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turn and name to be announced. Greeting me very pleasantly, he soon afterward made an appointment to see me in his official chamher, directly after the close of the “reception.” The hour named found me at the well-remembered door of the apartment~that door watched daily, with so many conflicting emotions of hope and fear, by the miscellaneous throng gathered there. The President was alone, and already deep in official business, which was always pressing. He received me with the frank kindness and simplicity so characteristic of his nature; and, after reading Mr. Lovejoy's note, said: “Well, Mr. Carpenter, we will turn you in loose here, and try to give you a good chance to work out your idea.” Then giving me a place close beside his own arm-chair, he entered upon the account which I shall now attempt to write out, as nearly as possible in his own words, of the circumstances attending the adoption of the Emancipation policy. First, however, let me glance very briefly at the condition: of the coun. try at this juncture.
The summer of 1862 was the gloomicst period of the war. After the most stupendous preparations known in modern warfare, McClel. lan, with an army of one hundred and sixty thousand men, had retreated from the Peninsula, after the “seven days?" severe fighting before Richmond, and great depression followed the disappointment of the brilliant hopes of the beginning of the campaign. The “On to Richmond” had been succeeded by " Back to Washington;" and the Rebellion, flushed with success, was more defiant than ever!
Thus far, the war had been prosecuted by the Administration with. out touching slavery in any manner. The reasons for this are admirably set forth in Mr. Lincoln's letter to Colonel Hodges.
Going over substantially the same ground on an occasion I well remenaber, Mr. Lincoln said :—" The paramount idea of the Constitution is the preservation of the Union. It may not be specified in so many words, but of this there can be no question ; for without the Union the Constitution would be worthless. The Union made the Constitution, not the Constitution the Union! It seems clear that, if the emergency should arise that slavery, or any other institution, stood in the way of the maintenance of the Union, and the alternative was presented to the Executive, of the destruction of one or the other, he could not hesitate between the two. I can now," he continued, “ most solemnly assert that I did all in my judgment that could be done to restore the Union without interfering with the insti. tution of slavery. We failed, and the blow at slavery was struck !"
I now take up the history of the Proclamation itself, as Mr. Lin.
coln gave it to me, on the occasion of our first interview, and written down by myself soon afterward :
“It had got to be," said he, “ midsummer, 1862. Things had gone on from bad to worse, until I felt that we had reached the end of our rope on the plan of operations we had been pursuing; that we had about played our last card, and must change our tactics or lose the game! I now determined upon the adoption of the Emancipation policy; and, without consultation with, or the knowledge of the Cabinet, I prepared the original draft of the Proclamation ; and, after much anxious thought, called a Cabinet meeting upon the subject. This was the last of July, or the first part of the month of August, 1862.” (The exact date he did not remember.) “ This Cabinet meeting took place, I think, upon a Saturday. All were present, excepting Mr, Blair, the Postmaster-General, who was absent at the opening of the discussion, but came in subsequently. I said to the Cabinet that I had resolved upon this step, and had not called them together to ask their advice, but to lay the subject-inatter of a proclamation before them ; suggestions as to which would be in order, after they had heard it read. Mr. Lovejoy,' said he, “was in error when he informed you that it excited no cominent, excepting on the part of Secretary Seward. Varions suggestions were offered. Secretary Chase wished the language stronger in reference to the arming of the blacks. Mr. Blair, after he came in, deprecated the policy, on the ground that it would cost the Administration the fall elections. Nothing, however, was offered that I had not already fully anticipated and settled in my own mind, until Secretary Seward spoke. Said he:• Mr. President, I approve of the Proclamation, but I question the expediency of its issue at this juncture. The depression of the public mind, consequent upon our repeated reverses, is so great, that I fear the effect of so important a step, It may be viewed as the last measure of an exhausted Government cry for hulp; the Goveroment stretching forth its hands to Ethiopia, instead of Ethiopia stretching forth her hands to the Government.' His idea," said the President, “was, that it would be considered our last shriek on the retreat." (This was his precise expression.) “Now,' continued Mr. Seward, ' while I approve the measure, I suggest, sir, that you postpone its issue until you can give it to the country supported by military success, instead of issuing it, as would be the case now, upon the greatest disasters of the war !"" Said Mr. Lincoln :-“The wisdom of the view of the Secretary of State struck me with very great force. It was an aspect of the case that, in all my thought upon the subject, I bad
entirely overlooked. The result was, that I put the draft of the Proclamation aside, as you do your sketch for a picture, waiting for a victory. From time to time I added or changed a line, touching it up hicre and there, waiting the progress of events. Well, the next news we bad was of Pope's disaster, at Bull Run. Things looked darker than ever. Finally, came the week of the battle of Antietam. I determined to wait no longer, The news came, I think, on Wednesday, that the advantage was on our side. I was then staying at the Sol. diers' Home'” (three miles out of Washington). “ Here I finished writing the second draft of the preliminary Proclamation ; came up on Saturday, called the Cabicet together to hear it, and it was published the following Monday.
“It was a somewhat remarkable fact," he continued, “ that there were just one hundred days between the dates of the two proclamations, issued upon the 22d of September and the 1st of January. I bad not made the calculation at the time."
At the final meeting on Saturday, another interesting incident occurred in connection with Secretary Seward. The President had written the inportant part of the Proclamation in these words :
“That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever, FREE ; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom."-"When I finished reading this paragraph," resumed Mr. Lincoln, “Mr. Seward stopped me, and said: 'I think, Mr. President, that you should insert after the word " recognize," in that sentence, the words and maintain."' I replied that I had already fully considered the import of that expression in this connection, but I had not introduced it, because it was not my way to promise what I was not entirely sure that I could perform, and I was not prepared to say that I thought we were exactly able to maintain' this."
“But," said be, “ Mr. Seward insisted that we ought to take this ground; and the words finally went in."
Mr. Lincoln then proceeded to show me the various positions occupied by himself and the different members of the cabinet on the occasion of the first meeting. “As nearly as I remember," said he,
“the Secretary of the Treasury and the Secretary of War were here, at my right hand—the others were grouped at the left."
From the first, the President seemed much interested in my work, but as it progressed, his interest increased. He was in the habit of . bringing many friends in to see what advance I was making from day to day, and I have known him to come by himself as many as three or four times in a single day. It seemed a pleasant diversion to him to watch the gradual progress of the work, and his suggestions, though sometimes quaint and homely, were almost invariably excellent. Seldom was he heard to allude to any thing that might be construcd into a personality in connection with any member of his Cabinet. On one occasion, however, I remember, with a sly twinkle of the eye, he turned to a senatorial friend whom be had brought in to see the pic. turc, and said : “Mrs. Lincoln calls Mr. Carpenter's group “The Happy Family."
At the end of about six months' incessant labor, the picture drew near completion. The curiosity of the public to see it was so great that, by special permission of Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln, it was placed in the “ East Room," and, for two days, thrown open for free exhibition. At the close of the second day, just previous to the canvas being taken down and rolled up, the President came in to take, as he said, a “farewell look at the picture.” He sat in front of it for some time, and I asked him if he had aught of criticism to make. He said he could suggest nothing whatever as to the portraiturem" the likenesses seemed to himn absolutely perfect.” I then called his attention to the accessories of the picture, stating that these had been selected from the objects in the Cabinet chamber with reference solely to their bearing upon the subject. “ Yes," said he, “I see the war-maps, the portfolios, the slave-map, and all; but the book in the corner, leaning against the chair-leg, you have changed the title of that, I see." “ Yes," I replied, " at the last moment I learned that you frequently consulted, during the period you were preparing the Proclamation, Solicitor Whiting's work on the War Powers of the President,' so I simply changed the title of the book, leaving the old sheepskin binding as it was.” “Now," said he, “ Whiting's book is not a regular law-book. It is all very well that it should be there; but I would suggest that you change the character of the binding. It now looks like an old volume of United States Statutes." I thanked hinu for this criticism, and then said, “Is there any thing else that you would like changed ?" "I see nothing," said he; "all else is perfectly satisfactory to me. In my judgment, it is as good a piece of work as the subject will admit of."
And then, in his simple-hearted, earnest way, he said to me, “And I am right glad you have done it !”.
In February last, a few days after the passage of the “Constitutional Amendment,” I was in Washington, and was received by Mr. Lincoln with the kindness and familiarity which had characterized our previ. ous intercourse. I said to him one day that I was very proud to have been the artist to have first conceived of the design of painting a picture commemorative of the Act of Emancipation ; that subsequent occurrences had only confirmed my own first judgment of that act as the most sublime moral event in our history. “Yes," said-he and never do I remember to have noticed in him more earnestness of expression or manner_“as affairs have turned, it is the central act of my Adininistration, and the great event of the nineteenth century."
I remember to have asked him, on one occasion, if there was not some opposition manifested on the part of several members of the Cabinet to the Emancipation policy. He said, in reply: “Nothing more than I have stated to you. Mr. Blair thought we should lose the fall elections, and opposed it on that ground only." Said I, “ I have understood that Secretary Smith was not in favor of your action. Mr. Blair told me that, when the meeting closed, he and the Secretary of the Interior'went away together, and that the latter told him, if the President carried out that policy, he might count on losing Indiana, sure !" "He never said any thing of the kind to me," returned the President. “And how," said I, “ does Mr. Blair feel about it now?" “Oh,” was the prompt reply, “le proved right in regard to the fall elections, but he is satisfied that we have since gained more than we lost.” “I have been told,” said I, “that Judge Bates doubted the constitutionality of the Proclamation. "" He never expressed such an opinion in my hearing,” replied Mr. Lincoln. “No member of the Cabinet ever dissented from the policy, in any conversation with me.”
There was one marked element of Mr. Lincoln's character admirably expressed by the Hon. Schuyler Colfax, in his oration at Chicago upon his death: “When his judgment, which acted slowly, but which was almost as immovable as the eternal hills when settled, was grasping some subject of importance, the arguments against his own desires seemed uppermost in his mind, and, in conversing upon it, he would present those arguments, to see if they could be rebutted."
In illustration of this, I need only here recall the fact that the interview between himself and the Chicago delegation of clergymen, appointed to urge upon him the issue of a Proclamation of Emancipation, took place September 13, 1862, just about a month after the