Benjamin B. French to Abraham Lincoln, Thursday, May 05, 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.
May 5th. 1864
My Dear Sir,
I have a son Francis O. French, who is Deputy Collector in the Boston Custom House, & who has the reputation of being one of the most promising young men in that vicinity. He is a shrewd observer of men and things, & reads every thing he can get hold of. Thus situated he is likely to form correct opinions, & I think you will be pleased to read the following brief extract from a letter read by me, from him yesterday.
"One feature of the week has been the President's letter to Mr. Hodges.
The President is immensely popular, and every expression he gives to his policy is shrewdly worded, and still so openly and frankly put that he compels popularity from those who wavered before. Radicals, even, like the "concession" -- as they call it -- of putting slavery on a par with other evil, with which his letter tersely opens. It is clear the President is not a leader of opinion, but, keeping well up with average opinion he seems to the host to direct events on whose tide he merely floats. Perhaps it is as well and safe for us that we have not a man who would strive to mould events, for few of us can name a man in whose single judgment we would trust in solving the problem that so perplexes us. There is one thing that must be cleared up and made right, and that is that the negro in uniform is a soldier of the United States and must be treated as such, both by ourselves in making payment for his services, and by an enemy that undertakes to dictate whom we shall employ."
My son is one of your warmest supporters & admirers, & I feel a deep pride in knowing that he is so, for, if there is one thing that I hope and pray for more than any other, it is that you may again be triumphantly elected to the Presidency, to bring about which no man will strive harder than I will.
Most truly & faithfully
B. B. French