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ard-bearer had the President's fullest confidence. And when Gen. Fremont, assuming what only the President as Comman. der-in-Chief could do, issued his not only unauthorized but positively illegal order concerning slaves, the President merely "modified " his subordinate's action, by requiring it to con. form to the law affecting that subject, then just passed by Confress. The only portion of this once famous order * which relates in any manner to slavery, is this single sentence : “ Real and personal property of those who shall take up arms against the United States, or who shall be directly proven to have taken an active part with their enemies in the field, is declared confiscated to public use, and their slaves, if any they have, are hereby declared free men.” The President's ordert that the clause here given in italics, “bc so modified, held and construed as to conform with and not to transcend the provisions on the same subject, contained in the act of Congress entitled (an act to confiscate property used for insurrectionary purposes,' approved August 6th, 1861," can not certainly be regarded as any sensible starting point for the formation of a new party. As a matter of fact, however, it would seem to have been occasionally perverted to the purpose of fostering a misapprehension and prejudice, which interested parties were cautiously nursing, respecting President Lincoln. It was even alleged, with an equal misapprehension of the truth, that the councils of pro-slavery Border-State men had a controlling influence with him--a singular reversal of relations, gaining a certain popular currency for a while, but effectively disposed of by subsequent realities too palpable to be mistaken.
When Gen. Fremont was subsequently relieved from his command in Missouri, during which, by his misfortune or otherwise, disorder and commotion had been but too prevalent, and the Rebel army under Jackson and Price, had gathered strength, the Blairs were known to have cast their influence against him, while Judge Bates, in the Cabinet, and Gov. Gamble, at home, were also held responsible as advisers of the change. The name of Fremont, which was identified with
* Given at length on pp. 278-9 inte. † Ante, p. 280.
the Republican organization in the canvass of 1856, had become, in the minds of many, a symbol of a sacred cause. When he was displaced from his coinmand in Missouri, it was casy to associate this action with causes on which it never, in the remotest degrec, depended. The true reasons were strictly military and administrative; the fancied ones were political. The act itself, which few can have recently doubted to be wise, may have hastened a party division, Missouri “Radicalism" desired to deal promptly and finally with slavery, and organized for that end at home, in the exercise of the prerogative of “popular sovereignty." The State Convention, loyal but “conservative," adopted a more quiet and gradual process of disposing of the great evil. Perhaps something too much of personal feeling entered into the hostility toward the late Gov. Gamble. Certain it is, that Atty.-Gen. Bates-years before a practical emancipationist, while one of his leading “Radical" cnemies was actually enriching himself by the slave-trade-was cither greatly misjudged, or wantonly maligned. The “Conscrvative" party had the disadvantage in reputation, whatever the gain in votes, of attracting to its support many of those whose loyalty was doubtful, or whose treason was indisputable. Yet the masses of the two parties really differed less in principle than in personal feeling. The attempt to expand this local strife into a National division of parties appears to haro been thought of by no one, until a comparatively late day. To Mr. Lincoln, the feud was one too deeply regretted for either side to gain his confidence. He thought both should adhere to the Government against its enemies, their own as well, and settle their disagreements, when both so nearly meant the samo thing-personalities excepted.
Precisely how Mr. Lincoln regarded this matter, may best be shown by his own words, addressed to Gen. Schofield when the quarrel was still local, ere the plan of National diffusion had bern invented :
WASHINGTON, May 27, 1863. Gen. J. M. SCHOFIELD—Dear Sir: Having removed Gen. Curtis, and assigned you to the command of the Department of
the Missouri, I think it may be of some advantage to me to state to you why I did it. I did not remove Gen. Curtis because of my full conviction that he had done wrong by commission or omission. I did it because of a conviction in my mind that the Union men of Missouri, constituting, when united, a vast majority of the people, have entered into a pestilent, factious quarrel among themselves, Gen. Curtis, perhaps not of choice, being the head of one faction, and Gov. Gamble that of the other. After months of labor to reconcile the difficulty, it seemed to grow worse and worse, until I felt it my duty to break it up somehow, and as I could not remove Gov. Gamble, I had to remove Gen. Curtis. Now that you are in the posi. tion, I wish you to undo nothing merely because Gen. Curtis or Gov. Gamble did it, but to exercise your own judgment, and do right for the public interest. Let your military measures be strong enough to repel the invaders and keep the peace, and not so strong as to unnecessarily harass and persecute the people. It is a difficult role, and so much greater will be the honor if you perform it well. If both factions, or peither, shall abuse you, you will probably be about right. Beware of being assailed by one and praised by the other.
Yours, truly, A. LINCOLN. The two concluding sentences of this characteristic letter afford a koy to the course of Mr. Lincoln himself, in dealing with a difficulty to him so unpleasant, until partly as a result of his policy, affairs assumed a more satisfactory phase.
In the Autumn of 1863, a committee representing the “Radical” wing in Missouri, waited on President Lincoln to urge the removal of Gen. Schofield, who, whether justly or not, seemed to have becomo as much the special object of attack as a “Conscrvative," as had Gen. Curtis for his identification with the opposite side. The letter addressed to Gen. Schofield, on the 1st of October, the day after the formal petition of this committee had been presented, shows the attitude in which that officer now stood in the eyes of President Lincoln, and the policy of the latter, as exhibited in his communications with the one whom the “Radicals" were now chiefly opposing. Tko letter is as follows :
WASHINGTON, D. C., October 1, 1863. Gen. John M. SCHOFIELD: There is no organized military forco in avowed opposition to the General Government now in
Missouri, and if any shall reappear, your duty in regard to it will be too plain to require any special instruction. Still, the condition of things, both there and elsewhere, is such as to render it indispensable to maintain, for a time, the United States military establishment in that State, as well as to rely upon it for a fair contribution of support to that establishment generally. Your immediate duty in regard to Missouri now is, to advance the efficiency of that establishment, and to so uso it, as far as practicable, to compel the excited people there to let one another alone.
Under your recent order, which I have approved, you will only arrest individuals, and suppress assemblies or newspapers, when they may be working palpable injury to the military in your charge; and in no other case will you interfere with the expression of opinion in any form, or allow it to be interfered with violently by others. In this you have a discretion to exercise with great caution, calmness and forbearance.
With the matter of removing the inhabitants of certain counties en masse, and of removing certain individuals from time to time, who are supposed to be mischievous, I am not now interfering, but am leaving it to your own discretion.
Nor am I interfering with what may still seem to you to be necessary restrictions upon trade and intercourse. I think proper, however, to enjoin upon you the following: Allow no part of the military under your command to be engaged in either returning fugitive slaves, or in forcing or enticing slaves from their homes; and, so far as practicable, enforce the same forbearance upon the people.
Report to me your opinion upon the availability for good of the enrolled militia of the State. Allow no one to enlist colored troops, except upon orders from you, or from here through you.
Allow no one to assume the functions of confiscating property, under the law of Congress, or otherwise, except upon orders from here.
At elections, see that those, and only those, are allowed to vote, who are entitled to do so by the laws of Missouri, including as of those laws the restrictions laid by the Missouri Convention upon those who may have participated in the rebellion.
So far as practicable, you will, by means of your military force, expel guerrillas, marauders, and murderers, and all who are known to harbor, aid, or abet them. But, in like manner, you will repress assumptions of unauthorized individuals to perform the same service, because, under, pretense of doing this, they become marauders and murderers themselves.
To now restore peace, let the military obey orders; and those
not of the military leave each other alone, thus not breaking the peace themselves.
In giving the above directions, it is not intended to restrain you in other expedient and necessary matters, not falling within Your obedient servant,
A. LINCOLN In this letter of instructions, an attempt was made to insure practical remedies for all the evils camplained of that seemed to have a substantial ground, yet without the removal of Gen. Schofield, as asked. In other words, it was the aim to cure real grievances, without granting the complainants a merely personal triumph. To the latter party he replied more at length, and his words are worthy of careful reading, as showing, better than any other language can do, Mr. Lincoln's actual opinions and policy regarding the matters at issue. The letter is in these words:
WASHINGTON, October 5, 1863. Hon. Chas. D. DRAKE and others, Committee-Gentlemen : Your original address, presented on the 30th ult., and the four supplementary ones presented on the 3d inst., have been carefully considered. I hope you will regard the other duties claiming my attention, together with the great length and importance of these documents, as constituting a sufficient apology for my not having responded sooner.
These papers, framed for a common object, consist of the things demanded, and the reasons for demanding them.
The things demanded are:
1st. That Gen. Schofield shall be relieved, and Gen. Butler be appointed as Commander of the Military Department of Missouri; 2d. That the system of enrolled militia in Missouri may
be broken up, and National forces be substituted for it; and
3d. That at elections persons may not be allowed to vote who are not entitled by law to do so.
Among the reasons given, enough of suffering and wrong to Union men, is certainly, and I suppose truly stated. Yet the whole case, as presented, fails to convince me that Gen. Schofield, or the enrolled militia, is responsible for that suffering and wrong. The whole can be explained on a more charitable, and, as I think, a more rational hypothesis.
We are in a civil war. In such cases there always is a main question; but in this case that question is a perplexing compound-Union and Slavery. It thus becomes a question not