I would bring about a two-fold good; first I would advance those who are unjustly deprived of the rights of mankind to a state which would be a proper gradation between abject slavery and perfect liberty, and besides I would reinforce the defenders of liberty with a number of gallant soldiers. Men, who have the habit of subordination almost indelibly impressed on them, would have one very essential qualification of soldiers. I am persuaded that if I could obtain authority for the purpose, I would have a corps of such men trained, uniformly clad, equip'd and ready in every respect to act at the opening of the next campaign. The ridicule that may be thrown on the color, I despise, because I am sure of rendering essential service to my country.
I am tired of the languor with which so sacred a war as this is carried on. My circumstances prevent me from writing so long a letter as I expected and wish'd to have done on a subject which I have much at heart. I entreat you to give a favorable answer to Your most affectionate JOHN LAURENS.
The Honble Henry Laurens Esq. President of Congress.
HEAD QUARTERS, 2nd Feb., 1778.
My Dear Father:
The more I reflect upon the difficulties and delays which are likely to attend the completing our Continental regiments, the more anxiously is my mind bent upon the scheme, which I lately communicated to you. The obstacles to the execution of it had presented themselves to me, but by no means appeared insurmountable. I was aware of having that monstrous popular prejudice, open-mouthed against me, of undertaking to transform beings almost irrational, into well disciplined soldiers, of being obliged to combat the arguments, and perhaps the intrigues, of interested persons. But zeal for the public service, and an ardent desire to assert the rights of humanity, determined me to engage in this arduous business, with the sanction of your consent. My own perseverance, aided by the countenance of a few virtuous men, will, I hope, enable me to accomplish it.
You seem to think, my dear father, that men reconciled by long habit to the miseries of their condition, would prefer their ignominious bonds to the untasted sweets of liberty, especially when offer'd upon the terms which I propose.
I confess, indeed, that the minds of this unhappy species must be debased by a servitude, from which they can hope for no relief but death, and that every motive to action but fear, must be nearly extinguished in them. But do you think they are so perfectly moulded to their state as to be insensible that a better exists? Will the galling comparison between themselves and their masters leave them unenlightened in this respect? Can their self love be so totally annihilated as not frequently to induce ardent wishes for a change?
You will accuse me, perhaps, my dearest friend, of consulting my own feelings too much; but I am tempted to believe that this trampled people have so much human left in them, as to be capable of aspiring to the rights of men by noble exertions, if some friend to mankind would point the road, and give them a prospect of success. If I am mistaken in this, I would avail myself, even of their weakness, and, conquering one fear by another, produce equal good to the public. You will ask in this view, how do you consult the benefit of the slaves? I answer, that like other men, they are creatures of habit. Their cowardly ideas will be gradually effaced, and they will be modified anew. Their being rescued from a state of perpetual humiliation, and being advanced as it were, in the scale of being, will compensate the dangers incident to their new state.
The hope that will spring in each man's mind, respecting his own escape, will prevent his being miserable. Those who fall in battle will not lose much; those who survive will obtain their reward. Habits of subordination, patience under fatigues, sufferings and privations of every kind, are soldierly qualifications, which these men possess in an eminent degree.
Upon the whole, my dearest friend and father, I hope that my plan for serving my country and the oppressed negro race will not appear to you the chimera of a young mind, deceived by a false appearance of moral beauty, but a laudable sacrifice of private interest, to justice and the public good.
You say, that my resources would be small, on account of the proportion of women and children. I do not know whether I am right, for I speak from impulse, and have not reasoned upon the matter. I say, altho' my plan is at once to give freedom to the negroes, and gain soldiers to the states; in case of concurrence, I should sacrifice the former interest, and therefore we change the women and children for able-bodied men. The more of these I could obtain, the better; but forty might be a good foundation to begin upon.
It is a pity that some such plan as I propose could not be more extensively executed by public authority. A well-chosen body of 5,000 black men, properly officer'd, to act as light troops, in addition to our present establishment, might give us decisive success in the next campaign.
I have long deplored the wretched state of these men, and considered in their history, the bloody wars excited in Africa, to furnish America with slaves—the groans of despairing multitudes, toiling for the luxuries of merciless tyrants.
I have had the pleasure of conversing with you, sometimes, upon the means of restoring them to their rights. When can it be better done, than when their enfranchisement may be made conducive to the public good, and be modified, as not to overpower their weak minds?
You ask, what is the general's opinion, upon this subject? He is convinced, that the numerous tribes of blacks in the southern parts of the continent, offer a resource to us that should not be neglected. With respect to my particular plan, he only objects to it, with the arguments of pity for a man who would be less rich than he might be.
I am obliged, my dearest friend and father, to take my leave for the present; you will excuse whatever exceptionable may have escaped in the course of my letter, and accept the assurance of filial love, and respect of Your JOHN LAURENS]
If, however, it be objected that the arming of Negroes by the Rebels was exceptional and local, and, that otherwise, the Rebels always used their volunteer or impressed Negro forces in work upon fortifications and other unarmed Military Works, and never proposed using them in the clash of arms, as armed soldiers against armed White men, the contrary is easily proven.
In a message to the Rebel Congress, November 7, 1864, Jefferson Davis himself, while dissenting at that time from the policy, advanced by many, of "a general levy and arming of the Slaves, for the duty of soldiers," none the less declared that "should the alternative ever be presented of subjugation, or of the employment of the Slave as a soldier, there seems no reason to doubt what should then be our decision."
In the meantime, however, he recommended the employment of forty thousand Slaves as pioneer and engineer laborers, on the ground that "even this limited number, by their preparatory training in intermediate duties Would form a more valuable reserve force in case of urgency, than threefold their number suddenly called from field labor; while a fresh levy could, to a certain extent, supply their places in the special service" of pioneer and engineer work; and he undertook to justify the inconsistency between his present recommendation, and his past attitude, by declaring that "A broad, moral distinction exists between the use of Slaves as soldiers in defense of their homes, and the incitement of the same persons to insurrection against their masters, for," said he, "the one is justifiable, if necessary; the other is iniquitous and unworthy of a civilized people."
So also, while a Bill for the arming of Slaves was pending before the Rebel Congress early in 1865, General Robert E. Lee wrote, February 18th, from the Headquarters of the Rebel Armies, to Hon. E. Barksdale, of the Rebel House of Representatives, a communication, in which, after acknowledging the receipt of a letter from him of February 12th, "with reference to the employment of Negroes as soldiers," he said: "I think the Measure not only expedient but necessary * * * in my opinion, the Negroes, under proper circumstances, will make efficient soldiers. * * * I think those who are employed, should be freed. It would be neither just nor wise, in my opinion, to require them to remain as Slaves" —thus, not only approving the employment of Black Slaves as soldiers, to fight White Union men, but justifying their Emancipation as a reward for Military service. And, a few days afterward, that Rebel Congress passed a Bill authorizing Jefferson Davis to take into the Rebel Army as many Negro Slaves "as he may deem expedient, for and during the War, to perform Military service in whatever capacity he may direct," and at the same time authorizing General Lee to organize them as other "troops" are organized.
[This Negro soldier Bill, according to McPherson's Appendix, p. 611-612, passed both Houses, and was in these words:
A Bill to increase the Military Forces of the Confederate States.
"The Congress of the Confederate States of America do Enact, That in order to provide additional forces to repel invasion, maintain the rightful possession of the Confederate States, secure their Independence and preserve their Institutions, the President be and he is hereby authorized to ask for and accept from the owners of Slaves the services of such number of able-bodied Negro men as he may deem expedient for and during the War, to perform Military service in whatever capacity he may direct.
"SEC. 2.—That the General-in-Chief be authorized to organize the said Slaves into companies, battalions, regiments, and brigades, under such rules and regulations as the Secretary of War may prescribe, and to be commanded by such officers as the President may appoint.
"SEC. 3.—That, while employed in the Service, the said troops shall receive the same rations, clothing, and compensation as are allowed to other troops in the same branch of the Service.
"SEC. 4.—That if, under the previous sections of this Act, the President shall not be able to raise a sufficient number of troops to prosecute the War successfully and maintain the Sovereignty of the States, and the Independence of the Confederate States, then he is hereby authorized to call on each State, whenever he thinks it expedient, for her quota of 300,000 troops, in addition to those subject to Military service, under existing laws, or so many thereof as the President may deem necessary, to be raised from such classes of the population, irrespective of color, in each State, as the proper authorities thereof may determine: Provided, that not more than 25 per cent. of the male Slaves, between the ages of 18 and 45, in any State, shall be called for under the provisions of this Act.
"SEC. 5.—That nothing in this Act shall be construed to authorize a change in the relation of said Slaves."]
FREEDOM'S SUN STILL RISING.
After President Lincoln had issued his Proclamation of Emancipation, the friends of Freedom clearly perceived—and none of them more clearly than himself that until the incorporation of that great Act into the Constitution of the United States itself, there could be no real assurance of safety to the liberties of the emancipated; that unless this were done there would be left, even after the suppression of the Rebellion, a living spark of dissension which might at any time again be fanned into the flames of Civil War.
Hence, at all proper times, Mr. Lincoln favored and even urged Congressional action upon the subject. It was not, however, until the following year that definite action may be said to have commenced in Congress toward that end; and, as Congress was slow, he found it necessary to say in his third Annual Message: "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 Congress."
Meantime, however, occurred the series of glorious Union victories in the West, ending with the surrender to Grant's triumphant Forces on the 4th of July, 1863, of Vicksburg—"the Gibraltar of the West"—with its Garrison, Army, and enormous quantities of arms and munitions of war; thus closing a brilliant and successful Campaign with a blow which literally "broke the back" of the Rebellion; while, almost simultaneously, July 1-3, the Union Forces of the East, under Meade, gained the great victory of Gettysburg, and, driving the hosts of Lee from Pennsylvania, put a second and final end to Rebel invasion of Northern soil; gaining it, on ground dedicated by President Lincoln, before that year had closed—as a place of sepulture for the Patriot-soldiers who there had fallen in a brief, touching and immortal Address, which every American child should learn by heart, and every American adult ponder deeply, as embodying the very essence of true Republicanism.
[President Lincoln's Address, when the National Cemetery at Gettysburg, Pa., was dedicated Nov. 19, 1863, was in these memorable words:
"Fourscore and seven years ago, our Fathers brought forth upon this continent a new Nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
"Now we are engaged in a great Civil War, testing whether that Nation, or any Nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure.
"We are met on a great battlefield of that War. We have come here to dedicate a portion of that field as a final resting-place for those who here gave their lives that that Nation might live.
"It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
"But in a larger sense, we can not dedicate, we can not consecrate, we can not hallow, this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who struggled here, have consecrated it far above our power to add or detract.
"The World will little note, nor long remember, what we say here; but it can never forget what they did here.
"It is for us, the living, rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who fought here have, thus far, so nobly advanced.
"It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us; that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that Cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain; that this Nation, under God, shall have a new birth of Freedom; and that Government of the People, by the People, and for the People, shall not perish front the Earth."]
That season of victory for the Union arms, coming, as it did, upon a season of depression and doubtfulness, was doubly grateful to the loyal heart of the Nation. Daylight seemed to be breaking at last. Gettysburg had hurled back the Southern invader from our soil; and Vicksburg, with the immediately resulting surrender of Port Hudson, had opened the Mississippi river from Cairo to the Gulf, and split the Confederacy in twain.
But it happened just about this time that, the enrollment of the whole Militia of the United States (under the Act of March, 1863), having been completed, and a Draft for 300,000 men ordered to be made and executed, if by a subsequent time the quotas of the various States should not be filled by volunteering, certain malcontents and Copperheads, inspired by agents and other friends of the Southern Conspirators, started and fomented, in the city of New York, a spirit of unreasoning opposition both to voluntary enlistment, and conscription under the Draft, that finally culminated, July 13th, in a terrible Riot, lasting several days, during which that great metropolis was in the hands, and completely at the mercy, of a brutal mob of Secession sympathizers, who made day and night hideous with their drunken bellowings, terrorized everybody even suspected of love for the Union, plundered and burned dwellings, including a Colored Orphan Asylum, and added to the crime of arson, that of murdering the mob-chased, terror-stricken Negroes, by hanging them to the lamp-posts.
These Riots constituted a part of that "Fire in the Rear" with which the Rebels and their Northern Democratic sympathizers had so frequently menaced the Armies of the Union.
Alluding to them, the N. Y. Tribune on July 15th, while its office was invested and threatened with attack and demolition, bravely said: "They are, in purpose and in essence, a Diversion in favor of Jefferson Davis and Lee. Listen to the yells of the mob and the harangues of its favorite orators, and you will find them surcharged with 'Nigger,' 'Abolition,' 'Black Republican,' denunciation of prominent Republicans, The Tribune, etc. etc.—all very wide of the Draft and the exemption. Had the Abolitionists, instead of the Slaveholders, revolted, and undertaken to upset the Government and dissolve the Union, nine-tenths of these rioters would have eagerly volunteered to put them down. It is the fear, stimulated by the recent and glorious triumphs of the Union Arms, that Slavery and the Rebellion must suffer, which is at the bottom of all this arson, devastation, robbery, and murder."
The Democratic Governor, Seymour, by promising to "have this Draft suspended and stopped," did something toward quieting the Riots, but it was not until the Army of the Potomac, now following Lee's retreat, was weakened by the sending of several regiments to New York that the Draft-rioting spirit, in that city, and to a less extent in other cities, was thoroughly cowed.
[In reply to Gov. Seymour's appeal for delay in the execution of the Draft Law, in order to test its Constitutionality, Mr. Lincoln, on the 7th of August, said he could not consent to lose the time that would be involved in obtaining a decision from the U. S. Supreme Court on that point, and proceeded: "We are contending with an Enemy who, as I understand, drives every able-bodied man he can reach into his ranks, very much as a butcher drives bullocks into a slaughter-pen. No time is wasted, no argument is used.
"This system produces an Army which will soon turn upon our now victorious soldiers already in the field, if they shall not be sustained by recruits as they should be.
It produces an Army with a rapidity not to be matched on our side, if we first waste time to re-experiment with the Volunteer system, already deemed by Congress, and palpably, in fact, so far exhausted as to be inadequate; and then more time to obtain a Court decision as to whether a law is Constitutional which requires a part of those not now in the Service to go to those who are already in it, and still more time to determine with absolute certainty that we get those who are to go, in the precisely legal proportion to those who are not to go.
"My purpose is to be in my action Just and Constitutional, and yet Practical, in performing the important duty with which I am charged, of maintaining the Unity and the Free principles of our common Country."]
Worried and weakened by this Democratic opposition to the Draft, and the threatened consequent delays and dangers to the success of the Union Cause, and depressed moreover by the defeat of the National forces under Rosecrans at Chickamauga; yet, the favorable determination of the Fall elections on the side of Union and Freedom, and the immense majorities upholding those issues, together with Grant's great victory (November, 1863) of Chattanooga—where the three days of fighting in the Chattanooga Valley and up among the clouds of Lookout Mountain and Mission Ridge, not only effaced the memory of Rosecrans's previous disaster, but brought fresh and imperishable laurels to the Union Arms —stiffened the President's backbone, and that of Union men everywhere.
Not that Mr. Lincoln had shown any signs of weakness or wavering, or any loss of hope in the ultimate result of this War for the preservation of the Union—which now also involved Freedom to all beneath its banner. On the contrary, a letter of his written late in August shows conclusively enough that he even then began to see clearly the coming final triumph—not perhaps as "speedy," as he would like, in its coming, but none the less sure to come in God's "own good time," and furthermore not appearing "to be so distant as it did" before Gettysburg, and especially Vicksburg, was won; for, said he: "The signs look better. The Father of Waters again goes unvexed to the Sea".
[This admirable letter, reviewing "the situation" and his policy, was in these words
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, August 26. 1863.
HON. JAMES C. CONKLING
MY DEAR SIR; Your letter inviting me to attend a Mass Meeting of unconditional Union men to be held at the Capital of Illinois, on the 3rd day of September, has been received. It would be very agreeable for me thus to meet my old friends at my own home; but I cannot just now be absent from here so long a time as a visit there would require.
The meeting is to be of all those who maintain unconditional devotion to the Union; and I am sure that my old political friends will thank me for tendering, as I do, the Nation's gratitude to those other noble men whom no partisan malice or partisan hope can make false to the Nation's life.
There are those who are dissatisfied with me. To such I would say: you desire Peace, and you blame me that we do not have it. But how can we attain it? There are but three conceivable ways: First, to suppress the Rebellion by force of Arms. This I am trying to do. Are you for it? If you are, so far we are agreed. If you are not for it, a second way is to give up the Union. I am against this. Are you for it? If you are, you should say so plainly. If you are not for Force, nor yet for Dissolution, there only remains some imaginable Compromise.
I do not believe that any Compromise embracing the maintenance of the Union is now possible. All that I learn leads to a directly opposite belief. The strength of the Rebellion is its Military, its Army. That Army dominates all the Country, and all the people, within its range. Any offer of terms made by any man or men within that range, in opposition to that Army, is simply nothing for the present: because such man or men have no power whatever to enforce their side of a Compromise, if one were made with them.
To illustrate: Suppose refugees from the South, and Peace men of the North, get together in Convention, and frame and proclaim a Compromise embracing a restoration of the Union. In what way can that Compromise be used to keep Lee's Army out of Pennsylvania? Meade's Army can keep Lee's Army out of Pennsylvania, and, I think, can ultimately drive it out of existence. But no paper Compromise to which the controllers of Lee's Army are not agreed, can at all affect that Army. In an effort at such Compromise we would waste time, which the Enemy would improve to our disadvantage; and that would be all.
A Compromise, to be effective, must be made either with those who control the Rebel Army, or with the people, first liberated from the domination of that Army, by the success of our own Army. Now, allow me to assure you that no word or intimation from that Rebel Army, or from any of the men controlling it, in relation to any Peace Compromise, has ever come to my knowledge or belief. All charges and insinuations to the contrary are deceptive and groundless. And I promise you that if any such proposition shall hereafter come, it shall not be rejected and kept a secret from you. I freely acknowledge myself to be the servant of the People, according to the bond of service, the United States Constitution; and that, as such, I am responsible to them.
But, to be plain. You are dissatisfied with me about the Negro. Quite likely there is a difference of opinion between you and myself upon that subject. I certainly wish that all men could be Free, while you, I suppose, do not. Yet I have neither adopted nor proposed any measure which is not consistent with even your view, provided that you are for the Union. I suggested compensated Emancipation; to which you replied you wished not to be taxed to buy Negroes. But I had not asked you to be taxed to buy Negroes, except in such a way as to save you from greater taxation to save the Union, exclusively by other means.
You dislike the Emancipation Proclamation, and perhaps would have it retracted. You say it is Unconstitutional. I think differently. I think the Constitution invests the Commander-in-Chief with the Law of War in Time of War. The most that can be said, if so much, is, that Slaves are property. Is there, has there ever been, any question that, by the Law of War, property, both of enemies and friends, may be taken when needed? And is it not needed whenever it helps us and hurts the Enemy? Armies, the World over, destroy enemies' property when they cannot use it; and even destroy their own to keep it from the Enemy. Civilized belligerents do all in their power to help themselves or hurt the Enemy, except a few things regarded as barbarous or cruel. Among the exceptions are the massacre of vanquished foes and non-combatants, male and female.
But the Proclamation, as law, either is valid or is not valid. If it is not valid, it needs no retraction. If it is valid it cannot be retracted, any more than the dead can be brought to life. Some of you profess to think its retraction would operate favorably for the Union. Why better after the retraction than before the issue? There was more than a year and a half of trial to suppress the Rebellion before the Proclamation was issued, the last one hundred days of which passed under an explicit notice that it was coming, unless averted by those in revolt returning to their allegiance. The War has certainly progressed as favorably for us since the issue of the Proclamation as before.
I know as fully as one can know the opinions of others that some of the Commanders of our Armies in the field, who have given us our most important victories, believe the Emancipation policy and the use of Colored troops constitute the heaviest blows yet dealt to the Rebellion, and that at least one of those important successes could not have been achieved when it was, but for the aid of Black soldiers.
Among the Commanders who hold these views are some who have never had an affinity with what is called "Abolitionism," or with "Republican party politics," but who hold them purely as Military opinions. I submit their opinions as entitled to some weight against the objections often urged that Emancipation and arming the Blacks are unwise as Military measures, and were not adopted as such, in good faith.
You say that you will not fight to Free Negroes. Some of them seem willing to fight for you; but no matter. Fight you, then, exclusively to save the Union. I issued the Proclamation on purpose to aid you in saving the Union. Whenever you shall have conquered all resistance to the Union, if I shall urge you to continue fighting, it will be an apt time then for you to declare you will not fight to Free Negroes. I thought that in your struggle for the Union, to whatever extent the Negroes should cease helping the Enemy, to that extent it weakened the Enemy in his resistance to you. Do you think differently? I thought whatever Negroes can be got to do as soldiers, leaves just so much less for White soldiers to do in saving the Union. Does it appear otherwise to you? But Negroes, like other people, act upon motives. Why should they do anything for us if we will do nothing for them? If they stake their lives for us they must be prompted by the strongest motives, even the promise of Freedom. And the promise, being made, must be kept.
The signs look better. The Father of Waters again goes unvexed to the Sea. Thanks to the great Northwest for it; nor yet wholly to them. Three hundred miles up, they met New England, Empire, Keystone, and Jersey, hewing their way right and left. The Sunny South, too, in more colors than one, also lent a helping hand. On the spot, their part of the history was jotted down in Black and White. The job was a great National one, and let none be slighted who bore an honorable part in it. And while those who have cleared the Great River may well be proud, even that is not all. It is hard to say that anything has been more bravely and well done than at Antietam, Murfreesboro, Gettysburg, and on many fields of less note. Nor must Uncle Sam's web-feet be forgotten. At all the watery margins they have been present, not only on the deep Sea, the broad Bay, and the rapid River, but also up the narrow, muddy Bayou, and wherever the ground was a little damp they had been, and made their tracks. Thanks to all. For the Great Republic—for the principle it lives by, and keeps alive—for Man's vast future —thanks to all.
Peace does not appear so distant as it did. I hope it will come soon, and come to stay; and so come as to be worth the keeping in all future time. It will then have been proved that among Freemen there can be no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet, and that they who take such appeal are sure to lose their case and pay the cost. And there will be some Black men who can remember that, with silent tongue, and clinched teeth, and steady eye, and well poised bayonet, they have helped mankind on to this great consummation, while I fear there will be some White ones unable to forget that with malignant heart and deceitful speech they have striven to hinder it.
Still, let us not be over sanguine of a speedy, final triumph. Let us be quite sober. Let us diligently apply the means, never doubting that a just God, in his own good time, will give us the rightful result.
Yours very truly, A. LINCOLN.]
But Chattanooga, and the grand majorities in all the Fall State-elections, save that of New Jersey,—and especially the manner in which loyal Ohio sat down upon the chief Copperhead-Democrat and Treason-breeder of the North, Vallandigham—came most auspiciously to strengthen the President's hands.
[The head of the Knights of the Golden Circle, and the Democratic candidate for Governor of Ohio]
And now he saw, more clearly still, the approach of that time when the solemn promise and declaration of Emancipation might be recorded upon the sacred roll of the Constitution, and thus be made safe for all time.
In his Annual Message of December, 1863, therefore, President Lincoln, after adverting to the fact that "a year ago the War had already lasted nearly twenty months," without much ground for hopefulness, proceeded to say:
"The preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, issued in September, was running its assigned period to the beginning of the New Year. A month later the final Proclamation came, including the announcement that Colored men of suitable condition would be received into the War service. 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.
"According to our political system, as a matter of Civil Administration, the General Government had no lawful power to effect Emancipation in any State, and for a long time it had been hoped that the Rebellion could be suppressed without resorting to it as a Military measure. It was all the while deemed possible that the necessity for it might come, and that if it should, the crisis of the contest would then be presented. It came, and, as was anticipated, it was followed by dark and doubtful days.
"Eleven months having now passed, we are permitted to take another view * * * Of those who were Slaves at the beginning of the Rebellion, full one hundred thousand are now in the United States Military service, about one half of which number actually bear arms in the ranks; thus giving the double advantage of taking so much labor from the Insurgent cause, and supplying the places which otherwise must be filled with so many White men. So far as tested, it is difficult to say they are not as good soldiers as any.
"No servile insurrection, or tendency to violence or cruelty, has marked the measures of Emancipation and arming the Blacks. These measures have been much discussed in Foreign Countries, and contemporary with such discussion the tone of public sentiment there is much improved. At home, the same measures have been fully discussed, supported, criticised, and denounced, and the annual elections following are highly encouraging to those whose official duty it is to bear the Country through this great trial. Thus we have the new reckoning. The crisis which threatened to divide the friends of the Union is past."
After alluding to his Proclamation of Amnesty, issued simultaneously with this Message, to all repentant Rebels who would take an oath therein prescribed, and contending that such an oath should be (as he had drawn it) to uphold not alone the Constitution and the Union, but the Laws and Proclamations touching Slavery as well, President Lincoln continued:
"In my judgment they have aided and will further aid, the Cause for which they were intended. To now abandon them, would be not only to relinquish a lever of power, but would also be a cruel and an astounding breach of faith." And, toward the close of the Message, he added:
"The movements by State action, for Emancipation, in several of the States not included in the Emancipation Proclamation, are matters of profound gratulation. And while I do not repeat in detail what I have heretofore so earnestly urged upon the subject, my general views remain unchanged; and I trust that Congress will omit no fair opportunity of AIDING THESE IMPORTANT STEPS TO A GREAT CONSUMMATION."
Mr. Lincoln's patient but persistent solicitude, his earnest and unintermitted efforts—exercised publicly through his Messages and speeches, and privately upon Members of Congress who called upon, or whose presence was requested by him at the White House—in behalf of incorporating Emancipation in the Constitution, were now to give promise, at least, of bearing good fruit.
Measures looking to this end were submitted in both Houses of Congress soon after its meeting, and were referred to the respective Judiciary Committees of the same, and on the 10th of February, 1864, Mr. Trumbull reported to the Senate, from the Senate Judiciary Committee, of which he was Chairman, a substitute Joint Resolution providing for the submission to the States of an Amendment to the United States Constitution in the following words:
"ART. XIII., SEC. I. 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.
"SEC. II. Congress shall have power to enforce this Article by appropriate legislation."
This proposed Amendment came up for consideration in the Senate, on the 28th of March, and a notable debate ensued.
On the same day, in the House of Representatives, Thaddeus Stevens—with the object perhaps of ascertaining the strength, in that Body, of the friends of out-and-out Emancipation—offered a Resolution proposing to the States the following Amendments to the United States Constitution:
"ART. I. Slavery and Involuntary Servitude, except for the punishment of crimes whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, is forever prohibited in the United States and all its Territories.
"ART. II. So much of Article four, Section two, as refers to the delivery up of Persons held to Service or Labor, escaping into another State, is annulled."
The test was made upon a motion to table the Resolution, which motion was defeated by 38 yeas to 69 nays, and showed the necessity for converting three members from the Opposition. Subsequently, at the instance of Mr. Stevens himself, the second Article of the Resolution was struck out by 72 yeas to 26 nays.
The proceedings in both Houses of Congress upon these propositions to engraft upon the National Constitution a provision guaranteeing Freedom to all men upon our soil, were now interrupted by the death of one who would almost have been willing to die twice over, if, by doing so, he could have hastened their adoption.
Owen Lovejoy, the life-long apostle of Abolitionism, the fervid gospeller of Emancipation, was dead; and it seemed almost the irony of Fate that, at such a time, when Emancipation most needed all its friends to make it secure, its doughtiest champion should fall.
But perhaps the eloquent tributes paid to his memory, in the Halls of Congress, helped the Cause no less. They at least brought back to the public mind the old and abhorrent tyrannies of the Southern Slave power; how it had sought not not only to destroy freedom of Action, but freedom of Speech, and hesitated not to destroy human Life with these; reminded the Loyal People of the Union of much that was hateful, from which they had escaped; and strengthened the purpose of Patriots to fix in the chief corner-stone of the Constitution, imperishable muniments of human Liberty.
Lovejoy's brother had been murdered at Alton, Illinois, while vindicating freedom of Speech and of the Press; and the blood of that martyr truly became "the seed of the Church." Arnold—recalling a speech of Owen Lovejoy's at Chicago, and a passage in it, descriptive of the martyrdom,—said to the House, on this sad occasion: "I remember that, after describing the scene of that death, in words—which stirred every heart, he said he went a pilgrim to his brother's grave, and, kneeling upon the sod beneath which sleeps that brother, he swore, by the everlasting God, eternal hostility to African Slavery." And, continued Arnold, "Well and nobly has he kept that oath."
Washburne, too, reminded the House of the memorable episode in that very Hall when, (April 5, 1860), the adherents of Slavery crowding around Lovejoy with fierce imprecations and threats, seeking then and there to prevent Free Speech, "he displayed that undaunted courage and matchless bearing which extorted the admiration of even his most deadly foes." "His"—continued the same speaker—"was the eloquence of Mirabeau, which in the Tiers Etat and in the National Assembly made to totter the throne of France; it was the eloquence of Danton, who made all France to tremble from his tempestuous utterances in the National Convention. Like those apostles of the French Revolution, his eloquence could stir from the lowest depths all the passions of Man; but unlike them, he was as good and as pure as he was eloquent and brave, a noble minded Christian man, a lover of the whole human Race, and of universal Liberty regulated by Law."
Grinnell, in his turn, told also with real pathos, of his having recently seen Lovejoy in the chamber of sickness. "When," said Grinnell, "I expressed fears for his recovery, I saw the tears course down his manly cheek, as he said 'Ah! God's will be done, but I have been laboring, voting, and praying for twenty years that I might see the great day of Freedom which is so near and which I hope God will let me live to rejoice in. I want a vote on my Bill for the destruction of Slavery, root and branch.'"
[Sumner, afterward speaking of Lovejoy and this Measure, said: "On the 14th of December, 1863, he introduced a Bill, whose title discloses its character: 'A Bill to give effect to the Declaration of Independence, and also to certain Provisions of the Constitution of the United States.' It proceeds to recite that All Men were Created Equal, and were Endowed by the Creator with the Inalienable Right to Life, Liberty and the Fruits of honest Toil; that the Government of the United States was Instituted to Secure those Rights; that the Constitution declares that No Person shall be Deprived of Liberty without due Process of Law, and also provides —article five, clause two—that this Constitution, and the Laws of the United States made in pursuance thereof, shall be the Supreme Law of the Land, and the Judges in each State shall be bound thereby, anything in the Constitution and Laws of any State to the contrary notwithstanding; that it is now demonstrated by the Rebellion that Slavery is absolutely incompatible with the Union, Peace, and General Welfare for which Congress is to Provide; and it therefore Enacts that All Persons heretofore held in Slavery in any of the States or Territories of the United States are declared Freedmen, and are Forever Released from Slavery or Involuntary Servitude except as Punishment for Crime on due conviction. On the same day he introduced another Bill to Protect Freedmen and to Punish any one for Enslaving them. These were among his last Public acts,"—Cong. Globe, 1st S., 38th C., Pt. 2, p. 1334]
And staunch old Thaddeus Stevens said: "The change to him, is great gain. The only regret we can feel is that he did not live to see the salvation of his Country; to see Peace and Union restored, and universal Emancipation given to his native land. But such are the ways of Providence. Moses was not permitted to enter the Promised Land with those he had led out of Bondage; he beheld it from afar off, and slept with his fathers." "The deceased," he impressively added, "needs no perishable monuments of brass or marble to perpetuate his name. So long as the English language shall be spoken or deciphered, so long as Liberty shall have a worshipper, his name will be known!"
What influence the death of Owen Lovejoy may have had on the subsequent proceedings touching Emancipation interrupted as we have seen by his demise—cannot be known; but among all the eloquent tributes to his memory called forth by the mournful incident, perhaps none, could he have heard it, would have better pleased him than those two opening sentences of Charles Summer's oration in the Senate—where he said of Owen Lovejoy: "Could his wishes prevail, he would prefer much that Senators should continue in their seats and help to enact into Law some one of the several Measures now pending to secure the obliteration of Slavery. Such an Act would be more acceptable to him than any personal tribute,—" unless it might be these other words, which followed from the same lips: "How his enfranchised Soul would be elevated even in those Abodes to which he has been removed, to know that his voice was still heard on Earth encouraging, exhorting, insisting that there should be no hesitation anywhere in striking at Slavery; that this unpardonable wrong, from which alone the Rebellion draws its wicked life, must be blasted by Presidential proclamation, blasted by Act of Congress, blasted by Constitutional prohibition, blasted in every possible way, by every available agency, and at every occurring opportunity, so that no trace of the outrage may continue in the institutions of the Land, and especially that its accursed foot-prints may no longer defile the National Statute-book. Sir, it will be in vain that you pass Resolutions in tribute to him, if you neglect that Cause for which he lived, and do not hearken to his voice!"
"THIRTEENTH AMENDMENT" IN THE SENATE.
During the great debate, which now opened in the Senate, upon the Judiciary Committee's substitute resolution for the Amendment of the Constitution, so as forever to prohibit Slavery within the United States, and to empower Congress to pass such laws as would make that prohibition effective—participated in by Messrs. Trumbull, Wilson, Saulsbury, Davis, Harlan, Powell, Sherman, Clark, Hale, Hendricks, Henderson, Sumner, McDougall and others—the whole history of Slavery was enquired into and laid bare.
Trumbull insisted that Slavery was at the bottom of all the internal troubles with which the Nation had from its birth been afflicted, down to this wicked Rebellion, with all the resulting "distress, desolation, and death;" and that by 1860, it had grown to such power and arrogance that "its advocates demanded the control of the Nation in its interests, failing in which, they attempted its overthrow." He reviewed, at some length, what had been done by our Government with regard to Slavery, since the breaking out of hostilities against us in that mad attempt against the National life; how, "in the earlier stages of the War, there was an indisposition on the part of the Executive Authority to interfere with Slavery at all;" how, for a long time, Slaves, escaping to our lines, were driven back to their Rebel masters; how the Act of Congress of July, 1861, which gave Freedom to all Slaves allowed by their Rebel masters to assist in the erection of Rebel works and fortifications, had "not been executed," and, said Mr. Trumbull, "so far as I am advised, not a single Slave has been set at liberty under it;" how, "it was more than a year after its enactment before any considerable number of Persons of African descent were organized and armed" under the subsequent law of December, 1861, which not only gave Freedom to all Slaves entering our Military lines, or who, belonging to Rebel masters, were deserted by them, or were found in regions once occupied by Rebel forces and later by those of the Union, but also empowered the President to organize and arm them to aid in the suppression of the Rebellion; how, it was not until this law had been enacted that Union officers ceased to expel Slaves coming within our lines—and then only when dismissal from the public service was made the penalty for such expulsion; how, by his Proclamations of Emancipation, of September, 1862, and January, 1863, the President undertook to supplement Congressional action—which had, theretofore, been confined to freeing the Slaves of Rebels, and of such of these only as had come within the lines of our Military power-by also declaring, Free, the Slaves "who were in regions of country from which the authority of the United States was expelled;" and how, the "force and effect" of these Proclamations were variously understood by the enemies and friends of those measures—it being insisted on the one side that Emancipation as a War-stroke was within the Constitutional War-power of the President as Commander-in-Chief, and that, by virtue of those Proclamations, "all Slaves within the localities designated become ipso facto Free," and on the other, that the Proclamations were "issued without competent authority," and had not effected and could not effect, "the Emancipation of a single Slave," nor indeed could at any time, without additional legislation, go farther than to liberate Slaves coming within the Union Army lines.
After demonstrating that "any and all these laws and Proclamations, giving to each the largest effect claimed by its friends, are ineffectual to the destruction of Slavery," and protesting that some more effectual method of getting rid of that Institution must be adopted, he declared, as his judgment, that "the only effectual way of ridding the Country of Slavery, so that it cannot be resuscitated, is by an Amendment of the Constitution forever prohibiting it within the jurisdiction of the United States."
He then canvassed the chances of adoption of such an Amendment by an affirmative vote of two thirds in each House of Congress, and of its subsequent ratification by three-fourths of the States of the Union, and declared that "it is reasonable to suppose that if this proposed Amendment passes Congress, it will, within a year, receive the ratification of the requisite number of States to make it a part of the Constitution." His prediction proved correct—but only after a protracted struggle.
Henry Wilson also made a strong speech, but on different grounds. He held that the Emancipation Proclamations formed, together, a "complete, absolute, and final decree of Emancipation in Rebel States," and, being "born of Military necessity" and "proclaimed by the Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, is the settled and irrepealable Law of the Republic, to be observed, obeyed, and enforced, by Army and Navy, and is the irreversible voice of the Nation."
He also reviewed what had been done since the outbreak of the Rebellion, by Congress and the President, by Laws and Proclamations; and, while standing by the Emancipation Proclamations, declared that "the crowning Act, in this series of Acts, for the restriction and extinction of Slavery in America, is this proposed Amendment to the Constitution prohibiting the existence of Slavery in the Republic of the United States."
The Emancipation Proclamation, according to his view, only needed enforcement, to give "Peace and Order, Freedom and Unity, to a now distracted Country;" but the "crowning act" of incorporating this Amendment into the Constitution would do even more than all this, in that it would "obliterate the last lingering vestiges of the Slave System; its chattelizing, degrading, and bloody codes; its malignant, barbarizing spirit; all it was, and is; everything connected with it or pertaining to it, from the face of the Nation it has scarred with moral desolation, from the bosom of the Country it has reddened with the blood and strewn with the graves of patriotism."
While the debate proceeded, President Lincoln watched it with careful interest. Other matters, however, had, since the Battle of Chattanooga, largely engrossed his attention.
The right man had at last been found—it was believed—to control as well as to lead our Armies. That man was Ulysses S. Grant. The grade of Lieutenant General of the Army of the United States—in desuetude since the days of Washington, except by brevet, in the case of Winfield Scott,—having been especially revived by Congress for and filled by the appointment and confirmation of Grant, March 2, 1864, that great soldier immediately came on to Washington, received his commission at the hands of President Lincoln, in the cabinet chamber of the White House, on the 9th, paid a flying visit to the Army of the Potomac, on the 10th, and at once returned to Nashville to plan future movements.
On the 12th, a General Order of the War Department (No. 98) was issued, relieving Major-General Halleck, "at his own request," from duty as "General-in-Chief" of the Army, and assigning Lieutenant-General U. S. Grant to "the command of the Armies of the United States," "the Headquarters of the Army" to be in Washington, and also with Lieutenant-General Grant in the Field, Halleck being assigned to "duty, in Washington, as Chief-of-staff of the Army, under the direction of the Secretary of War and the Lieutenant-General commanding."
By the same order, Sherman was assigned to the command of the "Military Division of the Mississippi," composed of the Departments of the Ohio, the Cumberland, the Tennessee, and the Arkansas; and McPherson to that of the Department and Army of the Tennessee.
On the 23rd of March, Grant was back again at Washington, and at once proceeded to Culpepper Court-house, Virginia, where his Headquarters in the field were, for a time, to be.
Here he completed his plans, and reorganized his Forces, for the coming conflicts, in the South-west and South-east, which were to result in a full triumph to the Union Arms, and Peace to a preserved Union.
It is evident, from the utterances of Mr. Lincoln when Vicksburg fell, that he had then become pretty well satisfied that Grant was "the coming man," to whom it would be safe to confide the management and chief leadership of our Armies. Chattanooga merely confirmed that belief—as indeed it did that of Union men generally. But the concurrent judgment of Congress and the President had now, as we have seen, placed Grant in that chief command; and the consequent relief to Mr. Lincoln, in thus having the heavy responsibility of Army-control, long unwillingly exercised by him, taken from his own shoulders and placed upon those of the one great soldier in whom he had learned to have implicit faith,—a faith earned by steady and unvaryingly successful achievements in the Field—must have been most grateful.
Other responsibilities would still press heavily enough upon the President's time and attention. Questions touching the Military and Civil government of regions of the Enemy's country, conquered by the Union arms; of the rehabilitation or reconstruction of the Rebel States; of a thousand and one other matters, of greater or lesser perplexity, growing out of these and other questions; besides the ever pressing and gigantic problems involved in the raising of enormous levies of troops, and prodigious sums of money, needed in securing, moving, and supplying them, and defraying the extraordinary expenses growing out of the necessary blockade of thousands of miles of Southern Coast, and other Naval movements; not to speak of those expenditures belonging to the more ordinary business transactions of the Government.
But chief of all things claiming his especial solicitude, as we have seen, was this question of Emancipation by Constitutional enactment, the debate upon which was now proceeding in the Senate. That solicitude was necessarily increased by the bitter opposition to it of Northern Copperheads, and by the attitude of the Border-State men, upon whose final action, the triumph or defeat of this great measure must ultimately depend.
Many of the latter, were, as has already been shown in these pages, loyal men; but the loyalty of some of these to their Country, was still so questionably and so thoroughly tainted with their worshipful devotion to Slavery—although they must have been blind indeed not to have discovered, long ere this, that it was a "slowly-dying cause"—that they were ever on the alert to delay, hamper, and defeat, any action, whether Executive or Legislative, and however necessary for the preservation of the Union and the overthrow of its mortal enemies, which, never so lightly, impinged upon their "sacred Institution."
This fact was well set forth, in this very debate, by a Senator from New England—[Wilson of Massachusetts]—when, after adjuring the anti-Slavery men of the age, not to forget the long list of Slavery's crimes, he eloquently proceeded:
"Let them remember, too, that hundreds of thousands of our countrymen in Loyal States—since Slavery raised the banners of Insurrection, and sent death, wounds, sickness, and sorrow, into the homes of the People—have resisted, and still continue to resist, any measure for the defense of the Nation, if that measure tended to impair the vital and animating powers of Slavery. They resisted the Act making Free the Slaves used by Rebels for Military purposes; the Confiscation of Rebel property and the Freedom of the Slaves of Rebel masters; the Abolition of Slavery in the Capital of the Nation, and the consecration of the Territories to Free Labor and Free laboring men; the Proclamation of Emancipation; the enlistment of Colored men to fight the battles of the Country; the Freedom of the Black soldier, who is fighting, bleeding, dying for the Country; and the Freedom of his wife and children. And now, when War has for nearly three years menaced the life of the Nation, bathed the Land in blood, and filled two hundred thousand graves with our slain sons, these men of the Loyal States still cling to the falling fortunes of the relentless and unappeasable Enemy of their Country and its democratic institutions; they mourn, and will not be comforted, over the expiring System, in the Border Slave-States; and, in tones of indignation or of anguish, they utter lamentations over the Proclamation of Emancipation, and the policy that is bringing Rebel States back again radiant with Freedom."
Among these "loyal" Democratic opponents of Emancipation, in any shape, or any where, were not wanting men—whether from Loyal Northern or Border States—who still openly avowed that Slavery was right; that Rebellion, to preserve its continuance, was justifiable; and that there was no Constitutional method of uprooting it.
Saulsbury of Delaware, was representative and spokesman of this class, and he took occasion during this very debate—[In the Senate, March 31, 1864.]—to defend Slavery as a Divine Institution, which had the sanction both of the Mosaic and Christian Dispensations!
[Said he: "Slavery had existed under some form or other from the first period of recorded history. It dates back even beyond the period of Abraham, the Father of the Faithful, in whose seed all the Nations of the Earth were to be blessed. We find that, immediately after the Flood, the Almighty, for purposes inscrutable to us, condemned a whole race to Servitude: 'Vayomer Orur Knoan Efet Afoatim Yeahio Le-echot:' 'And he said, Cursed be Canaan; Slave of Slaves he shall be to his brethren.' It continued among all people until the advent of the Christian era. It was recognized in that New Dispensation, which was to supersede the Old. It has the sanction of God's own Apostle; for when Paul sent back Onesimus to Philemon, whom did he send? A Freeman? No, Sir. He sent his (doulos,) a Slave, born as such, not even his andrapodon, who was such by captivity in War. Among all people, and in all ages, has this Institution, if such it is to be called, existed, and had the countenance of wise and good men, and even of the Christian Church itself, until these modern times, up at least to the Nineteenth Century. It exists in this Country, and has existed from the beginning."
Mr. Harlan's reply to the position of Mr. Saulsbury that Slavery is right, is a Divine Institution, etc., was very able and interesting. He piled up authority after authority, English as well as American, to show that there is no support of Slavery—and especially of the title to services of the adult offspring of a Slave—at Common Law; and, after also proving, by the mouth of a favorite son of Virginia, that it has no legal existence by virtue of any Municipal or Statutory Law, he declared that the only remaining Law that can be cited for its support is the Levitical Code"—as follows:
"'Both thy Bondmen, and thy Bondmaids, which thou shalt have, shall be of the heathen that are round about you; of them shall ye buy Bondmen and Bondmaids.
"'Moreover, of the children of the strangers that do sojourn among you, of them shall ye buy, and of their families that are with you, which they begat in your land; and they shall be your possession.
"'And ye shall take them as an Inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them for a possession; they shall be your Bondmen forever."'
"I remark," said he, "in this connection, that the Levitical Code, or the Hebrew Law, contains a provision for the Naturalization of Foreigners, whether captives of War, or voluntary emigrants. By compliance with the requirements of this law they became citizens, entitled to all the rights and privileges and immunities of native Hebrews. The Hebrew Slave Code, applicable to Enslaved Hebrews, is in these words:
"'And if thy brother, an Hebrew man, or an Hebrew woman, be sold unto thee, and serve thee six years, then in the seventh year thou shalt let him go Free from thee.'
"Here I request the attention of those who claim compensation for Emancipated Slaves to the text:
"'And when thou sendest him out Free from thee, thou shalt not let him go away empty:
"'Thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy floor'—
"Which means granaries—
"'and out of thy wine-press: of that wherewith the Lord thy God hath blessed thee, thou shalt give unto him.'
"'It shall not seem hard unto thee, when thou sendest him away Free from thee, for he hath been worth a double-hired servant to thee, in serving thee six years.'
"These Hebrew Statutes provide that the heathen might be purchased and held as Slaves, and their posterity after them; that under their Naturalization Laws all strangers and sojourners, Bond and Free, have the privilege of acquiring the rights of citizenship; that all Hebrews, natives or naturalized, might assert and maintain their right to Freedom.
"At the end of six years a Hebrew Slave thus demanding his Liberty, was not to be sent away empty; the owner, so far from claiming compensation from his neighbors or from the Public Treasury for setting him Free, was bound to divide with the Freedman, of his own possessions: to give him of his flocks, of his herds, of his granary, and of his winepress, of everything with which the Lord Almighty had blessed the master during the years of his Servitude; and then the owner was admonished that he was not to regard it as a hardship to be required to Liberate the Slave, and to divide with him of his substance.
"The Almighty places the Liberated Slave's claim to a division of his former master's property on the eternal principles of Justice, the duty to render an equivalent for an equivalent. The Slave having served six years must be paid for his Service, must be paid liberally because he had been worth even more than a hired servant during the period of his enslavement.
"If, then," continued Mr. Harlan, "the justice of this claim cannot be found either in Reason, Natural Justice, or the principles of the Common Law, or in any positive Municipal or Statute regulation of any State, or in the Hebrew Code written by the Finger of God protruded from the flame of fire on the summit of Sinai, I ask whence the origin of the title to the services of the adult offspring of the Slave mother? or is it not manifest that there is no just title? Is it not a mere usurpation without any known mode of justification, under any existing Code of Laws, human or Divine?"]
He also undertook to justify Secession on the singular ground that "we are sprung from a Race of Secessionists," the proof of which he held to be in the fact that, while the preamble to, as well as the body of the Convention of Ratification of, the old Articles of Confederation between the States of New Hampshire, Massachusetts Bay, Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Georgia, declared that Confederation to be a "Perpetual Union," yet, within nine years thereafter, all the other States Seceded from New York, Virginia, North Carolina, and Rhode Island by ratifying the new Constitution for "a more perfect Union."
He also endeavored to maintain the extraordinary proposition that "if the Senate of the United States were to adopt this Joint-resolution, and were to submit it to all the States of this Union, and if three-fourths of the States should ratify the Amendment, it would not be binding on any State whose interest was affected by it, if that State protested against it!" And beyond all this, he re-echoed the old, old cry of the Border-state men, that "the time is unpropitious for such a measure as this."
Reverdy Johnson, of Maryland, however, by his great speech, of April 5th, in the Senate, did much to clear the tangle in the minds of some faltering Union statesmen on this important subject.
He reviewed the question of human Slavery from the time when the Constitutional Convention was held; showed that at that period, as well as at the time of the Declaration of our Independence "there was but one sentiment upon the subject among enlightened Southern statesmen"—and that was, that Slavery "is a great affliction to any Country where it prevails;" and declared that "a prosperous and permanent Peace can never be secured if the Institution is permitted to survive."
He then traversed the various methods by which statesmen were seeking to prevent that survival of Slavery, addressing himself by turns to the arguments of those who, with John Sherman, "seemed," said he, "to consider it as within the power of Congress by virtue of its Legislative authority;" to those of the "many well-judging men, with the President at their head, who," to again use his own words, "seem to suppose that it is within the reach of the Executive;" and lastly, to those "who express the opinion that it is not within the scope of either Executive or Legislative authority, or of Constitutional Amendment;" and after demolishing the arguments of those who held the two former of these positions, he proceeded to rebut the assumption that Slavery could not be abolished at all because it was not originally abolished by the Constitution.
Continuing, he said: "Remember, now, the question is, can that Institution, which deals with Humanity as Property, which claims to shackle the mind, the soul, and the body, which brings to the level of the brute a portion of the race of Man, cease to be within the reach of the political power of the People of the United States, not because it was not at one time within their power, but because at that time they did not exert the power?
"What says the Preamble to the Constitution? How pregnant with a conclusive answer is the Preamble, to the proposition that Slavery cannot be abolished! What does that Preamble state to have been the chief objects that the great and wise and good men had at heart, in recommending the Constitution, with that Preamble, to the adoption of the American People? That Justice might be established; that Tranquillity might be preserved; that the common Defense and general Welfare might be maintained; and, last and chief of all, that Liberty might be secured.
"Is there no Justice in putting an end to human Slavery? Is there no danger to the Tranquillity of the Country in its existence? May it not interfere with the common Defense and general Welfare? And, above all, is it consistent with any notion, which the mind of man can conceive, of human Liberty?"
He held that the very Amendatory clause of the Constitution under which it was proposed to make this Amendment, was probably inserted there from a conviction of that coming time "when Justice would call so loudly for the extinction of the Institution that her call could not be disobeyed," and, when "the Peace and Tranquillity of the Land would demand, in thunder tones," its destruction, "as inconsistent with such Peace and Tranquillity."
To the atrocious pretence that "there was a right to make a Slave of any human being"—which he said would have shocked every one of the framers of the Constitution had they heard it; and, what he termed, the nauseous declaration that "Slavery of the Black race is of Divine origin," and was intended to be perpetual; he said:
"The Saviour of Mankind did not put an end to it by physical power, or by the declaration of any existing illegality, in word. His mission upon Earth was not to propagate His doctrines by force. He came to save, not to conquer. His purpose was not to march armed legions throughout the habitable Globe, securing the allegiance of those for whose safety He was striving. He warred by other influences. He aimed at the heart, principally. He inculcated his doctrines, more ennobling than any that the World, enlightened as it was before His advent upon Earth, had been able to discover. He taught to Man the obligation of brotherhood. He announced that the true duty of Man was to do to others as he would have others do to him—to all men, the World over; and unless some convert to the modern doctrine that Slavery itself finds not only a guarantee for its existence, but for its legal existence, in the Scripture, excepts from the operation of the influences which His morality brought to bear on the mind of the Christian world, the Black man, and shows that it was not intended to apply to Black men, then it is not true, it cannot be true, that He designed His doctrine not to be equally applicable to the Black and to the White, to the Race of Man as he then existed, or as he might exist in all after-time."
To the assumption that the African Slaves were too utterly deficient and degraded, mentally and morally, to appreciate the blessings of Freedom, he opposed the eloquent fact that "wherever the flag of the United States, the symbol of human Liberty, now goes; under it, from their hereditary bondage, are to be found men and women and children assembling and craving its protection 'fleeing from' the iron of oppression that had pierced their souls, to the protection of that flag where they are 'gladdened by the light of Liberty.'"
"It is idle to deny," said he—"we feel it in our own persons—how, with reference to that sentiment, all men are brethren. Look to the illustrations which the times now afford, how, in the illustration of that sentiment, do we differ from the Black man? He is willing to incur every personal danger which promises to result in throwing down his shackles, and making him tread the Earth, which God has created for all, as a man, and not as a Slave."
Said he: "It is an instinct of the Soul. Tyranny may oppress it for ages and centuries; the pall of despotism may hang over it; but the sentiment is ever there; it kindles into a flame in the very furnace of affliction, and it avails itself of the first opportunity that offers, promising the least chance of escape, and wades through blood and slaughter to achieve it, and, whether it succeeds or fails, demonstrates, vindicates in the very effort, the inextinguishable right to Liberty."
He thought that mischiefs might result from this measure, owing to the uneducated condition of the Slave, but they would be but temporary. At all events to "suffer those Africans," said he, "whom we are calling around our standard, and asking to aid us in restoring the Constitution and the power of the Government to its rightful authority, to be reduced to bondage again," would be "a disgrace to the Nation." The "Institution" must be terminated.
"Terminate it," continued he, "and the wit of man will, as I think, be unable to devise any other topic upon which we can be involved in a fratricidal strife. God and nature, judging by the history of the past, intend us to be one. Our unity is written in the mountains and the rivers, in which we all have an interest. The very differences of climate render each important to the other, and alike important.
"That mighty horde which, from time to time, have gone from the Atlantic, imbued with all the principles of human Freedom which animated their fathers in running the perils of the mighty Deep and seeking Liberty here, are now there; and as they have said, they will continue to say, until time shall be no more: 'We mean that the Government in future shall be, as it has been in the past—Once an exemplar of human Freedom, for the light and example of the World; illustrating in the blessings and the happiness it confers, the truth of the principles incorporated into the Declaration of Independence, that Life and Liberty are Man's inalienable right."
Fortunately the Democratic opposition, in the Senate, to this measure, was too small in numbers to beat the proposed Amendment, but by offering amendments to it, its enemies succeeded in delaying its adoption.
However, on the 5th of April, an amendment, offered by Garrett Davis, was acted upon. It was to strike out all after the preamble of the XIIIth Article of Amendment to the Constitution, proposed by the Judiciary Committee, and insert the words:
"No Negro, or Person whose mother or grandmother is or was a Negro, shall be a citizen of the United States and be eligible to any Civil or Military office, or to any place of trust or profit under the United States."
Mr. Davis's amendment was rejected by a vote of 5 yeas to 32 nays; when he immediately moved to amend, by adding precisely the same words at the end of Section 1 of the proposed Article. It was again rejected. He then moved to amend by adding to the said Section these words:
"But no Slave shall be entitled to his or her Freedom under this Amendment if resident at the time it takes effect in any State, the laws of which forbid Free Negroes to reside therein, until removed from such State by the Government of the United States."
This also was rejected. Whereupon Mr. Powell moved to add, at the end of the first Section, the words:
"No Slave shall be Emancipated by this Article unless the owner thereof shall be first paid the value of the Slave or Slaves so Emancipated."
This likewise was rejected, on a yea and nay vote, by 2 yeas (Davis and Powell) to 34 nays; when Mr. Davis moved another amendment, viz.: to add at the end of Section 2 of the proposed Article, the following:
"And when this Amendment of the Constitution shall have taken effect by Freeing the Slaves, Congress shall provide for the distribution and settlement of all the population of African descent in the United States among the several States and Territories thereof, in proportion to the White population of each State and Territory to the aggregate population of those of African descent."
This met a like fate; whereupon the Senate adjourned, but, on the following day, the matter came up again for consideration:
Hale, of New Hampshire, jubilantly declared that "this is a day that I and many others have long wished for, long hoped for, long striven for. * * * A day when the Nation is to commence its real life; or, if it is not the day, it is the dawning of the day; the day is near at hand * * * when the American People are to wake up to the meaning of the sublime truths which their fathers uttered years ago, and which have slumbered, dead-letters, upon the pages of our Constitution, of our Declaration of Independence, and of our history."
McDougall, of California, on the other hand,—utterly regardless of the grandly patriotic resolutions of the Legislature of his State, which had just been presented to the Senate by his colleague—lugubriously declared:
"In my judgment, it may well be said of us:
'Let the Heavens be hung in black And let the Earth put mourning on,'
for in the history of no Free People, since the time the Persians came down upon Athens, have I known as melancholy a period as this day and year of Our Lord in our history; and if we can, by the blessing of God and by His favor, rise above it, it will be by His special providence, and by no act of ours."
The obstructive tactics were now resumed, Mr. Powell leading off by a motion to amend, by adding to the Judiciary Committee's proposed Thirteenth Article of the Constitution, the following:
"ART. 14.—The President and Vice-President shall hold their Offices for the term of four—[Which he subsequently modified to: 'six years'] —years. The person who has filled the Office of President shall not be reeligible."
This amendment was rejected by 12 yeas to 32 nays; whereupon Mr. Powell moved to add to the Committee's Proposition another new Article, as follows:
"ART. 14.—The principal Officer in each of the Executive Departments, and all persons connected with the Diplomatic Service, may be removed from office at the pleasure of the President. All other officers of the Executive Departments may be removed at any time by the President or other appointing power when their services are unnecessary, or for dishonesty, incapacity, inefficiency, misconduct, or neglect of duty, and when so removed, the removal shall be reported to the Senate, together with the reasons therefor."
This amendment also being rejected, Mr. Powell offered another, which was to add a separate Article as follows:
"ART. 14.—Every law, or Resolution having the force of law, shall relate to but one subject, and that shall be expressed in its title."
This also being rejected—the negative vote being, as in other cases, without reference to the merits of the proposition—and Mr. Powell having now apparently exhausted his obstructive amendatory talents, Mr. Davis came to the aid of his Kentucky colleague by moving an amendment, to come in as an additional Article, being a new plan of Presidential election designed to do away with the quadrennial Presidential campaign before the People by giving to each State the right to nominate one candidate, and leaving it to a Convention of both Houses of Congress —and, in case of disagreement, to the Supreme Court of the United States —to elect a President and a Vice-President.
The rejection of this proposition apparently exhausted the stock of possible amendments possessed by the Democratic opposition, and the Joint Resolution, precisely as it came from the Judiciary Committee, having been agreed to by that body, "as in Committee of the Whole," was now, April 6th, reported to the Senate for its concurrence.
On the following day, Mr. Hendricks uttered a lengthy jeremiad on the War, and its lamentable results; intimated that along the Mississippi, the Negroes, freed by the advance of our invading Armies and Navies, instead of being happy and industrious, were without protection or provision and almost without clothing, while at least 200,000 of them had prematurely perished, and that such was the fate reserved for the 4,000,000 Negroes if liberated; and declared he would not vote for the Resolution, "because," said he, "the times are not auspicious."
Very different indeed was the attitude of Mr. Henderson, of Missouri, Border-State man though he was. In the course of a speech, of much power, which he opened with an allusion to the 115,000 Slaves owned in his State in 1860—as showing how deeply interested Missouri "must be in the pending proposition"—the Senator announced that: "Our great interest, as lovers of the Union, is in the preservation and perpetuation of the Union." He declared himself a Slaveholder, yet none the less desired the adoption of this Thirteenth Article of Amendment, for, said he: "We cannot save the Institution if we would. We ought not if we could. * * * If it were a blessing, I, for one, would be defending it to the last. It is a curse, and not a blessing. Therefore let it go. * * * Let the iniquity be cast away!"
It was about this time that a remarkable letter written by Mr. Lincoln to a Kentuckian, on the subject of Emancipation, appeared in print. It is interesting as being not alone the President's own statement of his views, from the beginning, as to Slavery, and how he came to be "driven" to issue the Proclamation of Emancipation, and as showing how the Union Cause had gained by its issue, but also in disclosing, indirectly, how incessantly the subject was revolved in his own mind, and urged by him upon the minds of others. The publication of the letter, moreover, was not without its effect on the ultimate action of the Congress and the States in adopting the Thirteenth Amendment. It ran thus:
"EXECUTIVE MANSION. "WASHINGTON, April 4, 1864.
"A. G. HODGES, Esq., Frankfort, Ky.
"MY DEAR SIR: You ask me to put in writing the substance of—what I verbally said the other day, in your presence, to Governor Bramlette and Senator Dixon. It was about as follows:
"I am naturally anti-Slavery. If Slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. I cannot remember when I did not so think and feel, and yet I have never understood that the 'Presidency conferred upon me an unrestricted right to act officially upon this judgment and feeling.
"It was in the oath I took, that I would to the best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States. I could not take the Office without taking the oath. Nor was it my view that I might take an oath to get power, and break the oath in using the power.
"I understood, too, that in ordinary and Civil Administration this oath even forbade me to practically indulge my primary abstract judgment on the moral question of Slavery. I had publicly declared this many times, and in many ways.
"And I aver that, to this day, I have done no Official act in mere deference to my abstract judgment and feeling on Slavery.
"I did understand, however, that my oath to preserve the Constitution to the best of my ability, imposed upon me the duty of preserving by every indispensable means, that Government—that Nation, of which that Constitution was the Organic Law.
"Was it possible to lose the Nation and yet preserve the Constitution?
"By General Law, life and limb must be protected; yet often a limb must be amputated to save a life; but a life is never wisely given to save a limb. I felt that measures, otherwise Unconstitutional, might become lawful, by becoming Indispensable to the Constitution through the preservation of the Nation.
"Right or wrong, I assumed this ground, and now avow it. I could not feel that, to the best of my ability, I have even tried to preserve the Constitution, if, to save Slavery, or any minor matter, I should permit the wreck of Government, Country, and Constitution, altogether.
"When, early in the War, General Fremont attempted Military Emancipation, I forbade it, because I did not then think it an Indispensable Necessity.
"When, a little later, General Cameron, then Secretary of War, suggested the Arming of the Blacks, I objected, because I did not yet think it an Indispensable Necessity.
"When, still later, General Hunter attempted Military Emancipation, I again forbade it, because I did not yet think the Indispensable Necessity had come.
"When in March, and May, and July, 1862, I made earnest and successive appeals to the Border-States to favor compensated Emancipation, I believed the Indispensable Necessity for Military Emancipation and arming the Blacks would come, unless averted by that measure.
"They declined the proposition, and I was, in my best judgment, driven to the alternative of either surrendering the Union, and with it, the Constitution, or of laying strong hand upon the Colored element. I chose the latter. In choosing it, I hoped for greater gain than loss, but of this I was not entirely confident.
"More than a year of trial now shows no loss by it in our Foreign Relations, none in our home popular sentiment, none in our white Military force, no loss by it anyhow, or anywhere. On the contrary, it shows a gain of quite a hundred and thirty thousand soldiers, seamen, and laborers.
"These are palpable facts, about which, as facts, there can be no cavilling. We have the men; and we could not have had them without the measure.
"And now let any Union man who complains of this measure, test himself by writing down in one line, that he is for subduing the Rebellion by force of arms; and in the next, that he is for taking one hundred and thirty thousand men from the Union side, and placing them where they would be best for the measure he condemns. If he cannot face his case so stated, it is only because he cannot face the truth.
"I add a word which was not in the verbal conversation. In telling this tale, I attempt no compliment to my own sagacity. I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me. Now at the end of three years' struggle, the Nation's condition is not what either Party, or any man, devised or expected. God alone can claim it.
"Whither it is tending seems plain. If God now wills the removal of a great wrong, and wills also that we of the North, as well as you of the South, shall pay fairly for our complicity in that wrong, impartial history will find therein new causes to attest and revere the Justice and goodness of God. "Yours truly, "A. LINCOLN."
The 8th of April (1864) turned out to be the decisive field-day in the Senate. Sumner endeavored to close the debate on that day in a speech remarkable no less for its power and eloquence of statement, its strength of Constitutional exposition, and its abounding evidences of extensive historical research and varied learning, than for its patriotic fervor and devotion to human Freedom.
Toward the end of that great speech, however, he somewhat weakened its force by suggesting a change in the phraseology of the proposed Thirteenth Amendment, so that, instead of almost precisely following the language of the Jeffersonian Ordinance of 1787, as recommended by the Judiciary Committee of the Senate, it should read thus:
"All Persons are Equal before the Law, so that no person can hold another as a Slave; and the Congress may make all laws necessary and proper to carry this Article into effect everywhere within the United States and the jurisdiction thereof."
Mr. Sumner's idea in antagonizing the Judiciary Committee's proposition with this, was to introduce into our Organic Act, distinctive words asserting the "Equality before the Law" of all persons, as expressed in the Constitutional Charters of Belgium, Italy and Greece, as well as in the various Constitutions of France—beginning with that of September, 1791, which declared (Art. 1) that "Men are born and continue Free and Equal in Rights;" continuing in that of June, 1793, which declares that "All Men are Equal by Nature and before the Law:" in that of June, 1814, which declares that "Frenchmen are Equal before the Law, whatever may be otherwise their title and ranks;" and in the Constitutional Charter of August, 1830 in similar terms to the last.
"But," said he, "while desirous of seeing the great rule of Freedom which we are about to ordain, embodied in a text which shall be like the precious casket to the more precious treasure, yet * * * I am consoled by the thought that the most homely text containing such a rule will be more beautiful far than any words of poetry or eloquence, and that it will endure to be read with gratitude when the rising dome of this Capitol, with the Statue of Liberty which surmounts it, has crumbled to dust."
Mr. Sumner's great speech, however, by no means ended the debate. It brought Mr. Powell to his feet with a long and elaborate contention against the general proposition, in the course of which he took occasion to sneer at Sumner's "most remarkable effort," as one of his "long illogical rhapsodies on Slavery, like:
'—a Tale Told by an Idiot, full of sound and fury, Signifying nothing.'"
He professed that he wanted "the Union to be restored with the Constitution as it is;" that he verily believed the passage of this Amendment would be "the most effective Disunion measure that could be passed by Congress"—and, said he, "As a lover of the Union I oppose it."
[This phrase slightly altered, in words, but not in meaning, to "The Union as it was, and the Constitution as it is," afterward became the Shibboleth under which the Democratic Party in the Presidential Campaign of 1864, marched to defeat.]
He endeavored to impute the blame for the War, to the northern Abolitionists, for, said he: "Had there been no Abolitionists, North, there never would have been a Fire-eater, South,"—apparently ignoring the palpable fact that had there been no Slavery in the South, there could have been no "Abolitionists, North."
He heatedly denounced the "fanatical gentlemen" who desired the passage of this measure; declared they intended by its passage "to destroy the Institution of Slavery or to destroy the Union," and exclaimed: "Pass this Amendment and you make an impassable chasm, as if you were to put a lake of burning fire, between the adhering States and those who are out. You will then have to make it a War of conquest and extermination before you can ever bring them back under the flag of the Government. There is no doubt about that proposition."
Mr. Sumner, at this point, withdrew his proposed amendment, at the suggestion of Mr. Howard, who expressed a preference "to dismiss all reference to French Constitutions and French Codes, and go back to the good old Anglo-Saxon language employed by our Fathers, in the Ordinance of 1787, (in) an expression adjudicated upon repeatedly, which is perfectly well understood both by the public and by Judicial Tribunals —a phrase, which is peculiarly near and dear to the people of the Northwestern Territory, from whose soil Slavery was excluded by it."
[The following is the language of "the Ordinance of 1787" thus referred to:
"ART. 6.—There shall be neither Slavery nor Involuntary Servitude in the said Territory, otherwise than in the punishment of crimes, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted: * * *."]
Mr. Davis thereupon made another opposition speech and, at its conclusion, Mr. Saulsbury offered, as a substitute, an Article, comprising no less than twenty sections—that, he said, "embodied in them some things" which "did not meet his personal approbation," but he had consented to offer them to the Senate as "a Compromise"—as "a Peace offering."
The Saulsbury substitute being voted down, the debate closed with a speech by Mr. McDougall—an eloquent protest from his standpoint, in which, after endorsing the wild statement of Mr. Hendricks that 250,000 of the people of African descent had been prematurely destroyed on the Mississippi, he continued.
"This policy will ingulf them. It is as simple a truth as has ever been taught by any history. The Slaves of ancient time were not the Slaves of a different Race. The Romans compelled the Gaul and the Celt, brought them to their own Country, and some of them became great poets, and some eloquent orators, and some accomplished wits, and they became citizens of the Republic of Greece, and of the Republic of Rome, and of the Empire.
"This is not the condition of these persons with whom we are now associated, and about whose affairs we undertake to establish administration. They can never commingle with us. It may not be within the reading of some learned Senators, and yet it belongs to demonstrated Science, that the African race and the European are different; and I here now say it as a fact established by science, that the eighth generation of the Mixed race formed by the union of the African and European, cannot continue their species. Quadroons have few children; with Octoroons reproduction is impossible.
"It establishes as a law of nature that the African has no proper relation to the European, Caucasian, blood. I would have them kindly treated. * * * Against all such policy and all such conduct I shall protest as a man, in the name of humanity, and of law, and of truth, and of religion."
The amendment made, as in Committee of the Whole, having been concurred in, etc., the Joint Resolution, as originally reported by the Judiciary Committee, was at last passed, (April 8th)—by a vote of 38 yeas to 6 nays—Messrs. Hendricks and McDougall having the unenviable distinction of being the only two Senators, (mis-)representing Free States, who voted against this definitive Charter of American Liberty.
[The full Senate vote, on passing the Thirteenth Amendment, was:
YEAS-Messrs. Anthony, Brown, Chandler, Clark, Collamer, Conness, Cowan, Dixon, Doolittle, Fessenden, Foot, Foster, Grimes, Hale, Harding, Harlan, Harris, Henderson, Howard, Howe, Johnson, Lane of Indiana, Lane of Kansas, Morgan, Morrill, Nesmith, Pomeroy, Ramsey, Sherman, Sprague, Sumner, Ten Eyck, Trumbull, Van Winkle, Wade, Wilkinson, Willey, and Wilson—38.
NAYs—Messrs. Davis, Hendricks, McDougall, Powell, Riddle, and Saulsbury.]
TREASON IN THE NORTHERN CAMPS.
The immortal Charter of Freedom had, as we have seen, with comparative ease, after a ten days' debate, by the power of numbers, run the gauntlet of the Senate; but now it was to be subjected to the much more trying and doubtful ordeal of the House. What would be its fate there? This was a question which gave to Mr. Lincoln, and the other friends of Liberty and Union, great concern.
It is true that various votes had recently been taken in that body, upon propositions which had an indirect bearing upon the subject of Emancipation, as, for instance, that of the 1st of February, 1864, when, by a vote of 80 yeas to 46 nays, it had adopted a Resolution declaring "That a more vigorous policy to enlist, at an early day, and in larger numbers, in our Army, persons of African descent, would meet the approbation of the House;" and that vote, although indirect, being so very nearly a two-thirds vote, was most encouraging. But, on the other hand, a subsequent Resolution, squarely testing the sense of the House upon the subject, had been carried by much less than a two-thirds vote.
This latter Resolution, offered by Mr. Arnold, after conference with Mr. Lincoln, with the very purpose of making a test, was in these direct terms:
"Resolved, That the Constitution shall be so amended as to Abolish Slavery in the United States wherever it now exists, and to prohibit its existence in every part thereof forever."
The vote, adopting it, was but 78 yeas to 62 nays. * This vote, therefore, upon the Arnold Resolution, being nowhere near the two-thirds affirmative vote necessary to secure the passage through the House of the Senate Joint Resolution on this subject amendatory of the Constitution, was most discouraging.
It was definite enough, however, to show the necessity of a change from the negative to the affirmative side of at least fifteen votes. While therefore the outlook was discouraging it was far from hopeless. The debate in the Senate had already had its effect upon the public mind. That, and the utterances of Mr. Lincoln—and further discussion in the House, it was thought, might produce such a pressure from the loyal constituencies both in the Free and Border Slave-States as to compel success.
But from the very beginning of the year 1864, as if instinctively aware that their Rebel friends were approaching the crisis of their fate, and needed now all the help that their allies of the North could give them, the Anti-War Democrats, in Congress, and out, had been stirring themselves with unusual activity.
In both Houses of Congress, upon all possible occasions, they had been striving, as they still strove, with the venom of their widely-circulated speeches, to poison the loyal Northern and Border-State mind, in the hope that the renomination of Mr. Lincoln might be defeated, the chance for Democratic success at the coming Presidential election be thereby increased, and, if nothing else came of it, the Union Cause be weakened and the Rebel Cause correspondingly strengthened.
At the same time, evidently under secret instructions from their friends, the Conspirators in arms, they endeavored to create heart-burnings and jealousies and ill-feeling between the Eastern (especially the New England) States and the Western States, and unceasingly attacked the Protective-Tariff, Internal Revenue, the Greenback, the Draft, and every other measure or thing upon which the life of the Union depended.