Page images

Annual Message.

The Rebellion.

Abolishing Slavery.

though less definite, in Missouri, Kentucky, and Tennessee, should not be overlooked.

“But Marylaud presents the example of complete success. Maryland is secure to liberty and union for all the futuro. The genius of rebellion will no more claim Maryland. Like another foul spirit, being driven out, it may seek to tear her but it will rule her no more.

At the last Session of Congress, a proposed amendment of the Constitution abolishing slavery throughout the United States, passed the Senate, but failed, for lack of the requisite two-thirds vote in the House of Representatives. Altbough the present is the same Congress, and nearly the same members, and without question on the patriotism of those who stood in opposition, I venture to recommend the consideration and passage of the measure at the present session.

“Of course the abstract question is not changed, but an intervening election shows almost certainly that the next Congress will pass the measure, if this does not. Hence. there is only a question of time as to when the proposed amendment will go to the States for their action; and as it is to go at all events, may we not agree that the sooner the better? It is not claimed that the election has imposed a duty on members to change their views or their votes any further than as an additional element to be considered. Their judgment may be affected by it.

“ It is the voice of the people, now for the first tinie heard upon the question. In a great national crisis like ours, unanimity of action among those seeking a common end is very desirable, almost indispensable, and yet an approach to suck unanimity is attainable, only as some deference shall be paid to the will of the majority, simply because it is the will of the majority.

“In this case, the common end is the maintenance of the Union, and among the means to secure that end, such will. through the election, is most clearly declared in favor of sneb

Last Annual Message.

The Union to be Maintained.

Constitutional Amendment. The most reliable indication of public purpose in this country is derived through our popular election. Judging by the recent canvass and its result, the purpose of the people within the loyal States to maintain the integrity of the Union was never more firm nor more nearly unanimous than now.

“ The extraordinary calmness and good order with which the millions of voters met and mingled at the polls, give strong assurance of this. Not only those who supported the Union Ticket,' so called, but a great majority of the opposing party also, may be fairly claimed to entertain and to be actuated by the same purpose. It is an unanswerable Argument to this effect that ro candidate to any office whatever, high or low, has ventured to seek votes on the avowal that he was for giving up the Union.

“There has been much impugning of motives, and heated controversy as to the proper means and best mode of advancing the Union cause, but in the distinct issue of Union or no Union, the politicians have shown their distinctive knowledge that there is no diversity among the people. In affording the people a fair opportunity of showing one to another and to the world this firmness and unanimity of purpose, the election has been of vast value to the National cause.

“ The election has exhibited another fact not less valuable to be known in the fact that we do not approach exhaustion in the most important branch of the national resources, that of living men. While it is melancholy to reflect that the war has filled so many graves, and carried mourning to so many bearts, it is some relief to know that, compared with the surviving, the fallen have been so few. While corps, and divisions, aud brigades, and regiments have formed, and fought and dwindled, and gone out of existence, a great majority of the men who composed them are still living. The same is true of the naval service. The election returns prove this. So many votes could not else be found. The States regularly

Last Annual Message.

Increase of Voters.

National Resources Inexhaustible.

holding elections, both now and four years ago, to wit: California, Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland Massachusetts Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, West Virginia, and Wisconsin, cast 3,982,011 votes now, against 3,870,222 then, to which are to be added 33,762 cast now in the new States of Kansas and Nevada, which States did not vote in 1860; thus swelling the aggregate to 4,075,773, and the net increase during the three years and a half of war to 145,751.

"To this, again, should be added the number of all soldiers in the field from Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Delaware, Indiana, Illinois, and California, who, by the laws of those States, could not vote away from their homes, and which number cannot be less than ninety thousand. Nor yet is this all. The number in organized territories is triple now what it was four years ago, while thousands, wbite and black, join us as the National army forces back the insurgent lines. So much is shown, affirmatively and negatively, by the election.

“It is not natural to inquire how the increase has been produced, or to show that it would have been greater but for the war, which is partially true; the important fact remaining demonstrated, that we have more men now than we had when the war began; that we are not exhausted, nor in process of exhaustion ; that we are gaining strength, and may, if need be, maintain the contest indefinitely. This as to men.

“National resources are now more complete and abundant than ever; the National resources, then, are unexhausted, and, as we believe, inexhaustible. The public purpose to reëstablish and maintain the National authority is unchanged, and, as we believe, unchangeable. The manner of continuing the effort remains to choose. On careful consideration of all the

Last Annual Message.

The Distinct Issue.

Conditions of Peace.

evidence accessible, it seems to me that no attempts at negotiation with the insurgent leader could result in any good.

" He would accept of nothing short of the severance of the Union. His declarations to this effect are explicit and oftrepeated. He does not attempt to deceive us. He affords us no excuse to deceive ourselves. We cannot voluntarily yield it. Between him and us the issue is distinct, simple, and inflexible. It is an issue which can only be tried by war, and decided by victory.

“ If we yield, we are beaten; if the Southern people fail him, he is beaten—either way, it would be the victory and defeat following war What is true, however, of him who heads the insurgent cause, is not necessarily true of those who follow. Although he cannot reaccept the Union, they can. Some of them, we know, already desire peace and reunion. The number of such may increase.

They can at any moment have peace simply by laying down their arms and submitting to the National authority under the Constitution. After so much, the Government could not, if it would, maintain war against them. The loyal people would not sustain, or allow itIf questions should remain, we would adjust them by the peaceful means of legislation, conference, courts, and votes.

"Operating only in constitutional and lawful channels, some certain and other possible questions are and would be beyond the Executive power to adjust; for instance, the admis. sion of members into Congress, and whatever might require the appropriation of money.

“ The Executive power itself would be really diminished by the cessation of actual war. Pardons and remissions of forfeiture, however, would still be within Executive control. In what spirit and temper this control would be exercised, can be fairly judged of by the past. A year ago general pardon and amnesty upon specified terms were offered to all except certain designated classes, and it was at this same time nade

Last Annual Mesage.

Conditions of Peace.

known that the excepted classes were still within contemplation of special clemency.

“During the year mary availed themselves of the general provision, and many more would, only that the sign of bad faith in some led to such precautionary measures as rendered the practical power less easy and certain. During the same time, also, special pardons have been granted to individuals of excepted classes, and no voluntary individual application has been denied.

“Thus, practically, the door has been for a full year open to all, except such as were not in condition to make free choice; that is, such as were in custody or under constraint. It is still so open to all; but the time may come, probably will come, when public duty shall demand that it be closed, and that, in lieu, more vigorous measures than heretofore shall be adopted.

“In presenting the abandonment of armed resistance to the National authority, on the part of the insurgents, as the only indispensable condition to ending the war on the part of the Government, I retract nothing heretofore said as to slavery. I repeat the declaration made a year ago, 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.

“If the people should, by whatever mode, or means, make it an Executive duty to re-enslave such persons, another, and not I, must be their instrument to perform it.

“In stating a single condition of peace, I mean simply to say that the war will cease on the part of the Government whenever it shall have ceased on the part of those who began it.


« PreviousContinue »