William Wilkins’ letter to James Webb, editor and publisher of the New York Courier and Enquirer, reveals an interesting view on some of the political perspectives that existed on the eve of the 1860 election. Wilkins, who graduated from Dickinson College in 1802, was a Pennsylvania Democratic politician who also served as Secretary of War in President John Tyler’s administration. While Wilkins had originally “intended to have told you something of myself,” he noted that Webb’s political “pamphlet has driven all such things out of my head and set if off ‘a wool gathering.’” Wilkins’ was not happy with Webb’s take on slavery. George Washington “never dreaming he was fighting for kidnapped Africans of the Lowest order of human beings,” Wilkins argued. Wilkins also believed that southerners should be allowed to bring slaves into any territory. “Where is the great right of migration?,” Wilkins asked. Yet Wilkins was careful to note that he did not count Webb among the radical abolitionists. “You must not suppose I include you…in [the] certain mad, fanatical category as full of political wickedness as was John Brown,” Wilkins explained. Wilkins hoped that sectional tensions would be resolved without resorting to disunion, as there could be no “secession, without pulling down the entire wonderfully and wildly constructed fabric” of the Union. While Wilkins’ wife asked him “to burn…this horrible letter,” he refused and sent it onto Webb. You can read the full text of this letter online at House Divided.