camp Sacket, October 24, 1861.. . . . My faith does not begin to be shaken yet, though, so far as I can see or learn, every “impartial observer” abroad professes the unqualified conviction that this government cannot succeed in re-establishing its sway over the Southern States. I long for the day to come when the government shall declare the war to be one of emancipation, and be supported as now by the great mass of Northern men. . . . . The number of people about here, where they ought to be and probably are as well educated and intelligent as in most parts of the South, who can't read, is really astounding; and I should need to have great faith in a person's accuracy to believe what I have seen, did he relate it to me,—not having seen it myself. I asked a man to-day,—of about the mental calibre by nature of our sensible Berkshire farmers,—how it was possible that he and so many others were so ignorant, and that their children were brought up in the same way. He said they never had a chance to “get learning,” —that there were no free schools, and they could not afford to send their children to any others. I asked if he knew many people about here who could read, and he answered, “There a'n't many sure.” But I did not need his assurance of the fact; for though the country is not thickly settled, and I only see those who come into town by the one small road we are on, I have certainly given passes to fifty who could not read what I wrote for them; yet this is the “sacred soil,” sacred to the memory of Washington and one or two other good men, but desecrated by the barbarous influences of this damnable institution. If slavery were to be successful in this contest, I fear I should be driven into an utter abandonment of all my faith in Providence. But if, for our own sins, we have yet a long and hard struggle before us, I am willing to accept it, so that we work our way through the darkness into light at last; and I think I could lay down my life cheerfully, if need be, could I but die in the full faith that the final result of the contest would be to plant the system our fathers founded more firmly, and purified from the canker that has corrupted it and endangered its existence.
Headquarters, December 26, 1861.War with England seems to me not unlikely, though I have been very slow to believe in it. If it comes, we must bid good by to the hope of a speedy peace, and every man who can will have to turn soldier. Were it not for my wife and children, and for you and——, I should require only the assurance that the North would
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Ode recited at the Harvard commemoration, July 21 , 1865 .
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