previous next

“ [241] would very soon purchase all the slaves in any named State,” yet we cannot think that there is much chance of Congress voting the purchase even of the three quarters of a million of negroes to be found in the Border States. A people which is obliged to pay in paper for every article which its army requires, which cannot obtain a loan in any European market, and which now, in the desperate hope of raising a revenue, is putting on all the war-taxes which our benighted country has abolished, is not likely to fancy an additional expenditure of some hundreds of millions of dollars to transform a horde of negroes into citizens. Nor can we conceive that the Border States are likely, except under the pressure of military occupation, to abolish slavery within their limits. Nor do we believe that it will shake the resolution of the South. The causes of conflict between the two lie much deeper than the question of free and slave labor. A jealousy of the growing preponderance of the North in Congress — a preponderance caused by the tide of immigration which flowed into the States of more temperate climate — has now deepened into an antipathy which overcomes all considerations of interest.

But there is one light in which the President's Message may be favorably viewed. As a proposition which may possibly lead to the cessation of this frightful conflict, it will be worthy of discussion, though we think there is little advantage in adopting it in its present form. The President truly said that the expenses of the war would buy up the slaves in any given State. If this has any meaning, it is that the money now devoted to keeping up the four armies of the North might be more advantageously devoted to the extinction of slavery in those regions which are incontestably in its power. But it is impossible for the North to spend the same money on fighting and on emancipation. If the people of the Northern States wish to make any real progress in the settlement of the slave question, they will give up the policy of burdening themselves and their children with an European debt paying American interest. Another year of such war will make it impossible for them to buy negro liberty even in Maryland. If they are content to keep the slave States which have not seceded, and to try the plan of emancipation and compensation on them, they may, if they are really in earnest, accomplish after a time a great work. But, with an expenditure of two million dollars a day, and with nothing but “shinplasters” for money, the plan of attaching wavering slave-owners by compensation must follow the fate of so many other attempts at compromise.

[From the London News, March 21.]

Military successes, unequivocal and extensive, have enabled President Lincoln to propose a political measure from which important consequences may reasonably be expected. In a message to Congress he recommends the two Houses to agree in a resolution to cooperate with the several States, by pecuniary aid, for the gradual emancipation of the slaves. Mr. Lincoln explains his views and expectations with a frankness which some may deem excessive, but which is very characteristic, and at least leaves no excuse for misunderstanding his meaning. At every crisis of the present conflict, the President has declared that the first object of the war was the preservation of the Union. This was one side of his policy, that one which was naturally brought into prominence by the circumstances in which he was placed. The other side, that which aims at the final extinction of slavery, has not been seen until now, because hitherto no opportunity of displaying it, has arisen. Indeed, not only has this part of Mr. Lincoln's policy been concealed, but it has seemed to be denied by facts. He was advised to adopt the principle of abolition in all its naked absolutism, and it is well known that he refused. He would proceed to his end legally and constitutionally. Many of us thought that, to say he would only attain it in that way, was equal to saying, that he gave it up altogether. But let justice be done. Whatever merits are denied to Mr. Lincoln, as the ruler of a great nation, the simplicity and sincerity of his character will not be called in question.

The time has come when Mr. Lincoln believes he has found a political basis, a basis of fact, for his policy of emancipation. And he seems careful to make it plain, that it is a thoroughly political measure which he proposes. He tells the Federal Congress, that the Federal Government “would find its highest interest” in assisting the States as proposed, “as one of the most efficient means of self-preservation” He avows that his immediate aim is to secure the Border States to the Union. Mr. Lincoln seems to convey that he does not hold the Gulf States in much account. He knows very well that they cannot exist as a separate nation without the Border States; that their poverty and weakness would expose them to general contempt, and make separate existence intolerable. And although he will not permit them, on that account, to secede, and so give a foothold to ambitious and intriguing European powers, he is not much concerned about their opinion of his scheme. If the Federal Congress assents, and the Border States adopt it, slavery in North-America is doomed, and the Gulf States may be left to come their senses. Whenever they do so, the Federal Government will assist them in getting rid of a curse.

Mr. Lincoln's proposition appears to have startled the American public by its comprehensiveness, and we shall have to wait to learn what impression it will make on the country. The extracts We give from the New-York papers, can tell us little. It is natural for us, accustomed as we are to learn the state of public opinion in the various countries of Europe from journals published in capitals, where government and public life is centralized, to study the opinions published in a great American city, and take them for those of the Union. This error has led us astray a thousand times during the last twelve months. But in truth, there is no country in the world where all that belongs to government, is so completely

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 Places (automatically extracted)

View a map of the most frequently mentioned places in this document.

Sort places alphabetically, as they appear on the page, by frequency
Click on a place to search for it in this document.
Europe (2)
North America (1)
Maryland (Maryland, United States) (1)

Download Pleiades ancient places geospacial dataset for this text.

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.
Abraham Lincoln (7)
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.
March 21st (1)
hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: