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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should be pursued, or what steps should be taken in any
specific case, in his judgment, belonged exclusively to the
President; and he was always willing and ready to assume it.
This position has been widely and sharply assailed in various
quarters as contrary to the precedents of our early history:
but we believe it to be substantially in accordance with the
theory of the Constitution upon this subject.

The progress of our armies in certain portions of the South
ern States had warranted the suspension, at several ports, of
the restrictions placed upon commerce by the blockade. On
the 12th of May the President accordingly issued a proclama
tion declaring that the blockade of the ports of Beaufort, Port
Royal, and New Orleans, should so far cease from the 1st of
June, that commercial intercourse from those ports, except as
to contraband of war, might be resumed, subject to the laws
of the United States and the regulations of the Treasury De

On the 1st of July he issued another proclamation, in pur
suance of the law of June 7th, designating the States and
parts of States that were then in insurrection, so that the laws
of the United States concerning the collection of taxes could
not be enforced within their limits, and declaring that " the
taxes legally chargeable upon real estate, under the act re
ferred to, lying within the States or parts of States thus desig
nated, together with a penalty of fifty per cent, of said taxes,
should be a lien upon the tracts or lots of the same, severally
charged, till paid."

On the 20th of October, finding it absolutely necessary to
provide judicial proceedings for the State of Louisiana, a part
of which was in our military possession, the President issued
an order establishing a Provisional Court in the City of New
Orleans, of which Charles A. Peabody was made Judge, with
authority to try all causes, civil and criminal, in law, equitv,
revenue, and admiralty, and particularly to exercise all such


power and jurisdiction as belongs to the Circuit and District
Courts of the United States. His proceedings were to be
conformed, so far as possible, to the course of proceedings
and practice usual in the Courts of the United States of
Louisiana, and his judgment was to be final and conclusive.

Congress adjourned on the 17th of July, having adopted
many measures of marked though minor importance, besides
those to which we have referred, to aid in the prosecution of
the war. Several Senators were expelled for adherence, direct
or indirect, to the rebel cause ; measures were taken to remove
from the several departments of the Government employes
more or less openly in sympathy with secession ; Hayti and
Liberia were recognized as independent republics ; a treaty
was negotiated and ratified with Great Britain which conceded
the right, within certain limits, of searching suspected slavers
carrying the American flag, and the most liberal grants in
men and money were made to the Government for the pros
ecution of the war. The President had appointed military
Governors for several of the Border States, where public
sentiment was divided, enjoining them to protect the loyal
citizens and to regard them as alone entitled to a voice in the
direction of civil affairs.

Public sentiment throughout the loyal States sustained the
action of Congress and the President as adapted to the emer
gency and well calculated to aid in the suppression of the re
bellion. At the same time it was very evident that the con
viction was rapidly gaining ground that Slavery was the cause
of the Rebellion ; that the paramount object of the conspira
tors against the Union was to obtain new guaranties for the
institution ; and that it was this interest alone which gave
unity and vigor to the rebel cause. A very active and influ
ential party at the North had insisted from the outset that the
most direct way of crushing the Rebellion was by crushing
Slavery, and they had urged upon the President the adoption


of a policy of immediate and unconditional emancipation, as
the only thing necessary to bring into the ranks of the Union
armies hundre ds of thousands of enfranchised slaves, as well
as the great mass of the people of the Northern States who
needed this stimulus of an appeal to their moral sentiment.
After the adjournment of Congress these demands became still
more clamorous and importunate. The President was sum
moned to avail himself of the opportunity offered by the pas
sage of the Confiscation Bill, and to decree the instant libera
tion of every slave belonging to a rebel master. These de
mands soon assumed, with the more impatient and intemper
ate portion of the friends of the Administration, a tone of
complaint and condemnation, and the President was charged
with gross and culpable remissness in the discharge of duties
imposed upon him by the Act of Congress. They were em
bodied with force and effect in a letter addressed to the Pres
ident by Hon. Horace Greeley, and published in the N. Y.
Tribune of the 1 9th of August, to which President LINCOLN
made the following reply :



DEAR SIR I have just read yours of the 19th instant, addressed to
myself through the New York Tribune.

If there be in it any statements or assumptions of fact which I may
know to be erroneous, I do not now and here controvert them.

If there be any inferences which I may believe to be falsely drawn,
I do not now and here argue against them.

If there be perceptible in it an impatient and dictatorial tone, I waive
it in deference to an old friend whose heart I have always supposed to
be right.

As to the policy I "seem to be pursuing," as you say, I have not
meant to leave any one in doubt. I would save the Union. I would
Bave it in the shortest way 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.

If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at
the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them.

My paramount object is to save the Union, and not either to save or destroy

If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it
if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it and if I
could do it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do

What I do about slavery and the colored race, I do because I believe
it helps to save this Union, and what I forbear, I forbear because I do
not believe it would help to save the Union.

I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the
cause, and I shall do more whenever I believe doing more will help the

I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors, and I shall
adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.

I have here stated my purpose according to my views of official duty,
and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all
men everywhere could be free.



It was impossible to mistake the President s meaning after
this letter, or to have any doubt as to the policy by which he
expected to re-establish the authority of the Constitution over
the whole territory of the United States. His "paramount
object," in every thing he did and in every thing he abstained
from doing, was to " save the Union." lie regarded all the
power conferred on him by Congress in regard to slavery, as
having been conferred to aid him in the accomplishment of
that object and he was resolved to wield those powers so as
best, according to his own judgment, to aid in its attainment,
lie forebore, therefore, for a long time, the issue of such a
proclamation as he was authorized to make by the sixth sec
tion of the Confiscation act of Congress awaiting the devel
opments of public sentiment on the subject, and being espe-


cially anxious that when it was issued it should receive the
moral support of the great body of the people of the whole
country, without regard to party distinctions. He sought,
therefore, with assiduous care, every opportunity of informing
himself as to the drift of public sentiment on this subject.
He received and conversed freely with all who came to see
him and to urge upon him the adoption of their peculiar
views; and on the 13th of September gave formal audience to
a deputation from all the religious denominations of the city
of Chicago, which had been appointed on the 7th, to wait
upon him. The Committee presented a memorial requesting
him at once to issue a proclamation of universal emancipation,
and the chairman followed it by some remarks in support of
this request.

The President listened attentively to the memorial, and then
made to those who had presented it the following reply :

The subject presented in the memorial is one upon which I have
thought much for weeks past, and I may even say for months. I am
approached with the most opposite opinions and advice, and that by
religious men, who are equally certain that they represent the Divine
will. I am sure that either the one or the other class is mistaken in
that belief, and perhaps in some respect both. I hope it will not be
irreverent for me to say that if it is probable that God would reveal his
will to others, on a point so connected with my duty, it might be sup
posed he would reveal it directly to me ; for, unless I am more deceived
in myself than I often am, it is my earnest desire to know the will of
Providence in this matter. And if I can learn what it is I will do it !
These are not, however, the days of miracles, and I suppose it will be
granted that I am not to expect a direct revelation. I must study the
plain physical facts of the case, ascertain what is possible, and learn
what appears to be wise and right.

The subject is difficult, and good men do not agree. For instance, the
other day, four gentlemen of standing and intelligence from New York
called as a delegation on business connected with the war ; but before
leaving two of them earnestly besought me to proclaim general emanci
pation, upon which the other two at once attacked them. You know


also that the last session of Congress had a decided majority of anti-
slavery men, yet they could not unite on this policy. And the same is
true of the religious people. "Why, the rebel soldiers are praying with
a great deal more earnestness, I fear, than our own troops, and expect
ing God to favor their side : for one of our soldiers who had been taken
prisoner told Senator Wilson a few days since that he met nothing so
discouraging as the evident sincerity of those he was among in their
prayers. But we will talk over the merits of the case.

What good would a proclamation of emancipation from me do, espe
cially as we are now situated ? I do not want to issue a document that
the whole world will see must necessarily be inoperative, like the Pope s
bull against the comet ! Would my word free the slaves, when I cannot
even enforce the Constitution in the rebel States ? Is there a single
court, or magistrate, or individual that would be influenced by it there ?
Arid what reason is there to think it would have any greater effect upon
the slaves than the late law of Congress, which I approved, and which
offers protection and freedom to the slaves of rebel masters who come
within our lines ? Yet I cannot learn that that law has caused a single
slave to come over to us. And suppose they could be induced by a proc
lamation of freedom from me to throw themselves upon us, what should
we do with them ? . How can we feed and care for such a multitude ?
General Butler wrote me a few days since that he was issuing more
rations to the slaves who have rushed to him than to all the white
troops under his command. They eat, and that is all ; though it is truo
General Butler is feeding the whites also by the thousand ; for it nearly
amounts to a famine there. If, now, the pressure of the war should call
off our forces from New Orleans to defend some other point, what is to
prevent the masters from reducing the blacks to slavery again ; for I
am told that whenever the rebels take any black prisoners, free or slave,
they immediately auction them off! They did so with those they took
from a boat that was aground in the Tennessee River a few days ago.
And then I am very ungenerously attacked for it ! For instance, when,
after the late battles at and near Bull Run, an expedition went out from
Washington under a flag of truce to bury the dead and bring in the
wounded, and the rebels seized the blacks who went along to help, and
sent them into slavery, Horace Greeley said in his paper that the Gov
ernment would probably do nothing about it. What could I do ?

Now, then, tell me, if you please, what possible result of good would
follow the issuing of such a proclamation as you desire ? Understand,
I raise no objections against it on legal or constitutional grounds, for, as


commander-in-chief of the army and navy, in time of war I suppose I
have a right to take any measure which may best subdue the enemy,
nor do I urge objections of a moral nature, in view of possible con
sequences of insurrection and massacre at the South. I view this
matter as a practical war measure, to be decided on according to the
advantages or disadvantages it may offer to the suppression of the re

The Committee replied to these remarks, insisting that a
proclamation of emancipation would secure at once the sym
pathy of Europe and the civilized world ; and that as slavery
was clearly the cause and origin of the rebellion, it was simply
just,- and in accordance with the word of God, that it should
be abolished. To these remarks the President responded as
follows :

I admit that slavery is at the root of the rebellion, or at least its sine
qua non. The ambition of politicians may have instigated them to act,
but they would have been impotent without slavery as their instrument.
I will also concede that emancipation would help us in Europe, and con
vince them that we are incited by something more than ambition. I
grant, further, that it would help somewhat at the North, though not
so much, I fear, as you and those you represent imagine. Still, some
additional strength would be added in that way to the war, and then,
unquestionably, it would weaken the rebels by drawing off their laborers,
which is of great importance ; but I am not so sure we could do much
with the blacks. If we were to arm them, I fear that in a few weeks
the arms would be in the hands of the rebels ; and, indeed,, thus far, we
have not had arms enough to equip our white troops. I will mention
another thing, though it meet only your scorn and contempt. There
are 50,000 bayonets in the Union army from the Border Slave States.
It would be a serious matter if, in consequence of a proclamation such
as you desire, they should go over to the rebels. I do not think they all
would not so many, indeed, as a year ago, or as six months ago not
so many to-day as yesterday. Every day increases their Union feeling.
They are also getting their pride enlisted, and want to beat the rebels.
Let me say one thing more : I think you should admit that we already
have an important principle to rally and unite the people, in the fact
that constitutional government is at stake. This is a fundamental idea
going down about as deep as any thing.


The Committee replied to this in some brief remarks, to
which the President made the following response :

Do not misunderstand me because I have mentioned these objections.
They indicate the difficulties that have thus far prevented my action in
some such way as you desire. I have not decided against a proclama
tion of liberty to the slaves, but hold the matter under advisement.
And I can assure you that the subject is on my mind, by day and night,
more than any other. Whatever shall appear to be God s will I will do.
I trust that in the freedom with which I have canvassed your views I
have not in any respect injured your feelings.

After free deliberation, and being satisfied that the public
welfare would be promoted by such a step, and that public
sentiment would sustain it, on the 22d of September tbo
President issued the following preliminary


I, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President of the United States of America,
and Commander-in-Chief of the army and navy thereof, do hereby pro
claim and declare that hereafter, as heretofore, the war will be prose
cuted for the object of practically restoring the constitutional relation
between the United States and each of the States, and the people there
of, in which States that relation is or may be suspended or disturbed.

That it is my purpose, upon the next meeting of Congress, to again
recommend the adoption of a practical measure tendering pecuniary aid
to the free acceptance or rejection of all Slave States so-called, the
people whereof may not then be in rebellion against the United States,
and which States may then have voluntarily adopted, or thereafter may
voluntarily adopt, immediate or gradual abolishment of slavery within
their respective limits ; and that the effort to colonize persons of African
descent, with their consent, upon this continent or elsewhere, with the
previously obtained consent of the governments existing there, will be

That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thou
sand 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 the United States,


including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and
maintain the freedom of such persona, 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
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 a majority of
the qualified voters of such State shall have participated, shall, in the
absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evi
dence that such State, and the people thereof, are not then in rebellion
against the United States.

That attention is hereby called to an act of Congress entitled " An
Act to make an additional Article of War," approved March 13th, 18G2,
and which act is in the words and figures following :

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representative* of the United Stales
of America in Congress assembled, That hereafter the following shall be
promulgated as an additional article of war for the government of the
army of the United States, and shall be obeyed and observed as such :

AKTICLE. All officers or persons iu the military or naval service of
the United States arc prohibited from employing any of the forces under
their respective commands for the purpose of returning fugitives from
service or labor who may have escaped from any persons to whom such
service or labor is claimed to be due ; and any officer who shall be found
g lilty by a court-martial of violating this article shall be dismissed from
the service.

SEC. 3. And be it further enacted, That this act shall take effect from and
after its passage.

Also, to the ninth and tenth sections of an act entitled " An Act to
Suppress Insurrection, to Punish Treason and Rebellion, to seize and
Confiscate Property of Rebels, and for other Purposes," approved July
10, 1862, and which sections are in the words and figures following :

SEC. 9. And be it further enacted, That all slaves of persons who shall
hereafter be engaged in rebellion against the Government of the United
States, or who shall in any way give" aid or comfort thereto, escaping from
such persons and taking refuge within the lines of the army; and all
slaves captured from such persons, or deserted by them and coming
under the control of the Government of the United States; and all slaves
of such persons found on [or] being within any place occupied by rebel
forces and afterward occupied by forces of the United States, shall be
deemed captives of war, and shall be forever free of their servitude, and
not again held as slaves.

SEC. 10. And be it further enacted, That no slave escaping into any State,
Territory, or the District of Columbia, from any other State, shall be de
livered up, or in any way impeded or hindered of his liberty, except for


crime, or some offence against the laws, unless the person claiming said
fugitive shall first make oath that the person to whom the labor or ser
vice of such fugitive is alleged to be due is his lawful owner, and has not
borne arms against the United States in the present rebellion, nor in any
way given aid and comfort thereto ; and no person engaged in the mili
tary or naval service of the United States shall, under any pretence what
ever, assume to decide on the validity of the claim 01 any person to the
service or labor of any other person, or surrender up any such person to
the claimant, on pain of being dismissed from the service.

And I do hereby enjoin upon and order all persons engaged in the
military and naval service of the United States to observe, obey, and en
force, within their respective spheres of service, the act and sections
above recited.

And the Executive will in due time recommend that all citizens of
the United States who shall have remained loyal thereto throughout
the rebellion, shall (upon the restoration of the constitutional relation
between the United States and their respective States and people, if
that relation shall have been suspended or disturbed) be compensated
for all losses by acts of the United States, including the loss of

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

Done at the city of Washington, this twenty-second day of Sep
tember, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred
[L. s.] and sixty-two, and of the Independence of the United States

the eighty-seventh. ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

By the President :

WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

The issuing of this proclamation created the deepest inter
est, not unmixed with anxiety, in the public mind. The op
ponents of the Administration in the loyal States, as well as
the sympathizers with secession everywhere, insisted that it
afforded unmistakable evidence that the object of the war was,
what they had always declared it to be, the abolition of
slavery, and not the restoration of the Union ; and they put
forth the most vigorous efforts to arouse public sentiment
against the Administration on this ground. They were met,
however, by the clear and explicit declaration of the document
itself, in which the President " proclaimed and declared" that
" hereafter, as heretofore, the war will be prosecuted for the


object of practically restoring the constitutional relation be
tween the United States and each of the States and the people
thereof, in which that relation is or may be suspended or
disturbed." This at once made it evident that emancipation,
as provided for in the Proclamation, as a war measure, was
subsidiary and subordinate to the paramount object of the
war the restoration of the Union, and the re-establishment
of the authority of the Constitution ; and in this sense it was
favorably received by the great body of the loyal people of
the United States.

It only remains to be added, in this connection, that on the
first of January, 1863, the President followed this measure by
issuing the following


Whereas, on the 22d 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 :

That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thou

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 19 of 46)