Augusta County: Alex Rives to Alexander H. H.
Stuart, November 20, 1860
Rives responds to letter from Stuart and reports a "vague fear" in his area after Lincoln's election. Rives proposes that Virginia confer with "other states" about the crisis and discusses the issue of Lincoln's cabinet appointments.
20 Nov. 1860
My Dear Sir,
Yours of yestderday is just received. I am glad, you are proceeding with deliberation. Great unquiet & apprehension, pervades the Public here. A vague fear distresses us, lest our people should be maddened by occurrences at the South and dragged after the seceding States. I am clear for keeping the State out of that vortex.
I should be glad if we could make a migration to the Spottswood Hotel next winter. It is better located; and particularly fresh and nice; and by taking rooms in an upper Story, could lower the board to $12. But I know, it is difficult to make a party of such friends as we should like to have; and hence, we may have to retain our old lodgings. You, however, will have to be in Richmond on the 1st Wednesday in December as one of our Electors;--(for now I presume there is no doubt of our success) and I must beg you to look out and secure us lodgings wherever you think it best for us to be.
I have heretofore looked forward to the meeting of our Electoral College, for a grand rejoicing. But, now, our political sky is so darkened that we may not have the spirit for it. Still, I would suggest, that the occasion be improved by a public dinner to the Electors, (which might be attended by our best men from every part of the State,) for the purpose of giving expression to our views; and sending on informally delegates to confer with the members of Congress from the South, particularly from Tenn. N.C. Ky. Missouri, Md. &c.
Would not some of our Douglas allies attend by invitation such a dinner?
Let me know what you think of this suggestion. Our public affairs are so critical, it seems to me, we should use every means of consultation with our friends in other States; and the meeting of Congress affords us a capital opportunity for that purpose.
I confess, I am quite concerned by the difference of opinion among us, as to
whether our friends should go into Lincoln's cabinet if invited. Of course, they
could not unless well assured of the correctness of his views &
feelings towards the South; and the agreement of the whole cabinet therein; but with such assurance, I do not see how they could, in justice to the distracted state of the country, decline to give such evidence of conciliation & pacification; though I well foresee, they would subject themselves to the severest obloquy from the Disunion Press. Still, I deem it a sacrifice, that should be made by them to the peace of the Country. Otherwise, the Public mind must be fearfully inflamed by the absence of any representative of the South in the Cabinet. Nevertheless, acceptance of such posts, must cripple our efforts to overthrow the party in 1864, and somewhat demoralize our opposition to Republicanism.
This may be a practical question to you; hence, I throw out my impressions for your consideration with the assurance that I am perfectly willing to yield them to your better judgment.
Hon. A. H. H. Stuart