Updated: Dec 3, 2020
Now that the store is laid out more like a warehouse we are uncovering interesting and unusual items in our collection! We found a group of land deeds from the 1800's. One deed from 1825 sold 2 acres & 123 "perches" (perch = 16.5 feet) of land just outside Philadelphia (Norristown, PA) FOR $1,000. The deed was signed by Levi Pawling, a Federalist member of the 15th US Congress.
We also found an exciting letter dated 1850 from John Fridley. Fridley was a member of the 31st Congress House of Representatives, Pennsylvania 5th district. He was in office 1847 to 1851 as a member of the Whig party. The letter is fully transcribed to the best of my ability below the photos.
The letter shows Fridley's frustration "I have now been in session near four months and as yet have literally done nothing -settled nothing. At the very outset certain Southern Hot-spurs openly declared that the first thing to be settled was the rights of citizens in the slaveholding states under the Constitution."
Keep in mind, this discussion about slavery was 11 years prior to the official start of the Civil War. Whigs generally supported higher tariffs, distributing land revenues to states and passing relief legislation in response to the financial panics of 1837 and 1839. They were not formally an anti-slavery party, but abolitionists had more in common with the Whigs than the pro-slavery Jacksonian Democrats (Jackson was a vocal proponent of slavery and personally owned as many as 161 slaves). As the country hurtled toward Westward expansion, it was the issue of slavery that would be the ultimate downfall of the Whigs. (source: History.com)
As we celebrate Independence Day we feel fortunate to be surrounded with mementos of history. Letters, coins, stamps and so many other items are pieces of our U.S. history that help us remember people and moments that have shaped our country. Have a Happy & Safe 4th of July!
House of Representatives
Washington, July 25the 1850
(Messrs.?) Moore and Hooven
Your favor of the ? came too hard. I must say that the prospect of having anything done at the present session of Congress is, up to this time, not very bright. I have now been in session near four months and as yet have literally done nothing -settled nothing. At the very outset certain Southern Hot-spurs openly declared that the first thing to be settled was the rights of citizens in the slaveholding states under the Constitution.
That this question must first be settled before they would agree to legislate on any other subject. The discussion in both houses to this time have been almost entirely on the Slave question nor does it appear to be (?) determination than it was a minute ago. There is therefore but little chance of knowing the opinion of a feeling of numbers of other subjects.
I have no knowledge of the getting up of any bill in (?) to the Tariff or of any movement towards it. Nor do I consider that under the present agitated states of feeling it would be expedient to force (?) the House such a Bill.
On Monday last, we had a demonstration of the declared intentions of the nullifiers. They showed us that by calling the (?) year and days on a (suspicion of freedom?) motion they could prevent a vote upon any Bill objectionable to them.
I have at this moment read that part of your letter making inquiry as to the probability of a change in the laws the (?) present (?) to Moses Hampton of Pittsburgh who was in the Committee of Ways & Means. His reply is “answer them that there is no chance I have written so to my friends". This is his opinion which I give you for what it is worth. I confess I am inclined to the same opinion.
I am truly yours
(Member of the 31st Congress- Pennsylvania 5th district- in office 1847 to 1851 as a member of the Whig party)