Friday, November 25, 2016

Diary of John Hay: May 10, 1861

Carl Schurz loafed into my room this morning, and we spoke of the slaves and their ominous discontent. He agreed with me that the Commandants at Pickens and Monroe were unnecessarily squeamish in imprisoning and returning to their masters the fugitives who came to their gates begging to be employed. . . . Schurz says that thousands of Democrats are declaring that now is the time to remove the cause of all our woes. What we could not have done in many life-times the madness and folly of the South had accomplished for us. Slavery offers itself more vulnerable to our attack than at any point in any century, and the wild malignity of the South is excusing us before God and the world.

So we talked in the morning.

But to-night I saw a letter from Mrs. Whitman stating that Thomas Earl , T. W. Higginson, the essayist of Boston, and young John Brown, were “going to free the slaves.” What we were dreaming of came over my mind with horrible distinctness, but I shrank from the apparition. This is not the time nor are these the men to do it. They should wait till the government gives some kind of sanction to the work. . . .

SOURCES: Clara B. Hay, Letters of John Hay and Extracts from Diary, Volume 1, p. 33; Tyler Dennett, Editor, Lincoln and the Civil War in the Diaries and Letters of John Hay, p. 22-3.

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