Lincoln Privately Urges Limited Black Suffrage in Louisiana

On March 13, 1864, Lincoln wrote newly-elected governor Michael Hahn of Louisiana to urge him to work toward the enfranchisement of some African Americans in his state. Note that the president wished to keep his preferences private.


Executive Mansion, Washington, March 13. 1864.

Hon. Michael Hahn

My dear Sir:

I congratulate you on having fixed your name in history as the first-free-state Governor of Louisiana. Now you are about to have a Convention which, among other things, will probably define the elective franchise. I barely suggest for your private consideration, whether some of the colored people may not be let in—as, for instance, the very intelligent, and especially those who have fought gallantly in our ranks. They would probably help, in some trying time to come, to keep the jewel of liberty within the family of freedom. But this is only a suggestion, not to the public, but to you alone.

Yours truly

A. Lincoln

3 thoughts on “Lincoln Privately Urges Limited Black Suffrage in Louisiana

  1. John Foskett March 14, 2014 / 1:18 pm

    An odd suggestion in writing, coming from a guy who one year later was confiding in Spoons Butler his preference that these same folks be colonized, “especially those who have fought gallantly in our ranks”.

    • Lyle Smith March 14, 2014 / 8:07 pm

      Not so odd a suggestion for political purposes though. 😉

      • John Foskett March 15, 2014 / 8:36 am

        True dat. But it does put another dent in the theory that for once in his mendacious career Spoons was telling the truth – in a document otherwise studded with Ben’s customary prevarications. 🙂

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