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would not budge till that proclamation was modified; and General Anderson telegraphed me that on the news of General Fremont having actually issued deeds of manumission, a whole company of our volunteers threw down their arms and disbanded. I was so assured as to think it probable that the very arms we had furnished Kentucky would be turned against


Before President Lincoln knew of the unfavorable action of the Kentucky legislature in his private letter to General Fremont, already quoted, he expressed his fears that the proclamation would be harmful to the Union cause among “our Southern Union friends” and ruinous to the Union cause in Kentucky

A more unfortunate time for an antislavery movement could not possibly have been chosen than that selected by General Fremont for his proclamation of state-wide martial law and military emancipation. Conditions in the border states were made peculiarly unfavorable to its acceptance because of the tremendous efforts of the Confederate leaders to enlist those states in the rebellion. No less eager was President Lincoln to hold Kentucky to her allegiance to the Union than was Jefferson Davis to win that state to the Confederacy. There were certain leading men in Kentucky who, at that time, were believed to be able to control the action of the state respecting the Rebellion. One man—a journalist of exceptional ability—was believed to have sufficient influence to swing the state as he might choose to the support of the Federal Government or to the Confederacy. To enlist that great journalist on the side of the rebellion was the chief aim and effort of the Confederate leaders. Fifty thousand dollars in gold was the sum employed to carry out the scheme. According to autograph letters now before me, some written by the editor in question, and others by prominent Confederates, that sum was invested to purchase the influence which it was believed would cause Kentucky to renounce her allegiance to the Union and join the Confederacy. The arrangements to accomplish that result were consummated and the time fixed for the carrying out of the agreement when counteracting influences suddenly and unexpectedly intervened and the whole scheme was brought to a disastrous failure. Kentucky declared her loyalty to the Government and aided very materially in the war for the Government's preservation. The correspondence shows that the fifty thousand dollar purchase price, although paid over, was not receipted for nor returned, and the goods were not delivered. Names and dates for all this could be easily given, but it would serve no good purpose. What I have here stated is given as an illustration of conditions as they existed at the time the Fremont proclamation was issued. These incidents also aid in explaining Lincoln's anxiety and care not to offend public sentiment in Kentucky, if it could possibly be avoided. To many loyal people his seemingly excessive solicitude to secure and hold the favor of that state was a mystery, and some were uncharitable enough to attribute it to partiality for it as his native state. But his letter to Senator Browning and the incident relating to the Kentucky journalist make it all plain, and show that in President Lincoln's opinion, and in fact, the Fremont proclamation was very inopportune as well as premature. This he states very clearly in the Hodges letter of April 4th, when he says: "When, early in the war, General Fremont attempted military emancipation, I forbade it, because I did not then think it an indispensable necessity.” Another reason for Mr. Lincoln's disapproval of the Fremont proclamation was his conviction that when emancipation became a necessity, as he thought possibly would sometime be the case, it should be proclaimed and made effective, not by a general in command of a department with his small area of territory and his limited authority and power, but by the President with his nationwide jurisdiction and his great resources for making it uniform and successful. This, as we shall soon see, was prominent in his thought at a later period and probably had its influence in causing him to disapprove of the Fremont emancipation scheme.

* Nicolay and Hay, Abraham Lincoln, A History, Vol. IV., p. 422.

In addition to these considerations, each and all of which had influence with the President, the Fremont emancipation movement was in itself exceedingly'objectionable to President Lincoln. He was careful not to refer to this in his official statements, for he realized that public sentiment against slavery was so strong and intense that a declaration by him against that emancipation movement would be misunderstood and would result in harm to the Union cause.

In his letters to General Fremont the President sets forth no reason for his disapproval of the General's emancipation scheme save his apprehension that it would have a harmful influence with the Union people of the South. This was doubtless due to the restraints of official courtesy and of diplomatic considerations. But in his letter to Senator Browning before cited, he lays aside all reserve and inveighs against the proclamation with intense severity. He declares it to be "purely political and not within the range of military law or necessity. The proclamation in the point in question is simply dictatorship. It assumes that the General may do anything he pleases—confiscate the lands and free the slaves of loyal people as well as of disloyal ones. And going the whole figure, I have no doubt would be more popular with some thoughtless people than that which has been done! But I cannot assume this reckless position nor allow others to assume it on my responsibility."

In reply to the Senator's claim that it was the only means of saving the government, he says: “On the contrary, it is itself the surrender of the government.

These unusually strong declarations of Mr. Lincoln's objections to General Fremont's attempt at military emancipation reveal the nature of the trials through which he was then passing and the extent to which that affair added to their severity.

5 Nicolay and Hay, Abraham Lincoln, A History, Vol. IV., pp. 421-422.


The infelicities connected with this affair did not cause the President to take any action unfavorable to General Fremont, but on account of the bitter animosities in his department growing out of other matters, the President, after repeated efforts to avoid so doing, relieved him of his command and appointed General David Hunter as his successor. In the spirit of a true soldier, General Fremont retired from his command in a manner calculated to be helpful to his successor. But while the harmful influences of his untimely emancipation proclamation were so far overcome as to prevent immediate serious results, the hostilities engendered by it, like avenging bloodhounds, pursued Mr. Lincoln during all the remainder of his weary days.

In his plans to prosecute the war and save the nation, in his efforts to destroy slavery and in his candidacy for re-election those hostilities were ever present and added greatly to his difficulties and to the bitterness of the cup constantly pressed to his lips.

The loyalty of the border states having been won by a policy of non-interference with slavery, it was found necessary to continue that policy in order to hold their allegiance to the Union. This it became very difficult to do. The progress of the war was constantly producing changes and creating new and difficult complications respecting slavery and the colored people. The white slave masters fled from the approach of the Union army, leaving many thousands of colored slaves to be dealt with by the Government. Those slaves were eager to aid the Union cause as laborers or in any way by which they could be helpful to the Union army and to the Government. Thousands of them were anxious to enlist as soldiers and fight for the Union even against their former masters. How to deal with these loyal people was a problem of constantly increasing magnitude and importance, and as the war continued adherence to President Lincoln's purpose not to interfere with slavery became more and more difficult for all who were connected with the Government.

During autumn months of 1861, the Government, while not embarrassed by any attempts at military emancipation, was compelled to take action permitting the loyal slaves of disloyal masters to aid in efforts to save the nation. In the regions where the colored people were the most numerous and the climate was the most inhospitable to the Union soldiers, the demand for such action was most imperative. As time passed the Government was led increasingly to utilize the slaves to the greatest possible extent in overcoming the rebellion. The first very important movement toward that policy was when arrangements were being made for the expeditions under General Sherman into South Carolina, where the colored population was in preponderance. On the 14th of October, 1861, in his instructions to General Sherman, the Secretary of War said among other things: "You will, however, in general, avail yourself of the services of any persons, whether fugitives from labor or not, who may offer themselves to the national Government. You may employ such persons in such services as they may be fitted for, either as ordinary employees, or, if special circumstances seem to require it, in any other capacity, with such organization in squads, companies or otherwise, as you may deem most beneficial to the service. This, however, not to mean a general arming of them for military service.” This last sentence was interlined by President Lincoln by his own hand. In the phrase "special circumstances” the word “special” was also added by the President. In making these amendments to the instructions sent to General Sherman by the Secretary of War, President Lincoln was seeking to avoid harmful criticisms from those who were ever ready to embarrass the Government by stirring up race prejudice and by opposing all movements against slavery. To avoid being accused of the confiscation of the property of loyal people the order read: "You will assure all loyal masters that Congress will provide just compensation to them for the loss of the services of the persons so employed.” And as an encouragement to those

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