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[251] Blacks with any proffer of Freedom. The slaveholders-especially those in the loyal States-would all hear of it forthwith, and be influenced by it; the slaves in the disloyal States would receive all tidings of it through hostile channels — form those interested in deceiving and misleading them with regard to it. Even if correctly and promptly advised, what could they do? Bayonets glittered on every side; arms were borne by nearly every able-bodied White; while the Blacks could oppose to these but their empty (and shackled) hands. What good, then, could be secured by an Abolition policy? “It is a Pope's bull against the comet,” suggested the President. “It will unite the South and divide the North,” fiercely clamored the entire Opposition. So the President — habitually cautious, dilatory, reticent — hesitated, and demurred, and resisted — possibly after he had silently resolved that the step must finally be taken.

Mr. Lincoln was soon visited,1 among others, by a deputation from the various Protestant denominations of Chicago, Illinois, charged with the duty of urging on him the adoption of a more decided and vigorous policy of Emancipation. He listened to the reading of their memorial, and responded in substance as follows:

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

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

Now, then, tell me, if you please, what possible result of good would follow the issuing of such a proclamation as you desire? Understand: I raise no objections against it on legal or constitutional grounds; for, as Commander-in-chief of the army and navy

1 Sept. 13.

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