Letter from John Sherman to William Tecumseh Sherman (1862)

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Dear Brother:

…You can form no conception at the change of opinion here as to the Negro Question. Men of all parties who now appreciate the magnitude of the contest and who are determined to preserve the unity of the government at all hazards, agree that we must seek the aid and make it the interests of the negroes to help us. Nothing but our party divisions and our natural prejudice of caste has kept us from using them as allies in the war, to be used for all purposes in which they can advance the cause of the country. Obedience and protection must go together. When rebels take up arms, not only refuse obedience but resist our force, they have no right to ask protection in any way. And especially that protection should not extend to a local right inconsistent with the general spirit of our laws and the existence of which has been from the beginning the chief element of discord in the country. I am prepared for one to meet the broad issue of universal emancipation.…

We all wait with intense anxiety the events impending in Virginia. We all fear results for a month to come. Now is the chance for the rebels.

Affectionately yours,

John Sherman.

FROM Rachel Sherman Thorndike, The Sherman Letters (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1894), pp. 156-58.

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