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 43 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 43 of 46)
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the benefit of the Sanitary Commission. The President ac
cepted an invitation to attend the opening exercises, and made
the following remarks :

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN: Calling to mind that we are in Baltimore,
we cannot fail to note that the world moves. Looking upon these many
people assembled here to serve, as they best may, the soldiers of the
Union, it occurs at once that three years agd the same soldiers could
not so much as pass through Baltimore. The change from then till now
is both great and gratifying. Blessings on the brave men who have
wrought the change, and the fair women who strive to reward them
for it.

But Baltimore suggests more than could happen within Baltimore.
The change within Baltimore is part only of a far wider change. When
the war began, three years ago, neither party, nor any man, expected it
would last till now. Each looked for the end, in some way, long ere to
day. Neither did any anticipate that domestic slavery would be much
affected by the war. But here we are ; the war has not ended, and
slavery has been much affected how much needs not now to be re
counted. So true is it that man proposes and God disposes.

But we can see the past, though we may not claim to have directed
it ; and seeing it, in this case, we feel more hopeful and confident for the

The world has never had a good definition of the word liberty, and
the American people, just now, are much in want of one. "We all de
clare for liberty ; but in using the same word we do not all mean the
same thing. With sorr.e the word liberty may mean for each man to do
as he pleases with himself, and the product of his labor ; while with
others the same word may mean for some men to do as they please with
other men, and the product of other men s labor. Here are two,, not
only different, but incompatible things, called by the same name, liberty.
And it follows that each of the things is, by the respective parties, called
by two different and incompatible names liberty and tyranny.


The shepherd drives the wolf from the sheep s throat, for which the
sheep thanks the shepherd as a liberator, while the wolf denounces him
for the same act, as the destroyer of liberty, especially as the sheep was
a black one. Plainly, the sheep and the wolf, are not agreed upon a
definition of the word liberty ; and precisely the same difference prevails
to-day among us human creatures, even in the North, and all professing
to love liberty. Hence we beholc. the process by which thousands are
daily passing from under the y - ce of bondage hailed by some as the
advance of liberty, and bewa.-.ect by others as the destruction of all
liberty. Recently, as it seen s, the people of Maryland have been doing
something to define liberty and thanks to them that, in what they
have done, the wolf s dictionary has been repudiated.

It is not very becoming for one in my position to make speeches at
great length; but there is another subject upon which I feel that I
ought to say a word. A painful rumor, true I fear, has reached us of
the massacre, by the rebel forces at Fort Pillow, in the west end of
Tennessee, on the Mississippi River, of some three hundred colored
soldiers and white officers, who had just been overpowered by their
assailants. There seems to be some anxiety in the public mind whether
the Government is doing its duty to the colored soldier, and to the ser
vice, at this point. At the beginning of the war, and for some time,
the use of colored troops was not contemplated ; and how the change
of purpose was wrought, I will not now take time to explain. Upon a
clear conviction of duty, I resolved to turn that element of strength to
account; and I am responsible for it to the American people, to the
Christian world, to history, and on my final account to God. Having
determinod to use the negro as a soldier, there is no way but to give
him all the protection given to any other soldier. The difficulty is not
in stating the principle, but in practically applying it. It is a mistake
to suppose the Government is indifferent to this matter, or is not doing
the best it can in regard to it. We do not to-day know that a colored
soldier, or white officer commanding colored soldiers, has been massa
cred by the rebels when made a prisoner. We fear it, believe it, I may
say, but we do not know it. To take the life of one of their prisoners
on the assumption that they murder ours, when it is short of certainty
that they do murder ours, might be too serious, too cruel a mistake.
We are having the Fort Pillow affair thoroughly investigated; and
such investigation will probably show conclusively how the truth is.
If, after all that has been said, it shall turn out that there has been no
massacre at Fort Pillow, it will be almost safe to say there has been_


Done, and will be none elsewhere. If there has been the massacre
of three hundred there, or even the tenth part of three hundred, it will
be conclusively proven ; and being so proven, the retribution shall as
surely come. It will be matter of grave consideration in what ex
act course to apply the retribution ; but in the supposed case, it must

It became manifest, soon after the commencement of the
war, that its progress would inevitably have the effect of free
ing very many, if not all, the slaves of the Southern States.
The President s attention was therefore directed at an early
day to the proper disposition of those who should thus be
freed. As his Messages show, he was strongly in favor of
colonizing them, with their own consent, in some country
\vhere they could be relieved from the embarrassments oc
casioned by the hostile prejudices of the whites, and enter
upon a career of their own. In consequence of his urgent
representations upon this subject, Congress at its session of
1862 passed an act placing at his disposal the sum of $600,000
to be expended, in his discretion, in removing, with their own
consent, free persons of African descent to some country
which they might select as adapted to their condition and

On the 14th of August, 1862, the President received a
deputation of colored persons, with whom he had an inter
view on the subject, of which one of the parties interested has
made the following record :

WASHINGTON, Thursday, August 14, 1 862.

This afternoon the President of the United States gave an audience
to a Committee of colored men at the White House. They were intro
duced by Rev. J. Mitchell, Commissioner of Emigration. E. M. Thomas,
the Chairman, remarked that they were there by invitation to hear
what the Executive had to say to them.

Having all been seated, the President, after a few preliminary obser
vations, informed them that a sum of money had been appropriated by
Congress, and placed at his disposition, for the purpose of aiding the


colonization in some country of the people, or a portion of them, of
African descent, thereby making it his duty, as it had for a long time
been his inclination, to favor that cause ; and why, he asked, should
the people of your race be colonized, and where? Why should they
leave this country ? This is, perhaps, the first question for proper con
sideration. You and we are different races. We have between us a
broader difference than exists between almost any other two races.
Whether it is right or wrong I need not discuss ; but this physical
difference is a great disadvantage to us both, as I think. Your race
suffer very greatly, many of them by living among us, while ours suffer
from your presence. In a word we suffer on each side. If this is ad
mitted, it affords a reason, at least, why we should be separated. You
here are freemen, I suppose.
A voice Yes, Sir.

The President Perhaps you have long been free, or all your lives.
Your race are suffering, in my judgment, the greatest wrong inflicted
on any people. But even when you cease to be slaves; you are yet far
removed from being placed on an equality with the white race. You
are cut off from many of the advantages which the other race enjoys.
The aspiration of men is to enjoy equality with the best when free, but
on this broad continent not a single man of your race is made the
equal of a single man of ours. Go where you are treated the best,
and the ban is still upon you. I do not propose to discuss this, but to
present it as a fact, with which we have to deal. I cannot alter it if I
would. It is a fact about which we all think and feel alike, I arid you.
We look to our condition. Owing to the existence of the two races on
this continent, I need not recount to you the effects upon white men,
growing out of the institution of Slavery. I believe in its general evil
effects on the white race. See our present condition the country
engaged in war ! our white men cutting one another s throats none
knowing how far it will extend and then consider what we know to
be the truth. But for your race among us there could not be war,
although many men engaged on either side do not care for you one
way or the other. Nevertheless, I repeat, without the institution of
Slavery, and the colored race as a basis, the war could not have an
existence. It is better for us both, therefore, to be separated. I know
that there are free men among you who, even if they could better their
condition, are not as much inclined to go out of the country as those
who, being slaves, could obtain their freedom on this condition. I sup
pose one of the principal difficulties in the way of colonization is that


the free colored man cannot see that his comfort would bo advanced by
it. Ton may believe that you can live in Washington, or elsewhere in
the United States, the remainder of your life ; perhaps more so than
you can in any foreign country, and hence you may come to the con
clusion that you have nothing to do with the idea of going to a foreign
country. This is (I speak in no unkind sense) an extremely selfish
view of the case. But you ought to do something to help those who
are not so fortunate as yourselves. There is an unwillingness on the
part of our people, harsh as it may be, for you free colored people to
remain with us. Now if you could give a start to the white people
you would open a wide door for many to be made free. If we deal
with those who are not free at the beginning, and whose intellects are
clouded by Slavery, we have very poor material to start with. If in
telligent colored men, such as are before me, would move in this matter,
much might be accomplished. It is exceedingly important that we have
men at the beginning capable of thinking as white men, and not
those who have been systematically oppressed. There is much to
encourage you. For the sake of your race you should sacrifice some
thing of your present comfort for the purpose of being as grand in that
respect as the white people. It is a cheering thought throughout life,
that something can be done to ameliorate the condition of those who
have been subject to the hard usages of the world. It is difficult to
make a man miserable while ho feels he is worthy of himself and claims
kindred to the great God who made him. In the American Revolution
ary War sacrifices were made by men engaged in it, but they were
cheered by the future. General Washington himself endured greater
physical hardships than if he had remained a British subject, yet he
was a happy man, because he was engaged in benefiting his race;
in doing something for the children of his neighbors, having none of his

The colony of Liberia has been in existence a long time. In a cer
tain sense, it is a success. The old President of Liberia, Roberts, has
just been with me the first time I ever saw him. He says they have
within the bounds of that colony between three und four hundred
thousand people, or more than in some of our old States, such as Rhode
Island or Delaware, or in some of our newer States, and less than in
some of our larger ones. They are not all American colonists or their
descendants. Something less than 12,000 have been sent thither from
this country. Many of the original settlers have died, yet, like people
elsewhere, their offspring outnumber those deceased. The question is,


if the colored people are persuaded to go anywhere, why not there ?
One reason for unwillingness to do so is, that some of you would rather
remain within reach of the country of your nativity. I do not know
how much attachment you may have toward our race. It does not
strike me that you have the greatest reason to love them. But still you
are attached to them at all events. The place I am thinking about
having for a colony, is in Central America. It is nearer to us than
Liberia not much more than one-fourth as far as Liberia, and within
seven days run by steamers. Unlike Liberia, it is a great line of
t rave l it is a highway. The country is a very excellent one for any
people, and with great natural resources and advantages, and espe
cially because of the similarity of climate with your native soil, thus
being suited to your physical condition. The particular place I have in
view, is to be a great highway from the Atlantic or Caribbean Sea to
the Pacific Ocean, and this particular place has all the advantages for a
colony. On both sides there are harbors among the finest in the world.
Again, there is evidence of very rich coal mines. A certain amount of
coal is valuable in any country, and there may be more than enough for
1 he wants of any country. Why I attach so much importance to coal
is, it will afford an opportunity to the inhabitants for immediate employ
ment till they get ready to settle permanently in their homes. If you
take colonists where there is no good landing, there is a bad show ; and
so where there is nothing to cultivate, and of which to make a farm.
But if something is started so that you can get your daily bread as soon
as you reach there, it is a great advantage. Coal land is the best thing
I know of with which to commence an enterprise. To return you
have been talked to upon this subject, and told that a speculation is in
tended by gentlemen who have an interest in the country, including the
coal mines. We have been mistaken ail our lives if we do not know
whites, as well as blacks, look to their self-interest. Unless among
those deficient of intellect, everybody you trade with makes something.
You meet with these things here and everywhere. If such persons
have what will be an advantage to them, the question is, whether it
cannot be made of advantage to you ? You are intelligent and know
that success does not as much depend on external help as on self-reli
ance. Much, therefore, depends upon yourselves. As to the coal
mines, I think I see the means available for your self-reliance. I shall,
if I get a sufficient number of you engaged, have provision made that
you shall not be wronged. If you will engage in the enterprise, I will
spend some of the money intrusted to me. I am not sure you will sue-


coed. The Government may lose the money, but we cannot succeed
unless we try ; but we think with care we can succeed. The political
affairs in Central America are not in quite as satisfactory condition as I
wish. There are contending factions in that quarter; but it is true, all
the factions are agreed alike on the subject of colonization, and wa-nt it,
and are more generous than we are here. To your colored race they
have no objection. Besides, I would endeavor to have you made equals,
and have the best assurance that you should be the equals of the best.
The practical thing I want to ascertain is, whether I can get a number
of able-bodied men, with their wives and children, who are willing to
go, when I present evidence of encouragement and protection. Could
I get a hundred tolerably intelligent men, with their wives and child
ren, and able to "cut their own fodder," so to speak ? Can I have fifty ?
Tf I could find twenty-five able-bodied men, with a mixture of women and
children good things in the family relation, I think I could make a
successful commencement. I want you to let me know whether this
can be done or not. This is the practical part of my wish to see you.
These are subjects of very great importance worthy of a month s
study, of a speech delivered in an hour. 1 ask you, then, to consider
seriously, not pertaining to yourselves merely, nor for your race and ours
for^the present time, but as one of the things, if successfully managed,
for the good of mankind not confined to tho present generation, but as

"From age to age descends the lay

To millions yet to be,
Till far its echoes roll away
Into eternity."

The above is merely given as the substance of the President s re

The chairman of the delegation briefly replied, that "they would hold
a consultation, and in a short time give an answer." The President
said, " Take your full time no hurry at all."

The delegation then withdrew.

In pursuance of bis plans of Colonization, an agreement was
entered into, by the President, September 12, 1862, with
A. W. Thompson, for the settlement, by free colored emi
grants from the United States, of a tract of country within
the republic of New Grenada the region referred to by the


President in his remarks quoted above ; and the Hon. S. E.
Pomeroy, a senator from Kansas, proposed to accompany and
superintend the expedition. The sum of $25,000 was ad
vanced to him from the colonization fund, but it was soon
after discovered that the Government of New Grenada objected
to the landing of these emigrants upon its territory, and the
project was abandoned.

In April, 1863, an agreement was made with responsible and
highly respectable parties in New York for the colonization
of He a Vache, within the Republic of Hayti, of which a
favorable grant had been made by the Government and
which was represented in the published report of the Commis
sioner of Emigration in the Department of the Interior, as
being in every way adapted to the culture of cotton and other
tropical products, and as eminently favorable for such an ex
periment. The Government agreed to pay fifty dollars each
for the removal of the consenting emigrants thither pay
ment to be made on official certificate of their arrival. The
contractors fulfilled their portion of the agreement with
fidelity, and to the utmost extent of their ability ; but after an
expenditure of about eighty thousand dollars, it was discovered
that the representations of the fertility of the island had been
utterly unfounded, and that the enterprise was hopeless. The
agent of the Company, moreover, through whom the Govern
ment had made the original contract, proved to be utterly un
trustworthy and incapable, and was removed. The Govern
ment at last brought the negroes back to the United States,
but incurred no additional expense, as it declined to pay the
contractors the stipulated sum for the removal of the emi
grants, or to reimburse them any portion of the moneys ex
pended in the enterprise.

No further experiments have been made in the matter of
colonization ; but the disposition and employment of the
negroes has engaged a good deal of the attention and solici-


tude of the Government. When the rebellion first broke out
there were many persons who insisted upon the instant eman
cipation of the slaves, and their employment in arms against
the rebels of the Southern States. Public sentiment, however,
was by no means prepared for the adoption of such a measure.
The Administration, upon its advent to power, was compelled to
encounter a wide-spread distrust of its general purposes in re
gard to slavery, and special pains were taken by the agents
and allies of the rebellion to alarm the sensitive apprehensions
of the Border States upon this subject. The President,
therefore, deemed it necessary, in order to secure that unity
of sentiment without which united and effective action against
the rebellion was felt to be impossible, to exclude from the
contest all issues of a secondary nature, and to fasten the
attention and thought of the whole country upon the para
mount end and aim of the war the restoration of the Union
and the authority of the Constitution of the United States.
How steadily and carefully this policy was pursued, the pre
ceding pages of this record will show.

But as the war went on, and the desperate tenacity of the
rebel resistance became more manifest as the field of opera
tions, both military and political, became enlarged, and the
elements of the rebel strength were better understood, the
necessity of dealing with the question of Slavery forced itself
upon the people and the Government. The legislation of
Congress, from time to time, represented and embodied these
advancing phases of public opinion. At the extra session of
1861 a law was passed, discharging from slavery every slave
who should be required or permitted by his master to take up
arms against the United States, or to be employed in any
military capacity in the rebel service. At the next session
the President was authorized to employ persons of African
descent in the suppression of the rebellion, " in such manner
as he should judge best for the public welfare," and also to


issue a proclamation commanding all persons in rebellion
against the United States to lay down their arms and return
to their allegiance ; and if any persons so warned should be
found in rebellion thirty days after the date of such proclama
tion, the President was authorized to set free their slaves.
Under these comprehensive acts the President took such steps
on the subject as he believed the necessities of the country re
quired, and as the public sentiment of the country would sustain.
The Emancipation proclamation was issued on the 1st of Jan
uary, 1863, and measures were adopted soon afterwards to
provide for the changes which it made inevitable. On the
20th of January, the Secretary of War authorized Governor
Andrew, of Massachusetts, to enlist volunteers for three
years, and to include persons of African descent, organized
into a separate corps. In April negro troops were enlisted by
Adjutant- General Thomas for service in Arkansas, and on the
15th of that month he issued an order appointing commission
ers to superintend the execution of a policy which the Gov
ernment had adopted for committing the protection of the
banks of the Mississippi to a negro force. On the 22d of
May, orders were issued by the Secretary of War creating a
Bureau of the W T ar Department for all matters relating to the
organization of colored troops, and establishing rules for their
enlistment, and for the appointment of officers to command
them. And, on the 20th of August, Hon. J. Holt, Judge-
Advocate General, sent to the President an official opinion,
to the effect that, under the laws of Congress on the subject,
he had full authority to enlist slaves for service in the army
precisely as he might enlist any other persons providing for
compensation to loyal owners whose property might thus be
taken for the public service.

These were the initial steps of a movement for the employ
ment of negro troops, which has gone forward steadily ever
since, until, as has been seen from the President s Message,


over 100,000 negro soldiers are now in the army of the United
States, contributing largely, by their courage and good conduct,
to the suppression of the rebellion which seeks the perpetual
enslavement of their race. The popular prejudice against
their employment in the army, which was so potent at the
beginning, has gradually given way, even in the slaveholding
States, to a more just estimate of the necessities of the emer
gency and the capacities of the negro race. And what is
of still more importance to the welfare of the country, the
people of the slaveholding States have taken up the question
of slavery for discussion and practical action, as one in which
their own well-being, present and prospective, is deeply in
volved. The Union party in every Southern State favors the
abolition of slavery, and in Missouri, Maryland, Louisiana, and
Arkansas, measures are already far advanced which will inevi
tably lead to the speedy overthrow of an institution which has
proved so detrimental to their interests, and so menacing to the
unity of the nation and the stability of republican institutions.

It formed no part of the object of this work to deal in

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 43 of 46)