Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Jonathan Worth to T. C. and B. G. Worth, May 13, 1861

ASHEBORO, May 13, 1861.

There are few men in so unhappy a frame of mind as myself. If I could believe there was a prominent man in the nation, urging and controlling either of the sections; of real probity and honor and fair-mind, uninfluenced by selfish ends, I could find in this conviction some consolation. If I could see beyond the conclusion of the present strife any probability of the re-establishment of a wholesome state and government, either republican or monarchical, it would give me some relief, however much blood and treasure it might cost. The petty monarchies or republics which must spring up on the establishment of the doctrine of secession and the overthrow of Washington's popular idea of a united government, must involve the European plan of preserving government by the Cartridge box, instead of the ballot box. This must bring with it incalculable woe to the masses.

This continent ought to be a united government. Popular government is proving itself a fallacy and delusion. Virtue and order are unequal to a contest with ambition and selfishness. The desire to avoid the carnage and wickedness of war makes me desire a pacification on the only basis now possible, the recognition of the Southern Republic, but I confess that, the argument carries much force to my mind that the evils growing out of the recognition of secession and the immeasurable petty governments which must spring from it, will probably overbalance the loss of life and property which the war will occasion. Will not the North West submit to self-immolation if they recognize secession? Pecuniary selfishness, if the doctrine be once acknowledged, will make N. Y. adopt it.

Another view which distresses me is this. Slavery thus far, has been only a pretext for this sectional contest. The multitude, North and South, regard it as the cause.

This makes the North regard it as the sum of all sins. If the civil war is protracted and Northern troops sent among us they will ultimately incite insurrection. The poor negroes will be killed.

I am pained that I occupy a place in the public counsels, because I am impotent to do anything which my judgment and conscious approve. I can not avert the war, consistent with the re-establishment of a government so good as that we pull down. Whilst I can not hesitate where no choice is left, only to fight for the South and home, or for the North, if I should fall in such a contest, I would find in a dying hour no comfort in the conviction that I had sacrificed my life in a just cause. It is true that I believe Lincoln had no right to call out the militia, make War and blockade the ports, when Congress, with full knowledge of the existing state of the rebellion, had just refused to pass the force bill, and conceding to him the right, if reunion was his object, he showed want of common sense in adopting the course he did. If the restoration of the Union was his object, which I believe was his object, then he is a fool. If his purpose was to drive off all the Slave states, in order to make war on them and annihilate Slavery, then he is a Devil and in the latter supposition I could fight with a hearty good will.

I hope your customers are honorable and that the war and the stay law will not engulph you. I am struggling to make corn, wheat, etc.

[P. S.] I do not expect you to reply. I have unbosomed myself because there is nobody else to whom I can do it [One line illegible] only 703 votes yesterday instead of 2,611. We are getting up volunteers, principally in the class of which armies are commonly composed.

SOURCE: J. G. de Roulhac Hamilton, Editor, The Correspondence of Jonathan Worth, Volume 1, p. 141-2

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