Following the American Civil War Sesquicentennial with day by day writings of the time, currently 1863.

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To His Excellency, President LINCOLN.

August 10, 2012

A Few Letters and Speeches of the Late Civil War by August Belmont (DNC Chairman)

New York, August 10, 1862.

My Dear Sir,—I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of your esteemed favor. Its contents bear the stamp of that statesmanship and patriotism which I know to have guided all your actions in the trials which this wicked rebellion has brought upon our once so happy country.

I share entirely your views with regard not only to the duty, but also the policy of the revolted States to return to their allegiance without allowing their unequal struggle against the power of the United States to increase in violence and exasperation, as it necessarily must. Still I think that we might, perhaps, find means to remove the difficulties which the miseries of civil war and the terrorism conjured up by the leaders of the rebellion, have placed in the way of conservative men, who otherwise would most gladly return to the Union.

The words conquest and subjugation have been used to good effect by our opponents. They are words repugnant to the American ear, and while the rebel leaders can keep up to their misguided followers the idea that the North means conquest and subjugation, I fear that there is very little hope for any Union demonstration in the revolted States, however great the dissatisfaction against the Richmond government might be.

My own conviction has always been, that sooner or later we would have to come to a national convention for the reconstruction of one government over all the States. I cannot see by what other means, even after a complete defeat of the rebel armies, a restoration of the Union can be effected.

My impression is, that such a solution would, at the proper time, be acceptable to the majority of the Southern people, and I sent to Mr. Weed the letter which procured me the honor of receiving your note, for the very reason that I saw in it an indication of the writer’s desire for a reconstruction of the Union. He is a very wealthy and influential planter, and I have every reason to believe that a large number of his class share his views.

A few weeks ago, and previous to the receipt of that letter, I had written to Mr. Weed, giving him my candid views on our present situation and the means which I thought the government ought to adopt. I do not know whether he communicated to you my letter, but as you have been kind enough to evince a flattering confidence in the earnestness of my intentions, which must plead for the shortcoming of my judgment, I take the liberty of inclosing you herewith a copy of my letter to Mr. Weed, hoping that you may deem it worthy of your perusal.

The present moment may, perhaps, not be a propitious one for carrying on a negotiation in the manner in which I suggest. As soon, however, as we shall have again a large army in the field, such as we are sure to have under your energetic measures for recruiting, then I hope that vou may find in your wisdom the means of opening negotiations with our misguided fellow-citizens of the South.

They must become convinced that we are fighting only for the Union, and that we cannot, in our own self-defence, as a nation, admit any other solution but the Union. I am certain that ere long reason must prevail over sectional passion, provided that your strong hand will equally crush the Secessionists of the South and the fanatical disorganizer s of the North, who are both equally dangerous to the country and its institutions.

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