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To Edward Everett
November 20, 1863
(See the note prefixed to Lincoln's Gettys burg address.]
Executive Mansion, Washington, November so, 1863 Hon. EDWARD EVERETT :
MY DEAR SIR : Your kind note of to-day is received. In our respective parts yesterday, you could not have been excused to make a short address, nor I a long one. I am pleased to know that, in your judgment, the little I did say was not entirely a failure. Of course I knew Mr. Everett would not fail, and yet, while the whole discourse was eminently satisfactory, and will be of great value, there were passages in it which transcended my expectations. The point made against the theory of the General Government being only an agency whose principals are the States, was new to me, and, as I think, is one of the best arguments for the national suprem. acy. The tribute to our noble women for their angel ministering to the suffering soldiers sur passes in its way, as do the subjects of it, what ever has gone before.
Our sick boy, for whom you kindly inquire we hope ią past the worst. Your obedient servant.
April 30, 1864 [The sprir x campaign of 1804 marked “the beginning of the end of the Rebellion. This letter is one f many proofs of Lincoln's absolute confider::e in Grant's generalship.]
Executive Mansion, Washington, April 30 1864 LIEUTENANT GENERAL GRANT :
Not exper:cing to see you again before the spring campaign opens, I wish to express in this way my entire satisfaction with what you have done ap to this time, so far as I understand it. The particulars of your plans I neither know nor seek to know. You are vigilant and self-reliant; and, pleased with this, I wish not to obtrude any constraints or restraints upon you. While I am very anxious that any great disaster or capture of our men in great numbers shall be avoided, I know these points are less likely to escape your attention than they would be mine. If there is anything wanting which is within my power to give, do not fail to let me know it. And now, with a brave army and a just cause, may God sustain you. Yours very truly,
To William Cullen Bryant
June 27, 1864 [No lack of courtesy can be discerned in this reply to the venerable Bryant, poet, author, and even at the time of that writing, with a thirty-six-year record as editor-inchief of the New York Evening Post. Yet Lincoln's firm words in conclusion could have left no doubt that, in all directions wherein his own information shone clear, his course was not to be altered by newspaper criticisms from any source whatever.]
Executive Mansion, Washington. HON. WILLIAM OULLEN BRYANT:
MY DEAR SIR: Yours of the twenty-fifth has just been handed me by the Secretary of the Navy. The tone of the letter, rather than any direct statement in it, impresses me as a complaint that Mr. Henderson should have been removed from office, and arrested; coupled with the single suggestion that he be restored if he shall establish his innocence.
I know absolutely nothing of the case except as follows: Monday last, Mr. Welles came to me with the letter of dismissal already written, saying he thought proper to show it to me before sending it. I asked him the charges, which he stated in a general
way. With as much emphasis as I could, I said: “Are you entirely certain of his guilt?" He answered that he was, to which I replied: “Then send the letter."
Whether Mr. Henderson was a supporter of my second nomination I neither knew nor inquired, nor even thought of. I shall be very glad indeed if he shall, as you anticipate, establish his innocence; or, to state it more strongly and properly, “if the government shall fail to establish his guilt." I believe, however, the man who made the affidavit was of as spotless reputation as Mr. Henderson, until he was arrested on what his friends insist was outrageously insufficient evidence. I know the entire city government of Washington, with many other respectable citizens, appealed to me in his behalf as a greatly injured gentleman.
While the subject is up, may I ask whether the Evening Post has not assailed me for supposed too lenient dealing with persons charged with fraud and crime? And that in cases of which the Post could know but little of the facts? I shall certainly deal as leniently with Mr. Henderson as I have felt it my duty to deal with others, notwithstanding any newspaper assaults. Your obedient servant,
To Thurlow Weed
March 15, 1865 (This most interesting letter, written a month before Lincoln's assassination, should be read in connection with the second inaugural address. ]
Executive Mansion, Washington, March 15, 1865. DEAR MR. WEED:
Every one likes a compliment. Thank you for yours on my little notification speech and on the recent inaugural address. I expect the latter to wear as well as--perhaps better than -anything I have produced; but I believe it is not immediately popular. Ten are not Alattered by being shown that there has been a difference of purpose between the Almighty and them. To deny it, however, in this case, is to deny that there is a God governing the world. It is a truth which I thought needed to be told, and, as whatever of humiliation there is it falls 'most directly on myself, I thought others might afford for me to tell it.