The Life, Public Services and State Papers of Abraham Lincoln

By Henry J. Raymond

Chapter 16



THE proclamation which accompanied the Annual Message of the President for 1864 embodied the first suggestions of the Administration on the important subject of reconstructing the Governments of those States which had  joined in the secession movement. The matter had been  canvassed somewhat extensively by the public press, and  by prominent politicians, in anticipation of the overthrow  of the rebellion, and the view taken of the subject had  been determined, to a very considerable extent, by the  sentiments and opinions of the different parties as to the  object and purpose of the war. The supporters of the  Administration did not all hold precisely the same ground  on this subject. As has already been seen, in the debates  of the Congress of 1862-3, a considerable number of the  friends of the Government, in both houses, maintained  that, by the act of secession, the revolted States had put  themselves outside the pale of the Constitution, and were  henceforth to be regarded and treated, not as members of  the Union, but as alien enemies: 1 --that their State organizations and State boundaries had been expunged by then own act; and that they were to be readmitted to the jurisdiction of the Constitution, and to the privileges of the Union, only upon such terms and conditions as the Federal Government of the loyal States might prescribe. On the other hand, it was held that the acts or secession, passed by the several State Governments, were absolutely null and void, and that while the persons who passed them, and those who aided in giving them effect, by taking up arms against the United States, had rendered themselves liable individually to the penalties of treason, they had not, in any respect, changed the relations of their States, as such, to the Federal Government. The governments of those States had been for a time subverted; but they might at any time be re-established upon a republican basis, under the authority and protection of the United States. The proclamation proceeded, in the main, upon the latter theory. The President had the power, under the Constitution, and by specific legislation of Congress, to grant pardons upon such conditions as he might deem expedient. In the exercise of this power, President Lincoln released from legal penalties and restored to the rights of citizenship all, in each State, with certain specified exceptions, who should take and abide  by a prescribed oath; and then he proclaimed his purpose to recognize them as the citizens of such State, and  as alone competent to organize and carry on the local  government; and he pledged the power of the General  Government to protect such republican State Governments  as they might establish, "against invasion, and against  domestic violence." By way of precaution against a  usurpation of power by strangers, he insisted on the same  qualifications for voting as had been required by the constitution and laws of the State previous to secession:-and to provide against usurpation of power by an insignificant minority, he also required that the new government should be elected by at least one-tenth as many  voters as had voted in the State at the Presidential election of 1860. In the oath which he imposed as essential  to citizenship, the President required a pledge to sustain  the Constitution of the United States, the laws of Congress, and the Executive proclamations and acts on the  subject of slavery, so long and so far as the same should  not be declared invalid and of no binding obligation by  the Supreme Court of the United States. These were the  foundations of the broad and substantial basis laid by the  President for the restoration of the Union, and the re-establishment of loyal republican governments in the several seceded States.

Various indications in the Southern States had satisfied  the President that the time had come when the work of reconstruction might safely and wisely be thus commenced.  In Tennessee, where the rebels had never maintained any  permanent foothold, but where the Government at Washington had found it necessary to commit the local authority to Andrew Johnson, as Provisional Governor, there  had been a very strong party in favor of restoring the  State to its former position as a member of the Federal  Union. But in Louisiana the movements in the same  direction had been earlier and more decided than in any  other Southern State. The occupation of New Orleans  by the National forces, and the advent of General Butler as commander of that Military Department, on the 1st of  May, 1862, speedily satisfied a very considerable portion  of the inhabitants, who had property at stake in the city  and State, that the rebel authority could never be restored.

There were, however, even among professed Unionists,  many who devoted their time and energy rather to carping at the measures which the Government felt itself  called upon to pursue, and to the promotion and adoption  of their individual views, than to cordial co-operation with  the President in his efforts to re-establish the forms of  civil government upon a proper basis. It was in answer  to such a complaint that the President wrote the following letter:--

WASHINGTON, D. C., July 28, 1862.

CUTHBERT BULLITT, Esq., New Orleans, La.:

SIR:--The copy of a letter addressed to yourself by Mr. Thomas J. Du rant has been shown to me. The writer appears to be an able, a dispassion ate, and an entirely sincere man. The first part of the letter is devoted  to an effort to show that the secession ordinance of Louisiana was adopted  against the will of the majority of the people. This is probably true, and  in that fact may be found some instruction. Why did they allow the ordinance to go into effect? Why did they not exert themselves? Why  stand passive and allow themselves to be trodden down by a minority?  Why did they not hold popular meetings, and have a convention of their  own to express and enforce the true sentiments of the State? If pre-organization was against them, then why not do this now that the United  States army is present to protect them? The paralyzer--the dead palsy  --of the Government in the whole struggle is, that this class of men will  do nothing for the Government--nothing for themselves, except demanding that the Government shall not strike its enemies, lest they be struck  by accident.

Mr. Durant complains that, in various ways, the relation of master and  slave is disturbed by the presence of our army; and he considers it particularly vexatious that this, in part, is done under cover of an act of Congress, while constitutional guarantees are superseded on the plea of military necessity. The truth is, that what is done and omitted about slaves  is done and omitted on the same military necessity. It is a military necessity to have men and money; and we cannot get either, in sufficient numbers or amounts, if we keep from or drive from our lines slaves coming to  them.

Mr. Durant cannot be ignorant of the pressure in this direction, nor of  my efforts to hold it within bounds, till he, and such as he, shall have time  to help themselves.

I am not posted to speak understandingly on the public regulations of  which Mr. Durant complains. If experience shows any of them to be  wrong, let them be set right. I think I can perceive in the freedom of  trade which Mr. Durant urges, that he would relieve both friends and  enemies from the pressure of the blockade. By this he would serve the  enemy more effectively than the enemy is able to serve himself.

I do not say or believe that to serve the enemy is the purpose of Mr.  Durant, or that he is conscious of any purposes other than national and  patriotic ones. Still, if there were a class of men who, having no choice  of sides in the contest, were anxious only to have quiet and comfort for  themselves while it rages, and to fall in with the victorious side at the  end of it, without loss to themselves, their advice as to the mode of con ducting the contest would be precisely such as his.

He speaks of no duty, apparently thinks of none, resting upon Union  men. He even thinks it injurious to the Union cause that they should be  restrained in trade and passage, without taking sides. They are to touch  neither a sail nor a pump--live merely passengers ("dead-heads" at that)  --to be carried snug and dry throughout the storm and safely landed right  side up. Nay, more--even a mutineer is to go untouched, lest these sacred  passengers receive an accidental wound.

Of course, the rebellion will never be suppressed in Louisiana, if the  professed Union men there will neither help to do it, nor permit the Government to do it without their help.

Now, I think the true remedy is very different from what is suggested  by Mr. Durant. It does not lie in rounding the rough angles of the war,  but in removing the necessity for the war. The people of Louisiana, who  wish protection to person and property, have but to reach forth their  hands and take it. Let them in good faith reinaugurate the national authority and set up a State Government conforming thereto under the Constitution. They know how to do it, and can have the protection of the  army while doing it. The army will be withdrawn so soon as such Government can dispense with its presence, and the people of the State can  then, upon the old terms, govern themselves to their own liking. This is  very simple and easy.

If they will not do this, if they prefer to hazard all for the sake of  destroying the Government, it is for them to consider whether it is probable I will surrender the Government to save them from losing all. If  they decline what I suggest, you will scarcely need to ask what I will  do.

What would you do in my position? Would you drop the war where it  is, or would you prosecute it in future with elder-stalk squirts, charged  with rose-water? Would you deal lighter blows rather than heavier  ones? Would you give up the contest leaving every available means un applied?

I am in no boastful mood. I shall not do more than I can, but I shall  do all I can to save the Government, which is my sworn duty as well as

my personal inclination. I shall do nothing in malice. What I deal with  is too vast for malicious dealing. Yours very truly,


As time went on, however, the disposition of the citizens  to exert themselves for the re-establishment of former  civil relations increased, and preparations were accordingly made to hold an election in the fall of that year for  members of the Congress of the United States. General  Shepley had been appointed Military Governor of the  State, and to him the President, in November, addressed  the following letter on that subject:--


DEAR SIR:--Dr. Kennedy, bearer of this, has some apprehension that  Federal officers, not citizens of Louisiana, may be set up as candidates for  Congress in that State. In my view there could be no possible object in  such an election. We do not particularly need members of Congress from  those States to enable us to get along with legislation here. What we do  want is the conclusive evidence that respectable citizens of Louisiana are  willing to be members of Congress and to swear support to the Constitution, and that other respectable citizens there are willing to vote for them  and send them. To send a parcel of Northern men here as representatives, elected, as would be understood (and perhaps really so), at the point  of the bayonet, would be disgraceful and outrageous; and were I a member of Congress here, I would vote against admitting any such man to a  seat.

Yours, very truly,



The election was held, and Messrs. Flanders and Hahn  were chosen and admitted to their seats at the ensuing  session, as has been already seen.

On the 23d of May, 1863, the various Union associations  of New Orleans applied to the Military Governor of the  State for authority to call a convention of the loyal citizens of Louisiana, for the purpose of framing a new State  Constitution, and of re-establishing civil government  under the Constitution of the United States. What they  especially desired of him was that he should order a registration of the loyal voters of the State, and appoint commissioners of registration in each parish to register the  names of all citizens who should take the oath of allegiance to the Constitution of the United States, and repudiate allegiance to the rebel Confederacy. General Shepley, in reply, recognized fully the great importance of the  proposed movement, but thought it of the utmost consequence that it should proceed as the spontaneous act of  the people of the State, without the slightest appearance  or suspicion of having been in any degree the result of  military dictation. He consented to provide for the registration of such voters as might voluntarily come forward  for the purpose of being enrolled, but deferred action  upon the other points submitted to him until he could receive definite instructions on the subject from the Government at Washington.

In June, a committee of planters, recognizing the propriety of some movement for the re-establishment of civil  authority in the State, and not concurring in the policy of  those who proposed to form a new constitution, applied  to the President, asking him to grant a full recognition of  the rights of the State as they existed before the act of  secession, so that they might return to their allegiance  under the old Constitution of the State, and that he would  order an election for State officers, to be held on the 1st  Monday of November.

To this application the President made the following  reply:--


GENTLEMEN:--Since receiving your letter, reliable information has  reached me that a respectable portion of the Louisiana people desire to  amend their State Constitution, and contemplate holding a convention for  that object. The fact alone, it seems to me, is sufficient reason why the  General Government should not give the committee the authority you  seek to act under the existing State Constitution. I may add, that while  I do not perceive how such a committee could facilitate our military opera tions in Louisiana, I really apprehend it might be so used as to embarrass  them.

As to an election to be held in November, there is abundant time with out any order or proclamation from me just now. The people of Louisiana shall not lack an opportunity for a fair election for both Federal and  State officers by want of any thing within my power to give them.

Your obedient servant,


After the appearance of the President's proclamation,  the movement towards reconstruction in Louisiana assumed greater consistency, and was carried forward with  greater steadiness and strength. On the 8th of January  a very large Free State Convention was held at New  Orleans, at which resolutions were adopted indorsing all  the acts and proclamations of the President, and urging  the immediate adoption of measures for the restoration of  the State to its old place in the Union. On the 11th, General Banks issued a proclamation, appointing an election  for State officers on the 22d of February; who were to be  installed on the 4th of March, and another election for  delegates to a convention to revise the Constitution of the  State on the first Monday in April. The old Constitution  and laws of Louisiana were to be observed, except so far  as they relate to slavery, "which," said General Banks,  "being inconsistent with the present condition of public  affairs, and plainly inapplicable to any class of persons  within the limits of the State, must be suspended, and  they are now declared inoperative and void." The oath  of allegiance required by the President in his proclamation, with the condition affixed to the elective franchise  by the Constitution of Louisiana, was prescribed as constituting the qualifications of voters.

Under this order, parties were organized for the election of State officers. The friends of the National Government were divided, and two candidates were put in  nomination for Governor, Hon. Michael Hahn being the  regular nominee, and representing the supporters of the  policy of the President, and Hon. B. F. Flanders being  put in nomination by those who desired a more radical  policy than the President had proposed. Both took very  decided ground against the continued existence of slavery  within the State. Hon. C. Roselius was nominated by  that portion of the people who concurred in the wish for  the return of Louisiana to the Union, and were willing to  take the oath of allegiance prescribed by the President,  but who nevertheless disapproved of the general policy  of the Administration, especially on the subject of slavery. The election resulted in the election of Mr. Hahn.

The following letter was written by Mr. Lincoln to  congratulate him on his election:--



My Dear Sir:--I congratulate you on having fixed your name in history  as the first Free-State Governor of Louisiana. Now you are about to have a  convention, which, among other things, will probably define the elective  franchise. I barely suggest, for your private consideration, whether some  of the colored people may not be let in, as, for instance, the very intelligent, and especially those who have fought gallantly in our ranks. They  would probably help, in some trying time to come, to keep the jewel of  liberty in the family of freedom. But this is only a suggestion, not to the  public, but to you alone.

Truly yours,


Mr. Hahn was inaugurated as Governor on the 4th of  March. On the 15th he was clothed with the powers  previously exercised by General Banks, as military governor, by the following order from the President:--


His Excellency MICHAEL HAHN, Governor of Louisiana:

Until further orders, you are hereby invested with the powers exercised  hitherto by the military governor of Louisiana.

Yours truly,


On March 16th, Governor Hahn issued a proclamation,  notifying the electors of the State of the election for delegates to the convention previously ordered by General  Banks.

The party which elected Governor Hahn succeeded also  in electing a large majority of the delegates to the convention, which met in New Orleans on the 6th of April.  On the 11th of May it adopted, by a vote of seventy to sixteen, a clause of the new Constitution, by which slavery  was forever abolished in the State. The Constitution was  adopted on the 5th of September, by a vote of six thousand  eight hundred and thirty-six to one thousand five hundred and sixty-six.

Great umbrage was taken at these proceedings by some of the best friends of the cause, as if there had been an  unauthorized and unjustifiable interference on the part of  the President, so that this Constitution and this State  Government, though nominally the work of the people,  were in reality only his. That this was a mistake, the  following letter, written in August, 1863, is sufficient  proof:--



While I very well know what I would be glad for Louisiana to do, it  is quite a different thing for me to assume direction of the matter. I  would be glad for her to make a new Constitution, recognizing the Emancipation Proclamation, and adopting emancipation in those parts of the  State to which the proclamation does not apply. And while she is at it,  I think it would not be objectionable for her to adopt some practical sys tem by which the two races could gradually live themselves out of their  old relation to each other, and both come out better prepared for the  new. Education for young blacks should be included in the plan. After  all, the power or element of "contract" may be sufficient for this probationary period, and by its simplicity and flexibility may be the better.

As an anti-slavery man, I have a motive to desire emancipation which  pro-slavery men do not have; but even they have strong enough reason  to thus place themselves again under the shield of the Union, and to thus  perpetually hedge against the recurrence of the scenes through which we  are now passing.

Governor Shepley has informed me that Mr. Durant is now taking a  registry, with a view to the election of a Constitutional Convention in  Louisiana. This, to me, appears proper. If such convention were to  ask my views, I could present little else than what I now say to you. I  think the thing should be pushed forward, so that, if possible, its mature  work may reach here by the meeting of Congress.

For my own part, I think I shall not, in any event, retract the Emancipation Proclamation; nor, as Executive, ever return to slavery any  person who is free by the terms of that proclamation, or by any of the  acts of Congress.

If Louisiana shall send members to Congress, their admission to seats  will depend, as you know, upon the respective Houses, and not upon the  President. * * * *

Yours, very truly,



In Arkansas, where a decided Union feeling had existed from the outbreak of the rebellion, the appearance of  the proclamation was the signal for a movement to bring the State back into the Union. On the 20th of January,  a delegation of citizens from that State had an interview  with the President, in which they urged "the adoption of  certain measures for the re-establishment of a legal State.  Government, and especially the ordering of an election for  Governor. In consequence of this application, and in  substantial compliance with their request, the President  wrote the following letter to General Steele, who commanded in that Department:--


Major-General STEELE:

Sundry citizens of the State of Arkansas petition me that an election  may be held in that State, at which to elect a Governor; that it be assumed at that election, and thenceforward, that the constitution and laws  of the State, as before the rebellion, are in full force, except that the constitution is so modified as to declare that there shall be neither slavery  nor involuntary servitude, except in the punishment of crimes whereof  the party shall have been duly convicted; that the General Assembly may  make such provisions for the freed people as shall recognize and declare  their permanent freedom, and provide for their education, and which may  yet be construed as a temporary arrangement suitable to their condition  as a laboring, landless, and homeless class; that said election shall be  held on the 28th of March, 1864, at all the usual places of the State, or all  such as voters may attend for that purpose; that the voters attending at  eight o'clock in the morning of said day may choose judges and clerks of  election for such purpose; that all persons qualified by said constitution  and laws, and taking the oath presented in the President's proclamation  of December 8, 1863, either before or at the election, and none others,  may be voters; that each set of judges and clerks may make returns directly to you on or before the --th day of ----- next; that in all other  respects said election may be conducted according to said constitution  and laws; that on receipt of said returns, when five thousand four hundred and six votes shall have been cast, you can receive said votes, and  ascertain all who shall thereby appear to have been elected; that on the  --th day of ----- next, all persons so appearing to have been elected,  who shall appear before you at Little Rock, and take the oath, to be by  you severally administered, to support the Constitution of the United  States and said modified Constitution of the State of Arkansas, may  be declared by you qualified and empowered to enter immediately  upon the duties of the offices to which they shall have been respectively  elected.

You will please order an election to take place on the 28th of March,  1864, and returns to be made in fifteen days thereafter.


Upon the return of the delegation to Arkansas, they  issued an address to the people of the State, urging them  to avail themselves of the opportunity thus afforded for  restoring their State to its old prosperity, and assuring  them, from personal observation, that the people of the  Northern States would most cordially welcome their  return to the Union. Meantime, a convention had assembled at Little Rock, composed of delegates elected  without any formality, and not under the authority of the  General Government, and proceeded to form a new State  Constitution, and to fix a day for an election.

Upon being informed of this, the President seems to  have sent orders to General Steele to help on this movement, and he telegraphed to the Provisional Government  as follows:--

WASHINGTON, February 6, 1864.


My order to General Steele, about an election, was made in ignorance  of the action your convention had taken or would take. A subsequent  letter directs General Steele to aid you on your own plan, and not to  thwart or hinder you. Show this to him.


He also wrote the following letter to one of the most prominent citizens:--


When I fixed a plan for an election in Arkansas, I did it in ignorance  that your convention was at the same work. Since I learned the latter  fact, I have been constantly trying to yield my plan to theirs. I have  sent two letters to General Steele, and three or four dispatches to you and  others, saying that he ( General Steele) must be master, but that it will  probably be best for him to keep the convention on its own plan. Some  single mind must be master, else there will be no agreement on any thing;  and General Steele, commanding the military and being on the ground,  is the best man to be that master. Even now citizens are telegraphing  me to postpone the election to a later day than either fixed by the convention or me. This discord must be silenced.


The dispatches to General Steele reached him both  together, and only a few days before the day fixed by  the convention for the election. All that he did, therefore, was to issue a proclamation calling on the people to  come out and vote at the ensuing election.

The convention framed a constitution abolishing slavery, which was subsequently adopted by a large majority of the people.

It also provided for the election of State officers on the  day appointed for the vote upon the constitution; and  the legislature chosen at that election elected two gentlemen, Messrs. Fishback and Baxter, as United States  Senators, and also Representatives. These gentlemen  presented their credentials at Washington, whereupon Mr.  Sumner offered the following resolution in the Senate:--

Resolved, That a State pretending to secede from the Union, and battling against the General Government to maintain that position, must be  regarded as a rebel State, subject to military occupation, and without  representation on this floor, until it has been readmitted by a vote of both  Houses of Congress; and the Senate will decline to entertain any application from any such rebel State until after such a vote of both Houses.

The whole matter was referred to the Judiciary Committee, who, without adopting the views of Mr. Sumner's  resolution, reported on the 27th of June that on the facts it  did not appear that the rebellion was so far suppressed in  Arkansas as to entitle the State to representation in Congress, and that therefore Messrs. Fishback and Baxter  were not entitled to seats as Senators from the State of  Arkansas. And the Senate on the next day adopted their  report by a vote of twenty-seven to six.

In the House, meanwhile, the Committee on Elections, to  whom the application of the Arkansas members had been  referred, reported to postpone their admission until a commission could be sent to inquire into and report the facts  of the election, and to create a commission for the examination of all such cases. This proposition was, however,  laid on the table, and the members were not admitted.  This action put to rest all question of the representation  of the State in Congress till the next session.

The cause of the rejection of these Senators and Representatives was, that a majority in. Congress had not agreed with the President in reference to the plan of reconstruction which he proposed. A bill for the reconstruction of  the States was introduced into the Senate, and finally  passed both Houses on the last day of the session. It  provided that the President should appoint, for each of  the States declared in rebellion, a Provisional Governor,  who should be charged with the civil administration of  the State until a State Government should be organized, and  such other civil officers as were necessary for the civil administration of the State; that as soon as military resistance to the United States should be suppressed and the  people had sufficiently returned to their obedience, the  Governor should make an enrolment of the white male  citizens, specifying which of them had taken the oath to  support the Constitution of the United States, and if those  who had taken it were a majority of the persons enrolled,  he should order an election for delegates to a Constitutional Convention, to be elected by the loyal white male  citizens of the United States aged twenty-one years and  resident in the district for which they voted, or absent in  the army of the United States, and who had taken the oath  of allegiance prescribed by the act of Congress of July 2,  1862; that this convention should declare, on behalf of  the people of the State, their submission to the Constitution  and laws of the United States, and adopt the following  provisions, prescribed by Congress in the execution of  its constitutional duty to guarantee to every State a republican form of government, viz.:--

First.--No person who has held or exercised any office, civil or military, except offices merely ministerial and military offices below the grade  of colonel, State or Confederate, under the usurping power, shall vote  for or be a member of the Legislature or Governor.

Second.--Involuntary servitude is forever prohibited, and the freedom  of all persons is forever guaranteed in the State.

Third.--No debt, State or Confederate, created by or under the sanction of the usurping power, shall be recognized or paid by the State.

The bill further provided that when a constitution  containing these provisions should have been framed by  the convention and adopted by the popular vote, the Governor should certify that fact to the President, who,  after obtaining the assent of Congress, should recognize  this Government so established as the Government of the  State, and from that date senators and representatives and  electors for President and Vice-President should be elected  in the State. Further provisions were made for the dissolution of the convention in case it should refuse to frame  a constitution containing the above provisions, and the  calling of another convention by order of the President  whenever he should have reason to believe that the majority were willing to adopt them; and also for the civil  administration of the State in the mean time, and the abolition of slavery and the disfranchisement of rebel officers.

This bill thus passed by Congress was presented to the  President just before the close of the session, but was not  signed by him. The reasons for his refusal to sign it he  afterwards thought fit to make known, which he did by  the following proclamation:--

Whereas, at the late session, Congress passed a bill to guarantee to  certain States whose Governments have been usurped or overthrown, a  republican form of government, a copy of which is hereunto annexed.  And,

Whereas, the said bill was presented to the President of the United  States for his approval, less than one hour before the sine die adjournment of said session, and was not signed by him. And,

Whereas, the said bill contains, among other things, a plan for restoring  the States in rebellion to their proper practical relation in the Union, which  plan expressed the sense of Congress upon that subject, and which plan  it is now thought fit to lay before the people for their consideration:

Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do  proclaim, declare, and make known that while. I am, as I was in December  last, when by proclamation I propounded a plan for restoration, unprepared by a formal approval of this bill to be inflexibly committed to any  single plan of restoration, and while I am also unprepared to declare that  the Free State Constitutions and Governments already adopted and in stalled in Arkansas and Louisiana, shall be set aside and held for naught,  thereby repelling and discouraging the loyal citizens who have set up the  same as to further effort, or to declare a constitutional competency in  Congress to abolish slavery in the States, but am at the same time sincerely hoping and expecting that a constitutional amendment abolishing  slavery throughout the nation may be adopted: nevertheless, I am fully  satisfied with the system for restoration contained in the bill, as one very

proper for the loyal people of any State choosing to adopt it, and that I  am, and at all times shall be, prepared to give the Executive aid and assistance to any such people, so soon as the military resistance to the United  States shall have been suppressed in any such State, and the people  thereof shall have sufficiently returned to their obedience to the Constitution and the laws of the United States--in which cases Military Governors will be appointed, with directions to proceed according to the bill.'

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, this eighth day of July, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-four, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-ninth.

[L. S.]


By the President

WM. H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

The relations of the war carried on to maintain the republican government of the United States, against the efforts  of the slaveholding oligarchy for its overthrow, to the  general interests of labor, from time to time enlisted a  good deal of the thoughts of the President, and elicited  from him expressions of his own sentiments on the subject. On the 31st of December, 1863, a very large meeting of workingmen was held at Manchester, England, to  express their opinion in regard to the war in the United  States. At that meeting an address to President Lincoln  was adopted, expressing the kindest sentiments towards.  this country, and declaring that, since it had become evident that the destruction of slavery was involved in the  overthrow of the rebellion, their sympathies had been  thoroughly and heartily with the Government of the  United States in the prosecution of the war. This address was forwarded to the President through the American Minister in London, and elicited the following reply:--


To the Workingmen of Manchester:

I have the honor to acknowledge the receipt of the address and resolutions which you sent me on the eve of the new year. When I came,  on the 4th of March, 1861, through a free and constitutional election, to  preside in the Government of the United States, the country was found at the verge of civil war. Whatever might have been the cause, or  whosesoever the fault, one duty, paramount to all others, was before me,  namely, to maintain and preserve at once the Constitution and the integrity of the Federal Republic. A conscientious purpose to perform this  duty is the key to all the measures of administration which have been,  and to all which will hereafter be pursued. Under our frame of government and my official oath, I could not depart from this purpose if I  would. It is not always in the power of Governments to enlarge or re strict the scope of moral results which follow the policies that they  may deem it necessary, for the public safety, from time to time to  adopt.

I have understood well that the duty of self-preservation rests solely  with the American people. But I have at the same time been aware  that favor or disfavor of foreign nations might have a material influence  in enlarging or prolonging the struggle with disloyal men in which the  country is engaged. A fair examination of history has served to authorize a belief that the past actions and influences of the United States were  generally regarded as having been beneficial towards mankind. I have,  therefore, reckoned upon the forbearance of nations. Circumstances- to some of which you kindly allude--induced me especially to expect that  if justice and good faith should be practised by the United States, they  would encounter no hostile influence on the part of Great Britain. It is  now a pleasant duty to acknowledge the demonstration you have given  of your desire that a spirit of amity and peace towards this country may  prevail in the councils of your Queen, who is respected and esteemed in  your own country only more than she is by the kindred nation which has  its home on this side of the Atlantic.

I know and deeply deplore the sufferings which the workingmen at  Manchester, and in all Europe, are called to endure in this crisis. It has  been often and studiously represented that the attempt to overthrow this  Government, which was built upon the foundation of human rights, and  to substitute for it one which should rest exclusively on the basis of human slavery, was likely to obtain the favor of Europe. Through the  action of our disloyal citizens, the workingmen of Europe have been  subjected to severe trials, for the purpose of forcing their sanction to that  attempt. Under the circumstances, I cannot but regard your decisive  utterances upon the question as an instance of sublime Christian heroism,  which has not been surpassed in any age or in any country. It is indeed  an energetic and reinspiring assurance of the inherent power of truth,  and of the ultimate and universal triumph of justice, humanity, and free dom. I do not doubt that the sentiments you have expressed will be  sustained by your great nation; and on the other hand, I have no hesitation in assuring you that they will excite admiration, esteem, and the  most reciprocal feelings of friendship among the American people. I  hail this interchange of sentiment, therefore, as an augury that whatever  else may happen, whatever misfortune may befall your country or my own, the peace and friendship which now exist between the two nations  will be, as it shall be my desire to make them, perpetual.


The workingmen of London held a similar meeting at  about the same time, and took substantially the same  action. The President made the following response to  their address:--

EXECUTIVE MANSION, February 2, 1863.

To the Workingmen of London:

I have received the New Year's Address which you have sent me, with  a sincere appreciation of the exalted and humane sentiments by which it  was inspired.

As these sentiments are manifestly the enduring support of the free  institutious of England, so I am sure also that they constitute the only  reliable basis for free institutions throughout the world.

The resources, advantages, and powers of the American people are  very great, and they have consequently succeeded to equally great responsibilities. It seems to have devolved upon them to test whether a government established on the principles of human freedom can be maintained against an effort to build one upon the exclusive foundation of  human bondage. They will rejoice with me in the new evidences which  your proceedings furnish, that the magnanimity they are exhibiting is  justly estimated by the true friends of freedom and humanity in foreign  countries.

Accept my best wishes for your individual welfare, and for the welfare  and happiness of the whole British people.


On the 21st of March, 1864, a committee from the Workingmen's Association of the City of New York waited  upon the President and delivered an address, stating the  general objects and purposes of the Association, and requesting that he would allow his name to be enrolled  among its honorary members. To this address the President made the following reply:--

GENTLEMEN OF THE COMMITTEE:-- The honorary membership in your  association, as generously tendered, is gratefully accepted.

You comprehend, as your address shows, that the existing rebellion  means more and tends to do more than the perpetuation of African slavery--that it is, in fact, a war upon the rights of all working people.  Partly to show that this view has not escaped my attention, and partly that I cannot better express myself, I read a passage from the message to  Congress in December, 1861:--

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

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

"It is not needed, nor fitting here, that a general argument should be  made in favor of popular institutions; but there is one point, with its  connections, not so hackneyed as most others, to which I ask a brief attention. It is the effort to place capital on an equal footing, if not above  labor, in the structure of government. It is assumed that labor is avail able only in connection with capital; that nobody labors unless some body else, owning capital, somehow by the use of it induces him to labor  This assumed, it is next considered whether it is best that capital shall  hire laborers, and thus induce them to work by their own consent, or buy  them, and drive them to it without their consent. Having proceeded so  far, it is naturally concluded that all laborers are either hired laborers, or  what we call slaves. And, further, it is assumed that whoever is once a  hired laborer, is fixed in that condition for life. Now there is no such  relation between capital and labor as assumed, nor is there any such  thing as a free man being fixed for life in the condition of a hired laborer.  Both these assumptions are false, and all inferences from them are  groundless.

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

"Again, as has already been said, there is not, of necessity, any such  thing as the free hired laborer being fixed to that condition for life.  Many independent men everywhere in these States, a few years back in

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

The views then expressed remain unchanged, nor have I much to add.  None are so deeply interested to resist the present rebellion as the working people. Let them beware of prejudices, working division and hostility among themselves. The most notable feature of a disturbance in  your city last summer was the hanging of some working people by other  working people. It should never be so. The strongest bond of human  sympathy, outside of the family relation, should be one uniting all work ing people, of all nations, and tongues, and kindreds. Nor should this  lead to a war upon property, or the owners of property. Property is the  fruit of labor; property is desirable; is a positive good in the world.  That some should be rich shows that others may become rich, and, hence,  is just encouragement to industry and enterprise. Let not him who is  houseless pull down the house of another, but let him labor diligently  and build one for himself, thus by example assuring that his own shall be  safe from violence when built.

The President had always taken a deep interest in the  volunteer movements of benevolent people throughout  the country, for relieving the sufferings of the sick and  wounded among our soldiers. A meeting of one of these  organizations, the Christian Commission, was held at  Washington, on the 22d of February, 1863, to which  President Lincoln, unable to attend and preside, addressed the following letter:--

EXECUTIVE MANSION, February 22, 1868.


MY DEAR SIR:--Your note, by which you, as General Superintendent  of the United States Christian Commission, invite me to preside at a  meeting to be held this day, at the hall of the House of Representatives  in this city, is received.

While, for reasons which I deem sufficient, I must decline to preside,  I cannot withhold my approval of the meeting, and its worthy objects.  Whatever shall be, sincerely and in God's name, devised for the good of the soldiers and seamen in their hard spheres of duty, can scarcely  fail to be blessed. And whatever shall tend to turn our thoughts from  the unreasoning and uncharitable passions, prejudices, and jealousies  incident to a great national trouble such as ours, and to fix them on the  vast and long-enduring consequences, for weal or for woe, which are to  result from the struggle, and especially to strengthen our reliance on the  Supreme Being for the final triumph of the right, cannot but be well for  us all.

The birthday of Washington and the Christian. Sabbath coinciding this  year, and suggesting together the highest interests of this life and of that  to come, is most propitious for the meeting proposed.

Your obedient servant,


On the 16th of March, 1864, at the close of a fair in  Washington, given at the Patent Office, for the benefit of  the sick and wounded soldiers of the army, President  Lincoln, happening to be present, in response to loud and  continuous calls, made the following remarks:--

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:--I appear to say but a word. This extraordinary war in which we are engaged falls heavily upon all clases of people, but the most heavily upon the soldier. For it has been said, all that a  man hath will he give for his life; and while all contribute of their  substance, the soldier puts his life at stake, and often yields it up in his  country's cause. The highest merit, then, is due to the soldier.

In this extraordinary war, extraordinary developments have manifested  themselves, such as have not been seen in former wars; and among these  manifestations nothing has been more remarkable than these fairs for the  relief of suffering soldiers and their families. And the chief agents in  these fairs are the women of America.

I am not accustomed to the use of language of eulogy; I have never  studied the art of paying compliments to women; but I must say, that  if all that has been said by orators and poets since the creation of the  world in praise of women were applied to the women of America, it  would not do them justice for their conduct during this war. I will  close by saying, God bless the women of America!

Still another occasion of a similar character occurred  at Baltimore on the 18th of April, at the opening of a  fair for the benefit of the Sanitary Commission. The  President accepted an invitation to attend the opening  exercises, and made the following remarks:--

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN:--Calling to mind that we are in Baltimore,  we cannot fail to note that the world moves. Looking upon these many  people assembled here to serve, as they best may, the soldiers of the Union, it occurs at once that three years ago the same soldiers could  not so much as pass through Baltimore. The change from then till now  is both great and gratifying. Blessings on the brave men who have  wrought the change, and the fair women who strive to reward them  for it!

But Baltimore suggests more than could happen within Baltimore.  The change within Baltimore is part only of a far wider change. When  the war began, three years ago, neither party, nor any man, expected it  would last till now. Each looked for the end, in some way, long ere to day. Neither did any anticipate that domestic slavery would be much  affected by the war. But here we are; the war has not ended, and  slavery has been much affected--how much needs not now to be re counted. So true is it that man proposes and God disposes.

But we can see the past, though we may not claim to have directed  it; and seeing it, in this case, we feel more hopeful and confident for the  future.

The world has never had a good definition of the word liberty, and  the American people, just now, are much in want of one. We all declare for liberty; but in using the same word we do not all mean the  same thing. With some the word liberty may mean for each man to do  as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor; while with  others the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with  other men, and the product of other men's labor. Here are two, not  only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name, liberty.  And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called  by two different and incompatible names--liberty and tyranny.

The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep's throat, for which the  sheep thanks the shepherd as his liberator, while the wolf denounces him  for the same act, as the destroyer of liberty, especially as the sheep was  a black one. Plainly, the sheep and the wolf are not agreed upon a  definition of the word liberty; and precisely the same difference prevails  to-day among us human creatures, even in the North, and all professing  to love liberty. Hence we behold the process by which thousands are  daily passing from under the yoke of bondage hailed by some as the  advance of liberty, and bewailed by others as the destruction of all  liberty. Recently, as it seems, the people of Maryland have been doing  something to define liberty, and thanks to them that, in what they have  done, the wolf's dictionary has been repudiated.

It is not very becoming for one in my position to make speeches at  great length; but there is another subject upon which I feel that I  ought to say a word. A painful rumor, true, I fear, has reached us, of  the massacre, by the rebel forces at Fort Pillow, in the west end' of  Tennessee, on the Mississippi River, of some three hundred colored soldiers and white officers, who had just been overpowered by their assail ants. There seems to be some anxiety in the public mind whether the  Government is doing its duty to the colored soldier, and to the service, at this point. At the beginning of the war, and for some time, he use  of colored troops was not contemplated; and how the change of purpose  was wrought, I will not now take time to explain. Upon a clear conviction of duty, I resolved to turn that element of strength to account;  and I am responsible for it to the American people, to the Christian.  world, to history, and on my final account to God. Having determined  to use the negro as a soldier, there is no way but to give him all the  protection given to any other soldier. The difficulty is not in stating  the principle, but in practically applying it. It is a mistake to suppose  the Government is indifferent to this matter, or is not doing the best it  can in regard to it. We do not to-day know that a colored soldier, or  white officer commanding colored soldiers, has been massacred by the  rebels when made a prisoner. We fear it, believe it, I may say, but we  do not know it. To take the life of one of their prisoners on the assumption that they murder ours, when it is short of certainty that they do  murder ours, might be too serious, too cruel a mistake. We are having  the Fort Pillow affair thoroughly investigated; and such investigation  will probably show conclusively how the truth is. If, after all that has  been said, it shall turn out that there has been no massacre at Fort  Pillow, it will be almost safe to say there has been none, and will be  none elsewhere. If there has been the massacre of three hundred there,  or even the tenth part of three hundred, it will be conclusively proven;  and being so proven, the retribution shall as surely come. It will be  matter of grave consideration in what exact course to apply the retribution; but in he supposed case, it must come.

In June, the President attended a similar fair at Philadelphia, one of the largest that was held in all the country. At a supper given to him there, the health of the  President having been proposed as a toast, the President  said in acknowledgment:--

I suppose that this toast is intended to open the way for me to say  something. War at the best is terrible, and this of ours in its magnitude  and duration is one of the most terrible the world has ever known. It  has deranged business totally in many places, and perhaps in all. It has  destroyed property, destroyed life, and ruined homes. It has produced a  national debt and a degree of taxation unprecedented in the history of  this country. It has caused mourning among us until the heavens may  almost be said to be hung in black. And yet it continues. It has had  accompaniments not before known in the history of the world. I mean  the Sanitary and Christian Commissions, with their labors for the relief of  the soldiers, and the Volunteer Refreshment Saloons, understood better by  those who hear me than by myself--(applause)--and these fairs, first begun at  Chicago and next held in Boston, Cincinnati, and other cities. The motive and object that lie at the bottom of them is worthy of the most that we  can do for the soldier who goes to fight the battles of his country. From  the fair and tender hand of women is much, very much done for the  soldier, continually reminding him of the care and thought for him at  home. The knowledge that he is not forgotten is grateful to his heart.  (Applause.) Another view of these institutions is worthy of thought.  They are voluntary contributions, giving proof that the national resources  are not at all exhausted, and that the national patriotism will sustain us  through all. It is a pertinent question, When is this war to end? I do  not wish to name a day when it will end, lest the end should not come at  the given time. We accepted this war, and did not begin it. (Deafening  applause.) We accepted it for an object, and when that object is accomplished the war will end, and I hope to God that it will never end until  that object is accomplished. (Great applause.) We are going through  our task, so far as I am concerned, if it takes us three years longer.  I have not been in the habit of making predictions, but I am almost  tempted now to hazard one. I will. It is, that Grant is this evening in a  position, with Meade and Hancock, of Pennsylvania, whence he can never  be dislodged by the enemy until Richmond is taken. If I shall discover  that General Grant may be greatly facilitated in the capture of Richmond,  by rapidly pouring to him a large number of armed men at the briefest  notice, will you go? (Cries of "Yes.") Will you march on with him? (Cries  of "Yes, yes.") Then I shall call upon you when it is necessary. (Laughter  and applause, during which the President retired from the table.)

It became manifest, soon after the commencement of  the war, that its progress would inevitably have the effect  of freeing very many, if not all, the slaves of the Southern States. The President's attention was therefore  directed at an early day to the proper disposition of those  who should thus be freed. As his messages show, he  was strongly in favor of colonizing them, with their own  consent, in some country where they could be relieved  from the embarrassments occasioned by the hostile prejudices of the whites, and enter upon a career of their own.  In consequence of his urgent representations upon this  subject, Congress at its session of 1862 passed an act placing at his disposal the sum of six hundred thousand dollars, to be expended, in his discretion, in removing, with  their own consent, free persons of African descent to same  country which they might select as adapted to their condition and necessities.

On the 14th of August, 1862, the President received a deputation of colored persons, with whom he had an interview on the subject, of which one of the parties interested  has made the following record:--

WASHINGTON, ThursdayAugust 14, 1862.

This afternoon the President of the United States gave an audience to  a committee of colored men at the White House. They were introduced  by Rev. J. Mitchell, Commissioner of Emigration. E. M. Thomas, the  chairman, remarked that they were there by invitation to hear what the  Executive had to say to them.

Having all been seated, the President, after a few preliminary observations, informed them that a sum of money had been appropriated by Congress, and placed at his disposition, for the purpose of aiding the colonization in some country, of the people, or a portion of them, of African  descent, thereby making it his duty, as it had for a long time been his inclination, to favor that cause. And why, he asked, should the people of  your race be colonized, and where? Why should they leave this country?  This is, perhaps, the first question for proper consideration. You and we  are different races. We have between us a broader difference than exists  between almost any other two races. Whether it is right or wrong I need.  not discuss; but this physical difference is a great disadvantage to us  both, as I think. Your race suffer very greatly, many of them by living  among us, while ours suffer from your presence. In a word, we suffer on  each side. If this is admitted, it affords a reason, at least, why we should  be separated. You here are freemen, I suppose.

A voice--Yes, sir.

The President--Perhaps you have long been free, or all your lives.  Your race are suffering, in my judgment, the greatest wrong inflicted on  any people. But even when you cease to be slaves, you are yet far re moved from being placed on an equality with the white race. You are  cut off from many of the advantages which the other race enjoys. The  aspiration of men is to enjoy equality with the best when free, but on this  broad continent not a single man of your race is made the equal of a  single man of ours. Go where you are treated the best, and the ban is  still upon you. I do not propose to discuss this, but to present it as a fact,  with which we have to deal. I cannot alter it if I would. It is a fact  about which we all think and feel alike, I and you. We look to our condition. Owing to the existence of the two races on this continent, I need  not recount to you the effects upon white men, growing out of the institution of slavery. I believe in its general evil effects on the white race.  See our present condition--the country engaged in war! our white men  cutting one another's throats--none knowing how far it will extend--and  then consider what we know to be the truth. But for your race among  as there could not be war, although many men engaged on either side do  not care for you one way or the other. Nevertheless, I repeat, without the institution of slavery, and the colored race a basis, the war could  not have an existence. It is better for us both, therefore, to be separated.  I know that there are free men among you who, even if they could better  their condition, are not as much inclined to go out of the country as those  who, being slaves, could obtain their freedom on this condition. I suppose  one of the principal difficulties in the way of colonization is, that the free  colored man cannot see that his comfort would be advanced by it. You  may believe that you can live in Washington, or elsewhere in the United  States, the remainder of your life; perhaps more so than you can in any  foreign country; and hence you may come to the conclusion that you have  nothing to do with the idea of going to a foreign country. This is (I  speak in no unkind sense) an extremely selfish view of the case. But you  ought to do something to help those who are not so fortunate as your selves. There is an unwillingness on the part of our people, harsh as it  may be, for you free colored people to remain with us. Now if you could  give a start to the white people, you would open a wide door for many to  be made free. If we deal with those who are not free at the beginning,  and whose intellects are clouded by slavery, we have very poor material  to start with. If intelligent colored men, such as are before me, would  move in this matter, much might be accomplished. It is exceedingly important that we have men at the beginning capable of thinking as white  men, and not those who have been systematically oppressed. There is  much to encourage you. For the sake of your race you should sacrifice  something of your present comfort for the purpose of being as grand in  that respect as the white people. It is a cheering thought throughout  life, that something can be done to ameliorate the condition of those who  have been subject to the hard usages of the world. It is difficult to make  a man miserable while he feels he is worthy of himself and claims kindred  to the great God who made him. In the American Revolutionary War  sacrifices were made by men engaged in it, but they were cheered by the  future. General Washington himself endured greater physical hardships  than if he had remained a British subject, yet he was a happy man, be cause he was engaged in benefiting his race; in doing something for the  children of his neighbors, having none of his own.

The colony of Liberia has been in existence a long time. In a certain  sense, it is a success. The old President of Liberia, Roberts, has just been  with me, the first time I ever saw him. He says they have within the  bounds of that colony between three and four hundred thousand people,  or more than in some of our old States, such as Rhode Island or Delaware,  or in some of our newer States, and less than in some of our larger ones.  They are not all American colonists or their descendants. Something less  than twelve thousand have been sent thither from this country. Many of  the original settlers have died, yet, like people elsewhere, their offspring  outnumber those deceased. The question is, if the colored people are  persuaded to go anywhere, why not there? One reason for unwillingness  to do so is, that some of you would rather remain within reach of the country of your nativity. I do not know how much attachment you may have towards our race. It does not strike me that you have the greatest reason to love them. But still you are attached to them at all events. The place I am thinking about having for a colony, is in Central America. It is nearer to us than Liberia--not much more than one-fourth as far as Liberia, and within seven days' run by steamers. Unlike Liberia, it is a great line of travel--it is a highway. The country is a very excellent one for any people, and with great natural resources and advantages, and especially because of the similarity of climate with your native soil, thus being suited to your physical condition. The particular place I have in view is to be a great highway from the Atlantic or Caribbean Sea to the Pacific Ocean, and this particular place has all the advantages for a colony. On both sides there are harbors among the finest in the world. Again, there is evidence of very rich coal mines. A certain amount of coal is valuable in any country, and there may be more than enough for the wants of any country. Why I attach so much importance to coal is, it will afford an opportunity to the inhabitants for immediate employment till they get ready to settle permanently in their homes. If you take colonists where there is no good landing, there is a bad show; and so where there is nothing to cultivate, and of which to make a farm. But if something is started so that you can get your daily bread as soon as you reach there, it is a great advantage. Coal land is the best thing I know of with which to commence an enterprise. To return--you have been talked to upon this subject, and told that a speculation is intended by gentlemen who have an interest in the country, including the coal mines. We have been mistaken all our lives if we do not know whites, as well as blacks, look to their self-interest. Unless among those deficient of intellect, everybody you trade with makes something. You meet with these things here and everywhere. If such persons have what will be an advantage to them, the question is, whether it cannot be made of advantage to you? You are intelligent, and know that success does not as much depend on external help as on self-reliance. Much, therefore, depends upon yourselves. As to the coal mines, I think I see the means available for your self-reliance. I shall, if I get a sufficient number of you engaged, have provision made that you shall not be wronged. If you will engage in the enterprise, I will spend some of the money intrusted to me. I am not sure you will succeed. The Government may lose the money, but we cannot succeed unless we try; but we think with care we can succeed. The political affairs in Central America are not in quite as satisfactory condition as I wish. There are contending factions in that quarter; but it is true, all the factions are agreed alike on the subject of colonization, and want it, and are more generous than we are here. To your colored race they have no objection. Besides, I would endeavor to have you made equals, and have the best assurance that you should be the equals of the best. The practical thing I want to ascertain is, whether I can get a number of able-bodied men, with their wives and children, who are willing to go, when I present evidence of encouragement and protection. Could I get a hundred tolerably intelligent men, with their wives and children, and able to  "cut their own fodder," so to speak? Can I have fifty? If I could find  twenty-five able-bodied men, with a mixture of women and children- good things in the family relation, I think--I could make a successful  commencement. I want you to let me know whether this can be done or  not. This is the practical part of my wish to see you. These are subjects of very great importance--worthy of a month's study, of a speech  delivered in an hour. I ask you, then, to consider seriously, not pertain ing to yourselves merely, nor for your race and ours for the present time,  but as one of the things, if successfully managed, for the good of mankind  --not confined to the present generation, but as

"From age to age descends the lay To millions yet to be, Till far its echoes roll away Into eternity."

The above is merely given as the substance of the President's remarks.  The chairman of the delegation briefly replied, that "they would hold  a consultation, and in a short time give an answer." The President said,  "Take your full time--no hurry at all."  The delegation then withdrew.

In pursuance of his plans of colonization, an agreement  was entered into by the President, September 12, 1862,  with A. W. Thompson, for the setlement, by free colored  emigrants from the United States, of a tract of country  within the Republic of New Grenada--the region referred  to by the President in his remarks quoted above; and the  Hon. S. E. Pomeroy, a senator from Kansas, proposed to  accompany and superintend the expedition. The sum of  twenty-five thousand dollars was advanced to him from  the colonization fund, but it was soon after discovered  that the Government of New Grenada objected to the  landing of these emigrants upon its territory, and the  project was abandoned.

In April, 1863, an agreement was made with responsible  and highly respectable parties in New York for the colonization of Ile Vache, within the Republic of Hayti, of  which a favorable grant had been made by the Government--and which was represented in the published report  of the Commissioner of Emigration in the Department of the Interior, as being in every way adapted to the culture  of cotton and other tropical products, and as eminently  favorable for such an experiment. The Government  agreed to pay fifty dollars each for the removal of the  consenting emigrants thither--payment to be made on  official certificate of their arrival. The contractors fulfilled  their portion of the agreement with fidelity, and to the  utmost extent of their ability; but after an expenditure  of about eighty thousand dollars, it was discovered that  the representations of the fertility of the island had been  utterly unfounded, and that the enterprise was hopeless.  The agent of the company, moreover, through whom the  Government had made the original contract, proved to be  utterly untrustworthy and incapable, and was removed.  The Government at last brought the negroes back to the  United States, but incurred no additional expense, as it  declined to pay the contractors the stipulated sum for the  removal of the emigrants, or to reimburse them any portion of the moneys expended in the enterprise.

No further experiments were made in the matter of colonization; but the disposition and employment of the  negroes engaged a good deal of the attention and solicitude  of the Government. When the rebellion first broke out  there were many persons who insisted upon the instant  amancipation of the slaves, and their employment in arms  against the rebels of the Southern States. Public sentiment, however, was by no means prepared for the adoption of such a measure. The Administration, upon its  advent to power, was compelled to encounter a widespread distrust of its general purposes in regard to slavery,  and especial pains were taken by the agents and allies of  the rebellion to alarm the sensitive apprehensions of the  Border States upon this subject. The President, therefore, deemed it necessary, in order to secure that unity  of sentiment without which united and effective action  against the rebellion was felt to be impossible, to exclude  from the contest all issues of a secondary nature, and to  fasten the attention and thought of the whole country  upon the paramount end and aim of the war--the restoration of the Union and the authority of the Constitution of  the United States. How steadily and carefully this policy  was pursued, the preceding pages of this record will show.

But as the war went on, and the desperate tenacity of  the rebel resistance became more manifest--as the field  of operations, both military and political, became enlarged,  and the elements of the rebel strength were better understood, the necessity of dealing with the question of slavery  forced itself upon the people and the Government. The  legislation of Congress, from time to time, represented and  embodied these advancing phases of public opinion. At  the extra session of 1861 a law was passed, discharging  from slavery every slave who should be required or permitted by his master to take up arms against the. United  States, or to be employed in any military capacity in the  rebel service. At the next session the President was  authorized to employ persons of African descent in the suppression of the rebellion, "in such manner as he should  judge best for the public welfare," and also to issue a  proclamation commanding all persons in rebellion against  the United States to lay down their arms and return to  their allegiance; and if any persons so warned should be  found in rebellion thirty days after the date of such proclamation, the President was authorized to set free their  slaves. Under these comprehensive acts the President  took such steps on the subject as he believed the necessities  of the country required, and as the public sentiment of  the country would sustain. The Emancipation Proclamation was issued on the 1st of January, 1863, and measures  were adopted soon afterwards to provide for the chances  which it made inevitable. On the 20th of January, the  Secretary of War authorized Governor Andrew, of Massachusetts, to enlist volunteers for three years, and to include persons of African descent, organized into a separate  corps. In April, negro troops were enlisted by Adjutant-General Thomas for service in Arkansas, and on the 15th  of that month he issued an order appointing commissioners  to superintend the execution of a policy which the Government had adopted for committing the protection of the banks of the Mississippi to a negro force. On the 22d  of May, orders were issued by the Secretary of War  creating a. Bureau of the War Department for all matters  relating to the organization of colored troops, and establishing rules for their enlistment, and for the appointment of officers to command them. And on the 20th of  August, Hon. J. Holt, Judge-Advocate General, sent to  the President an official opinion, to the effect that, under  the laws of Congress on the subject, he had full authority  to enlist slaves for service in the army precisely as he  might enlist any other persons--providing for compensation to loyal owners whose property might thus be taken  for the public service.

These were the initial steps of a movement for the  employment of negro troops, which has gone forward  steadily ever since, until, as has been seen from the  President's Message, over one hundred thousand negro  soldiers were already in the army of the United States,  contributing largely, by their courage and good conduct,  to the suppression of the rebellion, which sought the  perpetual enslavement of their race. The popular prejudice against their employment in the army, which was  so potent at the beginning, gradually gave way, even in  the slaveholding States, to a more just estimate of the  necessities of the emergency and the capacities of the  negro race. And what was of still more importance to  the welfare of the country, the people of the slaveholding States took up the question of slavery for discussion  and practical action, as one in which their own wellbeing, present and prospective, was deeply involved.  The Union party in every Southern State favored the  abolition of slavery, and in Missouri, Maryland, Louisiana, and Arkansas, measures were speedily taken for the  overthrow of an institution which had proved so detrimental to their interests, and so menacing to the unity of  the nation and the stability of republican institutions.

In all of them Constitutional. Conventions were held,  and clauses inserted in the constitutions which were  adopted, utterly abolishing slavery; and these constitutions were all submitted to the popular vote, with the  following results:--
















In the latter State, the Constitution adopted in 1864  was, by a new Convention, held in January, 1865, revised  and amended, and submitted to the popular vote on June  6, 1865, and ratified as above.


1 President Lincoln's view of this position is stated in the following note addressed by him to the publishers of the North American Review, which contained  an article upon his policy of administration:--



"GENTLEMEN:--The number for this month and year of the North American Review was  duly received, and for which please accept my thanks. Of course I am not the most impartial  judge; yet, with due allowance for this, I venture to hope that the article entitled 'The President's Policy' will be of value to the country. I fear I am not worthy of all which is therein  kindly said of me personally.

"The sentence of twelve lines, commencing at the top of page 252, I could wish to be not  exactly what it is. In what is there expressed, the writer has not correctly understood me. I  have never had a theory that secession could absolve States or people from their obligations.  Precisely the contrary is asserted in the inaugural address; and it was because of my belief in  the continuation of those obligations that I was puzzled, for a time, as to denying the legal  rights of those citizens who remained individually innocent of treason or rebellion. But I mean  no more now than to merely call attention to this point.

"Yours respectfully,


The sentence referred to by Mr. Lincoln is as follows:--

"Even so long ago as when Mr. Lincoln, not yet convinced of the danger and magnitude of  the crisis, was endeavoring to persuade himself of Union majorities at the South, and carry on  a war that was half peace, in the hope of a peace that would have been all war, while he was  still enforcing the Fugitive Slave law, under some theory that secession, however it might ab solve States from their obligations, could not escheat them of their claims under the Constitu tion, and that slaveholders in rebellion had alone, among mortals, the privilege of having their  cake and eating it at the same time,--the enemies of free government were striving to persuade  the people that the war was an abolition crusade. To rebel without reason was proclaimed as  one of the rights of man, while it was carefully kept out of sight that to suppress rebellion is  the first duty of government."

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