The Life, Public Services and State Papers of Abraham Lincoln

By Henry J. Raymond

Chapter 8



CONGRESS met in regular session (the second of the Thirty-seventh Congress) on the 2d of December, 1861. On the next day the President sent in his Annual Message, as follows :


 In the midst of unprecedented political troubles, we have cause of great gratitude to God for unusual good health and most abundant harvests.

You will not be surprised to learn that, in the peculiar exigencies of the times, our intercourse with foreign nations has been attended with profound solicitude, chiefly turning upon our own domestic affairs.

A disloyal portion of the American people have, during the whole year, been engaged in an attempt to divide and destroy the Union. A nation which endures factious domestic division is exposed to disrespect abroad; and one party, if not both, is sure, sooner or later, to invoke foreign intervention.

Nations thus tempted to interfere are not always able to resist the counsels of seeming expediency and ungenerous ambition, although measures adopted under such influences seldon fail to be unfortunate and injurious to those adopting them.

The disloyal citizens of the United States who have offered the ruin of our country, in return for the aid and comfort which they have invoked abroad, have received less patronage and encouragement than they probably expected. If it were just to suppose, as the insurgents "have seemed to assume, that foreign nations, in this case, discarding all moral, social, and treaty obligations, would act solely and selfishly for the most speedy restoration of commerce, including especially the acquisition of cotton, those nations appear, as yet, not to have seen their way to their object more directly, or clearly, through the destruction, than through the preservation, of the Union. If we could dare to believe that foreign nations are actuated by no higher principle than this, I am quite sure a sound argument could be made to show them that they can reach their aim more readily and easily by aiding to crush this rebellion, than by giving encouragement to it.

The principal lever relied on by the insurgents for exciting foreign nations to hostility against us, as already intimated, is the embarrassment of commerce. Those nations, however, not improbably, saw from the first, that it was the Union which made, as well our foreign as our domestic commerce. They can scarcely have failed to perceive that the effort for disunion produced the existing difficulty; and that one strong nation promises more durable peace, and a more extensive, valuable, and reliable commerce, than can the same nation broken into hostile fragments.

It is not my purpose to review our discussions with foreign states; because whatever might be their wishes or dispositions, the integrity of our country and the stability of our Government mainly depend, not upon them, but on the loyalty, virtue, patriotism, and intelligence of the American people. The correspondence itself, with the usual reservations, is herewith submitted.

I venture to hope it will appear that we have practised prudence and liberality towards foreign powers, averting causes of irritation; and with firmness maintaining our own rights and honor.

Since, however, it is apparent that here, as in every other state, foreign dangers necessarily attend domestic difficulties, I recommend that adequate and ample measures be adopted for maintaining the public defences on every side. While, under this general recommendation, provision for defending our sea-coast line readily occurs to the mind, I also, in the same connection, ask the attention of Congress to our great lakes and rivers. It is believed that some fortifications and dpts of arms and munitions, with harbor and navigation improvements, all at well-selected points upon these, would be of great importance to the national defence and preservation. I ask attention to the views of the Secretary of "War, expressed in his report, upon the same general subject.

I deem it of importance that the loyal regions of East Tennessee and "Western North Carolina should be connected with Kentucky and other faithful parts of the Union by railroad. I therefore recommend, as a military measure, that Congress provide for the construction of such road as speedily as possible.

Kentucky will no doubt co-operate, and through her Legislature make the most judicious selection of a line. The northern terminus must connect with some existing railroad, and whether the route shall be from Lexington or Nicholasville to the Cumberland Gap, or from Lebanon to the Tennessee line, in the direction of Knoxville, or on some still different line, can easily be determined. Kentucky and the General Government co-operating, the work can be completed in a very short time, and when done it will be not only of vast present usefulness, but also a valuable permanent improvement worth its cost in all the future.

Some treaties, designed chiefly for the interests of commerce, and having no grave political importance, have been negotiated, and will be submitted to the Senate for their consideration. Although we have failed to induce some of the commercial Powers to adopt a desirable melioration of the rigor of maritime war, we have removed all obstructions from the way of this humane reform, except such as are merely of temporary and accidental occurrence.

I invite your attention to the correspondence between her Britannic Majesty's Minister, accredited to this Government, and the Secretary of State, relative to the detention of the British ship Perthshire in June last by the United States steamer Massachusetts, for a supposed breach of the blockade. As this detention was occasioned by an obvious misapprehension of the facts, and as justice requires that we should commit no belligerent act not founded in strict right as sanctioned by public law, I recommend that an appropriation be made to satisfy the reasonable demand of the owners of the vessel for her detention.

I repeat the recommendation of my predecessor in his annual message to Congress in December last in regard to the disposition of the surplus which will probably remain after satisfying the claims of American citizens against China, pursuant to the awards of the commissioners under the act of the 3d of March, 1859.

If, however, it should not be deemed advisable to carry that recommendation into effect, I would suggest that authority be given for investing the principal over the proceeds of the surplus referred to in good securities, with a view to the satisfaction of such other just claim of our citizens against China as are not unlikely to arise hereafter in the course of our extensive trade with that empire.

By the act of the 5th of August last, Congress authorized the President to instruct the commanders of suitable vessels to defend themselves against and to capture pirates. This authority has been exercised in a single instance only.

For the more effectual protection of our extensive and valuable commerce in the Eastern seas especially, it seems to me that it would also be advisable to authorize the commanders of sailing-vessels to recapture any prizes which pirates may make of the United States vessels and their cargoes, and the Consular Courts established by law in Eastern countries to adjudicate the cases in the event that this should not be objected to by the local authorities.

If any good reason exists why we should persevere longer in withholding our recognition of the independence and sovereignty of Hayti and Liberia, I am unable to discern it. Unwilling, however, to inaugurate a novel policy in regard to them without the approbation of Congress, I submit to your consideration the expediency of an appropriation for maintaining a Charg d' Affaires near each of those new states. It does not admit of doubt that important commercial advantages might be secured by favorable treaties with them.

The operations of the Treasury during the period which has elapsed since your adjournment have been conducted with signal success. The patriotism of the people has placed at the disposal of the Government the large means demanded by the public exigencies. Much of the national loan has been taken by citizens of the industrial classes, whose confidence in their country's faith, and zeal for their country's deliverance from its present peril, have induced them to contribute to the support of the Government the whole of their limited acquisitions. This fact imposes peculiar obligations to economy in disbursement and energy in action. The revenue from all sources, including loans for the financial year ending on the 30th of June, 1861, was $86,835,900.27; and the expenditures for the same period, including payments on account of the public debt, were $84,578,034.47; leaving a balance in the treasury, on the 1st of July, of $2,257,065.80 for the first quarter of the financial year ending on September 30, 1861. The receipts from all sources, including the balance of July 1, were $102,532,509.27, and the expenses $98,239,733.09; leaving a balance, on the 1st of October, 1861, of $4,292,776.18.

Estimates for the remaining three-quarters of the year and for the financial year of 1863, together with his views of the ways and means for meeting the demands contemplated by them, will be submitted to Congress by the Secretary of the Treasury. It is gratifying to know that the expenses made necessary by the rebellion are not beyond the resources of the loyal people, and to believe that the same patriotism which has thus far sustained the Government will continue to sustain it till peace and union shall again bless the land. I respectfully refer to the report of the Secretary of War for information respecting the numerical strength of the army, and for recommendations having in view an increase of its efficiency, and the well-being of the various branches of the service intrusted to his care. It is gratifying to know that the patriotism of the people has proved equal to the occasion, and that the number of troops tendered greatly exceed the force which Congress authorized me to call into the field. I refer with pleasure to those portions of his report which make allusion to the creditable degree of discipline already attained by our troops, and to the excellent sanitary condition of the entire army. The recommendation of the Secretary for an organization of the militia upon a uniform basis is a subject of vital importance to the future safety of the country, and is commended to the serious attention of Congress. The large addition to the regular army, in connection with the defection that has so considerably diminished the number of its officers, gives peculiar importance to his recommendation for increasing the corps of cadets to the greatest capacity of the Military Academy.

By mere omission, I presume, Congress has failed to provide chaplains for the hospitals occupied by the volunteers. This subject was brought to my notice, and I was induced to draw up the form of a letter, one copy of which, properly addressed, has been delivered to each of the persons, and at the dates respectively named and stated in a schedule, containing, also, the form of the letter marked A, and herewith transmitted. These gentlemen, I understand, entered upon the duties designated at the times respectively stated in the schedule, and have labored faithfully therein ever since. I therefore recommend that they be compensated at the same rate as chaplains in the army. I further suggest that general provision be made for chaplains to serve at hospitals, as well as with regiments.

The report of the Secretary of the Navy presents, in detail, the operations of that branch of the service, the activity and energy which have characterized its administration, and the results of measures to increase its efficiency and power. Such have been the additions, by construction and purchase, that it may almost be said a navy has been created and brought into service since our difficulties commenced.

Besides blockading our extensive coast, squadrons larger than ever before assembled under our flag have been put afloat, and performed deeds which have increased our naval renown.

I would invite special attention to the recommendation of the Secretary for a more perfect organization of the navy, by introducing additional grades in the service.

The present organization is defective and unsatisfactory, and the suggestions submitted by the department will, it is believed, if adopted, obviate the difficulties alluded to, promote harmony and increase the efficiency of the navy.

There are three vacancies on the bench of the Supreme Court two by the decease of Justices Daniel and McLean, and one by the resignation of Justice Campbell. I have so far forborne making nominations to fill these vacancies for reasons which I will now state. Two of the outgoing judges resided within the States now overrun by revolt; so that if successors were appointed in the same localities, they could not now serve upon their circuits; and many of the most competent men there probably would not take the personal hazard of accepting to serve, even here, upon the supreme bench. I have been unwilling to throw all the appointments northward, thus disabling myself from doing justice to the South on the return of peace; although I may remark, that to transfer to the North one which has heretofore been in the South, would not, with reference to territory and population, be unjust.

During the long and brilliant judicial career of Judge McLean, his circuit grew into an empire altogether too large for any one judge to give the courts therein more than a nominal attendance rising in population from one million four hundred and seventy thousand and eighteen, in 1830, to six million one hundred and fifty-one thousand four hundred and five, in 1860.

Besides this, the country generally has outgrown our present judicial system. If uniformity was at all intended, the system requires that all the States shall be accommodated with Circuit Courts, attended by supreme judges, while, in fact, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Kansas, Florida, Texas, California, and Oregon, have never had any such courts. Nor can this well be remedied without a change of the system; because the adding of judges to the Supreme Court, enough for the accommodation of all parts of the country with Circuit Courts, would create a court altogether too numerous for a judicial body of any sort. And the evil, if it be one, will increase as new States come into the Union. Circuit Courts are useful, or they are not useful. If useful, no State should be denied them; if not useful, no State should have them. Let them be provided for all, or abolished as to all.

Three modifications occur to me, either of which, I think, would be an improvement upon our present system. Let the Supreme Court be of convenient number in every event. Then, first, let the whole country be divided into circuits of convenient size, the supreme judges to serve in a number of them corresponding to their own number, and independent circuit judges be provided for all the rest. Or, secondly, let the supreme judges be relieved from circuit duties, and circuit judges provided for all the circuits. Or, thirdly, dispense with circuit courts altogether, leaving the judicial functions wholly to the district courts and an independent Supreme Court.

I respectfully recommend to the consideration of Congress the present condition of the statute laws, with the hope that Congress will be able to find an easy remedy for many of the inconveniences and evils which constantly embarrass those engaged in the practical administration of them. Since the organization of the Government, Congress has enacted some five thousand acts and joint resolutions, which fill 'more than six thousand closely-printed pages, and are scattered through many volumes. Many of these acts have been drawn in haste and without sufficient caution, so that their provisions are often obscure in themselves, or in conflict with each other, or at least so doubtful as to render it very difficult for even the best-informed persons to ascertain precisely what the statute law really is.

It seems to me very important that the statute laws should be made as plain and intelligible as possible, and be reduced to as small a compass as may consist with the fulness and precision of the will of the legislature and the perspicuity of its language. This, well done, would, I think, greatly facilitate the labors of those whose duty it is to assist in the administration of the laws, and would be a lasting benefit to the people, by placing before them, in a more accessible and intelligible form, the laws which so deeply concern their interests and their duties.

I am informed by some whose opinions I respect, that all the acts of Congress now in force, and of a permanent and general nature, might be revised and rewritten, so as to be embraced in one volume (or, at most, two volumes) of ordinary and convenient size. And I respectfully recommend to Congress to consider of the subject, and, if my suggestion be approved, to devise such plan as to their wisdom shall seem most proper for the attainment of the end proposed.

One of the unavoidable consequences of the present insurrection is the entire suppression, in many places, of all the ordinary means of administering civil justice by the officers, and in the forms of existing law. This is the case, in whole or in part, in all the insurgent States; and as our armies advance upon and take possession of parts of those States, the practical evil becomes more apparent. There are no courts nor officers to whom the citizens of other States may apply for the enforcement of their lawful claims against citizens of the insurgent States; and there is a vast amount of debt constituting such claims. Some have estimated it as high as two hundred million dollars, due, in large part, from insurgents in open rebellion to loyal citizens who are, even now, making great sacrifices in the discharge of their patriotic duty to support the Government.

Under these circumstances, I have been urgently solicited to establish, by military power, courts to administer summary justice in such cases. I have thus far declined to do it, not because I had any doubt that the end proposed the collection of the debts was just and right in itself, but because I have been unwilling to go beyond the pressure of necessity in the unusual exercise of power. But the powers of Congress, I suppose, are equal to the anomalous occasion, and therefore I refer the whole matter to Congress, with the hope that a plan may be devised for the administration of justice in all such parts of the insurgent States and Territories as may be under the control of this Government, whether by a voluntary return to allegiance and order, or by the power of our arms; this, however, not to be a permanent institution, but a temporary substitute, and to cease as soon as the ordinary courts can be re-established in peace.

It is. important that some more convenient means should be provided, if possible, for the adjustment of claims against the Government,' especially in view of their increased number by reason of the war. It is as much the duty of Government to render prompt justice against itself, in favor of citizens, as it is to administer the same between private individuals. The investigation and adjudication of claims, in their nature, belong to the judicial department; besides, it is apparent that the attention of Congress will be more than usually engaged, for some time to come, with great national questions. It was intended, by the organization of the Court of Claims, mainly to remove this branch of business from the halls of Congress; but while the court has proved to be an effective and valuable means of investigation, it in great degree fails to effect the object of its creation, for want of power to make its judgments final.

Fully aware of the delicacy, not to say the danger, of the subject, I commend to your careful consideration whether this power of making judgments final may not properly be given to the court, reserving the right of appeal on questions of law to the Supreme Court, with such other provisions as experience may have shown to be necessary.

I ask attention to the report of the Postmaster-General, the following being a summary statement of the condition of the department :

The revenue from all sources during the fiscal year ending June 30, 1861, including the annual permanent appropriation of seven hundred thousand dollars for the transportation of "free mail matter," was nine million forty-nine thousand two hundred and ninety-six dollars and forty cents, being about two per cent, less than the revenue for 1860.

The expenditures were thirteen million six hundred and six thousand seven hundred and fifty-nine dollars and eleven cents, showing a decrease of more than eight per cent, as compared with those of the previous year, and leaving an excess of expenditure over the revenue for the last fiscal year of four million five hundred and fifty-seven thousand four hundred and sixty-two dollars and seventy-one cents.

The gross revenue for the year ending June 30, 1863, is estimated at an increase of four per cent, on that of 1861, making eight million six hundred and eighty-three thousand dollars, to which should be added the earnings of the department in carrying free matter, viz., seven hundred thousand dollars, making nine million three hundred and eighty-three thousand dollars.

The total expenditures for 1863 are estimated at twelve million five hundred and twenty-eight thousand dollars, leaving an estimated deficiency of three million one hundred and forty -five thousand dollars to be supplied from the Treasury, in addition to the permanent appropriation.

The present insurrection shows, I think, that the extension of this district across the Potomac River, at the time of establishing the Capital here, was eminently wise, and consequently that the relinquishment of that portion of it which lies within the State of Virginia was unwise and dangerous. I submit for your consideration the expediency of regaining that part of the district, and the restoration of the original boundaries' thereof, through negotiations with the State of Virginia.

The report of the Secretary of the Interior, with the accompanying documents, exhibits the condition of the several branches of the public business pertaining to that department. The depressing influences of the insurrection have been especially felt in the operations of the Patent an<i General Land Offices. The cash receipts from the sales of public lands during the past year have exceeded the expenses of our land system only about two hundred thousand dollars. The sales have been entirely suspended in the Southern States, while the interruptions to the business of the country, and the diversion of large numbers of men from labor to military service, have obstructed settlements in the new States and Territories of the Northwest.

The receipts of the Patent Office have declined in nine months about one hundred thousand dollars, rendering a large reduction of the force employed necessary to make it self-sustaining.

The demands upon the Pension Office will be largely increased by the insurrection. Numerous applications for pensions, based upon the casualties of the existing war, have already been made. There is reason to believe that many who are now upon the pension rolls, and in receipt of the bounty of the Government, are in the ranks of the insurgent army, or giving them aid and comfort. The Secretary of the Interior has directed a suspension of the payment of the pensions of such persons upon proof of their disloyalty. I recommend that Congress authorize that officer to cause iu* names of such persons to be stricken from the pension rolls.

The relations of the Government with the Indian tribes have been greatly disturbed by the insurrection, especially in the southern superintendency and in that of New Mexico. The Indian country south of Kansas is in the possession of insurgents from Texas and Arkansas. The agents of the United States appointed since the 4th of March for this superintendency have been unable to reach their posts, while the most of those who were in office before that time have espoused the insurrectionary cause, and assume to exercise the powers of agents by virtue of commissions from the insurrectionists. It has been stated in the public press that a portion of those Indians have been organized as a military force, and are attached to the army of the insurgents. Although the Government has no official information upon this subject, letters have been written to the Commissioner of Indian Affairs by several prominent chiefs, giving assurance of their loyalty to the United States, and expressing a wish for the presence of Federal troops to protect them". It is believed that upon the repossession of the country by the Federal forces, the Indians will readily cease all hostile demonstrations, and resume their former relations to the Government.

Agriculture, confessedly the largest interest of the nation, has not a department, nor a bureau, but a clerkship only, assigned to it in the Government. While it is fortunate that this great interest is so independent in its nature as to not have demanded and extorted more from the Government, I respectfully ask Congress to consider whether something more cannot be given voluntarily with general advantage.

Annual reports exhibiting the condition of our agriculture, commerce, and manufactures, would present a fund of information of great practical value to the country. "While I make no suggestion as to details, I venture the opinion that an agricultural and statistical bureau might profitably be organized.

The execution of the laws for the suppression of the African slave-trade has been confided to the Department of the Interior. It is a subject of gratulation that the efforts which have been made for the suppression of this inhuman traffic have been recently attended with unusual success. Five  vessels being fitted out for the slave-trade have been seized and condemned. Two mates of vessels engaged in the trade, and one person in equipping a vessel as a slaver, have been convicted and subjected to the penalty of fine and imprisonment, and one captain, taken with a cargo of Africans on board his vessel, has been convicted of the highest grade of offence under our laws, the punishment of which is death.

The Territories of Colorado, Dakotah, and Nevada, created by the last Congress, have been organized, and civil administration has been inaugurated therein under auspices especially gratifying, when it is considered that the leaven of treason was found existing in some of these new countries when the Federal officers arrived there.

The abundant natural resources of these Territories, with the security and protection afforded by organized government, will doubtless invite to them a large immigration when peace shall restore the business of the country to its accustomed channels. I submit the resolutions of the Legislature of Colorado, which evidence the patriotic spirit of the people of the Territory. So far the authority of the United States has been upheld in all the Territories, as it is hoped it will be in the future. I commend their interests and defence to the enlightened and generous care of Congress.

I recommend to the favorable consideration of Congress the interests of the District of Columbia. The insurrection has been the cause of much suffering and sacrifice to its inhabitants, and as they have no representative in Congress, that body should not overlook their just claims upon the Government.

At your late session a joint resolution was adopted authorizing the President to take measures for facilitating a proper representation of the industrial interests of the United States at the exhibition of the industry of all nations to be holden at London in the year 1862. I regret to say I have been unable to give personal attention to this subject a subject at once so interesting in itself, and so extensively and intimately connected with the material prosperity of the world. Through the Secretaries of State and of the Interior a plan or system has been devised and partly matured, and which will be laid before you.

Under and by virtue of the act of Congress entitled "An act to confiscate property used for insurrectionary purposes," approved August 6, 1861, the legal claims of certain persons to the labor and service of certain other persons have become forfeited; and numbers of the latter, thus liberated, are already dependent on the United States, and must be provided for in some way. Besides this, it is not impossible that some of the States will pass similar enactments for their own benefit respectively, and by operation of which persons of the same class will be thrown upon them for disposal. In such case, I recommend that Congress provide for accepting such persons from such States, according to some mode of valuation, in lieu, pro tanto, of direct taxes, or upon some other plan to be 'agreed on with such States respectively; that such persons, on such acceptance by the General Government, be at once deemed free; and that, in any event, steps be taken for colonizing both classes (or the one first mentioned, if the other shall not be brought into existence) at some place or places in a climate congenial to them. It might be well to consider, too, whether the free colored people already in the United States could not, so far as individuals may desire, be included in such colonization.

To carry out the plan of colonization may involve the acquiring of territory, and also the appropriation of money beyond that to be expended in the territorial acquisition. Having practised the acquisition of territory for nearly sixty years, the question of constitutional power to do so is no longer an open one with us. The power was questioned at first by Mr. Jefferson, who, however, in the purchase of Louisiana, yielded his scruples on the plea of great expediency. If it be said that the only legitimate object of acquiring territory is to furnish homes for white men, this measure effects that object; for the emigration of colored men leaves additional room for white men remaining or coming here. Mr. Jefferson, however, placed the importance of procuring Louisiana more on political and commercial grounds than on providing room for population.

On this whole proposition, including the appropriation of money with the acquisition of territory, does not the expediency amount to absolute necessity that, without which the Government itself cannot be perpetuated?

The war continues. In considering the policy to be adopted for suppressing the insurrection, I have been anxious and careful that the inevitable conflict for this purpose shall not degenerate into a violent and remorseless revolutionary struggle.

In the exercise of my best discretion, I have adhered to the blockade of the ports held by the insurgents, instead of putting in force by proclamation the law of Congress enacted at the late session for closing those ports.

So, also, obeying the dictates of prudence, as well as the obligations of law, instead of transcending I have adhered to the act of Congress to confiscate property used for insurrectionary purposes. If a new law upon the same subject shall be proposed, its propriety will be duly considered. The Union must be preserved; and hence all indispensable means must be employed. We should not be in haste to determine that radical and extreme measures, which may reach the loyal as well as the disloyal, are indispensable.

The inaugural address at the beginning of the Administration, and the message to Congress at the late special session, were both mainly devoted to the domestic controversy out of which the insurrection and consequent war have sprung. Nothing now occurs to add or subtract to or from the principles or general purposes stated and expressed in those documents.

The last ray of hope for preserving the Union peaceably expired at the assault upon Fort Sumter; and a general review of what has occurred since may not be unprofitable. "What was painfully uncertain then is much better defined and more distinct now; and the progress of events is plainly in the right direction. The insurgents confidently claimed a strong support from north of Mason and Dixon's line; and the friends of the Union were not free from apprehension on the point. This, however, was soon settled definitely, and on the right side. South of the line, noble little Delaware led off right from the first. Maryland was made to seem against the Union. Our soldiers were assaulted, bridges were burned, and railroads torn up within her limits; and we were many days, at one time, without the ability to bring a single regiment over her soil to the Capital. Now her bridges and railroads are repaired and open to the Government; she already gives seven regiments to the cause of the Union, and none to the enemy; and her people, at a regular election, have sustained the Union by a larger majority and a larger aggregate vote than they ever before gave to any candidate or any question. Kentucky, too, for some time in doubt, is now decidedly, and, I think, unchangeably ranged on the side of the Union. Missouri is comparatively quiet, and, I believe, cannot again be overrun by the insurrectionists. These three States of Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri, neither of which would promise a single soldier at first, have now an aggregate of not less than forty thousand in the field for the Union; while of their citizens, certainly not more than a third of that number, and they of doubtful whereabouts and doubtful existence, are in arms against it. After a somewhat bloody struggle of months, winter closes on the Union people of "Western Virginia, leaving them masters of their own country.

An insurgent force of about fifteen hundred, for months dominating the narrow peninsular region constituting the counties of Accomac and Northampton, and known as Eastern Shore of Virginia, together with some contiguous parts of Maryland, have laid down their arms; and the people there have renewed their allegiance to, and accepted the protection of, the old flag. This leaves no armed insurrectionist north of the Potomac, or east of the Chesapeake.

Also we have obtained a footing at each of the isolated points on the southern coast of Hatteras, Port Royal, Tybee Island, near Savannah, and Ship Island; and we likewise have some general accounts of popular movements in behalf of the Union in North Carolina and Tennessee.

These things demonstrate that the cause of the Union is advancing steadily and certainly southward.

Since your last adjournment Lieutenant-General Scott has retired from the head of the army. During his long life the nation has not been unmindful of his merit; yet, on calling to mind how faithfully, ably, and brilliantly he has served the country, from a time far back in our history ) when few of the now living had been born, and thenceforward continually, I cannot but think we are still his debtors. I submit, therefore, for your consideration what further mark of recognition is due to him, and to ourselves as a grateful people.

"With the retirement of General Scott came the executive duty of appointing in his stead a general-in-chief of the army. It is a fortunate circumstance that neither in council nor country was there, so far as I know, any difference of opinion as to the proper person to be selected. The retiring chief repeatedly expressed his judgment in favor of General McClellan for the position; and in this the nation seemed to give a unanimous concurrence. The designation of General McClellan is, therefore, in considerable degree, the selection of the country as well as of the Executive; and hence there is better reason to hope there will be given him the confidence and Cordial support thus, by fair implication, promised, and without which he cannot, with so full efficiency, serve the country.

It has been said that one bad general is better than two good ones; and the saying is true, if taken to mean no more than that an army is better directed by a single mind, though inferior, than by two superior ones at variance and cross-purposes with each other.

And the same is true in all joint operations wherein those engaged can have none but a common end in view, and can differ only as to the choice of means. In a storm at sea, no one on board can wish the ship to sink; and yet not infrequently all go down together, because too many will direct, and no single mind can be allowed to control.

It continues to develop that the insurrection is largely, if not exclusively, a war upon the first principle of popular government the rights of the people. Conclusive evidence of this is found in the most grave and maturely-considered public documents, as well as in the general tone of the insurgents. In those documents we find the abridgment of the existing right of suffrage, and the denial to the people of all right to participate in the selection of public officers, except the legislative, boldly advocated, with labored arguments to prove that large control of the people in government is the source of all political evil. Monarchy itself is sometimes hinted at as a possible refuge from the power of the people.

In my present position, I could scarely be justified were I to omit raising a warning voice against this approach of returning despotism.

It is not needed, nor fitting here, that a general argument should be made in favor of popular institutions; but there is one point, with its connections, not so hackneyed as most others, to which I ask a brief attention. It is the effort to place capital on an equal footing with, if not above, labor, in the structure of government. It is assumed that labor is available only in connection with capital; that nobody labors unless somebody else, owning capital, somehow by the use of it induces him to labor. This assumed, it is next considered whether it is best that capital shall hire laborers, and thus induce them to work by their own consent, or buy them, and drive them to it without their consent. Having proceeded so far, it is naturally concluded that all laborers are either hired laborers, or what we call slaves. And further, it is assumed that whoever is once a hired laborer is fixed in that condition for life.

Now, there is no such relation between capital and labor as assumed; nor is there any such thing as a free man being fixed for life in the condition of a hired laborer. Both these assumptions are false, and all inferences from them are groundless.

Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights. Nor is it denied that there is, and probably always will be, a relation between labor and capital, producing mutual benefits. The error is in assuming that the whole labor of community exists within that relation. A few men own capital, and those few avoid labor themselves, and, with their capital, hire or buy -another few to labor for them. A large majority belong to neither class neither work for others, nor have others working for them. In most of the Southern States, a majority of the whole people of all colors are neither slaves nor masters; while in the Northern, a large majority are neither hirers nor hired. Men, with their families wives, sons, and daughters work for themselves on their farms, in their houses, and in their shops, taking the whole product to themselves, and asking no favors of capital on the one hand, nor of hired laborers or slaves on the other. It is not forgotten that a considerable number of persons mingle their own labor with capital that is, they labor with their own hands, and also buy or hire others to labor for them; but this is only a mixed, and not a distinct class. No principle stated is disturbed by the existence of this mixed class.

Again : as has already been said, there is not of necessity any such thing as the free hired laborer being fixed to that condition for life. Many independent men everywhere in these States, a few years back in their lives, were hired laborers. The prudent, penniless beginner in the world labors for wages a while, saves a surplus with which to buy tools or land for himself, then labors on his own account another while, and at length hires another new beginner to help him. This is the just, and generous, and prosperous system, which opens the way to all, gives hope to all, and consequent energy, and progress, and improvement of condition to all. No men living are more worthy to be trusted than those who toil up from poverty none less inclined to take or touch aught which they have not honestly earned. Let them beware of surrendering a political power which they already possess, and which, if surrendered, will surely be used to close the door of advancement against such as they, and to fix new disabilities and burdens upon them, till all of liberty shall be lost.

From the first taking of our national census to the last are seventy years; and we find our population, at the end of the period, eight times as great as it was at the beginning. The increase of those other things which men deem desirable has been even greater. We thus have, at one view, what the popular principle, applied to Government through the machinery of the States and the Union, has produced in a given time; and also what, if firmly maintained, it promises for the future. There are already among us those who, if the Union be preserved, will live to see it contain two hundred and fifty millions. The struggle of to-day is not altogether for to-day; it is for a vast future also. With a reliance on Providence, all the more firm and earnest, let us proceed in the great task which events have devolved upon us.


The actual condition of the country and the progress of the war, at the opening of the session, are very clearly stated in this document; and the principles upon which the President had based his conduct of public affairs are set forth with great distinctness and precision. On the subject of interfering with slavery, the President had adhered strictly to the letter and spirit of the act passed by Congress at its extra session; but he very distinctly foresaw that it might become necessary, as a means of quelling the rebellion and preserving the Union, to resort to a much more vigorous policy than was contemplated by that act. While he threw out a timely caution against undue haste in the adoption of extreme measures, he promised full and careful consideration of any new law which Congress might consider it wise and expedient to pass.

It very soon became evident that Congress was disposed to make very considerable advances upon the legislation of the extra session. The resistance of the rebels had been more vigorous and effective than was anticipated, and the defeat at Bull Run had exasperated as well as aroused the public mind. The forbearance of the Government in regard to slavery had not only failed to soften the hostility of the rebels, but had been represented to Europe by the rebel authorities as proving a determination on the part of the United States to protect and perpetuate slavery by restoring the authority of the Constitution which guaranteed its safety; and the acts of the extra session, especially the Crittenden resolution, defining and limiting the objects of the war, were quoted in rebel dispatches to England for that purpose. It was known, also, that within the lines of the rebel array slaves were freely employed in the construction of fortifications, and that they contributed in this and other ways very largely to the strength of the insurrection. The whole country, under the influence of these facts, began to regard slavery as not only the cause of the rebellion, but as the main strength of its armies and the bond of union for the rebel forces; and Congress, representing and sharing this feeling, entered promptly and zealously upon such measures as it would naturally suggest. Resolutions at the very outset of the session were offered, calling on the President to emancipate slaves whenever and wherever such action would tend to weaken the rebellion; and the general policy of the Government upon this subject became the theme of protracted and animated debate. The orders issued by the generals of the army, especially McClellan, Halleck, and Dix, by which fugitive slaves were prohibited from coming within the army lines, were severely censured. All the resolutions upon these topics were, however, referred to appropriate committees, generally without specific instructions as to the character of their action upon them.

Early in the session a strong disposition was evinced in some quarters to censure the Government for its arbitrary arrests of persons in the loyal States, suspected of aiding the rebels, its suppression of disloyal presses, and other acts which it had deemed essential to the safety of the country; and a sharp debate took place in the Senate upon a resolution of inquiry and implied censure offered by Mr. Trumbull, of Illinois. The general feeling, however, was so decidedly in favor of sustaining the President, that the resolution was referred to the Judiciary Committee, by a vote of twenty-five to seventeen.

On the 19th of December, in the Senate, a debate on the relation of slavery to the rebellion arose upon a resolution offered by Mr. Willey, of West Virginia, who contested the opinion that slavery was the cause of the war, and insisted that the rebellion had its origin in the hostility of the Southern political leaders to the democratic principle of government; he believed that when the great body of the Southern people came to see the real purpose and aim of the rebellion, they would withdraw their support, and restore the Union. No action was taken on the resolution, which merely gave occasion for debate. A resolution was adopted in the House, forbidding the employment of the army to return fugitive slaves to their owners; and a bill was passed in both Houses, declaring that hereafter there shall be " neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in any of the Territories of the United States, now existing, or which may at any time be formed or acquired by the United States, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes whereof the party shall have been duly convicted."

In the Senate, on the 18th of March, a bill was taken up to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia; and an amendment was offered, directing that those thus set free should be colonized out of the United States. The policy of colonization was fully discussed in connection with the general subject, the senators from the Border States opposing the bill itself, mainly on grounds of expediency, as calculated to do harm under the existing circumstances of the country. The bill was passed, with an amendment appropriating money to be used by the President in colonizing such of the emancipated slaves as might wish to leave the country. It received in the Senate twenty-nine votes in its favor and fourteen against it. In the House it passed by a vote of ninety-two to thirty-eight.

President Lincoln sent in the following message, announcing his approval of the bill :


The act entitled " An act for the release of certain persons held to service or labor in the District of Columbia," has this day been approved and signed.

I have never doubted the constitutional authority of Congress to abolish slavery in this District; and I have ever desired to see the national capital freed from the institution in some satisfactory way. Hence there has never been in my mind any question upon the subject except the one of expediency, arising in view of all the circumstances. If there be matters within and about this act which might have taken a course or shape more satisfactory to my judgment, I do not attempt to specify them. I am gratified that the two principles of compensation and colonization are both recognized and practically applied in the act.

In the matter of compensation, it is provided that claims may be presented within ninety days from the passage of the act, " but not thereafter; " and there is no saving for minors, femmes covert, insane, or absent persons. I presume this is an omission by mere oversight, and I recommend that it be supplied by an amendatory or supplemental act.


April 16, 1862.

On the 6th of March, the President sent to Congress the following message on the subject of aiding such slaveholding States as might take measures to emancipate their slaves :

WASHINGTON, March 6, 1863.


I recommend the adoption of a joint resolution by your honorable body, which shall be, substantially, as follows :

Resolved, That the United States, in order to co-operate with any State which may adopt gradual abolition of slavery, give to such State pecuniary aid, to be used by such State, in its discretion, to compensate it for the inconvenience, public and private, produced by such change of system.

If the proposition contained in the resolution does not meet the approval of Congress and the country, there is an end of it. But if it does command such approval, I deem it of importance that the States and people immediately interested should be at once distinctly notified of the fact, so that they may begin to consider whether to accept or reject it.

The Federal Government would find its highest interest in such a measure as one of the most important means of self-preservation. The leaders of the existing rebellion entertain the hope that this Government will ultimately be forced to acknowledge the independence of some part of the disaffected region, and that all the slave States north of such part will then say, " The Union for which we have struggled being already gone, we now choose to go with the Southern section." To deprive them of this hope substantially ends the rebellion and the initiation of emancipation deprives them of it, and of all the States initiating it.

The point is not that all the States tolerating slavery would very soon, if at all, initiate emancipation; but while the offer is equally made to all, the more Northern shall, by such initiation, make it certain to the more Southern that in no event will the former ever join the latter in their proposed Confederacy. I say initiation, because, in my judgment, gradual and not sudden emancipation is better for all.

In the mere financial or pecuniary view, any member of Congress with the census or an abstract of the Treasury report before him, can readily see for himself how very soon the current expenditures of this Avar would purchase, at a fair valuation, all the slaves in any named State.

Such a proposition on the part of the General Government sets up no claim of a right by the Federal authority to interfere with slavery within State limits referring as it does the absolute control of the subject, in each case, to the State and the people immediately interested. It is proposed as a matter of perfectly free choice to them.

In the Annual Message last December, I thought fit to say " the Union must be preserved, and hence all indispensable means must be employed." I said this, not hastily, but deliberately. War has been made, and -continues to be an indispensable means to this end. A practical reacknowledgment of the national authority would render the Avar unnecessary, and it would at once cease. But resistance continues, and the Avar must also continue; and it is impossible to foresee all the incidents Avhich may attend, and all the ruin which may follow it. Such as may seem indispensable, or may obviously promise great efficiency towards ending the struggle, must and will come.

The proposition now made (though an offer only), I hope it may be esteemed no offence to ask whether the pecuniary consideration tendered would not be of more value to the States and private persons concerned than would the institution and property in it, in the present aspect of affairs. "While it is true that the adoption of the proposed resolution would be merely initiatory, and not within itself a practical measure, it is recommended in the hope that it would lead to important practical results.

In full view of my great responsibility to my God and my country, I earnestly beg the attention of Congress and the people to the subject.


This Message indicates very clearly the tendency of the President's reflections upon the general relations of slavery to the rebellion. He had most earnestly endeavored to arouse the people of the Southern States to a contemplation of the fact that, if they persisted in their effort to overthrow the Government of the United States, the fate of slavery would sooner or later inevitably be involved in the conflict. The time was steadily approaching when, in consequence of their obstinate persistence in the rebellion, this result would follow; and the President, with wise forethought, sought anxiously to reconcile the shock which the contest would involve, with the order of the country and the permanent prosperity of all classes of the people. The general feeling of the country at that time was in harmony with this endeavor. The people were still disposed to exhaust every means which justice would sanction, to withdraw the people of the Southern States from the disastrous war into which they had been plunged by their leaders, and they welcomed this suggestion of the President as likely to produce that result, if any effort in that direction could.

In pursuance of the recommendation of the Message. Mr. R. Conkling, of New York, introduced, in the House of Representatives, on the 10th of March, the following resolution :

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States in Congress assembled, That the United States ought to co-operate with any State which may adopt gradual abolishment of slavery, giving to such State pecuniary aid, to be used by such State in its discretion, to compensate for the inconveniences, public and private, produced by such a change of system.

The debate on this resolution illustrated the feelings of the country on the subject. It was vehemently opposed by the sympathizers with secession from both sections, as an unconstitutional interference with slavery, and hesitatingly supported by the anti-slavery men of the North, as less decided in its hostility than they had a right to expect. The sentiment of the more moderate portion of the community was expressed by Mr. Fisher, of Delaware, who regarded it as an olive-branch of peace and harmony and good faith presented by the North, and as well calculated to bring about a peaceful solution and settlement of the slavery question. It was adopted in the House by a vote of eighty-nine to thirty-one. Coming up in the Senate on the 24th of March, it was denounced in strong terms by Mr. Saulsbury, of Delaware, and others Mr. Davis, of Kentucky, opposing the terms in which it was couched, but approving its general tenor. It subsequently passed, receiving thirty-two votes in its favor, and but ten against it. This resolution was approved by the President on the 10th of April. It was generally regarded by the people and by the President himself as rather an experiment than as a fixed policy as intended to test the temper of the people of the Southern States. and offer them a way of escape from the evils and embarrassments with which slavery had surrounded them, rather than set forth a distinct line of conduct which was to be pressed upon the country at all hazards. This character, indeed, was stamped upon it by the fact that its practical execution was made to depend wholly on the people of the Southern States themselves. It recognized their complete control over slavery, within their own limits, and simply tendered them the aid of the General Government in any steps they might feel inclined to take to rid themselves of it.

The President was resolved that the experiment should have a full and a fair trial; and while he would not, on the one hand, permit its effect to be impaired by the natural impatience of those among his friends who were warmest and most extreme in their hostility to slavery, he, on the other hand, lost no opportunity to press the proposition on. the favorable consideration of the people of the Border Slave States.

On the 9th of May, General Hunter, who commanded the Department of South Carolina, which included also the States of Georgia and Florida, issued an order declaring all the slaves within that department to be thence forth and " forever free." This was done, not from any alleged military necessity growing out of the operations in his department, but upon a theoretical incompatibility between slavery and martial law. The President thereupon at once issued the following proclamation :

Whereas, There appears in the public prints what purports to be a proclamation of Major-General Hunter, in the words and figures following:


Head-Quarters Department of The South,
Hilton Head S. C., May 9, 1862.

General Order, No. 11.

The three States of Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina, comprising the Military Department of the South, having deliberately declared themselves no longer under the United States of America, and having taken up arms against the United States, it becomes a military necessity to declare them under martial law.

This was accordingly done on the 25th day of April, 1862. Slavery and martial law in a free country are altogether incompatible. The persons in these States Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina heretofore held as slaves, are therefore declared forever free.


Signed,                               DAVID HUNTER,       

Major-General Commanding.

ED. "W. SMITH, Acting Assistant Adj't-General.

And, whereas, the same is producing some excitement and misunderstanding, therefore I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, proclaim and declare that the Government of the United States had no knowledge or belief of an intention on the part of General Hunter to issue such proclamation, nor has it yet any authentic information that the document is genuine; and, further, that neither General Hunter nor any other commander or person has been authorized by the Government of the United States to make proclamation declaring the slaves of any State free, and that the supposed proclamation now in question, whether genuine or false, is altogether void so far as respects such declaration. I further make known that, whether it be competent for me, as Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, to declare the slaves of any State or States free; and whether at any time, or in any case, it shall have become a necessity indispensable to the maintenance of the Government to exercise such supposed power, are questions which, under my responsibility, I reserve to myself, and which I cannot feel justified in leaving to the decision of commanders in the field.

These are totally different questions from those of police regulations in armies or in camps.

On the sixth day of March last, by a special Message, I recommended to Congress the adoption of a joint resolution, to be substantially as follows :

Resolved, That the United States ought to co-operate with any State which may adopt a gradual abolishment of slavery, giving to such State earnest expression to compensate for its inconveniences, public and private, produced by such change of system.

The resolution in the language above quoted was adopted by large majorities in both branches of Congress, and now stands an authentic, definite, and solemn proposal of the Nation to the States and people most interested in the subject-matter. To the people of these States now, 1 mostly appeal. I do not argue I beseech you to make the arguments for yourselves. You cannot, if you would, be blind to the signs of the times.

I beg of you a calm and enlarged consideration of them, ranging, if it may be, far above partisan and personal politics.

This proposal makes common cause for a common object, casting no reproaches upon any. It acts not the Pharisee. The change it contemplates would come gently as the dews of Heaven, not rending or wrecking any thing. Will you not embrace it? So much good has not been done by one effort in all past time, as in the providence of God it is now your high privilege to do. May the vast future not have to lament that you have neglected it.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused te seal of the United States to be hereunto affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this 19th day of May, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty -two, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-sixth.

(Signed)                                                                         ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

By the President :

     W. H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

This proclamation silenced the clamorous denunciation by which its enemies had assailed the Administration on the strength of General Hunter's order, and renewed the confidence, which for the moment had been somewhat impaired, in the President's adherence to the principles of action he had laid down. Nothing practical, however, was done in any of the Border States indicating any disposition to act upon his suggestions and avail themselves of the aid which Congress had offered. The members of Congress from those States had taken no steps towards inducing action in regard to it on the part of their constituents. Feeling the deepest interest in the adoption of some measure which should permanently detach the Border Slave States from the rebel Confederacy, and believing that the plan he had recommended would tend to accomplish that object, President Lincoln sought a conference with the members of Congress from those States, and on the 12th of July, when they waited upon him at the Executive mansion, he addressed them as follows :

GENTLEMEN: After the adjournment of Congress, now rear, I shall have no opportunity of seeing you for several months. Believing that von of the Border States hold more power for good than any other equal number of members, I feel it a duty which I cannot justifiably waive to make this appeal to you.

I intend no reproach or complaint when I assure you that, in my opinion, if you all had voted for the resolution in the gradual emancipation Message of last March, the war would now be substantially ended. And the plan therein proposed is yet one of the most, potent and swift means of ending it. Let the States which are in rebellion see definitely and certainly that in no event will the States you represent ever join their proposed Confederacy, and they cannot much longer maintain the contest. But you cannot divest them of their hope to ultimately have you with then so long as you show a determination to perpetuate the institution within your own States. Beat them at elections, as you have overwhelmingly done, and, nothing daunted, they still claim you as their own. You and I know what the lever of their power is. Break that lever before their faces, and they can shake you no more forever.

Most of you have treated me with kindness and consideration, and I trust you will not now think I improperly touch what is exclusively your own, when, for the sake of the whole country, I ask, Can you, for your States, do better than to take the course I urge? Discarding punctilio and maxims adapted to more manageable times, and looking only to the unprecedentedly stern facts of our case, can you do better in any possible event? You prefer that the constitutional relation of the States to the nation shall be practically restored without disturbance of the institution : and if this were done, my whole duty, in this respect, under the Constitution and my oath of office, would be performed. But it is not done, and we are trying to accomplish it by war. The incidents of the war cannot be avoided. If the war continues long, as it must if the object be not sooner attained, the institution in your States will be extinguished by mere friction and abrasion by the mere incidents of the war. It will be gone, and you will have nothing valuable in lieu of it. Much of its value is gone already. How much better for you and for your people to take the step which at once shortens the war, and secures substantial compensation for that which is sure to be wholly lost in any other event! How much better to thus save the money which else we sink forever in the war! How much better to do it while we can, lest the war ere long render us pecuniarily unable to do it! How much better for you, as seller, and the nation, as buyer, to sell out and buy out that without which the war could never have been, than to sink both the thing to be sold and the price of it in cutting one another's throats!

I do not speak of emancipation at once, but of a decision at once to emancipate gradually. Room in South America for colonization can be obtained cheaply, and in abundance, and when numbers shall be large enough to be company and encouragement for one another, the freed people will not be so reluctant to go.

I am pressed with a difficulty not yet mentioned one which threaten* division among those who, united, arc none too strong. An instance of it is known to you. General Hunter is an honest man. He was, 'and I hope still is, my friend. I valued him none the less for his agreeing with me in the general wish that all men everywhere could be free. He proclaimed all men free within certain States, and I repudiated the proclamation, lie expected more good and less harm from the measure than I could believe would follow. Yet, in repudiating it, I gave dissatisfaction, if not offence, to many whose support the country cannot afford to lose. And this is not the end of it. The pressure in this direction is still upon me, and is increasing. By conceding what I now ask you can relieve me, and, much more, can relieve the country in this important point.

Upon these considerations, I have again begged your attention to the Message of March last. Before leaving the Capital, consider and discuss it among yourselves. You are patriots and statesmen, and as such I pray you consider this proposition; and, at the least, commend it to the consideration of your States and people. As you would perpetuate popular government for the best people in the world, I beseech you that you do in nowise omit this. Our common country is in great peril, demanding the loftiest views and boldest action to bring a speedy relief. Once relieved, its form of government is saved to the world; its beloved history and cherished memories are vindicated, and its happy future fully assured and rendered inconceivably grand. To you, more than to any others, the privilege is given to assure that happiness and swell that grandeur, and to link your own names therewith forever.

The members to whom the President thus appealed were divided in opinion as to the merits of the proposition which he had laid before them. A majority of them submitted an elaborate reply, in which they dissented from the President's opinion that the adoption of this policy would terminate the war or serve the Union cause. They held it to be his duty to avoid all interference, direct or indirect, with slavery in the Southern States, and attributed much of the stubborn hostility which the South had shown in prosecuting the war, to the fact that Congress had departed in various instances from the spirit and objects for which the war ought to be prosecuted by the Government. A minority of those members, not being able to concur in this reply, submitted one of their own, in which they thus set forth their view of the motives of the President in the course he had adopted, and expressed their substantial concurrence in its Justice and wisdom :

"We believe that the whole power of the Government, upheld and sustained by all the influences and means of all loyal men in all sections and of all parties, is essentially necessary to put down the rebellion and preserve the Union and the Constitution. We understand your appeal to us to have been made for the purpose of securing this result. A very large portion of the people in the Northern States believe that slavery is the "lever power of the rebellion." It matters not whether this opinion is well founded or not. The belief does exist, and we have to deal with things as they are, and not as we would have them be. In consequence of the existence of this belief, we understand that an immense pressure i3 brought to bear for the purpose of striking down this institution through the exercise of military authority. The Government cannot maintain this great struggle if the support and influence of the men who entertain these opinions be withdrawn. Neither can the Government hope for early success if the support of that element called " conservative " be withdrawn.

Such being the condition of things, the President appeals to the Border State men to step forward and prove their patriotism by making the first sacrifice. Ne doubt, like appeals have been made to extreme men in the North, to meet us half way, in order that the whole moral, political, pecuniary, and physical force of the nation may be firmly and earnestly united in one grand effort to save the Union and the Constitution.

Believing that such were the motives that prompted your address, and such the results to which it looked, we cannot reconcile it to our sense of duty, in this trying hour, to respond in a spirit of fault-finding or querulousness over the things that are past. We are not disposed to seek for the cause of present misfortunes in the errors and wrongs of others who propose to unite with us in a common purpose. But, on the other hand, we meet your address in the spirit in which it was made, and, as loyal Americans, declare to you and to the world, that there is no sacrifice that we are not ready to make to save the Government and institutions of our fathers. That we, few of us though there may be, will permit no men, from the North or from the South, to go further than we in the accomplishment of the great work before us. That, in order to carry out these views, we will, so far as may be in our power, ask the people of the Border States calmly, deliberately, and fairly, to consider your recommendations. We are the more emboldened to assume this position from thy fact, now become history, that the leaders of the Southern rebellion have offered to abolish slavery amongst them as a condition to foreign intervention in favor of their independence as a nation.

If they can give up slavery to destroy the Union, we can surely ask our people to consider the question of emancipation to save the Union.

Hon. Horace Maynard, of Tennessee, on the 16th of July submitted to the President his views of the question, in which he thus set forth his appreciation of the motives which had induced him to make the proposition in question to the Southern States :

Your whole administration gives the highest assurance that you are moved, not so much from a desire to see all men everywhere made free, as from a desire to preserve free institutions for the benefit of men already free; not to make slaves free men, but to prevent free men from being made slaves; not to destroy an institution which a portion of us only consider bad, but to save an institution which we all alike consider good. I am satisfied that you would not ask from any of your fellow-citizens a sacrifice not in your judgment imperatively required by the safety of the country. This is the spirit of your appeal, and I respond to it in the same spirit.

Determined to leave undone nothing which it was in his power to do to effect the object he had so much at heart, the President, on the 12th of July, sent in to Congress a Message transmitting the draft of a bill upon the subject, as follows :

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives :

Herewith is the draft of the bill to compensate any State which may abolish slavery within its limits, the passage of which, substantially as presented, I respectfully and earnestly recommend.


Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled: That whenever the President of the United States shall be satisfied that any State shall have lawfully abolished slavery within and throughout such State, either immediately or gradually, it shall be the duty of the President, assisted by the Secretary of the Treasury, to prepare and deliver to each State an amount of six per cent, interest-bearing bonds of the United States, equal to the aggregate value at dollars per head of all the slaves within such State

as reported by the census of 1860; the whole amount for any one State to be delivered at once, if the abolishment be immediate, or in equal animal installments, if it be gradual, interest to begin running on each bond at the time of delivery, and not before.

And be it farther enacted, That if any State, having so received any such bonds, shall at any time afterwards by law reintroduce or tolerate slavery within its limits, contrary to the act of abolishment upon which such bonds shall have been received, said bonds so received by said State shall at once be null and void, in whosesoever hands they may be, and such State shall refund to the United States all interest which may have been paid on such bonds.

The bill was referred to a committee, "but no action was taken upon it in Congress, nor did any of the Border States respond to the President's invitation. The proposition, however, served a most excellent purpose in testing the sentiment of both sections of the country, and in preparing the way for the more vigorous treatment of the subject of slavery which the blind and stubborn prejudices of the slaveholding communities were rapidly rendering inevitable.

Two other subjects of importance engaged the attention and received the action of Congress during this session : the provision of a currency, and the amendment of the law to confiscate the property of rebels. A bill authorizing the issue of Treasury notes to the amount of $150,000,000, and making them a legal tender in all business transactions, was reported in the House by the Finance Committee, of which Hon. E. G. Spaulding, of New York, was Chairman, and taken up for discussion on the 17th of June. It was advocated mainly on the score of necessity, and was opposed on the ground of its alleged unconstitutionality. The division of sentiment on the subject was not a party one, some of the warmest friends and supporters of the Administration doubting whether Congress had the power to make any thing but silver and gold a legal tender in the payment of debts. The same bill provided for a direct tax, involving stamp duties, taxes upon incomes, etc., sufficient with the duties upon imports to raise $150,000,000 per annum, and also for the establishment of a system of free banking, by which banknotes to be circulated as currency might be issued upon the basis of stocks of the United States deposited as security. The bill was discussed at length, and was finally adopted by a vote of ninety-three to fifty-nine. In the Senate it encountered a similar opposition, but passed by a vote of thirty to seven, a motion to strike out the legal-tender clause having been previously rejected seven teen voting in favor of striking it out, and twenty-two against it.

The subject of confiscating the property of rebels excited still deeper interest. A bill for that purpose was taken up in the Senate, on the 25th of February, for discussion. By one of its sections all the slaves of any person, anywhere in the United States, aiding the rebellion, were declared to be forever free, and subsequent sections provided for colonizing slaves thus enfranchised. The bill was advocated on the ground that in no other way could the property of rebels, in those States where the judicial authority of the United States had been overborne, be reached; while it was opposed on the ground that it was unconstitutional, and that it would tend to render the Southern people still more united and desperate in their rebellion. By the confiscation act of the previous session, a slave who had been employed in aiding the rebellion was declared to be free, but the fact that he had been thus employed must be shown by due judicial process; by this bill all the slaves of any person who had been thus engaged were set free without the intervention of any judicial process whatever. This feature of the bill was warmly opposed by some of the ablest and most reliable of the supporters of the Administration, as a departure from all recognized rules of proceeding, and as a direct interference with slavery in the States, in violation of the most solemn pledge of the Government, the Republican party, and individual supporters of the Administration. Senator Collamer, of Vermont, urged this view of the case with great cogency, citing Mr. Sumner's opinion expressed on the 25th of February, 1861, when, on presenting a memorial to the Senate in favor of abolishing slavery, he had added: "In offering it, I take this occasion to declare most explicitly that I do not think that Congress has any right to interfere with slavery in a State;" and quoting also Senator Fessenden's declaration in the debate on abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia, when he said: "I have held, and I hold to-day, and I say to-day what I have said in my place before, that the Congress of the United States, or the people of the United States through the Congress, under the Constitution as it now exists, have no right whatever to touch by legislation the institution of slavery in the States where it exists by law." Mr. Sherman's opinion, expressed in the same debate, that "we ought religiously to adhere to the promises we made to the people of this country when Mr. Lincoln was elected President we ought to abstain religiously from ^all interference with the domestic institutions of the slave or the Free States," was also quoted, and Mr. Collamer said he did not see how it was possible to pass the bill in its present form without giving the world to understand that they had violated those pledges, and had interfered with slavery in the States. Mr. Collamer accordingly offered an amendment to the bill, obviating the objections he had urged against it; and this, with other amendments offered by other Senators, was referred to a Select Committee, which subsequently reported a bill designed, as the Chairman, Mr. Clark, of New Hampshire, explained, to harmonize the various shades of opinion upon the subject, and secure the passage of some measure which should meet the expectations of the country and the emergency of the case. The first section of this bill provided, that every person who should hereafter commit the crime of treason against the United States, and be adjudged guilty thereof, should suffer death, and all his slaves, if any, be declared and made free; or he should be imprisoned not less than five years, and fined not less than $10,000, and all his slaves, if any, be declared and made free.

The distinctive feature of this section, as distinguished from the corresponding section of the original bill, consisted in the fact that a trial and conviction were required before any person guilty of treason could be punished, either by death, imprisonment, or the forfeiture of his property. It was opposed, on the one hand, by Mr. Trumbull, of Illinois, on the ground that it "made treason easy" and on the other, by Mr. Davis, of Kentucky because it set slaves free. Mr. Sumner offered a substitute to the whole bill, which in his judgment did not go far enough in giving the country the advantage of the "opportunity which God, in His beneficence, had afforded'' it for securing universal emancipation. Mr. Powell, of Kentucky, moved to strike out the eleventh section, which authorized the President to "employ as many persons of African descent as he might deem necessary and proper for the suppression of the rebellion, and to organize arid use them in such manner as he might judge best for the public welfare" but his motion was rejected by a vote of eleven to twenty -five. While the bill was thus denounced by one class of Senators as too violent in its method of dealing with the rebels, it was resisted with still greater vehemence by another class as entirely defective in that respect. Mr. Sumner was especially severe in his censure of Senators who proposed, he said, "when the life of our Republic is struck at, to proceed as if by an indictment in a criminal court." His remarks gave rise to considerable personal discussion which was interrupted by the receipt of a similar bill which had been passed by the House of Representatives, and which was decidedly more in harmony with the extreme views of Mr. Sumner and his friends, than the Senate bill. It assumed that the rebels were to be treated like a foreign enemy, without regard to the limitations and requirements of the Constitution, and that Congress, instead of the President, had the supreme and exclusive control of the operations of the war. This bill on coming before the Senate was set aside, and the bill which had been reported by the Senate Committee substituted in its place, by a vote of twenty-one to seventeen, and the latter was finally passed; ayes twenty-eight, noes thirteen. The House did not concur in this amendment to its own bill; but on receiving the report of a Committee of Conference which made some amendments to the Senate bill, it was passed, as amended, by both Houses, and sent to the President for his signature.

The provisions of this bill were as follows :

SECTION 1 enacted that every person who should after its passage commit the crime of treason against the United States, and be adjudged guilty thereof, should suffer death, and all his slaves, if any, should be declared and made free; or he should be imprisoned for not less than five years, and fined not less than $10,000, and all his slaves made free.

SECTION 2 declared that if any person shall hereafter incite, assist, or engage in any rebellion against the authority of the United States or the laws thereof, or give aid or comfort thereto, or to any existing rebellion, and be convicted thereof, he shall be imprisoned for ten years or less, fined not more than $10,000, and all his slaves shall be set free.

SECTION 3. Every person guilty of these offences shall be forever disqualified to hold any office under the United States.

SECTION 4. This act was not to affect the prosecution, conviction, or punishment of any person guilty of treason before the passage of the act, unless convicted under it.

SECTION 5 made it the duty of the President to seize and apply to the use of the army of the United States all the property of persons who had served as officers of the rebel army, or had held certain civil offices under the rebel Government, or in the rebel States, provided they had taken an oath of allegiance to the rebel authorities, and also of persons who, having property in any of the loyal States, shall hereafter give aid to the rebellion.

SECTION 6 prescribed that if any other persons being engaged in the rebellion should not, within sixty days after public proclamation duly made by the President, cease to aid the rebellion, all their property should be confiscated in the same manner.

SECTION 7 directed that proceedings in rem should be instituted in the name of the United States in the court of the district within which such property might be found, and if said property, whether real or personal, should be found to belong to any person engaged in rebellion, it should be condemned as enemies' property, and become the property of the United States.

SECTION 8 gave the several District Courts of the United States authority and power to make such orders as these proceedings might require.

SECTION 9 enacted that all slaves of persons who shall hereafter be engaged in rebellion against the Government of the United States, or who shall in any way give aid or comfort thereto, escaping from such persons, and taking refuge within the lines of the army, and all slaves captured 'from such persons or deserted by them and corning under the control of the Government of the United States, and all slaves of such persons found, or being within any place occupied by rebel forces, and afterwards occupied by the forces of the United States, shall be deemed captives of war, and shall be forever free of their servitude, and not again held as slaves. SECTION 10 enacted that no slave escaping into another State should be delivered up, unless the claimant should make oath that the owner or master of such slave had never borne arms against the United States, or given any aid and comfort to the rebellion; and every person in the military service of the United States was prohibited from deciding on the validity of any claim to the services of any escaped slave, on pain of dismissal.

SECTION 11 authorized the President to employ as many persons of African descent as he might deem necessary and proper for the suppression of the rebellion, and to organize and use them as he might deem best for the public welfare.

SECTION 12 authorized the President to make provision for the colonization, with their own consent, of persons freed under this act, to some country beyond the limits of the United States, having first obtained the consent of the Government of said country to their protection and settlement, with all the privileges of free men.

SECTION 13 authorized the President at any time hereafter, by proclamation, to extend to persons who may have participated in this rebellion, pardon and amnesty, with such exceptions, and at such time, and on such conditions as he might deem expedient for the public welfare.

SECTION 14 gave the courts of the United States authority to institute such proceedings, and issue such orders as might be necessary to carry this act into effect.

It soon came to be understood that the President had objections to certain portions of the bill which would probably prevent him from signing it. A joint resolution was at once passed in the House, providing that the bill should be so construed "as not to apply to any acts done prior to its passage; nor to include any member of a State legislature, or judge of any State court who has not, in accepting or entering upon his office, taken an oath to support the constitution of the so-called Confederate States of America." When this reached the Senate, Mr. Clark, of New Hampshire, offered the following, to be added to the resolution :

Nor shall any punishment or proceedings under said act be so construed as to work a forfeiture of the real estate of the offender beyond his natural life.

This provision encountered a sharp opposition : Mr. Trumbull, of Illinois, insisting that the forfeiture of real estate for life only would amount to nothing, and other Senators objecting to being influenced in their action by the supposed opinions of the President. Mr. Clark also proposed another amendment, authorizing the President, in granting an amnesty, to restore to the offender any property which might have been seized and condemned under this act. The resolutions and amendments were passed by the Senate, and received the concurrence of the House. On the 17th of July President Lincoln sent in the following message, announcing that he had signed the bill, and specifying his objections to the act in its original shape :


Considering the bill for "An Act to suppress insurrection, to punish treason and rebellion, to seize and confiscate the property of rebels, and for other purposes," and the joint resolution explanatory of said act as being substantially one, I have approved and signed both.

Before I was informed of the resolution, I had prepared the draft of a message, stating objections to the bill becoming a law, a copy of which draft is herewith submitted.


July 12, 1862.



I herewith return to the honorable body in which it originated, the bill for an act entitled " An Act to suppress treason and rebellion, to seize and confiscate the property of rebels, and for other purposes," together with my objections to its becoming a law.

There is much in the bill to which I perceive no objection. It is wholly prospective; and it touches neither person nor property of any 'oyal citizen, in which particular it is just and proper.

The first and second sections provide for the conviction and punishment of persons who shall be guilty of treason, and persons who shall " incite, set on foot, assist, or engage in any rebellion or insurrection against the authority of the United States, or the laws thereof, or shall give' aid or comfort thereto, or shall engage in or give aid and comfort to any such existing rebellion or insurrection." By fair construction, persons within those sections are not punished without regular trials in duly constituted courts, under the forms and all the substantial provisions of law and the Constitution applicable to their several cases. To this I perceive no objection; especially as such persons would be within the general pardoning power, and also the special provision for pardon and amnesty contained in this act.

It is also provided that the slaves of persons convicted under these sections shall be free. I think there is an unfortunate form of expression, rather than a substantial objection, in this. It is startling to say that Congress can free a slave within a State, and yet if it were said the ownership of a slave had first been transferred to the nation, and Congress had then liberated him, the difficulty would at once vanish. And this is the real case. The traitor against the General Government forfeits his slave at least as justly as he does any other property; and he forfeits both to the Government against which he offends. The Government, so far as there can be ownership, thus owns the forfeited slaves, and the question for Congress in regard to them is, " Shall they be made free or sold to new masters?" I perceive no objection to Congress deciding in advance that they shall be free. To the high honor of Kentucky, as I am informed, she is the owner of some slaves by escheat, and has sold none, but liberated all. I hope the same is true of some other States. Indeed, I do not believe it will be physically possible for the General Government to return persons so circumstanced to actual slavery. I believe there would be physical resistance to it, which could neither be turned aside by argument nor driven away by force. In this view I have no objection to this feature of the bill. Another matter involved in these two sections, and running through other parts of the act, will be noticed hereafter.

I perceive no objections to the third or fourth sections.

So far as I wish to notice the fifth and sixth sections, they may be considered together. That the enforcement of these sections would do no injustice to the persons embraced within them, is clear. That those who make a causeless war should be compelled to pay the cost of it, is too obviously just to be called in question. To give governmental protection to the property of persons who have abandoned it, and gone on a crusade to overthrow the same Government, is absurd, if considered in the mere light of justice. The severest justice may not always be the best policy. The principle of seizing and appropriating the property of the person embraced within these sections is certainly not very objectionable, but a justly discriminating application of it would be very difficult, and, to a great extent, impossible. And would it not be wise to place a power of remission somewhere, so that these persons may know they have something to lose by persisting, and something to gain by desisting? I am not sure whether such power of remission is or is not in section thirteen. Without any special act of Congress, I think our military commanders, when, in military phrase, "they are within the enemy's country," should, in an orderly manner, seize and use whatever of real or personal property may be necessary or convenient for their commands; at the same time preserving, in some way, the evidence of what they do.

What I have said in regard to slaves, while commenting on the first and second sections, is applicable to the ninth, with the difference that no provision is made in the whole act for determining whether a particular individual slave does or does not fall within the classes defined in that section. He is to be free upon certain conditions; but whether those conditions do or do not pertain to him, no mode of ascertaining is provided. This could be easily supplied.

To the tenth section I make no objection. The oath therein required seems to be proper, and the remainder of the section is substantially identical with a law already existing.

The eleventh section simply assumes to confer discretionary power npon the Executive. Without the law, I have no hesitation to go as far in the direction indicated as I may at any time deem expedient. And I am ready to say now, I think it is proper for our military commanders to employ, as laborers, as many persons of African descent as can be used to advantage.

The twelfth and thirteenth sections are something better than unobjectionable; and the fourteenth is entirely proper, if all other parts of the act shall stand.

That to which I chiefly object pervades most part of the act, but more distinctly appears in the first, second, seventh, and eighth sections. It is the sum of those provisions which results in the divesting of title forever.

For the causes of treason and ingredients of treason, not amounting to the full crime, it declares forfeiture extending beyond the lives of the guilty parties;*whereas the Constitution of the United States declares that "no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood or forfeiture except during the life of the person attainted." True, there is to be no formal attainder in this case; still, I think the greater punishment cannot be constitutionally inflicted, in a different form, for the same offence.

"With great respect I am constrained to say I think this feature of the act is unconstitutional. It would not be difficult to modify it.

I may remark that the provision of the Constitution, put in language borrowed from Great Britain, applies only in this country, as I understand, to real or landed estate.

Again, this act, in rem, forfeits property for the ingredients of treason without a conviction of the supposed criminal, or a personal hearing given him in any proceeding. That we may not touch property lying within our reach, because we cannot give personal notice to an owner who is absent endeavoring to destroy the Government, is certainly satisfactory. Still, the owner may not be thus engaged; and I think a reasonable time should be provided for such parties to appear and have personal hearings. Similar provisions are not uncommon in connection with proceedings in rem.

For the reasons stated, I return the bill to the House in which it originated.

The passage of this bill constituted a very important step in the prosecution of the war for the suppression of the rebellion. It prescribed definite penalties for the crime of treason, and thus supplied a defect in the laws as they then existed. It gave the rebels distinctly to understand that one of these penalties, if they persisted in their resistance to the authority of the United States, would be the emancipation of their slaves. And it also authorized the employment by the President of persons of African descent, to aid in the suppression of the Rebellion in any way which he might deem most conducive to the public welfare. Yet throughout the bill, it was clearly made evident that the object and purpose of these measures was not the abolition of slavery, but the preservation of the Union and the restoration of the authority of the Constitution.

On the 14th of January Simon Cameron resigned his position as Secretary of War. On the 30th of April the. House of Representatives passed, by a vote of seventy-five to forty-five, a resolution, censuring certain official acts performed by him while acting as Secretary of War; whereupon, on the 27th of May, President Lincoln transmitted to the House {he following message :

To the Senate and House of Representatives :

The insurrection which is yet existing in the United States, and aims at the overthrow of the Federal Constitution and the Union, was clandestinely prepared during the winter of 18GO and 1861, and assumed an open organization in the form of a treasonable provisional government at Montgomery, Alabama, on the eighteenth day of February, 1861. On the twelfth day of April, 1861, the insurgents committed the flagrant act of civil war by the bombardment and capture of Fort Sumpter, which cut off the hope of immediate conciliation. Immediately afterwards all the roads and avenues^to this city were obstructed, and the Capital was put into the condition of a siege. The mails in every direction were stopped and the lines of telegraph cut off by the insurgents, and military and naval forces which had been called out by the Government for the defence of Washington were prevented from reaching the city by organized and combined treasonable resistance in the State of Maryland. There was no adequate and effective organization for the public defence. Congress had indefinitely adjourned. There was no time to convene them. It became necessary for me to choose whether, using only the existing means, agencies, and processes which Congress had provided, I should let the Government fall into ruin, or whether, availing myself of the broader powers conferred by the Constitution in cases of insurrection, I would make an effort to save it, with all its blessings, for the present age and for posterity. I thereupon summoned my constitutional advisers, the heads of all the departments, to meet on Sunday, the twentieth day of April, 1861, at the office of the Navy Department, and then and there, with their unanimous concurrence, I directed that an armed revenue cutter should proceed to sea to afford protection to the commercial marine, especially to the California treasure-ships, then on their way to this coast. I also directed the Commandant of the Navy Yard at Boston to purchase or charter, and arm, as quickly as possible, five steamships for purposes of public defence. I directed the Commandant of the Navy Yard at Philadelphia to purchase or charter, and arm, an equal number for the same purpose. I directed the Commandant at New York to purchase or charter, and arm, an equal number. I directed Commander Gillis to purchase or charter, and arm and put to sea, two other vessels. Similar directions were given to Commodore Du Pont, with a view to the opening of passages by water to and from the Capital. I directed the several officers to take the advice and obtain the aid and efficient services in the matter of his Excellency Edwin D. Morgan, the Governor of New York; or, in his absence, George D. Morgan, Win. M. Evarts, R. M. Blatchford, and Moses H. Grinnell, who were, by my directions, especially empowered by the Secretary of the Navy to act for his department in that crisis, in matters pertaining to the forwarding of troops and supplies for the public defence. On the same occasion I directed that Governor Morgan and Alexander Cummings, of the City of New York, should be authorized by the Secretary of War, Simon Cameron, to make all necessary arrangements for the transportation of troops and munitions of war in aid and assistance of the officers of the army of the United States, until communication by mails and telegraph should be completely re-established between the cities of Washington and New York. No security was required to be given by them, and either of them was authorized to act in case of inability to consult with the other. On the same occasion I authorized and directed the Secretary of the Treasury to advance, without requiring security, two millions of dollars of public money to John A. Dix, George Opdyke, and Richard M. Blatchford, of New York, to be used by them in meeting such requisitions as should be directly consequent upon the military and naval measures for the defence and support of the Government, requiring them only to act without compensation, and to report their transactions when duly called upon. The several departments of the Government at that time contained so large a number of disloyal persons that it would have been impossible to provide safely through official agents only, for the performance of the duties thus confided to citizens favorably known for their ability, loyalty, and patriotism. The several orders issued upon these occurrences were transmitted by private messengers, who pursued a circuitous way to the seaboard cities, inland across the States of Pennsylvania and Ohio, and the northern lakes. I believe that by these and other similar measures taken in that crisis, some of which were without any authority of law, the Government was saved from overthrow. I am not aware that a dollar of the public funds thus confided, without authority of law, to unofficial persons, was either lost or wasted, although apprehensions of such misdirections occurred to me as objections to these extraordinary proceedings, and were necessarily overruled. I recall these transactions now, because my attention has been directed to a resolution which was passed by the House of Representatives on the thirtieth of last mouth, which is in these words:

Resolved, That Simon Cameron, late Secretary of War, by intrusting Alexander Cummings with the control of large sums of the public money, and authority to purchase military supplies without restriction, without requiring from him any guarantee for the faithful performance of his duties, while the services of competent public officers were available, and by involving the Government in a vast number of contracts with persona not legitimately engaged in the business pertaining to the subject-matter of such contracts, especially in the purchase of arms for future delivery, has adopted a policy highly injurious to the public service, and deserves the censure of the House.

Congress will see that I should be wanting in candor and in justice if I should leave the censure expressed in this resolution to rest exclusively or chiefly upon Mr. Cameron. The same sentiment is unanimously entertained by the heads of the departments, who participated in the proceedings which the House of Representatives has censured. It is due to Mr. Cameron to say, that although he fully approved the proceedings, they* were not moved nor suggested by himself, and that not only the President, but all the other heads of departments, were at least equally responsible with him for whatever error, wrong, or fault was committed in the premises.


This letter was in strict conformity with the position uniformly held by the President in regard to the responsibility of members of his Cabinet for acts of the Administration. He always maintained that the proper duty of each Secretary was, to direct the details of every thing done within his own department, and to tender such suggestions, information, and advice to the President as he might solicit at his hands. But the duty and responsibility of deciding what line of policy should be pursued, or what steps should be taken in any specific case, in his judgment, belonged exclusively to the President; and he was always willing and ready to assume it. This position has been widely and sharply assailed in various quarters, as contrary to the precedents of our early history; but we believe it to be substantially in accordance with the theory of the Constitution upon this subject.

The progress of our armies in certain portions of the Southern States had warranted the suspension, at several ports, of the restrictions placed upon commerce by the blockade. On the 12th of May the President accordingly issued a proclamation declaring that the blockade of the ports of Beaufort, Port Royal, and New Orleans should so far cease from the 1st of June, that commercial intercourse from those ports, except as to contraband of war, might be resumed, subject to the laws of the United States and the regulations of the Treasury Department.

On the 1st of July he issued another proclamation, in pursuance of the law of June 7th; designating the States and parts of States that were then in insurrection, so that the laws of the United States concerning the collection of taxes could not be enforced within their limits, and declaring that "the taxes legally chargeable upon real estate, under the act referred to, lying within the States or parts of States thus designated, together with a penalty of fifty per cent, of said taxes, should be a lien upon the tracts or lots of the same, severally charged, till paid."

On the 20th of October, finding it absolutely necessary to provide judicial proceedings for the State of Louisiana, a part of which was in our military possession, the President issued an order establishing a Provisional Court in the City of New Orleans, of which Charles A. Peabody was made Judge, with authority to try all causes, civil and criminal, in law, equity, revenue, and admiralty, and particularly to exercise all such power and jurisdiction as belongs to the Circuit and District Courts of the United States. His proceedings were to be conformed, as far as possible, to the course of proceedings and practice usual in the Courts of the United States of Louisiana, and his judgment was to be final and conclusive.

Congress adjourned on the 17th of July, having adopted many measures of marked though minor importance, be sides those to which we have referred, to aid in the prosecution of the war. Several Senators were expelled for adherence, direct or indirect, to the rebel cause; measures were taken to remove from the several departments of the Government employes more or less openly in sympathy with secession; Hayti and Liberia were recognized as independent republics; a treaty was negotiated and ratified with Great Britain which conceded the right, within certain limits, of searching suspected slavers carrying the American flag, and the most liberal grants in men and money were made to the Government for the prosecution of the war. The President had appointed military governors for several of the Border States, where public sentiment was divided, enjoining them to protect the loyal citizens, and to regard them as alone entitled to a voice in the direction of civil affairs.

Public sentiment throughout the loyal States sustained the action of Congress and the President, as adapted to the emergency, and well calculated to aid in the suppression of the rebellion. At the same time it was very evident that the conviction was rapidly gaining ground that slavery was the cause of the rebellion; that the paramount object of the conspirators against the Union was to obtain new guarantees for the institution; and that it was this interest alone which gave unity and vigor to the rebel cause. A very active and influential party at the North had insisted from the outset that the most direct way of crushing the rebellion was by crushing slavery, and they had urged upon the President the adoption of a policy of immediate and unconditional emancipation, as the only thing necessary to bring into the ranks of the Union armies hundreds of thousands of enfranchised slaves, as well as the great mass of the people of the Northern States who needed this stimulus of an appeal to their moral sentiment. After the adjournment of Congress these demands became still more clamorous and importunate. The President was summoned to avail himself of the opportunity offered by the passage of the Confiscation Bill, and to decree the instant liberation of every slave belonging to a rebel master. These demands soon assumed, with the more impatient and intemperate portion of the friends of the Administration, a tone of complaint and condemnation, and the President was charged with gross and culpable remissness in the discharge of duties imposed upon him by the act of Congress. They were embodied with force and effect in a letter addressed to the President by Hon. Horace Greeley, and published in the New York Tribune of the 19th of August, to which President Lincoln made the following reply :



DEAR SIR I have just read yours of the 19th instant, addressed to myself through the New York Tribune.

If there be in it any statements or assumptions of fact which I may know to be erroneous, I do not now and here controvert them.

If there be any inferences which I may believe to be falsely drawn, I do not now and here argue against them.

If there be perceptible in it an impatient and dictatorial tone, I waive it in deference to an old friend whose heart I have always supposed to be right.

As to the policy I "seem to be pursuing," as you say, I have not meant to leave any one in doubt. I would save the Union. I would save it in the shortest way under the Constitution.

The sooner the national authority can be restored, the nearer the Union will be the Union as it was.

If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them.

If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them.

My paramount object is to save the Union, and not either to save or to destroy slavery.

If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it and if I could do it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that.

What I do about slavery and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save this Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union.

I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I believe doing more will help the cause.

I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors, and I shall adopt new views  fast as they shall appear to be true news.

I have here stated my purpose according to my views of official duty, and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free.                                                Yours,


It was impossible to mistake the President' s meaning after this letter, or to have any doubt as to the policy by which he expected to re-establish the authority of the Constitution over the whole territory of the United States. His "paramount object," in every thing he did and in every thing he abstained from doing, was to "save*the Union." He regarded all the power conferred on him by Congress in regard to slavery, as having been conferred to aid him in the accomplishment of that object and he was resolved to wield those powers so as best, according to his own judgment, to aid in its attainment. He forbore, therefore, for a long time, the issue of such a proclamation as he was authorized to make by the sixth section of the Confiscation Act of Congress awaiting the developments of public sentiment on the subject, and being especially anxious that when it was issued it should receive the moral support of the great body of the people of the whole country, without regard to party distinctions. He sought, therefore, with assiduous care, every opportunity of informing himself as to the drift of public sentiment on this subject. He received and conversed freely with all who came to see him and to urge upon him the adoption of their peculiar views; and on the 13th of September gave formal audience to a deputation from all the religious denominations of the City of Chicago, which had been appointed on the 7th, to wait upon him. The committee presented a memorial requesting him at once to issue a proclamation of universal emancipation, and the chairman followed it by some remarks in support of this request.

The President listened attentively to the memorial, and then made to those who had presented it the following reply :

The subject presented in the memorial is one upon which I have thought much for weeks past, and I may even say for months. I am approached with the most opposite opinions and "advice, and that by religious men, who are equally certain that they represent the Divine will. I am sure that either the one or the other class is mistaken in that belief, and perhaps in some respects both. I hope it will not be irreverent for me to say that if it is probable that God would reveal his will to others, on a point so connected with my duty, it might be supposed he would reveal it directly to me; for, unless I am more deceived in myself than I often am, it is my earnest desire to know the will of Providence in this matter. And if I can learn what it is I will do it! These are not, however, the days of miracles, and I suppose it will be granted that I am not to expect a direct revelation. I must study the plain physical facts of the case, ascertain what is possible, and learn what appears to be wise and right.

The subject is difficult, and good men do not agree. For instance, the other day, four gentlemen of standing and intelligence from New York called as a delegation on business connected with the war; but before leaving two of them earnestly besought me to proclaim general emancipation, upon which the other two at once attacked them. You know also that the last session of Congress had a decided majority of antislavery men, yet they could not unite on this policy. And the same is true of the religious people. Why, the rebel soldiers are praying with a great deal more earnestness, I fear, than our own troops, and expecting God to favor their side : for one of our soldiers who had been taken prisoner told Senator Wilson a few days since that he met nothing so discouraging as the evident sincerity of those he was among in their prayers. But we will talk over the merits of the case.

What good would a proclamation of emancipation from me do, especially as we are now situated? I do not want to issue a document that the whole world will see must necessarily be inoperative, like the Pope's bull against the comet! Would my word free the slaves, when I cannot even enforce the Constitution in the rebel States? Is there a single court, or magistrate, or individual that would be influenced by it there? And what reason is there to think it would have any greater effect upon. the slaves than the late law of Congress, which I approved, and which offers protection and freedom to the slaves of rebel masters who come within our lines? Yet I cannot learn that that law has caused a single slave to come over to us. And suppose they could be induced by a proclation of freedom from me to throw themselves upon us, what should we do with them? How can we feed and care for such a multitude? General Butler wrote me a few days since that he was issuing more rations to the slaves who have rushed to him than to all the white troops under his command. They eat, and that is all; though it is true General Butler is feeding the whites also by the thousand; for it nearly amounts to a famine there. If, now, the pressure of the war should call off our forces from New Orleans to defend some other point, what is to prevent the masters from reducing the blacks to slavery again? for I am told that whenever the rebels take any black prisoners, free or slave, they immediately auction them off! They did so with those they took from a boat that was aground in the Tennessee River a few days ago. And then I am very ungenerously attacked for it! For instance, when, after the late battles tit and near Bull Run, an expedition went out from Washington under a flag of truce to bury the dead and bring in the wounded, and the rebels seized the blacks who went along to help, and sent them into slavery, Horace Greeley said in his paper that the Government would probably do nothing about it. "What could I do?

Now, then, tell me, if you please, what possible result of good would follow the issuing of such a proclamation as you desire? Understand, I raise no objections against it on legal or constitutional grounds, for, as commander-in-chief of the army and navy, in time of war I suppose I have a right to take any measure which may best subdue the enemy; nor do I urge objections of a moral nature, in view of possible consequences of insurrection and massacre at the South. I view this matter as a practical war measure, to be decided on according to the advantages or disadvantages it may offer to the suppression of the rebellion.

The Committee replied to these remarks, insisting that a proclamation of emancipation would secure at once the sympathy of Europe and the civilized world; and that as slavery was clearly the cause and origin of the rebellion, it was simply just, and in accordance with the word of God, that it should be abolished. To these remarks the President responded as follows :

I admit that slavery is at the root of the rebellion, or at least its sine gu non. The ambition of politicians may have instigated them to act. but they would have been impotent without slavery as their instrument. I will also concede that emancipation would help us in Europe, 'and convince them that we are incited by something more than ambition. I grant, further, that it would help somewhat at the North, though not so much, I fear, as you and those you represent imagine. Still, some additional strength would be added in that way to the war, and then, unquestionably, it would weaken the rebels by drawing off their laborers, which is of great importance; but I am not so sure we could do much with the blacks. If we were to arm them, I fear that in a few weeks the arms would be in the hands of the rebels; and, indeed, thus far, we have not had arms enough to equip our white troops. I will mention another thing, though it meet only your scorn and contempt. There are fifty thousand bayonets in. the Union army from the Border Slave States. It would be a serious matter if, in consequence of a proclamation such &s you desire, they should go over to the rebels. I do not think they all would not so many, indeed, as a year ago, or as six months ago not so many to-day as yesterday. Every day increases their Union feeling They are also getting their pride enlisted, and want to beat the rebels. Let me say one thing more : I think you should admit that we already have an important principle to rally and unite the people, in the fact that Constitutional government is at stake. This is a fundamental idea going down about as deep as any thing.

The Committee replied to this in some "brief remarks, to which the President made the following response :

Do not misunderstand me because I have mentioned these objections. They indicate the difficulties that have thus far prevented my action in some such way as you desire. I have not decided against a proclamation of liberty to the slaves, but hold the matter under advisement. And I can assure you that the subject is on my mind, by day and night, more than any other. Whatever shall appear to be God's will I will do. 1 trust that in the freedom with which I have canvassed your views I have not in any respect injured your feelings.

After free deliberation, and being satisfied that the public welfare would be promoted by such a step, and that public sentiment would sustain it, on the 22d of September the President issued the following preliminary


I, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President of the United States of America, and Commander-in-Chief of the army and navy thereof, do hereby proclaim and declare that hereafter, as heretofore, the war will be prosecuted for the object of practically restoring the constitutional relation between the United States and each of the States, and the people thereof, in which States that relation is or may be suspended or disturbed.

That it is my purpose, upon the next meeting of Congress, to again recommend the adoption of a practical measure tendering pecuniary aid to the free acceptance or rejection of all slave States, so called, the people whereof may not then be in rebellion against the United States, and which States may then have voluntarily adopted, or thereafter may voluntarily adopt, immediate or gradual abolishment of slavery within their respective limits; and that the effort to colonize persons of African descent, with their consent, upon this continent or elsewhere, with the previously obtained consent of the governments existing there, will be continued.

That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State, or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever, free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.

That the Executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the States and parts of States, if any, in which the people thereof respectively shall then be in rebellion against the United States; and the fact that any State, or the people thereof, shall on that day be in good faith represented in the Congress of the United States, by members chosen thereto at elections wherein a majority of the qualified voters of such State shall have participated, shall, in the absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such State, and the people thereof, are not then in rebellion against the United States.

That attention is hereby called to an act of Congress entitled "An Act to make an additional Article of "War," approved March 13th, 1862, and which act is in the words and figures following :

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That hereafter the following shall be promulgated as an additional article of war for the government of the army of the United States, and shall be obeyed and observed as such :

SECTION 1. All officers or persons in the military or naval service of the United States are prohibited from employing any of the forces under their respective commands for the purpose of returning fugitives from service or labor who may have escaped from any persons to whom such service or labor is claimed to be due; and any officer who shall be found guilty by a court-martial of violating this article shall be dismissed from the service.

SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That this act shall take effect from and after its passage.

Also, to the ninth and tenth sections of an act entitled " An Act to Suppress Insurrection, to Punish Treason and Rebellion, to Seize and Confiscate Property of Rebels, and for other Purposes," approved July 16, 1862, and which sections are in the words and figures following:

SEC. 9. And be it further enacted, That all slaves of persons who shall hereafter be engaged in rebellion against the Government of the United States, or who shall in any way give aid or comfort thereto, escaping from such persons and taking refuge within the lines of the army; and all slaves captured from such persons, or deserted by them and coming under the control of the Government of the United States; and all slaves of such persons found on [or] being within any place occupied by rebel forces and afterwards occupied by forces of the United States, shall be deemed captives of war, and shall be forever free of their servitude, and not again held as slaves.

SEC. 10. And be it further enacted, That no slave escaping into any State. Territory, or the District of Columbia, from any other State, shall be delivered up, or in any way impeded or hindered of his liberty, except for crime, or some offence against the laws, unless the person claiming said fugitive shall first make oath that the person to whom the labor or service of such fugitive is alleged to be due is his lawful owner, and has not borne arms against the United States in the present rebellion, nor in any way given aid and comfort thereto; and no person engaged in the military or naval service of the United States shall, under any pretence whatever, assume to decide on the validity of the claim of any person to the service or labor of any other person, or surrender up any such person to the claimant, on pain of being dismissed from the service.

And I do hereby enjoin upon and order all persons engaged in the military and naval service of the United States to observe, obey, and enforce, within their respective spheres of service, the act and sections above recited.

And the Executive will in due time recommend that all citizens of the United States who shall have remained loyal thereto throughout the rebellion, shall (upon the restoration of the constitutional relation between the United States and their respective States and people, if that relation shall have been suspended or disturbed) be compensated for all losses by acts of the United States, including the loss of slaves.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

[L. S.]

Done at the City of Washington, this twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and  sixty -two, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-seventh.


By the President :

WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

The issuing of this proclamation created the deepest interest, not unmixed with anxiety, in the public mind. The opponents of the Administration in the loyal States, as well as the sympathizers with secession everywhere, insisted that it afforded unmistakable evidence that the object of the war was, what they had always declared it to be, the abolition of slavery, and not the restoration of the Union; and they put forth the most vigorous efforts to arouse public sentiment against the Administration on this ground. They were met, however, by the clear and explicit declaration of the document itself, in which the President " proclaimed and declared" that "hereafter, as heretofore, the war will be prosecuted for the object of practically restoring the constitutional relation between the United States and each of the States and the people thereof, in which that relation is or may be suspended or disturbed." This at once made it evident that emancipation, as provided for in the proclamation, as a war measure, was subsidiary and subordinate to the paramount object of the war the restoration of the Union and the re-establishment of the authority of the Constitution; and in this sense it was favorably received by the great body of the loyal people of the United States.

It only remains to be added, in this connection, that on the 1st of January, 1863, the President followed this measure by issuing the following

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Whereas, on the 22d day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit:

That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any States or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall 'be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, in eluding the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.

That the Executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the States and parts of States, if any, in which the people thereof respectively shall then be in rebellion against the United States; and the fact that any State, or the people thereof, shall on that day be in good faith represented in the Congress of the United States, by members chosen thereto at elections wherein a majority of the qualified voters of such State shall have participated, shall, in the absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such State, and the people thereof, are not then in rebellion against the United States.

Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority and Government of the United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion, do, on this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and in accordance with my purpose so to do, publicly proclaimed for the full period of one hundred days from the day first above mentioned, order and designate, as the States and parts of States wherein the people thereof respectively are this day in rebellion against the United States, the following, to wit :

Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana (except the parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines,' Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James, Ascension, Assumption, Terre Bonne, Lafourche, Ste. Marie, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the City of New Orleans), Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia (except the forty-eight counties designated as "West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkeley, Accomac. Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Anne, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth), and which excepted parts are for the present left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.

And by virtue of the power and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States and parts of States are, and henceforward shall be, free; and that the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.

And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defence; and I recommend to them that, in all cases when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages.

And I further declare and make known that such persons, of suitable condition, will be received into the armed service of the United States, to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service.

Arid upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my name, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

[L. S.] Done at the City of Washington, this first day of January, in the year,  of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-seventh.

By the President :                                                               ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.



Book Navigation Title Page Preface Illustrations Memorandum Table of Contents   ► Chapter I.   ► Chapter II.   ► Chapter III.   ► Chapter IV.   ► Chapter V.   ► Chapter VI.   ► Chapter VII.   ► Chapter VIII.   ► Chapter IX.   ► Chapter X.   ► Chapter XI.   ► Chapter XII.   ► Chapter XIII.   ► Chapter XIV.   ► Chapter XV.   ► Chapter XVI.   ► Chapter XVII.   ► Chapter XVIII.   ► Chapter XIX.   ► Chapter XX.   ► Chapter XXI. Anecdotes and Reminiscences of President Lincoln.   ► Mr. Lincoln's Sadness   ► His Favorite Poem   ► His Religious Experience   ► His Sympathy   ► His Humor, Shrewdness, and Sentiment   ► The Emancipation Proclamation Appendix. Letters on Sundry Occasions.   ► To Mr. Lodges, of Kentucky   ► To General Hooker   ► To John B. Fry   ► To Governor Magoffin   ► To Count Gasparin   ► The President and General McClellan   ► Warnings Against Assassination Reports, Dispatches, and Proclamations Relating to the Assassination.   ► Secretary Stanton to General Dix   ► The Death-Bed   ► The Assassins   ► Reward Offered by Secretary Stanton   ► Flight of the Assassins   ► The Conspiracy Organized in Canada   ► Booth Killed. Harold Captured   ► Reward Offered by President Johnson   ► The Funeral Official Announcements   ► Acting Secretary Hunger to Minister Adams   ► Acting Secretary Hunter to his Subordinates   ► Orders from Secretary Stanton and General Grant   ► Orders from Secretary "Welles   ► Order from Secretary McCulloch   ► Order from Postmaster-General Dennison   ► Proclamation by President Johnson of a Day of Humiliation and Mourning.   ► Secretary Stanton to Minister Adams   ► Important Letter from J. Wilkes Booth   ► Indictment of the Conspirators   ► The Finding of the Court