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Title:[Letter] 1849 Jun. 16, Nashville, [to] Dr. James Gorver / William H. Russell : a machine readable transcription of an image
Author: Russell, William H.

This work is the property of the Special Collections Library, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN. It may be used freely by individuals for research, teaching, and personal use as long as this statement of availability is included in the text. For all other use contact the Special Collections Librarian, Hoskins Library, University of Tennessee, 1401 Cumberland Avenue, Knoxville, TN 37996. (865) 974-4480.

Date: June 16, 1849
Extent: 6p
Collection:William Russell Letter
Document: sc169

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June 16th 1849Dear Cousin James_

You have doubtless thought that I am slow to fulfil my promises, but when you reflect upon the surrounding circumstances, I am sure you can no longer withhold the act of forgiveness. Though I have been on foot ever since I bade adieu to the sunny land of the South, to return to my old tramping grounds in the "volunteer state," yet I have been made to tremble time after time, when I witnessed the many human forms bending toward the tomb of oblivion, and passing quickly away into an endless eternity. I have seen disease in its most agonizing form, and the minister of death in his blackest habilaments [habiliments]. I have heard the shrieks of mothers and relatives, the most heartrendering, mingled with tears of the deepest sorrow. I have heard the muffled drum, and the solemn tread of feet moving in procession to the lonely grave. Yes, I have heard the funeral

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dings sabbath after sabbath, and the shriek of despair ever and anow grates upon my ear. I see the badge of mourning worn in every circle_ and I see too, the physician, the parson and the hearse hurrying from house to house.

But perhaps you may say, that I am growing mad. Say not so! Tis the cholera that is working death and destruction to such a fearful extent. Every-body is panic-stricken, and no doubt some contract the disease through dread and fear_forty deaths will do for twenty-four hours! I would not be surprised if a perfect stampede takes place.

Ex-president Polk breathed his last at eighteen minutes of five oclock last evening, and was buried this evening. He professed religion during his illness, and the ordinance of baptism was administered by the Rev. [Reverend] J. B. McFerrin .

Yes, his spirit hath fled from earth, but not without leaving behind a name that will live.

His remains slumber by the side of Tennessee's favorite son, the patriotic Grundy_ two names intimately blended together, both wore their

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blushing honors to the grave; both sage counsellors in their country's service, and both endeared to their countrymen by living ties of purest friendship and admiration. Both have gone to their long homes unimpeached and unimpeachable. They sleep the slumber of death until the great day of retribution. There is certainly, not one patriotic bosom that does not heave with emotions of deep sorrow, when they are conscious of the irreparable loss, the whole united Republic has sustained by the death of that statesman and martyred patriot James K. Polk . 'Tis true I am a warm admirer of both his private and public character, and I believe his administration to be the most glorious of the age, and without a parallel since the days of the immortal George Washington , yet I am fully convinced that the his political enemies have not been liberal enough to acknowledge the full extent of his greatness and fidelity to his country. He has certainly been one of the most successful and prudent helmsmen the Nation has ever had. His motto was, that the government of these states, should be admired at home and respected abroad; and well did he act out

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this principle as is "clear and unquestionable" to every unbiased and reasoning mind,

Look around! and behold the flourishing and prosperous condition of our happy country. Look yonder! See our glorious flag waving proudly on the shores of the broad Atlantic and that of the briny Pacific. Tell me then our country knows not prosperity! Ah! The fair goddess of Freedom claims her as her own, while she cherishes the remembrances of her adopted son. I meant not to pronounce an eulogised [eulogized] upon the name and character of the deceased, no! I leave that for others who are competent to the task. I hope you will forgive me for so far trespassing upon your patience and indulgence.

How goes the times in your own genial clime, and how pray, are the fair maidens of the valley? 'Tis said, in the valley is the place to find the whitest and purist lily, but confound the luck, I could,nt venture far that way, without getting into quag-mire. No sooner had I put my foot upon my native soil, than the chills & "ager fits" arrested me!

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I would not have taken it so hard, had I been assured that I had the sympathy of some little black-eyed or blue-eyed Miss_ But ah! me, there was never such good fortune intended for me. Do you ever cross the waters of bear creek? If you do, I advise you to keep out of my "hog range" henceforth. Let me not have occasion to reiterate it._

I am unable to furnish you with a price_ current of the beef market at this time; I think though the best quality is nominal. All things are quite dull about college, the boys look scared, and the professors wear long faces._ Study is the last thing thought of, or at least the last done. Prof [Professor] Hamilton has lost three sisters of cholera, all within a week of each other_the two last died the same night_ He is the last of the family, & I fear he cannot stand the shock. The weather has been quite warm all day, and I think favorable for more rain; enough to lay the dust would be quite acceptable.

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Sunday June 17th_

Turned cool last night, and considerably checked the progress of cholera, I have made strict enquiry and cannot hear of a single new case. It appears to come and go like the morning dew.

Up to yesterday morning it had been gradually diffusing itself, all over town_ and causing great havoc_ but know it is off again, almost, and we know not when it will return.

There is a perfect fume of [of] sulphur and tar all over the place, and lime seems to be in demand_ write soon_ and give me all the news afloat_

I am dear sir Your &c_
Wm [William ] H. Russell
[added: Dr. Jas [James] Gorver ]

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