Extract from the Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson Coolidge


January. Edward Everett, one of the most brilliant orators and ripest scholars in the world, died of apoplexy. When he was president of Harvard College I sat under him; but with all his ability he had not the necessary force to gain the admiration of the students, and his political life was a failure, partly owing to the fact that he and R. C. Winthrop took the unpopular side and endeavoured to prevent the Civil War by counselling moderation and justice. I had the same views and voted against the Republicans on the Whig side and after the end of the Whigs on the Democratic. But looking back I am convinced I was wrong. The country could not get on with slavery and the white men reared amidst slave institutions. Civil War could not be prevented and the country could not be saved except by suffering.

I received news of the arrival in England of my Uncle George Randolph, rebel general and Secretary of War. He was far gone in consumption. He intended passing the winter in Pau with the hope of returning to his country in the spring. I sent Mr. Russell Sturgis some money for him, as I feared his finances might be as dilapidated as his cause. . . .

. . . Richmond fell April 3, and General Lee and his army surrendered to General Grant April 9. Thus ended the most abominable and wicked civil war. It was brought on by the South, and they paid the penalty.

Good Friday, April 14. Lincoln was assassinated by J. Wilkes Booth.

Published in The Autobiography of T. Jefferson Coolidge, 1831–1920 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1923), 49–50.