President Lincoln Praises “liberty and equality” in the United States

August 31, 1864

President Lincoln addresses the 148th Ohio Regiment passing the White House: “It is vain and foolish to arraign this man or that for the part he has taken, or has not taken, and to hold the government responsible for his acts. In no administration can there be perfect equality of action and uniform satisfaction render by all. But this government must be preserved in spite of the acts of any man or set of men. It is worthy your every effort. Nowhere in the world is presented a government of so much liberty and equality. To the humblest and poorest amongst us are held out the highest privileges and positions. The present moment finds me at the White House, yet there is as good a chance for your children as there was for my father’s.

Again I admonish you not to be turned from your stern purpose of defending your beloved country and its free institutions by any arguments urged by ambitious and designing men, but stand fast to the Union and the old flag. Soldiers, I bid you God-speed to your homes.

Presidential aide John G. Nicolay reports to President Lincoln on his political meetings in New York and a shakeup in patronage there in order the smooth out differences between political factions in the Republican Party: “I called on Mr. Barney today and gave him your message. He said he desired a few days of time in which he might prepare his papers, accounts &c for the change, and suggested that he would tender his resignation today to take effect on the 5th of Sept., to which I agreed, and he has forwarded the resignation to the Secretary of the Treasury by tonights mail. He was at first a little surprised and disposed to temporize about it – suggesting that he would like to go to Washington to confer with you on the subject, &c – but at length acquiesced very cheerfully, saying that he should still do all he could for you and the cause, and should retain all his personal friendship and esteem for you.

Mr. Andrews whom I have also seen did not accede to your request. He spoke of it as a sacrifice demanded by Mr. Weed to gratify his personal ill-will towards him – said you were mistaken in supposing Mr. Weed controlled the politics of the State – said that if you would wait until after the coming State Convention, and were not convinced that he (Andrews) carried the Convention against Weed he would willingly resign &c.

“He finally left me without saying what he would do, but afterwards sent me the letter which I enclose.

“He said however that even if you removed him, he should support yourself and the ticket.

“My impression tonight is that you will do best to adhere to your original programme, although Mr. Weed and some of his friends have mooted the proposition to make Dennison collector, Draper Naval Officer, and Wakeman Surveyor. Weed told me this afternoon that he thought Draper would agree to this. I am also informed that Wakeman would be satisfied with it.

“But I still think that if you adhere to the original plan, Mr. Draper will finally acquiesce, although he now seems firm in his determination to decline.

“I shall stay here over tomorrow. Shall I come home tomorrow night, or shall I remain longer, to look after this and other matters? Please telegraph.

President Lincoln issues an order regarding the transportation of cotton: “Any person or persons engaged in bringing out Cotton, in strict conformity with authority given by W. P. Fessenden, Secretary of the U.S. Treasury, must not be hindered by the War, Navy, or any other Department of the Government, or any person engaged under any of said Departments.” In a specific case, President Lincoln writes top New York Republican leaders: “Mr. Louis A. Welton came from the rebel lines into ours with a written contract to furnish large supplies to the rebels, was arrested with the contract in his possession, and has been sentenced to imprisonment for it. He, and his friends complain of this, on no substantial evidence whatever, but simply because his word, only given after his arrest, that he only took the contract as a means of escaping from the rebel lines, was not accepted as a full defence. He perceives that if this had been true he would have destroyed the contract so soon as it had served his purpose in getting him across the lines; but not having done this, and being caught with the paper on him, he tells this other absurd story that he kept the paper in the belief that our government would join him in taking the profit of fulfiling the contract.”

Navy Secretary Gideon Welles writes in his diary: “It is an infirmity of the President that he permits the little newsmongers to come around him and be intimate, and in this he is encouraged by Seward, who does the same, and even courts the corrupt and the vicious, which the President does not. He has great inquisitiveness. Likes to hear all the political gossip as much as Seward. But the President is honest, sincere, and confiding,–traits which are not so prominent in some by whom he is surrounded.”

Mrs. Lincoln is vacationing in Manchester, Vermont. President Lincoln writes her: “”All reasonably well. Bob not here yet. How is dear Tad?”

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