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tried men's souls, the souls of our fathers, and solemnly promise that treason and rebellion shall never eradicate the laws of justice, fraternity and liberty, that freedom of speech shall not be suppressed, nor rights molested, but that all may glory in being free and equal sons of America. “SONS OF AFRICA, I am rejoiced to see you here in such vast numbers. In common with all mankind you love liberty. History accords you high soldierly qualities. Against the armies of the old world you have fought with a heroism unsurpassed by the bravest. In the struggle of American independence you are remembered with kindness and gratitude. In the darkest hour of that contest of “Liberty or death,” you nobly and promptly came forward to help to turn the tide that
eventuated in liberty and freedom to the land. In the war of 1812 you fought shoulder to shoulder with the
white man in driving the British invader from our soil, and in this stupendous struggle to save Liberty, your daring exploits and desperate valor in South Carolina, before Port Hudson, and wherever else you have been let loose against the traitors, you have shown yourselves worthy sons of freedom ; and, thank God, the precious boon is near you. Lose no time in coming to it. Urge, urge your brave brethren to enroll themselves in the Onion army, that before another year rolls by, half a million of your people will join the white man in breaking down the rebellion and raise upon every foothold of treason the flag of Union and Liberty—and then one universal shout will go up to Heaven, proclaiming “Liberty to all.” "
CHAPTER XI. CHANGES OF MILITARY COMMANDERS IN NEW ORLEANS.
In December, 1862, General Butler left New Orleans, and General Banks assumed command of the Gulf department. One fact was ever apparent in relation to New Orleans—“that while President Lincoln lived, and the United States army and navy held possession of that stronghold of treason, Unionism was a power, before which the rebel masses trembled. The boldness and decision evinced by General Butler in his control of that city during the rebellion, marks him in future history the hero of the Gulf Department.”
In revolutionary times decisive action is necessary to success. It was bold decision that subdued slavery, secession and rebellion. The decisive action of thousands of brave men who dared to plunge the moral and physical weapons of death into the heart of rebellion—saved our nation in the dark days of revolution. The Emancipation Proclamation and the Constitutional Amendment which forever abolished slavery in the United States, caused some strange developments in Southern politics. In New Orleans the agitations caused by those humane acts divided the political elements into numerous coalitions.
There was the bold radical party that denounced everything opposed to the reforms of the age. Among the most prominent of that organization, were Dostie, Waples, Flanders, Hahn, Heath, Graham, Goldman, Durell, Lynch, Hire, Howell, Heistend and Durant. Then there was a class composed of men of the status of Roselius, Rozier, Fellows, Barker, Kennedy, Burk, men of conservative ideas, who had combatted the advance of reform, and attempted by every means in their power to preserve the flickering life of their beloved institution, Slavery. A third party consisted of the strong advocates of the rebellion. Their names were Legion. They kept themselves not openly defiant, but ever on the alert, watching with sleepless eye the movements of the other parties. The dominant party were the radicals, whose political creed was based upon three prominent objects of Lincoln's Administration, viz. –the preservation of the Union; the abolition of Slavery, and the crushing of the great Rebellion. Conspiracies, however, external and internal caused dissention in the radical Republican party of Louisiana. The loyal portion of the State began to agitate the question of a Free-State Government. At a Union meeting in New Orleans, March 6th, 1863, Thomas J. Durant said: “I have something practical to bring before the people. It is now ten months since the federal forces came to Louisiana, and no effort has been made to establish a State Government. The proposition I would make is, that this Association, as the only representative of the views of Union men of New Orleans, take steps towards the formation of such a Government. The city contains more than one-half the voting population of the State, and as loyal citizens are entitled to a government of their own choice, that portion of the country in the hands of the rebels containing but a minority of the white population. He submitted this resolution to the Association :
Itesolved, “That the President of this meeting appoint a committee of three to prepare a plan for calling a convention of the people of Louisiana to be submitted to this meeting on Saturday evening next.”
Said he “If ten loyal men can be found in each parish to send a representative, they will be sufficient to save their parishes.”
Durant's resolution was unanimously adopted by the Association. Among those who voted for the resolution were Dostie, Graham, and Waples. At a meeting of the Union Association in Lyceum Hall, April 12th, 1863, T)urant read a letter from Hahn, which stated that in a conversation Hahn had held with President Lincoln upon the subject of organizing a civil government for Louisiana, the President heartily approved of the plan, and promised to send instructions to the military leaders in Louisiana to favor the movement. On motion of Dr. Dostie, the vote was taken, when the resolutions favor. ing the Convention were passed by 95 to 73.
The following letter from President Lincoln to General Banks in relation to Louisiana affairs is interesting as connected with affairs at that time.
ExECUTIVE MANSION, |
“My Dear Gen. Banks:–
“While I very well know what I would be glad for Louisiana to do, it is quite a different thing for me to assume direction of the matter. I would be glad for her to make a new constitution, recognizing the emancipation proclamation, and adopting emancipation in those parts of the State to which the proclamation does not apply. And while she is at it, I think it would not be objectionable for her to adopt some practical system by which the two races could gradually live themselves out of their old relation to each other, and both come out better prepared for the new. Education for young blacks should be included in the plan. After all, the power or element of ‘contract” may be sufficient for this probationary period, and by its simplicity and flexibility may be the better.
“As an anti-slavery man, I have a motive to desire emancipation which pro-slavery men do not have ; but even they have strong enough reason to thus place themselves again under the shield of the Union; and to thus perpetually hedge against the recurrence of the scenes through which we are now passing.
“Governor Shepley has informed me that Mr. Durant is now taking a registry, with a view to the election of a Constitutional Convention in Louisiana. This, to me, appears proper. If such convention was to ask my views, I could present little else than what I now say to you, I think the thing should be pushed forward, so that, if possible, its mature work may reach here by the meeting of Congress.
“For my own part, I think I shall not, in any event, retract the Emancipation Proclamation; nor, as Executive, ever return to slavery any person who is free by the terms of that proclamation, or by any of the acts of Congress.
“If Louisiana shall send members to Congress, their admission to seats will depend, as you know, upon the respective houses, and not upon the President.
::: :: : :}; >k :}; :: “Yours, very truly, (Signed) ABRAHAM LINCOLN.”