May 22, 1861

An "Occident" Subscriber Begs Rabbi Leeser To Write Abraham Lincoln and Convince Him to Stop the Civil War

Autograph Letter Signed
3 pages
SMC 349
Leeser’s correspondent, “R.A.L”, writes that a missed issue of The Occident caused him to wonder whether during “the terrific Civil (most probably uncivil) War," Leeser had suspended publication of his monthly periodical – but a recent arrival of a new issue shows him that he has not. He wishes he could hear Leeser’s “able weekly discourses” and offers up first a plea, and then a suggestion:
Oh that you could be instrumental in bringing peace to our distracted country! Is there no means that you in your wisdom can devise... I will state what has occurred to me within the last two days (but first let me beg of you to write President Lincoln to exert your reasoning powers with him to stay this outrageous war).  It is, If they think these difficulties can not be settled accept at the point of the bayonet, would it not be far better that a Champion be selected on each side & let victory be assigned on the side of the one who proves victorious in the contest. It certainly would be far more humane that one or two be sacrificed in our Country's cause than that the blood of many be usely [sic] shed…
“R.A.L." did not sway Leeser from his public posture of neutrality – although Leeser certainly would have sympathized with his horror of civil war. In fact, Leeser did not believe the War was really necessary, and could have been averted, had the present leadership been truly interested in peace. That Jews, North and South, would kill one another, was anathema to him. Throughout the conflict, then, Leeser confined himself to strictly Jewish issues - and when he finally did write to Lincoln, it was merely to request the appointment of a Jewish hospital chaplain in Pennsylvania.
Autograph Letter Signed (with initials) by one “R.A.L.” to Rabbi ISAAC LEESER of Philadelphia, 3 pages, recto and verso, quarto, Binghamton, [New York], May 22, 1861. To “Dear Friend," Rev. Isaac Lesser.
View American Civil War Manuscripts.
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