To William Kellogg

Hon. Wm. Kellogg.                Executive Mansion,
My dear Sir:                              Washington, June 29. 1863.

I have received, and read, your pencil note. I think you do not know how embarrassing your request is. Few things are so troublesome to the government as the fierceness with which the profits of trading in cotten are sought. The temptation is so great that nearly every body wishes to be in it; and when in, the question of profit controls all, regardless of whether the cotten seller is loyal or rebel, or whether he is paid in corn-meal or gun-powder. The officers of the army, in numerous instances, are believed to connive and share the profits, and thus the army itself is diverted from fighting the rebels to speculating in cotten; and steam-boats and wagons in the pay of the government, are set to gathering and carrying cotten, and the soldiers to loading cotten-trains and guarding them.

The matter deeply affects the Treasury and War Departments, and has been discussed again and again in the cabinet. What can, and what can not be done, has, for the time been settled, and it seems to me I can not safely break over it. I know it is thought that one case is not much, but how can I favor one and deny another. One case can not be kept a secret. The authority given would be utterly ineffectual until it is shown; and when shown, every body knows of it. The administration would do for you as much as for any other man; and I personally would do some more than for most others; but really I can not involve myself and the Government as this would do. Yours as ever

A. LINCOLN

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