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, March 23, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On March 23, 1863

On this day in 1863, Lincoln wrote to newly elected Governor of New York Seymour Washington - a Democrat who had been publicly critical of Lincoln's handling of the war, and especially the Emancipation Proclamation - and extended a hand of friendship. In his letter, Lincoln stressed the need for a good working relationship between the office of president and governor of New York - in spite of their differing positions on many matters - and suggested that whatever their differences "it is important that such difference should be as small as possible."

Private & Confidential
Executive Mansion,
March 23, 1863.

His Excellency Gov. Seymour Washington,

Dear Sir: [2] You and I are substantially strangers; and I write this chiefly that we may become better acquainted. I, for the time being, am at the head of a nation which is in great peril; and you are at the head of the greatest State of that nation. As to maintaining the nation's life, and integrity, [3] I assume, and believe, there can not be a difference of purpose between you and me. If we should differ as to the means, it is important that such difference should be as small as possible---that it should not be enhanced by unjust suspicions on one side or the other. In the performance of my duty, the co-operation of your State, as that of others, is needed---in fact, is indispensable. This alone is a sufficient reason why I should wish to be at [4] a good understanding with you.

Please write me at least as long a letter as this---of course, saying in it, just what you think fit. Yours very truly A. LINCOLN


[1] ALS-F, ISLA; ADfS, DLC-RTL. On April 14, Governor Seymour replied in part as follows: "I have delayed answering your letter for some days with a view of preparing a paper in which I wished to state clearly the aspect of public affairs from the stand point I occupy. . . . I have been prevented from giving my views in the manner I intended by a pressure of official duties. . . . In the mean while I assure you that no political resentments, or no personal objects will turn me aside from the pathway I have marked out for myself---I intend to show to those charged with the administration of public affairs a due deference and respect and to yield them a just and generous support in all measures they may adopt within the scope of their constitutional powers. For the preservation of this Union I am ready to make every sacrifice..."

[2] "Dear Sir:" appears only in the autograph draft in the Lincoln Papers.

[3] The autograph draft has a phrase deleted at this point as follows: "and relieving it from it's peril."

[4] In the autograph draft Lincoln substituted "at a good understanding" for "on good terms."

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