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W-MCP5-6.378 TO ESTIMATE RUTH ESTHER [BALDWIN] MCQUESTEN from her husband Dr. Calvin McQuesten
Jan 1 1847
To: Estimate Ruth Esther Baldwin McQuesten, Hamilton, Canada West
From: [Lewiston, Maine, U.S.A.]

My Dear Wife,

It is a stormy day and I am obliged to lay by so you see I must be one day later in returning. I spent the Sabbath with Mr. & Mrs. Brown and attended Mr. Cheney's church,1 though much more pleasant than stopping at a tavern yet not like our own dear home. Mrs. brown regretted very much that I did not bring you along with me. Yesterday was the day for Mr. Simpson to arrive in England if the voyage was made in the usual time. From what I can learn about him here he has become very zealous in his new doctrine in religion but I fear he will never derive substantial comfort or benefit from his new course of conduct and thinking. The more I see and learn of new systems and doctrines in religion the more I am convinced of their unhappy influence on the hearts and well being of our fellow men. Oh, how unlike the Stable Substantial and solid peace which our Fathers found in treading the old paths.2

Yes, my dear wife, I do feel happy in the thought that our views are so similar on that all important subject. Even our tender and affectionate regard for each other resting on the solid foundation of true Christian principle with an enlightened view of deriving truth is not easily moved--but shaken with every wind of doctrine but like a tree planted by the river's side takes deeper and deeper root downward so that it will stand unmoved and firm through all the tempests of life.

[Unsigned]

[Dr. Calvin McQuesten]


1 This letter is undated; however, we have selected the year as 1847 because Dr. Calvin McQuesten was married to Estimate Baldwin from 1844 until her death in 1851. This document has been assigned the date of January 1st for classification purposes. The letter also has no return address; however, the mention of Rev. Cheney may be a clue to the location. Reverend Oren B. Cheney was the second pastor of the Free Will church, Lewiston, Maine. He was instrumental in establishing the Maine State Seminary in 1855, a two-year teacher training institute that was the first co-educational, post- secondary school in New England. The school opened in 1857 with 84 men and 53 women students. Lewiston Maine is within a few miles of Bowdoin College which was where Dr. McQuesten received his medical education. Dr. McQuesten may have gone to New England on business and visited Rev. Cheney while there. Dr. McQuesten was also interested in establishing schools for women and established the Wesleyan Ladies' College in Hamilton in 1861, a degree granting institution, and he was vice-president from 1861 to 1872 and then president until his death in 1885 (DHB1-147).


2 "Dr. Calvin McQuesten favoured evangelical Protestantism, especially the works of Jonathan Edwards. His upbringing had been profoundly religious and he came from that part of the American northeast which during the Second Great Awakening became known as the "Burnt Over District" because of the intensity of revivalism. As an elder of the Presbyterian congregation at Brockport, he had been forced to deal with the potentially disruptive force of revivalism which was excited in up-state New York by the Reverend Jedidiah Burchard [sic] and had tried to adapt evangelicalism to established congregations; even after his removal to Hamilton, his advice was sought by others who were faced with this problem" (DHB1-146-47). Dr. McQuesten would likely not have favored the Unitarian or Universalist movements of the day. The McQuesten family in Hamilton, Canada, were Presbyterian and adhered to a fundamentalist interpretation of the Bible. When the "Higher Criticism" of scripture was introduced the family opposed it.

Jedediah Burchard was one of the most famous of the itinerant revivalists. He had the gift of saving souls and was paid to conduct revival meetings. These revivals were tremendously successful and church membership flourished. The great revival encouraged interdenominational cooperation among the Protestants and led to broad social reform movements, such as abolition of slavery, temperance, educational institutions and emancipation of women. "Jedediah Burchard." Can Faith Change the World. November 29, 2003). www.vermonthistory.org/journal/69/vt69_s02.pdf.




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The development of this website was directed by Mary Anderson, Ph.D. and Janelle Baldwin, M.A.
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