SCENES OF DEPRAVITY IN 1830s NEW ORLEANS. Americana - Louisiana.
SCENES OF DEPRAVITY IN 1830s NEW ORLEANS
SCENES OF DEPRAVITY IN 1830s NEW ORLEANS
SCENES OF DEPRAVITY IN 1830s NEW ORLEANS

SCENES OF DEPRAVITY IN 1830s NEW ORLEANS

1831-36. A group of 13 holographic letters written between 1831 and 1836 from New Orleans by Jeremiah C. Garthwaite, a clothing wholesaler, to his brother, Jacob Thomas Garthwaite of New Jersey. Jeremiah wrote about business conditions, his political opinions, and events of the day, recalling in one letter a public hanging in the city which was then experiencing a huge population boom. Jeremiah (1807–83) was the namesake of his father, a Revolutionary War drummer who settled the family in Newark, New Jersey. Jeremiah moved to New Orleans and was a partner in a wholesale clothing business that was dissolved in 1860. He returned to New Jersey and was credited with helping to build the Episcopal Church. All of the letters in this collection are written to his brother Jacob Thomas Garthwaite (1808-59). In an April 26, 1832 letter, Jeremiah writes about violence ("scenes of depravity") in New Orleans: "Last week two affairs of horror took place in one day at half past 2 o’clock p.m. – with pistols 15 paces distant no lives nor blood lost. Same night two murders and three attempts to break in here. Monday three Spaniards [illegible word] their crimes for murder on the gallows. They were hung on the public square a few blocks below our store. I intended to witness it being engaged for the moment. Reached there early in time to see them hanging lifeless corpses [illegible word] in white [illegible word] extended in rotation of the scaffold. After an interval of an hour cut down and stowed into rough casements of wood and carted off, created no small degree of horrid sensations in my mind." They next day, nine more "Spaniards" were arrested on suspicion of murder and 8 or 10 buildings were burned to the ground, he wrote. Jeremiah often traveled and on one trip, he relayed his impressions of St. Louis to his brother: "Although less population, it presents about the same appearance in size as Newark, is handsomely situated on the bank of the Mississippi River, presents a handsome view as you approach it but when in the town the sight is different in consequence of so many old building together with the bustle in putting up new ones." In a letter dated November 10, 1831, he recalls a near meeting with the notorious Mrs. Eaton, wife of the Secretary of War John Eaton, who was ostracized by members of President Andrew Jackson’s cabinet over the circumstances of their marriage. He heard about her from other passengers: "They represented her as being abrupt in her manners so that some of her movements they consider highly degrading to any lady." Jeremiah closely followed politics and shares his opinions in the letters. In his correspondence dated May 7, 1831, he references the "blow up at Washington" calling it "a circumstance unprecedented in the history of our country." He is referring to President Jackson’s decision to ask for the resignation of his entire cabinet in order to neutralize his feud with Vice President John Calhoun. Jackson then appointed Edward Livingston as Secretary of State, a move Jeremiah supported: "He is a good man for the office opposed to many of the Gent view as regards the rechartering the U.S. Bank." Jeremiah is critical of U.S. Senator Henry Clay, the nullifiers, and South Carolina, which declared the federal tariffs of 1828 and 1832 unconstitutional and therefore null and void within the sovereign boundaries of the state: "Down with him – he is a traitor to the cause he has proposed to support, he has disgraced the country. South Carolina must submit, if not let every one of them be ranked with Henry Clay a traitor and punished accordingly." Despite his criticism of some politicians, Jeremiah was supportive of those who served their country. In a March 17, 1831 letter, he writes that he attended a meeting at the Exchange for "the venerable" President James Monroe: "A subscription is circulating through this city – 1 dollar only is solicited from each individual. I think 5,000 dollars will be given cheerfully… and will call forth the gratitude of every American for a man who has spent his life in the services of his country – he gave his time, his money, his all to obtain what he has now the privilege of witnessing the liberty of the country. I think the nation is bound both by honor and deity to retain such a man from (word) and sheriffs and bestow on him a competency in his old age." His final two letters to his brother in this collection are not written in New Orleans. One was written in 1835 on a boat traveling to Charleston, and the final letter in 1836 while he was traveling by horseback through cotton country near Vicksburg, Mississippi: "Cotton is very good this year and the crops will amount to more than the average. Sells at good prices and finds a ready sale, which is all the Newark (word) want provided the planters pay their bills to the merchants at the regular time (the first of January) instead of buying more land and niggers, and the merchants pay their bills. Business seems very good on the river towns…" Each of letters runs two or three pages and are creased with some splitting along the folds. Losses where postal marks were clipped, as well as some general fading, but otherwise quite legible. Item #72083

Price: $3,000.00

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