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

To the Workingmen of London [1]

Executive Mansion, Washington,
To the workingmen of London:February 2, 1863.

I have received the new year's address which you have sent me with a sincere appreciation of the exalted and humane sentiments by which it was inspired.

As those sentiments are manifestly the enduring support of the free institutions of England, so I am sure also that they constitute the only reliable basis for free institutions throughout the world.

The resources, advantages, and powers of the American people are very great, and they have, consequently, succeeded to equally great responsibilities. It seems to have devolved upon them to test whether a government, established on the principles of humanPage  89 freedom, can be maintained against an effort to build one upon the exclusive foundation of human bondage.

They will rejoice with me in the new evidences which your proceedings furnish, that the magnanimity they are exhibiting is justly estimated by the true friends of freedom and humanity in foreign countries.

Accept my best wishes for your individual welfare, and for the welfare and happiness of the whole British people.



[1]   Thirty-seventh Congress, Third Session, Senate Executive Document No. 49. On February 2, Lincoln's letter was forwarded to Minister Charles F. Adams by Secretary Seward with instructions to ``submit it informally to the notice of Earl Russell and if he offers no objection, then to deliver it to the parties to whom it is addressed.'' The address of the Workingmen adopted at a meeting on December 31, 1862, printed in the London Daily News of January 1, 1863, was forwarded by Adams to Seward on January 8, and reads in part:

``We who offer to you this address are Englishmen and workingmen. We prize as our dearest inheritance . . . the liberty we enjoy---the liberty of free labor upon a free soil. We have . . . been acustomed to regard with veneration and gratitude the founders of the great republic in which the liberties of the Anglo-Saxon race have been widened beyond all the precedents of the old world, and in which there was nothing to condemn or to lament but the slavery and degradation of men guilty only of a colored skin or an African parentage. . . . We have watched with the warmest interest the steady advance of your policy along the path of emancipation; and on the eve of the day on which your proclamation of freedom takes effect, we pray God to strengthen your hands, to confirm your noble purpose, and to hasten the restoration of that lawful authority which engages, in peace or war, by compensation or by force of arms, to realize the glorious principle on which your Constitution is founded---the brotherhood, freedom, and equality of all men.'' (Ibid.).