Henry J. (Henry Jarvis) Raymond.

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

. (page 39 of 46)
Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondHistory of the administration of President Lincoln : including his speeches, letters, addresses, proclamations, and messages. With a preliminary sketch of his life → online text (page 39 of 46)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

cash. One million, four hundred and fifty-six thousand, five hundred
and fourteen acres, were taken up under the Homestead Law, and the
residue disposed of under laws granting lands ibr military bounties, for
railroad and other purposes. It also appears that the sale of public
lands is largely on the increase.

It has long been a cherished opinion of some of our wisest statesmen
that the people of the United States had a higher and more enduring
interest in the early settlement and substantial cultivation of the public
lands than in the amount of direct revenue to be derived from the sale
of them. This opinion has had a controlling influence in shaping
legislation upon the subject of our national domain. I may cite, as
evidence of this, the liberal measures adopted in reference to actual
settlers, the grant to the States of the overflowed lands within their
limits, in order to their being reclaimed and rendered fit for cultivation,
the grants to railway companies of alternate sections of land upon the
contemplated lines of their roads, which, when completed, will so
largely multiply the facilities for reaching our distant possessions. This
policy has received its most signal and beneficent illustration in the
recent enactment granting homesteads to actual settlers. Since the
first day of January last the before mentioned quantity of one million
four hundred and fifty-six thousand five hundred and fourteen acres
of land have been taken up under its provisions. This fact, and the
amount of sales, furnish gratifying evidence of increasing settlement
upon the public lands, notwithstanding the great struggle in which the


energies of the nation have been engaged, and which has required so
large a withdrawal of our citizens from their accustomed pursuits. I
cordially concur in the recommendation of the Secretary of the Interior,
suggesting a modification of the act in favor of those engaged in the
military and naval service of the United States.

I doubt not that Congress will cheerfully adopt such measures as
will, without essentially changing the general features of the system,
secure to the greatest practical extent its benefits to those who have
left their homes in defence of the country in this arduous crisis.

I invite your attention to the views of the Secretary as to the propriety
of raising, by appropriate legislation, a revenue from the mineral lands
of the United States. The measures provided at your last session for
the removal of certain Indian tribes have been carried into effect.
Sundry treaties have been negotiated, which will, in due time, be sub
mitted for the constitutional action of the Senate. They contain stipu
lations for extinguishing the possessory rights of the Indians to large
and valuable tracts of lands. It is hoped that the effect of these
treaties will result in the establishment of permanent friendly relations
with such of these tribes as have been brought into frequent and
bloody collision with our outlying settlements and emigrants. Sound
policy, and our imperative duty to these wards of the Government,
demand our anxious and constant attention to their material well-being,
to their progress in the arts of civilization, and, above all, to that moral
training which, under the blessing of Divine Providence, will confer
upon them the elevated and sanctifying influences, the hopes and con
solations of the Christian faith. I suggested in my last Annual Message
the propriety of remodelling our Indian system. Subsequent events
have satisfied me of its necessity. The details set forth in the report
of the Secretary evince the urgent need for immediate legislative action.

I commend the benevolent institutions, established or patronized by
the government in this District, to your generous and fostering care.

The attention of Congress, during the last session, was engaged to
some extent with a proposition for enlarging the water communication
between the Mississippi River and the northeastern seaboard, which
proposition, however, failed for the time. Since then, upon a call of the
greatest respectability, a Convention has been held at Chicago upon
the same subject, a summary of whose views is contained in a Memorial
Address to the President and Congress, and which I now have the
honor to lay before you. That the interest is on which will ere long
fore? its own way I do not entertain a doubt, while it is submitted


entirely to your wisdom as to what can be done now. Augmented
interest is given to this subject by the actual commencement of work
upon the Pacific railroad, under auspices so favorable to rapid progress
and completion. The enlarged navigation becomes a palpable need to
the great road.

I transmit the second annual report of the Commissioners of the
Department of Agriculture, asking your attenntion to the developments
in that vital interest of the nation.

When Congress assembled a year ago, the war had already lasted
nearly twenty months, and there had been many conflicts on both land
and sea, with varying results ; the rebellion had been pressed back
into reduced limits ; yet the tone of public feeling and opinion, at home
and abroad, was not satisfactory. With other signs, the popular elec
tions then just past indicated uneasiness among ourselves, while, amid
much that was cold and menacing, the kindest words coming from
Europe were uttered in accents of pity that we were too blind to sur
render a hopeless cause. Our commerce was suffering greatly by a few
vessels built upon and furnished from foreign shores, and we were
threatened with such additions from the same quarters as would sweep
our trade from the seas and raise our blockade. We had failed to
elicit from European governments any thing hopeful upon this subject.

The preliminary Emancipation Proclamation issued in September, was
running its assigned period to the beginning of the new year. A month
later, the final proclamation came, including the announcement that col
ored men of suitable condition would be received in the war service.
The policy of emancipation and of employing black soldiers gave to tho
future a new aspect, about which hope and fear and doubt contended in
uncertain conflict. According to our political system, as a matter of
civil administration the Government had no lawful power to effect
emancipation in any State, and for a long time it had been hoped that
the rebellion could be suppressed without resorting to it as a military
measure. It was all the while deemed possible that the necessity for it
might come, and that if it should, the crisis of the contest would then
be presented. It came, and, as was anticipated, was followed by dark
and doubtful days.

Eleven months having now passed, we are permitted to take an
other review. The rebel borders are pressed still further back, and by
tho complete opening of the Mississippi, the country dominated by the
rebellion is divided into distinct parts with no practical communication
between them. Tennessee and Arkansas have been substantially


cleared of insurgent control, and influential citizens in each owners of
slaves and advocates of slavery at the beginning of the rebellion now
declare openly for emancipation in their respective States. Of those
States not included in the Emancipation Proclamation, Maryland and
Missouri, neither of which three years ago would tolerate any restraint
upon the extension of slavery into new Territories, only dispute now as
to the best mode of removing it within their own limits.

Of those who were slaves at the beginning of the rebellion, full one
hundred thousand are now in the United States military service, about
one-half of which number actually bear arms in the ranks thus giving
the double advantage of taking so much labor from the insurgent cause
and supplying the places which otherwise must be filled with so many
white men. So far as tested, it is difficult to say they are not as good
soldiers as any. No servile insurrection or tendency to violence or
cruelty has marked the measures of emancipation and arming the blacks.
These measures have been much discussed in foreign countries, and,
cotemporary with such discussion, the tone of public sentiment there is
much improved. At home the same measures have been fully discuss
ed, supported, criticised and denounced, and the annual elections follow-
in"- are highly encouraging to those whose official duty it is to bear the
country through this great trial Thus we have the new reckoning.
The crisis which threatened to divide the friends of the Union is past.
Looking now to the present and future, and witli a re-ference to a
resumption of the National authority, in the States wherein that author
ity has been suspended, I have thought fit to issue a proclamation a
copy of which is herewith transmitted. On examination of this procla
mation, it will appear, as is believed, that nothing is attempted beyond
what is amply justified by the Constitution. True, the form of an oath
is given, but no man is coerced to take it. The man is only promised a
pardon in case he voluntarily takes the oath. The Constitution author
izes the Executive to grant or withdraw the pardon at his own abso
lute discretion, and this includes the power to grant on terms, as is fully
established by judicial and other authorities. It is also proffered that
if in any of the States named a State Government shall be in the mode
prescribed set up, such government shall be recognized and guaranteed
by the United States, and that under it the State shall, on the constitu
tional conditions, be protected against invasion and domestic violence.

The constitutional obligation of the United States to guarantee to
every State in the Union a Republican form of Government, and to
protect the State in the cases stated, is explicit and full But why ten-


der the benefits of this provision only to a State Government set up in
this particular way? This section of the Constitution contemplates a
case wherein the element within a State favorable to Republican gov
ernment in the Union may be too feeble for an opposite and hostile ele
ment external to or even within the State, and such are precisely the
cases with which we are now dealing.

An attempt to guarantee and protect a revived State Government,
constructed in whole or in preponderating part from the very element
against whose hostility and violence it is to be protected, is simply ab
surd. There must be a test by which to separate the opposing elements,
so as to build only from the sound ; and that test is a sufficiently liberal
one which accepts as sound whoever will make a sworn recantation of
his former unsoundness.

But if it be proper to require, as a test of admission to the political body,
an oath of allegiance to the Constitution of the United States and to the
Union under it, why also to the laws and proclamations in regard to
slavery ?

Those laws and proclamations were enacted and put forth for the
purpose of aiding in the suppression of the rebellion. To give them
their fullest effect there had to be a pledge for their maintenance. In
my judgment they have aided and will further aid the cause for which
they were intended.

To now abandon them would be not only to relinquish a lever of
power, but would also be a cruel and an astounding breach of faith.

I may add, at this point, that while I remain in my present position, I
shall not attempt to retract or modify the Emancipation Proclamation,
nor shall I return to slavery any person who is free by the terms of
that proclamation, or by any of the acts of Congress.

For these and other reasons, it is thought best that support of these
measures shall be included in the oath, and it is believed that the Exec
utive may lawfully claim it in return for pardon and restoration of for
feited rights, which he has a clear constitutional power to withhold al
together or grant upon the terms which he shall deem wisest for the
public interest. It should be observed, also, that this part of the oath
is subject to the modifying and abrogating power of legislation and
supreme judicial decision.

The proposed acquiescence of the National Executive in any reason
able temporary State arrangement for the freed people, is made with
the view of possibly modifying the confusion and destitution which
must at best attend all classes by a total revolution of labor throughout


whole States. It is hoped that the already deeply afflicted people
in those States may be somewhat more ready to give up the cause of
their affliction, if, to this extent, this vital matter be left to themselves,
while no power of the National Executive to prevent an abuse i3
abridged by the proposition.

The suggestion in the proclamation as to maintaining the political
frame work of the States on what is called reconstruction, is made in
the hope that it may do good, without danger of harm. It will save la
bor, and avoid great confusion. But why any proclamation now upon
this subject ? This question is beset with the conflicting views that the
step might be delayed too long, or be taken too soon. In some States
the elements for resumption seem ready for action but remain inactive,
apparently for want of a rallying point a plan of action. Why shall
A adopt the plan of B, rather than B that of A ? And if A and B should
agree, how can they know but that the General Government here will
reject their plan ? By the proclamation a plan is presented which may
be accepted by them as a rallying point and which they are assured
in advance will not be rejected here. This may bring them to act
sooner than they otherwise would.

The objection to a premature presentation of a plan by the National
Executive consists in the danger of committals on points which could
be more safely left to further developments. Care has been taken to so
shape the document as to avoid embarrassments from this source.
Saying that on certain terms certain classes will be pardoned with rights
restored, it is not said that other classes or other terms will never be
included. Saying that reconstruction will be accepted if presented in a
specified way, it is not said it will never be accepted in any other way.
The movements by State action for emancipation in several of the States
not included in the Emancipation Proclamation are matters of profound
gratulation. And while I do not repeat in detail what I have heretofore
so earnestly urged upon this subject, my general views and feelings re
main unchanged ; and I trust that Congress will omit no fair opportuni
ty of aiding these important steps to the great consummation.

In the midst of other cares, however important, we must not lose sight
of the fact that the war power is still our main reliance To that power
alone can we look for a time, to give confidence to the people in the con
tested regions, that the insurgent power will not again overrun them.
Until that confidence shall be established, little can be done anywhere
for what is called reconstruction. Hence our chiefest care must still be
directed to the army and navy, who have thus far borne their harder


part so nobly and well. And it may be esteemed fortunate that in giv
ing the greatest efficiency to these indispensable arms, we do also hon
orably recognize the gallant men, from commander to sentinel, who com
pose them, and to whom, more than to others, the world must stand in
debted for the home of freedom, disenthralled, regenerated, enlarged
and perpetuated.


December 8, 1863.

The following proclamation is appended to the mes


Whereas, In and by the Constitution of the United States, it is pro
vided that the President shall have power to grant reprieves and par
dons for offences against the United States, except in cases of impeach
ment and, whereas, a rebellion now exists, whereby the loyal State
Governments of several States have for a long time been subverted,
and many persons have committed and are now guilty of treason against
the United States ; and

Whereas, With reference to said rebellion and treason, laws have
been enacted by Congress, declaring forfeitures and confiscation of
property and liberation of slaves, all upon terms and conditions
therein stated, and also declaring that the President was thereby au
thorized at any time thereafter, by proclamation, to extend to persons
who may have participated in the existing rebellion in any State or part
thereof, pardon and amnesty, with such exceptions and at such times
and on such conditions as he may deem expedient for the public wel
fare; and

Whereas, The Congressional declaration for limited and conditional
pardon accords with the well-established judicial exposition of the par
doning power ; and

Whereas, "With reference to the said rebellion, the President of the
United States has issued several proclamations with provisions in re
gard to the liberation of slaves ; and

Wliereas, It is now desired by some persons heretofore engaged in
said rebellion to resume their allegiance to the United States, and
to reinaugurate loyal State Governments within and for their respec
tive States; therefore


I, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President of the United States, do proclaim, de
clare and make known to all persons who have directly or by implication
participated in the existing rebellion, except as hereinafter excepted, that
a full pardon is hereby granted to them and each of them, with restoration
of all rights of property, except as to slaves, and in property cases where
rights of third parties shall have intervened, and upon the condition that
every such person shall take and subscribe an oath and thenceforward
keep and maintain said oath inviolate, an oath which shall be registered
for permanent preservation, and shall be of the tenor and effect follow
ing, to wit:

" I, , do solemnly swear, in presence of Almighty God,

that I will henceforth faithfully support, protect and defend the Consti
tution of the United States and the Union of the States thereunder; and
that I will in like manner abide by and faithfully support all acts of
Congress passed during the existing rebellion with reference to slaves,
so long and so far as not repealed, modified, or held void by Congress
or by decision of the Supreme Court ; and that I will in like manner
abide by and faithfully support all proclamations of the President made
during the existing rebellion having reference to slaves, so long and so
far as not modified or declared void by decision of the Supreme Court.
So help^ me God."

The persons excepted from the benefits of the foregoing provisions
are : All who are, or shall have been civil or diplomatic officers or agents
of the so-called Confederate Government ; all who have left judicial
stations under the United States to aid the rebellion ; all who are, or
shall have been military or naval officers of said so-called Confederate
Government, above the rank of Colonel in the army, or of Lieutenant in
the navy ; all who left seats in the United States Congress to aid the
rebellion; all who resigned commissions in the army or navy of the
United States, and afterward aided the rebellion ; and all who have en
gaged in any way in treating colored persons, or white persons in
charge of such, otherwise than lawfully as prisoners of war, and which
persons may have been found in the United States service as soldiers,
seamen, or any other capacity ; and I do further proclaim, declare and
make known that, whenever, in any of the States of Arkansas, Texas,
Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South
Carolina, and North Carolina, a number of persons not less than one-
tenth in number of the votes cast in such States at the Presidential elec
tion of the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty, each
having taken the oath aforesaid, and not having since violated it,


and being a qualified voter by the election law of the State existing im
mediately before the so-called act of Secession, and excluding all others,
shall re-establish a State Government which, shall be Republican, and
in no wise contravening said oath, such shall be recognized as the true
government of the State, and the State shall receive thereunder the ben
efits of the constitutional provision, which declares that

" The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a
Republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against
invasion, and on application of the Legislature, or the Executive, when
the Legislature cannot be convened, against domestic violence."

And I do further proclaim, declare, and make known, that any provi
sion which may be adopted by such State Government in relation to
the freed people of such State, which shall recognize and declare their
permanent freedom, provide for their education, and which may yet be
consistent, as a temporary arrangement, with their present condition as
a laboring, landless, and homeless class, will not be objected to by the
National Executive.

And it is suggested as not improper that, in constructing a loyal State
Government in any State, the name of the State, the boundary, the
subdivisions, the Constitution, and the general code of laws, as before
the rebellion, be maintained, subject only to the modifications made
necessary by the conditions herein before stated, and such others, if
any, not contravening said conditions, and which may be deemed expe
dient by those framing the new State Government. To avoid misunder
standing, it may be proper to say that this proclamation, so far as it
relates to State Governments, has no reference to States wherein loyal
State Governments have all the while been maintained; and for the
same reason it may be proper to further say, that whether members
sent to Congress from any State shall be admitted to seats, constitution
ally rests exclusively with the respective Houses, and not to any extent
with the Executive. And still further, that this proclamation is
intended to present the people of the States wherein the national
authority has been suspended, and loyal State Governments have been
subverted, a mode in and by which the national authority and loyal
State Governments may be re-established within said States, or in any
of them. And, while the mode presented is the best the Executive can
suggest with his present impressions, it must not be understood that no
other possible mode would be acceptable.


Given under mj hand at the city of "Washington, the eighth day of De
cember, A. D. one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the
independence of the United States of America the Eighty-eighth,

By the President : ABEAHAM LINCOLN.

WIL H. SEWARD, Secretary of State,

In further prosecution of the object sought by this measure
of amnesty, the President subsequently issued the following
additional explanatory PROCLAMATION :

By the President of the United States of America :

Whereas, it has become necessary to define the cases in which insur
gent enemies are entitled to the benefits of the Proclamation of the
President of the United States, which was made on the 8th day of De
cember, 1863, and the manner in which they shall proceed to avail
themselves of these benefits ; and whereas the objects of that proclama
tion were to suppress the insurrection and to restore the authority of
the United States; and whereas the amnesty therein proposed by the
President was offered with reference to these objects alone;

Now, therefore, L, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President of the United States,
do hereby proclaim and declare that the said proclamation does not
apply to the cases of persons who. at the time when they seek to obtain
the benefits thereof by taking the oath thereby prescribed, are in mili
tary, naval or civil confinement or custody, or under bonds, or on parole
of the civil, military or naval authorities, or agents of the United States,
as prisoners of war, or persons detained for offeaces of any kind, either
before or after conviction ; and that on the contrary it does apply only
to those persons who, being yet at large, and free from, any arrest, con
finement, or duress, shall voluntarily come forward and take the said
oath, with the purpose of restoring peace and establishing the national

Persons excluded from the amnesty offered in tho said proclamation

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 39 of 46)