Saturday, June 30, 2007

Lansdowne Circus, Leamington Spa

I've mentioned Nathaniel Hawthorne in several of my posts recently. In 1852, Hawthorne obliged his old college friend, Franklin Pierce, and wrote an official campaign biography. It's undoubtedly the low point in Hawthorne's literary career—especially the part in which he urges voters to elect a man who will leave slavery alone to run its course. If left alone, he argues, slavery will eventually outlive its usefulness and simply vanish without a fuss. When Pierce won the Presidency, he rewarded Hawthorne by making him the American consul in Liverpool, England. For part of Hawthorne's time in England, though, he lived in Leamington Spa. His home was at 10 Landsdowne Circus, pictured here. Nearby is Landsdowne Crescent, pictured below, which is also the work of architect William Thomas (1799-1860), who left Leamington during an economic depression in the 1840s and emigrated to Toronto, where he became Canada's leading exponent of Decorated Gothic Revival architecture. St. Michael's Cathedral in Toronto is Thomas's work. Ontario's Ministry of Culture has set up an historical marker in front of Landsdowne Crescent. As for Franklin Pierce, who sent Hawthorne to England, he is consistently ranked among the worst United States Presidents (for example, he's #4 in the U.S. News and World Report ranking of worst Presidents).

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