Reprinted in Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (8 vols., New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1953), 7: 514-515, http://quod.lib.umich.edu/l/lincoln/.
Transcription adapted from The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (1953) edited by Roy P. Basler
Adapted by John Osborne, Dickinson College
At the meeting of the Cabinet today, the President took out a paper from his desk and said, `Gentlemen, do you remember last summer when I asked you all to sign your names to the back of a paper of which I did not show you the inside? This is it. Now, Mr Hay, see if you can get this open without tearing it?' He had pasted it up in so singular style that it required some cutting to get it open. He then read as follows: [memorandum]
``The President said, `You will remember that this was written at a time (6 days before the Chicago nominating Convention) when as yet we had no adversary, and seemed to have no friends. I then solemnly resolved on the course of action indicated above. I resolved, in case of the election of General McClellan, being certain that he would be the candidate, that I would see him and talk matters over with him. I would say, ``General, the election has demonstrated that you are stronger, have more influence with the American people than I. Now let us together, you with your influence and I with all the executive power of the Government, try to save the country. You raise as many troops as you possibly can for this final trial, and I will devote all my energies to assisting and finishing the war.'' '
``Seward said, `And the General would answer you ``Yes, Yes;'' and the next day when you saw him again and pressed these views upon him, he would say, ``Yes, Yes;'' & so on forever, and would have done nothing at all.'
`` `At least,' added Lincoln, `I should have done my duty and have stood clear before my own conscience.' . . . .''