Children now know nothing of what "'Lection" was in those days, the annual period, that is, when the newly elected State government came in. It was in the last week in May. How eager were we boys to have the corn planted before that time! The playing could not be had till the work was done. The sports and the entertainments were very simple. Running about the village street, hither and thither, without much aim; stands erected for the sale of gingerbread and beer,--home-made beer, concocted of sassafras roots and wintergreen leaves, etc.; games of ball, not base-ball, as now is the fashion, yet with wickets,--this was about all, except that at the end there was always horse-racing.
Having witnessed this exciting sport in my  boyhood, without any suspicion of its being wrong, and seen it abroad in later days, in respectable company, I was led, very innocently, when I was a clergyman in New York, into what was thought a great misdemeanor. I was invited by some gentlemen, and went with them, to the
Orville Dewey was a cousin by marriage to Ralph Waldo Emerson, and was one of the few individuals privileged to call him "Waldo." He also was a friend of William Cullen Bryant and shared a pulpit with William Ellery Channing. He held one of the most influential Unitarian pulpits in the mid-19th Century. He was in favor of gradual emancipation, and incurred the wrath of Abolitionists. His correspondence with Emerson, Channing, Bryant, and others is not well known or appreciated, since his autobiography and letters are not readily available. Having his autobiography on the web is an important addition to his collected works which are already available through the "Making of America" series at the University of Michigan site.