To Joseph E. Davis
Montreal 22 July 67.
My Dear Brother,
When I last wrote to you Varina was about leaving with Maggie, and a telegram of to day announces their arrival at Charleston. In your last letter you speak of a cause which would require your presence at Jackson,
and I fear that you are still annoyed by the Catchings case. I have
occasionally seen decisions in regard to contracts of that character but
they are so contradictory that I can form no opinion as to what is the
rule. The minds of men seem to have been unsettled as to equity, but I
have hoped there would still be a public sense against those who would
attempt to enforce contracts made under one state of circumstances,
after they all had changed, so as to make private citizens bear the
burden of public calamities.
I will leave in a few hours to visit a copper mine in which I have
been offered an interest and hope to be able to make something out of
it, of course not much as I have no capital to put in. But in mining I
think there is profitable employment to be found and if free from the
trammels of the courts /at Richmond/ I believe I could make more /here/ than a livelihood in that way.
Your remark as to writing, touches my first desire, but I have less
ability to write than formerly. Indeed a few letters are as much as I
can do without sensibly feeling the effort both mentally and physically.
I thought that condition would soon pass away but it has not; and in the mean time active employment is perhaps the best remedy.
Jeff. Wm. & Winnie Anne are with me. The last named
is not quite well, the others are growing and strong. One of my sad
reflections is that they are so much strangers to my family. My
condition does not permit me to form plans for the future, I trust we
are soon to meet that we may yet spend many days together, and that my
boys may have the benefit of your teaching and example, in the formation
of their character.
The temper shown by the Congress leaves little to expect but persistent efforts to destroy the South.
What is to be the social condition for years to come is a problem from
which I would gladly avert my thoughts if it were possible. But I will
not express the sadness I feel as it rests upon a state of things which
you know better, and therefore would be the speculation of a novice
against the certainty of experience, as well as the renewal of painful
reflections. Pardon me however for renewing the suggestion
that you and Lize should seek a more pleasant and secure home. The
negroes as you have informed me will not be able to pay rent this year,
but cannot future revenue be anticipated, and will it not be possible to
change with even a saving in necessary expenditure. Please write to me
as fully as agreable and it will be in my power I hope to do something of the much which it is my duty and heart’s desire to render to you.
My address is still Montreal, and when you have special anxiety to
avoid the prying eyes under which a letter must pass in transitu, Please
put it under cover to Mr. John Lovell, St. Nicholas street, Montreal,
Prov. of Quebec.
Give my love to Lize and others of the family near you. Daily my
prayers are offered individually for you and our Sisters, and my longing
desire is to embrace you all once more. Ever affectionately
From The Papers of Jefferson Davis, Volume 12, pp 231-233. Transcribed from the original, Tulane University, Mitchell Papers.