Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to his posterity, swear by the blood of the Revolution, never to violate in the least particular, the laws of the country; and never to tolerate their violation by others.

As the patriots of seventy-six did to the support of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitution and Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and his sacred honor; let every man remember that to violate the law, is to trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own, and his children's liberty.

Let reverence for the laws, be breathed by every American mother, to the lisping babe, that prattles on her lap; let it be taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges; let it be written in Primers, spelling books, and in Almanacs; let it be preached from the pulpit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. And, in short, let it become the political religion of the nation; and Let the old and the young, the rich and the poor, the grave and the gay, of all sexes and tongues, and colors and conditions, sacrifice unceasingly upon its altars.

While ever a state of feeling, such as this, shall universally, or even, very generally prevail throughout the nation, vain will be every effort, and fruitless every attempt, to subvert our national freedom.

- Abraham Lincoln, January 27, 1838
  Address Before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield, Illinois

Monday, February 09, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On February 9, 1865

On this day President Lincoln came to the aid of another Union soldier sentenced to death for desertion.

To Ulysses S. Grant
Executive Mansion, Washington,
Lieutenant General Grant: February 9, 1865.

Suspend execution of death sentence of Hugh F. Riley, eleventh Mass Vols. now in front of Petersburg, until further orders, and forward record for examination.


Maj: Eckert

Please send above telegram JNO. G. NICOLAY


D, DNA WR RG 107, Presidential Telegrams, I, 334. This telegram is in Nicolay's handwriting, including Lincoln's signature.

Governor John A. Andrew telegraphed Lincoln on February 9:

"I earnestly pray you to order by telegraph delay of execution of Hugh F Riley of Eleventh Battalion Mass Volunteers before Petersburg under sentence to be shot. . . . He is an old soldier though only a boy Please telegraph reply.'' (DLC-RTL).

Nicolay replied: "The President has today sent a dispatch ordering that the execution of Hugh F. Riley . . . be suspended until further orders. . . .''

(D, DNA WR RG 107, Presidential Telegrams, I, 335). The roster of the Eleventh Massachusetts Volunteers lists Riley as dishonorably discharged on October 31, 1865.

Looking through Lincoln's letters - and I often do, searching for hidden gems - it is hard for me to overlook the sheer volume of presidential pardons that Lincoln personally oversaw during the course of the war.

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