President Lincoln Receives Advice from Tennessee and New York

December 8, 1862

Tennessee Governor Andrew Johnson writes President Lincoln: “I know [Jesse H.] strickland well unless he is greatly improved he is no manner of account there are more persons here desiring to raise regiments who are known to the People than it is prudent to authorize at this time. If strickland is in the service let him stay where he is If the army is here should move forward & drive before it or disperse the rebels letting us into east Tenn we could then raise a strong force. As it is we have done very well. I will send you a statement in a few days– at Hartsville some forty miles east of this place Jno Morgan on yesterday captured & took prisoners some four regiments under command of Col Moore. I suppose every body was asleep & taken by surprise as usual.”  President Lincoln had asked if Johnson should be allowed to raise a Union regiment in Tennessee.


New York City Congressman Fernando Wood writes President Lincoln to propose a way to end the war: “On the 25th November last I was advised by an authority which I deemed likely to be well informed, as well as reliable and truthful that the Southern States would send representatives to the next Congress, provided that a full and general amnesty should permit them to do so No guarantees or terms were asked for other than the amnesty referred to–

Deeming this information of great value if well founded I communicated it in substance to the Hon George Opdyke the mayor of this city whom I know to hold confidential relations to members of your administration, and proposing through him that if the government would permit the correspondence, under its own inspection I would undertake to procure something definite & positive from persons connected with the so called Confederate authorities. Mr Opdyke in reply stated that several senators from New England States were then in this city on their way to Washington to whom he would at once communicate the proposition and advise me of the answer Knowing that these gentlemen were your friends, and supposing that they would immediately confer with you on their arrival at the capital, and supposing that I should be speedily informed of the result I have delayed untill now from making a communication direct to you–“

I now learn however from Mr Opdyke this day that he failed to see these Senators when in New York and that he had not made the propositions and that therefore you are not in possession of it as coming from myself– Therefore the object of this letter.

As an humble, but loyal citizen, deeply impressed with the great necessity of restoring the Union of these States I ask your immediate attention to this subject The magnitude of the interests at stake warrant some executive action predicated upon this information, if it be only to ascertain whether it be grounded upon even probable foundation

If it shall prove groundless no harm shall have been done, provided the enquiring be made as it can be without compromising the government, or injury to the glorious cause in which it is now engaged

If however it shall prove well founded, there is no estimate too high to place upon its national value – Now therefore Mr President I suggest that gentlemen whose former social & political relations with the leaders of the southern revolt may be allowed to hold unofficial correspondence with them on this subject, — the correspondence to be submitted to you– It may be thus ascertained what if any credence may be given to these statements, and also whether a peaceful solution of the present struggle may not be attainable–

I am sure nothing I can say can add to your own well known desires to produce this result–

Your exalted position — the embarrassments, and responsibilities which surround you upon all sides — the bleeding condition of the country, becoming exhausted not only in the impoverishment of its best life blood of industrial productions, but in the determination, and consequent destruction of our political institutions; all call upon you as our chief ruler to take one step upon the road of peaceful effort by which to ascertain whether the time has not arrived when other methods than brute fighting may not accomplish what military force has failed to do In the origen of this struggle you foresaw that such a time would come Your Inaugural address delivered near two years ago pointed out with prophetic vision the certain results of the impending conflict of arms. Your language then was “suppose you go to war, you cannot fight always, and when after much loss on both sides and no gain on either you cease fighting the identical questions as to terms of intercourse are again upon you”– You said that after a bloody and terrible struggle “the still small voice of reason” would intervene and settle the controversy–

You know that since the establishment of christian civilization negociation and compromise have sooner or later determined every military contest– It cannot be otherwise now– Has not the time arrived when to quote your own language we should “cease fighting” — at least long enough to ascertain whether the “identical questions” about which we began the fight may not be amicably & honourably adjusted, and “the terms of intercourse” be once more peaceably established?– It is to this end that I now address you– With confidence in your patriotism and with no desire to interfere with your legitimate Constitutional prerogatives.

Published in: on December 8, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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