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[742] whether at the close of the war their former masters would be entitled to indemnity or not. Congress had adjourned on the 17th of July, the very day of the passage of the confiscation law, which it left as a resume of its policy during that long and important session. The truce concluded between the Republicans and War Democrats for the common defence of the Constitution did not prevent the question of slavery from being brought to the surface in every form; it was warmly discussed by the press, at all public meetings and in all the State legislatures. Mr. Lincoln was accused by some of compromising the cause of free labor in the vain hope of conciliating the slavery party; according to others, on the contrary, he was sacrificing the Constitution to gratify the opponents of slavery. Despite his cautious language, the President did not conceal on which side lay his convictions; but he did not allow himself to be carried away by his abolition sentiments, and thought only of his special mission, which was to support the Constitution and restore the Union. He did not think he had a right to compromise that restoration either by premature abolition or by an excess of deference to the servile institution. Like a skilful pilot with his hand at the helm, he watched the direction of the strong wind which impelled the vessel entrusted to his care onward, ready to alter his course as soon as that wind should shift to some other point.

The day came when he resolved upon the course to pursue, courageously took upon himself the responsibility of the act, and executed it with determination. We think that he chose the opportune moment; it was the day following the victory of Antietam, and this great decision was like a response to the invasion of the States that had remained loyal to the Union by the Confederate army. Had he taken this step sooner, he would have failed in his duties to the Constitution; if he had delayed longer, he would have exposed himself to the charge of having neglected a powerful means of bringing the war to a close. On the 22d of September, America learned that the President had proclaimed the complete abolition of slavery in all the States in rebellion against the Union. He had only confided this final determination to Mr. Seward, the true statesman of his cabinet, and when the journals

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