Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

there been any irruption of colored people northward, because of the abolishment of slavery in this District last spring? What I have said of the proportion of free colored persons to the whites, in the District, is from the census of 1860, having no reference to persons called contrabands, nor to those made free by the act of Congress abolishing slavery here. The plan consisting of these articles is recommended, not but that a restoration of the National authority would be accepted without its adoption. Nor will the war, nor proceedings under the proclamation of September 22, 1862, be stayed because of the recommendation of this plan. Its timely adoption, I doubt not, would bring restoration, and thereby stay both. And, notwithstanding this plan, the recommendation that Congress provide by law for compensating any State which may adopt emancipation, before this plan shall have been acted upon, is hereby earnestly renewed. Such would be only an advance part of the plan, and the same arguments apply to both. This plan is recommended as a means, not in exclusion of, but in addition to, all others for restoring and preserving the National authority throughout the Union. The subject is presented exclusively in its economical aspect. The plan would, I am confident, secure peace more speedily, and maintain it more permanently, than can be done by force alone; while all it would cost, considering amounts, and manner of payment, and times of payment, would be easier paid than will be the additional cost of the war, if we rely solely upon force. It is much—very much—that it would cost no blood at all. . The plan is proposed as permanent constitutional law. It can not become such without the concurrence of first, two-thirds of Congress, and, afterward, three-fourths of the States. The requisite three-fourths of the States will necessarily include seven of the slave States. Their concurrence, if obtained, will give assurance of their severally adopting emancipation, at no very distant day, upon the new constitutional terms. This assurance would end the struggle now, and save the Union forcWer. I do not forget the gravity which should characterize a paper addressed to the Congress of the nation, by the Chief Magistrate of the nation. Nor do I forget that some of you are my seniors; nor that many of you have more experience than I in the conduct of public affairs. Yet I trust that, in view of the great responsibility resting upon me, you will perceive no want of respect to yourselves, in any undue earnestness I may 'eem to display.

Is it doubted, then, that the plan I propose, if adopted, would shorten the war, and thus lessen its expenditure of money and of blood? Is it doubted that it would restore the National authority and National prosperity, and perpetuate both indefinitely? Is it doubted that we here—Congress and Executive— can secure its adoption? Will not the good people respond to a united and earnest appeal from us? Can we, can they, by any other means, so certainly, or so speedily, assure these vital objects? We can succeed only by concert. It is not, “Can any of us imagine better?” but, “Can we all do better?” Object whatsoever is possible, still the question recurs, “Can we do better?” The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. We must disinthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.

Fellow-citizens, we can not escape history. We, of this Congress and this Administration, will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance, or insignificance, can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation. We say we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The world knows we do know how to save it. We—even we here—hold the power, and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free—honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best hope of earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just—a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN. DECEMBER 1, 1862.

During the session, the Opposition leaders, elated with their recent successes in the elections, assumed a greater boldness of hostility to the Administration, some of them defiantly avowing their desire that further resistance to armed rebellion should cease. Throughout the country, the mask under which so many Congressional districts had lately been carried, began to be gradually withdrawn.

Among the principal transactions of this session, aside from the necessary appropriations, were: The admission of the new State of West Virginia, by an act approved Dec. 31, 1862; the organization of the new territory of Arizona, Feb. 24, 1863; the passage of a stringent act to prevent and punish frauds upon the Government, March 2, 1863; the enactment of a law for enrolling and calling out the National forces (sometimes called the “conscription act;”) an authorization of the issue of letters of marque and reprisal; the organization of the new territory of Idaho; and the passage of an act to provide for the collection of abandoned property in insurrectionary districts; the last four measures having been approved on the 3d of March, 1863, when the session closed.

Soon after the adjournment of Congress, a closely contested election occurred in New Hampshire, in which the Opposition spared no exertion to secure a popular verdict against the Administration. It was soon manifest, however, that a change was taking place in the public mind—a strong reaction from that tone of sentiment which brought political defeat in the preceding autumn. The election had a highly favorable result. Connecticut and Rhode Island, also, in the following month, emphatically indorsed President Lincoln and his policy. The most trying period had passed.

[ocr errors]

Summary of Military Movements in the West.—Army of the Poto. mac.—Gen. Hooker Superseded.—Gen. Meade takes Command.— Battle of Gettysburg.

AFTER the occupation of Corinth, the armies, respectively commanded by Gens. Grant and Buell, had separated for different undertakings. Grant was to advance southward, occupying the military positions captured along the banks of the Mississippi, as possession of that river was gradually recovered, and coöperating in the work, as occasion was presented. Buell was to move on Chattanooga and to attempt the relief of East Tennessee, occupying that stronghold and cutting the Rebel communications by that great thoroughfare. In carrying out this policy, Buell gradually moved his army to the vicinity of Chattanooga, on the north side of the river, but soon found himself in a critical position, on account of the weakness of so long a line of communication with his base of supplies. Bragg, who had now assumed command of the opposing Rebel army, had the two corps of Hardee and Polk at Chattanooga, and that of Kirby Smith at Knoxville—having reached the former place in advance of Buell, after the evacuation of Corinth. Gen. Geo. W. Morgan, with a considerable Government force, had meanwhile occupied Cumberland Gap, which he held for weeks, but was finally flanked by Kirby Smith, and retreated across the country to the Ohio river. This exposed the left of Buell, and Morgan's failure was fatal to the campaign. While Smith pursued his course toward Lexington, a portion of Bragg's force, on the 21st of August, crossed the Tennessee river, at Harrison, a short distance above Chattanooga, and turned the left of Buell, moving up the Sequatchie, while another detachment moved on McMinnville. A junction of the three Rebel corps was to be effected in the interior of Kentucky. An advance force of the Rebels appeared before Munfordsville, on the 13th of September. The enemy were repulsed, on the 14th, by the small force there, under command of Col. Wilder, but the place was surrendered on the 17th. Buell meanwhile moved with celerity, and, approaching Louisville, compelled the enemy to turn aside from his movement on that city, to open communication with the remainder of his forces, at Lexington and elsewhere. On the 18th, Bragg issued a proclamation at Glasgow, calling upon the people of Kentucky to rally to his support. On the 4th of October, Buell arrived at Bardstown, on his way to meet the enemy. On the same day, a Rebel “Provisional Governor” of Kentucky was proclaimed at Frankfort, a portion of Bragg's forces having possession of the State Capital. During the hurrying to and fro of these opposing armies, not a little excitement prevailed at Cincinnati and Louisville, in view of the apparent danger impending. Both cities were almost entirely undefended; and now might be seen the full significance of the memorable Buckner-McClellan compact. The Kentucky hights opposite the city, instead of being held and fortified, were open to scarcely disputed occupancy by the invaders. Works were speedily thrown up before Cincinnati, and Gen. Wallace, who was assigned to the command of this post, soon found a large number of men at his disposal, many thousands of the people of Ohio and Indiana having rallied at the call of the State authorities. The events of this invasion and “siege" will long have a prominent place in local tradition and history. On the 6th, Gen. Buell's advance reached Springfield, sixty miles from Louisville, between Danville and Bardstown. His army at this time was organized into three corps, respectively commanded by Gens. Gilbert, Crittenden and McCook. Learning that a considerable Rebel force was at Perryville, a few miles distant, on the 7th, Buell formed the plan of surrounding the portion of the enemy there, bringing each of his corps into action. Gen. Crittenden, however, failed to come up in time, and Bragg, learning this fact, determined to fall upon McCook and Gilbert, recalling Hardee's corps to Perryville for that purpose, after he was already on his retreat. On the 8th, the battle was fought, McCook's force suffering heavily before

« AnteriorContinuar »