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Linclon’s Letter to Albert G. Hodges

This letter is a summary of a conversation which President Abraham Lincoln had with three Kentuckians: Governor Thomas E. Bramlette, Albert Hodges, and Archibald Dixon. Hodges was the editor of the Frankfort Commonwealth and Dixon served in the U.S. Senate from 1852 to 1855. Bramlette had protested the recruiting of black regiments in Kentucky.

The letter offers an excellent glimpse into Lincoln’s thinking about his constitutional responsibility and why he changed his inaugural position of non-interference with slavery to one of emancipation. He said, “I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me.”

Lincoln closed with a reference to slavery that is reminiscent of his second inaugural address of 1865: “If God now wills the removal of a great wrong, and wills also that we of the North as well as you of the South, shall pay fairly for our complicity in that wrong, impartial history will find therein new cause to attest and revere the justice and goodness of God.”

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