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, May 07, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On May 7, 1863

In the wake of the disastrous Union routing at the Battle of Chancellorsville (also known as Spotsylvania,) Lincoln wrote to his current Union commanding officer Joseph Hooker during a personal visit to the Army of the Potomac, asking the inevitable question: so what next?

Head-Quarters, Army of the Potomac,
May. 7 1863.

Major General Hooker.

My dear Sir

The recent movement of your army is ended without effecting it's object, except perhaps some important breakings of the enemies communications. What next? If possible I would be very glad of another movement early enough to give us some benefit from the fact of the enemies communications being broken, but neither for this reason or any other, do I wish anything done in desperation or rashness. An early movement would also help to supersede the bad moral effect of the recent one, which is sure to be considerably injurious. Have you already in your mind a plan wholly, or partially formed? If you have, prossecute it without interference from me. If you have not, please inform me, so that I, incompetent as I may be, can try [to] assist in the formation of some plan for the Army. Yours as ever A LINCOLN

According to the annotation (in the 'Collected Works of Lincoln,') this letter and Hooker's reply are stored (as part of the 'Lincoln Papers' collection) in the original envelope labeled by Lincoln 'Gen. Hooker. Visit to camp, May 7 1863.'

Hooker's offered the following reply to Lincoln's letter of above:

"I have the honor to acknowledge your communication of this date, and in answer have to state that I do not deem it expedient to suspend operations on this line from the reverse we have experienced in endeavoring to extricate the army from its present position. If in the first effort we failed it was not from want of strength or conduct of the small number of the troops actually engaged, but from a cause which could not be foreseen, and could not be provided against. After its occurrence the chances of success were so much lessened that I felt another plan might be adopted in place of that we were engaged in, which would be more certain in its results. At all events, a failure would not involve disaster, while in the other case it was certain to follow the absence of success. I may add that this consideration almost wholly determined me in ordering the army to return to its old camp.

"As to the best time for renewing our advance upon the enemy, I can only decide after an opportunity has been afforded to learn the feeling of the troops. They should not be discouraged or depressed, for it is no fault of theirs---if I may except one Corps---that our last efforts were not crowned with glorious victory. I suppose details are not wanted of me at this time.

"I have decided in my own mind the plan to be adopted in our next effort, ---if it should be your wish to have one made. It has this to recommend it---It will be one in which the operations of all the Corps, unless it be a part of the Cavalry, will be within my personal supervision." (DLC-RTL).

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