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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 inconceivably 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."
What Mr. Lincoln said in this paper, touching the dissatisfaction with which his revocation of General Hunter's order of emancipation had been received, was true. People were tired of the governmental protection of slavery in the rebel states; and they had reason to be. Mr. Lincoln felt all this, but he could not forsake his friends, until he had tried every means to save them. In his revocation of General Hunter's order, one of the most beautiful and touching appeals that man ever penned, occurs-an appeal which the mistaken men before him had already had the opportunity of reading. In that paper, after quoting the resolution which Congress had passed pledging the country to compensation for emancipation, he said:
"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 nor 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.”
Still forbearing, still arguing, still beseeching, Mr. Lincoln stood before these border-state legislators, for whose sake he was suffering sharp reproach in the house of his best friends; but they were unmoved. They could not read the signs of
the times. Only nine of the twenty-nine who responded gave words of friendliness and approval. If, since then, they have found themselves and their friends in distress through the destruction of their property, they can have no reproaches to cast upon the patient man who so faithfully besought them to save themselves while there was an opportunity.
Two acts were passed by this session which respectively called out a message from the President. The confiscation. act, to which allusion has already been made, touched a subject on which he had peculiar views. It would be difficult to express in the English language the basis of the right of Congress to free the slaves of rebels, in clearer and more unanswerable tones than Mr. Lincoln used when he wrote: "It is startling to say that Congress can free a slave within a state, and yet, were it said that the ownership of the slave had first been transferred to the nation, and that Congress had then liberated him, the difficulty would vanish; and this is the real case. The traitor against the general governmentforfeits his slave, at least as justly as he does any other property; and he forfeits both to the government against which he offends. The government, so far as there can be ownership, owns the forfeited slaves; and the question for Congress, in regard to them, is,-Shall they be made free, or sold to new masters? I see no objection to Congress deciding in advance that they should be free." The argument of a whole volume would not make the subject clearer.
The other act abolished slavery in the District of Columbia, and he merely pointed out an oversight in the bill, expressing at the same time his gratification that it recognized the two principles of colonization and compensation. It must have been with peculiar satisfaction that he thus completed a work which he began while he was a member of Congress himself, many years before.
Late in the session, Mr. Lincoln sent to Congress the draft of a bill for the compensation of any state that might abolish slavery within its limits; which, although it was referred to a committee, was not acted upon, as there appeared no disposi
tion on the part of the border states to respond to the action which Congress had already taken.
Meantime, and especially after the enactment of the confiscation bill, presses and people maintained their clamor for a sweeping proclamation of emancipation. The clamor took a direct and definite form in a letter addressed by Horace Greeley, through the New York Tribune. The letter was severe in its terms, and intemperate in spirit. Any President who had occupied the office previous to Mr. Lincoln, would have passed over such a letter in silence, however much it might have annoyed or pained him. Mr. Lincoln, however, never thought of his dignity, and saw no reason why the President of the United States should not appear in a newspaper, as well as other men. He accordingly replied to Mr. Greeley, under date of August twenty-second, in a letter which, for conciseness and lucidity, may well be regarded as a model, whether the position assumed in it was sound or otherwise. Mr. Lincoln wrote as follows:
"Hon. Horace Greeley, Dear Sir: I have just read yours of the nineteenth instant, addressed to myself through the New York Tribune.
"If there be in it any statements or assumptions of fact which I may know to be erroneous, I do not now and here controvert them.
"If there be any inferences which I may believe to be falsely drawn, I do not now and here argue against them.
"If there be perceptible in it an impatient and dictatorial tone, I waive it in deference to an old friend whose heart I have always supposed to be right.
"As to the policy I 'seem to be pursuing,' as you say, I have not meant to leave any one in doubt. I would save the Union. I would save it in the shortest way under the Constitution.
"The sooner the national authority can be restored, the nearer the Union will be-the Union as it was.
"If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them.
"If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them.
"My paramount object is to save the Union, and not either to save or destroy slavery.
“If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it; and if I
could do it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that.
“What I do about slavery and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save this Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union.
"I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I believe doing more will help the
"I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors, and I shall adopt new views so fast as they shall appear to be true views.
"I have here stated my purpose according to my views of official duty, and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free.
Mr. Lincoln was anxious to take no steps which he should be obliged to retrace through the lack of popular support, and at this time he was carefully measuring the public opinion on the subject of emancipation. A part of the preliminary work he had accomplished. He had performed with the tenderest and most assiduous fidelity all his duty toward the border slave states. He had warned them, besought them, advised them, to get out of the way of an event which he felt certain would come. He knew that the institution of slavery would not be worth a straw, in any state, after it should be destroyed in the rebel states. But they turned a deaf ear to his warnings and entreaties; and in this manner, if not in the manner desired, took themselves out of his way.
His letter to Horace Greeley was, without doubt, intended to prepare the mind of the country for emancipation, and to exhibit the principles and exigencies by which he should be controlled in proclaiming it. He was clearing away obstacles, and preparing his ground; and, in connection with events which wait for record, the time for action came at last.
Mr. Cameron was not very successful in the administration of the affairs of his bureau. It is no derogation to his ability as a statesman to say that, for the discharge of the duties of the war office, at the time he occupied it, he had no eminent fitness. It was not the office he would have chosen for himself. He had immense and almost countless contracts at his disposal, and could give to them but little personal care. That
he was overreached, under the circumstances, was almost a matter of course, and many of his contracts were very bad ones. Congress, after his resignation, censured him for his loose way of doing business, in intrusting Alexander Cummings of New York with the expenditure of large sums of money without restriction; but Mr. Lincoln, by a special message, assumed all the responsibility of Mr. Cummings' appointment to this duty and responsibility. Mr. Cameron resigned his position on the 11th of January, 1862; and Mr. Lincoln showed what he thought of the charges of fraud against him, by appointing him minister to Russia. Nevertheless, it was to be said of him that Mr. Chase found it difficult to raise money while he remained to make contracts. He resigned while the House was busy with overhauling his affairs; and it occurred that he sent in his resignation on the same day on which Mr. Dawes of Massachusetts was making a powerful speech against him, and on which the special committee on government contracts made a report severely condemning his operations.
Mr. Lincoln appointed Edwin M. Stanton of Ohio to the office thus vacated. Mr. Stanton was a democrat, and had been a member of Mr. Buchanan's cabinet-was, indeed, the first one in that cabinet to protest against the downright treason into which it was drifting. He was a man of indomitable energy, devoted loyalty and thorough honesty. Contractors could not manipulate him, and traitors could not deceive him. Impulsive, perhaps, but true; willful, it is possible, but placable; impatient, but persistent and efficient, he became, at once, one of the most marked and important of the members of the cabinet. Mr. Lincoln loved him and believed in him from first to last. When inquired of concerning the reasons for his appointment, Mr. Lincoln said he rather wished, at first, to appoint a man from one of the border states, but he knew the New England people would object; and then, again, it would have given him great satisfaction to appoint a man from New England, but that would displease the border states. On the whole, he thought he had better take a man from some intervening territory; "and, to tell you the truth, gentlemen,'