William T. Sherman to Thomas Ewing, January 8, 1860, in Walter L. Fleming, ed., General W. T. Sherman as College President... (Cleveland: Arthur H. Clark Co., 1912), 104-106.
Transcription adapted from General W. T. Sherman as College President (1912), edited by Walter L. Fleming
Adapted by Michael Blake, Dickinson College
The following transcript has been adapted from General W. T. Sherman as College President... (1912).
State Seminary, Alexandria, Jan. 8, 1860.
Dear Sir: As you can well understand I am in the midst of busy times, answering letters, making reports, issuing orders, etc., all pertaining to the organization of a new school on a new plan for this part of the world. The weather has been exceedingly boisterous. Snow fell here last week, five inches, but it lay only one day. To-day was like May with you. But the rains and frosts have made the roads bad and have in a measure delayed the coming of our cadets. They have been so used to delay and procrastination that they could not understand the necessity of time.
I took things in hand a la militarism, usurped full authority and began the system ab initio. We now have thirty-two cadets who attend reveille and all roll calls like soldiers, have their meals with absolute regularity and are already hard at work at mathematics, French, and Latin. I am the only West Pointer, but they submit to me with the docility of lambs.
A good many gentlemen have attended their sons and are much pleased with the building and all arrangements. They occasionally drop the sentiment of their gladness that thus they will become independent of the North and such like, but not one man has said one word about John or anything at which I could take exception.
The supervisors seem glad to devolve on me all the burdensome task of details, and are now loud in their determination to besiege the legislature to so endow the Seminary that it shall be above all danger or contingency. The governor sent me word to-day to give him some points for his message, and I have written him at length urging him to get the state, out of her swamp lands, to double our endowment. The present comes from the United States. If Louisiana gives equal we will have an income of $16,200, which would put us above all want. Or if she will simply appropriate to pay for the sixteen cadets which she forces us to educate and support. . .
This however is too good a berth to risk. I perceive I have a strong hold there. The South are right in guarding against insidious enemies or against any enemies whatever, and I would aid her in so doing. All I would object to is the laying of plans designed to result in a secession and Civil War. The valley of the Mississippi must be under one government, else war is always the state. If I were to suspect that I were being used for such a deep laid plan I would rebel, but I see daily marks of confidence in me and reliance upon my executing practical designs, and if I were to say that I contemplated leaving I would give great uneasiness to those who have built high hopes. Still if -- is in earnest and I can hold off till the legislature shows its temper (it meets Monday, the 16th) I will be in better attitude to act.
Here at $3,500 I could save little after bringing my family, but I would have good social position, maybe a good house and, taken all in all, a pleasant home, for such I should make it, designing to keep my children here summer and winter, always. Epidemics never originate here. Sometimes they come up after having sojourned some time below. . .
We must absolutely have help this year or the Seminary cannot pay the salaries stipulated for, nor build houses for the families. I now handle all the moneys and am absolute master of all the business. We have a treasurer twenty miles off, under bond, whereas I, in fact, have in my possession all the moneys, $6,000 nearly, and for its safety they have never asked of me a receipt. I cannot therefore mistake the confidence of the Board. Caution must be my plan now.