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National Thanksgiving.

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 his 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, have 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 hand, 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:

A BRAHAM LINCOLN. “WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.”

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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 who are dissatisfied with me. To such I would say :

:-You desire 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 promise, 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 what 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

comLetter to Union Men.

The Negro Question.

Emancipation.

all affect that army. In an effort at such compromise we would waste time which the enemy would improve to our disadvantage, and that would be all. A compromise, to be effective, must be made, either with those who control the rebel army, or with the people, first liberated from the domi. pation of that army by the success of our army. Now, allow me to assure you that no word or intimation from the rebel army, or from any of the men controlling it, in relation to any peace compromise, has ever come to my knowledge or belief. All charges and intimations to the contrary are deceptive and groundless. And I promise you that if any such propositions shall hereafter come, it shall not be rejected and kept secret from you. I freely acknowledge myself to be the servant of the people, according to the bond of service, the United States Constitution ; and that, as such, I am responsible to them. But, to be plain. You are dissatisfied with me about the negro. Quite likely there is a difference of opinion between you and myself upon that subject. I certainly wish that all men could be free, while you, I suppose, do not. Yet I have neither adopted nor proposed any measure which is not consistent with even your view, provided you are for the •Union. I suggested compensated emancipation, to wbich you replied that you wished not to be taxed to buy negroes. But I have not asked you to be taxed to buy negroes, except in such way as to save you from greater taxation, to save the Union exclusively by other means.

“ You dislike the emancipation proclamation, and perhaps would have it retracted. You say it is unconstitutional. I think differently. I think that the Constitution invests its Commander-in-chief with the law of war in time of war. The most that can be said, if so much, is, that the slaves are property. Is there, bas there ever been, any question that by the law of war, property, both of enemies and friends, may be taken when needed? And is it not needed whenever taking it helps us or hurts the enemy? Arroies, the world

Letter to Union Men.

Military Opinions

over, destroy enemies' property when they cannot use it; and even destroy their own to keep it from the enemy. Civilized belligerents do all in their power to help themselves or hurt the enemy, except a few things regarded as barbarous or cruel. Among the exceptions are the massacre of vanquished ioes and non-combatants, male and female.

But the proclamation, as law, is valid or is not valid. If it is not valid it needs no restriction. If it is valid it cannot be retracted, any more than the dead can be brought to life.

Some of you profess to think that its retraction would operate favorably for the Union. Why better after the retraction than before the issue? There was more than a year and a half of trial to suppress the rebellion before the proclamation was issued, the last one hundred days of which passed under an explicit notice, that it was coming unless averted by those in revolt returning to their allegiance. The war has certainly progressed as favorably for us since the issue of the proclamation as before.

I know as fully as one can know the opinions of others, that some of the commanders of our armies in the field, wbo have given us our most important victories, believe the emancipation policy and the aid of colored troops constitute the heaviest blows yet dealt to the rebellion, and that ata least one of those important successes could not have been achieved when it was but for the aid of black soldiers. Among the commanders holding these views are some who have never had any affinity with what is called abolitionism or with republican party politics, but who hold them purely as military opinions. I submit their opinions as being entitled to some weight against the objections often urged that emancipation and arming the blacks are unwise as military measures, and were not adopted as such in good faith. You say that you will not fight to free negroes. Some of them seem to be willing to fight for you—but no matter. Fight you, then, exclusively to save the Union.

I issued the proclamation on purpose to aid you in saving the Union.

Letter to Union Men.

The Mississippi Open.

the sea.

Whenever you shall have conquered all resistance to the Union, if I shall urge you to continue fighting, it will be an apt time then for you to declare that you will not fight to free negroes. I thought that in your struggle for the Union, to whatever extent the negroes should cease helping the enemy, to that extent it weakened the enemy in his resistance to you. Do you think differently? I thought that whatever negroes can be got to do as soldiers, leaves just so much less for white soldiers to do in saving the Union. Does it appear otherwise to you? But negroes, like other people, act upon motives. Why should they do any thing for us if we will do nothing for them? If they stake their lives for us they must be prompted by the strongest motive, even the promise of freedom. And the promise being made, must be kept. The signs look better. The Father of Waters again goes unvexed to

Thanks to the great North-west for it. Nor yet wholly to them. Three hundred miles up they met New England, Empire, Keystone, and Jersey, hewing their way right and left. The Sunny South, too, in more colors than one, also lent a hand. On the spot, their part of the history was jotted down in black and white. The joy was a great national one, and let none be banned who bore an honorable part in it; and, while those who have cleared the great river may well be proud, even that is not all.

It is hard to say that any thing has been more bravely and better done than at Antietam, Murfreesboro', Gettysburg, and on many fields of less note. Nor must Uncle Sam's web feet be forgotten. At all the waters' margins they have been present—not only on the deep sea, the broad bay, and the rapid river, but also up the narrow, muddy bayou ; and wherever the ground was a little damp they have been and made their tracks. Thanks to all. For the great Republic-for the principles by which it lives and keeps alive—for man's vast future—thanks to all. Peace does not appear so far distant as it did. I hope it will come soon, and come to stay : and so come as to be worth the

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