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“ [381] forth its hands to Ethiopia, instead of Ethiopia stretching forth her hands to the government.” His idea was that it would be considered our “last shriek” on the retreat. “Now,” continued Mr. Seward, “while I approve the measure, I suggest, sir, that you postpone its issue until you can give it to the country supported by military success, instead of issuing it, as would be the case now, upon the greatest disasters of the war.”

The wisdom of the Secretary of State struck me with very great force. It was an aspect of the case that in all my thought upon the subject I had entirely overlooked. The result was that I put the draft of the proclamation aside, as you do your sketch for a picture, waiting for a victory. From time to time I added or changed a line, touching it up here and there, waiting the progress of events. Well, the next news we had was of Pope's disaster at Bull Run. Things looked darker than ever. Finally came the week of Antietam. I determined to wait no longer. The news came, I think, on Wednesday, that the advantage was on our side. I was then staying at the Soldiers' Home. Here I finished writing the second draft of the preliminary proclamation; came up on Saturday, called the cabinet together to hear it, and it was published the following Monday.

An incident of the last-mentioned cabinet meeting not mentioned by Lincoln was related to Mr. Carpenter by Secretary Chase. The President, he said, began by remarking that the time for the annunciation of the emancipation policy could no longer be delayed. Public sentiment, he thought, would sustain it, many of his warmest friends and supporters demanded it, and he had promised his God that he would do it. The last part of this was uttered in a low tone, and appeared to be heard by no one but Mr. Chase, who was sitting near him. He asked the President if he correctly understood him.

Mr. Lincoln replied: ‘I made a solemn vow before God that if General Lee were driven back from Pennsylvania I would crown the result by the declaration of freedom to the slaves.’

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