1833: Edward Dickinson to Dr. Harry H. Niles

Edward Dickinson

This letter was written by Edward Dickinson (1803–1874) was an American politician from Massachusetts. He is best known as the father of the poet Emily Dickinson; their family home in Amherst, the Dickinson Homestead, is now a museum dedicated to her.

Dickinson was born in Amherst, Massachusetts, where he attended public schools and the Amherst Academy. He graduated from Yale College in 1823 and studied at Northampton Law School in Northampton, Massachusetts. He was admitted to the bar and commenced practice in Amherst in 1826. On May 6, 1828 he married Emily Norcross Dickinson (1804–1882); they had three children, William Austin, Emily Elizabeth, and Lavinia Norcross.

Dickinson’s home in Amherst.

Dickinson served as treasurer of Amherst College from 1835 until 1837. He was then elected a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives 1838–1839, served in the Massachusetts Senate in 1842–1843, and was a member of the Governor’s Council 1846–1847. He then was elected as a Whig to the United States Congress 1853-1855, declined to be a candidate for the Republican nomination of Lieutenant Governor in 1861, and was again elected a member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives in 1873. Dickinson died in Boston on June 16, 1874 and is buried in Amherst’s West Cemetery.

I believe the second part of the letter was written by Doctor Reuben Underwood (1805-1871).

The letter was sent to Dr. Henry H. Niles (1807-Aft1880), a graduate from Dartmouth Medical college who practiced medicine in Thetford, Vermont, from 1831 until 1881. He was an acknowledged leader as well in social and political affairs as in his profession. He was one of the original members of the Congregational church, of which he was deacon for eleven years. He served as representative three terms, and in the state senate in 1870-71.

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Addressed to Doct. H. H. Niles, Thetford, Vermont

Amherst [Massachusetts]
January 22, 1833

My Dear Sir,

Some few weeks since I inquired of Doct. R. Underwood whether he knew any young physician who had had a little practice, who would like to find a good place for business. He named you & said he would write to you in relation to the town of Monson — twenty-five miles from this place where they are desirous of procuring some young man of your profession to settle, & where good encouragement might be expected. Your letter, in reply to Doct. U.’s was received yesterday & shown to me, in which you seem to think it would not be advisable, situated as you are, to leave your present location.

As I am considerably acquainted in Monson, & have many friends there, & have been written to on the subject of a physician, I have thought it might have some influence upon your mind to be a little more informed in relation to the town of Monson. It contains a population of more than 2000 — has three considerable manufacturing establishments, a very flourishing academy, several stores, and is a place of very considerable business, & wealth. The town is large in extent, & many of the people are enterprising, & a large portion in good circumstances, & good paymasters. The town also is in a very flourishing state — improving in buildings & increasing in business, & wealth, and a young man who is possessed of good principles & good habits, good character, & who will try to rise in his profession will be assisted & encouraged — and will be aided in ever way he can desire. There is now there an old physician in whom but few have any confidence, & a younger man whose health is such that he is unable to do all that is required of him, and I am informed thinks of relinquishing the profession. The towns in the vicinity are not well supplied with skilful physicians, and a young man of talents & your attainments can, in a short time, have a good ride in the neighboring towns.

The means of education are very good — a good academy and other schools, & a College in this town, which is now in a very flourishing state, & the means of support here cheap. Monson is the next in importance to the County town & the place of business, second to none in the County but Springfield.

Under these circumstances, I wish, if you should be disposed, you would visit Monson. The stage comes directly to Amherst, and if you will come, I will try to accompany you to Monson & introduce you to the business men. I think if you could see the place & the people, you would be disposed to make some little sacrifice of property to remove, because, if once in Monson, I think you would make it a permanent location & find it a desirable place to live.

I hope you will yet think it all _____ to make a visit to Monson — & come immediately. You can make arrangements after seeing the place to come a little while hense to stay, if you choose. Will you write immediately whether you will come & when.

Doct. Underwood will add what he thinks proper to this letter. Nary apology is necessary for my addressing you. It is ____ in the interest which I feel in finding my friends a god physician.

Yours with esteem, — Edward Dickinson

January 22, 1833
Friend Niles,

My friend, Mr. Dickinson, has thought proper to write you again on the subject upon which I addressed you, stating more minutely what you might reasonably have in prospect in case you should go to Monson. Mr. Dickinson is much interested in the business from the fact that his father-in-law lives in Monson and he has some idea of removing thither himself (By the way, this father-in-law and his three brothers are wealthy enough to buy a common township.) I am considerably acquainted with Monson and think Mr. Dickinson has not over rated its advantages or attractions, to say nothing in addition to what I have heretofore written to you. I would not wish to influence you otherwise than by facts. Of the course most proper for you to pursue, you can best judge. I do not recollect that I formed any decided opinion of Tyler’s capabilities (as I was not much acquainted with him). I did, however, of yours. I do not send to Vermont because we have not young doctors enough in Massachusetts but, because I think you are the man for the place, and I happen to have it in my power to introduce any one whom I can recommend.

Yours sincerely, — Underwood

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