Saturday, November 24, 2012

Senator John Sherman to Major General William T. Sherman, November 16, 1862

MANSFIELD, OHIO, Nov. 16, 1862.

Dear Brother:

Two matters now excite attention among politicians. What is the cause and what will be the effect of the recent elections, and what are we to do about our depreciated paper money. No doubt many causes conspire to defeat the Union parties. The two I will name were the most influential, and yet the least will be said about them.

The first is, that the Republican organization was voluntarily abandoned by the President and his leading followers, and a no-party Union was formed to run against an old, well-drilled party organization. This was simply ridiculous. It was as if you should disband your army organization because it was tyrannical, and substitute the temporary enthusiasm of masses to fight regular armies. Political as well as military organization is necessary to success. Ward meetings, committees, conventions, party cries are just as necessary in politics, as drills, reviews, &c., are in war, so the Republicans have found out. If they have the wisdom to throw overboard the old debris that joined them in the Union movement, they will succeed. If not, they are doomed.

The other prominent reason for defeat is, the people were dissatisfied at the conduct and results of the war. The slow movements on the Potomac and worse still in Kentucky dissatisfied and discouraged people. It was a little singular that the Democrats, some of whom opposed the war, should reap the benefit of this feeling, but such is the fate of parties. Lincoln was a Republican. He put and kept in these slow generals and we shall be punished for it by having an organized opposition limiting appropriations. No doubt the wanton and unnecessary use of the power to arrest without trial and the ill-timed proclamation contributed to the general result. The other matter I allude to is demanding careful consideration. As it is my line of official duty, I have formed certain theories which may be all wrong; but as they are the result of reflection, I will act upon them. My remedy for paper money is, by taxation, to destroy the banks and confine the issue to Government paper. Let this only issue, as it is found to be difficult to negotiate the bonds of the government. As a matter of course there will a time come when this or any scheme of paper money will lead to bankruptcy, but that is the result of war and not of any particular plan of finance. I watch your course closely and take great interest and pride in your success.

Affectionately your brother,


SOURCE: Rachel Sherman Thorndike, Editor, The Sherman letters: correspondence between General and Senator Sherman from 1837 to 1891, p. 167-8

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