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‘Politicks Avaunt’: Thomas Hayes Shines a Light on the Petticoat Affair

It’s clear that the Barry-Hayes Papers collection, owned and housed by Independence Seaport Museum, offers a unique perspective on the early nineteenth-century shipping trade in America. Occasionally in the course of transcribing these fascinating documents we come across one that also has the potential to serve as primary source material for the biography of a famous American or some topic in American political history. Here I’d like to report on a letter I recently transcribed which will be of great interest to scholars of the Jacksonian era in American politics. (Take a look at it here.) It also includes a reflection on the final years of the namesake of a major thoroughfare in South Philadelphia, and quirky riddle for you to solve.

Series X, Letter 23.
Top of “Letter, To: Isaac Austin Hayes and Patrick Barry Hayes, From: Thomas Hayes, June 8, 1831”.

The Namesake

In 1831 brothers Isaac Austin and Patrick Barry Hayes were in Brazil using their maritime skills and connections to run an import/export business. Their elder brother Thomas Hayes occasionally wrote from Philadelphia with news of home, and several of his communications are gathered in Series X, the papers of Isaac Austin Hayes. Thomas’ letter of June 8, 1831, was an especially long one, full of news of friends and acquaintances both prominent and obscure.
Among his famous relations was Commodore William Bainbridge, naval hero of the War of 1812, and father of his wife Susan. Commodore Bainbridge had his share of ups and downs throughout his four decades of service, and at the time of this letter he had recently suffered the double shock of the death of his only son and his abrupt removal from duty after a brief disagreement with the current Secretary of the Navy, John Branch. In this passage, Thomas refers to his father-in-law as “the old gentleman” as he provides for posterity a first-person account of the famous naval pioneer’s decline:

poor Mr Bainbridge died last friday and was buried on Sunday. This event has caused much affliction in the Commodres family, and join’d together with his late unceremonious dismissal from the Command of this Station, weighs heavily on the old gentleman, and I should not be at all astonish’d if it seriously affects his health, which you well know, was already seriously impair’d.

Politicks Avaunt!

Secretary Branch figured into another major event of the Spring of 1831 mentioned in script by Thomas Hayes, this time receiving explicit mention of his role in the controversy. President Andrew Jackson was at the time suffering the political fallout of his non-adherence to the mores of Washington society, a tidal wave of opposition culminating in the resignation of his entire cabinet in what is now commonly referred to as “The Petticoat Affair”. Branch was one of the ministers who demonstrated his support for Vice-President John C. Calhoun by stepping down, but Branch’s public and private correspondence from the period directly following the cabinet crisis suggests that the circumstances of his resignation were not so clear cut. Thomas Hayes refers to Branch’s letters and the tense relations between the Secretary and the Jackson camp in this excerpt:

The Jackson cause is falling fast. Don’t think I say so because I am anti jackson, but tis really the case. Many of his original friends have left his ranks and are hurraing for Clay now. This of course was to have been expected but the recent resignation of his entire Cabinet has caus’d all his friends to open the […missing word…] Some letters letters that have pass’d between Mr Branch ex Secretary of the Navy and his friends in North Carolina seem to implicatey that the President wanted him to go further in forwarding his views, than the laws of honor would prompt him. Politicks avaunt…

Series X, Letter 23.
Politicks Avaunt!

The Riddle

And occasionally in the course of transcription work some word or phrase will appear that is so odd that it stops the whole endeavor in its tracks. Not just illegible—which is all too common—but odd! In the following passage Thomas is thanking his brothers for a “likeness” of themselves that they sent home to Philadelphia:

We never until yesterday recv’d the box containing the birds and illusting likeness, which I believe was forwarded some time last December. We all think the likeness excellent. lufwa der sreksihw dna riah. the old lady I believe has already shewn to all friends far and near Tommy Natt with his der eson now has it expos’d in his window and has promis’d mother that it shall be fram’d by tomorrow.

Series X, Letter 23.
Can you decipher the odd words of Thomas Hayes?

It took a bit of puzzling before these weird obfuscations came into focus. I figured it out—can you?


Limited hours & live chat on Fri., Feb. 12, 2010

The library will be open from 10am – 4pm today, February 12th. This blog and our Facebook page will be updated regularly with any additional library news. As always, online library resources can be accessed from our homepage. In addition, librarians can be reached at ref@villanova.edu. We also have live chat hours available until 4pm. Please try our “Ask a Librarian” link on the library homepage.


Catholic Research Resources Alliance Portal: A Way to Discover Hidden Treasures

magnifyIn 2009 Falvey Memorial Library joined other Catholic university libraries in the Catholic Research Resources Alliance which has developed a free online research portal for scholars interested in the Catholic Church, particularly Catholic-related items held in the United States. Unlike some other fields of research that are cross-disciplinary in nature there has never been an effort, until now, to identify collectively what may be called Catholica.

Catholic studies in America have certainly grown a great deal as a locus for scholarly research in the last couple of decades, and now libraries, rather than creating a single repository, are working together to use current tools and technology to enhance methods for discovering  primary source material.

The intent is to aid researchers and students to do the kind of ferreting out of lesser known or little used publications and manuscripts related to the Catholicism. As one focus group member said, “In a decentralized community like Catholic higher education, being able to discover the treasures hidden away in libraries and archives is very desirable.”

For more information, see the Blue Electrode blog on the CRRA.

by Darren Poley


Online Encyclopedia of Astronomy and Astrophysics: Read about the Star of Bethlehem or Space Missions

By Alfred Fry

astronomy-setDo you wish that you knew more about the night sky?  Have you dreamed of taking a flight into space?

Villanova University now has online access to the Encyclopedia of Astronomy and Astrophysics , the most extensive and comprehensive reference work in the field.  Currently, the encyclopedia contains over 2,750 signed articles.  The encyclopedia frequently adds new articles or updates existing ones.  Editorial and advisory boards consisting of prominent astronomers and astrophysicists assure the high quality of this definitive reference source.

Although the primary audience for this encyclopedia is people with an academic or professional interest in astronomy or astrophysics, most of the articles do not require scientific expertise.  People with a casual interest in astronomy can browse broad subject categories like Galaxies, the Solar System or Space Missions, and can also find articles on Mayan Astronomy, the Star of Bethlehem, Art and Literature and the Vatican Observatory.

The encyclopedia also contains articles aimed squarely at amateur astronomers.  Beginners can get started with articles on Naked-Eye Astronomy and Binocular Astronomy.  More advanced amateurs can find many articles on equipment and techniques, such as Wide-Field Astrophotography, Observing Asteroids, Radio Astronomy for Amateurs and Amateur-Professional Collaboration in Astronomy.

Amateurs make significant contributions to astronomy research; for example, an Australian amateur astronomer discovered a spot on Jupiter that was consequently photographed by the Hubble telescope.


Snow emergency: Library closed on Wed., February 10, 2010

Due to the expected inclement weather and in agreement with the university decision to cancel classes and close the university, the library will be closed on Wednesday, February 10, 2010. The 24-hour lounge will remain available to Villanova students, staff, and faculty as long as sidewalks and entrances have been cleared by grounds crews. Our online resources can be accessed from the library homepage.


Feedback Friday: Mac or PC?

imac_transparencycomputer_monitorIt’s a commonly held image that “cool” people prefer Macs while “conservative” types prefer PCs. Do you agree with this assumption? Which would you rather use at school? If you could buy any computer for personal, academic, and business use, which one would you buy and why?

Tell us in the comments!


Charles Taylor on “Asian Americans in Magazine Advertising”

taylor-proof_ed1Charles R. Taylor, Ph.D., will discuss the societal and managerial implications of the portrayal of Asian Americans in advertising on Tuesday, Feb. 9 at 1:00 p.m. in Falvey Memorial Library’s first floor lounge. Dr. Taylor received the University Outstanding Faculty Research Award in 2009.

According to Dr. Taylor, the Asian American population is often depicted as the “model minority”; they are reflected in advertising as hard-working, technologically-savvy, business-oriented, successful and well-assimilated. While many of these stereotypes appear to be positive on the surface, in reality, some unsettling results can ensue when they are reinforced with the public.

This program seeks to deepen society’s understanding of cultivation theory, which states that repeated exposure to a stereotype in the media will lead people who are not members of that group to start expecting the stereotype to be the reality. (more…)



Trial Available Until February 19th, 2010

You can take eMarketer, a leading provider of research and analysis on digital marketing, for a test drive.   We think this resource will be very helpful for practice oriented  projects that incorporate elements of mobile, video, search, or social web marketing.  This database offers in depth reports, news, statistics, and interviews with marketing innovators.
To take advantage of the trial, go to this link and register with your Villanova email address: http://totalaccess.emarketer.com/Extranet.aspx?villanovademo09 You will receive an email confirmation. Let me know what your thoughts about the product are. Linda.hauck@villanova.edu


eMarketer Trial Until February 19th

You can take eMarketer, a leading provider of research and analysis on digital marketing, for a test drive. We think this resource will be very helpful for those projects that incorporate elements of mobile, video, search, or social web marketing.
To take advantage of the trial, go to this link and register with your Villanova email address: http://totalaccess.emarketer.com/Extranet.aspx?villanovademo09 You will receive an email confirmation. Let me know what your thoughts about the product are, Linda.hauck@villanova.edu


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Last Modified: February 3, 2010