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There was one vice of the
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 Christianity.
This chapter, and the record of the events of the year, cannot 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 follows:
“Dear Sir_Dr. Kennedv, 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 such 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 vote 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 disgrace ful 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
the year 1900, should receive a specified compensation. Slaves who should be freed by the chances of war should remain free, though loyal masters should receive compensation for them. The closing article provided that Congress might “appropriate money, and otherwise provide for colonizing free colored persons, with their own consent, at any place or places without the United States."
Sudden emancipation was never in accordance with Mr. Lincoln's judgment. Nothing but the necessities of war would have induced him to decree it with relation to the slaves of
any state. His thought was, that, by giving every state the opportunity to terminate slavery in its own way, within a period of thirty-seven years, the institution could be removed without a shock to the prosperity and the social institutions of the whites, and without bringing to the blacks a freedom which many of them, at least, would not know how to use. The stress of feeling under which he urged this measure, is sufficiently exhibited by the closing paragraph of the message: “Fellow citizens,”—thus reals the passage—“We cannot escape history. We of this Congress, and this Administration, will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance or insignificance can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the latest generation. We say that we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The world knows we know how to save it. * * * In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free-honorable alike in what we give and what we preserve. We shall nobly save or meanly lose the last, best hope of earth. Other means may suceeed; this could not, cannot, fail. The way is plain, peaceful
, generous, just-a way which, if followed, the world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless."
Allusion has been made, in the preceding chapter, to the action of this session, on the subject of arbitrary arrests; and the subject does not need to be recalled further than to say that the discussion which it excited fully illustrated the polit