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In Their Own Words

October 10, 1804

Letter Told of Son’s Death

Savannah merchant Robert Mackay regularly sailed to England on business, leaving behind his wife and three young sons. On this day, business partner William Mein had the painful duty to write Mackay with distressing news:

“You must prepare your Mind to bear up under a most severe affliction for I never took up my Pen to address you with so heavy a heart And how to disclose to you the Cause of my distress when it affect you more severely My hand shakes, my Pen trembles And I want language to impart to you My feelings Would to God I could take you by the hand & mingle my Tears with yours for the Loss (how shall I name it) of your oldest & Darling Son Yes! my dear friend Poor Robert is no more & you are bereaved of the finest child I ever beheld – He was the pride of our City And I had flattered myself would long have been spared as a Comfort to his Parents and an ornament to his Country But alas! it has been otherwise decreed by Providence And We must bow with Submission to the omnipotent had who gives & takes away … Poor little fellow It was soon over with him but it was a severe fever while it lasted … .”

Source: Georgia Society of the Colonial Dames of America, The Letters of Robert Mackay to his Wife: Written from ports in America and England, 1795-1816 (Athens: University of Georgia Press, 1949), pp. 36-37.