Letter of Resignation
April 11, 1866
Directors, Wisconsin Soldier’s Home, Milwaukee.
Ladies—The time has now arrived when you are to elect officers for the ensuing year . Should it be the wish of any of your number to tender me again the position you have twice honored me with, I must decline being considered a candidate for re-election.
You are all aware that it had it not been for a mutual pledge made when the Soldiers' Home was organized to stay not our hands of this work until the institution had vindicated its claim to be ranked with the first of the State, I should have withdrawn months ago. The tie was made strong by opposing influences truly formidable, but the covered stand point has been reached and the large sum realized at the fair has placed the home on somewhat independent basis. But there was still a later pledge unredeemed perhaps less important but no less sacred. By the annual report which is now before the public it will be seen that the county contributions to the fair have been accredited and thus the last promise for which I am in any way responsible has been fulfilled.
How far I have been actuated by principle in the discharge of the official duties I ask you do me the justice of letting your conscience be the judge.That I have in no degree catered for individual favor, or encouraged it in others, is a fact I am willing and happy to admit.
I have always hoped to find it in my power to resign the office I have so imperfectly filled but the circumstance referred to which I could not conscientiously disregard have prevented.
An abiding interest constrains me to urge continued vigilance on part of the Directors. Experience has shown that proper influences cannot be thrown around the inmates with telling effect, without it. To concentrate and blend the views and wishes of so large a board of directors, is also a difficult matter, and can only be accomplished by careful watchfulness on the part of the President. This may by some be considered unnecessary but as you value the prosperity of the institution, remember that it is as necessary to it, as to pilot to a ship. Like a ship, in calm weather it may float for a time in safety, but even then is likely to drift on some hidden rock and meet with disaster; but storms will come, when a pilot who has learned by patient, watchful study where the reefs lie, and has the skill to shun them, is absolutely necessary for the safety of all. The close economy thus far practiced in the management of affairs, will be found a strong lever in your favor would it be necessary at some future day to ask help from the state. I would not, however, place too much reliance on what the Legislature may do for the permanent support of the institution.The people are heavily taxed already and the responsibility of increasing that tax will be assumed without a good deal of consideration on their part, much as they may personally desire to aid the cause.
The number of inmates you will have at the Home will be governed undoubtedly by the manner in which it is conducted. Should it generate into a kind of poor house, those entitled to its shelter will dread and shun it as such; should it be sustained as the valor and patriotism of those for whom it was erected deserves, it will be filled with, worthy and intelligent men.
If I have encouraged leniency to those who have violated certain rules of the institution, it has been because I hoped by patient forbearance and persevering effort to reform them, believing it as much our duty to reclaim the fallen as to feed the hungry. I believe a system of labor suited to the mental and physical capacity of the inmates should be organized. It will cultivate a peaceful and contented spirit, and give them a degree if independence essential to their comfort and happiness. They should be taught trades, and braches of trade, and each allowed a certain amount of room in the work shop. Contracts should be taken, and a percentage of each one’s earnings retained for the payment of contingent expenses. Nearly every inmate could thus earn something for himself which, with the pension allowed by the government should enable him to make all necessary purchases and clothing. With the plan properly matured and carried out, every well man, however crippled, even to the loss of both arms, could earn something for himself, and be a credit to the institution. I can see no reason why the Home should be much of a tax on the liberality of the community. Exempt, as it is from taxation, and, as it will soon e, from rent, with twenty fie acres of good land susceptible of the highest cultivation, it should be nearly self-sustaining.
One very pleasant feature of the institution has been in giving worthy and intelligent young men who have faithful served their country, a temporary home, while obtaining a commercial education. I trust so far as consistent, this will be continued.
My connection with the Home, has been to me a source of pleasure and I trust a means of usefulness, although I am not entirely unforgetful of circumstances which have in no way contributed to my happiness. We may be sometimes blamed when our designs are pure, or praised when we are conscious of deserving it, when, if the real motive could be known, both censure and commendation be withheld.
Trusting and believing that wisdom and justice may ever preside in the counsels of your Board, I subscribe myself,
Yours very respectfully,
Mrs. G. P. Hewitt, Jr.
Praise for Mrs. Hewitt
April 19, 1866
THE SOLDIERS HOME.—The following preamble and resolutions complimentary of Mrs. G P Hewitt, Jr, late president of the Soldiers’ Home, were unanimously adopted at the meeting of the Directors of that institution on Tuesday the 17th. Inst. The compliment is well merited.
Whereas. We have learned with regret, since the last meeting of this Board, of the determination of Mrs. G P Hewitt, Jr, to withdraw from active service in this board.
Resolved. That we highly appreciate that past service of Mrs. Hewitt in this board; that we recognize in one of the chief original projectors of this institution, and one of the most able, earnest and effective laborers in laying its foundations; that however much others may have done (and others have done much) she has been foremost in struggling for the firm establishment of this perpetual asylum for disabled soldiers of the Union, at a period when the success of the enterprise was by no means assured; and in our opinion it would be difficult to over-estimate the value of her untiring exertions hitherto, as the President and head of the Institution.
Resolved. That we hereby express to Mrs. Hewitt our unfeigned thanks for her untiring devotion to the interests of the Home in the past; that we earnestly hope that no long period may elapse before she shall be able to resume the official connection with its management and that in any event our good wishes will go with her wherever her path of life may lie.
Resolved. That a certified copy of the foregoing resolutions be transmitted to Mrs. Hewitt, and that the same may be spread at length on the records of the Home, and sent to the city papers for publication.
By order of the Board:
Mrs. O H Waldo Sec. Pro.tem. Thanks from a Union Soldier April 16,1866
As I am about the leave the Home, and set out for my first start in life, to accumulate a few Dollars for my welfare and happiness, I take this opportunity of addressing you, merely, because I feel it a sense of duty on my part to show you that I realize and appreciate your kindness shown to me, and your ever smiling face to cheer me when far away from home and friends so dear...You have indeed done a work which has made you one of the first with those who have been so patriotic and benevolent for the last three years of this horrible war.…It is true that I am not entitled to the hospitalities of the Home, but by your influence and others they have permitted me to stay there and attend College. …I feel my hopes and prospects are not yet blasted, and am determined to try and make my mark.
Charlie Wortman, Sheboygan Falls
From the Minutes of the Wisconsin Soldiers' Home, Volume 3