Henry J. (Henry Jarvis) Raymond.

Lincoln, his life and times : 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, letters, and proclamations, and the closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 2) online

. (page 11 of 41)
Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondLincoln, his life and times : 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, letters, and proclamations, and the closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 2) → online text (page 11 of 41)
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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 behold the
process by which thousands are daily passing from under the yoke
of bondage hailed by some as the advance of liberty, and bewailed
by others as the destruction of all liberty. Recently, as it seems, 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 col-
ored 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 country at large and
to the service, 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 naw 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
Amercian people, to the Christian world, to history, and on my final
account to God. Having determined 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 massacred 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 assump-
tion 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
none, 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 exact course to apply the retribution; but in the supposed case,
it must come.

In June, the President attended a similar fair at Phila-
delphia, one of the largest that was held in all the country.
At a supper given to him there, the health of the President
having been proposed as a toast, the President said in
acknowledgment : —

I suppose that this toast is intended to open the way for me to say
something. War at the best is terrible,, and this of ours in its mag-
nitude and duration is one of the most terrible the world has ever
known. It has deranged business totally in many places, and per-
haps in all. It has destroyed property, destroyed life, and ruined
homes. It has produced a national debt and a degree of taxation
unprecedented in the history of this country. It has caused mourn-
ing among us until the heavens may almost be said to be hung in
black. And yet it continues. It has had accompaniments not before
known in the history of the world. I mean the Sanitary and Chris-
tian Commissions, with their labors for the relief of the soldiers, and
the Volunteer Refreshment Saloons, understood better by those who
hear me than by myself — (applause) — and these fairs, first begun at
Chicago and next held in Boston, Cincinnati, and other cities. The
motive and object that lie at the bottom of them is worthy of the
most that we can do for the soldier who goes to fight the battles
of his country. From the fair and tender hand of women is much,
very much done for the soldier, continually reminding him of the
care and thought for him at home. The knowledge that he is not
forgotten is grateful to his heart. (Applause.) Another view of
these institutions is worthy of thought. They are voluntary contribu-


tions, giving proof that the national resources are not at all ex-
hausted, and that the national patriotism will sustain us through all.
It is a pertinent question, When is this war to end? I do not wish
to name a day when it will end, lest the end should not come at the
given time. We accepted this war, and did not begin it. (Deafen-
ing applause). We accepted it for an objec.t, and when that object
is accomplished the war will end, and I hope to God that it will
never end until that object is accomplished. (Great applause.) We
are going through with our task, so far as I am concerned, if it
takes us three years longer. I have not been in the habit of making
predictions, but I am almost tempted now to hazard one. I will.
It is, that Grant is this evening in a position, with Meade and Han-
cock, of Pennsylvania, whence he can rfeVer be dislodged by the
enemy until Richmond is taken. If I shall discover that General
Grant may be greatly facilitated in the capture of Richmond, by rap-
idly pouring to him a large number of armed men at the briefest
notice, will you go? (Cries of "Yes.") Will you march on with
him? (Cries of "Yes, yes.") Then I shall call upon you when it is
necessary. (Laughter and applause, during which the President re-
tired from the table.)

It became manifest, soon after the commencement of the
war, that its progress would inevitably have the effect of
freeing 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 where they could be relieved from the embarrass-
ments occasioned 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 six hundred thousand dollars, to be expended, in his dis-
cretion, in removing, with their own consent, free persons of
African descent to some country which they might select as
adapted to their condition and necessities.

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, 1862.

This afternoon the President of the United States gave an audience
to a committee of colored men at the White House. They were
introduced 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 ob-
servations, 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 consideration. You and we are different races We have
between us a broader difference than exists between almost anv other

two races

races. Whether it is right or wrong I need not discuss: but
physical difference is a great disadvantage to us both as I think
\our 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 admitted, it affords a reason, at least, why we should
be separated. You here are freemen, I suppose.
I A voice — Yes, sir.

The President—Perhaps you have long been free, or all your lives

I Your race are suffering, in my judgment, the greatest wrong inflicted

on any people. But even when vou cease to be slaves you are yet

far removed from being placed on an equality with the white race.

■ *° u are cut off from many of the advantages which the other race

enjoys I he aspiration of men is to enjoy equality with the best

iwhen 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

he best and the ban is still upon you. I do not propose to discuss

I this, but to present it as a fact, with which we have to deal. I cannot

I dter it if I would It is a fact about which we all think and feel

I alike I and you. We look to our condition. Owing to the existence

Jt the two races on this continent, I need not recount to you the

I effects upon white men, growing out of the institution of slavery I

| oeheve in its general evil effects on the white race. See our present

\ :ondition— the country engaged in war! our white men cutting one

I mother s throats— none knowing how far it will extend— and then

:onsider what we know to be the truth. But for your race among

is there could not be war, although many men engaged on either

3 ide do not care for you one way or the other. Nevertheless, I re-

>eat, without the institution of slavery, and the colored race as a

>asis the war could not have an existence. It is better for us both

herefore, to be separated. I know that there are free men among

SLvSV™" 11 .l° Uld better the l r condi tion, are not as much
nclined to go out of the country as those who, being slaves, could
)btain their freedom on this condition. I suppose one of the prin-
cipal difficulties in the way of colonization is, that the free colored
nan cannot see that his comfort would be advanced by it You
S™ that you can live in Washington, Or elsewhere in the
Jmted States, the remainder of your life; perhaps more so than
ou can in any foreign country; and hence you may come to the
onclusion that you have nothing to do with the idea of going to a
oreign 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 unwilling-
ness on the part of our people, harsh as it may be, for you free coir
ored 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 intelligent colored men, such as are before me,
would move in this matter, much might be accomplished. It is ex-
ceedingly 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 something 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 he feels he is worthy of himself and claims kindred to the great
God who made him. In the American Revolutionary War sacrifices
were made by men engaged in it, but they were cheered by the
future. General Washington himself endured greater physical hard-
ships than if he had remained a British subject, yet he was a happy
man, because he was engaged in benefiting his race; in doing some-
thing for the children of his neighbors, having none of his own.

The colony of Liberia has been in existence a long time. In a
certain 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 and four hun-
dred 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 twelve thousand
have been sent thither from this country. Many of the original set-
tlers 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 towards 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 travel — it is a high-
way. The country is a very excellent one for any people, and with
great natural resources and advantages, and especially 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 the wants of any country. Why I attach so much im-
portance to coal is, it will afford an opportunity to the inhabitants
for immediate employment till they get ready to settle permanently
in their homes. If you take colonists where there is no good land-
ing, 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 intended by gentle-
men who have an interest in the country, including the coal mines.
We have been mistaken all our lives if we do not know whites, as
well as blacks, look to their self-interest. Unless among those de-
ficient 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-reliance.
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 entrusted to me. I am not sure you
will succeed. 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 want it, and are more generous than we are here.
To your colored race they have no objection. Besides, I would en-
deavor to have you made equals, and have the best assurance that
you should be the equals of the best. The practical thing I want
o ascertain is, whether I can get a number of able-bodied men, with
heir wives and children, who are willing to go, when I present evi-
lence of encouragement and protection. Could I get a hundred
olerably intelligent men, with their wives and children, and able
Lo "cut their own fodder," so to speak? Can I have fifty? If I could
ind twenty-five able-bodied men, with a mixture of women and
•hildren — good things in the family relation, I think — I could make a
juccessful commencement. I want you to let me know whether this
[•an be done or not. This is the practical part of my wish to see
j r ou. These are subjects of very great importance — worthy of a
Inonth's study, of a speech delivered in an hour. I ask you, then,
Ro consider seriously, not pertaining to yourselves merely, nor for
lour race and ours for the present time, but as one of the things, if
Successfully managed, for the good of mankind — not confined to the
[t-resent 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 Presi-
dent said, "Take your full time — no hurry at all."
The delegation then withdrew.

In pursuance of his plans of colonization, an agreement
was entered into by the President, September 12, 1862,
with A. W. Thompson, for the settlement, by free colored
emigrants 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
twenty-five thousand dollars was advanced 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

In April, 1863, an agreement was made with responsible
and highly respectable parties in New York for the colo-
nization of He a Vache, within the Republic of Hayti, of
which a favorable grant had been made by the Govern- j
ment — and which was represented in the published report
of the Commissioner 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 experiment. The Government agreed
to pay fifty dollars each for the removal of the consenting
emigrants thither — payment to be made on official certifi-
cate 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 thou-
sand 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 com-
pany, moreover, through whom the Government had made
the original contract, proved to be utterly untrustworthy
and incapable, and was removed. The Government 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 emigrants, or to
reimburse them any portion of the moneys expended in the

No further experiments were made in the matter of col-
onization; but the disposition and employment of the
negroes engaged a good deal of the attention and solicitude
of the Government. When the rebellion first broke out
there were many persons who insisted upon the instant
emancipation of the slaves, and their employment in arms
against the rebels of the Southern States. Public senti-
ment, however, was by no means prepared for the adop-
tion of such a measure. The Administration, upon its ad-
vent to power, was compelled to encounter a widespread
distrust of its general purposes in regard to slavery, and
especial pains were taken by the agents and allies of the
/ebellion 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 with-
out 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 paramount 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 preceding
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
operations, both military and political, became enlarged, and
ihe 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 rebel-
lion, "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 proclamation, 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 required, and as the public senti-
ment of the country would sustain. The Emancipation
Proclamation was issued on the 1st of January, 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 sep-
arate corps. In April, negro troops were enlisted by Adju-
tant-General Thomas for service in Arkansas, and on the
15th of that month he issued an order appointing commis-
sioners to superintend the execution of a policy which the
Government had adopted for committing the protection of
the banks of the Mississippi to a negro force. On the 226.
of May, orders were issued by the Secretary of War creating
a Bureau of the War 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 em-
ployment of negro troops, which has gone forward steadily
ever since, until, as has been seen from the President's
Message, over one hundred thousand negro soldiers were |
already in the army of the United States, contributing
largely, by their courage and good conduct, to the suppres-
sion of the rebellion, which sought the perpetual enslavement
of their race. The popular prejudice against their employ-
ment in the army, which was so potent at the beginning,

Online LibraryHenry J. (Henry Jarvis) RaymondLincoln, his life and times : 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, letters, and proclamations, and the closing scenes connected with his life and death (Volume 2) → online text (page 11 of 41)