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Lincoln's Letter

Regarding Arthur Ciancutti ’65’s letter that all wars and their participants are evil (“First Do No Harm”), I recommend for his reflection the beautiful letter Abraham Lincoln wrote to the Quaker Eliza P. Gurney during the Civil War:

Your people—the Friends—have had, and are having, a very great trial. On principle, and faith, opposed to both war and oppression, they can only practically oppose oppression by war. In this hard dilemma, some have chosen one horn, and some the other. For those appealing to me on conscientious grounds, I have done, and shall do, the best I could and can, in my own conscience, under my oath to the law. That you believe this I doubt not; and believing it, I shall still receive, for our country and myself, your earnest prayers to our Father in heaven.

Arky, I served. I believe Gurney and Lincoln would understand.

—RALPH LEE SMITH ’51, Reston, Va.