Emerson Etheridge to Richard Yates



Emerson Etheridge to Richard Yates


Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum








Washington D.C. Jany 14. 1861.

My dear Sir:

To you I need make no apology for failing, so long, to reply to your letter of 10th ultimo. You were here in comparatively, peaceful times; you can, therefore, judge of the draft upon my time now. I accept all you say as true in regard to your friend Jno. C. Grierson Esq, and tho’ I do not remember to have met him, I need no other assurance of his worth than what you have said. I now know of no reason why I cannot co-operate with you in the matter; but you know it is not always best, in matters of this kind to say we will or we will not. Disclaiming all sympathy with the mere politician, I, nevertheless, feel and recognize all the embarrassments which, in matters of this kind, sometimes rest on men. As

you will be here before March, I will defer any further observations, in regard to the matter, until I see you.

But will we have a Country by that time? What has the Future in store for us within the next few months? These are questions which “return to plague us.” To you I may be frank. If the Republicans will do almost any thing (and much may be done without being inconsistent with themselves) we may yet hold the central states. Seward came well to the rescue on Saturday, but action is needed now. The Legislatures of Virginia and Tennessee are in session - convened at the instance of the Precipitators – and the Revolutionists are at work. Almost throughout the South, misrepresentation of the purposes of the Republican party has

been the principal staple of Disunion and Democratic speeches for the past year. Misrepresentation of the [grosest?] character. Few men in the south have met these falsehoods, and the localities in which your motives are understood are few. ‘Tis too late to say, they are fools to believe your revilers. I know they are fools, and the fact that they are so, makes the matter so much worse. It’s too late to discuss dogmas. Even secession is lost in the fact of Revolution. The Country ought to be saved – it must be saved. A wise policy on the part of the Republican members of Congress – some sort of action, to give the Union men of the south a chance to connect these misrepresentations will yet save the Central States. I trust they will yet do that which they admit to be right. If they will promptly do only this, we may yet roll back the tide

of disunion and Treason. Were none but Traitors involved, I should feel no concern for their fate; but the innocent and ignorant are to be confounded with the guilty, and civilization and progress must be retarded for a century. Disunion dies the day that the people of the South are restored to Reason – and those who have thus misled their followers will be hung upon the gallows of public execration.

I remember with pleasure our association in the 33d Congress when, together, we resisted the measure which produced the present fearful condition of affairs. Our worst apprehensions, at the time, are now fearful realities. I have no self-reproach. I have faithfully done my duty, and if ruin must come, in advance I wash my hands of the shame and crime which will attend the enemies of public liberty. You were worthy of the compliment so recently bestowed by the people of your state, and I wish for them and yourself prosperity and happiness.

truly yours,

Em: Etheridge

Hon. Richard Yates,

Jacksonville, Illinois.



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