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lo men's faces ; but let us judge not, that we be not judged. The
prayers of both could not be answered — that of neither has
been answered fully.

The Almighty has his own purposes. " Woe unto the world
because of offenses ! for it must needs be that offenses come ;

15 but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh." If we shall
suppose that American slavery is one of those offenses which, in
the providence of God, must needs come, but which, having con-
tinued through his appointed time, he now wills to remove, and
that he gives to both North and South this terrible war, as the

20 woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern
therein any departure from those divine attributes wnich the be-
lievers in a living God always ascribe to him .-* Fondly do we hope
■ — fervently do we pray — that this mighty scourge of war may
speedily pass away. Yet, if God wills that it continue until all the

25 wealth piled by the bondman's two hundred and fifty years of un-
requited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn
with the lash shall be paid by another drawn with the sword,
as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said,
" The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

30 With malice toward none ; with charity for all ; with firmness
in the right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to
finish the work we are in ; to bind up the nation's wounds ;
to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow,
and his orphan — to do all which may achieve and cherish

35 a just and lasting peace among ourselves, and with all nations.




(Extract from last speech, April 11, 1865)

. . . We all agree that the seceded states, so called, are out
of their proper practical relation with the Union, and that the
sole object of the government, civil and military, in regard to
those states is to again get them into that proper practical rela-
tion. I believe that it is not only possible, but in fact easier, to 5
do this without deciding or even considering whether these states
have ever been out of the Union, than with it. Finding them-
selves safely at home, it would be utterly immaterial whether
they had ever been abroad. Let us all join in doing the acts
necessary to restoring the proper practical relations between 10
these states and the Union, and each forever after innocently
indulge his own opinion whether in doing the acts he brought
the states from without into the Union, or only gave them
proper assistance, they never having been out of it. The amount
of constituency, so to speak, on which the new Louisiana gov- 15
ernment rests, would be more satisfactory to all if it contained
50,000, or 30,000, or even 20,000, instead of only about 12,000,
as it does. It is also unsatisfactory to some that the elective
franchise is not given to the colored man, I would myself pre-
fer that it were now conferred on the very intelligent, and on 20
those who serve our cause as soldiers.

Still, the question is not whether the Louisiana government,
as it stands, is quite all that is desirable. The question is. Will
it be wiser to take it as it is and help to improve it, or to reject
and disperse it ? Can Louisiana be brought into proper prac- 25
tical relation with the Union sooner by sustaining or by discard-
ing her new state government.'' Some 12,000 voters in the
heretofore slave state of Louisiana have sworn allegiance to the
Union, assumed to be the rightful political power of the state,
held elections, organized a state government, adopted a free- 30
state constitution, giving the benefit of public schools equally to


black and white, and empowering the legislature to confer the
elective franchise upon the colored man. Their legislature has
already voted to ratify the constitutional amendment recently
passed by Congress, abolishing slavery throughout the nation.
5 These 12,000 persons are thus fully committed to the Union and
to perpetual freedom in the state — committed to the very things,
and nearly all the things, the nation wants — and they ask the na-
tion's recognition and its assistance to make good their committal.
Now, if we reject and spurn them, we do our utmost to dis-

10 organize and disperse them. We, in effect, say to the white man :
You are worthless or worse ; we will neither help you, nor be
helped by you. To the blacks we say : This cup of liberty which
these, your old masters, hold to your lips we will dash from
you, and leave you to the chances of gathering the spilled and

15 scattered contents in some vague and undefined when, where,
and how. If this course, discouraging and paralyzing both white
and black, has any tendency to bring Louisiana into proper prac-
tical relations with the Union, I have so far been unable to per-
ceive it. If, on the contray, we recognize and sustain the new

20 government of Louisiana, the converse of all this is made true.
We encourage the hearts and nerve the arms of the 12,000 to
adhere to their work, and argue for it, and proselyte for it, and
fight for it, and feed it, and grow it, and ripen it to a complete
success. The colored man, too, in seeing all united for him, is

25 inspired with vigilance, and energy, and daring, to the same
end. Grant that he desires the elective franchise, will he not
attain it sooner by saving the already advanced steps toward it
than by running backward over them ? Concede that the new
government of Louisiana is only to what it should be as the

30 egg is to the fowl, we shall sooner have the fowl by hatching
the egg than by smashing it.



Lincoln's first public address was to the people of Sangamon County,
Illinois. He had already announced himself as a candidate for the Gen-
eral Assembly of the state (the convention system was not in vogue at
that time). The only preliminary expected of a candidate was to state
his views in a printed circular, which was distributed through his dis-
trict. Lincoln's circular was a document of about two thousand words,
the bulk of it given to a subject of absorbing interest at that period,
— the public utility of internal improvements. In the interval between
the appearance of this circular in March and the election in August
came the Black Hawk War, in which Lincoln served as captain of a
volunteer company. Lincoln was defeated in the August election —
the only time, he says in his brief autobiography, that he was ever
defeated on the direct vote of the people.


Lincoln was first elected to the General Assembly of Illinois in 1834.
He ran for reelection in 1S36 and was successful. It was at this time
that this letter to the Journal was written. The only expression on
woman suffrage to be found in Lincoln's collected works is in this


The year that this public protest against slavery was published, a
proslavery mob made up of citizens of Alton, Illinois, killed Elijah
Lovejoy, the editor of an antislavery newspaper published in the town.
At Springfield, where Mr. Lincoln lived, the citizens held a mass meet-
ing and resolved that " the efforts of the abolitionists in this community
are neither necessary nor useful."




Williamson Durley and his brother Madison were prominent leaders
of the " Liberal party," which in 1845 nominated James G. Birney as its
candidate for the presidency.


Mr. Herndon, in his " Life of Lincoln," explains the circumstance
which called out this letter: "I felt at this time (1848), somewhat in
advance of its occurrence, the death throes of the Whig party. I did
not conceal my suspicions, and one of the Springfield papers gave my
sentiments liberal quotation in its columns. I felt gloomy over the pros-
pect, and cut out these newspaper slips and sent them to Lincoln.
Accompanying these I wrote him a letter equally melancholy in tone,
in which, among other things, I reflected severely on the stubbornness
and bad judgment of the fossils in the party, who were constantly hold-
ing the young men back. This brought from him a letter, July 10, 1848,
which is clearly Lincolnian and full of plain philosophy. Not the least
singular of all is his allusion to himself as an old man, although he had
scarcely passed his thirty-ninth year."


Abraham Lincoln's mother, Nancy Hanks Lincoln, died on October 5,
1818. In December, 1819, Thomas Lincoln married in Elizabethtown,
Kentucky, Mrs. Sarah Bush Johnston, a widow whom he had known as
a young girl. Mrs. Johnston had three children, the oldest of whom was
John D. These children grew up with Abraham, and he always spoke
of John Johnston as his brother.


The Missouri Compromise, passed in 1820, provided that Missouri
might come in as a slave state, if slavery was never allowed north of
36° 30' north latitude. In 1853 Nebraska, which was north of the free
line established by the Missouri Compromise, desired to be organized
as a territory, and Stephen A. Douglas, a member from Illinois of the
Senate of the United States, introduced a bill giving both Nebraska and
Kansas the government they asked. Later he added to this bill an
amendment repealing the Missouri Compromise and permitting settlers
in the new territory to reject or establish slavery as they should see fit.
This bill was passed. In October of 1854 Douglas came to Springfield
to explain his bill to his Illinois constituents whom it had disturbed.


Lincoln's answer to this speech made a profound impression and forced
Douglas at once into a defense of his measure. Lincoln's chief argu-
ment was made in 1854 at Peoria, on October 16.
20 10 Pro tanto : by so much ; to that extent.

AFTER THE DEFEAT OF 1856 (Page 25)

In 1856 Lincoln publicly broke his connection with the Whig party and
joined the Republican Party, which had been organized that year in Illi-
nois. He made some fifty speeches during the campaign for Fremont,
who was the Republican candidate for the presidency. Fremont was de-
feated, though he had nearly one hundred thousand votes in Illinois, and
the Republican candidate for governor of the state, Bissell, was elected.

26 18 The Dred Scott decision was pronounced by Chief Justice
Taney on March 6, 1857. Nicolay and Hay in their "Abraham Lincoln :
A History" summarize its leading conclusions as follows (Vol. II,
p. 73) : "That the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of
the United States do not include or refer to negroes otherwise than as
property ; that they cannot become citizens of the L'nited States or
sue in the federal courts ; that Dred Scott's claim to freedom by reason
of his residence in Illinois was a Missouri question, which Missouri law
had decided against him ; that the Constitution of the United States
recognizes slaves as property, and pledges the federal government to
protect it ; and that the Missouri Compromise act and like prohibitory
laws are unconstitutional ; that the circuit court of the United States
had no jurisdiction in the case and could give no judgment in it, and
must be directed to dismiss the suit."

28 19 The President to whom Lincoln here refers was James Bu-
chanan ; he had been questioned in a memorial signed by Professor
Benjamin Silliman of Yale College, and other citizens of New England,
concerning the Dred Scott decision, and he had replied in a public
letter in which he said that slavery existed in Kansas under the Con-
stitution of the Ignited States ; that this had been decided by the high-
est tribunal known to our laws ; and he added, " How it could have
ever been seriously doubted is a mystery."

28 25 In 1857 a convention was held at Lecompton, Kansas, to
frame a constitution for the new territories. It included a clause
permitting slavery ; this clause, submitted apart from the rest of the
constitution, was adopted in December, 1857. In January, 1858, the
constitution as a whole was submitted and rejected.

31 5 The four workmen to whom Lincoln refers as " Stephen,
Franklin, Roger, and James," are Senator Stephen A. Douglas, author


of the repeal of the Missouri Compromise ; Franklin Pierce, fourteenth
president of the United States, who agreed to make the repeal of the
Missouri Compromise a party measure ; Roger B. Taney, chief justice
of the United States, who pronounced the Dred Scott decision ; and
James Buchanan, fifteenth president of the United States, who defended
that decision.

35 24 Francis Preston Blair, known as Frank Blair, was a Missouri
politician and a prominent leader of Union sentiment in his state.
Gratz Brown was also a Missouri Unionist. Both men were active
supporters of the emancipation of the negro.


One of the first Illinois politicians to conceive the idea that Lincoln
might be an available candidate for the presidency in i860 was Jesse W.
Fell of Bloomington, Illinois. While the Lincoln and Douglas debates
were going on. Fell was traveling in the East. He was surprised to
find the people generally interested in Lincoln's arguments. He fre-
quently was questioned about Lincoln's personality. On his return Fell
talked to him about the advisability of putting out a sketch that would
satisfy the curiosity which had been awakened by the speeches. Lin-
coln refused to believe that Fell was right. It was not until December
of 1859, a year after the suggestion was made, that he consented to
write the little sketch of his life here printed.

37 19 Since Lincoln's death the effort to identify his family with
the New England family of the same name has resulted in something
more definite than the similarity of Christian names of which he speaks.
A series of researches in official documents extending over fifty years
has established beyond doubt that Abraham Lincoln was a direct de-
scendant of Samuel Lincoln, who came to New England in 1637. The
fullest and most authoritative accoiint of his pedigree is to be found in
the " Ancestry of Abraham Lincoln " by Lea and Hutchinson.


Cooper Union had been open but a few months when Lincoln spoke
there. He had one of the most notable audiences which have ever gath-
ered in New York. This was due largely to the impression his debates
with Douglas had made. Many of his friends feared that he would not be
able to hold the audience, but his success was pronounced. The speech
was one of the most important and convincing Lincoln ever made.

53 9 A little over four months before the Cooper Union meeting, on
October 16, 1859, John Brown and a small group of followers had seized

NOTES- 121

the arsenal at Harpers Ferry, Virginia. They hoped to arm a band of
negroes and incite insurrection. The raid was unsuccessful. Brown was
captured on October iS, tried by the commonwealth of Virginia, and was
executed on December 2, 1859.

55 19 Pari passu : proportionately.

71 25-31 As originally written this address closed with the words,
" You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the government,"
etc. On reaching Washington in February before his inauguration,
Lincoln gave William H. Seward, Secretary of State, a copy of the ad-
dress. Mr. Seward objected to his closing words and suggested the
following paragraph :

I close. We are not, we must not be, aliens or enemies, but fellow countr}'men
and brethren. Although passion has strained our bonds of affection too hardly, they
must not, I am sure they will not, be broken. The mystic chords which, proceed-
ing from so many battlefields and so many patriotic graves, pass through all the
hearts and all hearths in this broad continent of ours, will yet again harmonize in
their ancient music when breathed upon by the guardian angel of the nation.

Mr. Lincoln rewrote the above suggestion of Mr. Seward, making of
it the now famous paragraph here printed. The changes made, fur-
nish an admirable study of the way in which Lincoln handled English.^


Mr. Seward undoubtedly believed sincerely that Abraham Lincoln
was unfit for the presidency, and that one of his secretaries would be
obliged to assume the leadership. When he accepted the appointment
of Secretary of State, it was with the idea that he would be obliged to
assume the responsibilities of the administration, and all his early work
was done under this conviction. On April i, 1861, he sent Lincoln
" Some Thoughts for the President's Consideration." Mr. Lincoln's
reply shows the astonishing suggestions in these " thoughts," though
it is so courteously worded that it does not fully reveal their nature.
Mr. Lincoln never showed to any one but his private secretaries Seward's
communication and his reply. It is only fair to say that when Mr.
Seward finally realized Lincoln's ability, he was quick to acknowledge it.

1 The reader interested in the First Inaugural of Lincoln should not fail to
read the admirable chapter on the subject in Vol. Ill of Nicolay and Hay's
" Abraham Lincoln : a History," where Mr. Seward's criticisms are given
in full.



In connection with this message on compensated emancipation the
reader's attention is called to the chapter on Lincoln and Emancipa-
tion in the second volume of Tarbell's " Life of Abraham Lincoln."


The demand for the immediate emancipation of the negroes was
strong in the North by the summer of 1862. The radicals brought heavy
pressure to bear when Mr. Lincoln did not seem to sympathize with their
program. On August 20 Horace Greeley printed in the New Yoa-k Trib-
une a signed editorial entitled, " The Prayer of 20,000,000," to which
the letter here reprinted is a reply. As a matter of fact the President had
in his desk at that time the first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation.

81 6 Mr. Lincoln's calculations of the population which this country
ought to have by 1900 have proved to be far wide of the mark. He
calculated that in 1900 we ought to have a population of 103,208,415,
and as a matter of fact we had but 76,303,387, — 374,485 less than he
estimated we would have in 1890. The population of 1910 he fixed at
138,918,526. The recent census shows that we have about 92,000,000.

90 11 General Burnside had been given the command of the Army
of the Potomac on November 10, 1862. He succeeded General Mc-
Clellan. On December 13, 1862, Burnside fought the battle of Fred-
ericksburg and was defeated. On January 25, 1863, Lincoln ordered
General Hooker to relieve Burnside. The next day the President wrote
Hooker the letter here printed. Noah Brooks heard General Hooker
read the letter soon after its receipt, and as he folded it up say, " That
is just such a letter as a father might write to his son."


In August, 1863, James C. Conkling of Illinois, a leading Republican,
wrote Mr. Lincoln, requesting him to come to the state to speak at a
mass meeting to be held in Springfield in favor of " law and order and
constitutional government." Mr. Lincoln could not leave Washington,
but he wrote a letter which he himself said was " rather a good letter,"
and which Nicolay and Hay, in their account of it, call his " last stump
speech." The extract, on the following page, from their " Abraham
Lincoln : A History " shows what reception was given it.^

1 Vol. VII, p. 385.


Nothing he ever uttered had a more instantaneous success, Mr. Sumner
immediately wrote to him: "Thanks for your true and noble letter. It is a
historical document. The case is admirably stated, so that all but the wicked
must confess its force. It cannot be answered." Henry Wilson wrote to him :
" God Almighty bless you for your noble, patriotic, and Christian letter. It will
be on the lips and in the hearts of hundreds of thousands this day." Among the
letters which the President most appreciated was one from the venerable Josiah
Quincy, then ninety-one years of age, who wrote: "Old age has its privileges,
which this letter will not exceed ; but I cannot refrain from expressing to you
my gratitude for your letter to the Illinois Convention, — happy, timely, conclu-
sive, and effective. What you say concerning emancipation, and your course of
proceeding in relation to it, was due to truth and to your own character, shame-
fully assailed as it has been. The development is an imperishable monument of
wisdom and virtue." After discussing the question of emancipation, he continued :
" I write under the impression that the victory of the United States in this war
is inevitable — compromise is impossible. Peace on any other basis would be the
establishment of two nations, each hating the other, both military, both neces-
sarily warlike, their territories interlocked with a tendency of never-ceasing
hostility. Can we leave to posterity a more cruel inheritance, or one more hope-
less of happiness and prosperity?" Mr. Lincoln answered this letter in a tone
expressive of his reverence for the age and illustrious character of the writer.


This proclamation is the first making of Thanksgiving Day a national
holiday. Up to this date it had been observed according to the discre-
tion of the governors of different states. In 1S46 Sarah Josepha Hale,
the editor of Godty's Lady's Book and the author of " Mary had a Little
Lamb," first suggested that the day be made national. Regularly after
that, every fall, she sent out to the governors of all the states an appeal
that they choose the last Thursday of November for the celebration.
Finally, in 1863, ^^^ ^^ ^x%t time, Mr. Lincoln proclaimed a national
Thanksgiving Day. The custom thus inaugurated has been followed
ever since.


The version of the Gettysburg speech here given is that made by
Mr. Lincoln at the request of the Plonorable George Bancroft for the
benefit of the Soldiers and Sailors' Fair held in Baltimore in 1864,
Any one interested in studying the history of the Gettysburg speech
will find full material with copies of the four different versions in a
pamphlet called '' The Gettysburg Address," written by Major William
H. Lambert and printed by J. B. Lippincott Company of Philadelphia.

105 16 The election of Governor Hahn was of great importance, it
being the first attempt at reconstruction in a Southern state from which


Confederate forces had been driven. The election was conducted by
the mihtary commander, General Banks ; three tickets were in the
field and 1 1 ,000 votes were cast. General Banks said, in his official report
to Mr. Lincoln, that the ordinary vote of the state had been 40,000,
and that the proportion of the vote cast at this election was nearly
equal to the proportion covered by the federal army. Governor Hahn
was inaugurated on March 4, without any interference from the military
authorities. The convention of which Mr. Lincoln speaks in the letter
here printed began early in April and continued until July 25. In the
constitution adopted slavery was abolished, means for educating colored
children were provided, the negro was placed on equal footing before
the law with the white man, and the power to grant him suffrage was
conferred upon the legislature.

107 5 The difficulty with the question of emancipation, which Mr.
Lincoln had at the beginning of his first administration, is well illus-
trated by General Fremont's attempt in August, 1861, to free the slaves
in his department. An excellent account of this attempt will be found
in Vol. IV of Nicolay and Hay's ''Abraham Lincoln : A History."

109 5 Mr. Lincoln first met General Grant in March, 1864 ; this
was after Grant had captured Vicksburg and carried on successfully
the campaign in East Tennessee. Congress had revived for Grant's
benefit the rank of lieutenant general, and on February 29 Lincoln ap-
pointed him to that rank. The President now asked Grant to take
charge of the campaign against Lee. The general immediately reor-
ganized the Army of the Potomac. By the end of April he was ready
to open an active campaign.


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Online LibraryA LincolnSelections from the letters, speeches (Volume 2) → online text (page 12 of 13)