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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 efficient means of self-preservation. The leaders of the existing insurrection 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 completely deprives them of it as to all the States initiating it. The point is not that all the States tolerating slavery would very soon, if at all, initiate emancipation, but that, 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 tables and treasury reports before him, can readily see for himself how very soon the current expenditures of this war would purchase, at 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 Federal author ity to interfere with slavery within State limits, referring, as it does, the absolute control of the subject in each case to the State and its people immediately interested. It is proposed as a matter of perfectly free choice with 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 hastily, 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. If, however, resistance continues, 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 toward ending the struggle, must and will come.

The proposition now made, though an offer only, I hope it may be esteemed no offense to ask whether the pecuniary consideration tendered would not be of more value to the States and private persons concerned than are the institutions 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 soon lead to important practical results. In full view of my great responsibility to my God and to my country, I earnestly beg the attention of Congress and the people to the subject.

March 6, 1862.


The resolution recommended in the foregoing paper was passed by the House on the 11th of March-ayes 97, noes 36. Only five of the affirmative votes were from the Slave States. The resolution was concurred in by the Senate, with little opposition, and signed by the President on the 10th of April.

Early in April the Senate passed a bill abolishing slavery in the District of Columbia, with compensation to the loyal owners of slaves. This bill passed the House on the 11th of the same month, four days after its transmission-ayes 92, noes 39. In communicating his approval of this measure, the President, departing from the usual practice, sent a message to Congress in the following terms:

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 the 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 been, 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.

April 16, 1862.


On the 10th of June, President Lincoln communicated to Congress a copy of a treaty negotiated with Great Britain, having for its design a complete suppression of the African slave-trade.

The Confiscation Act, as finally matured and passed by Congress, with a special provision for conditional pardon and amnesty, received the approval of the Executive on the last day of the session, July 17th. To obviate constitutional objections known to exist in the President's mind, to the measure as at first passed, a supplementary joint resolution had been adopted, limiting the forfeiture of real estate to the lifetime of its rebel owner. His views on this subject were officially set forth in a document, from which the following memorable sentences are quoted:

It is startling to say that Congress can free a slave within a State, and yet were it said that the ownership of a slave had first been transferred to the nation, and that Congress had then liberated him, the difficulty would vanish; and this is the real case. The traitor against the General Government forfeits his slave at least as justly as he does any other property, and he forfeits both to the Government against which he offends. The Government, so far as there can be ownership, owns the forfeited slaves, and the question for Congress in regard to them is, shall they be made free or sold to new masters? I see no objection to Congress deciding in advance that they shall be free.

That those who make a causeless war should be compelled to pay the cost of it, is too obviously just to be called in question. To give Government protection to the property of persons who have abandoned it, and gone on a crusade to overthrow the same Government, is absurd, if considered in the mere light of justice. The severest justice may not always be the best policy. * * I think our military commanders, when, in military phrase, they are within the enemy's country, should, in an orderly manner, seize and keep whatever of real or personal property may be necessary or convenient for their commands, and at the same time preserve in some way the evidence of what they do.

A few days before the adjournment, the President, evidently looking forward to the necessity of a more radical and decisive policy in regard to Slavery, invited the Senators and Representatives of the border Slave States to a conference. The disastrous Peninsular campaign was now over, and depression prevailed throughout the country. The war must somehow be ended, with the rebellion overthrown; and the employment of every effective and legitimate war measure, he felt to be now demanded. He desired the great change to come as lightly as possible on the still loyal Slave States, and it was in this spirit that the interview was solicited by him. Having convened at the Executive Mansion, on the 12th of July, these Representatives were addressed by Mr. Lincoln (reading what he had carefully prepared for the occasion) as follows:

GENTLEMEN: After the adjournment of Congress, now near, I shall have no opportunity of seeing you for several months. Believing that you of the Border States hold more power for good than any other equal number of members, I feel it a duty which I can not justifiably waive to make this appeal to you.

I intend no reproach or complaint when I assure you that, in my opinion, if you all had voted for the resolution in the gradual emancipation message of last March, the war would now be substantially ended. And the plan therein proposed is yet one of the most potent and swift means of ending it. Let the States which are in rebellion see definitely and certainly that in no event will the States you represent ever join their proposed Confederacy, and they can not much longer maintain the contest. But you can not divest them of their hope to ultimately have you with them so long as you show a determination to perpetuate the institution within your own States. Beat them at elections, as you have overwhelmingly done, and, nothing daunted, they still claim you as their own. You and I know what the lever of their power is. Break that lever before their faces, and they can shake you no more forever.

Most of you have treated me with kindness and consideration, and I trust you will not now think I improperly touch what is exclusively your own, when, for the sake of the whole country, I ask, "Can you, for your States, do better than to take the course I urge ?" Discarding punctilio and maxims adapted to more manageable times, and looking only to the unprecedentedly stern facts of our case, can you do better in

any possible event? You prefer that the constitutional relations of the States to the nation shall be practically restored without disturbance of the institution; and, if this were done, my whole duty in this respect, under the Constitution and my oath of office, would be performed. But it is not done, and we are trying to accomplish it by war. The incidents of the war can not be avoided. If the war continues long, as it must if the object be not sooner attained, the institution in your States will be extinguished by mere friction and abrasion-by the mere incidents of the war. It will be gone, and you will have nothing valuable in lieu of it. Much of its value is gone already. How much better for you and for your people to take the step which at once shortens the war, and secures substantial compensation for that which is sure to be wholly lost in any other event! How much better to thus save the money which else we sink forever in the war! How much better to do it while we can, lest the war, ere long, render us pecuniarily unable to do it! How much better for you, as seller, and the nation, as buyer, to sell out and buy out that without which the war could never have been, than to sink both the thing to be sold and the price of it, in cutting one another's throats!

I do not speak of emancipation at once, but of a decision at once to emancipate gradually. Room in South America for colonization can be obtained cheaply and in abundance, and when numbers shall be large enough to be company and encouragement for one another, the freed people will not be so reluctant to go.

I am pressed with a difficulty not yet mentioned-one which threatens division among those who, united, are none too strong. An instance of it is known to you. General Hunter is an honest man. He was, and I hope still is, my friend. I valued him none the less for his agreeing with me in the general wish that all men every-where could be freed. He proclaimed all men free within certain States, and I repudiated the proclamation. He expected more good and less harm from the measure than I could believe would follow. Yet, in repudiating it, I gave dissatisfaction, if not offense, to many whose support the country can not afford to lose. And this is

not the end of it. The pressure in this direction is still upon me, and is increasing. By conceding what I now ask you can relieve me, and, much more, can relieve the country in this important point.

Upon these considerations, I have again begged your attention to the Message of March last. Before leaving the Capitol, consider and discuss it among vourselves. You are patriots

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