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cold and menacing, the kindest words coming from Europe were uttered in accents of pity that we were too blind to surrender a hopeless cause. Our commerce was sufferivg greatly by a few vessels built upon and furnished from foreign shores, and we were threatened with such addi. tions froin the same quarters as would sweep our trade from the seas and raise our blockade. We had failed to elicit from European Governments any thing hopeful upon this subject.
The preliminary Emancipation Proclamation issued in September was running its assigned period to the beginning of the new year. A month later, the final proclamation came, including the announcement that colored men of suitable condition would be received in the war service The policy of emancipation and of employing black soldiers gave to the future a new aspect, about which hope and fear and doubt contended in uncertain conflict. According to our political system, as a matter of civil administration, the Government had no lawful power to effect emancipation in any State, and for a long time it had been boped that the rebellion could bo suppressed without resorting to it as a military measure. It was all the while deemed possible that the necessity for it might come, and that if it should, the crisis of the contest would then be presented. It caine, and, as was anticipated, was followed by dark and doubtful days.
Eleven months having now passed, we are permitted to take another review. The rebel borders are pressed still further back, and by the complete opening of the Mississippi, the country dominated by the rebellion is divided into distinct parts, with no practical communication between them. Tennessee and Arkansas have been substantially cleared of insurgent control, and influential citizens in each-owners of slares and advocates of slavery at the beginning of the rebellion--now declare openly for emancipation in their respective States. Of those States not included in the Emancipation Proclamation, Maryland and Missouri, neither of which three years ago would tolerate any restraint upon the extension of slavery into new Territories, only dispute now as to the best mode of removing it within their own limits.
Of those who were slaves at the beginning of the rebellion, full one hundred thousand are now in the United States military service, about one-half of which number actually bear arms in the ranks--thus giving the double advantage of taking so much labor from the insurgent cause and supplying the places which otherwise must be filled with so many white men. So far as tested, it is difficult to say they are not as good soldiers as any. No servile insurrection or tendency to violence or cruelty bas marked the measures of emancipation and arming the blacks. These measures have been much discussed in foreign countries, and, contemporary with such discussion, the tone of public sentiment there is much improved. At home the same measures have been fully discussed, supported, criticised, und denounced, and the annual elections following are highly encouraging to those whose official duty it is to bear the country through this great
trial. Thus we have the new reckoning. The crisis which threatened to divide the friends of the Union is past.
Looking now to the present and future, and with reference to a re. sumption of the National authority in the States wherein that authority has been suspended, I have thought fit to issue a proclamation-a copy of which is herewith transmitted. On examination of this proclamation, it will appear, as is believed, that nothing is attempted beyond what is amply justified by the Constitution. True, the form of an oath is given, but no man is coerced to take it. The man is only promised a pardon in case ho voluntarily takes the oath. The Constitution authorizes the Executive to grant or withdraw the pardon at his own absolute discretion, and this includes the power to grant on terms, as is fully established by judicial and other authorities. It is also proffered that if in any of the States named a State Government shall be in the mode prescribed set up, such government shall be recognized and guaranteed by the United States, and that under it the State sball, on the constitutional conditions, be protected against invasion and domestic violence.
The constitutional obligation of the United States to guarantee to every State in the Union a republican form of government, and to protect the State in the cases stated, is explicit and full. But why tender the benefits of this provision only to a State Government set up in this particular way? This section of the Constitution contemplates a case wherein the element within a State favorable to republican government in the l'nion may be too feeble for an opposite and hostile element external to or even within the State, and such are precisely the cases with which we are now dealing.
An attempt to guarantee and protect a revived State Government, constructed in whole or in preponderating part from the very element against whose hostility and violence it is to be protected, is simply absurd. There must be a test by which to separate the opposing elements, so as to build only from the sound; and that test is a sufficiently liberal one which accepts as sound whoever will make a sworn recantation of his former unsoundness.
But if it be proper to require, as a test of admission to the political body, an oath of allegiance to the Constitution of the l'nited States and to the Union under it, why also to the laws and proclamations in regard to slavery?
Those laws and proclamations were enacted and put forth for the purpose of aiding in the suppression of the rebellion. To give them their fullest effect there had to be a pledge for their maintenance. In my judgment they have aided and will further aid the cause for which they were iutended.
To now abandon them would be not only to relinquish a lever of power, but would also be a cruel and an astounding breach of faith.
I may add, at this point, that while I remain in any present position, I shall not attempt to retract or modify the Emancipation Proclamation, nor
shall I return to slavery any person who is free by the terms of that proclumation, or by any of the acts of Congress.
For these and other reasons, it is thought best that support of these measures shall be included in the oath, and it is believed that the Executive may lawfully claiin it in return for pardon and restoration of forfeited rights, which he has a clear constitutional power to withhold altogether or grant upon the terms which he shall deen wisest for the public interest. It should be observed, also, that this part of the oath is subject to the modifying and abrogating power of legislation and supreme judicial decision.
The proposed acquiescence of the National Executive in any reasonable temporary State arrangement for the freed people, is made with the view of possibly modifying the confusion and destitution which must at best attend all classes by a total revolution of labor throughout whole States. It is hoped that the already deeply afflicted people in those States may be somewhat more ready to give up the cause of their affliction, if, to this extent, this vital matter be left to themselves, while no power of the N&tional Executive to prevent an abuse is abridged by the proposition.
The suggestion in the proclamation as to maintaining the political framework of the States on what is called reconstruction, is made in the hope that it may do good, without danger of harm. It will save labor, and avoid great confusion. But why any proclamation now upon this subject ? This question is beset with the conflicting views that the step might be delayed too long, or be taken too soon. In some States the elements for resumption seem ready for action, but remain inactive, apparently for want of a rallying-pointa vün of action. Why shall A adopt the plan of B, rather than B that of A? And if A and B should agree, how can they know but that the General Government here will reject their plan? By the proclamation a plan is presented which may be accepted by them as a rallying point-and which they are assured in advance will not be rejectod here. This may bring them to act sooner than they otherwise would.
The objection to a premature presentation of a plan by the National Executive consists in the danger of committals on points which could be more safely left to further developments. Care has been taken to so shape the document as to avoid embarrassments from this source. Saying that on certain terms certain classes will be pardoned with rights restored, it is not said that other classes or other terms will never be included.
aying that reconstruction will be accepted if presented in a specified way, it is not said it will never be accepted in any other way. The movements by State action for emancipation in several of the States not included in the Emancipation Proclamation are matters of profound gratulation. And while I do not repeat in detail what I have heretofore so earnestly urged upon this subject, my general views and feelings remain unchanged; and I trust that Congress will omit no fair opportunity of aiding these important steps to the great consummation.
In the midst of other cares, however important, we must not lose sight
of the fact that the war power is still our main reliance. To that porer alore can we look, for a time, to give confidence to the people in the contested regions, that the insurgent power will not again overrun them. Until that confidence shall be established, little can be done anywhere for what is called reconstruction. Hence our chiefest care must still be di. rected to the army and navy, who have thus far borne their harder part 80 nobly and well. And it may be esteemed fortunate that in giving tho greatest efficiency to these indispensable arms, we do also honorably recognize the gallant men, from commander to sentinel, who compose them, and to whoin, more than to others, the world must stand indebted for the liome of freedom, disenthralled, regenerated, enlarged, and per. petuated.
ABRAHAM LINCOLN. December 8, 1863.
The following proclamation was appended to the Message:
Whereas, in and by the Constitution of the United States, it is provided that the President shall have power to grant reprieve's anil pardons for offences against the United States, except in cases of impeachment; and whereas, a relellion now exists, whereby the loyal State Governments of several States have for a long time been subverted, and many persons have committed and are now guilty of treason against the United States;
Whereas, with reference to said rebellion and treason, laws have been enacted by Congress, declaring forfeitures and confiscation of property and liberation of slaves, all upon terms and conditions therein stated, and
thereafter, by proclamation, to extend to persons who may have partici. pated in the existing rebellion in any Stati or part therec, pardon and ainnesty, with such exceptions and at such times and on such conditions as he may deem expedient for tlie public welfare ; and
Whereas, the Congressional declaration for limited and conditional pardon accords with the well-established judicial exposition of the par. doning power; and
Wherents, with reference to the said rebellion, the President of the United States has issued several proclamations with provisions in regard to the liberation of slaves; and
Whereas, it is now desired by some persons heretofore engaged in said rebellion to resume their allegiance to the United States, and to reinaugurate loyal State Governments within and for their respective States : Therefore,
I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do proclaim, declare, and make known to all persons who have directly or by implication participated in the existing rebellion, except is liereinafter excepted, that a full pardon is hereby granted to them and each of them, with restoration of all rights of property, except as to slaves, and in property cases wbere rights of third parties shall have intervened, and upon the condition that every such person shall take and subscribe an oath and thencefor. ward keep and maintain said oath inviolate, an oath which shall be regis. tered for perinanent preservation, and shall be of the tenor and effect following, to wit:
-, do soleindly swear, in presence of Almighty God, that I will henceforth faithfully support, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Union of the States thereunder; and that I will in like manner abide by and faithfully support all acts of Congress passed during the existing rebellion with reference to slaves, so long and so far as not repealed, modified, or held void by Congress, or by decision of the Supreme Court; and that I will in like manner abido by and faithfully support all proclamations of the President made during the existing rebellion having reference to sluves, so long and so far as not modified or declared void by decision of the Supreme Court. So help mo God."
The persons excepted from the benefits of the foregoing provisions are: All who are, or shall have been civil or diplomatic officers or agents of the so-called Confederate Government, all who have left judicial stations under the United States to aid the rebellion; all who are, or shall have been military or naval officers of said 80-called Confederate Government, above the rank of colonel in the army, or of lieutenant in the navy; all who left seats in the United States Congress to aid the rebellion; all who resigned conumissions in the army or navy of the United States, and afterwards aided the rebellion; and all who have engaged in any way in treating colored persons, or white persons in charge of such, otherwise than lawfully as prisoners of war, and wbich persons may have been found in the United States service as soldiers, seamen, or any other capacity; and I do further proclaim, declare, and make known that, whenever, in any of the States of Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, and North Carolina, a number of persons not less than one-tenth in number of the votes cast in such States at the presidential election of the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty, each having taken tbe vath aforesaid, and not having since violated it, and being a qualified voter by the election law of the State existing immediately before the so-called act of secession, and excluding all others, shall re-establish a State Government which shall be republican, and in nowise contravening said oath, such shall be recognized as the true Government of the State, and the State shall receive thereander the benefits of the constitutional provision, which declares that
6 The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion, and, on application of the Legislature, or the Execu