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THE PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE

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no other legal status. If they break from this, they can only do so against law and by revolution. The Union, and not themselves separately, procured their independence and their liberty. By conquest or purchase the Union gave each of them whatever of independence or liberty it has. The Union is older than any of the States, and, in fact, it created them as States. Originally some dependent colonies made the Union, and, in turn, the Union threw off their old dependence for them, and made them States, such as they are. Not one of them ever had a State constitution independent of the Union."

A noteworthy point in the message is President Lincoln's expression of his abiding confidence in the intelligence and virtue of the people of the United States. Ma extrava"It may be affirmed," said he,

gance, that the free institutions we enjoy have developed the powers and improved the condition of our whole people beyond any example in the world. Of this we now have a striking and an impressive illustration. So large an army as the government has now on, foot was never before known, without a soldier in it but who has taken his place there of his own free choice. But more than this, there are many single regiments whose members, one and another, possess full practical knowledge of all the arts, sciences, professions, and whatever else, whether useful or elegant, is known in the world; and there is scarcely one from which there could not be selected a President, a cabinet, a congress, and, perhaps, a court, abundantly competent to administer the government itself."

This is essentially a people's contest. On the side of the Union it is a struggle for maintaining in the world that form and substance of government whose leading object is to elevate the condition of men; to lift arti

ficial weights from all shoulders; to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all; to afford all an unfettered start, and a fair chance in the race of life.

I

am most happy to believe that the plain people understand and appreciate this. It is worthy of note that while in this, the government's hour of trial, large numbers of those in the army and navy who have been favored with the offices have resigned and proved false to the hand which had pampered them, not one common soldier or common sailor is known to have deserted his flag."

Hearty applause greeted that portion of the message which asked for means to make the contest short and decisive; and Congress acted promptly by authorizing a loan of $250,000,000 and an army not to exceed one million men. All of President Lincoln's war measures for which no previous sanction of law existed were duly legalized; additional direct income and tariff taxes were laid; and the Force Bill of 1795, and various other laws relating to conspiracy, piracy, unlawful recruiting, and kindred topics, were amended or passed.

Throughout the whole history of the South, by no means the least of the evils entailed by the institution of slavery was the dread of slave insurrections which haunted every master's household; and this vague terror was at once intensified by the outbreak of civil war. It stands to the lasting credit of the negro race in the United States that the wrongs of their long bondage provoked them to no such crime, and that the Civil War appears not to have even suggested, much less started, any such organization or attempt. But the John Brown raid had indicated some possibility of the kind, and when the Union troops began their movements, Generals Butler in Maryland and Patterson in

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Pennsylvania, moving toward Harper's Ferry, and McClellan in West Virginia, in order to reassure noncombatants, severally issued orders that all attempts at slave insurrection should be suppressed. It was a most pointed and significant warning to the leaders of the rebellion how much more vulnerable the peculiar institution was in war than in peace, and that their ill-considered scheme to protect and perpetuate slavery would prove the most potent engine for its destruction.

The first effect of opening hostilities was to give adventurous or discontented slaves the chance to escape into Union camps, where, even against orders to the contrary, they found practical means of protection or concealment for the sake of the help they could render as cooks, servants, or teamsters, or for the information they could give or obtain, or the invaluable service they could render as guides. Practically, therefore, at the very beginning, the war created a bond of mutual sympathy, based on mutual helpfulness, between the Southern negro and the Union volunteer; and as fast as the Union troops advanced, and secession masters fled, more or less slaves found liberation and refuge in the Union camps.

At some points, indeed, this tendency created an embarrassment to Union commanders. A few days after General Butler assumed command of the Union troops at Fortress Monroe, the agent of a rebel master who had fled from the neighborhood came to demand, under the provisions of the fugitive-slave law, three field hands alleged to be in Butler's camp. Butler responded that as Virginia claimed to be a foreign country, the fugitive-slave law was clearly inoperative, unless the owner would come and take an oath of allegiance to the United States. In connection with this incident, the newspaper report stated that as the breast

works and batteries which had been so rapidly erected for Confederate defense in every direction on the Virginia peninsula were built by enforced negro labor under rigorous military impressment, negroes were manifestly contraband of war under international law. The dictum was so pertinent, and the equity so plain, that, though it was not officially formulated by the general until two months later, it sprang at once into popular acceptance and application; and from that time forward the words "slave" and "negro" were everywhere within the Union lines replaced by the familiar, significant term "contraband."

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While Butler's happy designation had a more convincing influence on public thought than a volume of discussion, it did not immediately solve the whole question. Within a few days he reported that he had slave property to the value of $60,000 in his hands, and by the end of July nine hundred "contrabands,' men, women, and children, of all ages. What was their legal status, and how should they be disposed of? It was a knotty problem, for upon its solution might depend the sensitive public opinion and balancing, undecided loyalty and political action of the border slave States of Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri. In solving the problem, President Lincoln kept in mind the philosophic maxim of one of his favorite stories, that when the Western Methodist presiding elder, riding about the circuit during the spring freshets, was importuned by his young companion how they should ever be able to get across the swollen waters of Fox River, which they were approaching, the elder quieted him by saying he had made it the rule of his life never to cross Fox River till he came to it. The President did not immediately decide, but left it to be treated as a question of camp and local police,

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in the discretion of each commander.

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Under this

theory, later in the war, some commanders excluded, others admitted such fugitives to their camps; and the curt formula of General Orders, "We have nothing to do with slaves. We are neither negro stealers nor negro catchers," was easily construed by subordinate officers to justify the practice of either course. Inter arma silent leges. For the present, Butler was instructed not to surrender such fugitives, but to employ them in suitable labor, and leave the question of their final disposition for future determination. Congress greatly advanced the problem, soon after the battle of Bull Run, by adopting an amendment which confiscated a rebel master's right to his slave when, by his consent, such slave was employed in service or labor hostile to the United States. The debates exhibited but little spirit of partizanship, even on this feature of the slavery question. The border State members did not attack the justice of such a penalty. They could only urge that it was unconstitutional and inexpedient. On the general policy of the war, both houses, with but few dissenting votes, passed the resolution, offered by Mr. Crittenden, which declared that the war was not waged for oppression or subjugation, or to interfere with the rights or institutions of States, "but to defend and maintain the supremacy of the Constitution, and to preserve the Union with all the dignity, equality, and rights of the several States unimpaired." The special session adjourned on August 6, having in a single month completed and enacted a thorough and comprehensive system of war legislation.

The military events that were transpiring in the meanwhile doubtless had their effect in hastening the decision and shortening the labors of Congress. To command the thirteen regiments of militia furnished

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