Henry J. Raymond to Abraham Lincoln, Monday, August 22, 1864 (Political affairs), Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress, http://memory.loc.gov/ammem/alhtml/malhome.html.
Transcribed by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College, Galesburg, IL
Adapted by John Osborne, Dickinson College
The following transcript has been adapted from the Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress.
Astor House, New York, Aug 22 1864.
My dear Sir:--
I feel compelled to drop you a line concerning the political condition of the Country as it strikes me. I am in active correspondence with your staunchest friends in every State and from them all I hear but one report. The tide is strongly against us. Hon. E. B. Washburne writes that "were an election to be held now in Illinois we should be beaten". Mr. Cameron1 writes that Pennsylvania is against us. Gov. Morton writes that nothing but the most strenous efforts can carry Indiana. This State, according to the best information I can get, would go 50.000 against us to-morrow. And so of the rest.
Nothing but the most resolute and decided action, on the part of the Government and its friends, can save the country from falling into hostile hands.
Two special causes are assigned for this great reaction in public sentiment, -- the want of military successes, and the impression in some minds, the fear and suspicion in others, that we are not to have peace in any event under this Administration until Slavery is abandoned. In some way or other the suspicion is widely diffused that we can have peace with Union if we would. It is idle to reason with this belief -- still more idle to denounce it. It can only be expelled by some authoritative act, at once bold enough to fix attention and distinct enough to defy incredulity & challenge respect.
Why would it not be wise, under these circumstances, to appoint a Commission, in due form, to make distinct proffers of peace to Davis, as the head of the rebel armies, on the sole condition of acknowledging the supremacy of the Constitution, -- all other questions to be settled in convention of the people of all the States? The making of such an offer would require no armistice, no suspension of active war, no abandonment of positions, no sacrifice of consistency.
If the proffer were accepted (which I presume it would not be,) the country would never consent to place the practical execution of its details in any but loyal hands, and in those we should be safe.
If it should be rejected, (as it would be,) it would plant seeds of disaffection in the South, dispel all the
peace delusions about peace that previal in the North, silence the clamorous & damaging falsehoods of the opposition, take the wind completely out of the sails of the Chicago craft, reconcile public sentiment to the War, the draft, & the tax as inevitable necessities, and unite the North as nothing since firing on Fort Sumter has hitherto done.
I cannot conceive of any answer which Davis could give to such a proposition which would not strengthen you & the Union cause everywhere. Even your radical friends could not fail to applaud it when they should see the practical strength it would bring to the
Union common cause.
I beg you to excuse the earnestness with which I have pressed this matter upon your attention. It seems to me calculated to do good -- & incapable of doing harm. It will turn the tide of public sentiment & avert impending evils of the gravest character. It will raise & concentrate the loyalty of the country &, unless I am greatly mistaken, give us an early & a fruitful victory.
Permit me to add that if done at all I think this should be done at once, -- as your own spontaneous act. In advance of the Chicago Convention it might render the action of that body, of very little consequence.
I have canvassed this subject very fully with Mr. Swett of Illinois who first suggested it to me & who will seek an opportunity to converse with you upon it.
I am, very respectfully,
Your ob't Serv't
Henry J. Raymond