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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 in Congress assembled, That the United States ought to co-operato 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.
The debate on this resolution illustrated the feelings of the country on the subject. It was vehemently opposed by the sympathizers with secession from both sections, as an unconstitutional interference with slavery, and hesitatingly supported by the anti-slavery men of the North, as less decided in its hostility than they had a right to ex pect. The sentiment of the more moderate portion of the community was expressed by Mr. Fisher, of Delaware, who regarded it as an olive-branch of peace and harmony and good faith presented by the North, and as well calculated to bring about a peaceful solution and settlement of the slavery question. It was adopted in the House by a vote of eighty-nine to thirty-one. Coming up in the Senate on the 24th of March, it was denounced in strong terms by Mr. Saulsbury, of Delaware, and others-Mr Davis, of Kentucky, opposing the terms in which it was couched, but approving its general tenor. It subsequently passed, receiving thirty-two votes in its favor, and but ten against it. This resolution was approved by the President on the 10th of April. It was generally regarded by the people and by the President himself as rather an experiment than as a fixed policy-as intended to test the temper of the people of the Southern States. and offer them a way of escape from the evils and embarrassments with which slavery had surrounded them, rather than set forth a distinct line of conduct which was to be pressed upon the country at all hazards. This character, indeed, was stamped upon it by the fact that its practical execution was made to depend wholly on the people of the Southern States themselves. It recognized their complete control over slavery, within their own limits, and simply tendered them the aid of the General Government in any steps they might feel inclined to take to rid themselves of it.
The President was resolved that the experiment should have a full and a fair trial ; and while he would not, on the one hand, permit its effect to be impaired by the natural impatience of those among his friends who were warmest and most extreme in their hostility to slavery, he, on the other hand, lost no opportunity to press the proposition on the favorable consideration of the people of the Border Slave States.
On the 9th of May, General Hunter, who commanded the Department of South Carolina, which included also the States of Georgia and Florida, issued an order declaring all the slaves within that department to be thence forth and “forever free.” This was done, not from any alleged military necessity growing out of the operations in his department, but upon a theoretical incompatibility between slavery and martial law. The President there apon at once issued the following proclamation :
Whereas. There appears in the public prints what purports to be a proclamation of Major-General Hunter, in the words and figures following :
HEAD-QUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE SOUTI,
HILTON HEAD, S. C., May 9, 1862. General Order, No. 11.
The three States of Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina, comprising the Military Department of the South, having deliberately declared themselves no longer under the United States of America, and having taken ap arms against the United States, it becomes a military necessity to declare them under martial law.
This was accordingly done on the 25th day of April, 1862. Slavery and martial law in a free country are altogether incompatible. The persons in these States--Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina-heretofore held as slaves, are therefore declared forever free. [OFFICIAL.]
Major-General Commanding. Ed. W. SMITH, Acting Assistant Adj't-General.
And, whereas, the same is producing some excitement and misunderstanding, therefore I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, proclaim and declare that the Government of the United States had no knowledge or belief of an intention on the part of General Hunter to issue such proclamation, nor has it yet any authentic inforınation that the document is genuine; and, further, that neither General Hunter nor any other commander or person has been authorized by the Government of the United States to make proclamation declaring the slaves of any State free, and that the supposed proclamation now in question, whether genuine or false, is altogether void so far as respects such declaration. I further make known that, whether it be competent for me, as Commanderin-Chief of the Army and Navy, to declare the slaves of any State or States free; and whether at any time, or in any case, it shall have become a necessity indispensable to the maintenance of the Government to exercise such supposed power, are questions which, under my responsibility, I
reserve to myself, and which I cannot feel justified in leaving to the decision of commanders in the field.
These are totally different questions from those of police regulations in armies or in camps.
On the sixth day of March last, by a special Message, I recommended to Congress the adoption of a joint resolution, to be substantially as follows:
Resolved, That the United States ought to co-operate with any State which may adopt a gradual abolishment of slavery, giving to such State earnest expression to compensate for its inconveniences, public and prirate, produced by such change of system.
The resolution in the language above quoted was adopted by large majorities in both branches of Congress, and now stands an authentic, defi. nite, and soleron proposal of the Nation to the States and people post interested in the subject-matter. To the people of these States now, I mostly appeal. I do not argue-I beseech you to make the arguments for yourselves. You cannot, if you would, be blind to the signs of the times.
I beg of you a calm and enlarged consideration of them, ranging, if it may be, far above partisan and personal politics.
This proposal makes common cause for a common object, casting no reproaches upon any. It acts not the Pharisee. The change it contemplates would come gently as the dews of Heaven, not rending or wrecking any thing. Will you not embrace it? So much good has not been done by one effort in all past time, as in the providence of God it is now your high privilege to do. May the vast future not have to lament that you have neglected it.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused tre sea] of the United States to be hereunto affixed. Done at the City of Washington, this 19th day of May, in the year of
our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, and of the inde-
ABRAHAM LINCOLN. By the President:
W. H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.
This proclamation silenced the clamorous denunciation by which its enemies had assailed the Administration on the strength of General Hunter's order, and renewed the confidence, which for the moment had been somewhat impaired, in the President's adherence to the principles of action he had laid down. Nothing practical, however, was done in any of the Border States indicating any disposition to act upon his suggestions and avail themselves of the aid which Congress had offered. The members of Congress from those States had taken no steps towards inducing action in regard to it on the part of their con stituents. Feeling the deepest interest in the adoption of some measure which should permanently detach the Border Slave States from the rebel Confederacy, and believing that the plan he had recommended would tend to accomplish that object, President Lincoln sought a conference with the members of Congress from those States, and on the 12th of July, when they waited upon him at the Executive mansion, he addressed them as follows:-
GENTLEMEN: After the adjournment of Congress, now rear, I shall have no opportunity of seeing you for several months. Believing that vou of the Border States hold more power for good than any other equal number of members, I feel it a duty which I cannot justifiably waive to make this appeal to you.
I intend no reproach or complaint when I assure you that, in my opin, ion, 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 cannot much longer maintain the contest. But you cannot 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 relation 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 cannot be avoided. If the war continues long, as it must if the object be not sooner attained, the institution in your States will be estinguished by mere friction and abrasion-by the mere incidents of the war. It will be fone, 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 compersation 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 as 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