Lincoln Thanks Workers of Manchester, England for Their Support

January 18, 1863/2013
Volume 4, Issue 3 (119 Issues Since 15 October 2010)

Lincoln Thanks Workers of Manchester, England for Their Support

On January 19, 1863, President Lincoln replied to a letter from a group of laborers from Manchester, England who had congratulated him on the Emancipation Proclamation and implored him “not to faint in your providential mission.” The lack of cotton from the South had hurt the British textile industry; indeed until Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation on January 1, 1863 or even until the foray by General Lee’s army into the North ended unsuccessfully at Gettysburg in early July 1863, the South hoped that Great Britain might aid the Confederacy.

To the British workers Lincoln wrote in part,

TO THE WORKING-MEN OF MANCHESTER:

. . .  [Since I have been President,] one duty, paramount to all others, was before me, namely, to maintain and preserve at once the Constitution and the integrity of the Federal Republic. A conscientious purpose to perform this duty is the key to all the measures of administration which have been and to all which will hereafter be pursued. . . . I could not depart from this purpose if I would. It is not always in the power of governments to enlarge or restrict the scope of moral results which follow the policies that they may deem it necessary for the public safety from time to time to adopt.

I have understood well that the duty of self-preservation rests solely with the American people; but I have at the same time been aware that favor or disfavor of foreign nations might have a material influence in enlarging or prolonging the struggle with disloyal men in which the country is engaged.  . . . Circumstances — to some of which you kindly allude — induce me especially to expect that if justice and good faith should be practised by the United States, they would encounter no hostile influence on the part of Great Britain. It is now a pleasant duty to acknowledge the demonstration you have given of your desire that a spirit of amity and peace toward this country may prevail in the councils of your Queen . . .

I know and deeply deplore the sufferings which the workingmen at Manchester, and in all Europe, are called to endure in this crisis. . . . Through the action of our disloyal citizens, the working-men of Europe have been subjected to severe trials. . . . Under the circumstance, I cannot but regard your decisive utterances upon the question as an instance of sublime Christian heroism which has not been surpassed in any age or in any country. . . . I do not doubt that the sentiments, you have expressed will be sustained by your great nation; and, on the other hand, I have no hesitation in assuring you that they will excite admiration, esteem, and the most reciprocal feelings of friendship among the American people. . . .

ABRAHAM LINCOLN

– Submitted by Peter A. Gilbert, Vermont Humanities Council Executive Director

SOURCE

Moore, Frank, ed. The Rebellion Record: A Diary of American Events, with Documents, Narratives, Illustrative Incidents, Poetry, etc., etc. New York: Putnam, 1861-1868.

INTERESTING LINK

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Discouraged Union Soldier Writes Home

On January 19, 1863, from camp near Fredericksburg, Virginia (where the Union had suffered a massive defeat a month before), New York infantryman George W. Tillotson wrote his wife:

. . The soldiers I guess are full as badly discouraged as anybody at home is. I hear this morning that we have a little bit of mutiny in our brigade. The 103rd regt NYV last night burnt up all their cartridges. They say there ant an officer in the regiment that has got his commission and they declare they wont lead them in a fight. I wish the whole army of the Potomac would mutiny and leave for home. i’d go in a minute. Talk about calling for more troops I too hope they will and when they see how that works Maybe they will think best to settle somehow. . . .

– Submitted by Peter A. Gilbert, Vermont Humanities Council Executive Director

SOURCE

George W. Tillotson letter to wife, January 19, 1863, The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

INTERESTING LINKS

George W. Tillotson collection, The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History

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Filed under Civil War Book of Days: 1863

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