On Salem in transition: the changed city to which Hawthorne returned after
his graduation from Bowdoin in 1825, from "Salem After College" in The Salem
World of Nathaniel Hawthorne by Margaret B. Moore, pp. 123-125 (courtesy
University of Missouri Press)
"…the town to which Hawthorne returned …[after his graduation from Bowdoin] was for him in the process of change. Mrs. Hawthorne had moved back to Salem from Raymond for good in May 1822. Uncle Robert had married Rebecca Dodge Burnham from Ipswich in December 1824 and was living on Dearborn Street. Gideon Barstow had been in Washington in the House of Representatives from 1821-23; Rachel Hathorne Forrester had died, leaving money to her sisters but not to her brother's widow. General Lafayette had visited Salem in 1824, and cousin Sarah Savage had written a tale, The Badge, about it. Hawthorne's former teacher, Samuel Archer, had married Fidelia Worcester, daughter of the late Dr. Samuel Worcester. Two new arrivals of eventual importance to Hawthorne had settled in town: Charles W. Upham had come as an associate pastor of Salem's First Church and Dr. Malthus Ward, whom Hawthorne had known at Bowdoin, had succeeded Seth Bass as superintendent of the East India Marine Society (123).
Hawthorne's Salem was in transition. In 1828 Hawthorne, his mother, and his sisters moved into a house on Dearborn Street that Robert Manning had built next to his own. The Hawthornes were to live there until 1832. Several relatives died after Hawthorne's return from Bowdoin, including his grandmother Manning in December 1826; his aunts Eunice Hathorne and Judith Archer in 1827; and Aunt Sarah Crowninshield in January 1829. Mary Manning stayed in Raymond from October 1827 to March 1828 and then kept house for her sister-in-law Rebecca Manning, who was visiting in Ipswich, in the summer of 1828. She wrote her brother Richard and his wife in Raymond in February 1829 that she had visited for about two years before moving back to the Herbert Street house. So dull old Salem was not without change in the late 1820s (123-124).
There was a restlessness in the town. Many of its younger and energetic citizens
were moving away, as Margaret Huessler Felt informed her husband in 1827. On
July 30, 1830, the editor of the Salem Gazette was moved to remark, 'Young
men, especially, of good families and enterprising dispositions, have ben led
off in crowds, in search of some fancied Eldorado-some barren gold mine, in
the sickly South-some fertile farm in the boundless West-or some colliery or
canal route in the great Middle States' (124).
These adventures [journeys in search of gold after articles in local newspapers
heralded gold strikes in North Carolina and elsewhere] were probably in Hawthorne's
mind when the narrator remarks in 'Peter Goldthwaite's Treasure' that '[o]nce,
he had gone on a gold-gathering expedition, somewhere to the South, and ingeniously
contrived to empty his pockets more thoroughly than ever' (CE 9:384). In his
piece on 'April Fools' in the American Magazine of Useful and Entertaining
Knowledge (April 1836), he mentions as one fool 'he who has been heaping
up gold.' He also lists as fools the farmer who 'left a good homestead in New
England, to migrate to the Mississippi Valley or anywhere else'; the 'fresh-cheeked
youth who has gone to find his grave at New Orleans"; or the Yankees enlisted
for Texas. His cousin, John Touzel Savage, moved to Natchez, Mississippi in
1821 and became a professor at a college near there. Eben Hathorne moved out
west in 1819 and visited his sister Elizabeth Ranney and her husband in Wisconsin.
He was a merchant for a while in Cincinnati before he returned east. Salem was
changing all through the period when Hawthorne first began to write in earnest"