Letter from Abraham Lincoln to James A. McDougal (1862)

No study questions

My dear Sir:

As to the expensiveness of the plan of gradual emancipation with compensation, proposed in the late Message, please allow me one or two brief suggestions.

Less than one half—day’s cost of this war would pay for all the slaves in Delaware at four hundred dollars per head:

Thus, all the slaves in Delaware, by the Census of 1860, are 1798



Cost of the slaves, $ 719,200.

One day’s cost of the war “2,000,000.

Again, less than eighty seven days cost of this war would, at the same price, pay for all in Delaware, Maryland, District of Columbia, Kentucky, and Missouri.

Thus, slaves in Delaware 1798

“ “ Maryland 87,188

“ “ Dis. of Col. 3,181

“ “ Kentucky 225,490

“ “ Missouri 114,965





Cost of the slaves $173,048,800

Eightyseven days’ cost of the war “174,000,000.

Do you doubt that taking the initiatory steps on the part of those states and this District, would shorten the war more than eighty—seven days, and thus be an actual saving of expense?

A word as to the time and manner of incurring the expence. Suppose, for instance, a State devises and adopts a system by which the institution absolutely ceases therein by a named day———say January 1st. 1882. Then, let the sum to be paid to such state by the United States, be ascertained by taking from the Census of 1860, the number of slaves within the state, and multiplying that number by four hundred———the United States to pay such sum to the state in twenty equal annual instalments, in six per cent. bonds of the United States.

The sum thus given, as to time and manner, I think would not be half as onerous, as would be an equal sum, raised now, for the indefinite prossecution of the war; but of this you can judge as well as I.

I inclose a Census—table for your convenience.

Yours very truly


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