This text is part of:
Table of Contents:
 and without illusion. But however wise this proposition may have been, it was to meet with too much opposition from both parties to admit of its being adopted as a whole. Those who should have been most eager to accept it, if they had understood their own interests, were the first to reject it. They thus allowed the opportunity to pass of facilitating the transition from slave to free labor; and when, two years later, the constitutional amendment was passed as the conseqence of Northern victories, it determined the final abolition of slavery under a much more radical form. The President's proposition required to be maturely considered by both houses. Before confronting such an ordeal, it was necessary that it should be discussed by the press and thoroughly sustained by public opinion. Whilst this great debate was pending, both parties, whose forces were now more equally balanced in Congress, began contending about the text of the proclamation of September 22d. The Democrats attacked it as unconstitutional in the House of Representatives, where their strength was greater than in the Senate. But the government came off victorious, having obtained on the 15th of December a majority of seventeen votes upon this question. Nothing was left for the President to do but to enforce the measures he had announced on the 22d of September. On the 1st of January, 1863, he affixed his signature to another and final proclamation, declaring slavery abolished in the States then at war against the Constitution. The list of these States comprised Arkansas, Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, the two Carolinas, and, finally, Louisiana and Virginia, with the exception of those districts which were under the Federal authority. The proclamation naturally did not extend to the States of Maryland and Delaware, which had never participated in the rebellion; nor to Kentucky or Missouri, which, although rent by civil war, had not voted for secession; nor even to Tennessee, which within the last year had legally returned to the fold of the Union. This proclamation, sufficient to render the name of its author illustrious, marked the beginning of a year which was to witness still more sanguinary scenes than the year 1862. It also inaugurated a new epoch, and the conflict, freed from the remembrace
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License.