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and eventually of the whole Confederacy, followed by all who deemed an obligation to take part in a State crime a higher virtue than fidelity to oaths or patriotic devotion to their country.
One of the earliest duties of Mr. Lincoln was to assume a proper ground with regard to foreign powers. He took the broad ground that it was a domestic rebellion, which the United States government was competent to put down. To our minister at London this explicit instruction was sent: "You may assure them promptly that, if they are determined to recognize the seceded States, they may at the same time prepare to enter into alliance with the enemies of this republic. You alone will represent your country at London, and you will represent the whole of it there. When you are asked to divide the duty with others, diplomatic relations will be suspended."
This declaration was not made too soon; for England and France had precipitately, and before the arrival of Mr. Adams, recognized the rebels as a belligerent power; and when Mr. Lincoln gave his adhesion to the principles of the Paris Convention of 1859, agreeing, among other things, to suppress privateering, the two great European allies required that they should not apply to the rebellion in the United States, but this Mr. Lincoln declared inadmissible. England and France thus, in violation of all good faith, set aside the treaties with this country, and put the national government merely on a par with its rebellious subjects, giving the latter every advantage conceded to our national vessels.
This unwise and malignant policy made it also a matter of importance with Mr. Lincoln how best to act with regard to Southern ports. To close them, presented difficulties not to be disguised. The President, therefore, by proclamation, on the 19th and 27th of April, declared the blockade of all the Southern ports; and announced that privateers should be treated as pirates. This position was at first ridiculed. The rebels and their foreign friends declared a blockade impossible, and the jealous European powers required it to be made effective. But Mr. Lincoln, while rapidly and thoroughly collecting and equipping the land forces necessary, pushed also the increase of the navy, and soon had means to establish such a blockade as had never before been witnessed. Blockade run
ners constantly contrived, indeed, to run from the pestilent little English islands off our Southern coast into Southern harbors; but their losses were heavy, and in some cases overwhelming.
Mr. Lincoln convened his first Congress on the 4th of July, 1861. After sitting about a month, it adjourned, clothing the President with ample power for suppressing the rebellion, and avoiding all topics likely to mar the harmony or cool the ardent patriotism of the Northern States.
Meanwhile, important military operations had taken place. Long standing on the defensive, the armies at last moved forward to repel the menacing hosts of rebellion, but the popular hopes were sadly dashed by the terrible overthrow sustained by the national arms at Bull Run, Va., in June. Still the plans of the government were steadily pushed. Fort Hatteras, Port Royal, and Ship Island, were taken on the coast, and the rebels checked in Western Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri. General Scott having resigned, Mr. Lincoln appointed to command the armies Major-General George B. McClellan, whose success in Western Virginia justified the choice, but whose management of affairs did not answer the favorable anticipations formed.
In the delicate matter of the seizure, by Commodore Wilkes, of Mason and Slidell, rebel envoys, on the English steamer Trent, Mr. Lincoln, with great sagacity, restored them to the English authority, on the ground that Commodore Wilkes should have taken them before a legal tribunal, instead of himself assuming to decide their liability to capture.
The abolition of slavery was a great topic for consideration. That the rebels brought their slave property within the operation of the confiscation laws, was unquestionable, and the main difficulty seemed to be with the border States. Here Mr. Lincoln urged those States to act, and Congress offered pecuniary aid to States wishing to abolish it. But no State accepted the offer. Rather than take a single step, they preferred to wait till slavery should fall. Mr. Lincoln was strongly in favor of sending the liberated slaves to some foreign country, Central America or some other, but his plan met with difficulties which led to its total abandonment.
As the war progressed, new questions arose. As territory
was regained, government, courts, and other institutions were to be established. Much had to be left to the discretion of military commanders; and in the exercise of this discretion, they required the constant watchfulness of the calm, far-seeing President.
Congress had given him full power under the Confiscation Act to liberate slaves. Many urged him to do so; but he declined to use the power. The saving of the Union was his great object, to which the question of emancipation was absolutely subordinate. Whenever and so far as emancipation would help to save the Union, then and that far he would adopt it. Till then he restrained the ardent and impetuous.
At last, on the 22d of September, 1862, Mr. Lincoln issued this proclamation, which will stand as one of the greatest State papers in American history.
"I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America, and Commander-in-Chief. of the Army and Navy thereof, do hereby proclaim and declare that hereafter as heretofore the war will be prosecuted for the object of practically restoring the constitutional relation between the United States and the people thereof in those States in which that relation is, or may be, suspended or disturbed; that it is my purpose upon the next meeting of Congress to again recommend the adoption of a practical measure tendering pecuniary aid to the free acceptance or rejection of all the slave States, so called, the people whereof may not then be in rebellion against the United States, and which States may then have voluntarily adopted, or thereafter may voluntarily adopt, the immediate or gradual abolishment of slavery within their respective limits, and that the effort to colonize persons of African descent, with their consent, upon the continent or elsewhere, with the previously obtained consent of the government existing there, will be continued; that on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State, or any designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward and forever, free, and the executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to depress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom; that the Executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the States and parts of States, if any, in
which the people thereof respectively shall then be in rebellion against the United States; and the fact that any State, or the people thereof, shall on that day be in good faith represented in the Congress of the United States by members chosen thereto, at elections wherein a majority of the qualified voters of such State shall have participated, shall, in the absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such State and the people thereof have not been in rebellion against the United States.
That attention is hereby called to an act of Congress entitled, 'An act to make an additional article of war,' approved March 13, 1862, and which act is in the words and figures following:
"Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That hereafter the following shall be promulgated as an additional article of war for the government of the army of the United States, and shall be observed and obeyed as such.
“' Article All officers or persons of the military or naval service of the United States are prohibited from employing any of the forces under their respective commands for the purpose of returning fugitives from service or labor who may have escaped from any persons to whom such service or labor is claimed to be due ; and any officer who shall be found guilty by a court-martial of violating this article, shall be dismissed from the service.
Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That this act shall take effect from and after its passage.'
"Also to the ninth and tenth sections of an act entitled, 'An act to suppress insurrection, to punish treason and rebellion, to seize and confiscate property of rebels, and for other purposes,' approved July 17, 1862, and which sections are in the words and figures following:
"Sec. 9. And be it further enacted, That all slaves of persons who shall hereafter be engaged in rebellion against the government of the United States, or who shall in any way give aid or comfort thereto, escaping from such persons and taking refuge within the lines of the army; and all slaves captured from such persons or deserted by them, and coming under the control of the Government of the United States, and all slaves of such persons found on (or being within) any place occupied by rebel forces and afterwards occupied by the forces of the United States, shall be deemed captives of war, and shall be forever free of their servitude, and not again held as slaves.
"Sec. 10. And be it further enacted, That no slave escaping into any State, Territory, or the District of Columbia, from any of the States, shall be delivered up, or in any way impeded or hin
dered of his liberty, except for crime, or some offence against the laws, unless the person claiming said fugitive shall first make oath that the person to whom the labor or service of such fugitive is alleged to be due, is his lawful owner, and has not been in arms against the United States in the present rebellion, nor in any way given aid and comfort thereto; and no person engaged in the military or naval service of the United States shall, under any pretence whatever, assume to decide on the validity of the claim of any person to the service or labor of any other person, or surrender up any such person to the claimant, on pain of being dismissed from the service.'
"And I do hereby enjoin upon, and order all persons engaged in the military and naval service of the United States to observe, obey, and enforce within their respective spheres of service the act and sections above recited.
"And the executive will in due time recommend that all citizens of the United States who shall have remained loyal thereto throughout the rebellion, shall (upon the restoration of the constitutional relation between the United States and their respective States and people, if the relation shall have been suspended or disturbed) be compensated for all losses by acts of the United States, including the loss of slaves.
"In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
"Done at the city of Washington, this twenty-second day of Sep
tember, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-seventh.
By the President:
"WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State."
This was followed by another, issued on the first of January, 1863, and worded as follows:
"Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States containing among other things the following, to wit:
"That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State, or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforth and forever free, and the Executive Government of the