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If Slavery Is Not Wrong,
Nothing Is Wrong

Jefferson's Rough Draft of the Declaration of Independence
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
to A.G. Hodges

Page 2 - Page 3
Holograph letter April 4, 1864
Manuscript Division

On March 26, 1864, former Senator Archibald Dixon, Governor Thomas E. Bramlette, and Albert G. Hodges, editor of the Frankfort, Kentucky, Commonwealth, journeyed from Kentucky to meet with Lincoln to discuss the recruitment of slaves as soldiers in Kentucky. There was considerable dissatisfaction in the Blue Grass state on the issue because, although the Emancipation Proclamation did not apply in the border states, runaway slaves could gain their freedom through military service.

Lincoln heard their complaints but went on to persuasively outline the benefits of allowing blacks to serve in the Federal Army. Lincoln began his statement, "I am naturally anti-slavery. If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. I can not remember when I did not so think, and feel. And yet I have never understood that the Presidency conferred upon me an unrestricted right to act officially upon this judgment and feeling."

Hodges was so convinced that he asked the President to put his arguments in writing. The result is perhaps Lincoln's most candid statement on slavery.

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