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Mary Bettle Letters

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Document Type: Autograph Letter Signed

Author: Sophia Jones
Date: October 4, 1862
Place: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
To: Mary Bettle

Physical Description: Ink on paper; 8 pages (20 x 13 cm.) on 2 folded sheets

Number: MSN/CW 5029-02

Transcribed by: Jeremy Kiene and Sara Szakaly, 2005-08

(Please click on our Technical Details button at left
for more information on transcription conventions,
image scanning conventions, etc.)

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Philada 10 Mo. 4th. 1862

My Dear Mary,

     Thy Aunt Elizabeth has sent me word she has room in her envelope for another sheet, so I have concluded to send a few lines in acknowledgement of thy very acceptable letter from Interlacken, since which time we have not had a line from any of you, it cannot be you have not written for so long a time, we are extremely desirous of having some letters were it not that thy father's letters to thy uncle W. come regularly and by this means we hear you are well and know how you are progressing we should of course be exceedingly uneasiness, if you have not written (which I cannot believe) do please be more diligent. We are so glad you went to Italy, although I suppose Rome was when there forbidden ground, which was to be regretted, still to go to Florence, Venice &c was charming — Perhaps thou wilt be surprised for me to say it, but notwithstanding your glowing descriptions of all you see and enjoy as well as what I can imagine, they would scacely repay it seems to me, for the loss of the life long memory of scenes and feelings we have passed through

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especially the last month, doubtless you hear much but it is not like being on the spot, the personal dangers and loss no doubt to you at so great a distance seems much more than to us here, but for while thousand and tens of thousands are in suffering and grief there is a large class to whom it this scacely reaches except through their sympathy; around things look prosperous, the abundant supply is wonderful, nature's hand was never fuller of abundance of the fruits of the earth; the poor are largely supplied with work and while dry goods are very high (unbleached muslin 28 cts) people appear to buy and sell as much as ever, in fact money seems plenty—but with all this apparent prosperity the depth of the mighty struggle for freedom and the free institutions of this once favored land appeals to all hearts, and makes one feel the depth of our love for them and that there is something ennobling in thus feeling. The emancipation act, the meeting of the Govenors, the last noble appeal of the President to the Border states' men with their replies, all which I hope you have seen with many more such appeals show so much true patritism, while on the other hand the base conduct of some of our half drunken generals and officers (with of course many honorable exceptions) have not increased, as was justly feared, the love of mere military glory, in this country. The late uprising in this state was wonderful and showed a steadfast determination in the people to defend themselves in the way

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they believed right; and as Dr. Levick, who was on the battle field at Antietam, having been sent for with a number of other surgeons from this city some days after the battle, said, the fortitude of the soldiers was wonderful; Sir Philip Sydney's well known cup of water to another rather than himself, was nothing in comparison to some of them; one poor man had just had his thigh amputated, and another next to him, a confederate soldier, was about to have a similar operation, while they were looking for a pillow to place under the part, the other poor fellow drew his from under him saying he (the last one) wants it more than I do. He told us a number such instances, which makes one feel sad to think of such men being sacrificed amid the horrors of the battle field; and if such a noble army as is now in the field had only all learned that all wars and fighting are wrong and freedom the inallienable right of all, these scenes would never have been and doubtless this country remained a united people. Well I have said enough, we shall have much to talk about when you return — We are all well, except Patty has had a pretty severe cold but she is on the mend now — I want thee to tell thy father a message thy uncle William left with us to send, which was, that the letter he sent by the last Fourth-day's steamer, was the last one he expected to write having written thirteen, and not having had but one ac

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knowledged he was afraid they had not reached thy father and therefore he had written to Brown Shipley & Co. inquiring about them and least the last might share the same fate he wanted us (as ours seemed more fortunate) to let him know of the letter and the reason why no more would come until he heard directly that some of them had been received —I have enclosed an account of an interview those Ohio friends I alluded to in my last letter had with the President—thinking it might interest you, E. Nicholson got the letter for me through Samuel Rhoads — The three friends they met at Washington were Samuel Hillis and his son Wm and John W. Tatum who were going on behalf of Friends of Delaware, neither knew of the others going until they met and parted in Baltimore and then joined again in W.
You will be glad to know E. N. is a great deal better she seemed like she used too only more subdued, she is deeply interested just now in the Bethesda Home—
I forgot to say in my note to thy father, that the money he thoughtfully left for the poor has added comfort to the last days of one or two afflicted persons and I believe given timely aid to some not among the class we call poor—Who now are the real sufferers, of whom I have no doubt there are many but hidden from view —
Regina Thaber was at meeting this morning, in prayer and preaching was most sweet — Dr. Worthington has been very sick but now improving, poor Mary is in the depths—I fear—
I hope thy dear mother does not let the country trouble her too much Tell her since the President's Emancipation Act, things look more encouraging, it was better received than some of the fearful ones thought it would be — The people are beginning to feel it is better to suffer for the right—

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I think Benjamin is much more comfortable his nervous system more satisfactory, but far from recovered in health. It may be for the best is for a time an invalid My aunt E. looks much better —

Mother sends her love to all—and Patty also—she sends word to the boys if it were not that she feels too stupid from her cold to be able to write anything worth sending she would have written Give my love to thy dear father Mother Eddie, Henry, and thyself

affectionately thy aunt Sophia Jones

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I thought when you left we might have much to go through, and truly I for one can say not one thing has failed to come to pass—but reverent thankfulness is due to the good and gracious hand that has helped us through and given us much to enjoy—the summer was delightful We will have a warm welcome home. I promised to send Sarah Lord's love to thy mother—

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"John Butler & I arrived at the Hotel about 6 P.M. took a room and after making our toilet went to Chase's residence, but not finding him in we sent up our notes of introduction with the word that we would call at half past 8. At the hour appointed we went and found him ready to receive us, which he did very cordially — after spending an hour in free conversation and showing him our memorial, he said if we would call at his department at 9 1/2 tomorrow morning he would either go with us to the President or give us a note which would answer every purpose as well; though he could give us little encouragement that anything could be done to relieve us, yet he thought we ought to be exempt.
     Next morning when we came down to breakfast we found the three friends at the table. We held a consultation when it was agreed we should go alone together to the President's department & after we had presented our memorial they would present their case also. We went then to the War department, but could not gain admittance.

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when the hour arrived we waited upon Secry Chase who immediately accompanied us to the Presidential Mansion where we soon obtained an audience with the President, who gave us a friendly reception. Jno— Butler after saying— "We come before the President as a deputation from the Y. M. of orthodox Friends of Ohio to present him a memorial on its behalf"—handed him the document — He read it aloud—and presently said — His present opinion, from the short time he had had to reflect upon it, was that he could do nothing for us — There were dificulties in the way that he could not at present see how could be overcome — If it were only the service we would under the army, that could be dispensed with. Our number was small and could be spared, but there were graver objections — If he released us to-day, to-morrow another class would apply for exemption & then another & so on—thus he would get into difficulty, for they would say you you exempted the Quakers, why not us? He was told that no other society claimed to be a peace Society. Others were not conscientous against bearing arms. He replied "Neither are you all, many of your members have enlisted.

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We answered—"That they were not experienced members—were not fully established & their sympathy for their country had induced them to bear arms" &c He said "the fact of our always having been opposed to war was worthy of consideration. If this excuse had been trumped up for the occasion against this war it would not be heeded for a moment for if there ever had been a war in which we could or ought to fight it was this"
To this proposition we assented in the main — We were treated respectfully throughout & when we were about to leave he said he did not see how they could do any thing for us, but he would submit the papers to the Sec. of War and if there could be anything done he would let us know. We pressed the matter upon him closely & after expressing our sympathy for him in his many trials and our prayers that he might be rightly directed in this momentous crisis we left him — The other Friends declined doing anything further in the matter, but Jno. Butler and I thought we must go again to the war department & try to get an audience with the Secretary. We accordingly went directly to his office & waited till he came in to it—

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when we handed him our letter of introduction. He laid it upon his desk without opening it and went into his private room, where he met Chase and soon after the President passed through the office into his room — Presently Chase left, when we heard the President in earnest conversation for about twenty minutes, when he came out and as he passed us said, "The Sec. will see you Freinds just now, pass right in." The Sec.ry received us warmly and after a few minutes passed in conversation & enquiry about his friends in Ohio said "The President has just handed me your paper; I am opposed to exempting any class as a class, but I have a right & am willing to release individuals, whenever there is sufficient reason, & I think no man ought to be compelled to fight who is really conscientious against it & as the number will be small who will be liable to suffer in this way, I think I can reach the case as effectually in this way as any other & at the same time avoid all the difficulties in the case. So whenever any of your members are drafted let them make affidavit of their being members and conscientiously scrupulous in bearing arms & communicate the same to me & I will immediately release him. The form you have submitted to the President will do very well" (The affidavit I sent in the Frends Review) He then took his pencil and interlined between the words "he" "conscientiously" "is a member of the religious society of Friends called Frends and"

Transcription last modified: 14 Sep 2011 at 11:46 AM EDT

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