Copyright
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 6 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 6 of 41)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


review. The rebel borders are pressed still further back, and by the
complete opening of the Mississippi, the country dominated by the
rebellion is divided into two distinct parts, with no practical com-
munication between them. Tennessee and Arkansas have been sub-
stantially cleared of insurgent control, and influential citizens in each
— owners of slaves and advocates of slavery at the beginning of the
rebellion — now declare openly for emancipation in their respective
States. Of those States not included in the Emancipation Proclama-
tion, Maryland and Missouri, neither of which three years ago would
tolerate any restraint upon the extension of slavery into new Terri-
tories, only dispute now as to the best mode of removing it within
their own limits.

Of those who were slaves at the beginning of the rebellion, full
one hundred thousand are now in the United States military service,
about one-half of which number actually bear arms in the ranks —
thus giving the double advantage of taking so much labor from the
insurgent cause and supplying the places which otherwise must be
filled with so many white men. So far as tested, it is difficult to say
they are not as good soldiers as any. No servile insurrection or ten-
dency to violence or cruelty has marked the measures of emancipa-
tion and arming the blacks. These measures have been discussed in
foreign countries, and, contemporary with such discussion, the tone
of public sentiment there is much improved. At home the same
measures have been fully discussed, supported, criticised, and de-
nounced, and the annual elections following are highly encouraging
*-o those whose official duty it is to bear the country through this great
trial. Thus we have the new reckoning. The crisis which threat-
ened to divide the friends of the Union is past.

Looking now to the present and future, and with reference to a
resumption of the National authority in the States wherein that
authority has been suspended. I have thought fit to issue a proclama-
tion — a copy of which is herewith transmitted. On examination of
this proclamation it will appear, as is believed, that nothing is at-
tempted beyond what is amply justified by the Constitution. True,
the form of an oath is given, but no man is coerced to take it. The
man is only promised a pardon in case he voluntarily takes the oath.
The Constitution authorizes the Executive to grant or withdraw the
pardon at his own absolute discretion, and this includes the power
to grant on terms, as is fully established by judicial and other author-
ities. It is also proffered that if in any of the States named a State
Government shall be in the mode prescribed set up, such govern-
ment shall be recognized and guaranteed by the United States, and
that under it the State shall, on the constitutional conditions, be pro-
tected against invasion and domestic violence.

The constitutional obligation of the United States to guarantee to
every State in the Union a republican form of government, and to
protect the State in the case stated, is explicit and full. But why ten-



418 THE LIFE, PUBLIC SERVICES, AND

der the benefits of this provision only to a State Government set up
in this particular way? This section of the Constitution contemplates
a case wherein the element within a State favorable to republican
government in the Union may be too feeble for an opposite and
hostile element external to or even within the State, and such are
precisely the cases with which we are now dealing.

An attempt to guarantee and protect a revived State Government,
constructed in whole or in preponderating part from the very ele-
ment against whose hostility and violence it is to be protected, is
simply absurd. There must be a test by which to separate the oppos-
ing elements, so as to build only from the sound; and that test is a
sufficiently liberal one which accepts as sound whoever will make a
sworn recantation of his former unsoundness.

But if it be proper to require, as a test of admission to the polit-
ical body, an oath of allegiance to the Constitution of the United
States and to the Union under it, why also to the laws and proclama-
tions in regard to slavery?

Those laws and proclamations were enacted and put forth for the
purpose of aiding in the suppression of the rebellion. To give them
their fullest effect there had to be a pledge for their maintenance.
In my judgment they have aided and will further aid the cause for
which they were intended.

To now abandon them would be not only to relinquish a lever of
power, but would also be a cruel and an astounding breach of faith.

I may add, at this point, that while I remain in my present position
I shall not attempt to retract or modify the Emancipation Proclama-
tion, nor shall I return to slavery any person who is free by the terms
of that proclamation, or by any of the acts of Congress.

For these and other reasons it is thought best that support of
these measures shall be included in the oath, and it is believed that
the Executive may lawfully claim it in return for pardon and restora-
tion of forfeited rights, which he has a clear constitutional power to
withhold altogether or grant upon the terms which he shall deem
wisest for the public interest. It should be observed, also, that this
part of the oath is subject to the modifying and abrogating power
of legislation and supreme judicial decision.

The proposed acquiescence of the National Executive in any rea-
sonable temporary State arrangement for the freed people is made
with the view of possibly modifying the confusion and destitution
which must at best attend all classes by a total revolution of labor
throughout whole States. It is hoped that the already deeply af-
flicted people in those States may be somewhat more ready to give
up the cause of their affliction if, to this extent, this vital matter be
left to themselves, while no power of the National Executive to
prevent an abuse is abridged by the proposition.

The suggestion in the proclamation as to maintaining the political
framework of the States on what is called reconstruction is made in
the hope that it may do good, without danger of harm. It will save
labor and avoid great confusion. But why any proclamation now
upon this subject? The question is beset with the conflicting views
that the step might be delayed too long or be taken too soon. In
some States the elements for resumption seem ready for action, but



STATE PAPERS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 419

remain inactive, apparently for want of a rallying point — a plan of
action. Why shall A adopt the plan of B, rather than B that of A?
And if A and B should agree, how can they know but that the Gen-
eral Government here will reject their plan? By the proclamation a
plan is presented which may be accepted by them as a rallying point,
and which they are assured in advance will not be rejected here.
This may bring them to-act sooner than they otherwise would.

The objection to a premature presentation of- a plan by the National
Executive consists in the danger of committals on points which could
be more safely left to further developments. Care has been taken
to so shape the document as to avoid embarrassments from this
source. Saying that on certain terms certain classes will be par-
doned with rights restored, it is not said that other classes or other
terms will never be included. Saying that reconstruction will be
accepted if presented in a specified way, it is not said it will never
be accepted in any other way. The movements by State action for
emancipation in several of the States not included in the Emancipa-
tion Proclamation are matters of profound gratulation. And while I
do not repeat in detail what I have heretofore so earnestly urged upon
this subject, my general views and feelings remain unchanged; and I
trust that Congress will omit no fair opportunity of aiding these im-
portant steps to the great consummation.

In the midst of other cares, however important, we must not lose
sight of the fact that the war power is still our main reliance. To
that power alone can we look, for a time, to give confidence to the
people in the contested regions, that the insurgent power will not
again overrun them. Until that confidence shall be established, little
can be done anywhere for what is called reconstruction. Hence our
chiefest care must still be directed to the army and navy, who have
thus far borne their harder part so nobly and well. And it may be
esteemed fortunate that in giving the greatest efficiency to these
indispensable arms, we do also honorably recognize the gallant men,
from commander to sentinel, who compose them, and to whom,
more than to others, the world must stand indebted for the home of
freedom, disenthralled, regenerated, enlarged and perpetuated.
(Signed) Abraham Lincoln.

December 8, 1863.

The following proclamation was appended to the Mes-
sage :—

PROCLAMATION.

Whereas, in and by the Constitution of the United States, it is pro-
vided that the President shall have" power to grant reprieves and par-
dons for offences against the United States, except in cases of im-
peachment; and whereas, a rebellion now exists, whereby the loyal
State Governments of several States have for a long time been sub-
verted, and many persons have committed and are now guilty of
treason against the United States; and

Whereas, with reference to said rebellion and treason, laws have
been enacted by Congress, declaring forfeitures and confiscation of
property and liberation of slaves, all upon terms and conditions



420 THE LIFE, PUBLIC SERVICES, AND

therein stated, and also declaring that the President was thereby
authorized at any time thereafter, by proclamation, to extend to per-
sons who may have participated in the existing rebellion # in any
State or part thereof, pardon and amnesty, with such exceptions and
at such times and on such conditions as he may deem expedient for
the public welfare; and

Whereas, the Congressional declaration for limited and condi-
tional pardon accords with the well-established judicial exposition of
the pardoning power; and

Whereas, with reference to the said rebellion, the President of the
United States has issued several proclamations with provisions in
regard to the liberation of slaves; and

Whereas, it is now desired by some persons heretofore engaged in
said rebellion to resume their allegiance to the United States, and
to reinaugurate loyal State Governments within and for their re-
spective States : Therefore,

I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do proclaim,
declare, and make known to all persons who have directly or by
implication participated in the existing rebellion, except as herein-
after excepted, that a full pardon is hereby granted to them and to
each of them, with restoration of all rights of property, except as to
slaves, and in property cases where rights of the third parties shall
have intervened, and upon the condition that every such person shall
take and subscribe an oath and thenceforward keep and maintain
said oath inviolate, an oath which shall be registered for permanent
preservation, and shall be of the tenor and effect following, to wit :

"I, , do solemnly swear, in presence of Almighty

God, that I will henceforth faithfully support, protect, and defend the
Constitution of the United States and the Union of the States there-
under; and that I will in like manner abide by and faithfully support
all acts of Congress passed during the existing rebellion with refer-
ence to slaves, so long and so far as not repealed, modified, or held
void by Congress, or by decision of the Supreme Court; and that 1
will in like manner abide by and faithfully support all proclamations
of the President made during the existing rebellion having reference
to slaves, so long and so far as not modified or declared void by
decision of the Supreme Court. So help me God."

The persons excepted from the benefits of the foregoing provisions
are: All who are, or shall have been, civil or diplomatic officers or
agents of the so-called Confederate Government; all who have left
judicial stations under the United States to aid the rebellion; all who
are, or shall have been, military or naval officers of said so-called
Confederate Government, above the rank of colonel in the army, or
of lieutenant in the navy; all who left seats in the United States
Congress to aid the rebellion; all who resigned commissions in the
army or navy of the United States, and afterwards aided the rebel-
lion; and all who have engaged in any way in treating colored per-
sons, or white persons in charge of such, otherwise than lawfully as
prisoners of war, and which persons may have been found in the
United States service as soldiers, seamen, or any other capacity? and
I do further proclaim, declare, and make known that, whenever, in
any of the States of Arkansas. Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Ten-



STATE PAPERS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 421

nessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina and North Caro-
lina, a number of persons not less than one-tenth in number of the
votes cast in such States at the presidential election of the year of
our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty, each having taken
the oath aforesaid, and not having since violated it, and being a
qualified voter by the election law of the State existing immediately
before the so-called act of secession, and excluding all others, shall
re-establish a State Government which shall be republican, and in
nowise contravening said oath, such shall be recognized as the true
Government of the State, and the State shall receive thereunder the
benefits of the constitutional provision, which declares that

"The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a
republican form of government, and shall protect each of them
against invasion, and, on application of the Legislature, or the Ex-
ecutive, when the Legislature cannot be convened, against domestic
violence."

And I do further proclaim, declare and make known, that any pro-
vision which may be adopted by such State Government in relation
to the freed people of such State, which shall recognize and declare
their permanent freedom, provide for their education, and which may
yet be consistent, as a temporary arrangement, with their present
condition, as a laboring, landless, and homeless class, will not be
objected to by the National Executive.

And it is suggested as not improper that, in constructing a loyal
State Government in any State, the name of the State, the boundary,
the subdivisions, the Constitution, and the general code of laws, as
before the rebellion, be maintained, subject only to the modifications
made necessary by the conditions herein before stated, and such oth-
ers, if any, not contravening said conditions, and which may be
deemed expedient by those framing the new State Government. To
avoid misunderstanding, it may be proper to say that this proclama-
tion, so far as it relates to State Governments, has no reference to
States wherein loyal State Governments have all the while been
maintained ; and for the same reason it may be proper to further say,
that whether members sent to Congress from any State shall be ad-
mitted to seats, constitutionally rests exclusively with the respective
Houses, and not to any extent with the Executive. And still further,
that this proclamation is intended to present the people of the States
wherein the national authority has been suspended, and the loyal
State Governments have been subverted, a mode in and by which the
national authority and loyal State Governments may be re-established
within said States, or in any of them. And.^ while the mode pre-
sented is the best the Executive can suggest with his present impres-
sions, it must not be understood that no other possible mode would
be acceptable.

Given under my hand at the City of Washington, the eighth day of
December, a. d. one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and
of the independence of the United States of America the eighty-
eighth. Abraham Lincoln.
By the President:

Wm. H. Seward, Secretary of State.

In further prosecution of the object sought by this meas-



422 THE LIFE, PUBLIC SERVICES, AND

ure of amnesty, the President subsequently issued the fol-
lowing explanatory : —

PROCLAMATION.

By the President of the United States of America.

Whereas, it has become necessary to define the cases in which in-
surgent enemies are entitled to the benefits of the Proclamation of
the President of the United States, which was made on the 8th day
of December, 1863, and the manner in which they shall proceed to
avail themselves of these benefits; and whereas the objects of that
Proclamation were to suppress the insurrection and to restore the
authority of the United States; and wherein the amnesty therein pro-
posed by the President was offered with reference to these objects
alone :

Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United
States, do hereby proclaim and declare that the said Proclamation
does not apply to the cases of persons who, at the time when they
seek to obtain the benefits thereof by taking the oath thereby pre-
scribed, are in military, naval, or civil confinement or custody, or
under bonds, or on parole of the civil, military, or naval authorities,
or agents of the United States, as prisoners of war, or persons de-
tained for offences of any kind, either before or after conviction; and
that on the contrary it does apply only to those persons who being
yet at large, and free from any arrest, confinement, or duress, shall
voluntarily come forward and take the said oath, with the purpose
of restoring peace, and establishing the national authority.

Persons excluded from the amnesty offered in the said Proclama-
tion may apply to the President for clemency, like all other offenders,
and their application will receive due consideration.

I do further declare and proclaim that the oath presented in the
aforesaid proclamation of the 8th of December, 1863, may be taken
and subscribed before any commissioned officer, civil, military, or
naval, in the service of the United States, or any civil or military
officer of a State or Territory not in insurrection, who, by the laws
thereof, may be qualified for administering oaths.

All officers who receive such oaths are hereby authorized to give
certificates thereof to the persons respectively by whom they are
made, and such officers are hereby required to transmit the original
records of such oaths, at as early a day as may be convenient, to the
Department of State, where they will be deposited, and remain in
the archives of the Government.

The Secretary of State will keep a registry thereof, and will, on
application, in proper cases, issue certificates of such records in the
customary form of official certificates.

In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the

seal of the United States to be affixed. Done at the City of

(l. S.) Washington, the 26th day of March, in the year of our Lord

1864, and of the independence of the United States the

eighty-eighth. • Abraham Lincoln.

By the President:

Wm. H. Seward, Secretary of State.



STATE PAPERS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 423

The diplomatic correspondence of the year 1863, which
was transmitted to Congress with the President's Message,
was voluminous and interesting. But it touched few points
of general interest, relating mainly to matters of detail in
the relations between the United States and foreign Powers.
One point of importance was gained in the course of our
correspondence with Great Britain — the issuing of an order
by that Government forbidding the departure of formidable
rams which were building in English ports unquestionablv
for rebel service. Our minister in London had been un-
wearied in collecting evidence of the purpose and destination
of these vessels, and in pressing upon the British Govern-
ment the absolute necessity, if they wished to preserve peace-
ful relations with the United States, of not permitting their
professedly neutral ports to be used as naval depots and
dock-yards for the service of the rebels. On the 5th of Sep-
tember, 1863, Mr. Adams had written to Lord Russell,
acknowledging the receipt of a letter from him in which the
deliberate purpose of the British Government to take no
action in regard to these rams was announced. Mr. Adams
had expressed his regret at such a decision, which he said
he could regard as not otherwise than as practically opening
to the insurgents free liberty in Great Britain to prepare for
entering and destroying any of the Atlantic seaports of the
United States. "It would be superfluous in me," added Mr.
Adams, "to point out to your lordship that this is war. No
matter what may be the theory adopted of neutrality in a
struggle, when this process is carried on in the manner indi-
cated, from a territory and with the aid of the subjects of a
third party, that third party to all intents and purposes ceases
to be neutral. Neither is it necessary to show that any Gov-
ernment which suffers it to be done fails in enforcing the
essential conditions of international amity towards the coun-
try against whom the hostility is directed. In my belief it
is impossible that any nation, retaining a proper degree of
self-respect, could tamely submit to a continuance of rela-
tions so utterly deficient in reciprocity. I have no idea that
Great Britain "would do so for a moment." On the 8th of
September, Earl Russell wrote to Mr. Adams, to inform him
that "instructions had been issued which would prevent the
departure of the two iron-clad vessels from Liverpool." The



424 THE LIFE, PUBLIC SERVICES, AND

Earl afterwards explained in Parliament, however, when
charged with having taken this action under an implied men-
ace of war conveyed in the letter of Mr. Adams, that it was
taken in pursuance of a decision which had been made pre-
vious to the receipt of that letter and in ignorance of its
existence.

On the nth of July, Mr. Seward forwarded a dispatch to
Mr. Adams, elicited by the decision of the British Court in
the case of the Alexandra, which had been seized on sus-
picion of having been fitted out in violation of the laws of
Great Britain against the enlistment of troops to serve
against nations with which that Government was at peace.
The decision was a virtual repeal of the enlistment act as a
penal measure of prevention, and actually left the agents of
the rebels at full liberty to prepare ships of war in English
ports to cruise against the commerce of the United States.
Mr. Seward conveyed to Mr. Adams the President's views
on the extraordinary state of affairs which this decision
revealed. Assuming that the British Government had acted
throughout in perfect good faith, and that the action of its
judicial tribunals was not to be impeached, this dispatch
stated that "if the rulings of the Chief Baron of the Ex-
chequer in the case of the Alexandra should be affirmed by
the court of last resort, so as to regulate the action of her
Majesty's Government, the President would be left to un-
derstand that there is no law in Great Britain which will be
effective to preserve mutual relations of forbearance between
the subjects of her Majesty and the Government and people
of the United States in the only point where they are exposed
to infraction. And the United States will be without any
guarantee whatever against the indiscriminate and unlawful
employment of capital, industry, and skill by British subjects,
in building, arming, equipping, and sending forth ships of
war from British ports, to make war against the United
States." The suggestion is made whether it would not be
wise for Parliament to amend a law thus proved to be inade-
quate to the purpose for which it was intended. If the law
must be left without amendment and be construed by the
Government in conformity with the rulings in this case, then,
said Mr. Seward, "there will be left for the United States no
alternative but to protect themselves and their commerce



STATE PAPERS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN. 425

against armed cruisers proceeding from British ports as
against the naval forces of a public enemy; and also to claim
and insist upon indemnities for the injuries which all such
expeditions have hitherto committed or shall hereafter com-
mit against this Government and the citizens of the United
States." "Can it be an occasion for either surprise or com-
plaint," asked Mr. Seward, "that if this condition of things
is to remain and receive the deliberate sanction of the British



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 6 of 41)