March 24, 2012 Leave a comment
Washington, March 24, 1862.
Your very kind letter of the 16th. to Mr. Colfax, has been shown me by him. I am grateful for the generous sentiments and purposes expressed towards the administration. Of course I am anxious to see the policy proposed in the late special message, go forward; but you have advocated it from the first, so that I need to say little to you on the subject. If I were to suggest anything it would be that as the North are already for the measure, we should urge it persuasively, and not menacingly, upon the South. I am a little uneasy about the abolishment of slavery in this District, not but I would be glad to see it abolished, but as to the time and manner of doing it. If some one or more of the border-states would move fast, I should greatly prefer it; but if this can not be in a reasonable time, I would like the bill to have the three main features—gradual—compensation—and vote of the people—I do not talk to members of congress on the subject, except when they ask me. I am not prepared to make any suggestion about confiscation. I may drop you a line hereafter. Yours truly A. LINCOLN
Greeley’s letter to Colfax has not been located, but his reply to Lincoln, presumably incorrectly dated by Greeley “Mar. 24,” and certainly incorrectly cataloged in the Lincoln Papers as “Nov. 24, 1862,” reads as follows:
“I thank you for your kind letter of yesterday.
“I am sure you will find great patience in the country as well as in Congress with regard to all action respecting slavery if it can only be felt that things are going ahead. The stagnation of the grand Army has given life to all manner of projects which would be quiet if the War had been going vigorously on. If you think it best that the bill for Emancipation in the district shall embody a clause of submission to the people of the district, it can easily be so amended. I will advocate it in the Tribune if you desire it. If such vote be deemed requisite, I hope it may be taken on the 4th of July next.
“I hear with regret that there is danger of difference between the Secretary of War and Gen. Fremont. I pray you to see that this be obviated. I do not know that F. is a great general; but I do know that our loyal people, with scarcely an exception, are anxious that he should be permitted to show what he is. Now if he is left without a decent force—Army corps—or not allowed to select his own staff, it will be generally thought that he has been crippled, and the government will be blamed for whatever ill [?] fortune [?] may befall. Pray look to this.”