To George Foster Shepley, November 21, 1862, in Roy P. Basler, ed., The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln (8 vols., New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1953), 5: 504-505, http://quod.lib.umich.edu/l/lincoln/.
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.
Hon. G.F. Shepley Executive Mansion,
My dear Sir Washington, Nov. 21. 1862.
Your letter of the 6th. Inst. to the Secretary of War has been placed in my hands; and I am annoyed to learn from it that, at its date, nothing had been done about congressional elections. On the 14th. of October I addressed a letter to Gen. Butler, yourself and others upon this very subject, sending it by Hon. Mr. Bouligny. I now regret the necessity of inferring that you had not seen this letter up to the 6th. Inst. I inclose you a copy of it, and also a copy of another addressed to yourself this morning, upon the same general subject, and placed in the hands of Dr. Kennedy. I ask attention to both.
I wish elections for Congressmen to take place in Louisiana; but I wish it to be a movement of the people of the Districts, and not a movement of our military and quasi-military, authorities there. I merely wish our authorities to give the people a chance---to protect them against secession interference. Of course the election can not be according to strict law---by state law, there is, I suppose, no election day, before January; and the regular election officers will not act, in many cases, if in any. These knots must be cut, the main object being to get an expression of the people. If they would fix a day and a way, for themselves, all the better; but if they stand idle not seeming to know what to do, do you fix these things for them by proclamation. And do not waste a day about it; but, fix the election day early enough that we can hear the result here by the first of January. Fix a day for an election in all the Districts, and have it held in as many places as you can.
Yours very truly A. LINCOLN