To Jacob Dolson Cox

2 September 1871


[MS in J. D. Cox Papers, 30/3, Oberlin College Archives]


Oberlin 2d Sept. 1871.

Dear Son Dolson,

Yours of the 30th ult is recd.

We are disappointed. We

were looking for you this

week. But we submit beca

use we can not help it,

& because we sympathize

with you in your efforts

to reestablish your business &

are not upon the whole sorry

that you have so much

business that you can

not come. We must for

the present consent to

deny ourselves for the

furtherance of your

business. We thought it

doubtful whether Helen

would be able to come.

Helen wrote Ange that you

[page 2]

were about to purchase a

house. You say nothing

of it from which I hope

that you did not complete

the bargain.

I am glad that you don't

go on to the stump this

fall. It is unnecessary I

I hope as the party is

ably represented. Besides

I do not wonder at your

deep disgust with politics.

Monroe is in his element,

He is a born politician -

i.e. he aspires to statesman

ship. Whether he can ever

be a statesman remains

to be seen. I have always

feared for him because

he left the ministry for

politics. Perhaps it was

a call of God, but I fear

[page 3]

it was not.]

What am I to understand

by your "long hearing" of

R. R. cases. Do you mean

that you now counsel

or referee. I take it the

former. Charles & family

are still here. Charles

health is poor though

improving I think. It

is not likely that he

ever will quite recover

his former health. He

is out of business because

he does not feel able

to commit himself

to any thing at present.

He feels almost discoura

ged at times. The blues

is an old disease of

his. From his boyhood

he has had his turns

[page 4]

of discouragement. He will

hit upon some course

that will interest him

in due time. He has

recently been at Oshkosh

arranging his affairs there

He takes but little interest

in politics. I have always

thought that both you & he

made a mistake in

breaking up & going to

Washington. I am

however quite reconciled

to your movement, for though

it was a damage to you

in a pecuniary point of view

it worked a great awaken

ing on the question of civil

service reform, & also elevated

you much in public estim

ation. Your martyrdom if

it shall prove to be such, will bear

abundant fruits in the end.

[page 5]

I have handed my

resignation of the Pastor

ate to the Deacons &

assured them that this

action on my part is

final. It will be accepted

next week & this load

of care labor & anxiety

under which I have

so long groaned will I

hope be rolled off, as I

am really unable

to perform the duties

of Pastor of this great

Church. I tried last

year to resign but failed

to get the consent of the

church. I have now given

them to understand that

they must consent.

If they continue to run to me

I shall be obliged to leave

Oberlin. Dolson what are

[page 6]

we to think of your spiritual

state. When you Mother

read your last letter

she sighed & said O, that

he was an earnest Chris

tian! She much admires

you & dearly loves you.

Will you tell us what

we may think of your

spiritual state so that

if you should die

suddenly as so many

do we should not be

in doubt as to your

future & eternal state.

All here wish to be most

kindly remembered to

you & to all your family.

God bless you all

C. G. Finney



The "I" is repeated again here.

George Frederick Wright in his sketch of James Monroe, recalled that he had been an antislavery lecturer before becoming a teacher at Oberlin College:

Naturally he continued to be interested in the anti-slavery cause, and as the war approached he was elected to the State legislature, and became one of the most influential members in shaping the course of the State in those troublous times.

President Finney, however, was much exercised in his mind over Professor Monroe's entering the political arena, and at one time preached a most powerful sermon to try to dissuade him from running as candidate for the State Senate. The scene was one of the most memorable of my experiences in Oberlin. Professor Monroe sat in a conspicuous place in the church, and listened with rapt attention as the eloquent preacher endeavored to prove that a man of high moral principles who had entered the arena of moral reform could not run for office without lowering his standard and compromising his character. Such a man cannot get the votes of the people except he come down to their level. Professor Monroe, he contended, is too good a man to do this. He can't afford to do it. He should remain on the high pedestal of moral principle where he now is and strive to draw all men up to it. If he gets down to the level to which he will have to fall if he gets the votes of the people, he never will rise again to his original high standard. "Professor Monroe," said the preacher, "is too good a man to run for the legislature of Ohio."

Just then Professor Peck, who sat near, rose in his place and lifted his hand in token that he wished to speak. President Finney turned his great eyes toward him, and perceiving what was wanted said, "Speak on Bother Peck," and sat down while Professor Peck finished the sermon in trying to show that we were not going to lose Professor Monroe from the ranks of high moral reform, but were going to have him in both capacities as reformer and legislator. When Professor Peck finished his well-chosen remarks, Finney, with tears in his eyes, prayed that we might all be led aright, and dismissed the meeting (G. F. Wright, The Story of My Life [Oberlin: Bibliotheca Sacra Co., 1916], pp. 62-63).

Monroe was elected and re-elected to the National House of Representatives for five successive terms (from 1870-1880).

This word is unclear.

Cox had been made Secretary of the Interior by Grant in March 1869, and moved to Washington. An obituary of Charles Finney in the Northwestern (Oshkosh), 23 April 1896, states:

As soon as his brother-in-law became a cabinet minister, Major Finney left Oshkosh and proceeded to Washington where he served as private secretary to the head of the interior department. Gen. Cox resigned his position in December 1870, on account of a disagreement with the president. Major Finney remained in Washington several months, and subsequently removed to San Buena Ventura, California, where he purchased a fruit farm.

An entry in the Church Records under the date of Thursday, September 6, reads:

The church met, by call of Pres. Finney on the previous Sabbath to consider his resignation which he had tendered.

His resignation was read out and a vote taken. There were 58 for and 90 against. His wish to resign was not finally granted until 2 May 1872. (See First Congregational Church Records, 1857-1891, Oberlin College Archives, 31/4/1.)

See Finney's letter to the Church (10 December 1870)