Ohio History Journal

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Professor of English, Ohio State University

On January 1, 1828, Frances Milton Trollope, an English

housewife, with three of her children, left the port of New Orleans

bound north on the steamboat Belvidere. She was going to Cincin-

nati to set herself up in business. Left behind in England were her

husband Thomas and their two older sons. Thomas Trollope, a

failure at both law and farming, sat in England and brooded over

his ill luck, dosed himself with drugs, and quarreled with his two

sons. Mrs. Trollope had taken the family's future into her own

hands, and now with $20,000 salvaged from the farm venture, she

was on her way to a new land. When she was well established she

would send for Thomas and the boys.

Frances Trollope, at forty-eight, had never been gainfully

employed. Reared as the daughter of an English clergyman, her

early life had been pleasant and easy. Her husband's paternal in-

heritance was sufficient for the family to live in comfort for many

years. In both England and France she had associated with people

of wealth and position. Her children had been sent to good schools.

At last, however, the family fortune had diminished to the point

where Thomas Trollope could no longer be left in charge.

The social standing of the Trollopes would not permit her to

open a shop in England, but she well knew that on the American

frontier people of quality engaged in trade. Judges sold meat, and

legislators made shoes. She planned to erect a beautiful building

which by its architectural splendor would draw the savage Ameri-

cans from their log cabins in open-mouthed admiration. This build-

ing would be stocked with a profusion of quality English goods-

cloth, combs, mirrors, beautiful buttons, glassware-all the things

which she knew were needed in the wilderness. Furthermore, she

expected her shop to contribute to the intellectual and social tone

of the city, for she would throw the rooms open to meetings of those