Charlotte and Samuel Cowles Correspondence, 1833-1841, 1846
Correspondence between Charlotte Cowles of Farmington, Connecticut, and her brother, Samuel Cowles, of Windsor, Vermont, Boston, Massachusetts and Hartford, Connecticut. Charlotte was educated at the Farmington Academy and kept the family home after her mother's death in 1837. Her father Horace was active in abolition and temperance, as Charlotte's letters illustrate. She herself helped form a women's anti-slavery group in Farmington, she attended abolition lectures and read the literature popular at the time, her family helped slaves escape north, and Horace helped ban liquor licenses in Farmington. Charlotte's letters mention such names as Gerrit Smith, Henry Brewster Stanton, and Theodore Weld. Samuel published the anti-slavery newspaper Charter Oak in Hartford. His letters chronicle the not always friendly reception of an anti-slavery publication in that city. In 1839 there was an African slave revolt on the Schooner Amistad and the ship ended up in American waters. The slaves were brought to trial. In 1841, after the captives were declared free by the U.S. Supreme Court, they lived in Farmington, where Charlotte had ample opportunity to interact with them; in fact one of the African children lived with the Cowles. Her four letters from this time period provide insight into how the Mende Africans and the people of Farmington reacted to each other and into how a young, educated female came to understand the evils of slavery in a far deeper way than before. In addition to comments on the politics of the time, Charlotte also related news about events in Farmington and within her own household, including marriages and births, sleighing in winter, the progress of the flowers in spring, the books she read, and the comings and goings of friends and relatives.
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