Sunday, June 18, 2017

John Hay to John G. Nicolay, August 25, 1864

Warsaw, Illinois, August 25, 1864.

. . . . We are waiting with the greatest interest for the hatching of the big peace-snake at Chicago. There is throughout the country, I mean the rural districts, a good, healthy Union feeling, and an intention to succeed in the military and the political contests; but everywhere in the towns the copperheads are exultant, and our own people either growling and despondent or sneakingly apologetic. I found among my letters here, sent by you, one from Joe Medill, inconceivably impudent, in which he informs me that on the 4th of next March, thanks to Mr. Lincoln's blunders and follies, we will be kicked out of the White House. The d----d scoundrel needs a day's hanging. I won't answer his letter till I return and let you see it. Old Uncle Jesse is talking like an ass, — says if the Chicago nominee is a good man, he don't know, etc., etc. He blackguards you and me — says we are too big for our breeches, — a fault for which it seems to me Nature or our tailors are to blame. After all your kindness to the old whelp and his cub of a son he hates you because you have not done more. I believe he thinks the Executive Mansion's somehow to blame. . . .

Land is getting up near the stars in price. It will take all I am worth to buy a tater-patch. I am after one or two small pieces in Hancock for reasonable prices, 20 to 30 dollars an acre. Logan paid $70,000 for a farm a short while ago, and everybody who has greenbacks is forcing them off like waste paper for land. I find in talking with well-informed people a sort of fear of Kansas property, as uncertain in future settlement and more than all uncertain in weather. The ghost of famine haunts those speculations.

You were wrong in thinking either Milt or Charley Hay at all copperish. They are as sound as they ever were. They of course are not quite clear about the currency, but who is?

Our people here want me to address the Union League. I believe I won't. The snakes would rattle about it a little, and it would do no good. I lose my temper sometimes talking with growling Republicans. There is a diseased restlessness about men in these times that unfits them for the steady support of an administration. It seems as if there were appearing in the Republican party the elements of disorganization that destroyed the Whigs.

If the dumb cattle are not worthy of another term of Lincoln, then let the will of God be done, and the murrain of McClellan fall on them.

SOURCES: Abstracted from Clara B. Hay, Letters of John Hay and Extracts from Diary, Volume 1, p. 219-21. See Michael Burlingame, Editor, At Lincoln’s Side: John Hay’s Civil War Correspondence and Selected Writings, p. 91-2 for the full letter.

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