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Letters

Presented here are a few letters that I have gathered together that are sure to stir a patriotic heart. If you know of a similar letter that you would like to contribute to this collection please feel free to so! Be sure to include the author (if known), to whom it was written and date, and text to Contact Us. I will, of course, include your name as the contributor.
Thank You!

  • Lincoln letter to Mrs. Bixby.
  • Letter of June 24, 1826, from Thomas Jefferson to Roger C. Weightman, declining to attend the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
  • Recollections of the Boston Tea Party by George R. T. Hewes
  • Letter to Dr. Benjamin Rush by Thomas Jefferson concerning the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
  • Letter to Martha by George Washington
  • Letter from a Navy Pilot - Battle of Midway, Anonymous
  • Last Words to Her Fourteen-Year-Old Son by Elizabeth Hutchinson Jackson, Mother of Andrew Jackson

    Abraham Lincoln: Letter to Mrs. Bixby

    November 21, 1864

    Mrs. Bixby, Boston, Massachusetts.

    Dear Madam: I have been shown in the files of the War Department a statement of the Adjutant-General of Massachusetts that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom.

    Yours very sincerely and respectfully,
    Abraham Lincoln

    Note: This letter was written by the President at the request of the Governor of Massachusetts to a Boston mother who had lost five sons in combat. The letter was delivered on November 25, 1864. Later research revealed that she had not lost that many offspring, but the message remains, nonetheless a valued expression of love of country.

    The letter reflects Lincolns unique ability to pin down the emotions of the moment. It stands as a monument in American literature.

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    Letter of June 24, 1826, from Thomas Jefferson to Roger C. Weightman, declining to attend the celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of the Declaration of Independence in the District of Columbia

    (Letter from Thomas Jefferson to Roger C. Weightman) Monticello, June 24, 1826

    Respected Sir-

    The kind invitation I receive from you, on the part of the citizens of the city of Washington, to be present with them at their celebration of the fiftieth anniversary of American Independence, as one of the surviving signers of an instrument pregnant with our own, and the fate of the world, is most flattering to myself, and heightened by the honorable accompaniment proposed for the comfort of such a journey. It adds sensibly to the sufferings of sickness, to be deprived by it of a personal participation in the rejoicings of that day. But acquiescence is a duty, under circumstances not placed among those we are permitted to control. I should, indeed, with peculiar delight, have met and exchanged there congratulations personally with the small band, the remnant of that host of worthies, who joined with us on that day, in the bold and doubtful election we were to make for our country, between submission or the sword; and to have enjoyed with them the consolatory fact, that our fellow citizens, after half a century of experience and prosperity, continue to approve the choice we made. May it be to the world, what I believe it will be, (to some parts sooner, to others later, but finally to all,) the signal of arousing men to burst the chains under which monkish ignorance and superstition had persuaded them to bind themselves, and to assume the blessings and security of self-government. That form which we have substituted, restores the free right to the unbounded exercise of reason and freedom of opinion. All eyes are opened, or opening, to the rights of man. The general spread of the light of science has already laid open to every view the palpable truth, that the mass of mankind has not been born with saddles on their backs, nor a favored few booted and spurred, ready to ride them legitimately, by the grace of God. These are grounds of hope for others. For ourselves, let the annual return of this day forever refresh our recollections of these rights, and an undiminished devotion to them.

    I will ask permission here to express the pleasure with which I should have met my ancient neighbors of the city of Washington and its vicinities, with whom I passed so many years of a pleasing social intercourse; an intercourse which so much relieved the anxieties of the public cares, and left impressions so deeply engraved in my affections, as never to be forgotten. With my regret that ill health forbids me the gratification of an acceptance, bepleased to receive for yourself, and those for whom you write, the assurance of my highest respect and friendly attachments.

    Th. Jefferson

    Jefferson's letter to Weightman is considered one of the sublime exaltations of individual and national liberty -- Jefferson's vision of the Declaration of Independence and the American nation as signals to the world of the blessings of self-government. This was the last letter written by Jefferson, who died ten days later, on July 4, 1826. Coincidentally, John Adams, another great defender of liberty, died on the same day.

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    Recollections of the Boston Tea Party

    by George R. T. Hewes

    I dressed myself in the costume of an Indian, equipped with a small hatchet, which I and my associates denominated the tomahawk, with which, and a club, after having painted my face and hands with coal dust in the shop of a blacksmith, I repaired to Griffin's wharf, where the ships lay that contained the tea. When I first appeared in the street after being thus disguised, I fell in with many who were dressed, equipped and painted as I was, and who fell in with me and marched in order to the place of our destination.

    When we arrived at the wharf, there were three of our number who assumed an authority to direct our operations, to which we readily submitted. They divided us into three parties, for the purpose of boarding the three ships which contained the tea at the same time. The name of him who commanded the division to which I was assigned was Leonard Pitt. The names of the other commanders I never knew. We were immediately ordered by the respective commanders to board all the ships at the same time, which we promptly obeyed. The commander of the division to which I belonged, as soon as we were on board the ship, appointed me boatswain, and ordered me to go to the captain and demand of him the keys to the hatches and a dozen candles. I made the demand accordingly, and the captain promptly replied, and delivered the articles; but requested me at the same time to do no damage to the ship or rigging. We then were ordered by our commander to open the hatches and take out all the chests of tea and throw them overboard, and we immediately proceeded to execute his orders, first cutting and splitting the chests with our tomahawks, so as thoroughly to expose them to the effects of the water.

    In about three hours from the time we went on board, we had thus broken and thrown overboard every tea chest to be found in the ship, while those in the other ships were disposing of the tea in the same way, at the same time. We were surrounded by British armed ships, but no attempt was made to resist us.

    We then quietly retired to our several places of residence, without having any conversation with each other, or taking any measures to discover who were our associates; nor do I recollect of our having had the knowledge of the name of a single individual concerned in that affair, except that of Leonard Pitt, the commander of my division, whom I have mentioned. There appeared to be an understanding that each individual should volunteer his services, keep his own secret, and risk the consequence for himself. No disorder took place during that transaction, and it was observed at that time that the stillest night ensued that Boston had enjoyed for many months.

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    Letter to Dr. Benjamin Rush

    by Thomas Jefferson

    I wish to mention to you in confidence that I have obtained authority from Congress to undertake the long desired object of exploring the Missouri & whatever river, heading with that, leads into the Western ocean. About 10 chosen woodsmen headed by Capt. Lewis my secretary will set out on it immediately & probably accomplish it in two seasons.

    It would be very useful to state for him those objects on which it is most desirable he should bring us information.

    For this purpose I ask the favor of you to prepare some notes of such particulars as may occur in his journey & which you think should draw his attention & enquiry. He will be in Philadelphia about 2 or 3 weeks hence & will wait on you.

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    Letter to Martha

    by George Washington

    It has been determined in Congress, that the whole army raised for the defence of the American cause shall be put under my care, and that it is necessary for me to proceed immediately to Boston to take upon me the command of it.

    You may believe me, my dear Patsy, when I assure you in the most solemn manner that, so far from seeking this appointment, I have used every endeavor in my power to avoid it, not only from my unwillingness to part with you and the family, but from a consciousness of its being a trust too great for my capacity, and that I should enjoy more real happiness in one month with you at home than I have the most distant prospect of finding abroad....

    It was utterly out of my power to refuse this appointment, without exposing my character to such censure as would have reflected dishonor upon myself, and have given pain to my friends....

    I shall rely, therefore, confidently on that Providence which has heretofore preserved and been bountiful to me, not doubting but that I shall return safe to you in the fall.

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    Letter from a Navy Pilot -
    Battle of Midway

    Anonymous

    The Fates have been kind to me. When you hear people saying harsh things about American youth, you will know how wrong they all are. So many times that now they have become commonplace, I've seen incidents that make me know that we were never soft, never weak.

    Many of my friends are now dead. To a man, each died with a nonchalance that each would have denied was courage, but simply called a lack of fear and forgot the triumph. If anything great or good has been born of this war, it should be valued in the youth of our country, who were never trained for war, who almost never believed in war, but who have, from some hidden source, brought forth a gallantry which is homespun, it is so real.

    Out here between the spaceless sea and sky, American youth has found itself, and given of itself, so that a spark may catch, burst into flame, and burn high. If our country takes these sacrifices with indifference it will be the cruelest ingratitude the world has ever known.

    You will, I know, do all in your power to help others keep the faith. My luck can't last much longer. But the flame goes on and only that is important.

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    Last Words to Her Fourteen-Year-Old Son

    by Elizabeth Hutchinson Jackson
    Mother of Andrew Jackson

    Andrew, if I should not see you again, I wish you to remember and treasure up some things I have already said to you.

    In this world you will have to make your own way.
    To do that you must have friends.
    You can make friends by being honest and you can keep them by being steadfast.
    You must keep in mind that friends worth having will in the long run expect as much from you as they give to you.
    To forget an obligation or be ungrateful for a kindness is a base crime, not merely a fault or a sin, but an actual crime. Men guilty of it sooner or later must suffer the penalty.
    In personal conduct be always polite but never obsequious.
    None will respect you more than you respect yourself.
    Avoid quarrels as long as you can without yielding to imposition. But sustain your manhood always.
    Never bring a suit in law for assault and battery or for defamation. The law affords no remedy for such outrages that can satisfy the feelings of a true man.
    Never wound the feelings of others. Never brook wanton outrage upon your own feelings. If you ever have to vindicate your feelings or defend your honor, do it calmly. If angry at first, wait till your wrath cools before you proceed.

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