This very interesting hand-written letter written by Sarah Brown McLean
to her mother Catherine, wife of the Rev. Daniel Brown. The letter has no envelope, but was folded and addressed to
Mrs. Catherine Brown, Randalsville, Robeson, N.C. Submitted by
Sandy Campbell of Nashville, Tennessee. Enjoy.
Posted January 28, 2001 by
Philadelphia May 15th, 1839
Knowing the anxiety you have in hearing from us, I embrace the present opportunity of writing to you.
We arrived at this city the 11th inst. in safety, without the least accident occuring. We are in good
health. We are boarding with Miss Jane Lucins, a lady with whom I am much pleased. She spares no pains
whatever to render us comfortable. She is indeed an exception amongst ladies. The rest of the family
including boarders are also very kind and obliging to us. Our board is five dollars each per week.
Washing, fuel and light extra. I stood the fatigue of traveling much better than I anticipated. We
spend a day and night in Washington. I went with Mr. McLean to see the Capitol. We first viewed the
rotunda or apartment in which the paintings are kept, the surrender of Cornwallis and his men. The
resignation of Washington together with many others were very striking. Jefferson is standing on a
high block of marble in the center of the room. He is painted black. The hall of representatives and
the senate hall are certainly magnificent. After viewing the building we walked to see the fish pond,
a circular place with water a few feet deep in which are living fish. Mr. McClain crumbled part of a
biscuit into the pond. A great many fish then came near the surface of the water, swimming and eating
the crumbs. We then walked around the enclosure, viewing the trees, shrubs and flowers of which there
were a great variety and most tastefully arranged. Sabbath morning we attended Mr. Barns' (church and
we were) much pleased with the sermon and singing. In the afternoon we attended the Friends meeting
which is the Quakers meeting. Heard a women preach, she made a great many good remarks.
Monday afternoon, we visited Peals museum in which are exhibited skins of animals from the mammoth down
to the smallest animal, fowls of all kinds, fish , reptiles, insects, shells, minerals, and the likenesses
of great men, a great many handsome flowers. I spent the evening very pleasantly viewing those objects.
Tuesday morning, we went to see the Chinese museum, in which were exhibited wax figures representing ladies
and gentlemen of the higher classes in China clad in their native splender and elegance, ornaments of various
kinds; caps, shoes, fans, lanterns, Japan and porcelain ware, many things too tedious to mention. I was
much pleased with a view of the Chinese museum. From thence we went to see the magnificent scripture
picture of the departure of the Israelites out of Egypt. This picture represents the dawn of day. In
the gate of his palaces is seen Pharaoh, standing under a superb canopy of peacock feathers, surrounded
by his court. Opposite to him are the two leaders, Moses and Aaron, directing the route of the Hebrews.
The tops of the palaces are crowded with Egyptians looking on. The representation was striking indeed.
From there, we went to the Sabbath School Union, we saw a great number of books. We went then to see
the printing presses and operation. There are eight presses belonging to the establishment. The presses
are __________ in motion by the power of steam. There were two at work while we were there. Ladies
attended to the work altogether. There were four ladies, two engaged at each press, one laying on the
paper, and the other removing it after it was printed just as fast as they could lay down and tick up.
Rode out in the afternoon to Fairmount. This mount is near Schuylhill River, nearly round and some
hundreds of feet wide. The space on top I should suppose to be some three of four acres. The hill or
mount itself is a beautiful prospect, but there is something more remarkable about the waterworks below.
Through the means of large wheels and syringes, the waters of the river are forced up to the top of the
mount, which is dug in large basins to contain the water. The water is there purified by charcoal and
carried by aquaducts through all parts of the city. This morning walked to Rondles(?) burying ground.
This is an enclosure of two or more acres. A great many are buried in it , tombstones of various sizes
and shapes throughout the enclosure, The surface of earth completely covered over with blue grass and
red clover, a choice selection of shrubs and flowers neatly arranged throughout the enclosure.
Dear mother, I must conclude , give my love to brother and sisters and any inquiring friends.
Affectionately your daughter,
S.B. McLean. (Sarah Brown )
(in another hand)
I can form no idea when we should probably return home. The General Assembly meets on
tomorrow at eleven o'clock. The church case has been decided in favor of the old school
in the court in Youth(?) The new school here are much dejected. We anticipated an harmonious meeting.
My love to all,
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