1861: Ichabod White Briggs to North Carolinian Customer

This letter was written by Ichabod White Briggs (1809-1893), the son of Jeremiah Briggs (1783-1871) and Margaret White (1787-1866) of West Macedon, Wayne county, New York. He was married in 1841 to Sarah Catherine Case (1821-1901), daughter of Moses and Charlotte Miller Case of Phelps, New York

Ichabod Briggs and his wife lived at Fairville for a time and then removed to West Macedon, New York with their three small children. Their other children were born at West Macedon.

“Ichabod was postmaster at West Macedon for thirty years and its chief patron. Aside from a farmer, he was a contributor to farming periodicals, and conducted a subscription agency [called “The Rural Empire Club” which is established in 1854]. The latter industry grew to such proportions that the West Macedon Post Office did the largest amount of business of anyone in the county…In his old age, he gave up the business and the post office was abandoned (in 1887).”

On the US Indexed County Land Ownership Map (1874), I. W. Briggs was identified as “Farmer, Post Master, News Agent, Gardener and Horticulturist” at West Macedon.

In this letter, Ichabod predicts with uncanny clairvoyance the demise of slavery should the impending war between the North and South proceed.

[Note: This letter belongs to the private collection of Richard Weiner and is published here by express consent.]

Ichabod’s 1861 Letter with a portrait of him circa 1845


Macedon, New York
May 1st 1861

Dear Sir,

I am sorry I am not able to send you more of the prolific pickle cucumber seed. I have ran out completely, have only 2 papers left for my seed, and must do the best I can to grow a supply from them. I send you other cucumber seeds which, if you have no use for, give to somebody else. Also the Honolulu Squash seeds for which and the other you are entirely welcome.

We did hope until quite recently that North Carolina would adhere to the Union. The mass of the people of the Southern states are most woefully deceived by their Political leaders about the policy of the Administration and the Republican party. And now being deceived in regard to position of affairs at the North within the short space of time since the requisition by the President on the States for troops, more than 100,000 above the requisition have volunteered in defense of the Constitution & Laws & Stars & Stripes of our beloved country.

But sir, you are a Southerner and would perhaps deliberately shoot me through the heart if the opportunity was offered. The North for a long time manifested no disposition to fight their brethren of the South, and bore ten times the insult from them that they would from the most powerful foreign Nation under Heaven. But sir, I assure you, (and which is not credited in the seceded States) that in less than 24 hours after the attack upon Fort Sumter, the entire Northern states was a unit. All party lines & differences were melted down and flowed in one channel—one direction. The Union! The Union!! and nothing but the Union.

The struggle will doubtless be hard and long drawn out—and though the people of the North (expect a few fanatics) were not and are not disposed to meddle with the Southern institution of slavery, but if this war goes on, Slavery will end with it.

Glad to hear from you at anytime. Your truly—I. W. Briggs


Screen Shot 2019-03-20 at 9.48.09 AM
Ichabod White Briggs and a few of the newspaper clippings advertising his seeds from across the country. His signature was sometimes interpreted as “J. W. Briggs.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s