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[549] by, and the participants in the late war drop gradually out of the ranks of men, let us pray that we may never forget their deeds of patriotic valor; but even if the details of that bloody struggle grow dim, as they will with the lapse of time, let us hope that so long as a friend of free man and free labor lives the dust of forgetfulness may never settle on the historic form of Abraham Lincoln.

As the war progressed, there was of course much criticism of Mr. Lincoln's policy, and some of his political rivals lost no opportunity to encourage opposition to his methods. He bore everything meekly and with sublime patience, but as the discontent appeared to spread he felt called upon to indicate his course. On more than one occasion he pointed out the blessings of the Emancipation Proclamation or throttled the clamorer for immediate peace. In the following letter to James C. Conkling1 of Springfield, Ill., in reply to an invitation to attend a mass meeting of Unconditional Union men to be held at his old home, he not only disposed of the advocates of compromise, but he evinced the most admirable skill in dealing with the questions of the day;

1

Dear Sir:

I enclose you a copy of the letter dated August 2Q, 1863, .by Mr. Lincoln to me. t has been carefully compared with the original and is a correct copy, except that the words commencing “I know as fully as one can know” to the words “You say you will fight to free negroes” were not included in the original, but were telegraphed the next day with instructions to insert. The following short note in Mr. Lincoln's own handwriting accompanied the letter:

[Private.]

war Department, Washington city, D. C., August 27, 1862.
My Dear Conkling:

I cannot leave here now. Herewith is a letter instead. You are one of the best public readers. I have but one suggestion-read it very slowly. And now God bless you, and all good Union men.

Yours as ever,

A. Lincoln.

Mr. Bancroft the historian, in commenting on this letter considers it addressed to me as one who was criticising Mr. Lincoln's policy. On the contrary, I was directed by a meeting of Unconditional Union men to invite Mr. Lincoln to attend a mass meeting composed of such men, and he simply took occasion to address his opponents through the medium of the letter.

Yours truly,

James C. Conkling.

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