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

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On March 12, 1864

On this day in 1864, Lincoln issued General Orders No. 98, putting General Ulysses S. Grant in charge of the entire Union Army.

As the annotation suggests (below, after the Orders,) Lincoln likely initiated this at General Halleck's request, although Lincoln was very excited about Grant's effectiveness in the West and undoubtedly believed his appointment would be the North's best chance for a quick victory. Once when responding to criticism of Grant's open drinking and lack of military decorum, Lincoln replied "I can't spare this man. He fights." Grant regularly wore the uniform of a private with the stripes of an officer -- and Lincoln would have identified with this, as he wasn't known to be a pretentious dresser himself.

On another occasion, in response to a complaint about Grant's fondness for whiskey, Lincoln apparently asked Grant's detractor "So Grant gets drunk, does he?"

"Yes, he does, and I can prove it," was the reply.

"Well you needn't waste your time getting proof. You just find out, to oblige me, what brand of whiskey Grant drinks, because I want to send a barrel of it to each one of my generals." (from Lincoln's Yarns and Stories, by Colonel Alexander K. McClure)

War Department General Orders No. 98
Washington City,
March 12th, 1864.

The President of the United States orders as follows:

I. Major General H. W. Halleck is, at his own request, relieved from duty as General-in-chief of the Army, and Lieutenant General U. S. Grant is assigned to the command of the Armies of the United States. The Head Quarters of the Army will be in Washington, and also with Lieutenant General Grant in the field.

II. Major General H. W. Halleck is assigned to duty in Washington as Chief of Staff of the Army, under the direction of the Secretary of War and the Lieutenant General commanding. His orders will be obeyed and respected accordingly.

III. Major General W. T. Sherman is assigned to the command of the Military Division of the Mississippi, composed of the Departments of the Ohio, the Cumberland, the Tennessee, and the Arkansas.

IV. Major General J. B. McPherson is assigned to the command of the Department and Army of the Tennessee.

By order of the Secretary of War


[1] D, DNA WR RG 94, Adjutant General, Letters Received, P 1578. Although not written by Lincoln nor signed by him as issued, this order was indubitably drafted at his direction and probably at his personal dictation in response to Halleck's letter to Stanton of March 9, which Stanton referred to the president on the same day with a request for instructions:

"Under the provisions of the Act of April 4th 1862, which authorizes the President to assign to command officers of the same grade, without regard to seniority, of rank, the undersigned, a Major General, was assigned, in July 1862, to the command of the land forces of the United States. Since that time the higher grade of Lieutenant General has been created, and the distinguished officer promoted to that rank has received his armies now and reported for duty. I, therefore, respectfully request that orders be issued placing him in command of the Army and retiring me from that duty. In making this request I am influenced solely by a desire to conform to the provisions of the law, which, in my opinion impose upon the Lieutenant General the duties and responsibilities of General in Chief of the Army.'' (DLC-RTL).

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