Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 8.
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.

Reply to Maryland Union Committee [1]

November 17, 1864

The President, in reply, said: ``He had to confess that he was fully notified of the intention thus kindly to call upon him, and by that means he had a fair opportunity offered to be ready with a set speech; but he had not prepared one, having been very busy with his public duties; therefore, he could only speak as the thoughts might occur to him. He would not attempt to conceal from them the fact that he was gratified at the results of the Presidential election, and he would assure them that he had kept as near as he could to the exercise of his best judgment, for the promotion of the interests of the whole country; and now, to have the seal of approbation marked on the course he had pursued was exceedingly gratifying to his feelings. He might go further and say that, in as large proportion as any other man, his pleasure consisted in the belief that the policy he had pursued would be the best and the only one that could save the country. He had said before, and would now repeat, that he indulged in no feeling of triumph over any one who thought or acted differently from himself. He had no such feeling towards any living man.

``When he thought of Maryland in particular, it was that the people had more than double their share in what had occurred in the elections. He thought the adoption of their free State constitution was a bigger thing than their part in the Presidential election. He could, any day, have stipulated to lose Maryland in the Presidential election to save its free constitution, because the Presidential election comes every four years and the adoption of the constitution, being a good thing, could not be undone. He therefore thought in that they had a victory for the right worth a great deal more than their part in the Presidential election, although he thought well of that. He once before said, and would now say again, that those who had differed from us and opposed us would see that it was better for their own good that they had been defeated, rather than to have been successful. Thanking them forPage  114 their compliment, he said he would bring to a close that short speech.''

Annotation

[1]   Washington Daily Morning Chronicle and Daily National Republican, November 18, 1864. See Lincoln to Purnell, November 15, supra. As chairman of the committee, William H. Purnell ``delivered an eloquent address, in which he said:

``They rejoiced that the people, by an almost unanimous and unprecedented majority, had again elevated the President to the proudest and most honorable position on earth, and had endorsed his course of action. They felt under deep obligations to him, because he had appreciated their condition as a slave State. It was not too much to say that, by means of the exercise of a rare discretion on his part, Maryland occupies a position in favor of freedom, having forever abolished slavery by the sovereign decree of her own people. They desired that his Administration in the future, as in the past, would result in the restoration of the Union, with freedom as its immutable basis. After further remarks of a like appropriate character, Mr. Purnell expressed the hope that the President, on retiring from his high and important position, would receive the universal approval of mankind; and `may Heaven,' he said, `crown your days with loving kindness and tender mercy.' ''