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

Reply to Notification Committee [1]

[March 1, 1865]

Having served four years in the depths of a great, and yet unended national peril, I can view this call to a second term, in nowise more flatteringly to myself, than as an expression of the public judgment, that I may better finish a difficult work, in which I have labored from the first, than could any one less severely schooled to the task.

In this view, and with assured reliance on that Almighty Ruler who has so graceously sustained us thus far; and with increased gratitude to the generous people for their continued confidence, I accept the renewed trust, with it's yet onerous and perplexing duties and responsibilities.

Please communicate this to the two Houses of Congress.


[1]   AD, IaHA. This speech has been the subject of much confusion. Nicolay and Hay, instead of printing the above text, printed a copy of Lincoln's reply on a similar occasion in 1861 (vide supra, February 26, 1861), incorrectly dating it February 9, 1865 (Complete Works, XI, 10). The same error appears in Nicolay and Hay, Abraham Lincoln: A History (X, 142), with an appended footnote explaining that the text which appeared in the Congressional Globe and the newspapers on March 2, 1865, was incorrect, ``having apparently been written out from memory.'' The text appearing in the Congressional Globe, New York Times, and other papers on March 2, was inaccurate to a minor extent, but did follow Lincoln's spoken words better than Nicolay and Hay realized in theirPage  327

belief that their 1861 speech was the 1865 speech. The errors in the newspapers of March 2, 1865, arose from the fact that an inaccurate and hastily prepared copy was transmitted to congress in lieu of Lincoln's autograph manuscript, which was retained by Representative James F. Wilson of Iowa, who together with Senator Lyman Trumbull and Representative John L. Dawson of Pennsylvania, comprised the notification committee. For a discussion of the inaccurate copy received by congress, see The Collector, XLVIII (January, 1934), 25-27. Further error arose when Hertz printed the newspaper text under date of ``March 4, 1865,'' (I, 143-44).

The autograph manuscript bears on the bottom of the page James F. Wilson's endorsement: ``The above is the original manuscript of Abraham Lincoln's acceptance of his second presidential term, in his own hand writing delivered to the joint committee of Congress appointed to inform him officially of his election.

``The committee consisted of

``Senator Lyman Trumbull of Ill.

``Representative J. F. Wilson of Iowa, and Rep. John L. Dawson of Penna.''