The Conkling Letter

On August 26, 1863, Abraham Lincoln wrote a letter to Illinois Republican James C. Conkling. It was to be read at a rally of Republicans in support of the war effort to be held on September 3.

Rather than recycle the story, I direct you to Louis P. Masur’s fine piece on this event. For my own comments, see this video, containing my remarks of February 12, 2013, at the annual banquet of the Abraham Lincoln Association.

To me, the most powerful part of this letter is found near the end.

Peace does not appear so distant as it did. I hope it will come soon, and come to stay; and so come as to be worth the keeping in all future time. It will then have been proved that, among free men, there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet; and that they who take such appeal are sure to lose their case, and pay the cost. And then, there will be some black men who can remember that, with silent tongue, and clenched teeth, and steady eye, and well-poised bayonnet, they have helped mankind on to this great consummation; while, I fear, there will be some white ones, unable to forget that, with malignant heart, and deceitful speech, they strove to hinder it.