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J. D. Imboden to John McCue, February 24, 1861

MSS 4406
Special Collections Department, University of Virginia

Wasn't Stuart's card to the people of Augusta an infamous document for any man, much less one who occupies the place of a gentleman, to publish?

Staunton Feby 24 /61

Dear John

Your letter asking me to meet you in Richmond this week was recd yesterday. I am sorry I cannot do so, but as I returned from Richmond on Thursday I cannot go back again so soon.

I went down on last Monday to call Stuart to account for his denial on Friday of what he had said to Harmon & myself. At Gordonsville I first saw his apology of Saturday morning, but kept on to the city. When I got there I found that there was but one opinion in regard to the matter, and that was that Sandy had said inconsistent things, that he had either lied on Friday or on Saturday. Gov. Wise, O. J. Wise, Lt. Gov. Montague, Wm [F.?] Gowan & several others with whom Harmon & I conferred, said there was no need of our pressing the matter, that he (S.) had wholly acquitted us of all imputation & we might drop >it< [--the matter--]. But on our own hook[?] to make the matter perfectly clear // we addressed Sandy a little billet doux, asking his attention to the published report of his remarks on both Friday & Saturday, and to say in reply exactly what we were to understand he meant in respect to us. About midnight we got a reply which was a square back down, and exonerated us from all possible imputation. I intended making a publication of this correspondence, and also a more complete statement in detail of what he had said the evening he mentioned the "plot" to us, and to have accompanied it with the letter of another gentleman to whom he made a similar statement nine days after his conversation with Harmon & myself, and said unqualifiedly that "there was a plot on foot, and if it succeeded, one of the first acts of the Convention would be to change the organic law of the State, and turn Letcher out of office & put Gov. Wise in his place." The gentleman to whom he made this Statement furnished it to me in writing, and another man in public life sent me word, that to him the same communication was made, and if it became necessary he would testify. So that I should have had four witnesses against him on the fact he denied to Wise in the Convention. But on consultation with Gov. Wise & the other friends I have named, & numerous outsiders, the universal opinion was that we ought not to publish, that the public already understood that Sandy had lied, and that being down in the mud it would [be] unmagnanimous and unmanly to gouge & pummel him. We have therefore simply filed away the documents for safe keeping & future use if circumstances require it. I showed the correspondence to scores of persons before I left R. & here since my return. The idea you mention that my defeat had anything to do with this matter is absurd, for the conversation occurred before either Stuart or myself were candidates, & not being in any sense private, was communicated to Douglas & many others the same night 13th January, and was talked about by us in the City all the next day, & no doubt Stuart heard of our speaking of it before we came home from R. & before either of us was a candidate. By the way he left the impression in his response to Wise that Col. Baldwin was present at the conversation. He takes all that back in his letter to us and says he only meant to say Col. B. was in the City at the same time, & being his bro. in law the probabilities were that he would have mentioned the matter to him! but did not. I wish I could be with you in R. You will soon be disgusted with the submission feeling that pervades the body of the Convention. Gov. Wise is the only real living embodiment of the true spirit which should animate Virginia at this time. I told him in R. the other day that I delegated him to represent me on the floor of that body, as I have no immediate representative there. John we are going to have fearful times here in Virginia. I am afraid we shall have a war amongst ourselves. I have made up my mind that if Va submits to the dishonor of standing by and seeing war made in the Seceded states, I will leave Va. I am persuaded that a majority of our people here are ready for that. I am not and never will be. We must have immediately the constitutional guarantees of the Crittenden plan at least or go with the South. If these are refused, and Va submit, I never will. I shall go to Florida or Louisiana, take my family & cast my lot there for life. I will write to Gov. Wise whilst you are in R. Mary writes in love to you and yours. She is a red hot Southern Confederacy woman.

Yours truly

J. D. Imboden

P.S. Sorry you were beaten for [Con.?] but am not surprised since I have heard the causes that were at work.