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The President's Message, December, 1861.-Proceedings of Congress.-Emancipation.-Confiscation.-Messages and Addresses of

Mr. Lincoln.

CONGRESS reassembled on the 2d day of December, 1861. During the last few months public attention had been earnestly directed to the policy of turning to account the great element of Rebel strength or weakness-as it should prove-in shortening a war becoming gigantic in its dimensions and cost. A large portion of the people had come to believe that a proper exercise of the war power would require the slaves of the rebels to be not only withdrawn from producing for the support of the Confederate armies, but also to be actively employed, so far as might be, on the right side. A small class, more radical in their views, insisted on setting aside, by Executive act, all legal or constitutional guarantees of slavery in general, and not merely in so far as they inured to the benefit of Rebels, who had repudiated all laws, and the Constitution itself, by taking up arms against the supreme authority. Had every Slave State joined in the Secession movement, this question would have been free from all embarrassments. But when Mr. Lincoln was inaugurated, only seven of these States had been ranged on the side of the rebellion, while eight remained in an attitude of loyalty. And, in the final event, but four of the remaining eight were drawn into Secession. As the President of an undivided Union, the President had thus far felt compelled, as well in the avowals of his Inaugural Address as in his subsequent action, not to interfere directly with the relations of master and slave. It was only where the slave, in accordance with all the laws of war, could be actually used by military commanders in the field, to subserve military purposes, and not by any general blow at a recognized insti

tution, that he had authorized the relation to be forcibly disturbed.

The existence of this popular agitation, as well as of a similar debate in his own mind, perceptibly appears in the President's annual Message to Congress.

It is likewise to be observed, that the military results, thus far, had not been quite satisfactory, either to the President or to the people. Despite the lavish means provided at the July session of Congress, with a manifest view to energetic aggressive war, little more had been accomplished-and that certainly not a little, however short of expectation-than to protect the National capital, and to save Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky and Missouri, from being subjugated by Rebel armies. Manassas and Ball's Bluff, in the East, were still unavenged, or but partly compensated by the capture of Hatteras and Port Royal. In the West, large Rebel armies were threatening to overrun Kentucky from Bowling Green and Columbus, and Missouri from the Southwest, as well as holding the Mississippi river to within a few miles of Cairo.


In addition, was the exciting question growing out of the arrest of Mason and Slidell, on board a British ship on the high The popular feeling, on the one hand, seemed to be unanimous in favor of retaining possession of these prisoners, as conspirators and traitors; while on the other, the British Government, in spite of its own precedents, and backed by French influence, seemed determined to regard such action on our part as a cause for war. The juncture was critical. Every sympathizer with rebellion was exultant in the confidence that the Administration would be wrecked upon Scylla or Charybdisthat it would be ruined at home, or involved in a foreign war that must end any further effective effort to put down the rebellion.

The President, fully sensible of the besetting dangers, and mindful of the situation of affairs in these and other respects, submitted to Congress the following views, in a message which was received with great popular favor:

FELLOW-CITIZENS OF THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES: In the midst of unprecedented political troubles,

we have cause of great gratitude to God for unusual good health and most abundant harvests.

You will not be surprised to learn that, in the peculiar exigences of the times, our intercourse with foreign nations has been attended with profound solicitude, chiefly turning upon our own domestic affairs.

A disloyal portion of the American people have, during the whole year, been engaged in an attempt to divide and destroy the Union. A nation which endures factious domestic division, is exposed to disrespect abroad; and one party, if not both, is sure, sooner or later, to invoke foreign intervention.

Nations thus tempted to interfere, are not always able to resist the counsels of seeming expediency and ungenerous ambition, although measures adopted under such influences seldom fail to be unfortunate and injurious to those adopting them.

The disloyal citizens of the United States who have offered the ruin of our country, in return for the aid and comfort which they have invoked abroad, have received less patronage and encouragement than they probably expected. If it were just to suppose, as the insurgents have seemed to assume, that foreign nations, in this case, discarding all moral, social and treaty obligations, would act solely, and selfishly, for the most speedy restoration of commerce, including, especially, the acquisitions of cotton, those nations appear, as yet, not to have seen their way to their object more directly, or clearly, through the destruction than through the preservation of the Union. If we could dare to believe that foreign nations are actuated by no higher principle than this, I am quite sure a sound argument could be made to show them that they can reach their aim more readily and easily by aiding to crush this rebellion than by giving encouragement to it.

The principal lever relied on by the insurgents for exciting foreign nations to hostility against us, as already intimated, is the embarrassment of commerce. Those nations, however, not improbably, saw from the first, that it was the Union which made, as well our foreign, as our domestic commerce. They can scarcely have failed to perceive that the effort for disunion produces the existing difficulty; and that one strong nation promises more durable peace, and a more extensive, valuable and reliable commerce, than can the same nation broken into hostile fragments.

It is not my purpose to review our discussions with foreign States; because whatever might be their wishes or dispositions, the integrity of our country and the stability of our Government mainly depend, not upon them, but on the loyalty, virtue, patriotism and intelligence of the American people. The cor

respondence itself, with the usual reservations, is herewith submitted.

I venture to hope it will appear that we have practiced prudence and liberality toward foreign powers, averting causes of irritation, and with firmness maintaining our own rights and honor.

Since, however, it is apparent that here, as in every other State, foreign dangers necessarily attend domestic difficulties, I recommend that adequate and ample measures be adopted for maintaining the public defenses on every side. While, under this general recommendation, provision for defending our seacoast line readily occurs to the mind, I. also, in the same connection, ask the attention of Congress to our great lakes and rivers. It is believed that some fortifications and depots of arms and munitions, with harbor and navigation improvements, all at well-selected points upon these, would be of great importance to the National defense and preservation. I ask attention to the views of the Secretary of War, expressed in his report, upon the same general subject.

I deem it of importance that the loyal regions of East Tennessee and Western North Carolina should be connected with Kentucky, and other faithful parts of the Union, by railroad. I therefore recommend, as a military measure, that Congress provide for the construction of such road as speedily as possible. Kentucky, no doubt, will coöperate, and, through her Legislature, make the most judicious selection of a line. The northern terminus must connect with some existing railroad; and whether the route shall be from Lexington or Nicholasville to the Cumberland Gap, or from Lebanon to the Tennessee line, in the direction of Knoxville, or on some still different line, can easily be determined. Kentucky and the General Government coöperating, the work can be completed in a very short time; and when done, it will be not only of vast present usefulness, but also a valuable permanent improvement, worth its cost in all the future.

Some treaties, designed chiefly for the interests of commerce, and having no grave political importance, have been negotiated, and will be submitted to the Senate for their consideration.

Although we have failed to induce some of the commercial powers to adopt a desirable melioration of the rigor of maratime war, we have removed all obstructions from the way of this humane reform, except such as are merely of temporary and accidental occurrence.

I invite your attention to the correspondence between Her Britannic Majesty's Minister, accredited to this Government,

and the Secretary of State, relative to the detention of the British ship Perthshire, in June last, by the United States steamer Massachusetts, for a supposed breach of the blockade. As this detention was occasioned by an obvious misapprehension of the facts, and as justice requires that we should commit no belligerent act not founded in strict right, as sanctioned by public law, I recommend that an appropriation be made to satisfy the reasonable demand of the owners of the vessel for her detention.

I repeat the recommendation of my predecessor, in his annual message to Congress in December last, in regard to the disposition of the surplus which will probably remain after satisfying the claims of the American citizens against China, pursuant to the awards of the commissioners under the act of the 3d of March, 1859. If, however, it should not be deemed advisable to carry that recommendation into effect, I would suggest that authority be given for investing the principal, over the proceeds of the surplus referred to, in good securities, with a view to the satisfaction of such other just claims of our citizens against China as are not unlikely to arise hereafter in the course of our extensive trade with that empire.

By the act of the 5th of August last, Congress authorized the President to instruct the commanders of suitable vessels to defend themselves against and to capture pirates. This authority has been exercised in a single instance only. For the more effectual protection of our extensive and valuable commerce, in the Eastern seas especially, it seems to me that it would also be advisable to authorize the commanders of sailing vessels to recapture any prizes which pirates may make of United States vessels and their cargoes, and the consular courts, now established by law in Eastern countrics, to adjudicate the cases, in the event that this should not be objected to by the local authorities.

If any good reason exists why we should persevere longer in withholding our recognition of the independence and sovereignty of Hayti and Liberia, I am unable to discern it. Unwilling, however, to inaugurate a novel policy in regard to them without the approbation of Congress, I submit for your consideration the expediency of an appropriation for maintaining a charge d'affaires near each of those new States. It does not admit of doubt that important commercial advantages might be secured by favorable treaties with them.

The operations of the treasury during the period which has elapsed since your adjournment have been conducted with signal success. The patriotism of the people has placed at the disposal of the Government the large means demanded by the pub

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