The GOSPEL TRUTH
CHARLES G. FINNEY
To Gerrit Smith
29 January 1864
[MS in Gerrit Smith Papers, Syracuse University]
Oberlin Ohio 29th Jan 1864
Hon Gerrit Smith.
Your printed letter
to Hon. Mr. Littlejohn is recd.
I have had much satisfaction in
reading this letter, as I also have had
in the perusal of several printed
letters addressed to others which you
have kindly sent me. I am particu
larly pleased with what you say in
this letter of the President's submitting
his proclamation of freedom to the
slaves to the supreme court. I think
with you that the Pres. is grossly incon
sistent in this, & that which I fear is
that this reference to the supreme court
is a trap set for the Pres. by that
crafty politician Thurlow Weed aided
probably by Secretary Seward. I hope
you will continue to press this point
upon congress. I suppose you have
sent copies to all the members of congress.
Write again, & again, I entreat you
until you secure congressional
action against the Pres' position.
I hope the Sermans will press
their request to put in nomination
for Pres. a less conservative man
than Mr. Lincoln. The fact is that
Mr. L. is far behind the northern publick
sentiment. We need a more radical
man to finish up this war. I hope
the radicals, in & out of congress, will
make their influence so felt in respect
to the coming nomination that Mr.
L. will see that there is no hope
of his nomination & election unless
he takes & keeps more radical ground
The people are prepared for the
to elect the most radical abolitionist
there is if he can get a nomination.
But the Weed & Seward party joining
with war democrats & conservative
republicans, will, I fear, secure the
nomination of a conservative.
Conservatism means, now, pro slavery.
The radicals must make such a stir
that the conservatives will see that
they can not hope for their votes
in electing a conservative. What I
fear is that the radicals will so
easily acquiesce in the nomination
of Mr. Lincoln that he will get the
impression that we are satisfied
with his views & action. I think
he is honest, but he is conservative
constitutionally, & is by marriage inter
locked with southern interests so far
as to embolden Kentucky to hold out
against Emancipation. If Butler
were Pres. I do not think Kentucky
would hold out a month. I also
believe the rebellion would perish
in three months. The fact is the south
dont fear Mr. Lincoln. There is no
man in the land they would so much
fear as Gen. Butler. And they would
have good reason to fear him.
He would not only end the war
but would reorganize the south
I believe in 6. months. It seems
to me that this can be done & that
butler would do it. If we can
not prevent the renomination of
Mr. L. can we not at least impress
him with the conviction that he
can not be reelected unless he goes
in for the immediate & total destru
ction of Slavery? Let us try.
God Bless you
C. G. Finney.
Finney's disapproval of Lincoln was in line with the more radical reformers in the country but was not wholly accepted by the people in Oberlin. Among other voices there in favor of Lincoln, R. S. Fletcher notes that in September 1862 the Aeolian Society, a young ladies' literary society in the college, had debated the question: "Resolved that Pres. Lincoln is not so bad a man as Pres. Finney thinks he is." (Fletcher, History. p. 879f.)