Letter - February 29, 1863  

Clearly John Watson sympathizes with the slaves and would want that they could be emancipated slowly so that they might be better prepared to operate effectively as free men.

He repeatedly expresses his view that the war is God's retribution for the sins of America. Explains the new draft terms and talks of the losses and of his neighbors

NOTE: Unlike most of the letters from other authors, this one has had punctuation added and spellings improved to aid quick reading. The news relating to Caleb Slater and Thomas Jackson has been highlighted.

Piscataway Feb 29- 63 Dear friend & cousin Wm Slater I received your letter duly and was very glad to hear from you and also from my old friend R Burrows it brought old things to my remembrance what a world of changes and trials is this. First I must apologise for my neglect of writing to you it is pure neglect, not from want of respect as I wish to keep up correspondence while I live, and hope it may be continued the next generation. I have been married a year Feb 4th to one Ruth Thomas her Brother is superintendent of the Sabath School Metuchen I had been accuainted with her over 20 years and I wish we had been married 2 or 3 years sooner as I did not procure a honest housekeeper after my Mothers death we are now living comfortable except the trials of hired help and thoughts of this wicked war. and we find the infirmities of age are coming on us as we are now over 60 years. Chs (=Charles his son) is still going to Mr Hopkins School at Metuchen is almost 16 Brother Wm & Amos family are all well I believe, children all at home I was at John Smiths lately his family was well his 2 eldest sons are enlisted from loyal motives, one of them gone more than a year and as he had a knowledge of Medicine from being with Amos 3 years he was put into an hospital to assist the Doctor they are both very steady. Wm Johnson in farming on shares near here our neighbor Phebe Mundy is dead. dirth Frances Wife is dead her sister keeps his house. Henry Jackson was here 3 mos nearly last autumn he talked some of going to England he don't like this war at all last I heard from Thos Jackson they was well his daughter is married I received your Ilkeston paper with his letter in it on slavery I wish you would send me a paper frequently I love to see them

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and now what shall I say about this war I never expected to live to see a revolution of this magnitude but I suppose you see as much war news as I do only about 2 weeks later you know I am not much of a polatition but I suppose Slavery is the foundation, but Christians believes it to be Chastisement from the Almighty for our pride and wickedness both in high & low places and that slavery is hateful to God and that it is his design that it shall now be blotted out but the democratic party are proslavery and disloyal consequently in favour of the South & slavery. they would not let the president have another man nor another dollar if they could hinder it so that we are a nation divided against itself and God only knows when & how the end will be for the hearts of all men are in his hands h(e) can turn them wither so ever he will he can bring good out of evil & cause the wrath of man to praise him and restrain the remainder the war is a terrible chastisement on this nation N & South we had several neighbors killed & wounded & expect more but I think God will not suffer those proud haughty slaveholders to conquer & rule this nation I think if the North was united and loyal and the dishonest officers had been honest the rebellion would have been put down before this time this war has caused much suffering in families on account of berevements & high price of the nescesarys of life dry goods are from 1 to 300 percent higher groceries double price wheat 1,50 pr bag of 60 lbs corn, 80 to 100 clover seed 7 to 8 dollars butter, 25 pr lb meat the usual price wages high in fact there will not be half men enough to do the work the Irish are getting very independent

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and behave very disagreeable they expect to get 150 dollars next year from this Ap 1 (woman 5 to 7o pr mo) I have no man engaged and don't expect to be able to hire any one in which case I shall have to keep Charles at home and do what I can and let the rest go undone our taxes this year was double being 45 dollars including all besides the indirect tax on the articles we use but farming is very good yet in the N states I hope the British & French will never interfere with us as I think that would only make bad worse. I am sorry the English built any pirate vessels, for the South they are bad enough without helping them on. but when we read the old testament we find that wars are no new thing for it is one way that God has taken to chastise his disobedient children and to take wicked men out of the world sudenly but these things show the truth of the character that God has given every child of man that the heart is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked, what an abominable shame for a proffest Christian nation should butcher and murder one another through pride and covetousness & undue love the world & contempt of the golden rule but when nations or individuals sets Gods laws at defiance one year after another grieving the holy spirit away by which they ought to be sanctified there is no knowing what troubles they will bring on themselves in this life but what are all the sufferings that can be had in this world in comparison of eternal misery without hope. why "it is the Lords mercy that we are not all consumed."

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the news has just come that Congress is about ordering a draft of men in which Legislators Congressmen nor ministers are exempt except by procuring a substitute or paying 300 dollars and also an act to hold no intercourse with rebels I am afraid the worst has not come yet. The poor slaves will suffer terribly as a large majority have not the capacity to take care of themselves I wish it could have been abolished gradually. We have had a very open winter consequently very bad roads. the congregations at Metuchen are increasing there was 13 added to the Presbyterian & 16 to the Dutch Reform Church last communion we have been holding evening meetings a month Mr Plumlys(?) family are well he has lately lost his Mother his Father & Sister are living with him. Present my best wishes to your sister & her husband. may they live a holy and then they will live a happy life. I was very glad to hear from Cousin John he thinks it would be best to divide this nation but the line would be so zigzag that I think there would be constant quarelling & it would be necessary to keep two large armies give my love to him & I hope to hear from him again present my love to your sisters I hope they are all attending to the one thing needful if so the need not be over anxious about the morrow for it will soon be with us all as Paul said "They that have wives shall be as tho they had non and they that weep as though they wept not" I hope you will write as soon as convenient my Wife & legal(?) joins me in our best wishes to you all I have neglected procuring those likeness My Dear Cousin Caleb & his Wife (I have forgotten her name) we are in the evening of life may the Lord prepare us for Death Judgement and eternity is thy prayer of your affectionate Cousin

John Watson

(There is also a cross stitched paragraph on the front page of this letter.)

Mar 2
I have hired an Irishman for 144 doll 1 year from April 1. I have just evicted letter from Thomas jackson they are all well sons both of them at home is selling rope from 16 to 18 per lb and he is not satisfied with all the management of the war and thinks the slaves ought to be pout in the armies fast as possible. HIs son was caught in the snow storm with the waggon 50 miles from home I shall send you a paper with this ;letter let us correspond while I live I think they will get rail road from Amboy to Westfield to intersect the Plumfield rail and it will bring coal direct from the mines It is 7 to 8 doll per ton this winter on account of scarcity of men &* high wages I must now bid you goodby my English friends May we live as we would wish to die and meet at last where the wicked cease from troubling and where the weary ar at rest is the prayer of your cousin

J Watson


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