Letter – Nathaniel Slaughter, 12 September 1865


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Letter written by Captain Nathaniel M. E. Slaughter of Company F, 39th NC Infantry, to Amanda Wiggins (sister of his deceased Sgt. John W. Wiggins), from Cherokee, NC. In this letter, Slaughter declares his love for Amanda, and urges her not to laugh, for he is serious. He writes that although they see each other often, he has chosen to communicate his feelings in a letter because he is a “timid man” and could not properly express his sentiments verbally. He writes that that though he is inferior to her in every way, he hopes that she might love him in return and accept his proposal of marriage. (Spoiler alert: she accepts!)

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Cherok N.C. Sept 12th 1865

Dear Manda,

I hope you will pardon me for this method of communication. I have no doubt you will think it strange why I should take this means of communicating when I see you so often.

Well! I can assign for one reason that – I am a very timid man, and have but a poor “nack” of telling verbally what I wish to be known, hence this communication. Since out last private conversation I have thought much upon the subject then spoken of. My mind has been much occupied with rememberances of the past, and what will likely be my destiny in reference to the subject which I submitted to your consideration. I feel much interested in the matter, and hope you have given the matter a calm and candid consideration and have decided in my favor. If I knew such was the case I would be happy. Manda to make a short story of a long one I have learned to love you. Dont be startled, dont laugh! I am in earnest, and I am in my right mind. If I only knew that the favor was reciprocal and mutual I should be much rejoiced. My dear friend, I have no inducement to offer but an honest heart, and the affections that spring therefrom. You are well acquainted with my character, my pecuniary affairs (as you well know) are quite limited, my moral character is anything but an enviable one and my mental acquirements are but weak. My object in writing you, is to bring, forcibly, to your mind the matter of a reciprocated affection, and what course you will will pursue in refference to the case, of union for life with one so far your inferior. My dear friend, I admit this is a grave question and

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one which carries with a great deal of meaning when viewed in a proper manner. If it was a criminal offense to ask a young lady for her heart and hand, you might have me condemned before the court of conscience, but in this matter, I think I have violated no law, neither human nor divine.

Right here let me remind you, that much of my future destiny for weal or woe depends upon the action you take in the premises. If it shall accord with your feeling and notions of economy to accept my proposition as heretofore submitted, I shall be happy in that respect, on the other hand you shall decide against me, I cannot say I will be miserable, yet I shall feel much disappointed, at having lost so valuable a prize.

My Dear friend. Let me remind you that no overtures of mine, nor sympathies for me should influence you in my favor. your actions should be from pure motives. Economy should be well studied. your own interest should be thought of seriously and not mine, It is the duty of every young lady to study their own interest in matters of this Caste, and not be influenced by sophistry used by their friends to her detriment. Self preservation, and self interest is the first law of nature, and we should cling to it very tenaciously even if it does wound our friends if duty demands our actions for our own honest interest. And right here let me remark, my dear friend, that if upon a candid consideration upon the subject, and a fair examination into the circumstances connected with the case, you disdain my suit and cast me off, I shall not have the least hard thought against you, and I am glad that I am that liberal in my heart I shall never as[k] you why you did it

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but still entertain for you that high admiration which I have long had for you. Think you not that I am so unfeeling as to have envy against one who would not comply with my wishes. [???] I shall be much disappointed. I have spun out this letter far beyond what I anticipated when I began to write, but just bear with me a little further, and shall hear the signal of the whole matter. I love you and I cant help it. I much desire that the favor could be returned and that circumstances may so turn out that there may be no hindrances to our union for life. What say ye. Be calm, dont get out of humor I am all “right” and hope you are the same. I know you will think me a strange specimen of human nature, well I have curious notions some times.

Manda my dear friend If I have committed an error in this matter and toped your patience to an extreme, do for pitties sake forgive me.

After I hand you this letter I will give you time to study its contents and then I shall be to see you on the subject of which it treats from what I learn I am rather afraid to come to your house much upon a courting expedition.

Now Manda, If this does not meet your aprobation for goodness sakes dont be mad with me just impute it to an error of the head and not of the for I would not intrude upon your generosity for nothing conceivable.

I will ask you again to forgive this long Epistle be sure and read it all through if you can I write in a hurry and have taken no pain in my chirography. There is no sacrifice [???] I would not make for your sake, and be assured, that in

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all your calamities you have my heart felt sympathies Manda I have one favor now to ask of you And that is this. This letter is intended for no eye but your own, and ask of you that it neither be shown or spoken of to any person living. you may if you please when you examine its contents commend it to the flames or lay it away where no eye will see it but your own this request I hope you will grant me. I will close by saying I have the honor to subscribe myself your devoted friend S.

Nathaniel Mateson Eddington Slaughter, was born c. July 1830 in TN. He was educated at Maryville College and became a teacher before moving to Robbinsville, N.C. He enrolled in Company F of the 39th NC Infantry as a private, ca. Feb. 1862, but was soon commissioned and rose to the rank of captain. He survived the war, and returned to Cherokee, NC, where in 1865 he married Amanda Wiggins (the sister of his deceased Sgt. John W. Wiggins). The couple had five children, three daughters and two sons, prior to his death at age 77, June 26, 1908. Amanda survived her husband by eleven years, dying April 18, 1919.