« PreviousContinue »
from merely personal considerations, there was undoubtedly a feeling that the policy of the Administration, being satisfactory, should not be materially changed at this important juneture, and that the name associated with the policy of emanci pation, in its inception, should be connected with its ultimate triumph.
There was also a certain carnest devotion in President Lincoln's calm faith in the guidance and aid of Divine Providence, which strong!: impressed all sober minds—a religious trust which became more and more his support in the severe trials of his official station. This trait of his character, and the confidence reposed in him by the churches, can not be better illustrated than by giving the following address of sympathy and loyal attachment which belongs to this period, although of somewhat earlier date than the President's re-nomination-presented in person by a delegation of distinguished clergymen, headed by Bishop Ames, on behalf of the General Conference of Methodist Episcopal churches, together with the brief, unpremeditated reply made on that occasion,
To His EXCELLENCY ABRAHAM LINCOLN, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: The General Conference of the Methodist Episcopal Church, now in session in the city of Philadelphia, representing nearly seven thousand ministers, and nearly a million of members, mindful of their duty as Christian citizens, takes the earliest opportunity to express to you the assurance of the loyalty of the Church, her earnest devotion to the interests of the country, and her sympathy with you in the great responsibilities of your high position in this trying hour.
With exultation we point to the record of our Church as having never been tarnished by disloyalty. She was the first of the churches to express, by a deputation of her most distinguished ministers, the promise of support to the Gorernment in the days of Washington. In her Articles of Religion she has enjoined loyalty as a duty, and has ever given to the Government her most decided support.
In this present struggle for the nation's life, many thousands of her members, and a large number of her ministers, have rushed to arms to maintain the cause of God and humanity, They have sealed their devotion to the country with their blood, on every battle-field of this terrible war.
We regard this dreadful scourge now desolating our land and
wasting the nation's life, as the result of a most unnatural, utterly unjustifiable rebellion ; involving the crime of treason against the best of human governments, and sin against God. It required our Government to submit to its own dismemberment and destruction, leaving it no alternative but to preserve the national integrity by the use of the nativval resources. If the Government had failed to use its power to preserve the unity of the nation, and maintain its authority, it would have been justly exposed to the wrath of Heaven, and to the reproach and scorn of the civilized world.
Our carnest and constant prayer is, that this cruel and wicked rebellion may be speedily suppressed; and we pledge you our hearty coöperation in all appropriate means to secure this object.
Loyal and hopeful in national adversity, in prosperity thankful, we most heartily congratulate you on the glorious victories recently gained, and rejoice in the belief that our complete triumph is near.
We believe that our national sorrows and calamities have resulted, in a great degree, from our forgetfulness of God, and oppression of our fellow-men. Chastened by affliction, may the nation humbly repent of her sins, lay aside her haughty pride, honor God in all futurc legislation, and render justice to all who have been wronged.
We honor you for your proclamations of liberty, and rejoice in all the acts of the Government designed to secure freedom to the enslaved.
We trust that when military usages and necessities shall justify interference with established institutions, and the removal of wrongs sanctioned by law, the occasion will be improved, not merely to injure our foes and increase the national resources, but, also, as an opportunity to recognize our obligations to God, and to honor His law. We pray that the time may speedily come when this shall be truly a republican and free country, in no part of which, either State or Territory, shall slavery be known. The prayers
of millions of Christians, with an earnestness never manifested for rulers before, daily ascend to Heaven, that you may be endued with all needed wisdom and power. Actuated by the sentiments of the loftiest and purest patriotism, our prayer shall be continually for the preservation of our country undivided, for the triumph of our cause, and for a permanent peace, gained by the sacrifice of no moral principles, but founded on the Word of God, and securing, in righteousness, liberty and equal rights to all.
Signed, in behalf of the General Conference of the Metho dist Episcopal Church.
PHILADELPHIA, May 14, 1864.
President Lincoln replied in the following words:
GENTLEMEN : In response to your address, allow me to attest the accuracy of its historical statements, indorse the sentiments it expresses,
in the nation's name, for the sure promise it gives.
Nobly sustained, as the Government has been by all the churches, I would utter nothing which might in the least appear invidious ageinst any. Yet, without this, it may fairly be said that the Methodist Episcopal Church, not less devoted than the best, is, by its greater numbers, the most important of all. It is no fault in others that the Methodist Church sends more soldiers to the field, more nurses to the hospitals, and more prayers to heaven than any. God bless the Methodist Church ; bless all the churches; and blessed be God, who, in this our great trial, giveth us the churches.
There was some corresponding action on the part of nearly or quite all the general ecclesiastical bodies of the United States. “All the churches," without regard to sectarian dif. ference, not only confided in his high character, but also received from him a reciprocation of kindly feeling and thankfulness.
The first stage of the Presidential canvass was now passed. The nominations were made. Tho Administration platform was before the people. It now remained to be determined whether the Republican Union party should continue in the ascendant-whether a majority of the people of the nation, entitled to a voice on the question, should fully confirm and ratify what the party itself had with such cordial unanimity agreed upon, or should intrust the power of the nation to new men, on an entirely different basis of public policy.
Congress.—The Constitutional Amendment prohibiting Slavery._ltg
Defeat in the House.Repeal of the Fugitive Slave Laws.-New Bureaus Established.-Other Important Legislation.—“Reconstruction."-Opposition to the President's Policy.-The Davis Bill. Disagreement of the two Houses Thereon.-Its Final Passage.The President withholds his Signature.--His Proclamation on the Subject.—The Wade-Davis Manifesto.--Letters of Mr. Lincoln in regard to Matters in New Orleans and St. Louis.--President Lin.' coln's Speech at the Philadelphia Fair.-A Democratic National Convention Called and Postponed.--Clay, Thompson and other Con. spirators in Canada.—The Greeley Negotiations with them.--President Lincoln's Action in the Case.—North-western ConspiracyThe Chicago Nominations and Platform, 1864.
The first session of the Thirty-eighth Congress terminated on the 4th day of July, 1864. On the 10th day of February, Mr. Trumbull, in the Senate, had reported from the Committee on the Judiciary a joint resolution proposing to the legislatures of the several States (to become valid when ratified by three-fourths of the same) the following article as an amendment to the Constitution of the United States :
ARTICLE XIII.-Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.
Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.
This resolution passed the Senate on the 8th of April, by a vote of 38 to 6 (the negative votes being given by Messrs. Davis and Powell, of Kentucky, Riddle and Salisbury, of Delaware, Hendricks, of Indiana, and McDougall, of California). The resolution having been transmitted to the House of Representatives, was taken up on the 31st of May, when, Mr.
Holman, of Indiana, having objected to its second reading. that body was brought to a direct vote on its rejection, which stood, yeas 55, nays 76, the Democratic opposition voting unanimously against any consideration of the question. On the 15th of June, the resolution was directly voted on, and rejected for want of the requisite two-thirds vote—the yeas being 95, and the nays 66. Mr. Ashley, of Ohio, having voted in the negative, with a view to secure a reconsideration of the vote at the next session, entered a motivn to that effect on the same day. Thus a great measure of vital consequence to the nation for all time, was defeated by the Democratic opposition, still unwilling to cut loose from the doomed institution, and still apparently hopeful of renewing a Southern bondage which had been so long the basis of their political power. On the other hand, the Republican Union party had adopted this measure in its platform, as a vital issue of the time, and supported it with entire unanimity in both branches of Congress.
President Lincoln himself had already given his hearty approval to this method for the utter and final extinction of slavery wherever the jurisdiction of the United States extends.
The time had now come when the odious legislation for returning to bondage the slaves who had asserted their natural right to freedom by escaping into free territory, should cease to have a place among the laws of a free republic. Various attempts had been made to this end, both in the Senate and in the House of Representatives, during this and the previous sessions of Congress, without final effect, until, on the 13th of June, 1864, Mr. Morris, of New York, from the Committee on the Judiciary, reported an act repealing the fugitive slave act of 1850, and the third and fourth sections of that of 1793. This repealing act passed by nearly a strict party vote-yeas 86, nays 60—the Administration members, save Mr. Smithers, of Delaware, voting unitedly for the repeal, and the Opposition members, except Mr. Griswold, of New York, voting in the negative. This bill passed the Senate on the 22d day of June, and received the approval of the Executive on the 28th.
The Bureau of National Currency, in the Treasury Depart