John Wheeler journal and essays  1859
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Collection Scope and Content Note

This volume (205 pages) contains a journal and two essays composed by New Hampshire native John Wheeler in 1859. He kept a journal of his travel to, and experiences teaching in, Albemarle County, Virginia, between December 1858 and October 1859 (pp. 1-137); wrote an essay based on his experiences, focusing on cultural differences between New England and Virginia (pp. 139-174); and composed an essay on the professions of law, medicine, and divinity (pp. 187-216).

The first, and largest, portion of the volume is the journal Wheeler kept between December 1858 and October 1859, while he traveled to Albemarle County, Virginia, to teach school. The first two pages contain an introductory essay on the virtues of traveling, and pages 3 through 21 recount his journey from New Hampshire to Virginia, beginning on December 21, 1858. He mentioned multiple sightseeing destinations along the way, including Plymouth Rock (p. 5), and arrived in Charlottesville, Virginia, on December 31 (pp. 16-17). There, he made the acquaintance of the Durrett family, with whom he remained close throughout his stay in the South.

Wheeler began to keep regular journal entries on January 1, 1859 (p. 21), and thoroughly described his life as a schoolteacher, as well as his impressions of southern scenery and customs. Many entries mention the violent treatment of slaves, including men being lashed for stealing a pig (p. 77) and a legal case that ended with the sentence of execution (p. 84). Wheeler often attended religious services, commented on southern hospitality, and described the scenery, particularly the Blue Ridge Mountains. Wheeler did not keep his journal between January 23 (p. 67) and July 4 (p. 70), though he recorded the dates of planting and ripening of several crops (p. 68).

Wheeler left Albemarle County on September 26 (p. 121) and traveled to Luray, Virginia, where he witnessed the hanging of a female slave (pp. 123-126). From there, he traveled to Alexandria, where he provided a detailed account of a visit to Mount Vernon, home of George Washington (October 8, pp. 132-137). The journal concludes with a brief closing statement on page 137.

In the second section is an essay that Wheeler composed after he returned to his home in New Hampshire (pp. 139-174). He wrote about his impressions of the South and his experiences, often commenting on the differences between customs in Virginia and in New England.

The third part of the volume contains an essay about the history and characteristics of "the three learned professions": law, medicine, and divinity. It begins on page 197 and continues through page 216, though pages 176 to 184 are blank.

Three clippings from published works are laid into the journal: an image of King Umberto I of Italy, recently assassinated (pp. 174-175); and two pages of poetry (pp. 180-181).

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