Reply to Serenade in Honor of Emancipation Proclamation

September 24, 1862

FELLOW-CITIZENS: I appear before you to do little more than acknowledge the courtesy you pay me, and to thank you for it. I have not been distinctly informed why it is this occasion you appear to do me this honor, though I suppose [interruptions] it is because of the proclamation. [Cries of “Good,” and applause.] I was about to say, I suppose I understand it. [Laughter—Voices: “That you do,” “You thoroughly understand it.”] What I did, I did after very full deliberation, and under a very heavy and solemn sense of responsibility. [Cries of “Good,” “Good,” “Bless you,” and applause.]

I can only trust in God I have made no mistake. [Cries “No mistake—all right; you’ve made no mistakes yet. Go ahead, you’re right.”] I shall make no attempt on this occasion to sustain what I have done or said by any comment. [Voices—“That’s unnecessary; we understand it.”] It is now for the country and the world to pass judgment on it, and, may be, take action upon it. I will say no more upon this subject. In my position I am environed with difficulties. [A voice—“That’s so.”]

Yet they are scarcely so great as the difficulties of those who, upon the battle field, are endeavoring to purchase with their blood and their lives the future happiness and prosperity of this country. [Applause, long and continued.] Let us never forget them. On the 14th and 17th days of the present month there have been battles bravely, skillfully and successfully fought. [Applause.] We do not yet know the particulars. Let us be sure that in giving praise to particular individuals, we do no injustice to others. I only ask you, at the conclusion of these few remarks, to give three hearty cheers to all good and brave officers and men who fought those successful battles.

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