Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Jonathan Worth to Gaius Winningham, May 20, 1861

ASHEBORO, May 20, '61.

Knowing that you are an ardent personal and political friend and that you cannot hear well, and that you are concerned on account of the slanders which my ignoble political opponents are industriously circulating, not to promote the good of the country by breaking me down, but to gratify personal malevolence—I desire to say to you that I have changed no political opinion I have heretofore maintained.

I still firmly believe in the wisdom and virtue of Washington and the early promoters of our government and that war. no other divided government can ever be built up so good as the United one we are pulling down—and hence I abhor the Northern Abolitionist and the Southern Secessionist, both co-operating with different objects, to break up the Union, but the whole nation has become mad. The voice of reason is silenced. Furious passion and thirst for blood consume the air. Democracy and Abolition, moved and instigated by the Devil, are the opposing factions. Nobody is allowed to retain and assert his reason. The cartridge box is preferred to the ballot box. The very women and children are for war. Every body must take sides with one or the other of these opposing factions or fall a victim to the mob or lose all power to guide the torrent when its fury shall begin to subside. It is barely possible that the leaders may pause before the carnage fairly sets in. The best chance to produce such pause and prevent war, is for us to show a united purpose to enlist besides, if we must fight, none of us can hesitate to fight for our wives-our homes-our sections. I have therefore concluded to urge our young men to volunteer. Division or hesitation among us will but invite the invasion of the black Republicans. My maxim has always been to choose among the evils around me and do the best I can. I think the annals of the world furnish no instance of so groundless a war—but as our nation will have it—if no peace can be made—let us fight like men for our own firesides.

 I write this for your own personal satisfaction—not for the public eye,—not that I desire to conceal my views, but because in the present frenzied state of the public mind it will be distorted—misrepresented, and can do no good.

SOURCE: J. G. de Roulhac Hamilton, Editor, The Correspondence of Jonathan Worth, Volume 1, p. 148-9

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