Henry J. (Henry Jarvis) Raymond.

Lincoln, his life and time : being the life and public services of Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth president of the United States, together with his state papers, including his speeches, addresses, messages and proclamations and closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 1) online

. (page 21 of 42)
Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondLincoln, his life and time : being the life and public services of Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth president of the United States, together with his state papers, including his speeches, addresses, messages and proclamations and closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 1) → online text (page 21 of 42)
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>.at section of the bill which related to this subject was
t ussed ayes sixty, noes forty-eight in the following

Tha j whenever, hereafter, during the present insurrection against th
Government of the United States, any person claimed to be held to labor
or service under the laws of any State, shall be required or permitted by
the person to whom such labor or service is claimed to be due, or by the
lawful agent of such person, to take up arms against the United Statea
or shall be required or permitted by the person to whom such service 01
labor is claimed to be due, or his lawful agent, to work or to be employ<>&
in or upon any fort, navy-yard, dock, armory, ship, or intrenchment, or
iii any military or naval service whatever, against the Government and
lawful authority of the United States, then, and in every such case, tL
person to whom such service is claimed to be due, shall forfeit his claim


to such labor, any law of the State, or of the United States, to the con
trary notwithstanding; and whenever thereafter the person claiming such
(abor or service shall seek to enforce his claim, it shnll be a full and suffi-
oient answer to such claim that the person whose service or labor is
claimed, had been employed in hostile service against the Government ot
the United States contrary to the provisions of this act.

Congress closed its extra session on the Gtli of August
It had taken the most vigorous and effective measures ib
the suppression of the rebellion, having clothed the Pres
ident with even greater power than he had asked for in
the prosecution of the war, and avoided with just fidelty
all points which could divide and weaken the loyal sen
timent of the country. The people responded with hearty
applause to the patriotic action of their representatives.
The universal temper of the country was one of "buoyancy
and hope. Throughout the early part of the summer the
rebels had "been steadily pushing troops through Virginia
to the borders of the Potomac, menacing the National Cap
ital with capture, until in the latter part of June they had
an army of not far from thirty-five thousand men, holding
a strong position along the Bull Run Creek its left posted
at Winchester, and its right resting at Manassas. It was
determined to attack this force and drive it from the vicin
ity of Washington, and the general belief of the country
was that this would substantially end the war. The
National army, numbering about thirty thousand men,
moved from the Potomac, on the 16th of July, under
General McDowell, and the main attack was made on the
21st. It resulted in the defeat, with a loss of four hundred
and eighty killed and one thousand wounded, of our
forces, and their falling back, in the utmost disorder and
confusion, upon Washington. Our army was completely
routed, and if the rebel forces had known the extent of
their success, and had been in condition to avail them
selves of it with vigor and energy, the Capital would
easily have fallen into their hands.

The result of this battle took the whole country by sur
prise. The most sanguine expectations of a prompt and
decisive victory had been universally entertained ; and


die actual issue first revealed to the people the prospect
of a long and bloody war. But the public heart was not
in the least discouraged. On the contrary, the effect was
to rouse still higher the courage and determination of the
people. ISTo one dreamed for an instant of submission.
The most vigorous efforts were made to reorganize the
army, to increase its numbers by volunteering, and to
establish a footing for National troops at various points
along the rebel coast. On the 28th of August Fort Hat-
teras was surrendered to the National forces, and on the
31st of October Port Royal, on the coast of South Caro
lina, fell into possession of the United States. On the 3d
of December Ship Island, lying between Mobile and New
Orleans, was occupied. Preparations were also made for
an expedition against New Orleans, and by a series of
combined movements the rebel forces were driven out of
Western Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri States in
which the population had from the beginning of the con
test been divided in sentiment and action.

On the 31st of October General Scott, finding himself
unable, in consequence of illness and advancing age, to
take the field or discharge the duties imposed by the
enlarging contest, resigned his position as commander of
the army, in the following letter to the Secretary of War :


WASHINGTON, October 81, 1861, f

The Hon. S. CAMERON, Secretary of War :

SIR: For more than three years I have been unable, from a hurt, t-i
mount a horse, or to walk more than a few paces at a time, and that, with
inach pain. Other and new infirmities dropsy and ve-rtigo admonish
me tLat repose of mind and body, with the appliances of surgery and
medicine, are necessary to add a little more to a life already protracted
mnch beyond the usual span of man.

It is Tinder such circumstances made doubly painful by the unnatural
and unjust rebellion now raging in the Southern States of our (so late) pros
perovs and happy Union that I am compelled to request that my name
may be placed on the list of army officers retired from active service.

As this request is founded on an absolute right, granted by a recent act
of Congress, I am entirely at liberty to say it is with deep regret that I
withdraw myself, in these momentous times, from the orders of a Presi
dent who has treated me with distinguished kindness and courtesy, whoio


I know, upon much personal intercourse, to be patriotic, without sectional
nartialilies or prejudices ; to be highly conscientious in the performance
of every duty, and of unrivalled activity and perseverance.

And to you, Mr. Secretary, whom I now oflicially address for the last
time, I beg to acknowledge my many obligations, for the uniform high
consideration I have received at your hands; and have the honor to
6 nain, sir, .with high respect, your obedient servant,


President Lincoln waited upon General Scott at his
residence, accompanied by his Cabinet, and made personal
expression to him of the deep regret which he, in common
with the whole country, felt in parting with a public ser
vant so venerable in years and so illustrious for the
services he had rendered. He also issued the following
order :

On the first day of November, 1861, upon his own application to the
President of the United States, Brevet Lieutenant-General Winfield Scott
is ordered to be placed, and hereby is placed, upon the list of retired
officers of the army of the United States, without reduction of his current
pay, subsistence, or allowances.

The American people will hear with sadness and deep emotion that
General Scott has withdrawn from the active control of the army, while
the President and unanimous Cabinet express their own and the Nation s
sympathy in his personal affliction, and their profound sense of the im
portant public services rendered by him to his country during his lony
and brilliant career, among which will ever be gratefully distinguished hid
faithful devotion to the Constitution, the Union, and the Flag, when
assailed by parricidal rebellion. ABKAHAM LINCOLN.

The command of the army then devolved by appoint
i.ent upon Major- General McClellan, who had been re
called from Western Virginia after the battle of Bull Run,
and had devoted himself to the task of recruiting the
army in front of Washington, and preparing it for the
defence of the Capital, and for a fresh advance upon the
forces of the rebellion.

It cannot have escaped attention that thus far, in its
policy concerning the war, the Government had been very
greatly influenced by a desire to prevent the Border Slave
States from joining the rebel confederacy. Their accession
would have added immensely to the forces of the rebel
lion, and would h ave increased very greatly the labor and


difficulty of its suppression. The Administration and
Congress had, therefore, avoided, so far as possible, any
measures in regard to slavery which could needlessly ex
cite the hostile prejudices of the people of the Border
States. The Confiscation Act affected only those slaves
who should be " required or permitted" by their masters
to render service to the rebel cause. It did not in any
respect change the condition of any others. The Presi
dent, in the Executive Department, acted upon the sain
principle. The question first arose in Virginia, simult.
neously at Fortress Monroe, and in the western part oi
the State. On tlie 26th of May, General McClellan issued
an address to the people of the district under his com -
maud, in which he said to them, "Understand one thing
clearly: not only will we abstain from all interference
with your slaves, but we will, on the contrary, with an
iron hand crush any attempt at insurrection on their part."
On the 27th of May, General Butler, in command at
Portress Monroe, wrote to the Secretary of War that he
was greatly embarrassed by the number of slaves that
were coining in from the surrounding country and seeking
protection within the lines of his camp. He had deter
mined to regard them as contraband of war, and to em
ploy their labor at a fair compensation, against which
should be charged the expense of their support tht>
relative value to be adjusted afterwards. The Secretary
of W ar, in a letter dated May 30th, expressed the approval
by the Government of the course adopted by General
Butler, and directed him, on the one hand, to "permit
nc interference by the persons under his command with
the relations of persons held to service under the laws oi
any State," and on the other, to "refrain from surren
dering to alleged masters any such persons who might
come within his lines."

On the 8th of August, after the passage of the Confisca
tion Act by Congress, the Secretary of War again wrote
to General Butler, setting forth somewhat more fully the
views of the President and the Administration upon this
subject, as follows :


It is the desire of the President that all existing riyhts in. all the Statet
bt fully respected and maintained. The war now prosecuted on the part
of the Federal Government is a war fur the Union, and for ihu preserva
tion of all constitutional rights of States and the citizens of the States in
the Union. Hence no question can arise as to fugitives from service within
the States and Territories in which the authority of the Union is fully
acknowledged. Tha ordinary forms of judicial proceeding, which must
be respected hy military and civil authorities alike, will suffice for the
enforcement of all legal claims. But in States wholly or partially under
insurrectionary control, where the laws of the United States are so far
opposed and resisted that they cannot be effectually enforced, it is obvi
ous that rights dependent on the execution of those laws must temporarily
fail ; and it is equally obvious that rights dependent on the laws of the
States within which military operations are conducted must be necessarily
subordinated to the military exigencies created by the insurrection, if not
wholly forfeited by the treasonable conduct of parties claiming them. To
this general rule rights to services can form no exception.

The act of Congress approved August 6th, 1861, declares that if per
sons held to service shall be employed in hostility to the United States,
the right to their services shall be forfeited, and such persons shall be
discharged therefrom. It follows of necessity that no claim can be recog
nized by the military authorities of the Union to the services of such per
sons when fugitives.

A more difficult question is presented in respect to persons escaping
from the service of loyal masters. It is quite apparent that the laws of
the State, under which only the services of such fugitives can be claimed,
must needs be wholly, or almost wholly suspended, as to remedies, by the
insurrection and the military measures necessitated by it ; and it is equally
apparent that the substitution of military for judicial measures, for the
enforcement of such claims, must be attended by great inconveniences,
embarrassments, and injuries.

Under these circumstances, it seems quite clear that the substantial
rights of loyal masters will be best protected by receiving such fugitives,
is well as fugitives from disloyal masters, into the services of the United

ates, and employing them under such organizations and in such occupa-

ns as circumstances may suggest or require. Of course a record should
be kept, showing the name and description of the fugitives, the name and
the character, as loyal or disloyal, of the master, and such facts as may
be necessary to a correct understanding of the circumstances of each cnse,
after tranquillity shall have been restored Upon the return of peace,
Congress will doubtless properly provide for all tiie persons thus received
into the service of the Union, and for just compensation to loyal masters.
In this way only, it would seem, can the duty and safety of the Govern
inent, and the just rights of all, be fully reconciled and harmonized.

You will therefore consider yoursc. ]f as instructed to govern your future
ujtion,in r^uect to fugitives tVoio vice, by the principles herein stated*


and vill teport from time to time, and at least twice in each month, your
action, in the premises to this Department. Yon will, however, neither
Authorize nor permit any interference, by the troops under your commaiid,
with the servants of peaceful citizens, in house or field, nor will you, iu
any way, encourage such servants to leave the lawful service of their
masters; nor will you, except in cases where the public safety may seem
to require it, prevent the voluntary return of any fugitive to the service
from which he may have escaped.

The same policy was adopted in every part of the coun-
trf, Ail interference with the internal institutions of
any State was expressly forbidden ; "but the Government
would avail itself of the services of a portion of the
slaves, taking care fully to provide for compensation to
loyal masters. On the 16th of August, Hon. C. B. Smith,
Secretary of the Interior, in a speech made at Providence,
Rhode Island, took occasion to declare the policy of the
Administration upon this subject. Its theory, said he, is,
that "the States are sovereign within their spheres ; the
Government of the United States has no more right to
interfere with the institution of slavery in South Carolina
than it has to interfere with the peculiar institution of
Rhode Island, whose benefits I have enjoyed."

On the 31st of August, General Fremont, commanding
the Western Department, which embraced Missouri and a
part of Kentucky, issued an order "extending and de
claring established martial law throughout the State of
Missouri," and declaring that "the property, real an*;
personal, of all persons in the State of Missouri, whv>
shall take up arms against the United States, or who shall
be directly proven to have taken an active part with their
enemies in the field, is declared to be confiscated to the
public use, and their slaves, if any they have, are hereby-
declared free men." The President regarded this order
as transcending the authority vested in him by the Act of
Congress, and wrote to General Fremont, calling his at
tention to this point, and requesting him to modify hin
proclamation so as to make it conform to the law. Gen-
< 4 ral Fremont, dosiring to throw off from himself the
responsibility of changing his action, cjesired an ex


plicit order whereupon tlie President thus addressed
him :

WASHINGTON, D. C., September 11, 186t

Major-General JOHN 0. FREMONT :

SIR: Yours of the 8th, in answer to mine of the 2<1 instant, was just
received. Assured that you upon the ground could better judge of tho
necessities of your position than I could at this distance, on seeing your
proclamation of August 30, I perceived no general objection to it ; tiio
particular clause, however, in relation to the confiscation of property and
the liberation of slaves, appeared to me to be objectionable in its non
conformity to the Act of Congress, passed the Gth of last August, upon
the same subjects, and hence I wrote you expressing my wish that that
clause should be modified accordingly. Your answer, just received, ex
presses the preference on your part that I should make an open order for
the modification, which I very cheerfully do. It is therefore ordered that
the said clause of said proclamation be so modified, held, and construed,
as to conform with, and not to transcend, the provisions on the same sub
ject contained in the act of Congress entitled "An Act to confiscate prop
erty used for insurrectionary purposes," approved August 6, 1861, and
the said act be published at length with this order.

Your obedient servant, A. LINCOLN.

These views of the Government were still farther en
forced in a letter from the Secretary of War to General T.
W. Sherman, who commanded the expedition to Port
Royal, and in orders issued by General Dix in Virginia,
on the 17th of November, and by General Halleck, who
succeeded General Fremont in the Western Department,
prohibiting fugitive slaves from being received within
the lines of the army. During all this time strenuous
efforts were made in various quarters to induce the Presi
dent to depart from this policy, and not only to proclaim
a general emancipation of all the slaves, but to put arms
in their hands, and employ them in the field against the
rebels. But they were ineffectual. The President ad
hered firmly and steadily to the policy which the then
existing circumstances of the country, in his judgment,
rendered wise and necessary ; and he was sustained in
this action by the public sentiment of the loyal States,
and by the great body of the people in the Slave Statea
along the border. The course which he pursued at that
time contributed largely, beyond donbt, to strengthen


the cause of the Union in those Border States, and espe
cially to withdraw Tennessee from her hastily formed
connection witk the rebel Confederacy.

In the early part of November an incident occurred
which threatened for a time to involve the conntry in
open war with England. On the 7th of that month the
British mail steamer Trent left Havana for St. Thomas,
having on board Messrs. J. M. Mason and John Slidel^
on their way as commissioners from the Confederate
States to England and France. On the 8th the Trent \v;
hailed from the United States frigate- SanJaointo, Captain
Wilkes, and brought- to by a shot across her bows. Two
officers and about twenty armed men from the latter then
went on board the Trent, searched her, and took from
her by force, and against the protest of the British offi
cers, the two rebel commissioners, with Messrs. Eustis
and McFarland, their Secretaries, who were brought to
the United States and lodged in Fort Warren, the Trent
being released and proceeding on her way. The most
intense excitement pervaded the country when news of
this affair was received. The feeling was one of admira
tion at the boldness of Captain Wilkes, and of exultation
at the capture of the rebel emissaries. In England the
most intense and passionate resentment took possession
of the public mind. The demand for instant redress was
universal, and, in obedience to it, the Government at
once ordered troops to Canada and the outfit of vessels
of war.

Our Government met the matter with prompt and self-
possessed decision. On the 30th of November Mr. Sew
ard wrote to Mr. Adams a general statement of the facts
of the case, accompanied by the assurance that "in the
capture of Messrs. Mason and Slidell Captain Wilkes had
acted without any instructions from the Government,"
and that our Government was prepared to discuss the
matter in a perfectly fair and friendly spirit as soon as
the ground taken by the British Government should be
made known. Earl Russell, under the same date, wrote
to I ord Lyons, rehearsing the facts of the case, and say


ing that the British Government was " willing to believe
that the naval officer who committed the aggression was
not acting in compliance with any authority from li?a
Government," because the Government of the United
States "must be fully aware that the British Government
could not allow such an affront to the national honor to
pass without irll reparation." Earl Russell trusted,
therefore, that v hen the matter should be brought under
its notice the Vnited States Government would, u of ita
own accord, offer to the British Government such redress
as alone could satisfy the British nation, namely, the lib
eration of the four gentlemen arid their delivery to the
British minister, that they may again be placed under
British protection, and a suitable apology for the aggres
sion which has been committed." In a subsequent note
Lord Lyons was instructed to wait seven days after its
delivery for a reply to this demand, and in case no an
swer, or any other answer than a compliance with its
terms, should be given by the expiration of that time, he
was to leave Washington with the archives of the lega
tion, and repair immediately to London.

On the 26th of December the Secretary of State, by di-
rection of the President, sent a reply to this dispatch, in
which the whole question was discussed at length, and
with conspicuous ability. The Government decided that
the detention of the vessel, and the removal from her of
the emissaries of the rebel confederacy, was justifiable by
the laws of war and the practice and precedents of the
British Government ; but that in assuming to decide upon

o liability of these persons to capture for himself, in-
> iuad of sending them before a legal tribunal where a
regular trial could be had, Captain Wilkes had departed
from the rule of international law uniformly asserted by
the American Government, and forming part of its most
cherished policy. The Government decided, therefore,
that the four persons in question would be " cheerfully
liberated." This decision, sustained by the reasoning
advanced in its support, commanded the immediate and
universal acquiescence of the American people ; while in


England it was received with hearty applause by the
friends of this country, especially as it silenced the clam
ors and disappointed the hostile hopes of its enemies.
The French Government had joined that of England in
its representations upon this subject, and the decision of
our Government was received there with equal satisfac
tion. The effect of the incident, under the just and judi
cious course adopted by the Administration, was emi
; ntmtly favorable to the United States increasing the
general respect for its adherence to sound principles of
public law, and silencing effectually the slander that its
Government was too weak to disappoint or thwart a pop
ular clamor. One of the immediate fruits of the discus
sion was the prompt rejection of all demands for recog
nizing the independence of the Confederate Btates.





CONGRESS met in regular session (tlie second of the
Thirty-seventh Congress) on the 2d of December, 1861.
On the next day the President sent in his Annual Message,
as follows :


In the midst of unprecedented political troubles, we have cause of great

Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondLincoln, his life and time : being the life and public services of Abraham Lincoln, sixteenth president of the United States, together with his state papers, including his speeches, addresses, messages and proclamations and closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 1) → online text (page 21 of 42)