As Election Approaches, President Lincoln Hears of Problems and Progress

October 26, 1864

President Lincoln writes John R. Underwood and Henry Grider regarding civil affairs in Kentucky: “A petition has been presented to me on behalf of certain citizens of Allen and Barren counties in the State of Kentucky assuming that certain sums of money have been assessed and collected from them by the United States Military authorities, to compensate certain Union citizens of the same vicinage, for losses by rebel depredations, and praying that I will order the money to be refunded. The petition is accompanied by a letter of yours, which so presents the case as to induce me to make a brief response. You distinctly admit that the petitioners ‘sympathize with the Confederate States & regard them as warring to preserve their Constitutional & legal rights.’ This admitted, it is scarcely possible to believe that they do not help the cause they thus love whenever they conveniently can. Their sons and relatives go into the rebel, but we may not be able to distinctly prove that they out-fitted, and sent them. When armed rebels come among them, their houses and other property are spared; while Union men’s houses are burned, and their property pillaged. Still we may not be able to specifically prove that the sympathizers, protected and supplied the raiders in turn, or designated their Union nei[g]hbors for plunder and devastation. Yet we know all this exists even better than we could know an isolated fact upon the sworn testimony of one or two witnesses, just as we abetter know there is fire when we see much smoke rising than could know it by one or two witnesses swearing to it. The witnesses may commit perjury, but he smoke can not. Now, experience has already taught us in this war that holding these smoky localities responsible for the conflagrations within them has a very salutary effect. It was obviously so in and about St. Louis, and on Eastern Shore of Virginia.”

Philadelphia editor John W. Forney writes President Lincoln about the Pennsylvania political situation: “I write to you from Montrose, Susquehanna Co., where I intend to speak to-night, in company with our mutual friend, Col. Fitzgerald.

We have now passed through the Counties of Montgomery, Bucks, Northampton, Lehigh, Carbon, Wyoming, Luzerne, and have just landed in Susquehanna.

I feel very much encouraged at all the manifestations which have greeted me along the route, and from every thing I hear, we shall largely increase our vote in Nov., and add to your majorities in all the Union counties. Our friends are mortified that they should have fallen off in any quarter in Oct., but are resolved to make up their deficiencies in Nov.2

To-morrow we start for Bradford and Tioga, and, after that, health permitting, for the counties along the West Branch of the Susquehanna.

Myer S. Isaacs, a journalist for the New York Jewish Messenger, writes President Lincoln about Jewish votes in the upcoming election: “As a firm and earnest Union-man, I deem it my duty to add a word to those that have doubtless been communicated to you from other sources, with reference to a recent “visitation” on the part of persons claiming to represent the Israelites of New York or the United States and pledging the “Jewish vote” to your support, and, I am informed, succeeding in a deception that resulted to their pecuniary profit.

Having peculiar facilities for obtaining information as to the Israelites of the United States, from my eight years’ connection with the Jewish paper of this city and my position as Secretary of their central organization, the “Board of Delegates” — in which capacity I have had the honor heretofore of communicating with yourself and the Departments — I feel authorized to caution you, sir, against any such representations as those understood to have been made.

There are a large number of faithful Unionists among our prominent coreligionists — but there are also supporters of the opposition; and, indeed the Israelites are not, as a body, distinctively Union or democratic in their politics. In the conduct of our Journal for example, while, from the first firing upon our national flag, there has been a steady support of the government in its efforts to maintain the integrity of the Union and crush the unhallowed rebellion, there has also been a studied persistence in the expression of what is an implicit belief, that the Jews, as a body, have no politics: and while we have earnestly counselled & implored attachment to the Union at whatever cost, we have refrained from interfering with the private political views of individual readers. This is predicated on our direct knowledge of the character and opinions of our coreligionists.

Therefore, sir, I am pained and mortified to find that you had been imposed upon by irresponsible men, animated, I am sure by mercenary motives; and I wish to inform you with all promptitude, that such acts are discountenanced and condemned most cordially by the community of American Israelites– As an illustration that an influential class of Jewish citizens are warm adherents of the administration, you have the fact that a Hebrew will cast for you the vote of a New York city congressional district. A single Union meeting this week presented these facts: the chairman of the Executive Committee & Committee of Arrangements, the gentlemen who presented the resolutions, two principal speakers and many prominent persons upon the platform, were Jews.– I refer to the German Union Mass Meeting on Monday night.

It is because I sympathize heart and soul with the action of government in using every means to restore the Union and overthrow the machinations of those who seek its disruption, that I am the more regret this attempt to deceive you. There is no “Jewish vote” — if there were, it could not be bought. As a body of intelligent men, we are advocates of the cherished principles of liberty & justice, and must inevitably support and advocate those who are the exponents of such a platform — “liberty & Union, now and forever”.

Also from New York Samuel A. Lewis writes to Abraham Lincoln about Jewish efforts to support him: “Having understood through our friend Dr [Isachar ] Zacharie that some parties representing themselves “a committee from the Jews” had called on you to solicit contributions, I hasten to inform you that it is entirely against the wish of your Jewish friends here to take any money from outside committees or others–

We propose to give — not to take– I would esteem it a favor should any Jewish committees call on you or the Union Committee in Washington, if you would send them to me (as Dr Zacharie will be away frequently between now and the election) and I will furnish them such amounts as we see can be used to advantage–

Be assured nothing shall be wanting on the part of your friends here towards carrying the Union Cause.

Published in: on October 26, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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