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Eugene and Marilyn Glick Indiana History Center 450 West Ohio Street, Indianapolis, IN 46202
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Calvin Fletcher’s Imposter Syndrome

April 5, 2019

Lawyer Calvin Fletcher arrived in Indianapolis almost penniless in 1821. The new city offered boundless opportunities for those who got in on the ground floor, and Fletcher’s resume grew steadily. In addition to his legal work, he fashioned himself into a banker, farmer, husband, father, landowner, philanthropist, politician, abolitionist, public education advocate, and all-around fancy person. His diary, a part of the IHS collections, exhaustively records his rise to prominence.

It also records his doubts.

On June 21, 1858, after turning down a fifth appointment as president of the Indianapolis Old Settlers’ Reunion, Fletcher wrote:

“I have always dreaded all public places of the kind tho’ volunterily [sic] assigned me yet they always cost me great anguish & fear lest I should not meet expectations. I dread all responsibilities both private & public. I have been on the eve of accepting public trusts—Once held a commission for Circuit Judge several days. On the eve of becoming a Candidate for Congress & the legislature where I had no doubt of my success yet I have declined each & what is strange I never have declined but that subsequently I felt it was all for the best. As a private citizen I can & always have been willing to carry wood & water for others & give them the honor & glory.”

Image above shows a daguerreotype of  Calvin and Keziah Fletcher, IHS.

Kate Scott

Kate Scott works in Reference Services, answering your questions about everything in Indiana history from Civil War uniforms to tenderloins the size of your head.

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