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I, ABRAHAM LINCOLN, President of the United States, do proclaim, declare and make known to all persons who have directly or by implication participated in the existing rebellion, except as hereinafter excepted, that a full pardon is hereby granted to them and each of them, with restoration of all rights of property, except as to slaves, and in property cases where rights of third parties shall have intervened, and upon the condition that every such person shall take and subscribe an oath and thenceforward keep and maintain said oath inviolate, an oath which shall be registered for permanent preservation, and shall be of the tenor and effect following, to wit:
do solemnly swear, in presence of Almighty God, that I will henceforth faithfully support, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Union of the States thereunder; and that I will in like manner abide by and faithfully support all acts of
ongress passed during the existing rebellion with reference to slaves, so long and so far as not repealed, modified, or held void by Congress or by decision of the Supreme Court; and that I will in like manner abide by and faithfully support all proclamations of the President made during the existing rebellion having reference to slaves, so long and so far as not modified or declared void by decision of the Supreme Court. So help me God.”
The persons excepted from the benefits of the foregoing provisions are: All who are, or shall have been civil or diplomatic officers or agents of the so-called Confederate Government; all who have left judicial stations under the United States to aid the rebellion; all who are, or shall bave been military or naval officers of said şo-called Confederate Government, above the rank of Colonel in the army, or of Lieutenant in the navy; all who left seats in the United States Congress to aid the rebellion; all who resigned commissions in the army or navy of the United States, and afterward aided the rebellion; and all who have engaged in any way in treating colored persons, or white persons in charge of such, otherwise than lawfully as prisoners of war, and which persons may bave been found in the United States service as soldiers, soamen, or any other capacity; and I do further proclaim, declare and make known that, whenever, in any of the States of Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, and North Carolina, a number of persons not less than onetenth in number of the votes cast in such States at the Presidential elec. tion of the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty, eachi having taken the oath aforesaid, and not having since violated it, and being a qualified voter by the election law of the State existing immediately before the so-called act of Secession, and excluding all others, shall re-establish a State Government which shall be Republican, and in no wise contravening said oath, such shall be recognized as the true government of the State, and the State shall receive thereunder the ben. efits of the constitutional provision, which declares that
The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion, and on application of the Legislature, or the Executive, when the Legislature cannot be convened, against domestic violence.”
And I do further proclaim, declare, and make known, that any provision which may be adopted by such State Government in relation to the freed people of such State, which shall recognize and declare their permanent freedom, provide for their education, and which may yet be consistent, as a temporary arrangement, with their present condition as a laboring, landless, and homeless class, will not be objected to by the National Executive.
And it is suggested as not improper that, in constructing a loyal State Government in any State, the name of the State, the boundary, the
subdivisions, the Constitution, and the general code of laws, as before the rebellion, be maintained, subject only to the modifications made necessary by the conditions herein before stated, and such others, if any, not contravening said conditions, and which may be deemed expedient by those framing the new State Government. To avoid misunderstanding, it may be proper to say that this proclamation, so far as it relates to State Governments, has no reference to States wherein loyal State Governments have all the while been maintained; and for the same reason it may be proper to further say, that whether members sent to Congress from any State shall be admitted to seats, constitutionally rests exclusively with the respective Houses, and not to any extent with the Executive. And still further, that this proclamation is intended to present the people of the States wherein the national authority has been suspended, and loyal State Governments have been subverted, a mode in and by which the national authority and loyal State Governments may be re-established within said States, or in any of them. And, while the mode presented is the best the Executive can suggest with his present impressions, it must not be understood that no other possible mode would be acceptable.
Given under my hand at the city of Washington, the eighth day of De
cember, A. D. one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the
independence of the United States of America the Eighty-eighth. By the President:
ABRAHAM LINCOLN. WM. H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.
In further prosecution of the object sought by this measure of amnesty, the President subsequently issued the following additional explanatory PROCLAMATION:
By the President of the United States of America : 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; 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 yet 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.
Persons 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 presented in the aforesaid proclamation of the 8th of December, 1863, may be taken and subscribed before any commissioned officer, civil, military, or naval, in the 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 thereof 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 registry thereof, and will, on application, in proper cases, issue certificates of such records in the customary form of official certificates. In testimony whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal
of the United States to be affixed. Done at the city of Wash[L. 8.] ington, the 26th day of March, in the year of our Lord 1864,
and of the independence of the United States the Eighty-eighth. By the President :
ABRAHAM LINCOLN. WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Sccretary of State.
The action of Congress at this session has not been of special interest or importance. Public attention continued to be absorbed by military operations, and Congress, at its previous session, had so fully provided for the emergencies, present and prospective, of the war, that little in this direction remained to be done. Resolutions were introduced by members of the opposing parties, some approving and others condemning the policy of the Administration. Attempts were made to amend the conscription bill, but the two houses failing to agree on some of the more important changes proposed, the bill, as finally passed, did not vary essentially from the original law. The leading topic of discussion in this connection was the employment of colored men, free and slave, as soldiers. The policy of thus employing them had been previously established by the action of the Government in all departments; and all
remained was to regulate the mode of their enlistment. A proviso was finally adopted by both houses that colored troops, “while they shall be credited in the quotas of the several States or subdivisions of States wherein they are respectively drafted, enlisted, or shall volunteer, shall not be assigned as State troops, but shall be mustered into regiments or companies as United States Colored Volunteers.'”
The general tone of the debates in Congress indicates the growing conviction on the part of the people of the whole country, without regard to party distinctions, that the destruction of slavery is inseparable from the victorious prosecution of the war. Men of all parties have acquiesced in the position that the days of slavery are numbered,—that the rebellion, organized for the purpose of strengthening it, has placed it at the mercy of the national force, and compelled the Government to assail its existence as the only means of subduing the rebellion and preserving the Union. The certainty that the prosecution of the war must result in the emancipation of the slaves, has led to the proposal of measures suited to this
On the 6th of February, a bill was reported in the House for the establishment of a Bureau of Freedmen's Affairs, which should determine all questions relating to persons of African descent, and make regulations for their employment and proper treatment on abandoned plantations; and after a sharp and discursive debate, it was passed by a vote of 69 to 67. lution has also been adopted to submit to the action of the several States, an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, prohibiting the existence of slavery within the States and Territories of the Union forever. This proposition has encountered but little opposition. The experience of the last three years has left but little inclination in any quarter to prolong the existence of slavery, and the political necessities which formerly gave it strength and protection, have ceased to exist. At the commencement of the session resolutions were offered by several members in both Houses, aiming at its prohibition by such an amendment of the Constitution. This mode of accomplishing the object sought was held to be free from the objections to which every other is exposed, as it is unquestionably competent for the people to amend the Con