N.C. women’s ‘disgusting and disagreeable way’

On this day in 1838: English actress Frances Anne “Fanny” Kemble, traveling by stagecoach from Philadelphia to Georgia, records her impressions:

“North Carolina is, I believe, the poorest state in the Union. . . . The few detached houses on the road were mean and beggarly in their appearance; and the people whom we saw when the coach stopped had a squalid, and at the same time fierce air. . . .

“A custom prevalent in North Carolina [is] the women chewing tobacco, and that, too, in a most disgusting and disagreeable way, if one way can be more disgusting than another. They carry habitually a small stick . . . in their glove, or their garter string, and, whenever occasion offers, plunge it into a snuffbox, and begin chewing it. The practice is so common, that the proffer of the snuffbox, and its passing from hand to hand, is the usual civility of a morning visit among the country people. . . . ”

 

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