Page images

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 in 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 destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if 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 as fast as they shall appear to be true views.

I have here stated my purpose according to my views of official duty, and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere should be free. Yours,



"Mr. Vallandigham avows his hostility to the war on the part of the Union; and his arrest was made because he was laboring, with some effect, to prevent the raising of troops, to encourage desertions from the army, and to leave the rebellion without an adequate military force to suppress it.

"He was not arrested because he was damaging the political prospects of the administration, or the personal interests of the Commanding General, but because he was damaging the army, upon the existence and vigor of which the life of the nation depends. "He was warring upon the military, and this gave the military the Constitutional jurisdiction to lay hands upon him. A. LINCOLN.'


Executive Mansion,

Washington, D. C., Jan. 26, 1863.

Major-General Hooker.

General: I have placed you at the head of the Army of the Potomac. Of course, I have done this upon what appears to me to be sufficient reasons, and yet I think it best for you to know that there are some things in regard to which I am not quite satisfied with you.

I believe you to be a brave and skillful soldier, which, of course, I like. I also believe you do not mix politics with your profession, in which you are right. You have confidence in yourself, which is a valuable, if not indispensable, quality. You are ambitious,

which, within reasonable bounds, does good rather than harm. But I think that, during General Burnside's command of the Army, you have taken counsel of your ambitions, and thwarted him as much as you could, in which you did a great wrong, both to the country, and a most meritorious and honorable brother officer.

I have heard, in such a way as to believe it, of your recently saying that both the army and the Government needed a dictator. Of course, it was not for this, but in spite of it, that I have given you a command.

Only those generals who gain success can set up as dictators. What I ask of you is military success, and I will risk the dictatorship. The Government will support you to the utmost of its ability, which is neither more nor less than it has done and will do for all commanders. I much fear that the spirit that you have aided to infuse into the army, of criticising their commander, and withholding confidence from him, will now turn upon you. I shall assist you as far as I can to put it down. Neither you nor Napoleon, if he were alive again, could get any good out of an army while such a spirit prevails in it.

And now, beware of rashness! Beware of rashness! But, with energy and sleepless vigilance, go forward and give us victories. Yours very truly,



"I do not believe that any compromise embracing. the maintenance of the Union is now possible.

"The strength of the rebellion is in the army. That

army dominates all the country and all the people within its range. Any offer of 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. 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.

"You dislike the Emancipation Proclamation, and perhaps would have it retracted. You say it is unconstitutional. I think differently. I think the Constitution invests the Commander-in-Chief with the law of war in time of war. The most that can be said is, that slaves are property.

"Is there 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 to hurt the enemy?

"If the Proclamation is not valid in law, it needs no retraction; if it is valid, it cannot be retracted, any more than the dead can be brought to life.

"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 it was 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. Some of the commanders of our armies in the field who have given us our most important victories believe that the Emancipation Proclamation policy, and the aid of colored troops, constitute the heaviest blows yet dealt

to the rebellion; and that at least one of those important successes could not have been achieved when it was but for the aid of black soldiers.

"Whatever negroes can be got to do as soldiers leaves just so much less for white soldiers to do in saving the Union. But negroes, like other people, act upon notions. Why should they do anything for us if we will do nothing for them? If they stake their lives for us there must be the strongest motive-even the promise of their freedom. And the promise being made must be kept.

The Father of Waters goes Thanks to the great Northwest

"The signs look better. unvexed to the sea.

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 job was a great national one, and let none be banned who bore an honorable part in it.

"Peace does not appear so distant as it did. I hope it will soon come, and come to stay; and so come as to be worth keeping in all future time. And then there will be some black men who can remember that they helped Mankind on to this great consummation, while I fear that there will be some white men unable to forget that they have striven to hinder it.

"Still let us be ever sanguine of a speedy final. triumph. Let us be quite sober. Let us diligently apply the means, never doubting that a just God in His own good time will give us the rightful results.

"Your friend, A. LINCOLN."

« PreviousContinue »