Document 8: Letter from William Pelham to Marianna Pelham Mott, 5 March 1854, Garrison Family Papers, Sophia Smith Collection, Smith College.
In an earlier letter, Marianna apparently spoke kindly of her Uncle John Pelham, William’s brother, who the previous year had hosted Martha Wright and Lucretia Mott in his home in Maysville, Kentucky (see Document 7). William recognized the fundamental nature of their disagreement over slavery, expressing his worry that Marianna now loved her Uncle John more than him because she was succeeding in “seducing him from his allegiance to the South.” The theme of jealousy also appeared in William’s next letter, in which he wrote, “I love you more than either of your Uncles ever loved you,” as well as in his letter of 28 April 1854 (see Document 9).
Washington City D.C.
March 5th 1854
My most beloved Niece
I received your letter of the 2nd inst. and have read it six or seven times, striving each time to discover something which I had not seen in the former reading. I enter my protest at once against the change you propose while I stay here. I was very sad when you left me and for some days afterwords, and it will be a privation indeed if you discontinue your kind letters.
I am feeling very jealous towards brother John. I have been thinking you love him better than you do me. I know he is good, honest, truthful, noble and generous, a kind and affectionate brother and in my own estimation I believe him to be a better man than your correspondent, and you knowing him well, and standing in the same relationship to you that I do, I am not surprised, or rather I should not be surprised that you should love him more than myself. Yet I must say that it is not altogether agreeable to my feelings. You love him the more perhaps because he is “interested in the anti Slavery lectures,” and “invites the lecturers to his fireside.” Oh! Marianna have you been prosolytising poor John, and seducing him from his allegiance to the South? And this perchance is the reason you love him more. I know you can make a good speech as I have heard you, in the case of Mr. Wood, but I am sorry that my brother has become converted to your cause.
I received a letter from your Mother of the 27th inst. inviting me to make them a visit before my return South. I cannot now determine whether it will be convenient, but I rather think it will not, and I regret it very much indeed. It may be long if ever, that I shall be this near them again. I regret much that I had not known that she was at Phila. when I first arrived, I most assuredly would have gone there to see her, before she left, but when I did learn it, it was too late.
I have cold again and have been confined to my room for the last four days, but I am better again, and if no more two feet snows come upon me perhaps I may yet last in this inclement climate until warm weather comes.
I have written to brother John informing him that it will be inconvenient for me to leave here as soon as I had appointed to be at Cottonbush,[A] consequently they will not look for me so . . . .
Now farewell, your affectionate Uncle
A. Cottonbush was the Pelham family homestead on the banks of the Ohio River a few miles east of Maysville, Kentucky. Marianna had visited her uncle John Pelham at Cottonbush in 1841; her mother Martha Wright and aunt Lucretia Mott had visited in 1853.
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