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

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On March 31, 1865

(Sketch by Lt. Charles Wellington Reed at City Point, Virginia, 1865. Reed won the Medal of Honor for saving the life of Captain John Bigelow at Gettysburg.)

On this day in 1865, Lincoln was said to have been depressed about an attack that Grant was planning to make on Petersburg, Virginia; a battle that would undoubtedly bring a high cost in lives ("Lincoln's last day: New facts now told for the first time," by W.H. Crook, Harper's Weekly, Sept. 1907.)

Lincoln anxiously watched the final campaign of the war from Grant's headquarters at City Point, Virginia, on board the 'River Queen' which was docked on the James River. As he did almost daily while away from Washington, Lincoln wrote to Secretary of War Edwin Stanton:

City Point, Va.,
March 31, 1865---8.30 p.m.

Hon. Edwin M. Stanton,
Secretary of War:

At 12.30 p.m. to-day General Grant telegraphed me as follows:

There has been much hard fighting this morning. The enemy drove our left from near Dabney's house back well toward the Boydton plank road. We are now about to take the offensive at that point, and I hope will more than recover the lost ground.

Later he telegraphed again as follows:

Our troops, after being driven back on the Boydton plank road, turned and drove the enemy in turn and took the White Oak road, which we now have. This gives us the ground occupied by the enemy this morning. I will send you a rebel flag captured by our troops in driving the enemy back. There have been four flags captured to-day.

Judging by the two points from which General Grant telegraphs, I infer that he moved his headquarters about one mile since he sent the first of the two dispatches.



[1] OR, I, XLVI, III, 332. The time of this telegram is given as 3 P.M. in NH (XI, 64). Grant's telegrams quoted by Lincoln vary slightly from Lincoln's text. The first is marked as sent at Gravelly Run, 12:50 P.M., rather than 12:30 P.M., and as received at 4 P.M.: "There has been much hard fighting this morning the Enemy drove our left from near W Dabney house back well towards the Boydton plank Road We are now about to take the offensive at that point & I hope will more than recover the lost ground the heavy Rain & horrid roads have prevented the Execution of my designs or attempting them up to this time Gen Ords reports the capture of some prisoners this morning but does not say how many" (DLC-RTL).

The second is marked as sent from Boydton Road and received at 7 P.M.: "Our troops after being driven back on to Boydton plank road turned & drove the Enemy in turn & took the White Oak Road which we now have. This gives us the ground occupied by the Enemy this morning I will send you a rebel flag captured by our troops in driving the Enemy back. There has been four (4) flags captured today. The one I send you was taken from a Va Regiment of Hunters Brigade" (ibid.).

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