As a war measure, The Proclamation of Emancipation, Jan
. I, 1863, was the first effectual blow struck at the heart of the rebellion.
It shook the structure to the centre.
It was the last thing the slave oligarchy had thought of. . It came upon them like the trump of doom.
It annihilated all hope of intervention by the Powers of Europe
, in behalf of the slave-propped rebellion.
This they acknowledged themselves.
They saw—it was clear enough even to the blind—that the first throne in Europe
which took sides with slavery in America
, would crumble to dust in the earthquake of a revolution.
It banished all idea of the recognition of the Confederacy
from the brain of every minister in Europe
It was one of the grandest deeds ever enacted on the earth; it will have more influence over the fortunes of the human race, than almost any act of any other ruler of nations.
Scarcely had a short month gone by, before it was known to every sitter in the Valley of the Shadow
of Death; and it colored the policy of every government in Europe
Those who sneered at it as a pompous brutum fulmen
, forgot that slavery never was restored
, where it had, by supreme authority, once been proclaimed abolished.
Liberty takes no such steps backward.
Slavery had been abolished by proclamation in San Domingo
; it was the attempt to reinstate
it, that whelmed that island in blood.
Anywhere else, it would have the same effect.
Lord Russell ridiculed it because it was levelled only at ‘Slavery over territory beyond Mr. Lincoln
's control, while all the States and Districts held by Federal armies were exempt.’
This would be a very flimsy objection,
if it were true; but it was not. His Lordship forgot that the Proclamation was purely a war measure
. Humane and sublime as the results were to be, it was not done as an act of humanity.
Its sole immediate object was—like that of any other war measure—to weaken the enemies of the country, and strengthen its friends.
In this light the measure was adopted for, and intended to apply only to, districts in rebellion; it was to take effect there, at the cannon's mouth.
Slave labor was the strong prop of the revolt.
It either raised bread and meat on the plantations, or it did the heavy work of the camp; and able-bodied slaves had, from the hour the rebellion began, been as necessary, and often as efficient, as white soldiers in the field.
This gave the South
half a million extra soldiers.
It would have been no war measure to proclaim slavery abolished in districts which were loyal; for our friends there, would thus, not only have been punished for their loyalty, but deprived of the very slave-labor aid to strengthen them in fighting our enemies, which the Proclamation was intended to rob the rebels of. Besides, thinking men knew that the Proclamation was not a mere isolated act; it was part and parcel of the imperative policy of a government charged with the responsibility of rescuing itself from imminent, and appalling danger.
Universal emancipation of the African race everywhere
, was embraced in the plan; for the rebellion had made it inevitable.
The Proclamation was hailed with gladness by all the uncompromising friends of the Union
; and intelligent men saw, that, hastily as the verdict had been rendered, sanctioning the act, the approval was the solemn voice of the nation; and the ratification of the deed sounded
the death-knell of African Slavery.
It was the sudden beginning of a swift end.
Students of History!
Let memory go gleaning over all the fields of the past:—where will she find an instance that Freedom had once proclaimed Slavery dead, where it ever lived again?
Some systems of wrong, once sent to their graves, have no resurrection.
But these results were only the first steps in the march of the earthquake which had startled the world.
Some events are understood just about as well before, as after, they happen.
On the subject of African
slavery, the voice of no nation could be so potential as America
's. When slavery was declared abolished here, it meant that it had received its death-wound in every land.
If negro slavery fell dead before our altars where liberty was born, it would carry all like systems with it to a common sepulchre.