Abraham Lincoln Replies to Horace
Hon. Horace Greely:
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 them . . .
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 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 the 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-expressed personal wish that all men every where
could be free.