Jane Briggs Smith to Friend Fuller Fiske, November 22, 1867

Sumter S. C.
Nov. 22, 1867

My dear Friend

I have had two letters from you this week, and one of them mailed at dear old Boston. I love Boston as well as if it was my home. I know of no place in all the world I would rather call my home. I should have liked being there with you and showing you into some of my pet nooks about the city. I hope you visited our place (though you do not mention it) where I always spent a sad half hour--the solitude of the State house where hang the battered flags of our noble volunteer regiments. To me they are even better worth the seeing than even Child's & Jenks gallery of paintings.

I am not surprised or sorry at your account of the change brought about by the recent elections. I hope things will be even worse than you represent them, and convince our dear good honest old fogies of the value of our temperance laws. I have no doubt of the honest and the purity of motives with which many leading men opposed prohibition; let them see the effects of license, and that they are moving a step backward, and they will repent, and bring forth works meet for repentance. No one can for a moment believe that any but pure motives could influence John A. Andrew in the stand which he took, and no doubt others were honest as he.

So you have heard Anna Dickinson, and don't seem to be madly in love with her. You ought to be, for she is said to very much resemble the humble individual who is now addressing you, especially since my hair was cropped. I never saw her and do not greatly admire what I have heard of her. But I cannot help being of the opinion that if a woman has oratorical powers given here, it was intended they should be used. Would you have Jenny Lind, Parodi, or Ristori hide that talent under a bushel which is capable of giving such exquisite pleasure to so many people? Where is the difference?

"How am I? Where am I? What am I doing? What have I been doing the past week?" (I'll try to go through the catechism satisfactorily.) Very well thank you. In my own room at Sumter S. C.--a delicious haven of rest and a refuge from an ungrateful world. Writing to you. Performing with grace and dignity my customary duties, not neglecting that of giving advice and instruction to our newly enfranchised citizens. For the election is over and the "Sumter News" is disgusted at this last worst triumph of the Republican party whose pedigree it traces back two hundred years to the time of Cromwell. Poor thing, it almost bursts with spite and rage.

The whole result of the election I don't know. It passed here very quietly; the whites showed great apathy, not more than three or four voting at all. They affect to regard the whole thing as unconstitutional, and their policy is to have nothing to do with it, so they will be saved in spite of themselves.

It is decided that I remain in Sumter. Mr. Tomlinson, State Superintendent under the Bureau was here this week, and expressed a wish amounting to a command that I stay, so I suppose I shall although it is anything but pleasant.

Please remember me to Mrs. Fisk. You have not mentioned her health lately, and I hope she is better with her freedom from care.

Truly yours

Jennie B. Smith



American Antiquarian 
Society logo

An American Antiquarian Society Online Exhibition
Curated by Lucia Z. Knoles, Professor of English, Assumption College

All primary sources in this exhibit are in the collections of the American Antiquarian Society.
This site and all contents © 2006 American Antiquarian Society