« PreviousContinue »
Progress of our Arms.
now an aggregate of not less than forty thousand in the field for the Union ; while of their citizens certainly not more than a third of that number, and they of doubtful whereabouts and doubtful existence, are in arms against it. After a somewbat bloody struggle of months, winter closes on the Union people of Western Virginia, leaving them masters of their own country.
"An insurgent force of about fifteen hundred, for months dominating the narrow peninsular region, constituting the counties of Accomac and Northampton, and known as the eastern shore of Virginia, together with some contiguous parts of Maryland, have laid down their arms; and the people there have renewed their allegiance to, and accepted the protection of the old flag. This leaves no armed insurrectionist north of the Potomac or east of the Chesapeake.
"Also we have obtained a footing at each of the isolated points, on the southern coast, of Hatteras, Port Royal, Tybee Island, near Savannah, and Ship Island ; and we likewise have some general accounts of popular movements, in behaif of the Union, in North Carolina and Tennessee.
“These things demonstrate that the cause of the Union is advancing steadily and certainly southward.
"Since your last adjournment, Lieut.-Gen. Scott has retired from the head of the army. During his long life, the nation has not been unmindful of his merit; yet, on calling to mind how faithfully, ably and brilliantly he has served the country, from a time far back in our history, when few of the now living had been born, and thenceforward continually, I can not but think we are still his debtors. I submit, therefore, for your consideration, what further mark of recognition is due to him, and to ourselves, as a grateful people.
“ With the retirement of Gen. Scott came the Executive duty of appointing, in his stead, a General-in-chief of the army. It is a fortunate circumstance that neither in council nor country was there, so far as I know, any difference of
opinion as to the proper person to be selected. The retiring chief repeatedly expressed his judgment in favor of Gev. McClellan for the position, and in this the nation seemed to give a unanimous concurrence. The designation of Gen. McClellan is, therefore, in considerable degree, the selection of the country as well as of the Executive; and hence there is better reason to hope there will be given him the confidence and - cordial support thus, by fair implication, promised, and without which he can not, with so full efficiency, serve the country.
“ It has been said that one bad General is better than two good ones; and the saying is true, if taken to mean no more than that an army is better directed by a single mind, though inferior, than by two superior ones at variance and crosspurposes with each other.
"And the same is true in all joint operations wherein those engaged can have none but a common end in view, and can differ only as to the choice of means. In a storm at sea, no one on board can wish the ship to sink, and yet, not unfrequently, all go down together because too many will direct and no single mind can be allowed to control.
“ It continues to develop that the insurrection is largely, if not exclusively, a war upon the first principle of popular government--the rights of the people. Conclusive evidence of this is found in the most grave and maturely-considered public documents, as well as in the general tone of the insurgents. In those documents we find the abridgment of the existing right of suffrage and the denial to the people of all right to participate in the selection of public officers, except the legislative, boldly advocated, with labored arguments to prove that large control of the people in government is the source of all political evil. Monarchy itself is sometimes hinted at as a possible refuge from the power of the people.
In my present position I could scarcely be justified were I to omit raising a warning voice against this approach of re. turning despotism.
Labor and Capital.
North and South.
It is not needed nor fitting here that a general argument should be made in favor of popular institutions ; but there is
point, with its connections, not so hackneyed as most others, to which I ask a brief attention. It is the effort to place capital on an equal footing with, if not above labor, in the structure of government.
It is assumed that labor is available only in connection with capital—that nobody labors unless somebody else, owning capital, somehow by the use of it induces him to labor. This assumed, it is next considered whether it is best that capital shall hire laborers, and thus induce them to work by their own consent, or buy them, and drive them to it without their consent. Having proceeded so far, it is naturally concluded that all laborers are either hired laborers, or what we call slaves. And further, it is assumed that whoever is once a bired laborer is fixed in that condition for life.
“Now, there is no such relation between capital and labor as assumed ; nor is there any such thing as a free man being fixed for life in the condition of a hired laborer. Both these assumptions are false, and all inferences from them are groundless.
"Labor is prior to and independent of capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. Capital has its rights, which are as worthy of protection as any other rights. Nor is it denied that there is, and probably always will be, a relation between labor and capital producing mutual benefits. The error is in assuming that the whole labor of community exists within that relation. A few men own capital, and that few avoid labor themselves, and with their capital hire or buy another few to labor for them. A large majority belong to neither class-neither work for others nor have others working for them. In most of the Southern States a majority of the whole people, of all colors, are neither slaves nor masters, while in the Northern a large majority are neither birers nor
Change of Laborer's Condition.
bired. Men, with their families—wives, sons, and daughterswork for themselves, on their farms, in their houses, and in their shops, taking the whole product to themselves, and asking no favors of capital, on the one hand, nor of hired laborers or slaves on the other. It is not forgotten that a considerable number of persons mingle their own labor with capital—that is, they labor with their own hands, and also buy or bire others to labor for them ; but this is only a mixed, and not a distinct class. No principle stated is disturbed by the existence of this mixed class.
Again, as has already been said, there is not, of necessity, any such thing as the free hired laborer being fixed to that condition for life. Many independent men everywhere in these States, a few years back in their lives, were bired laborers. The prudent, penniless beginner in the world, labors for wages awhile, saves a surplus with which to buy tools or land for himself, then labors on bis own account another while, and at length hires another new beginner to help him. This is the just, and generous, and prosperous system, wbich opens the way to all — gives hope to all, and consequent energy, and progress, and improvement of condition to all. Nó men living are more worthy to be trusted than those who toil up from poverty ; none less inclined to take or touch aught which they have not honestly earned. Let them beware of surrendering a political power which they already possess, and which, if surrendered, will surely be used to close the door of advancement against such as they, and to fix new disabilities and burdens upon them, till all of liberty shall be lost.
“ From the first taking of our National Census to the last are seventy years; and we find our population at the end of the period eight times as great as it was at the beginning. The increase of those other things which men deem desirable bas been even greater. We thus have at one view what the popular principle, applied to Government through the machinery of the States and the Union, bas produced in a given time, and
Acts of Congress.
also what if firmly maintained, it promises for the future. There are already among us those who, if the Union be preserved, will live to see it contain two hundred and fifty millions. The struggle of to-day is not altogether for to-day; it is for a vast future also. With a reliance on Providence all the more firm and earnest, let us proceed in the great task which events have devolved upon us.
“ABRAHAM LINCOLN. " WASHINGTON, December 3, 1861. "
At this session, provision was made for the issue of legal tender notes, and an internal revenue bill was matured, for the purposing of increasing largely the receipts of the Treasury, affording a basis for the payment of interest on authorized loans, and insuring confidence in the National currency.
A Congressional committee on the conduct of the war was also appointed, the evidence obtained by which was submitted to the President for his consideration and eventually given to the public.
A confiscation bill was passed, with a special provision for conditional pardon and amnesty, limiting the forfeiture of real estate to the lifetime of its rebel owners.
THE SLAVERY QUESTION.
Situation of the President-His Policy--Gradual Emancipation Message—Abolition of
Slavery in the District of Columbia-Repudiation of General Hunter's Emancipation Order-Conference with Congressmen from the Border Slave States-Address to the same-Military Order-Proclamation under the Confiscation Act.
What was to be the final disposition of the question of slavery could not be thrust aside. The intimate connection of this institution with our military operations, was perpetually