« PreviousContinue »
and can, in my own conscience, under my oath to the law. That you believe this I doubt not, and, believing it, I shall still receive for our country and myself your earnest prayers to our Father in Heaven.
Your sincere friend,
LETTER TO A WIDOW WHO HAD LOST FIVE SONS IN THE WAR
DEAR MADAM-I have been shown, in the files of the War Department, a statement of the Adjutant-General of Massachusetts, that you are the mother of five sons who have died gloriously on the field of battle. I feel how weak and fruitless must be any words of mine, which should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming. But I can not refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be found in the thanks of the Republic they died to save. I pray that our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your bereavement, and leave you only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, and the solemn pride that must be yours, to have laid so costly a sacrifice upon the altar of freedom. Yours, very sincerely and respectfully,
TO MRS. BIXBY, Boston, Massachusetts.
LETTER TO DEACON JOHN PHILLIPS-104 YEARS OLD.
MY DEAR SIR-I have heard of the incident at the polls, in your town, in which you acted so honorable a part, and I take the liberty of writing to you to express my personal gratitude for the compliment paid me by the suffrage of a citizen so venerable.
The example of such devotion to civic duties, in one whose days have already been extended an average life-time beyond the Psalmist's limits, can not but be valuable and fruitful. It is not for myself only, but for the country, which you have, in your sphere, served so long and so well, that I thank you. Your friend and servant, DEACON JOHN PHILLIPS.
AN OLD LETTER.
The following letter of Mr. Lincoln, but recently published,
written when he was at the age of twenty-seven. He was then a candidate for re-election to the Legislature of Illinois, having previously served one term of two years:
NEW SALEM, June 21, 1836.
DEAR COLONEL-I am told that during my absence last week, you passed through this place, and stated publicly that you were in possession of a fact, or facts, which, if known to the public, would entirely destroy the prospects of N. W. Edwards and myself at the ensuing election; but that, through favor to us, you would forbear to divulge them. No one has needed favors more than I, and, generally, few have been less unwilling to accept them; but in this case, favor to me would be injustice to the public, and, therefore, 1 must beg your par don for declining it. That I once had the confidence of the people of Sangamon county, is sufficiently evident, and if I have since done any thing, either by design or misadventure, which, if known, would subject me to a forfeiture of that confidence, he that knows of that thing and conceals it, is a traitor to his country's interest.
I find myself wholly unable to form any conjecture of what fact, or facts, real or supposed, you spoke. But my opinion. of your veracity will not permit me, for a moment, to doubt that you, at least, believed what you said. I am flattered with the personal regard you manifested for me; but I hope that, on more mature reflection, you will view the public interest as a paramount consideration, and therefore determine to let the worst come.
I here assure you that the candid statement of facts on your part, however low it may sink me, shall never break the ties of personal friendship between us.
I wish an answer to this, and you are at liberty to publish both, if you choose. Very respectfully, A. LINCOLN.
Col. ROBERT Allen.
AN EARLY SPEECH.
In a debate in the Illinois House of Representatives, in December, 1839-near the opening of the Harrison canvassMr. Lincoln is reported to have made a speech, from which the subjoined paragraphs are extracted:
* Without doubting its genuineness and general accuracy, I have not been able to verify this extract, which has appeared in the public prints.
Many free countries have lost their liberty, and ours may lose hers; but if she shall, be it my proudest plume, not that I was the last to desert, but that I never deserted her. I know that the great volcano at Washington, aroused and directed by the evil spirit that reigns there, is belching forth the lava of political corruption in a current broad and deep, which is sweeping with frightful velocity over the whole length and breadth of the land, bidding fair to leave unscathed no green spot or living thing, while on its bosom are riding, like demons on the waves of hell, the imps of the Evil Spirit, and fiendishly torturing and taunting all those who dare resist its destroying course with the hopelessness of their effort; and knowing this, I can not deny that all may be swept away. Broken by it, I, too, may be; bow to it I never will. The probability that we may fall in the struggle, ought not to deter us from the support of a cause which we deem to be just. It shall not deter me.
If I ever feel the soul within me elevate and expand to those dimensions not wholly unworthy of its Almighty architect, it is when I contemplate the cause of my country deserted by all the world beside, and I standing up boldly and alone, hurling defiance at her victorious oppressors. And here, without contemplating consequences, before high Heaven, and in the face of the whole world, I swear eternal fidelity to the just cause, as I deem it, of the land of my life, my liberty and my love. And who, that thinks with me, will not fearlessly adopt the oath I take? Let none falter who thinks he is right, and we may succeed. But if, after all, we shall fall, be it so. We shall have the proud consolation of saying to our conscience, and to the departed shade of our country's freedom, that the cause approved by our judgments, and adored by our hearts in disaster, in chains, in torture, and in death, we never failed in defending.
LETTER TO MR. CHOATE, OF NEW YORK.
MY DEAR SIR-I have the honor to acknowledge the reception of your kind invitation to be present at the annual festival of the New England Society, to commemorate the landing of the Pilgrims, on Thursday, the 22d of this month.
My duties will not allow me to avail myself of your kindness. I can not but congratulate you and the country, however, upon the spectacle of devoted unanimity presented by the people at home, the citizens that form our marching columns, and the citizens that fill our squadrons on the sea-all
animated by the same determination to complete and perpetuate the work our fathers began and transmitted.
The work of the Plymouth emigrants was the glory of their age. While we reverence their memory, let us not forget how vastly greater is our opportunity. I am, very truly, your obedient servant, A. LINCOLN.
JOSEPH H. CHOATE, ESQ.
LETTER TO DR. JOHN MACLEAN, OF PRINCETON COLLEGE. In December, 1864, the degree of Doctor of Laws was conferred upon President Lincoln, by a vote of the Board of Trustees of Princeton College, in New Jersey, of which fact he was duly notified by the President of that institution, Dr. Maclean. Mr. Lincoln sent the following letter, in acknowledgment of this honor:
WASHINGTON, December 27, 1864.
MY DEAR SIR-I have the honor to acknowledge the reception of your note of the of the 20th of December, conveying the announcement that the Trustees of the College of New Jersey had conferred upon me the degree of Doctor of Laws.
The assurance conveyed by this high compliment, that the course of the Government which I represent has received the approval of a body of gentlemen of such character and intelligence, in this time of public trial, is most grateful to me.
Thoughtful men must feel that the fate of civilization upon this continent is involved in the issue of our contest. Among the most gratifying proofs of this conviction, is the hearty devotion everywhere exhibited by our schools and colleges to the national cause.
I am most thankful if my labors have seemed to conduce to the preservvtion of those institutions under which, alone, we can expect good government, and in its train, sound learning and the progress of the liberal arts.
I am, Sir, very truly, your obedient servant,
DR. JOHN MACLEAN.
LETTER TO GOV. FLETCHER, OF MISSOURI.
His Excellency, Gov. Fletcher :
It seems that there is now no organized military force of the
appeared from Mr. Lincoln's face, who exclaimed, "A sit down! I respect you as an earnest, sincere man. You can not be more anxious than I am constantly, and I say to you now, that were it not for this occasional vent I should die !"
The following reminiscences of the Hampton Roads conferrence, are taken from a Southern paper, and are understood to have been written by A. H. Stephens, or at his instance:
Mr. Lincoln declared that the only ground upon which he could rest the justice of the war-either with his own people or with foreign powers-was that it was not a war for conquest, but that the States never had been separated from the Union. Consequently, he could not recognise another government inside of the one of which he alone was President, nor admit the separate independence of States that were yet a part of the Union. "That," said he, "would be doing what you have so long asked Europe to do in vain, and be resigning the only thing the armies of the Union are fighting for."
Mr. Hunter made a long reply, insisting that the recognition of Davis' power to make a treaty was the first and indispensable step to peace, and referring to the correspondence between King Charles the First and his Parliament, as a reliable precedent of a constitutional ruler treating with rebels.
Mr. Lincoln's face then wore that indescribable expression which generally preceded his hardest hits, and he remarked: "Upon questions of history I must refer you to Mr. Seward, for he is posted in such things, and I don't profess to be bright. My only distinct recollection of the matter is, that Charles lost his head."
The special report made by Stephens, Hunter and Campbell, on this conference, as quoted in the article just cited from, says:
Mr. Seward then remarked: "Mr. President, it is as well to inform these gentlemen that yesterday Congress acted upon the amendment to the Constitution abolishing slavery."
Mr. Lincoln stated that was true, and suggested that there was a question as to the right of the insurgent States to return at once and claim a right to vote upon the amendment, to which the concurrence of two-thirds of the States was required.
He stated that it would be desirable to have the institution of slavery abolished by the consent of the people as soon as possible--he hoped within six years. He also stated that four hundred millions of dollars might be offered as compensation