« PreviousContinue »
Letter to Ohio Democrats.
Speech at Washington
or to authorize others to speak for him; and hence I shal} expect that on returning he would not put himself practically in antagonism with the position of his friends. But I do it chiefly because I thereby prevail on other influential gentlemen of Obio to so define their position as to be of immense value to the army-thus more than compensating for the con. sequences of any mistake in allowing Mr. Vallandigham to return, so that, on the whole, the public safety will not have suffered by it. Still, in regard to Mr. Vallandigham and all others, I must hereafter, as heretofore, do so much as the public service may seem to require. “I have the honor to be respectfully, yours, etc.,
LETTERS AND SPEECH ES.
Speech at 'Washington-Letter to General Grant-Thanksgiving Proclamation Letter
concerning the Emancipation Proclamation-Proclamation for Annual ThanksgivingDedicatory Speech at Gettysburg.
On the evening of the 4th of July, 1863, having been serenaded by inany of the citizens of Washington, jubilant over the defeat of the rebels at Gettysburg, the President acknowledged the compliment thus :
“ FELLOW-CITIZENS :- I am very glad indeed to see you tonight, and yet I will not say I thank you for this call; but I do most sincerely thank Almighty God for the occasion on which you have called. - How long ago is itmeighty odd years since, on the 4th of July, for the first time in the history of the world, a nation, by its representatives, assembled and declared as a self-evident truth, that all men are created equal ?' That was the birthday of the United States of Amer
Fourth of July.
Battle of Gettysburg
ica. Since then, the 4th of July has had several very peculiar recognitions. The two men most distinguished in the framing and support of the Declaration, were Thomas Jefferson and John Adams—the one having penned it, and the other sustained it the most forcibly in debate—the only two, of the fifty-five who signed it, who were elected Presidents of the United States. Precisely fifty years after they put their hands to the paper, it pleased Almighty God to take both from this stage of action. This was indeed an extraordinary and remarkable event in our history. Another President, five years after, was called from this stage of existence on the same day and month of the year; and now, on this last 4th of July just passed, when we have a gigantic rebellion, at the bottom of which is an effort to overthrow the principle that all men were created equal, we have the surrender of a most powerful position and army on that very day. And not only so, but in a succession of battles in Pennsylvania, near to us, through three days, so rapidly fought that they might be called one great battle, on the 1st, 2d, and 3d of the month of July, and on the 4th the cohorts of those who opposed the declaration that all men are created equal, 'turned tail and
Gentlemen, this is a glorious theme, and the occasion for a speech; but I am not prepared to make one worthy of the occasion. I would like to speak in terms of praise due to the many brave officers and soldiers wbo have fought in the cause of the Union and liberties of their country from the beginning of the war. These are trying occasions, not only in success,
but for the want of success. I dislike to mention the name of one single officer, lest I might do wrong to those I might forget. Recent events bring up glorious names, and particularly prominent ones; but these I will not mention. Having said this much, I will now take the music."
The following letter, addressed to General Grant after the capture of Vicksburg, gives an insight into the transparent candor and frankness of the President:
Letter to Gen. Grant.
“ Executive Mansion, Washington, July 13th, 1863. “ MAJOR-GENERAL U. S. GRANT—My Dear General: I do not remember that you and I ever met personally. I write this now as a grateful acknowlednement of the almost inestimable service you have done the country. I write to say a word further. When you first reached the vicinity of Vicksburg, I thought you should do what you finally didmarch the troops across the neck, run the batteries with the transports, and thus go below; and I never had any faith, except a general hope that you knew better than I, that the Yazoo Pass expedition, and the like, could succeed. When you got below, and took Port Gibson, Grand Gulf, and vicinity, I thought you should go down the river and join General Banks, and when you turned northward, east of the Big Black, I feared it was a mistake. I now wish to make the personal acknowledgment, that you were right and I was wrong.
“A. LINCOLN." The following was issued in commemoration of the victories at Vicksburg, Port Hudson, and Gettysburg :
“ BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, -A PROCLAMATION.—It has pleased Almighty God to hearken to the supplications and prayers of an afflicted people, and to vouchsafe to the Army and Navy of the United States, on the land and on the sea, victories so signal and so effective as to furnish reasonable grounds for augmented confidence that the Union of these States will be maintained, their Constitution preserved, and their peace and prosperity permanently secured; but these victories have been accorded, not without Bacrifice of life, limb, and liberty, incurred by brave, patriotie, and loyal citizens. Domestic affliction, in every part of the country, follows in the train of these fearful bereavements. It is meet and right to recognize and confess the presence of the Almighty Father, and the power of his hand equally in these triumphs and these sorrows.
Letter to Unconditional Union Men.
"Now, therefore, be it known, that I do set apart Thursday, the 6th day of August next, to be observed as a day for National Thanksgiving, praise, and prayer; and I invite the people of the United States to assemble on that occasion in their customary places of worship, and in the form approved by their own consciences, render the homage due to the Divine Majesty, for the wonderful things be bas done in the Nation's behalf, and invoke the influence of bis Holy Spirit, to subdue the anger which has produced, and so long sustained, a needless and cruel rebellion ; to change the hearts of the insurgents; to guide the counsels of the Government with wisdom adequate to so great a National emergency, and to visit with tender care, and consolation, throughout the length and breadth of our land, all those who, through the vicissitudes of marches, voyages, battles, and sieges, bave been brought to suffer in mind, body, or estate ; and finally, to lead the whole nation through paths of repentance and submission to the Divine will, back to the perfect enjoyment of union and fraternal peace.
“ In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my band, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
“Done at the City of Washington, this fifteenth day of July, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the eighty-eighth. “ By the President:
ABRAHAM LINCOLN. “ WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State."
The following letter, written in August, 1863, in answer to an invitation to attend a meeting of unconditional Union men held in Illinois, gives at length the President's views at that time on his Emancipation proclamation:
"EXECUTIVE MANSION, Washington, August 26th, 1863.
“MY DEAR SIR :-Your letter inviting me to attend a mass meeting of unconditional Union men, to be held at the capital
Letter to Unconditional Union Men.
No Compromise Possiblo.
of Illinois on the third day of September, has been received It would be very agreeable to me thus to meet my old friends at my own home; but I cannot just now be absent from this city so long as a visit there would require. The meeting is to be of all those who maintain unconditional devotion to the Union; and I am sure that my old political friends will thank me for tendering, as I do, the nation's gratitude to those other noble men whom no partisan malice or partisan hope can make false to the nation's life. There are those wbo are dissatisfied with me. To such I would say :-You desir peace, and you blame me that we do not have it. But how can we attain it? There are but three conceivable ways:First, to suppress the rebellion by force of arms. This I am trying to do. Are you for it? If you are, so far we are agreed. If you are not for it, a second way is to give up the Union. I am against this. If you are, you should say so, plainly. If you are not for force, nor yet for dissolution, there only remains some imaginable compromise. I do not believe that any compromise embracing the maintenance of the Union is now possible. All that I learn leads to a directly opposite belief. The strength of the rebellion is its military-its army. That army dominates all the country and all the people within its range. Any offer of any terms made by any man or men within that range in opposition to that army is simply nothing for the present, because such man or men have no power whatever to enforce their side of a compromise, if one were made with them. To illustrate : Suppose refugees from the South and peace men of the North get together in convention, and frame and proclaim a compromise embracing the restoration of the Union.. In wbat way can that compromise be used to keep General Lee's army out of Pennsylvania ? General Meade's army can keep Lee's army out of Pennsylvania, and I think can ultimately drive it out of existence. But no paper compromise to which the controllers of General Lee's army are not agreed, can at