1834: J. K. Evans to Mary (Evans) Troth

A commemorative coin distributed by the Whigs following their 1834 Election Victory

I am hopeful that readers will help me confirm the identity of these corespondents. The author of the letter signed his name by initials only which appear to be “J. K. E.” and it’s clear that he resides in Baltimore and that his father is still living there as well.

The letter is addressed to Mrs. Mary Troth of Philadelphia whom he calls his “sister” so I can only assume that her surname began with an “E” and that she was a native of Baltimore herself. Another clue to her identity is the “Care of Henry Troth & Co.” that is added to her address at 224 Market Street. Henry Troth (1794-1842) did indeed operate a wholesale drug business at this address but his wife’s name wasn’t Mary. However, I found that Henry’s younger brother, Samuel Fothergill Troth (1801-1885), was a parter with his brother in the firm at this time and that he was married to a woman named Mary, born in Maryland about 1805, according to the 1850 Census. The identity of this woman named Mary varies in genealogy records, however. One claims her name to have been Mary Ann Evans, which would be consistent with the initials of her brother in Baltimore.

The letter suggests that Mary Troth was already raising sons and daughters by the time this letter was written in 1834. The 1850 census shows a 19 year-old daughter named Elizabeth in the household. The next child, Anna, was not born until about 1840 though, which is a very large gap between the births of children for a woman of child-bearing age at that time. My assumption is that there were children born between the two girls mentioned — probably boys — who did not survive until 1850.

Reverse side of same 1834 commemorative coin

There were Baltimoreans named Evans with first names like John and Joseph listed in the Baltimore Directory of 1834 who may have been the author of this letter. I was unable to find any contemporary newspaper articles identifying someone with those initials involved in Whig political activities, however.

The lack of author identity confirmation does not detract from the magnificent content of this letter which boastfully proclaims a glorious upset victory by the newly formed Whig Party over the long-domineering and authoritarian Democratic administration led by Andrew Jackson whom opponents derisively dubbed “King Andrew.”

The 10 October 1834 issue of the Baltimore Patriot printed the following article which corroborates the mood of this letter’s author:

“The Whigs triumph in this city is hailed with the greatest joy in the Eastern cities. The Philadelphia National Gazette says — ‘Baltimore stands “redeemed, regenerated, and disenthralled.” Great credit is due to the energy and patriotism of the Whigs of that city.” The New York American says “the first gun has been fired in Baltimore,” and we have a letter from New York before us, which says — “your victory in Baltimore is just received — the Whigs are all in high glee — it fell like a clap of thunder upon the Jacksonians, and as the news spread from the Post Office, hundreds of them were seen retreating to their dens in and about the custom-house.”

The Whig Banner mentioned in this letter may well have been one described in contemporary newspaper articles as one that was a present from the ladies of Baltimore on which was inscribed, “Our Country, Constitution and Laws.”  These words ring consistent with the sentiments of the enthusiastic Whig supporter who penned this letter.

Stampless Cover

TRANSCRIPTION

Addressed to Mrs. Mary Troth, Care of Henry Troth & Co., 224 Market Street, Philadelphia

Baltimore [Maryland]
October 7, 1834
One day after the glorious victory

My Dear Sister Mary,

Page 1

It will no doubt surprise a lady to be addressed with what I intend a description of our great & glorious Whig victory, but, as it is necessary for a voter to have a mother, among his other qualifications, and as the mother generally exercises an important control over the minds of her children — both male and female, it is necessary that she should be imbued with a little of the zeal of a Whig, so as to encourage her rising sons to pursue that path which alone will continue to keep our glorious constitution on its original bases, and the laws emanating from that constitution to be respected and obeyed. Yesterday was a proud day for our little monumental city, and I am happy in saying that my gloomy anticipations were not realized. The polls were opened at the usual hour and so great was the anxiety of all concerned to get their votes register early in the day lest some unforeseen occurrence such as death by making divers causes, should prevent them, if they delayed, that in two hours after the polls opened one half the voting was done. The greatest order prevailed throughout the day, and both parties acknowledge that they have never witnessed a more orderly, or quiet election, than the well contested one we had yesterday. It was an election of principle against unhallowed power — and principle prevailed.

Page 2

The first five wards of the city — the district (mis?) represented by Isaac McKim ¹ in Congress gave a majority of 219 votes against executive usurpations, the illegal seizure of the public monies, and the detested doctrines of the protest. The total majority of the city in favor of a more efficient “reform” than that promised by the “Old man” (or boy) is 314, which shows a gain on our side since last election of nearly 1000 votes. Does this not tell the “Powers that be” in more emphatic language than we used when they sent the “protest” for the inspection of the people that we hold no such doctrines as they are pleased to dictate, but that the people define for their selves the meaning of the great charter of their liberties.

Our political opponents retained a cheerful expression of countenance throughout the day, and bet confidently in heavy amounts on the success of their candidates, but the Knight of the “rueful visage” paid them a sympathizing visit ere the watchman had cried “past 9 o’clock.” Indeed, I pity them on account of their mortification. They are so unused to defeat, have so long been the victors, that now the change depresses them beyond calculation. Poor Galled jades! They have not even the stimulus of the “Yellow Jackets” to destroy the effects of their iron collars. They have heretofore hugged their chains in ecstasy because they were gilded chains. But now they feel their sores because they are beaten an have foolishly parted with the “gold” — the only salve that could keep them easy. They have lost their party and have lost their money too.

Page 3

As soon as the result of the election was known, the Whig banner — which had been deposited in the Chronicle office — was brought into Market Street & sent forward to the residence of our principle candidate, followed by about 4000 Whigs. Other processions then took place and kept up the joyous uproar until 3 this morning. Some of the Whigs have been in ecstasy ever since, and all of them look happy. The barbers have been obliged to obtain recruits of journeyman & razors, and have agreed among themselves to shave the Hickory’s at so much per square foot. Their faces look as long as a barn door and they are  so ashamed of them that it is a difficult affair to find one in the street.

I feel nervous with excitement and two days severe labour in the cause, and must therefore conclude with love to all folks, and with best wishes for the success of the Philadelphia Whigs.

Thy affectionate brother, — J. K. E.

To say that Father voted is to say he was well enough to be about.

FOOTNOTES

Isaac McKim

¹ Isaac McKim, (1775-1838), a Representative from Maryland; born in Baltimore, Md., July 21, 1775; attended the public schools; engaged in mercantile pursuits; served in the War of 1812 as aide-de-camp to Gen. Samuel Smith; member of the State senate from December 4, 1821, until January 8, 1823, when he resigned; elected as a Republican to the Seventeenth Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Samuel Smith; elected as a Jackson Republican to the Eighteenth Congress to fill the vacancy caused by the resignation of Representative-elect Samuel Smith and served from January 4, 1823, to March 3, 1825; a director of the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad Co. from 1827 until 1831; elected as a Jacksonian to the Twenty-third and Twenty-fourth Congresses and reelected as a Democrat to the Twenty-fifth Congress and served from March 4, 1833, until his death in Baltimore, Md., on April 1, 1838; interment in the burying ground of St. Paul’s Church. — Biographical Directory of the U.S. Congress

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