FORT LAFAYETTE, October 2, 1861.
His Excellency ABRAHAM LINCOLN,
President of the United States of America.
DEAR SIR: I was arrested in the early part of September through a letter that I wrote my son-in-law which fell into the hands of the Government and sent to this place. Many of my friends in Newark and New York aware of my loyalty to the Administration have kindly interested themselves in endeavoring to obtain my release and again restore me to my family, but thus far without success. And in the anguish of my feelings at the deep sorrow in which my wife and children are resting, to say nothing of their future destitution, I write to Your Excellency.
In writing the letter that I did I must say it was on m y part with reluctance and against the better counsels of my wife but I trusted too much to my past life, as every one with whom I am acquainted can readily testify to my unerring devotion to the Union. I own some little property in North Carolina, accumulated after many years of honest industry and sufficient with my daily exertions to keep my family from the iron hand of poverty. This property my daughter wrote me was to be confiscated, and in order to try and save it I wrote the letter that led to my arrest to my son-in-law who would have used it to try and save the same. It was simply a ruse which my known loyalty to the Government I trusted would be sufficient when the facts were known to exonerate me. To say the least of it was a great indiscretion on my part; an error of the head while my heart was true to the Union. And I do now, sir, most solemnly assevrate before my Maker, before whom we all shall stand sooner or later, that in writing that letter I never for one moment meditated an act of disloyalty to the Government. My only object was to save my property. I have done wrong, for it seems my antecedents have no weight in the balance. The past history of my devotion and my present for the preservation of this good old Union under which I have lived and prospered ought certainly to mitigate my sentence of exile from those who are very dear to me and who look to me alone for their daily bread. My wife and little ones are wrapped in grief as each day closes on my captivity. Your Excellency is blessed with a family and can readily portray my feelings.
I have ben told that Mr. Lincoln is humane in the plenitude of his power. If so let me beg and supplicate you for one word of yours that will send me back to my children. If my loyalty is questioned I will most cheerfully submit to any decision or decree of the Government by giving ample security or by oath. The health of my wife is such that she cannot live a great while and for God's sake allow me to spend the few remaining days that are allotted her on earth with her. Were I at heart a guilty man or if my past life can point out one act or word of disloyalty to the Government I could not and would not dare to address you on the subject of my release, but I am innocent though writing that letter having for its object as I then thought justifiable motives. Could I have been allowed a trial my past and present life's record would have declared me innocent. Your sympathy in my behalf will add greatly to my present sorrow [sic].
I am, very respectfully, yourt,
EDWARD B. WILDER.