Sunday, July 9, 2017

John Hay to Charles Edward Hay: March 31, 1865

Executive Mansion,
Washington, 31 March, 1865.

I have been a little neglectful of my duties to you lately. I have written almost no letters except on business for some time.

I am getting very hurried as the time approaches for me to give my place in the Executive Office to some new man. The arrears of so long a time cannot be settled in a day.

You have probably seen from the papers that I am to go to Paris as Secretary of Legation. It is a pleasant and honorable way of leaving my present post which I should have left in any event very soon. I am thoroughly sick of certain aspects of life here, which you will understand without my putting them on paper, and I was almost ready, after taking a few months' active service in the field, to go back to Warsaw and try to give the Vineyard experiment a fair trial, when the Secretary of State sent for me and offered me this position abroad. It was entirely unsolicited and unexpected. I had no more idea of it than you have. But I took a day or two to think it over, the matter being a little pressing, — as the Secretary wanted to let Mr. Bigelow know what he was to expect, — and at last concluded that I would accept. The President requested me to stay with him a month or so longer to get him started with the reorganised office, which I shall do, and shall sail probably in June.

Meanwhile Nicolay, whose health is really in a very bad state, has gone off down the coast on a voyage to Havana, and will be gone the “heft” of the month of April, and I am fastened here, very busy. I don't like to admit and will not yet give up that I can't come on to your “happiest-day-of-your-life;” but I must tell you that it looks uncommonly like it just now. But whether I come or not, I will be with you that day in my love and my prayers that God will bless you and yours forever.

I very much fear that all my friends will disapprove this step of mine, but if they know all that induced me to it they would coincide.

SOURCES: Clara B. Hay, Letters of John Hay and Extracts from Diary, Volume 1, p. 253-4; Michael Burlingame, Editor, At Lincoln’s Side: John Hay’s Civil War Correspondence and Selected Writings, p. 103-4.

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