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Annual Message

The Pardoning Power.

The Oath.

elections following are highly encouraging to those whose official duty it is to bear the country through this great trial. Thus we have the new reckoning. The crisis which threatened to divide the friends of the Union is past.

“Looking now to the present and future, and with reference to a resumption of the National authority within the States wherein that authority has been suspended, I have thought fit to issue a proclamation, a copy of which is herewith transmitted. On examination of this proclamation it will appear, as is believed, that nothing is attempted beyond what is amply justified by the Constitution. True, the form of an oath is given, but no man is coerced to take it. The man is only promised a pardon in case he voluntarily takes the oath. The Constitution authorizes the Executive to grant or witbhold, the pardon at his own absolute discretion ; and this includes the power to grant on terms, as is fully established by judicial and other authorities.

"It is also proffered that if, in any of the States named, a State Government shall be, in the mode prescribed, set up, such Government shall be recognized and guarantied by the United States, and that under it the State shall, on the constitutional conditions, be protected against invasion and domestic violence. The constitutional obligation of the United States to guarantee to every State in the Union a republican form of government, and to protect the State, in the cases stated, is explicit and full. But why tender the benefits of this provision only to a State Government set up in this particular way? This section of the Constitution contemplates a case wherein the element within a State favorable to republican government, in the Union, may be too feeble for an opposite and hostile element external to or even within the State; and such are precisely the cases with which we are now dealing.

"An attempt to guarantee and protect a revived State Government, constructed in whole, or in preponderating part,

Annual Message.

The Emancipation Proclamation.

The Freed Poople.

from the very element against whose hostility and violence it is to be protected, is simply absurd. There must be a test by which to separate the opposing element, so as to build only from the sound; and that test is a sufficiently liberal one, which accepts as sound whoever will make a sworn recantation of his former unsoundness.

“But if it be proper to require, as a test of admission to the political body, an oath of allegiance to the Constitution of the United States, and to the Union under it, why also to the laws and proclamations in regard to slavery? Those laws and proclamations were enacted and put forth for the purpose of aiding in the suppression of the rebellion. To give them their fullest effect, there had to be a pledge for their maintenance. In my judgment they have aided, and will further aid, the cause for which they were intended. To now abandon them would be not only to relinquish a lever of power, but would also be a cruel and an astounding breach of faith. I may add at this point that, while I remain in my present position, I shall not attempt to retract or modify the Emancipation Proclamation ; nor shall I return to slavery any person who is free by the terms of that proclamation, or by any of the acts of Congress. For these and other reasons, it is thought best that support of these measures shall be included in the oath; and it is believed the Executive may lawfully claim it in return for pardon and restoration of fürfeited rights, which he has clear constitutional power to withhold altogether, or grant upon the terms which he shall deem wisest for the public interest. It should be observed,

Iso, that this part of the oath is subject to the modifying and abrogating power of legislation and supreme judicial decision.

“ The proposed acquiescence of the National Executive in any reasonable temporary State arrangement for the freed people, is made with the view of possibly modifying the confusion and destitution which must, at best, attend all classes

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Annual Message.

Reconstruction.

A Rallying Point

by a total revolution of labor throughout whole States. It is hoped that the already deeply afflicted people in those States may be somewhat more ready to give up the cause of their affliction, if, to this extent, this vital matter be left to theniselves; while no power of the National Executive to prevent an abuse, is abridged by the proposition.

"The suggestion in the proclamation as to maintaining the political framework of the States on what is called reconstruction, is made in the hope that it may do good without danger of harm. It will save labor, and avoid great confusion

“But why any proclamation now upon this subject? This question is beset with the conflicting views that the step might be delayed too long or be taken too soon.

In some States the elements for resumption seem ready for action, but remain inactive, apparently for want of a rallying point-a plan of action. Why shall A adopt the plan of B, rather than B tbat of A ? And if A and B should agree, how can they know but that the General Government here will reject their plan? By the proclamation a plan is presented which may be accepted by them as a rallying point, and which they are assured in advance will not be rejected here. This may bring them to act sooner than they otherwise would.

"The objection to a premature presentation of a plan by the National Executive consists in the danger of committals on points wbich could be more safely left to further devel. opments. Care has been taken to so shape the document as to avoid embarrassment from this source. Saying that, on certain terms, certain classes will be pardoned, with rights restored, it is not said that other classes or other terms will never be included. Saying that reconstruction will be accepted, if presented in a specific way, it is not said it will never be accepted in any other way.

“The movements, by State action, for emancipation in several of the States, not included in the Emancipation Pro

Annual Message.

The War Power,

Explanatory Proclamation.

clamation, are matters of profound congratulation. And while I do not repeat in detail what I bave beretofore so earnestly urged upon this subject, my general views and feelings remain unchanged; and I trust that Congress will omit no fair opportunity of aiding these important steps to a great consummation.

" In the midst of other cares, however important, we must not lose sight of the fact that the war power is still our main reliance. To that power alone can we look, yet for a time, to gire confidence to the people in the contested regions that the insurgent power will not again overrun them. Until that confidence shall be established, little can be done anywhere for what is called reconstruction. Hence our chiefest care must still be directed to the Army and Navy, who bave thus far borne their barder part so nobly and well. And it may be esteemed fortunate that in giving the greatest efficiency to these indispensable arms, we do also bonorably recognize the gallant men, from commander to sentinel, who compose them, and, to whom, more than to others, the world must stand indebted for the home of freedom disenthralled, regenerated, en. larged, and perpetuated. Dec. 8, 1863.

“ABRAHAM LINCOLN."

On the twenty-sixth of March, 1864, the following proclamation, explanatory of the one issued on the eighth of December, 1863, was published :

“WHEREAS, It has become necessary to define the cases in which insurgent enemies are entitled to the benefits of the Proclamation of the President of the United States, which was made on the 8th day of December, 1863, and the manner in which they shall proceed to avail themselves of these benefits;

“AND WHEREAS, The objects of that proclamation were to suppress the insurrection and to restore the authority of the United States;

Explanatory Proclamation.

The Oath.

How Administered

“AND WHEREAS, The amnesty therein proposed by the President was offered with reference to these objects alone ;

Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do hereby proclaim and declare that the said proclamation does not apply to the cases of persons who, at the time when they seek to obtain the benefits thereof, by taking the oath thereby prescribed, are in military, naval or civil confinement or custody, or under bonds or on parole of the civil, military or naval authorities or agents of the United States, as prisoners of war, or persons detained for offences of any kind, either before or after conviction ; and that on the contrary, it does apply only to those persons who, being at large and free from any arrest, confinement or duress, shall voluntarily come forward and take the said oath, with the purpose of restoring peace and establishing the national authority.

“Prisoners excluded from the amnesty offered in the said proclamation may apply to the President for clemency, like all other offenders, and their application will receive due consideration.

"I do further declare and proclaim that the oath prescribed in the aforesaid proclamation of the 8th of December, 1863, may be taken and subscribed to before any commanding officer, civil, military or naval, in tho service of the United States, or any civil or military officer of a State or Territory not in insurrection, who, by the laws thereof, may be qualified for administering oaths.

“All officers who receive such oaths are hereby authorized to give certificates thereon to the persons respectively by whom they are made, and such officers are hereby required to transmit the original records of such oaths at as early a day as may be convenient to the Department of State, where they will be deposited and remain in the archives of the Government.

“The Secretary of State will keep a register thereof, and

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