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Harper's Weekly 09/06/1862


THE PRESIDENT ON THE NEGRO QUESTION.

Executive Mansion, Washington, Aug. 22, 1862.

Hon. Horace Greeley:

Dear Sir,—I have just read yours of the 19th, addressed
to myself, through the New York Tribune. If there be in
it any statements or assumptions of fact which I may know
to be erroneous, I do not now and here controvert it. If
there be in it any inference which I believe to be falsely
drawn, I do not now and here argue against it. If there
be perceptible in it an impatient and dictatorial tone, I
waive it, in deference to an old friend, whose heart I have
always supposed to be right.


As to the policy I “seem to be pursuing,” as you say, I
have not meant to leave any one in doubt. I would save
the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the
Constitution. The sooner the national authority can be
restored, the nearer the Union will be “the Union as it
was.”


If there be those who would not save the Union unless
they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree
with them. If there be those who would not save the
Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery,
I do not agree with them. My paramount object in this
struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or
to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without
freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by
freeing all the slaves I would do it. And if I could save it
by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do
that. What I do about slavery and the colored race I do
because I believe it helps to save this Union. And what I
forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to
save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe
what I am doing hurts the cause; and I shall do more
whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause.
I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors, and
I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be
true views.


I have here stated my purpose according to my view of
official duty, and I intend no modification of my oft-ex-
pressed personal wish that all men every where could be
free.

Yours,A. LINCOLN.

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