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

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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 26 of 42)
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position as Secretary of War. On the 30th of April the
House of Representatives passed, by a vote of seventy-
five to forty-live, a resolution, censuring certain official
acts performed by him while acting as Secretary of War ;
whereupon, on the 27th of May, President Lincoln trans
mitted to the House the following message :

To the Senate and House of Representatives:

The insurrection which is yet existing in the United States, and aims
at the overthrow of the Federal Constitution and the Union, was clan
destinely prepared during the winter of 1860 and 1861, and assumed an
open organization in the form of a treasonable provisional government at
Montgomery, Alabama, OL the eighteenth day of February, 1861. On the
twelfth day of April, 1861, the insurgents committed the flagrant act of
civil war by the bombardment and capture of Fort Surnter, which cut
ofl the hope of immediate conciliation. Immediately afterwards all the
roads and avenues to this city were obstructed, and the Capital was put
into the condition of a siege. The mails in every direction were stopped
and the lines of telegraph cut off by the insurgents, and military and
naval forces which had been called out by the Government for the de
fence of Washington were prevented from reaching the city by organized
and combined treasonable resistance in the State of Maryland. Ther<j
was no adequate and effective organization for the public defence. Con
gress had indefinitely adjourned. There was no time to convene them
It became necessary for me to choose whether, using only the existing
means, agencies, and processes which Congress had provided, I should let
the Government fall into ruin, or whether, availing myself of the broader


powers conferred Ly the Constitution in cases of insurrection, I would
make an effort to save it, with ail its blessings, for the present age and for
posterity. I thereupon summoned my constitutional advisers, the heads
of all the departments, to meet on Sunday, the twentieth day of April,
1861, at the office of the Navy Department, and then and there, with their
unanimous concurrence, I directed that an armed revenue cutter should
proceed to sea to afford protection to the commercial marine, especially
to the California treasure-ships, then on their way to this coast. I also
directed the Commandant of the Navy Yard at Boston to purchase or
charter, and arm, as quickly as possible, five steamships for purposes of
public defence. I directed the Commandant of the Navy Yard at Phila
delphia tc purchase or charter, and arm, an equal number for the same
purpose. I directed the Commandant at New York to purchase or char
ter, and arm, an equal number. I directed Commander Gill is to purchase
or charter, and arm and put to sea, two other vessels. Similar directions
were given to Commodore Du Pont, with a view to the opening of pas
sages by water to and from the Capital. I directed the several officer? to
take the advice and obtain the aid and efficient services in the matter of
his Excellency Edwin D. Morgan, the Governor of New York; or, in his
absence, George I). Morgan, Win. M. Evarts, R. M. Blatchford, and Moses
H. Grinnell, who were, by my directions, especially empowered by the
Secretary of the Navy to act for his department in that crisis, in matters
pertaining to the forwarding of troops and supplies for the public defence.
On the same occasion I directed that Governor Morgan and Alexander
Cuinniings, of the City of New York, should be authorized by the Sec
retary of War, Simon Cameron, to make all necessary arrangements for
the transportation of troops and munitions of war in aid and assist
ance of the officers of the army of the United States, until communica
tion by mails and telegraph should be completely re-established between
the cities of Washington and New York. No security was required to
be given by them, and either of them was authorized to act in case of
inability to consult with the other. On the same occasion I authorized
and directed the Secretary of the Treasury to advance, without requir
ing security, two millions of dollars of public money to John A. Dix,
George Opdyke, and Richard M. Blatchford, of New York, to be used
by them in meeting such requisitions as should be directly consequent
upon the military and naval measures for the defence and support of
the Government, requiring them only to act without compensation, and
to report their transactions when duly called upon. The several de
partments of the Government at that time contained so large a number
of disloyal persons that it would have been impossible to provide safely
through official agents only, for the performance of the duties thus con
fided to citizens favorably known for their ability, loyalty, and patriot
ism. The several orders issued upon these occurrences were tran-
naitted by private messengers, who pursued a circuitous way to th*


eaboard cities, inland across the States of Pennsylvania and Ohio, and
the northern lakes. I believe that by these and other similar measarea
taken in that crisis, some of which were without any authority of law,
the Government was saved from overthrow. I am not aware that a
dollar of the public funds thus confided, without authority of law, to un
official persons, was either lost or wasted, although apprehensions of such
misdirections occurred to me as objections to these extraordinary pro
ceedings, and were necessarily overruled. I recall these transactions now, !
because my attention has been directed to a resolution which was passed
by the House of Representatives on the thirtieth of last month, which is
In these words :

Resolved, That Simon Cameron, late Secretary of War, by intrusting
Alexander Cuinmiugs with the control of large sums of the public money,
and authority to purchase military supplies without restriction, without
requiring from him any guarantee for the faithful performance of his
duties, while the services of competent public officers were available, and
by involving the Government in a vast number of contracts with persona
not legitimately engaged in the business pertaining to the subject-matter
of such contracts, especially in the purchase of arms for future deliv
ery, has adopted a policy highly injurious to the public service, and
deserves the censure of the House.

Congress will see that I should be wanting in candor and in justice if I
should leave the censure expressed in this resolution to rest exclusively or
chiefly upon Mr. Cameron. The same sentiment is unanimously enter
tained by the heads of the departments, who participated in the proceed
ings which the House of Representatives has censured. It is due to Mr.
Cameron to say, that although he fully approved the proceedings, they
were not moved nor suggested by himself, and that not only the Presi
dent, but all the other heads of departments, were at least equally respon
sible with him for whatever error, wrong, or fault was committed in the

This lettei was in strict conformity with the position
uniformly held "by the President in regard to the respon
sibility of members of his Cabinet for acts of the Admin
istration. He always maintained that the proper duty of
each Secretary was, to direct the details of every tiling
done within his own department, and to tender such sug
gestions, information, and advice to the President as he
might solicit at his hands. Bat the duty and responsi
bility of deciding what line of policy should be pursued,
or what steps should be taken in any specific case, in his
judgment, belonged exclusively to the President; and he
always willing and ready to assume it. This posi


don has been widely and sharply assailed in various
quarters, as contrary to the precedents of our early his
tory ; but we believe it to be substantially in accordance
with the theory of the Constitution upon this subject.

The progress of our armies in certain portions of the
Southern States had warranted the suspension, at several
ports, of the restrictions placed upon commerce by the
blockade. On the 12th of May the President accordingly
issued a proclamation declaring that the blockade of the
ports of Beaufort, Port Royal, and New Orleans should
so far cease from the 1st of June, that commercial inter
course from those ports, except as to contraband of war,
might be resumed, subject to the laws of the United
States and the regulations of the Treasury Department.

On the 1st of July he issued another proclamation, in
pursuance of the law of June 7th, designating the States
and parts of States that were then in insurrection, so that
the laws of the United States concerning the collection of
taxes could not be enforced within their limits, and de
claring that "the taxes legally chargeable upon real
estate, under the act referred to, lying within the States
or parts of States thus designated, together with a penalty
of fifty per cent, of said taxes, should be a lien upon the
tracts or lots of the same, severally charged, till paid, 7

On the 20th of October, iinding it absolutely necessary
to provide judicial proceedings for the State of Louisiana,
a part of which was in our military possession, the Presi
dent issued an order establishing a Provisional Court in
the City of New Orleans, of which Charles A. Peabody
was made Judge, with authority to try all causes, civil
and criminal, in law, equity, revenue, and admiralty, and
particularly to exercise all such power and jurisdiction
as belongs to the Circuit and District Courts of the United
States. His proceedings were to be conformed, as far as
possible, to the course of proceedings and practice usual
in the Courts of the United States of Louisiana, and his
judgment was to be final and conclusive.

Congress adjourned on the 17th of July, having adopted
many measures of marked though minor importance, be


sides those to which we have referred, to aid iu the pros
ecution of the war. Several Senators were expelled for
adherence, direct or indirect, to the rebel cause ; meas
ures were taken to remove from the several departments
of the Government employes more or less openly in sym
pathy with secession ; Hayti and Liberia were recognized
as independent republics ; a treaty was negotiated am
ratified with Great Britain which conceded the right
within certain limits, of searching suspected slavers car
rying the American flag, and the most liberal grants in
men and money were made to the Government for the
prosecution of the war. The President had appointed
military governors for several of the Border States, where
public sentiment was divided, enjoining them to protect
the loyal citizens, and to regard them as alone entitled to
a voice in the direction of civil affairs.

Public sentiment throughout the loyal States sustained
the action of Congress and the President, as adapted to
the emergency, and well calculated to aid in the suppres
sion of the rebellion. At the same time it was very evi
dent that the conviction was rapidly gaining ground that
slavery was the cause of the rebellion ; that the para
mount object of the conspirators against the Union was
to obtain new guarantees for the institution ; and that it
was this interest alone which gave unity and vigor to the
rebel cause. A very active and influential party at the
North had insisted from the outset that the most direct
\vay of crushing the rebellion was by crushing slavery,
and they had urged upon the President the adoption of a
policy of immediate and unconditional emancipation, as
the only thing necessary to bring into the ranks of the
Union armies hundreds of thousands of enfranchised
slaves, as well as the great mass of the people of the
Northern States who needed this stimulus of an appeal to
their moral sentiment. After the adjournment of Con
gress these demands became still more clamorous and
importunate. The President was summoned to avail
himself of the opportunity offered by the passage of the
Confiscation Bill, and to decree the instant liberation of


every slave belonging to a rebel master. These demands
soon assumed, with the more impatient and intemperate
portion of the friends of the Administration, a tone ol
complaint and condemnation, and the President was
charged with gross and culpable remissness in the dis
charge of duties imposed upon him by the act of Con
gress. They were embodied with force and effect in a
letter addressed to the President by Hon. Horace Greeley,
and published in the New York Tribune of the 19th of
August, to which President Lincoln made the following
reply :



DEAR SIE I have just read yours of the 19th instant, addressed to my
self through the New York Tribune.

If there be in it any statements or assumptions of fact which I may
know to be erroneous, I do not now and here controvert them.

If there be any inferences which I may believe to be falsely drawn, I
do not now and here argue against them.

If there be perceptible in it an impatient and dictatorial tone, I waive
it in deference to an old friend whose heart I have always supposed to be

As to the policy I "seem to be pursuing," as you say, I have not meant
to leave any one in doubt. .1 would save the Union. I would save it ID
the shortest way unde" the Constitution.

The sooner the national authority can be restored, the nearer the Uniou
will be the Union as it was.

If there be those who would not save the Union unless they coulfl at
the same time save slavery, I do -not agree with them.

If there be those who would not save the Union unless thev conld at
U 3 same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them.

My paramount object is to save the Union, and not either to save or t*
destroy slavery.

If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it if I
co aid save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it and if I could do it
by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that.

What I do about slavery and the colored race, I do because I believe it
helps to save this Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I io not
Relieve it would help to save the Union.

I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the
cause, and I shall do more whenever I believe doing more wLL 1 help the

I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors, and I shall adopt
Lew views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.


I nave here stated my purpose according to my views of official duty
and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that tl?
men everywhere could be free. Yours,


It was impossible to mistake the President s meaning
after this letter, or to have any doubt as to the policy by
which he expected to re-establish the authority of the
Constitution over the whole territory of the United States
His u paramount object," in every thing he did and ir
every thing he abstained from doing, was to "save the
Union." He regarded all the power conferred on him by
Congress in regard to slavery, as having been conferred
to aid him in the accomplishment of that object and he
was resolved to wield those powers so as best, according
to his own judgment, to aid in its attainment. He for
bore, therefore, for a long time, the issue of such A proc
lamation as he was authorized to make by the sixth sec
tion of the Confiscation Act of Congress awaiting the
developments of public sentiment on the subject, and
being especially anxious that when it was issued it
should receive the moral support of the great body of
the people of the whole country, without regard to party
distinctions. He sought, therefore, with assiduous care,
every opportunity of informing himself as to the, drift
of putrtic sentiment on this subject. He received and
conversed freely with all who came to see him and to
urge upon him the adoption of their peculiar views ; and
on the 13th of September gave formal audience to a depu
tation from all the religious denominations of the City of
Chicago, which had been appointed on the 7th, to wait
upon him. The committee presented a memorial request
ing him at once to issue a proclamation of universal eman
cipation, and the chairman followed it by some remarks
in support of this request.

The President listened attentively to the memorial, and
then made to those who had presented it the following
reply :

The subject presented iu the memorial is one upon which I have
much for ^fceks past, and T may even say for months. I *m approach**!


with the most opposite opinions and advice, and that by religious men,
who are equally certain that they represent the Divine will. I am sur
that either the one or the other class is mistaken in that belief, and per
haps in some respects both. I hope it will not be irreverent for me to
Kay that if it is probable that God would reveal his will to others, on a
point so connected with my duty, it might be supposed he would reveal
it directly to me; for, unless I am more deceived in myself than I often
am, it is my earnest desire to know the will of Providence in this matter.
And if I can learn what it is I will do it ! These are not, however, the
days of miracles, and I suppose it will be granted that I am not to expect
a direct revelation. I must study the plain physical facts of the case,
ascertain what is possible, and learn what appears to be wise and right.

The subject is difficult, and good men do not agree. For instance, the
other day, four gentlemen of standing and intelligence from New York
called as a delegation on business connected with the war; but before
leaving two of them earnestly besought me to proclaim general emanci
pation, upon which the other two at once attacked them. You know
also that the last session of Congress had a decided majority of anti-
slavery men, yet they could not unite on this policy. And the same is
true of the religious people. Why, the rebel soldiers are praying with
a great deal more earnestness, I fear, than our own troops, and expect
ing God to favor their side : for one of our soldiers who had been taken
prisoner told Senator Wilson a few days since that he met nothing so
discouraging as the evident sincerity of those he was among in their
prayers. But we will talk over the merits of the case.

What good would a proclamation of emancipation from me do, espe
cially as we are now situated? I do not want to issue a document that
the whole world will see must necessarily be inoperative, like the Pope s
bull against the comet ! Would my word free the slaves, when I cannot
even enforce the Constitution in the rebel States? Is there a single
court, or magistrate, or individual that would be influenced by it there?
And what reason is there to think it would have any greater effect upon
the slaves than the late law of Congress, which I approved, and which
offers protection and freedom to the slaves of rebel masters who come
within our lines ? Yet I cannot learn that that law has caused a single
slave to come over to us. And suppose they could be induced by a proc-
lation of freedom from me to throw themselves upon us, what should
we do with them? How can we feed and care for such a multitude?
General Butler wrote me a few days since that he was issuing more
rations to the slaves who have rushed to him than to all the white
troops under his command. They eat, and that is all ; though it is true
General Butler is feeding the whites also by the thousand ; for it nearly
amounts to a famine there. If, now, the pressure of the war should call
off our forces from New Orleans to defend some other point, what is to
prever.t the masters from reducing the blacks to slavery again ? for I


am told that whenever the rebels take any black prisoners, free or slave,
they immediately auction them off! They did so with those they took
from a boat that was aground in the Tennessee River a few days ago.
And then I am very ungenerously attacked for it ! For instance, when,
after the late battles at and near Bull Run, an expedition went out from
"Washington under a flag of truce to bury the dead and bring in the
wounded, and the rebels seized the blacks wlic ^rent along to help, ant*
sent them into slavery, Horace Greeley said in his paper that the Govern
ment would probably do nothing about it. What could I do?

Now, then, tell me, if you please, what possible result of good would
follow the issuing of such a proclamation as you desire ? Understand,
I raise no objections against it on legal or constitutional grounds, for, as
commander- in-chief of the army and navy, in time of war I suppose 1
have a right to take any measure which may best subdue the enemy ;
nor do I urge objections of a moral nature, in view of possible conse
quences of insurrection and massacre at the South. I view this matter
as a practical war measure, to be decided on according to the advantages
or disadvantages it may offer to the suppression of the rebellion.

The Committee replied to these remarks, insisting that
a proclamation of emancipation would secure at once the
sympathy of Europe and the civilized world ; and that
as slavery was clearly the cause and origin of the rebel
lion, it was simply just, and in accordance with the word
of God, that it should be abolished. To these remarks
the President responded as follows :

I admit that slavery is at the root of the rebellion, or at least its aim
gud non. The ambition of politicians may have instigated them to act,
hnt they would have been impotent without slavery as their instrument.
I will also concede that emancipation would help us in Europe, and con-
vinoe them that we are incited by something more than ambition. I
grant, further, that it would help somewhat at the North, though riot so
much, I fear, as you and those you represent imagine. Still, some addi
tional strength would be added in that way to the war, and then, un
questionably, it would weaken the rebels by drawing off their laborers,
which is of great importance ; but I am not so sure we could do much
with the blacks. If we were to arm them, I fear that in a few weeks
the arms would be in the hands of the rebels ; and, indeed, thus far, we
have not had arms enough to equip our white troops. I will mention
another thing, though it meet only your scorn and contempt. There are
fifty thousand bayonets in the Union army irom the Border Slave States
It would be a serious matter if, in consequence of a proclamation gucb
700 desire, thej should go over to the rebels. J do not think they all


ron!d not so many, indeed, as a year ago, or as six months ap. not so
many to-day as yesterday. Every day increases their Union Ueling,
They lire also getting their pride enlisted, and want to bent the rebels.
Let me say one thing more : I think you should admit that we already
have an important principle to rally and unite the people, in the fact that
constitutional government is at stake. This is a fundamental idea goin$
down about as deep as any thing.

The Committee replied to this in some "brief remarks, te
which the President made the following response:

Do not misunderstand me because I have mentioned thrfse objection*.
They indicate the difficulties that have thus far prevented my action ia
gome such way as you desire. I hive not decided against a proclamation
of liberty to the slaves, but hold the matter under advisement. And 1
can assure you that the subject is on my mind, by day and night, more
than any other. Whatever shall appear to be God s will I will do. I
trust that in the freedom with wLioL I have canvassed your views I hav
Dot in any respect injured yo ir fefjings.

After free deliberation, and being satisfied that the
public welfare wo^ld bo promoted by such a step, and
vhat public sentiment would sustain it, on the 22d. of Sep
tember the President issued the following preliminary


I, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President of the United States of America, and
Oommander-in Chief of the army and navy thereof, do hereby proclaim
and declare that hereafter, as heretofore, the war will be prosecuted for
the object of practically restoring the constitutional relation between the
United States and each of the States, and the people thereof, in which
States that relation is or may be suspended or disturbed.

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 26 of 42)