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Message. The War Power. Nature of the Message.
the duty of employing the war power. In defence of the Government forced upon him, he could but perform this duty or surrender the existence of the Government. . No compromise by public servants could in this case be a cure, not that compromises are not often proper, but that no popular government can long survive a marked precedent, that those who carry an election can only save the Government from immediate destruction by giving up the main point upon which the people gave the election. The people themselves and not their servants can safely reverse their own deliberate decisions. “As a private citizen the Executive could not have consented that these institutions shall perish, much less could he, in betrayal of so vast and so sacred a trust as these free people had confided to him. He felt that he had no moral right to shrink, nor even to count the chances of his own life in what might follow. “In full view of his great responsibility, he has so far done what he has deemed his duty. You will now, according to your own judgment, perform yours. He sincerely hopes that your views and your actions may so accord with his as to assure all faithful citizens who have been disturbed in their rights, of a certain and speedy restoration to them, under the Constitution and laws; and having thus chosen our cause without guile, and with pure purpose, let us renew our trust in God, and go forward without fear and with manly hearts. “July 4, 1861. ABRAHAM LINCOLN.”
This document, it will be observed, sets forth in temperat. language the facts bearing upon the rebellion in its then stage—facts so stated that the common people could readily comprehend the exact situation of affairs Such a message, always in place, was never more needed than at a juncture when—as seemed not altogether impossible to many—an appeal might yet have to be made again and again to the great mass of the people for men and money to maintain the
Action of Congress. Crittenden Resolution. - Bull Rur.
unity of the nation. It may be safely asserted, that the messages of none of our Presidents have been so generally read and so thoroughly mastered by the average mind, as those of Mr. Lincoln, himself the tribune of the people. Congress granted five hundred millions in money, and directed a call for five hundred thousand volunteers for the army; made provisions for a popular national loan ; revised the tariff; passed a direct tax bill; adopted measures, moderate in their scope, for the confiscation of rebel property; legalized the official acts of the President during the emergency in which the country had been placed ; and the House of Representatives, with but two dissentients, passed the following resolution: “Resolved, By the House of Representatives of the Congress of the United States, That the present deplorable civil war has been forced upon the country by the disunionists of the Southern States, now in revolt against the Constitutional Government, and in arms around the capital; that in this national emergency Congress, banishing all feeling of mere passion or resentment, will recollect only its duty to the whole country; that this war is not waged on our part in any spirit of oppression, nor for any purpose of conquest or subjugation, nor purpose of authorizing or interfering with the rights or established institutions of the States, but to defend and maintain the supremacy of the Constitution, and to preserve the Union, with all the dignities, equality, and rights of the several States unimpaired, and that as soon as Jhese objects are accomplished the war ought to cease.”
On the 21st of July, the Army of the Union, under the direct command of General McDowell, and the general supervision of the veteran Scott—from whose onward movement against the rebels in Virginia so much had been expected— met with a serious reverse at Bull Run. They went forth, exulting in victory as certain; they came back a panic-stricken mob. For an instant, despondency took possession of every
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loyal heart; all manner of vague fears seized the people; Washington would be captured; the cause was lost. It was but for an instant, however. The rebound came. Washington, which might easily have been captured and sacked, had the rebels known how to improve their success, was securely fortified and amply garrisoned. One did not then comprehend what now the most concede—that Bull Run was a necessary discipline—a school in which all learned somewhat—though, unfortunately, not all of us as much as we should. That came later.
Elation of the Rebels—Davis's boast—McClellan appointed Commander of Potomac Army —Proclamation of a National Fast—Intercourse with rebels forbidden—Fugitive slaves —Gen. Butler's views—Gen. MClellan's letter from Secretary Cameron—Act of August 6th. 1861—Gen. Fremont's order—Letter of the President modifying the same— Instructions to Gen. Sherman—Ball's Bluff—Gen. Scott's retirement—Army of the Potomac.
The victory of the conspirators at Bull Run, as was to have been expected, elated them no little. Their President in his message was supercilious and confident. Lauding the prowess and determination of his confederates, he said :
“To speak of subjugating such a people, so united and determined, is to speak in a language incomprehensible to them: to resist attack on their rights or their liberties is with them an instinct. Whether this war shall last one, or three, or five years, is a problem they leave to be solved by the enemy alone. . It will last till the enemy shall have withdrawn from their borders; till their political rights, their altars, and their homes are freed from invasion. Then, and then only, will they rest from this struggle to enjoy in peace,
Gen. McClellan's Appointment. Proclamation for Fast
the blessings which, with the favor of Providence, they have secured by the aid of their own strong hearts and steady arms.”
On the 25th, of July, a new commander was assigned to the Army of the Potomac, upon the warm recommendation of Gen. Scott; George B. McClellan, who had already become favorably known from his conducting a successful campaign in Western Virginia. With the extravagance so characteristic of the American people, this commander—whose laurels were yet to be won—was hailed as a young Napoleon, kauded to the skies, and failure under him regarded as an utter impossibility.
And the General betook himself to the organizing, disciplining, and supplying his army, to which large accessions were continually making from week to week.
On the 12th day of August was issued the following proclamation :
“WHEREAs, A joint committee of both Houses of Congress has waited on the President of the United States, and requested him to “recommend a day of public humiliation, prayer, and fasting, to be observed by the people of the United States with religious solemnities, and the offering of fervent supplications to Almighty God for the safety and welfare of these States, His blessings on their arms, and a speedy restoration of peace.”
“AND whereas, It is fit and becoming in all people, at all times, to acknowledge and revere the Supreme Government of God; to bow in humble submission to his chastisements; to confess and deplore their sins and transgressions, in the full conviction that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and to pray, with all fervency and contrition, for the pardon of their past offences, and for a blessing upon their present and prospective action.
“AND wherEAs, When our own beloved country, once, by the blessing of God, united, prosperous, and happy, is now afflicted with faction and civil war, it is peculiarly fit for us
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to recognize the hand of God in this terrible visitation, and, in sorrowful remembrance of our own faults and crimes as a nation, and as individuals, to humble ourselves before Him, and to pray for His mercy—to pray that we may be spared further punishment, though most justly deserved ; that our arms may be blessed and made effectual for the re-establishment of law, order, and peace throughout the wide extent of our country; and that the inestimable boon of civil and religious liberty, earned under His guidance and blessing by the labors and sufferings of our fathers, may be restored in all its original excellence; “Therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do appoint the last Thursday in September next as a day of humiliation, prayer, and fasting for all the people of the nation. And I do earnestly recommend to all the people, and especially to all ministers and teachers of religion, of all denominations, and to all heads of families, to observe and keep that day, according to their several creeds and modes of worship, in all humility, and with all religious solemnity, to the end that the united prayer of the nation may ascend to the Throne of Grace, and bring down plentiful blessings upon our country. “In testimony whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed, this 12th day of August, A. D. 1861, and of the Independence of the United States of America the eighty-sixth. “By the President; ABRAHAM LINCOLN. “WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.”
And four days later the following:
“WHEREAs, On the 15th day of April, the President of the United States, in view of an insurrection against the laws, Constitution, and Government of the United States, which had broken out within the States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Texas, and in