This week in history: January 7‑January 15

172 years ago this past Wednes­day, Lucy Ann Kyle wrote an impor­tant let­ter to Robert Camp­bell.  The wealthy Camp­bell had sent a let­ter to her ask­ing to mar­ry Lucy’s daugh­ter, 16 year old Vir­ginia Jane Kyle.  Most wid­ows faced with the pos­si­bil­i­ty of mar­ry­ing their daugh­ter to a rich man that loved them in the 1830s would have jumped at the chance.  Robert cer­tain­ly thought she would.  But Lucy was dif­fer­ent from most.  Read all about Lucy’s thoughts on her daugh­ter’s mar­riage and her con­di­tions in this fas­ci­nat­ing and impor­tant fam­i­ly letter!


[Front Cov­er]
Mr. Robert Campbell
Care of Gill Camp­bell & Co

Raleigh Jan 13th 1838
Mr. Campbell,
The impor­tant sub­ject of your com­mu­ni­ca­tion of the 7th inst. which now lies before me cer­tain­ly demands an imme­di­ate reply.   My mind was not at all pre­pared to receive such intel­li­gence, it  came like an elec­tric shock.  Tis time I knew of your attach­ment  for Vir­ginia some eigh­teen months ago, but nev­er until [sic]  yes­ter­day did I have the slight­est inti­ma­tion of her feel­ings  towards you.  I have fre­quent­ly endeav­ored in dif­fer­ent ways to  find out, but she would nev­er speak with me at all on the sub­ject but turned it off in some light, friv­o­lous way.  I am at a loss  to con­jec­ture how it is such a great change has tak­en place, and  that too with­out con­sult­ing her moth­er even on the most impor­tant  event of her life.  Mr. Camp­bell you have made a request, no less than the Gift of my dar­ling Vir­ginia, the grant­i­ng of which is  like tear­ing my heart strings asun­der.  I nev­er before con­ceived  I should have such feelings.

[Pg. Break] No I can not give away my child, by so doing my fond  antic­i­pa­tions so long cher­ished would be for­ev­er blast­ed.  Yes  with what a devo­tion of heart have I looked for­ward to the time  of the com­ple­tion of my daugh­ters edu­ca­tion, when we can again be unit­ed around our own fire­side and in our own house and at least for a few years to enjoy their undi­vid­ed con­fi­dence, joys, and  sor­rows.  Think me not hard in say­ing I can not give away my  child, for I ver­i­ly believe all the devo­tion of all the men in  the world is not half equal to a moth­ers love.  Was Vir­ginia of  an age which in my opin­ion would jus­ti­fy her mar­ry­ing, my mind  might change, but as it is I feel bound by the strongest ties of  mater­nal affec­tion to keep her with me.

As to your pri­ma­ry affairs I have no inquire’s to make, wealth  over a com­pa­ten­cy is pro­duc­tive of more evil than good, and I  trust Vir­ginia will nev­er be influ­enced by such a motive, she has an inde­pen­dence of her with which pru­dence will sup­port her  through life.

You say “That you are ware that my only objec­tive  is to see my daugh­ters hap­pi­ly sit­u­at­ed in life,” if you mean  mar­ried and set­tled I beg leave to differ

[Pg. Break] from you, this is the very point at present I most  fear and least desire.  Mr. Camp­bell, I know you admire can­dor, I will there­fore impress one more sen­ti­ment.  It will be use­less for you to urge this mat­ter as I can nev­er con­sent for Vir­ginia  to mar­ry under the age of eighteen.“This res­o­lu­tion has been  long formed and for which I could assign many sub­stan­tial  rea­sons, should Vir­ginia dis­re­gard this opin­ion, she will not  have the promise of her Heav­en­ly father to obe­di­ent chil­dren nor  the bless­ing of her mother.

Very respect­ful­ly,
Lucy Ann Kyle

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