Salisbury NC Mar. 21st -63
To His Excellency the Gov of the State of NC
Having (…) been forced into measures not at all pleasant to obtain something to eat by the cruel and unfeeling speculators who have been gathering up at enormous prices, not only bread (…) but everything, even down to eggs, chickens & vegetables.(…) We feel it now our duty, honored and esteemed Governor to inform you truthfully of our proceedings and humbly pray to inform us whether or not we are justifiable in what we have done and if not, for Heavens sake, tell us how these evils are to be remedied.
We Sir, are all soldiers wives or mothers. Our husbands and sons are now separated from us by this cruel war not only to defend our humble homes but the homes and property of the rich man and at the same time that we are grieved at the separation yet(…) our hearts go with them and our prayers follow them for Heavens protection through all the trials and difficulties that may surround them. But sir we have to live and we must live, while they are gone from us and that too without much or in many cases, any assistance from them for how far will eleven dollars go in a family now when meat is from 75 cents to $1.00 p(e)r p(oun)d, flour $50 p(e)r b(arre)ll, wood from $4 to $5 p(e)r load, meal 4 an[d] 5 dollars p(e)r bushel, eggs 50 or 60 c(en)ts p(e)r doz, Molasses $7. 00 p(e)r gal., rye 20 cts pr qt. Addition to that we are willing and do work early and late to keep off starvation which is now staring us in the face, but the Government only allows us 50 c(en)ts a for lined pants and 75 c(en)ts for coats and there are few of us who can make over a dollar a day. We have an average from three to five helpless children to support, and still we complain not at Government prices if we can only get bread and meat at a reasonable price but Sir many of us work day after day, without a morsal of meat to strengthen us for our labors and often times we are without bre/a/d. Now sir, how we ask you in the name of God are we to live?
Laboring under all these difficulties Sir we as we have told you in the commencement of this letter were from stern necessity compelled to go in search of food to sustain life, and some forty or more respectable but poor women, started out backed by many citizens to get food. We took our little money with us and offered to pay government prices for what we took but the speculators refused us anything or even admittance into their premises. We then forced our way in and compelled them to give us something and we succeeded in obtaining twenty three b(arre)lls of flour, two sacks of salt, a half a b(arre)ll of molasses and twenty dollars in money, which was equally divided among us in the presence of our highly esteemed friends and Lawyer Blackmen, besides many other gentlemen of good and high standing in society. Now sir this is all we done and necessity compelled us to do it and the reason we have addressed you sir is that we understand that we have been reported to you as plunderers of the town disturbing the peace and quiet of the community, but Sir we have honestly told you the whole proceeding and we now pray your protection or a remedy for these evils we as much as any one deplore the necessity of such proceeding and do humbly pray you in behalf of our helpless children to so fix the prices of bread and meat that we can by our labor gain an honest portion of that which sustains life.
To whom else can we go but to you our highly esteemed and cherished Gov to redress these evils. You were the choice of our Husbands and sons, and we too look up to you sir with perfect confidence as being able and willing to do something for us we ask not charity we only as[k] for fair and reasonable prices for provisions and leather for sir many of us have been shoeless this whole winter except the cloth shoes we can make for ourselves which are no protection even against the cold.
In conclusion sir we humbly beg you after carefully [sic] and prayerfuly [sic] considering our letter, to let us hear from you. You can address Mary C Moore Salisbury NC and that Heavens richest blessings and a long life may be your portion with your happy family is the(..)heartfelt prayers of many Soldiers Wives.
Citation: Letter: Salisbury Women to Zebulon B. Vance, March 21, 1863. https://digital.ncdcr.gov/Documents/Detail/letter-salisbury-women-to-zebulon-b.-vance-march-21-1863/578376. Accessed 21 August 2023.
- What did the Salisbury Women state as the reasoning behind the Bread Riot (the problem they want to solve)? What do they request as the solution?
- Complete a cause and effect chart by describing effects for the following causes.
- Cause: Husbands and sons are drafted into war.
- Cause: Speculators raise prices from government set rations.
- Cause: Women are desperate to feed their family and “see starvation staring at them in their face.”
- From the letter, what conclusions can you make about the difference in speculators and government prices?
Esteemed: respected or admired
Humbly: modestly; not proud or arrogant
Justifiable: able to be shown to be right or reasonable
Sustain: help, support
Plunderers: someone who takes something, looter
Deplore: feel or express strong disapproval of
Redress: to fix, set right