John G. Spencer collection  1827-1855
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Collection Scope and Content Note

The John G. Spencer papers contain four letters and two diaries, spanning 1827-1855. The incoming letters date from 1844-1855 and are from friends and colleagues. They mainly concern Spencer's political activities and allegiance. The first letter invites Spencer and other members of the Oxford Clay Club to a pole-raising (September 24, 1844). Two other letters concern Spencer's involvement with political newspapers; one from "J. Brown" requests that Spencer enroll subscribers for the Intelligencer (August 6, 1850) and the other requests several issues of the Clay Banner, which the writer [Eqi] Justice believed Spencer owned. In the final letter in the collection, Robert Beans advocated a strong antislavery stance in answer to an apparent inquiry by Spencer (September 26, 1855).

The collection's two diaries cover October 30, 1827 to November 23, 1827 and February 27, 1834 to mid-February 1836. The first is a 16-page travel diary entitled "Memorandum of a Voyage to the Falls of Niagara in the Autumn of 1827." In it, Spencer documented his observations on the falls themselves, as well as the places he visited during the journey. On New York City, he noted, "It exceeds Phila. in commercial business, but falls short of it in respect to neatness and elegance" (October 31). He also described rides on several steamboats, and the types of settlements and wildlife he encountered at various stops. After arriving at Niagara Falls on November 9, he gave an account of standing 10 feet from the waterfall, of walking around Devil's Hole, and of an evening trip to a Tuscarora Indian village, where he noted the industriousness of the women. On his return to Pennsylvania, he described travels through Ithaca and Owego. When he arrived home, he observed that the people he met "appear to be ardently engaged in the pursuit of wealth" (November 23, 1827).

The second diary contains scattered entries over a period of approximately two years. It begins with Spencer's marriage to Elizabeth Fetter on February 27, 1834, and his comments upon "giv[ing] up the gay and giddy pleasures of youth for the more solid and mature joys of the married state." Other early entries describe social visits, work in a store, agricultural activities, and health concerns. In the later part of the diary, he described local elections (June 6, 1835) and business activities, including going into business for himself (March 7, 1835).

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