Tuesday, December 1, 2015

Tour of America

Opening page form John Tawse's journalOn Monday, July 1st, 1839, John Tawse and George Lyon set off from Edinburgh on a journey to America. They were representing the Society in Scotland for Propagating Christian Knowledge and their mission was to investigate Moor's Indian School located on the Dartmouth College campus. The Society had been a major source of funding for the school since Eleazar Wheelock founded Moor's in 1754. The pair produced a published report of their investigation, but it is the unpublished journal kept on the voyage by John Tawse that provides an intimate account of the impressions of the two rather stodgy travelers.

Tawse filled 260 pages in his journal, drew a map of their travels, and even created an index so he could easily refer back on his reflections. Most of the journal is dedicated to describing the places and people they met, but he occasionally launched into impassioned discourses on subjects he found most interesting. There is a diatribe against slavery and another on the treatment of people of color in free states, a long description of the American system of government, a section on the Oneida Indians, and a odd passage about American women's lack of beauty (no symmetry of form!). For the most part he is curious, morally judgmental, and somewhat in awe of the grandeur of the country.

Index to John Tawse's journal
His visit to Hanover gets scant coverage. He arrived quite ill, was treated by Doctor Oliver Wendell  Holmes, who taught at the Dartmouth Medical School from 1838-1841, and then spent the rest of his short stay meeting with President Lord and inspecting the school.

To see his journal, ask for Codex MS 003114

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