Albert G. Hodges



I am naturally anti-slavery. If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. I can not remember when I did not so think, and feel. — Abraham Lincoln to Albert G. Hodges, April 4, 1864


Your views in regard to Slavery, as set forth in that little speech in your reception room, was so much in accordance with my own views and feelings . . . that I could not resist the temptation to ask the favor of you to write it out for me. — Albert G. Hodges to Abraham Lincoln, May 10, 1864


Born in 1802 in Madison County, Virginia, young Albert G. Hodges arrived in Fayette County with his parents, Francis and Mary (Brock) Hodges, in 1810. After his father’s death in 1815, Hodges obtained work as an office boy and carrier for the Kentucky Register in Lexington. At age nineteen, he made a first (unsuccessful) attempt as publisher of the Lancaster Kentuckian. By twenty-five, Hodges had bought, sold, or founded several other newspapers, and in 1826, he became a proprietor of the Frankfort Commentator. In 1833, with Orlando Brown as editor, he founded the pro-Whig Frankfort Commonwealth, which became an important regional paper. With the demise of the Whig Party, Hodges and the Commonwealth initially supported the Know-Nothings; but during the Civil War, Hodges became a staunch Republican and his Frankfort Commonwealth rallied behind the Union Party in Kentucky.


Beyond Kentucky, Hodges is perhaps best known for his role in a meeting with President Lincoln at the White House in late March 1864 with Governor Bramlette and ex-senator Archibald Dixon. The three Kentuckians had come to lodge their protest against Lincoln’s recent decision to extend the recruitment of black troops to their state. In responding to their grievance, apparently to their liking, the meeting also provided Lincoln an opportunity to make a “little speech,” which Hodges asked Lincoln to summarize in writing. Thus prompted, what Lincoln produced in his April 4 letter to Hodges is perhaps the clearest statement of Lincoln’s views on slavery and the war, and ranks among the most important letters of his presidency. For the remainder of the war, Hodges continued his correspondence with the president, providing valuable information on the changing conditions and political situation in Kentucky.


Letter from Lincoln to Albert G. Hodges, April 4, 1864, explaining Lincoln’s position on slavery

Courtesy of the Library of Congress, Manuscript Division