To Frederick Steele

Executive Mansion,           Washington,
Major General Steele:       January 27, 1864.

I have addressed a letter to you, and put it in the hands of Mr. Gantt and other Arkansas gentlemen, containing a programme for an election in that State. This letter will be handed you by some of these gentlemen. Since writing, it I see that a convention in Arkansas, having the same general object, has taken some action, which I am afraid may clash somewhat with my programme. I therefore can do no better than to ask you to see Mr. Gantt immediately on his return, and with him, do what you and he may deem necessary to harmonize the two plans into one, and then put it through with all possible vigor. Be sure to retain the free State constitutional provision in some unquestionable form, and you and he can fix the rest. The points I have made in the programme have been well considered. Take hold with an honest heart and a strong hand. Do not let any questionable man control or influence you. Yours truly A. LINCOLN

To Alpheus Lewis

Alpheus Lewis, Esq.       Executive Mansion,
My dear Sir                        Washington, January 23. 1864.

You have enquired how the government would regard and treat cases wherein the owners of plantations, in Arkansas, for instance, might fully recognize the freedom of those formerly slaves, and by fair contracts of hire with them, re-commence the cultivation of their plantations. I answer I should regard such cases with great favor, and should, as the principle, treat them precisely as I would treat the same number of free white people in the same relation and condition. Whether white or black, reasonable effort should be made to give government protection. In neither case should the giving of aid and comfort to the rebellion, or other practices injurious to the government, be allowed on such plantations; and in either, the government would claim the right to take if necessary those of proper ages and conditions into the military service. Such plan must not be used to break up existing leases or arrangements of abandoned plantations which the government may have made to give employment and sustenance to the idle and destitute people. With the foregoing qualifications and explanations, and in view of it’s tendency to advance freedom, and restore peace and prosperity, such hireing and employment of the freed people, would be regarded by me with rather especial favor. Yours truly A. LINCOLN

P.S. To be more specific I add that all the Military, and others acting by authority of the United States, are to favor and facilitate the introduction and carrying forward, in good faith, the free-labor system as above indicated, by allowing the necessary supplies therefor to be procured and taken to the proper points, and by doing and forbearing whatever will advance it; provided that existing military and trade regulations be not transcended thereby. I shall be glad to learn that planters adopting this system shall have employed one so zealous and active as yourself to act as an agent in relation thereto. A.L.

To Frederick Steele

Executive Mansion             Washington, D.C.
Major General Steele         Jan. 20. 1864.

Sundry citizens of the State of Arkansas petition me that an election may be held in that State, at which to elect a Governor thereof;

that it be assumed at said election, and thenceforward, that the constitution and laws of the State, as before the rebellion, are in full force, except that the constitution is so modified as to declare that “There shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except in the punishment of crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted; but the General Assembly may make such provision for the freed-people as shall recognize and declare their permanent freedom, provide for their education, and which may yet be consistent, as a temporary arrangement, with their present condition as a laboring, landless, and homeless class”; and also except that all now existing laws in relation to slaves are inoperative and void; that said election be held on the twentyeighth day of March next, at all the usual voting places of the State, or all such as voters may attend for that purpose; that the voters attending at each place, at eight o’clock in the morning of said day, may choose Judges and Clerks of election for that place; that all persons qualified by said constitution and laws, and taking the oath prescribed in the Presidents proclamation of December the 8th. 1863, either before or at the election, and none others, may be voters provided that persons having the qualifications aforesaid, and being in the Volunteer military service of the United States, may vote once wherever this may be at voting places; that each sett of Judges and Clerks may make return directly to you, on or before the eleventh day of April next; that in all other respects said election may be conducted according to said modified constitution, and laws; that, on receipt of said returns, you count said votes, and that, if the number shall reach, or exceed, five thousand four hundred and six, you canvass said votes and ascertain who shall thereby appear to have been elected Governor; and that on the eighteenth day of April next, the person so appearing to have been elected, and appearing before you at Little Rock, to have, by you, administered to him, an oath to support the constitution of the United States and said modified constitution of the State of Arkansas, and actually taking said oath, be by you declared qualified, and be enjoined to immediately enter upon the duties of the office of Governor of said State; and that you thereupon declare the constitution of the State of Arkansas to have been modified and amended as aforesaid, by the action of the people as aforesaid.

You will please order an election immediately, and perform the other parts assigned you, with necessary incidentals, all according to the foregoing. Yours truly A. LINCOLN

To Thomas E. Bramlette

Governor Bramlette         Executive Mansion,
Frankfort, Ky.                     Washington, Jan. 17, 1864.

Your letter of the 8th. is just received. To your question “May I not add Q.E.D.?” I answer, “no” because you omit the “premise” in the law, that the President may, in his discretion, send these troops out of Kentucky and I take it that if he shall do so on the judgment of Gen. Grant, as to it’s propriety, it will be neither cruelty, bad faith or dishonor. When I telegraphed you, I knew, though I did not say so to you, that Gen. Grant was, about that time, with Gen. Foster at Knoxville, and could not be ignorant of or averse to the order which alarmed you. I see he has since passed through Kentucky, and I hope you have had a conference with him. A. LINCOLN

To William Crosby and Henry P. Nichols

Messrs Crosby & Nichols. Executive Mansion,
Gentlemen Washington, January 16, 1864.

The number for this month and year of the North American Review was duly received, and, for which, please accept my thanks. Of course I am not the most impartial judge; yet with due allowance for this, I venture to hope that the artical entitled the “Presidents Policy” will be of value to the country. I fear I am not quite worthy of all which is therein kindly said of me personally.

The sentence of twelve lines commencing at the top of page 252, I could wish to be not exactly as it is. In what is there expressed, the writer has not correctly understood me. I have never had a theory that secession could absolve States or people from their obligations. Precisely the contrary is asserted in the inaugeral address; and it was because of my belief in the continuation of these obligations, that I was puzzled, for a time, as to denying the legalrights of those citizens who remained individually innocent of treason or rebellion. But I mean no more now than to merely call attention to this point. Yours Respectfully

A. LINCOLN

To Quincy A. Gillmore

                                                         Executive Mansion,
Major General Gillmore        Washington, January 13, 1864.

I understand an effort is being made by some worthy gentlemen to reconstruct a loyal state government in Florida. Florida is in your department, and it is not unlikely that you may be there in person. I have given Mr. Hay a commission of Major, and sent him to you with some blank books and other blanks, to aid in the reconstruction. He will explain, as to the manner of using the blanks, and also my general views on the subject. It is desirable for all to cooperate; but if irreconcileable differences of opinion shall arise, you are master. I wish the thing done in the most speedy way possible, so that, when done, it lie within the range of the late proclamation on the subject. The detail labor, of course, will have to be done by others; but I shall be greatly obliged if you will give it such general supervision as you can find consistent with your more strictly military duties Yours very truly

A LINCOLN

To Nathaniel P. Banks

Executive Mansion,          Washington,
Major General Banks       January 13, 1864.

I have received two letters from you which are duplicates, each of the other, except that one bears date the 27th and the other the 30th of December. Your confidence in the practicability of constructing a free state-government, speedily, for Louisiana, and your zeal to accomplish it, are very gratifying. It is a connection, than in which, the words “can” and “will” were never more precious. I am much in hope that, on the authority of my letter, of December 24th. you have already begun the work. Whether you shall have done so or not, please, on receiving this, proceed with all possible despatch, using your own absolute discretion in all matters which may not carry you away from the conditions stated in your letters to me, nor from those of the Message and Proclamation of December 8th. Frame orders, and fix times and places, for this, and that, according to your own judgement.

I am much gratified to know that Mr. Dennison, the Collector at New-Orleans, and who bears you this, understands your views, and will give you his full, and zealous co-operation. It is my wish, and purpose, that all others, holding authority from me, shall do the like; and, to spare me writing, I will thank you to make this known to them. Yours very truly A. LINCOLN.