Posted by: Democratic Thinker | January 2, 2012

Lincoln: To Eliza P. Gurney

American Correspondence

After a year’s delay, Abraham Lincoln replies to a letter from Eliza P. Gurney written on the 18th of the Eighth Month, 1863, in which she had expressed her continuing sympathy and prayers for the President in his time of trial.

If I had had my way, the war would have ended before this, but we find that it still continues, and must conclude that He permits it for some wise purpose, although we may not be able to comprehend it, for we cannot but believe that He who made the world, still governs it— Abraham Lincoln, Address to the Quaker Delegation, 10th mo., 1862.

Letter to Eliza P. Gurney.


Executive Mansion.

Washington, September 4, 1864.

Eliza P. Gurney,
My Esteemed Friend,

I HAVE not forgotten—probably never shall forget—the very impressive occasion when yourself and friends visited me on a Sabbath forenoon two years ago. Nor had your kind letter, written nearly a year later, ever been forgotten. In all it has been your purpose to strengthen my reliance in God. I am much indebted to the good Christian people of the country for their constant prayers and consolations, and to no one of them more than to yourself. The purposes of the Almighty are perfect and must prevail, though we erring mortals may fail to accurately perceive them in advance. We hoped for a happy termination of this terrible war, long before this; but God knows best, and has ruled otherwise. We shall yet acknowledge His wisdom and our own errors therein; meanwhile we must work earnestly in the best lights He gives us, trusting that so working still conduces to the great ends He ordains. Surely, He intends some great good to follow this mighty convulsion which no mortal could make, and no mortal could stay.

Your people—the Friends—have had, and are having very great trials, on principles and faith opposed to both war and oppression. They can only practically oppose oppression by war. In this hard dilemma, some have chosen one horn and some the other. For those appealing to me on conscientious grounds I have done and shall do the best I could, and can, in my own conscience under my oath to the law. That you believe this, I doubt not, and believing it, I shall still receive for our country and myself your earnest prayers to our Father in Heaven.

Your sincere friend,


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