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Title: Letter from John Pettigrew to Charles Pettigrew, March 22, 1797: Electronic Edition.
Author: Pettigrew, John, 1779-1799
Funding from the University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill supported the electronic publication of this title.
Text transcribed by Bari Helms
Images scanned by Bari Helms
Text encoded by Brian Dietz
First Edition, 2005
Size of electronic edition: ca. 18K
Publisher: The University Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
© This work is the property of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text
The electronic edition is a part of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill digital library, Documenting the American South.
Languages used in the text: English
Revision history:
2005-07-25, Brian Dietz finished TEI/XML encoding.
Title of collection: Pettigrew Family Papers (#592), Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Title of document: Letter from John Pettigrew to Charles Pettigrew, March 22, 1797
Author: J Pettigrew
Description: 4 pages, 4 page images
Note: Call number 592 (Southern Historical Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
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Letter from John Pettigrew to Charles Pettigrew , March 22, 1797
Pettigrew, John, 1779-1799

Page 1
Orange County, University, March 22nd 1797

My Dear Father

Being convinced in my own contience that I have been too negligent with respect to writing you & especially the last time I must beg to apologize a little, and endeavour to convince you that it was not from a principle of ingratitude. I had but a few moments to write in and not having settled myself in any room was obliged to set down & write in the midst of a parcel of boys, who were making prodigious noise and inform you as well as I could of my arrival here; but I am affraid that you was hardly able to read it, & when you had read it, to understand its contents; which proceeded entirely from a hurry & the situation I was in with a parcel of boys who were jabbering around me a parcel of nonsense: it would even have puzzled a philosopher to have wrote anything with much accuracy, or to have produced many weighty arguments on any subject whatever; and more especially one who is a new hand at such business & one who never professed to be a proficient at it. Hereafter I shall endeavor to take more time & pains, in any performances of this nature for I consider it as one of the smallest tithes of gratitude that it is in my power to bestow at present, for the many & innumerable favours which I have been continually receiving from your hand ever since my existance; and which I hope I shall never be ungreatful for; if I was I should certainly incur the divine displeasure, and be punished hereafter according to my deeds. I have always looked upon ingratitude as one of the most unpardonable vices that ever governed the human breast, & which undoubtedly deserves the most severe punishment; & especially that of ingratitude or disobedience to parents, which certainly is much worse than ingratitude to an individual who may have done annother a kindness. Even the thoughts of ingratitude or disobedience to a parent who has [raised] one up from the cradle and supported him in his helpless infancy when he was not able to provide for himself, & must consequently have perished had it not been for the support of his parent or parents, and then after getting to the years of maturity to transgress the laws of humanity so far as to become ungreatful to a parent to whom he owes his support, & consequently his life,— "he would justly deserve to be put to death by the hand of the common executioner; for commiting so heinous a crime as an example to others who might follow his example; but I am certain if I should ever live to be so dissipated & wicked as to be guilty of either of those vices to such an affectionate father as you have been, if ever I gave myself time to reflect on my conduct & if it was not in my power to make amends for it, I should certainly be tempted to be my own executioner; which would be

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ading another crime of not less weight than the former, but upon reflection on my conduct, I should wish to know the debth of misery to which I must decend, to expiate for my guilt. But may God grant that I may never act so far contrary to the dictates of human reason, as even to commit such unpardonable crimes as those which I have above mentioned.
I have at last begun Geography which I am in hopes will prove much more pleasant than the study of the Languages, though what I mostly read is the examination, as I am told that it is a very difficulty thing to be examined on, there being so great a similitude between the several Countries that after geting through them it is difficult to recollect the particulars of every Country. I believe that there is nothing which has a greater tendency to enlarge or extend a persons ideas & prepare them for the study of the Sciences than this study. I learn Arithmetic and Geography together the one, one half of the day, & the other the other half of the day. They teach Guthries Grammar here, & I have furnished myself with one from Bentons store, which is now kept at this place, but the part which treats of America is thought to be very imperfect & they teach Morses American Geography in preference; so that I should be very glad if you would procure one & bring it with you when you come up.
As I expect this will be the last year of my continuing here, I shall endeavor to learn as much as I possibly can; which can only be attained by close application, & hard study. I know not what I shall study after July but that may be decided on when you come up.
I have never yet had an opportunity of making myself much acquainted with history, a thing which I have always thought to be very essentially necessary. The day after I left home namely thirsday I had the pleasure of arriving safe at Mrs Barnes's where I passed three days by far the most agreeable that I have seen since I left home, or expect to see before I return again. The Monday following, I set out for the University, & arrived there safe on Thirsday evening. We traveled very slow, & consequently the horses held out very well. The boy set out on his return the following day & am in hopes that he returned safe home.
Mrs R Barnes I believe has resigned the thought which she once entertained of going, & living, with her Aunt which I am very sorry for; even if it was only on my own account; for I am certain that I could never be otherways than happy in the presence of so amiable a Lady, & more especially one for whom I have such a singular regard. I am affraid that she is overpowered by the petitions of her Neighbours, & Slaves, who I believe are very desirous for her continuance which certainly is an excellent proof of her good qualities.
There is a Dancing School at this place; it commenced about six weeks ago. I have entered as a scholar, being desirous to become acquainted with so genteel an accomplishment; but I am affraid that there cannot be as much improvement derived from it as at some

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Schools where there are a genteel company of ladies and gentlemen, but here there are a number of Students subscribed & not any Ladies so that it certain that there would not be as much order & regularity, as if there were several decent ladies. Brother Ebenezer has not joined it but he will have opportunities enough hereafter & perhaps better than the present when he may be more at leasure. The terms are four dollars for six Months one upon entrance & the rest at the close of the session.
I very much dread the approach of warm weather on account of the chinches which are innumerable; I do really think that there are five times as many as there was last year, & then we were hardly able to rest for them so that we shall not want much bleeding; but we have no musquitoes which is one comfort, for if we had both our condition would be truly deplorable.
The quarterly Examination will begin on the eighth of next Month, & the semiannual at the usual time I suppose but the annual will begin on the 15th of November, according to the last regulation, & School will commence again 1st of Jan but I immagine that it might as well have been delayed untill the 15th as none of the boys would set out from home on Christmas day & that they would be obliged to do to get here at the appointed time, and especially those who live at a great distance off.
I should suppose it best to come up before the weather gets very warm, as it would answer the same purpose then & the journey would be rendered much more pleasant. Ebenezer desires you will bring up Greek Homer, the other books he will want may be got here full as cheap as any where else. I should also be very glad you would bring up the Cloth to make our clothes as that will be the only oportunity of getting it. I can get them made full as well here as down the country, & upon better terms.
[There] are [here] upwards of an hundred Students [unrecovered] they are all healthy. The Steward provides midling well.
I have a [great] propensity to spend the next year in [traveling] for I could never bear the thoughts of settling myself as it were in the one quarter of the Globe, without knowing any thing of foreign Countries. It is certain that much instruction may be acquired from books, but that cannot give one half as much satisfaction as which we gain from experience, as it is certain that experimental knowledge is far preferable to any knowledge that can be derived from books. It may very reasonably and justly be alleged that I m too young to travel & that the morals of youths at my age are two apt to be corrupted, which I must confess is very true but in the first place it must be considered that the dispositions of mankind are various, & I make no doubt but there are a great many who would get no improvement even if they were to travel all the world over but would contract such habits as would ever make them despicable & after getting their minds dissipated they could never settle themselves to business or be contented in their minds.

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But on the contrary I think that there are some who might travel as much as was necessary & after getting a sufficient knowledge of the world might return home, settle themselves, & become steady farmers or whatever profession they choose to follow. It is true that age, discernment, & steadiness, are three things very essentially necessary for a traveller to possess, but it certainly would be better for a person to set out upon his journey before he settled himself than afterwards. I have not room to say anything more upon this subject at present. I should be very glad to receive a letter for I have not heard one word from home since I left there, & I never was more anxious to hear in my life.
Please to give my duty to my Mother & my compliments to Mrs. Barnes if she is down.

I remain your dutiful Son

J Pettigrew.