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But the proclamation, as law, either is valid or is not valid.

If it is not valid, it needs no retraction. If it is valid, it cannot be retraced any more than the dead can be brought to life. Some of you profess to think its retraction would operate favorably for the Union.

Why better after the retraction than before the issue?

There was more than a year and a half of trial to suppress the rebellion before the proclamation issued, the last one hundred days of which passed under an explicit notice that it was coming, unless averted by those in revolt returning to their allegiance.

The war has certainly progressed as favorably for us since the issue of the proclamation as before.

I know as fully as one can know the opinion of others that some of the commanders of our armies in the field who have given us our most important successes believe the emancipation policy and the use of the colored troops constituted the heaviest blow yet dealt to the Rebellion, and that at least one of these important successes could not have been achieved when it was but for the aid of black soldiers. Among the commanders holding these views are some who have never had any affinity with what is called abolitionism or with Republican party policies, but who held them purely as military opinions. I submit these opinions as being entitled to some weight against the objections often urged that emancipation and arming the blacks are unwise as military measures, and were not adopted as such in good faith.1

You say you will not fight to free negroes. Some of them seem willing to fight for you; but no matter.

1 See note p. 540.

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