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Hon. John A. Tucker

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Suicide Note

Letter From Hon. John A. Tucker – His Death

(From the Columbus Times & Sentinel – December 23)

We give below a letter from the late Hon. John A. Tucker, which was found on the table in his room at the time of his death, directed to one of the editors of this paper.  Written for publication, we do not feel at liberty to withhold it.

It will be read with interest by those who knew its author – his big heart, his generous impulses, his strong friendship, his marked ability, his noble nature, his many virtues.   They will shed a tear of sorrow over his new-made grave, and cherish in their hearts his memory.   But the letter:


Dawson, Ga. – December 16th.

To:   P. A. Colquitt, Editor Columbus Times:

I am about to do a thing, which I have had in contemplation since 1848, viz: to rid the world of me, and to rid myself of an existence useless to me and derogatory to others.  And Mr. Editor, how dare you or any of your readers say, it is weak or wrong, unmanly to perform the act I am about to perform?  Life is a burden to me, has been for years.   I am driven on by destiny; I have no power to control.  Don’t’ say to me “it is your fault”, you could act differently – It is untrue I always wished to act differently – I have prayed God to help me act differently.  He knows my wish and purpose was to be a good man.   This I have prayed for from boyhood; and yet I have not been a good man.  “There is a divinity that shapes our ends.”  There is a power that drives us on like a feather before the wind, and we have as little power to direct our course as the feather in the gale.

Now with all my sins, follies and vices clinging to my skirts, I am going unbidden, into the presence of my God, to ask him if I have not been an honest man; to ask him if ever I wronged a man intentionally; to ask him why I am not the man I always desired to be; to ask what punishment I am to receive for knowing my duty, desiring to perform it, and yet not having the nerve to do it.   Don’t say I am drunk either, for it is not so.   I tell you, Peyton Colquitt, that I am doing this thing upon reflection.   I lay all night thinking of it.   I have looked at all the reasons for and against it.  In some respect I have been a successful man.   As certain as the world stands, I would beat the race for Judge by more than the Democratic majority.    That is not the thing with me.   I would not live to be President of the United States, unless I could be the man I wish to be.     From a boy I wished to be a great and good man, a man exerting a great salutary moral influence on mankind.   But, as it is, I am shedding deathshade(?) and mildew from the high places in the land.

I would have waited till I got home but I knew it would not do.   I would then never have discharged the duty I own to myself and mankind.  I could not part with my wife and little ones.   Several times in the last few years I have prepared myself for this event at home when my wife knew nothing of it.   But to look at the children and hear them say “Pa”, or look at a smiling affectionate wife, that anticipated my wishes, that forgave a thousand follies, that never spoke an unkind word to me, that never did one unkind act, I did not have the courage to proceed.    But believing, as I do, that my departure from this life will benefit my family, as well as others, I am going to die here today.   I have plenty of friends who will be sorry for this; but to one and all of them I say, John A. Tucker, never professed friendship to any one that he deserted in the hour of trial.   My wife and little ones I commend to your care.


Empire State – Spalding County

Week of January 6, 1859

File contributed by:
Don Bankston, June 11, 2006


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