« PreviousContinue »
your country. We rejoice in your greatness as an outgrowth of England, whose blood and language you share, whose orderly and legal freedom you have applied to new circumstances, over a region immeasurably greater than our own.
We honor your Free States, as a singularly happy abode for the working millions where industry is honored. One thing alone has, in the past, lessened our sympathy with your country and our confidence in it-we mean the ascendency of politicians who not merely maintained negro slavery, but desired to extend and root it more firmly. We joyfully honor you, as the President, and the Congress with you, for many decisive steps toward practically exemplifying your belief in the words of your great founders : ‘All men are created free and equal.' You have procured the liberation of the slaves in the district around Washington, and thereby made the centre of your Federation visibly free. You have enforced the laws against the slavetrade, and kept up your fleet against it, even while every ship was wanted for service in your terrible war. You have nobly decided to receive embassadors from the negro republics of Hayti and Liberia, thus forever renouncing that unworthy prejudice which refuses the rights of humanity to men and women on account of their color. In order more effectually to stop the slave-trade, you have made with our Queen a treaty, which your Senate has ratified, for the right of mutual search. Your Congress has decreed freedom as the law forever in the vast unoccupied or half unsettled Territories which are directly subject to its legislative power. It has offered pecuniary aid to all States which will enact emancipation locally, and has forbidden your generals to restore fugitive slaves who seek their protection. You have entreated the slave-masters to accept these moderate offers; and after long and patient waiting, you, as Commander-in-chief of the Army, have appointed to-morrow, the first of January, 1863, is the day of unconditional freedom for the slaves of the rebel States. We implore you, for your own honor and welfare, not to faint in your providential mission. While your enthusiasm is aflame, and the tide of events runs high, let the work be finished effectually. Leave no root of bitterness to spring up and work fresh misery to your children. It is a mighty task, indeed, to reorganize the industry not only of four millions of the colored race, but of five millions of whites. Nevertheless, the vast progress you have made in the short space of twenty months, fill us with hope that every stain on your freedom will shortly be removed, and that the erasure of that foul blot upon civilization and Christianitychattle slavery—during your Presidency, will cause the name of Abraham Lincoln to be honored and revered by posterity."
In answer to this flattering letter, Mr. Lincoln sent a happy response, in which he explained the motive which
had prompted bim to the undeviating course he has pursued since his inauguration. He had, he said, considered the duty of maintaining and preserving the Constitution and the integrity of the Federal Republic paramount to all others, and as a conscientious purpose to perform that duty was the key to all the measures of his administration, he could not, if he would, under his oath and our frame of government, depart from that purpose.
THE PRESIDENT VISITS THE ARMY OF THE
Early in April, 1863, the President left Washington on a visit to the Army of the Potomac.
He had in the previous year, when the same noble troops were resting at Harrison's Landing, after their campaign before Richmond, gone thither to observe for himself their true condition, and upon other occasions has visited their camping-grounds, where he has been always received with great enthusiasm. Upon the visit to which we now refer, he was accompanied by Mrs. Lincoln and one of his sons, and an eye-witness thus describes the proceedings incident to the entertainment of such distinguished guests :
On the morning of April seventh, 1863, a reception was had in General Hooker's tent, the members of the staff passing in and being introduced to the President by the Chief of Staff. Mr. Lincoln was in unusual good humor, and completely banished the constraint felt by all by his sociability and shafts of wit. The interview lasted some time, much to the enjoyment of all, until finally the officers one by one dropped out, and the hour designated for the review arrived. Early in the morning the several cavalry brigades commenced moving towards the field selected for the review, and during the forenoon were engaged forming the lines and stationing guards to keep off the crowd. At noon the roar of artillery announced that the cortege had arrived. President Lincoln, mounted on a magnificent bay, adorned with heavy trappings, rode steadily and rapidly along the line, with Generals Hooker and Stoneman at his side, and followed by an imposing cavalcade of general officers, aides-de-camp and orderlies. Having returned to the right of the line, a position was selected for the President upon a slight eminence, while the cavalry at a walk passed in review before him, the bands playing and the bugles sounding merrily. Mrs. Lincoln occupied a carriage at the right of the President while the regiments passed in review, surrounded by major-generals and stars of lesser magnitude. After the cavalry had moved off the field, the lancers, in splendid order, wheeled around into line fronting the President, while the light artillery dashed at a gallop through the avenue thus formed, the guns and caissons bounding over the irregularities as though the wheels were of India rubber.
The cannon were soon off the field, the lancers filed in behind the cavalcade of generals, spectators vanished, and the plateau, torn and trodden by the squadrons, was left to the scatter. ing working parties engaged in preparing the ground for the grand review of infantry. The President also rode over to the head-quarters of several commanding officers, and during the day reviewed the reserve artillery.
Doubtless the lady readers are anxious to know in what dress the wife of the Chief Magistrate visited the army, how she appeared, what she said, and how she liked the contrast-the Executive mansion, with its costly fur niture, and the bare floor, cot and camp stools of the field. Mrs. Lincoln's attire was exceedingly simple-of that peculiar style of simplicity which creates at the time no inpression upon the mind, and prevents one from remembering any article of dress. In this case there was nothing to attract attention, and after she had entered the tent there was not one in twenty of those gathered about who
could tell what she wore. A rich black silk dress, with narrow flounces; a black cape, with a broad trimming of velvet around the border, and a plain hat of the same hue, composed her costume. A shade of weariness, doubtless the result of her labors in behalf of the sick and wounded in Washington, rested upon her countenance; but the change seemed pleasant to her, and the scenes of camp were noted with evident interest. The President wore a dark sack overcoat and a fur muffler, while Master Lincoln sported a suit of gray, and rambled about among the tents, examining the quarters of the staff, and watched by the orderlies and sentries with a curiosity somewhat amusing,
THE ENROLMENT ACT AND THE RIGHTS
To enumerate all the proclamations which the President issued during the year 1863, would be impossible in this work, and we must therefore restrict ourselves to those which were of more than usual interest. The one in regard to the rights of aliens, under the act calling out the national forces, was one of these, and reads as follows:
"Whereas, The Congress of the United States at its last session enacted a law entitled, 'An act for enrolling and calling out the national forces and for other purposes,' which was approved on the third day of March last, and,
Whereas, It is recited in the said act that there now exists in the United States an insurrection and rebellion against the authority thereof, and it is, under the Constitution of the United States, the duty of the Government to suppress insurrection and rebellion, to guarantee to each State a republican form of government, and to preserve the public tranquility, and
“Whereas, For these high purposes a military force is indispensable, to raise and support which all persons ought willingly to contribute ; and
Whereas, No service can be more praiseworthy and honor. able than that which is rendered for the maintenance of the Constitution and the Union, and the consequent preservation of the Government;
and “Whereas, For the reasons thus recited, it was enacted by the said statute that all able-bodied male citizens of the United Statei and persons of tireign birth, who shall have declared on oath their intentions to become citizens, under and in pursuance of the laws thereof, between the ages of twenty and forty-live years, with certain exceptions not necessary to be here mentioned, are declared to constitute the national forces, and shall be liable to perforın military duty in the service of the United States, when called out by the President for that purpose ; and
• Whereas, It is claimed, and in behalf of persons of foreign birth within the ages specified in said act who have heretoforo declared on oath their intentions to become citizens under and in pursuance of the laws of the United States, and who have not exercised the right of suffrage or any other political franchise under the laws of the United States, or any of the States thereof, are not absolutely precluded by their aforesaid declaration of intention from renouncing their purpose to become citizens, and that, on the contrary, such persons under treaties or the law of nations, retain a right to renounce that purpose and to forego the privilege of citizenship and residence within the United States under the obligations imposed by the aforesaid act of Congress.
“Now, therefore, to avoid all misapprehensions concerning the liability of persons concerned to perform the service required by such enactment, and to give it full effect, I do hereby order and proclaim that no plea of alienage will be received or allowed to exempt from the obligations imposed by the aforesaid act of Congress, any person of foreign birth who shall have declared, on oath, his intention to become a citizen of the United States under the laws thereof, and who shall be found within the United States at any time during the continuance of the present insurrection and rebellion, at or after the expiration of the sixty-five days from the date of this proc. laination, nor shall any such plea of alienage be allowed in favor of any such person who has so as aforesaid declared his intention to become a citizen of the United States, and shall have exercised at any time the right of suffrage or any other political franchise within the United States, under the laws thereof, or under the laws of any of the several States.
“ In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
" Done at the city of Washington, this eighth day of May, in the year of our Lord 1863, and of the independence of the United States the eighty-seventh. By the President,
"ABRAHAM LINCOIN. WILLIAM H SEWARD, Secretary of State.”
A NATIONAL THANKSGIVING ORDERED.
On the fifteenth day of July, 1863, the President ordered the sixth of the following month to be set apart as