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Addition, 1833, to Jasper Adams Papers   
    A gift to SCL Manuscripts Division announced in 2008

| Manuscripts Gifts 2008 | Front Page 2008 | Previous Issues | Friends of the Library |

Letter , 16 January-6 February 1833, written from Charleston by College of Charleston president Jasper Adams (1793-1841) to fellow clergyman Sewall Harding (1793-1876) in Waltham, Massachusetts, describes a trip made by Adams from Charleston, S.C., to Tallahassee, Florida, and back and gives some insights into political unrest in Charleston due to the Nullification Crisis.

The majority of the letter is dedicated to recounting the trip by Adams through Georgia and Florida with Henry M. Bruns from 3 November to 29 December 1832. Listing his reasons for undertaking the journey, Adams states, “1. The benefit of my health... 2. I wished to see the Southern country... Although I had lived in So. Carolina several years... I... had never been more than 40 miles to the South of Charleston. 3. I had a design to purchase a tract of wild land... I thought I might settle it 10, 12, or 15 years hence... or I might sell it as circumstances should dictate.” After reaching Grahamville, in present-day Jasper County, S.C., and preaching “to a small but very devout congregation,” Adams commented that there had been “great attention to religion here during the year past, & almost all the people are pious.”

Although he found the people between Savannah, Georgia, and Monticello, Florida, “unusually civil,” Adams was unimpressed with the quality of the land and the type of life it afforded. He described it as “pine barren of the worst description” and remarked that he had “no idea that so poor a people existed on the face of the earth.” He claimed that for “the space of 250 miles there is but one home... which has a single pane of glass” and that “you do not see a single brick for nearly 300 miles.” Instead the houses he saw were constructed of notched pine poles with no daubing between the logs. The only “comforts of life” which he could discern were “deer... wild turkies & sugar... a quarter of an acre producing 2 barrels besides syrup and molasses.”

Adams seemed particularly troubled about the fact that they had “neither physicians, lawyers, nor clergymen, nor schoolmasters.” Before reaching Tallahassee, he stopped and preached at James Gadsden’s plantation and noted “his neighbourhood is chiefly settled from So. Carolina.” In Tallahassee, he found a growing town surrounded by a “tract of very fine land, covered with a luxuriant growth of oak, hickory, live oak, Magnolia, &c.,” but noted dryly, “it was race week, & all such people as one might expect to meet at races were there.”

After selling his horse and gig in Tallahassee, Adams returned to Charleston by train via Milledgeville, Georgia. There he visited the penitentiary where he saw Samuel Austin Worcester and Elizur Butler in “prison dress” at work “in the joiners apartment.” Worcester and Butler were Northern missionaries who had been arrested the previous year for refusing to leave Cherokee lands. They would spend two years in the Georgia Penitentiary before being pardoned. Adams closes his description of the trip by noting that it cost $78.00 and had been an “instructive excursion” since he deemed it “instructive to view mankind in all situations.”

The remainder of the letter, penned on 6 February 1833, conveys information on the growing political tensions in South Carolina. Adams begins by declaring “we have lived 6 days into Nullification & no one is yet harmed.” Even though things appeared tranquil, he noted “our state is said to be preparing for war; mounting cannon, drilling soldiers, &c... 18,000 volunteers have offered their services... .The Forts in the harbor belonging to the U.S. are in complete order... The Natchez sloop of war 24 guns is in the harbor & several revenue cutters.” Adams seems to have aligned himself with the unionist party, which was “also said to be under a complete military organization with a view to defend themselves if attacked.” He ends his letter by stating that “we have men who are not afraid to speak. The Union party here desire the sympathy of all friends of the union.”

| Manuscripts Gifts 2008 | Previous Issues | Endowments | Friends of the Library |

 

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