Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 7.
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.

To Eliza P. Gurney [1]

Eliza P. Gurney. Executive Mansion,
My esteemed friend. Washington, September 4. 1864.

I have not forgotten---probably never shall forget---the very impressive occasion when yourself and friends visited me on a Sabbath forenoon two years ago. Nor has your kind letter, written nearly a year later, ever been forgotten. In all, it has been your purpose to strengthen my reliance on God. I am much indebted to the good christian people of the country for their constant prayers and consolations; and to no one of them, more than to yourself. The purposes of the Almighty are perfect, and must prevail, though we erring mortals may fail to accurately perceive them in advance. We hoped for a happy termination of this terrible war long before this; but God knows best, and has ruled otherwise. We shall yet acknowledge His wisdom and our own error therein. Meanwhile we must work earnestly in the best light He gives us, trusting that so working still conduces to the great ends He ordains. Surely He intends some great good to follow this mighty convulsion, which no mortal could make, and no mortal could stay.

Your people---the Friends---have had, and are having, a very great trial. On principle, and faith, opposed to both war and oppression, they can only practically oppose oppression by war. In this hard dilemma, some have chosen one horn and some the other. For those appealing to me on conscientious grounds, I have done, and shall do, the best I could and can, in my own conscience, under my oath to the law. That you believe this I doubt not; and believing it, I shall still receive, for our country and myself, your earnest prayers to our Father in Heaven. Your sincere friend

A. LINCOLN.

Annotation

[1]   ALS, PHi; ADfS, DLC-RTL. See Lincoln's reply to Mrs. Gurney, October 26, 1862, supra. On August 8, 1863, Mrs. Gurney wrote Lincoln from EarlhamPage  536

Lodge, her summer home near Atlantic City, New Jersey: ``Many times, since I was privileged to have an interview with thee, nearly a year ago, my mind has turned towards thee with feelings of sincere and christian interest, and, as our kind friend Isaac Newton offers to be the bearer of a paper messenger, I feel inclined to give thee the assurance of my continued hearty sympathy in all thy heavy burthens and responsibilities and to express, not only my own earnest prayer, but I believe the prayer of many thousands whose hearts thou hast gladdened by thy praiseworthy and successful effort `to burst the bands of wickedness, and let the oppressed go free' that the Almighty . . . may strengthen thee to accomplish all the blessed purposes, which, in the unerring counsel of his will and wisdom, I do assuredly believe he did design to make thee instrumental in accomplishing, when he appointed thee thy present post of vast responsibility, as the Chief Magistrate. . . .'' (DLC-RTL).

On September 8, 1864, she replied from the same address to Lincoln's letter of September 4: ``I like to address thee in thy own familiar way and tell thee how grateful to my feelings is thy valued and valuable letter. . . . In the close and absorbing occupation of thy daily life, I know it must be difficult to find a moment to appropriate to courtesies of this description, and I appreciate accordingly the generous effort thou hast made on my behalf---one, which I certainly did not anticipate, when, from a motive of sincere and christian interest, I ventured to impose upon thee, a written evidence of my unfeigned regard. . . . I would . . . remark, that the very kind consideration for the religious scruples of the society of Friends, which has been so invariably and generously manifested by the Government, and especially by our honoured Executive, has been fully and gratefully appreciated. I think I may venture to say, that Friends are not less loyal for the lenity with which their honest convictions have been treated, and I believe there are very few amongst us who would not lament to see any other than `Abraham Lincoln' fill the Presidential chair---at least at the next election. . . . May our worthy Chief Magistrate yet see the day, when the Prince of Peace, the wonderful counsellor shall rule and reign over this now distracted country. . . .'' (Ibid.).