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

Reply to New York Workingmen's Democratic Republican Association [1]

Gentlemen of the Committee. March 21, 1864

The honorary membership in your Association, as generously tendered, is gratefully accepted.

You comprehend, as your address shows, that the existing rebellion, means more, and tends to more, than the perpetuation of African Slavery---that it is, in fact, a war upon the rights of all working people. Partly to show that this view has not escaped my attention, and partly that I cannot better express myself, I read a passage from the Message to Congress in December 1861:

``It continues to develop that the insurrection * * * * * * * * * * till all of liberty shall be lost.'' [2]

The views then expressed remain unchanged, nor have I much to add. None are so deeply interested to resist the present rebellion as the working people. Let them beware of prejudice, working division and hostility among themselves. The most notable feature of a disturbance in your city last summer, was the hanging of some working people by other working people. It should never be so. The strongest bond of human sympathy, outside of the family relation, should be one uniting all working people, of all nations, and tongues, and kindreds. Nor should this lead to a war upon property, or the owners of property. Property is the fruit of labor ---property is desirable --- --- is a positive good in the world. That some should be rich, shows that others may become rich, and hence is just encouragement to industry and enterprize. Let not him who is houseless pull down the house of another; but let himPage  260 labor diligently and build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be safe from violence when built.


[1]   D, DLC-RTL. This manuscript, not in Lincoln's autograph, is probably a copy of the original of which no trace has been discovered. The New York Tribune, March 22, 1864, reported the occasion but gave an incomplete text of Lincoln's reply:

``A Committee on behalf of the New-York Workingmen's Democratic Republican Association today waited on the President to inform him that their association had elected him an honorary member. The object of the organization is to advance the workingmen of America in morals, position and loyalty; it binds them together in support of the Union, and induces them at all sacrifices to sustain it. They requested Mr. Lincoln to give his views on the subject matter of which their address treated.''

[2]   The passage indicated by ellipsis in the document may be found in volume v, 51-3.