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ing the words of Washington in 1776—"men may find enough to do in the service of God and their country without abandoning themselves to vice and immorality.” The first general order issued by the Father of his Country after the Declaration of Independence indicates the spirit in which our institutions were founded and should ever be defended. "The general hopes and trusts that every officer and man will endeavor to live and act as becomes a Christian soldier, defending the dearest rights and liberties of his country.”
Abraham Lincoln. Official: E. D. Townsend, Assistant AdjutantGeneral.
Congratulations to the Army of the Potomac.
DECEMBER 22, 1862. To the Army of the Potomac: I have just read your commanding general's report of the battle of Fredericksburg. Although you were not successful, the attempt was not an error, nor the failure other than accident. The courage with which you, in an open field, maintained the contest against an intrenched foe, and the consummate skill and success with which you crossed and recrossed the river in the face of the enemy, show that you possess all the qualities of a great army, which will yet give victory to the cause of the country and of popular government.
Condoling with the mourners for the dead, and sympathizing with the severely wounded, I congratulate you that the number of both is comparatively so small.
I tender to you, officers and soldiers, the thanks of the nation.
Opinion on the Admission of West Virginia
into the Union.
DECEMBER 31, 1862. The consent of the legislature of Virginia is constitutionally necessary to the bill for the admission of West Virginia becoming a law. A body claiming to be such legislature has given its consent. We cannot well deny that it is such, unless we do so upon the outside knowledge that the body was chosen at elections in which a majority of the qualified voters of Virginia did not participate. But it is a universal practice in the popular elections in all these States to give no legal consideration whatever to those who do
do not choose to vote, as against the effect of the votes of those who do choose to vote. Hence it is not the qualified voters, but the qualified voters who choose to vote, that constitute the political power of the State. Much less than to non-voters should any consideration be given to those who did not vote in this case, because it is also matter of outside knowledge that they were not merely neglectful of their rights under and duty to this government, but were also engaged in open rebellion against it. Doubtless among these non-voters were some Union men whose voices were smothered by the more numerous secessionists; but we know too little of their number to assign them any appreciable value. Can this government stand, if it indulges constitutional constructions by which men in open rebellion against it are to be accounted, man for man, the equals of those who maintain their loyalty to it ? Are they to be accounted even better citizens, and more worthy of consideration, than those who merely neglect to vote? If so, their treason against the Constitution enhances their constitutional value. Without braving these absurd conclusions, we cannot deny that the body which consents to the admission of West Virginia is the legislature of Virginia. I do not think the plural form of the words “legislatures” and “States” in the phrase of the Constitution “without the consent of the legislatures of the States concerned,” etc., has any reference to the new State concerned. That plural form sprang from the contemplation of two or more old States contributing to form a new one. The idea that the new State was in danger of being admitted without its own consent was not provided against, because it was not thought of, as I conceive. It is said, the devil takes care of his own. Much more should a good spirit—the spirit of the Constitution and the Union—take care of its own. I think cannot do less and live.
But is the admission into the Union of West Virginia expedient? This, in my general view, is more a question for Congress than for the Executive. Still I do not evade it. More than on anything else, it depends on whether the admission or rejection of the new State would, under all the circumstances, tend the more strongly to the restoration of the national authority throughout the Union. That which helps most in this direction is the most expedient at this time. Doubtless those in remaining Virginia would return to the Union, so to speak, less reluctantly without the division of the old State than with it; but I think we could not save as much in this quarter by rejecting the new State, as we should lose by it in West Virginia. We can scarcely dispense with the aid of West Virginia in this struggle; much less can we afford to have her against us, in Congress and in the field. Her brave and good men regard her admission into the Union as a matter of life and death. They have been true to the Union under very severe trials. We have so acted as to justify their hopes, and we cannot fully retain their confidence and co-operation if we seem to break faith with them. In fact, they could not do so much for us, if they would. Again, the admission of the new State turns that much slave soil to free, and thus is a certain and irrevocable encroachment upon the cause of the rebellion. The division of a State is dreaded as a precedent. But a measure made expedient by a war is no precedent for times of peace. It is said that the admission of West Virginia is secession, and tolerated only because it is our secession. Well, if we call it by that name, there is still difference enough between secession against the Constitution and secession in favor of the Constitution. I believe the admission of West Virginia into the Union is expedient.
Proclamation to Deserters.
On March 10, 1863, the President issued a PROCLAMATION ordering SOLDIERS ABSENT WI HOUT LEAVE to return to their regiments, promising AMNESTY to those voluntarily returning, and PUNISHMENT to the recalcitrants.
License of Commercial Intercourse.
On March 31, 1863, the President put into force by PROCLAMATION the act of Congress of July 13, 1861, which LICENSED COMMERCIAL INTERCOURSE between the citizens of loyal States and the inhabitants of insurrectionary States, under regulations prescribed by the Secretary of the Treasury.
On April 2, 1863, this was followed by a PROCLAMATION that all UNLICENSED TRADE between the citizens of loyal States and the inhabitants of insurrectionary States, was PROHIBITED, and that the goods coming through such unlawful commerce from the insurrectionary States into the loyal ones would be confiscated.
Proclamation Admitting West Virginia to
The President recites that by act of Congress approved on December 31, 1862, the STATE OF WEST VIRGINIA had been ADMITTED TO THE UNION on condition of certain changes in its proposed constitution. These changes having been made, the President proclaims that the aforesaid act shall take effect sixty days after present date of April 20, 1863.
Proclamation Concerning Liability of Aliens
to Military Service.
MAY 8, 1863. Whereas, the Congress of the United States, at its last session, enacted a law entitled "An act for enrolling and calling out the national forces and for other purposes," which was approved on the third day of March last; and