« AnteriorContinuar »
ern people for their slaves. He believed the the declaration that he would do none of the people of the North were as responsible for things mentioned or promised without a preslavery as the people of the South; and if the vious pledge of reunion and cessation of resistwar should then cease, with the voluntary ab- ance. “Even in case the Confederate States olition of slavery by the States, he should be should entertain the proposition of a retum to in favor, individually, of the Government pay- the Union," says Mr. Stephens's narrative," he ing a fair indemnity for the loss to the owners. persisted in asserting that he could not enter He said he believed this feeling had an exten- into any agreement upon this subject (reconsive existence at the North. He knew some struction), or upon any other matters of that who were in favor of an appropriation as high sort, with parties in arms against the Governas four hundred millions of dollars for this pur- ment.” Mr. Hunter interposed, and in illustrapose. I could mention persons, said he, whose tion of the propriety of the Executive entering names would astonish you, who are willing to into agreements with persons in arms against the do this if the war shall now cease without fur- acknowledged rightful public authority referred ther expense, and with the abolition of slavery to repeated instances of this character between as stated. But on this subject, he said, he could Charles I. of England and the people in arms give no assurance - enter into no stipulation. against him. Mr. Lincoln in reply to this said: He barely expressed his own feelings and “ I do not profess to be posted in history. On views, and what he believed to be the views all such matters I will turn you over to Seward. of others upon the subject.”
All I distinctly recollect about the case of IV. The DivISION OF VIRGINIA.—“Mr. Charles I. is that he lost his head.” The Lincoln said he could only give an individual pertinent retort reduced Mr. Hunter to his last opinion, which was, that Western Virginia rhetorical resource - a wail of protest, in the would be continued to be recognized as a very worst tone of sectional egotism, that the separate State in the Union.”
Confederate States and their people were by V. THE XIIITH AMENDMENT.- Mr. Sew- these terms forced to unconditional surrender ard brought to the notice of the commissioners and submission. To this Mr. Seward replied one topic which to them was new; namely, that with patience and dignity “ That no words only a few days before, on the 31st of January, like unconditional submission had been used, Congress had passed the XIIIth Amendment or any importing or justly implying degradato the Constitution, which, when ratified by tion, or humiliation even, to the people of the three-fourths of the States, would effect an Confederate States.... Nor did he think immediate abolition of slavery throughout the that in yielding to the execution of the laws entire Union. The reports of the commission- under the Constitution of the United States, ers represent Mr. Seward as saying that if the with all its guarantees and securities for personal South would submit and agree to immediate and political rights, as they might be declared restoration, the restored States might yet defeat to be by the courts, could be properly conthe ratification of this amendment, intimating sidered as unconditional submission to conthat Congress had passed it “ under the pre- querors, or as having anything humiliating in dominance of revolutionary passion,” which it. The Southern people and the Southem would abate on the cessation of the war. It may States would be under the Constitution of the well be doubted whether Mr. Seward stated United States, with all their rights secured the case as strongly as the commissioners inti- thereby, in the same way, and through the mate, since he himself, like Mr. Lincoln and same instrumentalities, as the similar rights of his entire cabinet, had favored the measure. the people of the other States were.” It is probable that the commissioners allowed The reader will recall that in his last annual their own feelings and wishes to color too message President Lincoln declared his belief, strongly the hypothesis he stated, and to inter- based on careful consideration of all the evipret as a probability what he mentioned as only dence accessible,” that it was useless to attempt among the possible events of the future. to negotiate with Jefferson Davis, but that the
It will be seen that in what he said upon prospect would be better with his followers. these various propositions Mr. Lincoln was Mr. Lincoln had evidently gone to Fort Monalways extremely careful to discriminate be- roe in hope of making some direct imprestween what he was under the Constitution sion upon Stephens and Hunter, whom Grant authorized to do as Executive, and what would represented as having such good intentions devolve upon coördinate branches of the Gov- “to restore peace and union.” He did not negernment under their own powers and limitations. lect to try this joint of the rebel commissionWith the utmost circumspection he pointed out ers' armor
. Seizing the proper opportunity, the distinctions between his personal opinions he pressed upon Stephens the suggestion of and wishes and his official authority. More es- separate State action to bring about a cessation pecially, however, did he repeat and emphasize of hostilities. Addressing him, he said:
If I resided in Georgia, with my present senti- avert except by surrender; and now, when this ments, 1 'll tell you what I would do if I were in last hope failed them, they were doubly cast your place. I would go home and get the governor down. Campbell says he “ favored negotiaof the State to call the legislature together, and get tions for peace " 2 — doubtless meaning by this them to recall all the State troops from the war; language that he advocated the acceptance of elect senators and members to Congress, and ratify the proffered terms. Stephens yet believed that this constitutional amendment prospectively, so as to take effect — say in five years. Such a ratification Mr. Lincoln would be tempted by the Mexiwould be valid, in my opinion. I have looked into can scheme and would reconsider his decision. the subject, and think such a prospective ratification He therefore advised that the results of the would be valid. Whatever may have been the views meeting should be kept secret; and when of your people before the war, they must be con- the other commissioners and Davis refused vinced now that slavery is doomed. It cannot last to follow this advice, he gave up the Confedlong in any event, and the best course, it seems to
erate cause as hopeless, withdrew from Richme, for your public men to pursue would be to adopt such a policy as will avoid, as far as possible, mond, abandoned the rebellion, and went the evils of immediate emancipation. This would into retirement.3 His signature to the brief be my course, if I were in your place.
public report of the commissioners stating
the result of the Hampton Roads conference The salutary advice was wasted. Mr. Ste- was his last participation in the ill-starred phens was a very incarnation of political para- enterprise. doxes. Perhaps in all the South there was not Davis took the only course open to him after another man whose personal desires were so refusing the honorable peace which Mr. Linmoderate and correct, and whose political coln had tendered. He transmitted the comtheories were so radical and wrong. At the missioners' report to the rebel Congress with a beginning he had opposed secession as pre. brief and dry message, stating that the enemy mature and foolish, war as desperate and ruin- refused any terms except those the conqueror ous; yet, against his better judgment, he had may grant; and then arranged as vigorous followed his “corner-stone” theory of slavery an effort as the circumstances permitted, once and his “supremacy” theory of States rights to more to "fire the Southern heart.” A public the war and the ruin he foretold. Now, at the meeting was called, and on the evening of end of four years' experiment, he still clung February 6 Jefferson Davis and others made obstinately to his new theory of secession as a speeches at the African Church, which, judg“continental regulator,” and the vain hope ing from the meager reports that were printed, that Mr. Lincoln would yet adopt it. When were as denunciatory and bellicose as the bitterat last the parties were separating, with friendly est Confederate could have wished. Davis, handshakings, he asked Mr. Lincoln to recon- particularly, is represented to have excelled sider the plan of an armistice on the basis of himself in that lurid flow of partisan passion a Mexican expedition. “Well, Stephens," re- and vaunting prophecy which he so effectplied Mr. Lincoln, “I will reconsider it; but I ively used upon Southern listeners for many do not think my mind will change.” And so years. “Sooner than we should ever be united ended the Hampton Roads conference.1 again," he said, “ he would be willing to yield
The commissioners returned to Richmond up everything he had on earth — if it were posin great disappointment, and communicated sible he would sacrifice a thousand lives "; the failure of their efforts to Jefferson Davis, and further announced his confidence that they whose chagrin was as great as their own. They would yet “compel the Yankees, in less than had all caught eagerly at the hope that this twelve months, to petition us for peace on our negotiation would somehow extricate them own terms." 5 He denounced President Linfrom the dilemmas and dangers whose crush- coln as “ His Majesty Abraham the First,” ing portent they realized, but had no power to and said “before the campaign was over he
i Stephens, “War between the States," Vol. II., aters, and swelled the eloquence of this last grand appp. 610-618.
peal to the people and armies of the South.... It Campbell, “ Recollections,” etc. Pamphlet. was an extraordinary day in Richmond; vast crowds 3 Stephens, “War between the States," Vol. II., huddled around the stands of the speakers or lined the Pp. 224-226.
streets; and the air was vocal with the efforts of the 4 This meeting at the African Church was supple- orator and the responses of his audience. It appeared mented, a few days later, by a grand concerted effort at indeed that the blood of the people had again been public speech-making at different places in Richmond, kindled. But it was only the sickly glare of an expir. intended to electrify the South. Pollard, the South: ing flame; there was no steadiness in the excitement; ern historian, thus describes it : “ All business was sus- there was no virtue in the huzzas; the inspiration pended in Richmond; at high noon processions were ended with the voices and ceremonies that invoked it; formed to the different places of meeting; and no less and it was found that the spirit of the people of the than twenty different orators, composed of the most Confederacy was too weak, too much broken, to react effective speakers in Congress and the cabinet, and the with effect or assume the position of erect and desperate most eloquent divines of Richmond, took their stands defiance.” [Pollard, “The Lost Cause," pp. 684,685.] in the halls of legislation, in the churches and the the. 5 “ Richmond Dispatch,” Feb. 7, 1865.
and Seward might find “they had been speak- gress took up anew the suspended battle with ing to their masters.' ”I
slavery which the institution had itself invited This extravagance of impotent anger, this by its unprovoked assault on the life of the rage of baffled ambition, would seem merely Government. pitiably grotesque were it not rendered ghastly The President's reference to the subject in by the reflection that it was the signal which his annual message was very brief: carried many additional thousands of brave
The movements (said he] by State action for soldiers to bloody graves in continuing a palpa- emancipation in several of the states not included bly hopeless military struggle.
in the Emancipation Proclamation are matters of profound gratulation. And while I do not repeat
in detail what I have heretofore so earnestly urged THE XIIITH AMENDMENT.
upon this subject, my general views and feelings reWe have enumerated with some detail the omit no fair opportunity of aiding these important
main unchanged ; and I trust that Congress will series of radical antislavery measures enacted
steps to a great consummation.2 at the second session of the Thirty-seventh Congress, which ended July 17, 1862 the abo- His language had reference to Maryland. lition of slavery in the District of Columbia; where during the autumn of 1863 the question the prohibition of slavery in the national Terri- of emancipation had been actively discussed tories; the practical repeal of the fugitive slave by political parties, and where at the election law; and the sweeping measures of confiscation of November 4, 1863, a legislature had been which in different forms decreed forfeiture of chosen containing a considerable majority slave property for the crimes of treason and pledged to emancipation. rebellion. When this wholesale legislation was More especially did it refer to Missouri
, supplemented by the President's preliminary where, notwithstanding the failure of the fifteenEmancipation Proclamation of September 22, million compensation bill at the previous ses1862, and his final edict of freedom of Jan- sion, a State convention had actually passed uary 1, 1863, the institution had clearly re- an ordinance of emancipation, though with ceived its coup de gráce in all except the loyal such limitations as rendered it unacceptable border States. Consequently the third session to the more advanced public opinion of the of the Thirty-seventh Congress ending March State. Prudence was the very essence of Mr. 4, 1863, occupied itself with this phase of the Lincoln's statesmanship, and he doubtless felt slavery question only to the extent of an effort it was not safe for the Executive to venture to put into operation the President's plan of farther at that time. “We are like whalers," he compensated abolishment. That effort took said to Governor Morgan one day, “who have practical shape in a bill to give the State of been on a long chase: we have at last got the Missouri fifteen millions on condition that she harpoon into the monster, but we must now would emancipate her slaves ; but the propo- look how we steer, or with one 'flop’of his tai sition failed, largely through the opposition of he will yet send us all into eternity.”3 a few conservative members from Missouri, and Senators and members of the House, espethe session adjourned without having by its cially those representing antislavery States or legislation advanced the destruction of slavery. districts, did not need to be so circumspect
When Congress met again in December, It was doubtless with this consciousness that 1863, and organized by the election of Schuy- J. M. Ashley, a Republican representative from ler Colfax of Indiana as Speaker, the whole sit- Ohio, and James F. Wilson, a Republican rema uation had undergone further change. The resentative from Iowa, on the 14th of DecemUnion arms had been triumphant--Gettysburgber, 1863,- that being the earliest opportunity had been won and Vicksburg had capitulated; after the House was organized, — introduced Lincoln's edict of freedom had become an the former a bill and the latter a joint resoli accepted fact; fifty regiments of negro soldiers tion to propose to the several States an amendcarried bayonets in the Union armies; Val- ment of the Constitution prohibiting slaver landigham had been beaten for governor in throughout the United States. Both the prope Ohio by a hundred thousand majority; the sitions were referred to the Committee on the draft had been successfully enforced in every Judiciary, of which Mr. Wilson was chairman : district of every loyal State in the Union. but before he made any report on the subject : Under these brightening prospects, military and had been brought before the Senate, where it political, the more progressive spirits in Con- discussion attracted marked public attention.
Senator John B. Henderson, who with rare 1 Jones, “ A Rebel War Clerk's Diary,” Vol. II., p. courage and skill had, as a progressive coe2 Message, Dec. 8, 1863.
servative, made himself one of the leada. 3 Carpenter in Raymond, "Life of Abraham Lin. champions of Missouri emancipation, on es
uth of January, 1864, introduced into the
coln," p. 752.
Senate a joint resolution proposing an amend- erudition amounted almost to vanity, pleaded
nine from the border States, leaving but little ARTICLE XIII.
chance of obtaining the required two-thirds in
favor of the measure. Nevertheless there was SECTION 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servi- sufficient Republican strength to secure its distude, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the cussion; and when it came up on the 31st of party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to May the first vote showed seventy-six to fiftytheir jurisdiction.
five against rejecting the joint resolution. Sect. 2. Congress shall have power to enforce
We may infer that the conviction of the this article by appropriate legislation.3
present hopelessness of the measure greatly
shortened the debate upon it. The question Even after the Committee on the Judiciary occupied the House only on three different by this report had adopted the measure, it days the 31st of May, when it was taken up, was evidently thought to be merely in an ex- and the 14th and 15th of June. The speeches perimental or trial stage, for more than six in opposition all came from Democrats; the weeks elapsed before the Senate again took it speeches in its favor all came from Republiup for action. On the 28th of March, how- cans, except one. From its adoption the former ever, Mr. Trumbull formally opened debate predicted the direst evils to the Constitution upon it in an elaborate speech. The discus- and the Republic; the latter the most benefision was continued from time to time until cial results in the restoration of the country April 8. As the Republicans had almost unan- to peace and the fulfillment of the high destiny imous control of the Senate, their speeches, intended for it by its founders. Upon the final though able and eloquent, seemed perfunctory question of its passage the vote stood: yeas, and devoted to a foregone conclusion. Those ninety-three; nays, sixty-five; absent or not votwhich attracted most attention were the ar- ing, twenty-three. Of those voting in favor of guments of Reverdy Johnson of Maryland the resolution eighty-seven were Republicans and Mr. Henderson of Missouri, — senators and four were Democrats. Those voting representing slave States,— advocating the against it were all Democrats. The resolution, amendment. Senator Sumner, whose pride of not having secured a two-thirds vote, was
1 Henry Wilson, “ Antislavery Measures in Con- were Moses F. Odell and John A. Griswold of gress,” p. 251.
New York, Joseph Baily of Pennsylvania, and Ezra Globe," Feb. 8, 1864, p. 521.
Wheeler of Wisconsin, the latter having also made 3 “ Globe," March 28, 1864, p. 1313..
the only speech in its favor from the Democratic 4 The Democrats voting for the joint resolution side.
VOL. XXXVIII.- 112.
thus lost; seeing which Mr. Ashley, Republi- ciples of republican government, justice and the can, who had the measure in charge, changed national safety demand its utter and complete extithis vote so that he might, if occasion arose, pation from the soil of the Republic; and that while move its reconsideration.
we uphold and maintain the acts and proclamations The ever-vigilant public opinion of the loyal aimed a death blow at this gigantic evil, we are in
by which the Government in its own defense ho States, intensified by the burdens and anxieties favor, furthermore, of such an amendment to the of the war, took up this far-reaching question Constitution, to be made by the people, in conforme of abolishing slavery by constitutional amend- ity with its provisions, as shall terminate and foreve ment with an interest fully as deep as that mani- prohibit the existence of slavery within the limits fested by Congress. Before the joint resolution or the jurisdiction of the United States. had failed in the House of Representatives the
We have related elsewhere how upon this issue was already transferred to discussion and and the other declarations of the platform the prospective decision in a new forum.
When on the 7th of June, 1864, the Na- overwhelming victory—a popular majority of
When on the 7th of June, 1864, the Na. Republican party went to battle and gained an tional Republican Convention met in Baltimore, the two most vital thoughts which 411,281, an electoral majority of 191, and a more, the two most vital thoughts which House of Representatives of 138 Unionists to animated its members were the renomination of Mr. Lincoln and the success of the constitu- dent was able to take up the question with con
35 Democrats. In view of this result the Presitional amendment. The first was recognized fidence among his official recommendations; as a popular decision needing only the formal- and in the annual message which he tran: ity of an announcement by the convention; mitted to Congress on the 6th of December, and the full emphasis of speech and resolution 1864, he urged upon the members whose terms was therefore centered on the latter, as the
were about to expire the propriety of at once dominant and aggressive reform upon which the party would stake its political fortunes in carrying into effect the clearly expressed pop
. the coming campaign.
It is not among the least of the evidences At the last session of Congress a proposed amendof President Lincoln's political sagacity and ment of the Constitution, abolishing slavery throughpolitical courage that it was he himself who out the United States, passed the Senate, but failed, supplied the spark that fired this train of pop- of Representatives. Although the present is the same
for lack of the requisite two-thirds vote, in the House ular action. The editor of the “ New York Congress, and nearly the same members, and withIndependent,” who attended the convention, out questioning the wisdom or patriotism of those and who with others visited Mr. Lincoln im- who stood in opposition, I venture to recommend mediately after the nomination, printed the the reconsideration and passage of the measure at following in his paper of June 16, 1864: “When the present session. Of course the abstract question one of us mentioned the great enthusiasm at is not changed; but an intervening election shows, the convention, after Senator E. D. Morgan's the measure if this does not. Hence there is only
almost certainly, that the next Congress will pass proposition to amend the Constitution, abolish
a question of time as to when the proposed amending slavery, Mr. Lincoln instantly said, “It was I ment will go to the States for their action. And as who suggested to Mr. Morgan that he should it is to so go at all events, may we not agree that put that idea into his opening speech.?” The the sooner the better? It is not claimed that the declaration of Morgan, who was chairman of election has imposed a duty on members to change the National Republican Committee, and as
their views or their votes any further than, as an such called the convention to order, immedi- additional element to be considered, their judgment ately found an echo in the speech of the tempo- may be affected by it. It is the voice of the people
, rary chairman, the Rev. Dr. Robert J. Breckin- In a great national crisis like ours unanimity of
now for the first time heard upon the question. ridge. The indorsement of the principle by the action among those seeking a common end is very eminent Kentucky divine, not on the ground of desirable almost indispensable. And yet no apparty, but on the high philosophy of true univer- proach to unanimity is attainable unless some sal government and of genuine Christian relig- deference shall be paid to the will of the majority, ion, gave the announcement an interest and simply because it is the will of the majority. In significance accorded to few planks in party this case the common end is the maintenance of the platforms. Permanent chairman Dennison reaf- Union; and, among the means to secure that end, firmed the doctrine of Morgan and Breckin- clared in favor of such constitutional amendment. ?
such will, through the election, is most clearly deridge, and the thunderous applause of the whole convention greeted the formal proclamation of
On the 15th of December Mr. Ashley gave the new dogma of political faith in the third notice that he would on the 6th of January, resolution of the platform:
1865, call up the constitutional amendment
for reconsideration ;2 and accordingly on the Resolved, That as slavery was the cause and now constitutes the strength of this rebellion, and as it 1 Lincoln, Annual Message, Dec. 6, 1864. must be always and everywhere hostile to the prin- 2 “Globe, Dec. 15, 1864, p. 53.