previous next

[247] special Message, I recommended to Congress the adoption of a joint resolution, to be substantially as follows:
Resolved, That the United States ought to cooperate with any State which may adopt gradual abolishment of Slavery, giving to such State pecuniary aid. to be used by such State in its discretion, to compensate for the inconveniences, public and private, produced by such change of system.”

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

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

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

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

Done at the city of Washington this 19th day of May, in the year of our Lord 1862, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-sixth.


Abraham Lincoln. By the President: W. H. Seward, Secretary of State.

Contrary to a very general impression, Gen. McClellan was among the first not only to perceive, but to assert, that the Rebellion was essentially a slaveholders' enterprise, and that it might be effectively assailed through Slavery. Thus, in his Memorandum privately addressed to the President, Aug. 4th, 1861, when lie had but just taken command of the Army of the Potomac, he says:

In this contest, it has become necessary to crush a population sufficiently numerous, intelligent, and warlike, to constitute a nation. We have not only to defeat their armed and organized forces in the field, but to display such an overwhelming strength as will convince all our antagonists, especially those of the governing aristocratic class, of the utter impossibility of resistance. Our late reverses make this course imperative, Had we been successful in the recent battle [first Bull Run], it is possible that we might have been spared the labor and expense of a great effort; now, we have no alternative. Their success will enable the political leaders of the Rebels to convince the mass of their people that we are inferior to them in force and courage, and to command all their resources. The contest began with a class; now it is with a people; our military success can alone restore the former issue.

After suggesting various military movements, including one down the Mississippi, as required to constitute a general advance upon the strongholds of the Rebellion, he proceeds:

There is another independent movement which has often been suggested, and which has always recommended itself to my judgment. I refer to a movement from Kansas and Nebraska, through the Indian Territory, upon Red river and western Texas, for the purpose of protecting and developing the latent Union and Free-State sentiment, well known to predominate in western Texas; and which, like a similar sentiment in Western Virginia, will, if protected, ultimately organize that section into a Free State.

In view of these sensible and pertinent suggestions, it is impossible not to feel that Gen. McClellan's naturally fair though not brilliant mind was subjected, during his long sojourn thereafter in Washington, to sinister political influences and the whispered appeals and tempting suggestions of a selfish and sordid ambition. During that Fall and Winter, his house was thronged with partisans of the extreme “Peace” wing of the Democratic party, who must have held out to him the golden lure of the Presidency as the reward of a forbearing, temporizing, procrastinating policy, which would exhaust the resources and chill the ardor of the

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.

An XML version of this text is available for download, with the additional restriction that you offer Perseus any modifications you make. Perseus provides credit for all accepted changes, storing new additions in a versioning system.

hide People (automatically extracted)
Sort people alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a person to search for him/her in this document.
George B. McClellan (2)
William H. Seward (1)
Abraham Lincoln (1)
hide Dates (automatically extracted)
Sort dates alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a date to search for it in this document.
1862 AD (1)
August 4th, 1861 AD (1)
May 19th (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: