Letter from Wilson Law, 16 August 1842

  • Source Note
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City Ill. one o clock afternoon Augt. 16th. 1842
Lieut. Gen. J. Smith
My Dear Friend— I have just received and read yours of to day & hasten to reply. There is no movements of any kind going on to-day amongst the enemy as far as I can see which helps to strengthen me in my opinion of yesterday, but still it might be a calm before a storm and if so we will meet it when it comes.
You wish my opinion respecting your absenting yourself for some time from those friends that are dear to you as life, and to whom you are also as dear, & from the place and station to which you are call’d by Him who ruleth in the armies of heaven & amongst the inhabitants of the earth. I must confess that I feel almost unworthy to give an opinion on the subject, knowing that your own judgment is far superior to mine, but nevertheless you shall have it freely, it is this I think that if they cannot get you peaceably according to the forms of law, that they will not dare to attempt violence of any kind upon the inhabitants of the city, for they are well aware that they cannot insult us with impunity neither use violence only at the risk of their lives, and there are but few men, who are willing to risk their lives in a bad cause, it is the principles & spirit of Liberty, of Truth, of Virtue, & of Religion & equal rights, that make men courageous and valient & fearless in the day of battle and of strife; and just the contrary with the oppressor for nine times out of ten a bad cause will make a man a coward & he will flee when no man pursueth. Now if I am right in thinking that it is you alone they seek to destroy as soon as they find they can not get you, they will cease to trouble the city except with spies; and if we knew that you were completely out of their reach, we could either laugh at their folly, or whip them for impertinence or any thing else, as the case might be, for we would feel so happy in your safety that we could meet them in any shape. On the whole I think it would be better for you to absent yourself till the takes the Chair, for I do think if you are not here they will not attempt any violence on the , and if they should they will disgrace themselves in the eyes of the world, and the world will justify us in fighting for our rights, and then you can come out like a Lion and lead your people to glory and to victory in the name of the Lord of Hosts. I know the sacrifice you must make in taking this course, I know it will grieve your noble spirit to do so, for when I think of it myself I feel no desire in life but to fight and to cut off from the earth all who oppress, and to establish that true form of government at once which would guarantee to every man equal rights. I know we have justice on our side in respect of city Laws, & that the acts of municipal court are legal, but the question is are we now able to assert them or had we better wait till we are more able. The latter course will give us peace a little while, by sacrificing your liberty and the feelings of your family and friends and depriving us all of your society and governing wisdom. I will only add that I am ready for either course and may God direct us to do that that is best. [p. 172]
City Ill. one o clock afternoon Augt. 16th. 1842
Lieut. Gen. J. Smith
My Dear Friend— I have just received and read yours of to day & hasten to reply. There is no movements of any kind going on to-day amongst the enemy as far as I can see which helps to strengthen me in my opinion of yesterday, but still it might be a calm before a storm and if so we will meet it when it comes.
You wish my opinion respecting your absenting yourself for some time from those friends that are dear to you as life, and to whom you are also as dear, & from the place and station to which you are call’d by Him who ruleth in the armies of heaven & amongst the inhabitants of the earth. I must confess that I feel almost unworthy to give an opinion on the subject, knowing that your own judgment is far superior to mine, but nevertheless you shall have it freely, it is this I think that if they cannot get you peaceably according to the forms of law, that they will not dare to attempt violence of any kind upon the inhabitants of the city, for they are well aware that they cannot insult us with impunity neither use violence only at the risk of their lives, and there are but few men, who are willing to risk their lives in a bad cause, it is the principles & spirit of Liberty, of Truth, of Virtue, & of Religion & equal rights, that make men courageous and valient & fearless in the day of battle and of strife; and just the contrary with the oppressor for nine times out of ten a bad cause will make a man a coward & he will flee when no man pursueth. Now if I am right in thinking that it is you alone they seek to destroy as soon as they find they can not get you, they will cease to trouble the city except with spies; and if we knew that you were completely out of their reach, we could either laugh at their folly, or whip them for impertinence or any thing else, as the case might be, for we would feel so happy in your safety that we could meet them in any shape. On the whole I think it would be better for you to absent yourself till the takes the Chair, for I do think if you are not here they will not attempt any violence on the , and if they should they will disgrace themselves in the eyes of the world, and the world will justify us in fighting for our rights, and then you can come out like a Lion and lead your people to glory and to victory in the name of the Lord of Hosts. I know the sacrifice you must make in taking this course, I know it will grieve your noble spirit to do so, for when I think of it myself I feel no desire in life but to fight and to cut off from the earth all who oppress, and to establish that true form of government at once which would guarantee to every man equal rights. I know we have justice on our side in respect of city Laws, & that the acts of municipal court are legal, but the question is are we now able to assert them or had we better wait till we are more able. The latter course will give us peace a little while, by sacrificing your liberty and the feelings of your family and friends and depriving us all of your society and governing wisdom. I will only add that I am ready for either course and may God direct us to do that that is best. [p. 172]
Page 172