John Henry Brown was a painter of portrait miniatures, living and working in Philadelphia. He had met Lincoln in August of 1860 when he was commissioned to paint Lincoln’s portrait for a supporter, but although Brown liked Lincoln personally, he did not agree with Republican policies.
At Mr Hulmes picture. .
S.P. Chase the Secty of the U S. Treasury has resigned his Office. Things are getting from bad to worse. Gold is vibrating between $250 + $300. clothing & food have gone up in the same frightful ratio. Prices in market are as follows chickens 25 to 30 cts per pound, beef roast 35 to 40, sirloin steaks 40 to 50 mutton (leg) 20, chops 25, ham 20 to 25, lard 22, coffee 60, sugar 28, tea 150, olive oil 125, &c &c. The time has gone by when families in moderate circumstances could afford to buy the choicest cuts in market. Muslins, according to quality, from 50 cts up, spool cotton 15 to 25. I paid a few weeks ago for a coat, pants & vest, of thin & inferior material $52.00, the same sold a few years ago for $20.00. If I could raise my prices for painting in the same proportion it would make little or no difference to me personally, but as I have not been able to do so, it is with difficulty that I feed & clothe my large family. The day of saving a little to keep off pinching want in old age, has, I fear, passed away. The contemplation of my situation almost drives me mad; nothing but a trust & belief that my heavenly Father will shield & protect my children gives me comfort.
Perhaps I have done wrong in not keeping a record of the passing events of this dark and dreadful hour of our Country’s history. Having no heart for the War & jaded & weary in spirit, with the heavy load it is my duty to carry, I do not feel like writing much about it, beside as falsehood is not the least of the weapons of warfare it would be folly to record such stuff as I see daily in the papers.
The Golden age of the republic has passed away and cannot, I fear, be renewed in our day and generation, if ever. The present War will saddle us and our posterity with a national debt nearly equal to that of England and a pension list of formidable dimensions. If, as some believe, that War could not be avoided after Secession took place still the original purpose of it, “the Constitution as it is & the Union as it was” should not have been abandoned. The bold & openly declared purpose of the War now is the abolition of slavery in all the States, the alteration of the Constitution and the curtailment of State rights.
Mournfully & sadly I often think of Websters prophetic words. He said upon one occasion “If these infernal fanatics & abolitionists ever get power in their hands, they will override the Constitution, set the Supreme court at Defiance, change and make laws to suit themselves, lay violent hand on those who differ with them in their opinion, or dare question their infallibility, and finally bankrupt the country, or deluge it with blood.”
This dreadful prophecy is already fulfilled. Oh God! When will this despotism cease and our Country again blessed with peace & goodwill.
Citation: John Henry Brown, autograph journal/account book. Philadelphia, 1844-1890. AMs 573/14.1