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District of Columbia.

Hunter's Proclamation Annulled.

some satisfactory way. Hence there has never been, in my mind, any question upon the subject except the one of expediency, arising in view of all the circumstances. If there be matters within and about this act which might have taken a course or shape more satisfactory to my judgment, I do not attempt to specify them. I am gratified that the two principles of compensation and colonization are both recognized and practically applied in the act.

“In the matter of compensation it is provided that claims may be presented within ninety days from the passage of the act, but not thereafter,' and there is no saving for minors, femes-covert, insane or absent persons. I presume this is an omission by mere oversight, and I recommend that it be supplied by an amendatory or supplemental act. “April 16, 1862.

A BRAHAM LINCOLN." The President's repudiation, by the following proclamation, of an emancipation order of General Hunter, was conclusive evidence that he was determined to keep the control of this vexed question in his own hands, and to suffer no military commander to exercise jurisdiction over it:

“ WHEREAS, There appears in the public prints what purports to be a proclamation of Major-General Hunter, in the words and figures following, to wit: HEAD-QUARTERS, DEPARTMENT OF THE SOUTH,

* Hilton Head, S. C., May 9th, 1862. GENERAL ORDERS No. 11.

* The three States of Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina, comprising the Military Department of the South, having deliberately declared themselves no longer under the protec. tion of the United States of America, and having taken up arms against the said United States, it becomes a military necessity to declare them under martial law.

This was accordingly done on the twenty-fifth day of April, 1862. Slavery and martial law in a free country are altogether in. compatible. The persons in these three States, Georgia,

Decision Reversed by the President.

Special Message.

Florida, and South Carolina, heretofore held as slaves, are therefore declared forever free.

DAVID HUNTER, Major-General Commanding. • Official :

Ed. W SMITH, Acting Assistant Adjutant General.' "AND WHEREAS, The same is producing some excitement and misunderstanding,

"Therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, proclaim and declare that the government of the United States had no knowledge or belief of an intention, on the part of General Hunter, to issue such a proclamation, nor has it yet any authentic information that the document is genuine ; and further, that neither General Hunter nor any other commander or person has been authorized by the government of the United States to make proclamation declaring the slaves of any State free, and that the supposed proclamation now in question, wbether genuine or false, is altogether void, so far as respects such declaration.

“I further make known, that whether it be competent for me as commander-in-chief of the army and navy to declare the slaves of any State or States free, and whether at any time, or in any case, it shall become a necessity indispensable to the maintenance of the Government to exercise such supposed power, are questions which, under my responsibility, I reserve to myself, and which I cannot feel justified in leaving to the decision of commanders in the field. These are totally different questions from those of police regulations in armies and camps.

On the sixth day of March last, by a special message, I recommended to Congress the adoption of a joint resolution, to be substantially as follows:

Resolved, That the United States ought to coöperate with any State which may adopt a gradual abolishment of slavery, giving to such State pecuniary aid, to be used by such State in its discretion, to compensate for the inconveniences, public and private, produced by such change of system.'

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Appeal to Border States.

Anticipations

“The resolution, in the language above quoted, was adopted by large majorities in both branches of Congress, and now stands an authentic, definite and solemn proposal of the nation to the States and people most immediately interested in the subject matter. To the people of these States I now earnest. ly appeal. I do not argue; I beseech you to make the argu ments for yourselves. You cannot, if you would, be blind to the signs of the times. I beg of you a calm and enlarged consideration of them, ranging, if it may be, far above personal and partisan politics. This proposal makes' common cause for a common object, casting no reproaches upon any.

It acts not the Pharisee. The change it contemplates would come gently as the dews of Heaven, not rending or wrecking any thing. Will you not embrace it? So much good has not been done by one effort in all past time, as in the Providence of God it is now your high privilege to do. May the vast future not have to lament that you have neglected it.

“In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my band, and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.

Done at the City of Washington, this nineteenth day of May, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, and of the Independence of the United States the eighty-sixth. "By the President:

A BRAHAM LINCOLN. " WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State."

A short time before the adjournment of Congress, while the country was in a state of great despondency, owing to the miscarriage of the Peninsular Campaign, the President, knowing that whatever measures events should point out as necessary to put down the rebellion must be adopted, and anticipating that a blow directed at the institution of slavery would, probably, at no distant period have to be dealt, invited the Senators and Representatives of the Border Slave States to a conference, for the purpose of preparing their

178

LIFE OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

Conference.

Appeal to Border States.

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minds for the happening of such a contingency. On this occasion he read to them the following carefully prepared address, to which he received an approving response from but nine of the twenty-nine :

GENTLEMEN :- After the adjournment of Congress, now near, I shall have no opportunity of seeing you for several months. Believing that you of the Border States hold more power for good than any other equal number of members, I feel it a duty which I can not justifiably waive to make this appeal to you.

“I intend no reproach or complaint when I assure you that, in my opinion, if you all had voted for the resolution in the gradual emancipation message of last March, the war would now be substantially ended. And the plan therein proposed is yet one of the most potent and swift means of ending it. Let the States which are in rebellion see definitely and certainly that in no event will the States you represent ever join their proposed Confederacy, and they can not much longer maintain the contest. But you can not divest them of their hope to ultimately have you with them so long as you show a determination to perpetuate the institution within your own States. Beat them at elections, as you have overwhelmingly done, and, nothing daunted, they still claim you as their own. You and I know what the lever of their power is. Break that lever before their faces, and they can shake you no more forever.

Most of you have treated me with kindness and consideration, and I trust you will not now think I improperly touch what is exclusively your own, when, for the sake of the whole country, I ask, 'Can you, for your States, do better than to take the course I urge ?' Discarding punctilio and maxims adapted to more manageable times, and looking only to the unprecedentedly stern facts of our case, can you do better in any possible event? You prefer that the constitutional relations o' the States to the nation shall be practically restored

THE SLAVERY QUESTION.

173

Conference,

Gradual Emancipation

without disturbance of the institution; and, if this were done, my whole duty in this respect, under the Constitution and my oath of office, would be performed. But it is not done, and we are trying to accomplish it by war. The incidents of the war can not be avoided. If the war continues long, as it must if the object be not sooner attained, the institution in your States will be extinguished by mere friction and abrasionby the mere incidents of the war. It will be gone, and you will have nothing valuable in lieu of it. Much of its value is gone already. How much better for you and for your people to take the step which at once shortens the war, and secures substantial compensation for that which is sure to be wholly lost in any other event! How much better to thus save the money which else we sink forever in the war! How much better to do it while we can, lest the war, ere long, render us pecuniarily unable to do it! How much better for you, as seller, and the nation, as buyer, to sell out and buy out that without which the war could never have been, than to sink both the thing to be sold and the price of it, in cutting one another's throats !

“I do not speak of emancipation at once, but of a decision at once to emancipate gradually. Room in South America for colonization can be obtained cheaply and in abundance, and when numbers shall be large enough to be company and encouragement for one another, the freed people will not be so reluctant to go.

“I am pressed with a difficulty not yet mentioned-one which threatens division among those wbo, united, are none too strong. An instance of it is known to you. General Hunter is an honest man. He was, and I hope still is, my friend. I valued him none the less for his agreeing with me in the general wish that all men everywhere could be freed He proclaimed all men free within certain States, and I repudiated the proclamation. He expected more good and less barm from the measure than I could believe would follow.

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