Abraham Lincoln.

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Book 3f


Complete Works of
Abraham Lincoln



A. Lincoln

From a Photograph made to Commemorate the Ap-
pointment of Grant as Lieutenant-General
and Commander-in-Chief.

Complete Works of

Abraham Lincoln

Edited by

John G. Nicolay and John Hay

With a General Introduction by

Richard Watson Gilder, and Special Articles

by Other Eminent Persons

New and Enlarged Edition


New York
Francis D. Tandy Company





Copyright, l8g4, by


Copyright, ig05, by



Lincoln and Emancipation'

AMONG the paintings hitherto assigned
to places within the Capitol are two
which mark events forever memorable
in the history of mankind, — thrice memorable
in the history of America. The first is the
painting by Vanderlyn, which represents,
though with inadequate force, the great discov-
ery which gave to the civilized world a new
hemisphere. The second, by Trumbull, repre-
sents that great Declaration which banished
forever from our shores the crown and sceptre
of imperial power, and proposed to found a
new nation upon the broad and enduring basis
of liberty.

To-day we place upon our walls this votive
tablet, which commemorates the third great act
in the history of America, — the fulfilment of the
promises of the Declaration.

Concerning the causes which led to that act,

1 Speech delivered before the joint session of the Senate and
House of Representatives of the United States presenting to
Congress, on behalf of Mrs. Elizabeth Thompson, Mr. F. B.
Carpenter's painting, " The Signing of the Proclamation of
Emancipation," on the anniversary of Abraham Lincoln's birth,
February 12, 1878.


vi Lincoln and Emancipation

the motives which inspired it, the necessities
which compelled it, and the consequences which
followed and are yet to follow it, there have
been, there are, and still will be great and honest
differences of opinion. Perhaps we are yet too
near the great events of which this act formed
so conspicuous a part, to understand its deep
significance and to foresee its far-off conse-
quences. The lesson of history is rarely learned
by the actors themselves, especially when they
read it by the fierce and dusky light of war, or
amid the deeper shadows of those sorrows which
war brings to both. But the unanimous voice
of this House in favor of accepting the gift, and
the impressive scene we here witness, bear elo-
quent testimony to the transcendent importance
of the event portrayed on yonder canvas.

Let us pause to consider the actors in that
scene. In force of character, in thoroughness
and breadth of culture, in experience of public
affairs, and in national reputation, the Cabinet
that sat around that council-board has had no
superior, perhaps no equal in our history. Se-
ward, the finished scholar, the consummate
orator, the great leader of the Senate, had come
to crown his career with those achievements
which placed him in the first rank of modern
diplomatists. Chase, with a culture and a
fame of massive grandeur, stood as the rock and

Lincoln and Emancipation vii

pillar of the public credit, the noble embodi-
ment of the public faith. Stanton was there, a
very Titan of strength, the great organizer of
victory. Eminent lawyers, men of business,
leaders of States and leaders of men, completed
the group.

But the man who presided over that council,
who inspired and guided its deliberations, was a
character so unique that he stood alone, without
a model in history or a parallel among men.
Born on this day sixty-nine years ago to an
inheritance of extremest poverty; surrounded by
the rude forces of the wilderness; wholly un-
aided by parents; only one year in any school;
never, for a day, master of his own time until he
reached his majority; making his way to the
profession of the law by the hardest and roughest
road; — yet by force of unconquerable will and
persistent, patient work, he attained a foremost
place in his profession.

And, moving up from high to higher,
Became on fortune's crowning slope
The pillar of a people's hope,

The centre of a world's desire.

At first it was the prevailing belief that he would
be only the nominal head of his administration,
— that its policy would be directed by the
eminent statesmen he had called to his council.

viil Lincoln and Emancipation

How erroneous this opinion was may be seen
from a single incident.

Among the earliest, most difficult, and most
delicate duties of his administration was the
adjustment of our relations with Great Britain.
Serious complications, even hostilities, were
apprehended. On the 21st of May, 1861, the
Secretary of State presented to the President his
draught of a letter of instructions to Minister
Adams, in which the position of the United
States and the attitude of Great Britain were set
forth with the clearness and force which long
experience and great ability had placed at the
command of the Secretary. Upon almost every
page of that original draught are erasures, addi-
tions, and marginal notes in the handwriting of
Abraham Lincoln, which exhibit a sagacity, a
breadth of wisdom, and a comprehension of the
whole subject, impossible to be found except
in a man of the very first order. And these
modifications of a great state paper were made
by a man who but three months before had
entered for the first time the wide theatre of
executive action.

Gifted with an insight and a foresight which
the ancients would have called divination, he
saw, in the midst of darkness and obscurity, the
logic of events, and forecast the result From the
first, in his own quaint, original way, without

Lincoln and Emancipation ix

ostentation or offense to his associates, he was
pilot and commander of his administration.
He was one of the few great rulers whose wis-
dom increased with his power, and whose spirit
grew gentler and tenderer as his triumphs were
multiplied. This was the man, and these his
associates, who look down upon us from the

The present is not a fitting occasion to exa-
mine, with any completeness, the causes that led
to the Proclamation of Emancipation; but the
peculiar relation of that act to the character of
Abraham Lincoln cannot be understood, with-
out considering one remarkable fact in his his-
tory. His earlier years were passed in a region
remote from the centres of political thought, and
without access to the great world of books. But
the few books that came within his reach he
devoured with the divine hunger of genius.
One paper, above all others, led him captive,
and filled his spirit with the majesty of its truth
and the sublimity of its eloquence. It was the
Declaration of American Independence. The
author and the signers of that instrument be-
came, in his early youth, the heroes of his politi-
cal worship. I doubt if history affords any
example of a life so early, so deeply, and so
permanently influenced by a single political
truth, as was Abraham Lincoln's by the central

X Lincoln and Emancipation

doctrine of the Declaration, — the liberty and
equality of all men. Long before his fame had
become national he said,

That is the electric cord in the Declaration, —
that links the hearts of patriotic and liberty-loving
men together, and that will link such hearts as long
as the love of freedom exists in the minds of men
throughout the world.

That truth runs, like a thread of gold, through
the whole web of his political life. It was the
spear-point of his logic in his debates with
Douglas. It was the inspiring theme of his
remarkable speech at the Cooper Institute, New
York, in i860, which gave him the nomination
to the Presidency. It filled him with reverent
awe when on his way to the capital to enter the
shadows of the terrible conflict then impending,
he uttered, in Independence Hall, at Philadel-
phia, these remarkable words, which were
prophecy then, but are history now:

I have never had a feehng, politically, that did
not spring from the sentiments embodied in the
Declaration of Independence. I have often pon-
dered over the dangers which were incurred by the
men who assembled here, and framed and adopted
that Declaration of Independence. I have pon-
dered over the toils that were endured by the offi-
cers and soldiers of the army who achieved that in-

Lincoln and Emancipation xi

dependence. I have often enquired of myself what
great principle or idea it was that kept this con-
federacy so long together. It was not the mere
matter of the separation of the Colonies from the
mother land, but that sentiment in the Declaration
of Independence which gave liberty, not alone to
the people of this country, but, I hope, to the world
for all future time. It was that which gave promise
that, in due time, the weight would be lifted from
the shoulders of all men. This is the sentiment em-
bodied in the Declaration of Independence. Now,
my friends, can this country be saved upon that
basis. If it can, I will consider myself one of the
happiest men in the world if I can help to save it.
If it cannot be saved upon that principle, it will be
truly awful. But if this country cannot be saved
without giving up that principle, I was about to say,
I would rather be assassinated on this spot than sur-
render it.

Deep and strong was his devotion to liberty;
yet deeper and stronger still was his devotion
to the Union; for he believed that without the
Union permanent liberty for either race on this
continent would be impossible. And because
of this belief, he was reluctant, perhaps more
reluctant than most of his associates, to strike
slavery with the sword. For many months the
passionate appeals of millions of his associates
seemed not to move him. He listened to all the

xiJ Lincoln and Emancipation

phases of the discussion, and stated, in language
clearer and stronger than any opponent had
used, the dangers, the difficulties, and the pos-
sible futility of the act. In reference to its
practical wisdom, Congress, the Cabinet, and
the country were divided. Several of his gen-
erals had proclaimed the freedom of slaves
within the limits of their commands. The
President revoked their proclamations. His
first Secretary of War had inserted a paragraph
in his annual report advocating a similar policy.
The President suppressed it. On the 19th of
August, 1862, Horace Greeley published a letter
addressed to the President, entitled "The Prayer
of Twenty Millions," in which he said:

On the face of this wide earth, Mr. President,
fhere is not one disinterested, determined, intelligent
champion of the Union cause who does not feel that
all attempts to put down the rebellion and at the
same time uphold its inciting cause are preposterous
and futile.

To this the President responded in that ever-
memorable reply of August 22, in which he

If there be those who would not save the Union
unless they could at the same time save slavery, I
do not agree with them.

Lincoln and Emancipation xlii

If there be those who would not save the Union
unless they could at the same time destroy slavery,
I do not agree with them.

My paramount object is to save the Union, and
not either to save or to destroy slavery.

If I could save the Union without freeing any
slave, I would do it. If I could save it by freeing
all the slaves, I would do it, — and if I could do it
by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would
also do that.

What I do about slavery and the colored race, I
do because I believe it helps to save the Union; and
what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe
it would help to save the Union. I shall do less
whenever I shall believe that what I am doing hurts
the cause, and I shall do more whenever I believe
doing more will help the cause.

Thus, against all importunities on the one
hand and remonstrances on the other, he took
the mighty question to his own heart, and, dur-
ing the long months of that terrible battle-
summer, wrestled with it alone. But at length
he realized the saving truth, that great, unsettled
questions have no pity for the repose of nations.
On the 22d of September, he summoned his
Cabinet to announce his conclusion. It was my
good fortune, on that same day, and a few hours
after the meeting, to hear, from the lips of one
who participated, the story of the scene. As

xlv Lincoln and Emancipation

the chiefs of the Executive Departments came
in, one by one, they found the President reading
a favorite chapter from a popular humorist.
He was lightening the weight of the great bur-
den which rested upon his spirit. He finished
the chapter, reading it aloud. And here I
quote, from the published journal of the late
Chief Justice, an entry, written immediately
after the meeting, and bearing unmistakable
evidence that it is almost a literal transcript of
Lincoln's words:

The President then took a graver tone, and said:
Gentlemen, I have, as you are aware, thought a
great deal about the relation of this war to slavery;
and you all remember that, several weeks ago, I
read to you an order I had prepared upon the sub-
ject, which, on account of objections made by some
of you, was not Issued. Ever since then my mind
has been much occupied with this subject, and I have
thought all along that the time for acting on it
might probably come. I think the time has come
now. I wish it was a better time. I wish that we
were in a better condition. The action of the army
against the rebels has not been quite what I should
have best liked. But they have been driven out of
Maryland, and Pennsylvania is no longer in danger
of invasion.

When the rebel army was at Frederick, I de-
termined as soon as it should be driven out of Mary-

Lincoln and Emancipation xv

land to Issue a proclamation of emancipation, such
as I thought most likely to be useful. I said noth-
ing to any one, but I made a promise to myself and
(hesitating a little) to my Maker. The rebel army
is now driven out, and I am going to fulfill that

" I have got you together to hear what I have
written down. I do not wish your advice about
the main matter, for that I have determined for my-
self. This I say without intending anything but re-
spect for any one of you. But I already know the
views of each on this question. They have been
heretofore expressed, and I have considered them
as thoroughly and carefully as I can. What I have
written is that which my reflections have determined
me to say. If there is anything in the expressions I
use, or in any minor matter which any one of you
thinks had best be changed, I shall be glad to re-
ceive your suggestions.

" One other observation I will make : I knew very
well that many others might, in this matter as in
others, do better than I can; and if I was satisfied
that the public confidence was more fully possessed by
any one of them than by me, and knew of any con-
stitutional way in which he could be put in my place,
he should have it. I would gladly yield it to him.
But though I believe I have not so much of the con-
fidence of the people as I had some time since, I do
not know that, all things considered, any other person
has more; and, however this may be, there is no
way In which I can have any other man put where I

xvi Lincoln and Emancipation

am. I am here. I must do the best I can and bear
the responsibility of taking the course which I feel
I ought to take."

The President then proceeded to read his Emanci-
pation Proclamation, making remarks on the several
parts as he went on, and showing that he had fully
considered the subject in all the lights under which
it had been presented to him.

The Proclamation was amended in a few
matters of detail. It was signed and published
that day. The world knows the rest, and will
not forget it till "the last syllable of recorded


Abraham Lincoln Frontispiece

Photogravure from the photograph taken to commemorate the
appointment of Grant as Commander-in-Chief, March,


Lincoln's Letter to Postmaster - General

Blair, July 24, 1863 44

Fac-simile of the original manuscript.

Last Photograph of Abraham Lincoln . . 94

Taken on the balcony of the White House, March 6, 1865.

House in Which Lincoln Died 134

From a photograph.

Complete Works of
Abraham Lincoln

Volume XI

Complete Works of
Abraham Lincoln

Draft of Message to Congress, February 5,


(Not signed or sent.)

FELLOW-CITIZENS of^ the Senate and
House of Representatives: I respect-
fully recommend that a joint resolution,
substantially as follows, be adopted so soon as
practicable by your honorable bodies: "Re-
solved by the Senate and House of Representa-
tives of the United States of America, in Con-
gress assembled. That the President of the
United States is hereby empowered, in his dis-

^ Lincoln's final attempt to save the South from financial ruin.
At the meeting of his Cabinet, Nicolay tells us " with the words
* You are all opposed to me ' sadly uttered, the President folded
up the papers and ceased the discussion. The project was then
nearest his heart and he doubtless meant to present it to the
Cabinet again at a later day, hoping for its more favorable con-


2 Abraham Lincoln [Feb. 5

cretion, to pay $400,000,000 to the States of Ala-
bama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia,
Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi,
Missouri, North Carolina, South Carolina,
Tennessee, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia,
in the manner and on the conditions following,
to wit: The payment to be made in six per cent,
government bonds, and to be distributed among
said States pro rata on their respective slave
populations as shown by the census of i860, and
no part of said sum to be paid unless all resist-
ance to the national authority shall be abandoned
and cease, on or before the first day of April
next; and upon such abandonment and ceasing
of resistance one half of said sum to be paid in
manner aforesaid, and the remaining half to be
paid only upon the amendment of the National
Constitution recently proposed by Congress
becoming valid law, on or before the first day
of July next, by the action thereon of the requi-
site number of States."

The adoption of such resolution is sought with
a view to embody it, with other propositions, in
a proclamation looking to peace and reunion.

Whereas, a joint resolution has been adopted
by Congress, in the words following, to wit:

Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, Presi-
dent of the United States, do proclaim, declare,
and make known, that on the conditions therein

1865] Draft of Message 3

stated, the power conferred on the executive in
and by said joint resolution will be fully exer-
cised ; that war will cease and armies be reduced
to a basis of peace; that all political offenses
will be pardoned; that all property, except
slaves, liable to confiscation or forfeiture, will
be released therefrom, except in cases of inter-
vening interests of third parties; and that liber-
ality will be recommended to Congress upon all
points not lying within executive control.


February 5, 1865. To-day these papers, which
explain themselves, were drawn up and submit-
ted to the cabinet and unanimously disapproved
by them.

A. Lincoln.

Telegram to Governor Bramlette

Executive Mansion, Washington, D. C,

February 5, 1865.

Governor Bramlette, Frankfort, Ky.: Your
despatch received. Will send official copy of
constitutional amendment by mail to-morrow,
this being Sunday. Precedents justify the legis-
lature to act on ex-ofjicio notice of Congress hav-
ing passed the proposed amendment; neverthe-
less, I will send you the authenticated copy.

A. Lincoln.

4 Abraham Lincoln [Feb. 7

Order to make Corrections in the Draft

Executive Mansion, February 6, 1865.

Whereas complaints are made in some locali-
ties respecting the assignments of quotas and
credits allowed for the pending call of troops to
fill up the armies: Now, in order to determine
all controversies in respect thereto, and to avoid
any delay in filling up the armies, it is ordered.
That the Attorney-General, Brigadier-General
Richard Delafield, and Colonel C. W. Foster,
be, and they are hereby constituted, a board to ex-
amine into the proper quotas and credits of the
respective States and districts under the call of
December 19, 1864, with directions, if any errors
be found therein, to make such corrections as
the law and facts may require, and report their
determination to the Provost-Marshal-General.
The determination of said board to be final and
conclusive, and the draft to be made in conform-
ity therewith.

2. The Provost-Marshal-General is ordered
to make the draft in the respective districts as
speedily as the same can be done after the 15th
of this month. ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

Telegram to Lieutenant-Colonel Glenn

Executive Mansion, February 7, 1865.
Lieutenant-Colonel Glenn, Henderson, Ky.:

1865] Letter to Grant 5

Complaint is made to me that you are forcing
negroes into the military service, and even tor-
turing them — riding them on rails and the like
— to extort their consent. I hope this may be a
mistake. The like must not be done by you, or
any one under you. You must not force negroes
any more than white men. Answer me on this.

A. Lincoln.

Letter to General U. S. Gr.'\nt

Executive Mansion, February 7, 1865.
Lieufenant-General Grant, City Point, Va.:
General Singleton, who bears you this, claims
that he already has arrangements made, if you
consent, to bring a large amount of Southern
produce through your lines. For its bearing on
our finances I would be glad for this to be done
if it can be without injuriously disturbing your
military operations, or supplying the enemy. I
wish you to be judge and master on these points.
Please see and hear him fully, and decide
whether anything, and If anything what, can be
done in the premises. Yours truly,

A. Lincoln.

Telegram to General U. S. Grant

Executive Mansion, February 8, 1865.
Lieutenant-General Grant, City Point, Va.:
I am called on by the House of Representatives

6 Abraham Lincoln [Feb. 8

to give an account of my interview with Messrs.
Stephens, Hunter, and Campbell, and it is very
desirable to me to put in your despatch of Feb-
ruary I, to the Secretary of War, in which,
among other things, you say: *'I fear now their
going back without any expression from any one
in authority will have a bad influence." I think
the despatch does you credit, while I do not see
that it can embarrass you. May I use it?

A. Lincoln.

* Telegram to M. Hoyt

Executive Mansion, February 8, 1865.
Mark Hoyt, Esq., New York: The Presi-
dent has received your dispatch asking an inter-
view. He cannot appoint any specific day or
hour, but your delegation may come at their own
convenience and he will see them as soon as he
possibly can after their arrival.

Jno. G. Nicolay, Private Secretary.

Letter to Governor Smith

Executive Mansion, Washington, D. C,

February 8, 1865.
Governor Smith, of Vermont: Complaint is
made to me by Vermont that the assignment of
her quota for the draft on the pending call is
intrinsically unjust, and also in bad faith of the
government's promise to fairly allow credits for

i865] Letter to Smith 7

men previously furnished. To illustrate, a sup-
posed case is stated as follows:

Vermont and New Hamphire must, between
them, furnish six thousand (6,000) men on the
pending call, and being equals each must furnish
as many as the other in the long run. But the
government finds that on former calls Vermont
furnished a surplus of five hundred (500), and
New Hampshire a surplus of fifteen hundred
(1,500) . These two surpluses making two thou-
sand (2,000), and added to the six thousand
(6,000), making eight thousand (8,000) to be
furnished by the two States, or four thousand
(4,000) each, less by fair credits. Then sub-
tract Vermont's surplus of five hundred (500)
from her four thousand (4,000), leaves three
thousand five hundred (3,500) as her quota on
the pending call; and likewise substract New
Hampshire's surplus of fifteen hundred (1,500)
from her four thousand (4,000), leaves two
thousand five hundred (2,500) as her quota on
the pending call. These three thousand five
hundred (3,500) and two thousand five hundred
(2,500) make precisely the six thousand (6,000)
which the supposed case requires from the two
States, and it is just equal for Vermont to fur-

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