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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 27 of 46)
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guage, whether confidential or public, in which this Government has
constantly spoken on the subject of the war. It certainly has had and
avowed only one purpose a determination to preserve the integrity of
the country. So far from admitting any laxity of effort, or betraying
any despondency, the Government has, on the contrary, borne itself
cheerfully in all vicissitudes, with unwavering confidence in an early
and complete triumph of the national cause. Xow, when we are, in a
manner, invited by a friendly power to review the twenty-one months
history of the conflict, we find no occasion to abate that confidence.
Through such an alternation of victories and defeats as is the appointed
incident of every war, the land and naval forces of the United States
have steadily advanced, reclaiming from the insurgents the ports, -forts,
and posts which they had treacherously seized before the strife actually
began, and even before it was seriously apprehended. So many of
the States and districts which the insurgents included in the field of
their projected exclusive sjaveholding dominions have already been re
established under the flag of the Union, that they now retain only the
States of Georgia, Alabama, and Texas, with half of Virginia, half of
North Carolina, and two thirds of South Carolina, half of Mississippi
and one-third respectively of Arkansas and Louisiana. The nation^
forces hold even this small territory in close blockade and siege.

This Government, if required, does not hesitate to submit its achieve
ments to the test of comparison; and it maintains that in no part of the
world, and in no times, ancient or modern, has a nation, when rendered
all unready for combat by the enjoyment of eighty years of almost un
broken peace, so quickly awakened at the alarm of sedition, put forth



energies so vigorous, and achieved successes so signal and effective as
those which have marked the progress of this contest on the part of the
Union.

M. Drouyn de 1 lluys, I fear, lias taken other light than the corre
spondence of this Government for his guidance in ascertaining its temper
and firmness, lie has probably read of divisions of sentiment among
those who hold themselves forth as organs of public opinion here, and
has given to them an undue importance. It is to be remembered that
this is a nation of thirty millions, civilly divided into forty-one States and
Territories, which cover an expanse hardly less than Europe ; that the
people are a pure democracy, exercising everywhere the utmost freedom
of speech and suffrage; that a great crisis necessarily produces vehe
ment as well as profound debate, with sharp collisions of individual,
local, and sectional interests, sentiments, and ambitions ; and that this
heat of controversy is increased by the intervention of speculations,
interests, prejudices, and passions from every other part of the civilized
world. It is, however, through such debates that the agreement of the
nation upon any subject is habitually attained, its resolutions formed,
and its policy established. While there has been much difference of
popular opinion and favor concerning the agents who shall carry on the
war, the principles on which it shall be waged, and the means with
which it shall be prosecuted, M. Drouyn de 1 IIuys has only to
refer to the statute book of Congress and the Executive ordi
nances to learn that the national activity has hitherto been, and yet
is, as efficient as that of any other nation, whatever its form of gov
ernment, ever was, under circumstances of equally grave import to
its peace, safety, and welfare. Not one voice has been raised any
where, out of the immediate field of the insurrection, in favor of foreign
intervention, of mediation, of arbitration, or of compromise, with the
rehnquishment of one acre of the national domain, or the surrender of
even one constitutional franchise. At the same time, it is manifest to
the world that our resources are yet abundant, and our credit adequate
to the existing emergency.

What Af. Drouyn de I Huys suggests is that this Government shall
appoint commissioners to meet, on neutral ground, commissioners of thy
insurgents. He supposes that in the conferences to be thus held, re
ciprocal complaints could be discussed, and in place of the accusations
which the North and South now mutually cast upon each other, the
conferees would be engaged with discussions of the interests which
divide them. He assumes, further, that the commissioners would seek.



301

by means of -well-ordered and profound deliberation, whether these
interests are definitively irreconcilable, whether separation is an ex
treme that can no longer be avoided, or whether the memories of a
common existence, the ties of every kind which have made the North
and the South one whole Federative State, and have borne them on to
so high a degree of prosperity, are not more powerful than the causes
which have placed arms in the hands of the two populations.
f The suggestion is not an extraordinary one, and it may well have
been thought by the Emperor of the French, in the earnestness of his
benevolent desire for the restoration of peace, a feasible one. But
when M. Drouyn de 1 IIuys shall come to review it in the light in which
it must necessarily be examined in this country, I think he can hardly
fail to perceive that it amounts to nothing less than a proposition that,
while this Government is engaged in suppressing an armed insurrection,
with the purpose of maintaining the constitutional national authority,
and preserving the integrity of the country, it shall enter into diplo
matic discussion with the insurgents upon the questions whether that
authority shall not be renounced, and whether the country shall not be
delivered over to disunion, to be quickly followed by ever-increasing
anarchy.

If it were possible for the Government of the United States to com
promise the national authority so far as to enter into such debates, it is
not easy to perceive what good results could be obtained by them.

The commissioners must agree in recommending either that the Union
shall stand or that it shall be voluntarily dissolved; or else they must
leave the vital question unsettled, to abide at last the fortunes of the
war. The Government has not shut out the knowledge of the present
temper, any more than of the past purposes of the insurgents. There
is not the least ground to suppose that the controlling actors would be
persuaded at this moment, by any arguments which national commis
sioners could offer, to lorego the ambition that has impelled them to the
disloyal position they are occupying. Any commissioners who should
be appointed by these actors, or through their dictation or influence,
must enter the conference imbued with the spirit and pledged to the
personal fortunes of the insurgent chiefs. The loyal people in the in
surrectionary States would be unheard, and any offer of peace by this
Government, on the condition of the maintenance of the Union, must
necessarily be rejected.

Oil the other hand, as I have already intimated, this Government has
not the least thought of relinquishing the trust which has been con-



302

fided to it by the nation under the most solemn of all political sanc
tions ; and if it had any such thought, it would still have abundant
reason to know that peace proposed at the cost of dissolution would be
immediately, unreservedly, and indignantly rejected by the American
people. It is a great mistake that European statesmen make, if they
suppose this people are demoralized. Whatever, in the case of an in
surrection, the people of France, or of Great Britain, or of Switzerland,
or of the Netherlands would do to save their national existence, no
matter how the strife might bo regarded by or might affect foreign
nations, just so much, and certainly no less, the people of the United
States will do, if necessary to save for the common benefit the region
which is bounded by the Pacific and the Atlantic coasts, and by the
shores of the Gulfs of St. Lawrence and Mexico, together with the free
and common navigation of the Rio Grande, Missouri, Arkansas, Missis
sippi, Ohio, St. Lawrence, Hudson, Delaware, Potomac, and other
natural highways by which this land, which to them is at once a land
of inheritance and a land of promise, is opened and watered. Even if
the agents of the American people now exercising their power should,
through fear or faction, fall below this height of the national virtue,
they would be speedily, yet constitutionally, replaced by others of
sterner character and patriotism.

I must be allowed to say, also, that M. Drouyn de I lluys errs in his
description of the parties to the present conflict. We have here, in
the political sense, no North and South, no Northern and Southern
States. We have an insurrectionary party, which is located chiefly
upon and adjacent to the shore of the Gulf of Mexico ; and we have,
on the other hand, a loyal people, who constitute not only Northern
States, but also Eastern, Middle, Western, and Southern States.

I have on many occasions heretofore submitted to the French Gov
ernment the President s views of the interests, and the ideas more
effective for the time than even interests, which lie at the bottom of
the determination of the American Government and people to maintain
the Federal Union. The President has done the same thing in his
Messages and other public declarations. I refrain, therefore, from re
viewing that argument in connection with the existing question.

M. Drouyn de I Huys draws to his aid the conferences which took
place between the Colonies and Great Britain in our Revolutionary
War. He will allow us to assume that action in the crisis of a nation
must accord with its necessities, and therefore can seldom be conformed
to precedents. Great Britain, when entering on the negotiations, had



SECRETARY SEWARD ? S DISPATCH. 303

manifestly come to entertain doubts of her ultimate success ; and it is
certain that the councils of the Colonies could not fail to take new
courage, if not to gain other advantage, when the parent State compro
mised so far as to treat of peace on the terms of conceding their inde
pendence.

It is true, indeed, that peace must come at some time, and that con
ferences must attend, if they are not allowed to precede the pacification.
There is, however, a better form for such conferences than the one which
M. Drouyn de PHuys suggests. The latter would be palpably hi deroga
tion of the Constitution of the United States, and would carry no weight,
because destitute of the sanction necessary to bind either the disloyal or
the loyal portions of the people. On the other hand, the Congress of tho
United States furnishes a constitutional forum for debates between the
alienated parties. Senators and representatives from the loyal portion
of the people are there already, freely empowered to confer ; and seats
also are vacant, and inviting senators and representatives of this dis
contented party who may be constitutionally sent there from the States
involved in the insurrection. Moreover, the conferences which can
thus be held in Congress have this great advantage over any that could
be organized upon the plan of M. Drouyn de 1 Huys, namely, that the
Congress, if it were thought wise, could call a national convention to
adopt its recommendations, and give them ah 1 the solemnity and bind
ing force of organic law. Such conferences between the alienated
parties may be said to have already begun. Maryland, Virginia,
Kentucky, Tennessee, and Missouri States which are claimed by the
insurgents are already represented in Congress, and submitting with
perfect freedom and hi a proper spirit their advice upon the course best
calculated to bring about, in the shortest time, a firm, lasting, and
honorable peace. Representatives have been sent also from Louisiana,
and others are understood to be coming from Arkansas.

There is a preponderating argument in favor of the Congressional
form of conference over that which is suggested by M. Drouyn de
1 Huys, namely, that while an accession to the latter would brrag this
Government into a concurrence with the insurgents in disregarding and
setting aside an important part of the Constitution of the United States,
and so would be of pernicious example, the Congressional conference,
on the contrary, preserves and gives new strength to that sacred writing
which must continue through future ages the sheet anchor of the Republic.
5Tou will be at liberty to read this dispatch to M. Drouyn do 1 Huys,
and to give him a copy if he shall desire it.



304

To the end that you may be informed of the whole case, I transmit
a copy of M. Drouyn de 1 Huys s dispatch.

I am, sir, your obedient servant,

WILLIAM H. SEWARD.

The effect of this dispatch was very marked. It put an
end to all talk of foreign intervention in any form, and met
the cordial and even enthusiastic approbation of the people
throughout .the country. Its closing suggestions as to the
mode in which the Southern States could resume their old
relations to the Federal Government, were regarded as signifi
cant indications of the policy the Administration was inclined
to pursue whenever the question of restoration should become
practical ; and while they were somewhat sharply assailed in
some quarters, they commanded the general assent of the great
body of the people.

The subject of appointing commissioners to confer with the
authorities of the rebel Confederacy had been discussed, before
the appearance of this correspondence, in the Northern States. It
had emanated from the party most openly in hostility to the Ad
ministration, and those men in that party who had been most
distinctly opposed to any measures of coercion, or any resort
to force for the purpose of overcoming the rebellion. It was
represented by these persons that the civil authorities of the
Confederacy were restrained from abandoning the contest only
by the refusal or neglect of the Government to give them an
opportunity of doing so without undue humiliation and dis
honor; and in December Hon. Fernando Wood, of New
York, wrote to the President informing him that he had
reason to believe the Southern States would " send representa
tives to the next Congress, provided a full and general amnesty
should permit them to do so," and asking the appointment of
commissioners to ascertain the truth of these assurances.

To this request the President made the following reply :



THE PRESIDENT S LETTER TO FERNANDO W OOD. 305

EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, Dec. 12, 1862.
HON. FERNANDO WOOD :

MY DEAR SIR: Your letter of the 8th, with the accompanying note of
same date, was received yesterday.

The most important paragraph in the letter, as I consider, is in these
words: " On the 25th of November last I was advised by an authority
which I deemed likely to be well informed as well as reliable and truth
ful, that the Southern States would send representatives to the next
Congress, provided that a full and general amnesty should permit them
to do so. No guarantee or terms were asked for other than the amnesty
referred to."

I strongly suspect your information will prove to be groundless ;
nevertheless, I thank you for communicating it to me. Understanding
the phrase in the paragraph above quoted "the Southern States would
send representatives.^ the next Congress" to be substantially the
same as that " the people of the Southern States would cease resistance,
and would reinaugurate, submit to, and maintain the national authority
within the limits of such States, under the Constitution of the United
States," I say that in such case the war would cease on the part of the
United States ; and that if within a reasonable time " a full and general
amnesty" were necessary to such end, it would not be withheld.

I do not think it would be proper now to communicate this, formally
or informally, to the people of the Southern States. My belief is that
they already know it ; and when they choose, if ever, they can com
municate with me unequivocally. Nor do I think it proper now to
suspend military operations to try any experiment of negotiation.

I should nevertheless receive, with great pleasure, the exact infor
mation you now have, and also such other as you may in any way
obtain. Such information might be more valuable before the 1st of
January than afterward.

While there is nothing in this letter which I shall dread to see in
history, it is, perhaps, better for the present that its existence should
not beccme public. I therefore have to request that you will regard it
as confidential. Tour obedient servant,

A. LINCOLN.

The intimation in this letter that information concerning
the alleged willingness of the rebels to resume their allegiance,
" might be more valuable before the 1st of January than after-



306 PRESIDENT LINCOLN S ADMINISTRATION.

wards," had reference to the Emancipation Proclamation which
lie proposed to issue on that day, unless the offer of his pre
liminary proclamation should be accepted. That proclamation
had been issued on the 22d of September, and the sense of
responsibility under which this step was taken, was clearly
indicated in the following remarks made by the President on
the evening of the 24th of that month, in acknowledging the
compliment of a serenade at the executive mansion :

FELLOW-CITIZENS : I appear before you to do little more than acknowl
edge the courtesy you pay me, and to thank you for it. I have not
been distinctly informed why it is that on this occasion you appear to
do mo this honor, though I suppose it is because of the Proclamation
What I did, I did after a very full deliberation, and under a very heavy
and solemn sense of responsibility. I can only trust in God I have
made no mistake. I shall make no attempt on this occasion to sustain
what I have done or said by any comment. It is now for the country
and the world to pass judgment, and may be take action upon it. I
will say no more upon this subject. In my position I am environed
with difficulties. Yet they are scarcely so great as the difficulties of
those who, upon the battle-field, are endeavoring to purchase with their
blood and their lives, the future happiness and prosperity of this coun
try. Let us never forget them. On the 14th and 17th days of this
present month, there have been battles bravely, skilfully, and success
fully fought. "We do not yet know the particulars. Let us be sure that,
in giving praise to certain individuals, we do no injustice to others. I
only ask you at the conclusion of these few remarks, to give three hearty
cheers to all good and brave officers and men who fought those success
ful battles.

In November the President published the following order
regarding the observance of the day of rest, and the vice of
profanity, in the army and navy :

EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, Nov. 16, 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 importance for man and beast

of tho prescribed weekly rest, the sacred rights of Christian soldiers and



OBSERVANCE OF THE SABBATH. 307

sailors a becoming deference to the best sentiment of a Christian peo
ple, 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 suffer,
nor the cause they defend be imperilled, by the profanation 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 tb
service of God and their country, without abandoning themselves to vice
and immorality." The first general order issued by the Father of his
Country after the Declaration of Independence, indicates the spirit m
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 soldier defending the dearest
rights and liberties of his country." ^ LINCOLN



308



CHAPTER VII.

THE CONGRESSIONAL SESSION OF 1862- 63. MESSAGE OP THE

PRESIDENT, AND GENERAL ACTION OF THE SESSION.

THE third session of the Thirty-seventh Congress opened on
the first day of December, 1862 the supporters of the
Administration having a large majority in both branches.
The general condition of the country, and the progress made
in quelling the rebellion, are clearly set forth in the following
Message of President LINCOLN, which was sent in to Congress
at the beginning of the session :

FELLOW-CITIZENS OP THE SENATE AND HOUSE OP REPRESENTATIVES :
Since your last annual assembling, another year of health and bountiful
harvests has passed, and while it has not pleased the Almighty to bless
us with a return of peace, we can but press on, guided by the best light
Ho gives us, trusting that, in his own good time and wise way, all will
be well.

The correspondence, touching foreign affairs, which has taken place
during the last year, is herewith submitted, in virtual compliance with
a request to that effect made by the House of Representatives near the
close of the last session of Congress. If the condition of our relations
with other nations is less gratifying than it has usually been at former
periods, it is certainly more satisfactory than a nation so unhappily dis
tracted as we are might reasonably have apprehended. In the month
of June last there were some grounds to expect that the maritime
Powers which, at the beginning of our domestic difficulties, so unwisely
and unnecessarily, as w r e think, recognized the insurgents as a belliger
ent, would soon recede from that position, which has proved only less
injurious to themselves than to our own country. But the temporary
reverses which afterward befel the National arms, and which were



309

exaggerated by our own disloyal citizens abroad, have hitherto delayed
that act of simple justice.

The civil war which has so radically changed for the moment the
occupations and habits of the American people, has necessarily disturbed
the social condition, and affected very deeply the prosperity of the
nations with which we have carried on a commerce that has been
steadily increasing throughout a period of half a century. It has, at the
same time, excited political ambitions and apprehensions which have
produced a profound agitation throughout the civilized world. In this
unusual agitation we have forborne from taking part in any controversy
between foreign states, and between parties or factions in such states.
We have attempted no propagandism, and acknowledged no revolution.
But we have left to every nation the exclusive conduct and management
of its own affairs. Our struggle has been, of course, contemplated by
foreign nations with reference less to its own merits, than to its
supposed and often exaggerated effects and consequences resulting to
those nations themselves. Nevertheless, complaint on the part of this
Government, even if it were just, would certainly be unwise.

The treaty with Great Britain for the suppression of the slave trade
has been put into operation with a good prospect of complete success. It
is an occasion of special pleasure to acknowledge that the execution of
it on the part of Her Majesty s Government, has been marked with a
jealous respect for the authority of the United States and the rights of
their moral and loyal citizens.

The convention with Hanover for the abolition of the stade dues
has been carried into full effect, under the act of Congress for that
purpose.

A blockade of three thousand miles of seacoast could not be estab
lished and vigorously enforced, in a season of great commercial activity
like the present, without committing occasional mistakes, and inflicting
unintentional injuries upon foreign nations and their subjects.

A civil war occurring in a country where foreigners reside and carry
on trade under treaty stipulations is necessarily fruitful of complaints of
the violation of neutral rights. All such collisions tend to excite mis
apprehensions, and possibly to produce mutual reclamations between
nations which have a common interest in preserving peace and friend
ship. In clear cases of these kinds I have, so far as possible, beard and
redressed complaints which have been presented by friendly Powers.
There is still, however, a large and an augmenting number of doubtful
cases, upon which the Government is unable to agree with the Govern-



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 27 of 46)