1896 Letter From Neill W. Ray to Sue
Contributed by Kathleen Haynes
Contact Myrtle Bridges May 28, 2008
Attorney and Counsellor at Law,
Fayetterville, N.C. July 30, 1896
Laura hurriedly wrote the enclosed and handed it to me to mail, and I took the liberty of reading it
and then said to her, Sue ought to have more of a letter than this. Then write her one. She says. So you
see how I got into it by being meddlesome. But it is no task, or rather it is a pleasant task to write you &
wish I could say something to cause you to forget for a time at least, your mishaps. We thought you were
nearly well and were staying at the hospital to hasten your recovery by electrical appliances and it was
quite a surprise to learn that you were still cased up in plaster. I hope it will not be long. I can
sympathize with you, for, to use a slang phrase, I have been there myself.
I used to dream that my limb was growing out, and that a little foot was swinging again; and then I
would dream of running and walking on my stump without any inconvenience, but such was never to be the case.
These hot days are almost overpowering to me with one leg all cased up in a wooden boot, and I know how much
inconvenience you feel. But with me, the fact that I can never overcome the trouble except by an artificial
makeshift, is ever present with me. Whilst with you it is only necessary for you to be patient and endure for
a little while, though a few weeks may seem a long long time. And as in my case I can forget my disability
entirely sometimes and see how in many respects I am more fortunate than many.
By way of diversion, how do you stand on the silver question? That is the all absorbing question when
friend meets friend after the hot-weather is first discussed, then comes up the subject of *free & unlimited
16 to 1 etc. etc. I saw that Frank was in Chicago helping to nominate a candidate and to declare the principles,
which are to save the country. It looks like judging from the newspapers that the man & platforms agree, and that
perhaps a majority of the people are pleased. I remember a few lines of a speech that I made at Charlotte in 1861;
learned it out of newspapers of that date. "These are stirring times. Whilst we view the disinintegration of the
old parties and wait to see how the elements will recombine, we are filled alternately with fear and hope."
So it is now, except that I feel more of fear, than hope. It does not reassure me, to hear The old, old saying,
that the people are most always right. Still majorities must rule. The responsilibility is on the ones who lead
Excuse me for writing such a letter, because I know You hear enough of it, and ladies are not apt to take much
interest in such things. Laura does not. I get the papers, but except the Morganton Herald and N.Y. Observer, she
reads but little, only if speak of something that interests her. Do you like to read or hear politics?
Fayetteville is going in the same old way; marrying and giving in marriage and discussing such things. For instance
I was told, for a fact, that J.B. Hawley (about 70, I guess) was soon to marry Miss E. J. Winslow (who, I reckon to
be between 60 & 70). However that report is getting off, and it is supposed that these parties have changed their minds.
If they have, it is one sign of returning reasons & what a blessing it would be, if something like that would take place
in the minds of our political statesmen. It is now about time for Court to convene & I will close for the present.
Note: Neill speaks of the bitter controversy surrounding the issues of "free silver" and "sound money,"
so central to the 1896 campaign. Partisans on both sides made exaggerated claims of the impact monetary policy could have on
the nation's economic health. They implied that coinage of silver (on Bryan's side) or adherence to the gold standard (on the
Republican side) was the single key to prosperity--and sometimes to the nation's honor.
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