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THE EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATIONS.
To common readers these proclamations are clear enough, as have been all the utterances of President Lincoln on the subject of slavery. But Mrs. Beecher Stowe, together with many Abolitionists, both in America and England, persist in giving them a sense which lies not in the words themselves, but in their interpretation according to the wishes of these enthusiasts, who assert them to prove undeniably that the Federal States' Government is at last thorough-going in the abolition of slavery. Therefore the publication of these proclamations has excited intense enthusiastic sympathy amongst large numbers of persons in England. We freely acquit these parties of intentional misrepresentation in the glosses whereby they explain the mode in which they have deceived themselves in this matter. But, as Shakespeare forcibly asks, “ Is not the truth the truth?” The text of these remarkable documents speaks for itself, even if President Lincoln had not himself illustrated and explained their scope and intended operation in the most unmistakable manner. As we have before noticed, all that has fallen from him on this momentous subject, is marked by simple straightforwardness, most unusual in the speech of statesmen, or in state documents; and to which, perhaps, some of the sudden outspoken declarations of the Emperor of the French are the only existing parallels. The President has clearly thought deeply on the question; and every word that he has said or written, as far as we are aware, gives voice to convictions and resolutions decided and unwavering. It would be easy from the very words of these proclamations, taking their text alone, to prove how erroneous are the interpretations of their intention and enactments above mentioned. But in this case it is so important to make the truth undeniably plain ; and these Abolitionists are so vehement in urging their own construction, that it may save much explanation, to begin by taking some of the most important of the President's utterances, together with these documents ; shewing that all taken together speak forcibly and clearly the same language, and cannot, save by distorting the common meanings of words, be made to speak any other.
Taking them together in the order of their subjects :
President Lincoln's declaration, repeated by General Banks, on taking command at New Orleans ;
His compensation proposal of 1st December
His proposal to remove the free Negroes to Central America, and his conferences with some of their leaders thereon;
In connection with His Emancipation Proclamations of 22nd September, 1862, and 1st January, 1863:
It is manifest, 1st. That President Lincoln sees clearly that the existence of the black and coloured races in immense numbers in America is the great difficulty of the day in American politics, and one of the chief causes of the civil war. ' 2nd. That this difficulty is not confined to the presence of the Negro as a slave in the Confederate States, but exists also in the unanimous feeling with which he is despised and loathed throughout the Federal States.
3rd. That the Federal States neither can nor will afford reception or subsistence to the slave population of the South, supposing that population to be at once set free.
4th. That, as the President has plainly declared in express words, the slaves, their destinies, and all relating to them, are, in his view, merely subordinate considerations compared with the restoration of the Union; and that all the action of the United States Government, in reference to these slaves, must be considered and determined according to its bearing and effect upon the stability of the Union.
5th. That the Emancipation Proclamations are wholly and solely war measures; that of 22nd September, 1862, designed to frighten some, if not all, of the Confederate States into submission before 1st January, 1863, to avoid the confiscation of their slaves; and that of 1st January so to act upon their slave population as to render it impossible for them to continue the war.
We now proceed to show clearly by some details | that the above and none other is the true sense
and meaning of all President Lincoln's acts and utterances on the matter of slavery; and to consider
closely what these emancipation proclamations really are in word and effect, and what is their present and probable future bearing upon the liberation and destiny of the slave population in America. · Our three first propositions will be assented to by all who have carefully read the reports of the memorable conference between the President and those whom he invited, as chief men amongst the black and coloured population, to hear his statements of what he thought their present actual position in the United States, and what he recommended as the best course open to them to provide for the future. He told them with emphatic preciseness, free from all trace of ambiguity or circumlocution, that their existence in the United States caused irreconcileable feuds between different States and parties, to be appeased only by their wholesale expatriation from the country. That the several States in the Union agreed about the Negroes only in one point, namely, in despising and disliking them. That, therefore, even were all set free, or removed from the Slave States, they had no chance of earning a living in the Free States, or even of being allowed to live there in comfort. That these being palpable, undeniable truths, the best advice he could give them was to : quit the United States bodily, and settle elsewhere ; in doing which he promised them all the assistance he could procure for them-recommending Central America as a promising field of enterprise for the foundation of a colony relying, as a main resource, on the working of the vast deposits of coal to be found in various districts there.
The President's express statements, therefore, admitting neither denial nor dispute as to his opinions, let us for a moment examine the bearing of these remarkable utterances upon his compensation proposition of 1st December last. This proposition never having become law, and existing only as the President's recommendation or suggestion, displaced by the proclamations which actually followed, is noteworthy chiefly, as proving his anxiety to bring back the South, and restore the Union, even by the lure of a bribe, which he must have known it was all but impossible ever really to grant them. But in discussing it for a moment, we need not dwell upon the fallacy of supposing that a country which prefers financial ruin to taxation, even in support of a popular war, ever could have been induced to raise imposts to pay for nearly four millions of slaves. The only point of interest to our main inquiry afforded by this proposition is its connection with the remarkable conference above-mentioned as proving the consideration President Lincoln had anxiously given to the question (wholly overlooked by the red-hot zeal of too many Abolitionists), but which is really the greatest difficulty attending emancipation. Supposing that the whole four millions of slaves could be set free to-morrow, what could be done with them? To this, as we have just seen, all the thought and sagacity of the President can find but one answer. They must be banished from the soil. They can find no refuge as free men in the United States; the social ban and hatred of race as effectually expelling them from the Free States as does slavery from the South.