Ellsworth, Elmer Ephraim (1837-1861) to Edwin Coates
Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC07343
Author/Creator: Ellsworth, Elmer Ephraim (1837-1861)
Place Written: Springfield, Illinois
Type: Autograph letter signed
Date: 7 February 1861
Pagination: 7 p. ; 31.6 x 20.4 cm.
Summary of Content: Ellsworth, famous for raising the New York Zouaves, writes to his friend Captain Coates. Declares ”the time has come which will test our brotherhood...- Some of those malicious fiends in human shape who hate me so venomously have learned of my bright prospects from some indiscreet friend and have set on fort a movement to frustrate me which if it succeeds will be my ruin.” Instructs Coates to call a meeting, and to present resolutions (pre-drafted by Ellsworth). Lists the persons who are to be present at the meeting, including Colonel Joseph Tucker Taylor, Philip Wadsworth, and George W. Gage, among others. Requests Coates’s help in securing Ellsworth’s appointment to a post, stating ”it will be the best weeks work you ever done - for I shall certainly be Asst Sec of War & for every hour you work for me & will work days for your matter.” The following day, writes again requesting that Coates have the resolutions and articles published in the Tribune (possibly the Chicago Tribune). Cites the locations he will be visiting (including Columbus, Ohio, New York, New York, and Washington, D.C.). Requests 50 copies of the Tribune if his resolutions are published. Emphasizes that no one should see this letter or the articles/resolutions.
People: Ellsworth, E. E. (Elmer Ephraim), 1837-1861., Coates, Edwin, fl. 1861., Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.
Historical Era: Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1877
Full Transcript: Springfield Feby 7th 1861, Brother Coate -, I am sorry to say that the time has come which will test our brotherhood as far as I am concerned - Some of those malicious fiends in human shape who hate me so venomously have learned of my bright prospects from some indiscreet friend and have set on foot a movement to frustrate me which if it succeeds will be my ruin - Nothing but the most Energetic & prompt action on your part and I am compelled to rely Entirely upon our brotherhood in this matter can avert this misfortune - I am compelled to take a step that is in every sense repugnant to me -I appeal to you if when we returned & my character was jeapoardized and the passage of a set of resolutions would have saved me at once if I did not leave the matter entirely to the committee prefering to run the risk rather than write anything for my self as they desired - but now it is not a risk it is a certainty that can only be treated in one way you must pass resolutions & they  must be published - not only the resolutions alone but an Editorial endorsing my character &c in the strongest terms - The facts are these - while I was in Chicago, one of these men was here - Enquired all about me - pretending friendship - found out my plans & prospects - and drew up a protest on the ground that I was formerly, if not now give to disipation of no standing - having no ability of any kind, except to drill companies, & had defrauded the company & never accounted for the funds &c. this he will get signed by my enemies secretly and is going to give it to one of them who will present it to the secretary of war - after the inaugeration, personally now this does not affect me now but it must be headed off at once & completely - and this is the only way I see to do it - viz - to call a small meeting - pass resolutions & have them published - I dared not wait for you to write the Resolutions- but I have written them and the articles - in this way I have now over 70 letters fr all over the Union requesting an  appointment & I have selected passages from them to make up the resolutions & articles - And to show you that they are not even so strong as my letters I send you copies - of a few, Now I charge you by our brotherhood & by your friendship for me to observe the following directions - , First - go & see Haydon and Irvin and - tell them about this plan to ruin me, but dont tell them of the papers or this letter - , Then say to them that I want some resolutions passed & published and that you will prepare the papers and will submit them to them - , Second - go back & make copies in your own hand writing of the Resolutions & articles for the papers - , Third - Then call on the following parties and state about this attempt to injure me & that you propose to hold a little meeting at the Tremont House which will not detain them more than ½ an hour & urge them - make them promise to attend as it is of vital importance to me - These are the names , Gen R. K. Swift , Col Joseph Tucker , ” Taylor ,  Phillip Wadsworth - Geo. W. Gage -, Mr King firm of Mather Taft & King , Mr Colby - Alderman, Co of the alley next the Sherman House - Clark St - Lt,, Hosmer , Haydon Conver, Irvin Yates , Rodgers , (I cant think of the others I am so hurried & excited) , Hall , And as many of the brothers as possible - , Fourth go to Geo W. Gage and tell him what you desire and ask for the use of the parlor we used from 7½ to 8 OClock say Tuesday night -, When the meeting assembles and mind you have enough to make it respectable - have Swift nominated for Chairme & Wadsworth for Secretary & Col Tucker for Vice Presdt Then you state that I am about leaving the state & that malicious attempts have been, & are being made to injure me & that the Company desire to pass some resolutions then state that you have prepared some which you will submit to them -  state that the medal is being prepared by the company & will be attended to in good time -After the resolutions are passed Adjourn - , The next morning by 8, O’Clock Go to the journal office with the Resolution & the Article for the Journal Go up into the Editorial Room & see Mr Upton or Sherman & Tell them you desire as a great favor to the company & my self that they will publish those Articles just as they are written -& Dont give up untill you have their positive promises, That same day Early go to the Tribune Office find Deacon Brass Dont go into the rooms at the right hand of the Hall up stairs at all - & tell him the circumstances & urge him by his regard for me & love of justice to publish the Resolution & the Article marked for the Tribune the next morning - If you succeed send me 50 copies of each paper to Washington & will pay for them  now this is a job that will keep you running & working for four or five days - and it requires a great deal of tact & Energy to carry it through promptly , I trust it in your hands if you have to spend money do so I will promptly refund it - My reputation depends upon this - If you have to leave the store for a week do so & I will pay for it Carry this through for Heaven’s sake & just so sure as you succeed I guarantee you that it will be the best weeks work you ever done - for I shall certainly be Asst Sec of War & for every hour you work for me & will work days for your matter , I leave it in your hands with these charges, First Immediately Copy then Send me back the Tribune & Journal article , 2nd Read this Entire letter every day , 3d Communicate the contents of this letter to no one - , I charge you by your oath to observe the requests , And now goodbye and god grant you success,  Your brother, Ellsworth, Write to me immediately at, Columbus Ohio, next Monday - direct to New York, Metropolitan Hotel, Thursday direct to Washington & Send me papers whenever any thing occurs to the points at which we will arrive in time to meet them - , Take Every precaution to let no one see these papers , E-
Sub Era: The American Civil War
Background: Before the Civil War, Ellsworth worked in Abraham Lincoln’s law office and assisted with Lincoln’s presidential campaign.Order Image