Cyrus P. Bradley (1818-1838) was 16 when he wrote this journal of
his tour of Concord, New Hampshire, Boston, New York, Philadelphia,
Baltimore, Washington, Ohio and Michigan. He was traveling to recover
his health. When he returned home he said, "My friends received me, as
one returning from circumnavition of the globe, as having providentially
escaped accident and death and as having a clear and undoubted right to
the title of - a great traveler!!!"
arrived at Detroit about half past two and I spent the afternoon in
walking around the city. We put up at the American. Here I saw a
Highlander in full national dress, cap, dirk, etc. His plaid, his
trappings, his leggings, with his handsome features and brawny frame,
gave him an exceedingly picturque appearance, but I should think his
bare knees would be cold. He is a Scotch gentleman's servant. After tea,
I called on Gov. Mason and at length found him at home. I was prepared
to see a young man, but not such a boy in appearance. He was, however, a
perfect gentleman in manners. He is short and thick-set, of dark
complexion, handsome square features, high forehead and large head. He
has black hair and black eyes, dresses in showy style, wore a broadcloth
surtout and is much of an exquisite. He has been, they say, very
dissipated, and now uses tobacco - he is a sort of a pet of the
government. His father, John T. Mason, resides here; he has several
sisters, whom I saw. He came here in 1830 and was soon after appointed
secretary. I well recollect the hue and cry made about such an
appointment in the papers. Gov. Mason introduced me to Mr. Norvell, the
postmaster here, an ambitious, crafty man, humorous, and himself a cause
of humour to others, waddling about with an air and gait truly
ludicrous. They were all preparing to go to the theatre, to benefit of
the great star here, one Mrs. McClure. By Gov. M.'s invitation I
accompanied them. The play was Sheridan Knowles' drama, "The Wife."
My old acquaintance, Trowbridge, the manager of the Concord Theatre
that was, I recognized in one of the characters. Mrs. McClure and one or
two besides played well; the minor parts were most miserably performed.
I found the theater was patronized by the first people here. Judges and
grave convention men surrounded me. I did not stop to the afterpiece,
but returned home and to bed. Saw a paper this afternoon alluding to the
organization of the N.H. Legislature - by which it appears Friend
Fowler has been appointed Clerk of the Senate. I know how it was done.
21. Sunday. A.M. Called on Governor Mason and accompanied him and
his sister to the Episcopal Church. This is a very large, handsome
house, but they have not yet got any settled preacher. One Mr. Lister
preached a very able sermon. Governor Mason, on our return, gave me a
very strong invitation to go up to the upper lakes and Chicago with
their party, in the steamboat Michigan, which starts on the trip
to-morrow night. Governor Cass and his daughter (to whom Mr. Mason is
playing the agreeable) are going. 'Twould be exceedingly pleasant, but
it would take a fortnight, and I can't spare the time. I want to be home
at least a few weeks before commencement, if possible. P.M. I attended
at the Presbyterian Church, with Mr. Fletcher and Mr. Cleland. Mr.
Cleveland, the regular preacher, I was introduced to by Mr. Cleland. I
took tea with the latter, at his friend, Mrs. Larned's. She is the widow
of the late General Larned, who died last season of the cholera. She is
a very fine woman, and has a fine family. The only son, Sylvester,
named after his uncle, the celebrated clergyman of that name of New
Orleans, is about my own age and a fine boy.
Mr. Pitts, the partner of Mr. Cleland, boards here. He is a fine man
and a good lawyer; late a graduate of Harvard. After tea, happening to
mention my acquaintance with Sam Chandler, who died here this spring of
consumption, Mr. Cleland insisted upon my going with him to his
sister's, Mrs. Moore, who would be so glad to see any acquaintance of
her deceased brother. Her husband and a brother are in partnership - in
trade. They are all natives of Bedford, N.H. We met young Chandler just
before entering the house, who returned with us and introduced us to his
brother-in-law and sister. They all appeared glad to see me on account
of their brother, who was indeed a fine fellow. In the evening Mr.
Chandler, Mr. Cleland and myself returned to the Presbytrian Church to
listen to a discourse from Mr. Cleveland. Passing the old market, which
is nearly dismantled, I noticed that the crowd of men and boys, who had
been there all day, making riot and confusion, was little diminished.
They were engaged in the delectable employment of killing rats, of whose
dead carasses they had collected several bushels. Mr. Cleveland
delivered his sermon extempore, in a curious off-hand manner, but
rendering himself intelligible to every hearer. In the midst of some of
his most powerful exhortations he would frequently break in with,
"Gentlemen, you will find plenty of seats here at the right hand of the
desk" - "Mr. Brown, please sit along close, so as to leave the end of
the seat empty for others," or "Mr. Lewis, be so kind as to raise that
window, we shall all suffocate here," which had rather an odd effect. He
is very devoted, however, and popular. There is no appearance of
priest-craft in his daily walk and conversation, but he makes himself
free with all. He is a brother of Prof. Cleveland, and formerly preached
at Exeter, boarding at Capt. Chamberlain's. He is a short, large man,
exceedingly active, of lightish hair and sandy complexion, and his
hurried, business-like gait, snuff-colored coat, black neckstock and
white hat, give him an external appearance the very reverse of
22. Mon. We expected to leave Detroit this morning, in the morning
boat for Buffalo, but several of the passengers in her, the Chas.
Townsend, among whom was one gentleman, Mr. Merrill, of Boston,
bookseller, whom I knew, give such a discouraging account of her that we
finally resolved to wait till evening and take the Sandusky. After
breakfast, took a long walk along the river with young Chandler.
He is a very fine fellow, much resembles his brother, he is a
grandson of old Robert Orr. On the little narrow street, near the river,
or rather of which the river formed one side, is settled by the French,
the descendants of the original proprietors. They are a singular people
- hate the Yankees - will not mix with them, will not suffer their
children to learn the language or have any intercourse with them. Their
lots are very narrow, but run back from the river, many of them three or
four miles into the country. This happened, as each of the original
settlers wished a situation for his dwelling on their dear river as well
as a farm - this gave rise to the inconvenient shape of their farms.
These lots, in running back, cross the main street, and make four or
five building spots, but their jealous owners will not sell these spots
though they do not improve them themselves, except in cultivation, and
though many of them would command almost any price that could be named.
They have no part nor lot in the improvements of the times, but are
entirely under the dominion of the priests, they own a very large
cathedral. We walked by Governor Cass' farm, and to his ancient mansion,
an old, rough-looking, one-story, wooden building, but capacious.
Afterwards, I called on Mr. Cleland; with him I went to the court
house. The superior court was just concluding its session above. One of
the judges I have been introduced to, Judge Wilkins. He is a man of
great genius - almost insane - a young man, inclined to intemperance,
and too much of a jockey in his external appearance for the bench. He
possesses exhalted but eccentric talents. The presiding judge, Sibley,
is a rosy-cheeked, white-haired old man, about sixty-five years old. I
sat some time in the convention. They were debating on the mode of
carrying the constitution into operation, and there was much of the
irregularity visible which I have before noticed.
Judge Woodbridge, the son-in-law of McFingal, and formerly a
delegate in Congress, takes a prominent stand in the debates of the
convention. Although in the minority, he is listened to with great
deference and has done much good by cooling the ardor of those who, in
the pride of their authority, are inclined to crowd too much into their
pattern of a constitution, and bind the hands of future legislatures. He
is a man of acknowledged talents and parliamentary experience, having
commenced his career in the legislatures of Ohio. He speaks with great
earnestness and effect and with forcible enunciation, though his voice
is harsh and cracked. He is tall and bony, apparently about sixty years
of age; he has a gray head, rigid features, a round, good forehead, and
is exceedingly nervous. Governor Cass was present, among the spectators.
Returning, I peeped into the justice's court, where Mr. Cleland had
some business. The lawyers here are obliged to devote much time to these
small matters. Thence to the bookstore, where I read the addresses of
Governor Cass and Major Biddle before the Historical Society.
P.M. After dinner I called on Governor Cass, with my letter from Mr.
Hill. I found him at his friend, Mr. Trowbridge's, the cashier of the
Detroit bank, and very busy, engaged with his agents for paying the
Indians, so I did not trouble him long. He said he had not for twenty
years seen so many Indians together, that it reminded him of old times.
Of the French, he remarked that they were very easy to assimilate with
the Indians but never with the Americans. From this similarity of
character it happens that the Indians were also firmer friends of the
French than of the English. ( I afterwards called again at Mr. Cleland's
office, who has been very kind to me and wished me to write him. He
hasn't the physiognomy of a sociable man, that's certain, but it is
certain that his countenance belies him. He was the first editor of the
opposition paper here - is now extensively engaged in practice.)
Governor Cass is not tall but is full in figure, has a large head, hair
inclined to dark red, which is, I am told not his own, - he has a red
face and blue eyes - his cheeks are low and his face is widest at the
mouth, - it is large and stolid and a large mole at the left of his
mouth give it rather a singular appearance. He has not the appearance of
a man of great talents. This evening I took tea with Mr. Chandler, his
sister & partner & having taken leave, hurried on board after
the time appointed. Met Mr. Fletcher in as great haste as myself, who
fearing to be left behind had sent my "traps" on board with his own. But
when we were there we learnt that the machinery was out of order &
we should not get away till some time in the night. Our hotel here was a
good one, but their prices are very high - equal to anything in the
seaport cities. Rev. Mr. Cleveland came on board with a friend of his
old townsman. Mr. Chamberlain, formerly of Salem, now of Illinois, and a
nephew of my old capt. C. of Exeter. From them I learnt, with sincere
sorrow, of the death of the old Captain. Had a long talk with Mr.
Cleveland about the Chamberlain girls and a further conversation with
Mr. Chamberlain, discovered we had seen each other before - he being the
same who once paid a visit at Exeter and interested me very much with
some specimens of gold ore, he then residing in the Virginia gold
region. Mrs. Larned, with whom I took tea last Sunday, with her son and
two youngest daughters, are to accompany us to Cleveland on their way to
Kenyon College, which Sylvester intends to enter - he is a very fine
boy, tho' somewhat vain and has promised to write to me. We amused
ourselves as well as we could during the evening with backgammon and
checkers, tho' pestered as usual with the remarks and advice of the
bystanders. A son of the late Gov. Porter, a clever young man, a friend
of Larned's, spent the evening with us. I have seen his mother - she is
big as a hogshead.
23. Tues. Morning dawned - the steward rang his bell - I arose and
looked out still upon Detroit. This is vexatious. Ought to have left
yesterday morning, entered our name on board this boat in the evening -
two other boats have left in the meantime - but we remain.
There was no help for it, tho', so took one more walk in Detroit, in
company with Larned. Did not feel too bright, having been broken of my
rest, by the everlasting hammering on the machinery. Speaking of
Hoffman's letters from the West, Larned says that the anecdote Hoffman
relates of Gov. Cass, is true of his father - it certainly isn't of
Cass. The little streets on the river are lined with groceries, as is
usual in seaport towns - tho' I have seen not so much intemperance as
might reasonably have been expected.
Did not start till dinner time; about one. Now, tho' I should admire
to spend a day or two in Detroit, yet, when one expects to go at a
certain time, it is vexatious to be delayed.
From: JOURNAL OF CYRUS P. BRADLEY. Ohio Archaeological and Historical Publications 15 (1906): 263 -26
Twiss, George H. Introductory Note to Journal of Cyrus P. Bradley. Ohio Archaeological and Historical Publications 15 (1906): 207- 270.