Letter, 15 Feb. 1846, from Thomas E. Carpenter| Manuscripts Gifts 2007 | Front Page 2007 | Previous Issues | Friends of the Library |
to Miss Lydia T. Carpenter
A gift to SCL Manuscripts Division announced in 2007
Letter, 15 February 1846, of Tho[ma]s E. Carpenter, was written from Columbia, South Carolina, and addressed to his sister, Miss Lydia T. Carpenter, Monroe, Orange Co[unty], New York. | Manuscripts Gifts 2007 | Previous Issues | Endowments | Friends of the Library |
Carpenter reports that he and his travel companions had "remained a week in Cha[rle]ston, during which time we went in for all kinds of enjoyment." After purchasing horses, they took daily rides about town, and they availed themselves of other entertainment opportunities as well. "Our sojourn…was rendered very pleasant by a combination of circumstances. There was a Menagierie, circus and Negro Concert in full blast, from N. York, the manager of which we were acquainted, which secured us free Admission at all times. One of my comrades…chanced to be well acquainted with the manager of the Cha[rle]ston Theatre....His acquaintance…secured us free admission in the Theatre also…." Among those appearing on stage at the time was the renowned thespian Anna Cora Mowatt, whose "pieces…highly amused & entertained me."
Since departing Charleston, Carpenter notes, he had been "persuing my ‘winding way’ from town to town & village to village of the ‘Palmetto’ state; a state whose history is inseperably interwoven with the national history, whose statesmen have always been justly conspicuous; whose chivelrous devotion to freedom has become proverbial; whose daring courage in the revolutionary struggle won for them the admiration of all c[h]ristendom, whose hardships, privations & accomplishments has no parallel in history." His journey had been rendered more agreeable by historic recollections of the Marions, Sumters, Rutledges and others as he had met "many persons who were personally acquainted with those times and whose na[r]ratives have been very interesting."
Travel in the South, his letter reports, was "not attended with as many comforts as at the North, [and] the fare is generally poor except in large towns…." However, he found there to be not so radical a difference in manners and customs between the North and South as he had supposed. "The prima-facie evidence of what is considered a gentleman here, is a sovereign contempt of doing anything himself, & one who shows greatest facilities in putting the Negroes to all the trouble possible. The Negroes are very respectful, always taking off their hat (if they have one on) at the approach of a white person. They seem entirely happy in their condition & generally more comfortable than at the North - their appearance gives the lie direct to all the statements of the ‘Abolitionsts’ concerning their miserable condition."