Paul Selly to [Richard Yates]


Paul Selly to [Richard Yates]


Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum




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Springfield, July 31st, 1861.

Dear Sir:

I leave for Cairo to-night, and as I am aware you must have many pressing demands upon your time, I have thought I might consult your convenience by saying what I have to say in writing, rather than pressing for a private interview.

You are aware that I have recently returned from the South where I spent some two years. I lay no claim to "martyrdom" there, for I was permitted peaceably to remain as long as I wished, and when I was ready I came away. I might have remained perhaps (though that is doubtful even) if I had been willing to suppress my honest convictions of right and duty, and join in a crusade against the government

to which I have ever recognized my allegiance; and so far as pecuniary profit is concerned, I might have done much better there than here.

But such an alternative never presented itself. You know that changes of residence from the South to the North cannot be made now without heavy sacrifice; and though I was more fortunate than most in this respect, my case was no exception to the general rule. Yet I determined to make the sacrifice at the time I did, and should have done so even if it had cost me my last cent.

I believe I have never been an applicant for office of any kind, either Civil or military, State or National. I don't wish to be regarded in that light now. I cannot, however, forget that I have a small family to maintain, & that my means of support are limited, well-nigh exhausted. The country

and the State require the services of many men in various capacities. I do not doubt that you have applications enough not only to fill every place within your gift, but every place for which you could suggest a name in the State or General Government. I merely wish to say, if there is any post for which you deem me qualified, and in which I may be able at once to do something for my country in the time of its need and peril, and secure a respectable support for myself and family I shall be greatly obliged if you can conscientiously assist me in securing it. You are as well prepared to judge of my qualifications as anyone. I do not ask a sinecure, I wish to be in some position where I can make myself useful, where I can render an equivalent for whatever I may receive.

For the last two weeks I have

been engaged in the office of the Commissary of the Brigade at Cairo, and by request I return there. Yet I cannot but look upon the position as temporary, and the remuneration by no means decided in amount. It would be much more pleasant to have some employment either here where I could be near my family, or at some other place where I could feel that there is some degree of permanence.

With a pleasing recollection of past kindnesses, I am,

Very Truly,


Paul Selby.

Paul Selby,

July 31 - 61




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“Paul Selly to [Richard Yates],” Chronicling Illinois, accessed June 6, 2020,