at our meeting, and they beleive that the wages of mechanics ought to “go up” just as much as the necessaries of life, nor do they see any difference between mechanics combining to raise their wages, and capitalists combining to “mark up” the price of their goods. It seems to the workingmen quite as reasonable to call in the military in once, the one case as in the other.
Document: Abraham Lincoln to Cabinet, May 3, 1864 [Draft]1
1 This is Lincoln’s draft of a message to be sent to all members of his cabinet. Lincoln responds here to the murder on April 12, 1864, of several dozen black soldiers after they had surrendered at Fort Pillow, Tennessee. The Confederate soldiers perpetrating the massacre were under the command of General Nathan Bedford Forrest. The Lincoln Administration demanded equal treatment for all Union prisoners of war regardless of race, and had at least threatened retaliation in kind among Confederate captives for the murder or enslavement of black Union prisoners. However even after the Fort Pillow Massacre, the president and the Cabinet recognized the difficulty and indefensibility of such a policy. At a cabinet meeting on May 6, each member read his opinion on the case as solicited here, and after receiving this advice, Lincoln began to draft a set of instructions for Stanton to implement in response to the massacre. Apparently Lincoln became distracted by other matters, such as Grant’s campaign against Lee, and these instructions were neither completed nor submitted to the War Department. For the written opinions of the cabinet, see Edward Bates to Lincoln, May 4, 1864; William H. Seward to Lincoln, May 5, 1864; Edwin M. Stanton to Lincoln, May 5, 1864; Gideon Welles to Lincoln, May 5, 1864; Montgomery Blair to Lincoln, May 6, 1864; and Salmon P. Chase to Lincoln, May 6, 1864. For Lincoln’s unfinished instructions to Stanton, see Collected Works, VII, 345-46. For an account of the May 6 cabinet meeting, see Howard K. Beale ed. Diary of Gideon Welles (New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1960), Vol. II, 24-25.
Washington, May 3, 1864.
It is now quite certain that a large number of our colored soldiers, with their white officers, were, by the rebel force, massacred after they had surrendered, at the recent capture of Fort-Pillow. So much is known, though the evidence is not yet quite ready to be laid before me-- Meanwhile I will thank you to prepare, and give me in writing your opinion as to2 what course,