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June 28, 1862
[This letter was written to W. H. Seward, the Secretary of State, shortly after the Union victories in Kentucky and Tennessee and upon the Mississippi River, in the spring of 1862.]
Executive Mansion, June 28, 1862.
HON. W. H. SEWARD :
MY DEAR SIR: My view of the present condition of the war is about as follows:
The evacuation of Corinth and our delay by the flood in the Chickahominy have enabled the enemy to concentrate too much force in Richmond for McClellan to successfully attack. In fact there soon will be no substantial rebel force anywhere else. But if we send all the force from here to McClellan, the enemy will, before we can know of it, send a force from Richmond and take Washington. Or if a large part of the western army be brought here to McClellan, they will let us have Richmond, and retake Tennessee, Kentucky, Missouri, etc. What should be done is to hold what we have in the West, open the Mississippi, and take Chattanooga and East Tennessee without more. A reasonable force should in every event be
kept about Washington for its protection. Then let the country give us a hundred thousand new troops in the shortest possible time, which, added to McClellan directly or indirectly, will take Richmond without endangering any other place which we now hold, and will substantially end the war. I expect to maintain this contest until successful, or till I die, or am conquered, or my term expires, or Congress or the country forsake me; and I would publicly appeal to the country for this new force were it not that I fear a general panic and stampede would follow, so hard it is to have a thing understood as it really is. I think the new force should be all, or nearly all, infantry, principally because such can be raised most cheaply and quickly.
Yours very truly,
[Horace Greeley, the famous editor of the New York Tribune, though an ardent opponent of slavery, was a constant critic of Lincoln's policy, and indeed opposed his renomination for the Presidency. His erratic editorials concerning the Administration were a continual source of anxiety to Lincoln.]
Executive Mansion, Washington, August 22, 1862. HON. HORACE GREELEY:
DEAR SIR: I have just read yours of the 19th, addressed to myself through the New York Tribune. If there be in it any statements or assumptions of fact which I may know to be erroneous, I do not, now and here, controvert them. If there be in it any inferences which I may believe to be falsely drawn, I do not, now and here, argue against them. If there be perceptible in it an impatient and dictatorial tone, I waive it in deference to an old friend whose heart I have always supposed to be right.
As to the policy I seem to be pursuing," as you say, I have not meant to leave any one in doubt.
I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The
sooner the national authority can be restored, the nearer the Union will be "the Union as it was." 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. 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 in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could save 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 what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors, and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.
I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free.
To the Workingmen of Manchester
January 19, 1863
[The blockade of Confederate ports during the war was naturally a severe blow to the English manufacturing centres like Manchester, which had depended upon the Southern States for their supply of cotton. But the working classes of England, in marked contrast with the upper classes, displayed strong Union sympathies throughout the struggle. An address from the Manchester workingmen called forth this admirable reply from the President.]
Executive Mansion, Washington, January 19, 1863. TO THE WORKINGMEN OF MANCHESTER: I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the address and resolutions which you sent me on the eve of the new year. When I came, on the 4th of March, 1861, through a free and constitutional election to preside in the Government of the United States, the country was found at the verge of civil war. Whatever might have been the cause, or whosesoever the fault, one duty, paramount to all others, was before me, namely, to maintain and preserve at once the Constitution and the integrity of the Federal Republic. A conscientious purpose to perform this duty is the key to all the measures of administration which have been and to all which will hereafter be pursued. Under our frame of government