peopb now find, and may forever find, their way to Europe by New
York, to South America and Africa by New Orleans, and to Asia by
San Francisco. But separate our common country into two nations, as
designed by the present rebellion, and every man of this great interior
region is thereby cut off from some one or more of these outlets, not
perhaps by a physical barrier, but by embarrassing and onerous trade
And this is true, wherever a dividing or boundary line may be fixed.
Place it between the now free and slave country, or place it south of
Kentucky, or north of Ohio, and still the truth remains that none south
of it can trade to any port or place north of it, and none north of it can
trade to any port or place south of it, except upon terms dictated by a
Government foreign to them. These outlets, east, west, and south, are
indispensable to the well-being of the people inhabiting and to inhabit this
vast interior region. Which of the three may be the best is no proper
question. AH are better than either, and all of right belong to that
people and to their successors forever. True to themselves, they will
not ask where a line of separation shall be, but will vow rather that
there shall be no such line. Nor are the marginal regions less interested
in these communications to and through them to the great outside world.
They too, and each of them, must have access to this Egypt of the West,
without paying toll at the crossing of any national boundary.
Our national strife springs not from our permanent part ; not from
the land we inhabit; not from our national homestead. There is no
possible severing of this but would multiply and not mitigate evils
among us. In all its adaptations and aptitudes it demands union and
abhors separation. In fact, it would ere long force reunion, however
much of blood and treasure the separation might have cost.
Our strife pertains to ourselves to the passing generations of men
and it can, without convulsion, be hushed forever with the passing of o
In this view, I recommend the adoption of the following resolution
and articles amendatory to the Constitution of the United States :
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of
America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of both Houses concurring),
That the following articles be proposed to the Legislatures (or Conven
tions) of the several States as amendments to the Constitution of the
320 PRESIDENT LINCOLN S ADMINISTRATION.
United States, all or any of which articles, when ratified by three-fourths
of M^SS ^ C tio -)> to be valid as part or parts
ARTICLE. Every State, wherein Slavery now exists, which shall abolish
c same therein at any time or times before the first clay of January in
lie year of our Lord one thousand and nine hundred, shall receive com
pensation from the United States as follows, to wit
The President of the United States shall deliver to every such State
bonds of the United States, bearing interest at the rate of per cent
per annum, to an amount equal to the aggregate sum of _ for each"
slave shown to have been therein by the eighth census of the United
States, said bonds to be delivered to such State by installments or in one
parcel, at the completion of the abolishment, accordingly as the same
sball have been gradual, or at one time, within such State : and interest
snail begin to run upon any such bond only from the proper time of its
deliveryaa aforesaid. Any State having received bonds as aforesaid and
afterwards remtroducing or tolerating slavery therein, shall refund to the
U nited btates the bonds so received, or the value thereof, and all interest
ARTICLE All slaves who shall have enjoyed actual freedom by the
chances of the war, at any time before the end of the rebellion shall be
i ^T frce but a11 9 wuers of sucn wb shall not have been disloyal
shall be compensated for them at the same rates as is pro vidcd for States
adopting abolishment of slavery, but in such way that no slave shall be
twice accounted for.
ARTICLE. Congress may appropriate money, and otherwise provide
for colonizing free colored persons, with their own consent, at any place
or places without the United States.
I beg indulgence to discuss these proposed articles at some length.
Without slavery the rebellion could never have existed; without
slavery it could not continue.
Among the friends of the Union there is great diversity of sentiment
and of policy in regard to slavery, and the African race amongst us.
Some would perpetuate slavery ; some would abolish it suddenly, and
without compensation ; some would abolish it gradually, and with com
pensation; some would remove the freed people from us, and some
would retain them with us: and there are yet other minor diversities.
Because of these diversities we waste much strength among ourselves.
By mutual concession we should harmonize and act together. This
would be compromise ; but it would be compromise among the friends,
and not with the enemies of the Union. These articles are intended to
embody a plan of such mutual concessions. If the plan shall be adopted,
it is assumed that emancipation will follow in at least several of the
As to the first article, the main points are : first, the emancipation ;
secondly, the length of time for consummating it- -thirty-seven years ;
and, thirdly, the compensation.
The emancipation will be unsatisfactory to the advocates of perpetual
slavery ; but the length of time should greatly mitigate their dissatis
faction. The time spares both races from the evils of sudden derange
ment in fact, from the necessity of any derangement ; while most of
those whose habitual course of thought will be disturbed by the meas
ure will have passed away before its consummation. They will never
see it. Another class will hail the prospect of emancipation, but will
deprecate the length of time. They will feel that it gives too little to
the now living slaves. But it really gives them much. It saves them
from the vagrant destitution which must largely attend immediate
emancipation in localities where their numbers are very great ; and it
gives the inspiring assurance that their posterity shall be free forever.
The plan leaves to each State choosing to act under it, to abolish
slavery now, or at the end of the century, or at any intermediate time,
or by degrees, extending over the whole or any part of the period ; and
it obliges no two States to proceed alike. It also provides for compen
sation, and generally the mode of making it. This, it would seem,
must further mitigate the dissatisfaction of those who favor perpetual
slavery, and especially of those who are to receive the compensation.
Doubtless some of those who are to pay and not receive will object.
Yet the measure is both just and economical. In a certain sense the
liberation of slaves is the destruction of property property acquired
bv descent or by purchase, the same as any other property. It is no less
true for having been often said, that the people of the South are not more
responsible for the original introduction of this property than are the
people of the North ; and when it is remembered how unhesitatingly
we all use cotton and sugar, and share tbe profits of dealing in them,
it may not be quite safe to say that the South has been more responsible
than the North for its continuance. If, then, for a common object this
property is to be sacrificed, is it not just that it be done at a common
And if with less money, or money more easily paid, we can preserve
the benefits of the Union by this means than we can by the war alone,
is it not also economical to do it ? Let us consider it, then. Let us
ascertain the sum we have expended in the war since compensated
emancipation was proposed last March, and consider whether, if that
measure had been promptly accepted by even some of the Slave States,
the same sum would not have done more to close the war than haa
been otherwise done. If so, the measure would save money, and, in
that view, would be a prudent and economical measure. Certainly it is
322 PRESIDENT LINCOLN S ADMINISTRATION.
not so easy to pay something as it is to pay nothing ; but it is easier
pay a large sum than it is to pay a larger one. And it is easier to
to pay any sum when we are able than it is to pay it before we are able.
The war requires large sums, and requires them at ouce. The aggre
gate sum necessary for compensated emancipation of course would be
large. But it would require no ready cash, nor the bonds even, any
faster than the emancipation progresses. This might not, and probably
would not, close before the end of the thirty-seven years. At that
time we shall probably have a hundred millions of people to share the
burden, instead of thirty-one millions, as now. And not only so, but
the increase of our population may be expected to continue for a long
time after that period as rapidly as before ; because our territory will
not have become full. I do not state this inconsiderately.
At the same ratio of increase which we have maintained, on an aver
age, from our first national census, in 1790, until that of 1860, we
should, in 1900, have a population of 103,208,415. And why may we
not continue that ratio far beyond that period? Our abundant room
our broad national homestead is our ample resource. Were our terri
tory as limited as are the British Isles, very certainly our population
could not expand as stated. Instead of receiving the foreign born as
now, we should be compelled to send part of the native born away.
But sucli is not our condition. We have two millions nine hundred
and sixty-three thousand square miles. Europe has three millions and
eight hundred thousand, with a population averaging seventy-three and
one-third persons to the square mile. "Why may not our country at
some time average as many? Is it less fertile? Has it more waste
surface, by mountains, rivers, lakes, deserts, or other causes ? Is it
inferior to Europe in any natural advantage ? If then we are, at some
time, to be as populous as Europe, how soon ? As to when this may
be. we can judge by the past and the present ; as to when it will be, if
over, depends much on whether we maintain the Union. Several of
our States are already above the average of Europe seventy-three
aud a third to the square mile. Massachusetts 157 ; Rhode Island 133 ;
Connecticut 99; New York and New Jersey, each 80. Also two other
great States, Pennsylvania and Ohio, are not far below, the former
having 63 and the latter 59. The States already above the European
average, except New York, have increased in as rapid a ratio, since
passing that point, as ever before ; while no one of them is equal to
some other parts of our country in natural capacity for sustaining a
35.02 per cent, ratio of increase.
THE PRESIDENT S MESSAGE. 323
Taking the nation in the aggregate, and we find its population and
ratio of increase, for the several decennial periods, to be as follows :
This shows an average decennial increase of 34.60 per cent, in
population through the seventy years, from our first to our last census
yet taken. It is seen that the ratio of increase, at no one of these two
periods, is either two per cent, below or two per cent, above the aver
age : thus showing how inflexible, and consequently how reliable, the
law of increase in our case is. Assuming that it will continue, it gives
the following results :
These figures show that our country may be as populous as Europe
now is at some point between 1920 and 1930 say about 1925 our
territory, at seventy-three and a third persons to the square mile, being
of capacity to contain 217,186.000.
And we will reach this, too, if we do not ourselves relinquish the
chance, by the folly and evils of disunion, or by long and exhausting
wars springing from the only great element of national discord among
us. While it cannot be foreseen exactly how much one huge example
of secession, breeding lesser ones indefinitely, would retard population,
civilization, and piosperity.no one can doubt that the extent of it would
be very great and injurious.
Tho proposed emancipation would shorten the war, perpetuate peace,
insure this increase of population, and proportionately the wealth of
the country. With these we should pay all the emancipation would
cost, together with our other debt, easier than we should pay our other
debt without it. If we had allowed our old national debt to run at six
324 PRESIDENT LINCOLN S ADMINISTRATION.
per cent, per annum, simple interest, from the end of our Revolutionary
struggle until to-day, without paying anything on either principal or
interest, each man of us would owe less upon that debt now than each
man owed upon it then; and this because our increase of men, through
Iho whole period, has been greater than six per cent. ; has run faster
than the interest upon the debt. Thus, time alone relieves a debtor
nation, so long as its population increases faster than unpaid interest
accumulates on its debt.
This fact would be no excuse for delaying payment of what is justly
due ; but it shows the great importance of time in this connection the
great advantage of a policy by which we shall not have to pay until
we number a hundred millions, what, by a different policy, we would
have to pay now, when \ve number but thirty-one millions. In a word,
it shows that a dollar will be much harder to pay for the war than will
be a dollar for the emancipation on the proposed plan. And then
the latter will cost no blood, no precious life. It will be a saving of
As to the second article, I think it would bo impracticable to return
to bondage the class of persons therein contemplated. Some of them,
doubtless, in the property sense, belong to loyal owners; and henco
provision is made in this article for compensating such.
The third article relates to the future of the freed people. It does
not oblige, but merely authorizes Congress to aid in colonizing such as
may consent. This ought not to be regarded as objectionable on the
one hand or on the other, in so much as it comes to nothing unless by
the mutual consent of the people to be deported, and the American
voters, through their representatives in Congress.
I cannot make it better known than it already is that I strongly favor
colonization. And yet I wish to say there is an objection urged against
free colored persons remaining in the country which is largely imagin
ary, if not sometimes malicious.
It is insisted that their presence would injure and displace white labor
and white laborers. If there ever could be a proper time for mere catch
arguments, that time surely is not now. In times like the present men
should utter nothing for which they would not willingly be responsible
through time and in eternity. Is it true, then, that colored people can
displace any more white labor by being free than by remaining slaves?
If they stay in their old places they jostle no white laborers ; if they
\ave their old places they leave them open to white laborers. Logic
ally there is neither more nor less of it. Emancipation even without
deportation, would probably enhance the wages of white labor, and,
very surely, would not reduce them. Thus the customary amount of
labor would still have to be performed the freed people would surely
not do more than their old proportion of it, and very probably for a
time would do less, leaving an increased part to white laborers, bring
ing their labor into greater demand, and consequently enhancing the
wages of it. With deportation, even to a limited extent, enhanced
wages to white labor is mathematically certain. Labor is like any
other commodity in the market increase the demand for it and you
increase the price of it. Reduce the supply of black labor, by colo
nizing the black laborer out of the country, and by precisely so much
you increase the demand for and wages of white labor.
But it is dreaded that the freed prople will swarm forth and cover
the whole land 1 Are they not already in the land ? "Will liberation
make them any more numerous? Equally distributed among the
whites of the whole country, and there would be but one colored to
seven whites. Could the one, in any way, greatly disturb the seven ?
There are many communities now having more than one free colored
person to seven whites; and this, without any apparent consciousness
of evil from it. The District of Columbia and the States of Maryland
and Delaware are all in this condition. The District has more than one
free colored to six whites ; and yet, in its frequent petitions to Con
gress, I believe it has never presented the presence of free colored
persons as one of its grievances. But why should emancipation South
send the freed people North? People of any color seldom run unless
there be something to run from. Heretofore colored people to some
extent have fled Xorth from bondage ; and now, perhaps, from bondage
and destitution. But if gradual emancipation and deportation be
adopted they will have neither to flee from. Their old masters will
give them wages at least until new laborers can be procured, and the
freed men in turn will gladly give their labor for the wages till new
homes can be found for them in congenial climes and with people of
their own blood and race. This proposition can be trusted on the
mutual interests involved. And in any event, cannot the North decide
for itself whether to receive them ?
Again, as practice proves more than theory, in any case, has there
been any irruption of colored people northward because of the abolish
ment of slavery in this District last spring ?
What I have said of the proportion of free colored persons to the
whites in the District is from the census of 1860, having no reference
320 PRESIDENT LINCOLN S ADMINISTRATION.
to persons called contrabands, nor to those made free by the act of
Congress, abolishing slavery here.
The plan consisting of these articles is recommended, not but that
a restoration of national viuthority would bo accepted without its adop
Xor will the war, nor proceedings under the proclamation of Septem
ber 22, 1862, be stayed because of the recommendation of this plan.
Its timely adoption, I doubt not, would bring restoration, and thereby
And. notwithstanding this plan, the recommendation that Congress
provide by law for compensating any State which may adopt emancipa
tion before this plan shall have been acted upon, is hereby earnestly
renewed. Such would be only an advanced part of the plan, and the
same arguments apply to both.
This plan is recommended as a means, not in exclusion of, but ad
ditional to, all others for restoring and preserving the national authority
throughout the Union. The subject is presented exclusively in its
economical aspect. The plan would, I am confident, secure peace more
speedily, and maintain it more permanently, than can be done by force
alone ; while all it would cost, considering amounts, and manner of
payment, and times of payment, would be easier paid than will be the
additional cost of the war, if we solely rely upon force. It is much
very much that it would cost no blood at all.
The plan is proposed as permanent constitutional law. It cannot
become such, without the concurrence of, first, two-thirds of Congress,
and afterward three-fourths of the States. The requisite three-fourths
of the States will necessarily include seven of the Slave States.
Their concurrence, if obtained, will give assurance of their severally
adopting emancipation, at no very distant day, upon the new constitu
tional terms. This assurance would end the struggle now, and save
the Union forever.
I do not forget the gravity which should characterize a paper ad
dressed to the Congress of the nation by the Chief Magistrate of the
nation. Nor do I forget that some of you are my seniors ; nor that
many of you have more experience than I in the conduct of public
affairs. Yet 1 trust that, in view of the great responsibility resting
upon me, you will perceive no want of respect to yourselves in any
undue earnestness I may seem to display.
Is it doubted, then, that the plan I propose, if adopted, would shorten
the war, and thus lessen its expenditure of money and of blood ? Is it
doubted that it would restore the national authority and national pros
perity, and perpetuate both indefinitely ? Is it doubted that we here
Congress and Executive can secure its adoption ? Will not the good
people respond to a united and earnest appeal from us ? Can we, can
they, by any other means, so certainly o. ; -*3O speedily assure these vital
objects ? We can succeed only by concert. It is not " can any of us
imagine better ?" but " can we aU do better ?" Object whatsoever is
possible, still the question recurs, " can we do better ?" The dogmas
of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion
is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As
our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must
disenthral ourselves, and then we shall save our country.
Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this Congress and
this Administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No
personal significance or insignificance can spare one or another of us.
The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or
dishonor to the latest generation. We say that we are for the Union.
The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the
Union. The world knows we do know how to save it. We even we
here hold the power and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom
to the slave wo assure freedom to the free honorable alike in what
we give and what we preserve. We shall nobly save or meanly lose
the last best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could
not, cannot fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just a way
which, if followed, the world will forever applaud and God must for
December 1, 1862.
At the very outset of the session, resolutions were introduced
by the opponents of the Administration, censuring, in strong
terms, its arrest of individuals, in the loyal States, suspected
of giving, or intending to give aid and comfort to the rebellion.
These arrests were denounced as utterly unwarranted by the
Constitution and laws of the United States, and as involving
the subversion of the public liberties. In the Senate, the gen
eral subject was discussed in a debate, commencing on the 8th
of December, the opponents of the Administration setting
forth very fully and very strongly their opinion of the unjusti-
328 PRESIDENT LINCOLN S ADMINISTRATION.
liable nature of this action, and its friends vindicating? it as
made absolutely necessary by the emergencies of the case.
Every department of the Government, and every section of the
country, were filled at the outset of the war with men actively
engaged in doing the work of spies and informers for the rebel
authorities ; and it was known that, in repeated instances, the
plans and purposes of the Government had been betrayed and
defeated by these aiders and abettors of treason. It became
absolutely necessary, not for purposes of punishment but of
prevention, to arrest these men in the injurious and perhaps
fatal action they were preparing to take ; and on this ground
the action of the Government was vindicated and justified by
the Senate. On the 8th of December, in the House of Repre
sentatives, a bill was introduced, declaring the suspension of
the writ of habeas corpus to have been required by the public
safety, confirming and declaring valid all arrests and imprison
ments, by whomsoever made or caused to be made, under the
authority of the President, and indemnifying the President,
secretaries, heads of departments, and all persons who have
been concerned in making such arrests, or in doing or advising
any such acts, and making void all prosecutions and proceed
ings whatever against them in relation to the matters in ques
tion. It also authorized the President, during the existence
of the war, to declare the suspension of the writ of habeas cor-