To Hamilton R. Gamble

His Excellency Hamilton R. Gamble           Executive Mansion.
Governor of Missouri.                                    Washington D.C. Oct. 19. 1863

Yours of the 1st. Inst. was duly received; and I have delayed so long to answer it, because of other pressing duties; because it did not appear to me that the domestic violence you apprehend, was very imminent; and because, if it were so imminent, my direction to Gen. Schofield embraces very nearly the extent of my power to repress it. Being instructed to repress all violence, of course he will, so far as in his power, repress any which may be offered to the State government.

At the beginning of our present troubles, the regularly installed State officers of Missouri, taking sides with the rebellion, were forced to give way to the provisional State government, at the head of which you stand and which was placed in authority, as I understood, by the unanamous action and acquiescence, of the Union people of the State. I have seen no occasion to make a distinction against that provisional government because of it’s not having been chosen and inaugurated in the usual way. Nor have I seen any cause to suspect it of unfaithfulness to the Union. So far as I have yet considered, I am as ready, on a proper case made, to give the State the constitutional protection against invasion and domestic violence, under the provisional government, as I would be if it were under a government installed in the ordinary manner. I have not thought of making a distinction.

In your proclamation of the 12th. Inst. you state the proposition substantially, that no objection can be made to any change in the State government, which the people may desire to make, so far as the end can be effected by means conforming to the constitution and laws through the expression of the popular will; but that such change should not be effected by violence. I concur in this; and, I may add, that it makes precisely the distinction I wish to keep in view. In the absence of such violence, or imminent danger thereof, it is not proper for the national executive to interfere; and I am unwilling, by any formal, action, to show an appearance of belief that there is such imminent danger, before I really believe there is. I might thereby, to some extent, bear false witness.

You tell me “a party has sprung up in Missouri, which openly and loudly proclaims the purpose to overturn the provisional government by violence.” Does the party so proclaim, or is it only that, some members of the party so proclaim? If I mistake not, the party alluded to recently held a State convention, and adopted resolutions. Did they, therein declare violence against the provisional State government? No party can be justly held responsible for what individual members of it may say or do.

Nothing in this letter is written with reference to any State which may have maintained within it, no State government professedly loyal to the United States. Your Obt. Servt.

A. LINCOLN

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