Sunday, July 13, 2008

A Book I Love + Antebellum Math Problem

Ok--so I'm sitting here reading John McCardell's fantastic Idea of a Southern Nation. He references an algebra book published in the 1840s by a Davidson prof, D.H. Hill, (also later a Confederate general) that makes fun of yankees.

So I surf over to a fabulous research tool this is. And though a librarian was just yesterday criticizing me for my research method (and for also not spending enough time in the archives), I have to say: it sure is convenient to be able to pull up the text on my desktop. So check out this problem from Professor Hill's book:

A Yankee mixes a certain number of wooden nutmegs, which cost him 1/4 cent apiece, with a quantity of real nutmegs, worth 4 cents apiece, and sells the whole assortment for $44; and gains $3.75 by the fraud. How many wooden nutmegs were there?
Fun in math class, eh? (Am I right in thinking that 4x-1/4x=375?)

In honor of Sally's terrific work on State v. Mann, how about this problem involving the hiring of a slave:
A planter hired a negro-man at the rate of $100 per annum, and his clothing. At the end of 8 months the master of the slave took him home, and received $75 in cash, and no clothing. What was the clothing valued at?

Also, on the issue of emancipation and the generosity of North and South, this:

A gentleman in Richmond expressed a willingness to liberate his slave, valued at $1000, upon the receipt of that sum from charitable persons. He received contributions from 24 persons; and of these there were 14/19ths fewer from the North than from the South, and the average donation of the former was 4/5ths smaller than that of the latter. What was the entire amount given by the latter?

Mighty interesting stuff to see what's on the minds of antebellum textbook authors, eh?

(By the way, just so this is clear--the book I love is McCardell's Idea of a Southern Nation.)

No comments: