Letter #9 – JUNE 21, 1862  


Here Thomas Jackson vents his pent up frustrations and fury about the war. He finds it incredible that the southern states would be willing to fight for "liberty" but points out they only love liberty for themselves but want to keep slavery for somebody else.

Also an insight into the use of the demeaning use of the word "niggers" by many in the north.

Reading June 21st 1862

Dear Cousin Caleb, I expect you think it strange that I have not answered your kind letter long ago. Well the truth is, I think it is strange myself too. Really I have very often thought of you & of all my English relatives & have many times determined to write & then put it off again & again.

One great cause is this war we have on hand here fills up everybodys spare thoughts & takes all our spare time to talk & read about. I have sent you several newspapers & could send you many more. I take 3 daily papers & one weekly. And after knocking around all day I am glad to sit down in the evening & read my papers & then get sleepy & cannot write. Sunday is a day of rest & the older I get the more I like to make it such & to enjoy it as a much needed rest. But to day I make a start with a letter.

I presume you have heard from cousin John Watson oftener than from me & he tells you much family news. I have not seen him these six months, but he often writes me. He got married again some few weeks ago. I have not seen his new wife but I presume he has got good one. At all events is old enough to make a suitable selection. I hope he will be happy and comfortable for the rest of his life, for he has worked hard & always tried to do right & well deserves to be so.

(page 2)

I suppose you English take a good deal of interest in this war of ours. All the civilized world seems to do so more or less, but England more specially. And well they may, for indeed it is most extraordinary event in the history of the world, and a strange instance of the most unaccountable inconsistancy & selfish perversity of mankind. Here is a nation that started into its independent existence eighty years ago declaring the most devoted love of liberty, the most ardent affection for freedom & the most sincere respect & regard for the rights of men. Then they held five hundred thousand human beings in slavery & professed the most humble regret that such was the lamentable condition of their infant nationality.

The northern states were sincere in those regrets & immediately commenced measures for the removal of the evel & succeeded so well that more than half of the states are entirely free from the stain and curse within themselves.

But the southern half of the great republic has been false to its professions and entirely repudiated the great principles upon which it rested all its claims for independence eighty years ago. The south has made all its high sounding declarations of liberty & the rights of man a hissing glaring lie, & and has nurtured & encouraged the odious institution untill the slaves have been increased from five hundred thousand to four millions, & it's a vile contamination has also demoralized the free states so for, that although this is entirely a slaveowners rebellion, and it is the slaveowners ownly that began the war and aim to break up the government & dismembered the nation, yet the north will submit to be bathed in blood & lose tens of thousands of loyal white mens lives in a prolonged & barberous conflict, with a hundred thousand slaves used against them, sooner than

(page 3)

they will interfere with the "peculiar institution" all give freedom even to the slaves of the rebels in arms against the government, although it is well known that these rascally slave drivers are forcing the poor bondman, who to a man are all loyal to the union, to help them make war upon us. Under the name of conservatives they want to restore the union as it was & preserve slavery as it is, merely for the sake of southern trade & its fancied profits. It is a very melancholy fact, but it is nonetheless true than lamentable, that southern slavery so far demoralized the whole north, that every man who has made a wheelbarrow or sold a side of bacon to go south, is clamorous for "adhering to the constitution" as they call non-interference with slavery, although the slave-owning rebels have trampled the constitution under their glory feet in the best hearts blood of our bravest men.

Through all the north the poor blacks are called "niggers" and the cry of these conservativesis "Who would fight for the freedom of the damn'd niggers?" " What white man is mean enough to stand and fight alongside of the damn'd nigger?" An yet the slave drivers are forcibly using the same "damn'd niggers" to aid in killing off scores of thousands of our proud whites, simply and only because the white Americans, who avow implicit faith in the equality of all men, practice that faith by preferring the risk of bloody defeat with the "damn'd nigger" forced to fight against them, rather than certain victory & an early & successful end of the war, with the poor negro willingly fighting alongside of & for them, and asking no rewarded at our hands but only the liberty God gave to all as a birthright & our knowledgement of him of all those great & inalienable rights which we price so highly & hold so dearly for ourselves.

(page 4)

But this wall will go on untill we see one of the most astonishing instances of the wonderful workings of God to counterbalance the lack of principle in man that this world ever witnessed. The slaveholders could even now secure all that constitutional rights as slaveholders & the perpetuity of their beloved slavery together with a preponderating influence in the management of a national affairs, if they would lay down their arms and return to the equality of states they have always had.

But they will never do that. So the obstinacy of man will yet accomplished to just, wise & merciful intentions of the almighty. These crazy rebels will yet fight on untill "conservatism" is thrown to the winds. The government forced to declare the abolition slavery. Then bond & free will join in allience. More than a million men will rush to arms and the haughty manstealer will be crushed out quickly & slavery known no more in all of North America.

I am 55 years old, but I shall take a hand in that great stroke & so will my sons, when the war cry of "down with slavery" rings out. Hundreds of thousands in the north all anxiously but patiently waiting for it and fully ready to respond. Now mark my words. The harder the slaveholder fights the more certain is the accomplishment of his ruin, & the more secure will be the liberty of the enslaved.

The only great drawback is that slavery it will be abolished not from any noble principal : Not from the white mans innate love of universal liberty and impartial justice, but as what is called "a military necessity". Such is the meanness of this modern democracy & contemptible conservatism. There is a large class of widemouthed patriots here, who have been educated to love liberty for themselves & slavery for somebody else. And they are so numerous that if the slaveholders had not gone mad ,they would willingly help preserved slavery for them for ever.

Front of Envelope containing this letter (as always these may have become mismatched over the years)

Mr Caleb Slater
Rope manuafactiruer
Langley Mill, near Eastwood
England, Europe

1 .Reading, PA August 14 1860? 1862? 1863?
Note: reverse of envelope clearly shows the envelope was sent in 1862
2. Also N.York. BR. PKT. Aug 19 38
Postage stamp removed!


Rear of same envelope.

1. Nottingham A Aug 31, 62
2. Eastwood Aug 31 62


This letter is in places somewhat more confusing than others. Thomas Jackson's elaborate style of criticizing his opponents sometimes gets out to hand! However several important issues are covered here.

Perhaps most revealing is that in mid 1862, TJ now recognized that many in the North had little interest in the rights and well being of black Americans and indeed had no wish to fight for them or alongside them. This pragmatic awareness must have been very discouraging to TJ who was devoting his energies to abolishing slavery and had expected that the North would support the war with abolition as part of its mission (although of course this was not the prime motivation that lead Lincoln to try to force the southern states to stay in the Union).

Here he gives examples of how the label of "niggers" was always used in a derogatory manner to show a lack of respect or concern for back people.

The ambassadors have noticed that throughout all of Thomas Jackson's extensive correspondence, he himself only uses the N word when describing the speech of his opponents. Although the word was of course widely used in most communities in those days, he personally always seemed to avoid the use of that word back in 1862 and probably many years before it became a touchstone issue of political correctness and empathy.

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