Mobile, Alabama: 1858. Envelope or Cover. This 4-page letter (no envelope) was written by a Virginian who had emigrated to Mobile, Alabama in the late 1850s. It was sent to James L. Kemper, at the time a General in the Virginia Militia (and later its governor).
In the letter, Carver provides considerable information about life and events in Alabama:
* William Walkers expedition to conquer Nicaragua – “Genl Mr Walker is in Mobile about 300 Emigrants slipped out on the 5th just for Nicaraugua, they were stoped about 6 miles below Mobile by a U.S. vessel but they made there escape & perhaps have Landed in Nicaraugua, old Buck (President James Buchanan) don’t stand high in Mobile as a Large Majority are for Walker.” (Walker had usurped the presidency of Nicaragua in 1856 and ruled until 1857 when he was expelled by a coalition of Central American armies. He returned in 1858 to reestablish his empire but was captured and executed.)
* Plantations and slavery – “William was married on the 16th of Last month to the Daughter of a Sugar planter She is said to be worth $20,000 independent of part in her Mothers Estate who is said to be wealthy and has only three children. At any rate they made 200 HHds of sugar last year. Hirams Mother in Law made 35 HHds of Sugar. Wm will pay us a visit on the 22nd Just with his wife & May go on to Virginia to buy 15 to twenty servants for the family.
* Cost of Living – “I then had to buy furniture for House keeping which is very high here. . .. I pay $12 per month for a woman to cook, $10 per month for a House Servant Girl, $15 per month for a Gardiner, 75c per cord for cutting my wood & I hall it with my yard hands My Grocery bill is $60 per month never less than $50. You will say that this is extravagant, yet I cannot do with less. . .”
* Business – “My . . . hands (probably hired slaves) in the Taning & Shoe Shop from 10 to 15 . . . I had to board them all, for which I receive $10 per month . . . & all I have made is in Stock that I cannot get until the business is closed. I am now trying to make some arangements for me to get out my money . . . but the men who furnish the capital are so very busy now that it goes on very slow. . .. all business is done here from Octr 1st to May. . ..”
* Politics – “You should be here at an Election, our old VA Elections are bad enough God knows . . . our Mayors Election came off last Monday & I have no doubt but the Partys spent at least $25,000 a side. . .. I told you I would meet you in Congress – I give it up, there is no more chance for a poor man to be Elected . . . here with out he is nominated by the party – than there is for a cat in H-ll without claws – they want to run me . . . & I suppose that I could easily be Elected – but I wont. . .. I tell the Democratic party that is to low down . . .. our Democratic Sheriff was Elected in August. . .. it cost him upwards of $3000 – but the office is worth about 15000 a year. . .. I have not changed my opinion about Wise (Henry Wise, the Governor of Virginia) & if he was to be the Democratic Nomenee for President I would not touch him with a pair of Tongs. . ..”
And more. Very good. Item #009445