Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 6.
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.

To John M. Fleming and Robert Morrow [1]

Messrs Jno. M. Fleming & Executive Mansion,
Ro. Morrow. Washington, August 9, 1863.

Gentlemen: The petition of which you were the bearers, has just been handed me. Your cards and notes had come to me on two or three successive days before; and I knew then, as well as I do now, after reading the petition, what your mission was. I knew it was the same true, and painful story, which Gov. Johnson, Mr. Maynard, Dr. Clements and other have been telling me for more than two years. I also knew that meeting you could do no good; because I have all the while done, and shall continue to do the best for you I could, and can. I do as much for East Tennessee as I would, or could, if my own home, and family were in Knoxville. The difficulties of getting a Union army into that region, and of keeping it there, are so apparant,---so obvious---that none can fail to see them, unless it may be those who are driven mad and blind by their sufferings. Start by whatever route they may, their lines of supply are broken before they get half way. A small force, sufficient to beat the enemy now there, would be of no value, because the enemy would re-inforce to meet them, until we should have to give back, or accumulate so large a force, as to be very difficult to supply, and as to ruin us entirely if a great disaster should befal it. I know you are too much distressed to be argued with; and therefore I do not attempt it at length. You know I am not indifferent to your troubles; else I should not, more than a year and a half ago, have made the effort I did to have a Railroad built on purpose to relieve you. The Secretary of War, Gen. Halleck, Gen. Burnside, and Gen. Rosecrans are all engaged now in an effort to relieve your section. But remember, you will probably thwart them if you make this public.

Annotation

[1]   ADf, DLC-RTL.In addition to the draft there is in the Lincoln Papers what appears to be the letter, copied by Hay, which was to have been signed and sent. An endorsement on the envelope of a letter from Fleming and Morrow,August 8, 1863,enclosing a ``petition from the loyal people of East Tennessee,'' is as follows: ``Also the President's answer---which I do not think was sent R. T. Lincoln May 13-65.'' Fleming and Morrow, citizens of Knoxville, Tennessee, wrote Lincoln on August 8 as follows:Page  374

``We have the honor to enclose . . . the copy of a petition, from the loyal people of East Tennessee. For now five days we have unsuccessfully sought an opportunity to deliver it . . . in person . . . . Finding it necessary to return this evening we have but the one resort left---that of submitting the document to your Excellency . . . . Our people . . . driven almost to desperation . . . having so long waited in vain . . . for protection from the Government . . . have, as the final resort, appealed directly to Your Excellency . . . .'' (DLC-RTL).