Slavery in the War — Emancipation.
the Federal Constitution
was framed in General Convention, and carried in the several State Conventions, by the aid of adroit and politic evasions and reserves on the part of its framers and champions.
The existing necessity for a stronger central authority, which had been developed during the painful experiences of our preceding years of independence, were most keenly felt by the mercantile and mechanical or manufacturing classes, who were consequently zealous advocates of a “more perfect Union.”
The rural districts, on the other hand, were far less seriously affected by commercial embarrassment and currency dilapidation, and were naturally jealous of a distant and unfamiliar power.
Hence the reticence, if not ambiguity, of the text with regard to what has recently been termed “coercion,” or the right of the Federal Government
to subdue by arms the forcible resistance of a State, or of several States, to its legitimate authority — a reticence which was imitated by the most prominent advocates of ratification, whether in The Federalist
or in the several State Conventions.
So with regard to Slavery as well.
It is plain that the General Convention would have utterly and instantly prohibited the Foreign Slave-Trade
, but for the proclaimed fact that this would insure the rejection of their handiwork by the still slave-hungry States of South Carolina
, if not of North Carolina
also; though Virginia
was among the most earnest advocates of the prohibition.
Hence, when the State Conventions
were assembled to ratify or reject it, with such eminent Revolutionary patriots as Patrick Henry
, John Hancock, Samuel Adams
, George Clinton
, and Luther Martin
, leading in the opposition, the clauses affecting Slavery were vigilantly, and not unsuccessfully, scrutinized for grounds of attack — the provision concerning the African Slave-Trade
being assailed in some States from the side of Slavery, in others from that of anti-Slavery, with vigor and effect.
In the North
, these assaults were parried by pointing to the power conferred on Congress to abolish the traffic after twenty years, as so much clear gain: to reject the Constitution
would not arrest the traffic now, but would
destroy the power to prohibit it hereafter.
On the other hand, the Federalists in the Southern Conventions
met their adversaries by pointing to the privilege secured to the slave-holders of hunting their fugitive chattels in other States than their own — a privilege hitherto non-existent — and asked them what was to be gained by rejecting that.
In fact, the Constitution
was essentially a matter of compromise and mutual concession — a proceeding wherein Thrift is apt to gain at the cost of Principle.
Perhaps the majority in no State obtained exactly what they wanted, but were satisfied that, on the whole, they were better with the Constitution
than without it.
alone, in opposing
ratification, assailed the Constitution
as a measure of thorough, undisguised, all-absorbing consolidation, and, though himself a professed contemner of Slavery, sought to arouse the fears of the Virginia
slaveholders as follows:
Among ten thousand implied powers which they may assume, they may, if we be engaged in war, liberate every one of your slaves, if they please; and this must and will be done by men, a majority of whom have not a common interest with you. They will, therefore, have no feeling of your interests.
It has been repeatedly said hero, that the great object of a National Government was national defense.
That power, which is said to be intended for security and safety, may be rendered detestable and oppressive.
If they give power to the General Government to provide for the general defense, the means must be commensurate to the end. All the means in the possession of the people must be given to the Government which is intrusted with the public defense.
In this State, there are 236,000 Blacks; and there are many in several other States: but there are few or none in the Northern States; and yet, if the Northern States shall be of opinion that our slaves are numberless, they may call forth every national resource.
May Congress not say that every Black man must fight? Did we not see a little of this last war?
We were not so hard pushed as to make emancipation general; but acts of Assembly passed, that every slave who would go to the army should be free.
Another thing will contribute to bring this event about: Slavery is detested; we feel its fatal effects we deplore it with all the pity of humanity.
Let all these considerations, at some future period, press with full force on the minds of Congress — let that urbanity, which I trust will distinguish America, and the necessity of national defense — let all these things operate on their minds: they will search that paper, and see if they have the power of manumission.
And have they not, Sir?
Have they not power to provide for the general defense and welfare?
May they not think that these call for the abolition of Slavery?
May they not pronounce all slaves free?
and will they not be warranted by that power?
There is no ambiguous implication or logical deduction.
The paper speaks to the point.
They have the power, in clear, unequivocal terms, and will clearly and certainly exercise it. As much as I deplore Slavery, I see that prudence forbids its abolition.
I deny that the General Government ought to set them free, because a decided majority of the States have not the ties of sympathy and fellow-feeling for those whose interest would be affected by their emancipation.
The majority of Congress is to the North, and the slaves are to the South.
Gov. Edmund Randolph
--who became Washington
--answered Mr. Henry
: denying most strenuously that there is any power of abolition given to Congress by the Constitution
; but not alluding to what Henry had urged with regard to the War
power and the right of Congress to summon every slave to the military defense of the country.
Nor does this view of the subject appear to have attracted much attention elsewhere — at least, it does not appear to have been anywhere controverted.1
In 1836,2 Mr. John Quincy Adams
, having been required to vote Yea or Nay, in the House
, on a proposition reported by Mr. H. L. Pinckney
, of South Carolina
, in these words--
Resolved, That Congress possesses no constitutional power to interfere in any way with the institution of Slavery in any of the States of this confederacy--
voted Nay, in company with but eight others; and, obtaining the floor in Committee soon afterward, on a proposition that rations be distributed from the public stores to citizens: of Georgia
who have been driven from their homes by Indian
depredations, proceeded to show that such distribution (which he advocated) was justifiable only under the constitutional power of Congress “to promote the general welfare,” which Southern statesmen habitually repudiated, or under the still more sweeping War power.
In the course of his argument, he said:
Sir, in the authority given to Congress by the Constitution of the United States to declare war, all the powers incidental to war are, by necessary implication, conferred upon the Government of the United States.
Now, the powers incidental to war are derived, not from their internal municipal source, but from the laws and usages of nations. * * * There are, then, Mr. Chairman, in the authority of Congress and of the Executive, two classes of powers.
altogether different in their nature, and often incompatible with each other — the War power and the Peace power.
The Peace power is limited by regulations, and restricted by provisions, prescribed within the Constitution itself.
The War power is limited only by the laws and usages of nations.
This power is tremendous; it is strictly constitutional; but it breaks down every barrier so anxiously erected for the protection of liberty, of property, and of life.
This, Sir, is the power which authorizes you to pass the resolution now before you; and, in my opinion, there is no other. * * * There are, indeed, powers of Peace conferred upon Congress which also come within the scope and jurisdiction of the laws of nations ; such as the negotiation of treaties of amity and commerce; the interchange of public ministers and consuls; and all the personal and social intercourse between the individual inhabitants of the United States and foreign nations.
and the Indian tribes, which require the interposition of any law. But the powers of War are all regulated by the laws of nations, and are subject to no other limitation. * * * It was upon, this principle that I voted against the resolution reported by the Slavery Committee, “that Congress possesses no constitutional authority to interfere, in any way, with the institution of Slavery in any of the States of this confederacy;” to which resolution most of those with whom I usually concur, and even my own colleagues in this House, gave their assent.
I do not admit that there is, even among the Peace powers of Congress, no such authority; but in war, there are many ways by which Congress not only have the authority, but are bound, to interfere with the institution of Slavery in the States. The existing law prohibiting the importation of slaves into the United States from foreign countries is itself an interference with the institution of Slavery in the States.
It was so considered by the founders of the Constitution of the United States, in which it was stipulated that Congress should not interfere, in that way, with the institution, prior to the year 1808.
During the war with Great Britain, the military and naval commanders of that nation issued proclamations inviting the slaves to repair to their standard, with promises of freedom and of settlement in some of the British colonial establishments.
This, surely, was an interference with the institution of Slavery in the States.
By the treaty of peace, Great Britain stipulated to evacuate all the forts and places in the United States, without carrying away any slaves.
If the Government of the United States had no power to interfere, in any way, with the institution of Slavery in the States, they would not have had the authority to require this stipulation.
It is well known that this engagement was not fulfilled by the British naval and military commanders; that, on the contrary, they did carry away all the slaves whom they had induced to join them; and that the British Government inflexibly refused to restore any of them to their masters; that a claim f indemnity was consequently instituted in behalf of the owners of the slaves, and was successfully maintained.
All that series of transactions was an interference by Congress with the institution of Slavery in the States in one way — in the way of protection and support.
It was by the institution of Slavery alone that the restitution of slaves, enticed by proclamations into the British service, could be claimed as property But for the institution of Slavery, the British commanders could neither have allured them to their standard, nor restored them, otherwise than as liberated prisoners of war. But for the institution of Slavery, there could have been no stipulation that they should not be carried away as property, nor any claim of indemnity for the violation of that engagement.
But the War power of Congress over the institution of Slavery ill the States is yet far more extensive.
Suppose the case of a servile war, complicated, to some extent — as it is even now — with an Indian war; suppose Congress were called to raise armies, to supply money from the whole Union to suppress a servile insurrection: would they have no authority to interfere with the institution of Slavery?
The issue of a servile war may be disastrous; it may become necessary for the master of the slave to recognize his emancipation by a
treaty of peace: can it, for an instant, be pretended that Congress, in such a contingency, would have no authority to interfere with the institution of Slavery, in any way, in the States?
Why, it would be equivalent to saying that Congress has no constitutional authority to make peace.
proceeded to show that Texas
was then [prior to her annexation] the arena of a war concerning Slavery — a war based on an effort to reestablish Slavery where it had been abolished by Mexico
; and that our country was powerfully incited to take part directly therein, on the side of Slavery; and might yet be impelled to do so. In view of this probability, he asked--
Do you imagine that while, in the very nature of things, your own Southern and South-western States must be the battle-field upon which the last great conflict must be fought between Slavery and Emancipation — do you imagine that your Congress will have no constitutional authority to interfere with the institution of Slavery in any way, in the States of this confederacy?
Sir, they must and will interfere with it — perhaps to sustain it by war; perhaps to abolish it by treaties of peace: and they will not only possess the constitutional power so to interfere, but they will be bound in duty to do it, by the express provisions of the Constitution itself.
From the instant that your slaveholding States become the theater of war — civil.
servile, or foreign — from that instant, the War powers of Congress extend to interference with the institution of Slavery in every way by which it can be interfered wilt, from a claim of indemnity for slaves taken or destroyed, to the cession of the State burdened with Slavery to a foriegn power.
when the prospective annexation of Texas
, and a consequent war with Mexico
, first loomed above the horizon, Mr. Adams
returned to the subject; and, with reference to certain anti-Slavery resolves recently offered by Mr. Giddings
, of Ohio
, and the action of the House
What I am now to say, I say with great reluctance and with great pain.
I am well aware that it is touching upon a sore place; and I would gladly get over it if I could.
It has been my effort, so far as was in my power, to avoid any allusion whatever to that question which the gentleman from Virginia tells us that the most lamb-like disposition in the South never can approach without anger and indignation.
Sir, that is my sorrow.
I admit that the fact is so. We can not touch that subject without raising, throughout the whole South, a mass of violence and passion, with which one might as well reason as with a hurricane.
That, I know, is the fact in the South ; and that is the fact in this House.
And it is the reason why members coming from a Free State are silenced as soon as they rise on this floor; why they are pronounced out of order; made to sit down; and, if they proceed, are censured and expelled.
But in behalf of the South and of Southern institutions, a man may get up in this House and expatiate for weeks together.
On this point, I do complain; and I must say I have been rather disappointed that I have not been put down already, as speaking out of order.
What I say is involuntary, because the subject has been brought into the louse from another quarter, as the gentleman himself admits.
I would leave that institution to the exclusive consideration and management of the States more peculiarly interested in it, just so long as they can keep it within their own bounds.
So far, I admit that Congress has no power to meddle with it. So long as they do not step out of their own bounds, and do not put the question to the people of the United States, whose peace, welfare, and happiness, are all at stake, so long I will agree to leave them to them-selves.
But when a member from a Free State brings forward certain resolutions, for which, instead of reasoning to disprove his positions, you vote a censure upon him — and that without hearing — it is quite another affair.
At the time this was done, I said that, so far as I could understand the resolutions proposed by the gentleman from Ohio [Mr. Giddings], there were some of them for which I was ready to vote, and some which I must vote against; and I will now tell this House, my constituents, and the world of mankind, that the resolution against which I would have voted was that in which he declares that what are called the Slave States have the exclusive right of consultation on the subject of Slavery.
For that resolution, I never would vote; because I believe that it is not just, land does not contain constitutional doctrine.
I believe that, so long as the Slave States are able to sustain their institutions, without going abroad or calling upon other parts of
the Union to aid them or act on the subject, so long I will consent never to interfere.
I have said this; and I repeat it: but, if they come to the Free States and say to them, “You must help us to keep down our slaves; you must aid us in an insurrection and a civil war;” then I say that, with that call, comes a full and plenary power to this House and to the Senate over the whole subject.
It is a War power.
I say it is a War power; and when your country is actually in war, whether it be a war of invasion or a war of insurrection, Congress has power to carry on the war, and must carry it on according to the laws of war; and, by the laws of war, an invaded country las all its laws and municipal institutions swept by the board, and martial law takes the palace of them.
This power in Congress has, perhaps, never been called into exercise under the present Constitution of the United States.
But, when the laws of war are in force, what, I ask, is one of those laws?
It is this: that when a country is invaded, and two hostile armies are set in martial array, the commanders of both armies have power to emancipate all the slaves in the invaded territory.
Nor is this a mere theoretic statement.
The history of South America shows that the doctrine has been carried into practical execution within the last thirty years. Slavery was abolished in: Colombia, first by the Spanish General Murillo; and, secondly, by the American General Bolivar.
It was abolished by virtue of a military command, given at the head of the army; and its abolition continues to be law to this day. It was abolished by the laws of war, and not by municipal enactments.
The power was exercised by military commanders, under instructions, of course, from their respective Governments.
And here I recur again to the example of Gen. Jackson.
What are you now about in Congress?
You are about passing a grant to refund to Gen. Jackson the amount of a certain line imposed upon him by a judge under the laws of the State of Louisiana.
You are going to refund him the money, with interest; and this you are going to do, because the imposition of the fine was unjust.
And wily was it unjust?
Because Gen. Jackson was acting under the laws of war; and because, the moment you place a military commander in a district which is the theater of war, the laws of war apply to that district. * * * I might furnish a thousand proofs to show that the pretensions of gentlemen to the sanctity of their municipal institutions, under a state of actual invasion and of actual war, whether servile, civil, or foreign, is wholly unfounded; and that the laws of war do, in all such cases, take precedence.
I lay this down as the law of nations.
I say that the military authority takes, for the time, the place of all municipal institutions, and of Slavery among the rest; and that, under that state of things, so fair from its being true that the States where Slavery exists have the exclusive management of the subject, not only the President of the United States, but the commander of the army, has power to order the universal emancipation of the slaves.
I have given here more in detail a principle which I have asserted on this floor before now, and of which I have no more doubt than that you, Sir, occupy that chair.
I give it in its development, in order that any gentleman from any part of the Union may, if he think proper, deny the truth of the position, and may maintain his denial — not by indignation, not by passion and fury, but by sound and sober reasoning from the laws of nations and the laws of war. And, if my position can be answered, and refuted, shall receive the refatation with pleasure ; I shall be glad to listen to reason, aside, as I say, from indignation and passion.
And if, by the force of reasoning, my understanding can be convinced, I here pledge myself to recant what I have asserted.
Let my position be answered ; let me be told, let my constituents be told, let the people of my State be told — a State whose soil tolerates not the foot of a slave — that they are bound by the Constitution to a long and toilsome march under burning: Summer suns and a deadly Southern clime, for the suppression of a servile war ; that they are bound to leave their bodies to rot upon the sands of Carolina — to leave their wives widows and their children orphans — that those who can not march are bound to pour out their treasure, while their sons or brothers are pouring out their blood, to suppress a servile, combined with a civil or a foreign war; and yet that there exists no power, beyond the limits of the Slave State where such war is raging, to emancipate the slaves!
I say, let this be proved — I am open to conviction; but, till that conviction comes, I put it forth not as a dictate of feeling, but as a settled maxim of the laws of nations, that in such a case the military supersedes the civil power; and on this account I should have been obliged to vote, as I have said, against one of the resolutions of my excellent friend from Ohio [Mr. Giddings], or should at least have required that it be amended in conformity with the Constitution of the United States.
Hon. Joshua R. Giddings
, while a member of the House of Representatives, thirteen years prior to the appearance of Mr. Lincoln
of Freedom, in reply to slave-holding threats of a dissolution of the Union
When that contest shall come; when the thunder shall roll and the lightnings flash; when the slaves of the South shall rise in the spirit of Freedom, actuated by the soul-stirring emotion that they are men. destined to immortality, entitled to the rights which God bestowed upon them; when the masters shall turn pale and tremble ; when their dwellings shall smoke, and dismay sit on each countenance; then, Sir, I do not say we will laugh at your calamity, and mock when your fear cometh, but I do say, the lover of our race will then stand forth and exert the legitimate powers of this Government of freedom. We shall then have constitutional power to act for the good of our country, and to do justice to the slave. We will then strike off the Shackles from his limbs.
The Government will then have power to act between Slavery and Freedom; and it can best make peace by giving liberty to the slaves. And let me tell you, Mr. Speaker, that time hastens; the President is exerting a power that will hurry it on; and I shall hail it as the approaching dawn of that Millennium which I know must come upon the earth.
Our great Civil War was opened on the part of the Union
, riot only with an anxious desire, but with a general expectation, that it would be prosecuted to a successful issue without seriously disturbing the foundations and buttresses of Slavery.
's solicitude on this head, as evinced in his Inaugural Address,4
was deepened by the dubious, vacillating attitude of the Border Slave States
, especially of his native Kentucky
, which lie was particularly anxious to attach firmly to the cause of the Union
, while she seemed frantically wedded to Slavery.
, in his elaborate initial dispatch5
to Mr. Dayton
, our new Minister to the Court of France, approaching the topic of Slavery with unfeigned reluctance, in a paper designed to modify the ideas and influence the action of a foreign Government — indeed, of, all foreign governments — argued that the Rebellion
had no pretext that did not grow out of Slavery, and that it was causeless, objectless, irrational, even in view of Slavery, because of the “incontestable” fact set forth by him, as follows:
Moral and physical causes have determined inflexibly the character of each one of the Territories over which the dispute has arisen; and both parties, after the election [of Lincoln to the Presidency], harmoniously agreed on all the Federal laws required for their organization.
The Territories will remain in all respects the same, whether the revolution shall succeed or fail.
The condition of Slavery in the several States will remain just the same, whether it succeed or fail.
There is not even a pretext for the complaint that the disaffected States are to be conquered by the United States, if the revolution fail; but the rights of the States, and the condition of every human being in them, will remain subject to the same laws and forms of administration, whether the revolution shall succeed or whether it shall fail.
In the one case, the States would be federally connected with the new confederaey; in the other, they would, as now, be members of the United States; but their constitutions and laws, customs, habits, and institutions, will in either ease remain the same.
Our regular Army officers, educated at West Point
in a faith that identified devotion to Slavery with loyalty to the Federal Constitution
and Government, were of course imbued with a like spirit.
, in his General Order6
governing the first advance from the Potomac
, was as profoundly silent respecting Slavery and slaves as if the latter had no modem existence; while Gen. McClellan
, on making a like advance into Western Virginia
an address to the people thereof, wherein he said:
I have ordered troops to cross the river.
They come as your friends and your brothers — as enemies only to armed Rebels who are preying upon you. Your homes, your families, and your property, are safe under our protection.
All your rights shall be religiously respected.
Notwithstanding all that has been said by the traitors to induce you to believe that our advent among you will be signalized by interference with your slaves, understand one thing clearly — not only will we abstain from all such interference, but we will, on the contrary, with an iron hand, crush any attempt at insurrection on their part.
Those volunteer officers, however, who had not been blessed with a West Point training, did not always view the matter in precisely this light.
Directly after8 Gen. Butler
's accession to command at Fortress Monroe
, three negro slaves came within his lines from the Rebel
lines adjacent; stating that they were held as property by Col. Mallory
, of the Confederate forces in his front, who was about to send them to the North Carolina
seaboard, to work on the Rebel
fortifications there in progress, intended to bar that coast against our arms.
heard their story, was satisfied of its truth, and said: “These men are contraband of war
set them at work.”
He was, very soon afterward, invited to a conference by Maj. Carey
, commanding opposite; and accordingly met the Major
(in whom he recognized an old political compatriot) a mile from the fort.
, as agent of his absent friend Mallory
, demanded a return of those negroes; which Gen. Butler
courteously but firmly declined; and, after due debate, the conference terminated fruitlessly.
Very naturally, the transit of negroes from Slavery to Fortress Monroe
was thenceforth almost continuous.
forthwith to Lt.-Gen. Scott
, soliciting advice and direction.
In this letter, he said:
Since I wrote my last, the question in regard to slave property is becoming one of very serious magnitude.
The inhabitants of Virginia
are using their negroes in the batteries, and are preparing to send their women and children south.
The escapes from them are very numerous; and a squad has come in this morning,11
and my pickets are bringing in their women and children.
Of course, these can not be dealt with upon the theory on which I designed to treat the services of able-bodied men and women who might come within my lines, and of which I gave you a detailed account in my last dispatch.
I am in the utmost doubt what to do with this species of property.
Up to this time, I have had come within my lines men and women, with their children — entire families — each family belonging to the same owner.
I have, therefore, determined to employ — as I can do very profitably — the able-bodied persons in the party, issuing proper food for the support of all; charging, against their services the expense of care and sustenance of the non-laborers; keeping a strict and accurate account, as well of the services as of the expenditures, having the worth of the services and the cost of the expenditure determined by a board of survey hereafter to be detailed.
I know of no other manner in which to dispose of this subject, and the questions connected therewith.
As a matter of property, to the insurgents it will be of very great moment — the number that I now have amounting, as I am informed, to what in good times would be of the value of $60,000.
Twelve of these negroes, I am informed, have escaped from the erection of the batteries on Sewell's Point
, which fired upon my expedition as it passed by out of range.
As a means of offense, therefore, in the enemy
s hands, these negroes, when able-bodied, are of great importance.
Without them, the batteries could not have been erected; at least, for many weeks.
As a military question, it would seem to be a measure of necessity, and deprives their masters of their services.
How can this be done?
As a political question, and a question of humanity, can I receive the services of a father and a mother and not take the children?
Of the humanitarian aspect, I lave no doubt; of the political one, I have no right to judge.
I therefore submit all this to your better judgment; and, as these questions have a political aspect, I have ventured — and I trust I am not wrong in so doing — to duplicate the parts of my dispatch relating to this subject, and forward them to the Secretary of War
Your obedient servant,
He was answered by the head of the War Department as follows:
Sir:--Your action in respect to the negroes who came within your lines, from the service of the Rebels
, is approved.
The Department is sensible of the embarrassments which must surround officers conducting military operations in a State, by the laws of which Slavery is sanctioned.
The Government can not recognize the rejection by any State of its Federal obligations, resting upon itself.
Among these Federal obligations, however, no one can be more important than that of suppressing and dispersing any combination of the former for the purpose of overthrowing its whole constitutional authority.
While, therefore, you will permit no interference, by persons under your command, with the relations of persons held to service under the laws of any State, you will, on the other hand, so long as any State within which your military operations are conducted remains under the control of such armed combinations, refrain from surrendering to alleged masters any persons who come within your lines.
You will employ such persons in the services to which they will be best adapted; keeping an account of the labor by them performed, of the value of it, and the expenses of their maintenance.
The question of their final disposition will be reserved for future determination.
had been fought and lost; the called session of Congress had been held; public opinion on the Slavery question had made very considerable strides; when Gen. Fremont
, on assuming civil as well as military control of the State of Missouri
, issued the memorable General Order
wherein he proclaimed that “The property, real and personal, of all persons in the State of Missouri
who shall take up arms against the United States
, or shall be directly proven to have taken active part with their enemies in the field, is declared to be confiscated to the public uso; and their slaves, if any they have, are hereby declared free men.”
This position was in advance of any that had yet been sanctioned at Washington
; and, though it was very generally sustained or acquiesced in by that journals supporting the War
, President Lincoln
wrote Gen. Fremont
that he must withdraw or modify it. This, Gen.
F. declined to do, unless openly directed by his superior; hence the following order:
Sir:--Yours of the 8th, in answer to nine of the 2d inst., is just received.
Assured that you, upon the ground, could better judge of the necessities of your position than I could at this distance, on seeing your proclamation of August 30, I perceived no general objection to it; the particular clause, however, in relation to the confiscation of property and the liberation of slaves, appeared to me to be objectionable in its non-conformity to the Act of Congress, passed the 6th of last August, upon the same subjects; and hence I wrote you expressing my wish that that clause should be modified accordingly.
Your answer, just received, expresses the preference on your part that I should make an open order for the modification; which I very cheerfully do. It is, therefore, ordered that the said clause of said proclamation be so modified, held, and construed, as to conform with, and not to transcend, the provisions on the same subject contained in the Act of Congress entitled “An act to confiscate property used for insurrectionary purposes,”
approved August 6, 1861; and that the said act be published at length with this order.
Your obedient servant,
In view of the sailing from Fortress Monroe
of the Port Royal expedition
against the Sea
Islands and coast of South Carolina
, General Instructions
to its military chief, whereof the gist is as follows:
Gen. T. W. Sherman
You will, in general, avail yourself of the services of any persons, whether fugitives from labor or not, who may offer them to the National Government
; you will employ such persons in such service as they may be fitted for, either as ordinary employes, or, if special circumstances seem to require it, in any other capacity, with such organization, in squads, companies, or otherwise, as you deem most beneficial to the service.
This, however, not to mean a general arming of them for military service
You will assure all loyal masters that Congress will provide just compensation to them for the loss of the services of the persons so employed.
It is believed that the course thus indicated will best secure the substantial rights of loyal masters, and the benefits to the United States
of the services of all disposed to support the Government
, while it avoids all interference with the social systems or local institutions of every State, beyond that which insurrection makes unavoidable, and which a restoration of peaceful relations to the Union
, under the Constitution
, will immediately remove.
having occupied the forts guarding the entrance to Port Royal
, and firmly established himself on that and the adjacent islands, issued a proclamation to the people of South Carolina
, wherein he said:
In obedience to the orders of the President of these United States of America, I have landed on your stores with a small force of National troops.
Tile dictates of a duty which, under the Constitution, I owe to a great sovereign State, and to a proud and hospitable people, among whom I have passed some of the pleasantest days of my life, prompt me to proclaim that we lave come among you with no feelings of personal animosity; no desire to harm your citizens, destroy your property, or interfero with any of your lawful rights, or your social and local institutions, beyond what the causes herein briefly alluded to may render unavoidable
All in vain.
None of the Whites on the adjacent mainland could be induced even to accept a copy of this document — those who were brought to parley insisting that there were no
“loyal persons” (in Gen. Sherman
's sense)--that is, no loyal Whlites — within their knowledge.
And no South Carolina
journal intimated that Gen. Sherman
's virtual pledge not to intermeddle with Slavery rendered his presence on their coast one whit less unwelcome than it would otherwise have been.
If any White
native of South Carolina
came over to us, or evinced a desire to do so, thenceforth till near the end of the Rebellion
, his name has not been given to the public.
, who succeeded Gen. Butler
in command at Fortress Monroe
an order directing that “all colored persons called contrabands” employed by officers or others within his command, must be furnished with subsistence by their employers, and paid, if males, not less than $8 ; if females, not less than $4 per monthly; and that “all ablebodied colored persons, not employed as aforesaid,” will be immediately put to work in the Engineer
's or the Quartermaster's Department.
By a subsequent order,17
he directed that the compensation of ‘contrabands’ working for the Government
should be $5 to $10 per month, with soldiers' rations.
, being about to take possession of the counties of Accomac
and Northampton, Va.
, on the eastern shore of Chesapeake Bay
a Proclamation, which says:
The military forces of the United States are about to enter your counties as a part of the Union.
They will go among you as friends, and with the earnest hope that they may not, by your own acts, be forced to become your enemies.
They will invade no rights of person or property.
On the contrary, your laws, your institutions, your usages, will be scrupulously respected.
There need be no fear that the quietude of any fireside will be disturbed, unless the disturbance is caused by yourselves.
Special directions have been given not to interfere with the condition of any person held to domestic service; and, in order that there may be no ground for mistake or pretext for misrepresentation, commanders of regiments and corps lave been instructed not to permit any such persons to come within their lines.
, soon after succeeding Gen. Fremont
in command in Missouri
, issued his famous “Order no. 3,” which sets forth that
It has been represented that important information, respecting the number and condition of our forces, is conveyed to the enemy by means of fugitive slaves who are admitted within our lines.
In order to remedy this evil, it is directed that no such persons be hereafter permitted to enter the lines of any camp, or of any forces on the march ; and that any now within such lines be immediately excluded therefrom.
afterward, in a letter to F. P. Blair
, explained and justified this order, as follows:
Order No. 3 was, in my mind, clearly a military necessity.
Unauthorized persons, Black or White, free or slave, must be kept out of our camps, unless we are willing to publish to the enemy every thing we do or intend to do. It was a military, and not a political order.
I am ready to carry out any lawful instructions in regard to fugitive slaves which my superiors may give me, and to enforce any law which Congress may pass.
But I can not make law, and will not violate it. You know my private opinion on the policy of confiscating the slave property of Rebels in arms.
If Congress shall pass it, you may be certain that I shall enforce it. Perhaps my policy as to the treatment of Rebels and their property is as well set out in Order No. 13, issued the (lay your letter was written, as I could now describe it.
That deserters from the enemy, entering the lines or camp of an army in time of war, are “unauthorized persons,” is quite obvious; that they very often give false information, and are in fact spies, deserting back again at the first fair opportunity, is well known.
Yet no commander prior to Gen. Halleck
ever directed deserters to be repelled from his front and thrown back on the enemy; on the contrary, the risks of dissimulation, falsehood, and treachery, are presumed to be far overbalanced by the chance of thus obtaining valuable information and aid. That the Whites
were far more likely than the Blacks to be traitors at heart, and infinitely more apt to steal away to the Rebels
with important information, was as palpable as noonday; yet Gen. Halleck's No. 3
repelled Blacks only.
's order No. 13 sheds no further light on this subject; but. in a subsequent order,19
It does not belong to the military to decide upon the relation of master and slave.
Such questions must be settled by the civil courts.
No fugitive slaves will, therefore, be admitted within our lines or camps, except when specially ordered by the General commanding.
Never was a “therefore” more misplaced.
How were the persons presenting themselves adjudged to be or known as “fugitive slaves” ? Plainly, by the color of their skins, and that only.
The sole end of this regulation was the remanding of all slaves to their masters--seven-eighths of whom were most envenomed, implacable
Rebels--by depriving them of refuge within our lines from those masters' power.
, the Secretary of War
, had already become an ardent and open convert to the policy of recognizing Slavery as the Union
's real assailant, and fighting her accordingly.
In his Annual Report20
to the President
of the operations of his Department, he said:
It has become a grave question for determination what shall be done with the slaves abandoned by their owners on the advance of our troops into Southern territory, as in the Beanfort district of South Carolina.
The whole White population therein is six thousand, while the number of negroes exceeds thirty-two thousand.
The panic which drove their masters in wild confusion from their homes leaves them in undisputed possession of the soil.
Shall they, armed by their masters, be placed in the field to fight against us?
or shall their labor be continually employed in reproducing the means for supporting the armies of rebellion?
The war into which this Government has been forced by rebellious traitors is carried on for the purpose of repossessing the property violently and treacherously seized upon by the enemies of the Government, and to reestablish the authority and laws of the United States in the places where they are opposed or overthrown by armed insurrection and rebellion.
Its purpose is to recover and defend what is justly its own.<
War, even between independent nations, is made to subdue the enemy, and all that belongs to that enemy, by occupying the hosthe country, and exercising dominion over all the men and things within its territory.
This being true in respect to independent nations at war with each other, it follows that Rebels, who are laboring by force of arms to overthrow a Government, justly bring upon themselves all the consequences of war, and provoke the destruction merited by the worst of crimes.
That Government would be false to national trust, and would justly excite the ridicule of the civilized world, that would abstain from the use of any efficient means to preserve its own existence, or the overcome a rebellious and traitorous enemy, by sparing or protecting the property of those who are waging war against it.<
The principal wealth and power of the Rebel States is a peculiar species of property, consisting of the service or labor of African slaves, or the descendants of Africans.
This property has been variously estimated at the value of from seven hundred million to one thousand million dollars.
Why should this property be exempt from the hazards and consequences of a rebellious war?
It was the boast of the leader of the Rebellion, while he yet had a seat in the Senate of the United States, that the Southern States would be comparatively safe and free from the burdens of war, if it should be brought on by the contemplated Rebellion; and that boast was accompanied by the savage threat that “Northern towns and cities would become the victims of rapine and military spoil,” and that “Northern men should smell Southern gunpowder and feel Southern steel.”
No one doubts the disposition of the Rebels to carry that threat into execution.
The wealth of Northern towns and cities, the produce of Northern farms, Northern workshops and manufactories, would certainly be seized, destroyed, or appropriated as military spoil.
No property in the North would be spared from the hands of the Rebels; and their rapine would be defended under the laws of war. While the loyal States thus have all their property and possessions at stake, are the insurgent Rebels to carry on warfare against the Government in peace and security to their own property?
Reason and justice and self-preservation forbid that such should be the policy of this Government, but demand, on the contrary, that, being forced by traitors and Rebels to the extremity of war, all the rights and powers of war should be exercised to bring it to a speedy end.
Those who war against the Government justly forfeit all rights of property, privilege, or security, derived from the Constitution and laws, against which they are in armed rebellion; and, as the labor and service of their slaves constitute the chief property of the Rebels, such property should share the common fate of war to which they have devoted the property of loyal citizens.
While it is plain that the slave property of the South is justly subjected to all the consequences of this rebellious war, and that the Government would be untrue to its trust in not employing all the rights and powers of war to bring it to a speedy close, the details of the plan for doing so, like all
other military measures, must, in a great degree, be left to be determined by particular exigencies.
The disposition of other property belonging to the Rebels that becomes subject to our arms is governed by the circumstances of the case.
The Government has no power to hold slaves, none to restrain a slave of his liberty, or to exact his service.
It has a right, however, to use the voluntary service of slaves liberated by war from their Rebel masters, like any other property of the Rebels, in whatever made may be most efficient for the, defense of the Government, the prosecution of the war, and the suppression of rebellion.
It is as clearly a right of the Government to arm slaves when it may become necessary as it is to take gunpowder from the enemy.
Whether it is expedient to do so, is purely a military question.
The right is unquestionable by the laws of war. The expediency must be determined by circumstances, keeping in view the great object of overcoming the Rebels, reestablishing the laws, and restoring peace to the nation.
It is vain and idle for the Government to carry on this war, or hope to maintain its existence against rebellions force, without employing all the rights and powers of war. As has been said, the right to deprive the Rebels of their property in slaves and slave labor is as clear and absolute as the right to take forage from the field, or cotton from the warehouse, or powder and arms from the magazine.
To leave the enemy in the possession of such proeprty as forage, and cotton, and military stores, and the means of constantly reproducing them, would be madness.
It is, therefore, equal madness to leave them in peaceful and secure possession of slave property, more valuable and efficient to them for war than forage, cotton, and military stores.
Such policy would be national suicide.
What to do with that species of property is a question that time and circumstances will solve, and need not be anticipated, farther than to repeat that they can not be held by the Government as slaves.
It would be useless to keep them as prisoners of war; and self-preservation, the highest duty of a Government, or of individuals, demands that they should be disposed of or employed in the most effective manner that will tend most speedily to suppress the insurrection and restore the authority of the Government.
If it shall be found that the men who have been held by the Rebels as slaves are capable of bearing arms and performing efficient military service, it is the right, and may become the duty, of this Government to arm and equip them, and employ their services against the Rebels, under proper military regulations, discipline, and command.
But, in whatever manner they may be used by the Government, it is plain that, once liberated by the rebellious act of their masters, they should never again be restored to bondage.
By the master's treason and rebellion, he forfeits all right to the labor and service of his slave; and the slave of the rebellious master, by his service to the Government, becomes justly entitled to freedom and protection.
The disposition to be made of the slaves of Rebels, after the close of the war, can be safely left to the wisdom and patriotism of Congress.
The representatives of the people will unquestionably secure to the loyal slaveholders every right to which they are entitled under the Constitution of the country.
struck out and suppressed this portion of Gen. Cameron
's Report, inserting in its stead the following:
It is already a grave question what shall be done with those slaves who were abandoned by their owners on the advance of our troops into Southern territory, as at Beaufort district, in South Carolina
The number left within our control at that point is very considerable; and similar cases will probably occur.
What shall be done with them?
Can we afford to send them forward to their masters, to be by them armed against us, or used in producing supplies to sustain the Rebellion
Their labor may be useful to us; withheld from the enemy, it lessens his military resources; and withholding them has no tendency to induce the horrors of insurrection, even in the Rebel
They constitute a military resource; and, being such, that they should not be turned over to the enemy is too plain to discuss.
Why deprive him of supplies by a blockade, and voluntarily give him men to produce them?
The disposition to be made of the slaves of Rebels, after the close of the war, can be safely left to the wisdom and patriotism of Congress.
The Representatives of the people will unquestionably secure to the loyal slaveholders every right to which they are entitled under the Constitution
of the country.
The abuse of negroes who had escaped from Rebel masters in Virginia
and taken shelter within the lines of the Army of the Potomac, elicited the following:
General: I am directed by the President
to call your attention to the following subject:
Persons claimed to be held to service or labor under the laws of the State of Virginia
, and actually employed in hosthe service against the Government
of the United States
, frequently escape from the lines of the enemy's forces, and are received within the lines of the Army of the Potomac.
This Department understands that such persons, afterward coming into the city of Washington
, are liable to be arrested by the city police, upon the presumption, arising from color, that they are fugitives from service or labor.
By the 4th section of the Act of Congress approved August 6, 1861, entitled “An act to confiscate proeprty used for insurrectionary purposes,” such hostile employment is made a full and sufficient answer to any further claim to service or labor.
Persons thus employed and escaping are received into the military protection of the United States
; and their arrest as fugitives from service or labor should be immediately followed by the military arrest of the parties making the seizure.
Copies of this communication will be sent to the Major
of the City of Washington
and to the Marshal
of the District of Columbia, that any collision between the civil and military authorities may be avoided.
I am, General, your very obedient,
, having established himself on Roanoke Island
conjointly with Com. Golds
-borough, a Proclamation, in which he said:
The Government asks only that its authority may be recognized; and we repeat, in no manner or way does it desire to interfere with your laws, constitutionally established, your institutions of any kind whatever, your property of any sort, or your usages in any respect.
, soon after establishing himself at Nashville, Tenn.
, thus demonstrated his undoubted devotion to the “constitutional guaranties;” making no distinction between Rebels and loyal citizens:
Gen. Joseph Hooker
headquarters Department of the Ohio. Nashville
, March 6, 1862.
dear Sir: I have had the honor to receive your communication of the 1st instant, on the subject of fugitive slaves in the camps of the army.
It has come to my knowledge that slaves sometimes make their way improperly into our lines; and in some instances they may be enticed there; but I think the number has been magnified by report.
Several applications have been made to me by persons whose servants have been found in our camps; and, in every instance that I know of, the master has recovered his servant and taken him away.
I need hardly remind you that there will always be found some lawless and mischievous persons in every army; but I assure you that the mass of this army is lawabiding, and that it is neither its disposition nor its policy to violate law or the rights of individuals in any particular.
With great respect, your obedient servant,
, commanding on the Upper Potomac
the following order:
To brigade and regimental commanders of this division:
, and Cobey
, citizens of Maryland
, have negroes supposed to be with some of the regiments of this division: the Brigadier-General
commanding directs that they be permitted to visit all the camps of his command, in search of their property; and, if found, that they be allowed to take possession of the same, without any interference whatever.
Should any obstacle be thrown in their way by any office or soldier in the division, he will be at once reported by the regimental commander
to these headquarters.
Hereupon, some fifteen mounted civilians rode up to the camp of Brig.-Gen. Sickles
's Excelsior Brigade, having just fired two pistol-shots, with evident intent to kill, at a negro running off; and thus created no little excitement among the soldiers; who, though generally enlisted with
strong anti-negro prejudices, quite commonly experienced a gradual change, under the discipline of service at the front, where they found every Black their ready, active, zealous friend, and nearly every slave-holder or overseer their quiet but deadly, implacable foe. Maj. Tolen
, commanding the 2d regiment, finding the order to direct the admission of but nine persons, ordered the residue to remain without the lines; and — the repugnance of the soldiers to slave-hunting threatening to break out into open violence--Gen. Sickles
, who arrived soon afterward, ordered the nine out of camp likewise; so that the fugitives, if such were there, were not there captured.
In the West
, especially within the commands of Gens. Halleck
, slave-hunters fared much better; as one of their number about this time admiringly reported to a Nashville journal, as follows:
He visited the camp of Gen. McCook, in Maury county, in quest of a fugitive; and that officer, instead of throwing obstacles in the way, afforded him every facility for the successful prosecution of his search.
That General treated him in the most courteous and gentlemanly manner; as also did Gen. Johnson and Capt. Blake, the brigade Provost-Marshal.
Their conduct toward him was in all respects that of high-toned gentlemen, desirous of discharging their duties promptly and honorably.
It is impossible for the army to prevent slaves from following them; but, whenever the fugitives come into the lines of Gen. McCook, they are secured, and a record made of their names and the names of their owners.
All the owner has to do is to apply, either in person or through an agent, examine the record, or look at the slaves: and, if he finds any that belong to him, take them away.
In no case does it appear that any of our pro-Slavery commanders ever inquired into or cared for the loyalty of either slaveholders or slave-hunters, nor asked whether the persons claimed as fugitives had given important information, or rendered other service to the cause of the Union
In the same spirit, Gen. Buell
, at Louisville, Ky.
, issued an order to his (mounted) provost-guard to flog all Blacks, free or slave, whom they should find in the streets after dark; and for weeks the spectacle was exhibited, to the admiration of the thousands of active and passive Rebels in that city, of this chivalric provost-guard, wearing the national uniform, chasing scores of unquestionably loyal and harmless persons at nightfall through the streets, over the pavements, and down the lanes and alleys, of that city; cutting and slashing them with cowhide and cat, while their screams of fright and agony made merry music for traitors of every degree.
Many were lashed unmercifully; but with no obvious advantage to the national cause, nor even to the improvement of the dubious loyalty of those whom the exhibition most delighted and edified.
Gen. Abner Doubleday
, being placed in command of the defenses of Washington, answered,23
through his Adjutant, to an inquiry on the subject, as follows:
Sir:--I am directed by Gen. Doubleday to say, in answer to your letter of the 2d instant, that all negroes coming into the lines of any of the camps or forts under his command are to be treated as persons, and not as chattels.
Under no circumstances, has the commander of a fort or camp the power of surrendering persons claimed as fugitive slaves; as it can not be (done without determining their character.
The additional article of war recently passed by Congress positively prohibits this.
The question has been asked, whether
it would not be better to exclude negroes altogether from the lines.
The General is of the opinion that they bring much valuable information, which can not be obtained from any other source.
They are acquainted with all the roads, paths, fords, and other natural features, of the country: and they make excellent guides.
They also know, and frequently have exposed, the haunts of Secession spies and traitors and the existence of Rebel organizations.
They will not, therefore, be excluded.
The following order was issued by a Brigadier in the Department of the Gulf:
Col. Halbert E. Paine
In consequence of the demoralizing and disorganizing tendencies to the troops of harboring runaway negroes, it is hereby ordered that the respective commanders of the camps and garrisons of the several regiments, 2d brigade, turn all such fugitives in their camps or garrisons out beyond the limits of their respective guards and sentinels.
By order of
4th Wisconsin, declining to obey this order, as “a violation of law for the purpose of returning fugitives to Rebels,” was arrested and deprived of his command.
Lt.-Col. D. R. Anthony
, 7th Kansas, was likewise arrested and deprived of his command in Tennessee
, for issuing25
an order, which said:
The impudence and impertinence of the open and earned Rebels, traitors, Secessionists, and Southern-rights men of this section of the State of Tennessee, in arrogantly demanding the right to search our camp for fugitive slaves, has become a nuisance, and will no longer be tolerated.
Officers will see that this class of men, who visit our camp for this purpose, are excluded from our lines.
Should any such person be found within our lines, he will be arrested and sent to headquarters.
Any officer or soldier of this command, who shall arrest and deliver to his master a fugitive slave, shall be summarily and severely punished, according to the laws relative to such crimes.
Maj.-Gen. David Hunter
, having succeeded26
to command at Hilton Head
, issued the following:
headquarters Department of the South, Hilton head
, S. C.
, May 9, 1862. General Order
, No. 11.
The three States of Georgia
, and South Carolina
, comprising the Military Department of the South, having deliberately declared themselves no longer under the United States of America
, and having taken up arms against the United States
, it becomes a military necessity to declare them under martial law.
This was accordingly done on the 25th day of April, 1862.
Slavery and martial law in a free country are altogether incompatible.
The persons in these States--Georgia
, and South Carolina
--heretofore held as slaves, are therefore declared forever free.
This order was rescinded or annulled by President Lincoln
, in a Proclamation27
which recites it and proceeds:
, the same is producing some excitement and misunderstanding, therefore I, Abraham Lincoln
of the United States
, proclaim and declare that the Government
of the United States
had no knowledge or belief of an intention on the part of Gen. Hunter
to issue such proclamation, nor has it yet any authentio information that the document is genuine: and, further, that neither Gen. Hunter
nor any other commander or person has been authorized by the Government
of the United States
to make proclamation declaring the slaves of any State free; and that the supposed proclamation now in question, whether genuine or false, is altogether void, so far as respects such declaration.
I further make known that, whether it be competent for me, as Commander-in-Chief
of the Army and Navy, to declare the slaves of any State or States free; and whether at any time, or in any case, it shall have become a necessity indispensable to the maintenance of the Government
to exercise such supposed power, are questions which, under my responsibility, I reserve to myself, and which I can not feel justified in leaving to the decision of commanders in the field.
Those are totally different questions from those of police regulations in armies or in camps.
On the sixth day of March last, by a
special Message, I recommended to Congress the adoption of a joint resolution, to be substantially as follows:
“Resolved, That the United States ought to cooperate with any State which may adopt gradual abolishment of Slavery, giving to such State pecuniary aid. to be used by such State in its discretion, to compensate for the inconveniences, public and private, produced by such change of system.”
The resolution, in the language above quoted, was adopted by largo majorities in both branches of Congress, and now stands an authentic, definite, and solemn proposal of the Nation to the States and people most interested in the subject-matter.
To the people of these States now, I mostly appeal.
I do not argue — I beseech you to make the arguments for yourselves.
You can not, if you would, be blind to the signs of the times.
I beg of you a calm and enlarged consideration of them, ranging, if it may be, far above partisan and personal politics.
This proposal makes common cause for a common object, casting no reproaches upon any. It acts not the Pharisee.
The change it contemplates would come gently as the dews of Heaven, not rending or wrecking any thing.
Will you not embrace it?
So much good has not been done by one effort in all past time, as, in the Providence
of God, it is now your high privilege to do. May the vast future not have to lament that you have neglected it!
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States
to be hereunto affixed.
Done at the city of Washington
this 19th day of May, in the year of our Lord 1862, and of the independence of the United States
Contrary to a very general impression, Gen. McClellan
was among the first not only to perceive, but to assert, that the Rebellion
was essentially a slaveholders' enterprise, and that it might be effectively assailed through Slavery.
Thus, in his Memorandum privately addressed to the President
, Aug. 4th, 1861, when lie had but just taken command of the Army of the Potomac, he says:
In this contest, it has become necessary to crush a population sufficiently numerous, intelligent, and warlike, to constitute a nation.
We have not only to defeat their armed and organized forces in the field, but to display such an overwhelming strength as will convince all our antagonists, especially those of the governing aristocratic class, of the utter impossibility of resistance.
Our late reverses make this course imperative, Had we been successful in the recent battle [first Bull Run], it is possible that we might have been spared the labor and expense of a great effort; now, we have no alternative.
Their success will enable the political leaders of the Rebels to convince the mass of their people that we are inferior to them in force and courage, and to command all their resources.
The contest began with a class; now it is with a people; our military success can alone restore the former issue.
After suggesting various military movements, including one down the Mississippi
, as required to constitute a general advance upon the strongholds of the Rebellion
, he proceeds:
There is another independent movement which has often been suggested, and which has always recommended itself to my judgment.
I refer to a movement from Kansas and Nebraska, through the Indian Territory, upon Red river and western Texas, for the purpose of protecting and developing the latent Union and Free-State sentiment, well known to predominate in western Texas; and which, like a similar sentiment in Western Virginia, will, if protected, ultimately organize that section into a Free State.
In view of these sensible and pertinent suggestions, it is impossible not to feel that Gen. McClellan
's naturally fair though not brilliant mind was subjected, during his long sojourn thereafter in Washington
, to sinister political influences and the whispered appeals and tempting suggestions of a selfish and sordid ambition.
During that Fall
, his house was thronged with partisans of the extreme “Peace” wing of the Democratic party, who must have held out to him the golden lure of the Presidency as the reward of a forbearing, temporizing, procrastinating policy, which would exhaust the resources and chill the ardor of the
North, in enormous preparations and fruitless undertakings, until the conjoint pressure of Conscription and Taxation, the impossibility of further borrowing, and the heart-sickness of hope deferred, should impel a majority to acquiesce in any adjustment or compromise that would restore Peace to the country.
Such seems the only plausible explanation of his timid and dawdling military policy, his habitual doubling or trebling of the Rebel
force confronting him, and of the signal incoherence and inconsequence, especially with regard to Slavery and negroes, of the lecture which, directly after his retreat from the Chickahominy
to the James
had been consummated, lie found time to indite-or at least to transcribe and dispatch — to his perplexed and sorely tried superior.
It is as follows:
: You have been fully informed that the Rebel
army is in the front, with the purpose of overwhelming us by attacking our position or reducing us by blocking our river communications.
I can not but regard our condition as critical; and I earnestly desire, in view of possible contingencies, to lay before your excellency, for your private consideration, my general views concerning the existing state of the Rebellion
, although they do not strictly relate to the situation of this army, or strictly come within the scope of my official duties.
These views amount to convictions, and are deeply impressed upon my mind and heart.
Our cause must never be abandoned; it is the cause of free institutions and self-government.
The Constitution and the Union
must be preserved, whatever may be the cost in time, treasure, arid blood.
If Secession is successful, other dissolutions are clearly to be seen in the future.
Let neither military disaster, political faction, nor foreign war, shake your settled purpose to enforce the equal operation of the laws of the United States
upon the people of every State.
The time has come when the Government
must determine upon a civil and military policy, covering the whole ground of our national trouble.
The responsibility of determining, declaring, and supporting such civil and military policy, and of directing the whole course of national affairs in regard to the Rebellion
, must now be assumed and exercised by you, or our cause will be lost.
The Constitution gives you power, even for the present terrible exigency.
This Rebellion has assumed the character of a war; as such it should be regarded; and it should be conducted upon the highest principles known to Christian civilization.
It should not be a war looking to the subjugation of the people of any State, in any event.
It should not be at all a war upon populations but against armed forces and political organizations.
Neither confiscation of property, political executions of persons, territorial organization of States, nor forcible abolition of Slavery, should be contemplated for a moment.
In prosecuting the war, all private property and unarmed persons should be strictly protected, subject only to the necessity of military operations; all private property taken for military use should be paid or receipted for; pillage and waste should be treated as high crimes; all unnecessary trespass sternly prohibited, and offensive demeanor by the military toward citizens promptly rebuked.
Military arrests should not be tolerated, except in places where active hostilities exist; and oaths, not required by enactments, constitutionally made, should he neither demanded nor received.
Military government should be confined to the preservation of public order and the protection of political right.
Military power should not be allowed to interfere with the relations of servitude, either by supporting or impairing the authority of the master, except for repressing disorder, as in other cases.
Slaves, contraband, under the act of Congress, seeking military protection, should receive it. The right of the Government
to appropriate permanently to its own service claims to slave labor should be asserted, and the right of the owner to compensation therefore should be recognized.
This principle might be extended, upon grounds of military necessity and security, to all the slaves of a particular State, thus working manumission in such State ; and in Missouri
, perhaps in Western Virginia
also, and possibly even in Maryland
, the expediency of such a measure is only a question of time.
A system of policy thus constitutional, and pervaded by the influences of Christianity and freedom, would receive the support of almost all truly loyal men, would deeply impress the Rebel
masses and all foreign nations, and it might be humbly hoped that it would commend itself to the favor of the Almighty.
Unless the principles governing the future conduct of our struggle shall be made known and approved, the effort to obtain requisite forces will be almost hopeless.
A declaration of radical views, especially upon Slavery, will rapidly disintegrate our present armies.
The policy of the Government
must be supported by concentration of military power.
The national forces should not be dispersed in expeditions, posts of occupation, and numerous armies, but should be mainly collected into masses, and brought to bear upon the armies of the Confederate States
Those armies thoroughly defeated, the political structure which they support would soon cease to exist.
In carrying out any system of policy which you may form, you will require a commander-in-chief of the army, one who possesses your confidence, understands your views, and who is competent to execute your orders, by directing the military forces of the nation to the accomplishment of the objects by you proposed.
I do not ask that place for myself.
I am willing to serve you in such position as you may assign me, and I will do so as faithfully as ever subordinate served superior.
I may be on the brink of eternity ; and, as I hole forgiveness from my Maker, I have written this letter with sincerity toward you and from love for my country.
Your obedient servant,
M. had been asked to reconcile the precepts of this letter regarding Slavery — how “the relations of servitude,” for example, could be preserved in a district subject to “military power,” without a distinct recognition and support of those “relations” by the military authority there dominant; or in what manner he would have “disorder” repressed, when it was caused by the slave's asserting his right to control his own actions and the master's resisting it — he might have answered ingeniously, but to what purpose?
Manifestly, the ruling authority, whether civil or military, must either support the slaveholder's claim of property in and power over his slaves, or it will
be seriously impaired — nay, utterly defied and overthrown.
In “repressing” the “disorder” certain to arise in the premises, the commander must inevitably decide which to support — the master's assertion of authority, or the slave's claim to liberty.
“Political rights” can receive “protection” only when it has been determined where the right lies.
The manumission, which Gen.
M. fore-shadowed in Missouri
, West Virginia
, and Maryland
, was not merely “a question of time.”
It was a question of power as well; since he plainly contemplated its achievement, not by popular action, but by military force.
Paying the “owner” might, indeed, modify his wrath; but could not affect the fundamental question of authority and right.
A letter addressed28
to the President
some weeks after this, entitled “The prayer of twenty Millions,” and exhorting Mr. Lincoln
--not to proclaim all the slaves in our country free, but to execute the laws of the land which operated to free large classes of the slaves of Rebels--concludes as follows:
On the face of this wide earth, Mr. President
, there is not one disinterested, determined, intelligent champion of the Union
cause who does not feel that all attempts to put down the Rebellion
, and at the same time uphold its inciting cause.
are preposterous and futile — that the Rebellion
, if crushed out to-morrow, would be renewed within a year if Slavery were left in full vigor — that army officers, who remain to this day devoted to Slavery, can at best be but half-way loyal to the Union
--and that every hour of deference to Slavery is an hour of added and deepened peril to the Union
I appeal to the testimony of your Embassadors in Europe
It is freely at your service, not mine.
Ask them to tell you candidly whether the seeming subserviency
of your policy to the slaveholding, Slavery-upholding interest.
is not the perplexity, the despair, of statesmen of all parties; and be admonished by the general answer!
I close as I began, with the statement that what an immense majority of the loyal millions of your countrymen require of you is a frank, declared, unqualified, ungrudging execution of the laws of the land, more especially of the Confiscation Act
. That act gives freedom to the slaves of Rebels coming within our lines, or whom those lines may at any time inclose — we ask you to render it due obedience by publicly requiring all your subordinates to recognize and obey it. The Rebels are every where using the late anti-negro riots in the North
--as they have long used your officers' treatment of negroes in the South
--to convince the slaves that they have nothing to hope from a Union success — that we mean in that case to sell them into a bitter bondage to defray the cost of the war. Let them impress this as a truth on the great mass of their ignorant and credulous bondmen, and the Union
will never be restored — never.
We can not conquer ten millions of people united in solid phalanx against us, powerfully aided by Northern sympathizers and European
We must have scouts, guides, spies, cooks, teamsters, diggers, and choppers, from the Blacks of the South
--whether we allow them to fight for us or not — or we shall be baffled and repelled.
As one of the millions who would gladly have avoided this struggle at any sacrifice but that of principle and honor, but who now feel that the triumph of the Union
is indispensable not only to the existence of our country, but to the well-being of mankind, I entreat you to render a hearty and unequivocal obedience to the law of the land.
The President — very unexpectedly — replied to this appeal by telegraph: in order, doubtless, to place before the public matter deemed by him important, and which had probably been prepared for issue before the receipt of the letter to which lie thus obliquely responded:
dear Sir: I have just read yours of the 19th instant, addressed to myself through The New York Tribune
If there be in it any statements or assumptions of fact which I may know to be erroneous, I do not now and here controvert them.
If there be any inferences which I may believe to be falsely drawn, I do not now and here argue against them.
If there be perceptible in it an impatient and dictatorial tone, I waive it in deference to an old friend whose heart I have always supposed to be right.
As to the policy I “seem to be pursuing,” as you say, I have not meant to leave any one in doubt.
I would save the Union
I would save it in the shortest way under the Constitution
The sooner the national authority can be restored, the nearer the Union
will be the Union
as it was.
If there be those who would not save the Union
unless they could at the same time save Slavery, I do not agree with them;
If there be those who would not save the Union
unless they could at the same time destroy Slavery, I do not agree with them.
My paramount object is to s<*>re the Union, and not either to save or destroy Slavery
If I could save the Union
without freeing any slave, I would do it — if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it — and if I could do it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that.
What I do about Slavery and the Colored Race
, I do because I believe it helps to save this Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union
I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause; and I shall do more whenever I believe doing more will help the canse.
I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.
I have here stated my purpose according to my views of official duty; and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free.
Many others called on or wrote to the President
about this time, urging him to action in the spirit of Mr. Greeley
He heard all with courtesy, suggesting objections that were not intended for conclusions, but rather to indicate and enforce the grave importance of the topic, the peril of making a mistake upon it, and the difficulty of reaching the
Blacks with any proffer of Freedom.
The slaveholders-especially those in the loyal States-would all hear of it forthwith, and be influenced by it; the slaves in the disloyal States would receive all tidings of it through hostile channels — form those interested in deceiving and misleading them with regard to it. Even if correctly and promptly advised, what could they do?
Bayonets glittered on every side; arms were borne by nearly every able-bodied White
; while the Blacks could oppose to these but their empty (and shackled) hands.
What good, then, could be secured by an Abolition policy?
“It is a Pope
's bull against the comet,” suggested the President
“It will unite the South
and divide the North
,” fiercely clamored the entire Opposition.
So the President
— habitually cautious, dilatory, reticent — hesitated, and demurred, and resisted — possibly after he had silently resolved that the step must finally be taken.
was soon visited,29
among others, by a deputation from the various Protestant denominations of Chicago, Illinois
, charged with the duty of urging on him the adoption of a more decided and vigorous policy of Emancipation.
He listened to the reading of their memorial, and responded in substance as follows:
The subject is difficult, and good men do not agree.
For instance: the other day, four gentlemen of standing and intelligence from New York called as a delegation on business connected with the war; but before leaving two of them earnestly besought me to proclaim general Emancipation; upon which the other two at once attacked then.
You know also that the last session of Congress had a decided majority of anti-Slavery men, yet they could not unite on this policy.
And the same is true of the religious people.
Why, the Rebel soldiers are praying with a great deal more earnestness, I fear, than our own troops.
and expecting God to flavor their side: for one of our soldiers, who had been taken prisoner, told Senator Wilson a few days since that he met nothing so discouraging as the evident sincerity of those he was along in their payers.
But we will talk over the merits of the case.
What good would a proclamation of Emancipation from me do, especially as we are now situated?
I do not want to issue a document that the whole world will see must necessarily be inoperative, like tho Pope's bull against the comet.
Would my word free the slaves, when I can not even enforce the Constitution in the Rebel States?
Is there a single court, or magistrate, or individual, that would be influenced by it there?
And what reason is there to think it would have any greater effect upon the slaves than the late law of Congress, which I approved, and which offers protection and freedom to the slaves of Rebel masters who come within our line?
Yet I can not learn hat that law has caused a single slave to come over to us. And, suppose they could be induced by a proclamation of freedom from me throw themselves upon us, what should we do with them?
How can we feed arid care for such a multitude?
Gen. Butler wrote me a few days since that he was issuing more rations to the slaves who have rushed to him than to all the White troops under his command.
They eat, and that is all; though it is true Gen. Butler is feeding the Whites also by the thousand; for it nearly amounts to a famine there.
If, now, the pressure of the war should call off our forces from New Orleans to defend some other point, what is to prevent the masters from reducing the Blacks to Slavery again; for I am told that whenever the Rebels take any Black prisoners, free or slave, they immediately auction them off!
They did so with those they took from a boat that was aground in the Tennessee river a few days ago. And then I am very ungenerously attacked for it!
For instance, when, after the late battles at and near Bull Run, an expedition went out from Washington, under a flag of truce.
to bury the dead aid bring in the wounded, and the Rebels seized the Blacks who went along to help, and sent them into Slavery, Horace Greeley slid in his paler that the Government would probably do nothing about it. What could I do?
Now, then, tell me, if you please, what possible result of good would follow the issuing of such a proclamation as you desire?
Understand: I raise no objections against it on legal or constitutional grounds; for, as Commander-in-chief of the army and navy
in time of war, I suppose I have a right to take any measure which may best subdue the enemy; nor do I urge objections of a moral nature, in view of possible consequences of insurrection and massacre at the South.
I view this matter as a practical war measure, to be decided on according to the advantages or disadvantages it may offer to the suppression of the Rebellion.
The deputation responded, urging that an Emancipation policy would greatly strengthen us in Europe
, and would justify us in appealing to the God of the oppressed and down-trodden for His blessing on our future efforts to crush the Rebellion
The President rejoined:
I admit that Slavery is at the root of the Rebellion, or at least its sine qua non. The ambition of politicians may have instigated them to act; but they would have been impotent without Slavery as their instrument.
I will also concede that Emancipation would help as in Europe, and convince them that we are incited by something more than ambition.
I grant, further, that it would help somewhat at the North, though not so much, I fear, as you and those you represent imagine.
Still, some additional strength would be added in that way to the war; and then, unquestionably, it would weaken the Rebels by drawing off their laborers, which is of great importance; but I am not so sure we could do much with the Blacks.
If we were to arm them.
I fear that in a few weeks the arms would be in the hands of the Rebels; and, indeed, thus far, we have not had arms enough to equip our White troops.
I will mention another thing, though it meet only your scorn and contempt.
There are 50,000 bayonets in the Union army from the Border Slave States.
It would be a serious matter if, in consequence of a proclamation such as you desire, they should go over to the Rebels.
I do not think they all would — not so many, indeed, as a year ago, or as six months ago — not so many to-day as yesterday.
Every day increases their Union feeling.
They are also getting their pride enlisted, and want to best the Rebels.
Let me say one thing more: I think you should admit that we already have an important principle to rally and unite the people, in the fact that constitutional government is at stake.
This is a fundamental idea, going down about as deep as anything.
The deputation again developed and enforced their views; and the President
closed the conference with these pregnant words:
Do not misunderstand me because I have mentioned these objections.
They indicate the difficulties that have thus far prevented my action in some such way as you desire.
I have not decided against a proclamation of liberty to the slaves, but hold the matter under advisement.
And I can assure you that the subject is on my mind, by day and by night, more than any other.
Whatever shall appear to be God's will, I will do. I trust that, in the freedom with which I have canvassed your views, I have not in any respect injured your feelings.
The deputation had scarcely returned to Chicago
and reported to their constituents, when the great body of the President
's supporters were electrified, while his opponents in general were only still farther alienated, by the unheralded appearance of the following proclamation:
I, Abraham Lincoln
of the United States of America
, and Commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy thereof, do hereby proclaim and declare that hereafter, as heretofore, the war will be prosecuted for the object of practically restoring the constitutional relation between the United States
and each of the States, and the people thereof, in which States that relation is or may be suspended or disturbed.
That it is my purpose, upon the next meeting of Congress, to again recommend the adoption of a practical measure tendering pecuniary aid to the free acceptance or rejection of all Slave States, so called, the people whereof may not then be in rebellion against the United States
, and which States may then have voluntarily adopted, or thereafter may voluntarily adopt, immediate or gradual abolishment of Slavery within their respective limits; and that the effort to colonize persons of African
descent, with their consent, upon this continent or elsewhere, with the previously obtained consent of the governments existing there, will be continued.
That, on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State, or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States
, shall be than, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government
of the United States
, including the
military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.
That the Executive
will, on the 1st day of January aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the States and parts of states, if any, in which the people thereof respectively shall then be in rebellion against the United States
; and the fact that any State, or the people thereof, shall on that day be in good faith represented in the Congress of the United States, by members chosen thereto at elections wherein a majority of the qualified voters of such State shall have participated, shall, in the absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such State, and the people thereof, are not then in rebellion against the United States
That attention is hereby called to an act of Congress entitled “An act to make an additional Article of War,” approved March 13th, 1862; and which act is in the words and figures following:
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That hereafter the following shall be promulgated as an additional article of war for the government of the Army of the United States, and shall be obeyed and observed as such:
All officers or persons in the military or naval service of the United States are prohibited from employing any of the forces under their respective commands for the purpose of returning fugitives from service or labor who may have escaped from any persons to whom such service or labor is claimed to be due; and any officer who shall be found guilty by a court-martial of violating this article shall be dismissed from the service.
Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That this act shall take effect from and after its passage.
Also, to the ninth and tenth sections of an act entitled “An Act to Suppress Insurrection, to Punish Treason and Rebellion, to Seize and Confiscate Property of Rebels, and for other Purposes,” approved July 16, 1862; and which sections are in the words and figures following:
Sec. 9. And be it further enacted, That all slaves of persons who shall hereafter be engaged in rebellion against the Government of the United States, or who shall in any way give aid or comfort thereto, escaping from such persons and taking refuge within the lines of the army; and all slaves captured from such persons, or deserted by them and coming under the control of the Government of the United States; and all slaves of such persons found on [or] being within any place occupied by Rebel forces and afterward occupied by forces of the United States, shall be deemed captives of war, and shall be forever free of their servitude, and not again held as salves.
Sec. 10. And be it further enacted, That no slave cscaping into any State, Territory, or the District of Columbia, from any other State, shall be delivered up, or in any way impeded or hindered of his liberty, except for crime, or some offense against the laws, unless the person claiming said fugitive shall first make oath that the person to whom the labor or service of such fugitive is alleged to be due is his lawful owner, and has not borne arms against the United States in the present Rebellion, nor in any way given aid and comfort thereto; and no person engaged in the military or naval service of the United States shall, under any pretense whatever, assume to decide on the validity of the claim of any person to the service or labor of any other person, or surrender up any such person to the claimant, on pain of being dismissed from the service.
And I do hereby enjoin upon and order all persons engaged in the military and naval service of the United States
to observe, obey, and enforce, within their respective spheres of service, the act and sections above recited.
And the Executive
will in due time recommend that all citizens of the United States
, who shall have remained loyal thereto throughout the Rebellion
, shall (upon the restoration o the constitutional relation between the United States
and their respective States and people if that relation shall have been suspended or disturbed) be compensated for all losses by acts of the United States
, including the loss of slaves.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States
to be affixed.
Done at the City of Washington
this twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, and of the independence of the United States
It has been alleged that the appearance of this document was hast-ened by confidential representations from our Embassadors at the Courts
of Western Europe
, that a recognition of the Confederacy
was imminent, and could hardly be averted otherwise than by a policy of Emancipation.
The then Attorney-General30
has been quoted as authority for this statement; but it is still generally regarded as apocryphal.
It has been likewise asserted that the President
had fully decided on resorting to this policy some weeks before the Proclamation appeared, and that he only withheld it till the military situation should assume a brighter aspect.
Remarks made long afterward in Congress render highly
probable the assumption that its appearance was somewhat delayed, awaiting the issue of the struggle in Maryland
, which terminated with the battle of Antietam
Whether the open adhesion of the President
at last to the policy of Emancipation did or did not contribute to the general defeat of his supporters in the State Elections
which soon followed, is still fairly disputable.
By those elections, Horatio Seymour
was made Governor of New York and Joel Parker
of New Jersey
: supplanting Governors Morgan
; while Pennsylvania
, and Illinois
, also gave Opposition majorities; and Michigan
, and most other Western States, showed a decided falling off in Administration strength.
The general result of those elections is summed up in the following table:
|1860--President. ||1862--Gov. Or Congress. |
|States. ||Lincoln. ||All others. ||Admin. ||Opp. |
|New York ||362,646 ||312,510 ||295,897 ||306,649 |
|New Jersey ||58,324 ||62,801 ||46,710 ||61,307 |
|Pennsylvania ||268,030 ||208,412 ||215,616 ||219,140 |
|Ohio ||231,610 ||210,831 ||178,755 ||184,332 |
|Indiana ||13<*>,033 ||133,110 ||118,517 ||128,160 |
|Illinois ||172,161 ||169,215 ||120,116 ||136,662 |
|Michigan ||88,480 ||66,267 ||68,716 ||62,102 |
|Wisconsin ||86,11<*> ||66,070 ||66,801 ||67,985 |
|Iowa ||70,409 ||57,922 ||3266,014 ||50,898 |
|Minnesota ||22,069 ||12,668 ||15,754 ||11,442 |
| || || || || |
|10 States ||1,498,872 ||1,290,806 ||1,192,896 ||1,228,677 |
|1860--Lincoln's maj--208,066. ||1862--Opp.
The Representatives in Congress chosen from these States were politically classified as follows:
note.--A new apportionment under the Census of 1860 changed materially, between 1860 and 1862, the number of Representatives from several of the States.
There were some counterbalancing changes in the States of Delaware
, and Missouri
, as also in that of California
, where the larger share of the Douglas vote of 1860 was in 1862 cast for the Union
tickets; but it was clear, at the close of the State Elections
of that year, that the general ill success of the War
for the Union
, the wide-spread and increasing repugnance to Conscription, Taxation, a depreciated Currency, and high-priced Fabrics, were arraying Public Sentiment against the further prosecution of the contest.
Of course, the Opposition inveighed against the management of the War
and of the Finances, the treatment of Gen. McClellan
, and the general inefficiency and incapacity of the Administration ; but the strength of that Opposition inhered in popular repugnance to the sacrifices; exacted by and the perils involved in a prosecution of the struggle, though its most general and taking clamor deprecated only “The perversion of the War
for the Union
into a War for the Negro.”
Ignoring the soldiers battling for the Union
--of whom at least three-fourths voted Republican at least three-fourths voted Republican at each election wherein they were allowed to vote at all; but who had not yet been enabled to vote in the field, while their absence created a chasm in the Administration vote at home — it is quite probable that, had a popular election been held at any time during the year following the Fourth of July, 1862, on the question of continuing the War
or arresting it on the best attainable terms, a majority would have voted for Peace; while it is highly probable
that a still larger majority would have voted against Emancipation.
From an early hour of the struggle, the public mind slowly and steadily gravitated toward the conclusion that the Rebellion
was vulnerable only or mainly through Slavery ; but that conclusion was scarcely reached by a majority before the occurrence of the New York Riots
, in July, 1863.
The President, though widely reproached with tardiness and reluctance in taking up the gage plainly thrown down by the Slave Power
, was probably ahead of a majority of the people of the loyal States in definitively accepting the issue of Emancipation or Disunion.
Having taken a long step in the right direction, lie never retracted nor seemed to regret it; though lie sometimes observed that the beneficial results of the Emancipation policy were neither so signal nor so promptly realized as its sanguine promoters had anticipated.
Nevertheless, on the day appointed, lie issued his absolute Proclamation of Freedom, as follows :
Whereas, on the 22d day of September, in the year of our Lord 1862, a proclamation was issued I)v the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following to wit:
That on the 1st day of January, in the year of our Lord 1863.
all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a , State, the people whereof shad then he in rebellion against the United States shall be then, thence for ward, and forever free: and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.
That the Executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the States and parts of States, if any, in which the people thereof respectively shall then be in rebellion against the United States; and the fact that any State, or the people thereof, shall on that day be in good faith represented in the Congress of the United States, by members chosen thereto at elections wherein a majority of the qualified voters of such State shall have participated, shall, in the absence of strong countervailing testimony, he deemed conclusive evidence that such State, and the people thereof, are not then in rebellion against the United States.
I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as Commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy of the United States in time of actual armed rebellion against tile authority and Government of the United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion, do, on tills first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and in accordance with my purpose so to do, publicly proclaimed fir the full period of one hundred days from the day first above mentioned, order and designate as the States and parts of States wherein the people thereof respectively are this day in rebellion against the United States, the following: to wit:
Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana (except the parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemine, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James, Ascension, Assumption, Terre Bonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the city of New Orleans), Mississippi, Alabama, Florida. Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia (except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkeley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Anne, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth), and which excepted parts are, for the present, left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.
And, by virtue of the power and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all person held as slaves within said designated States and parts of States are and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.
And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defense: nd I recommend to them that in all cases when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages.
And I further declare and make known that such persons, of suitable condition.
will be received into the armed service of the United States to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sports in said service.
And upon this act, sincerely believed to be ant act of justice, warranted by the Constitution upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God.
In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my name, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the city of Washington, this 1st day of January. in the year of our Lord 1863, and of the independence of the United States the 87th.
By the President: Abraham Lincoln.
William H. Seward, Secretary of State.
On the abstract question of the right of the Government
to proclaim and enforce Emancipation, Edward Everett
, in a speech in Faneuil Hall, Boston
, October, 1864, forcibly said:
It is very doubtful whether any act of the Government of the United States was necessary to liberate tie slaves in a State which is in rebellion.
There is much reason for the opinion that, by tile simple act of levying war against the United States, tile relation of Slavery was terminated; certainly, so far as concerns the duty of the United States to recognize it, or to refrain from interfering with it. Not being founded on the law of nature, and resting solely on positive local law-and that not of the United States--as soon as it becomes either the motive or pretext of an unjust war against the Union--an efficient instrument in the lands of the Rebels for carrying on the war — a source of military strength to the Rebellion, and of danger to the Government at home and abroad, with the additional certainty that, in any event but its abandonment, it will continue in all future time to work these mischiefs, who can suppose it is the duty of the United States to continue to recognize it?
To maintain this would be a contradiction in terms.
It would be to recognize a right in a Rebel master to employ his slave in acts of rebellion and treason, and the duty of the slave to aid and abet his master in the commission of the greatest crime known to the law. No such absurdity can be admitted; and any citizen of the United States, from the President down, who should, by any overt act, recognize the duty of a slave to obey a Rebel master in a hostile operation, would himself be giving aid and comfort to the enemy.