September 28, 1862
On September 25, Vice President Hannibal Hamlin had written from Maine to congratulate the President on the Emancipation Proclamation but Lincoln was less certain of what Hamlin predicted would be an “enthusiastic” reception: ” The former Maine senator wrote: “I desire to express my undissembled and sincere thanks for your Emancipation Proclamation. It will stand as the great act of the age. It will prove to be wise in Statesmanship as it is Patriotic. It will be enthusiastically approved and stained and future generations will, as I do, say God bless you for this great and noble act.”
From the Soldiers’ Home, President Lincoln responds today in a much less hopeful way: “Your kind letter of the 25th is just received. It is known to some that while I hope something from the proclamation, my expectations are not as sanguine as are those of some friends. The time for its effect southward has not come; but northward the effect should be instantaneous.”
It is six days old, and while commendation in newspapers and by distinguished individuals is all that a vain man could wish, the stocks have declined, and troops come forward more slowly than ever. This, looked soberly in the fact, is not very satisfactory. We have fewer troops in the field at the end of six days than we had at the beginning–the attrition among the old outnumbering the addition by the new. The North responds to the proclamations sufficiently in breath; but breath alone kills no rebels.
I wish I could write more cheerfully; not do I thank you the less for the kindness of your letter.