Part 8 out of 13
fugitives, as well as fugitives from Disloyal masters, into the service
of the United States, and employing them under such organizations and in
such occupations as circumstances may suggest or require.
"Of course a record should be kept showing the name and description of
the fugitives, the name and the character, as Loyal or Disloyal, of the
master, and such facts as may be necessary to a correct understanding of
the circumstances of each case after tranquillity shall have been
restored. Upon the return of Peace, Congress will, doubtless, properly
provide for all the persons thus received into the service of the Union,
and for just compensation to Loyal masters. In this way only, it would
seem, can the duty and safety of the Government and the just rights of
all be fully reconciled and harmonized.
"You will therefore consider yourself as instructed to govern your
future action, in respect to Fugitives from Service, by the principles
here stated, and will report from time to time, and at least twice in
each month, your action in the premises to this Department.
"You will, however, neither authorize, nor permit any interference, by
the troops under your command, with the servants of peaceful citizens in
house or field; nor will you, in any way, encourage such servants to
leave the lawful Service of their masters; nor will you, except in cases
where the Public Safety may seem to require, prevent the voluntary
return of any Fugitive, to the Service from which he may have escaped."
"I am, General, very respectfully, your obedient servant,
"Secretary of War.
"Major-General B. F. BUTLER,
"Commanding Department of Virginia,
Whether or not inspired by the prophetic speech of Thaddeus Stevens,
aforesaid, the month of August was hardly out before its prophecy seemed
in a fair way of immediate fulfilment. Major-General John Charles
Fremont at that time commanded the Eastern Department--comprising the
States of Missouri, Kansas, Illinois, and Kentucky-and he startled the
Country by issuing the following Emancipation proclamation:
"HEADQUARTERS OF THE WESTERN DEPARTMENT.
"St. Louis, August 30, 1861.
"Circumstances, in my judgment, of sufficient urgency, render it
necessary that the commanding general of this Department should assume
the administrative powers of the State. Its disorganized condition, the
helplessness of the civil authority, the total insecurity of life, and
the devastation of property by bands of murderers and marauders, who
infest nearly every county of the State, and avail themselves of the
public misfortunes and the vicinity of a hostile force to gratify
private and neighborhood vengeance, and who find an enemy wherever they
find plunder, finally demand the severest measures to repress the daily
increasing crimes and outrages which are driving off the inhabitants and
ruining the State.
"In this condition, the public safety and the success of our arms
require unity of purpose, without let or hinderance, to the prompt
administration of affairs.
"In order, therefore, to suppress disorder, to maintain as far as now
practicable the public peace, and to give security and protection to the
persons and property of loyal citizens, I do hereby extend and declare
established Martial Law throughout the State of Missouri.
"The lines of the Army of Occupation in this State are for the present
declared to extend from Leavenworth by way of the posts of Jefferson
City, Rolla, and Ironton, to Cape Girardeau, on the Mississippi river.
"All persons who shall betaken with arms in their hands within these
lines shall be tried by Court-Martial, and if found guilty will be shot.
"The property, real and personal, of all persons, in the State of
Missouri, who shall take up arms against the United States, or who shall
be directly proven to have taken an active part with their Enemies in
the field, is declared to be confiscated to the public use, and their
Slaves, if any they have, are hereby declared Free men.
"All persons who shall be proven to have destroyed, after the
publication of this order, railroad tracks, bridges, or telegraphs,
shall suffer the extreme penalty of the law.
"All persons engaged in Treasonable correspondence, in giving or
procuring aid to the Enemies of the United States, in fomenting tumults,
in disturbing the public tranquillity by creating and circulating false
reports or incendiary documents, are in their own interests warned that
they are exposing themselves to sudden and severe punishment.
"All persons who have been led away from their allegiance, are required
to return to their homes forthwith; any such absence, without sufficient
cause, will be held to be presumptive evidence against them.
"The object of this declaration is to place in the hands of the Military
authorities the power to give instantaneous effect to existing laws, and
to supply such deficiencies as the conditions of War demand. But this
is not intended to suspend the ordinary Tribunals of the Country, where
the Law will be administered by the Civil officers in the usual manner,
and with their customary authority, while the same can be peaceably
"The commanding general will labor vigilantly for the public Welfare,
and in his efforts for their safety hopes to obtain not only the
acquiescence, but the active support of the Loyal People of the Country.
"J. C. FREMONT,
Fremont's Proclamation of Confiscation and Emancipation, was hailed with
joy by some Patriots in the North, but was by others looked upon as rash
and premature and inexpedient; while it bitterly stirred the anger of
the Rebels everywhere.
The Rebel Jeff. Thompson, then in command of the Rebel forces about St.
Louis, at once issued the following savage proclamation of retaliation:
"HEADQUARTERS FIRST MILITARY DISTRICT, M. S. G.
'St. Louis, August 31, 1861.
"To all whom it may concern:
"Whereas Major-General John C. Fremont, commanding the minions of
Abraham Lincoln in the State of Missouri, has seen fit to declare
Martial Law throughout the whole State, and has threatened to shoot any
citizen-soldier found in arms within certain limits; also, to Confiscate
the property and Free the Negroes belonging to the members of the
Missouri State Guard:
"Therefore, know ye, that I, M. Jeff. Thompson, Brigadier-General of
the First Military District of Missouri, having not only the Military
authority of Brigadier-General, but certain police powers granted by
Acting-Governor Thomas C. Reynolds, and confirmed afterward by Governor
Jackson, do most solemnly promise that for every member of the Missouri
State Guard, or soldier of our allies, the Armies of the Confederate
States, who shall be put to death in pursuance of the said order of
General Fremont, I will hang, draw, and quarter a minion of said Abraham
"While I am anxious that this unfortunate War shall be conducted, if
possible, upon the most liberal principles of civilized warfare--and
every order that I have issued has been with that object--yet, if this
rule is to be adopted (and it must first be done by our Enemies) I
intend to exceed General Fremont in his excesses, and will make all
tories that come within my reach rue the day that a different policy was
adopted by their leaders.
"Already mills, barns, warehouses, and other private property have been
wastefully and wantonly destroyed by the Enemy in this district, while
we have taken nothing except articles strictly contraband or absolutely
necessary. Should these things be repeated, I will retaliate ten-fold,
so help me God!"
"M. JEFF. THOMPSON,
"President Lincoln, greatly embarrassed by the precipitate action of his
subordinate, lost no time in suggesting to General Fremont certain
modifications of his Emancipation proclamation-as follows:
"WASHINGTON, D. C., September 2, 1861.
"MY DEAR SIR: Two points in your proclamation of August 30th give me
"First. Should you shoot a man according to the proclamation, the
Confederates would very certainly shoot our best man in their hands, in
retaliation; and so, man for man, indefinitely. It is, therefore, my
order that you allow no man to be shot under the proclamation without
first having my approbation or consent.
"Second. I think there is great danger that the closing paragraph, in
relation to the Confiscation of Property, and the liberating Slaves of
Traitorous owners, will alarm our Southern Union friends, and turn them
against us; perhaps ruin our rather fair prospect for Kentucky.
"Allow me, therefore, to ask that you will, as of your own motion,
modify that paragraph so as to conform to the first and fourth sections
of the Act of Congress entitled, 'An Act to Confiscate Property used for
Insurrectionary purposes,' approved August 6, 1861, a copy of which Act
I herewith send you.
"This letter is written in a spirit of caution, and not of censure.
"I send it by a special messenger, in that it may certainly and speedily
"Yours very truly,
General Fremont replied to President Lincoln's suggestions, as follows:
"HEADQUARTERS WESTERN DEPARTMENT,
"St. Louis, September 8, 1861.
"MY DEAR SIR: Your letter of the second, by special
messenger, I know to have been written before you had received my
letter, and before my telegraphic dispatches and the rapid developments
of critical conditions here had informed you of affairs in this quarter.
I had not written to you fully and frequently, first, because in the
incessant change of affairs I would be exposed to give you contradictory
accounts; and., secondly, because the amount of the subjects to be laid
before you would demand too much of your time.
"Trusting to have your confidence, I have been leaving it to events
themselves to show you whether or not I was shaping affairs here
according to your ideas. The shortest communication between Washington
and St. Louis generally involves two days, and the employment of two
days, in time of War, goes largely toward success or disaster. I
therefore went along according to my own judgment, leaving the result of
my movement to justify me with you.
"And so in regard to my proclamation of the thirtieth. Between the
Rebel Armies, the Provisional Government, and the home Traitors, I felt
the position bad, and saw danger. In the night I decided upon the
proclamation and the form of it--I wrote it the next morning and printed
it the same day. I did it without consultation or advice with any one,
acting solely with my best judgment to serve the Country and yourself,
and perfectly willing to receive the amount of censure which should be
thought due, if I had made a false movement.
"This is as much a movement in the War, as a battle, and, in going into
these, I shall have to act according to my judgment of the ground before
me, as I did on this occasion. If upon reflection, your better judgment
still decides that I am wrong in the article respecting the Liberation
of Slaves, I have to ask that you will openly direct me to make the
correction. The implied censure will be received as a soldier always
should the reprimand of his chief.
"If I were to retract of my own accord, it would imply that I myself
thought it wrong, and that I had acted without the reflection which the
gravity of the point demanded. But I did not. I acted with full
deliberation, and upon the certain conviction that it was a measure
right and necessary, and I think so still.
"In regard to the other point of the proclamation to which you refer, I
desire to say that I do not think the Enemy can either misconstrue or
urge anything against it, or undertake to make unusual retaliation. The
shooting of men who shall rise in arms against an Army in the Military
occupation of a Country, is merely a necessary measure of defense, and
entirely according to the usages of civilized warfare. The article does
not at all refer to prisoners of war, and certainly our Enemies have no
grounds for requiring that we should waive in their benefit any of the
ordinary advantages which the usages of War allow to us.
"As promptitude is itself an advantage in War, I have also to ask that
you will permit me to carry out upon the spot the provisions of the
proclamation in this respect.
"Looking at affairs from this point of view, I am satisfied that strong
and vigorous measures have now become necessary to the success of our
Arms; and hoping that my views may have the honor to meet your approval,
"I am, with respect and regard, very truly yours,
"J. C. FREMONT.
President Lincoln subsequently rejoined, ordering a modification of the
proclamation. His letter ran thus:
"WASHINGTON, September 11, 1861.
"SIR: Yours of the 8th, in answer to mine of the 2d instant, is just
received. Assuming that you, upon the ground, could better judge of the
necessities of your position than I could at this distance, on seeing
your Proclamation of August 30th, I perceived no general objection to
"The particular clause, however, in relation to the Confiscation of
Property and the Liberation of Slaves, appeared to me to be
objectionable in its non-conformity to the Act of Congress, passed the
6th of last August, upon the same subjects; and hence I wrote you
expressing my wish that that clause should be modified accordingly.
"Your answer, just received, expresses the preference, on your part,
that I should make an open order for the modification, which I very
"It is therefore Ordered, that the said clause of said proclamation be
so modified, held, and construed as to conform to, and not to transcend,
the provisions on the same subject contained in the Act of Congress
entitled, 'An Act to Confiscate Property used for Insurrectionary
Purposes,' approved August 6, 1861, and that said Act be published at
length with this Order.
"Your obedient servant,
"Major-General JOHN C. FREMONT."
In consequence, however, of the agitation on the subject, the extreme
delicacy with which it was thought advisable in the earliest stages of
the Rebellion to treat it, and the confusion of ideas among Military men
with regard to it, the War Department issued the following General
Instructions on the occasion of the departure of the Port Royal
Expedition, commanded by General T. W. Sherman:
"WAR DEPARTMENT, October 14, 1861.
"SIR: In conducting Military Operations within States declared by the
Proclamation of the President to be in a State of Insurrection, you will
govern yourself, so far as Persons held to Service under the laws of
such States are concerned, by the principles of the letters addressed by
me to Major-General Butler on the 30th of May and the 8th of August,
copies of which are herewith furnished to you.
"As special directions, adapted to special circumstances, cannot be
given, much must be referred to your own discretion as Commanding
General of the Expedition. You will, however, in general avail yourself
of the services of any Persons, whether Fugitives from Labor or not, who
may offer them to the National Government; you will employ such Persons
in such services as they may be fitted for, either as ordinary
employees, or, if special circumstances seem to require it, in any other
capacity with such organization, in squads, companies, or otherwise, as
you deem most beneficial to the service. This, however, not to mean a
general arming of them for Military service.
"You will assure all Loyal masters that Congress will provide just
compensation to them for the loss of the services of the Persons so
"It is believed that the course thus indicated will best secure the
substantial rights of Loyal masters, and the benefits to the United
States of the services of all disposed to support the Government, while
it avoids all interference with the social systems or local Institutions
of every State, beyond that which Insurrection makes unavoidable and
which a restoration of peaceful relations to the Union, under the
Constitution, will immediately remove.
"Secretary of War.
"Brigadier-General T. W. SHERMAN,
"Commanding Expedition to the Southern Coast."
Brigadier-General Thomas W. Sherman, acting upon his own interpretation
of these instructions, issued a proclamation to the people of South
Carolina, upon occupying the Forts at Port Royal, in which he said:
"In obedience to the orders of the President of these United States of
America, I have landed on your shores with a small force of National
troops. The dictates of a duty which, under these circumstances, I owe
to a great sovereign State, and to a proud and hospitable people, among
whom I have passed some of the pleasantest days of my life, prompt me to
proclaim that we have come amongst you with no feelings of personal
animosity, no desire to harm your citizens, destroy your property, or
interfere with any of your lawful rights or your social or local
Institutions, beyond what the causes herein alluded to may render
Major-General Wool, at Fortress Monroe, where he had succeeded General
Butler, likewise issued a Special Order on the subject of Contrabands,
"HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF VIRGINIA,
"FORT MONROE, October 14, 1861.
"[Special Orders No. 72.]
"All Colored Persons called Contrabands, employed as servants by
officers and others residing within Fort Monroe, or outside of the Fort
at Camp Hamilton and Camp Butler, will be furnished with their
subsistence and at least eight dollars per month for males, and four
dollars per month for females, by the officers or others thus employing
"So much of the above-named sums, as may be necessary to furnish
clothing, to be decided by the Chief Quartermaster of the Department,
will be applied to that purpose, and the remainder will be paid into his
hands to create a fund for the support of those Contrabands who are
unable to work for their own support.
"All able-bodied Colored Persons who are under the protection of the
troops of this Department, and who are not employed as servants, will be
immediately put to work in either the Engineer's or Quartermaster's
"By command of Major-General Wool:
"[Signed] WILLIAM D. WHIPPLE,
"Assistant Adjutant General."
He subsequently also issued the following General Order:
"HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF VIRGINIA,
"FORT MONROE, November 1, 1861.
"[General Orders No. 34.]
"The following pay and allowances will constitute the valuation of the
Labor of the Contrabands at work in the Engineer, Ordnance,
Quartermaster, Commissary, and Medical Departments at this Post, to be
paid as hereinafter mentioned;
"Class 1st.--Negro man over eighteen years of age, and able-bodied, ten
dollars per month, one ration and the necessary amount of clothing.
"Class 2d.--Negro boys from 12 to 18 years of age, and sickly and infirm
Negro men, five dollars per month, one ration, and the necessary amount
"The Quartermaster will furnish all the clothing. The Department
employing these men will furnish the subsistence specified above, and as
an incentive to good behavior (to be withheld at the direction of the
chiefs of the departments respectively), each individual of the first
class will receive $2 per month, and each individual of the second class
$1 per month, for their own use. The remainder of the money valuation
of their Labor, will be turned over to the Quartermaster, who will
deduct from it the cost of the clothing issued to them; the balance will
constitute a fund to be expended by the Quartermaster under the
direction of the Commanding officer of the Department of Virginia for
the support of the women and children and those that are unable to work.
"For any unusual amount of Labor performed, they may receive extra pay,
varying in amount from fifty cents to one dollar, this to be paid by the
departments employing them, to the men themselves, and to be for their
"Should any man be prevented from working, on account of sickness, for
six consecutive days, or ten days in any one month, one-half of the
money value will be paid. For being prevented from laboring for a
longer period than ten days in any one month all pay and allowances
"By command of Major-General Wool:
"[Signed] "WILLIAM D. WHIPPLE,
"Assistant Adjutant General."
On November 13, 1861, Major-General Dix, in a proclamation addressed to
the people of Accomac and Northampton Counties, Va., ordered the
repulsion of Fugitive Slaves seeking to enter the Union lines, in these
"The Military Forces of the United States are about to enter your
Counties as a part of the Union. They will go among you as friends, and
with the earnest hope that they may not, by your own acts, be forced to
become your enemies. They will invade no rights of person or property.
On the contrary, your Laws, your Institutions, your Usages, will be
scrupulously respected. There need be no fear that the quietude of any
fireside will be disturbed, unless the disturbance is caused by
"Special directions have been given not to interfere with the condition
of any Person held to domestic service; and, in order that there may be
no ground for mistake or pretext for misrepresent action, Commanders of
Regiments and Corps have been instructed not to permit any such Persons
to come within their lines."
On the 20th of November, 1861, Major General Halleck issued the
following Genera., Order--which went even further, in that it expelled,
as well as repelled Fugitive Slaves from our lines:
"HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF MISSOURI,
"St. Louis, November 20, 1861.
"[General Orders No. 3.]
"I. It has been represented that important information respecting the
number and condition of our Forces, is conveyed to the Enemy by means of
Fugitive Slaves who are admitted within our lines. In order to remedy
this evil, it is directed that no such Persons be hereafter permitted to
enter the lines of any camp, or of any forces on the march; and that any
now within such lines be immediately excluded therefrom."
This Order was subsequently explained in a letter, of December 8, 1861,
from General Halleck to Hon. F. P. Blair, in which he said:
" * * * Order No. 3 was in my mind, clearly a Military necessity.
Unauthorized persons, black or white, Free or Slaves, must be kept out
of our camps, unless we are willing to publish to the Enemy everything
we do or intend to do. It was a Military and not a political order. I
am ready to carry out any lawful instructions in regard to Fugitive
Slaves which my superiors may give me, and to enforce any law which
Congress may pass. But I cannot make law, and will not violate it. You
know my private opinion on the policy of Confiscating the Slave Property
of Rebels in Arms. If Congress shall pass it, you may be certain that I
shall enforce it. Perhaps my policy as to the treatment of Rebels and
their property is as well set out in Order No. 13, issued the day
(December 4, 1861), your letter was written, as I could now describe
It may be well also to add here, as belonging to this period of
doubtfulness touching the status of escaped Slaves, the following
communication sent by Secretary Seward to General McClellan, touching
"Contrabands" in the District of Columbia:
"DEPARTMENT OF STATE,
"WASHINGTON, December 4, 1861.
"To Major-General GEORGE B. MCCLELLAN, Washington:
"GENERAL: I am directed by the President to call your attention to the
"Persons claimed to be held to Service or Labor under the laws of the
State of Virginia, and actually employed in hostile service against the
Government of the United States, frequently escape from the lines of the
Enemy's Forces and are received within the lines of the Army of the
"This Department understands that such Persons afterward coming into the
city of Washington are liable to be arrested by the city police, upon
the presumption, arising from color, that they are Fugitives from
Service or Labor.
"By the 4th section of the Act of Congress approved August 6, 1861,
entitled, 'An Act to Confiscate Property used for Insurrectionary
purposes,' such hostile employment is made a full and sufficient answer
to any further claim to Service or Labor. Persons thus employed and
escaping are received into the Military protection of the United States,
and their arrest as Fugitives from Service or Labor should be
immediately followed by the Military arrest of the parties making the
"Copies of this communication will be sent to the Mayor of the city of
Washington and to the Marshal of the District of Columbia, that any
collision between the Civil and Military authorities may be avoided.
"I am, General, your very obedient,
"WILLIAM H. SEWARD."
"COMPENSATED GRADUAL EMANCIPATION."
Thus far the reader's eye has been able to review in their successive
order some of the many difficulties and perplexities which beset the
pathway of President Lincoln as he felt his way in the dark, as it were,
toward Emancipation. It must seem pretty evident now, however, that his
chief concern was for the preservation of the Union, even though all
other things--Emancipation with them--had to be temporarily sacrificed.
Something definite, however, had been already gained. Congress had
asserted its right under the War powers of the Constitution, to release
from all claim to Service or Labor those Slaves whose Service or Labor
had been used in hostility to the Union. And while some of the Union
Generals obstructed the execution of the Act enforcing that right, by
repelling and even as we have seen, expelling, from the Union lines all
Fugitive Slaves--whether such as had or had not been used in hostility
to us--yet still the cause of Freedom to all, was slowly and silently
perhaps, yet surely and irresistibly, marching on until the time when,
becoming a chief factor in the determination of the question of "whether
we should have a Country at all," it should triumph coincidently with
the preservation of the Republic.
But now a new phase of the Slave question arose--a question not
involving what to do with Fugitive Slaves of any sort, whether engaged
or not engaged in performing services hostile to the Union cause, but
what to do with Slaves whom their panic-stricken owners had, for the
time being, abandoned in the presence of our Armies.
This question was well discussed in the original draft of the report of
the Secretary of War, December 1, 1861 in which Secretary Cameron said:
"It has become a grave question for determination what shall be done
with the Slaves abandoned by their owners on the advance of our troops
into Southern territory, as in the Beaufort district of South Carolina.
The whole White population therein is six thousand, while the number of
Negroes exceeds thirty-two thousand. The panic which drove their
masters in wild confusion from their homes, leaves them in undisputed
possession of the soil. Shall they, armed by their masters, be placed
in the field to fight against us, or shall their labor be continually
employed in reproducing the means for supporting the Armies of
"The War into which this Government has been forced by rebellious
Traitors is carried on for the purpose of repossessing the property
violently and treacherously seized upon by the Enemies of the
Government, and to re-establish the authority and Laws of the United
States in the places where it is opposed or overthrown by armed
Insurrection and Rebellion. Its purpose is to recover and defend what
is justly its own.
"War, even between Independent Nations, is made to subdue the Enemy, and
all that belongs to that Enemy, by occupying the hostile country, and
exercising dominion over all the men and things within its territory.
This being true in respect to Independent Nations at war with each
other, it follows that Rebels who are laboring by force of arms to
overthrow a Government, justly bring upon themselves all the
consequences of War, and provoke the destruction merited by the worst of
crimes. That Government would be false to National trust, and would
justly excite the ridicule of the civilized World, that would abstain
from the use of any efficient means to preserve its own existence, or to
overcome a rebellious and traitorous Enemy, by sparing or protecting the
property of those who are waging War against it.
"The principal wealth and power of the Rebel States is a peculiar
species of Property, consisting of the service or labor of African
Slaves, or the descendants of Africans. This Property has been
variously estimated at the value of from seven hundred million to one
thousand million dollars.
"Why should this Property be exempt from the hazards and consequences of
a rebellious War?
"It was the boast of the leader of the Rebellion, while he yet had a
seat in the Senate of the United States, that the Southern States would
be comparatively safe and free from the burdens of War, if it should be
brought on by the contemplated Rebellion, and that boast was accompanied
by the savage threat that 'Northern towns and cities would become the
victims of rapine and Military spoil,' and that 'Northern men should
smell Southern gunpowder and feel Southern steel.'
"No one doubts the disposition of the Rebels to carry that threat into
execution. The wealth of Northern towns and cities, the produce of
Northern farms, Northern workshops and manufactories would certainly be
seized, destroyed, or appropriated as Military spoil. No property in
the North would be spared from the hands of the Rebels, and their rapine
would be defended under the laws of War. While the Loyal States thus
have all their property and possessions at stake, are the insurgent
Rebels to carry on warfare against the Government in peace and security
to their own property?
"Reason and justice and self-preservation forbid that such should be;
the policy of this Government, but demand, on the contrary, that, being
forced by Traitors and Rebels to the extremity of war, all the rights
and powers of war should be exercised to bring it to a speedy end.
"Those who war against the Government justly forfeit all rights of
property, privilege, or security, derived from the Constitution and
Laws, against which they are in armed Rebellion; and as the labor and
service of their Slaves constitute the chief Property of the Rebels,
such Property should share the common fate of War to which they have
devoted the property of Loyal citizens.
"While it is plain that the Slave Property of the South is justly
subjected to all the consequences of this Rebellious War, and that the
Government would be untrue to its trust in not employing all the rights
and powers of War to bring it to a speedy close, the details of the plan
for doing so, like all other Military measures, must, in a great degree,
be left to be determined by particular exigencies. The disposition of
other property belonging to the Rebels that becomes subject to our arms
is governed by the circumstances of the case.
"The Government has no power to hold Slaves, none to restrain a Slave of
his Liberty, or to exact his service. It has a right, however, to use
the voluntary service of Slaves liberated by War from their Rebel
masters, like any other property of the Rebels, in whatever mode may be
most efficient for the defense of the Government, the prosecution of the
War, and the suppression of Rebellion. It is clearly a right of the
Government to arm Slaves when it may become necessary, as it is to take
gunpowder from the Enemy; whether it is expedient to do so, is purely a
Military question. The right is unquestionable by the laws of War. The
expediency must be determined by circumstances, keeping in view the
great object of overcoming the Rebels, reestablishing the Laws, and
restoring Peace to the Nation.
"It is vain and idle for the Government to carry on this War, or hope to
maintain its existence against rebellious force, without employing all
the rights and powers of War. As has been said, the right to deprive
the Rebels of their Property in Slaves and Slave Labor is as clear and
absolute as the right to take forage from the field, or cotton from the
warehouse, or powder and arms from the magazine. To leave the Enemy in
the possession of such property as forage and cotton and military
stores, and the means of constantly reproducing them, would be madness.
It is, therefore, equal madness to leave them in peaceful and secure
possession of Slave Property, more valuable and efficient to them for
war than forage, cotton, military stores. Such policy would be National
"What to do with that species of Property is a question that time and
circumstances will solve, and need not be anticipated further than to
repeat that they cannot be held by the Government as Slaves. It would
be useless to keep them as prisoners of War; and self-preservation, the
highest duty of a Government, or of individuals, demands that they
should be disposed of or employed in the most effective manner that will
tend most speedily to suppress the Insurrection and restore the
authority of the Government. If it shall be found that the men who have
been held by the Rebels as Slaves, are capable of bearing arms and
performing efficient Military service, it is the right, and may become
the duty, of this Government to arm and equip them, and employ their
services against the Rebels, under proper Military regulations,
discipline, and command.
"But in whatever manner they may be used by the Government, it is plain
that, once liberated by the rebellious act of their masters they should
never again be restored to bondage. By the master's Treason and
Rebellion he forfeits all right to the labor and service of his Slave;
and the Slave of the rebellious master, by his service to the
Government, becomes justly entitled to Freedom and protection.
"The disposition to be made of the Slaves of Rebels, after the close of
the War, can be safely left to the wisdom and patriotism of Congress.
The Representatives of the People will unquestionably secure to the
Loyal Slaveholders every right to which they are entitled under the
Constitution of the Country."
This original draft of the report was modified, at the instance of
President Lincoln, to the following--and thus appeared in Secretary
Cameron's report of that date, as printed:
"It is already a grave question what shall be done with those Slaves who
were abandoned by their owners on the advance of our troops into
Southern territory, as at Beaufort district, in South Carolina. The
number left within our control at that point is very considerable, and
similar cases will probably occur. What should be done with them? Can
we afford to send them forward to their masters, to be by them armed
against us, or used in producing supplies to sustain the Rebellion?
"Their labor may be useful to us; withheld from the Enemy it lessens his
Military resources, and withholding them has no tendency to induce the
horrors of Insurrection, even in the Rebel communities. They constitute
a Military resource, and, being such, that they should not be turned
over to the Enemy is too plain to discuss. Why deprive him of supplies
by a blockade, and voluntarily give him men to produce them?
"The disposition to be made of the Slaves of Rebels, after the close of
the War, can be safely left to the wisdom and patriotism of Congress.
The Representatives of the People will unquestionably secure to the
Loyal Slaveholders every right to which they are entitled under the
Constitution of the Country.
"Secretary of War."
The language of this modification is given to show that the President,
at the close of the year 1861, had already reached a further step
forward toward Emancipation--and the sound reasoning upon which he made
that advance. He was satisfying his own mind and conscience as he
proceeded, and thus, while justifying himself to himself, was also
simultaneously carrying conviction to the minds and consciences of the
People, whose servant and agent he was.
That these abandoned Slaves would "constitute a Military resource" and
"should not be turned over to the Enemy" and that "their labor may be
useful to us" were propositions which could not be gainsaid. But to
quiet uncalled-for apprehensions, and to encourage Southern loyalty, he
added, in substance, that at the close of this War--waged solely for the
preservation of the Union--Congress would decide the doubtful status of
the Slaves of Rebels, while the rights of Union Slave-holders would be
The Contraband-Slave question, however, continued to agitate the public
mind for many months--owing to the various ways in which it was treated
by the various Military commanders, to whose discretion its treatment,
in their several commands, was left--a discretion which almost
invariably leaned toward the political bias of the commander. Thus, in
a proclamation, dated St. Louis, February 23, 1862, Halleck, commanding
the Department of Missouri, said:
"Soldiers! let no excess on your part tarnish the glory of our arms!
"The order heretofore issued in this department, in regard to pillaging
and marauding, the destruction of private property, and the stealing or
concealment of Slaves, must be strictly enforced. It does not belong to
the Military to decide upon the relation of Master and Slave. Such
questions must be settled by the civil Courts. No Fugitive Slaves will
therefore be admitted within our lines or camps, except when especially
ordered by the General Commanding. * * * "
And Buell, commanding the Department of the Ohio, in response to a
communication on the subject from the Chairman of the Military Committee
of the Kentucky Legislature, wrote, March 6, 1862:
"It has come to my knowledge that Slaves sometimes make their way
improperly into our lines, and in some instances they may be enticed
there, but I think the number has been magnified by report. Several
applications have been made to me by persons whose servants have been
found in our camps, and in every instance that I know of the master has
recovered his servant and taken him away."
Thus, while some of our Commanders, like Dix and Halleck, repelled or
even expelled the Fugitive Slave from their lines; and others, like
Buell and Hooker, facilitated the search for, and restoration to his
master, of the black Fugitive found within our lines; on the other hand,
Fremont, as we have seen, and Doubleday and Hunter, as we shall yet see,
took totally different ground on this question.
President Lincoln, however, harassed as he was by the extremists on both
sides of the Slavery question, still maintained that calm statesman-like
middle-course from which the best results were likely to flow. But he
now thought the time had come to broach the question of a compensated,
Accordingly, on March 6, 1862, he sent to Congress the following
"Fellow citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:
"I recommend the adoption of a joint Resolution by your honorable
bodies, which shall be substantially as follows:
"Resolved, That the United States ought to co-operate 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 change of
"If the proposition contained in the Resolution does not meet the
approval of Congress and the Country, there is the end; but if it does
command such approval, I deem it of importance that the States and
people immediately interested should be at once distinctly notified of
the fact, so that they may begin to consider whether to accept or reject
it, The Federal Government would find its highest interest in such a
measure, as one of the most efficient means of self preservation.
"The leaders of the existing Insurrection entertain the hope that this
Government will ultimately be forced to acknowledge the Independence of
some part of the disaffected region, and that all the Slave States North
of such part will then say, 'the Union for which we have struggled being
already gone, we now choose to go with the Southern Section.'
"To deprive them of this hope, substantially ends the Rebellion; and the
initiation of Emancipation completely deprives them of it, as to all the
States initiating it. The point is not that all the States tolerating
Slavery would very soon, if at all, initiate Emancipation; but that,
while the offer is equally made to all, the more Northern shall, by such
initiation, make it certain to the more Southern that in no event will
the former ever join the latter in their proposed Confederacy. I say,
'initiation,' because in my judgment, gradual, and not sudden
Emancipation, is better for all.
"In the mere financial or pecuniary view, any member of Congress, with
the census tables and Treasury reports before him, can readily see for
himself how very soon the current expenditures of this War would
purchase, at fair valuation, all the Slaves in any named State.
"Such a proposition on the part of the General Government sets up no
claim of a right by Federal authority to interfere with Slavery within
State limits, referring, as it does, the absolute control of the subject
in each case to the State and its people immediately interested. It is
proposed as a matter of perfectly free choice with them.
"In the Annual Message last December, I thought fit to say, 'the Union
must be preserved; and hence all indispensable means must be employed.'
I said this, not hastily, but deliberately. War has been made, and
continues to be an indispensable means to this end. A practical
reacknowledgment of the National authority would render the War
unnecessary, and it would at once cease. If, however, resistance
continues, the War must also continue; and it is impossible to foresee
all the incidents which may attend, and all the ruin which may follow
it. Such as may seem indispensable, or may obviously promise great
efficiency toward ending the struggle, must and will come.
"The proposition now made, though an offer only, I hope it may be
esteemed no offense to ask whether the pecuniary consideration tendered
would not be of more value to the States and private persons concerned,
than are the Institution, and Property in it, in the present aspect of
"While it is true that the adoption of the proposed resolution would be
merely initiatory, and not within itself a practical measure, it is
recommended in the hope that it would soon lead to important practical
results. In full view of my great responsibility to my God and to my
Country, I earnestly beg the attention of Congress and the People to the
"March 6, 1862."
In compliance with the above suggestion from the President, a Joint
Resolution, in the precise words suggested, was introduced into the
House, March 10, by Roscoe Conkling, and on the following day was
adopted in the House by 97 yeas to 36 nays.
Of the 36 members of the House who voted against this Resolution, were
34 Democrats, and among them were Messrs. Crisfield of Maryland, and
Messrs. Crittenden, Mallory, and Menzies of Kentucky. These gentleman
afterward made public a report, drawn by themselves, of an interesting
interview they had held with President Lincoln on this important
subject, in the words following:
"MEMORANDUM OF AN INTERVIEW BETWEEN THE PRESIDENT AND SOME BORDER
SLAVE-STATE REPRESENTATIVES MARCH 10, 1862.
"'DEAR SIR:--I called, at the request of the President, to ask you to
come to the White House to-morrow morning, at nine o'clock, and bring
such of your colleagues as are in town.'"
"'WASHINGTON, March 10, 1862.
"Yesterday on my return from church I found Mr. Postmaster General Blair
in my room, writing the above note, which he immediately suspended, and
verbally communicated the President's invitation; and stated that the
President's purpose was to have some conversation with the delegations
of Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, Virginia, and Delaware, in explanation
of his Message of the 6th inst.
"This morning these delegations, or such of them as were in town,
assembled at the White House at the appointed time, and after some
little delay were admitted to an audience.
"After the usual salutations and we were seated, the President said, in
substance, that he had invited us to meet him to have some conversation
with us in explanation of his Message of the 6th; that since he had sent
it in, several of the gentlemen then present had visited him, but had
avoided any allusion to the Message, and he therefore inferred that the
import of the Message had been misunderstood, and was regarded as
inimical to the interests we represented; and he had resolved he would
talk with us, and disabuse our minds of that erroneous opinion.
"The President then disclaimed any intent to injure the interests or
wound the sensibilities of the Slave States. On the contrary, his
purpose was to protect the one and respect the other; that we were
engaged in a terrible, wasting, and tedious War; immense Armies were in
the field, and must continue in the field as long as the War lasts; that
these Armies must, of necessity, be brought into contact with Slaves in
the States we represented and in other States as they advanced; that
Slaves would come to the camps, and continual irritation was kept up;
that he was constantly annoyed by conflicting and antagonistic
complaints; on the one side, a certain class complained if the Slave was
not protected by the Army; persons were frequently found who,
participating in these views, acted in a way unfriendly to the
Slaveholder; on the other hand, Slaveholders complained that their
rights were interfered with, their Slaves induced to abscond, and
protected within the lines, these complaints were numerous, loud, and
deep; were a serious annoyance to him and embarrassing to the progress
of the War; that it kept alive a spirit hostile to the Government in the
States we represented; strengthened the hopes of the Confederates that
at some day the Border States would unite with them, and thus tend to
prolong the War; and he was of opinion, if this Resolution should be
adopted by Congress and accepted by our States, these causes of
irritation and these hopes would be removed, and more would be
accomplished towards shortening the War than could be hoped from the
greatest victory achieved by Union Armies; that he made this proposition
in good faith, and desired it to be accepted, if at all, voluntarily,
and in the same patriotic spirit in which it was made; that Emancipation
was a subject exclusively under the control of the States, and must be
adopted or rejected by each for itself; that he did not claim nor had
this Government any right to coerce them for that purpose; that such was
no part of his purpose in making this proposition, and he wished it to
be clearly understood; that he did not expect us there to be prepared to
give him an answer, but he hoped we would take the subject into serious
consideration; confer with one another, and then take such course as we
felt our duty and the interests of our constituents required of us.
"Mr. Noell, of Missouri, said that in his State, Slavery was not
considered a permanent Institution; that natural causes were there in
operation which would, at no distant day, extinguish it, and he did not
think that this proposition was necessary for that; and, besides that,
he and his friends felt solicitous as to the Message on account of the
different constructions which the Resolution and Message had received.
The New York Tribune was for it, and understood it to mean that we must
accept gradual Emancipation according to the plan suggested, or get
"The President replied, he must not be expected to quarrel with the New
York Tribune before the right time; he hoped never to have to do it; he
would not anticipate events. In respect to Emancipation in Missouri, he
said that what had been observed by Mr. Noell was probably true, but the
operation of these natural causes had not prevented the irritating
conduct to which he had referred, or destroyed the hopes of the
Confederates that Missouri would at some time range herself alongside of
them, which, in his judgment, the passage of this Resolution by
Congress, and its acceptance by Missouri, would accomplish.
"Mr. Crisfield, of Maryland, asked what would be the effect of the
refusal of the State to accept this proposal, and desired to know if the
President looked to any policy beyond the acceptance or rejection of
"The President replied that he had no designs beyond the action of the
States on this particular subject. He should lament their refusal to
accept it, but he had no designs beyond their refusal of it.
"Mr. Menzies, of Kentucky, inquired if the President thought there was
any power, except in the States themselves, to carry out his scheme of
"The President replied, he thought there could not be. He then went off
into a course of remark not qualifying the foregoing declaration, nor
material to be repeated to a just understanding of his meaning.
"Mr. Crisfield said he did not think the people of Maryland looked upon
Slavery as a permanent Institution; and he did not know that they would
be very reluctant to give it up if provision was made to meet the loss,
and they could be rid of the race; but they did not like to be coerced
into Emancipation, either by the direct action of the Government or by
indirection, as through the Emancipation of Slaves in this District, or
the Confiscation of Southern Property as now threatened; and he thought
before they would consent to consider this proposition they would
require to be informed on these points.
"The President replied that 'unless he was expelled by the act of God or
the Confederate Armies, he should occupy that house for three years, and
as long as he remained there, Maryland had nothing to fear, either for
her Institutions or her interests, on the points referred to.'
"Mr. Crisfield immediately added: 'Mr. President, what you now say could
be heard by the people of Maryland, they would consider your proposition
with a much better feeling than I fear without it they will be inclined
"The President: 'That (meaning a publication of what he said), will not
do; it would force me into a quarrel before the proper time;' and again
intimating, as he had before done, that a quarrel with the 'Greeley
faction' was impending, he said, 'he did not wish to encounter it before
the proper time, nor at all if it could be avoided.'
"Governor Wickliffe, of Kentucky, then asked him respecting the
Constitutionality of his scheme.
"The President replied: 'As you may suppose, I have considered that; and
the proposition now submitted does not encounter any Constitutional
difficulty. It proposes simply to co-operate with any State by giving
such State pecuniary aid;' and he thought that the Resolution, as
proposed by him, would be considered rather as the expression of a
sentiment than as involving any Constitutional question.
"Mr. Hall, of Missouri, thought that if this proposition was adopted at
all, it should be by the votes of the Free States, and come as a
proposition from them to the Slave States, affording them an inducement
to put aside this subject of discord; that it ought not to be expected
that members representing Slaveholding Constituencies should declare at
once, and in advance of any proposition to them, for the Emancipation of
"The President said he saw and felt the force of the objection; it was a
fearful responsibility, and every gentleman must do as he thought best;
that he did not know how this scheme was received by the Members from
the Free States; some of them had spoken to him and received it kindly;
but for the most part they were as reserved and chary as we had been,
and he could not tell how they would vote.
"And, in reply to some expression of Mr. Hall as to his own opinion
regarding Slavery, he said he did not pretend to disguise his
Anti-Slavery feeling; that he thought it was wrong and should continue
to think so; but that was not the question we had to deal with now.
Slavery existed, and that, too, as well by the act of the North, as of
the South; and in any scheme to get rid of it, the North, as well as the
South, was morally bound to do its full and equal share. He thought the
Institution, wrong, and ought never to have existed; but yet he
recognized the rights of Property which had grown out of it, and would
respect those rights as fully as similar rights in any other property;
that Property can exist, and does legally exist. He thought such a law,
wrong, but the rights of Property resulting must be respected; he would
get rid of the odious law, not by violating the right, but by
encouraging the proposition, and offering inducements to give it up."
"Here the interview, so far as this subject is concerned, terminated by
Mr. Crittenden's assuring the President that whatever might be our final
action, we all thought him solely moved by a high patriotism and sincere
devotion to the happiness and glory of his Country; and with that
conviction we should consider respectfully the important suggestions he
"After some conversation on the current war news we retired, and I
immediately proceeded to my room and wrote out this paper.
"J. W. CRISFIELD."
"We were present at the interview described in the foregoing paper of
Mr. Crisfield, and we certify that the substance of what passed on the
occasion is in this paper, faithfully and fully given.
"J. W. MENZIES,
"J. J. CRITTENDEN,
"March 10, 1862."
Upon the passage of the Joint-Resolution in the House only four
Democrats (Messrs. Cobb, Haight, Lehman, and Sheffield) voted in the
affirmative, and but two Republicans (Francis Thomas, and Leary) in the
negative. On the 2nd of April, it passed the Senate by a vote of 32
yeas--all Republicans save Messrs. Davis and Thomson--to 10 nays, all
Meantime the question of the treatment of the "Contraband" in our
Military camps, continued to grow in importance.
On March 26, 1862, General Hooker issued the following order touching
certain Fugitive Slaves and their alleged owners:
"HEADQUARTERS, HOOKER'S DIVISION, CAMP BAKER,
"LOWER POTOMAC, March 26, 1862.
"To BRIGADE AND REGIMENTAL COMMANDERS OF THIS DIVISION:
"Messrs. Nally, Gray, Dummington, Dent, Adams, Speake, Price, Posey,
and Cobey, citizens of Maryland, have Negroes supposed to be with some
of the regiments of this Division; the Brigadier General commanding
directs that they be permitted to visit all the camps of his command, in
search of their Property, and if found, that they be allowed to take
possession of the same, without any interference whatever. Should any
obstacle be thrown in their way by any officer or soldier in the
Division, they will be at once reported by the regimental commanders to
"By command of Brigadier General Hooker;
"Assistant Adjutant General."
On the following day, by direction of General Sickles, the following
significant report was made touching the above order:
"HEADQUARTERS, SECOND REGIMENT, EXCELSIOR BRIGADE.
"CAMP HALL, March 27, 1862.
"LIEUTENANT:--In compliance with verbal directions from Brigadier
General D. E. Sickles, to report as to the occurrence at this camp on
the afternoon of the 26th instant, I beg leave to submit the following:
"At about 3:30 o'clock P. M., March 26, 1862, admission within our lines
was demanded by a party of horsemen (civilians), numbering, perhaps,
fifteen. They presented the lieutenant commanding the guard, with an
order of entrance from Brigadier General Joseph Hooker, Commanding
Division (copy appended), the order stating that nine men should be
"I ordered that the balance of the party should remain without the
lines; which was done. Upon the appearance of the others, there was
visible dissatisfaction and considerable murmuring among the soldiers,
to so great an extent that I almost feared for the safety of the
Slaveholders. At this time General Sickles opportunely arrived, and
instructed me to order them outside the camp, which I did, amidst the
loud cheers of our soldiers.
"It is proper to add, that before entering our lines, and within about
seventy-five or one hundred yards of our camp, one of their number
discharged two pistol shots at a Negro, who was running past them, with
an evident intention of taking his life. This justly enraged our men.
"All of which is respectfully submitted.
"Your obedient servant,
"Major Commanding Second Regiment, E. B.
"To Lieutenant J. L. PALMER, Jr.,
"A. D. C. and A. A. A. General."
On April 6, the following important dispatch, in the nature of an order,
was issued by General Doubleday to one of his subordinate officers:
"HEADQUARTERS MILITARY DEFENSES,
"NORTH OF THE POTOMAC,
"WASHINGTON, April 6, 1862.
"SIR:--I am directed by General Doubleday to say, in answer to your
letter of the 2d instant, that all Negroes coming into the lines of any
of the camps or forts under his command, are to be treated as persons,
and not as chattels.
"Under no circumstances has the Commander of a fort or camp the power of
surrendering persons claimed as Fugitive Slaves, as it cannot be done
without determining their character.
"The Additional Article of War recently passed by Congress positively
"The question has been asked, whether it would not be better to exclude
Negroes altogether from the lines. The General is of the opinion that
they bring much valuable information, which cannot be obtained from any
other source. They are acquainted with all the roads, paths, fords, and
other natural features of the country, and they make excellent guides.
They also know and frequently have exposed the haunts of Secession spies
and Traitors and the existence of Rebel organizations. They will not,
therefore, be excluded.
"The General also directs me to say that civil process cannot be served
directly in the camps or forts of his command, without full authority be
obtained from the Commanding Officer for that purpose.
"I am very respectfully, your obedient servant,
"E. P. HALSTED,
"Assistant Adjutant General.
"Lieut. Col. JOHN D. SHANE,
"Commanding 76th Reg. N. Y. Vols."
On April 3, 1862, the United States Senate passed a Bill to liberate all
Persons of African descent held to Service or Labor within the District
of Columbia, and prohibiting Slavery or involuntary servitude in the
District except as a punishment for crime--an appropriation being made
to pay to loyal owners an appraised value of the liberated Slaves not to
exceed $300 for each Slave. The vote on its passage in the Senate was
29 yeas to 14 nays--all the yeas being Republican, and all but two of
the nays Democratic.
April 11th, the Bill passed the House by 92 yeas to 39 nays--all the
yeas save 5 being Republican, and all the nays, save three, being
April 7, 1862, the House adopted a resolution, by 67 yeas to 52 nays
--all the yeas, save one, Republican, and all the nays, save 12,
Democratic--for the appointment of a Select Committee of nine, to
consider and report whether any plan could be proposed and recommended
for the gradual Emancipation of all the African Slaves, and the
extinction of Slavery in Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Kentucky,
Tennessee, and Missouri, by the people or local authorities thereof, and
how far and in what way the Government of the United States could and
ought equitably to aid in facilitating either of those objects.
On the 16th President Lincoln sent the following Message to Congress:
"Fellow citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:
"The Act entitled 'An Act for the release of certain Persons held to
Service or Labor in the District of Columbia,' has this day been
approved and signed.
"I have never doubted the Constitutional authority of Congress to
abolish Slavery in this District; and I have ever desired to see the
National Capital freed from the Institution in some satisfactory way.
Hence there has never been in my mind any question upon the subject
except the one of expediency, arising in view of all the circumstances.
"If there be matters within and about this Act which might have taken a
course or shape more satisfactory to my judgment, I do not attempt to
specify them. I am gratified that the two principles of compensation
and colonization are both recognized and practically applied in the Act.
"In the matter of compensation, it is provided that claims may be
presented within ninety days from the passage of the Act, 'but not
thereafter;' and there is no saving for minors, femmes covert, insane,
or absent persons. I presume this is an omission by mere oversight, and
I recommend that it be supplied by an amendatory or Supplemental Act.
"April 16, 1862."
Subsequently, in order to meet the President's views, such an amendatory
or Supplemental Act was passed and approved.
But now, Major General Hunter having taken upon himself to issue an
Emancipation proclamation, May 9, 1862, the President, May 19, 1862,
issued a proclamation rescinding it as follows:
"Whereas there appears in the public prints what purports to be a
proclamation of Major General Hunter, in the words and figures
following, to wit:
"'HEADQUARTERS DEPARTMENT OF THE SOUTH,
'HILTON HEAD, S. C., May 9, 1862.
'[General Orders 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 protection of the United States of
America, and having taken up arms against the said 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 three States--Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina-heretofore
held as Slaves, are therefore declared forever Free.
ED. W. SMITH,
'Acting Assistant Adjutant 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,
information, or belief, of an intention on the part of General Hunter to
issue such a proclamation; nor has it yet any authentic information 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 proclamations 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
"I further make known that whether it be competent for me, as
Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, to declare the Slaves of any
State or States free, and whether, at any time, 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 and 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
"' Resolved, That the United States ought to co-operate with any State
which may adopt a 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
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,
definite, and solemn proposal of the Nation to the States and people
most immediately interested in the subject-matter. To the people of
those States I now earnestly appeal--I do not argue--I beseech you to
make the argument 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 personal and partisan
politics. This proposal makes common cause for a common object, casting
no reproaches upon any. It acts not the Pharisee. The changes it
contemplates would come gently as the dews of Heaven, not rending or
wrecking anything. 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 thereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of
the United States to be affixed.
"Done at the city of Washington this nineteenth day of May, in the year
of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, and of the
Independence of the United States the eighty-sixth.
"By the President. ABRAHAM LINCOLN.
"WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State."
On June 5th, 1862, General T. Williams issued the following Order:
"HEADQUARTERS SECOND BRIGADE,
"BATON ROUGE, June 5, 1862.
"[General Orders No. 46.]
"In consequence of the demoralizing and disorganizing tendencies to the
troops, of harboring runaway Negroes, it is hereby ordered that the
respective Commanders of the camps and garrisons of the several
regiments, Second Brigade, turn all such Fugitives in their camps or
garrisons out beyond the limits of their respective guards and
"By order of Brigadier-General T. Williams:
Lieutenant-Colonel D. R. Anthony, of the Seventh Kansas Volunteers,
commanding a Brigade, issued the following order, at a date subsequent
to the Battle of Pittsburg Landing and the evacuation of Corinth:
"HEADQUARTERS MITCHELL'S BRIGADE,
"ADVANCE COLUMN, FIRST BRIGADE, FIRST DIVISION,
"GENERAL ARMY OF THE MISSISSIPPI,
"CAMP ETHERIDGE, TENNESSEE, June 18, 1862.
"[General Orders No. 26.]
"1. The impudence--and impertinence of the open and armed Rebels,
Traitors, Secessionists, and Southern-Rightsmen of this section of the
State of Tennessee, in arrogantly demanding the right to search our camp
for Fugitive Slaves, has become a nuisance, and will no longer be
tolerated. "Officers will see that this class of men, who visit our
camp for this purpose, are excluded from our lines.
"2. Should any such persons be found within our lines, they will be
arrested and sent to headquarters.
"3. Any officer or soldier of this command who shall arrest and deliver
to his master a Fugitive Slave, shall be summarily and severely
punished, according to the laws relative to such crimes.
"4. The strong Union sentiment in this Section is most gratifying, and
all officers and soldiers, in their intercourse with the loyal, and
those favorably disposed, are requested to act in their usual kind and
courteous manner and protect them to the fullest extent.
"By order of D. R. Anthony, Lieutenant-Colonel Seventh Kansas
"W. W. H. LAWRENCE,
"Captain and Assistant-Adjutant General."
Lieutenant-Colonel Anthony was subsequently placed under arrest for
issuing the above order.
It was about this time, also, that General McClellan addressed to
President Lincoln a letter on "forcible Abolition of Slavery," and "a
Civil and Military policy"--in these terms:
"HEADQUARTERS ARMY OF THE POTOMAC,
"CAMP NEAR HARRISON'S LANDING, VA., July 7, 1862.
"MR. PRESIDENT:--You have been fully informed that the Rebel Army is in
the front, with the purpose of overwhelming us by attacking our
positions or reducing us by blocking our river communications. I cannot
but regard our condition as critical, and I earnestly desire, in view of
possible contingencies, to lay before your Excellency, for your private
consideration, my general views concerning the existing state of the
Rebellion, although they do not strictly relate to the situation of this
Army, or strictly come within the scope of my official duties. These
views amount to convictions, and are deeply impressed upon my mind and
"Our cause must never be abandoned; it is the cause of Free institutions
and Self-government. The Constitution and the Union must be preserved,
whatever may be the cost in time, treasure, and blood.
"If Secession is successful, other dissolutions are clearly to be seen
in the future. Let neither Military disaster, political faction, nor
Foreign War shake your settled purpose to enforce the equal operation of
the Laws of the United States upon the people of every State.
"The time has come when the Government must determine upon a Civil and
Military policy, covering the whole ground of our National trouble.
"The responsibility of determining, declaring, and supporting such Civil
and Military policy, and of directing the whole course of National
affairs in regard to the Rebellion, must now be assumed and exercised by
you, or our Cause will be lost. The Constitution gives you power, even
for the present terrible exigency.
"This Rebellion has assumed the character of a War; as such it should be
regarded, and it should be conducted upon the highest principles known
to Christian civilization. It should not be a War looking to the
subjugation of the people of any State, in any event. It should not be
at all a war upon population, but against armed forces and political
organizations. Neither Confiscation of property, political executions
of persons, territorial organizations of States, or forcible Abolition
of Slavery, should be contemplated for a moment.
"In prosecuting the War, all private property and unarmed persons should
be strictly protected, subject only to the necessity of Military
operations; all private property taken for Military use should be paid
or receipted for; pillage and waste should be treated as high crimes;
all unnecessary trespass sternly prohibited and offensive demeanor by
the military towards citizens promptly rebuked.
"Military arrests should not be tolerated, except in places where active
hostilities exist; and oaths, not required by enactments,
Constitutionally made, should be neither demanded nor received.
"Military Government should be confined to the preservation of public
order and the protection of political right. Military power should not
be allowed to interfere with the relations of Servitude, either by
supporting or impairing the authority of the master, except for
repressing disorder, as in other cases. Slaves, contraband under the
Act of Congress, seeking Military protection, should receive it.
"The right of the Government to appropriate permanently to its own
service claims to Slave-labor should be asserted, and the right of the
owner to compensation therefor should be recognized.
"This principle might be extended, upon grounds of Military necessity
and security, to all the Slaves of a particular State, thus working
manumission in such State; and in Missouri, perhaps in Western Virginia
also, and possibly even in Maryland, the expediency of such a measure is
only a question of time.
"A system of policy thus Constitutional, and pervaded by the influences
of Christianity and Freedom, would receive the support of almost all
truly Loyal men, would deeply impress the Rebel masses and all foreign
nations, and it might be humbly hoped that it would commend itself to
the favor of the Almighty.
"Unless the principles governing the future conduct of our Struggle
shall be made known and approved, the effort to obtain requisite forces
will be almost hopeless. A declaration of radical views, especially
upon Slavery, will rapidly disintegrate our present Armies.
"The policy of the Government must be supported by concentrations of
Military power. The National Forces should not be dispersed in
expeditions, posts of occupation, and numerous armies, but should be
mainly collected into masses, and brought to bear upon the Armies of the
Confederate States. Those Armies thoroughly defeated, the political
structure which they support would soon cease to exist,
"In carrying out any system of policy which you may form, you will
require a Commander-in-chief of the Army, one who possesses your
confidence, understands your views, and who is competent to execute your
orders, by directing the Military Forces of the Nation to the
accomplishment of the objects by you proposed. I do not ask that place
for myself, I am willing to serve you in such position as you may assign
me, and I will do so as faithfully as ever subordinate served superior.
"I may be on the brink of Eternity; and as I hope forgiveness from my
Maker, I have written this letter with sincerity towards you and from
love for my Country.
"Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
"GEORGE B. MCCLELLAN,
"His Excellency A. LINCOLN, President."
July 12, 1862, Senators and Representatives of the Border Slave-holding
States, having been specially invited to the White House for the
purpose, were addressed by President Lincoln, as follows:
"GENTLEMEN:--After the adjournment of Congress, now near, I shall have
no opportunity of seeing you for several months. Believing that you 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
opinion, 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
"You prefer that the Constitutional relations 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 extinguished by mere friction and abrasion--by the
mere incidents of the War. It will be gone, 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 compensation 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 us
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
enough to be company and encouragement for one another, the freed people
will not be so reluctant to go.
"I am pressed with a difficulty not yet mentioned; one which threatens
division among those who, united, are none too strong. An instance of
it is known to you. General Hunter is an honest man. He was, and I
hope still is, my friend. I value him none the less for his agreeing
with me in the general wish that all men everywhere could be freed. He
proclaimed all men Free within certain States, and I repudiated the
proclamation. He expected more good and less harm from the measure than
I could believe would follow.
"Yet, in repudiating it, I gave dissatisfaction, if not offense, to many
whose support the Country cannot afford to lose. And this is not the
end of it. The pressure in this direction is still upon me, and is
increasing. By conceding what I now ask, you can relieve me, and, much
more, can relieve the Country in this important point.
"Upon these considerations I have again begged your attention to the
Message of March last. Before leaving the Capitol, consider and discuss
it among yourselves. You are Patriots and Statesmen, and as such I pray
you consider this proposition; and, at the least, commend it to the
consideration of your States and people. As you would perpetuate
popular Government for the best people in the World, I beseech you that
you do in nowise omit this.
"Our common Country is in great peril, demanding the loftiest views and
boldest action to bring a speedy relief. Once relieved, its form of
Government is saved to the World, its beloved history and cherished
memories are vindicated, and its happy future fully assured and rendered
inconceivable grand. To you, more than to any others, the privilege is
given to assure that happiness and swell that grandeur, and to link your
own names therewith forever."
The gentlemen representing in Congress the Border-States, to whom this
address was made, subsequently met and discussed its subject matter, and
made written reply in the shape of majority and minority replies, as
THE MAJORITY REPLY:
"WASHINGTON, July 14, 1862.
"TO THE PRESIDENT:
"The undersigned, Representatives of Kentucky, Virginia, Missouri, and
Maryland, in the two Houses of Congress, have listened to your address
with the profound sensibility naturally inspired by the high source from
which it emanates, the earnestness which marked its delivery, and the
overwhelming importance of the subject of which it treats. We have
given it a most respectful consideration, and now lay before you our
response. We regret that want of time has not permitted us to make it
"We have not been wanting, Mr. President, in respect to you, and in
devotion to the Constitution and the Union. We have not been
indifferent to the great difficulties surrounding you, compared with
which all former National troubles have been but as the summer cloud;
and we have freely given you our sympathy and support. Repudiating the
dangerous heresies of the Secessionists, we believed, with you, that the
War on their part is aggressive and wicked, and the objects for which it
was to be prosecuted on ours, defined by your Message at the opening of
the present Congress, to be such as all good men should approve.
"We have not hesitated to vote all supplies necessary to carry it on
vigorously. We have voted all the men and money you have asked for, and
even more; we have imposed onerous taxes on our people, and they are
paying them with cheerfulness and alacrity; we have encouraged
enlistments, and sent to the field many of our best men; and some of our
number have offered their persons to the enemy as pledges of their
sincerity and devotion to the Country.
"We have done all this under the most discouraging circumstances, and in
the face of measures most distasteful to us and injurious to the
interests we represent, and in the hearing of doctrines avowed by those
who claim to be your friends, must be abhorrent to us and our
"But, for all this, we have never faltered, nor shall we as long as we
have a Constitution to defend and a Government which protects us. And
we are ready for renewed efforts, and even greater sacrifices, yea, any
sacrifice, when we are satisfied it is required to preserve our
admirable form of Government and the priceless blessings of
"A few of our number voted for the Resolution recommended by your
Message of the 6th of March last, the greater portion of us did not, and
we will briefly state the prominent reasons which influenced our action.
"In the first place, it proposed a radical change of our social system,
and was hurried through both Houses with undue haste, without reasonable
time for consideration and debate, and with no time at all for
consultation with our constituents, whose interests it deeply involved.
It seemed like an interference by this Government with a question which
peculiarly and exclusively belonged to our respective States, on which
they had not sought advice or solicited aid.
"Many of us doubted the Constitutional power of this Government to make
appropriations of money for the object designated, and all of us thought
our finances were in no condition to bear the immense outlay which its
adoption and faithful execution would impose upon the National Treasury.
If we pause but a moment to think of the debt its acceptance would have
entailed, we are appalled by its magnitude. The proposition was
addressed to all the States, and embraced the whole number of Slaves.
"According to the census of 1860 there were then nearly four million
Slaves in the Country; from natural increase they exceed that number
now. At even the low average of $300, the price fixed by the
Emancipation Act for the Slaves of this District, and greatly below
their real worth, their value runs up to the enormous sum of
$1,200,000,000; and if to that we add the cost of deportation and
colonization, at $100 each, which is but a fraction more than is
actually paid--by the Maryland Colonization Society, we have
"We were not willing to impose a tax on our people sufficient to pay the
interest on that sum, in addition to the vast and daily increasing debt
already fixed upon them by exigencies of the War, and if we had been
willing, the Country could not bear it. Stated in this form the
proposition is nothing less than the deportation from the Country of
$1,600,000,000 worth of producing labor, and the substitution, in its
place, of an interest-bearing debt of the same amount.
"But, if we are told that it was expected that only the States we
represent would accept the proposition, we respectfully submit that even
then it involves a sum too great for the financial ability of this
Government at this time. According to the census of 1860:
Kentucky had ........... 225,490
Maryland ............... 87,188
Virginia ............... 490,887
Delaware ............... 1,798
Missouri ............... 114,965
Tennessee .............. 275,784
Making in the whole .. 1,196,112
At the same rate of valuation these would
amount to ......... $358,933,500
Add for deportation and colonization $100
each ............... 118,244,533
And we have the
enormous sum of ... $478,038,133
"We did not feel that we should be justified in voting for a measure
which, if carried out, would add this vast amount to our public debt at
a moment when the Treasury was reeling under the enormous expenditure of
"Again, it seemed to us that this Resolution was but the annunciation of
a sentiment which could not or was not likely to be reduced to an actual
tangible proposition. No movement was then made to provide and
appropriate the funds required to carry it into effect; and we were not
encouraged to believe that funds would be provided. And our belief has
been fully justified by subsequent events.
"Not to mention other circumstances, it is quite sufficient for our
purpose to bring to your notice the fact that, while this resolution was
under consideration in the Senate, our colleague, the Senator from
Kentucky, moved an amendment appropriating $500,000 to the object
therein designated, and it was voted down with great unanimity.
"What confidence, then, could we reasonably feel that if we committed
ourselves to the policy it proposed, our constituents would reap the
fruits of the promise held out; and on what ground could we, as fair
men, approach them and challenge their support?
"The right to hold Slaves, is a right appertaining to all the States of
this Union. They have the right to cherish or abolish the Institution,
as their tastes or their interests may prompt, and no one is authorized
to question the right or limit the enjoyment. And no one has more
clearly affirmed that right than you have. Your Inaugural Address does
you great honor in this respect, and inspired the Country with
confidence in your fairness and respect for the Law. Our States are in
the enjoyment of that right.
"We do not feel called on to defend the Institution or to affirm it is
one which ought to be cherished; perhaps, if we were to make the
attempt, we might find that we differ even among ourselves. It is
enough for our purpose to know that it is a right; and, so knowing, we
did not see why we should now be expected to yield it.
"We had contributed our full share to relieve the Country at this
terrible crisis; we had done as much as had been required of others in
like circumstances; and we did not see why sacrifices should be expected
of us from which others, no more loyal, were exempt. Nor could we see
what good the Nation would derive from it.
"Such a sacrifice submitted to by us would not have strengthened the arm
of this Government or weakened that of the Enemy. It was not necessary
as a pledge of our Loyalty, for that had been manifested beyond a
reasonable doubt, in every form, and at every place possible. There was
not the remotest probability that the States we represent would join in
the Rebellion, nor is there now, or of their electing to go with the
Southern Section in the event of a recognition of the Independence of
any part of the disaffected region.
"Our States are fixed unalterably in their resolution to adhere to and
support the Union. They see no safety for themselves, and no hope for
Constitutional Liberty, but by its preservation. They will, under no
circumstances, consent to its dissolution; and we do them no more than
justice when we assure you that, while the War is conducted to prevent
that deplorable catastrophe, they will sustain it as long as they can
muster a man, or command a dollar.
"Nor will they ever consent, in any event, to unite with the Southern
Confederacy. The bitter fruits of the peculiar doctrines of that region
will forever prevent them from placing their security and happiness in
the custody of an association which has incorporated in its Organic Law
the seeds of its own destruction.
"We cannot admit, Mr. President, that if we had voted for the Resolution
in the Emancipation Message of March last, the War would now be
substantially ended. We are unable to see how our action in this
particular has given, or could give, encouragement to the Rebellion.
The Resolution has passed; and if there be virtue in it, it will be
quite as efficacious as if we had voted for it.
"We have no power to bind our States in this respect by our votes here;
and, whether we had voted the one way or the other, they are in the same
condition of freedom to accept or reject its provisions.
"No, Sir, the War has not been prolonged or hindered by our action on
this or any other measure. We must look for other causes for that
lamented fact. We think there is not much difficulty, not much
uncertainty, in pointing out others far more probable and potent in
their agencies to that end.
"The Rebellion derives its strength from the Union of all classes in the
Insurgent States; and while that Union lasts the War will never end
until they are utterly exhausted. We know that, at the inception of
these troubles, Southern society was divided, and that a large portion,
perhaps a majority, were opposed to Secession. Now the great mass of
Southern people are united.
"To discover why they are so, we must glance at Southern society, and
notice the classes into which it has been divided, and which still
distinguish it. They are in arms, but not for the same objects; they
are moved to a common end, but by different and even inconsistent
"The leaders, which comprehend what was previously known as the State
Rights Party, and is much the lesser class, seek to break down National
Independence and set up State domination. With them it is a War against
"The other class is fighting, as it supposes, to maintain and preserve
its rights of Property and domestic safety, which it has been made to
believe are assailed by this Government. This latter class are not
Disunionists per se; they are so only because they have been made to
believe that this Administration is inimical to their rights, and is
making War on their domestic Institutions. As long as these two classes
act together they will never assent to a Peace.
"The policy, then, to be pursued, is obvious. The former class will
never be reconciled, but the latter may be. Remove their apprehensions;
satisfy them that no harm is intended to them and their Institutions;
that this Government is not making War on their rights of Property, but
is simply defending its legitimate authority, and they will gladly
return to their allegiance as soon as the pressure of Military dominion
imposed by the Confederate authority is removed from them.
"Twelve months ago, both Houses of Congress, adopting the spirit of your
Message, then but recently sent in, declared with singular unanimity the
objects of the War, and the Country instantly bounded to your side to
assist you in carrying it on. If the spirit of that Resolution had been
adhered to, we are confident that we should before now have seen the end
of this deplorable conflict. But what have we seen?
"In both Houses of Congress we have heard doctrines subversive of the
principles of the Constitution, and seen measure after measure, founded
in substance on those doctrines, proposed and carried through, which can
have no other effect than to distract and divide loyal men, and
exasperate and drive still further from us and their duty the people of
the rebellious States.
"Military officers, following these bad examples, have stepped beyond
the just limits of their authority in the same direction, until in
several instances you have felt the necessity of interfering to arrest
them. And even the passage of the Resolution to which you refer has
been ostentatiously proclaimed as the triumph of a principle which the
people of the Southern States regard as ruinous to them. The effect of
these measures was foretold, and may now be seen in the indurated state
of Southern feeling.
"To these causes, Mr. President, and not to our omission to vote for the
Resolution recommended by you, we solemnly believe we are to attribute
the terrible earnestness of those in arms against the Government, and
the continuance of the War. Nor do we (permit us to say, Mr. President,
with all respect to you) agree that the Institution of Slavery is 'the
lever of their power,' but we are of the opinion that 'the lever of
their power' is the apprehension that the powers of a common Government,
created for common and equal protection to the interests of all, will be
wielded against the Institutions of the Southern States.
"There is one other idea in your address we feel called on to notice.
After stating the fact of your repudiation of General Hunter's
Proclamation, you add:
"'Yet, in repudiating it, I gave dissatisfaction, if not offense, to
many whose support the Country cannot afford to lose. And this is not
the end of it. The pressure in this direction is still upon me and is
increasing. By conceding what I now ask, you can relieve me, and, much
more, can relieve the Country, in this important point,'
"We have anxiously looked into this passage to discover its true import,
but we are yet in painful uncertainty. How can we, by conceding what
you now ask, relieve you and the Country from the increasing pressure to
which you refer? We will not allow ourselves to think that the
proposition is, that we consent to give up Slavery, to the end that the
Hunter proclamation may be let loose on the Southern people, for it is
too well known that we would not be parties to any such measure, and we
have too much respect for you to imagine you would propose it.
"Can it mean that by sacrificing our interest in Slavery we appease the
spirit that controls that pressure, cause it to be withdrawn, and rid
the Country of the pestilent agitation of the Slavery question? We are
forbidden so to think, for that spirit would not be satisfied with the
liberation of 100,000 Slaves, and cease its agitation while 3,000,000
remain in bondage. Can it mean that by abandoning Slavery in our States
we are removing the pressure from you and the Country, by preparing for
a separation on the line of the Cotton States?
"We are forbidden so to think, because it is known that we are, and we
believe that you are, unalterably opposed to any division at all. We
would prefer to think that you desire this concession as a pledge of our
support, and thus enable you to withstand a pressure which weighs
heavily on you and the Country.
"Mr. President, no such sacrifice is necessary to secure our support.
Confine yourself to your Constitutional authority; confine your
subordinates within the same limits; conduct this War solely for the
purpose of restoring the Constitution to its legitimate authority;
concede to each State and its loyal citizens their just rights, and we
are wedded to you by indissoluble ties. Do this, Mr. President, and you
touch the American heart, and invigorate it with new hope. You will, as
we solemnly believe, in due time restore Peace to your Country, lift it
from despondency to a future of glory, and preserve to your countrymen,
their posterity, and man, the inestimable treasure of a Constitutional
"Mr. President, we have stated with frankness and candor the reasons on
which we forbore to vote for the Resolution you have mentioned; but you
have again presented this proposition, and appealed to us with an
earnestness and eloquence which have not failed to impress us, to
'consider it, and at the least to commend it to the consideration of our
States and people.'
"Thus appealed to by the Chief Magistrate of our beloved Country, in the
hour of its greatest peril, we cannot wholly decline. We are willing to
trust every question relating to their interest and happiness to the
consideration and ultimate judgment of our own people.
"While differing from you as to the necessity of Emancipating the Slaves
of our States as a means of putting down the Rebellion, and while
protesting against the propriety of any extra-territorial interference
to induce the people of our States to adopt any particular line of
policy on a subject which peculiarly and exclusively belongs to them,
yet, when you and our brethren of the Loyal States sincerely believe
that the retention of Slavery by us is an obstacle to Peace and National
harmony, and are willing to contribute pecuniary aid to compensate our
States and people for the inconveniences produced by such a change of
system, we are not unwilling that our people shall consider the
propriety of putting it aside.
"But we have already said that we regard this Resolution as the
utterance of a sentiment, and we had no confidence that it would assume
the shape of a tangible practical proposition, which would yield the
fruits of the sacrifice it required. Our people are influenced by the
same want of confidence, and will not consider the proposition in its
present impalpable form. The interest they are asked to give up is, to
them, of immense importance, and they ought not to be expected even to
entertain the proposal until they are assured that when they accept it
their just expectations will not be frustrated.
"We regard your plan as a proposition from the Nation to the States to
exercise an admitted Constitutional right in a particular manner, and
yield up a valuable interest. Before they ought to consider the
proposition, it should be presented in such a tangible, practical,
efficient shape, as to command their confidence that its fruits are
contingent only upon their acceptance. We cannot trust anything to the
contingencies of future legislation.
"If Congress, by proper and necessary legislation, shall provide
sufficient funds and place them at your disposal to be applied by you to
the payment of any of our States, or the citizens thereof, who shall
adopt the Abolishment of Slavery, either gradual or immediate, as they
may determine, and the expense of deportation and colonization of the
liberated Slaves, then will our States and people take this proposition
into careful consideration, for such decision as in their judgment is
demanded by their interest, their honor, and their duty to the whole
Country. We have the honor to be, with great respect,
"C. A. WICKLIFFE, Ch'man,
CHAS. B. CALVERT,
C. L. L. LEARY,
EDWIN H. WEBSTER,
J. J. CRITTENDEN,
JOHN S. CARLILE,
J. W. CRISFIELD,
JAMES S. ROLLINS,
J. S. JACKSON,
J. W. MENZIES,
THOMAS L. PRICE,
JOHN S. PHELPS,
G. W. DUNLAP,
WILLIAM A. HALL."
THE MINORITY REPLY.
"WASHINGTON, July 15, 1863.
"MR. PRESIDENT:--The undersigned, members of Congress from the Border
States, in response to your address of Saturday last, beg leave to say
that they attended a meeting, on the same day the address was delivered,
for the purpose of considering the same. The meeting appointed a
Committee to report a response to your address. That report was made on
yesterday, and the action of the majority indicated clearly that the
response, or one in substance the same, would be adopted and presented