Politics (September 17, 1864)

The more things change, the more they stay the same. People remain baffled by politics and politicians today, even as George Meade was 150 years ago. No doubt he is responding to some comment of his wife’s about the upcoming presidential election, in which Abraham Lincoln is battling Democratic candidate George McClellan.

Robert Gould Shaw, who was related to Theodore Lyman by marriage (Library of Congress).

Robert Gould Shaw, who was related to Theodore Lyman by marriage (Library of Congress).

Theodore Lyman is sending notes and cigars to Meade because he remains in Boston on leave, where he has fallen ill. Lyman’s sister was married to Rowland Shaw, whose nephew was Robert Gould Shaw, commander of the 54th Massachusetts Infantry. Shaw had been killed the previous July leading his African-American soldiers into battle outside Charleston, South Carolina.

I wish you would dismiss all politics from your mind; I think you allow yourself to be unnecessarily harassed about such matters. I fancy we shall be happy, never mind who is President, if God will only spare my life, restore me to you and the children, and graciously permit dear Sergeant’s health to be re-established. Besides, politics are so mixed up that, thinking about them, and trying to unravel their mysteries, is enough to set a quiet person crazy.

I got a nice note last evening, and a box, from Lyman. The box had five hundred cigars in it, which he said were a present from his patriotic sister, Mrs. Rowland Shaw, and his wife, so you see how I am honored. By-the-by, talking of presents, I have never suitably acknowledged Mr. Tier’s handsome present of a box of tea. I wish you would tell him it is most excellent, just the kind I like, and that all the members of my mess, including the French officers, one of whom served in China and is therefore a judge, are equally with myself delighted with the flavor and hold him in most honorable and grateful remembrance. Poor Colonel de Chanal has received letters from the Minister of War, who does not seem to be oversatisfied with his reports from the field, and wants more information about our arsenals and manufacture of arms and munitions; so the colonel is going to leave us, to travel; which I regret very much, as he does, for I believe he has become quite attached to our service and the officers of my staff.

Meade’s correspondence taken from The Life and Letters of George Gordon Meade, Major-General United States Army, Vol. 2, (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1913), pp. 228-29. Available via Google Books.