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head, a Pennsylvanian; and ex-Postmaster-General Horatio King, born in Maine, and lately of President Buchanan's Cabinet. The labors of these commissioners were arduous and complicated, involving the legal title to each slave for whom a claim was presented, the loyalty of the claimant, and the market value of every human chattel included in the final award. In settling the latter question, the aid of slave-trading experts was used. Compensation was allowed for 2,989 slaves, amounting - at an average of $300 each, as limited by Congress, apportioned pro rata, — to $896,700. As appraised, the aggregate value exceeded two million dollars. The report of the commissioners* (dated January 14, 1863) having been submitted to the Secretary of the Treasury, they called on the President, then in the midst of the troubles following the Fredericksburg battle. He received them cordially, and when informed that their work was finished, he responded in his own manner: “I am glad to know that somebody has got something done."
Missouri had become a source of continual vexation to the President. Of disunionists, open or covert, there was an abundance, and honest Union men were divided into factions that were in relentless wrangle. Among the Germans there was dissatisfaction over the removal of Fremont, and to them had been due, as Lincoln well understood, much, if not most, in saving Missouri at the outset. He had, in the early days of Halleck's military administration there, sought to allay this dis
* Executive Document No. 42, Thirty-eighth Congress.
content, asking the aid of an Illinois friend, Gustav Koerner, one of the foremost Germans of the West, who visited St. Louis bearing a letter to the General, in which Lincoln said (January 15, 1862):
The Germans are true and patriotic, and so far as they have got cross in Missouri it is upon mistake and misunderstanding. Without a knowledge of its contents, Governor Koerner, of Illinois, will hand you this letter. He is an educated and talented German gentleman, as true a man as lives. With his assistance you can set everything right with the Germans. ... My clear judgment is that, with reference to the German element in your command, you should have Governor Koerner with you; and if agreeable to you and him, I will make him a Brigadier-General, so that he can afford to give his time. He does not wish to command in the field, though he has more military knowledge than some who do. If he goes into the place, he will simply be an efficient, zealous and unselfish assistant to you. I say all this upon intimate personal acquaintance with Governor Koerner.
The Germans, however, remained aggrieved. Halleck's dealings with slavery did not please them; and there were complaints that the President did not give prominence enough to General Sigel. Nor were discontented Germans the only source of trouble. General Curtis, Halleck's successor, was regarded as too radical and rigid by Governor Gamble, with whom Attorney-General Bates was in sympathy, as well as by Conservatives generally. There was a strong faction opposed to Gamble. The root of the evil was slavery. Some wished it to be let alone; some favored gradual emancipation; some insisted on immediate abolition. The two parties of Unionists were also quarreling over other men and other matters. The President, constantly appealed to, would not nationalize a local
squabble by giving either side his exclusive approval. Both tried his patience severely. When, in the hope of abating this affliction, he proposed to give General Schofield command of the department in place of Curtis, the turmoil became worse than ever. A public meeting of German citizens, on the roth of May, 1863, adopted a set of resolutions on the subject which were presented at the White House by Mr. James Taussig. His report, of which the chief points are here given, has a genuine flavor throughout:
1. The President said that it may be a misfortune for the nation that he was elected President. But, having been elected by the people, he meant to be President, and perform his duty according to his best understanding, if he had to die for it. No General will be removed, nor will any change in the Cabinet be made, to suit the views or wishes of any particular party, faction, or set of men. General Halleck is not guilty of the charges made against him, most of which arise from misapprehension or ignorance of those who prefer them.
2. The President said it was a mistake to suppose that Generals John C. Fremont, B. F. Butler and F. Sigel are “systematically kept out of command," as stated in the fourth resolution; that, on the contrary, he fully appreciated the merits of the gentlemen named; that by their own action they had placed themselves in the positions which they occupied; that he was not only willing but anxious to place them again in command as soon as he could find spheres of action for them, without doing injustice to others, but that at present he “had more pegs than holes to put them in.”
3. As to the want of unity, the President, without admitting such to be the case, intimated that each member of the Cabinet was responsible mainly for the manner of conducting the affairs of his particular department; that there was no centralization of responsibility for the action of the Cabinet anywhere, except in the President himself.
4. The dissensions between Union men in Missouri are due solely to a factious spirit, which is exceedingly reprehensible. The two parties “ought to have their heads knocked together.” “Either would rather see the defeat of their adversary than that of Jefferson Davis.” To this spirit of faction is to be ascribed the failure of the Legislature to elect Senators and the defeat of the Missouri Aid Bill in Congress, the passage of which the President strongly desired. The President said that the Union men in Missouri who are in favor of gradual emancipation represented his views better than those who are in favor of immediate emancipation. In explanation of his views on this subject, the President said that in his speeches he had frequently used as an illustration the case of a man who had an excrescence on the back of his neck, the removal of which, in one operation, would result in the death of the patient, while
taking it off by degrees ” would preserve life. Although sorely tempted, I did not reply with the illustration of the dog whose tail was amputated by inches, but confined myself to arguments. The President announced clearly that, so far as he was at present advised, the Radicals in Missouri had no right to consider themselves the exponents of his views on the subject of emancipation in that State.
5. General Curtis was not removed on account of any wrong act or great mistake committed by him. The system of Provost-Marshals established by him throughout the State gave rise to violent complaint ; that the President had thought at one time to appoint General Fremont in his place; that at another time he had thought of appointing General McDowell, whom he characterized as a good and loyal though very unfortunate soldier; and that, at last, General Schofield was appointed, with a view, if possible, to reconcile and satisfy the two factions in Missouri. He has instructions not to interfere with either party, but to confine himself to his military duties.
I assure you, gentlemen, said Mr. Taussig in conclusion) that our side was as fully presented as the occasion permitted. At the close of the conversation the President remarked that there was evidently a " serious misunderstanding” springing up between him and the Germans of St. Louis, which he would like to see removed. Observing to him that the differences of opinion related to facts, men and measures, I withdrew.
Writing to General Schofield (May 27th) directly after he assumed command of the Department of the Missouri, the President said: “I wish you to undo nothing merely because General Curtis or Governor Gamble did it, but to exercise your own judgment, and do right for the public interest. Let your military measures be strong enough to repel the invaders and keep the peace, and not so strong as to unnece
ecessarily harass and persecute the people. It is a difficult role, and so much greater will be the honor if you perform it well. If both factions, or neither, shall abuse you, you will probably be about right. Beware of being assailed by one party and praised by the other."
A few months later (October 5th) the President replied at much length to a communication from Charles D. Drake and other radicals, setting forth in form and detail their discontents and desires. All these are now well forgotten, but there is no oblivion for words like these in Lincoln's response:
We are in civil war. In such cases there always is a main question ; but in this case that question is a perplexing compound — Union and Slavery. It thus becomes a question not of two sides merely, but of at least four sides, even among those who are for the Union, saying nothing of those who are against it. Thus, those who are for the Union with, but not without slavery,—those for it without, but not with those for it with or without, but prefer it with, and those for it with or without, but prefer it without. Among these, again, is a subdivision of those who are for gradual, but not for immediate, and those who are for immediate, but not for gradual extinction of slavery.