The Life, Public Services and State Papers of Abraham Lincoln

By Henry J. Raymond

Chapter 15



CONGRESS, met on Monday, December 7, 1863. The  House of Representatives was promptly organized by the  election of Hon. Schuyler Colfax, a Republican from Indiana, to be Speaker--he receiving one hundred and one  votes out of one hundred and eighty-one, the whole number cast. Mr. Cox, of Ohio, was the leading candidate  of the Democratic opposition, but he received only fifty-one votes, the remaining twenty-nine being divided among  several Democratic members. In the Senate, the Senators from West Virginia were admitted to their seats by  a vote of thirty-six to five.

On the 9th, the President transmitted to both Houses  the following Message:--

Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:

Another year of health and of sufficiently abundant harvests has  passed. Fur these, and especially for the improved condition of our national affairs, our renewed and profoundest gratitude to God is due. We  remain in peace and friendship with foreign Powers. The efforts of disloyal citizens of the United States to involve us in foreign wars to aid an  inexcusable insurrection have been unavailing. Her Britannic Majesty's  Government, as was justly expected, have exercised their authority to  prevent the departure of new hostile expeditions from British ports.

The Emperor of France has, by a like proceeding, promptly vindicated  the neutrality which he proclaimed at the beginning of the contest.

Questions of great intricacy and importance have arisen out of the  blockade, and other belligerent operations, between the Government and  several of the maritime Powers, but they have been discussed, and, as far as was possible, accommodated in a spirit of frankness, justice, and  mutual good-will.

It is especially gratifying that our prize courts, by the impartiality of  their adjudications, have commanded the respect and confidence of maritime Powers.

The supplemental treaty between the United States and Great Britain  for the suppression of the African slave-trade, made on the 17th day of  February last, has been duly ratified and carried into execution. It is  believed that so far as American ports and American citizens are concerned, that inhuman and odious traffic has been brought to an end.

I have thought it proper, subject to the approval of the Senate, to  concur with the interested commercial Powers, in an arrangement for  the liquidation of the Scheldt dues, upon the principles which have been  heretofore adopted in regard to the imposts upon navigation in the waters  of Denmark.

The long-pending controversy between this Government and that of  Chili, touching the seizure at Sitana, in Peru, by Chilian officers, of a  large amount in treasure, belonging to citizens of the United States, has  been brought to a close by the award of His Majesty the King of the  Belgians, to whose arbitration the question was referred by the parties.

The subject was thoroughly and patiently examined by that justly  respected magistrate, and although the sum awarded to the claimants  may not have been as large as they expected, there is no reason to distrust the wisdom of His Majesty's decision. That decision was promptly  complied with by Chili when intelligence in regard to it reached that  country.

The Joint Commission, under the act of the last session for carrying  into effect the Convention with Peru on the subject of claims, has been  organized at Lima, and is engaged in the business intrusted to it.

Difficulties concerning interoceanic transit through Nicaragua are in  course of amicable adjustment.

In conformity with principles set forth in my last Annual Message, I  have received a representative from the United States of Colombia, and  have accredited a Minister to that Republic.

Incidents occurring in the progress of our civil war have forced upon  my attention the uncertain state of international questions touching the  rights of foreigners in this country and of United States citizens abroad.

In regard to some Governments, these rights are at least partially de fined by treaties. In no instance, however, is it expressly stipulated that  in the event of civil war a foreigner residing in this country, within the  lines of the insurgents, is to be exempted from the rule which classes  him as a belligerent, in whose behalf the Government of his country can not expect any privileges or immunities distinct from that character. I  regret to say, however, that such claims have been put forward, and, in  some instances, in behalf of foreigners who have lived in the United  States the greater part of their lives.

There is reason to believe that many persons born in foreign countries,  who have declared their intention to become citizens, or who have been  fully naturalized, have evaded the military duty required of them by  denying the fact, and thereby throwing upon the Government the burden  of proof. It has been found difficult or impracticable to obtain this  proof, from the want of guides to the proper sources of information.  These might be supplied by requiring clerks of courts, where declarations  of intention may be made, or naturalizations effected, to send periodically  lists of the names of the persons naturalized, or declaring their intention  to become citizens, to the Secretary of the Interior, in whose department those names might be arranged and printed for general information.  There is also reason to believe that foreigners frequently become citizens  of the United States for the sole purpose of evading duties imposed by  the laws of their native countries, to which, on becoming naturalized  here, they at once repair, and though never returning to the United  States, they still claim the interposition of this Government as citizens.

Many altercations and great prejudices have heretofore arisen out of  this abuse. It is, therefore, submitted to your serious consideration. It  might be advisable to fix a limit beyond which no citizen of the United  States residing abroad may claim the interposition of his Government.

The right of suffrage has often been assumed and exercised by aliens  under pretences of naturalization, which they have disavowed when  drafted into the military service.

Satisfactory arrangements have been made with the Emperor of Russia, which, it is believed, will result in effecting a continuous line of telegraph through that empire from our Pacific coast.

I recommend to your favorable consideration the subject of an inter national telegraph across the Atlantic Ocean, and also of a telegraph between this capital and the national forts along the Atlantic seaboard and  the Gulf of Mexico. Such communications, established with any reasonable outlay, would be economical as well as effective aids to the diplomatic, military, and naval service.

The Consular system of the United States, under the enactments of  the last Congress, begins to be self-sustaining, and there is reason to hope  that it may become entirely so with the increase of trade, which will  ensue whenever peace is restored.

Our Ministers abroad have been faithful in defending American rights.  In protecting commercial interests, our Consuls have necessarily had to  encounter increased labors and responsibilities growing out of the war.

These they have, for the most part, met and discharged with zeal and  efficiency. This acknowledgment justly includes those Consuls who,  residing in Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, Japan, China, and other Oriental  countries, are charged with complex functions and extraordinary powers.

The condition of the several organized Territories is generally satisfactory, although Indian disturbances in New Mexico have not been entirely  suppressed.

The mineral resources of Colorado, Nevada, Idaho, New Mexico, and  Arizona, are proving far richer than has been heretofore understood. I  lay before you a communication on this subject from the Governor of  New Mexico. I again submit to your consideration the expediency of  establishing a system for the encouragement of emigration. Although  this source of national wealth and strength is again flowing with greater  freedom than for several years before the insurrection occurred, there is  still a great deficiency of laborers in every field of industry, especially in  agriculture and in our mines, as well of iron and coal as of the precious  metals. While the demand for labor is thus increased here, tens of  thousands of persons, destitute of remunerative occupation, are thronging our foreign consulates, and offering to emigrate to the United States,  if essential, but very cheap, assistance can be afforded them. It is easy  to see that under the sharp discipline of civil war the nation is beginning  a new life. This noble effort demands the aid, and ought to receive the  attention and support, of the Government.

Injuries unforeseen by the Government, and unintended, may in some  cases have been inflicted on the subjects or citizens of foreign countries,  both at sea and on land, by persons in the service of the United States.  As this Government expects redress from other Powers when similar  injuries are inflicted by persons in their service upon citizens of the  United States, we must be prepared to do justice to foreigners. If the  existing judicial tribunals are inadequate to this purpose, a special court  may be authorized, with power to hear and decide such claims of the  character referred to as may have arisen under treaties and the public  law. Conventions for adjusting the claims by joint commission have  been proposed to some Governments, but no definite answer to the proposition has yet been received from any.

In the course of the session I shall probably have occasion to request  you to provide indemnification to claimants where decrees of restitution  have been rendered, and damages awarded by Admiralty Courts; and in  other cases, where this Government may be acknowledged to be liable in  principle, and where the amount of that liability has been ascertained by  an informal arbitration, the proper officers of the Treasury have deemed  themselves required by the law of the United States upon the subject, to  demand a tax upon the incomes of foreign Consuls in this country. While  such a demand may not, in strictness, be in derogation of public law, or  perhaps of any existing treaty between the United States and a foreign  country, the expediency of so far modifying the act as to exempt from  tax the income of such Consuls as are not citizens of the United States,  derived from the emoluments of their office, or from property not situate  in the United States, is submitted to your serious consideration. I make  this suggestion upon the ground that a comity which ought to be reciprocated exempts our Consuls in all other countries from taxation to the  extent thus indicated. The United States, I think, ought not to be exceptionally illiberal to international trade and commerce.

The operations of the Treasury during the last year have been success fully conducted. The enactment by Congress of a National Banking  Law has proved a valuable support of the public credit, and the general  legislation in relation to loans has fully answered the-expectation of it  favorers. Some amendments may be required to perfect existing laws,  but no change in their principles or general scope is believed to be needed.  Since these measures have been in operation, all demands on the Treasury, including the pay of the army and navy, have been promptly met  and fully satisfied. No considerable body of troops, it is believed, were  ever more amply provided and more liberally and punctually paid; and,  it may be added, that by no people were the burdens incident to a great  war more cheerfully borne.

The receipts during the year, from all sources, including loans and the  balance in the Treasury at its commencement, were $901,125,674.86, and  the aggregate disbursements $895,796,630.65, leaving a balance on the  1st of July, 1863, of $5,329,044.21. Of the receipts, there were derived  from customs $69,059,642.40; from internal revenue, $37,640,787.95,  from direct tax, $1,485,103.61; from lands, $167,617.17; from miscellaneous sources, $3,046,615.35; and from loans, $776,682,361.57: making  the aggregate $901,125,674.86. Of the disbursements, there were for the  civil service $23,253,922.08; for pensions and Indians, $4,216,520.79; for  interest on public debt, $24,729,846.51; for the War Department, $599, 298,600.83; for the Navy Department, $63,211,105.27; for payment of  funded and temporary debt, $181,086,635.07: making the aggregate $895, 796,630.65, and leaving the balance of $5,329,044.21.

But the payment of the funded and temporary debt, having been made  from moneys borrowed during the year, must be regarded as merely nominal payments, and the moneys borrowed to make them as merely nominal receipts; and their amount, $181,086,535.07, should therefore be  deducted both from receipts and disbursements. This being done, there  remains, as actual receipts, $720,039,039.79, and the actual disbursements  $714,709,995.58, leaving the balance as already stated.

The actual receipts and disbursements for the first quarter, and the estimated receipts and disbursements for the remaining three quarters of the  current fiscal year, 1864, will be shown in detail by the report of the Secretary of the Treasury, to which I invite your attention.

It is sufficient to say here, that it is not believed that actual results will  exhibit a state of the finances less favorable to the country than the estimates of that officer heretofore submitted, while it is confidently expected  that, at the close of the year, both disbursements and debt be found  very considerably less than has been anticipated.

The report of the Secretary of War is a document of great interest. It  consists of--

First.--The military operations of the year detailed in the report of the  General-in-Chief.

Second.--The organization of colored persons into the war service.

Third.--The exchange of prisoners, fully set forth in the letter of General Hitchcock.

Fourth.--The operations under the act for enrolling and calling out the  national forces, detailed in the report of the Provost-Marshal General.

Fifth.--The organization of the Invalid. Corps. And--

Sixth.--The operations of the several departments of the Quartermaster General, Commissary-General, Paymaster-General, Chief of Engineers,  Chief of Ordnance, and Surgeon-General. It has appeared impossible to  make a valuable summary of this report, except such as would be too ex tended for this place, and hence I content myself by asking your careful  attention to the report itself. The duties devolving on the naval branch  of the service during the year, and throughout the whole of this unhappy  contest, have been discharged with fidelity and eminent success. The ex tensive blockade has been constantly increasing in efficiency, as the navy  has expanded, yet on so long a line it has, so far, been impossible entirely  to suppress illicit trade. From returns received at the Navy Department,  it appears that more than one thousand vessels have been captured since  the blockade was instituted, and that the value of prizes already sent in  for adjudication amount to over thirteen millions of dollars.

The naval force of the United States consists at this time of five hundred  and eighty-eight vessels completed and in the course of completion, and  of these seventy-five are iron-clad or armored steamers. The events of  the war give an increased interest and importance to the navy, which will  probably extend beyond the war itself. The armored vessels in our navy.  completed and in service, or which are under contract and approaching  completion, are believed to exceed in number those of any other Power;  but while these may be relied upon for harbor defence and coast service,  others of greater strength and capacity will be necessary for cruising purposes, and to maintain our rightful position on the ocean.

The change that has taken place in naval vessels and naval warfare since  the introduction of steam as a motive power for ships of war, demands  either a corresponding change in some of our existing navy-yards, or the  establishment of new ones, for the construction and necessary repair of  modern naval vessels. No inconsiderable embarrassment, delay, and pub lic injury, have been experienced from the want of such governmental  establishments.

The necessity of such a navy-yard, so furnished, at some suitable place  upon the Atlantic seaboard, has, on repeated occasions, been brought to  the attention of Congress by the Navy Department, and is again presented  in the report of the Secretary, which accompanies this communication. I  think it my duty to invite your special attention to this subject, and also  to that of establishing a yard and dépôt for naval purposes upon one of  the Western rivers. A naval force has been created on these interior  waters, and under many disadvantages, within a little more than two  years, exceeding in number the whole naval force of the country at the  commencement of the present Administration. Satisfactory and important as have been the performances of the heroic men of the navy at this interesting period, they are scarcely more wonderful than the success of our  mechanics and artisans in the production of war-vessels, which has created  a new form of naval power.

Our country has advantages superior to any other nation in our resources  of iron and timber, with inexhaustible quantities of fuel in the immediate  vicinity of both, and all available and in close proximity to navigable  waters. Without the advantage of public works, the resources of the  nation have been developed, and its power displayed, in the construction  of a navy of such magnitude, which has at the very period of its creation  rendered signal service to the Union.

The increase of the number of seamen in the public service from seven  thousand five hundred men in the spring of 1861, to about thirty-four  thousand at the present time, has been accomplished without special legislation or extraordinary bounties to promote that increase. It has been  found, however, that the operation of the draft, with the high bounties  paid for army recruits, is beginning to affect injuriously the naval service,  and will, if not corrected, be likely to impair its efficiency by detaching  seamen from their proper vocation, and inducing them to enter the army.  I therefore respectfully suggest that Congress might aid both the army  and naval service by a definite provision on this subject, which would at  the same time be equitable to the communities more especially interested.

I commend to your consideration the suggestions of the Secretary of the  Navy, in regard to the policy of fostering and training seamen, and also  the education of officers and engineers for the naval service. The Naval  Academy is rendering signal service in preparing midshipmen for the  highly responsible duties which in after-life they will be required to per form. In order that the country should not be deprived of the proper  quota of educated officers, for which legal provision has been made at the  naval school, the vacancies caused by the neglect or omission to make  nominations from the States in insurrection, have been filled by the Secretary of the Navy. The school is now more full and complete than at any  former period, and in every respect entitled to the favorable consideration  of Congress.

During the last fiscal year the financial condition of the Post-Office Department has been one of increasing prosperity, and I am gratified in being  able to state that the actual postal revenue has nearly equalled the entire  expenditures, the latter amounting to $11,314,206 84, and the former to  $11,163,789 59, leaving a deficiency of but $150,417 25. In 1860, the  year immediately preceding the rebellion, the deficiency amounted to  $5,656,705 49, the postal receipts for that year being $2,647,225 19 less  than those of 1863. The decrease since 1860 in the annual amount of  transportation has been only about 25 per cent.; but the annual expenditure on account of the same has been reduced 35 per cent. It is manifest,  therefore, that the Post-Office Department may become self-sustaining in  a few years, even with the restoration of the whole service.

The international conference of postal delegates from the principal  countries of Europe and America, which was called at the suggestion of  the Postmaster-General, met at Paris on the 11th of May last, and concluded its deliberations on the 8th of June. The principles established  by the conference as best adapted to facilitate postal intercourse between  nations, and as the basis of future postal conventions, inaugurates a general system of uniform international charges at reduced rates of postage,  and cannot fail to produce beneficial results. I refer you to the Report  of the Secretary of the Interior, which is herewith laid before you, for  useful and varied information in relation to Public Lands, Indian Affairs,  Patents, Pensions, and other matters of the public concern pertaining to  his department.

The quantity of land disposed of during the last and the first quarter  of the present fiscal year was three million eight hundred and forty one thousand five hundred and forty-nine acres, of which one hundred  and sixty-one thousand nine hundred and eleven acres were sold for cash.  One million four hundred and fifty-six thousand five hundred and four teen acres were taken up under the Homestead Law, and the residue dis posed of under laws granting lands for military bounties, for railroad and  other purposes. It also appears that the sale of public lands is largely  on the increase.

It has long been a cherished opinion of some of our wisest statesmen  that the people of the United States had a higher and more enduring interest in the early settlement and substantial cultivation of the public  lands than in the amount of direct revenue to be derived from the sale of  them. This opinion has had a controlling influence in shaping legislation  upon the subject of our national domain. I may cite, as evidence of this,  the liberal measures adopted in reference to actual settlers, the grant to  the States of the overflowed lands within their limits, in order to their  being reclaimed and rendered fit for cultivation, the grants to railway  companies of alternate sections of land upon the contemplated lines of  their roads, which, when completed, will so largely multiply the facilities  for reaching our distant possessions. This policy has received its most  signal and beneficent illustration in the recent enactment granting homesteads to actual settlers. Since the first day of January last, the before mentioned quantity of one million four hundred and fifty-six thousand five  hundred and fourteen acres of land have been taken up under its its pro visions. This fact, and the amount of sales, furnish gratifying evidence of  increasing settlement upon the public lands, notwithstanding the great  struggle in which the energies of the nation have been engaged, and which  has required so large a withdrawal of our citizens from their accustomed  pursuits. I cordially concur in the recommendation of the Secretary of  the. Interior, suggesting a modification of the act in favor of those engaged  in the military and naval service of the United States.

I doubt not that Congress will cheerfully adopt such measures as will,  without essentially changing the general features of the system, secure to the greatest practical extent its benefits to those who have left their  homes in defence of the country in this arduous crisis.

I invite your attention to the views of the Secretary as to the propriety  of raising, by appropriate legislation, a revenue from the mineral lands of  the United States. The measures provided at your last session for the  removal of certain Indian tribes have been carried into effect. Sundry  treaties have been negotiated, which will, in due time, be submitted for  the constitutional action of the Senate. They contain stipulations for extinguishing the possessory rights of the Indians to large and valuable  tracts of lands. It is hoped that the effect of these treaties will result in  the establishment of permanent friendly relations with such of these  tribes as have been brought into frequent and bloody collision with our  outlying settlements and emigrants. Sound policy, and our imperative  duty to these wards of the Government, demand our anxious and constant attention to their material well-being, to their progress in the arts  of civilization, and, above all, to that moral training which, under the  blessing of Divine Providence, will confer upon them the elevated and  sanctifying influences, the hopes and consolations of the Christian faith.  I suggested in my last Annual Message the propriety of remodelling our  Indian system. Subsequent events have satisfied me of its necessity.  The details set forth in the report of the Secretary evince the urgent need  for immediate legislative action.

I commend the benevolent institutions, established or patronized by the  Government in this District, to your generous and fostering care.

The attention of Congress, during the last session, was engaged to some  extent with a proposition for enlarging the water communication between  the Mississippi River and the northeastern seaboard, which proposition,  however, failed for the time. Since then, upon a call of the greatest  respectability, a convention has been held at Chicago upon the same subject, a summary of whose views is contained in a Memorial Address to  the President and Congress, and which I now have the honor to lay  before you. That the interest is one which will ere long force its own  way I do not entertain a doubt, while it is submitted entirely to your  wisdom as to what can be done now. Augmented interest is given to  this subject by the actual commencement of work upon the Pacific Rail road, under auspices so favorable to rapid progress and completion. The  enlarged navigation becomes a palpable need to the great road.

I transmit the second annual report of the Commissioners of the Department of Agriculture, asking your attention to the developments in  that vital interest of the nation.

When Congress assembled a year ago, the war had already lasted nearly  twenty months, and there had been many conflicts on both land and sea,  with varying results; the rebellion had been pressed back into reduced  limits; yet the tone of public feeling and opinion, at home and abroad,  was not satisfactory. With other signs, the popular elections then just  past indicated uneasiness among ourselves, while, amid much that was cold and menacing, the kindest words coming from Europe were uttered  in accents of pity that we were too blind to surrender a hopeless cause.  Our commerce was suffering greatly by a few vessels built upon and  furnished from foreign shores, and we were threatened with such additions from the same quarters as would sweep our trade from the seas and  raise our blockade. We had failed to elicit from European Governments  any thing hopeful upon this subject.

The preliminary Emancipation Proclamation issued in September was  running its assigned period to the beginning of the new year. A month  later, the final proclamation came, including the announcement that  colored men of suitable condition would be received in the war service.  The policy of emancipation and of employing black soldiers gave to the  future a new aspect, about which hope and fear and doubt contended in  uncertain conflict. According to our political system, as a matter of civil  administration, the Government had no lawful power to effect emancipation in any State, and for a long time it had been hoped that the rebel lion could be suppressed without resorting to it as a military measure.  It was all the while deemed possible that the necessity for it might come,  and that if it should, the crisis of the contest would then be presented.  It came, and, as was anticipated, was followed by dark and doubtful  days.

Eleven months having now passed, we are permitted to take another  review. The rebel borders are pressed still further back, and by the  complete opening of the Mississippi, the country dominated by the rebellion is divided into distinct parts, with no practical communication between them. Tennessee and Arkansas have been substantially cleared  of insurgent control, and influential citizens in each--owners of slaves  and advocates of slavery at the beginning of the rebellion--now declare  openly for emancipation in their respective States. Of those States not  included in the Emancipation Proclamation, Maryland and Missouri,  neither of which three years ago would tolerate any restraint upon the  extension of slavery into new Territories, only dispute now as to the best  mode of removing it within their own limits.

Of those who were slaves at the beginning of the rebellion, full one  hundred thousand are now in the United States military service, about  one-half of which number actually bear arms in the ranks--thus giving  the double advantage of taking so much labor from the insurgent cause  and supplying the places which otherwise must be filled with so many  white men. So far as tested, it is difficult to say they are not as good  soldiers as any. No servile insurrection or tendency to violence or cruel ty has marked the measures of emancipation and arming the blacks. These  measures have been much discussed in foreign countries, and, contemporary  with such discussion, the tone of public sentiment there is much improved.  At home the same measures have been fully discussed, supported, criticised,  and denounced, and the annual elections following are highly encouraging  to those whose official duty it is to bear the country through this great trial. Thus we have the new reckoning. The crisis which threatened  to divide the friends of the Union is past.

Looking now to the present and future, and with reference to a resumption of the National authority in the States wherein that authority  has been suspended, I have thought fit to issue a proclamation--a copy of  which is herewith transmitted. On examination of this proclamation, it  will appear, as is believed, that nothing is attempted beyond what is amply  justified by the Constitution. True, the form of an oath is given, but no  man is coerced to take it. The man is only promised a pardon in case he  voluntarily takes the oath. The Constitution authorizes the Executive to  grant or withdraw the pardon at his own absolute discretion, and this  includes the power to grant on terms, as is fully established by judicial  and other authorities. It is also proffered that if in any of the States named  a State Government shall be in the mode prescribed set up, such government shall be recognized and guaranteed by the United States, and that  under it the State shall, on the constitutional conditions, be protected  against invasion and domestic violence.

The constitutional obligation of the United States to guarantee to every  State in the Union a republican form of government, and to protect the  State in the cases stated, is explicit and full. But why tender the benefits  of this provision only to a State Government set up in this particular way?  This section of the Constitution contemplates a case wherein the element  within a State favorable to republican government in the Union may be  too feeble for an opposite and hostile element external to or even within  the State, and such are precisely the cases with which we are now  dealing.

An attempt to guarantee and protect a revived State Government,  constructed in whole or in preponderating part from the very element  against whose hostility and violence it is to be protected, is simply absurd.  There must be a test by which to separate the opposing elements, so as to  build only from the sound; and that test is a sufficiently liberal one which  accepts as sound whoever will make a sworn recantation of his former  unsoundness.

But if it be proper to require, as a test of admission to the political body,  an oath of allegiance to the Constitution of the United States and to the  Union under it, why also to the laws and proclamations in regard to  slavery?

Those laws and proclamations were enacted and put forth for the purpose of aiding in the suppression of the rebellion. To give them their  fullest effect there had to be a pledge for their maintenance. In my judgment they have aided and will further aid the cause for which they were  intended.

To now abandon them would be not only to relinquish a lever of power,  but would also be a cruel and an astounding breach of faith.

I may add, at this point, that while I remain in my present position, I  shall not attempt to retract or modify the Emancipation Proclamation, nor shall I return to slavery any person who is free by the terms of that proclamation, or by any of the acts of Congress.

For these and other reasons, it is thought best that support of these  measures shall be included in the oath, and it is believed that the Executive may lawfully claim it in return for pardon and restoration of forfeited rights, which he has a clear constitutional power to withhold al together or grant upon the terms which he shall deem wisest for the  public interest. It should be observed, also, that this part of the oath is  subject to the modifying and abrogating power of legislation and supreme  judicial decision.

The proposed acquiescence of the National Executive in any reasonable  temporary State arrangement for the freed people, is made with the view  of possibly modifying the confusion and destitution which must at best  attend all classes by a total revolution of labor throughout whole States.  It is hoped that the already deeply afflicted people in those States may  be somewhat more ready to give up the cause of their affliction, if, to this  extent, this vital matter be left to themselves, while no power of the National Executive to prevent an abuse is abridged by the proposition.

The suggestion in the proclamation as to maintaining the political frame work of the States on what is called reconstruction, is made in the hope  that it may do good, without danger of harm. It will save labor, and  avoid great confusion. But why any proclamation now upon this subject?  This question is beset with the conflicting views that the step might be  delayed too long, or be taken too soon. In some States the elements for  resumption seem ready for action, but remain inactive, apparently for want  of a rallying-point--a plan of action. Why shall A adopt the plan of B,  rather than B that of A? And if A and B should agree, how can they  know but that the General Government here will reject their plan? By  the proclamation a plan is presented which may be accepted by them as a  rallying point--and which they are assured in advance will not be rejected here. This may bring them to act sooner than they otherwise would.

The objection to a premature presentation of a plan by the National  Executive consists in the danger of committals on points which could be  more safely left to further developments. Care has been taken to so  shape the document as to avoid embarrassments from this source. Saying  that on certain terms certain classes will be pardoned with rights restored,  it is not said that other classes or other terms will never be included.  Saying that reconstruction will be accepted if presented in a specified way,  it is not said it will never be accepted in any other way. The movements by State action for emancipation in several of the States not included in the Emancipation Proclamation are matters of profound gratulation.  And while I do not repeat in detail what I have heretofore so earnestly  urged upon this subject, my general views and feelings remain unchanged;  and I trust that Congress will omit no fair opportunity of aiding these important steps to the great consummation.

In the midst of other cares, however important, we must not lose sight

of the fact that the war power is still our main reliance. To that power  alone can we look, for a time, to give confidence to the people in the con tested regions, that the insurgent power will not again overrun them.  Until that confidence shall be established, little can be done anywhere for  what is called reconstruction. Hence our chiefest care must still be directed to the army and navy, who have thus far borne their harder part  so nobly and well. And it may be esteemed fortunate that in giving the  greatest efficiency to these indispensable arms, we do also honorably  recognize the gallant men, from commander to sentinel, who compose  them, and to whom, more than to others, the world must stand indebted  for the home of freedom, disenthralled, regenerated, enlarged, and perpetuated.


December 8, 1863.

The following proclamation was appended to the Message:--


Whereas, in and by the Constitution of the United States, it is provided  that the President shall have power to grant reprieves and pardons for  offences against the United States, except in cases of impeachment; and  whereas, a rebellion now exists, whereby the loyal State Governments of  several States have for a long time been subverted, and many persons  have committed and are now guilty of treason against the United States:  and

Whereas, with reference to said rebellion and treason, laws have been  enacted by Congress, declaring forfeitures and confiscation of property  and liberation of slaves, all upon terms and conditions therein stated, and  also declaring that the President was thereby authorized at any time  thereafter, by proclamation, to extend to persons who may have participated in the existing rebellion in any State or part thereof, pardon and  amnesty, with such exceptions and at such times and on such conditions  as he may deem expedient for the public welfare; and

Whereas, the Congressional declaration for limited and conditional  pardon accords with the well-established judicial exposition of the pardoning power; and

Whereas, with reference to the said rebellion, the President of the  United States has issued several proclamations with provisions in regard  to the liberation of slaves; and

Whereas, it is now desired by some persons heretofore engaged in said  rebellion to resume their allegiance to the United States, and to reinaugurate loyal State Governments within and for their respective States:  Therefore,

I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do proclaim, declare, and make known to all persons who have directly or by implication  participated in the existing rebellion, except as hereinafter excepted, that a full pardon is hereby granted to them and each of them, with restoration of all rights of property, except as to slaves, and in property cases  where rights of third parties shall have intervened, and upon the condition  that every such person shall take and subscribe an oath and thencefor ward keep and maintain said oath inviolate, an oath which shall be registered for permanent preservation, and shall be of the tenor and effect  following, to wit:--

"I, ----- -----, do solemnly swear, in presence of Almighty God,  that I will henceforth faithfully support, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Union of the States thereunder; and  that I will in like manner abide by and faithfully support all acts of  Congress passed during the existing rebellion with reference to slaves,  so long and so far as not repealed, modified, or held void by Congress, or  by decision of the Supreme Court; and that I will in like manner abide  by and faithfully support all proclamations of the President made during  the existing rebellion having reference to slaves, so long and so far as not  modified or declared void by decision of the Supreme Court. So help me  God."

The persons excepted from the benefits of the foregoing provisions are:  All who are, or shall have been civil or diplomatic officers or agents of  the so-called Confederate Government; all who have left judicial stations  under the United States to aid the rebellion; all who are, or shall have  been military or naval officers of said so-called Confederate Government, above the rank of colonel in the army, or of lieutenant in the navy,  all who left seats in the United States Congress to aid the rebellion; all  who resigned commissions in the army or navy of the United States,  and afterwards aided the rebellion; and all who have engaged in any  way in treating colored persons, or white persons in charge of such,  otherwise than lawfully as prisoners of war, and which persons may have  been found in the United States service as soldiers, seamen, or any other  capacity; and I do further proclaim, declare, and make known that,  whenever, in any of the States of Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi,  Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, and North Carolina, a number of persons not less than one-tenth in number of the votes  cast in such States at the presidential election of the year of our Lord one  thousand eight hundred and sixty, each having taken the oath aforesaid,  and not having since violated it, and being a qualified voter by the election law of the State existing immediately before the so-called act of  secession, and excluding all others, shall re-establish a State Government  which shall be republican, and in nowise contravening said oath, such  shall be recognized as the true Government of the State, and the State  receive thereunder the benefits of the constitutional provision, which  declares that

"The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union  a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them  against invasion, and, on application of the Legislature, or the Executive, when the Legislature cannot be convened, against domestic vio lence."

And I do further proclaim, declare, and make known, that any pro vision which may be adopted by such State Government in relation to  the freed people of such State, which shall recognize and declare their  permanent freedom, provide .for their education, and which may yet be  consistent, as a temporary arrangement, with their present condition as  a laboring, landless, and homeless class, will not be objected to by the  National Executive.

And it is suggested as not improper that, in constructing a loyal State  Government in any State, the name of the State, the boundary, the  subdivisions, the Constitution, and the general code of laws, as before  the rebellion, be maintained, subject only to the modifications made  necessary by the conditions herein before stated, and such others, if  any, not contravening said conditions, and which may be deemed expedient by those framing the new State Government. To avoid misunderstanding, it may be proper to say that this proclamation, so far as it  relates to State Governments, has no reference to States wherein loyal  State Governments have all the while been maintained; and for the  same reason it may be proper to further say, that whether members  sent to Congress from any State shall be admitted to seats, constitution ally rests exclusively with the respective Houses, and not to any extent  with the Executive. And still further, that this proclamation is intended  to present the people of the States wherein the national authority has  been suspended, and the loyal State. Governments have been sabverted, a  mode in and by which the national authority and loyal State Governments may be re-established within said States, or in any of them. And,  while the mode presented is the best the Executive can suggest with his  present impressions, it must not be understood that no other possible  mode would be acceptable.

Given under my hand at the City of Washington, the eighth day of December, A. D. one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the  independence of the United States of America the eighty-eighth.


By the President:

WM. H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

In further prosecution of the object sought by this measure of amnesty, the President subsequently issued the following additional explanatory


By the President of the. United States of America.

Whereas, it has become necessary to define the cases in which insurgent enemies are entitled to the benefits of the Proclamation of the President of the United States, which was made on the 8th day of December,  1863, and the manner in which they shall proceed to avail themselves of  these benefits; and whereas the objects of that Proclamation were to  suppress the insurrection and to restore the authority of the United  States; and whereas the amnesty therein proposed by the President was  offered with reference to these objects alone:

Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States,  do hereby proclaim and declare that the said Proclamation does not apply  to the cases of persons who, at the time when they seek to obtain the  benefits thereof by taking the oath thereby prescribed, are in military,  naval, or civil confinement or custody, or under bonds, or on parole of  the civil, military, or naval authorities, or agents of the United States, as  prisoners of war, or persons detained for offences of any kind, either be fore or after conviction; and that on the contrary it does apply only to  those persons who, being yet at large, and free from any arrest, confinement, or duress, shall voluntarily come forward and take the said oath  with the purpose of restoring peace, and establishing the national authority.

Persons excluded from the amnesty offered in the said Proclamation  may apply to the President for clemency, like all other offenders, and  their application will receive due consideration.

I do further declare and proclaim that the oath presented in the afore said proclamation of the 8th of December, 1863, may be taken and sub scribed before any commissioned officer, civil, military, or naval, in the  service of the United States, or any civil or military officer of a State or  Territory not in insurrection, who, by the laws thereof, may be qualified  for administering oaths.

All officers who receive such oaths are hereby authorized to give certificates thereof to the persons respectively by whom they are made, and  such officers are hereby required to transmit the original records of such  oaths, at as early a day as may be convenient, to the Department of State,  where they will be deposited, and remain in the archives of the Government.

The Secretary of State will keep a registry thereof, and will, on application, in proper cases, issue certificates of such records in the customary  form of official certificates.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed. Done at the City of Washington, the 26th day of March, in the year of our Lord 1864, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-eighth.


[L. S.]



By the President:

WM. H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

The diplomatic correspondence of the year 1863, which was transmitted to Congress with the President's Message, was voluminous and interesting. But it touched few points of general interest, relating mainly to matters of detail in the relations between the United States and foreign Powers. One point of importance was gained in the course of our correspondence with Great Britain-- the issuing of an order by that Government forbidding the departure of formidable rams which were building in English ports unquestionably for the rebel service. Our minister in London had been unwearied in collecting evidence of the purpose and destination of these vessels, and in pressing upon the British Government the absolute necessity, if they wished to preserve peaceful relations with the United States, of not permitting their professedly neutral ports to be used as naval dépôts and dock-yards for the service of the rebels. On the 5th of September, 1863, Mr. Adams had written to Lord Russell, acknowledging the receipt of a letter from him in which the deliberate purpose of the British Government to take no action in regard to these rams was announced. Mr. Adams had expressed his regret at such a decision, which he said he could regard as no otherwise than as practically opening to the insurgents free liberty in Great Britain to prepare for entering and destroying any of the Atlantic seaports of the United States. "It would be superfluous in me," added Mr. Adams, "to point out to your lordship that this is war. No matter what may be the theory adopted of neutrality in a struggle, when this process is carried on in the manner indicated, from a territory and with the aid of the subjects of a third party, that third party to all intents and purposes ceases to be neutral. Neither is it necessary to show that any Government which suffers it to be done, fails in enforcing the essential conditions of international amity towards the country against whom the hostility is directed. In my belief it is impossible that any nation, retaining a proper degree of self-respect, could tamely submit to a continuance of relations so utterly deficient in reciprocity. I have no idea that Great Britain would do so for a moment." On the 8th of September, Earl Russell wrote to  Mr. Adams, to inform him that "instructions had been  issued which would prevent the departure of the two  iron-clad vessels from Liverpool." The Earl afterwards  explained in Parliament, however, when charged with  having taken this action under an implied menace of war  conveyed in the letter of Mr. Adams, that it was taken in  pursuance of a decision which had been made previous to  the receipt of that letter and in ignorance of its existence.

On the 11th of July, Mr. Seward forwarded a dispatch  to Mr. Adams, elicited by the decision of the British  Court in the case of the Alexandra, which had been  seized on suspicion of having been fitted out in violation  of the laws of Great Britain against the enlistment of  troops to serve against nations with which that Government was at peace. The decision was a virtual repeal of  the enlistment act as a penal measure of prevention, and  actually left the agents of the rebels at full liberty to  prepare ships of war in English ports to cruise against  the commerce of the United States. Mr. Seward conveyed  to Mr. Adams the President's views on the extraordinary  state of affairs which this decision revealed. Assuming  that the British Government had acted throughout in  perfect good faith, and that the action of its judicial tribunals was not to be impeached, this dispatch stated that  "if the rulings of the Chief Baron of the Exchequer in  the case of the Alexandra should be affirmed by the court  of last resort, so as to regulate the action of her Majesty's  Government, the President would be left to understand  that there is no law in Great Britain which will be effective to preserve mutual relations of forbearance between  the subjects of her Majesty and the Government and people of the United States in the only point where they are  exposed to infraction. And the United States will be  without any guarantee whatever against the indiscriminate and unlawful employment of capital, industry, and  skill by British subjects, in building, arming, equipping,  and sending forth ships of war from British ports, to  make war against the United States." The suggestion was made whether it would not be wise for Parliament  to amend a law thus proved to be inadequate to the purpose for which it was intended. If the law must be left  without amendment and be construed by the Government  in conformity with the rulings in this case, then, said Mr.  Seward, "there will be left for the United States no alternative but to protect themselves and their commerce  against armed cruisers proceeding from British ports as  against the naval forces of a public enemy; and also to  claim and insist upon indemnities for the injuries which  all such expeditions have hitherto committed or shall  hereafter commit against this Government and the citizens  of the United States." Can it be an occasion for either  surprise or complaint, asked Mr. Seward, that if this  condition of things is to remain and receive the deliberate  sanction of the British Government, the navy of the United States will receive instructions to pursue these enemies into the ports which thus, in violation of the law of  nations and the obligations of neutrality, become harbors  for the pirates?" Before the receipt of this dispatch, Mr.  Adams had so clearly presented the same views, of the  inevitable results of the policy the British Government  seemed to be pursuing, to Lord Russell, as to render its  transmission to him unnecessary--Mr. Seward, on the  13th of August, informing Mr. Adams that he regarded  his previous communications to Earl Russell on the  subject as an execution of his instructions by way of anticipation."

Our relations with France continued to be friendly; but  the proceedings of the French in Mexico gave rise to representations on both sides which may have permanent  importance for the welfare of both countries. Rumors  were circulated from time to time in France that the Government of the United States had protested, or was about  to protest, against the introduction into Mexico of a  monarchical form of government, under a European prince,  to be established and supported by French arms; and  these reports derived a good deal of plausibility from the  language of the American press, representing the undoubted sentiment of a very large portion of the American  people. Various incidental conversations were had on  this subject during the summer of 1863, between Mr. Dayton, our Minister in Paris, and the French Minister of  Foreign Affairs, in which the latter uniformly assured  Mr. Dayton that France had no thought of conquering  Mexico or establishing there a dominant and permanent  power. She desired simply to enforce the payment of  just claims and to vindicate her honor. In a conversation  reported by Mr. Dayton in a letter dated August 21, M.  Drouyn de l'Huys took occasion again to say that  "France had no purpose in Mexico other than heretofore  stated--that she did not mean to appropriate permanently  any part of that country, and that she should leave it as  soon as her griefs were satisfied, and she could do so with  honor." "In the abandon of a conversation somewhat  familiar," adds Mr. Dayton, "I took occasion to say that  in quitting Mexico she might leave a puppet behind her.  He said no; the strings would be too long to work. He  added that they had had enough of colonial experience in  Algeria: that the strength of France was in her compact  body and well-defined boundary. In that condition she  had her resources always at command."

In a dispatch dated September 14, Mr. Dayton reports  a conversation in which the French Minister referred to  the "almost universal report that our Government only  awaits the termination of our domestic troubles to drive  the French out of Mexico." He said that the French  naturally conclude that, if they are to have trouble with  us, it would be safest to take their own time; and he  assured M. Drouyn de l'Huys that, "relying on the constant assurances of France as to its purposes in Mexico,  and its determination to leave the people free as to their  form of government, and not to hold or colonize any portion of their territories," our Government had indicated  no purpose to interfere in the quarrel, not concealing at  the same time our earnest solicitude for the well-being of  that country, and an especial sensitiveness as to any  forcible interference in the form of its government.

On the 21st of September, Mr. Seward instructed Mr.  Dayton to call the attention of the French Minister to the  apparent deviations of the French in Mexico from the  tenor of the assurances uniformly given by the French  Government that they did not intend permanent occupation of that country, or any violence to the sovereignty of  its people. And on the 26th of the same month Mr.  Seward set forth at some length the position of our Government upon this question, which is mainly embodied in  the following extract:--

The United States hold, in regard to Mexico, the same principles that  they hold in regard to all other nations. They have neither a right nor a  disposition to intervene by force in the internal affairs of Mexico, whether  to establish and maintain a republic or even a domestic government there,  or to overthrow an imperial or a foreign one, if Mexico chooses to establish or accept it. The United States have neither the right nor the disposition to intervene by force on either side in the lamentable war which  is going on between France and Mexico. On the contrary, they practise  in regard to Mexico, in every phase of that war, the non-intervention  which they require all foreign powers to observe in regard to the United  States. But notwithstanding this self-restraint this Government knows  full well that the inherent normal opinion of Mexico favors a government  there republican in form and domestic in its organization, in preference to  any monarchical institutions to be imposed from abroad. This Government knows also that this normal opinion of the people of Mexico resulted largely from the influence of popular opinion in this country, and  is continually invigorated by it. The President believes, moreover, that  this popular opinion of the United States is just in itself and eminently  essential to the progress of civilization on the American continent, which  civilization, it believes, can and will, if left free from European resistance,  work harmoniously together with advancing refinement on the other continents. This Government believes that foreign resistance, or attempts to  control American civilization, must and will fail before the ceaseless and  ever-increasing activity of material, moral, and political forces, which  peculiarly belong to the American continent. Nor do the United States  deny that, in their opinion, their own safety and the cheerful destiny to  which they aspire are intimately dependent on the continuance of free  republican, institutions throughout America. They have submitted these  opinions to the Emperor of France, on proper occasions, as worthy of his  serious consideration, in determining how be would conduct and close  what might prove a successful war in Mexico. Nor is it necessary to  practise reserve upon the point that if France should, upon due consideration, determine to adopt a policy in Mexico adverse to the American opinion and sentiments which I have described, that policy would probably scatter seeds which would be fruitful of jealousies which might  ultimately ripen into collision between France and the United States and  other American republics. . . . The statements made to you by M.  Drouyn do l'Huys concerning the Emperor's intentions are entirely satisfactory, if we are permitted to assume them as having been authorized  to be made by the Emperor in view of the present condition of affairs in  Mexico.

The French Minister, in a conversation on the 8th of  October, stated to Mr. Dayton that the vote of the entire  population of Mexico, Spanish and Indian, would be  taken as to the form of government to be established, and  he had no doubt a large majority of that vote would be  in favor of the Archduke Maximilian. He also expressed  a desire that the United States would express its acquiescence in such a result, and its readiness to enter into  peaceful relations with such a Government, by acknowledging it as speedily as possible--inasmuch as such a  course would enable France the sooner to leave Mexico  and the new Government to take care of itself. In replying to this request, on the 23d of October, Mr. Seward  repeated the determination of our Government to maintain  a position of complete neutrality in the war between  France and Mexico, and declared that while they could  not anticipate the action of the people of Mexico, they  had not "the least purpose or desire to interfere with  their proceedings, or control or interfere with their free  choice, or disturb them in the exercise of whatever institutions of government they may, in the exercise of an absolute freedom, establish." As we did not consider the  war yet closed, however, we were not at liberty to consider the question of recognizing the Government which,  in the further chances of that war, might take the place  of the one now existing in Mexico, with which our relations were those of peace and friendship.

The policy of the President, therefore, in regard to the  war in Mexico, was that of neutrality; and, although this  policy in some respects contravened the traditional purposes and principles of the Government and people of the United States, it is not easy to see what other could  have been adopted without inviting hazards which no  responsible statesman has a right to incur. The war  against Mexico was undertaken ostensibly for objects  and purposes which we were compelled to regard as  legitimate, and we could not ourselves depart from a  strict neutrality without virtually conceding the right,  not only of France, but of every other nation interested  in our downfall, to become party to the war against us.  While we have to a certain extent pledged ourselves to  hold the whole continent open to republican institutions,  our first duty was clearly to preserve the existence of  our. own Republic, not only for ourselves, but as the only  condition on which republicanism anywhere is possible.  The President, therefore, in holding this country wholly  aloof from the war with France, consulted the ultimate  and permanent interests of democratic institutions not  less than the safety and welfare of the United States, and  pursued the only policy at all compatible with the preservation of our. Union and the final establishment of the  Monroe doctrine. Neither the President nor the people,  however, indicated any purpose to acquiesce in the imposition of a foreign prince upon the Mexican people by  foreign armies; and on the 4th of April, 1864, the House  of Representatives adopted the following resolution upon  the subject, which embodies, beyond all doubt, the settled sentiment of the people of this country:--

Resolved, That the Congress of the United States are unwilling by  silence to leave the nations of the world under the impression that they  are indifferent spectators of the deplorable events now transpiring in the  Republic of Mexico; therefore, they think it fit to declare that it does  not accord with the sentiment of the people of the United States to  acknowledge a monarchical government erected on the ruins of any  republican government in America, under the auspices of any European  Power.

The Senate, however, took no action' upon the resolution. But in consequence of a statement by the Paris  Moniteur, that the French Government had received  from our authorities "satisfactory evidence of the sense and bearing" of the resolution, the House on the 23d  of May called for the explanation which had been given  to the Government of France. In answer to this call,  the President transmitted a report of the Secretary of  State, enclosing a dispatch to Mr. Dayton, in which the  Secretary, while saying that the resolution truly interprets the unanimous sentiment of the people of the United  States in regard to Mexico," added, that "it was another  and distinct question, whether the United States would  think it necessary or proper to express themselves in  the form adopted by the House of Representatives at  this time,"--"a question whose decision rested with the  President, and that the President did not at present contemplate any departure from the policy which this Government has hitherto pursued in regard to the war  which exists between France and Mexico."

The action of Congress during the first of the session  was not of special interest or importance. Public attention continued to be absorbed by military operations, and  Congress, at its previous session, had so fully provided  for the emergencies, present and prospective, of the war,  that little in this direction remained to be done. Resolutions were introduced by members of the opposing parties, some approving and others condemning the policy  of the Administration. Attempts were made to amend  the Conscription Bill, but the two Houses failing to agree  on some of the more important changes proposed, the  bill, as finally passed, did not vary essentially from the  original law. The leading topic of discussion in this  connection was the employment of colored men, free and  slave, as soldiers. The policy of thus employing them  had been previously established by the action of the  Government in all departments; and all that remained  was to regulate the mode of their enlistment. A proviso  was finally adopted by both Houses that colored troops,  "while they shall be credited in the quotas of the several States or subdivisions of States wherein they are  respectively drafted, enlisted, or shall volunteer, shall  not be assigned as State troops, but shall be mustered into regiments or companies as 'United States Colored  Volunteers.'"

The general tone of the debates in Congress indicated  a growing conviction on the part of the people of the  whole country, without regard to party distinctions, that  the destruction of slavery was inseparable from the victorious prosecution of the war. Men of all parties acquiesced in the position that the days of slavery were  numbered--that the rebellion, organized for the purpose  of strengthening it, had placed it at the mercy of the  National force, and compelled the Government to assail  its existence as the only means of subduing the rebellion  and preserving the Union. The certainty that the prosecution of the war must result in the emancipation of the  slaves, led to the proposal of measures suited to this  emergency. On the 6th of February, a bill was reported  in the House for the establishment of a Bureau of Freedmen's Affairs, which should determine all questions relating to persons of African descent, and make regulations  for their employment and proper treatment on abandoned  plantations; and, after a sharp and discursive debate, it  was passed by a vote of sixty-nine to sixty-seven.

The bill, however, did not pass the Senate, and nothing.  final was done in this direction until the next session.

The most noticeable of the measures in reference to.  slavery which were before Congress at this session was  the resolution to submit to the action of the several States  an amendment to the Constitution of the United States,  prohibiting the existence of slavery within the States and  Territories of the Union forever.

The Opposition which this proposition met was wonderfully little considering the radical nature of the change  proposed, and showed that the experience of the last  three years had left but little inclination in any quarter  to prolong the existence of slavery, and that the political  necessities which formerly gave it strength and protection  had ceased to be felt. At the commencement of the  session, resolutions were offered by several members in  both Houses, aiming at its prohibition by such an amendment of the Constitution. This mode of accomplishing  the object sought was held to be free from the objections  to which every other was exposed, as it is unquestionably competent for the people to amend the Constitution, in  accordance with the forms prescribed by its own provisions. One or two Southern Senators, Mr. Saulsbury,  of Delaware, and Mr. Powell, of Kentucky, being prominent, urged that it was a palpable violation of State  rights for the people thus to interfere with any thing  which State laws declare to be property; but they were  answered by Reverdy Johnson, of Maryland, who urged  that when the Constitution was originally framed this  prohibition of slavery might unquestionably have been  embodied in it, and that it was competent for the people  to do now whatever they might have done then.

A prominent feature of the debate on the resolution in  the Senate was a strong speech in its favor by Senator  Henderson, of Missouri, whose advocacy of the measure  surprised even its friends, and was a striking proof of the  progress of anti-slavery sentiment in the Border States.  The resolution passed the Senate on the 8th of April, 1864,  by the strong vote of thirty-eight to six. It then went to  the House, where it was taken up on the 31st of May. Mr.  Holman, of Indiana, objected to the second reading of it,  and this brought the House at once to a vote on the rejection of the resolution, which was negatived by a vote of  seventy-six to fifty-five. It was debated at a good deal of  length, but without a tithe of the excitement which the mere  mention of such a change would have aroused but a few  years before. The vote on the passage of the resolution was  taken on the 15th of June, and resulted in its rejection by a  vote of ninety-four in its favor to sixty-five against it, two-thirds being necessary. Mr. Ashley, of Ohio, changed his  vote to the negative, for the purpose of moving a reconsideration; and the motion to reconsider having been made,  the matter went over in this position to the next session.

A more successful effort was made to repeal the notorious Fugitive Slave Law. The bill for the repeal was  introduced in the House, where it was passed on the 13th of June, by a vote of eighty-two to fifty-eight. On the 15th it was received in the Senate, when, on motion of Mr. Sumner, it was referred to the Committee on Slavery and Freedmen, who immediately reported it favorably, without amendment; but a vote on it was not reached till the 23d when it passed by a vote of twenty-seven to twelve. The action of Congress during the session, relating to questions connected with taxation and the currency, does not call for detailed mention in this connection. Some incidental matters which arose excited full as much controversy as more important matters of legislation. One heated controversy was had over a resolution introduced on Saturday, the 9th of April, by the Speaker, Mr. Colfax, for the expulsion from the House of Alexander Long, a member from Ohio, for language used by him in a speech before the House, Mr. Colfax's resolution was as follows:--

  Whereas, on the 8th day of April, 1864, when the House of Representatives was in Committee of the Whole on the Senate of the Union,  Alexander Long, a Representative in Congress from the Second District  of Ohio, declared himself in favor of recognizing the independent nationality of the so-called Confederacy, now in arms against the Union.
  And whereas, the said so-called Confederacy, thus sought to be recognized and established on the ruins of a dissolved or destroyed Union,  has, as its chief officers, civil and military, those who have added perjury  to their treason, and who seek to obtain success for their parricidal efforts  by the killing of the loyal soldiers of the nation who are seeking to save  it from destruction.
  And whereas, the oath required of all members, and taken by the said  Alexander Long on the first day f the present Congress, declares that "I  have voluntarily given no aid, countenance, counsel, or encouragement to  persons engaged in armed hostility to the United States," thereby declaring the such conduct is regarded as inconsistent with membership  in the Congress the United States:
  Therefore resolved, That Alexander Long, Representative from the  Second District of Ohio, having, on the 8th day of April, 1864, declared  himself in favor of recognizing the independence and nationality of the  so-called Confederacy, now in arms against the Union, and thereby given  aid, countenance, and encouragement to persons engaged in armed hostility to the United States, is hereby expelled.

The resolution was followed by a sharp debate, in the course of which Mr. Benjamin G. Harris, of Maryland,  during a furious speech against the resolution, used the  following words:--

"The South ask you to leave them in peace, but now you say you will  bring them into subjection. That is not done yet, and God Almighty  grant it never may be!"

These words added fuel to the fire which was already  raging. On motion of Mr. Washburne, of Illinois, the  language of Mr. Harris was taken down by the Clerk of  the House. The resolution for the expulsion of Mr.  Long was postponed till the following Monday, and a  resolution was immediately introduced for the expulsion  of Mr. Harris, which, under the operation of the previous  question, was brought to an immediate vote. The vote  resulted in yeas eighty-one, nays fifty-eight; and the resolution was lost, a two-thirds vote being requisite for the  expulsion of a member. A resolution was then introduced  that Mr. Harris, "having spoken words this day in debate  manifestly tending and designed to encourage the existing  rebellion and the public enemies of this nation, is declared to be an unworthy member of this House, and is  hereby severely censured;" and this resolution was  adopted by a vote of ninety-two yeas to eighteen nays.

The resolution for the expulsion of Mr. Long was debated for four days, when the mover, being satisfied that  a sufficient vote could not be obtained for the expulsion,  adopted as his own a substitute of two resolutions, introduced by Mr. Broomall, of Pennsylvania. The first resolution, declaring Mr. Long an unworthy member of the  House, was adopted by a vote of eighty yeas to seventy  nays. The second, directing the Speaker to read the first  resolution to Mr. Long during the session of the House,  was also adopted.

Considerable time was also consumed, and a good deal  of ill-feeling created, by a controversy between General  F. P. Blair, Jr., of Missouri, whose seat in Congress  was contested, and other members of the Missouri delegation. General Blair was accused by one of his colleagues of very discreditable transactions in granting  permits to trade within the limits of his department, from  which he was, however, completely exonerated by the  investigations of a committee of the House. After this  matter was closed, General Blair resigned his seat in the  House and returned to his post in the army. The House,  by resolution, called upon the President for information  as to the circumstances of his restoration to command,  and received on the 28th of April the following in reply:--

To the House of Representatives:

In obedience to the resolution of your honorable body, a copy of which  is herewith returned, I have the honor to make the following brief state  ment, which is believed to contain the information sought.

Prior to and at the meeting of the present Congress, Robert C. Schenck,  of Ohio, and Frank P. Blair, Jr., of Missouri, members elect thereto, by  and with the consent of the Senate held commissions from the Executive as major-generals in the volunteer army. General Schenck tendered  the resignation of his said commission, and took his seat in the House of  Representatives, at the assembling thereof, upon the distinct verbal understanding with the Secretary of War and the Executive that he might  at any time during the session, at his own pleasure, withdraw said resignation and return to the field.

General Blair was, by temporary agreement of General Sherman, in  command of a corps through the battles in front of Chattanooga, and in  marching to the relief of Knoxville, which occurred in the latter days of  December last, and of course was not present at the assembling of Congress. When he subsequently arrived here, he sought and was allowed  by the Secretary, of War and the Executive the same conditions and  promise as was allowed and made to General Schenck.

General Schenck has not applied to withdraw his resignation; but  when General Grant was made Lieutenant-General, producing some  changes of commanders, General Blair sought to be assigned to the command of a corps. This was made known to General Grant and General  Sherman, and assented to by them, and the particular corps for him was  designated. This was all arranged and understood, as now remembered,  so much as a month ago; but the formal withdrawal of General Blair's  resignation, and the reissuing of the order assigning him to the command of a corps, were not consummated at the War Department until  last week, perhaps on the 23d of April instant. As a summary of the  whole, it may be' stated that General Blair holds no military commission  or appointment other than as herein stated, and that it is believed he is  now acting as major-general upon the assumed validity of the commission herein stated, and not otherwise.

There are some letters, notes, telegrams, orders, entries, and perhaps  other documents, in connection with this subject, which it is believed  would throw no additional light upon it, but which will be cheerfully  furnished if desired.


The House on the next day passed a resolution calling  for all the letters and documents having reference to the.  affair, and on May 2d the President sent to Congress the  following message:--

To the. Honorable House of Representatives:

In compliance with the request contained in your resolution of the  29tll ultimo, a copy of which resolution is herewith returned, I have the  honor to transmit the following:--



MY DEAR SIR:--Some days ago I understood you to say that your  brother, General Frank Blair, desires to be guided by my wishes as to  whether he will occupy his seat in Congress or remain in the field. My  wish, then, is compounded, of what I believe will be best for the court  try; and it is that he will come here, put his military commission in my  hands, take his seat, go into caucus with our friends, abide the nominations, help elect the nominees, and thus aid to organize a House of Rep resentatives which will really support the Government in the war. If  the result shall be the election of himself as Speaker, let him serve in  that position. If not, lot him retake his commission and return to the  army for the benefit of the country.

This will heal a dangerous schism for him. It will relieve him from  a dangerous position or a misunderstanding, as I think he in danger of  being permanently separated from those with whom only be can ever have  a real sympathy--the sincere opponents of slavery.

It will be a mistake if he shall allow the provocations offered him by  insincere time-servers to drive him from the house of his own building.  He is young yet. He has abundant talents--quite enough to occupy all  his time without devoting any to temper.

He is rising in military skill and usefulness. His recent appointment to  the command of a corps, by one so competent to judge as General Sherman, proves this. In that line he can serve both the country and himself  more profitably than he could as a member of Congress upon the floor.

The foregoing is what I would say if Frank Blair was my brother in stead of yours.

(Signed) A. LINCOLN.

(After some unimportant documents, the resignation of General Blair  was annexed, dated January 1, 1864, and its acceptance by the President on January 12th. Then came the following telegram:--)


Lieutenant-General GRANT, Nashville, Tennessee:

General McPherson having been assigned to the command of a department, could not General Frank Blair, without difficulty or detriment to the service, be assigned to the command of the corps he commanded  awhile last autumn?

(Signed) A. LINCOLN.

(Then came some dispatches showing that General Logan was in command of that corps, the Fifteenth, and that General Blair was to be as signed to the Seventeenth, and General Blair's request, dated April 20th,  that he be assigned to the Seventeenth Corps at once. Then came the  following note:--)



MY DEAR SIR:--According to our understanding with Major-General  Frank P. Blair, at the time he took his seat in Congress, last winter, he  now asks to withdraw his resignation, then tendered, and be sent to the  field. Let this be done. Let the order sending him be such as shown  to-day by the Adjutant-General, only dropping from it the names of Maguire and Perkins.

Yours truly, A. LINCOLN.

(After giving General Blair's request to withdraw his resignation and his appointment to the Seventeenth Corps, the Message closed as follows:--)

The foregoing constitutes all sought by the resolution, so far as remembered or has been found by diligent search.


On April 28th, the President sent to Congress the following Message, which sufficiently explains itself:--

To the Honorable Senate and House of Representatives:

I have the honor to transmit herewith an address to the President of  the United States, and through him to both Houses of Congress, on the  condition of the people of East Tennessee, and asking their attention to  the necessity for some action on the part of the Government for their relief, and which address is presented by the Committee or Organization,  called "The East Tennessee Relief Association." Deeply commiserating the condition of those most loyal people, I am unprepared to make  any specific recommendation for their relief. The military is doing, and  will continue to do, the best for them within its power. Their address  represents that the construction of a direct railroad communication  between Knoxville and Cincinnati, by way of Central Kentucky, would  be of great consequence in the present emergency. It may be remembered that in my Annual Message of December, 1861, such railroad construction was recommended. I now add that, with the hearty concurrence of Congress, I would yet be pleased to construct the road, both  for the relief of those people and for its continuing military importance.


Other matters engrossing the attention of Congress, no  definite action was taken upon the subject thus referred to.

A bill was passed on March 2d, restoring the grade of  Lieutenant-General, and General Grant was appointed by  the President, with the assent of the Senate, to that office,  and invested with the command of the armies of the  United States.

The commission was handed by the President to General Grant, at the White House, on the 9th of March;  and as he gave it, he thus addressed him:--

GENERAL GRANT:--The expression of the nation's approbation of what  you have already done, and its reliance on you for what remains to do  in the existing great struggle, is now presented with this commission constituting you Lieutenant-General of the Army of the United States.

With this high honor, devolves on you an additional responsibility. As  the country herein trusts you, so, under God, it will sustain you. I  scarcely need add, that with what I here speak for the country, goes my  own hearty personal concurrence.

General Grant responded as follows:--

MR. PRESIDENT:--I accept this commission, with gratitude for the  high honor conferred.

With the aid of the noble armies that have fought on so many fields  for our common country, it will be my earnest endeavor not to disappoint  your expectations.

I feel the full weight of the responsibilities now devolving on me, and  I know that if they are met, it will be due to those armies; and above  all, to the favor of that Providence which leads both nations and men.

Gen. Grant announced his assumption of command  under this appointment by a General Order, issued at  Nashville on the 17th of March.

Towards the close of the year 1863, as the terms of  service of many of the volunteer forces were about to  expire, the President issued a proclamation for three  hundred thousand volunteers. The military successes  of the season had raised the public courage and inspired  new confidence in the final issue of the contest for the  preservation of the Union; it was believed, therefore,  that an appeal for volunteers would be responded to  with alacrity, and save the necessity for a resort to  another draft. The proclamation was as follows:--


By the President of the United States.

Whereas, the term of service of part of the volunteer forces of the  United States will expire during the coming year; and, whereas, in addition to the men by the present draft, it is deemed expedient to call out  three hundred thousand volunteers to serve for three years or during the  war, not, however, exceeding three years: Now, therefore, I Abraham  Lincoln, President of the United States, and Commander-in-Chief of the  army and navy thereof, and of the militia of the several States when  called into actual service, do issue this my proclamation, calling upon the  Governors of the different States to raise, and have enlisted into the  United States service, for the various companies and regiments in the  field from their respective States, the quotas of three hundred thousand  men.

I further proclaim that all the volunteers thus called out and duly  enlisted shall receive advance pay, premium, and bounty, as heretofore  communicated to the Governors of States by the War Department  through the Provost-Marshal General's office, by special letters.

I further proclaim that all volunteers received under this call, as well as  all others not heretofore credited, shall be duly credited and deducted  from the quota established for the next draft.

I further proclaim that if any State shall fail to raise the quota as signed to it by the War Department under this call, then a draft for the  deficiency in said quota shall be made in said State, or in the districts  of said State, for their due proportion of said quota, and the said draft  shall commence on the 5th day of January, 1864.

And I further proclaim that nothing in this proclamation shall interfere with existing orders, or with those which may be issued for the  present draft in the States where it is now in progress, or where it has  not yet been commenced.

The quotas of the States and districts will be assigned by the War Department through the Provost-Marshal General's office due regard being  had for the men heretofore furnished, whether by volunteering or drafting; and the recruiting will be conducted in accordance with such  instructions as have been or may be issued by that Department.

In issuing this proclamation, I address myself not only to the Govern ors of the several States, but also to the good and loyal people thereof,  invoking them to lend their cheerful, willing, and effective aid to the  measures thus adopted, with a view to re-enforce our victorious army  now in the field, and bring our needful military operations to a prosperous end, thus closing forever the fountains of sedition and civil war.

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

Done at the City of Washington, this 17th day of October, 1863, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-seventh.

[L. S.]


By the President:

WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

By the act of 1861 for raising troops, a Government  bounty of one hundred dollars was paid to each volunteer; and this amount had been increased from time to  time, until each soldier who had already filled his term  of service was entitled to receive four hundred dollars  on re-enlisting, and each new volunteer three hundred.  After the President's proclamation was issued, enlistments, especially of men already in the service, proceeded  with great rapidity, and the amount to be paid for bounties threatened to be very large. Under these circumstances, Congress adopted an amendment to the enrolment act, by which the payment of all bounties, except  those authorized by the act of 1861, was to cease after  the 5th day of January. Both the Secretary of War  and the Provost-Marshal General feared that the effect of  this, when it came to be generally understood, would be  to check the volunteering, which was then proceeding in  a very satisfactory manner; and on the 5th of January,  the day when the prohibition was to take effect, the  President sent to Congress the following communication:--

WASHINGTON, January 5, 1864.

Gentlemen of the Senate and House of Representatives:

By a joint resolution of your honorable bodies, approved December  23, 1863, the paying of bounties to veteran volunteers, as now practised  by the War Department, is, to the extent of three hundred dollars in  each case, prohibited after the fifth day of the present month. I transmit for your consideration a communication from the Secretary of War,  accompanied by one from the Provost-Marshal General to him, both  relating to the subject above mentioned. I earnestly recommend that  this law be so modified as to allow bounties to be paid as they now are  at least to the ensuing 1st day of February. I am not without anxiety  lest I appear to be importunate in thus recalling your attention to a  subject upon which you have so recently acted, and nothing but a deep  conviction that the public interest demands it could induce me to incur the hazard of being misunderstood on this point. The Executive approval was given by me to the resolution mentioned, and it is now by a  closer attention and a fuller knowledge of facts that I feel constrained to  recommend a reconsideration of the subject.


A resolution extending the payment of bounties, in  accordance with this recommendation, to the first of  April, was at once reported by the Military Committee  of the Senate, and passed by both Houses of Congress.

The volunteering, however, did not appear to supply  men with sufficient rapidity, and on the 1st of February,  1864, the President made the following order:

EXECUTIVE MANSION, February 1, 1864.

Ordered, that a draft for five hundred thousand men, to serve for three  years or during the war, be made on the 10th day of March next, for the  military service of the United States, crediting and deducting therefrom  so many as may have been enlisted or drafted into the service prior to the  1st day of March, and not heretofore credited.


The effect of this order was not only to stimulate enlistments, but also to induce a general application of all credits that could possibly be made, to reduce the quotas of  the different districts, and many of them, before the time  came round, were enabled to announce themselves entirely out of the draft. Partly on this account, doubtless,  before the 10th of March came the draft was indefinitely  postponed, and on the 15th of March another order was  made calling for the additional number of two hundred  thousand men, in order to supply the force required to  be drafted for the navy, and to provide an adequate reserve force for all contingencies." The various districts  were required to fill their quotas by the 15th of April,  and it was announced that where they had not done so, a  draft would be commenced as soon after that date as practicable.

Some persons holding positions as consuls of foreign  powers having claimed to be exempt from the draft on  that ground, the following order was made on the subject  on the 19th of May, 1864, the immediate occasion of it being such a claim on the part of a Mr. Hunt, a Consul of  Belgium, at St. Louis:--

It is officially announced by the State Department that citizens of the  United States holding commissions and recognized as Consuls of foreign  powers, are not by Jaw exempt from military service if drafted:

Therefore the mere enrolment of a citizen holding a foreign consulate  will not be held to vacate his commission, but if he shall be drafted his  exequatur will be revoked unless he shall have previously resigned in  order that another consul may be received.

An exequatur bearing date the 3d day of May, 1858, having been issued  to Charles Hunt, a citizen of the United States, recognizing him as a Con sul of Belgium for St. Louis, Missouri, and declaring him free to exercise  and enjoy such functions, powers, and privileges as allowed to the conculs of the most favored nations in the United States, and the said Hunt  having sought to screen himself from his military duty to his country, in  consequence of thus being invested with the consular functions of a for eign power in the United States, it is deemed advisable that the said  Charles Hunt should no longer be permitted to continue in the exercise  of said functions, powers, and privileges.

These are therefore to declare that I no longer recognize the said Hunt  as Consul of Belgium, for St. Louis, Missouri, and will not permit him to  exercise or enjoy any of the functions, powers, or privileges allowed to  consuls of that nation, and that I do hereby wholly revoke and annual the  said exequatur heretofore given, and do declare the same to be absolutely  null and void from this day forward.

In testimony whereof, I have caused these letters to be made patent,  and the seal of the United States of America to be hereunto affixed.  Given under my hand at Washington, this 19th day of May, in the year of  our Lord 1864, and of the independence of the United States of America the eighty-eighth. ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

By the President:

WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

Recruiting under the order of March 15th continued to  progress, but not with sufficient rapidity. On the 23d of  April, the Governors of Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio tendered to the Government a force of  one hundred thousand men from those States, to serve for  one hundred days. The proposition was accepted, and  on recommendation of the Secretary or War, Congress  voted twenty-five million dollars to defray the expenses-the resolution being passed without debate, and by almost  unanimous consent.



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