate whose brother Sam was at the time a junior at Amherst College. Mary Warner and Abby Wood were Amherst friends with whom ED had grown up. The Emily who is mentioned as having the shoebrush was ED's cousin from Monson, Emily Lavinia Norcross, a senior and her roommate. ED had now been at the Seminary for three weeks.

The term "loco-foco" originally applied to any antimonopolistic wing of New York City Democrats (1835), was now used by the Whigs to describe any Democrat, and Democrats in the judgment of the Dickinsons were persons who would bear watching. Seth Nims, a Democrat, was the Amherst postmaster during the presidencies of the Polk (1845-1849), Pierce, and Buchanan (1853-1861). The same tone about Nims is evident to letter no. 130, and in one from Lavinia to her brother in 1853 (Home 318): "Mr Nims is making awful blunders in the post office. I hope he'll be requested to retire."

ED's comment on the politics of the time, here focused on the Mexican war, should be compared with one written in similar vein near the end of her life (letter no. 950).

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Commentary copyright 1998 by Martha Nell Smith, all rights reserved
Maintained by Lara Vetter <lvetter@uncc.edu>
Last updated on February 25, 2008