The Writings of Abraham Lincoln Vol. 1-7

The Emancipation Proclamation applies to Arkansas. I think it is
valid in law, and will be so held by the courts. I think I shall not
retract or repudiate it. Those who shall have tasted actual freedom
I believe can never be slaves or quasi-slaves again. For the rest, I
believe some plan substantially being gradual emancipation would be
better for both white and black. The Missouri plan recently
adopted, I do not object to on account of the time for ending the
institution; but I am sorry the beginning should have been postponed
for seven years, leaving all that time to agitate for the repeal of
the whole thing. It should begin at once, giving at least the
new-born a vested interest in freedom which could not be taken away.
If Senator Sebastian could come with something of this sort from
Arkansas, I, at least, should take great interest in his case; and I
believe a single individual will have scarcely done the world so
great a service. See him if you can, and read this to him; but
charge him not to make it public for the present. Write me again.

Yours very truly,


ALBANY, August 1, 1863. Recvd 2 P.M.


I ask that the draft be suspended in this State until I can send you
a communication I am preparing.



WASHINGTON, D.C., August 1, 1863. 4 P.M.


By what day may I expect your communication to reach me? Are you
anxious about any part except the city and vicinity?




MAJOR-GENERAL FOSTER (or whoever may be in command of the military
department with headquarters at Fort Monroe, Va.):

If Dr. Wright, on trial at Norfolk, has been or shall be convicted,
send me a transcript of his trial and conviction, and do not let
execution be done upon him until my further order.



August 5,1863.


While I very well know what I would be glad for Louisiana to do, it
is quite a different thing for me to assume direction of the matter.
I would be glad for her to make a new constitution, recognizing the
emancipation proclamation, and adopting emancipation in those parts
of the State to which the proclamation does not apply. And while she
is at it, I think it would not be objectionable for her to adopt some
practical system by which the two races could gradually live
themselves out of their old relation to each other, and both come out
better prepared for the new. Education for young blacks should be
included in the plan. After all, the power or element of “contract”
may be sufficient for this probationary period, and by its simplicity
and flexibility may be the better.

As an antislavery man, I have a motive to desire emancipation which
proslavery men do not have but even they have strong enough reason to
thus place themselves again under the shield of the Union, and to
thus perpetually hedge against the recurrence of the scenes through
which we are now passing.

Governor Shepley has informed me that Mr. Durant is now taking a
registry, with a view to the election of a constitutional convention
in Louisiana. This, to me, appears proper. If such convention were
to ask my views, I could present little else than what I now say to
you. I think the thing should be pushed forward, so that, if
possible, its mature work may reach here by the meeting of Congress.

For my own part, I think I shall not, in any event, retract the
emancipation proclamation: nor, as executive, ever return to slavery
any person who is free by the terms of that proclamation, or by any
of the acts of Congress.

If Louisiana shall send members to Congress, their admission to seats
will depend, as you know, upon the respective Houses, and not upon
the President.

Yours very truly,



August 7, 1863.


Your communication of the 3rd instant has been received and
attentively considered.

I cannot consent to suspend the draft in New York, as you request,
because, among other reasons, time is too important.

By the figures you send, which I presume are correct, the twelve
districts represented fall into two classes of eight and four
respectively. The disparity of the quotas for the draft in these two
classes is certainly very striking, being the difference between an
average of 2200 in one class and 4864 in the other. Assuming that
the districts are equal one to another in entire population, as
required by the plan on which they were made, this disparity is such
as to require attention. Much of it, however, I suppose will be
accounted for by the fact that so many more persons fit for soldiers
are in the city than are in the country who have too recently arrived
from other parts of the United States and from Europe to be either
included in the census of 1860, or to have voted in 1862. Still,
making due allowance for this, I am yet unwilling to stand upon it as
an entirely sufficient explanation of the great disparity.

I shall direct the draft to proceed in all the districts, drawing,
however, at first from each of the four districts–to wit, the
Second, Fourth, Sixth, and Eighth–only, 2200 being the average quota
of the other class. After this drawing, these four districts, and
also the Seventeenth and Twenty-ninth, shall be carefully re-
enrolled; and, if you please, agents of yours may witness every step
of the process. Any deficiency which may appear by the new enrolment
will be supplied by a special draft for that object, allowing due
credit for volunteers who may be obtained from these districts
respectively during the interval; and at all points, so far as
consistent with practical convenience, due credits shall be given for
volunteers, and your Excellency shall be notified of the time fixed
for commencing the draft in each district.

I do not object to abide a decision of the United States Supreme
Court, or of the judges thereof, on the constitutionality of the
draft law. In fact, I should be willing to facilitate the obtaining
of it. But I cannot consent to lose the time while it is being
obtained. We are contending with an enemy who, as I understand,
drives every able-bodied man he can reach into his ranks, very much
as a butcher drives bullocks into the slaughter-pen. No time is
wasted, no argument is used. This produces an army which will soon
turn upon our now victorious soldiers already in the field, if they
shall not be sustained by recruits as they should be. It produces an
army with a rapidity not to be matched on our side if we first waste
time to re-experiment with the volunteer system, already deemed by
Congress, and palpably, in fact, so far exhausted as to be
inadequate; and then more time to obtain a court decision as to
whether a law is constitutional, which requires a part of those not
now in the service to go to the aid of those who are already in it;
and still more time to determine with absolute certainty that we get
those who are to go in the precisely legal proportion to those who
are not to go. My purpose is to be in my action just and
constitutional, and yet practical, in performing the important duty
with which I am charged, of maintaining the unity and the free
principles of our common country.

Your obedient servant,



August 9, 1863.


I see by a despatch of yours that you incline quite strongly toward
an expedition against Mobile. This would appear tempting to me also,
were it not that in view of recent events in Mexico I am greatly
impressed with the importance of re-establishing the national
authority in western Texas as soon as possible. I am not making an
order, however; that I leave, for the present at least, to the

A word upon another subject: General Thomas has gone again to the
Mississippi Valley, with the view of raising colored troops. I have
no reason to doubt that you are doing what you reasonably can upon
the same subject. I believe it is a resource which if vigorously
applied now will soon close the contest. It works doubly, weakening
the enemy and strengthening us. We were not fully ripe for it until
the river was opened. Now, I think at least one hundred thousand can
and ought to be rapidly organized along its shores, relieving all
white troops to serve elsewhere. Mr. Dana understands you as
believing that the Emancipation Proclamation has helped some in your
military operations. I am very glad if this is so.

Did you receive a short letter from me dated the 13th of July?

Yours very truly,



August 10, 1863.


Yours of the 1st was received two days ago. I think you must have
inferred more than General Halleck has intended, as to any
dissatisfaction of mine with you. I am sure you, as a reasonable
man, would not have been wounded could you have heard all my words
and seen all my thoughts in regard to you. I have not abated in my
kind feeling for and confidence in you. I have seen most of your
despatches to General Halleck–probably all of them. After Grant
invested Vicksburg I was very anxious lest Johnston should overwhelm
him from the outside, and when it appeared certain that part of
Bragg’s force had gone and was going to Johnston, it did seem to me
it was exactly the proper time for you to attack Bragg with what
force he had left. In all kindness let me say it so seems to me yet.
Finding from your despatches to General Halleck that your judgment
was different, and being very anxious for Grant, I, on one occasion,
told General Halleck I thought he should direct you to decide at once
to immediately attack Bragg or to stand on the defensive and send
part of your force to Grant. He replied he had already so directed
in substance. Soon after, despatches from Grant abated my anxiety
for him, and in proportion abated my anxiety about any movement of
yours. When afterward, however, I saw a despatch of yours arguing
that the right time for you to attack Bragg was not before, but would
be after, the fall of Vicksburg, it impressed me very strangely, and
I think I so stated to the Secretary of War and General Halleck. It
seemed no other than the proposition that you could better fight
Bragg when Johnston should be at liberty to return and assist him
than you could before he could so return to his assistance.

Since Grant has been entirely relieved by the fall of Vicksburg, by
which Johnston is also relieved, it has seemed to me that your chance
for a stroke has been considerably diminished, and I have not been
pressing you directly or indirectly. True, I am very anxious for
East Tennessee to be occupied by us; but I see and appreciate the
difficulties you mention. The question occurs, Can the thing be done
at all? Does preparation advance at all? Do you not consume
supplies as fast as you get them forward? Have you more animals to-
day than you had at the battle of Stone’s River? And yet have not
more been furnished you since then than your entire present stock? I
ask the same questions as to your mounted force.

Do not misunderstand: I am not casting blame upon you; I rather think
by great exertion you can get to East Tennessee; but a very important
question is, Can you stay there? I make no order in the case–that I
leave to General Halleck and yourself.

And now be assured once more that I think of you in all kindness and
confidence, and that I am not watching you with an evil eye.

Yours very truly,



August 11.1863.

Governor of New York:

Yours of the 8th, with Judge-Advocate-Genera1 Waterbury’s report, was
received to-day.

Asking you to remember that I consider time as being very important,
both to the general cause of the country and to the soldiers in the
field, I beg to remind you that I waited, at your request, from the
1st until the 6th inst., to receive your communication dated the 3d.
In view of its great length, and the known time and apparent care
taken in its preparation, I did not doubt that it contained your full
case as you desired to present it. It contained the figures for
twelve districts, omitting the other nineteen, as I suppose, because
you found nothing to complain of as to them. I answered accordingly.
In doing so I laid down the principle to which I purpose adhering,
which is to proceed with the draft, at the same time employing
infallible means to avoid any great wrong. With the communication
received to-day you send figures for twenty-eight districts,
including the twelve sent before, and still omitting three, for which
I suppose the enrolments are not yet received. In looking over the
fuller list of twenty-eight districts, I find that the quotas for
sixteen of them are above 2000 and below 2700, while, of the rest,
six are above 2700 and six are below 2000. Applying the principle
to these new facts, the Fifth and Seventh districts must be added to
the four in which the quotas have already been reduced to 2200 for
the first draft; and with these four others just be added to those to
be re-enrolled. The correct case will then stand: the quotas of the
Second, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth districts fixed at
2200 for the first draft. The Provost-Marshal-General informs me
that the drawing is already completed in the Sixteenth, Seventeenth,
Eighteenth, Twenty-second, Twenty-fourth, Twenty-sixth, Twenty-
seventh, Twenty-eighth, Twenty-ninth, and Thirtieth districts. In
the others, except the three outstanding, the drawing will be made
upon the quotas as now fixed. After the first draft, the Second,
Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Sixteenth, Seventeenth,
Twenty-first, Twenty-fifth, Twenty-ninth, and Thirty-first will be
enrolled for the purpose and in the manner stated in my letter of the
7th inst. The same principle will be applied to the now outstanding
districts when they shall come in. No part of my former letter is
repudiated by reason of not being restated in this, or for any other

Your obedient servant,



August 12, 1863.


MY DEAR SIR:–Our friend William G. Greene has just presented a kind
letter in regard to yourself, addressed to me by our other friends
Yates, Hatch, and Dubois.

I doubt whether your present position is more painful to you than to
myself. Grateful for the patriotic stand so early taken by you in
this life-and-death struggle of the nation, I have done whatever has
appeared practicable to advance you and the public interest together.
No charges, with a view to a trial, have been preferred against you
by any one; nor do I suppose any will be. All there is, so far as I
have heard, is General Grant’s statement of his reasons for relieving
you. And even this I have not seen or sought to see; because it is a
case, as appears to me, in which I could do nothing without doing
harm. General Grant and yourself have been conspicuous in our most
important successes; and for me to interfere and thus magnify a
breach between you could not but be of evil effect. Better leave it
where the law of the case has placed it. For me to force you back
upon General Grant would be forcing him to resign. I cannot give you
a new command, because we have no forces except such as already have

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