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tude of the Government.
When the rebellion first broke out
there were many persons who insisted upon the instant emancipation of the slaves, and their employment in arms against the rebels of the Southern States. Public sentiment, however,
was by no means prepared for the adoption of such a measure. The Administration, upon its advent to power, was compelled to encounter a wide-spread distrust of its general purposes in regard to slavery, and special pains were taken by the agents and allies of the rebellion to alarm the sensitive apprehensions of the Border States upon this subject. The President, therefore, deemed it necessary, in order to secure that unity of sentiment without which united and effective action against the rebellion was felt to be impossible, to exclude from the contest all issues of a secondary nature, and to fasten the attention and thought of the whole country upon the paramount end and aim of the war-the restoration of the Union and the authority of the Constitution of the United States. How steadily and carefully this policy was pursued, the preceding pages of this record will show.
But as the war went on, and the desperate tenacity of the rebel resistance became more manifest-as the field of operations, both military and political, became enlarged, and the elements of the rebel strength were better understood, the necessity of dealing with the question of Slavery forced itself upon the people and the Government. The legislation of Congress, from time to time, represented and embodied these advancing phases of public opinion. At the extra session of 1861 a law was passed, discharging from slavery every slave who should be required or permitted by his master to take up arms against the United States, or to be employed in any military capacity in the rebel service. At the next session the President was authorized to employ persons of African descent in the suppression of the rebellion, "in such manner as he should judge best for the public welfare," and also to
issue a proclamation commanding all persons in rebellion against the United States to lay down their arms and return to their allegiance; and if any persons so warned should be found in rebellion thirty days after the date of such proclamation, the President was authorized to set free their slaves. Under these comprehensive acts the President took such steps on the subject as he believed the necessities of the country required, and as the public sentiment of the country would sustain. The Emancipation proclamation was issued on the 1st of January, 1863, and measures were adopted soon afterwards to provide for the changes which it made inevitable. On the 20th of January, the Secretary of War authorized Governor Andrew, of Massachusetts, to enlist volunteers for three years, and to include persons of African descent, organized into a separate corps. In April negro troops were enlisted by Adjutant General Thomas for service in Arkansas, and on the 15th of that month he issued an order appointing commissioners to superintend the execution of a policy which the Government had adopted for committing the protection of the banks of the Mississippi to a negro force. On the 22d of May, orders were issued by the Secretary of War creating a Bureau of the War Department for all matters relating to the organization of colored troops, and establishing rules for their enlistment, and for the appointment of officers to command. them. And, on the 20th of August, Hon. J. Holt, JudgeAdvocate General, sent to the President an official opinion, to the effect that, under the laws of Congress on the subject, he had full authority to enlist slaves for service in the army precisely as he might enlist any other persons-providing for compensation to loyal owners whose property might thus be taken for the public service.
These were the initial steps of a movement for the employment of negro troops, which has gone forward steadily ever since, until, as has been seen from the President's Message,
over 100,000 negro soldiers are now in the army of the United States, contributing largely, by their courage and good conduct, to the suppression of the rebellion which seeks the perpetual enslavement of their race. The popular prejudice against their employment in the army, which was so potent at the beginning, has gradually given way, even in the slaveholding States, to a more just estimate of the necessities of the emergency and the capacities of the negro race. And what is of still more importance to the welfare of the country, the people of the slaveholding States have taken up the question of slavery for discussion and practical action, as one in which their own well-being, present and prospective, is deeply involved. The Union party in every Southern State favors the abolition of slavery, and in Missouri, Maryland, Louisiana, and Arkansas, measures are already far advanced which will inevitably lead to the speedy overthrow of an institution which has proved so detrimental to their interests, and so menacing to the unity of the nation and the stability of republican institutions.
It formed no part of the object of this work to deal in eulogy or in criticism of President LINCOLN and his administration. Its purpose will have been attained if it places his acts and words in such a form that those who read them may judge for themselves of the merits and defects of the policy he has pursued. It has been his destiny to guide the nation through the stormiest period of its existence. No one of his predecessors, not even Washington, encountered difficulties of equal magnitude, or was called to perform duties of equal responsibility. He was elected by a minority of the popular vote, and his election was regarded by a majority of the people as the immediate occasion, if not the cause, of civil war; yet upon him devolved the necessity of carrying on that
war, and of combining and wielding the energies of the nation for its successful prosecution. The task, under all the circumstances of the case, was one of the most gigantic that ever fell to the lot of the head of any nation.
From the outset, Mr. LINCOLN's reliance was upon the spirit and patriotism of the people. He had no overweening estimate of his own sagacity; he was quite sensible of his lack of that practical knowledge of men and affairs which experience of both alone can give; but he had faith in the devotion of the people to the principles of Republican government, in their attachment to the Constitution and the Union, and in that intuitive sagacity of a great community which always transcends the most cunning devices of individual men, and, in a great and perilous crisis, more resembles inspiration than the mere deductions of the human intellect. At the very outset of his administration, President LINCOLN cast himself without reserve and without fear, upon this reliance. It has ever been urged against him as a reproach that he has not assumed to lead and control public sentiment, but has been content to be the exponent and the executor of its will. Possibly an opposite course might have succeeded, but possibly, also, it might have ended in disastrous and fatal failure. One thing is certain the policy which he did pursue has not failed. The rebellion has not succeeded; the authority of the Government has not been overthrown; no 'new government, resting on slavery as its corner-stone, has yet been established upon this continent, nor has any foreign nation been provoked or permitted to throw its sword into the scale against us. A different policy might have done better, but it might also have done worse. A wise and intelligent people will hesitate long before they condemn an administration which has done well, on the mere hypothesis that another might have done better.
success. He has maintained, through the terrible trials of his administration, a reputation, with the great body of the people, for unsullied integrity, of purpose and of conduct, which even Washington did not surpass, and which no President since Washington has equalled. He has had command of an army greater than that of any living monarch; he has wielded authority less restricted than that conferred by any other constitutional government; he has disbursed sums of money equal to the exchequer of any nation in the world; yet no man, of any party, believes him in any instance to have aimed at his own aggrandizement, to have been actuated by personal ambition, or to have consulted any other interest than the welfare of his country, and the perpetuity of its Republican form of government. This of itself is a success which may well challenge universal admiration, for it is one which is the indispensable condition of all other forms of No man whose public integrity was open to suspicion, no matter what might have been his abilities or his experience, could possibly have retained enough of public confidence to carry the country through such a contest as that in which we are now involved. No President suspected of seeking his own aggrandizement at the expense of his country's liberties, could ever have received such enormous grants of power as were essential to the successful prosecution of this war. They were lavishly and eagerly conferred upon Mr. LINCOLN, because it was known and felt everywhere that he would not abuse them. Faction has had in him no mark for its assaults. The weapons of party spirit have recoiled harmlessly from the shield of his unspotted character.
It was this unanimous confidence in the disinterested purity of his character, and in the perfect integrity of his public purposes, far more than any commanding intellectual ability, that enabled Washington to hold the faith and confidence of the American people steadfast for seven years, while they waged