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

Saturday, May 09, 2009

Looking back at Lincoln: On May 9, 1862



On this day in 1862, Lincoln and Secretary of War Stanton held a conference at Fortress Monroe, Virginia. While in Virginia they also - apparently - attempted to resolve a political dispute that had arisen between General McClellan and other officers in the Army Corps.

Stanton sent out two telegrams (both written by Lincoln;) the first official, the second more personal in nature, addressed directly to McClellan:

Fort Monroe, Va.
May 9, 1862.

Major General McClellan.

My dear Sir:

I have just assisted the Secretary of War in framing the part of a despatch to you, relating to Army Corps, which despatch of course will have reached you long before this will. I wish to say a few words to you privately on this subject. I ordered the Army Corps organization not only on the unanimous opinion of the twelve Generals whom you had selected and assigned as Generals of Division, but also on the unanimous opinion of every military man I could get an opinion from, and every modern military book, yourself only expected. Of course, I did not, on my own judgment, pretend to understand the subject. I now think it indispensable for you to know how your struggle against it is received in quarters which we cannot entirely disregard. It is looked upon as merely an effort to pamper one or two pets, and to persecute and degrade their supposed rivals. I have had no word from Sumner, Heintzelman, or Keyes. [2] FOOTNOTES}>(2) The commanders of these Corps are of course the three highest officers with you, but I am constantly told that you consult and communicate with nobody but General Fitz John Porter, and perhaps General Franklin. [2] FOOTNOTES}>(3) I do not say these complaints are true or just; but at all events it is proper you should know of their existence. Do the Commanders of Corps disobey your orders in any thing?

When you relieved General Hamilton [2] FOOTNOTES}>(4) of his command the other day, you thereby lost the confidence of at least one of your best friends in the Senate. And here let me say, not as applicable to you personally, that Senators and Representatives speak of me in their places as they please, without question; and that officers of the army must cease addressing insulting letters to them for taking no greater liberty with them.

But, to return, are you strong enough-are you strong enough, even with my help-to set your foot upon the necks of Sumner, Heintzelman, and Keyes all at once? This is a practical and very serious question for you.

The success of your army and the cause of the country are the same; and of course I only desire the good of the cause. Yours truly. A. LINCOLN.

Annotation

[1] Copy, DLC-RTL; copy, DLC-Stanton Papers. The copy in the Stanton Papers is in Stanton's handwriting. McClellan's dispatch to Stanton, received May 9, 12:19 A.M., reads in part as follows: "I respectfully ask permission to reorganize the army corps. I am not willing to be held responsible for the present arrangement, experience having proved it to be very bad, and it having very nearly resulted in a most disastrous defeat. I wish either to return to the organization by division or else be authorized to relieve incompetent commanders of army corps. Had I been one-half hour later on the field on the 5th we would have been routed. . . . Notwithstanding my positive orders I was informed of nothing that had occurred. . . . At least a thousand lives were really sacrificed by the organization into corps.

"I have too much regard for the lives of my comrades and too deep an interest in the success of our cause to hesitate for a moment. I learn that you are equally in earnest, and I therefore again request full and complete authority to relieve from duty with this army commanders of corps or divisions who prove themselves incompetent.'' (OR,I,XI,III,153-54). No reply from McClellan has been located. The Army Corps organization was retained, but on May 18 General Orders No.125 established the Fifth and Sixth Provisional Corps under Generals Fitz-John Porter and William B. Franklin.

[2] Brigadier General Edwin V. Sumner commanded the Second Corps, Brigadier General Samuel P. Heintzelman the Third Corps, and Brigadier General Erasmus D. Keyes the Fourth Corps.

[3] Brigadier General Fitz-John Porter was a division commander in Heintzelman's Third Corps and Brigadier General William B. Franklin a division commander in Major General Irvin McDowell's First Corps.

[4] On April 30 Brigadier General Charles S. Hamilton was replaced as commander of the Third Division of the Third Corps by Brigadier General Philip Kearny.

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