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heeded, but will tend to peace ; but counter-influences
work the other way. Yet I have hopes still of a peaceful

" My sister and her sweet daughter are here with me ;
and my sister has exerted herself to get signatures to my
memorial. I have modified it since it was first sent out, as
the ultras on both sides objected to it, while some ( judi-
cious people, as I think) believe it will do much good by
calling attention from mere political considerations to those
of right and duty. This change of memorials and other
causes made such a delay in the affair of getting signa-
tures at New York that I shall not have as many as I ex-
pected from there. But Troy has done and is doing very
well, and Philadelphia has already sent me a goodly num-
ber, and I am to receive more. The memorials are now
circulating in Washington, Baltimore, and other places.
But the time draws near. It is expected that the Peace
Convention will have a proposition before Congress which
will form a good occasion for presenting it. Sister de-
sired me, as did Myra also, to present her affectionate
regards to you. We should both feel that your pres-
ence would heighten the pleasure of our * chatting par-

" In undertaking to do something, though a little, for
our beloved country, in this her hour of peril, I find I am
but doing what many expected of me. A negro woman
of my former much-attached friend Mrs. Gadsby since her
death being with her daughter said, just before I came,
in reference to the troubles of the country, * I think Mrs.
Willard will soon come.'

" I hope the beautiful little grand-daughter is well ere
this. God bless you, my ever-dear friend, and all you love.


And may His wisdom and His mighty power order all
things for the good of our country.

" Your faithful and affectionate


I remember her efforts that spring at Washington, be-
ing there myself, and was struck with her persevering per-
sistency in securing attention from prominent men. At
last the memorial was presented to the Senate by Mr. Crit-
tenden, with a list of four thousand ladies, so long that the
roll measured thirty-six feet. This able and patriotic senator
introduced it by an eloquent speech, while Governor Gilmer
presented the memorial in the House of Representatives.
It was originally written in the form of a pamphlet ; but
was finally condensed in the following language :


To the Senate and House of Representatives of the
United States of America in Congress assembled. This
memorial, presented by Emma Willard, in the name and by
the authority of American women, respectfully represents :

That we are impelled to address your Honorable Body
by intense anxiety for the fate of our beloved country, the
government of which now, in the conflict of opinions, is
threatened with destruction. History is not without ex-
amples that, when deadly strife was raging among men,
women came between the hostile parties and persuaded
them to peace. So would we do now ; and we have hopes
that our memorial may be received with favor by your
Honorable Body, as coming from that sex whose mission
on earth is peace, duty, and righteousness.

Our hope and our prayer is, that this noble country, our
nursing mother, our protection, and our pride, may be pre-
served entire. A continent in extent, an island in securi-
ty its harbors opening on the great oceans, it exceeds in


geographical position and commercial advantages, any na-
tion of the present or the past. And while such is its ground-
plan, its government is not the mere chance offspring of
necessity, but deliberately devised from the teachings of
all past ages, by men of the highest intellectual and moral
stamp, with Washington at their head ; and who, with
pious hearts, sought yet higher guidance in the wisdom of
God. And that their designs to make a better government
than any which had gone before was triumphantly achieved,
is proved by our unparalleled growth and prosperity under
it our liberty and security united; so that our beloved
America became the envy and admiration of other nations,
a warning to the oppressor, and a beacon-light to the

Thus it has been ; but now the picture is reversed : the
pall of darkness is over us the frown of God is upon us.
Wrong is in our borders ; for not more certainly may it be
known that tempestuous winds have arisen when the sea is
lashed into foam, than it may be known by these upheav-
ings of society that evil passions have been at work, pro-
ducing among us uncharitableness and hatred.

The question which we now beg your Honorable Body
deeply to consider is, by what means may we, as a Chris-
tian people, regain the favor of God ; return to the broth-
erly love which once blessed us, and be again a united and
happy people.

Our humble petition is, that those to whom, in our"
feebleness, we look for help, will not allow party or sec-
tional prejudices to prevail over a spirit of mutual concili-
ation. We pray you for our sake and in the name of
every endearing tie which unites man to woman as father,
husband, brother, and friend not to abandon us to feel
that we and our children are, by needless animosities, to
lose the noble political inheritance left us by the valor and
wisdom of our common fathers ; but that the grand fabric


which they constructed may be preserved with equal tal-
ents and virtues by their descendants ; for which your pe-
titioners will ever devoutly pray.


We have examined and approve of the spirit of a
memorial designed to be presented in the name of the
American women, who may sign it, to the Congress of
the United States.

This memorial has originated among our country-
women, and at their request we have examined it. The
spirit of the memorial is indicated in the prayer it makes
to those in auth&rity "not to allow party or sectional
prejudice to prevail over a spirit of mutual conciliation,"
while it earnestly entreats them " by every endearing tie
that binds man to woman, as father, husband, brother, and
friend, not to abandon them and their children to feel that
they are to lose by needless animosity the noble political
institution left us by the wisdom and valor of our common
fathers." We can see nothing unbecoming in their sex in
such a memorial from American women, and therefore
heartily wish it may not be without effect in conducing to
the increase of a spirit of conciliation and consequent
restoration of harmony. We hope that the women of our
country will manifest their concurrence in these wishes by
giving their signatures to this memorial.











The following is her letter of thanks to Senator Crit-
tenden for his kindness and patriotism in presenting the
memorial; also a letter to Mrs. Willard from Governor
Gilmer :

"BALTIMORE, Marcli, 4, 1861.

"Hox. SENATOR CBITTENDEN : . Dear and respected
deeply so not only in my heart, but in that of every
American, who loves his country ; ay, more than any other
man now living ; and from henceforth to be ranked with
Henry Clay and the best patriots of the past. As long as I
retain the memory of his noble compromise speech of 1850,
so long shall I remember yours of March 2d still more
pathetic for the times were more difficult, and to you ap-
pertained a self-abnegation to which he was by no similar
circumstances called. And you were listened to with an
attention so breathless that the remotest hearer of the gal-
leries could catch every word. And though your eloquence
failed at the moment of the effect it ought to have had on
senators sternly predetermined in their course of action,
whatever motives to change that course might be held up
before them, and though the ruin of their country stared them
in the face yet, dear sir, keep up heart and hope. Your
affecting words and deeds have gone forth to reach the hearts
of your anxious countrymen, and they will be as good seed,
there to germinate, and in time they will bring forth fruits
of patriotism.

" I thank you in the name of the associated American
women, who, with me, will be proud that our united
effort for peace was presented to the Senate by yourself;
and on that day of your most memorable speech a speech
which will never be forgotten, while patriotism lives.

" Mrs. Crittenden has my best wishes for her health and
happiness, and my thanks for the trouble she kindly took
in regard to the memorial.


" I hope, my dear sir, that your efforts for your country
will not have too much impaired your health ; but that re-
pose, the love of your countrymen, and the smile of God
will restore you.

" With undying respect, your grateful servant,


[By this copy of a letter I wish my dear friends to see
that my efforts for peace, which you mention to sister,
made good feeling ; which is, as we hear, now coming back,
to prove, as we trust, the " reunion of the Union."]

"GREENSBOSO', N. C., April 25, 1861.

"DEAR MADAM: Yours of the 13th and 15th is re-
ceived. I have been from home for ten days up in the
western part of my State, making speeches for the Union.
The crowds that attended were large, and gave most en-
thusiastic demonstrations in favor of remaining in the

" If a majority of friends in the free States in the mean
time had been seconding the efforts of myself and other
national conservatives in the South, as you have, the
calamities that now seem inevitable might in the Provi-
dence of God have been spared us.

" I met the storm most successfully, carrying the fight
at Charleston on my shoulders. We had the secessionists
down in North Carolina. But you cannot, by any descrip-
tion which I can give, have any true conception of my
sorrow, when I was met by the President's war procla-
mation. 1 I withered up my heart melted within me.
The neighbors whom I left shouting for the Union, I found

1 After the rebels had attacked and seized a fortress (Fort Sumter)
belonging to the United States Government. Alas ! our national life
was at stake, and Mr. Lincoln could do no less.


on my return agitated and in arms. I retreated from their
presence to my family. I sat down by the side of my dear
weeping Mrs. Gilmer, whose grief was increased by reason
of our only son having on one day's notice been hurried to
Fort Macon.

" I have never before lost all hope for my country. In
the future I can see nothing but the shedding of human
blood. In my troubles I now purpose to do nothing more
than to thank you for your letter to Mrs. Gilmer, who will
answer you when her anxieties quiet, and to thank you
most sincerely for your noble, kind, and Christian efforts to
save this great nation.

" Oh, that we had more such noble spirits, that the
nation might be spared !

" I am a firm believer in the Christian religion, and the
teachings of the Old and New Testament. I know that
your efforts will be rewarded.

" I have retired to myself, to answer in brief many let-
ters from kind friends. Please write me again, and talk to
me as you feel. .

"Mrs. Gilmer and the children join me in the most
friendly and cordial remembrances.
" Yours truly,
(Signed) " Jomf A. GELMER."


" He was ex-Governor of North Carolina, and that mem-
ber of the House of Representatives to whose care my
petition for peace in the name of American women was
confided. By his management, after it was presented and
discussed '(the last thing before the Corwin compromise
was passed), it was withdrawn and given to the most emi-
nent man of the Senate, Henry Clay's friend, Crittenden,
and fully brought before that body, recommended by an
eloquent speech from that aged patriot now no more.


The Corwin compromise is at this time regarded by states-
men as important to the expected reunion of the States.
The gaining of over fourteen thousand lady subscribers from
different States who signed the memorial, and the influence
they exerted, was regarded by Mr. Crittenden as an essen-
tial item of the whole influence by which that compromise
was obtained."

But no philanthropic efforts to prevent the catastrophe
could be of any avail. The bitter contest must come,
fanned by the leaders of both North and South, who, in
times of passion, are ever the most violent advocates of
extreme measures. The Peace Convention also proved a
miserable failure, since there was no spirit of conciliation.
The Southern leaders were determined to secede, and se-
cession meant war. The leading politicians of the North,
who had influence then in Congress and in the country,
were not averse to war. Both parties were sure of victory.
The war-spirit blazed from one end of the country to the
other ; and, in such a political conflagration, all remon-
strance or opposition was futile and vain. What could a
woman's voice avail in such a storm ? But Mrs. Willard
did all she could to avert the bloody strife, while she re-
mained a Northern woman in her sympathies patriotic,
yet conservative. She secured the friendship of women
of both sides by her generous efforts to procure reconcilia-
tion. Mrs. Gilmer sent her a beautiful bouquet, to whom
Mrs. Willard returned the following lines :

" My lady dear, your beauteous flowers I hold
More precious to my heart than gems and gold ;
Emblems they are which speak of peace to come,
Pure as their whiteness, sweet as their perfume.
If South and North could meet as we have met,
What happy days might be our country's yet ! "

These beautiful lines, written impromptu, show that


poetry springs from the sentiments of the heart, and not
from the thoughts of the brain. No artistic elaboration
will supply the place of genuine feeling.

The following letter, written to Mrs. Gilmer in April,
1861, shows fully the sentiments which animated the writer
before the contest absolutely commenced :

"TBOY, April 4, 1861.

" MY DEAR MRS. GILMEK : Your husband's letter and
yours reached me by the same mail three days ago.
Deeply do I sympathize with your sorrow, and heavy has
been my heart with the thoughts of what you suffer ; and
I would I could be with you to infuse hope into your de-
spairing minds 1

" There is a great misunderstanding between the North
and the South. There is not that 'wicked scheme' to
subjugate the South, on the part of the North, which you
suppose. There are individuals in both sections wicked
enough to do any thing to accomplish their own ambitious
views of sectional, or indirect, or individual aggrandize-
ment ; but the great body of the people on both sides
believe that they are each called on to make not aggres-
sive but defensive war.

"The governor, your husband, wished me to write my
thoughts without reserve. I wrote them to my sister
then in Baltimore, now in Philadelphia a few days since ;
and, when I had done, copied some of them out and pub-
lished them, then thinking they might do good ; and I
enclose them to you, as expressing my view of what ought
to be the ultimatum of the whole North, and I believe it
really is with the main body. You will recollect that,
when secession first showed its direful head, the North
were united against it, and would, if called on for a mili-
tary demonstration, have fulfilled, I doubt not, General
Wool's declaration. When it was announced that Seward


was to be Secretary of State, the Democrats retook their
separate position. At Sumter, when the American flag
for so many hours was fired at by those who had for so
many years been sheltered by it, a feeling penetrated the
whole North that it was a parricidal act, and all felt that
nothing short of a proclamation of the President of the
United States, calling for troops to defend the flag, and to
defend the threatened capital, could, either in the eyes of
our own people or of foreigners, vindicate the honor and
preserve the existence of the national Government in fact,
of the nation itself. Could you, my dear madam, and that
noble patriot with whom you are * equally yoked,' see this
matter as I do, you would feel that the North, by develop-
ing patriotism and strength, have given to the lovers of
the Union hopes that we may yet be reunited under an
improved government. If I thought that the Northern
armies were going to make aggressive war on the South, I
should feel as unhappy about it as you would. So would
the greater part of the Northern people. I have to-day
read how Governor Sprague, who commanded in person
the Rhode-Island regiment, sent back, under guard, three
negroes who attempted to follow his troops, and delivered
them to their masters ; and, should any rising of the slaves
occur within reach of our troops, confident I am that they
would join you to put it down. Did I believe that any
opposite course was thought of and would be tolerated at
the North, especially against the faithful and respected
State of North Carolina, I would not live here. My bones
should not be laid to moulder into this soil, but I would
make it obligatory on my executor to carry them to North
Carolina, and, if you permit, lay them near where you ex-
pect to be laid. But, my dear friend, things will not come
to this pass. God willing, if I live I will go to North
Carolina, and visit you in your own pleasant Greensboro'
your own happy home. Your dear son will return to you


unscathed. The part he has taken will satisfy the minds
of your State's people that your family are true to them,
and will leave Mr. Gilmer the power to do good to the
Union, when the time comes that they understand that the
great body of the people want what they want to put
down treason, and restore our noble republic to its pristine
glory. I am going to write to the governor as soon as I
can perhaps a letter that I shall choose to publish. My
neighbors, since my return from Washington, seem to take
much interest in what I write. Saturday Mrs. Ellet, author
of the 'Women of the Revolution,' came from New York
to see me, with this message from ladies there : ' What can
the women do to promote peace ? ' Mrs. Ellet was once
of Columbia, South Carolina, the wife of Professor Ellet.
And I have a question to ask both you and Mr. Gilmer :
Would you have any objection that I should publish the
whole or a part of your letters to me ? Some of my friends
think it would do much good. My own only son we are
alike in this respect to be mothers of only sons mine was
much moved by your letters, and thought they ought to be
published ; but, without your approbation, I would not do
it. That the Holy Comforter himself may be with you and
your dear husband, is the prayer of

" Your devoted friend,


Mrs. Gilmer, in reply, uttered the sentiment of prob-
ably the best Southern ladies at the time. I insert it, to
show that they were not all blood-thirsty and eager for the
contest :

"GREENSBORO', N. C., April 23, 1861.

" DEAR MRS. WILLARD : When I received your much-
valued letter, a day or two ago, I was engaged in prepar-


ing our only son to join a company to go to guard our
State from the encroachments of the Northern troops. I
cannot yet realize that the alarm of war has gone forth in
our land. Many and fervent have been the prayers of
multitudes in the land that this sound they might never
hear among those who were once brethren, and ought to
be so still. Within the last ten days the sun of our coun-
try's hope has gone down in gloom. How dark, how deep !
Are we henceforth to be a divided nation, a separated
people ? Must we be cut off from those with whom we
have had sweet fellowship and communion those we love
whose hopes of heaven and happiness are the same ? I
fear separation is unavoidable, but we should part in peace.
Humanity, religion, the Christian world, the God of peace
himself, all cry forbear ! Nothing but a wicked madness
will urge this cruel war, this wicked scheme.

" I think Mr. Lincoln has been misled in thinking it
would be an easy matter to subdue or bring into terms the
seceding States, or that the other Southern States would
lie quietly and see their brethren some who have nursed
at the same breast murdered, and not go to their relief.
Most gladly would our State have held back and been a
mediator, but that time is past. Virginia, also, has waited,
hoping for a more favorable turn of affairs ; but, now that
the awful crisis has come upon us, with hearts lowing,
bleeding, and wellnigh bursting with grief, they will meet
it like men. He who keeps back from defending his home
and his kindred deserves to be himself an outcast from
both. Mr. Gilmer was away from home among the moun-
tains attending his courts ; and the very day that his son
our dear only boy was preparing his arms for defence,
his father was making a Union speech, calling upon his
friends and fellow-citizens to stand firm to hold to the
Union. After a most patient and anxious effort to effect a
peaceful settlement of our difficulties, Mr. Gilmer returned


to his home, he hoped, with some assurances that there
would be no warlike measures adopted to regain the Fed-
era,! property of those States that had declared their inde-
pendence. He had again turned from the strifes of politi-
cal life to the more pleasant duties of his profession, and.
cheering on his friends in the right way, when, on arriving
at home late last Saturday, the first news that greeted him
was the proclamation of Mr. Lincoln, and.the call of our
governor for troops to defend our State ; and, to see those
in whose welfare his whole soul is drawn out, and his
hopes and affections clustered, preparing to leave, and to
be called to press to his aching heart his precious boy,
perhaps forever, and, with a broken heart and a trembling
voice, he would only say, c I thank God I did all I could to
prevent this. I talked to the North and to the South, but
they would not listen to me.'

" Should our country become involved in a civil war,
the contest will be a most unequal one. The government
has the navy, the army, with any amount of money, with a
population of foreigners and low people to do her fighting,
that they will be the better by getting clear of ; while we
have no preparation for war, and no one but our husbands,
sons, and brothers, to defend us. The very idea is heart-"
sickening and overwhelming. May God, in His mercy,
avert this sad calamity ; and, if it is His will, let the cup
be removed from us. Our trust is in Him alone ; He has
the hearts of all in His hands. God has some wise design
in thus afflicting us. He has promised never to leave or
to forsake His people. May we be resigned and submis-
sive to His will not murmuring if we are afflicted and

" When I met you, dear friend, I did not think our in-
tercourse would have EO sad a termination. Your kind
invitation to me to visit you only presents the times in a
more gloomy aspect. Your petition is another evidence


of the goodness of your heart. God will bless the efforts
of His children for good. Should these troublous times
cease, how gladly would I welcome you to our pleasant
home, and with what pride and pleasure would I introduce
you to my children and kindred as my friend ! May God
bless you, dear madam, and may you, like good old Simeon,
see the glory of God in all your trials, and, feeling as he
did, resign yourself into the hands of our blessed Saviour !
Mr. Gilmer appreciates your friendship and kind regards.
He had only time to pen you a short note. He, with our
daughters, unite with me in much love and kind regards to
yourself and family. I shall ever esteem it a privilege to
hear from you. I hope we will not, in the course of events,
be debarred the pleasure of corresponding with those we
love, though in a different portion of our once happy country.
" With sincere regards, ever yours most affectionately,


One of the peculiarities of Mrs. Willard was the habit,

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Online LibraryJohn LordThe life of Emma Willard → online text (page 20 of 27)