Letter from Amherst College student to his sister




Letter from Amherst College student to his sister


Fourth of July celebrations; Brothers and sisters
Amherst (Mass.)


A letter from Amherst College student Abel Packard, to sister Lucy, about Fourth of July activities around Amherst, and other details about life as a student at the college.


Packard, Abel Kingman, 1823-1891


Jones Library Special Collections




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Folder: Packard, Abel Kingman--Correspondence

Original Format



Amherst College, July 4th 1843

Dear Lucy,

I suppose that it is as still and quiet as ever where you
are today & now (ten minutes to twelve) a.m. you are making your preparations for dinner, without out cannons or crackers, orators or noisy boys to tell you
that your “father fought for liberty.” Our usual exercises are suspended today except morning & evening prayers. If you received the paper I sent to you or rather which Stockbridge sent to you, you understand the exercises we have had in the chapel this forenoon. I will only say that we have a very interesting celebration indeed so far, i.e. the eulogy was a brilliant & deeply interesting performance. It is here (and I suppose at N.B.) a cool & pleasant day & we had a very good congregation. P.M. 15 ms. to six. – I have just got home from another celebration. I’ve been down to East street to hear an oration from N. Linnel Esq. who was a student in college last year a member of the present senior class & left to study law. A procession was formed & marched about the streets a little escorted by the Belchertown brass band. The procession was composed of marshals & committee, one revolutionary soldier (Amherst sent 60 soldiers out of her 800 population to the revolutionary army, eight of whom still survive) two rev. clergy & their wives, orator of the day, reader of the Declaration of independence, representatives of the old thirteen states (consisting of thirteen young
ladies, bare headed, dressed in white, with crowns & girdles of flowers) & citizens generally making up the rear. The band was large & the music good; the marshals, with their badges & blue ribbands, rode upon prancing steeds, the ladies marched with a military step, the little children (whom I forgot to mention as forming a part of the procession) were in fine spirits, the national flag fluttered in the procession & a plain white standard declared the motto “Union founded on Love of Liberty,” while on the ????? far above the whole the nation’s banner proudly waved her stars &

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stripes. So in the whole they made quite a display. Wed. morn. I given you an account of the performances, in part, of yesterday. But the most interesting part came off last evening. A Pickwick meeting & initiation. You remember I told you, I don’t know as you heard me, but father did of one who was exceedingly disappointed at not getting into it, & afterwards joined another society. Well he has since improved, wrote a first rate colloquy & disposition for exhibition & was elected to the Pickwick & had a grand initiation though not more so than I have seen before. There were about twenty there. I was quite amused last night to hear that some of the young ladies in the village (& their sympathy is wholly on the side of the Alpha Delta Phi) have had consultations together, as to the members of our class who will probably be remembered next year & they singled out [the very ones?] – But I suppose you will want to know
something about exhibition & c. You recd a schedule I suppose. I hadn’t been very well for two or three days before exhibition & that morning I woke up at the
ringing of prayer bell quite sick at my stomach & my bowels out of order. I didn’t go in to prayers or recitation but went down to breakfast & drank a bowl of sage tea; came back to my room, laid a-bed & slept a considerable part of the forenoon. Went down to dinner & drank another bowl of sage tea & thought I must try to spunk up a little before 3 o’clock, but twas really hard work to dress me. I didn’t hurry for I was over an hour about it. I bathed myself all over & felt
tolerably bright. They say that I looked very pale when I first came upon the stage but that any paleness gradually wore off as I advanced in my piece. I got through without any blunder & I never spoke as well before. I was not frightened at all. I
think & felt quite at home. We had a very good audience, good music (singing by a quartette glee club) & in fine the exhibition passed off very well indeed. I only wish you could have been here. I keep wishing so very often. I see students very often with a sister or a mother (much more often the former) or some friend from home & it always make me wish I had such a one here for a little while. I thought

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of it a great many times yesterday. And now I am reminded again that yesterday was a great day for the Pickwicks : both of the orators were Pickwicks. There was a lawyer here yesterday from Michigan who belonged to that society & wore the badge. I think, as you see, a great deal about this society, and I do believe that there is no association that has better articles or that tends to have a better influence upon its own members at least than this, except the church. I’m afraid I love it too much. We had our election of officers in the Athenian Society, the evening of the
day I sent you my last letter. I told father last vacation that Stockbridge would undoubtedly be chosen unanimously first secretary. I presume that about or
quite every one thought so then. Two or three days before elections one of my classmates asked me who would be chosen secretary. I told him, “Stockbridge of course.” And then he told me that I was a candidate against him & one of the Juniors had been talking
with him who told him that about every man in his class would vote for me. I heard no more about it until the afternoon before the evening of election when Stockbridge came & told me that there was a great excitement about college on my account. And when I inquired with great concern, to know what I had been doing or what the matter was, he told me that there was a great electioneering excitement & that I should probably be run in for secretary. I had before supposed that it was all blown over but before suppertime others knew it to be decided, although I did not. But although I was elected, I and my best friends voted for Stockbridge. I mean by my best friends Pickwicks who were not influenced by envy or anything ??? Indeed those who voted for me acknowledge readily enough that Stockbridge deser[ved?] it plainly enough, but they “didn’t like him,” he had put himself forward too much, “thought too largely of himself” & c. I suppose if I should write to other folks such things as I write home I should be accused of vanity but when I write home I want to tell
all the good things about myself that I can. But enough of this. I feel in a hurry to get home again & the term has got so near through that it will soon be done & I shall be at home if God suffers me. About going to Fallriver, if I went I wasn’t intending to go until after I got home. Fallriver is seventeen miles from Taunton. I don’t

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know how far it is there; or exactly how much it would cost from there to Fallriver. I supposed I might walk perhaps part way, but I can tell better about going after I get home perhaps. I wish next time you write you would tell me how far it is to Taunton. I went to Sunderland a week ago last Saturday & staid till
Monday morn. Had a very pleasant time indeed. Mrs. Carey is a very pretty woman I think; didn’t hear Mr. Carey preach. I thing I learned a great many things
about ministers & their life & way of doing things; there were three ministers there besides Mr. Carey, not all the time however. I went up to a famous cave there, an opening underground, running beneath rocks for ten or twelve rods. I got a guide to go through with me who carried a candle. But I can’t tell you anything more at present. Your letter came safely to hand as I hope another may soon. And now with lots of love to you all I subscribe your affectionate brother’s name.


Packard, Abel Kingman, 1823-1891, “Letter from Amherst College student to his sister,” Digital Amherst, accessed June 25, 2022, https://digitalamherst.org/items/show/74.