The Writings of Abraham Lincoln Vol. 1-7


iSpeech

Lord John Russell has informed us of an understanding between the
British and French governments that they will act together in regard
to our affairs. This communication, however, loses something of its
value from the circumstance that the communication was withheld until
after knowledge of the fact had been acquired by us from other
sources. We know also another fact that has not yet been officially
communicated to us--namely, that other European States are apprised
by France and England of their agreement, and are expected to concur
with or follow them in whatever measures they adopt on the subject of
recognition. The United States have been impartial and just in all
their conduct toward the several nations of Europe. They will not
complain, however, of the combination now announced by the two
leading powers, although they think they had a right to expect a more
independent, if not a more friendly, course from each of them. You
will take no notice of that or any other alliance. Whenever the
European governments shall see fit to communicate directly with us,
we shall be, as heretofore, frank and explicit in our reply.

As to the blockade, you will say that by [the] our own laws [of
nature] and the laws of nature and the laws of nations, this
Government has a clear right to suppress insurrection. An exclusion
of commerce from national ports which have been seized by the
insurgents, in the equitable form of blockade, is the proper means to
that end. You will [admit] not insist that our blockade is [not] to
be respected if it be not maintained by a competent force; but
passing by that question as not now a practical, or at least an
urgent, one, you will add that [it] the blockade is now, and it will
continue to be so maintained, and therefore we expect it to be
respected by Great Britain. You will add that we have already
revoked the exequatur of a Russian consul who had enlisted in the
military service of the insurgents, and we shall dismiss or demand
the recall of every foreign agent, consular or diplomatic, who shall
either disobey the Federal laws or disown the Federal authority.

As to the recognition of the so-called Southern Confederacy, it is
not to be made a subject of technical definition. It is, of course,
[quasi direct recognition to publish an acknowledgment of the
sovereignty and independence of a new power. It is [quasi] direct
recognition to receive its ambassadors, ministers, agents, or
commissioners officially. A concession of belligerent rights is
liable to be construed as a recognition of them. No one of these
proceedings will [be borne] pass [unnoticed] unquestioned by the
United States in this case.

Hitherto recognition has been moved only on the assumption that the
so-called Confederate States are de facto a self-sustaining power.
Now, after long forbearance, designed to soothe discontent and avert
the need of civil war, the land and naval forces of the United States
have been put in motion to repress the insurrection. The true
character of the pretended new State is at once revealed. It is seen
to be a power existing in pronunciamento only, It has never won a
field. It has obtained no forts that were not virtually betrayed
into its hands or seized in breach of trust. It commands not a
single port on the coast nor any highway out from its pretended
capital by land. Under these circumstances Great Britain is called
upon to intervene and give it body and independence by resisting our
measures of suppression. British recognition would be British
intervention to create within our own territory a hostile state by
overthrowing this republic itself. [When this act of intervention is
distinctly performed, we from that hour shall cease to be friends,
and become once more, as we have twice before been forced to be,
enemies of Great Britain.]

As to the treatment of privateers in the insurgent service, you will
say that this is a question exclusively our own. We treat them as
pirates. They are our own citizens, or persons employed by our
citizens, preying on the commerce of our country. If Great Britain
shall choose to recognize them as lawful belligerents, and give them
shelter from our pursuit and punishment, the laws of nations afford
an adequate and proper remedy [and we shall avail ourselves of it.
And while you need not say this in advance, be sure that you say
nothing inconsistent with it.]

Happily, however, her Britannic Majesty's government can avoid all
these difficulties. It invited us in 1856 to accede to the
declaration of the Congress of Paris, of which body Great Britain was
herself a member, abolishing privateering everywhere in all cases and
forever. You already have our authority to propose to her our
accession to that declaration. If she refuse to receive it, it can
only be because she is willing to become the patron of privateering
when aimed at our devastation.

These positions are not elaborately defended now, because to
vindicate them would imply a possibility of our waiving them.

1 We are not insensible of the grave importance of

1(Drop all from this line to the end, and in lieu of it write, "This
paper is for your own guidance only, and not [sic] to be read or
shown to any one.)

(Secretary Seward, when the despatch was returned to him, added an
introductory paragraph stating that the document was strictly
confidential. For this reason these last two paragraphs remained as
they are here printed.)

this occasion. We see how, upon the result of the debate in which we
are engaged, a war may ensue between the United States and one, two,
or even more European nations. War in any case is as exceptionable
from the habits as it is revolting from the sentiments of the
American people. But if it come, it will be fully seen that it
results from the action of Great Britain, not our own; that Great
Britain will have decided to fraternize with our domestic enemy,
either without waiting to hear from you our remonstrances and our
warnings, or after having heard them. War in defense of national
life is not immoral, and war in defense of independence is an
inevitable part of the discipline of nations.

The dispute will be between the European and the American branches of
the British race. All who belong to that race will especially
deprecate it, as they ought. It may well be believed that men of
every race and kindred will deplore it. A war not unlike it between
the same parties occurred at the close of the last century. Europe
atoned by forty years of suffering for the error that Great Britain
committed in provoking that contest. If that nation shall now repeat
the same great error, the social convulsions which will follow may
not be so long, but they will be more general. When they shall have
ceased, it will, we think, be seen, whatever may have been the
fortunes of other nations, that it is not the United States that will
have come out of them with its precious Constitution altered or its
honestly obtained dominion in any degree abridged. Great Britain has
but to wait a few months and all her present inconveniences will
cease with all our own troubles. If she take a different course, she
will calculate for herself the ultimate as well as the immediate
consequences, and will consider what position she will hold when she
shall have forever lost the sympathies and the affections of the only
nation on whose sympathies and affections she has a natural claim.
In making that calculation she will do well to remember that in the
controversy she proposes to open we shall be actuated by neither
pride, nor passion, nor cupidity, nor ambition; but we shall stand
simply on the principle of self-preservation, and that our cause will
involve the independence of nations and the rights of human nature.

I am, Sir, respectfully your obedient servant,
W. H. S.

CHARLES FRANCIS ADAMS, Esq., etc,

TO THE SECRETARY OF WAR,

EXECUTIVE MANSION, May 21, 1861.

HON. SECRETARY OF WAR.
MY DEAR SIR:--Why cannot Colonel Small's Philadelphia regiment be
received? I sincerely wish it could. There is something strange
about it. Give these gentlemen an interview, and take their
regiment.

Yours truly,
A. LINCOLN.

TO GOVERNOR MORGAN.

WASHINGTON, May 12, 1861

GOVERNOR E. D. MORGAN, Albany, N.Y.

I wish to see you face to face to clear these difficulties about
forwarding troops from New York.

A. LINCOLN.

TO CAPTAIN DAHLGREEN.

EXECUTIVE, MANSION, May 23, 1863.

CAPT. DAHLGREEN.

MY DEAR SIR:--Allow me to introduce Col. J. A. McLernand, M.C. of my
own district in Illinois. If he should desire to visit Fortress
Monroe, please introduce him to the captain of one of the vessels in
our service, and pass him down and back.

Yours very truly,

A. LINCOLN.

LETTER OF CONDOLENCE TO ONE OF FIRST CASUALTIES

TO COLONEL ELLSWORTH'S PARENTS,
WASHINGTON, D.C., May 25, 1861

TO THE FATHER AND MOTHER
OF COL. ELMER E. ELLSWORTH.

MY DEAR SIR AND MADAME:--In the untimely loss of your noble son, our
affliction here is scarcely less than your own. So much of promised
usefulness to one's country, and of bright hopes for one's self and
friends, have never been so suddenly dashed as in his fall. In size,
in years, and in youthful appearance a boy only, his power to command
men was surpassingly great. This power, combined with a fine
intellectual and indomitable energy, and a taste altogether military,
constituted in him, as seemed to me, the best natural talent in that
department I ever knew. And yet he was singularly modest and
deferential in social intercourse. My acquaintance with him began
less than two years ago; yet, through the latter half of the
intervening period, it was as intense as the disparity of our ages
and my engrossing engagements would permit. To me he appeared to
have no indulgences or pastimes, and I never heard him utter a
profane or an intemperate word. What was conclusive of his good
heart, he never forgot his parents. The honors he labored for so
laudably, and for which, in the sad end, he so gallantly gave his
life, he meant for them no less than for himself.

In the hope that it may be no intrusion upon the sacredness of your
sorrow, I have ventured to address you this tribute to the memory of
my young friend and your brave and early fallen son.

May God give you the consolation which is beyond all early power.

Sincerely your friend in common affliction,
A. LINCOLN.

TO COLONEL BARTLETT.

WASHINGTON, May 27, 1861

COL. W. A. BARTLETT, New York.

The Naval Brigade was to go to Fort Monroe without trouble to the
government, and must so go or not at all.

A. LINCOLN.

MEMORANDUM ABOUT INDIANA REGIMENTS.

WASHINGTON, JUNE 11, 1861

The government has already accepted ten regiments from the State of
Indiana. I think at least six more ought to be received from that
State, two to be those of Colonel James W. McMillan and Colonel
William L. Brown, and the other four to be designated by the Governor
of the State of Indiana, and to be received into the volunteer
service of the United States according to the "Plan of Organization"
in the General Orders of the War Department, No.15. When they report
to Major-General McClellan in condition to pass muster according to
that order, and with the approval of the Secretary of War to be
indorsed hereon, and left in his department, I direct that the whole
six, or any smaller number of such regiments, be received.

A. LINCOLN.

TO THE SECRETARY OF WAR.

EXECUTIVE MANSION, JUNE 13, 1861

HON. SECRETARY OF WAR.

MY DEAR SIR:--There is, it seems, a regiment in Massachusetts
commanded by Fletcher Webster, and which HON. Daniel Webster's old
friends very much wish to get into the service. If it can be
received with the approval of your department and the consent of the
Governor of Massachusetts I shall indeed be much gratified. Give Mr.
Ashmun a chance to explain fully.

Yours truly,

A. LINCOLN.

TO THE SECRETARY OF WAR.

EXECUTIVE MANSION, JUNE 13, 1861

HON. SECRETARY OF WAR.

MY DEAR SIR -I think it is entirely safe to accept a fifth regiment
from Michigan, and with your approbation I should say a regiment
presented by Col. T. B. W. Stockton, ready for service within two
weeks from now, will be received. Look at Colonel Stockton's
testimonials.

Yours truly,
A. LINCOLN.

TO THE SECRETARY OF WAR.

EXECUTIVE MANSION, June 17, 1861

HON. SECRETARY Of WAR.

MY DEAR SIR:--With your concurrence, and that of the Governor of
Indiana, I am in favor of accepting into what we call the three
years' service any number not exceeding four additional regiments
from that State. Probably they should come from the triangular
region between the Ohio and Wabash Rivers, including my own old
boyhood home. Please see HON. C. M. Allen, Speaker of the Indiana
House of Representatives, and unless you perceive good reason to the
contrary, draw up an order for him according to the above.

Yours truly,
A. LINCOLN.

TO THE SECRETARY OF WAR.

EXECUTIVE MANSION, JUNE 17,1861

HON. SECRETARY OF WAR.
MY DEAR SIR:--With your concurrence, and that of the Governor of
Ohio, I am in favor of receiving into what we call the three years'
service any number not exceeding six additional regiments from that
State, unless you perceive good reasons to the contrary. Please see
HON. John A. Gurley, who bears this, and make an order corresponding
with the above.

Yours truly,

A. LINCOLN.

TO N. W. EDWARDS

WASHINGTON, D. C., June 19, 1861

Hon. N. W. EDWARDS
MY DEAR SIR:
.............
.............
When you wrote me some time ago in reference to looking up something
in the departments here, I thought I would inquire into the thing and
write you, but the extraordinary pressure upon me diverted me from
it, and soon it passed out of my mind. The thing you proposed, it
seemed to me, I ought to understand myself before it was set on foot
by my direction or permission; and I really had no time to make
myself acquainted with it. Nor have I yet. And yet I am unwilling,
of course, that you should be deprived of a chance to make something,
if it can be done without injustice to the Government, or to any
individual. If you choose to come here and point out to me how this
can be done I shall not only not object, but shall be gratified to be
able to oblige you.

Your friend as ever

A. LINCOLN.

TO SECRETARY CAMERON.

EXECUTIVE MANSION, June 20, 1861.

MY DEAR SIR:--Since you spoke to me yesterday about General J. H.
Lane, of Kansas, I have been reflecting upon the subject, and have
concluded that we need the service of such a man out there at once;
that we had better appoint him a brigadier-general of volunteers
to-day, and send him off with such authority to raise a force (I
think two regiments better than three, but as to this I am not
particular) as you think will get him into actual work quickest.
Tell him, when he starts, to put it through not to be writing or
telegraphing back here, but put it through.

Yours truly,

A. LINCOLN.

HON. SECRETARY OF WAR.

[Indorsement.]

General Lane has been authorized to raise two additional regiments of
volunteers.

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