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[240] Black Republicans may be satisfied. The President has invited the discussion of a very delicate and dangerous question, and may give courage to all who wanted to speak their minds on it, but who were withheld by the fear of hampering the policy of the Government. Like the sovereign at an old tournament, Mr. Lincoln gives the signal to the knights to come forward and show their prowess. But the message which has just been sent to Congress can hardly be looked upon as anything more than such an invitation. The champions and the foes of slavery are summoned to the fight in the halls of Congress and in the Legislatures of the Border States. But, as yet, the President does not show that he has any plan for assuring victory to the latter. Indeed, it is already clear that, if slavery is to cease, even in the Border States, the change must be accomplished by other means than those at which he points.

It is not strange that we on this side of the ocean should read and re-read the paragraphs of the President's Message in the endeavor to understand their purpose, for the Americans themselves are evidently puzzled. The abolitionist newspapers are, of course, pleased to find that the Government at length gives countenance to their cause, and there is, moreover, in all probability, such a feeling of satisfaction in the public mind as is naturally produced among a people who are exhausting themselves in a contest of which they cannot see the end by the semblance of a vigorous and original policy in their chiefs. But the President's outline of legislation does not seem to have commended itself even to journals most favorable to his administration. It is that Congress should pledge itself to cooperate with the slave States for the abolition of slavery, and should devote the Federal revenues to the compensation of the masters. Now, the first thing that occurs to us is, that this is a scheme totally inapplicable to the whole Union which Mr. Lincoln and his friends declare to be still in existence. The slaves throughout the States were returned by the last census at four millions. Their value is so enormous that it is of little use to calculate it. Since the great increase in the cultivation of cotton, the price of a good field-hand has more than doubled; and in one or two of the States, the slaves are by far the most valuable property possessed by the inhabitants.

When we consider the immense sums that these negroes represent, and then consider the comparative poverty of the Federation, the difficulty of taxation, the present financial embarrassments, the debt so rapidly increasing, the flood of paper money, and the real lukewarmness of the American people in the cause of the negro, it is not difficult to see that the plan of Mr. Lincoln is not intended to apply to the whole South. The negroes of Alabama or Texas may be as much objects of interest to philanthropists as the negroes of Maryland; they have the same claims to be men and brothers; they are, beyond a doubt, more hardly worked; they are more often sold away from their families, and the pictures which orators and novelists have given of negro suffering have been copied from incidents sought for in the annals of the Cotton States. But the abolitionist zeal of the President stops short of the region where slaves are most numerous and most coerced. With a frankness which seems to be natural, he avows that his design is to emancipate the slaves in certain of the Border States, as a matter of policy. The negroes of Maryland and Delaware are few, and comparatively of little value. In Missouri, Kentucky, and even Tennessee, they form but a small part of the population. It has entered the minds of Mr. Lincoln and his friends that it will be not impossible to induce these Border States to sell their slaves to the Federal Government, or, in other words, to abolish slavery on the receipt of compensation from the treasury of the United States. In a doubtful tone, and with awkward phraseology, the President tells Congress that he recommends the scheme to their notice, but that if it does not meet with their approval and the approval of the country, it is at an end. He then goes on to give his reasons for inviting their consideration.

The leaders of the insurrection, we are told, believe that the Federal Government will be ultimately forced to acknowledge the independence of some part of the disaffected region, and that then, even though the Border States might remain for the time with the North, they would take the earliest opportunity of seceding and joining the Southern Republic, which would by that time be fully organized and capable of giving them help. We know not if this policy has really found advocates at Richmond. It certainly seems in contradiction with the very last resolutions of the confederate Congress, which were to the effect that the Confederacy would never make peace on the basis of giving up any State which belonged to it. However, the theory of the Washington Government is, that as long as Kentucky, Tennessee, Missouri, and even Maryland, contain slave-owners and slaves, the confederates will count on their sympathy and be disposed to prolong resistance; but that if slavery be abolished in these important States, the confederates, reduced to the Cotton and Tobacco States, and being the most populous members of their league thereby incorporated in the old Union, will be glad to submit. Thus, the great object of the “moderate” men at the North would be attained. There would be in the newly reconstituted Union a sufficient preponderance of free States to make another secession impossible; while the material interests of New-England and New-York would not be endangered by any ill-advised application of abolitionist principles at the extreme South, where negro slavery is necessary for the production of the great national staple.

We fear, however, that this Utopia of compromise will be difficult of access. Although Mr. Lincoln talks in the most cautious manner of “initiation,” and says that “a gradual and not a sudden emancipation will be better for all,” and although he suggests in a rather significant manner that “the current expenditure of the war ”

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