clergymen, who urged him to issue a proclamation of freedom for the slaves.
“What good would a proclamation from me do, especially as we are now situated?”
asked Mr. Lincoln
by way of reply.
“I do not want to issue a document that the whole world would see must necessarily be inoperative, like the Pope
's bull against the comet.
Would my word free the slaves, when I cannot even enforce the Constitution
in the rebel States?”
In contemplating a proclamation applicable to the rebel States, it is hardly to be supposed that Mr. Lincoln
did not understand the situation two weeks earlier quite as well as when the document appeared.
If Mr. Lincoln
had been told, when he entered on the Presidency, that before his term of office would expire he would be hailed as “The great Emancipator,” he would have treated the statement as equal to one of his own best jokes.
Slavery was a thing he did not then want to have disturbed.
He discountenanced all radical agitators of the subject, and especially in the border slave States, where he was able to hold them pretty well in check, except in Missouri
There they stood up and fought him, and in the end beat him. One of the rather curious results of this condition of things was that, when the States came to action on the Thirteenth Constitutional Amendment, the one absolutely abolishing slavery, the three border slave States of Kentucky
, and Delaware
, over which the President
's influence was practically supreme, gave an adverse vote of four to one, while Missouri
, with whose radical emancipationists he had continuously been at loggerheads, ratified the amendment by a