Letter #27 – MAY 27, 1867  

This letter includes many important updates about post-war America, seen through TJ's eyes , and also the developments in his business and in the lives of his relatives now living in American.

He is clearly still smarting from the fact that the southern rebels had been allowed to keep their wealth (except their slaves) even though, had they been punished, their wealth would easily have paid off the national debt.

Also TJ returns to a frequent theme of regretting that ignorant and ill educated people were being allowed to vote. Yet he lists the faults that remain in the British Scoety and Politics that would never make him willing to return to his native lands.


Env A (Front side)

Mr Caleb Slater
Rope Maker
Langley Mill

3 postmarks: 1. Reading, Pa., May 29. 2. New York May 30, PAID AM Packet 3. London 10 June 67 PAID
Embossed seal saying: Thomas Jackson Cordage Works Reading, PA.

Stamp removed.

Env B (Reverse side)
One post mark: Nottingham A JU 11 67

Reading Penna May 27,1867

page 1

Ever Dear Cousin Caleb,

I got a letter yesterday from cousin John Watson inclosing a letter to him from cousin William Slater, your son, and also a letter from cousin Sarah, your daughter. By it I learn that you are now 77 years old and rather poorly. I ought to have written to you long ago, and now I am very sorry for my long silence. I must beg your forgiveness and hope I shall have it and a long letter in reply to this. In William's letter he says he supposes I am very busy is the reason I do not write. That is the true and main reason although I ought to have spared time to write to you if I only a few lines. But indeed I have been very very busy.

Over 20 years ago I foresaw that the time would come when nearly all rope making would be done by steam power and machinery and that those who were not able to adopt to those improvements would be behind the age and driven out of the trade or nearly so. So I have been straining every nerve to be able to adopt those improvements and stay in the trade. And have so far succeeded with the help of my two sons that we can now hold our own and make rope as cheap as any of them. We have a 40 horse steam engine. we have 12 double spinning machines jinnies we call them that spin 24 threads at once and will turn off a ton & a half of yarn a day. good yarn too. Better for than any hand spun yarn you ever saw.

We have over 2000 bobbins. all the necessary scutstning(?), lapping, drawing and carding machines for preparing the hemp & three forming and three "laying" machines for making all the small rope from 2 inch down to six thread

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cord. Card 2 threads a strand. All rope over 2 inches round is made on the stakes in the long rope walk. We are employing 14 men 23 boys & girls, an engineer, a machinist, also 40 horse engine and two large mules. And myself and two sons. A pretty strong team altogether. This is what takes up all my time. I'm now over 60 years old and deeper in the toils of trade & bother of business than ever before.

But I have some debts of doing all this since 1850, when I lost my every dollar by the big flood of that year. But I hope to make all square in about a year from now and then take the world easy if I live long enough to enjoy any of my hard earnings. My health is much better now than it was ten years ago. Ten years ago I was very much troubled with a return of my old English complaint. asthma. But about eight years ago I got a medicine that almost cured me. I don't feel it much now.

I see by the papers that you were making a great fuss in England about reform and Extending the franchise. Take care that you don't go too far and give the power into the hands of the ignorant, the jealous, the envious of everyone a little better than themselves, the lazy loafing line place hunting demagogues and the tag rag and bobtail of society. That is the curse of America. These on the knaves and fools here who had saddled us with an enormous national debt bearing a much greater interest than the national debt of England does, when we had the power, the opportunity and the just right to compel the thousands of rich slaveholding rebels who made the war pay the debt out of their vast properties still left to them after freeing all their slaves. The leading rebels south and many of the rogues north who aided them all they could, and are still very rich men. They now hold property enough

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to pay our war debt four to five times over, and could, and should be made to pay every dollar of it. But no. The demagogues of the poor man's party with our false hearted villainous president say that confiscation is unconstitutional. That we must be kind and merciful & forgiving to "our erring southern brethren". That losing all their slaves is enough. When these same ex rebels are insulting us every day. Before the war they boasted that they would the aristocracy, the only gentleman men in all America. That they only were fitted to rule a great nation & if we northern workies, we "mud sills of society" as they called us, did not do their bidding they would with us into submission. When they tried to whipping they missed it I'm got whipped themselves. But still, by the aid of northern unprincipled and impudent demagogues, and the crazy folly of the pool ignorant northern jackasses who compose the rank and file of the northern democratic party, they fully escaped all confiscation, all punishment for their devilish cruelties & crimes & their great leader Davis is let run, and they now are fully confident of regaining all their former power over the national government notwithstanding the heavy load of taxes they have put upon us. They boasted before on the war that they could put more trust in the stupid ignorance of the northern democrats than they could in that of their own slaves. They have that same relience upon northern stupidity now & I fear it is not going to fail them.

The interest of your national debt is about 120 millions of dollars a year. The interest of our national debt is over 150 millions of dollars a year. Now cousin Caleb, I left my native land 38 years ago to escape from your heavy taxation and now, in my old age, I am under a much heavier load of taxation then you are in England. And this the votes of the poor men saddle upon us & themselves and let the rich rebels escape with that property &

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their crimes
And this great error we are committing through the ignorance of our voters and the crafty cunning, the impudent falsehoods of a few thousand of lying demagogue leaders who want office in order that they may live in lazyness on the government pass. I feel so angry sometimes that were it not for my family I should surely sell out and make the most of what I have and go back to live out my few remaining years in my native land. But I could not join your radical party. I could not advocate an extension of the franchise. You want but about 4 changes to make yours the best government on this earth.

First you want vote by ballot that voters may vote as they please and not as landlords wish them.

Next cutoff the law of entail, put away primogeniture, and let all the landed estates be equally divided among the dead Father's children male & female alike.

Make the house of lords elective & both it and the commons to be chosen at stated periods and not dissolveable at the will of the sovereign.

Then desolve the connection between church & state, sell all the church lands (but not the churches) put the proceeds to pay off a part of your national debt, and let every religious denomination stand on their own footing, equal before the law of the nation.

Then keep the franchise at £10. Where it is. And you would have a far better government than we have here.

But if you ever get down to a democracy, and get universal suffrage, then the greatness of England will be gone and God only knows what your fate will be. I believe in honesty and intelligence ruling and not rascality and ignorance . But dear cousin Caleb, enough of nasty politics. We will think of some thing better

page 5

My brother Edward is well & lives in Reading. He is married again to his first wife's niece and is doing well. He has no children. Never had any.

My brother Harry has a small rope walk at Pottsville, 35 miles above here and is quite comfortable. He has been married over 20 years and has children grown-up.

My sister Mary is a childless widow and lives on small income left her by her husband.

My Sister Ann lives at a town called Scranton, about 140 miles North of here. She is comfortable and all her three daughters married. The oldest one Matilda died last winter in childbed of her first child. Poor Ann has had rather a hard life of it. But she is now comfortable in her old age.

John Granger, the English boy I brought over with me 38 years ago is with me yet, an old man like myself and a grandfather. But he is comfortable. Owns a good house and garden & will stay with me untill the one of us dies. We are kind of married to each other and cannot be parted it seems.

Both my sons are single yet and likely to remain so. My daughter has been married these 5 years to a very good and very nice man and is very happy and comfortable. She has had three children. The first one died. The other two are nice little boys. I love them as my own children. I inclose you likenesses of my two little grandsons. I would send you my own but I have not one small enough. I will get some next week and send you my own and Edwards "& my sons and daughters too. I hear from John

page 6

Watson that your son William is married and moved to Darlington. No doubt he has got a good wife & will be happy. I wish him very very happy and very well. I intend to visit you all before very long. I would have come this year but I am to busy and have too much to do. The steamers are too crowded by the folks going to France. I don't like going over in a crowded ship. It is very uncomfortable no matter whether one is in the best cabin or not. But I do so long to see you all once again, and shake you all by both hands. And hunt around old "Ilson" for any of my old, my boyhood friends that may be still lingering in the land of the living & got old men like myself.

I must close now or be too late for this mail. So for the present I will say goodbye my good Cousin Caleb and God bless you and all your family. I will write again soon and often and will often send you News Papers.

Kindest and best love to you all from your ever affectionate cousin

Thomas Jackson


The reader should know that the first 4 pages of this letter had been separated from the last two and the associated envelope until 2015. However now we see good evidence that they together make up one letter and we present them as such.

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