Henry Watson Wilbur.

President Lincoln's attitude towards slavery and emancipation : with a review of events before and since the Civil War (Volume c.2) online

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Online LibraryHenry Watson WilburPresident Lincoln's attitude towards slavery and emancipation : with a review of events before and since the Civil War (Volume c.2) → online text (page 1 of 13)
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M 2171 ~~

1. 1st ed.

2, Lacks

author ' s



Digitized by tlie Internet Arcliive

in 2010 with funding from

The Institute of IVIuseum and Library Services through an Indiana State Library LSTA Grant







Published by Waller H. Jenkins, 140 North Fifteenth Street


Copyrighted in 1914 by
Henry W. Wilbur








Foreword 7

Slavery in the Colonies 10

Under the Constitution 15

Invoking the Letter of the Law 20

Lincoln's Early Convictions 27

Lincoln and the Douglas Debates 32

Anti-Slavery Sentiment Before the War .... 39

The Period of Attempted Conciliation 43

Slavery the Confederacy's Cornerstone 49

Congress and Slavery Before Emancipation. 54

Slavery and the Army 60

Approaching Emancipation 65

Laboring with Lincoln 70

Lincoln and Horace Greeley 75

Continued Urging and Arguing 80

More Incidents Regarding the Proclamation . 86

The Proclamation of Freedom 93

The Proclamation's Reception 99

Loyal Opinion 104

Page Five

Page Six

Before and After Emancipation 109

The Message of 1862 114

The Final Proclamation 119

Two Kinds of Critics 124

The Pro-Slavery Element in Evidence 130

Lincoln's Mainstay Was the People 134

Lincoln and Reconstruction 140

Secession and Reconstruction 148

Before the "Carpet-baggers" 155

Just Before Sunset 160

The Religiously-minded Lincoln 165

The Reconstruction Amendment 173

Following the Amendment 178

The Aftermath 183

Nullifying the Constitution 187

Discrimination in Education 195

The Negro and the Land 202

The Conclusion of the Matter 209


It is nearly half a century since the untimely
death of President Lincoln, and during all these
years he has steadily grown in popular favor. Be-
cause of his having come from the ranks of the
common people, plus the crown of martyrdom
forced upon him, he probably appeals to the gen-
eral imagination more than any other man in our
history. In a nation-wide referendum for the se-
lection of the typical American, it is likely Lin-
coln would receive a large majority. But any
attempt to make him out a sort of superman would
be unjust to his character. It is easy to imagine
with what fine scorn and apt stories he would
repel any attempt to place him on a pedestal and
Hellenize him as a demigod. It is therefore with
an intensely human Lincoln that we wish to deal.

The original purpose in ftiaking this book was
simply to consider the evolution of Lincoln's mind
in approaching the emancipation proclamation,
with such personal estimates of his contempora-
ries as would show the manner and method of the
man as he dealt with the great problem, the solu-
tion of which was committed to him. The study
of the case, however, grew in interest as we pro-
ceeded. Since the work was begun conditions have
developed in our country which seem to demand
that the case be brought down to date, rather than

Page Seven

Page Eight

stop with the close of the civil war and the death
of Lincoln. If the period before emancipation,
and the events which belong to it, were impor-
tant in an effort to understand the issue which cul-
minated with the rebellion, then what has been
going on since that time must be considered to
m.ake the story complete.

All that the act of emancipation could possibly
do, no matter how accomplished, was to simplify
the problem, for it surely did not solve it. If it
shall appear as we proceed that the writer has a
firm conviction that the fruits of our unfortunate
civil war should be preserved in fortifying, ex-
tending and perpetuating the benefits and bless-
ings of free government, he hopes that the case
may be presented without bitterness.

While the personal estim.ates of Lincoln made
by his cotemporaries were slightly conflicting at
certain points, it should be said that the general
character of this first-hand evidence is singularly
united touching the temper and motive of his con-
duct. Moral sincerity, and a fixed purpose to so
save and fortify free government that it should
''not perish from the earth," was undoubtedly the
center of his purpose. For the sake of this great
undertaking he was willing to hold sentiment in
abeyance, and heavily tax the sympathy and en-
durance of a most tender spirit. Hence we shall
endeavor to so present the varied estimates of the
men of his time, that a correct conclusion regard-
ing the real Lincoln may be reached. If, when the
evidence is all in, it shall appear that touching

Page Nine

all the questions involved, from the freedom of
the slaves to the reconstruction of the states in
rebellion, Lincoln was really ahead, rather than
behind, the major public sentiment of his time,
his real greatness will be more plainly apparent.

Idealist, and almost prophet and poet, he knew
how to meet the real world on its ov/n ground, and
how much of his idealism could be v/orked in the
life of men and in a scheme of national progress
which should be human enough to belong to this
world, and virile enough to stand on its feet. In
the midst of all of his experiences, his deeply reli-
gious nature will be constantly seen in command
of even his wit and his wisdom, as he went about
the severe task which confronted him. Lincoln
understood the spiritual values, and because of
that understanding he developed into a construc-
tive statesman of the first rank.

With the hope that the facts and opinions herein
set forth may result in making President Lincoln
better understood, the valuable work he did for
his country in the hour of its greatest peril more
keenly appreciated, and the lesson of his life an
increasing inspiration to his countrymen, we send
this volume on its way.


No adequate understanding of the institution of
slavery in its relation to the general government,
and especially as it involved the country in a civil
war, in whose fiery furnace the institution died,
is possible without some knowledge of its groAvth,
and the ways and means by which it secured con-
stitutional recognition.

There seems to be little doubt that if the ma-
jority of the fathers and founders of the republic
could have formed a more perfect union, and
framed a constitution entirely after their own
hearts, provision would have been made for the
gradual removal of slavery from our country. In
fact, the opinion was rather general in the period
immediately following the revolution, that in the
main slavery was not economically profitable,
while it was held to be morally inconsistent with
the genius of republican institutions. It was a
minority of the fathers who forced the fatal com-
promise which perpetuated the institution, which
was to prove a millstone about the Nation's neck.

At the time of the adoption of the Constitution,
slavery existed and was a legalized institution in
every state in the Union, Massachusetts excepted.
In the census of 1790 there were less than 4,000
slaves in New England, two-thirds of the number
being in Connecticut. The states of New York,
New Jersey and Pennsylvania contained 36,484
human chattels, Pennsylvania having only 3,737.

Page Ten

Page Eleven

Slavery ceased in all of these states long before
the civil war. At the time indicated the slaves
in Delaware and Maryland numbered 111,923,
103,036 of this number being held in servitude in
the latter state. The following represents the
number of slaves in the four states of the original
thirteen which sided with the Confederacy in the
civil war.

Virginia 293,427

North Carolina 100,372

South Carolina 107,094

Georgia 29,264


As the number of slaves in the entire country in
1790 was reported as 657,527, it will be seen that
about 80 per cent, of the slaves were in the four
states which in 1861 joined hands with the South-
ern Confederacy.

The Ninth Continental Congress, in session in
Annapolis, considered a plan for the government
of "the territory ceded already, or to be ceded, by
the individual states to the United States."
Thomas Jefferson introduced what has passed into
history as the Ordinance of 1784. The ordinance
among other things provided "That after the year
1800 of the Christian era, there shall be neither
slavery nor involuntary servitude in any of the
said states." This ordinance failed of adoption
because an affirmative vote of a majority of the
states was not recorded. Had New Jersey been

Page Twelve

fully represented and voted as New York and
Pennsylvania did, the ordinance would have been
carried. South Carolina, Virginia and Maryland
voted against the ordinance, and the vote of North
Carolina was divided. Thus early did the fathers
attempt to provide for the non-extension of slave

In 1787 the last Continental Congress assembled
in Nev/ York, and at the same time the convention
which had been called to frame a constitution for
all of the states, was deliberating in Philadelphia.
This Congress adopted, by practically unanimous
vote, the Ordinance of 1787. Its sixth article
contained the non-extension of slavery clause, of
the defeated ordinance considered three years be-

The Constitutional Convention met behind
closed doors, and no official record of its detailed
deliberations exists. Still, reliable evidence indi-
cates that early in its sessions. South Carolina
and Georgia appeared to make demands in behalf
of some recognition of slavery. Such recognition
appeared in three places, and in as many v/ays in
our Fundamental Law. It is suggestive, however,
that neither the words slave or slavery appear
in the immortal document. Nothing more surely
illustrates the fact that even in 1787 the question
was not a pleasant one to consider. The minds
of the fathers seem to have been set at ease by the
compromises which made the ratification of the

Page Thirteen

Constitution by the requisite number of states pos-

From the political standpoint the most valuable
concession to slavery in the Constitution was the
provision which made the slave population a basis
of representation in Congress, in the following
terms :

"Representatives and direct taxes shall be apportioned
among the several States which may be included within
this Union according to their respective num,bers, which
shall be determined by adding the whole number of free
persons, including those bound to service for a term of
years, and excluding Indians not taxed, three-fifths of all
other persons."

"Three-fifths of all other persons" covered the
slaves, and gave an added numerical strength to
the slave states in the popular branch of Con-

What was section 9 of Article I in the original
draft of the Constitution contained a veiled en-
dorsement of the slave trade in the following
language :

"The Migration or Importation of such Persons as any
of the States now existing shall think proper to admit,
shall not be prohibited by the Congress prior to the Year
one thousand eight hundred and eight, but a tax or duty
may be imposed on such Importation, not exceeding ten
dollars for each person." i

^History of the Celebration of the One Hundredth Anniver-
sary of the Promulgation of the Constitution of the United
States. By Hampton L. Carson, Vol. I, p. 244. The words
capitalized in the quotation are as they appear in the original
manuscript of the Constitution.

Page Fourteen

The third concession to South Carolina and
Georgia appeared in Section 3, of Article IV :

"No person held to service or labor in one State, under
the laws thereof, escaping into another shall, in conse-
quence of any law or regulation therein, be discharged
from such service or labor, but shall be delivered up on
claim of the party to whom such service or labor may be

This is the part of the Constitution called the
slave-catching provision which met the severe
condemnation of the abolitionists.


In 1789 immediately following the adoption of
the Constitution, North Carolina proposed to cede
her outlying territory, which later became the
State of Tennessee, to the Federal Union. Before
the transfer of this territory Congress was re-
quired to accept the following condition: "Pro-
vided always, that no regulation made, or to be
made, by Congress, shall tend to emancipate

Three years later Georgia proceeded to make
over to the General Government territory belong-
ing to her, out of which the states of Alabama and
Mississippi were eventually formed. It was stipu-
lated that the specified territory should be organ-
ized into states, according to the provisions of the
Ordinance of 1787, with this proviso, "the article
only excepted which forbids slavery." Congress
acceded to this demand, and two new slave states
were thus carved out of territory which the
Ordinance of 1787 dedicated to freedom. Follow-
ing these comparatively easy victories, a cam-
paign was begun to divide and organize Indiana
territory, now comprising the states of Indiana,
Illinois, and Michigan, on the basis of tolerated
slavery, but the attempt failed, and slavery
aggression was suspended until the purchase of
Louisiana from France, when an added impulse
was furnished to the slave interest.

Page Fifteen

Page Sixteen

But something happened more important than
the purchase of territory, or the suspension of
ordinances guaranteeing freedom, viz. : the inven-
tion of the cotton-gin by Eli Whitney. That made
cotton growing a most profitable type of agricul-
ture and gave to slavery its immense mercenary
footing. From this time on, the struggle between
the forces of freedom and slavery became more
and more intense. The moral conscience touching
the peculiar institution rapidly deteriorated, as
the seeming profit in slave labor increased.
Churches which hoped and resolved against
slavery lapsed into silence, as the jingling of the
dollar healed the hurt which conscience felt.
Horace Greeley, referring to resolutions against
the institution adopted by a Southern church con-
vention sagely remarked that "No similar declara-
tion has been made" by any church south of the
Mason and Dixon line, "since field hands rose to
$1,000 each, and black infants at birth, were
accounted worth $100." i

The territory of Missouri, comprising all the
purchase from France, except the state of Louisi-
ana, came up for consideration when part of the
territory knocked for admiission into the Union
as a state in 1818. Over the petition the storm
raged furiously. As it progressed many surprises
developed. Thomas Jefferson, in spite of the fact
that he was the author of the non-extension Ordi-

»The American Conflict, Vol. I, p. 120.

Page Seventeen

nance of 1784, gave the full weight of his influence
to slavery extension, as did ex-President Madison.
The outcome of the controversy was the Missouri
Compromise which is here given:

"And be it further enacted, That in all that Territory
ceded by France to the United States, under the name of
Louisiana, which lies north of thirty-six degrees thirty
minutes north latitude, excepting only such part thereof as
is included within the limits of the State contemplated by
this act. Slavery and involuntary servitude, otherwise than
in the punishment of crime, whereof the party shall have
been duly convicted, shall be and is hereby forever pro-

Missouri was thus admitted as a slave state
in 1820, with the territory to the South of thirty-
six degrees North latitude open to the peculiar
institution, and all North of that line ordained
to freedom.

In 1845, President Polk suggested that a treaty
of peace might be negotiated with Mexico, pro-
vided it carried with it an appropriation for
securing land beyond the existing national
boundary. The real object was, of course, more
territory, and larger opportunity for the expan-
sion of slavery. While this effort was pending,
David Wilmot, a member of the House of Repre-
sentatives of Pennsylvania, and at that time a
Democrat in politics, introduced the proviso
which made his name historic. This paragraph,
inserted in the bill, was as follows:

"Provided, That, as an express and fundamental condi-
tion to the acquisition of any territory from the Republic

Page Eighteen

of Mexico by the United States, by virtue of any treaty
that may be negotiated between them, and to the use by
the Executive of the moneys herein appropriated, neither
Slavery nor involuntary servitude shall ever exist in any
part of said territory, except for crime, whereof the party
shall first be duly convicted."

The Wilmot Proviso contained the gist of the
whole attempt to prevent the extension of slave
territory. While it passed the House, it failed
in the Senate, and the bill which carried it never
became a law. Probably no like number of
words, shorn of all legal or applied value, ever
occupied a place of such importance as this pro-
viso did in the history of American legislation.

The compromises of 1850, introduced in the
Senate by Henry Clay, revived the whole question
of slavery, and strengthened that institution, es-
pecially by repealing all provision for restricting
slave territory, by enacting the Fugitive Slave
Law, and pledging abstinence of the abolition of
slavery in certain sections of the country. These
compromises, ugly as they were in many respects,
from the anti-slavery standpoint, were pretty
generally accepted by public opinion, North and
South. A false sense of security settled over the
country, in the opinion that these compromises
settled the slavery question, while as a matter of
fact they only intensified the "irrepressible con-

Nothing served more to intensify the disturb-
ing issue of slavery than the Kansas-Nebraska

Page Nineteen

bill. This was a measure for organizing the
region westward of Missouri and Iowa, into two
territories to be known as Kansas and Nebraska.
Stephen A. Douglas, then Senator from Illinois,
at this point devised a plan for dealing with
slavery in new territories which became popularly
known as "squatter sovereignty." In other words,
the plan provided that all matters "pertaining to
slavery in the territories, and in the new states
to be formed therefrom, are to be left to the deci-
sion of the people residing therein, through their
appropriate representatives." It was generally
admitted that the Kansas-Nebraska bill repealed
the Missouri Compromise, and all the free terri-
tory in the country was handed over to the tender
mercies of such settlers as might be induced to
enter a state, and stay long enough to vote.

Out of this plan grew the bloody struggles in
Kansas, the details of which do not belong in this
story. The Kansas-Nebraska bill undoubtedly
furnished the final logical reason for the organiza-
tion of the National Republican party, with the
non-extension of slave territory as its dominant
issue. As the party's first successful candidate
for President, from 1860 until the end, Abraham
Lincoln became the moral and political storm-
center of the slavery controversy.


The Union had barely become an established
fact, when the slave power proceeded to make
the supposed constitutional guarantees given to
slavery effective by law. In 1793, a bill was
passed by Congress to facilitate the capture of
fugitive slaves. This law contained four provi-
sions. It guaranteed the right to arrest the fugi-
tive when found. This, in many cases, amounted
to arrest on suspicion, and on the unsupported
assertion of the alleged owner. The law also con-
ferred the right to take the fugitive before a
magistrate when he was arrested. It made it the
duty of the magistrate to examine the case, and
commit the alleged slave to the custody of the
master. The right of the master to remove the
fugitive from the jurisdiction wherein he was
found, was also upheld.

It was not an uncommon thing for runaway
slaves to be arrested under the provisions of this
act of Congress. With the growth of the Aboli-
tion Movement attempted escapes became riiore
frequent, and the branches of the Underground
Railroad made successful escape increasingly
possible. The provisions of the Fugitive Slave
Laws did not stop the attempt of slaves to secure
their freedom, and there was an increasing re-
vulsion in the North against every man being
constituted a possible slave-hunter.

Page Twenty

Page Twenty-one

A good deal of partial history has been written
about the non-enforcement of the statute of 1793,
and the so-called compromise act of 1850. This
non-enforcement has been given as a cause of the
civil war by a distinguished historian and pub-
licist :

"It seemed evident to the southern men, too, that the
North would not pause or hesitate because of constitutional
guarantees. For twenty years northern States had been
busy passing 'personal libei'ty' laws, intended to bar the
operation of the federal statutes concerning fugitive slaves,
and to secure for all alleged fugitives legal privileges which
the federal statutes withheld. More than a score of States
had passed laws with this object, and such acts were as
plainly attempts to nullify the constitutional action of Con-
gress as if they had spoken the language of the South
Carolina ordinance' of 1832." «

This statement sounds plausible, and might
really be so, if there was no difference between
a tax for the support of the General Government,
and a demand for the return of men and women
to an unnatural bondage. But the facts of the case
are that the slave-catchers frequently appre-
hended persons upon whom no valid claim under
the lav/ rested. Several states had provided that
the residence of a slave within their borders for
a specified time, with the knowledge of his

^This ordinance was passed by a convention held after the
passage of the National tariff bill in 1832, and resolved that
no duties would be paid into the National treasury in South
Carolina after February 1, 1833.

'Division and Reunion. By Woodrow Wilson, Ph.D., LL.D.,

p. 208. Vol. Ill of Epochs of American History.

Page Twenty-two

master, made him a free man. Persons of this
sort were liable to be apprehended, and dragged
back into slavery.

The above statement by President Wilson un-
doubtedly represents the extreme southern view
regarding what was called northern nullification,
representing a supposed provoking aggressive-
ness on the part of the free states. But the provo-
cation was not one-sided. In this particular let
us summon another southern-born m^an as a wit-
ness, as follows:

"The southern leaders in Washington forced gag rules
through Congress to keep out abolitionist petitions. They
suborned the postal service to their ends and got abolitionist
literature debarred from the mails. They invaded the
North and dragged slaves back to their plantations. They
browbeat liberty men in Congress. They hanged John
Brown. Whenever they failed to crush out abolitionism,
it was because there was in the nature of things no way
to reach it, not because Northern public men kept them
from having their will upon it." ^

This is a mild and truthful statement of what
happened during this period, such as the brutal
attack upon Charles Sumner in the Senate Cham-
ber, by Representative Preston S. Brooks, of
South Carolina, in 1856, and the Border Ruffian
outrages in Kansas. Both sides were intense, and
both did things not wise and generally not gentle.
The South was much more militant than the

'The Lower South in American History. By William Garrott
Brown, p. 98. Prof. Brown was born in Alabama in 1868, and
is connected with Harvard University.

Page Twenty-three

North, and more used to blood-letting, so that as*
saults upon the person like the murder of Elijah P.
Lovejoy,* by a pro-slavery mob at Alton, Illinois,
was pretty universally monopolized by the advo-
cates and representatives of the slave power.

For a complete understanding of the issue
raised in this chapter, it is worth while to find out
just what the Fugitive Slave Law, and the so-
called Personal Liberty Laws were. The Fugitive
Slave Law of 1850 was surely a sample of misfit

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Online LibraryHenry Watson WilburPresident Lincoln's attitude towards slavery and emancipation : with a review of events before and since the Civil War (Volume c.2) → online text (page 1 of 13)