"Dismiss Your Hopes for the Subjugation of North Carolina"
Lincoln summoned former North Carolinian Edward Stanly from California in early 1862 to assume the role of governor and rule North Carolina from a few occupied counties near New Bern. Eventually losing faith in his Northern associates, Stanly wrote Charles Sumner of Massachusetts describing the vandalism of the Northern army after observing “thousands and thousands of dollars worth of property conveyed North….Libraries, pianos, carpets, mirrors, family portraits, everything….that could be removed was stolen by men….preaching liberty, justice and civilization. I was informed that one regiment of abolitionists had conveyed North more that 40,000 dollars worth of property. They literally robbed the cradle and the grave.” Below, Governor Zebulon Vance responds to a letter from Stanly announcing his appointment by Lincoln.
Bernhard Thuersam, Chairman
North Carolina War Between the States Sesquicentennial Commission
"The Official Website of the North Carolina WBTS Sesquicentennial"
“Dismiss Your Hopes for the Subjugation of North Carolina”
Governor Zebulon B. Vance to Edward Stanly, Nov. 24, 1862:
“Coming to the people who had often honored you, in the wake of destroying armies; assuming you to be governor of the State by the Suffrages of abolition bayonets red with the blood of your kindred and friends, how could you expect it to be otherwise?
Do you not know sir, that your name is execrated, and only pronounced with curses in North Carolina. Could any sane citizen believe in the “blessings” which you propose to bestow upon the people whom you betrayed and seek to subjugate, or trust your professions of a desire to mitigate the evils of war, in the presence of damnable atrocities every day almost under our very eye, upon a defenceless and unarmed people?
Are you aware, Sir, of the shooting of a private citizen, of the burnings of the villages of Hamilton and Williamston, turning naked women and children out upon the bare earth, and of the vandal destruction of property on the Roanoke by Gen. Foster’s command recently? Do you know the fact that two helpless females were recently, almost in gun-shot of the town of New Bern, seized by a brutal soldiery — “With liberty of the bloody hand, And conscience wide as hell” — and forced to submit to the last and crowning outrage which can be inflicted on the sex?
Are you informed Sir, lastly, that even the sleeping dust of the dead – of the great and good dead of North Carolina has been robbed of its covering in sight of that man who speaks of himself as a “son of North Carolina,” “Solicitous of her honor,” who comes to “Confer blessings” and who “thanks heaven that he is a representative of a government” &c?”
When you use your influence to suppress the outrages of your associates, nay when you avow yourself ashamed of them, then and not till then, will your professions be entitled to slightest credence.
No Sir, the people of North Carolina know all these things, and have learned well the character of their foes, and the nature of his “blessings” in store for them. Her “Chief Magistrate” too appreciates her position, and glories in the fact that he represents a people who are prepared for the worst and have sincerely resolved to endure it all, even as their fathers did, which a merciless foe can inflict, for the sacred cause of liberty and independence.
Dismiss therefore your hopes of the subjugation of North Carolina through the weakness and baseness of her people. She may be subjugated, you may reach her Capitol and take possession of her government, the fortunes of war are fickle. But I assure you upon the honor of a Son, who will follow as he has followed and maintained her, whether right or wrong, who has every means of knowing the sentiments of her people, that you can only do so over the dead bodies of the men who once respected you, through the smoking ashes of the homes which once greeted you with hospitable welcome, and through fields desolated, which once gladdened your eye, rich with the glorious harvest of peace.”
(The Papers of Zebulon B. Vance, Frontis W. Johnson, editor, NCDAH, 1963, pp. 391-393)