Letter from Pete Whetstone [1]

Devil's Fork of Little Red, Sept 12, 1841.

My Dear Mr. Editor.— Well, it has been a long time since I writ you. The truth is, it has been a tight time on us herecrups burn't up and money scarce. The Govenor is death agin the Bank, and the Banks say they darsent lend any more ; so twixt them and the Governor, it is hard times. The way, too, they shave Arkansas money is sinful. But then we thought we were going to have better times, until the veto [2] come. I reckon I never seed jist such a fuss. The dimicrats shouted for Tyler, and the whigs were wrathy. Sam Jones said he ought to have the witch weed used on himSquire Long said he want to blame for his conscience would not let him sign it ; but Mr. Thompson, the school-master, said d__n his conscience, for he had read of one Sir Purty-nax Mac Siccofant, who had been in Parlyment nigh on thirty years, and never heard of such a word.

Never mind, they say the Land Bill will pass, and that is gwine to do us a heap of good,and we have had late rains, and the way there will be a big mast is no boddy's business.

There have been lots of quarter races on the Barren Fork ;one party smashed right open. They say they bribed the other side, and then were flung off.Where is old Boston? Aint he coming out to Kentucky ? That is the place for him. If he can lay Wagner, the truck can be walked off with.

Bill Spencer and Dan Looney have a great team of Bar dogs. They expect tall fighting this Fall. We had a round t'other day with an old she pantherit want no fightthey waded right through her.

Jim Cole has gone over to the War Eagle to try to wring in a bite on Piney-wood Smith. Piney is not soft, but Jim has old Bullet-neck, and if he lumbers, the truck is his.

Bill Spence has quit drink, and taken to hard work.

Ever yours.

Pete Whetstone


Source: New York Spirit of the Times 11.32 (9 Oct. 1841): 378.

Joe Essid, UR English Department, prepared this transcript.

[1] Humorist Charles F.M. Nolan wrote under this pseudonym; in all he published 45 such letters in Porter's Spirit (Cohen and Dillingham 117).

[2] On August 16, 1841, John Tyler vetoed a bill to re-charter the Bank of the United States (Monroe 100). This act enraged other Whigs, especially Henry Clay and his followers who had supported the bank. The effect of Tyler's action was dramatic, and "[a]s news of the veto slowly spread through the country, the Whig rank and file replied with threats and outrage. Effigies of Tyler were hung and burned" (Monroe 101).

Works Cited:

Cohen, Hennig and William B. Dillingham, eds. Humor of the Old Southwest. 3rd ed. Athens: U of Georgia P, 1994.

Monroe, Dan. The Republican Vision of John Tyler. College Station: Texas A&M P, 2003.

We would like to thank the staff of the Library of Virginia Archives and Special Collections, Alderman Library, and Barrett Collection for their assistance. This page contains material in the public domain and it may be reproduced in its entirety or cited for courses, scholarship, or other non-commercial uses. We ask that users cite the source and support the archives that have provided materials to the Spirit site.