Hiram Paulding, Letter from Hiram Paulding to James Rood Doolittle, January 7, 1860, Selections from the Doolittle Correspondencem, Mowry, Duane, editor, District of Columbia: Southern History Association, 1905, p. 78.
Doolittle, James Rood
The following text is presented here in complete form, as it originally appeared in print. Spelling and typographical errors have been preserved as in the original.
Huntingdon, Long Island, N. Y.,
Jan. 7th, 1860.
Jan. 7th, 1860.
My Dear Sir:
I had seen in the Times of N. Y. a synopsis of what you had said in the Debate of the 3rd Inst and I thank you with all my sincerity for sending me the Globe with all that was said by those who opposed you as well as the full, clear, logical and unanswerable exposition of the power of Congress under the Constitution relative to the Territories & the miserable slave question. I have seen nothing that more fully meets my views & the sturdy manhood with which you fairly vindicated the northern character, quickened my pulse with a glow of honest pride. The truth is that there is so little of this amongst our representatives, the people of the south are apt to misapprehend the fine attributes that belong to our northern character. In military life where bravado never passes current this thing from social inter-course is better understood. I will thank you also my dear sir, for the knowledge I derive from your examination & exposition of the Judgments of the Supreme Court. To very many it must be apparent how opinion and judgment varies with time & circumstances & how silently & insidiously the revolution of government & (and) even opinion in its integrity may go on, but for the active energy of a mind occasionally prompted, labouriously to look into the history of past years & bring to light the wisdom of men whose names are a barrier to wicked purposes.
After all my convictions were clear & satisfactory, following your facts & deductions to the end, I was not a little amazed in trying to make out the opposing argument and objections of Mr. Pugh.
I thought there must be something where so much was said & repeated my reading with the same result & really could find no expression to characterise his speech until I came to your view of it, which seemed to convey the very idea that was forced upon my mind. When I read that the difference between you & Mr. P. was simply that he "could argue words in the question & out of it," which you had not yet learned, it appeared to me so graphic & truthful, I felt at once that others like myself must see the fanfaronade of words meaning nothing, & it was not to be wondered at, at the close of the Debate, that he fairly sunk under the pressure of the responsibility he had assumed.
To me Mr. Pugh appeared throughout to have taken a part that did not belong to him. It had been better for the southern gentlemen rather than a northern Democrat, acting the part of a new convert & believing the sentiment of his people.
The view you take of disunion & the disreputable threats that are made, meets my cordial and hearty concurrence. The thing is impossible. Men may be mad enough to make the attempt but it cannot be done. There may be Revolution but no disunion. The heart of the nation knows no other sentiment. When a man in high place speaks of the election of a Republican President as a cause for Secession I feel as though he deserved hanging almost as much as Ottawattomy.
I have been out of the way of being a politician & if there were no other embarrassment the way is so devious I am now quite too old to learn, yet I have always I trust known how to esteem an honest and how to appreciate an able man in or out of public councils & without any boast, I glory in the prosperity & happiness of our dear country as well as its prospective greatness, unsurpassed I doubt not in all that has preceeded our nationality.
That a curse inflicted upon us by fortuitous circumstances should arrest the greatness of a nation like this and defeat the fair promise of human happiness throughout the world, is but a dream of darkness that will pass away before the light of christianity and civilization if we do but have such Sentinels at the Watch Tower of Liberty as my kind and excellent friend, the Senator from Wisconsin. This may look to you like the language of Flattery but indeed it is not meant to be so. It has not been in my way of life and I am now too old to learn. There seems to be great difficulty but I hope in the end Mr. John Sherman will be elected Speaker. I do not doubt that it would be a good thing in the end to put the chord to its greatest tension, first by the election of a Speaker and then a Republican President. The Sailors have a song that says "when things get to the worst they are sure to improve," & although I should be sorry to see our affairs in so bad away as this, I have no doubt that a good probing will produce a healthful reaction. However it may be I am sure by your wisdom and virtue you will merit the gratitude of all honest men.
I have written so long a letter that I can hardly suppose the reading will repay you for the loss of time & will trust to Mrs. Doolittle's time & patience to tell you what there is in it worth knowing.
I intended again to have called before leaving, but had too many claims upon my time without losing the Christmas at home.
You have so far secured my confidence by your public course & personal kindness that I presume to write without restraint or ceremony & you will always increase my obligations by sending me whatever may strike you as having an interest to a retired country gentleman watchful of the signs of the times.
Mrs. P. unites with me in compliments & kind wishes to Mrs. Doolittle & I am always with high respect & consideration
The Hon. J. R. Doolittle,
U. S. Senate.