1838: Mott Titus to Dr. William Hooker

This letter was written by Mott Titus (1802-1861), the son of Samuel Jackson Titus (1759-1816) and Ruth Amelia Titus (1760-1804). Mott was married to Maria Dean (1806-1836) and the couple had at least five children before her death in 1836.

Mott Titus Gravestone

Mott Titus Gravestone

Titus, a farmer and sheep breeder, purchased an improved farm near the East Fork of the Little Miami River two miles from Batavia, Clermont County, Ohio, which matches the location of the one he describes in this letter, viz: 20 miles from Cincinnati and 10 miles from the Ohio River. He came from Dover, Dutchess County, New York, where he was active in politics. An article appearing in the National Advocate (30 January 1824) shows him attending a “Dutchess County Republican Convention” in Poughkeepsie. [Similar articles appearing in 1823 and 1825.] In 1840, in Ohio, newspaper articles indicate that he continued to participate in what was, by then, the Democratic Party and actively attempting to influence readers that William Henry Harrison (the Whig Candidate) was “really a superannuated old man, incapable of even thinking or acting for himself…”

Titus wrote the letter to Dr. William Hooker (1788-1853) of South Dover, Dutchess County, New York. William was married to Amelia Stanley (1792-1885) in Hartford, Connecticut in 1814. Both William and Amelia are buried in South Dover.

TRANSCRIPTION
Addressed to Dr. William Hooker, South Dover, New York

Bloomingburgh [Ohio]
July 18, 1838

Dear Sir,

I have been thinking for some time that there is much truth in an old proverb I have somewhere seen, the substance of which is, “that whatever you would finish, you must first begin.”

So much I wrote last evening, but my attention being called to something else for a few minutes, I formed the sage conclusion that if I deferred writing until tonight, I should have one day’s history the less to put in my next. “Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow,” says Shakespeare, and I confess I have a ad habit of procrastination in my correspondence. I hope I may someday get the better of it, but having no inward assurance of being able to follow my own convictions of right in this particular, I shall make no promises for the future. This letter is begun, and as every body knows that the beginning of a letter is the most difficult part of the whole performance, I think there is a fair probability that it may be finished.

We got here the 23d October — 16 days on the journey and the weather most of the time pleasant. 20 hours on the lake, the wind moderate and just swell enough to delight the children by the pleasant motion it gave the boat, and make them all sick in less than an hour after leaving the harbor. I had 15 under my care and besides myself, there was only one who escaped sees sickness. Altogether our passage was a very pleasant one and we reached our destination without accident and in good health.

If the past is a safe criterion by which to judge of the future, the day is not far distant when Ohio will rank second to no state in the union. The first white settlement within her borders was made in 1788 and now after the lapse of less than 50 years, her population is estimated at one & a half millions. She has 450 miles of Canal completed & in operation & 300 miles under contract to be finished in 1839. Besides these are the Pennsylvania and Ohio, Sandy and Beaver, and Hocking Valley Canals now progressing under the direction of incorporated companies aided by the State, which when completed will make more than 1000 miles of inland navigation to say nothing of many proposed works of a similar nature which will no doubt be eventually carried into operation. In addition, her wholeNorthern-Southern & Southeastern borders are washed by navigable waters. With an inexhaustible supply of the most valuable mineral products — such as Iron, Coal, and Salt — and with the capacity to support from the productions of her own soil a more dense population than any other state, I think there is little hazard in saying that Ohio possesses more of the self creating and self sustaining elements of future greatness than any other territory of equal extent on the face of the globe.

In regard to the climate, I am confident in the belief that it is milder than in the same latitude east of the Allegheny’s. This is denied by many but that it is true in respect to four-fifths of the state, or that part of it which slopes toward the Ohio River, I have no doubt. The author of a Gazetteer lately published attributed it, and I think rightly, to the influence of the wind, which he says almost uniformly blows from the west & southwest. My own observation so far corroborates his assertion, and indeed the great valley of the Mississippi opening as it does to the Southwest seems to indicate that as its natural direction. This winter has been very mild. We have had several falls of snow, but the greatest depth has not been more than 2 or 3 inches and it disappears almost as soon as a heavy frost. The canal from Circleville to the [Ohio] River is open and has been all winter with the exception of about a week in December.

I have been looking for a farm and found one that suited me very well but am not yet able to say that I have purchased. The owner wants to sell and told me his price but wished before selling to consult his family, a part of whom were absent. He is to write to me as soon as he can. It is about 20 miles from Cincinnati in a well improved and thickly settled country. I think it is better improved than any part of Ohio I have seen and land sells at from 8 to 30 dollars an acre. Two macadamized turnpikes are making from Cincinnati to different points passing through or near this neighborhood and the Ohio River is within 10 miles. I have no doubt the country would suit you if you should be inclined to look at it. The land is level, rolling, or hilly, whichever you would prefer, and well watered.

I think I mentioned to you when I was out last fall that a neighbor of mine wanted to hire $3000. He wants it still and from his anxiety to make the loan, I think it probable he is hard pressed. He has not told me what interest he would be willing to pay, but 10 percent is quite common and probably he would give it. I believe he can give good security. There is no money to be let here and he wished me to write to some of my acquaintances at the East in hopes that it might be obtained there. I shall write to no one but you for I presume no one not intending to live here would wish to invest their funds here. It would oblige him, I suppose, to know soon and if you should happen to be disposed to make the loan, state the time with the rate of interest. A long loan would suit him best.

New York then has gone for the Whigs. I was prepared for a falling off in the Administration majority, but at such an overwhelming defect, such a complete revolution, I was perfectly astonished. I had hoped for more stability but I have learned before now how easy it is to be mistaken in forming our estimates of the political firmness and integrity of the great mass of the people. Men change their opinions and say it is the effect of principle, and so it is, but not always of that principle which is founded in a sense of moral obligation. With a majority, it is the effect of that principle which originates in self interest, and if a candidate for popular favor can make such men believe that his elevation will put a shilling in their pocket, they will vote for him as an act of duty. Their principle requires that they should get the shilling, and their notions of patriotism go no farther.

I wish you would write soon and let me know what you intend to do with yourself for the future. Ohio is filling up so fast that unless you come soon, there may be some difficulty in finding a place to squeeze in.

— M. Titus


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