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Long experience has shown that armies can not be maintained unless desertion shall be punished by the severe penalty of death. The case requires, and the law and the constitution, sanction this punishment. Must I shoot a simple-minded soldier boy who deserts, while I must not touch a hair of a wiley agitator who induces him to desert? This is none the less injurious when effected by getting a father, or brother, or friend, into a public meeting, and there working upon his feeling, till he is persuaded to write the soldier boy, that he is fighting in a bad cause, for a wicked administration of a contemptable government, too weak to arrest and punish him if he shall desert. I think that in such a case, to silence the agitator, and save the boy, is not only constitutional, but, withal, a great mercy. Abraham Lincoln

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Long experience has shown that armies can not be maintained unless desertion shall be punished by the severe penalty of death The case requires and the law and the constitution sanction this punishment Must I shoot a simple minded soldier boy who deserts while I must not touch a hair of a wiley agitator who induces him to desert This is none the less injurious when effected by getting a father or brother or friend into a public meeting and there working upon his feeling till he is persuaded to write the soldier boy that he is fighting in a bad cause for a wicked administration of a contemptable government too weak to arrest and punish him if he shall desert I think that in such a case to silence the agitator and save the boy is not only constitutional but withal a great mercy Abraham Lincoln

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