Henry J. (Henry Jarvis) Raymond.

History of the administration of President Lincoln : including his speeches, letters, addresses, proclamations, and messages. With a preliminary sketch of his life online

. (page 16 of 46)
Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondHistory of the administration of President Lincoln : including his speeches, letters, addresses, proclamations, and messages. With a preliminary sketch of his life → online text (page 16 of 46)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

upon the same subject shall be proposed, its propriety will be duly con
sidered. The Union must be preserved ; and hence all indispensable
means must be employed. "We should not be in haste to determine that
radical and extreme measures, which may reach the loyal as well as the
disloyal, are indispensable.

The inaugural address at the beginning of the Administration, and
the message to Congress at the late special session, were both mainly
devoted to the domestic controversy out of which the insurrection and
consequent war have sprung. Nothing now occurs to add or subtract
to or from the principles or general purposes stated and expressed in
those documents.

The last ray of hope for preserving the Union peaceably expired at
the assault upon Fort Sumter ; and a general review of what has oc
curred since may not be unprofitable. What was painfully uncertain
then is much better defined and more distinct now; and the progress of
events is plainly in the right direction. The insurgents confidently
claimed a strong support from north of Mason and Dixon s line ; and the
fnends of the Union were not free from apprehension on the point.
This, however, was soon settled definitely, and on the right side. South
of the line, noble little Delaware led off right from the first. Maryland
was made to seem against the Union. Our soldiers were assaulted,
bridges were burned, and railroads torn up within her limits ; and we
were many days, at one time, without the ability to bring a single regi
ment over her soil to the capital. Now her bridges and railroads are
repaired and open to the Government ; she already gives seven regiments
to the cause of the Union, and none to the enemy ; and her people, at a
regular election, have sustained the Union by a larger majority and a
larger aggregate vote than they ever before gave to any candidate or
any question. Kentucky, too, for some time in doubt, is now decidedly
and. I think, unchangeably ranged on the side of the Union. Missouri
is comparatively quiet, and, I believe, cannot again be overrun by the
insurrectionists. These three States of Maryland, Kentucky, and Mis
souri, neither of which would promise a single soldier at first, have now


an aggregate of not less than forty thousand in the field for the Union ;
while of their citizens, certainly not more than a third of that number,
and they of doubtful whereabouts and doubtful existence, are in arms
against it. After a somewhat bloody struggle of months, winter closes
on the Union people of Western Virginia, leaving them masters of their
own country.

An insurgent force of about fifteen hundred, for months dominating
the narrow peninsular region constituting the counties of Accomac and
Northampton, and known as Eastern Shore of Virginia, together with
some contiguous parts of Maryland, have laid down their arms; and the
people there have renewed their allegiance to, and accepted the protec
tion of, the old flag. This leaves no armed insurrectionist north of the
Potomac, or east of the Chesapeake.

Also we have obtained a footing at each of the isolated points on the
southern coast of Hatteras, Port Royal, Tybee Island, near Savannah,
and Ship Island ; and we likewise have some general accounts of popu
lar movements in behalf of the Union in North Carolina and Tennessee.

These things demonstrate that the cause of the Union is advancing
steadily and certainly southward.

Since your last adjournment Lieutenant-General Scott lias retired from
the head of the army. During his long life the nation has not been un
mindful of his merit ; yet, on calling to mind how faithfully, ably, and
brilliantly he has served the country, from a time far back in our his
tory, when few of the now living had been born, and thenceforward
continually, I cannot but think we are still his debtors. I submit,
therefore, for your consideration what farther mark of recognition is
due to him, and to ourselves as a grateful people.

With the retirement of General Scott came the executive duty of ap
pointing in his stead a general-in-chief of the army. It is a fortimate
circumstance that neither in council nor country was there, so far as I
know, any difference of opinion as to the proper person to be selected.
The retiring chief repeatedly expressed his judgment in favor of General
McClellan for the position ; and in this the nation seemed to give a
unanimous concurrence. The designation of General McClellan is, there
fore, in considerable degree, the selection of the country as well as of
the Executive ; and hence there is better reason to hope there will be
given him the confidence and cordial support thus, by fair implica
tion, promised, and without which he cannot, with so full efficiency,
serve the country.

It has been said that one bad general is better than two good ones :


and the saying is true, if taken to mean no more than that an army is
better directed by a single mind, though inferior, than by two superior
ones at variance and cross-purposes with each other.

And the same is true in all joint operations wherein those engaged
can have none but a common end in view, and can differ only as to the
choice of means. In a storm at sea, no one on board can wish the ship
to sink ; and yet not unfrequently all go down together, because too
many will direct, and no single mind can be allowed to control.

It continues to develop that the insurrection is largely, if not exclu
sively a war upon the first principle of popular government the rights
of the people. Conclusive evidence of this is found in the most grave
and maturely-considered public documents, as well as in the general
tone of the insurgents. In those documents we find the abridgment of
the existing right of suffrage, and the denial to the people of all right to
participate in the selection of public officers, except the legislative,
boldly advocated, with labored arguments to prove that large control of
the people in government is the source of all political evil. Monarchy
itself is sometimes hinted at as a possible refuge from the power of the

In my present position, I could sc&rcely be justified were I to omit
raising a warning voice against this approach of returning despotism.

It is not needed, nor fitting here, that a general argument should be
made in favor of popular institutions ; but there is one point, with its
connections, not so hackneyed as most others, to which I ask a brief at
tention. It is the effort to place capital on an equal footing with, if not
above, labor, in the structure of government. It is assumed that labor
is available only in connection with capital ; that nobody labors unless
somebody else, owning capital, somehow by the use of it induces him
to labor. This assumed, it is next considered whether it is best that
capital shall hire laborers, and thus induce them to work by their own
consent, or buy them, and drive them to it without their consent.
Having proceeded so far, it is naturally concluded that all laborers are
either hired laborers, or what we cah 1 slaves. And further, it is as
sumed that whoever is once a hired laborer is fixed in that condition for

Now, there is no such relation between capital and labor as assumed ;
nor is there any such thing as a free man being fixed for life in the con
dition of a hired laborer. Both these assumptions are false, and all in
ferences from them are groundless.

Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit


of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed.
Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consider
ation. Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any
other rights. Nor is it denied that there is, and probably always will
be, a relation between labor and capital, producing mutual benefits.
The error is in assuming that the whole labor of community exists with
in that relation. A few men own capital, and those few avoid labor
themselves, and, with their capital, hire or buy another few to labor for
them. A large majority belong to neither class neither work for
others, nor have others working for them. In most of the Southern
States, a majority of the whole people of all colors are neither slaves
nor masters ; while in the Northern, a large majority are neither hirers
nor hired. Men, with their families wives, sons, and daughters
work for themselves, on their farms, in their houses, and in their shops,
taking the whole product to themselves, and asking no favors of capital
on the one hand, nor of hired laborers or slaves on the other. It is not
forgotten that a considerable number of persons mingle their own labor
with capital that is, they labor with their own hands, and also buy or
hire others to labor for them ; but this is only a mixed, and not a
distinct class. No principle stated is disturbed by the existence of this
mixed class.

Again : as has already been said, there is not of necessity any such
thing as the free hired laborer being fixed to that condition for life.
Many independent men everywhere in these States, a few years back
in their lives, \vere hired laborers. The prudent, penniless beginner in
the world labors for wages awhile, saves a surplus with which to buy
tools or land for himself, then labors on his owo account another while,
and at length hires another new beginner to help him. This is the just,
and generous, and prosperous system, which opens the way to all,
gives hope to all, and consequent energy, and progress, and improve
ment of condition to all. No men living are more worthy to be trusted
than those who toil up from poverty none less inclined to take or
touch aught which they have not honestly earned. Let them beware of
surrendering a political power which they already possess, and which, if
suiTendered, will surely be used to close the door of advancement
against such as they, and to fix new disabilities and burdens upon them,
till all of liberty shall be lost. >

From the first taking of our national census to the last are seventy
years ; and we find our population, at the end of the period, eight timea
as great as it was at the beginning. The increase of those other tilings


which meu deem desirable has been even greater. TVe thus have, at
one vie\v, what the popular principle, applied to Government through
the machinery of the States and the Union, has produced in a given
tune ; and also what, if firmly maintained, it promises for the future.
There are already among us those who, if the Union be preserved, will
live to see it contain two hundred and fifty millions. The struggle of
to-day is not altogether for to-day ; it is for a vast future also. With a
reliance on Providence, all the more firm and earnest, let us proceed in
the great task which events have devolved upon us.


The actual condition of the country and the progress of the
war, at the opening of the session, are very clearly stated in
this document ; and the principles upon which the President
had based his conduct of public affairs are set forth with groat
distinctness and precision. On the subject of interfering with
slavery, the President had adhered strictly to the letter and
spirit of the act passed by Congress at its extra session ; but
he very distinctly foresaw that it might become necessary, as
a means of quelling the rebellion and preserving the Union, to
resort to a much more vigorous policy than was contemplated
by that act. While he threw out a timely caution against
undue haste in the adoption of extreme measures, he promised
full arid careful consideration of any new law which Congress
might consider it wise and expedient to pass.

It very soon became evident that Congress was disposed to
make very considerable advances upon the legislation of the
extra session. The resistance of the rebels had been more
vigorous and effective than was anticipated, and the defeat at
Bull Run had exasperated, as well as aroused, the public
mind. The forbearance of the Government in regard to slav
ery had not only failed to soften the hostility of the rebels, but
had been represented to Europe by the rebel authorities as
proving a determination on the part of the United States to
protect and perpetuate slavery by restoring the authority of
the Constitution which guaranteed its safety ; and the acts of


the extra session, especially the Crittenden resolution, defining
and limiting the objects of the war, were quoted in rebel dis
patches to England, for that purpose. It was known also that
within the Hues of the rebel array, slaves were freely employed
in the construction of fortifications, and that they contributed,
in this and other ways, very largely to the strength of the in
surrection. The whole country, under the influence of these
facts, began to regard slavery as not only the cause of the
rebellion, but as the main strength of its armies and tho
bond of union for the rebel forces ; and Congress, represent
ing and sharing this feeling, entered promptly and zealously
upon such measures as it would naturally suggest. Resolu
tions at the very outset of the session were offered, calling on
the President to emancipate slaves whenever and wherever
such action would tend to weaken the rebellion ; and the gen
eral policy of the Government upon this subject became the
theme of protracted and animated debate. The orders issued
by the generals of the army, especially McClellan, Halleck, and
Dix, by which fugitive slaves were prohibited from coming
within the army lines, were severely censured. All the res
olutions upon these topics were, however, referred to appro
priate committees, generally without specific instructions as
to the character of their action upon them.

Early in the session a strong disposition was evinced in
some quarters to censure the Government for its arbitrary
arrests of persons in the loyal States, suspected of aiding the
rebels, its suppression of disloyal presses, and other acts which
it had deemed essential to the safety of the country : and a
sharp debate took place in the Senate upon a resolution of
inquiry and implied censure offered by Mr. Trumbull, of
Illinois. The general feeling, however, was so decidedly in
favor of sustaining the President, that the resolution was
referred to the Judiciary Committee, by a vote of 25 to 17.

On the 19th of December, in the Senate, a debate on the


relation of slavery to the rebellion arose upon a resolution
offered by Mr. Willey, of Virginia, who contested the opinion
that slavery was the cause of the war, and insisted that the
rebellion had its origin in the hostility of the Southern politi
cal leaders to the democratic principle of government ; he
believed that when the great body of the Southern people
came to see the real purpose and aim of the rebellion, they
would withdraw their support, and restore the Union. No
action was taken on the resolution, which merely gave occa
sion for debate. A resolution was adopted in the House,
forbidding the employment of the army to return fugitive
slaves to their owners ; and a bill was passed in both Houses,
declaring that hereafter there shall be " neither slavery nor
involuntary servitude in any of the Territories of the United
States, now existing, or which may at any time be formed or
acquired by the United States, otherwise than in the punish
ment of Crimea whereof the party shall have been duly con

In the Senate, on the 18th of March, a bill was taken up to
abolish slavery in the District of Columbia ; and an amend
ment was offered, directing that those thus set free should be
colonized out of the United States. The policy of coloni
zation was fully discussed in connection with the general
subject, the senators from the Border States opposing the bill
itself, mainly on grounds of expediency, as calculated to do
harm under the existing circumstances of the country. The
bill was passed, with an amendment appropriating money to
be used by the President in colonizing such of the emanci
pated slaves as might wish to leave the country. It received
in the Senate 29 votes in its favor and 14 against it. In the
House it passed by a vote of 92 to 38.

President Lincoln sent in the following Message, announcing
his approval of the bill :



The act entitled " An act for the release of certain persons held to
service or labor in this District of Columbia," has this day been approved
and signed.

I have never doubted the constitutional authority of Congress to
abolish slavery in this District ; and I have ever desired to see the
national capital freed from the institution in some satisfactory way.
Hence there has never b-.-. n in my mind any question upon the subject
except the one of expediency, arising in view of all the circumstances.
If there be matters within and about this act which might have taken a
course or shape more satisfactory to my judgment, I do not attempt to
specify them. I am gratified that the two principles of compensation
and colonization are both recognized and practically applied in the act.

In the matter of compensation, it is provided that claims may be
presented within ninety days from the passage of the act, " but not
thereafter;" and there is no saving for minors, femmes covert, insane, or
absent persons. I presume this is an omission by mere oversight, and
I recommend that it be supplied by an amendatory or supplemental act.


April 16, 1862.

On the 6th of March the President sent to Congress the
following Message on the subject of aiding such slaveholding
States as might take measures to emancipate their slaves :

WASHINGTON. March 6, 1862.

I recommend the adopiion of a joint resolution by your honorable
body, which shall be, substantially, as follows :

Resolved, That the United States, in order to co-operate with any
State which may adopt gradual abolition of slavery, give to such State
pecuniary aid, to be used by such State, in its discretion, to compensate
it for the inconvenience, public and private, produced by such change of

If the proposition contained in the resolution does not meet the
approval of Congress and the country, there is an end of it. But if it
does command such approval, I deem it of importance that the States
and people immediately interested should be at once distinctly notified
of the fact, so that they may begin to consider whether to accept or
reject it.

The Federal Government would find its highest interest in such a


measure as one of the most important means of self-preservation. The
leaders of the existing rebellion entertain the hope that this Government
will ultimately be forced to acknowledge the independence of some part
of the disaffected region, and that all the Slave States north of such
part will then say, "The Union for which we have struggled being
already gone, we now choose to go with the Southern section." To
deprive them of this hope substantially ends the rebellion ; and the
initiation of emancipation deprives them of it, and of all the States
initiating it.

The point is not that all the States tolerating slavery would very
soon, if at all, initiate emancipation ; but while the offer is equally made
to all, the more Northern shall, by such initiation, make it certain to
the more Southern that in no event will the former ever join the latter
in their proposed Confederacy. I say initiation, because, in my judg
ment, gradual and not sudden emancipation is better for alL

In the mere financial or pecuniary view, any member of Congress
with the census or an abstract of the Treasury report before him, can,
readily see for himself how very soon the current expenditures of this
war would purchase, at a fair valuation, all the slaves in any named

Such a proposition on the part of the General Government sets up no
claim of a right by the Federal authority to interfere with slavery within
State limits referring as it does the absolute control of the subject, in
each case, to the State and the people immediately interested. It is
proposed as a matter of perfectly free choice to them.

In the annual Message, last December, I thought fit to say " the
Union must be preserved, and hence all indispensable means must be
employed." I said this, not hastily but deliberately. "War has been
made, and continues to be an indispensable means to this end. A
practical reacknowledgment of the national authority would render the
war unnecessary, and it would at once cease. But resistance continues,
and the war must also continue ; and it is impossible to foresee all the
incidents which may attend, and all the ruin which may follow it.
Such as may seem indispensable, or may obviously promise great
efficiency towards ending the struggle, must and will come.

The proposition now made (though an ofl er only) I hope it may be
esteemed no offence to ask whether the pecuniary consideration tendered
would not be of more value to the States and private persons concerned
than would 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 lead to important practical

In full view of my great responsibility to my God and my country,
I earnestly beg the attention of Congress and the people to the subject.


This Message indicates very clearly the tendency of the
President s reflections upon the general relations of slavery to
the rebellion. He had most earnestly endeavored to arouse
the people of the Southern States to a contemplation of the
fact that, if they persisted in their effort to overthrow the Gov
ernment of the United States, the fate of slavery would sooner
or later inevitably be involved in the conflict. The time was
steadily approaching when, in consequence of their obstinate-
persistence in the rebellion, this result would follow ; and the
President, with wise forethought, sought anxiously to recon
cile the shock which the contest would involve, with the order
of the country and the permanent prosperity of all classes of
the people. The general feeling of the country at that time
was in harmony with this endeavor. The people were still
disposed to exhaust every means which justice would sanction,
to withdraw the people of the Southern States from the dis
astrous war into which they had been plunged by their lead
ers, and they welcomed this suggestion of the President as
likely to produce that result, if any effort in that direction

In pursuance of the recommendation of the Message, Mr.
R. Conkling, of New York, introduced, in the House of Rep
resentatives, on the 10th of March, the following resolution:

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States
in Congress assembled, That the United States ought to co-operate 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
a change of system.


The debate on this resolution illustrated the feelings of the
country on the subject. It was vehemently opposed by the
sympathizers with secessiou from both sections, as an uncon
stitutional interference with slavery, and hesitatingly sup
ported by the anti-slavery men of the North, as less decided
in its hostility than they had a right to expect. The sen
timent of the more moderate portion of the community was
expressed by Mr. Fisher, of Delaware, who regarded it as an
olive-branch of peace and harmony and good faith presented
by the North, and as well calculated to bring about a peaceful
solution and settlement of the slavery question. It was
adopted in the House by a vote of 89 to 31. Coming up in
the Senate on the 24th of March, it was denounced in strong
terms by Mr. Saulsbury, of Delaware, and others Mr. Davis,
of Kentucky, opposing the terms in which it was couched, but
approving its general tenor. It subsequently passed, receiv
ing 32 votes in its favor, and but 10 against it. This resolu
tion was approved by the President on the 10th of April. It

Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondHistory of the administration of President Lincoln : including his speeches, letters, addresses, proclamations, and messages. With a preliminary sketch of his life → online text (page 16 of 46)