Letters from Congressman John Eden
January 20th, 1864
My Dear Roxa,
Seeing that it affords you pleasure to receive a letter from me, I am inclined to write more frequently than heretofore. My health still continues excellent. You need not apologise about your letters. They afford me much more pleasure than anything else here. If James is inclined to stay when the weather is too bad to work and assist you about making fires and feeding, getting wood, let him do so and I will pay him for it. Even if he hauls more than you use during my absence, there is no loss. I wrote to Edgar about getting some grass seed and having it sowed. James might do that if he has not got employment anywhere else.
I do not know how people get out such extravangant reports about my making money, and if I have changed my politics, it is strange the other side don't find it out. I have uniformly voted in Congress with the most radical Democrats there, and we have some who have withstood the terrors of this Administration during the darkest hours of our country's history.
In regard to the Swamplands, the county court, some five or six years ago, employed me to make the proof and attend to getting back the money for the Swamplands of Moultrie County, which had been sold by the General Government. I spent some three or four hundred dollars of my own money in attending to the matter at the urgent solicitation of the County Court, when Elder and Purvis were the Judges, and did it very much against my own will. If I should ever succeed in getting the money for the County, what I would get under my contract would not half pay me for my trouble and what I have spent in attending to the matter. If any of my friends think I am making too much out of it, if they will refund to me, what I have spent, in gold, (the kind of money I paid out) with ten percent interest and relieve me of my obligations to the county, they are welcome to take the contract off my hands and my labor and trouble may go for nothing.
As I do not like to risk my judgement on a cloak, I will send to Philadelphia in a few days by your Uncle John, for one and forward it to you by Express. One of his daughters has been employed in a large cloak store, and by her aid, he can get you a much better one than I could.
I write this mostly on business, and as the Democratic caucus meets tonight I write in great haste. Give my love to mother and the children - Tell them (the children) that Pa says they must mind what Ma says to them, that Pa loves them all dearly, and when he comes home, will bring them some nice presents.
If I find Congress is going to remain in Session until July, I will come home about the middle of March. If we can adjourn as early as May I will not come home until the close of the Session. For my sake take good care of yourself and the children. If you continue to love me, I shall be happy. Give my respects to Jane.
I am yours only,
John R. Eden
February 14th, 1864
My Dear Roxa,
When I take my pen in hand to write you a few lines, my mind is carried back to the happy days I have spent with you. I even now am thinking of the days of our courtship when we used to sit in your father's porch and talk of love and of the enjoyments of life, when we should become united by the tender relations of husband and wife - when we walked on the prairie in the shadow of the evening and first learned to rejoice in each other, that mutual confidence, which I thank God after long years and the many struggles indigent to life, have never been broken. When we first pledged ourselves to share together the joys and sorrows of the world - I almost realize the emotion I felt when the word was pronounced that made us husband and wife. Since then the nearest and dearest pledges of love have been added in that we have children to call us father and mother. I have never so fully realized that my happiness wholly depended on you as since this long separation. I begin to count the weeks and days intervening before the time I hope to meet you. If I again meet you and the children all of us in health, I am certain that that day will be the happiest one of my life.
My health continues good. I want you to get cloaks for the children and whatever may be necessary to make you and them comfortable. I shall in the future devote more of my time and money in providing whatever will render you happy than I have in times past. I know that when I shall have done my best I will be greatly your debtor. I wish you would name the babe. I believe I have furnished names for all the children except Hartwell, and I think you ought to name this one. I will be satisfied with any short name you may select. Laura is a very pretty name. I was very glad to hear that Hartwell is going to be a good boy. I know _____ and Rosa will be good girls because they want to please ma and pa. If they were to be rude or naughty I would be so sorry. You must tell them I said so. If they hear children speak bad words they must go away and not play with them. They will soon be large girls and if they want to have kind friends they must behave well. Tell Walter that pa wants to see him. Oh, there is no place like home. The only objection I have to your letters is that they are too short and I don't receive enough of them. I cannot complain of this however, as I know your opportunities for writing are not good. Kiss the children for me. Give my respect to Jane and to all the relatives and neighbors. Not forgetting the old people, Mr. And Mrs. Wright and Mr. And Mrs. Shepherd. Remember, if all goes well in the little more than a month I will be at home.
I am your only,
John R. Eden
March 6th, 1864
My Dear Roxa,
Yours of the 28th has been received. My health continues good. This has been a very lonesome Sunday to me. The weather is cloudy and gloomy and I am all alone. I took a very long walk in the City. I am flattering myself if everything continues favorably I will have but one more Sunday to spend until I will be with you. You need not fear that hope will be wanting in attraction to me. You must not be gloomy. You ought to go to church frequently and also visit your friends. If I did not have so much work to do I do not know how I could possibly put in my time away from you. I have worked so hard this winter that I have not gained flesh as I usually do in cold weather.
I was very glad to hear that everything was going on so well at home. I know that you are always inclined to borrow trouble. If you would be more cheerful you would be much happier yourself and also add to my happiness. I have no cause of complaint for we cannot change our natures, and I do not believe that anyone ever had a more kind and devoted wife than you have always been to me. Do not be discouraged about our children. I know that I am not very well calculated to govern children, but I think you are. The main point is to teach them to be truthful, well behaved and virtuous. I think all these things can be taught to them when quite young and I know the Mother can have more influence in forming their characters on all these points than any other person. Every good man and woman had a good mother, and very few bad ones were raised by a good mother. Home is the school in which character is formed and all the most important lessons of life are learned. Were it not on account of the children, I would like to live in a city. I would rather raise them in the wilderness where they would see no one but the most uncouth backwoods man, than in the nurseries of vice and crime, the cities.
Say a kind word to each one of the children for me. May the Lord bless our babes.
Give my love to mother and all the relatives. Also give my respects to Jane and all our friends. And do not forget that my whole happiness depends on you. For many long years before I saw you that tenderest of all sentiments which at sometime flows in the heart of every real person, seemed perfectly insensible. When we first met it began to revive. As our acquaintance ripened into mutual confidence it kindled into love. And since we have embarked on the voyage of life together each day has added something to strengthen the affection thus formed. Adieu!
I am yours,
John R. Eden
April 29th, 1864
My Dear Roxa,
Your letter of the 24th has been received. I was greatly pleased to learn that you were all well, but very sorry that you continued so gloomy. You ought to cheer up and not be vexing yourself about imaginary dangers in the future. You only make yourself miserable without doing any possible good. I am in no sort of danger here and before I come home the probability is that the present excitement will be over - You should remember that the same men who are now so actively attempting to excite the hostility of the soldiers against me have been engaged in the same business for the last three years, and that though I have been constantly traveling in all parts of the country, no soldier has upon any occasion offered me even an insult. At Charleston, before the riot, and by the instigation of Noges, Porter, Grue and other thieves and murders, I would not have been safe, yet it is not probable that such things will often occur. You say truly, that you know that I am the friend of the soldiers whose conduct is worthy of friendship. I have shown this by voting upon every occasion to increase their pay, and the miserable lying scoundrels who would like to have the soldiers assault me, because they are too cowardly to do it themselves, cannot point to an instance where a soldier or soldiers family needed assistance and I failed to give aid when asked. Under these circumstances I think you can rest secure.
John writes me that the returned soldiers in our country conduct themselves with propriety. Under these circumstances I think our friends ought to show them all proper attention. If I were at home, I should do so and have no doubt but all fair men among them would be my friends. Enough of this.
My health is good. I ought to apologise to you for my neglect in sending you money. I enclose you forty dollars in a draft, for which Edgar will give you the money. I will send you some more in a few days.
Give my respects to our good neighbors. My love to mother, our children and relatives, and my kind regards to Jane, for all she has done for you during my absence from home. I look forward with pleasing anticipations to the time, I hope not very distant, when I will again be permitted to enjoy your company and to share with you your joys and sorrows, at our own home now consecrated by so many pleasant associations during almost eight years of our happy union.
May a kind Providence watch over and protect you and our children.
John R. Eden
May 20th , 1864
My Dear Roxa,
Your letters of the 11th and 14th have been received. The information in regard to the sickness of Hartwell give me great uneasiness. I know that you will take just as good care of him as he would receive if I were there, yet I feel that I ought to be at home to assist you in taking care of him. I do not know that I ever advised you so but I suppose of course, that if he should become dangerous you would notify me by Telegraph.
I shall not write much more today. My health is very good, and if I knew you were all well at home my spirits would be in very good spirits. I hope you will write to me often. I will send you some more money by my next letter.
I fighting is still going on in Virginia. The army under Sizel in the Shennandoah Valley has been defeated. Also the army under Butler operating South of the James River has been defeated. It is rumored that the fight was renewed day before yesterday, between the Armies of Grant and Lee. I do not know whether the rumors are true or false. The ______ in killed and wounded in these recent battles have been truly frightful. It looks as though this war would continue until the able bodied men in the country will be either killed or wounded, and that the balance of the people would die of famine or pestilence.
Do not fail to write soon and often. Give my love to mother and to the children and relatives and my respects to our good neighbors.
If it is necessary for you to have Jane's assistance during my absence give her two dollars per week.
I remain yours only,
John R. Eden
January 24th, 1865
My Dear Roxa,
Your letter of the 18th has been received. I am greatly obliged to you for it. I was anxious to hear about Rose. My health continues most excellent. In that one thing I am greatly blessed.
I send you today your furs, by Express to Mattoon, also your shoes. I suppose they will reach there by the time the letter reaches you. I have paid the charges. The are in a small box and so fixed up that they cannot be soiled. You ought to send for them at once. If the mail is carried in a pack or buggy, the driver can take them to you.
I got you a Cape and Muff of the very best quality of Mink. I took the judgement of a member from Ohio, a particular friend of mine, he being a good judge of furs. He purchased the same quality for his daughter. Your shoes I hope will be most excellent for this season of the year.
These things cost much more than you would suppose, but I got them on purpose to please you, and I do hope they will. Furs you know will last a great while and unless they are fine, are very poor ornaments. Write me and let me know when you receive these things.
I have nothing the way of news to write. I am most desperately homesick and the nearer the time approaches for me to leave here the more anxious I am to leave.
I do wish you could come on here and see this eastern country. If I did not know that you can not leave our children I would insist on your coming. If I could know that they were properly cared for and have you with me the remainder of the Session I would rejoice indeed. Why is it when my happiness depends wholly on your society, that we are separated so much. It seems to me that since we have been married the fates have required that I should nearly always be from home.
Oh, if I could only see you! You are so kind, your friendship so disinterested, your love so pure, that I long to see the day when I can once more enjoy your society! But unavailing regrets are useless. The hour has almost arrived for me to go the the House and work up another day of wrangling among men called "Honorable" but many of whom owe all their prominence to the most corrupt practices.
Speak kindly to the children in my name! Do not forget to kiss the little Belle for me. Give my love to mother and the other relatives and my respect to Elisa, James and our kind neighbors.
Charleston, South Carolina
Dec 20th, 1876
My Dear Good Wife,
You will see from the caption of this letter that I have changed my location. We are now in the historic City of Charleston! Where the democracy in 1860 was rent in twain, and where the first gun was fired in the late civil war, which brought such more evils upon the country. If these people have previously sighed they have been sorely punished.
They are ruled by a set of knaves and thieves aided by a mass of ignorant barbarians, upheld and sustained in forever by federal bayonets.
There is not government anywhere among civilized men so perfectly horrible as the government of South Carolina. The Government of Turkey is immeasurably superior to it. Yet the people of the north who pride themselves on their superior civilization permit a brutal and vindictive President to inflict this government on these people, adjust their will plainly expressed at the ballot box. But I have not time to write a political letter. I wrote you in my last letter that I would come home during the holidays. This I cannot do. I will be detained here until the middle or last of next week, which will prevent it. I am very, very anxious to see you all, but I cannot do it. I hope you are all well. I have not heard from the children since leaving Washington. My health is very good. The weather is very cold here for this latitude. I had a letter from Mr. Clark dated on the 16th. I am very anxious to hear from you. Love to Emma, Hartwell and yourself.
John R. Eden