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30 sideration tendered would not be of more value to the states
and private persons concerned than are the institution and
property in it, in the present aspect of affairs ?

While it is true that the adoption of the proposed resolution
would be merely initiatory, and not within itself a practical


measure, it is recommended in the hope that it would soon lead
to important practical results. In full view of my great respon-
sibility to my God and to my country, I earnestly beg the
attention of Congress and the people to the subject.

Abraham Lincoln


(August 22, 1862)

... I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way 5
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. . . . My paramount object in this struggle is to save the 10
Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I
could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it ;
and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it ;
and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone,
I would also do that. What I do about slavery and the colored 15
race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union ; and
what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help
to save the LTnion. I shall do less whenever I shall believe
what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever
I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to 20
correct errors when shown to be errors, and I shall adopt new
views so fast as they shall appear to be true views. . . .



(November 15, 1862)

The President, commander in chief of the army and navy,
desires and enjoins the orderly observance of the Sabbath by
the officers and men in the military and naval service. The im-
portance for man and beast of the prescribed weekly rest, the
5 sacred rights of Christian soldiers and sailors, a becoming defer-
ence to the best sentiment of a Christian people, and a due
regard for the Divine Will, demand that Sunday labor in the
army and navy be reduced to the measure of strict necessity.
The discipline and character of the national forces should not

10 suffer, nor the cause they defend be imperiled, by the profana-
tion of the day or name of the Most High. " At this time of
public distress" — adopting the words of Washington in 1776
— " men may find enough to do in the service of God and
their country without abandoning themselves to vice and im-

15 morality." The first general order issued by the Father of his
Country after the Declaration of Independence indicates the
spirit in which our institutions were founded and should ever
be defended. " The general hopes and trusts that every officer
and man will endeavor to live and act as becomes a Christian

20 soldier, defending the dearest rights and liberties of his country."

Abraham Lincoln
Official : E. D. Townsend, Assistant Adjutant General



(December i, 1862)

. . . Among the friends of the Union there is great diver-
sity of sentiment and of policy in regard to slavery and the
African race amongst us. Some would perpetuate slavery ;
some would abolish it suddenly, and without compensation ;
some would abolish it gradually, and with compensation ; some 5
would remove the freed people from us, and some would retain
them with us ; and there are yet other minor diversities. Be-
cause of these diversities we waste much strength in struggles
among ourselves. By mutual concession we should harmonize
and act together. This would be compromise ; but it would be 10
compromise among the friends, and not with the enemies, of the
Union. These articles are intended to embody a plan of such
mutual concessions. If the plan shall be adopted, it is assumed
that emancipation will follow at least in several of the states.

As to the first article, the main points are : first, the emanci- 1 5
pation ; secondly, the length of time for consummating it —
thirty-seven years ; and, thirdly, the compensation.

The emancipation will be unsatisfactory to the advocates of
perpetual slaver)^ ; but the length of time should greatly miti-
gate their dissatisfaction. The time spares both races from the 20
evils of sudden derangement — in fact, from the necessity of
any derangement ; while most of those whose habitual course
of thought will be disturbed by the measure will have passed
away before its consummation. They will never see it. Another
class will hail the prospect of emancipation, but will deprecate 25
the length of time. They will feel that it gives too little to the
now living slaves. But it really gives them much. It saves
them from the vagrant destitution which must largely attend
immediate emancipation in localities where their numbers are
very great ; and it gives the inspiring assurance that their pos- 30
terity shall be free forever. The plan leaves to each state


choosing to act. under it to abolish slavery now, or at the end
of the century, or at any intermediate time, or by degrees ex-
tending over the whole or any part of the period ; and it obliges
no two states to proceed alike. It also provides for compensa-
5 tion, and generally the mode of making it. This, it would seem,
must further mitigate the dissatisfaction of those who favor
perpetual slavery, and especially of those who are to receive
the compensation. Doubtless some of those who are to pay,
and not to receive, will object. Yet the measure is both just

10 and economical. In a certain sense the liberation of slaves is
the destruction of property — property acquired by descent or
by purchase, the same as any other property. It is no less true
for having been often said, that the people of the South are not
more responsible for the original introduction of this property

1 5 than are the people of the North ; and when it is remembered
how unhesitatingly we all use cotton and sugar and share the
profits of dealing in them, it may not be quite safe to say that
the South has been more responsible than the North for its
continuance. If, then, for a common object this property is to

2o be sacrificed, is it not just that it be done at a common charge ?

And if, with less money, or money more easily paid, we can

preserve the benefits of the Union by this means than we can

by the war alone, is it not also economical to do it ? Let us

consider it, then. Let us ascertain the sum we have expended

25 in the war since compensated emancipation was proposed last
March, and consider whether, if that measure had been promptly
accepted by even some of the slave states, the same sum would
not have done more to close the war than has been otherwise
done. If so, the measure would save money, and in that view

30 would be a prudent and economical measure. Certainly it is
not so easy to pay something as it is to pay nothing ; but it is
easier to pay a large sum than it is to pay a larger one. And
it is easier to pay any sum when we are able, than it is to
pay it before we are able. The war requires large sums, and


requires. them at once. The aggregate sum necessary for com-
pensated emancipation of course would be large. But it would
require no ready cash, nor the bonds even, any faster than the
emancipation progresses. This might not, and probably would
not, close before the end of the thirty-seven years. At that 5
time we shall probably have 100,000,000 of people to share
the burden, instead of 31,000,000 as now. And not only so,
but the increase of our population may be expected to continue
for a long time after that period, as rapidly as before, because
our territory will not have become full. I do not state this in- 10
considerately. At the same ratio of increase which we have
maintained, on an average, from our first national census in
1790 until that of i860, we should in 1900 have a population
of 103,208,415. And why may we not continue that ratio far
beyond that period ? Our abundant room — our broad national 1 5
homestead — is our ample resource. Were our territory as
limited as are the British' Isles, very certainly our population
could not expand as stated. Instead of receiving the foreign-
born as now, we should be compelled to send part of the
native-born away. But such is not our condition. We have 20
2,963,000 square miles. Europe has 3,800,000, with a popula-
tion averaging 73-^ persons to the square mile. Why may not
our country, at the same time, average as many ? Is it less
fertile ? Has it more waste surface, by mountains, rivers, lakes,
deserts, or other causes ? Is it inferior to Europe in any natural 25
advantage ? If, then, we are at some time to be as populous as
Europe, how soon ? As to when this may be, we can judge by
the past and the present ; as to when it will be, if ever, depends
much on whether we maintain the Union. Several of our states
are already above the average of Europe — 73-^ to the square 30
mile. Massachusetts has 157; Rhode Island, 133; Connecticut,
99 ; New York and New Jersey, each 80. Also two other great
states, Pennsylvania and Ohio, are not far below, the former
having 63 and the latter 59. The states already above the


European average, except New York, have increased in as
rapid a ratio since passing that point as ever before, while no
one of them is equal to some other parts of our country in
natural capacity for sustaining a dense population.
5 Taking the nation in the aggregate, we find its population
and ratio of increase for the several decennial periods to be as
follows :

1790 3,929^827

1800 5S^5i937 35-0- P^r cent ratio of increase

1810 7,239,814 36.45

1820 9,638,131 33.13

1830 12,866,020 33.49 " "

1840 17,069,453 32.67

1850 23,191,876 35.87

i860 31,443,790 35-58

This shows an average decennial increase of 34.60 per cent
in population through the seventy years from our first to our
10 last census yet taken. It is seen that the ratio of increase at no
one of these seven periods is either two per cent below or two
per cent above the average, thus showing how inflexible, and
consequently how reliable, the law of increase in our case is.
Assuming that it will continue, gives the following results :

1870 42,323,341

1880 56,967,216

1890 76,677,872

1900 103,208,415

1910 138,918,526

1920 186,984,335

1930 251,680,914

15 These figures show that our country may be as populous as
Europe now is at some point between 1920 and 1930 — say
about 1925 — our territory, at 73-^ persons to the square mile,
being of capacity to contain 217,186,000.


And we will reach this, too, if we do not ourselves relinquish
the chance by the folly and evils of disunion, or by long and
exhausting war springing from the only great element of national
discord among us. While it cannot be foreseen exactly how
much one huge example of secession, breeding lesser ones in- 5
definitely, would retard population, civilization, and prosperity,
no one can doubt that the extent of it would be very great and

The proposed emancipation would shorten the war, perpetu-
ate peace, insure this increase of population, and proportionately 10
the wealth of the country. With these, we should pay all the
emancipation would cost, together with our other debt, easier
than we should pay our other debt without it. If we had allowed
our old national debt to run at six per cent per annum, simple
interest, from the end of our Revolutionary struggle until to- 15
day, without paying anything on either principle or interest,
each man of us would owe less upon that debt now than each
man owed upon it then ; and this because our increase of men,
through the whole period, has been greater than six per cent
— has run faster than the interest upon the debt. Thus, time 20
alone relieves a debtor nation, so long as its population increases
faster than unpaid interest accumulates on its debt.

This fact would be no excuse for delaying payment of what
is justly due ; but it shows the great importance of time in this
connection — the great advantage of a policy by which we shall 25
not have to pay, until we number a hundred millions, what by
a different policy w^e would have to pay now, when we number
but thirty-one millions. In a word, it shows that a dollar will
be much harder to pay for the war than will be a dollar for
emancipation on the proposed plan. And then the latter will 30
cost no blood, no precious life. It will be a saving of both.

As to the second article, I think it would be impracticable to
return to bondage the class of persons therein contemplated.
Some of them doubtless, in the property sense, belong to


loyal owners ; and hence provision is made in this article for
compensating such.

The third article relates to the future of the freed people. It
does not oblige, but merely authorizes, Congress to aid in col-
5 onizing such as may consent. This ought not to be regarded
as objectionable, on the one hand or on the other, insomuch
as it comes to nothing unless by the mutual consent of the
people to be deported, and the American voters through their
representatives in Congress.

lo I cannot make it better known than it already is, that I

strongly favor colonization. And yet I wish to say there is an

objection urged against free colored persons remaining in the

country which is largely imaginary, if not sometimes malicious.

It is insisted that their presence would injure and displace

1 5 white labor and white laborers. If there ever could be a proper
time for mere catch arguments, that time surely is not now. In
times like the present, men should utter nothing for which they
would not willingly be responsible through time and in eternity.
Is it true, then, that colored people can displace any more

20 white labor by being free than by remaining slaves ? If they
stay in their old places, they jostle no white laborers ; if they
leave their old places, they leave them open to white laborers.
Logically, there is neither more nor less of it. Emancipation,
even without deportation, would probably enhance the wages of

25 white labor, and very surely would not reduce them. Thus, the
customary amount of labor would still have to be performed ;
the freed people would surely not do more than their old propor-
tion of it, and very probably for a time would do less, leaving
an increased part to white laborers, bringing their labor into

30 greater demand, and consequently enhancing the wages of it.
With deportation, even to a limited extent, enhanced wages to
white labor is mathematically certain. Labor is like any other
commodity in the market — increase the demand for it, and
you increase the price of it. Reduce the supply of black labor by


colonizing the black laborer out of the country, and by precisely so
much you increase the demand for, and wages of, white labor.

But it is dreaded that the freed people will swarm forth and
cover the whole land ? Are they not already in the land ? Will
liberation make them any more numerous ? Equally distributed 5
among the whites of the whole country, and there would be but
one colored to seven whites. Could the one in any way greatly
disturb the seven ? There are many communities now having
more than one free colored person to seven whites, and this
without any apparent consciousness of evil from it. The Dis- 10
trict of Columbia, and the states of Maryland and Delaware,
are all in this condition. The District has more than one free
colored to six whites ; and yet in its frequent petitions to Con-
gress I believe it has never presented the presence of free
colored persons as one of its grievances. But why should 15
emancipation south send the free people North ? People of any
color seldom run unless there be something to run from. Here-
tofore colored people, to some extent, have fled North from
bondage ; and now, perhaps, from both bondage and destitu-
tion. But if gradual emancipation and deportation be adopted, 20
they will have neither to flee from. Their old masters will give
them wages at least until new laborers can be procured ; and
the freedmen, in turn, will gladly give their labor for the wages
till new homes can be found for them in congenial climes and
with people of their own blood and race. This proposition can 25
be trusted on the mutual interests involved. And, in any event,
cannot the North decide for itself whether to receive them ?

Again, as practice proves more than theory, in any case, has
there been any irruption of colored people northward because
of the abolishment of slavery in this District last spring ? 30

What I have said of the proportion of free colored persons
to the whites in the District is from the census of i860, having
no reference to persons called contrabands, nor to those made
free by the act of Congress abolishing slavery here.


The plan consisting of these articles is recommended, not but
that a restoration of the national authority would be accepted
without its adoption.

Nor will the war, nor proceedings under the proclamation of
5 September 22, 1862, be stayed because of the recommendation
of this plan. Its timely adoption, I doubt not, would bring res-
toration, and thereby stay both.

And, notwithstanding this plan, the recommendation that
Congress provide by law for compensating any state which
10 may adopt emancipation before this plan shall have been acted
upon, is hereby earnestly renewed. Such would be only an ad-
vance part of the plan, and the same arguments apply to both.
This plan is recommended as a means, not in exclusion of,
but additional to, all others for restoring and preserving the
15 national authority throughout the Union. The subject is pre-
sented exclusively in its economical aspect. The plan would, I
am confident, secure peace more speedily, and maintain it more
permanently, than can be done by force alone ; while all it would
cost, considering amounts, and manner of payment, and times
20 of payment, would be easier paid than will be the additional
cost of the war if we rely solely upon force. It is much — very
much — that it would cost no blood at all.

The plan is proposed as permanent constitutional law. It
cannot become such without the concurrence of, first, two thirds
25 of Congress and, afterward, three fourths of the states. The
requisite three fourths of the states will necessarily include
seven of the slave states. Their concurrence, if obtained, will
give assurance of their severally adopting emancipation at no
very distant day upon the new constitutional terms. This assur-
30 ance would end the struggle now, and save the Union forever.
I do not forget the gravity which should characterize a paper
addressed to the Congress of the nation by the chief magis-
trate of the nation. Nor do I forget that some of you are my
seniors, nor that many of you have more experience than I in


the conduct of public affairs. Yet I trust that in view of the great
responsibility resting upon me, you will perceive no want of re-
spect to yourselves in any undue earnestness I may seem to display.

Is it doubted, then, that the plan I propose, if adopted,
would shorten the war, and thus lessen its expenditure of 5
money and of blood .'' Is it doubted that it would restore the
national authority and national prosperity, and perpetuate both
indefinitely ? Is it doubted that we here — Congress and exec-
utive — can secure its adoption ? Will not the good people
respond to a united and earnest appeal from us ? Can we, can 10
they, by any other means so certainly or so speedily assure
these vital objects ? We can succeed only by concert. It is not
" Can any of us imagine better ? " but, " Can we all do better ? "
Object whatsoever is possible, still the question occurs, " Can
w^e do better?" The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate 15
to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with diffi-
culty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new,
so we must think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall
ourselves, and then we shall save our country.

Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this Con- 20
gress and this administration will be remembered in spite of
ourselves. No personal significance or insignificance can spare
one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass
will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest genera-
tion. We say we are for the Union. The world will not forget 25
that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The world
knows we do know how to save it. We — even we here —
hold the power and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom
to the slave, we assure freedom to the free — honorable alike
in what we give and what we preserve. We shall nobly save 30
or meanly lose the last, best hope of earth. Other means may
succeed ; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, gener-
ous, just — a way which, if followed, the world will forever

applaud, and God must forever bless.

Abraham Lincoln



(January i, 1863)

Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September, in the
year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, a
proclamation was issued by the President of the United States,
containing, among other things, the following, to wit :

5 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 then,
thenceforward, and forever free ; and the Executive Government of

10 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

15 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

20 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.


Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the L^nited
25 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 the authority and government of
the United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure
for suppressing said rebellion, do, on this first day of January,
30 in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-
three, and in accordance with my purpose so to do, publicly
proclaimed for the full period of 100 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. Ber-
nard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James,
Ascension, Assumption, Terre Bonne, Lafourche, St. Mary, St. 5
Martin, and Orleans, including the city of New Orleans), ]\Iis-
sissippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North
Carolina, and Virginia (except the forty-eight counties desig-
nated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkeley,
Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, Vork, Princess Ann, 10
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 persons held as slaves within 15
said designated states and parts of states are, and henceforward

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Online LibraryA LincolnSelections from the letters, speeches (Volume 2) → online text (page 9 of 13)