Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 2.
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.

To Joseph Medill [1]

J Medill, Esq Springfield,
My dear Sir June 25 1858

Your note of the 23rd. did not reach me till last evening. The Times article I saw yesterday morning. I will give you a brief history of facts, upon which you may rely with entire confidence, and from which you can frame such articles or paragraphs as you see fit.

I was in Congress but a single term. I was a candidate when the Mexican war broke out---and I then took the ground, which I never varied from, that the Administration had done wrong in getting us into the war, but that the Officers and soldiers who went to the field must be supplied and sustained at all events. I was elected the first Monday of August 1846, but, in regular course, only took my seat December 6, 1847. In the interval all the battles had been fought, and the war was substantially ended, though our army was still in Mexico, and the treaty of peace was not finally concluded till May 30. 1848. Col. E. D. Baker had been elected to congress from the same district, for the regular term next preceding mine; but having gone to Mexico himself, and having resigned his seat in Congress, a man by the name of John Henry, was elected to fill Baker's vacancy, and so came into congress before I did. On the 23rd. day of February 1847 (the very day I believe, Col. John Hardin was killed at Buena Vista, and certainly more than nine months before I took a seat in congress) a bill corresponding with great accuracy to that mentioned by the Times, passed the House of Representatives, and John Henry voted againstPage  474 it, as may be seen in the Journal of that session at pages 406-7. The bill became a law; and is found in the U.S. Statutes at Large---Vol. 9. page 149.

This I suppose is the real origin of the Times' attack upon me. In its' blind rage to assail me, it has seized on a vague recollection of Henry's vote, and appropriated it to me. I scarcely think any one is quite vile enough to make such a charge in such terms, without some slight belief in the truth of it.

Henry was my personal and political friend; and, as I thought, a very good man; and when I first learned of that vote, I well remember how astounded and mortified I was. This very bill, voted against by Henry, passed into a law, and made the appropriations for the year ending June 30. 1848---extending a full month beyond the actual and formal ending of the war. When I came into congress, money was needed to meet the appropriations made, and to be made; and accordingly on the 17th. day of Feb. 1848, a bill to borrow 18.500 000. passed the House of Representatives, for which I voted, as will appear by the Journal of that session page 426, 427. The act itself, reduced to 16.000 000 (I suppose in the Senate) is found in U.S. Statutes at Large Vol. 9- 217.

Again, on the 8th. of March 1848, a bill passed the House of Representatives, for which I voted, as may be seen by the Journal 520-521 [.] It passed into a law, and is found in U.S. Statutes at Large Page 215 and forward. The last section of the act, on page 217---contains an appropriation of 800 000. for clothing the volunteers.

It is impossible to refer to all the votes I gave but the above I think are sufficient as specimens; and you may safely deny that I ever gave any vote for withholding any supplies whatever, from officers or soldiers of the Mexican war. I have examined the Journals a good deal; and besides I can not be mistaken; for I had my eye always upon it. I must close to get this into the mail. Yours very truly A. LINCOLN

Annotation

[1]   ALS, owned by the Chicago Tribune. Joseph Medill was associated with Dr. Charles H. Ray as publisher of the Chicago Tribune.