Lincoln the Abolitionists had reason to doubt his intentions with reference to slavery, and especially after he had summarily revoked the orders of General Fremont
and General Hunter
liberating the slaves in their respective military districts, still Garrison
saw deeper than most of his fellow reformers, and almost from the first gave him his support.
's oath of office, indeed, obliged him to accept the Constitution
, and to that extent he was not a free man or a free moral agent.
Occupying this false position, he felt bound in his inaugural address indirectly to stigmatize John Brown
's undertaking as the “greatest of crimes.”
He also insisted, in the same address, upon the rendition of fugitive slaves, and appealed to the oaths of members of Congress to sustain this obligation.
Could any more striking example of the baneful effect of oaths be given than these passages which his oath extorted from the future Emancipator?
He rose to a higher sense of his duties later when he told Congress in 1864 that “If the people should by whatever mode or means make it an executive duty to re-enslave such persons, another, not I, must be their instrument to enforce it.”
Resignation of office is surely the only course for an official who finds himself called upon to do something which offends his conscience.
earnestly urged the renomination