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directed that an armed revenue cutter should proceed to sea to afford protection to the commercial marino, especially to the California treasureships, then on their way to this coast. I also directed the Commandant of the Navy Yard at Boston to purchase or charter, and arm, as quickly as possible, five steamships for purposes of public defence. I directed the Commandant of the Navy Yard at Philadelphia to purchase or charter, and arm an equal number for tho same purpose. I directed the Commandant at New York to purchase or charter, and arm an equal number. I directed Commander Gillis to purchase or charter, and arm and put to sea two other vessels. Similar directions were given to Commodore Du Pont, with a view to the opening of passages by water to and from the capital. I directed the several officers to take the advice and obtain the aid and efficient services in the matter of his Excellency Edwin D. Morgan, the Governor of New York, or, in his absence, George D. Morgan, Wm. M. Evarts, R. M. Blatchford, and Moses H. Griunell, who were, by my directions, especially empowered by the Secretary of the Navy to act for his department in that crisis, in matters pertaining to the forwarding of troops and supplies for the public defence. On the same occasion I-directed that Gov. Morgan and Alexander Cummings, of the city of New York, should be authorized by the Secretary of War, Simon Cameron, to make all necessary arrangements for the transportation of troops and munitions of war in aid and assistance of the officers of the army of the United States, until communication by mails and telegraph should be completely re-established between the cities of Washington and New York. No security was required to be given by them, and either of them was authorized to act in case of inability to consult with the other. On the same occasion I authorized and directed the Secretary of the Treasury to advance, without requir. ing securing, two millions of dollars of public money to John A. Dix, George Opdyke, and Richard M. Blatchford, of New York, to be used by them in meeting such requisitions as should be directly consequent upon the military and naval measures for the defence and support of the Government, requiring them only to act without compensation, and to report their transactions when duly called upon. The several departments of the Government at that time contained so large a number of disloyal persons that it would have been impossible to provide safely through official agents only, for the performance of the duties thus confided to citizens favorably known for their ability, loyalty, and patriotism. The several orders issued upon these occurrences were transmitted by private messengers, who pursued a circuitous way to the
seaboard cities, inland across the States of Pennsylvania and Ohio, and the northern lakes. I believe that by these and other similar measures taken in that crisis, some of which were without any authority of law, the Government was saved from overthrow. I am not aware that a dollar of the public funds thus confided without authority of law, to unofficial persons, was either lost or wasted, although apprehensions of such misdirections occurred to me as objections to these extraordinary proceedings, and were necessarily overruled. I recall these transactions now because my attention has been directed to a resolution which was passed by the House of Representatives on the thirtieth of last month, which is in these words:
Resolved, that Simon Cameron, late Secretary of War, by intrusting Alexander Cummings with the control of large sums of the public money, and authority to purchase military supplies without restriction, without requiring from him any guarantee for the faithful performance of his duties, while the services of competent public officers were available, and by involving the government in a vast number of contracts with persons not legitimately engaged in the business pertaining to the subject matter of such contracts, especially in the purchase of arms for future delivery, has adopted a policy highly injurious to the public service, and deserves the censure of the House.
Congress will see that I should be wanting in candor and in justice if I should leave the censure expressed in this resolution to rest exclusively or chiefly upon Mr. Cameron. The same sentiment is unanimously entertained by the heads of the departments, who participated in the proceedings which the House of Representatives has censured. It is due to Mr. Cameron to say that although he fully approvod the proceedings, they were not moved nor suggested by himself, and that not only the President, but all the other heads of departments were at least equally responsible with him for whatever error, wrong or fault was committed in the premisos.
This letter was in strict conformity with the position uniformly held by the President in regard to the responsibility of members of his cabinet for acts of the Administration. He always maintained that the proper duty of each Secretary was, to direct the details of every thing done within his own department, and to tender such suggestions, information, and advice to the President as he might solicit at his hands.
But the duty and responsibility of deciding what line of policy should be pursued, or what steps should be taken in any specific case, in his judgment, belonged exclusively to the President; and he was always willing and ready to assume it. This position has been widely and sharply assailed in various quarters as contrary to the precedents of our carly history: but we believe it to be substantially in accordance with the theory of the Constitution upon this subject. The
progress of our armies in certain portions of the Southern States had warranted the suspension, at several ports, of the restrictions placed upon commerce by the blockade. On the 12th of May the President accordingly issued a proclamation declaring that the blockade of the ports of Beaufort, Port Royal, and New Orleans, should so far cease from the 1st of June, that commercial intercourse from those ports, except as to contraband of war, might be resumed, subject to the laws of the United States and the regulations of the Treasury Department.
On the 1st of July he issued another proclamation, in pursuance of the law of June 7th, designating the States and parts of States that were then in insurrection, so that the laws of the United States concerning the collection of taxes could not be enforced within their limits, and declaring that “the taxes legally chargeable upon real estate, under the act referred to, lying within the States or parts of States thus designated, together with a penalty of fifty per cent. of said taxes, should be a lien upon the tracts or lots of the same, severally charged, till paid."
On the 20th of October, finding it absolutely necessary to provide judicial proceedings for the State of Louisiana, a part of which was in our military possession, the President issued an order establishing a Provisional Court in the City of New Orleans, of which Charles A. Peabody was made Judge, with authority to try all causes, civil and criminal, in law, equity, revenue, and admiralty, and particularly to exercise all such
power and jurisdiction as belongs to the Circuit and District Courts of the United States. His proceedings were to be conformed, so far as possible, to the course of proceedings and praetice usual in the Courts of the United States of Louisiana, and his judgment was to be final and conclusive.
Congress adjourned on the 17th of July, having adopted many measures of marked though minor inportance, besides those to which we have referred, to aid in the prosecution of
Several Senators were expelled for adherence, direct or indirect; to the rebel cause; measures were taken to remove from the several departments of the Government employés more or less openly in sympathy with secession; Hayti and Liberia were recognized as independent republics; a treaty was negotiated and ratified with Great Britain which conceded the right, within certain limits, of searching suspected slavers carrying the American flag, and the most liberal grants in men and
money were made to the Government for the prosecution of the war. The President had appointed military Governors for several of the Border States, where public sentiment was divided, enjoining them to protect the loyal citizens and to regard them as alone entitled to a voice in the direction of civil affairs.
Public sentiment throughout the loyal States sustained the action of Congress and the President as adapted to the emergency and well calculated to aid in the suppression of the rebellion. At the same time it was very evident that the conviction was rapidly gaining ground that Slavery was the cause of the Rebellion; that the paramount object of the conspirators against the Union was to obtain new guaranties for the institution; and that it was this interest alone which gave unity and vigor to the rebel cause. A very
active and influential party at the North had insisted from the outset that the most direct way of crushing the Rebellion was by crushing Slavery, and they had urged upon the President the adoption
of a policy of immediate and unconditional emancipation, as the only thing necessary to bring into the ranks of the Union armies hundreds of thousands of enfranchised slaves, as well as the great mass of the people of the Northern States who needed this stimulus of an appeal to their moral sentiment. After the adjournment of Congress these demands became still more clamorous and importunate.
The President was summoned to avail himself of the opportunity offered by the passage of the Confiscation Bill, and to decree the instant liberation of every slave belonging to a rebel master. These demands soon assumed, with the more impatient and intemperate portion of the friends of the Administration, a tone of complaint and condemnation, and the President was charged with gross and culpable remissness in the discharge of duties imposed upon him by the Act of Congress. They were embodied with force and effect in a letter addressed to the President by Hon. Horace Greeley, and published in the N. Y. Tribune of the 19th of August, to which President LINCOLN made the following reply:
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, Aug. 22, 1862 Hon. HORACE GREELEY:
DEAR SIR-I have just read yours of the 19th instant, addressed to myself through the New York Tribune.
If there be in it any statements or assumptions of fact which I may know to be erroneous, I do not now and here controvert them.
If there be any inferences which I may believe to be falsely drawn, I do not now and here argue against them.
If there be perceptible in it an impatient and dictatorial tone, I waive it in deference to an old friend whose heart I have always supposed to be right.
As to the policy I "seem to be pursuing," as you say, I have not meant to leave any one in doubt. I would save the Union. I would save it in the shortest way under the Constitution.
The sooner the national authority can be restored the nearer the Union will be the Union as it was.