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Letter, 8 Nov. 1828, J[asper] Adams, Charleston, S.C., to
the Rev. Sewall Harding, Walthan, Mass.
Letter, 8 November 1828, of J[asper] Adams (1793-1842), Charleston College, to the Rev. Sewall Harding, Waltham, Mass., was penned in reply to an 11 October communication from the latter. "I left Geneva," Adams writes, "not for any positive dislike of the country or the people, but because we like this country much better, & because the reason which induced me to resign here was removed by the trustees....My health is also decidedly better here than in a Northern climate. Perhaps also we have been too long accustomed to the courtly polish of this country & to the habits of a large city, to be contented in a country village." Adams had returned to Charleston in 1828 to resume the presidency of the College of Charleston, which position he had left in 1826 to become the first president of Geneva (Hobart) College, N.Y.
"Our college," Adams reports, "is rising as rapidly perhaps as any similar institution ever was. Our new edifice is nearly completed & we have begun to occupy it. It is one of the most beautiful & commodious edifices of the kind in this country. The cost of erecting it & preparing the grounds around it will [be] about $20,000. Within a few weeks, a Mr. Horry, (pronounced Oree) has made donation to the college of $10,000 in aid of a professorship of moral & political philosophy....This very liberal donation has roused the spirit of our community, & I deem it nearly certain that we shall in the course of 3 months have at least two more similar donations."
"About a week since it was suggested to me by Mr. Bentham who is a member of the city council," the letter continues, "that if a petition was presented, the council would probably give something towards our library. I immediately wrote a petition, & though this matter is not formally decided, I have no doubt, we shall have $3000 from them for a library. Our library room is 50 feet by 40 & 16 feet high, & will consequently contain an immense collection....On the 28th of Oct. our commencement was celebrated in St. Paul's church, & called out a great part of the talent, wealth & beauty of this city. The performances were thought excellent, & the celebration has added much to the reputation of the institution. The number of graduates was six, & two degrees of A.M. were given."
Adams, who was ordained an Episcopal priest in 1820, goes on to address the effects in Charleston of two religious factions. "With us, the unitarian controversy attracts little attention, since Mr. Gilman is a man of quiet & inoffensive manners, & appears disposed not to molest others, if he can be unmolested himself. Every one esteems him as a man, & all hold free intercourse with him as such, but in religion, none of the clergy, (I believe) has any intercourse with him....The catholic controversy, however, attracts much attention in this community. We have a Catholic Bishop who is an irishman & probably a jesuit, a turbulent fellow, & who carries his manner with a high hand. He keeps aloof from all the protestant clergy, regarding them as heretics &c. By his boldness & perserverance, he has made 2 or 3 converts from protestant churches, & great triumph is displayed. Within a few days, he has published a book of letters directed to Bishop Bowen & containing a violent & most impudent attack on him."
Adams then turns to issues of national politics. "This country, as well as Massachusetts is agitated by the Presidential question. There is an Adams party of some strengh in the city, but the state is for Jackson by an overwhelming majority....I have always been an Adams man as my Jackson friends say I have good right to be. I greatly wish that the present administration may be continued, still I expect that Jackson will be elected. I cannot suppose him well qualified, but he is doubtless a much better man than he is thought to be in New England, & if elected I hope (tho' with trembling) he may do well."
"This country is still more agitated by the tariff," Adams concludes. "During two or three weeks after the passage of this `bill of abominations' as Mr. Quincy of Boston called it, I was somewhat fearful of revolutionary uneasiness. This law presses very hard on this country, & the people of this and the neighbouring states are resolved to get rid of it if possible."
The letter closes with a reference to "dengue or Spanish fever" which had plagued Charleston early in the summer. "Almost all the city had it, it caused much suffering, but very little danger. About the 10th of August the yellow fever broke out, & we removed to a suburb called Radcliffeboro', where we passed the summer in safety."
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