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Augusta County: Alexander H. H. Stuart to His Wife, c. 1860-1861

Stuart laments the current political situation where "it is almost impossible for either of the parties now to unite on any man." He asks about home and his family.


My dearest Wife

I remained today, in hopes of witnessing the end of the disgraceful & alarming scenes which have occurred here for the last fornight--I have been disappointed however, & every thing is as much at sea as ever. Indeed I do not see how any organization is to be effected--In addition to the feelings of party which are always so potential, we have now the new element of sectional division, & it is almost impossible for either of the parties now to unite on any man. Thus, Mr. Winthrop can no longer command the entire Whig strength, nor can Mr. Cobb unite the democratic party--The issue cannot be foreseen, & as I am not a prophet, I cannot undertake to predict it. I will be satisfied if they will spare the union.

I shall leave here in the morning for Richmond, & hope to be at home thursday, friday or saturday, as circumstances may render convenient--I am quite satisfied with this place & shall be glad to get off tomorrow. The only regret I have connected with my trip is, that I have not seen Genl Wrightman's family--I made several attempts to find them, & this morning spent half an hour in an ineffectual effort to do so--I had a long chase before I could find Com: Skinner's family, but at last did so--They were very glad to see me, & I sat with them an hour, during which Wm S. & Fanny & Miss Whitehead made a thousand enquiries about the Staunton folks &c.

The commodore lives in very handsome style, near a mile from the capital, on the corner of H & 11th street.

I recd your letter last night, & felt under great obligations for the news you gave me about all our little matters--I have thought repeatedly of your troubles with your pork &c--I presume at the very moment I write this, you are preparing some sausages for supper, & are congratulating yourself that the lard has been set away to cool.

I anticipate a great deal of pleasure in spending tomorrow evening in your mothers little parlour talking

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over matters interesting to us both--I wish you could be with us provided we had a rail-road to Staunton to save you the horrible journey which I anticipate home--Be sure & write to me at Richmond, & if there is any thing you want let me know it, & I will take pleasure in getting it for you.

I feel very curious to know what you are all about. Is Baldwin trying to improve himself? Do you think he has any honorable ambition to be distinguished above the ordinary herd of men? or will he be content to be a mere cypher?

Have Augusta & Fanny given up their wicked & unbecoming snarling at each other? Frequently when I awake in the night I think of them, & their want of that mutual kindness & affection in deportment, it distresses me greatly--It would delight you to see how affectionate cousin Elvira's children are to each other, & how respectful to their mother.

Is Mary learning her lessons well now? Cousin Elly's boy who is but little older reads very well. She must spur up or she will be considered very dull

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if not a dunce--This would distress me exceedingly--If she could not learn I would not think much of it--But as I know she can if she will, I will take it very hard if she does not.

When I get away from home, & have time for reflection, I think a great deal about the children, & am exceedingly anxious that they should try and qualify themselves to take a respectable position in the world--They have great advantages & opportunities for improvement, & if they neglect them, they will repent it when they get old enough to realize the importance of them--I fear for example that Baldwin cares a great deal more about a becoming coat than becoming deportment--And I know he feels a great deal more anxiety to do what Tom Kinney & some of idle boys think right, than what his father and mother know to be proper--May God bless them all! & you too my dearest wife in the constant prayer of your affectionate husband.


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