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 41 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 41 of 46)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


"almost universal report that our government only awaits the
termination of our domestic troubles to drive the French out
of Mexico." He said that the French naturally conclude that,
if they are to have trouble with us, it would be safest to take
their own time; and he assured M. Drouyn de 1 Huys that
" relying on the constant assurances of France as to its pur
poses in Mexico, and its determination to leave the people
free as to their form of government, and not to hold or colo
nize any portion of their territories," our government had indi
cated no purpose to interfere in the quarrel, not concealing at
the same time our earnest solicitude for the well-being of that
country, and an especial sensitiveness as to any forcible inter-
ferpnce in the form of its government.

(On the 21st of September Mr. Seward instructed Mr. Day
ton to call the attention of the French Minister to the appar
ent deviations of the French in Mexico from the tenor of the
assurances uniformly given by the French government that
they did not intend permanent occupation of that country,
or any violence to the sovereignty of its people. x\nd on the
26th of the same month Mr. Seward set forth at some length
the position of our government upon this question, which is
mainly embodied in the following extract :

The United States hold, in regard to Mexico, the same principles
that they hold in regard to all other nations. They have neither a
right nor a disposition to intervene by force in the internal affairs of
Mexico, whether to establish and maintain a republic or even a domes
tic government there, or to overthrow an imperial or a foreign one, if
Mexico chooses to establish or accept it. The United States have
neither the right nor the disposition to intervene by force on either side
in the lamentable war which is going on between France and Mexico.
On the contrary, they practise in regard to Mexico, in every phase of
that war, the non-intervention which they require all foreign powers to
observe in regard to the United States. But notwithstanding this self-
restraint, this government knows full well that the inherent normal
opinion of Mexico favors a government there republican in form and


domestic in its organization iu preference to any monarchical institutions
to be imposed from abroad. This government knows also that this nor
mal opinion of the people of Mexico resulted largely from the influence
of popular opinion in this country, and is continually invigorated by it.
The President believes, moreover, that this popular opinion of the
United States is just in itself and eminently essential to the progress of
civilization on the American continent, which civilization, it believes,
can and will, if left free from European resistance, work harmoniously
together with advancing refinement on the other continents. This gov
ernment believes that foreign resistance, or attempts to control Ameri
can civilization, must and will fail before the ceaseless and ever increas
ing activity of material, moral, and political forces, which peculiarly
belong to the American continent. Nor do the United States deny
that, in their opinion, their own safety and the cheerful destiny to
which they aspire are intimately dependent on the continuance of free
republican institutions throughout America. They have submitted
these opinions to the Emperor of France, on proper occasions, as wor
thy of his serious consideration, in determining how he would conduct
and closo what might prove a successful war in Mexico. Nor is it
necessary to practise reserve upon the point that if France should,
upon due consideration, determine to adopt a policy in Mexico adverse
to the American opinion and sentiments which I have described, that
policy would probably scatter seeds which would be fruitful of jealousies
which might ultimately ripen into collision between France and the
United States and other American republics. . . . The statements
made to you by M. Drouyn de 1 IIuys concerning the Emperor s inten
tions are entirely satisfactory, if we are permitted to assume them as
having been authorized to be made by the Emperor in view of the
present condition of affairs in Mexico.

The French Minister, in a conversation on the 8th of Octo
ber, stated to Mr. Dayton that the vote of the entire popula
tion of Mexico, Spanish and Indian, would be taken as to the
form of government to be established, and he had no doubt a
large majority of that vote would be in favor of the Archduke
Maximilian. He also expressed a desire that the United
States would express its acquiescence in siK;li a result, and its
readiness to enter into peaceful relations with such a govern-



ment, by acknowledging it as speedily as possible, inasmuch
as such a course would enable France the sooner to leave
Mexico and the new government to take care of itself. In
replying to this request, on the 23d 4 of October Mr. Seward
repeated the determination of our government to maintain a
position of complete neutrality in the war between France and
Mexico, and declared that while they could not anticipate the
action of the people of Mexico, they had not " the least pur
pose or desire to interfere with their proceedings, or control
or interfere with their free choice, or disturb them in the
exercise of whatever institutions of government they may, in
the exercise of an absolute freedom, establish." As we did
not consider the war yet closed, however, we were not at
liberty to consider the question of recognizing the govern
ment which, in the further chances of that war, might take
the place of the one now existing in Mexico, with which our
relations were those of peace and friendship.

The policy of the President, therefore, in regard to the war
in Mexico has been that of neutrality ; and, although this
policy has in some respects contravened the traditional pur
poses arid principles of the government and people of the
United States, it is not easy to see what other could have been
adopted without inviting hazards which no responsible states
man has a right to incur. The war against Mexico was under
taken ostensibly for objects and purposes which we were com
pelled to regard as legitimate, and we could not ourselves depart
from a strict neutrality without virtually conceding the right,
not only of France but of every other nation interested in our
downfall, to become party to the war against us. While
we have to a certain extent pledged ourselves to hold the
whole continent open to republican institutions, our first duty
is clearly to preserve the existence of our own Republic, not
only for ourselves, but as the only condition on which repub
licanism anywhere is possible. The President, therefore, in



holding this country wholly aloof from the war with France, has
consulted the ultimate and permanent interests of Democratic
institutions not less than the safety and welfare of the United
States, and has pursued the only policy at all compatible with
the preservation of our Union and the final establishment of
the Monroe doctrine. Neither the President nor the people,
however, have indicated any purpose to acquiesce in the im
position of a foreign prince upon the Mexican people by for
eign armies; and on the 3d of April, 1864, the House of Rep
resentatives adopted the following resolution upon the subject,
which embodies, beyond all doubt, the settled sentiment of
the people of this country.


Resolved, That the Congress of the United States are unwilling by
silence to leave the nations of the world under the impression that
they are indifferent spectators of the deplorable events now transpir
ing in the Republic of Mexico ; therefore, they think it fit to declare
that it does not accord \\ ith the sentiment of the people of the United
States to acknowledge a monarchical government erected on the ruins
of any republican government in America, under the auspices of any
European Power.

No action up to the present time (May 5) has been taken
upon this resolution in the Senate..






THE Proclamation, which accompanied the Annual Message
of the President, embodied the first suggestions of the ad
ministration on the important subject of reconstructing the
governments of those States, which had joined in the seces
sion movement. The matter had been canvassed somewhat
extensively by the public press, and by prominent politicians,
in anticipation of the overthrow of the rebellion, and the view
taken of the subject had been determined, to a very consider
able extent, by the sentiments and opinions of the different
parties as to the object and purpose of the war. The support
ers of the administration did not all hold precisely the same
ground on this subject. As has already been seen, in the de
bates of the Congress of 18G2-3, a considerable number of
the friends of the government, in both houses, maintained
that, by the act of secession, the revolted States had put them
selves outside the pale of the Constitution, and were hence
forth to be regarded and treated, not as members of the Union,
but as alien enemies:* that their State organizations and

* President Lincoln s view of this position is stated in the following
note addressed by him to the publishers of the North American Review,
which contained an article upon his policy of administration :


"Gentlemen: The number for this month and year of the North
American Review was duly received, and for which please accept my
thanks. Of course I arn not the most impartial judge ; yet, with due


State boundaries had been expunged by their own act ; and that
they were to be re-admitted to the jurisdiction of the Con
stitution, and to the privileges of the Union, only upon such
terms and conditions as the Federal government of the loyal
States might prescribe. On the other hand it was held that
the acts of secession, passed by the several State governments,
were absolutely null and void, and that while the persons who
passed them, and those who aided in giving them effect, by
taking up arms against the United States, had rendered them
selves liable individually to the penalties of treason, they
had not, in any respect, changed the relations of their States,

allowance for this, I venture to hope that the article entitled The
President s Policy will be of value to the country. I fear I am not
worthy of all which is therein kindly said of me personally.

" The sentence of twelve lines, commencing at the top of page 252,
I could wish to be not exactly what it is. In what is there expressed,
the writer has not correctly understood me. I have never had a theory
that secession could absolve States or people from their obligations. Pre
cisely the contrary is asserted in the inaugural address ; and it was
because of my belief in the continuation of those obligations that I was
puzzled, for a time, as to denying the legal rights of those citizens who
remained individually innocent of treason or rebellion. But I mean no
more now than to merely call attention to this point.

"Tours respectfully,


The sentence referred to by Mr. Lincoln is as follows :

" Even so long ago as when Mr. Lincoln, not yet convinced of
the danger and magnitude of the crisis, was endeavoring to persuade
himself of Union majorities at the South, and carry on a war that was
half peace, in the hope of a peace that would have been all war, while
he was still enforcing the Fugitive Slave law, under some theory that
secession, however it might absolve States from their obligations, could
not escheat them of their claims under the Constitution, and that slave
holders in rebellion had alone among mortals, the privilege of having
their cake and eating it at the same time, the enemies of free govern
ment were striving to persuade the people that the war was an abolition
crusade. To rebel without reason was proclaimed as one of the rights
of man, while it was carefully kept out of sight that to suppress rebel
lion is the lirst duty of government."


as such, to the federal government. The governments of those
States had been for a time subverted : but they might at any
time be re-established upon a republican basis, under the au
thority and protection of the United States. The Proclama
tion proceeded, in the main, upon the latter theory. The
President had the power, under the Constitution, and by spe
cific legislation of Congress, to grant pardons upon such con
ditions as he might deem expedient. In the exercise of this
power, President LINCOLN released from legal penalties, and
restored to the rights of citizenship all, in each State, with
certain specified exceptions, who should take and abide by a
prescribed oath ; and then he proclaimed his purpose to re
cognize them as the citizens of such State, and as alone com
petent to organize and carry on the local government; and
he pledged the power of the general government to protect
such republican State governments as they might establish,
" against invasion, and against domestic violence." By
way of precaution against a usurpation of power by strangers,
he insisted on the same qualifications for voting as had been
required by the Constitution and laws of the State previous
to secession : and to provide against usurpation of power
by an insignificant minority, he also required that the new
government should be elected by at least one tenth as many
voters as had voted in the State at the Presidential election
of 1860. In the oath, which he imposed as essential to citi
zenship, the President required a pledge to sustain the Con
stitution of the United States, the laws of Congress and the
Executive Proclamations and acts on the subject of slavery, so
long and so far as the same should not be declared invalid and
of no binding obligation, by the Supreme Court of the United
States. These were the foundations of the broad and substan
tial basis laid by the President for the restoration of the Union,
and the re-establishment of loyal republican governments in
the several seceded States.


Various indications in the Southern Statos, had satisfied
the President that the time had come when the work of re
construction might safely and wisely be thus commenced. In
Tennessee, where the rebels had never maintained any perma
nent foothold, but where the government at Washington had
found it necessary to commit the local authority to Andrew
Johnson, as Provisional Governor, there had been a very
strong party in favor of restoring the State to its former posi
tion as a member of the Federal Union. But in Louisiana,
the movements in the same direction had been earlier and
more decided than in any other Southern State. The occu
pation of Xew Orleans by the national forces, and the advent
of General Butler as Commander of that Military Department,
on the 1st of May, 1862, speedily satisfied a very consider
able portion of the inhabitants, who had property at stake in
the City and State, that the rebel authority could never be
restored; and preparations were accordingly made to hold an
election in the fall of that year for Members of the Congress
of the United States. General Shepley had been appointed
Military Governor of the State, and to him the President, in
November, addressed the following letter on that subject :


DEAR SIR : Dr. Kennedy, bearer of this, has some apprehension that
Federal officers, not citizens of Louisiana, may be set up as candidates
for Congress in that State. In my view there could be no possible object
in such an election. We do not particularly need members of Congress
from those States to enable us to get along with legislation here. What
we do want is the conclusive evidence that respectable citizens of Louisi
ana are willing to be members of Congress and to swear support to the
Constitution, and that other respectable citizens there are willing to vote
for them and send them. To send a parcel of Northern men here as re
presentatives, elected as would be understood (and perhaps really so), at
the point of the bayonet, would be disgraceful and outrageous ; and were
I a member of Congress here, I would vote against admitting any such
man to a seat. Tours, very truly,




The election was held, and Messrs. Flanders and Halm
were chosen and admitted to their seats at the ensuing ses
sion, as has been already seen.

On the 23d of May, 1863, the various Union associations
of New Orleans applied to the Military Governor of the State
for authority to call a Convention of the loyal citizens of
Louisiana, for the purpose of framing a new State Constitution,
and of re-establishing civil government under the Constitution
of the United States. What they especially desired of him
was that he should order a registration of the loyal voters of
the State, and appoint commissioners of registration in each
parish to register the names of all citizens who should take
the oath of allegiance to the Constitution of the United States,
and repudiate allegiance to the Rebel Confederacy. General
Shepley, in reply, recognized fully the great importance of
the proposed movement, but thought it of the utmost conse
quence that it should proceed as the spontaneous act of the
people of the State, without the slightest appearance or
suspicion of having been in any degree the result of military
dictation. He consented to provide for the registration of
such voters as might voluntarily come forward for the purpose
of being enrolled, but deferred action upon the other points
submitted to him until he could receive definite instructions
on the subject from the Government at Washington.

In June, a Committee of Planters, recognizing the propriety
of some movement for the re-establishment of civil authority
in the State, and not concurring in the policy of those who
proposed to form a new Constitution, applied to the President,
asking him to grant a full recognition of the rights of the State
as they existed before the act of secession, so that they might
return to their allegiance under the old Constitution of the
State, and that he would order an election for State officers,
to be held on the 1st Monday of November.


To this application the President made the following reply :


GENTLEMEN : Since receiving your letter, reliable information has
reached me that a respectable portion of the Louisiana people desire to
amend their State Constitution, and contemplate holding a Convention
for that object. This fact alone, it seems to me, is a sufficient reason
Avhy the General Government should not give the committee the authority
you seek to act under the existing State Constitution. I may add, that
while I do not perceive how such a committee could facilitate our mili
tary operations in Louisiana, I really apprehend it might be so used as to
embarrass them.

As to an election to be held in November, there is abundant time with
out any order or proclamation from me just now. The people of Louisi
ana shall not lack an opportunity for a fair election for both Federal and
State officers by want of any thing within my power to give them.

Your obedient servant, A. LINCOLN.

After the appearance of the President s proclamation, the
movement towards reconstruction in Louisiana assumed Greater


consistency, and was carried forward with greater steadiness
and strength. On the 8th of January a very large Free State
convention was held at New Orleans, at which resolutions
were adopted indorsing all the acts and proclamations of the
President, and urging the immediate adoption of measures for
the restoration of the State to its old place in the Union. On
the llth, General Banks issued a proclamation, appointing an
election for State officers on the 22d of February, who were
to be installed on the 4th of March, and another election for
delegates to a convention to revise the Constitution of the
State on the first Monday in April. The old Constitution and
laws of Louisiana were to be observed, except so far as they
relate to Slavery, " which," said General Banks, " being incon
sistent with the present condition of public affairs, and plainly
inapplicable to any class of persons within the limits of the
State, must be suspended, and they are now declared inopera
tive and void." The oath of allegiance required by the Presi
dent in his proclamation, with the condition affixed to the


elective franchise by the Constitution of Louisiana, was pre
scribed as constituting the qualification of voters.

Under this order, parties were organized for the election of
State officers. The friends of the national government were
divided, and two candidates were put in nomination for gov
ernor, Hon. Michael Hahn being the regular nominee, and
representing the supporters of the policy of the President, and
Hon. B. F. Flanders being put in nomination by those who
desired a more radical policy than the President had proposed.
Both took very decided ground against the continued existence
of slavery within the State. Hon. C. Roselius was nominated
by that portion of the people who concurred in the wish for
the return of Louisiana to the Union, and were willing to take
the oath of allegiance prescribed by the President, but who
nevertheless disapproved of the general policy of the Adminis
tration, especially on the subject of slavery. The election re
sulted in the election of Mr. Hahn.

In Arkansas, where a decided Union feeling has existed
from the outbreak of the rebellion, the appearance of the
proclamation was the signal for a movement to bring the State
back into the Union. On the 20th of January, a delegation
of citizens from that. State had an interview with the Presi
dent, in which they urged the adoption of certain measures
for the re-establishment of a legal State government, and
especially the ordering of an election for governor. In con
sequence of this application, and in substantial compliance
with their request, the President wrote the following letter
to General Steele, who commanded in that Department :

Major-General STEELE :

Sundry citizens of the State of Arkansas petition me that an election
may be held in that State, at which to elect a governor ; that it be as
sumed at that election and thenceforward, that the Constitution and laws
of the State, a-s before the rebellion, are in full force, except that the Con-
stitution is so modified as to declare that there shall be .neither slavery


nor involuntary servitude, except in the punishment of crimes whereof
the party shall have been duly convicted ; that the General Assembly may
make such provisions for the freed people as shall recognize and declare
their permanent freedom, and provide for their education, and which may
yet be construed as a temporary arrangement suitable to their condition
as a laboring, landless, and homeless class ; that said election shall be
held on the 28th of March, 1864, at all the usual places of the State, or all
such as voters may attend for that purpose ; that the voters attending at
8 o clock in the morning of said day may choose judges and clerks of
election for such purpose ; that all persons qualified by said Constitution
and hnvs, and taking the oath presented in the President s proclamation
of December 8, 1803, either before or at the election, and none others,
may be voters ; that each set of judges and clerks may make returns di
rectly to you on or before the tli day of next ; that in all other

respects said election may be conducted according to said Constitution
and laws ; that on receipt of said returns, when 5,406 votes shall have
been cast, you can receive said votes and ascertain all who shall thereby
appear to have been elected; that on the tli day of next, all
persons so appearing to have been elected, who shall appear before you
at Little Rock, and take the oath, to be by you severally administered,

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 41 of 46)