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the extra session, especially the Crittenden resolution, defining and limiting the objects of the war, were quoted in rebel dispatches to England, for that purpose. It was known also that within the lines of the rebel army, slaves were freely employed in the construction of fortifications, and that they contributed, in this and other ways, very largely to the strength of the insurrection. The whole country, under the iufluence of these facts, began to regard slavery as not only the cause of the rebellion, but as the main strength of its armies and tho’ bond of union for the rebel forces;–and Congress, representing and sharing this feeling, entered promptly and zealously upon such measures as it would naturally suggest, Resolutions at the very outset of the session were offered, calling on the President to emancipate slaves whenever and wherever such action would tend to weaken the rebellion; and the general policy of the Government upon this subject became the theme of protracted and animated debate. The orders issued by the generals of the army, especially McClellan, Halleck, and Dix, by which fugitive slaves were prohibited from coming within the army lines, were severely censured. All the resolutions upon these topics were, however, referred to appropriate committees, generally without specific instructions as to the character of their action upon them. Early in the session a strong disposition was evinced in some quarters to censure the Government for its arbitrary arrests of persons in the loyal States, suspected of aiding the rebels, its suppression of disloyal presses, and other acts which it had deemed, essential to the safety of the country: and a sharp debate took place in the Senate upon a resolution of inquiry and implied censure offered by Mr. Trumbull, of Illinois. The general feeling, however, was so decidedly in favor of sustaining the President, that the resolution was referred to the Judiciary Committee, by a vote of 25 to 17. On the 19th of December, in the Senate, a debate on the relation of slavery to the rebellion arose upon a resolution offered by Mr. Willey, of Virginia, who contested the opinion that slavery was the cause of the war, and insisted that the rebellion had its origin in the hostility of the Southern political leaders to the democratic principle of government; he believed that when the great body of the Southern people came to see the real purpose and aim of the rebellion, they would withdraw their support, and restore the Union. No action was taken on the resolution, which merely gave occasion for debate. A resolution was adopted in the House, forbidding the employment of the army to return fugitive slaves to their owners; and a bill was passed in both Houses, declaring that hereafter there shall be “neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in any of the Territories of the United States, now existing, or which may at any time be formed or acquired by the United States, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.” In the Senate, on the 18th of March, a bill was taken up to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia; and an amendment was offered, directing that those thus set free should be colonized out of the United States. The policy of colonization was fully discussed in connection with the general subject, the senators from the Border States opposing the bill itself, mainly on grounds of expediency, as calculated to do harm under the existing circumstances of the country. The bill was passed, with an amendment appropriating money to be used by the President in colonizing such of the emancipated slaves as might wish to leave the country. It received in the Senate 29 votes in its favor and 14 against it. In the House it passed by a vote of 92 to 38. President Lincoln sent in the following Message, announcing his approval of the bill:
FELLOW-CITIZENS OF THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: The act entitled “An act for the release of certain persons held to service or labor in this District of Columbia,” has this day been approved and signed. I have never doubted the constitutional authority of Congress to abolish slavery in this District; and I have ever desired to see the national capital freed from the institution in some satisfactory way. Hence there has never be n in my mind any question upon the subject except the one of expediency, arising in view of all the circumstances. If there be matters within and about this act which might have taken a course or shape more satisfactory to my judgment, I do not attempt to specify them. I am gratified that the two principles of compensation and colonization are both recognized and practically applied in the act. In the matter of compensation, it is provided that claims may be presented within ninety days from the passage of the act, “but not thereafter;" and there is no saving for minors, femmes covert, insane, or absent persons. I presume this is an omission by mere oversight, and I recommend that it be supplied by an amendatory or supplemental act. - ABRAHAM LINCOLN. April 16, 1862.
On the 6th of March the President sent to Congress the following Message on the subject of aiding such slaveholding States as might take measures to emancipate their slaves:
WASHINGTON, March 6, 1862. FELLOW-CITIZENS OF THE SENATE AND Hous E OF REPRESENTATIVES: I recommend the adoption of a joint resolution by your honorable body, which shall be, substantially, as follows:
Resolved, That the United States, in order to co-operate with any State which may adopt gradual abolition of slavery, give to such State pecuniary aid, to be used by such State, in its discretion, to compensate it for the inconvenience, public and private, produced by such change of system.
If the proposition contained in the resolution does not meet the approval of Congress and the country, there is an end of it. But if it does command such approval, I deem it of importance that the States and people immediately interested should be at once distinctly notified of the fact, so that they may begin to consider whether to accept or reject it.
The Federal Government would find its highest interest in such a
measure as one of the most important means of self-preservation. The leaders of the existing rebellion entertain the hope that this Government will ultimately be forced to acknowledge the independence of some part of the disaffected region, and that all the Slave States north of such part will then say, “The Union for which we have struggled being already gone, we now choose to go with the Southern section.” To deprive them of this hope substantially ends the rebellion; and the initiation of emancipation deprives them of it, and of all the States initiating it. The point is not that all the States tolerating slavery would very soon, if at all, initiate emancipation; but while the offer is equally made to all, the more Northern shall, by such initiation, make it certain to the more Southern that in no event will the former ever join the latter in their proposed Confederacy. I say initiation, because, in my judgment, gradual and not sudden emancipation is better for all. In the mere financial or pecuniary view, any member of Congress with the census or an abstract of the Treasury report before him, can, readily see for himself how very soon the current expenditures of this war would purchase, at a fair valuation, all the slaves in any named State. Such a proposition on the part of the General Government sets up no claim of a right by the Federal authority to interfere with slavery within State limits—referring as it does the absolute control of the subject, in each case, to the State and the people immediately interested. It is proposed as a matter of perfectly free choice to them. In the annual Message, last December, I thought fit to say “the Union must be preserved, and hence all indispensable means must be employed.” I said this, not hastsy but deliberately. War has been made, and continues to be an indispensable means to this end. A practical reacknowledgment of the national authority would render the war unnecessary, and it would at once cease. But resistance continues, and the war must also continue; and it is impossible to foresee all the incidents which may attend, and all the ruin which may follow it. Such as may seem indispensable, or may obviously promise great efficiency towards ending the struggle, must and will come. The proposition now made (though an offer only) I hope it may be esteemed no offence to ask whether the pecuniary consideration tendered would not be of more value to the States and private persons concerned than would the institution and property in it, in the present aspect of affairs, While it is true that the adoption of the proposed resolution would be merely initiatory, and not within itself a practical measure, it is recommended in the hope that it would lead to important practical results. In full view of my great responsibility to my God and my country, I earnestly beg the attention of Congress and the people to the subject. ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
This Message indicates very clearly the tendency of the President's reflections upon the general relations of slavery to the rebellion. He had most earnestly endeavored to arouse the people of the Southern States to a contemplation of the fact that, if they persisted in their effort to overthrow the Government of the United States, the fate of slavery would sooner or later inevitably be involved in the conflict. The time was steadily approaching when, in consequence of their obstinate. persistence in the rebellion, this result would follow; and the President, with wise forethought, sought anxiously to reconcile the shock which the contest would involve, with the order of the country and the permanent prosperity of all classes of the people. The general feeling of the country at that time was in harmony with this endeavor. The people were still disposed to exhaust every means which justice would sanction, to withdraw the people of the Southern States from the disastrous war into which they had been plunged by their leaders, and they welcomed this suggestion of the President as likely to produce that result, if any effort in that direction could.
In pursuance of the recommendation of the Message, Mr. R. Conkling, of New York, introduced, in the House of Representatives, on the 10th of March, the following resolution:
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States $n Congress assembled, That the United States ought to co-operate with any State which may adopt gradual abolishment of slavery, giving to such State pecuniary aid, to be used by such State in its discretion, to compensate for the inconveniences, public and private, produced by such a change of system.