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Tribune Editorial—Letter to Mr. Greeley—Announcement of the Emancipation Proclamation—Suspension of the Habeas Corpus in certain cases—Order for Observance of the Sabbath—The Emancipation Proclamation.
AN editorial article having appeared in the New York Tribune, in the month of August, 1862, in the form of a letter addressed to the President, severely criticising his action relative to the question of slavery—a letter written in ignorance of the fact that a definite policy had already been matured, which would be announced at a suitable moment— Mr. Lincoln responded as follows:
“Eacecutive Mansion, Washington, Aug. 22, 1862.
HoN. HoRACE GREELEY-Dear Sir: I have just read yours of the 19th, addressed to myself through the New York Tribune. If there be in it any statements or assumptions of fact which I may know to be erroneous, I do not now and here controvert them. If there be in it any inference which I may believe to be falsely drawn, I do not now and here argue against them. If there be perceptible in it an impatient and dictatorial tone, I waive it in deference to an old friend, whose heart I have always supposed to be right.
“As to the policy I ‘seem to be pursuing,' as you say, I have not meant to leave any one in doubt.
“I would save the Union. I would save it the shortest way under the Constitution. The sooner the National authority can be restored, the nearer the Union will be “the Union as it was.” If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time save Slavery, I do not agree with them. If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy Slavery, I do not agree with them My paramount object in this
FREEDOM TO MILLIONS. 191
struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or destroy Slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if I could do it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I could do it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that. What I do about Slavery and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save this Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors; and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views. I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty, and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men, every where, could be free. “Yours, A. LINCOLN.”
What that policy was, every manly heart learned with delight when the following Proclamation appeared, the most important state-paper ever penned by any American President:
“I, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President of the United States of America, and Commander-in-chief of the Army and Navy thereof, do hereby proclaim and declare, that hereafter, as heretofore, the war will be prosecuted for the object of practically restoring the constitutional relation between the United States and the people thereof, in those States in which that relation is, or may be, suspended or disturbed; that it is my purpose, upon the next meeting of Congress, to again recommend the adoption of a practical measure tendering pecuniary aid to the free acceptance or rejection of all the Slave States, so-called, the people whereof may not then be in rebellion against the United States, and which States may then have voluntarily adopted, or thereafter may voluntarily adopt, the immediate or gradual abolishment of slavery within their
Slaves of Rebels to be Free. Article of War.
respective limits, and that the effort to colonize persons of African descent, with their consent, upon the continent or elsewhere, with the previously obtained consent of the government existing there, will be continued ; that on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State, or any designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, SHALL BE THEN, THENCEFoRward AND For EVER, FREE, and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom ; that the Executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the States, and parts of States, if any, in which the people thereof respectively shall be in rebellion against the United States; and the fact that any State, or the people thereof, shall on that day be in good faith represented in the Congress of the United States by members chosen thereto, at elections wherein a majority of the qualified voters of such State shall have participated, shall, in the absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such State and the people thereof have not been in rebellion against the United States. “That attention is hereby called to an act of Congress, entitled, ‘An act to make an additional article of war,’ approved March 13, 1862, and which act is in the words and figures following: “‘Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That hereafter the following shall be promulgated as an additional Article of War for the government of the Army of the United States, and shall be observed and obeyed as such.
“‘Article —. All officers or persons of the military or
Articles of War Confiscation Act. Fugitive Slaves
naval service of the United States, are prohibited from employing any of the forces under their respective commands for the purpose of returning fugitives from service or labor who may have escaped from any persons to whom such service or labor is claimed to be due ; and any officer who shall be found guilty by a court-martial of violating this article shall be dismissed from the service. “‘Section 2. And be it further enacted, That this act shall take effect from and after its passage.” “Also to the ninth and tenth sections of an act entitled, ‘An act to suppress insurrection, to punish treason and rebellion, to seize and confiscate property of rebels, and Ior other purposes,’ approved July 17, 1862, and which sections are in the words and figures following: “‘Section 9. And be it further enacted, That all slaves of persons who shall hereafter be engaged in rebellion against the government of the United States, or who shall in any way give aid or comfort thereto, escaping from such persons and taking refuge within the lines of the army; and all slaves captured from such persons or deserted by them, and coming under the control of the government of the United States, and all slaves of such persons found on (or being within) any place occupied by rebel forces and afterwards occupied by the forces of the United States, shall be deemed captives of war, and shall be forever free of their servitude, and not again held as slaves. “Section 10. And be it further enacted, That no slave escaping into any State, Territory, or the District of Columbia, from any of the States, shall be delivered up, or in any way impeded or hindered of his liberty, except for crime, or some offence against the laws, unless the person claiming said fugitive shall first make oath that the person to whom the labor or service of such fugitive is alleged to be due, is his lawful owner, and has not been in arms against the United States in the present rebellion, nor in any way given aid and
Compensation to Loyal Owners. Hindering Enlistments.
comfort thereto; and no person engaged in the military or naval service of the United States shall, under any pretence whatever, assume to decide on the validity of the claim of any person to the service or labor of any other person, or surrender up any such person to the claimant, on pain of being dismissed from the service. “And I do hereby enjoin upon, and order all persons engaged in the military and naval service of the United States to observe, obey and enforce within their respective spheres of service, the act and sections above recited. “And the executive will in due time recommend that all citizens of the United States who shall have remained loyal thereto throughout the rebellion, shall (upon the restoration of the constitutional relation between the United States and their respective States and people, if the relation shall have been suspended or disturbed) be compensated for all losses by acts of the United States, including the loss of slaves. “In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed. “Done at the City of Washington, this twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-seventh. “By the President: ABRAHAM LINCOLN. “WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.”
This herald of freedom to millions was, of course, intensely disliked by those who omitted no opportunity to cavil at the Administration. As efforts were making—not entirely without success—to embarrass the Government in securing the necessary reinforcements for the army, and certain lewd fellows of the baser sort holding themselves in readiness to take advantage of the bitter prejudices existing in the minds of a portion of the people against the negroes among us, the following proclamation was issued two days later, that no