1821: David Mack to John Adams Warner

“West College” — the dormitory at Williams College where sophomore student David Mack no doubt penned this letter in 1821.

This letter was written by David Mack (1804-1878), the son of Gen. David Mack (1778-1854) and Independence Pease (1776-1809). David attended Williams College in the class of 1823, but graduated at Yale College, 1823.

David Mack studied law with his uncle, Judge Mack, of Salem, Mass., and for a time in the Yale Law School, and began the practice of the profession in Andover, Mass., but found it so distasteful to his sensitive nature that he early abandoned it for the vocation of a teacher. A special faculty for imparting knowledge made him unusually successful in his work. He was the principal of the Friends’ Academy, in New Bedford, Mass., from December, 1831, to May, 1836, and was married in 1835 to Lucy M. K. Brastow, also a teacher. He next with his wife’s assistance conducted a boarding and day school for young ladies in Cambridge, Mass., which was very successful until, in 1841-2, his desire to assist making Christianity a practical part of every-day life induced him to join an ” Industrial and Educational Association,” in which all the participants were to have equal advantages. Disappointed in the working of this intended reform, Mr. Mack and his wife opened in 1847 another boarding school for young ladies, about three miles from Cambridge, in that part of Watertown which is now Belmont. This also was very prosperous for some years.

During the Civil War, Mack was so desirous to serve his country in some way that he went to South Carolina as a teacher of the contrabands, the abolition of slavery having been for years one of his most ardent desires. In the last few years he remained in Belmont, suffering from heart-disease, of which he died, in that town, July 24, 1878, surrounded by his family—his wife, an only son, who is a physician in Atlanta, Ga., and two surviving daughters. Source: Yale Obituary Record

Mack humorously mentions getting whipped in a cricket match in this letter but says that the boys went to Buckley’s tavern afterward and got “high as ten on eggnog.”

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Addressed to Mr. John A. Warner, Student at Dartmouth University, Hanover, New Hampshire

Williams College
May 6th 1821

Their very humble servant David Mack to Messrs. Jonathan Walter Dandolo Osgood, John Adams Warner with endearing sentiments of College fellowship and the brotherly love of classmates, sendeth [initials??]


I delayed hitherto the answering your kind letter for various reasons. And first to thee, John, will I confess my sins and my transgressions. When I beheld that sentence in thy epistle to Chum John which saith, “If friend Mack has not forgotten that such a person as John A. Warner yet lives, I should like to have him answer my letter.” Nay friend John, I had not forgotten thee. Can a mother forget a sucking child, that she should not recollect him that entereth her womb? Yea, she may forget, yet shall I not forget thee, If I doubt my hand- [a line of the letter is cut away]. The truth is, I received yours a very short time before the close of the term — so little time before it that I was unable to forward an answer. I concluded I would wait until I should have such opportunity. But when it came your letter was laid aside with such as I had answered, and had forgotten that there had been any other correspondence between us than a mutual promise to correspond. I had not learnt where you was but a few days before yours was received. Yet I had intended to write by next mail but postponed for reason which I shall explain upon the next page. Believe me, my friend, the above-mentioned reasons are candid facts.

You have probably been informed that D. Dickinson is now in Hadley. We yesterday had a meeting of Sophomore & Freshman Classes and chose Thomas Allen [to be our] orator for the 4th of July in the year of our Lord 1821. Chum told you about the Exhibitors for August from our Class & the Juniors. In the Logian [Philologian] Society, those that he informed you were candidates were chosen, but in the other society, the other two were elected. But Niles was struck out by means of the Seniors & Freshman and [Andrew] Tracy elected. Every Soph-Technian — Tracy excepted — took a dismission from society the next day. The Seniors coaxed and flattered, threatened to fine, expel, &c. if they did not attend, but finding the old spirit of our [line cut away]. Yesterday the Juniors met & chose new Exhibitors for the Junior & Sophomore Exhibition (as the Adelphic Union Exhibition was broken up by the dismissions). We also met, voted we would have such an Exhibition sent a Committee, together with the Juniors, are to have an answer tomorrow night, which will without doubt be ye D. Mack.

Friend Osgood,

I will now state the reasons why until this day I have postponed writing to yourself & Co. It is that by so doing, I might be able to give the Senior appointments which one Glory for the Logian Society.

E. Davis, Valedictory
L. Field, Saluditory
E. Clapp, Philosophical
S. N. Shepherd & Jacob Catlin, Orators
F. Cannon, Greek Oration
E. Koot & W. P. Kitteridge, E. Orations
E. Coe and Erastus C. Benedict, E. Orations Dialog ____

A. Tracy and W. Tileston, Disputants
C. L. Y_____, O.S. Ells, E. Clapp, and A. Domeroy, Conference

Stone has taken a dismission for one year. Sedgewick, Sabin, Betts, Burt. Extemporaneous Disappointments. Sedgewick made considerable difficulty throughout his Junior appointment which is thought to be the reason he did not get an oration, which it is said his talents merit. We had a good time in clearing off the chipps a few days ago — finished before noon, challenged the East College [dormitory] a game of cricket, got most cursedly beat 185 to 135. Went to Buckley’s [afterwards] — got high as ten upon eggnog.

Yours with sentiments of affection. Be so good as write soon. — D. Mack

P. S. Although the greater part of this letter is addressed to Warner, I consider it equally written to both. In the Junior Class, they have chosen for Junior & Senior Exhibition, Webster, 1st Orator, Huxley 2d; Technions, P. Field, 1st Orator, Lee 2d

Morey writes the dialogue. Hyde speaks it with him. Morey rejoined college 2 or 3 weeks ago. I should be happy to receive from you both letters & soon.

N.B. Do inform me who is likely to fill the Presidential Chair at Dartmouth.

  • Jonathan Walter Dandolo Osgood, A. M. the son of the Rev. Jonathan and Orange (Wadsworth) Osgood, was born at Gardner, Ms, July 29, 1802. He studied medicine at the University of Penn. and at Dartmouth Medical College graduating M. D. at the last in 1826; went into practice at Templeton, Massachusetts, in Dec. 1827; and then moved to Greenfield, Massachusetts in June 1858. He married, 1. Eliza, daughter of Lewis Barnard of Worcester, Massachusetts, in June 1834. 2. Mima Florella, daughter of Dr James Stone of Phillipston, Ms, June 26, 1838.
  • Andrew Tracy

    Andrew Tracy (December 15, 1797 – October 28, 1868) was a United States Representative from Vermont. He was born in Hartford, Vermont. He attended Royalton and Randolph Academies, and also Dartmouth College in Hanover, New Hampshire for two years. He taught school, studied law, was admitted to the bar in 1826 and commenced practice in Quechee, Vermont. He moved to Woodstock, Vermont in 1838 and continued the practice of law. Tracy was member of the Vermont House of Representatives 1833-1837. He served in the Vermont Senate in 1839 and was an unsuccessful candidate for election in 1840 to the Twenty-seventh Congress. He was again a member of the Vermont House of Representatives 1843-1845 and served as speaker. He was elected as a Whig to the Thirty-third Congress (March 4, 1853 – March 3, 1855). He declined to be a candidate for renomination in 1854 to the Thirty-fourth Congress and resumed the practice of his profession. He died in Woodstock, Vermont in 1868 and was buried in Old Cemetery on River Street.

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