If Slavery Is Not Wrong,
Nothing Is Wrong
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865)
to A.G. Hodges
Page 2 - Page
Holograph letter April 4, 1864
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.