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my faith with friend and foe. ... No human power can subdue this Rebellion without the use of the Emancipation policy and every other policy calculated to weaken the moral and physical forces of the Rebellion."

December 6th, 1864, after his re-election, in his annual message to Congress, the President made the following remarkable declaration: “In presenting the abandonment of armed resistance to the national authority on the part of the insurgents as the only indispensable condition to ending the war on the part of the Government, I retract nothing heretofore said as to slavery. I repeat the declaration made a year ago, that 'while I remain in my present position I shall not attempt to retract or modify the Emancipation Proclamation, nor shall I return to slavery any person who is free by the terms of that proclamation, or by any of the acts of Con


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“If the people should, by whatever mode or means, make it :in executive duty to re-enslave such persons, another, and not I must be their instrument to perform it.” 18

In publishing this statement by President Lincoln, Mr. Blaine in his great work says: “This was fair notice by Mr. Lincoln to all the world that so long as he was President the absolute validity of the Proclamation would be maintained at all hazards.'

January 31st, 1865, in his instructions to Seward, who was to confer with the Confederate Commissioners at Hampton Roads, the President said: “No receding by the Executive of the United States, on the slavery question, from the position assumed thereon in the late annual message to Congress and in preceding documents."

February 3rd, 1865, in his own and Mr. Seward's interview with those Commissioners "the President announced the he must not be expected to depart from the positions he had heretofore assumed in his Proclamation of Emancipation and

18 Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln, Vol. X., p. 310. 19 Twenty Years of Congress, Vol. I., D. 535.

other documents as these positions were reiterated in his last annual message."

During that same interview at Hampton Roads, the Southern Commissioners were informed that Congress on the 31st of December had, by the requisite majority voted to submit to the states a constitutional amendment abolishing slavery throughout the Union, and that it would undoubtedly be approved by three-fourths of the states and become a part of the national organic law. This was startling information for the Southern Commissioners, for they had not before learned of the result of the vote in the House of Representatives, and like those who voted against the amendment in Congress, they were cherishing the hope that the proposition would fail to receive the requisite two-thirds affirmative vote.

Hon. Alexander H. Stephens, one of the Confederate Commissioners, in his accciint of this interview states that President Lincoln said to the Commissioners that "he never would change or modify the terms of the proclamation in the slightest particular.” 20

February 1oth, 1865, in his message to the House of Representatives, giving desired information respecting the Hampton Roads Conference, President Lincoln said: “The whole substance of the instructions to the Secretary of State, hereinbefore cited, was stated and insisted upon, and nothing was said inconsistent therewith.” 21

April 3rd, 1865, during his brief visit at Richmond, upon seeing large numbers of the colored people kneeling before him, he said: “Do not kneel to me; that is not right. You must kneel to God only, and thank Him for the liberty you will hereafter enjoy. I am but God's humble instrument; but you may rest assured that as long as I live no one will put a shackle on your limbs, and you shall have the rights which God has given to every other free citizen of this Republic.” (Admiral Porter's report.)

20 War Between the States, Vol. II., pp. 610-611. a Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln, Vol. XI., p. 28.

In the final Emancipation Proclamation, President Lincoln promised to "recognize and maintain the freedom” of those who should be made free by that edict, and now standing in the street of the captured capital of the insurgents, with the Rebellion falling into ruins all about him, he solemnly and in the name of God renewed that promise to the bewildered and black throng before him. The assurance he then gave them was the climax of all he had before said relative to the perpetuity of their freedom, and the scene was suitable for the closing days of the life of the great Emancipator. It will richly reward the reader carefully to study the foregoing quotations and to note the fidelity and care with which Mr. Lincoln, as lawyer and statesman, closes up every avenue by which hostile influences could creep in and interfere with the efficacy of the Emancipation Proclamation.

Very wide publicity has been given to the misleading statement that at the Hampton Roads Conference, February 3rd, 1865, President Lincoln handed Vice-President Alexander H. Stephens—one of the Confederate Commissioners—a blank sheet of paper, promising as he did so, to sign any terms of peace with the restoration of the Union which Mr. Stephens would write upon it.

This statement has received such a measure of verification that it has been given general credence and has led to the impression that at that Conference Mr. Lincoln offered to compromise with the South respecting slavery. We do not know with certainty that such an event occurred, but we do know with absolute certainty that Mr. Lincoln at that conference assured the Confederate Commissioners that there would be no receding from the position the Union Government had taken respecting slavery. This was stated very clearly by him before the Conference met, was repeated by him during the Conference, as Mr. Stephens himself states, and it was included by Mr. Lincoln in his report to Congress relative to the interview with the Confederate Commissioners. Therefore, if Mr. Lincoln made Mr. Stephens the proposition before recited, Mr. Stephens knew at the time that it did not include any suggestion of compromise respecting slavery.

But while President Lincoln expressed his purpose to adhere strictly to the Emancipation policy of the General Government he assured the Commissioners that he would favor the appropriation by Congress of four hundred million dollars as compensation to the South for financial loss sustained by the freeing of the slaves. He told the Commissioners that he believed he could secure favorable action of Congress upon that proposition, and had his offer at that time been accepted it would not only have accomplished the immediate cessation of hostilities and thus prevented the great loss and suffering of the months that followed, but it would also have enabled the South to retire from the struggle in better financial condition than was the North. But acting under their instruction from Jefferson Davis, those Commissioners were not at liberty even to consider Mr. Lincoln's suggestion.

Mr. Lincoln, when he adopted the Emancipation policy,


that it would be helpful to the Union cause. He knew it would arouse into more violent activity the hostile influences arrayed against him, and he hoped it would stimulate the zeal of all friends of the Government.

September 24th, 1862, at a serenade given on the occasion of the preliminary proclamation which had been issued two days before, President Lincoln said: "What I did I did after a very full deliberation and under a very heavy and solemn sense of responsibility. I can only trust in God I have made no mistake."

In his annual message to Congress, December 8th, 1863, Mr. Lincoln, in reviewing this period of his administration, remarks: "The policy of emancipation and of employing black soldiers, gave to the future a new aspect, about which hope and fear and doubt contended in uncertain conflict."



There is a graphic picture of that conflict in the account of President Lincoln's interview with the delegation from Chicago on the 13th of September, 1862, during which he said: "What good would a proclamation of emancipation from me do, especially as we are now situated ? I do not want to issue a document that the whole world will see must necessarily be inoperative, like the Pope's bull against the comet. Would my word free the slaves, when I cannot even enforce the Constitution in the rebel States? It would help somewhat at the North, though not so much, I fear, as you and those you represent imagine. I am not so sure we could do much with the blacks. If we were to arm them, I fear that in a few weeks the arms would be in the hands of the rebels.

There are fifty thousand bayonets in the Union arms from the Border slave states. It would be a serious matter if, in consequence of a proclamation such as you desire, they should go over to the rebels.” 22

Summing up all these apprehensions and also the hopes which he cherished, the utmost that Mr. Lincoln could confidently anticipate as to the influence on the Union cause of a policy of emancipation, is stated by him in his review of these events in the Hodges letter of April 4th, 1864, in the following: "In choosing it (emancipation) I hoped for greater gain than loss, but of this I was not entirely confident.” 23

But, notwithstanding his misgivings at the time respecting the influence of emancipation upon the Union cause, after it had been fairly tried, Mr. Lincoln gave strong testimony to the helpfulness of that policy in the nation's struggle for existence.

August 26th, 1863, in the Conkling letter he said: "Some of the commanders of our armies in the field who have given us our most important successes, believe the Emancipation policy and the use of the colored troops constitute the heaviest blow yet dealt to the Rebellion, and that at least one of these

22 Complete Works of Abraham Lincoln, Vol. VIII., pp. 30, 32-33. 23 Ibid., Vol. X., p. 65.

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