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[380]

Freedom for the slaves. [from the Baltimore sun, November 2, 1897.]

How President Lincoln was brought to the Point of issuing his proclamation.


It was in the closing days of September, 1862, says the New York Mail and Express. that Abraham Lincoln formally announced that on the January 1, following, he would declare all slaves free in the States then at war with the government. To Frank B. Carpenter, the artist, Lincoln gave a very interesting account of the manner in which he prepared and submitted to the cabinet the proclamation.

“It had got to be,” he said,

midsummer, 1862. Things had gone on from bad to worse, until I felt that we had reached the end of the rope on the plan of operations we had been pursuing; that we had about played our last card, and must change our tactics or lose the game. I now determined upon the adoption of the emancipation policy, and, without consultation with, or the knowledge of the cabinet, I prepared the original draft of a proclamation, and, after much anxious thought, called a cabinet meeting upon the subject. This was the last of July, or the first part of the month of August, 1862. This cabinet meeting took place, I think, upon a Saturday. All were present excepting Mr. Blair, the Postmaster-General, who was absent at the opening of the discussion, but came in subsequently. I said to the cabinet that I had resolved upon this step, and had not called them together to ask their advice, but to lay the subject matter of a proclamation before them, suggestions as to which whould be in order after they had heard it read.

Various suggestions were offered. Secretary Chase wished the language stronger in reference to the arming of the blacks. Mr. Blair, after he came in, deprecated the policy on the ground that it would cost the administration the fall elections. Nothing, however, was offered that I had not already anticipated and settled in my own mind, until Secretary Seward spoke. Said he: “Mr. President, I approve of the proclamation, but I question the expediency of its issue at this juncture. The depression of the public mind, consequent upon our repeated reverses, is so great that I fear the effect of so important a step. It may be viewed as the last measure of an exhausted government—a cry for help; the government stretching ”

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