September 8, 1864
General George B. McClellan responds to his nomination by the Democratic National Convention meeting in Chicago: “I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your letter informing me of my nomination by the Democratic National Convention, recently assembled at Chicago, as their candidate, at the next election, for President of the United States.
It is unnecessary for me to say to you that this nomination comes to me unsought. [Crossed out: Since the record of my public life has been open to the world, I assume that the record was kept in view] I am happy to know that when the nomination was made the record of my public life was kept in view. The effect of long and varied service in the Army, during war and peace, has been to strengthen and make indelible in my mind and heart the love and reverence for the Union, Constitution, Laws and Flag of our country impressed upon me in early youth.
These feelings have thus far guided the course of my life, and must continue to do so to its end.
The existence of more than one Government over the region which once owned our flag is incompatible with the peace, the power, and the happiness of the people.
The preservation of our Union was the sole avowed object for which the war was commenced.
It should have been conducted for that object only, and in accordance with those principles which I took occasion to declare when in [crossed out: command of armies, and especially in my letter to the President from Harrison’s Landing.] active service. Thus conducted, the work of reconciliation would have been easy, and we might have repeated the benefits of our many victories on land and sea.
The Union was originally formed by the exercise of a spirit of conciliation and compromise.
To restore and preserve it the same spirit must prevail in our Councils, and in the hearts of the people. The reestablishment of the Union in all its integrity is, and must continue to be, the indispensable condition in any settlement [crossed out: of the questions at issue in this war]. So soon as it is clear, or even possible, that our present adversaries are ready for peace upon the basis of the Union, we should exhaust all the resources of statesmanship practiced by civilized nations, and taught by the traditions of the American people, consistent with the honor and interest of the country, to secure such peace, reestablish the Union, and guarantee for the future the Constitutional rights of every State. The Union is [crossed out: our only] the one condition of peace. We ask no more.
Let me add what I doubt not was, although unexpressed, the sentiment of the Convention, as it is of the people they represent, that when any one State is willing to return to the Union, it should be received at once, with a full guarantee of all its Constitutional rights.
But if a frank, earnest and persistent effort to achieve these objects should fail, [crossed out: it will be necessary to insist upon the preservation of the Union at all hazards, and] the responsibility for ulterior consequences will fall upon those who remain in arms against the Union. But the Union must be preserved at all hazards. I could not look in the face of my gallant comrades of the Army and Navy, who have survived so many bloody battles, and tell them that their labors, and the sacrifice of so many of our slain and wounded brethren had been in vain — that we had abandoned that Union for which we have so often perilled our lives.
A vast majority of our people, whether in the Army and Navy or at home, would, as I would, hail with unbounded joy the permanent restoration of peace, on he basis of the Union under the Constitution, without the effusion of another drop of blood. But no peace can be permanent without Union.
As to the other subjects presented in the resolutions of the Convention, I need only say that I should seek in the Constitution of the United States, and the laws framed in accordance therewith, the rule of my duty and the limitation of executive power, — endeavor to restore economy in public expenditure, reestablish the supremacy of law, [crossed out: and assert for our country and people that commanding position to which our history & our principles entitle us among the nations of the world.] & by the assertion of a more vigorous nationality reserve our commanding position among the nations of the Earth. The conditions of our finances, the depreciation of the paper currency, and the burdens thus imposed on labor, [crossed out: industry] & capital show the necessity of a return to a sound financial system; while the rights of citizens and the rights of States, and the binding authority of law over President, Army and people are subjects of not less vital importance in war than in peace. Believing that the views here expressed are those of the Convention and the people you represent, I accept the nomination.
I realize the weight of the responsibility to be borne should the people ratify your choice.
Conscious of my own weakness, I can only seek fervently the guidance of the Ruler of the Universe, and relying on His all-powerful aid, do my best to restore Union and Peace to a suffering people, and to establish and guard their liberties and rights.
I am, Gentlemen very respectfully your obedient servant
President Lincoln writes Simeon Draper: “Allow me to introduce Gov. W. A. Newell of New-Jersey. You know him by reputation. He and I were in congress together sixteen years ago. He is a true friend of the Union, and every way a reliable gentleman. Please hear him whenever he calls.”
Quaker leader Eliza P. Gurney writes President Lincoln: I like to address thee in thy own familiar way and tell thee how grateful to my feelings is thy valued and valuable letter, which I shall keep among my treasured things, and for which, allow me to return thee my sincere and grateful thanks.—-
In the close and absorbing occupation of thy daily life, I know it must be difficult to find a moment to appropriate to courtesies of this description, and I appreciate accordingly the generous effort thou has made on my behalf — one, which I certainly did not anticipate, when, from a motive of sincere and christian interest, I ventured to impose upon thee, a written evidence of my unfeigned regard. The visit which I paid thee two years since, of which thou has made such gratifying mention, was not, as I believe thou art aware, the effect of idle curiosity, but of a true concern, which, as I cannot doubt, was laid upon me by my Heavenly Father, and of which, I could not possibly divest myself, in any other way — so that if there was any consolation in the message, I believe thou Mayst receive it as coming, not truly from a very feeble and unworthy instrument, but from that gracious God, who comforts all that mourn– May He continue to sustain and strengthen, uphold and comfort thee, in every future exigency, and when He has enabled thee, in the meekness and gentleness, the patience and forbearance, the firmness and integrity of the Truth, to fulfil his gracious will; when all his blessed purposes concerning thee shall be accomplished, (through his redeeming and unbounded mercy in the only Saviour) may He receive thy ransomed spirit into glory.–
“Friends” have been placed as thou has justly said, in a peculiar, and somewhat anomalous position– Decidedly opposed to all oppression, and believing as they do, that the holding of our fellow men, in cruel bondage, is a sin of the deepest dye, in the sight of a just and holy Judge, and earnestly desiring their enfranchisement from the galling chains imposed upon them by their hard taskmasters, nevertheless they cannot conscientiously resort to arms, even to effect this blessed, and “devoutly to be wished for” end.– The weapons of their warfare, are not carnal– The Saviour has commanded them to love their enemies, therefore they dare not fight them.– The only victory, which they, as followers of the Prince of Peace, can, with consistency, rejoice in, is that which is alone obtained, through the transforming power of the Grace of God — over the world, the flesh and the Evil one. “This is the Victory that overcometh the world,” saith the Apostle — even our Faith.” — and again, “Who is he, that overcometh the world but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God.”– May this vital, operative Faith, which is the substance of things hoped for the evidence of things not seen, be more abundantly bestowed upon us — then, though the surface may be tempest tossed, (being justified by Faith,) the Believer in Jesus, will have ” peace with God” — a holy calm, a deep still undercurrent of soul-satisfying happiness which even the rudest storms of Time fail to disturb, and none of the vicissitudes of Life have any power over.– an heir of Heaven, with childlike confidence, he can adopt the language, “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear?– “The Lord is the strength of my life, of whom shall I be afraid”?– “For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his Pavilion — in the secret of his Tabernacle shall he hide me– He shall set me up, upon a Rock– And now shall my head be lifted up above mine enemies — therefore will I offer in his Tabernacle sacrifices of Joy.”– That this may be thy blessed experience is the fervent desire of my heart.
In conclusion, I would just remark, that the very kind consideration for the religious scruples of the society of Friends, which has been so invariably and generously manifested by the Government, and especially by our honoured Executive, has been fully and gratefully appreciated– I think I may venture to say, that Friends are not less loyal for the lenity with which their honest convictions have been treated, and I believe there are very few amongst us who would not lament to see any other than ” Abraham Lincoln” fill the Presidential chair — at least at the next election — believing as we do, that he is conscientiously endeavouring, according to his own convictions of right, to fulfil the important trust committed to him, and to discharge the solemn duties of his high and responsible office, “not with eye service,” as man-pleaser, but “in simpleness of heart, fearing God.”–
May our worthy Chief Magistrate yet see the day, when the Prince of Peace, the wonderful counsellor shall rule and reign over this now distracted Country–
The Union unbroken — the opprest set free — and instead of the sounds of lamentation and woe, which now, so often fill the heart with mourning, “Joy and gladness shall be heard therein, thanksgiving and the voice of melody.”