Placing Bets

PlaceholderJ. R. McDowell. Henry Wallace: or, The Victim of Lottery Gambling. New York: Wilson & Swain, 1832. (McAllister Collection)

Even though public lotteries had been legal in the country since Colonial times and were often used to raise funds for educational institutions and internal improvements, many considered the lottery a “gateway” form of gambling leading to more serious vices. In the morality tale Henry Wallace, the author accuses the government of “corrupting the public morals for the sake of revenue – Licensing the sale of inebriating liquors, gaming tables, and Lottery schemes.” In search of “illusive dreams of wealth, without the plodding drudgery of business,” the titular character develops a gambling habit as a young man and is particularly seduced by the “gilded deceptions” adorning a nearby lottery office.