Mary Rice, a schoolteacher and fervent antislavery activist, collected the signatures of ~178 Concord school children and sent the petition “as a private letter” to President Lincoln. Lincoln responded “Please tell these little people, I am very glad their young hearts are so full of just and generous sympathy. And that while I have not the power to grant all they ask, I trust they will remember that God has and that as it seems, he wills to do it.”
President Lincoln’s response reflects Lincoln’s acknowledgement that he believed slavery would be abolished.
We hope these gifts will be a powerful reminder to children of their ability to effect change in their world.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, APRIL 5, 1864
MRS. HORACE MANN
The petition of persons under eighteen, praying that I would free all slave children, and the heading of which petition it appears you wrote, was handed me a few days since by Senator Sumner. Please tell these little people I am very glad their young hearts are so full of just and generous sympathy, and that, while I have not the power to grant all they ask, I trust they will remember that God has, and that, as it seems, He wills to do it.