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

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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 17 of 46)
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was generally regarded by the people and by the President
himself as rather an experiment than as a fixed policy as
intended to test the temper of the people of the Southern
States, and offer them a way of escape from the evils and
embarrassments with which slavery had surrounded them,
rather than set forth a distinct line of conduct which was to
be pressed upon the country at all hazards. This character,
indeed, was stamped upon it by the fact that its practical ex
ecution was made to depend wholly on the people of the
Southern States themselves. It recognized their complete
control over slavery, within their own limits, and simply ten
dered them the aid of the General Government in any steps
they might feel inclined to take to rid themselves of it.

The President was resolved that the experiment should have
a full and a fair trial; and while he would not, on the one
hand, permit its effect to be impaired by the natural im-


patience of those among his friends who were warmest and
most extreme in their hostility to slavery, he, on the other
hand, lost no opportunity to press the proposition on the
favorable consideration of the people of the Border Slave States.
On the 9th of May, General Hunter, who commanded the
department of South Carolina, which included also the States
of Georgia and Florida, issued an order declaring all the slaves
within that department to be thenceforth "forever free."
This was done not from any alleged military necessity, growing
out of the operations in his department, but upon a theoreti
cal incompatibility between slavery and martial law. The
President"thereupon at once issued the following proclama
tion :

Whereas, There appears in the public prints what purports to be a
proclamation of Major-General Hunter, in the words and figures

following :

HILTON HEAD, S. C., May 9, 1862. f
General Order, No. 11.

The three States of Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina, comprising 1
the Military Department of the South, having deliberately declared
themselves no longer under the United States of America, and having
taken up arms against the United States, it becomes a military necessity
to declare them under martial law.

This was accordingly done on the 25th day of April, 1862. Slavery and
martial law in a free country are altogether incompatible. The persons
in these States Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina heretofore held
as slaves, are therefore declared forever free.


Mnjor-General Commanding.
F,D. W. SMITH, Acting Assistant Adj t General.

And, wJiereas, the same is producing some excitement and misunder
standing, therefore T, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States,
proclaim and declare that the Government of the United States had no
knowledge or belief of an intention on the part of General Hunter to
issue such proclamation, nor- has it yet any authentic information that
the document is genuine ; and, further, that neither General Hunter nor
any other commander or person has been authorized by the Government
of the United States to make proclamation declaring the slaves of any
State free, and that the supposed proclamation now in question, whether
genuine or false, is altogether void so far as respects such declaration.


3 further make known that, whether it be competent for me, as Com-
mander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, to declare the slaves of any
State or States free ; and whether at any time, or in any case, it shall
have become a necessity indispensable to the maintenance of the Gov
ernment to exercise such supposed power, are questions which, under
my responsibility, I reserve to myself, and which I cannot feel justified
in leaving to the decision of commanders in the field.

These are totally different questions from those of police regulations
in armies or in camps.

On the sixth day of March last, by a special Message, I recommended
to Congress the adoption of a joint resolution, to be substantially as
follows :

Resolved, That the United States ought to co-operate with any State
which may adopt a gradual abolishment of slavery, giving to such State
earnest expression to compensate for its inconveniences, public and
private, produced by such change of system.

The resolution in the language above quoted was adopted by large
majorities in both branches of Congress, and now stands an authentic,
definite, and solemn proposal of the Xation to the States and people
most interested in the subject matter. To the people of these States
now, I mostly appeal. I do not argue I beseech you to make the
arguments for yourselves. You cannot, if you would, be blind to the
signs of the times.

I beg of you a calm and enlaiged consideration of them, ranging, if it
may be, far above partisan and personal politics.

This proposal makes common cause for a common object, casting no
reproaches upon any. It acts not the Pharisee. The change it con
templates would come gently as the dews of Heaven, not rending or
wrecking any thing. "Will you not embrace it ? So much good has not
been done by one effort in all past time, as in the Providence of God it
is now your high privilege to do. May the vast future not have to
lament that you have neglected it.

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal
of the United States to be hereunto affixed.

Done at the city of "Washington this 19th day of May, in the year of
our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, and of the in
dependence of the United States the eighty-sixth.


By the President :

W. H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.


This proclamation silenced the clamorous denunciation by
which its enemies had assailed the Administration on the
strength of General Hunter s order, and renewed the confi
dence, which for the moment had been somewhat impaired, in
the President s adherence to the principles of action he had
laid down. Nothing practical, hovvever, was done in any of
the Border States indicating any disposition to act upon his
suggestions and avail themselves of the aid which Congress had
offered. The members of Congress from those States had
taken no steps towards inducing action in regard to it on the
part of their constituents. Feeling the deepest interest in the
adoption of some measure which should permanently detach
the Border Slave States from the rebel Confederacy, and be
lieving that the plan he had recommended would tend to
accomplish that object, President LINCOLN sought a conference
with the members of Congress from those States, and on the
12th of July, when they waited upon him at the executive
mansion, he addressed them as follows :

GENTLEMEN : After the adjournment of Congress, now near, I shall
have no opportunity of seeing you for several months. Believing that
you of the Border States hold more power for good than any other
equal number of members, I feel it a duty which I cannot justifiably
waive to make this appeal to you.

I intend no reproach or complaint when I assure you that, in my
opinion, if you all had voted for the resolution in the gradual emancipa
tion Message of last March the war would now be substantially ended-
And the plan therein proposed is yet one of the most potent and swift
means of ending it. Let the States which are in rebellion see definitely
and certainly that in no event will the States you represent ever join
their proposed Confederacy, and they cannot much longer maintain the
contest. But you cannot divest them of their hope to ultimately have
you with them so long as you show a determination to perpetuate the
institution within your own States. Beat them at elections, as you
have overwhelmingly done, and, nothing daunted, they still claim you
as their own. You and I know what the lever of their power is.
Break that lever before their faces, and they can shake you no more for


Most of you have treated me with kindness and consideration, and I
trust you will not now think I improperly touch what is exclusively
your own, when, for the sake of the whole country, I ask, Can you, for
your States, do better than to take the course I urge? Discarding
punctilio and maxims adapted to more manageable times, and looking
dnly to the unprecedentedly stern facts of our case, can you do better in
any possible event? You prefer that the constitutional relation of the
States to the nation shall be practically restored without disturbance of
the institution : and if this were done, my -whole duty, in this respect,
under the Constitution and my oath of office, would be performed. But
it is not done, and we are trying to accomplish it by war. The incidents
of the war cannot be avoided. If the war continues long, as it must if
the object be not sooner attained, the institution in your States will be
extinguished by mere friction and abrasion by the mere incidents of
the war. It will be gone, and you will have nothing valuable in lieu of
it. Much of its value is gone already. How much better for you and
for your people to take the step which at once shortens the war, and
secures substantial compensation for that which is sure to be wholly
lost in any other event ! How much better to thus save the money
which else we sink forever in the war ! How much better to do it
while we can, lest the war ere long render us pecuniarily unable to do
it ! How much better for you, as seller, and the nation, as buyer, to
sell out and buy out that without which the war could never have been,
than to sink both the thing to be sold and the price of it in cutting one
another s throats !

I do not speak of emancipation at once, but of a decision at once to
emancipate gradually. Room in South America for colonization can be
obtained cheaply, and in abundance, and when numbers shall be large
enough to be company and encouragement for one another, the freed
people will not be so reluctant to go.

I am pressed with a difficulty not yet mentioned one which threatens
division among those who, united, are none too strong. An instance of
it is known to you. General Hunter is an honest man. He was, and I
hope still is, my friend. I valued him none the less for his agreeing
with me in the general wish that all men everywhere could be free. He
proclaimed all men free within certain States, and I repudiated the proc
lamation. He expected more good and less harm from the measure
than I could believe would follow. Yet, in repudiating it, I gave dissat
isfaction, if not offence, to many whose support the country cannot
afford to lose. And this is not the end of it. The pressure in this


direction is still upon me, and is increasing. By conceding what I now
ask you can relieve me, and, much more, can relieve the country in this
important point.

Upon these considerations I have again begged your attention to the
Message of March last. Before leaving the Capitol, consider and discuss
it among yourselves. You are patriots and statesmen, and as such I
pray you consider this proposition ; and at the least commend it to the
consideration of your States and people. As you would perpetuate
popular government for the best people in the world, I beseech you that
you do in nowise omit this. Our common country is in great peril, de
manding the loftiest views and boldest action to bring a speedy relief.
Once relieved, its form of government is saved to the world ; its beloved
history and cherished memories are vindicated, and its happy future
fully assured and rendered inconceivably grand. To you, more than to
any others, the privilege is given to assure that happiness and swell
that grandeur, and to link your own names therewith forever.

The members to whom the President thus appealed were
divided in opinion as to the merits of the proposition which
he had laid before them. A majority of them submitted an
elaborate reply, in which they dissented from the President s
opinion that the adoption of this policy would terminate the
war or serve the Union cause. They held it to be his duty
to avoid all interference, direct or indirect, with slavery in the
Southern States, and attributed much of the stubborn hostility
which the South had shown in prosecuting the war, to the fact
that Congress had departed in various instances from the
spirit and objects for which the war ought to be prosecuted by
the Government. A minority of those members, not being
able to concur in this reply, submitted one of their own, in
which they thus set forth their view of the motives of the
President in the course he had adopted, and expressed their
substantial concurrence in its justice and wisdom :

"We believe that the whole power of the Government, upheld and
sustained by all the influences and means of all loyal men in all
sections and of all parties, is essentially necessary to put down the
rebellion and preserve the Union and the Constitution. We understand


your appeal to us to bave been made for the purpose of securing this
result. A very large portion of the people in the Northern States
believe that slavery is the "lever power of the rebellion." It matters
not whether this opinion is well-founded or not. The belief does exist,
and we have to deal with things as they are, and not as we would have
them be. In consequence of the existence of this belief, we understand
that an immense pressure is brought to bear for the purpose of striking
down this institution through the exercise of military authority. The
Government cannot maintain this great struggle if the support and in
fluence of the men who entertain these opinions be withdrawn. Neither
can the Government hope for early success if the support of that element
called " conservative" be withdrawn.

Such being the condition of things, the President appeals to the
Border State men to step forward and prove their patriotism by making
the first sacrifice. No doubt, like appeals have been made to extreme
men in the North to meet us half way, in order that the whole moral,
political, pecuniary, and physical force of the nation may be firmly and
earnestly united in one grand effort to save the Union and the Con

Believing that such were the motives that prompted your address,
and such the results to which it looked, we cannot reconcile it to our
sense of duty, in this trying hour, to respond in a spirit of fault-finding
or querulousness over the things that are past. "We are not disposed
to seek for the cause of present misfortunes in the errors and wrongs
of others who propose to unite with us in a common purpose. But, on
the other hand, we meet your address in the spirit in which it was
made, and, as loyal Americans, declare to you and to the world, that
there is no sacrifice that we are not ready to make to save the Govern
ment and institutions of our fathers. That we, few of us though there
may be, will permit no men, from the North or from the South, to go
further than we in the accomplishment of the great work before us.
That, in order to carry out these views, we will, so far as may be in
our power, ask the people of the Border States calmly, deliberately,
and fairly to consider your recommendations. We are the more em
boldened to assume this position from the fact now become history,
that the leaders of the Southern rebellion have offered to abolish slavery
amongst them as a condition to foreign intervention in favor of their
independence as a nation.

If they can give up slavery to destroy the Union, we can surely ask
our people to consider the question of emancipation to save the Union.


Hon. Horace Maynard, of Tennessee, on the 16th of July
submitted to the President his views of the question, in which
he thus set forth his appreciation of the motives which had
induced him to make ttoe proposition in question to the South
ern States :

Your whole administration gives the highest assurance that you
are moved, not so much from a desire to see all men everywhere made
free, as from a desire to preserve free institutions for the benefit of
men already free ; not to make slaves free men, but to prevent free men
from being made slaves ; not to destroy an institution which a portion
of us only consider bad, but to save an institution which we all alike
consider good. I am satisfied that you would not ask from any of your
fellow-citizens a sacrifice not in your judgment imperatively required
by the safety of the country. This is the spirit of your appeal, and I
respond to it in the same spirit.

Determined to leave undone nothing which it was in his
power to do to effect the object he had so much at heart, the
President on the 12th of July sent into Congress a Message
transmitting the draft of a bill upon the subject, as follows :

Fellow- Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives : Herewith
is the draft of the bill to compensate any State which may abolish
slavery within its limits, the passage of which, substantially as presented,

I respectfully and earnestly recommend.


Ik it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United
States of America in Gongrcu assembled : That whenever the President of
the United States shall be satisfied that any State shall have lawfully
abolished slavery within and throughout such State, either immediately
or gradually, it shall be the duty of the President, assisted by the Secre
tary of the Treasury, to prepare and deliver to each State an amount of
six per cent, interest-bearing bonds of the United States, equal to the ag
gregate value at dollars per head of all the slaves within such State as
reported by the census of 1800 ; the whole amount for any one State to be
delivered at once, if the abolishment be immediate, or in equal annual
installments, if it be gradual, interest to begin running on each bond at
the time of delivery, and not before.

And be it further enacted, That if any State, having so received any such
bonds, shall at anytime afterwards by law reintroduce or tolerate slavery
within its limits, contrary to the act (if abolishment upon which such
bonds shall have been received, said bonds so received by said State shall
at once be null and void, in whosesoever hands they may be, and such
State shall refund to the United States all interest which may have been
paid on such bonds.


The bill was referred to a Committee, but no action was
taken upon it in Congress, nor did any of the Border States
respond to the President s invitation. The proposition, how
ever, served a most excellent purpose in testing the sentiment
of both sections of the country, and in preparing the way for
the more vigorous treatment of the subject of slavery which
the blind and stubborn prejudices of the slaveholding com
munities were rapidly rendering inevitable.

Two other subjects of importance engaged the attention
and received the action of Congress during this session ; the
provision of a currency, and the amendment of the law to con
fiscate the property of rebels. A bill authorizing the issue of
Treasury notes to the amount of $150,000,000, and making
them a legal tender in all business transactions, was reported
in the House by the Finance Committee, of which lion. E. G.
Spaulding, of New York, was Chairman, and taken up for
discussion on the 17th of June. It was advocated mainly on
the score of necessity, and was opposed on the ground of
its alleged unconstitutionally. The division of sentiment on
the subject was not a party one, some of the warmest friends
and supporters of the administration doubting whether Con
gress had the power to make any thing but silver and gold a
legal tender in the payment of debts. The same bill provided
for a direct tax, involving stamp duties, taxes upon incomes,
etc., sufficient with the duties upon imports to raise $150,000,-
000 per annum, and also for the establishment of a system of
free banking by which bank notes to be circulated as currency
might be issued upon the basis of stocks of the United States
deposited as security. The bill was discussed at length, and
was finally adopted by a vote 93 to 59. In the Senate it en
countered a similar opposition, but passed by a vote of 30 to 7,
a motion to strike out the legal tender clause having been
previously rejected, 17 voting in favor of striking it out, and 22
against it.


The subject of confiscating the property of rebels excited
still deeper interest. A bill for that purpose was taken up in
the Senate, on the 25th of February, for discussion. By one
of its sections all the slaves of any person, anywhere in the
United States, aiding the rebellion, were declared to be forever
free, and subsequent sections provided for colonizing slaves
thus enfranchised. The bill was advocated on the ground that
in no other way could the property of rebels, in those States
where the judicial authority of the United States had been over
borne, be reached ; while it was opposed on the ground that it was
unconstitutional, and that it would tend to render the Southern
people still more united and desperate in their rebellion. By
the confiscation act of the previous session, a slave who had
been employed in aiding the rebellion was declared to be free,
but the fact that he had been thus employed must be shown by
due judicial process; by this bill all the slaves of any person
who had been thus engaged were set free without the interven
tion of any judicial process whatever. This feature of the bill
was warmly opposed by some of the ablest and most reliable
of the supporters of the Administration as a departure from all
recognized rules of proceeding, and as a direct interference
with slavery in the States, in violation of the most solemn
pledge of the Government, the Republican party, and indi
vidual supporters of the Administration. Senator Collamer,
of Vermont, urged this view of the case with great cogency,
citing Mr. Sumncr s opinion expressed on the 25th of Febru
ary, 1861, when, on presenting a memorial to the Senate in
favor of abolishing slavery, he had added : " In offering it, I
take this occasion to declare most explicitly that I do not
think that Congress has any right to interfere with slavery in
a State;" and quoting also Senator Fessen.. t en s declaration in
the debate on abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia,
when he said : " I have held, and I hold to-day, and I say
to-day what I have &aid in my place before, that the Congress


of the United States, or the people of the United States
through the Congress, under the Constitution as it now ex
ists, have no right whatever to touch by legislation the insti
tution of slavery in the States where it exists by law." Mr.
Sherman s opinion, expressed in the same debate, that " we
ou<rht religiously to adhere to the promises we made to the
people of this country when Mr. LINCOLN was elected Presi
dent W e ought to abstain religiously from all interference
with the domestic institutions of the Slave or the Free States,"
was also quoted, and Mr. Collamer said he did not see how it
was possible to pass the bill in its present form without giving
the world to understand that they had violated those pledges,
and had interfered with slavery in the States. Mr. Collamer
accordingly offered an amendment to the bill, obviating the
objections he had urged against it; and this, with other
amendments offered by other Senators, was referred to a Select
Committee, which subsequently reported a bill designed, as
the Chairman, Mr. Clark, of New Hampshire, explained, to
harmonize the various shades of opinion upon the subject, and
secure the passage of some measure which should meet the
expectations of the country and the emergency of the case.
The first section o this bill provided, that every person who
should hereafter commit the crime of treason against the
United States, and be adjudged guilty thereof, should suffer
death, and all his slaves, if any, be declared and made free ;
or he should he imprisoned not less than five years, and fined
not less than ten thousand dollars, and all his slaves, if any,
be declared and made free.

The distinctive feature of this section, as distinguished from
the corresponding section of the original bill, consisted in the
fact that a trial and conviction were required before any per
son guilty of treason could be punished, either by death, im

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 17 of 46)