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

To Henry W. Hoffman [1]

Hon. Henry W Hoffman Executive Mansion, Washington,
My dear Sir: October 10, 1864.

A convention of Maryland has framed a new constitution for the State; a public meeting is called for this evening, at Baltimore, to aid in securing its ratification by the people; and you ask a word from me, for the occasion. I presume the only feature of the instrument, about which there is serious controversy, is that which provides for the extinction of slavery. It needs not to be a secret, and I presume it is no secret, that I wish success to this provision. I desire it on every consideration. I wish all men to be free. I wish the material prosperity of the already free which I feel sure the extinction of slavery would bring. I wish to see, in process of disappearing, that only thing which ever could bring this nation to civil war. I attempt no argument. Argument upon the question is already exhausted by the abler, better informed [2], and more immediately interested sons of Maryland herself. I only add that I shall be gratified exceedingly if the good people of the State shall, by their votes, ratify the new constitution. Yours truly A. LINCOLN

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[1]   ALS, MdHi. This letter is incorrectly dated October 18, 1864, in Hertz (II, 952-53). Henry W. Hoffman, chairman of the Maryland Unconditional Union Central Committee, wrote Lincoln on October 3, 1864:

``Our grand Mass Meeting in favor of the `Free Constitution' will be held in Monument Square on Monday evening October 10th.

``In consequence of local dissensions and with a view to general harmony and cordial fraternization upon the new Constitution, the Committee have resolved to rely exclusively upon speakers from other States at this meeting.

``We are convinced that your presence on the occasion would insure its success both as to harmony and point of numbers and that its influence upon the vote to be taken on the Following Wednesday would be to add hundreds and perhaps thousands of votes to the free State column. We therefore most cordially and earnestly invite your attendance. If however you should feel disinclined to comply with the urgent request of the Committee . . . we are well assured that a letter from you expressive of the deep interest which we know you feel in regard to its success would be productive of the greatest good. . . .'' (DLC-RTL).

On October 12 Hoffman wrote: ``Many thanks for your letter of Monday It was recd with the unbounded applause of the many thousands assembled The meeting was a great success in point of numbers Harmony & enthusiasm The new constitution will be adopted The majority in this city will not fall short of ten thousand from present indications. The voting is proceeding quietly. . . .''(Ibid.).

The new constitution was ratified by a vote of 30, 174 to 29, 799.

[2]   Lincoln wrote ``better posted,'' but John Hay erased ``posted'' and wrote ``informed,'' as shown on the manuscript and recorded in Hay's Diary under date of October 9, 1864.