« PreviousContinue »
Reply to Manchester Workingmen.
dence from the workingmen of Manchester, England; to which address he made the following reply:
“ 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 bave 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 wbich will hereafter be pursued. Under our frame of govern. ment and my official oath, I could not depart from this purpose if I would. It is not always in the power of governments to enlarge or restrict the scope of moral results which follow the policies that they may deem it necessary, for the public safety, from time to time to adopt.
“I bave understood well that the duty of self-preservation rests solely with the American people. But I have, at the same time, been aware that the favor or disfavor of foreign nations might have a material influence in enlarging and prolonging the struggle with disloyal men in which the country is engaged. A fair examination of history bas seemed to authorize a belief that the past action and influences of the United States were generally regarded as having been benehcial toward mankind. I have, therefore, reckoned upon the forbearance of nations. Circumstances—to some of which Vou kindly allude-induced me especially to expect that, if justice and good faith should be practised by the United States, they would encounter no hostile influence on the part of Great Britain. It is now a pleasant duty to acknowledge
the demonstration you have given of your desire that a spirit of peace and amity toward this country may prevail in the councils of your Queen, who is respected and esteemed in your own country only more than she is by the kindred nation wbich has its home on this side of the Atlantic.
"I know, and deeply deplore, the sufferings which the workingmen at Manchester, and in all Europe, are called to endure in this crisis. It has been often and studiously represented that the attempt to overthrow this Government, wbich was built upon the foundation of human rights, and to substitute for it one which should rest exclusively on the basis of human slavery, was likely to obtain the favor of Europe. Through the action of our disloyal citizens, the workingmen of Europe have been subjected to severe trial, for the purpose of forcing their sanction to that attempt. Under these circumstances, I can not but regard your decisive utterances upon the question as an instance of sublime Christian heroism, which has not been surpassed in any age or in any country. It is indeed an energetic and reinspiring assurance of the inherent power of truth, and of the ultimate and universal triumph of justice, humanity and freedom. I do not doubt that the sentiments you have expressed will be sustained by your great nation; and, on the other hand, I have no hesitation in assuring you that they will excite admiration, esteem, and the most reciprocal feelings of friendship among the American people. I hail this interchange of sentiment, therefore, as an augury that, whatever else may happen, whatever misfortune may befall your country or my own, the peace and friendship which now exist between the two nations will be, as it shall be my desire to make them, perpetual.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN." On the 30th of March the following proclamation was issued in pursuance of a request to that effect from the Senate :
“WHEREAS, The Senate of the United States, devoutly
Proclamation for a Fast.
recognizing the supreme authority and just government of Almighty God in all the affairs of men and of nations, has by a resolution requested the President to designate and set apart a day for National prayer and humiliation;
"AND WHEREAS, It is the duty of nations, as well as of men, to own their dependence upon the overruling power of God, to confess their sins and transgressions in humble sorrow, yet with assured hope that genuine repentance will lead to mercy and pardon, and to recognize the sublime truth announced in the Holy Scriptures, and proven by all history, that those nations only are blessed whose God is the Lord;
"And, insomuch as we know that, by his Divine law, nations, like individuals, are subjected to punishments and chastisements in this world, may we not justly fear that the awful calamity of civil war, which now desolates the land, may be but a punishment inflicted upon us for our presumptuous sins, to the needful end of our National reformation as a whole people? We have been the recipients of the choicest bounties of Heaven. We have been preserved, these many years, in peace and prosperity. We have grown in numbers, wealth and power, as no other nation has ever grown. But we have forgotten God. We have forgotten the gracious hand which preserved us in peace, and multiplied and enriched and strengthened us; and we bave vainly imagined, in the deceitfulness of our hearts, that all these blessings were produced by some superior wisdom and virtue of our own. Intoxicated wit, unbrohen success, we have become too selfsufficient to feel the necessity of redeeming and preserving grace, too proud to pray to the God that made us !
“It behooves us, then, to humble ourselves before the offended Power, to confess our National sins, and to pray for clemency and forgiveness.
“Now, therefore, in compliance with the request, and fully concurring in the views of the Senate, J do, by this my proclamation, designate and set apart Thursday, the thirteenth
Proclamation for a Fast.
Letter to Erastus Corning.
day of April, 1863, as a day of National humiliation, fasting and prayer. And I do hereby request all the people to abstain on that day from their ordinary secular pursuits, and to unite, at their several places of public worsbip and their respective bomes, in keeping the day holy to the Lord, and devoted to the humble discharge of the religious duties proper to that solemn occasion.
“All this being done in sincerity and truth, let us then rest humbly in the hope, authorized by the Divine teachings, that the united cry of the Nation will be heard on high, and answered with blessings, no less than the pardon of our National sins, and restoration of our now divided and suffering country to its former happy condition of unity and peace.
“In witness whereof, I have bereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
“Done at the City of Wasbington, on this thirtieth day of March, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-seventh. “By the President:
“ ABRAHAM LINCOLN. “ WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State."
The following letter, wbich belongs in this place, will explain itself:
“Executive Mansion, Washington, June 13th, 1863. “Hon. ERASTUS CORNING and others—Gentlemen :-Your letter of May 19th, inclosing the resolutions of a public meeting held at Albany, New York, on the 16th of the same month, was received several days ago.
“The resolutions, as I understand them, are resolvable into two propositions-first, the expression of a purpose to sustain the cause of the Union, to secure peace through victory, and to support the Administration in every constitutional and lawful measure to suppress the rebellion ; and, secondly, a
Letter to Corning.
declaration of censure upon the Administration for supposed unconstitutional action, such as the making of military arrests. And from the two propositions a third is deduced, which is, that the gentlemen composing the meeting are resolved on doing their part to maintain our common Government and country, despite the folly or wickedness, as they may conceive, of any Administration. This position is eminently patriotic, and as such I thank the meeting and congratulate the nation for it. My own purpose is the same; so that the meeting and myself have a common object, and can have no difference, except in the choice of means or measures for effecting that object.
“And here I ought to close this paper, and would close it, if there were no apprehension that more injurious consequences than any merely personal to myself might follow the censures systematically cast upon me for doing what, in my view of duty, I could not forbear. The resolutions promise to support me in every constitutional and lawful measure to suppress the rebellion, and I have not knowingly employed, nor shall knowingly employ, any other. But the meeting, by their resolutions, assert and argue that certain military arrests and proceedings following them, for which I am ultimately responsible, are unconstitutional. I think they are not. The resolutions quote from the Constitution the definition of treason, and also the limiting safeguards and guaranties therein provided for the citizen on trial for treason, and on his being held to answer for capital, or otherwise infamous crimes; and in criminal prosecutions, his right to a speedy and public trial by an impartial jury. They proceed to resolve, that these safeguards of the rights of the citizen against the pretensions of arbitrary power were intended more especially for his protection in times of civil commotion.'
"And, apparently to demonstrate the proposition, the resolutions proceed : ‘They were secured substantially to tho