Address of the International Working Men's Association to Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America
Presented to U.S. Ambassador Charles Francis Adams
January 28, 1865 [A]
Written: by Marx between November 22 & 29, 1864 First Published:The Bee-Hive Newspaper, No. 169, November 7, 1865; Transcription/Markup: Zodiac/Brian Baggins; Online Version: Marx & Engels Internet Archive (marxists.org) 2000.
We congratulate the American people upon your re-election by a
large majority. If resistance to the Slave Power was the reserved watchword
of your first election, the triumphant war cry of your re-election is Death
From the commencement of the titanic American strife the workingmen
of Europe felt instinctively that the star-spangled banner carried the
destiny of their class. The contest for the territories which opened the
dire epopee, was it not to decide whether the virgin soil of immense tracts
should be wedded to the labor of the emigrant or prostituted by the tramp
of the slave driver?
When an oligarchy of 300,000 slaveholders dared to inscribe, for
the first time in the annals of the world, "slavery" on the banner of Armed
Revolt, when on the very spots where hardly a century ago the idea of one
great Democratic Republic had first sprung up, whence the first Declaration
of the Rights of Man was issued, and the first impulse given to the European
revolution of the eighteenth century; when on those very spots counterrevolution,
with systematic thoroughness, gloried in rescinding "the ideas entertained
at the time of the formation of the old constitution", and maintained slavery
to be "a beneficent institution", indeed, the old solution of the great
problem of "the relation of capital to labor", and cynically proclaimed
property in man "the cornerstone of the new edifice" — then the working
classes of Europe understood at once, even before the fanatic partisanship
of the upper classes for the Confederate gentry had given its dismal warning,
that the slaveholders' rebellion was to sound the tocsin for a general
holy crusade of property against labor, and that for the men of labor,
with their hopes for the future, even their past conquests were at stake
in that tremendous conflict on the other side of the Atlantic. Everywhere
they bore therefore patiently the hardships imposed upon them by the cotton
crisis, opposed enthusiastically the proslavery intervention of their betters
— and, from most parts of Europe, contributed their quota of blood to
the good cause.
While the workingmen, the true political powers of the North,
allowed slavery to defile their own republic, while before the Negro, mastered
and sold without his concurrence, they boasted it the highest prerogative
of the white-skinned laborer to sell himself and choose his own master,
they were unable to attain the true freedom of labor, or to support their
European brethren in their struggle for emancipation; but this barrier
to progress has been swept off by the red sea of civil war.
The workingmen of Europe feel sure that, as the American War of
Independence initiated a new era of ascendancy for the middle class, so
the American Antislavery War will do for the working classes. They consider
it an earnest of the epoch to come that it fell to the lot of Abraham Lincoln,
the single-minded son of the working class, to lead his country through
the matchless struggle for the rescue of an enchained race and the reconstruction
of a social world. [B]
Signed on behalf of the International Workingmen's Association, the
George Odger, President of the Council; P.V. Lubez, Corresponding
Secretary for France; Karl Marx, Corresponding Secretary for Germany; G.P.
Fontana, Corresponding Secretary for Italy; J.E. Holtorp, Corresponding
Secretary for Poland; H.F. Jung, Corresponding Secretary for Switzerland;
William R. Cremer, Honorary General Secretary.
18 Greek Street, Soho.
[A] From the minutes of the Central (General) Council
of the International — November 19, 1864:
"Dr. Marx then brought up the report of the subcommittee, also a draft
of the address which had been drawn up for presentation to the people of
America congratulating them on their having re-elected Abraham Lincoln
as President. The address is as follows and was unanimously agreed to."
"A long discussion then took place as to the mode of presenting the
address and the propriety of having a M.P. with the deputation; this was
strongly opposed by many members, who said workingmen should rely on themselves
and not seek for extraneous aid.... It was then proposed... and carried
unanimously. The secretary correspond with the United States Minister asking
to appoint a time for receiving the deputation, such deputation to consist
of the members of the Central Council."
Ambassador Adams Replies
Legation of the United States
London, 28th January, 1865
I am directed to inform you that the address of the Central Council
of your Association, which was duly transmitted through this Legation to
the President of the United [States], has been received by him.
So far as the sentiments expressed by it are personal, they are
accepted by him with a sincere and anxious desire that he may be able to
prove himself not unworthy of the confidence which has been recently extended
to him by his fellow citizens and by so many of the friends of humanity
and progress throughout the world.
The Government of the United States has a clear consciousness
that its policy neither is nor could be reactionary, but at the same time
it adheres to the course which it adopted at the beginning, of abstaining
everywhere from propagandism and unlawful intervention. It strives to do
equal and exact justice to all states and to all men and it relies upon
the beneficial results of that effort for support at home and for respect
and good will throughout the world.
Nations do not exist for themselves alone, but to promote the
welfare and happiness of mankind by benevolent intercourse and example.
It is in this relation that the United States regard their cause in the
present conflict with slavery, maintaining insurgence as the cause of human
nature, and they derive new encouragements to persevere from the testimony
of the workingmen of Europe that the national attitude is favored with
their enlightened approval and earnest sympathies.
I have the honor to be, sir, your obedient servant,