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change of articulation, are to pronounce Richmond fallen, and the slave of South Carolina free.
In the message of December, 1861, there is an elaborate discussion, on principles of political economy, of the question of capital and labor, in which the pure democratic ground is taken that labor is superior to capital, and must be free and own capital, and not capital, labor. The discussion seemed to us abstract and ill-adapted to the pressing emergency of the hour; but we see now how fittingly it takes its place in the great struggle to complete the loyal argument. It is the bud of emancipation in the loyal border States. It is an appeal to prudent, thinking men, on grounds of industrial prosperity and self-interest. It brings
the re-enforcement of material and social wellbeing to the cause of divine justice. Hear, too, how at the close, the grand choral strain comes in again, giving utterance to the sublimer principles that underlie the irrepressible conflict, and summoning the contestants again to the bar of future judgment.
"This [the free system of labor] is the just and generous and prosperous system, which opens the way to all, gives hope to all, and consequent energy and progress and improvement of condition to all. No men living are more worthy to be trusted than those who toil up from poverty, none less inclined to take or touch aught which they have not honestly earned. Let them beware of surrendering a political power which they already possess, and
which, if surrendered, will surely be used to close the door of advancement against such as they, and to fix new disabilities and burdens upon them, till all of liberty shall be lost. . . . The struggle of to-day is not altogether for to-day: it is for a vast future also."
Closely following,—only three months later,— a special message is sent to Congress, recommending the passage of a resolution by which the federal government shall be authorized to co-operate by pecuniary aid with any State that will enact gradual abolition of slavery. Two months afterward, in a public proclamation, attention is called to this resolution, which was adopted by Congress; and the States most interested are earnestly appealed to, to avail themselves quickly of its privilege. Says the President:
"You cannot, if you would, be blind to the signs of the times. I beg of you a calm and enlarged consideration of them, ranging, if it may be, far above partisan and personal politics. This proposal makes common cause for a common object, casting no reproaches upon any. It acts not the Pharisee. The change it contemplates would come gently as the dews of heaven, not rending or wrecking 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!"
And so the chorus echoes back with added intensity the divine plea of impartial justice that was the sublime burden of the previous message.
In the regular message of December, 1862, the same subject is taken up again, and discussed more elaborately and with greater scope. It is now proposed that Congress shall not wait for the States to accept, at their option, its offer of pecuniary aid toward emancipation, but shall initiate emancipation. An amendment to the Constitution is recommended, by which slavery shall be gradually, yet entirely, abolished in all the States and throughout the country. But the great import of the paper was not so much what it recommended, for its plan of emancipation was too heavily conditioned to be practically available, as the fact that the abolition of slavery was for the first time. boldly and seriously discussed and made the most important topic in a regular Presidential message. More memorable still is the message for its closing words, in which the chorus of the drama again speaks, inspired by the genius of republican freedom, who thus urges her champions up to the true battle-ground, and holds the now fast developing action close to its divine intent. Hear the deep, stately, measured tones as they seem to come from the distant heavens:
"The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion . . . We must disenthrall ourselves, and then
we shall save our country. . . . No personal significance or insignificance can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the latest generation. . . . We even we here - hold the power and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom to the slave we assure freedom to the free, honorable alike in what we give and what we preserve. We shall nobly save or meanly lose the last, best hope of earth. Other means may succeed. This could not, cannot fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just,—a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud and God must forever bless."
But this paper coupled with its plan of gradual abolition the principles of compensation and voluntary colonization. Its proposed method of action was not so lofty as the spirit that inspired it. The noble goal aimed at condemned the halting effort. It was not for any such imperfect result that this mighty contest was proving the metal of the nation. The human instrument was not so far-sighted as the Providence which wrought through him, the actor not so wise as the manager behind the scenes. Yet he is faithful and true, and submits himself with unwavering loyalty to the teaching of events and of God; and with ever-lengthening and bolder paces he goes forward. One after another all imposed conditions of emancipation drop away. Compensation, gradualism, colonization, vanish and become obsolete
ideas; and the champion stands, clean from all alloy of the evil he is to annihilate, alone with God and justice.
In August, 1861, he had modified General Fremont's proclamation of emancipation in Missouri to conciliate Kentucky. In May, 1862, he had countermanded General Hunter's decree of abolition in the Department of the South only because he reserved the great right for himself and would not allow it to be frittered away powerlessly, and with little moral effect, by subordinates. It is evident in the very order of countermand that he begins to see clearly what the line of duty and destiny must be. He appeals to the insurgent States, in the words already quoted, to smooth the way to peaceful emancipation by voluntarily acceding to the logic of events and to the plain intent of divine Providence. Even as late as the 13th of September he had received a religious deputation from the city of Chicago, appointed to urge him to declare emancipation by military proclamation, and replied to their arguments with such a strong array of objections to the measure that the deputation had departed in great doubt as to his adopting it. But it is as clear as noonday now that the President had been debating the measure in his own mind for months, and marshalling the arguments for and against it, and that in this interview he summed up the difficulties in the way, as they had presented themselves to him, in order to draw forth, if possible, from the deputation new light upon the ques