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Gideon Bingham letters, 1840-1849

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This collection is made up of 6 letters that Gideon Bingham wrote to his brother Waldo between 1840 and 1847. Bingham described life at Yale College and in Richmond, Virginia; Washington, D.C.; and New Orleans, Louisiana. He discussed his job prospects, Southern customs, work as a traveling bookseller, and political issues (such as the proposed annexation of Texas).

This collection is made up of letters that Gideon Bingham wrote to members of his family between 1840 and 1849. In his letter of March 15, 1840, Bingham told his brother about a domestic altercation that he and a companion had witnessed; he also mentioned his studies, other students' increasing political awareness prior to the 1840 presidential election, and his resolution to oppose all political candidates who supported the right to slavery. From January 1844-May 1847, Bingham wrote from Richmond, Virginia (January 26, 1844, and February 15, 1845); Petersburg, Virginia (February 23, 1845); Washington, D.C. (January 10, 1845); Pittsburgh (November 25, 1845); Natchez, Mississippi (May 31, 1846); New Orleans, Louisiana (May 2, 1847); and Cincinnati, Ohio (September 30, 1849).

He often described the areas he was travelling through and referred to Southern social customs, such as the treatment of African Americans in Richmond and the city's fondness for public military displays. He noted African American musicians playing at a Washington Day parade in Petersburg, Virginia (February 23, 1845). He called New Orleans "a perfect babel of tongues & such a diversity of color & complexion you would look in vain for any where else," and he commented on burial practices in the city (May 31, 1846). His letters also pertain to political issues, such as local opinions regarding the proposed annexation of Texas. He also wrote about a judge who gambled on the 1844 presidential election (February 23, 1845) and matters relating to the United States War with Mexico (May 24, 1847). While living in the South, Bingham worked as a bookseller, often collaborating with "Mr. King." He commented on his business practices, calling on doctors and lawyers, occasionally the titles he was selling, and his observations while travelling. Bingham described a journey from Connecticut to Washington, D.C., and his sightseeing activities in the national capital, particularly with regard to paintings and sculpture. He also described a steam boat accident on the Mississippi River (May 31, 1846). In an undated letter, Bingham discussed his work presiding over a school in Orange County, New York.