"All is Over and Lincoln Elected," John Tyler Writes, "As Confidence Between Man and Man is Giving Way"

November 10, 1860

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"All is Over and Lincoln Elected," John Tyler Writes, "As Confidence Between Man and Man is Giving Way"
Autograph Letter Signed
3 pages | SMC 586

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      Background

      As far as Tyler was concerned, the election of Abraham Lincoln was his worst nightmare come to true.  During the campaign, he had pledged on the graves of his Virginia ancestors to protect the South against abolitionists, live or die, he said, survive or perish. Now the “abolitionist” was elected and doom, he was sure, awaited. Lincoln would do away with slavery: a race war could result. South Carolina would secede, the South would take up arms, and in the end, the North’s wealth, resources and numerical strength would triumph. Here, just six days after Lincoln won the presidency with a scant 40% of the vote, Tyler laments the election:

      So all is over and Lincoln elected. S. Carolina will secede. What other States will do, remains to be seen. Virginia will abide developments. The Bellites
      [the Constitutional Unionists] will seek to divide parties into unionists and the reverse. We shall see the result. It is said that Rives [Virginia politician William C. Rives] is offered the Premiership. He will only take it upon satisfactory assurances being given, I am sure. For myself I rest in quiet, and shall do so unless I see that my poor opinions will have due weight. In the mean time confidence between man and man is giving way and soon gold and silver will be hoarded by those who are fortunate enough to have them.
       
      However much he dreaded Lincoln’s election, however, Tyler tried, in the waning days of the Buchanan administration, to avoid bloodshed and preserve the Union.  He was instrumental in the convening of a peace conference (see Tyler documents dated February 4, 1861), and he and his fellow delegates even met with the President-Elect; but both efforts failed abysmally. Before the Washington Peace Conference had ended, Tyler was urging the cause of Secession. He would eventually hold Lincoln responsible, in fact, for starting the Civil War: if only the President hadn’t reinforced Fort Sumter – valuing a mere local fort above the value of the Union itself – then the second “Battle of Marathon,” reprising the freedom-loving Greeks against the tyrannical Persians,  never would have had to be fought…


      Autograph Letter Signed (“J. Tyler”), 2 pages, recto and verso, quarto, Sherwood Forest, November 10, 1860. To Robert Tyler in Philadelphia. With Free Franked (“J. Tyler”) integral address leaf.
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      Sherwood Forest
      Nov. 10. 1860 

      Dear Robert, 

      I am disturbed at the great solicitude of Tazewell about the money you owe him. He writes on yesterday most gloomily. The 15th is his day of doom. Pray can nothing be done. For myself I am entirely flat of my back, have a large sum myself to pay about the 16, and if disappointed in one direction, shall be under anathema. The loss of my wheat crop has embarrassed me beyond expression -- and then I am just recovering from a violent attack of sickness and am unable to go about much- I can only suggest to you plans of momentary relief- What if all else has failed, think you of two drafts[,] the one at 60 and the other at 90 days drawn by me on you, or the second at 120 days- Could you meet them. Perhaps I might be able to get them negotiated -- but then you would have to meet them without fail. If you cannot raise the money in whole or in part in any other way, this remains to be tried -- but then you must redeem them at maturity, or both of us would be protested -- for I have no possible means of redemption -- or if you

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      could command a part of the sum to remit instantly with your acceptance for the balance at 60 days Tazewell might be able to get along- If acceptances are to be used, then draw them out in a plain hand (the drafts) with your acceptance & name across the paper- Whether I can negotiate them or not will remain to be seen.

      So all is over and Lincoln elected. S. Carolina will secede. What other States will do, remains to be seen. Virginia will abide developments. The Bellites will seek to divide parties into unionists and the reverse.  We shall see the result. It is said that Rives is offered the Premiership. He will only take it upon satisfactory assurances being given, I am sure. For myself I rest in quiet- and shall do so unless I see that my poor opinions will have due weight. In the mean time confidence between man and man is giving way and soon gold and silver will be hoarded by those who are fortunate enough to have them.

      Love to all
      Yr. affte [affectionate] Father

      J. TYLER

      R. Tyler, Esq. 

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      J. TYLER

      Robert Tyler Esq-
      Philadelphia
      Pennsylvania