Having given up the trade to which he had applied himself so assiduously, and entered college as a preparatory step to a theological course, it is needless to say that Tucker proved himself an earnest, hard-working student, and when he graduated carried with him the wisdom and knowledge that can be gained only by faithful study. His plans for the future were now matured, and he was ready to enter the Theological Seminary at Newton, Massachusetts, when a conflict of duties arose in his mind, which is best described in a letter to a friend.
All of us ought to be willing to do what we can for our country. I did not deem it necessary to go while men enlisted so readily. Now the time seems to have come. Men are needed faster than they seem ready to volunteer. The same reasons apply to my not enlisting now that applied a year ago. I left my trade with a deep conviction that it was my duty to prepare myself to be a preacher of the Gospel. This conviction has never left me, and I have not hitherto felt it would be right to turn aside from the pursuit of this object. But now the country is plunged into war, a terrible war, by Rebels who are seeking to overturn the government, and degrade it from being the freest government the world ever knew, to be a mere slave oligarchy. If they succeed in their hellish design, and this government is overthrown, then perishes all civil and religious liberty, our national life ceases, and nothing is left worth having. Since this is the case, the question arises, Is it not the duty of every man, to whom God has given strength and ability, to do what he can to prevent this, even to shouldering the musket and taking the field to meet force by force? If, as we are sometimes told is the case, God has placed the institutions of civil and religious freedom in the hands of the people of this nation, then do we not serve him by maintaining these institutions? And if we prove recreant to our trust, shall we not justly merit his displeasure? Life is sweet, and I suppose it is sweet to me as to most people; but I do really feel willing to offer my services to my country, place myself upon her altar, fight, and, if need be, die in her defence. I have thought it proper, in thinking of the matter, to consider that it was more than a possibility, even aproaching a strong probability, that, if I went to the war, I should be maimed, disabled for life by wounds, or contract disease which would render me a helpless dependant upon friends, if I was not killed; and