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Letter from John W. Halliburton to Juliet Halliburton, March 6, [1861]


Letter from John W. Halliburton to Juliet Halliburton, March 6, [1861]


This Letter written in March 1861 provides an interesting example of the Upper South’s role in the secession crisis. It also shows the battling sides that North Carolinian had to choose form. Even though “Lincoln’s inaugural…amounts to coersion [sic],” John Halliburton believed that “[he could] hate him and still love the Union.” Pro-secession editorials were “absurdities,” as Halliburton noted. Of course many southerners reached similar conclusions. Their support for the Union was not unconditional. Disunion remained an option under the right conditions.


Halliburton, John W.


"Letter from John W. Halliburton to Juliet Halliburton". March 6, 1861. From Documenting the American South. Accessed on March 31, 2012.




Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Orange County, North Carolina

Original Format



Chapel Hill
March the 6th
My Darling.

You have consented to let one sunday pass without giving to me the accustomed salute. I have not been well at ease since Ed's letter was recieved. He said that you were very sorry. My Darling is it always my fault to bring grief and sadness where smiles and bubling joy should reign? Am I so unfortunate as to always be the bearer of evil tidings to those most dear to me? My own darling that letter was not written to bedew your eyes with tears, twas not my intention to harrow up your tenderest sentiments by penning a cruel letter.2 Oh! my darling why is it that we cannot be entirely happy? Why is it that so many things conspire to add to your grief while I can add so little to your joys? I want you to be happy my darling. I strive to make you so. My thoughts are all with you—and all that I do I act as if Cousie was to see what I had done and as my actions warranted love me. I was was mad then. I was sorry to know that I could not hear from and write to you. And then darling you told me to tell you all and when I promised would you want me to violate it. No! my darling. you are the only one to whom I can unbosom myself to—you are the only one that will share with me the sorrows which have been my inseperable companion from childhood till now
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My heart has taught itself to look to you when grief-laden and sad its seeks for sympathy & consolation. I have promised darling to tell you all my joys and sorrows. My joys you know for your letters are my only joy now. Darling, Cousie do you blame me for writing that letter? Do you think I wrote it as a cruel jest. Ed wrote as tho' I deserved the severest censure for acting as I did. I did not mean to hurt you my darling. I only told my feelings as they were but I did not think about yours suffering likewise. I want to hear from you my darling. Ed said you passed a sleepless night—in tears—in agony! Oh! my own my darling Cousie I must needs be a very cruel man to cause you such suffering. A lifetime of the utmost tenderness and care can not eradicate the deep solem debt that I owe to you. My life is yours my darling, my all, my hopes; I'm, darling, all yours. Yet this is not enough. I feel that the sacrifice (no its no sacrifice) rendering up of my all to Heaven to buy you a home there would be but little. I am, darling, your Cousie .
The thought that I so frequently wound so deeply your feeling is a punishment [adaqate]3 to all my crimes. The joy I feel in adding to your happiness is a sufficient return for the means employed—the self-reproch that racks me when I bring tears to your eyes is its rew own reward. Darling you must write to me now and tell me that you do not censure me for that letter.
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Darling please write at least once a week. I cant bear disappointment now. I have expected a letter from you every week. Dont disappoint me now my darling. Father never writes—I cant hear from home—then darling not to hear from you (equal to all the world) will be too bad. As long as you write to me I can bear up under all of Fortune's freaks.
When you write all is joy and love—when you write I feel indipendent of all the world. When you write Chapel Hill is bearable—be silent and the reverse is my doom.
I have nothing interesting about myself to tell you. I heard from Wilbur yesterday. He has not yet heard of Fannie's determination.4 I hope you will write him all about. He has never recieved the letter that you sent him the day I left there or about that time. He clammors loudly for a letter. Cant he get one? I write to him every week. He said nothing about going to Desare. I guess he has declined that Idea, I heard from Mary Bowers of Durhamsville Tenn yesterday. She writes a very nice letter, but is not very select in her choice of topics. Linda Buck wont write to me. Jimmie Garrison has not written in two weeks. Dr Bradford is a long time silent Hall and Jonnie are very very remiss. I hope the mails are not so careless as to loose my letters. I write one every day but dont get one in three days scarcely. I am not
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as well satisfied as I was some weeks ago. I will not tell any more of my misfortunes.
I have seen Lincoln's inaugural. It declares that he will collect the revenue and hold on to UNS property.5 It amounts to coersion. Still it does not make me a secessionist only an anti-Lincoln man. His life is of less value than the Union. I can hate him and still love the Union. We must not dissolve a Government because it has one traitor in its borders. Do away with the traitor and hold on to the Government. I have a hard time here about politics. I am assailed and attacked by all the boys that I meet, I verily believe that I am the only union man in College I have to fight for Tennessee myself and the Union. I strive hard. I am loth to be conquered. Daily am I engaged in a wordy war with some two or three and I just slash right and left, like Sir Amiot, and never loose or gain anything. I begin to think that we are all right, all of us. Our Segnior Speakin begins upon the 23rd of April. on the first day of may I will be done with books. Soon darling I'll see you. Cheer up love! Cheer up my darling! Give my love to all.
I want to kiss you darling


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Halliburton, John W., Letter from John W. Halliburton to Juliet Halliburton, March 6, [1861], Civil War Era NC, accessed June 20, 2024,