President Lincoln Expresses Gratitude to Henry Clay’s Son

August 9, 1862

President Lincoln responded to a gift of a snuff box that had been sent to him by John Clay on August 4: “I send you through Adams Express a snuff box, not of much intrinsic value, but which belonged to my late father, whose avowed sentiment “that he owed a higher allegiance to the Constitution and Government of the United States than to the Constitution and government of any State”, is mine, and whose other noblest sentiment “that he would rather be right than be President.”  President Lincoln wrote of his Kentucky hero: “The Snuff-box you sent, with the accompanying note, was received yesterday – Thanks for this memento of your great and patriotic father.  Thanks also for the assurance that, in these days of dereliction, you remain true to his principles. In the concurrent sentiment, of your venerable mother, so long the partner of his bosom and his honors, and lingering now where he was, but for the call to rejoin him where he is, I hear recognize his voice, speaking from on high, as it ever spoke, for the Union, the Constitution, and the freedom of the world – mankind[.]”

Union General-in-chief Henry W. Halleck wrote his wife: “The President and cabinet have thus far approved everything I have proposed.  This is kind and complimentary, but it only increases my responsibility, for if any disaster happens they can say We did for you all you asked.  The great difficulty now is to get the troops together in time.  I have felt so uneasy for some days about General Pope’s army that I could hardly sleep.  I cannot get General McClellan to do what I wish.  The President and Cabinet have lost all confidence in him and urge me to remove him from command.  This is strictly entre nous.  In other words they want me to do what they were afraid to attempt!  I hope I may never be obliged to follow their advice in the matter.”

Published in: on August 9, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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