Abraham Lincoln.

Abraham Lincoln; complete works, comprising his speeches, letters, state papers, and miscellaneous writings; online

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pose of obtaining the very best evidence as to whether Texas had
actually carried her revolution to the place where the hostilities of
the present war commenced, let the President answer the interroga-
tories I proposed, as before mentioned, or some other similar ones.
Let him answer fully, fairly, and candidly. Let him answer with
facts and not with arguments. Let him remember he sits where
Washington sat, and so remembering, let him answer as Washing-
ton would answer. As a nation should not, and the Almighty will
not, be evaded, so let him attempt no evasion — no equivocation.
And if, so answering, he can show that the soU was ours where the
first blood of the war was shed, — that it was not within an inhabited
country, or, if within such, that the inhabitants had submitted them-
selves to the civil authority of Texas or of the United States, and that
the same is true of the site of Fort Brown,— then I am with him for
his justification. In that case I shall be most happy to reverse the
vote I gave the other day. I have a selfish motive for desiring that
the President may do this — I expect to gain some votes, in connec-
tion with the war, which, without his so doing, will be of doubtful
propriety in my own judgment, but which will be free from the
doubt if he does so. But if he can not or wiU not do this, — if on
any pretense or no pretense he shall refuse or omit it — then I shall



106 ADDRESSES AND LETTERS OP ABRAHAM LINCOLN

be fully convinced of -what I more than suspect already — that he is
deeply conscious of being in the wrong ; that he feels the blood of
this war, like the blood of Abel, is crying to Heaven against him ;
that originally having some strong motive — what, I will not stop
now to give my opinion concerning — to involve the two countries
in a war, and trusting to escape scrutiny by fixing the public gaze
upon the exceeding brightness of military glory, — that attractive
rainbow that rises in showers of blood— that serpent's eye that
charms to destroy, — he plunged into it, and has swept on and on
till, disappointed in his calculation of the ease with which Mexico
might be subdued, he now finds himself he knows not where. How
like the half-insane mumbling of a fever dream is the whole war
part of his late message! At one time telling us that Mexico has
nothing whatever that we can get but territory ; at another showing
us how we can support the war by levying contributions on Mexico.
At one time urging the national honor, the security of the future,
the prevention of foreign interference, and even the good of Mexico
herself as among the objects of the war ; at another telling us that
" to reject indemnity, by refusing to accept a cession of territory,
would be to abandon all our just demands, and to wage the war
bearing all its expenses, without a purpose or definite object." So
then this national honor, security of the future, and everything but
territorial indemnity may be considered the no-purposes and indefi-
nite objects of the war ! But, having it now settled that territorial
indemnity is the only object, we are urged to seize, by legislation
here, all that he was content to take a few months ago, and the
whole province of Lower California to boot, and to still carry on
the war — to take all we are fighting for, and still fight on. Again,
the President is resolved under all circumstances to have fuR terri-
torial indemnity for the expenses of the war ; but he forgets to tell
us how we are to get the excess after those expenses shall have sur-
passed the value of the whole of the Mexican territory. So again, he
insists that the separate national existence of Mexico shall be main-
tained ; but he does not tell us how this can be done, after we shall
have taken all her territory. Lest the questions I have suggested
be considered speculative merely, let me be indulged a moment in
trying to show they are not. The war has gone on some twenty
months ; for the expenses of which, together with an inconsiderable
old score, the President now claims about one half of the Mexican
territory, and that by far the better half, so far as concerns our
ability to make anything out of it. It is comparatively uninhabited ;
so that we could establish land ofiices in it, and raise some money in
that way. But the other half is already inhabited, as I understand
it, tolerably densely for the nature of the country, and all its lands,
or all that are valuable, already appropriated as private property.
How then are we to make anything out of these lands with this en-
cumbrance on them ? or how remove the encumbrance ? I suppose
no one would say we should kill the people, or drive them out, or
make slaves of them ; or confiscate their property. How, then, can
we make much out of this part of the territory ? If the prosecution
of the war has in expenses already equaled the better half of the



ADDRESSES AND LETTEES OF ABEAHAM LINCOLN 107

country, how long its future prosecution will be in equaling the less
valuable half is not a speculative, but a practical, question, pressing
closely upon us. And yet it is a qiiestion which the President seems
never to have thought of. As to the mode of terminating the war
and securing peace, the President is equally wandering and indefi-
nite. First, it is to be done by a more vigorous prosecution of the
war in the vital parts of the enemy's country : and after apparently
talking himself tired on this point, the President drops down into a
half -despairing tone, and tells us that " with a people distracted and
divided by contending factions, and a government subject to con-
stant changes hy successive revolutions, the continued success of our
arms may fail to secure a satisfactory peace." Then he suggests the
propriety of wheedling the Mexican people to desert the counsels of
their own leaders, and, trusting in our protestations, to set up a
government from whicn we can secure a satisfactory peace ; telling
us that " this may become the only mode of obtaining such a peace."
But soon he falls into doubt of this too ; and then drops back onto
the already half -abandoned ground of " more vigorous prosecution."
AU this sliows that the President is in nowise satisfied with his own
positions. First he takes up one, and in attempting to argue us
into it he argues himself out of it, then seizes another and goes
through the same process, and then, confused at being able to think
of nouiing new, he snatches up the old one again, which he has some
time before cast off. His mind, taxed beyond its power, is running
hither and thither, like some tortured creature on a burning surface,
finding no position on which it can settle down and be at ease.

Again, it is a singular omission in this message that it nowhere
intimates when the President expects the war to terminate. At its
beginning, General Scott was by this same President driven into
disfavor, if not disgrace, for intimating that peace could not be con-
quered in less than three or four months. But now, at the end of
about twenty months, during which time our arms have given us the
most splendid successes, every department and every part, land and
water, officers and privates, regulars and volunteers, doing all that
men could do, and hundreds of things which it had ever before been
thought men could not do — after aU this, this same President gives a
long message, without showing us that as to the end he himself has
even an imaginary conception. As I have before said, he knows not
where he is. He is a bewildered, confounded, and miserably perplexed
man. God grant he may be able to show there is not something
about his conscience more painful than all his mental perplexity.



The following is a copy of the so-called " treaty " referred to in
the speech:

Articles of Agreement entered into between his Excellency David G.
Burnet, President of the Republic of Texas, of the one part, and his Ex-
cellency General Santa Anna, President-General-in-Chief of. the Mexican
Army, of the other part.

Article I. General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna agrees that he will
not take up arms, nor will he exercise his influence to cause them to be taken
up, against the people of Texas during the present war of independence.



Wb ADDRESSES AND LETTEES OF ABEAHAM LIJSCUi^JN

Article II. All hostilities between tlie Mexican and Texan troops wil
cease immediately, both, by land and water.

Article III. The Mexican troops will evacuate the territory of Texas,
passing to the other side of the Eio "Grande Del Norte.

Article IV. The Mexican army, in its retreat, shall not take the property
of any person without his consent and just indemnification, using only sucl
articles as may be necessary for its subsistence, ia cases when the ownei
may not be present, and remitting to the commander of the army of Texas,
or to the commissioners to be appointed for the adjustment of such matters,
an account of the value of the property consumed, the place where taken,
and the name of the owner, if it can be ascertained.

Article V. That all private property, including cattle, horses, negro
slaves, or indentured persons, of whatever denomination, that may have
been captm-ed by any portion of the Mexican army, or may have taken
refuge in the said army, since the commencement of the late invasion, shall
be restored to the commander of the Texan armyj or to such other persons
as may be appointed by the Government of Texas to receive them.

Article VI. The troops of both armies wiU refrain from coming in con-
tact with each other ; and to this end the commander of the army of Texas
will be careful not to approach within a shorter distance than five leagues.

Article VII. The Mexican army shall not make any other delay on its
march than that which is necessary to take up their hospitals, baggage,
etc., and to cross the rivers ; any delay not necessary to these purposes to
be considered an infraction of this agreement.

Article VIII. By an express, to be immediately despatched, this agree-
ment shall be sent to General Vincente FUisola and to General T. J. Busk,
commander of the Texan army, in order that they may be apprized of its
stipulations ; and to this end they will exchange engagements to comply
with the same.

Article IX. That aU Texan prisoners now in the possession of the Mexi-
can army, or its authorities, be forthwith released, and furnished with free
passports to return to their homes ; in consideration of which a correspond-
ing number of Mexican prisoners, rank and file, now in possession of the
Government of Texas shall be immediately released ; the remainder of the
Mexican prisoners that continue in the possession of the Government oi
Texas to be treated with due humanity, — any extraordinary comforts thai
may be furnished them to be at the charge of the Government of Mexico.

Article X. General Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna wiU be sent to Vera
Cruz as soon as it shall be deemed proper.

The contracting parties sign this instrument for the above-mentioned pur-
poses, in duplicate, at the port of Velasco, this fourteenth day of May, 1836,

David G. Buenet, President,

Jas. Collingswoeth, Secretary of State,

Antonio Lopez de Santa Anna,

B. Haediman, Secretary of the Treasury,

P. "W. Geayson, Attorney- General.

January 19, 1848. — Repoet in the United States
House of Representatives.

Mr. Lincoln, from the Committee on the Post-Of&ee and Pos1
Roads, made the following report:

The Committee on the Post-Office and Post Roads, to whom was
referred the petition of Messrs. Saltmarsh and Fuller, report: That
as proved to their satisfaction, the mail routes from MilledgeviUe tc
Athens, and from Warrenton to Decatur, in the State of Georgif



ADDRESSES AND LETTEES OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN 109

(numbered 2366 and 2380), were let to Reeside and Avery at $1300
per annum for the former and $1500 for the latter, for the term of
four years, to commence on the first day of January, 1835 ; that,
previous to the time for commencing the service, Keeside sold
his interest therein to Avery; that on the 11th of May, 1835,
Avery sold the whole to these petitioners, Saltmarsh and Fuller, to
take effect from the beginning, January 1, 1835 ; that, at this time,
the Assistant Postmaster-Greneral, being called on for that purpose,
consented to the transfer of the contracts from Reeside and Avery
to these petitioners, and promised to have proper entries of the
transfer made on the books of the department, which, however, was
neglected to be done ; that the petitioners, supposing all was right,
in good faith commenced the transportation of the mail on these
routes, and after difficulty arose, still trusting that all would be
made right, continued the service till December 1, 1837 ; that they
performed the service to the entire satisfaction of the department,

and have never been paid anything for it except $ : that the

difficulty occurred as follows: Mr. Barry was Postmaster-General at
the times of making the contracts and the attempted transfer of
them; Mr. Kendall succeeded Mr. Barry, and finding Reeside appa-
rently in debt to the department, and these contracts still standing in
the names of Reeside and Avery, refused to pay for the services un-
der them, otherwise than by credits to Reeside; afterward, however,
he divided the compensation, still crediting one half to ReesidCj and
directing the other to be paid to the order of Avery, who disclaimed
all right to it. After discontinuing the service, these petitioners, sup-
posing they might have legal redress against Avery, brought suit
against him in New Orleans ; in which suit they failed, on the ground
that Avery had complied with his contract, having done so much
toward the transfer as they had accepted and been satisfied with.
Still later the department sued Reeside on his supposed indebted-
ness, and by a verdict of the jury it was determined that the depart-
ment was indebted to him in a sum much beyond all the credits
given him on the account above stated. Under these circumstances,
the committee consider the petitioners clearly entitled to relief, and
they report a bill accordingly ; lest, however, there should be some
mistake as to the amount which they have already received, we so
frame it as that, by adjustment at the department, they may be paid
so much as remains unpaid for service actually performed by them —
not charging them with the credits given to Reeside. The commit-
tee think it not improbable that the petitioners purchased the right
of Avery to be paid for the service from the 1st of January, till their
purchase on May 11, 1835; but the evidence on this point being very
vague, they forbear to report in favor of allowing it.



January 19, 1848. — Letter to WniLiAM H. Hebndon.

"Washington, January 19, 1848.
Dear William : Inclosed you find a letter of Louis W. Chandler.
What is wanted is that you shall ascertain whether the claim upon



110 ADDRESSES A2nD LETTERS OF ABEAHAII LINCOLN

the note described has received any dividend in the Prohate Conrt
of Christian County, where the estate of Mr. Overton Williams has
been administered "on. If nothing is paid on it, withdraw the note
and send it to me, so that Chandler can see the indorser of it. At
all events wiite me all about it, till I can somehow get it off my
hands. I have already been bored more than enough about it ; not
the least of which annoyance is his cursed, unreadable, and ungodly
handwriting.

I have made a speech, a copy of which I wiU. send you by next
mail. Yours as ever,

A. Lincoln.



February 1, 1848. — Letter to WiLLLiM H. Heendon.

Washington, February 1, 1848.

Bear William : Tour letter of the 19th ultimo was received last
night, and for vrhich I am much obliged. The only thing in it that
I wish to talk to you at once about is that because of my vote for
Ashmun's amendment you fear that you and I disagree about the
war. I regret this, not because of any fear we shall remain dis-
agreed after you have read this letter, but because if you misunder-
stand I fear other good friends may also. That vote affirms that
the war was unnecessarily and unconstitutionally commenced by
the President ; and I will stake my Uf e that if you had been in my
place you would have voted just as I did. Would you have voted
what you felt and knew to be a lie? I know you would not.
Would you have gone out of the House — skulked the vote? I ex-
pect not. If you had skulked one vote, you would have had to
skulk many more before the end of the session. Richardson's reso-
lutions, introduced before I made any move or gave any vote upon
the subject, make the direct question of the justice of the war ; so
that no man can be silent if he would. You are compelled to speak;
and your only alternative is to tell the truth or a lie. I cannot
doubt which you would do.

This vote has nothing to do in determining my votes on the ques-
tions of supplies. I have always intended, and still intend, to vote
suppKes; perhaps not in the precise form recommended by the
President, but in a better form for all purposes, except Locofoco
party purposes. It is in this particular you seem mistaken. The
Locos are untiring in their efforts to make the impression that all
who vote supplies or take part in the war do of necessity approve
the President's conduct in the beginning of it ; but the Whigs have
from the beginning made and kept the distinction between the two.
In the very first act nearly all the Whigs voted against the pream-
ble declaring that war existed by the act of Mexico ; and yet nearly
all of them voted for the supplies. As to the Whig men who have
participated in the war, so far as they have spoken in my hearing
they do not hesitate to denounce as unjust the President's condtict
in the beginning of the war. They do not suppose that such de-
nunciation is directed by undying fiatred to hira, as " The Regis-



ADDRESSES AND LETTERS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN 111

ter " would have it believed. There are two such Whigs on this floor
(Colonel Haskell and Major James). The former fought as a colo-
nel by the side of Colonel Baker at Cerro Gordo, and stands side
by side with me in the vote that you seem dissatisfied with. The
latter, the history of whose capture with Cassius Clay you well
know, had not arrived here when that vote was given ; but, as I un-
derstand, he stands ready to give just such a vote whenever an oc-
casion shall present. Baker, too, who is now here, says the truth is
undoubtedly that way: and whenever he shall speak out, he will
say so. Colonel Doniphan, too, the favorite Whig of Missouri, and
who overran all Northern Mexico, on his return home in a public
speech at St. Louis condemned the administration in relation to the
war, if I remember. G. T. M. Davis, who has been through almost
the whole war, declares in favor of Mr. Clay; from which I infer
that he adopts the sentiments of Mr. Clay, generally at least. On
the other hand, I have heard of but one Whig who has been to the
war attempting to justify the President's conduct. That one was
Captain Bishop, editor of the " Charleston Courier," and a very
clever fellow. I do not mean this letter for the public, but for you.
Before it reaches you, you will have seen and read my pamphlet
speech, and perhaps been scared anew by it. After you get over your
scare, read it over again, sentence by sentence, and teU me honestly
what you think of it. I condensed all I could for fear of being cut
off by the hour rule, and when I got through I had spoken but
forty-five minutes. Yours forever,

A. Lincoln.



February 2, 1848. — Letter to Willluh H. Heendon.

Washington, Februrary 2, 1848.
Bear William : I just take my pen to say that Mr. Stephens, of
Georgia, a little, slim, pale-faced, consumptive man, with a voice like
Logan's, has just concluded the very best speech of an hour's length
I ever heard. My old withered dry eyes are fuU of tears yet.

If he writes it out anything like he delivered it, our people shall
see a good many copies of it. Yours truly,

A. Lincoln.
To William H. Herndon, Esq.



February 15, 1848. — Letter to William H. Heendon.

Washington, February 15, 1848.
Dear William -. Your letter of the 29th January was received last
night. Being exclusively a constitutional argument, I wish to sub-
mit some reflections upon it in the same spirit of kindness that I
know actuates you. Let me first state what I understand to be your
position. It is that if it shall become necessary to repel invasion,
the President may^ without violation of the Constitution, cross the



112 ADDRESSES AND LETTERS OF ABRAHAM LIKCOLN

line and invade the territory of another country, and that whether
such necessity exists in any given case the President is thesole judge.

Before going further consider well whether this is or is not your
position. If it is, it is a position that neither the President himself,
nor any friend of his, so far as I know, has ever taken. Their only
positions are — first, that the soil was ours when the hostilities com-
menced ; and second, that whether it was rightfully ours or not, Con-
gress had annexed it, and the President for that reason was bound to
defend it; both of which are as clearly proved to be false in fact as
you can prove that your house is mine. The soil was not ours, and
Congress did not annex or attempt to annex it. But to return to
your position. Allow the President to invade a neighboring nation
whenever he shall deem it necessary to repel an invasion, and you
allow him to do so whenever he may choose to say he deems it ne-
cessary for such purpose, and you allow him to make war at pleasure.
Study to see if you can fix any limit to his power in this respect,
after having given him so much as you propose. If to-day he should
choose to say he thinks it necessary to invade Canada to prevent the
British from invading us, how could you stop him ? You may say to
him, "I see no probability of the British invading us"; but he will
say to you, " Be silent: I see it, if you don't."

The provision of the Constitution giving the war-making power to
Congress was dictated, as I understand it, by the following reasons:
Kings had always been involving and impoverishing their people in
wars, pretending generally, if not always, that the good of the people
was the object. This our convention understood to be the most op-
pressive of all kingly oppressions, and they resolved to so frame
the Constitution that no one man should hold the power of bringing
this oppression upon us. But your view destroys the whole matter,
and places our President where kings have always stood. Write
soon again. Yours truly,

A. Lincoln.



February 20, 1848. — Letter to U. F. Lindee.

"Washington, February 20, 1848.
Z7. F. Iiinder : ... In law, it is good policy to never
plead what you need not, lest you oblige yourself to prove what
you cannot. Reflect on this well before you proceed. The appli-
cation I mean to make of this rule is that you should simply go
for General Taylor, because you can take some Democrats and lose
no Whigs ; but if you go also for Mr. Polk, on the origin and mode
of prosecuting the war, you will still take some Democrats^ but you
will lose more Whigs; so that in the sum of the operation, you will
be the loser. This is at least my opinion; and if you will look
around, I doubt if you do not discover such to be the fact among
your own neighbors. Further than this : by justifying Mr. Polk's
mode of prosecuting the war, you put yourself in opposition to
General Taylor himself, for we all know he has declared for, and in
fact originated, the defensive line of policy.



ADDRESSES AND LETTEES OP ABEAHAM LINCOLN 113

March 9, 1848. — Report in the United States
House of Representatives.

Mr. Lincoln, from the Committee on the Post-Office and Post
Roads, made the following report :

The Committee on the Post-Offlce and Post Roads, to whom was
referred the resolntion of the House of Representatives entitled
" An Act authorizing Postmasters at county seats of justice to re-
ceive subscriptions for newspapers and periodicals, to be paid
through the agency of the Post-Ofiice Department, and for other
purposes," beg leave to submit the following report :

The committee have reason to believe that a general wish per-
vades the community at large, that some such facility as the pro-
posed measure should be granted by express law, for subscribing,
through the agencjr of the Post-Oflfice Department, to newspapers
and periodicals which diffuse daily, weekly, or monthly intelligence
of passing events. Compliance with this general wish is deemed



Online LibraryAbraham LincolnAbraham Lincoln; complete works, comprising his speeches, letters, state papers, and miscellaneous writings; → online text (page 14 of 91)