Page images

could tell what she wore. A rich black silk dress, with narrow flounces; a black cape, with a broad trimming of velvet around the border, and a plain hat of the same bue, composed her costume. A shade of weariness, doubtless tho result of her labors in behalf of the sick and wounded in Washington, rested upon her countenance; but the change seemed pleasant to her, and the scenes of camp were noted with evident interest. The President wore a dark sack overcoat and a fur muffler, while Master Lincoln sported a suit of gray, and rambled about among the tents, examining the quarters of the staff, and watched by the orderlies and sentries with a curiosity somewhat amusing. THE ENROLMENT ACT AND THE RIGHTS

OF ALIENS. To enumerate all the proclamations which the President issued during the year 1863, would be impossible in this work, and we must therefore restrict ourselves to those which were of more than usual interest. The one in regard to the rights of aliens, under the act calling out the national forces, was one of these, and reads as follows:

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 ap proved on the third day of March last, and,

Whereas, It is recited in the said act that there now exists in the United States an insurrection and rebellion against the authority thereof, and it is, under the Constitution of the United States, the duty of the Government to suppress insurrection and rebellion, to guarantee to each State a republican form of government, and to preserve the public tranquility, and

" Whereas, For these high" purposes a military force is indispensable, to raise and support which all persons ought willingly to contribute ; and

Whereas, No service can be more praiseworthy and honor. able than that which is rendered for the maintenance of the Constitution and the Union, and the consequent preservation of the Government; and

Whereas, For the reasons thus recited, it was enacted by the said statute that all able-bodied male citizens of the United States and persons of foreign birth, who shall have declared on


oath their intentions to become citizens, under and in pursuance of the laws thereof, between the ages of twenty and forty-five years, with certain exceptions not necessary to be here mentioned, are declared to constitute the national forces, and shall be liable to perform military duty in the service of the United States, when called out by the President for that purpose ; and

Whereas, It is claimed, and in behalf of persons of foreign birth within the ages specified in said act who have heretoforo declared on oath their intentions to become citizens under and in pursuance of the laws of the United States, and who have not exercised the right of suffrage or any other political franchise under the laws of the United States, or any of the States thereof, are not absolutely precluded by their aforesaid declaration of intention from renouncing their purpose to become citizens, and that, on the contrary, such persons under treaties or the law of nations, retain a right to renounce that purpose and to forego the privilege of citizenship and residence within the United States under the obligations imposed by the aforesaid act of Congress.

“Now, therefore, to avoid all misapprehensions concerning the liability of persons concerned to perform the service required by such enactment, and to give it full effect, I do hereby order and proclaim that no plea of alienage will be received or allowed to exempt from the obligations imposed by the aforesaid act of Congress, any person of foreign birth who shall have declared, on oath, his intention to become a citizen of the United States under the laws thereof, and who shall be found within the United States at any time during the continuance of the present insurrection and rebellion, at or after the expiration of the sixty-five days from the date of this proc. lamation, nor shall any such plea of aliepage be allowed in favor of any such person who has so as aforesaid declared his intention to become a citizen of the United States, and shall have exercised at any time the right of suffrage or any other political franchise within the United States, under the laws thereof, or under the laws of any of the several States.

“ 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 eighth day of May, in the year of our Lord 1863, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-seventh. “ By the President,


On the fifteenth day of July, 1863, the President or. dered the sixth of the following month to be set apart as



a day of National Thanksgiving. Victories had crowned our arms on land and sea, and no greater cause for offering thanks to the Almighty ever prompted the Chief Magistrate of a country to call the people together, and few proclamations were ever written more chaste and beautiful than the following:

“ It has pleased Almighty God to hearken to the supplications and prayers of an afflicted people, and to vouchsafe to the army and the navy of the United States, on the land and on the sea, victories so signal and so effective as to furnish reasonable grounds for augmented confidence that the union of these States will be maintained, their constitutions preserved, and their peace and prosperity permanently preserved.

“But these victories have been accorded not without sacrifice of le, limb and liberty, incurred by the brave, patriotic and loyal citizens. Domestic afiliction in every part of the country follo:vs in the train of these fearful bereavements. It is meet and right to recognize and confess the presence of the Almighty Father, and the power of His hand equally in these triumphs and these sorrows.

“Now, therefore, be it known, that I do set apart Thursday, the sixth day of August next, to be observed as a day for national Thanksgiving, praise, and prayer, and I invite the people of the United States to assemble on that occasion in their customary places of Worship, and in the forms approved by their own conscience, render the homage due to the Divine Majesty for the wonderful thing's He has done in the nation's behalf, and invoke the influence of His Holy Spirit to subdue the anger which has produced and so long sustained a needless and cruel rebellion; to change the hearts of the insurgents, to guide the counsels of the government with wisdom adequate to so great a national emergency, and to visit with tender care and consolation throughout the length and breadth of our land all those who through the vicissitudes of marches, voyages, battles and sieges, have been brought to suffer in mind, body or estate and family, to lead the whole nation through paths of repentance and submission to the Divine Will, back to the perfect enjoymient of Union and fraternal peace.

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 15th day of July, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixtythree, and of the independence of the United States of America the eighty-eighth.

"A BRAHAM LINCOLN. By the President:

WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State."



[ocr errors]


[ocr errors]


EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION. The following letter, written in August, 1863, in answer to an invitation to attend a meeting of unconditional Union men held in Illinois, gives at length the President's views at that time on his Emancipation proclamation :

“EXECUTIVE Mansion, WASHINGTON, August 26th, 1863, “MY DEAR SIR :-Your letter inviting me to attend a mass meeting of unconditional Union men, to be held at the capitol of Illinois on the third day of September, has been received. It would be very agreeable to me thus to meet my old friends at my own home; but I cannot just now be absent from this city so long as a visit there would require. The meeting is to be of all those who maintain unconditional devotion to the Union ; and I am sure that my old political friends will thank me for tendering, as I do, the nation's gratitude to those other noble men whom no partisan malice or partisan hope can make false to the nation's life. There are those who are dissatisfied with

To such I would say :—You desire peace, and you blame me that we do not have it. But how can we attain it ? There are but three conceivable ways : First, to suppress the rebellion by force of arms. This I am trying to do. Are you for it? If

you are, so far we are agreed. If you are not for it, a second way is to give up the Union. I am against this. If you are, you should say so, plainly. If you are not for force, nor yet for dissolution, there only remains some imaginable compromise. I do not believe that any compromise embracing the maintenance of the Union is now possible. All that I learn leads to a directly opposite belief. The strength of the rebellion is its military—its army. That army dominates all the country and all the people within its range. Any offer of any terms made by any man or men within that range in opposition to that army is simply nothing for the present, because such man or men have no power whatever to enforce their side of a compromise, if one were made with them. To illustrate : Suppose refugees from the South and peace men of the North get together in convention, and frame and proclaim a compromise embracing the restoration of the Union. In what way can that compromise be used to keep General Lee's army out of Penn. sylvania ? General Meade's army can keep Lee's army out of Pennsylvania, and I think can ultimately drive it out of existence. But no paper compromise to which the controllers of General Lee's army are not agreed, can at all affect that army. In an effort at such compromise we would waste time which the enemy would improve to our disadvantage, and that would be ell. A compromise, to be effective, must be made either with

the negro.

[ocr errors]

those who control the rebel army, or with the people, first liberated from the domination of that army by the guccess of our army. Now, allow me to assure you that no word or intimation from the rebel army, or from any of the men controlling it, in relation to any peace compromise, has ever come to my knowledge or belief. All charges and intimations to the contrary are deceptive and groundless. And I promise you that if any such proposition shall hereafter come, it shall not be rejected and kept secret from you. I freely acknowledge myself to be the servant of the people, according to the bond of service, the United States constitution ; and that, as such, I am responsible to them. But, to be plain. You are dissatisfied with me abou:

Quite likely there is a difference of opinion between you and myself upon that subject. I certainly wish that all men could be free, while you, I suppose, do not. Yet I have neither adopted nor proposed any measure which is not consistent with even your view, provided you are for the Union. I suggested compensated emancipation, to which you replied that you wished not to be taxed to bu negroes. But I have not asked you to be taxed to buy negroes, except in such way as to save you from greater taxation, to save the Union exclusively by other means.

You dislike the emancipation proclamation, and perhaps would have it retracted. You say it is unconstitutional. I think differently. I think that the constitution invests its commander-in-chief with the law of war in time of war. The most that can be said, if so much, is, that the slaves are property. Is there, has there ever been, any question that by the law of war, property, both of enemies and friends, may be taken when needed ? And is it not needed whenever taking it helps us or hurts the enemy? Armies, the world over, destroy enemies' property when they cannot use it; and even destroy their own to keep it from the enemy. Civilized belligerents do all in their power to help themselves or hurt the enemy, except a few things regarded as barbarous or cruel. Among the exceptions are the massacre of vanquished foes and non-combatants, male and female. But the proclamation, as law, is valid or is not valid. If it is not valid it needs no retraction. If it is valid it cannot be retracted, any more than the dead can be brought to life. Some of you profess to think that its retraction woald operate favorably for the Union. Why better after the retraction than before the issue? There was more than a year and a half of trial to suppress the rebellion before the proclamation was issued, the last one hundred days of which passed under an explicit notice, that it was coming unless averted by those in revolt returning to their allegiance. The war has certainly progressed as favorably for us since the issue of the proclamation as before. I know as fully as one can know the opinions of others, that some of the commanders of our armies in the field, who

« PreviousContinue »