Question about an alleged Lincoln quote

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#1
When asked, "Why not let the South go in peace?" Lincoln responded, "I can't let them go. Who would pay for the government?"

Recently I keep seeing this quote circulating in different places on social media. So when I researched I see it printed in multiple pro-confederate sites, but I can't see to find a legitimate source from where it's from. I did find a site that claimed there was no record of it in the archives. Does anyone know if this is legitimate or is this another mystical invention of desperate minds?

Thanks!
 

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#3
When asked, "Why not let the South go in peace?" Lincoln responded, "I can't let them go. Who would pay for the government?"

Recently I keep seeing this quote circulating in different places on social media. So when I researched I see it printed in multiple pro-confederate sites, but I can't see to find a legitimate source from where it's from. I did find a site that claimed there was no record of it in the archives. Does anyone know if this is legitimate or is this another mystical invention of desperate minds?

Thanks!
It is a version of a statement made by John Baldwin (no relation), a Confederate politician from Virginia.
He had a meeting with Lincoln in April 1861. After the war he claimed that Lincoln said what you quoted. At that point Lincoln was dead and there was no other way to check what Baldwin claimed.
 
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#4
It is a version of a statement made by John Baldwin (no relation), a Confederate politician from Virginia.
He had a meeting with Lincoln in April 1861. After the war he claimed that Lincoln said what you quoted. At that point Lincoln was dead and there was no other way to check what Baldwin claimed.
No way of knowing if he truthfully said it or not. I do not believe he did. If he had I believe it would be any many of the known sources on Lincoln.

Respectfully,
William
 
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#8
Here's one that I think I made up. Maybe not...


He held up a hand to stop my protesting squeaks and went on in a genial tone totally at odds with the meaning of his words.

“Leaving that unpleasant prospect aside” says he, “how if you were ordered to retrieve those missing papers by your commander in chief? That’s me, major. Why if you chose to disobey that order... well, it reminds me of the city boy who asked a farmer if it was best to walk or run through the field where an ornery bull was tearing up the ground. ‘Walking didn’t work for me; he bruk my leg,’ said the farmer.”

“So the boy ran across the field and that bull caught him up and tossed him clear over the fence and when the farmer came the long way around the field, he found the younger man a-spraddle with a broken arm. ‘Yep,’ said the farmer, ‘That’s just what happened when I tried runnin’.
 

brass napoleon

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#9
Thanks Ned. I wouldn't have known where to look.

I doubt Lincoln said it. This source seems to know what else was discussed at the meeting between Lincoln and Baldwin and it doesn't mention it. I'm leaning towards thinking Baldwin lied since the meeting didn't go to well and neither did the war for that matter.
http://www.tulane.edu/~sumter/FinalOrder/FApr4.1.html
This is a quote that the Lost Causers love to mangle (most notably the consummate Lost Cause mangler himself, Reverend Robert Dabney). But here's how Baldwin described that part of the conversation in sworn testimony to Congress shortly after the war:

[President Lincoln] said something about the withdrawal of the troops from Sumter on the ground of military necessity. Said I, "that will never do under heaven. You have been President a month to-day, and if you intended to hold that position you ought to have strengthened it, so as to make it impregnable. To hold it in the present condition of force there is an invitation to assault. Go upon higher ground than that. The better ground than that is to make a concession of an asserted right in the interest of peace."-""Well," said he, "what about the revenue? What would I do about the collection of duties?" Said I, "Sir, how much do you expect to collect in a year?"-Said he, "Fifty or sixty millions." "Why sir," said I, "four times sixty is two hundred and forty. Say $250,000,000 would be the revenue of your term of the presidency; what is that but a drop in the bucket compared with the cost of such a war as we are threatened with? Let it all go, if necessary; but I do not believe that it will be necessary, because I believe that you can settle it on the basis I suggest." He said something or other about feeding the troops at Sumter. I told him that would not do. Said I, "You know perfectly well that the people of Charleston have been feeding them already. That is not what they are at. They are asserting a right. They will feed the troops and fight them while they are feeding them. They are after the assertion of a right."

You can see the whole thing here:

http://valley.lib.virginia.edu/VoS/personalpapers/documents/augusta/p3baldwininterview.html#baldwin2

Note that Lincoln's talking about evacuating Fort Sumter here, not about letting the Southern states go. And he's asking what he would do about the collection of the revenue at the fort (which was a main function of the fort in the first place), not asking how he would pay for the government. But it also appears that even Baldwin's statement is wrong, because he quotes Lincoln as saying he expected to receive 50 to 60 million dollars in revenue annually. That's the TOTAL amount of ALL revenue collected at ALL U.S. ports - the vast majority of which was collected at Northern ports.

However, Baldwin's counter-argument is absolutely correct - the amount of revenue collected at ALL U.S. ports wouldn't have funded two weeks of civil war. Lincoln was very much aware of that. And you'll note that Lincoln doesn't argue about it and they move on to discuss other aspects of a proposed withdrawal, including feeding the troops.

It's all the Lost Cause crowd have to go on, but it isn't enough, so they have to mangle it and turn it into something that it's not.
 
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cash

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#11
This is a quote that the Lost Causers love to mangle (most notably the consummate Lost Cause mangler himself, Reverend Robert Dabney). But here's how Baldwin described that part of the conversation in sworn testimony to Congress shortly after the war:

[President Lincoln] said something about the withdrawal of the troops from Sumter on the ground of military necessity. Said I, "that will never do under heaven. You have been President a month to-day, and if you intended to hold that position you ought to have strengthened it, so as to make it impregnable. To hold it in the present condition of force there is an invitation to assault. Go upon higher ground than that. The better ground than that is to make a concession of an asserted right in the interest of peace."-""Well," said he, "what about the revenue? What would I do about the collection of duties?" Said I, "Sir, how much do you expect to collect in a year?"-Said he, "Fifty or sixty millions." "Why sir," said I, "four times sixty is two hundred and forty. Say $250,000,000 would be the revenue of your term of the presidency; what is that but a drop in the bucket compared with the cost of such a war as we are threatened with? Let it all go, if necessary; but I do not believe that it will be necessary, because I believe that you can settle it on the basis I suggest." He said something or other about feeding the troops at Sumter. I told him that would not do. Said I, "You know perfectly well that the people of Charleston have been feeding them already. That is not what they are at. They are asserting a right. They will feed the troops and fight them while they are feeding them. They are after the assertion of a right."

You can see the whole thing here:

http://valley.lib.virginia.edu/VoS/personalpapers/documents/augusta/p3baldwininterview.html#baldwin2

Note that Lincoln's talking about evacuating Fort Sumter here, not about letting the Southern states go. And he's asking what he would do about the collection of the revenue at the fort (which was a main function of the fort in the first place), not asking how he would pay for the government. But it also appears that even Baldwin's statement is wrong, because he quotes Lincoln as saying he expected to receive 50 to 60 million dollars in revenue annually. That's the TOTAL amount of ALL revenue collected at ALL U.S. ports - the vast majority of which was collected at Northern ports.

However, Baldwin's counter-argument is absolutely correct - the amount of revenue collected at ALL U.S. ports wouldn't have funded two weeks of civil war. Lincoln was very much aware of that. And you'll note that Lincoln doesn't argue about it and they move on to discuss other aspects of a proposed withdrawal, including feeding the troops.

It's all the Lost Cause crowd have to go on, but it isn't enough, so they have to mangle it and turn it into something that it's not.
Actually, it was not a main function of the fort to collect revenue. The main function of the fort was to defend the harbor. The customs house was where the revenue was collected. I don't think he was talking about revenue at the fort, since as you point out the $50-$60 million was the total amount for all the ports in the country. That's another reason why I tend to think the Baldwin account loses credibility. It just doesn't make sense.
 
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#12
Hmmm... this is way outside my knowledge but I'm finding figures indicating that some $56milloin of tariff revenues (out of total revenue of $64million) were laid upon goods purchased by the southern states. The largest amount was collected on Southern imports landed in New York City which itself wasn't particularly fond of having to send the money to the Feds.

Lincoln's $50-60 million fits with those numbers and what he'd be speaking of is not revenues from Charleston alone or even South Carolina but the total of revenues from seceding states and those expected to secede. Relenting on Sumter was tantamount to encouraging the separation - even recognizing it

If there was a confederacy formed in the south, it would stop paying revenues to Washington and could even begin to replace New York as the main port of entry. In fact, NYC might have worked a deal for lower tariffs on southern destined goods - that would suit everyone except the Federal government. The Morrill tariff of 1861 just made the above situation worse.
 

rhettbutler1865

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#13
This is a quote that the Lost Causers love to mangle (most notably the consummate Lost Cause mangler himself, Reverend Robert Dabney). But here's how Baldwin described that part of the conversation in sworn testimony to Congress shortly after the war:

[President Lincoln] said something about the withdrawal of the troops from Sumter on the ground of military necessity. Said I, "that will never do under heaven. You have been President a month to-day, and if you intended to hold that position you ought to have strengthened it, so as to make it impregnable. To hold it in the present condition of force there is an invitation to assault. Go upon higher ground than that. The better ground than that is to make a concession of an asserted right in the interest of peace."-""Well," said he, "what about the revenue? What would I do about the collection of duties?" Said I, "Sir, how much do you expect to collect in a year?"-Said he, "Fifty or sixty millions." "Why sir," said I, "four times sixty is two hundred and forty. Say $250,000,000 would be the revenue of your term of the presidency; what is that but a drop in the bucket compared with the cost of such a war as we are threatened with? Let it all go, if necessary; but I do not believe that it will be necessary, because I believe that you can settle it on the basis I suggest." He said something or other about feeding the troops at Sumter. I told him that would not do. Said I, "You know perfectly well that the people of Charleston have been feeding them already. That is not what they are at. They are asserting a right. They will feed the troops and fight them while they are feeding them. They are after the assertion of a right."

You can see the whole thing here:

http://valley.lib.virginia.edu/VoS/personalpapers/documents/augusta/p3baldwininterview.html#baldwin2

Note that Lincoln's talking about evacuating Fort Sumter here, not about letting the Southern states go. And he's asking what he would do about the collection of the revenue at the fort (which was a main function of the fort in the first place), not asking how he would pay for the government. But it also appears that even Baldwin's statement is wrong, because he quotes Lincoln as saying he expected to receive 50 to 60 million dollars in revenue annually. That's the TOTAL amount of ALL revenue collected at ALL U.S. ports - the vast majority of which was collected at Northern ports.

However, Baldwin's counter-argument is absolutely correct - the amount of revenue collected at ALL U.S. ports wouldn't have funded two weeks of civil war. Lincoln was very much aware of that. And you'll note that Lincoln doesn't argue about it and they move on to discuss other aspects of a proposed withdrawal, including feeding the troops.

It's all the Lost Cause crowd have to go on, but it isn't enough, so they have to mangle it and turn it into something that it's not.
Well done, brass, my good man!:thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:
 

brass napoleon

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#14
Hmmm... this is way outside my knowledge but I'm finding figures indicating that some $56milloin of tariff revenues (out of total revenue of $64million) were laid upon goods purchased by the southern states. The largest amount was collected on Southern imports landed in New York City which itself wasn't particularly fond of having to send the money to the Feds.
I'm not sure if I'm understanding you here. Do you have a source for this? Are you saying that most of the imports coming into New York City were meant for Southerners? How would anyone know this? Why wouldn't those goods be imported directly into Southern ports? And what were the 6 million free Southerners importing so much of that it exceeded the imports of the 20 million free Northerners?
 

E_just_E

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#16
The source of that "quote" was somewhere in the former Confederacy during the reconstruction, and its purpose was satirical (think of the "quotes" of eponymous people in political cartoons.) For some reason it got propagated as a true Lincoln quote, even though it originated after his death.
 

cash

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#19
Hmmm... this is way outside my knowledge but I'm finding figures indicating that some $56milloin of tariff revenues (out of total revenue of $64million) were laid upon goods purchased by the southern states. The largest amount was collected on Southern imports landed in New York City which itself wasn't particularly fond of having to send the money to the Feds.
Wherever you're finding those figures is not credible. There is no way the south paid that much in tariffs.
 
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#20
I'm not sure if I'm understanding you here. Do you have a source for this? Are you saying that most of the imports coming into New York City were meant for Southerners? How would anyone know this? Why wouldn't those goods be imported directly into Southern ports? And what were the 6 million free Southerners importing so much of that it exceeded the imports of the 20 million free Northerners?
http://staff.jccc.edu/jjackson/Economic Issues.htm Yes, this is what I found. As stated, not my area so was looking to see what might be out there. This might be waaaaay out there.

Import duties were charged on ports (on the goods arriving in those ports) - not on the final destination. So if the total import revenue was 64million or 57million we'd need a source to show the final destinations. The bulk of New York City imports were actually destined for the South - according to the article. I don't know if that's accurate. Happy to be guided to better sources/figures. So far, I see no data
 

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