By Curt Sanders
The first book of three on the courtship of Lizzie Andrews and Edward Jarvis Tenney, 14 and 16 years of age at the time (1850-52) - youthful 1st cousins living in Massachusetts during a fantastic time in American history. Although cousins (not unusual at the time) and young (youth were more mature in a lot of ways then), the letters are a true story view of the young lovers!
Although Lizzie and Edward were engrossed in a courtship in 1850, they did touch upon events surrounding them
- a mere 66 years after the Revolution; 36 years after the War of 1812; and two years after the Mexican-American War.
- Millard Fillmore was President, and the beginning of the Industrial Revolution.
- Edward made a note on women’s rights after hearing a woman publicly speak - only two years earlier the Seneca Falls New York congregation of women declared universal rights with men.
- Edward also attended a sermon by Octavious Brooks Frothingham (1822-1895) - a lesser known but historically significant abolitionist of slavery.
- Medicine was becoming more a science than philosophy. Lizzie’s brother was one of the first to be treated by the father of American
psychiatry, Dr. Luther V. Bell and his successor Dr. Chauncey Booth.
- Americans were starting to move West - Edward mentions the “Homestead Act” in 1851 (he probably meant the “Donation Land Claim Act of 1850” as the Homestead Act wasn’t enacted
- Also in 1850, the US 1850 Census was the first to give names and more detail on family units - a boon for us genealogists in the future.
- Edward attended a lecture by Edward Everett, that fellow who was well noted for his two-hour stem-winding beautiful orations and was the speaker before Abraham Lincoln at Gettysburg. Lincoln’s few minutes of dedication is remembered; Everett’s is a footnote of history!
Despite being a “guy” and not into romance narratives, I enjoyed reading this book. It was filled with history witnessed by the two young lovers. It made me realize that letter writing was an art then - contrasted with texting and email of today. I can’t wait to read Book Two!!