« PreviousContinue »
of law were not sufficient to restrain disloyal persons from hindering the execution of a draft of militia which had been ordered, discouraging enlistments, and giving aid and comfort in various ways to the insurrection, he declared "the writ of habeas corpus suspended, touching all persons who should be arrested, confined, or sentenced by court martial, for these offenses. The measure created great dissatisfaction, particularly among those who were not in favor of the war, and those who were anxious to make political headway against the administration. There was an outcry against “military despotism,” against the “abridgment of the right of free speech," against the “suppression of the liberty of the press, etc.; the freedom with which these strictures were made, without attracting the slightest notice of the government, refuting the charges as rapidly as they were uttered.
At the succeeding session of Congress, these complaints had immediate expression; and the proclamation was furiously attacked at once. Resolutions were introduced, censuring the “ arbitrary arrest” of persons in the loyal states; and the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus was vehemently denounced. It appeared by these demonstrations that the public liberty was endangered, and that the Constitution was subverted. It is possible that some of those, engaged in this outcry were honest in their fears and denunciations; but some of them were notorious sympathizers with the rebels, and were doing, and had done everything in their power to aid the rebellion. Nothing was more notorious than that the country abounded with spies and informers, and men who discouraged enlistments, and counseled resistance to a draft. Congress, however, was on the side of the government, and passed a bill sustaining the President, and indemnifying him and all who acted under him in the execution of his policy. It is quite possible that injustice was done in some of these is arbitrary arrests”-it would be strange, indeed, if it were otherwise--but the prophets of the degeneracy of the government into a military despotism have their answer now, in the peaceful and ready return to the old status.
There was one vice of the army that gave Mr. Lincoln great pain; and that was the unnecessary disregard of the Sabbath. Armies, of course, cannot always be good Sabbathkeepers; but he saw in them a disposition to do work on that day not at all necessary, and to engage in sports quite in dissonance with its spirit. So, on the sixteenth of November, he issued a circular letter upon the subject, in which he told the soldiers that “the importance for man and beast of the prescribed weekly rest, the sacred rights of Christian soldiers and sailors, a becoming deference to the best sentiment of a Christian people, and a due regard for the Divine Will, demand that Sunday labor in the army and navy be reduced to the measure of strict necessity.” He continued: “The discipline and character of the national forces should not suffer, nor the cause they defend be imperiled, by the profanation of the day, or the name of the Most High.” The letter shows how closely he had associated the will of the Most High with the national cause, and how profound was his reverence for the institutions of Cirristianity.
This chapter, and the record of the events of the year, can not be better closed, perhaps, than by an incident which shows that, in Mr. Lincoln's greatest necessity for popular support, he disdained, with all the strength of his old sense of justice and fairness, any trick for gaining that support. After New Orleans was taken, and a certain portion of the state reclaimed and held by military power, movements were commenced for the representation of the state in Congress. Mr. Lincoln was charged with conniving with this movement, and with intending to secure members of Congress from Louisiana, elected under military pressure, who would assist in maintaining his policy, and make a show of the returning loyalty of the state. On the twenty-first of November, he wrote to G. F. Shepley, the military governor of Louisiana, as fol
“Dear SirDr. Kennedy, bearer of this, has some apprehension that Federal officers, not citizens of Louisiana, may be set up as candidates for Congress in that state. In my view, there could be no possible ob
ject in suca an election. We do not particularly need members of Congress from those states to enable us to get along with legislation here. What we do want is the conclusive evidence that respectable citizens of Louisiana are willing to be members of Congress, and to swear support to the Constitution; and that other respectable citizens there are willing to yote for them and send them. To send a parcel of northern men here as representatives, elected as would be understood (and perhaps really so), at the point of the bayonet, would be disgraceful and outrageous; and, were I a member of Congress here, I would vote against admitting any such man to a seat.”
The events of 1863, legislative, military, and personal as they relate to Mr. Lincoln, must receive only a brief and condensed review. It will have been noticed, by several incidents that have been recorded in this narrative, and by sundry papers of Mr. Lincoln, that, during the whole of his presidency thus far, he had indulged in projects of colonization of the freed blacks. Congress had so far regarded his suggestions as to place at his disposal a sum of money for experiments in colonization. In August, 1862, he called to the Executive Mansion a representative company of negroes whom he familiarly addressed on the subject, freely telling them of the disadvantages under which they labored, expressing his convictions that they suffered much by living in association with the whites, and uttering his conviction that the whites suffered by living with them, even when they were free. His wish was to have them colonized at some point in Central America; and he promised to spend some of the money intrusted to him, if they would join in sufficient numbers to make an experiment.
In his message delivered to Congress on the opening of the session of 1862–63, he called up the subject again; and communicated information of the measures he had taken, for effecting his wishes, and securing to the blacks the benefits of the congressional provision. He had had correspondence with some of the Spanish-American republics, and they had protested against the reception of black colonies. He had declined to move any colonists forward, under the circumstances, and should still desist, unless they could be protected. Liberia and Hayti were the only countries to which they could go, with the certainty of immediate adoption as citizens; and the blacks manifested a strange indisposition to emigrate to those countries.
This dream of colonization, in which Mr. Lincoln so benevolently indulged, was destined to fail of even partial realization. He loved the negro too well to wish him to remain where the prejudices of race would shut him out from the full recognition of his manhood. He not only wanted him free, but he wanted him located where he might receive all the rights of citizenship, and where he could live-self-respectful and independent–in the society of his equals and his race. It was a matter of pitying wonder with him that the negro should love to live with a race that abused him, and held him at so low a value in the scale of humanity.
All the closing portion of this message was devoted to an earnest discussion of the scheme of compensated emancipation. Notwithstanding he had issued his preliminary proclamation of freedom to the slaves of rebels, and expected soon to complete that work; and notwithstanding his conviction that slavery could not long survive this proclamation, even in the loyal slave states, he never forgot that neither over slavery in these states, the Constitution nor the necessities of war gave him any control. One thing he did forget, viz: that these states had uniformly turned their backs upon all his earnest and kindly efforts to save them from a loss which he was certain must ultimately fall upon them.
With the exposition of his views upon this subject, Mr. Lincoln submitted the draft of a resolution embodying his policy. This resolution proposed certain articles as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, to be acted upon by the legislatures or conventions of the several states. These articles, by being adopted by the legislatures of three-fourths of the states, should become valid, and be held as parts of the Constitution. They provided that every slave state which should voluntarily abolish the slave system at any date previous to