Document 10:

Author: Mary Fletcher Kellogg

Recipient: James Harris Fairchild

Date: 16 March 1840

Location: Oberlin College Archives, James H. Fairchild Papers. Series III Courtship Correspondence,

1771-1926, RG 2/003.

Document Type: Transcript (1939) Autograph Letter, Signed by Author.



In this letter from Mary to James, two years after they began their correspondence, she replies to a comment he made in a previous letter that she did not write him as often as he wrote her. This, and the fact that Mary’s letters tended to be shorter, were recurring complaints of James’, and here Mary teasingly rebukes him for that. Though her rebuke certainly reflects the fact that women were expected to be more restrained, her commentary also reveals that she believes James is superior to her, and that she welcomes this fact. Although Mary’s pursuit of her education underscores her determination and desire for self improvement, the following excerpt reveals that she still believes that men are, and should be, superior to women.




Minden, March 16th, 1840.

Dearest James,

I have just been looking over the letters I have received from you. They are 33 in number, more than I expected to find. I am quite sure I have never written so many and<,> yet<,> am not aware of any individual one remaining una<ns>wered, until the two which I have received the present month of Jan. 11th and Feb. 8th. But what if you have written the most or the best? No one expects from a lady what they do from a gentleman. They are not proper subjects of comparison. Perhaps<,> you will fear the res<ult> of a confident belief in such a sentiment. I admit the evil tendency of it, yet will steel myself against its influence. I love you<,> that you are superior to and more worth<y> than I am. Did you stand upon an equal footing<,> and placed with regard to myself in the situation your are, I could but hate you…



Transcribed by Rebecca Debus.