Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Mary Louisa Mitchell Binckley to John Milton Binckley, February 12, 1877

[Mary Louisa Mitchell/Michel Binckley at Mossy Creek [Tennessee], to John Milton Binckley at Milwaukee, Wisconsin, February 12, 1877].

[Pencil note: Had Tilden taken his seat, J.M.B. would have been Minister to Spain]

My beloved husband,

For three days past, in fact ever since it became so apparent that the Democrats had been trapped that I was compelled to realize it, I have been trying to make up my mind what to write to you. I am so indignant that I feel as if I myself could fight rather than see such fraud successful. For us especially what hope can there be in a future so dominated by your enemies? But the Democrats seem to have no spirit left. Will they fight for their rights, or not?

If they do, my impulse is to say to you go into the army at once. But have I the right to say what might involve such fearful consequences? And yet I cannot say do not go. I know you would yourself, much rather go into action of some kind: and you would not feel the risk as I would, waiting in silence. And if I should consent and anything should happen [to] you, how could I justify myself to your children?

It is a fearful thing! All I can say is this -- if a war comes, you have my consent to act as seems to you best and right, no matter what that way may be.

I dreamed of you last night as standing before the world torn and battered. I could not reach you, I was chained to a bed -- but I saw you, and cried out that it was all well, I was satisfied, for you had endured for the sake of the right! And tho' that was a dream, you know that if I can feel that I am helping you, I can endure almost anything

[Following section heavily redacted, inked over. It may be more recoverable if projected onto a wall or using a filter]

I have . . . . . brought . . . very . . . clothes[?] . . . to the L . . . what is . . . It is very . . . to . . . I am witness[?] for  . . . after it is . . . but then I must . . . have patience.

Do Milton write to me whether Hayes will be President, or not.

P-----g refused my pictures. I intend to write to that Chicago man shortly. I am having neuralgia badly for the past week; but my health is better than for some years past: almost restored. Am suffering this morning, and stupid from [a] restless night. 

Cannot write more just now. Children perfectly well & doing well. Nellie is almost too busy.

God bless and keep you, my love

[Envelope addressed to Hon. John M. Binckley, 425 East Water Street, Milwaukee, Wisconsin and date stamped BRIS & CHAT Feb. 13 (Bristol & Chattanooga?)]

[Mossy Creek, about thirty miles from Knoxville and on a rail line, is now Jefferson City (since 1901). The Branner Institute for Young Ladies opened in 1876 in Glenmore Mansion]

Election of 1877 electoral map (from Rutherford B. Hayes (R) was awarded one more electoral vote than Samuel J. Tilden (D): 185 to 184. Tilden won more than 50% of the popular vote. Voter participation was just under 82% of those eligible. The Compromise of 1877 ended Reconstruction in the South, abandoning African Americans to "home rule" and Jim Crow.  In exchange, Republicans retained the presidency.

John Milton Binckley (1821-1878)
Mary Louisa Mitchell/Michel Binckley (1838-1930)
Nellie = Nella Fontaine Binckley (1860-1951)

Original manuscript of the Binckley letter is in the John Milton Binckley Papers, 1816-1943. Library of Congress Manuscript Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA. This is my rough transcription. 

Many thanks to William Myers for sending scanned copies of the documents from the Binckley papers, and also to Mary Davy and Sally Young for their assistance. 

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