8 February 1863: “My chief hope & aim in coming here was to protect loyal men, and to encourage the people to return to their allegiance to the Union.”

Item description: Letter, 8 February 1863, to U. H. Wheeler of Washington, N.C., from Edward Stanly in New Bern, N.C.

Stanly was a native of New Bern who had practiced law in Washington, N.C.; had been a Whig member of Congress from North Carolina in 1837-1843 and 1849-1853 and of the North Carolina House of Commons in 1844-1849; moved to California in 1853 and practiced law in San Francisco; and was appointed Union military governor of North Carolina in 1862. This letter was written after Stanly had resigned as governor in January 1863. Stanly wrote to Wheeler that he had resigned because he had told people that the government would restore the property of loyal men and protect their Constitutional rights, but he did not believe that to be true after the Emancipation Proclamation. He also speculated about what kind of successor would be appointed and wrote about his hopes to see some of his friends in Washington after he was no longer governor.

Item citation: From Miscellaneous Letters #516, Southern Historical Collection, The Wilson Library, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

Item transcription:

New Bern Feby 8th 1863

My Dear Sir,

I am indebted to you for one or two letters, which have been unanswered because of my numerous engagements.

I thought earnestly upon the propriety of resigning and the more I thought of it, the more I was convinced it was unavoidable. My chief hope & aim in coming here was to protect loyal men, and to encourage the people to return to their allegiance to the Union. I have protected loyal citizens in numerous instances you know, and have induced many to take the oath of allegiance & to keep away from all connexion with Secessionists.

I have told our people that the Government would restore property to loyal men & would secure all their constitutional rights. How can I say so, after the Proclamation of the First of January?

I do not know what the President will do. I have no answer & only wait patiently, until the [passage?] of more important matters gives time to [attend?] to North Carolina. I told the President, it would give me pleasure to wait until my successor arrived, and until I could make him acquainted with the condition of affairs here.

Though there is danger that a man of fanatical opinion may be my successor, & become a cruel oppressor, yet I do not believe the administration will send such an one. A man of good sense, & kind heart, of Northern origin, might do more than I can, for he would not be so bitterly opposed by abolitionists as I have been.

Let us hope for the best & or our duty, trusting in the Almighty, to over-look us all.

Should I leave soon, what shall I do with your horse? I can send him to you, whenever you say so, or leave him in care of any person you may suggest.

Unless something prevents, which I do not anticipate, I will come to Washington before I go north – but my heart sinks, at the thought of saying farewell, to that place under such mournful circumstances.

If it be possible, there are some friends of ours, whom I should be glad to see, before I leave. When I shall no longer be Milty. Gov. it might not be improper in them to see me – but of that they must judge. My wish to see them must not endanger their safety.

I can learn nothing from the Secy. of War yet in answer to my repeated enquiries, about the regulations affecting trade. The army of the Potomac, & its condition, monopolize all their thoughts.

I conclude, in haste, for [?] waits & is afraid of being left.

Yours truly,
Edward Stanly

Dr. U.H. Wheeler
Washington, N.C. 

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