Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln. Volume 8.
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865.
Page  318

To Henry W. Beecher [1]

Rev. H. W. Beecher Executive Mansion
My dear Sir Washington, Feb. 27. 1865

Yours of the 4th. and the 21st. reached me together only two days ago. I now thank you for both. Since you wrote the former the whole matter of the negotiations, if it can be so called, has been published, and you, doubtless, have seen it. When you were with me on the evening of the 1st. I had no thought of going in person to meet the Richmond gentlemen. Yours truly A. LINCOLN


[1]   ADfS, DLC-RTL. Following his interview with Lincoln on February 1, Reverend Henry Ward Beecher wrote on February 4:

``The interview and information which you gave me, not only relieved me then, but has, ever since, given me great faith. Even your unexpected visit to Ft Munroe did not stagger me. It has been much criticized. The pride of the nation, is liable to be hurt. Anything that looks like the humiliation of our Government, would be bitterly felt.

``But, I do not criticize it. Knowing the ground on which you stand, and the bases of any negotiation, I am more than willing that, as you will sacrifice no substantial element you should wave any mere formality So that the inside of the hand is solid bone, I am willing to have the outside flesh soft as velvet.

``And I clearly perceive that, whether you gain any point with the south or not, the very extraordinary step, of the Head of a nation, leaving the Capital, and going to the rebels, is an act of condescension which will stop the mouths of Northern enemies.

``No man on earth, was ever before so impregnably placed, as you are. Look at the facts.

``1. The south is exhausted and defeated. The military result is sure.

``2. Every step which you have, one by one taken, toward emancipation & national liberty is now confirmed beyond all change.

``3. You have brought the most dangerous and extraordinary rebellion in history, not only to a successful end, but, have done it without sacrificing republican government even in its forms. It is wonderful, and a sign of Divine help, that democratic institution & feelings, are stronger today---after four years of War, and military administration as enlarged as when all Europe was one camp,---than when you began.

``The north is renovated. Heresy is purged out. Treason is wounded to the death. Our Constitution has felt the hand of God laid upon it, as He said, `Be thou clean' & the leprosy is departed You have now done all that your enemies, even, could ask to shew your desire for peace, & more than many of your friends would wish. Your position is eminent & impregnable. I am only anxious that you should not lose that place. I do not believe that you will. But it is more dangerous to make peace than to make war.

``Why then do I write to you?

``1. Because, it seemed to me, that a man in public office, seeing chiefly political & official people, might be cheered to hear from a private citizen. . . .

``2. Because, I wish to suggest, that, these rumors of peace, and this feverish suspense about commissioners & negotiations, is injurious, in so far as replenishing the army is concerned. . . .

``Would it not be well if the country could be told, deffinitely how the case stands? An address to the army, or to the nation, declaring that peace can come only by arms, if in your judgement the fact is so, would end these feverish uncertainties & give the spring campaign renewed vigor.

``My dear Mr Lincoln, I have written to you, as a friend to a friend. I amPage  319 grateful to God, for raising you up. I believe that you are in His hand. That he may guide you is my daily & almost hourly prayer.

``I hope that it will not seem intrusive in me to write to you. If I add nothing to your wisdom, I might I hope, sometimes cheer you under your great cares.'' (DLC-RTL).

On February 21, Beecher wrote:

``You have enough political reading, & I thought it might serve as a variety to present you another sort. I extract a passage from a letter just received from . . . Persia . . . from Wm. J. Perkins, formerly my tutor in College, now a Missionary.

```We are just now cheered amazingly by the intelligence of President Lincoln's reelection It reached us when our Mission were assembled in a business meeting; and for the first time in thirty years, our sober body was so electrified as to greet the news with a long and loud demonstration of clapping the hands We hail this result as an earnest of the salvation of our beloved country, in the permanent restoration of the Union, and the effectual overthrow of slavery. . . .''' (Ibid.).