Early in 1854, James Griffing’s travels as a map agent took him to Indianapolis. It was his first visit to the city and he did not expect to stay long; a couple of weeks, he figured, then it would be on to Chicago and then maybe Iowa. But fate stepped in and changed his course quite unexpectedly. He found warm and comfortable quarters at a boarding house, a couple of college students his age to commune with, and a religious society awaiting him with open arms – one that would soon offer him an unexpected career change.
He also found a city that was quite different from any he had ever encountered before. The inhabitants of Indianapolis were decidedly “western” in their appearance and manners. Many of them had come to Indiana from Virginia and Kentucky, bringing with them some very southern cultural and political viewpoints. He found the city backward in its views toward Negroes, less refined in conventions of religion, immensely illiterate, and openly hostile against such popular “eastern” causes as education for women and intemperance. "They have grown up [to be] great awkward, boorish boobies," wrote James to Augusta in his first letter from Indianapolis, "—just fitted to associate with their horses."
As a prelude to the chapters that follow, the following articles, lifted from a local newspaper named Chapman’s Chanticleer, will provide some idea to the reader of the world that James entered when he stepped off the train in February 1854.
On Lucy Stone, the celebrated women’s rights lecturer, a not-so-complimentary review:
delivered herself of her fourth lecture, at the Masonic Hall, in this city, on
Saturday night last. Her audience was comparatively small, and her tone was much
more subdued than on her 1st appearance. Her subject was, as stated, “the Bible
position of Women;” and her object was to show that the Bible in this matter
had been wrongly translated from the Greek, -- had been misrepresented and
misunderstood, -- or else was inconsistent with itself; and therefore, though it
may once have been locally right, it was no longer so, since the women had
become wiser than the written word…
…But as to
Lucy, we really and truly pity her. A little learning hath made her mad, -- or
at least a sort of monomaniac. She has been crazed, as many other women have
been, by the erudities and absurdities of Oberlin, -- a place where fallen
angels take degrees!
We sincerely hope, for Lucy’s sake, that some time she may fall in with a man whose wisdom will be sufficient to enlighten her to the paths of true knowledge, -- to learn her that, sometimes, if not always, partial evil may work universal good…
On the subject of the Nebraska Bill – often referred to as the “Nebraska Question – then before the U.S. Congress, this Black humor piece appeared under the heading, “Too good to be lost.”
Darkey – ‘Why am a dumb man what can say nuffin to nobody like Sentrum Duglis? Gub him up?’ ‘Case he goes in for Neber ask a question.’
On the Methodists and their noisy religious services, this humorous piece entitled, “The Quaker Bridle:”
A Methodist and Quaker were traveling in company when the Quaker reproved the Methodist for their boisterous manner of worship. “Why,” said he, “we can take more pleasure in our private rooms of meditation, where we think of nothing worldly during our stay.” “Sir, said the Methodist, “if you will take a private room, stay one hour, and when you return, say that you have thought of nothing worldly, I will give you my horse,” which proposal was accepted. After the time had expired, his friend asked him if he claimed the horse. “Why,” said he, “I could not help thinking what I should do for a bridle to ride him home with.” 
On the new play “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” – then playing in Indianapolis – these two diametrically opposed critiques:
The Marsh troupe perform the Drama of Uncle Tom’s Cabin at the Masonic Hall this evening, and continue during this week and next. They are good; go and see them! 
As for the morality of the play, [Uncle Tom’s Cabin], we think it very questionable. What is natural and proper in the book, is stained and blasphemous on the stage… 
On the Main Liquor Law appears this little tale, told at the expense of the leaders of the intemperance movement in Indianapolis:
the rescue! A few days since, some of the Maine Law Speakers in order to give
effect and brilliancy to their remarks, bought the stock of liquor of one of the
West Indianapolis “rum shops,” consisting of a barrel of whiskey, rolled it
into the street, set it on an end, knocked in the head, and applied a lighted
straw to the liquor, when (will wonders never cease), it refused to burn. Cause
supposed to be the preponderance of water. 
On city government and its ineptness in erecting new telegraph poles:
This town has been disgraced by the most outrageously crooked, ill-looking telegraphic poles that exist in the country… With but little expense, these poles might have been squared and painted, which would have added a hundred percent to their appearance. [They are] horrible perpendicular deformities of the street.
Bullard’s Panorama – New York City panorama (painting). Over 2000 viewed the painting 3 days on exhibition.