A Patriot Mother’s Tale
I enjoyed Edwin G. Burrows’s “Patriots or Terrorists?” in your Fall 2008 issue. As an archivist at the Historical Society of Dauphin County, New York, which houses the Graydon Collection, the reference on p. 58 to Captain Alexander Graydon’s imprisonment in 1776 jumped out at me. I wanted to share the remarkable story of his mother, Rachel Marks Graydon.
After hearing that the prisoners were being badly treated, Rachel Graydon traveled to Philadelphia to obtain passes for safe conduct to British lines from John Hancock, the President of Congress, and Gen. George Washington. Crossing over into Brunswick, New Jersey, she met British soldiers who brought her to Gen. Charles Cornwallis, who permitted her to go to New York aboard a British sloop.
In New York, Graydon applied directly to Sir William Howe at the British Headquarters, pleading with him as a mother for her son’s freedom. She vowed, “If I have any influence over him he shall never take up arms again.” General Howe, after a bit of hesitation, released him. Mother and son traveled back to Philadelphia together.
—Louise Owen, Harrisburg, PA
I Loved “Lincoln!”
What does Abraham Lincoln mean to us today? Harold Holzer in “Lincoln’s Legacy” may have summed it up best when he pointed out that although Lincoln was the least qualified candidate when he ran for president, his accomplishments rank him today among the greatest of American presidents. Thank you for this special section, one particularly relevant for those now preparing to lead our nation. Imagine, what our nation would be like today if Lincoln had not been elected president. Certainly a much greater and longer lasting tragedy for all?
—Jerry E. Stephens
I have just finished reading the Winter 2009 issue, the first copy I’ve read of your wonderful magazine. I particularly enjoyed the section on Lincoln’s legacy. I must say, however, that Jimmy Carter’s commentary missed the point when he argued that the conflict could have been avoided altogether. Yes, the Civil War would not have occurred if the Union had accepted the spread of slavery into the border states or allowed the South to secede. Lincoln considered the prevention of the latter to be his sworn duty as president of the Union; the former would, at best, have delayed emancipation for many years. Carter’s argument provides us with a vivid demonstration of why most of us consider Lincoln to have been our greatest president and Carter to have been one of our worst.
Questioning Confederate “Pride”
Your Winter 2009 issue had a wonderful special section about Abraham Lincoln, extolling his greatness, and describing how he saved the Union, abolished slavery, and destroyed the perfidious Confederacy. However you tainted it by allowing the Bradford Exchange to advertise their “Pride of the South” Civil War Commemorative Ring on the back page.
—Martin J. Weisman
Westlake Village, CA
Wall Street Goof
In your Winter 2009 article, “Wall Street's First Collapse,” you featured a photograph of William Duer, who “died in debtor's prison in 1799.” How can this be, as photography wasn't developed until three decades later?