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A Letter to Dolly Stetson

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Read James Stetson’s Letter to Dolly Stetson

Portrait of James Stetson

About this Display

Members of the NAEI dedicated their lives to the community. This display explores why they did it and what they hoped to accomplish.

Examine this Document

In the winter of 1843, James Stetson penned a letter to his wife on a copy of the 1843 constitution of the NAEI. Click on the thumbnail image to enlarge page 1 of his letter. Look for the highlighted sections.

Letter from James Stetson to Dolly Stetson Letter from James Stetson to Dolly Stetson


  1. Why did James want his family to move to Northampton to join the NAEI?
  2. What values were most important to him?
  3. After visiting exhibit rooms 101 and 102, why do you think Sojourner Truth joined the NAEI? How are her reasons the same or different from James Stetson’s?


Click here to see James Stetson’s full letter and transcript of February 20, 1843.

For Further Investigation

NAEI Constitution of 1843
James wrote his letter on a copy of the constitution of the NAEI. 

  1. What do you think James saw in this document that supported the arguments in his letter?
  2. Sometimes people take different stands in private communications (like letters) from their public statements. Does James express doubts about the NAEI?
  3. What was the aim of the founders?
  4. What did equality mean to them?
  5. To whom did equality apply? Was anyone left out?
  6. How was this document different from the U.S. Constitution of their day?

Documents from Other NAEI Members
Browse the Sources or Cast of Characters pages to learn about the goals and beliefs of other members of the NAEI. James Stetson sold silk produced at the NAEI to buyers throughout the Northeast. His travels spurred the fascinating exchange of letters that inform us today.

Sample case possibly carried by James Stetson. Sample case possibly carried by James Stetson.

• Evidence: Something that helps you prove a conclusion, or show that what you think or believe is correct.

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