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ANTI-SLAVERY MEASURES OF CONGRESS. [SECT. XIII.
Army officers not to return fugitive slaves.
As the national armies advanced into the slaveholding districts, many fugitive slaves escaped to them in the hope of obtaining freedom, some coming with a view of offering their services to work or fight; some bringing intelligence; some, such as old persons, and particularly women, with their children, seeking refuge under the national flag.
Some officers of the army accorded to these fugitives protection; some refused to admit them into their lines; some drove them out; some even permitted slave-masters to search the camps and carry off their slaves.
On the 13th of March, 1862, the President approved a bill enacting an article of war dismissing from the service officers guilty of surrendering such fugitives.
(3.) The abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia. About three thousand persons were held in slavery in Slavery abolished the District of Columbia, the seat of the na in the District. tional capital. They were subject to laws and ordinances of great severity, known under the title of the "Black Code." In the City of Washington itself the slave-trade was carried on.
On the 16th of April, 1862, a bill was signed by the President abolishing slavery in the District, granting compensation to the owners of slaves, and abrogating the Black Code.
On the approval of the act by the President," the enfranchised bondmen assembled in their churches and offered up the homage and gratitude of their hearts to God for this boon of personal freedom."
(4.) The prohibition of slavery in the Territories.
The political condition of the Territories as to freedom Slavery prohibited or slavery had been, for many years before in the Territories. the secession of the Southern States, a subject of incessant and bitter controversy.
In volume i. the reader's attention has been repeatedly
CHAP. LXIV.] ANTI-SLAVERY MEASURES OF CONGRESS.
drawn to this as one of the most prominent facts in the history of the Republic.
A bill was passed by Congress after vehement opposi tion from certain Democratic members and members from the Border States. It was, on June 10th, 1862, approved by the President, and is to the following effect:
An Act to secure Freedom to all Persons within the Territories of the United States.
"To the end that freedom may be and remain forever the law of the land in all places whatsoever, so far as it lies within the power or depends upon the action of the government of the United States to make it so, therefore,
"Be it enacted, That, from and after the passage of this act, there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in any of the Territories of the United States now existing, or which may at any time hereafter be formed or acquired by the United States, otherwise than in punishment of crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted.”
(5.) The employment of colored soldiers.
Africans to be em
On the failure of McClellan's expedition in the Peninsula, it became apparent that the organization ployed in the army, of negro regiments could not be postponed. The President was therefore empowered to "receive into the service of the United States, for any military or naval service for which they may be found competent, persons of African descent, who shall be enrolled and organized under such regulations, not inconsistent with the Consti tution and the laws, as he may prescribe." It was also enacted that any slave of a person in rebelrelatives to be made lion rendering any such service shall forever thereafter be free, together with his wife, mother, and children, if they also belong to persons in rebellion. The bill was approved July 17th, 1862. (6.) The Confiscation Act.
and certain of their
It had become plain that, though the Confederate authorities abstained from the employment of slaves as solII.-P P
ANTI-SLAVERY MEASURES OF CONGRESS. [SECT. XIII.
The Confiscation diers, a very great advantage was derived from their use in civil life. They took charge of all agricultural operations on the plantations and farms, not only thereby furnishing subsistence to the armies, but releasing for military purposes large numbers of white
Of all the anti-slavery measures of Congress, those intended to bear on these points were the most energetically contested, and that not only by members who were considered to be the defenders of slavery, but by some of the Republican party. The original propositions underwent much modification. There were also differences of opinion between the Senate and House. The shape which the act eventually took was, in effect, a combina tion of what were known as the Confiscation and Emancipation bills. It provided that all slaves of persons who shall give aid and comfort to the rebellion, who shall take refuge within the lines of the army; all slaves captured from such persons, or deserted by them and coming under the control of the government; and all slaves of such persons found or being within any place occupied by rebel forces and afterward occupied by the forces of the United States, shall be deemed captives of war, and shall be forever free and not again held as slaves; that fugitive slaves shall not be surrendered to persons who have given aid and comfort to the rebellion; that no person engaged in the military or naval service shall surrender fugitive slaves on pain of being dismissed from the service; that the President may employ persons of African descent for the suppression of the rebellion, and organize and use them in such manner as he may judge best for the public welfare. This bill passed the House and Senate by large majorities, and was approved by the President July 17th, 1862.
These were not all the anti-slavery measures adopt
CHAP. LXIV.] ANTI-SLAVERY MEASURES OF CONGRESS.
Certain minor anti- ed by Congress: there were others which, slavery measures. though perhaps of less pressing interest, showed equally the direction of public policy. Among these may be mentioned the admission of colored wit nesses into the courts of the District of Columbia, the restriction of the Fugitive Slave Act, except the claimant made oath that he had not given aid and comfort to the rebellion, the concession of the right of search in the case of suspected slave-ships, the recognition of Hayti and Liberia.
From the speeches delivered in both houses, it may be gathered that the North was resting on an intellectual basis-it was enforcing an idea. The burden of these speeches is the immorality of slavery, the accountability of the nation to God and to the civilized world, the necessity of ending a great wrong and of sustaining the rights of humanity, the enforcement of justice, law, order, the denunciation of domestic tyranny and civil war. A single extract will illustrate their spirit:
"Slavery is in itself wrong, and can only be secure in Sentiments of the a wrong government. It knows no laws but Republican party. those of aggression and force; being in the habitual exercise of despotic power over an inferior race, it learns to despise and disregard the rights of all races. It has sown the wind-let it reap the whirlwind. By the laws of peace it was entitled to protection, and it had it; by the laws of war it is entitled to annihilation. In God's name, let it have that too."
Arguments of their opponents.
Such being the incentive of the Republican orators, their Parliamentary antagonists in the slavery interest in the Border States, and their allies still representing themselves as of the Democratic party, declined all appeal to moral considerations, and rested their arguments on the rights which they affirmed they had under the Constitution, and the material advan
ANTI-SLAVERY ACTS OF THE PRESIDENT. [SECT. XIII.
tages or disadvantages which would result from the adop tion or rejection of the measure under consideration.
On these occasions we still trace without difficulty the idealistic tendency of the North, the materialistic tendency of the South—a tendency displayed throughout all their previous history (vol. i., p. 146). The one was guided by what it conceived to be right, the other by what it conceived to be advantageous.
Moreover, it can not be overlooked that some of the Views of the North- most forcible and ablest efforts on the Rewestern people. publican side were made by members from the Northwestern States, who doubtless completely represented the tone of thought of their constituencies. One of the most serious political mistakes made by the Confederate government was its belief that anti-slavery intentions were substantially limited to New England. To a late period of the war it indulged the expectation that the Northwestern States would abandon the Union and join in the secession movement. In this it overlooked the fact that the population of those states was substantially an offshoot from New England, and it did not clearly appreciate that the influence of Nature throughout those regions perpetually strengthens the tendency to Teutonic modes of thought.
2d. ANTI-SLAVERY ACTS OF THE PRESIDENT.
At the time of his accession to the Presidency, Lincoln, in his inaugural address, reiterated a declaration he had formerly made, affirming that he had no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with slavery views on slavery at in the states where it exists. "I believe I have no lawful right, and I have no inten
tion to do so."
No better exposition of the President's views can be given than that which he himself has furnished in a letter to his friend Mr. Greeley, who had addressed to him