The Journal of Negro History, Volume 7, 1922
Author: Various
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Lincoln, as an Illinois Representative in Congress, resorted to a similar procedure in that national body. At this time there was almost a pitched battle between the slave States and the free commonwealths, each one endeavoring to develop more strength than the other in the effort to dictate the policy of the nation with reference to the States to be formed out of the remaining western territory. Lincoln did not take any active part in the discussion of slavery during the first session of his service in Congress, but he always voted against any measure providing for the extension of the institution. However, he still adhered to his position as set forth in the protest in the Illinois Legislature, that Congress had power under the Constitution to regulate or prohibit slavery in all territory subject to its jurisdiction, provided that such power be exercised with due regard to constitutional rights. He, therefore, decided to test the question whether it was possible to remove from the seat of the Federal Government the offensive traffic in human beings. In formulating his plans to carry out this policy, he consulted the leading citizens of the District of Columbia and certain prominent men in Congress.

Having secured the approval of Mayor Seaton of Washington, a representative of the intelligent slave-holding citizens of the District of Columbia, and also the support of Joshua Giddings, the leading abolition member of Congress, Lincoln proposed a bill to this effect. Thereupon Giddings made these remarks: "This evening (January 11th) our whole mess remained in the dining room after tea, and conversed upon the subject of Mr. Lincoln's bill to abolish slavery. It was approved by all; I believe it as good bill as we could get at this time, and am willing to pay for slaves to save them from the southern market, as I suppose every man in the District would sell his slaves if he saw that slavery was to be abolished."[4]

In the meantime a less radical bill providing also for the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia had been introduced by Representative Gott of New York. Lincoln, therefore, moved as an amendment on January 16, 1849, that a committee report a bill for the emancipation of all slaves in the District of Columbia. This measure prohibited the bringing of slaves into and selling them out of the District except in the case of those temporarily serving persons representing slave-holding States. It made provision for a tentative system of apprenticeship and the eventual emancipation of children born of slave mothers after January 1, 1850. It further provided for the manumission of slaves by the Government of the United States with compensation to the owners who might make application therefor, for the return of fugitive slaves from Washington and Georgetown, and finally for the submission of the bill to popular vote in the District of Columbia. This measure, however, and its probability of success so excited the proslavery members of Congress and the slave owners in the District of Columbia that a violent opposition thereto followed. So many influential forces were arrayed against the measure that its friends did not further endeavor to pilot it through the House.[5] This unsuccessful effort marked the expiration of Lincoln's term in Congress.

Declining to become a candidate for renomination to Congress, Lincoln returned to Springfield, partially withdrew from politics, and devoted himself largely to the practice of law. He reappeared as an active participant in politics in Illinois in 1854, when there appeared a new aspect of the question as reflected by the debate incident to the Kansas-Nebraska controversy. At this time Lincoln was called for in all directions to deliver addresses to inform the people on the issue of the day. In this connection he demonstrated his inalterable opposition to the extension of slavery.[6] He objected to the iniquitous doctrine of the Nebraska Bill in that it assumed that there was moral right in the enslaving of one man by another, and, further, that it tended to be unmistakably subversive of the basic principles of the Declaration of Independence. Lincoln was of the opinion that the salvation of the Union was dependent upon the extension or the restriction of slavery. Realizing the futility and the hopelessness of voluntary emancipation, he asserted that the "Autocrat of all the Russias" would resign his crown, and proclaim freedom to all his subjects sooner than the "American masters" would voluntarily give up their slaves.[7] It is remarkable that Lincoln's speculative affirmation was followed by what he thought an impossibility, for on the day preceding Mr. Lincoln's inauguration the "Autocrat of all the Russias," Alexander II, by an imperial decree emancipated his serfs; "while six weeks after the inauguration, the proslavery element, headed by Jefferson Davis, began the Rebellion to perpetuate and to spread the institution of slavery."

In 1857 came the Dred Scott decision, in which Chief Justice Taney of the Supreme Court dragged that tribunal into politics, aiming to settle the question of slavery in the territories, but it stimulated rather than suppressed the discussion of slavery, as was evident by its outburst in the debates between Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Stephen A. Douglas.[8] The main question was whether, according to the Constitution, Congress could prohibit slavery in the territories. Lincoln contended that it could but Douglas was evasive, as he hoped to reconcile his popular sovereignty with the Dred Scott decision. Lincoln, on the other hand, showed that the public estimate of the Negro had become decidedly lower than it was prior to the industrial revolution, when masters could emancipate their bondmen of their own volition. Since then it had become common for the State Legislature, which in the exercise of the sovereignty of the State had the power to abolish slavery within its limits, to withhold that power and to make legal restraints tantamount to prohibition.

Lincoln opposed Mr. Douglas in 1858 when he contested the latter's reelection to the United States Senate. Toward this end he launched a more determined antislavery program than ever before, advancing the doctrine that "a house divided against itself cannot stand" and likewise that "the Union could not endure permanently, half slave and half free."[9] He further declared that either the advocates of slavery would push the institution forward until it became alike lawful in both North and South, or the opponents thereof would arrest its extension. Douglas had charged the Republicans with the intent to abolish slavery in the States and had asserted that their opposition to the Dred Scott decision marked their desire for Negro equality and amalgamation.[10] To this charge Lincoln replied that the Republicans were not directing their efforts toward abolition in the slave States, but toward the exclusion of slavery from the territories. He forcibly denied the accusation that the Republicans solicited social equality and amalgamation with the Negro, declaring that there was a physical difference between the two races, which probably would forever forbid their living together on equal footing; and that, inasmuch as it became a necessity that there must be a difference, he, like Douglas, favored his race for the superior position. Lincoln admitted that in some respects the Negro, according to the Declaration of Independence, was not the white man's equal; that in color, size, intellect, moral development, or social capacity the Negro was not on a par with the white man; but that that instrument did, with tolerable distinctness, consider "all men created equal" with certain inalienable rights, such as "life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness."[11] Lincoln held that, notwithstanding all these facts, there was no reason why the Negro was not entitled to all the natural rights embraced by the Declaration of Independence, which are enjoyed by the white man.[12] He interpreted the standard maxim that "all men are created equal" as being of no practical use in effecting the separation of the thirteen Colonies from Great Britain, and, on the contrary, contended that it was placed in the Declaration of Independence for future use in the attainment of democracy.

Lincoln failed to defeat Douglas for the United States Senate but he continued to discuss the constitutionality of the restriction of slavery. On more than one instance he limited his remarks to this question, irrespective of the type of his audience or character of the occasion. He persistently reiterated the doctrine that there was no provision in the Constitution that precluded the right of the Federal Government to control slavery in the territories.[13]

The crisis between 1850 and 1860 brought Lincoln's ideas before larger groups. Until that year the Democrats had apparently remained united. At the Democratic National Convention in Charleston, South Carolina, in April, 1860, there was a division.[14] The Northern Democrats, unable to comply with the demands of the slave power that the convention should adopt a platform requiring Congress to protect slavery in the territories and the Northerners to acknowledge and advocate the moral right of slavery, forced the South to the radical position of withdrawing from the Convention. Since no candidate could then be nominated, the Convention adjourned to Baltimore, in the hope that time would bring about a reconciliation; but in the end the Northern Democrats nominated Douglas, and the Southerners nominated Breckenridge.[15]

The Republican Convention was held in Chicago in May 1860, and there was adopted a moderate platform, with a denial of the right of Congress to interfere with slavery in the States. The Republicans reaffirmed the Declaration of Independence and declared that Congress should prohibit slavery in the territories. They repudiated the Dred Scott decision and advocated a protective system. Their most difficult problem was the selection of a candidate for the presidency. Inasmuch as Seward and Chase had alienated certain elements by their bold advocacy of advanced principles and Lincoln was comparatively unknown, the managers of the party finally accepted him because of his availability. This choice was received with much indignation among the antislavery leaders, for even Wendell Phillips and William Lloyd Garrison railed against the nominee and portrayed him as an obscurity.[16]

Lincoln's election forced slavery into the foreground. Without waiting for his inauguration, several Southern States, acting in accordance with their previous threats that they would secede if a Republican President were elected, withdrew from the Union. Others soon followed their example. Congress hastened to offer various concessions to the seceding States,[17] but these efforts for compromise were in vain. The die was cast. When Lincoln asserted that his oath of office bound him to preserve the Union at any cost, civil war became inevitable. The proslavery element opened fire on the American flag at Fort Sumter and forced its surrender April 14.[18] On the next day Lincoln issued a proclamation calling for 75,000 volunteers. 500,000 others were later called to defend the honor of the nation.

The emancipation of Negroes during the Civil War could not be kept down. It appeared first in the acceptance of Negroes in the Union army camps as contraband, on the ground that they were being used by the Confederates to build fortifications and the like and, if returned to the seceding territory, would be of further use in opposing the Federal troops. General Butler set this precedent when he was in charge of the forces at Fortress Monroe. At first there was some hesitation as to whether the administration should adopt such a policy. Butler's course, however, was approved by Cameron, the Secretary of War, May 30, 1861, although Lincoln was not pleased with it; for he did not desire to alienate the border slave States by radical steps toward emancipation. He was hoping that the nation would trust him, "as having the more commanding view, gradually to fix the attitude of the Government toward the subject,"[19] as the conquest of the Confederacy proceeded. The Federal troops, however, did not at first make much headway in the East, but events west of the Alleghenies progressed favorably for the Union cause, especially in Missouri. Taking advantage of this state of affairs, General John C. Fremont, in charge of this district, proclaimed military emancipation in that State on August 30, 1861. All persons with arms were to be tried by court martial and shot. Their property would be confiscated, and their slaves would thereby be declared free. He appointed a military commission, whose business it was to hear evidence and to issue personal deeds of the manumission of slaves.

When Lincoln was apprised of this proclamation, he forthwith took action. He feared that the provisions of General Fremont's drastic order, providing for the confiscation of property and the emancipation of slaves of traitorous owners, would alarm the Southern friends of the Union, would drive them over to the seceding faction, and perhaps would be instrumental in the loss of the border slave States. Fremont's action was diametrically opposed to Lincoln's policy, in that such emancipation was purely administrative and political, one of civil administration that could not be justified by military necessity. Consequently Lincoln issued an order instructing Fremont to modify his proclamation by striking out the disturbing provisions of the proclamation and substituting therefor the act to confiscate property used for insurrectionary purposes, passed by Congress on August 6, 1861, which authorized the President to cause property used or employed in aid of insurrection to be seized, confiscated, or condemned, providing, however, that such condemnation be made by judicial procedure.[20]

Lincoln, nevertheless, hoped to increase the number of free States through compensated emancipation, which he expected to come through voluntary action on the part of the slave States at the suggestion of the Federal Government. In his next annual message to Congress, however, he made no direct reference to any specific plan of emancipation, but discussed its practical necessities in general terms so as to leave himself in a position to decide later on a definite policy.[21] He endeavored to keep before Congress new and possible contingencies and emphasized the fact that, by virtue of the Confiscation Act, many of the slaves thus liberated were already dependent upon the United States for maintenance, and that they must be provided for. He recommended, therefore, that Congress provide for accepting such persons from States so affected in lieu of direct taxes, and that such persons accepted by the General Government be declared free immediately.

With his plan for compensated emancipation in mind, it was quite natural that Lincoln should look for a field of experimentation in a small State, such as Delaware, especially since there was in Congress from that State, Representative George E. Fisher, who was a staunch Unionist and a friend of the President. Fisher gladly cooperated with Lincoln in carrying out this plan. The Congressman tried to have the Legislature of Delaware pass an act for the gradual compensated emancipation of the 1,798 slaves which that State claimed according to the census of 1861, on the condition that the United States would pay the Delaware slaveholders $400 for each slave. During November of 1861, Lincoln wrote drafts of two separate bills to effect such an agreement.[22] The first bill provided that, on the passage of the act, all Negroes over thirty-five years of age should become free; that all born after the passage of the measure should remain free; and that the rest, after suitable apprenticeship for children, should become free in 1893, while the State in the meanwhile should prohibit the selling of Delaware slaves elsewhere. By the provisions of the second bill the United States Government should pay the State of Delaware $23,200 a year for thirty-one years and all Negroes born after the passage of the act should be declared free, while all others should automatically become free at thirty-five years of age until January, 1893, when all remaining slaves of all ages should become free, subject to apprenticeship for minors born of slave mothers up to the respective ages of eighteen and twenty-one.

One of the drafts was rewritten by the friends of the measure that it might embrace the details and alterations to conform with local opinion and law. It was printed and circulated among the members of the Legislature of Delaware and a special session of that body was called to consider the proposal. The bill, however, was never introduced, because it was feared that it would be voted down by the hostile proslavery majority. The proslavery element, moreover, prepared resolutions to the effect that the bill would encourage the abolition element in Congress, that it bore evidence of an effort to abolish slavery in the States, that Congress had no right to appropriate money for the purchase of slaves, that it was not desirable to make Delaware guarantee the public faith of the United States, that the suggestion of saving expenses to the people by compensated emancipation was a bribe, and that Delaware would abolish slavery of its own volition at a time when its lawmakers would deem it advisable. But these resolutions did not fare much better than Lincoln's bill, for in spite of the fact that they passed the House they were lost in the Senate.[23]

Although disappointed over the failure of his plans for compensated emancipation in Delaware, Lincoln, encouraged by the victories of Thomas and Grant in the West took his next step through Congress to the States.[24] Accordingly, on March 6, 1862, he sent to that body a special message, recommending the adoption of the joint resolution that the United States would cooperate with any State which might adopt gradual emancipation, giving such State compensation for all inconveniences produced by the change of any system within its confines.[25] Lincoln had figured out that less than the cost of the war for a half day would pay for all the slaves in Delaware at $400 each, and that less than eighty-seven days' cost of the war would compensate the slaveowners of Delaware, Maryland, the District of Columbia, Kentucky, and Missouri for all the slaves at the same rate.

The next step took the form of Roscoe Conkling's joint resolution to this effect recommended by Lincoln in his special message of March 6. At the same time Lincoln assembled the Congressmen from the border slave States of Delaware, Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri at the Executive Mansion, where a prolonged discussion of the subject ensued.[26] Lincoln tried to convince these Congressmen of the good faith of the administration, and suggested to them that they take this question of gradual abolition into serious consideration, for the Government of the United States had no right to coerce them. He asserted that emancipation was exclusively a State affair; and that his purpose was simply to present the proposition. Yet probably one reason for the failure of these Congressmen of the border slave States to make a favorable reply or to commit themselves in any way was that they were well aware of Lincoln's determination, according to his special message of March 6, to use all means to save the Union; and they, furthermore, understood the hint that necessity might force him to resort to extreme measures. While this proposition gained no headway with the border slave States, the joint resolution was approved by Congress and received the signature of the President on April 10.

Congress then passed an important measure, the expediency of which Lincoln urged in 1849. This was emancipation in the District of Columbia. Lincoln made no specific recommendations relative to this in his annual message, but later sent a special message to Congress March 6, 1862, taking up the subject in its more extensive aspects. This bill provided for the immediate emancipation of slaves in the District of Columbia, and empowered a commission to distribute to slave-holders for their manumitted slaves a compensation not to exceed an aggregate of three hundred dollars a head, with an additional appropriation for $100,000 for expenses of voluntary emigration of freedmen to Haiti and Liberia.[27] Lincoln did not heartily approve this measure, however, for he did not want this to interfere with his policy of compensated emancipation in the border slave States. Even after the bill had been amended, according to his suggestions, he still hesitated and some of his friends thought that he might never sign it, but he did.

The question of emancipation appeared in another form when, upon the capture of Port Royal the previous November, many slaves, abandoned by the fleeing slave-holders, sought protection in the Union army. These slaves, thus dislodged by the misfortunes of war, outnumbered the whites five to one and had to be organized in groups for government protection. Relief societies in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia sent funds and teachers for the slaves. This educational enterprise received the official sanction of Secretary Chase at President Lincoln's request. Wishing further to improve their condition, General David Hunter, commander of the Department of the South, issued on May 9, 1862, an order of military emancipation, proclaiming the Department of the South under martial law and declaring persons in Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina, heretofore held as slaves, forever free.[28] Hunter regarded this an act of military necessity, not an instrument of political import as General Fremont's proclamation in Missouri, for Hunter's forces were insufficient for offensive movements, and he was doing this as the first step toward training and arming Negroes within his lines. Assuming that the instructions of the War Department conferred the necessary authority he proclaimed the order without delay.

The news of this proclamation did not travel rapidly. It was published in the newspapers one week later, owing to the slow mail by sea from the South. By this means even Lincoln first learned of this decree, on account of which he was being assailed in many parts. When the news reached Lincoln he took decisive and prompt action. On May 19, he published a proclamation in which he revoked the order of emancipation and recited that the Government had no knowledge of such a decree nor had it authorized General Hunter to give such an order.[29]

Lincoln, however, used this occasion for an admonition to the border slave States, although he carefully distinguished between the limited powers of the commanders in the field and his full executive authority. He reminded the border States of the joint resolution passed by Congress, to authorize compensated emancipation, and he warned them not to neglect this opportunity to obtain financial indemnity, for the "signs of the times" were multiplying to a degree that should have convinced the border States that slavery was doomed.

In the very beginning of the Thirty-seventh Congress there came a series of antislavery measures which constituted a complete and decisive reversal of the policy of the Federal Government.[30] On March 13, 1862, Congress approved an act, which prohibited all military and naval officers and enlisted personnel from returning fugitive slaves. Section 10 of the Confiscation Act, virtually an amendment of the Fugitive Slave Law, which withheld from the claimant the right to use his authority until he had taken an oath of allegiance, and made it tantamount to a crime for any person in the army or navy to surrender a fugitive slave or attempt to validate the owner's claim, was rigidly enforced. Wishing to see Liberia and Haiti welcomed into the family of nations, moreover, Lincoln in his annual message in the previous December recommended the recognition of their independence and the establishment of diplomatic relations with the new nations. This resolution was passed by a Congress and approved June 5, 1862. Lincoln then effected the passage of a measure to carry into execution the treaty between Great Britain and the United States for the suppression of the African slave trade. Soon thereafter followed an act to secure freedom to all persons within the territories of the United States. The Republican party had thus carried out its platform by its restoration of the Missouri Compromise, its extension and application to all Territories, and as a logical result the rejection and condemnation of the Dred Scott decision and the subversive property theory of the secessionists.[31]

Then followed the Confiscation Act, the discussion of which was closely followed by Lincoln, who had his views incorporated therein by pointing out its defects and suggesting amendments. Whereas the act of August 6, 1861, freed slaves actually employed in military service, the new Confiscation Act of 1862 proved to be a law to destroy slavery under the powers of war. In conjunction with provisions for punishing treason or rebellion it declared free all slaves of persons guilty and convicted of these crimes, and provided that slaves deserted by rebels escaping from them or coming under control of the United States and slaves of rebels found on Union soil should be deemed captives and set free. Then again, there were enacted other provisions, which by implication permitted the employment of slaves in the United States army that they might work their own enfranchisement. Under this law the President was empowered to enroll and employ contrabands in such service as they were fitted for. Their mothers, wives, and children, if owned by rebels, should be declared free by virtue of such service. The eleventh section of the Confiscation Act authorized the President to employ as many Negroes as he might deem necessary for the suppression of the rebellion. The organization of the earliest Negro regiments resulted from this legislation.

Lincoln had some hesitation about signing this bill, however, for it had to be changed to conform to his views. But he signed it and also an anticipatory resolution of Congress to remedy its defects, placing himself on record by transmitting with his approval a copy of his intended veto, had certain defects remained. Mr. Lincoln objected to the expression that Congress could free a slave within a State, whereupon he suggested that it be changed to read that the ownership of the slave would be transferred to the nation, and that Congress would then liberate him.[32] The Democrats opposed this act, but antislavery opinion gained momentum by increasing accessions to the ranks of freedom and by that unusual ability of the highly talented patriotic membership of Congress. Yet to the proslavery element and the conservative Unionists, Lincoln's proposal of gradual compensated emancipation was a daring innovation upon practical politics. "In point of fact," say Nicolay and Hay, "the President stood sagaciously midway between headlong reform and blind reaction. His steady, cautious direction and control of the average public sentiment of the country alike held back rash experiment and spurred lagging opinion."[33]

Four months after Lincoln's proposal of compensated emancipation to the border slave States and its sanction by Congress, the situation seeming more complicated by the vicissitudes of war, Lincoln saw the necessity for uniting the sentiment of the North for a practical solution of the slavery problem. Looking forward into the future, therefore, Lincoln readily realized that the North must present a united front contending for a plain, practical policy, relative to things both political and military.

Consequently he again met the border State delegations on July 12, and made a second appeal to them to accept compensation for the emancipation of the slaves in their respective States while the opportunity was yet at hand.[34] He pointed out to them that the war would have been ended, had they considered the acceptance of the provisions of his first appeal for gradual emancipation, and that this plan would not be a slow and weak means of ending the war. Dissuading them from secession, he failed not to apprise them of the fact that, if the rebellion continued, their institution would be destroyed without any sort of indemnity or reparation. Again he referred to his revoking General Hunter's proclamation of military abolition, with the hope that he might possibly win them over to his plan, but his effort was futile. Most of them replied with a qualified refusal; twenty of them later presented a written reply, pledging themselves to continue loyal, but at the same time giving the reasons why they could not accept the plan of compensated emancipation.

In the meantime the capture of strategic points like Vicksburg and New Orleans had given the control of the lower Mississippi to the Union,[35] General Grant had crippled and driven back the Confederates in the West,[36] and prospects for military success in the East seemed to require some such a measure as military emancipation. After the refusal of compensated emancipation by the border slave States the President decided to emancipate the slaves of rebellious commonwealths by military order.[37] While riding with Mr. Seward and Mr. Welles one day, Mr. Lincoln made mention of emancipating the slaves by proclamation, if the rebels did not lay down their arms. He believed that such action could be guaranteed only as a military necessity. He thought that the slaves must be liberated, or the Union would be exterminated. Lincoln reached a final conclusion and called the cabinet together on July 21, the day preceding the close of that session of Congress.[38] Since he was at the end of his tether, he determined to take a more definite and decisive step. Accordingly, he prepared several orders which, gave authority to commanders in the field to subsist their troops in hostile territory and to employ Negroes as paid laborers, and further provided for the colonization of Negroes in some tropical country.[39]

As this discussion led to no definite conclusion, the subject was resumed at a meeting on the following day; but Lincoln decided that the time was inopportune. While he thought that more evil than good would be derived from the wholesale arming of Negroes, yet he was not unwilling that the commanders arm, purely for defensive purposes, those slaves who came within the Union lines. But the President had reached a decision on the correlated policy of emancipation with which it appears that his cabinet was not in accord. They were surprised when he read to them the first draft of a proclamation warning the rebels of the penalties provided by the Confiscation Act, suggesting the renewal of his proposition of compensation to the loyal States, and adding a summary order that, as Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, he would declare free the slaves of all States that might be in rebellion on January 1, 1863. The Cabinet was somewhat "bewildered by the magnitude and boldness of this proposal."[40]

Only two members of the cabinet concurred in the proposal. Secretary Chase favored this plan of military emancipation, but could not approve the method of execution. Blair, the Postmaster General, deprecated this policy on the ground that it would cost the administration the fall elections. Secretary Seward approved it and yet questioned the expediency of its issue at that stage of the war, owing to the depression of the public mind and the repeated reversals for the Union armies. He further deemed it to be a last measure of an exhausted government that was crying for help, stretching forth its arms to Ethiopia instead of awaiting a reverse appeal from Ethiopia. Consequently he urged a postponement of the issue of the proclamation until the country was supported by military success. Lincoln, struck by the wisdom of Seward's views, which he had entirely overlooked, laid it away and postponed the proclamation on July 22 until the Union forces reported a victory. Instead, after a three-day interval, he issued a short announcement that contained warnings as required by the provisions of the Confiscation Act.

Lincoln's postponement of the issue of the proclamation was wise. Military reversals made the situation more serious for the President's supporters. The radicals and the conservatives, resorted to incessant criticism, railing against him and his policy. Lincoln, however, kept up appearances of indecision, even though his own course had been clearly and inalterably mapped out; but circumstances did not admit a revelation. His main object was to restrain impatience and zeal, and yet maintain the loyalty of both factions.[41]

Horace Greeley attacked Lincoln unmercifully in The New York Tribune and accused him of being responsible for the deplorable results coming from his failure to enforce the Confiscation Act. Lincoln, on the contrary, lost no time in replying to Greeley, and declared that he intended to save the Union by the shortest possible way in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution; that his paramount object in the struggle was to preserve the Union and not either to preserve or destroy slavery; that he would save the Union, either without liberating any slaves, or by freeing all the slaves, or by freeing some and leaving others in servitude; that, at any rate, he would save the Union; and that his efforts at emancipation would be determined by its bearing on the more important question of saving the Union.

The expected easy victory did not follow; but, on the contrary, came sad and humiliating defeat of Pope in the second battle of Bull Run in August, 1862. At this juncture Lincoln was urged by both individuals and delegations to follow one or the other decision relative to emancipation, but his attitude remained the same. On September 13, he informed a Chicago delegation that he was unable to free slaves by the Constitution, especially when the Constitution could not be enforced in the rebel States, and declared that any emancipation proclamation would at that time be as effective and operative as "the Pope's bull against the comet."[42] What the antislavery group wanted was not granted; but wholesale emancipation was going on by virtue of the provisions of the Confiscation Act, slavery had been abolished in the District of Columbia, and the territories had been restored to freedom. Lincoln, moreover, left himself a margin for action according to his declaration, in his interview with the Chicago delegation, that, as Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, he had the right to take any measure which might best subdue the enemy.[43]

Upon hearing of the Union victory at Antietam three days after, Lincoln immediately seized this opportunity to announce the policy upon which he had already decided. He had promised to withhold his Emancipation Proclamation until the rebels were out of Frederick. Now that they had been driven from Maryland and Pennsylvania, Lincoln was ready to carry out his plan. On September 22, 1862, therefore, he announced, read, and published his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation.[44] It embraced propositions that provided for the renewal of the plan of compensated emancipation, voluntary colonization, military emancipation of all slaves in rebellious States on January 1, 1863, and the ultimate recommendation of compensation to loyal owners.

Although this proclamation was endorsed by an assembly of Governors from the Northern States, who had already convened at Altoona, Pennsylvania, to consider emergency measures for the protection of their respective States,[45] the political test of this announcement of military emancipation came, as expected, in the autumn elections. Popular discontent had arisen as the result of military failure. The Democrats boldly declared that the war of the Union had been changed to a war for abolition of slavery. Party conflicts became bitter and resulted in a loss to the Republicans although they still retained a majority.

In his next annual message, however, President Lincoln did not discuss the Emancipation Proclamation, but he renewed his argument for compensated emancipation. On December 11, 1862, George H. Yeaman of Kentucky introduced in the House of Representatives a resolution dubbing the President's proclamation as unwarranted by the Constitution and a useless and dangerous war message. This resolution was tabled by a vote of ninety-four to forty-five. Four days later Representative S. C. Fessenden of Maine, on the contrary, offered a resolution putting into affirmative form the identical phraseology of Mr. Yeaman's proposition, and secured its passage by a test vote of seventy-eight to fifty-four. No other action of consequence then followed except a manifestation of interest in compensated emancipation in Missouri.

At a cabinet meeting on the last day of December, 1862, Lincoln read the final draft of the Emancipation Proclamation and invited criticism. He made some revision of a minor nature but rejected the proposal to eliminate from the order the provision that the freedmen be armed. In this form the Proclamation was issued the following day, January 1, 1863. The constitutionality of this document has been questioned. It is conceded, however, that it did actually abolish slavery within the rebellious area and as a moral stimulus to the struggle for freedom, it proved to be of great value.



[1] Edwards, History of Illinois, 179.

[2] Nicolay and Hay, Abraham Lincoln, I, 72; W. H. Lamon, Life of Abraham Lincoln, 83.

[3] Nicolay and Hay, Abraham Lincoln, I, 15, 140, 151, 642.

[4] Nicolay and Hay, Abraham Lincoln, I, 148, 285-288.

[5] Nicolay and Hay, Abraham Lincoln, I, 286.

[6] Ibid., I, 373, 375, 380-390.

[7] Ibid., I, pp. 391, 392.

[8] Nicolay and Hay, II, 85, 89.

[9] Nicolay and Hay, II, 136-138, 143.

[10] Nicolay and Hay, II, 137, 156, 157; Lincoln-Douglass Debates, p. 8.

[11] Nicolay and Hay, II, pp. 75, 147.

[12] Ibid., II, p. 149.

[13] Nicolay and Hay, II, 156, 157, 216.

[14] Murat Halstead, Conventions of 1860, 6.

[15] Ibid., 7.

[16] Nicolay and Hay, II, 255.

[17] Nicolay and Hay, II, 287, 382.

[18] Rhodes, United States, III, p. 357.

[19] Burgess, Civil War, II, p. 76.

[20] Nicolay and Hay, Abraham Lincoln, IV, 416-420; V, p. 211.

[21] Burgess, Civil War, II, 79-80.

[22] Nicolay and Hay, V, 206.

[23] Nicolay and Hay, V, 207.

[24] Dodge, View, chap. xi.

[25] Nicolay and Hay, V, p. 209.

[26] McPherson, History of the Rebellion, p. 210.

[27] Nicolay and Hay, V, 214.

[28] Ibid., VI, p. 90.

[29] Nicolay and Hay, VI, 94-96.

[30] Ibid., VI, 97.

[31] Nicolay and Hay, VI, 99-100.

[32] Nicolay and Hay, VI, 103.

[33] Ibid., VI, 107.

[34] Ibid., VI, pp. 109-111.

[35] King, New Orleans, ch. xiii.

[36] Dodge, View, ch. x.

[37] Nicolay and Hay, VI, p. 121.

[38] Ibid., VI, pp. 123-124.

[39] Warden, Life of S. P. Chase, p. 439.

[40] F. B. Carpenter, Six Months at the White House, pp. 20-22.

[41] Dodge, View, ch. xiv. Rossiter Johnson, History of War of Secession.

[42] Nicolay and Hay, VI, 155.

[43] Dodge, View, pp. 102-115.

[44] Nicolay and Hay, VI, pp. 168-169.

[45] Nicolay and Hay, VI, p. 164.



The time approaches when all the wildness of this little world will be overrun and tamed into the trimness of a civilized parterre; when the last trail will have been trodden, the mystery of the last forest bared, and the last of the savage peoples penned into a League of Nations to die of unnatural peace. What will our children do then, I wonder, for their books of high romance? How satisfy their thirst of daring with nothing further to dare? Who will appease them, when

"The Rudyards cease from kipling And the Haggards ride no more,"

when Robinson Crusoe and the classics are once read, and in a hencoop world no saga-man arises in their stead? They say that by then we shall have enlarged our borders and gone in our chariots of petrol to visit the wheeling stars. But I misdoubt these Icarian flights. It seems to me more likely that the harassed parents and publishers of those days will be driven earthward to rummage into the lumber of the past and bring out as new the obscure things that a former more heroic age had buried. In those stricken times, I hope someone may have the fortune to light upon my manuscript Journal of Isaaco, a slim, alluring folio that now glitters in red-and-gold upon my study shelves. It would be a pity if Time, the All-Merciless, were allowed to throw the dust of oblivion over these pretty pages, for they possess in good measure that trait of "pleasant atrocity" which wins the attention of youth.

But who was Isaaco, and what was his Journal that it calls for the popularity of print? Those who have followed the harrowing tale of Mungo Park's Travels along the River Niger, in the years 1795 to 1797, and again in the fatal expedition of 1805, will be well acquainted with Isaaco. They will have smiled at his childish tempers, applauded his snakelike cunning, and laughed outright at his heathen superstitions. But the others must be gravely informed that Isaaco was a West African of the Mandingo tribe who was wont for dignity's sake to describe himself as a Mohammedan priest. Certainly he had the Pentecostal gift of tongues, for there was hardly a dialect of Bambouk, Fool-adoo, Jallonkadoo, Timbuctoo, and all the other tribes of Senegal and beyond, but he could deceive the wiliest natives in it. Moreover, as a professional guide he found it paid to keep a wife in every petty state. At the worst she served to exercise the tongue; at the best she was provisioner, geographer, and spy. Never tired, never sick, never at a loss, Isaaco was simply indispensable to the European merchants trading in Senegal. So, indeed, was he to Mungo Park, that doughtiest of Scotsmen, who dared on through Bambarra and Haoussa where no white-face had ever been. Without Isaaco's genius and gigantic strength, it is unlikely that the second expedition (in 1805) would ever have reached the Niger. It was Isaaco who nursed the forty brave men who one by one sickened of dysentery; supported them on their mules, even in delirium, when they cried like children for their homes; and buried them at the last with saphies or charms from the Koran over their unmarked graves. It was he who watched, while the others slept the dead sleep of exhaustion; piled up the camp-fires to scare off the lions and wolves, and, worse than the wolves, those thieves and murderers (the scum of Senegal) who ever dogged their steps. None like Isaaco could placate each chieftain with the gift that his soul desired (be it cowries, beads, looking-glasses, muskets, or multi-colored waistcoats); nor when these failed, could any but Isaaco win passports with the mere honey of his tongue. Nothing could swerve him from honesty or the performance of his task. He was tied to a tree and flogged in the presence of his local wife, set upon by the very white men he was serving, stung all over by a swarm of bees, and mauled in both thighs by a crocodile; but each time he turned up smiling and ready to go on. Nothing could stop him, for did he not keep the solemn ritual of the guides, sacrificing a black ram at the threshold of every country they entered, drawing the magic triangles and hieroglyphs on the sand of every desert they had to cross, and keeping fast in his scrip that lock of a white man's hair, which added all the knowledge of a European to the African natives who possessed it?[2]


The agreement of Isaaco was to guide the expedition to the Niger, whence it was to proceed under the direction of Amady Fatouma, another guide. Accordingly, when Sansanding was reached, Isaaco's work was accomplished. Some days he lingered to load the great canoe (large enough to carry a hundred men). In the evenings he taught Mungo Park the names of the necessaries of life in the tongues of the countries ahead. Then he took a last farewell of his master and carried back to the coast that famous letter to Lord Camden, the concluding lines of which are engraved below the writer's statue in the city of Edinburgh: "My dear friends Mr. Anderson and likewise Mr. Scott are both dead; but, though all Europeans who were with me should die, and though I were myself half dead, I would still persevere; and if I could not succeed in the object of my journey I would at least die on the Niger."

One by one the months wore on and no news came from the Niger. But in the next year (1806) there began to be rumors of a great disaster. Still nothing definite was heard, and Mungo Park's wife and his many friends hoped on. They knew his marvellous hardihood and resource, and that of the stalwart Scotsmen who were with him. In 1810, however, the Government, who were responsible for the second expedition, thought it time to inquire what had befallen it; so they told the Governor of Senegal to find Isaaco and offer him L1,000 to explore after the explorer and put all doubts at rest. Now the manuscript which I possess, and of which a precis follows, is Isaaco's account of his travels in search of Mungo Park, by which he earned his thousand pounds and did the last sad offices to his master's memory. In my judgment it contains as much of the spirit of adventure as Mungo Park's own journals, and, being written by a native, gets nearer to the life and mind of the African Negro than any white man, writing from outside, could hope to do. For that reason I often wonder why the successive editors of Park's Travels have passed it over, printing only the last page or two, wherein Amady Fatouma relates the explorer's end. One thing I know has been against its adoption, to wit, an insufferably dull style. Seeing that it is difficult to be dull in the Arabic tongue, and that it was impossible for Isaaco to be so in any of the tongues he used, I suspect the English translator (no doubt a mere clerk in Governor Maxwell's Office) of pruning away the flowers of speech, and making all as prim and exact as an affidavit. Or possibly Isaaco simulated dullness. He meant to have that thousand pounds, and could afford to take no risks. A tropical, luxuriant style would certainly have put his credibility in question. As it was, many of the learned societies doubted his word, and one of them roundly asserted that he had sat outside Senegal and fabricated at ease the history of his travels. It was only after Bowditch, Denham, Clapperton, and Landor had explored after the explorer that Isaaco's credit was established and the learned societies put to shame.

In the abridgment that follows I have tried to preserve not only the spirit, but wherever possible the very words, of Isaaco's manuscript Journal. Whatever has been discarded is of little consequence and of less grammar.


Isaaco left Senegal by ship on the 22d day of the Moon Tabasky (January 7th) in the year 1810; but apparently the moon was not propitious, for he was nearly cast away in the lighter, trying to cross the bar, and in the ensuing confusion the larger part of his baggage was stolen. When he discovered this two days later at Goree and attempted to return, the winds rose and tossed the vessel about for nine days and drove him back to Goree. After some negotiation with Governor Maxwell by courier, the baggage was rescued and sent to Isaaco by road. The next few pages of his Journal are difficult and barren reading, bristling with nothing but the uncouth names of places where the good ship passed or anchored for the night, and with the hours duly entered as in a log book, according to the Mohammedan hours of prayer. Sailing by way of Yoummy, Jillifrey, Tancrowaly, and Jaunimmarou, they came on the eighth day to Mariancounda, where Isaaco landed. This was the home of Dr. Robert Ainsley, who had so often befriended Mungo Park, fitted him out with the necessaries of life, and started each expedition on its way. Under the same hospitable roof Isaaco lodged for the inside of a week, and then, enriched with the gift of a horse and an ass and twenty bars of beads, went into the wilds to search for the fate of his master. To open the road through Giammalocoto and Tandacounda, Isaaco wisely paid court to the King of Cataba, and showered upon him an old musket and a string of amber of the quality No. 4. The next halt was at Sandougoumanna under a tamarisk tree (Isaaco always notes the trees under which he sleeps). From the shade of this in the early morning he sent presents to the kings who barred the way; tobacco to him of Sallatigua, and scarlet cloth to him of Mansangcoije. Three villages on, Isaaco's company was suddenly increased by members of his own family, fleeing before the army of Bambarra—all but his mother, who had refused to leave her kraal. Three days later he was with her, in his native place of Montogou, and there stayed forty days, whether carousing, or fighting, or praying, he does not say. Then, prudently burying his heavy luggage, he departed, still carrying his people with him—through Moundoundou, where the chief killed a sheep in his honor and was rewarded with a flask of powder—on through Couchiar, a sleepy sort of place by name and situation, with a spreading bark tree, beneath which he drowsed the length of a day—on to Saabic, a village solely inhabited by Maraboos or priests. To gain the goodwill of Allah, he dwelt there a few days, and discovered a relation of one of his wives (no rare occurrence, seeing how many he kept) whose heart he rejoiced with some gunpowder and a gay piece of cloth. At the very next village, Tallimangoly, he fell across another, who cost him three grains of amber. Indeed, it seemed as though his store of presents would never hold out; for, no sooner had he digested the sheep his cousin killed for him, than the Bambarra army came up, and with fear and trembling Isaaco must needs dole out a whole heap of stuff—10 flasks of powder, 13 grains of amber (this time No. 1), 2 grains of coral (No. 1) and a handsome tin box. These to the King. And the King's chamberlain, goldsmith, and singing men had to be tipped as well.[3]


So they paid their way through Sangnonagagy and Saamcolo (where there was a "grand palaver" to rescue Isaaco's dog, which had bitten a man and been condemned to die), on to Diggichoucoumee, a place as long as its name, which took them four days to get through. It took still longer to get clear of the next village of Dramana, for the family of one of his wives came up and bitterly opposed her going with him on a journey so hazardous. There was another "grand palaver." In the end Isaaco lost his temper and divorced his wife; and, as the law required her to return what she had received at marriage, he came rather well out of it—to be exact, with a bullock and four sheep. A little further on Isaaco met an Arab with an exceptionally fine mare, which he bought with his wife's dowry and so consoled himself. He found the mare more tractable than a wife with obstinate relations. After this episode the pace of the party mended. Numbers of villages with unpronounceable names were hurried through. The river Senegal was crossed, and a country entered, that of Bambarra, where only women could be found. Every man, even the children and the aged, had gone away with the army. At the ill-sounding place Ourigiague, just beyond, they were royally entertained. A whole bullock was roasted for them. So, too, at Medina, where they were forced to waste twelve days and devour five sheep, because one of Isaaco's servants made off with the aforesaid mare and Isaaco's precious musket. A trustier servant was despatched on his trail. In due time he returned with the mare and the musket, and preferred not to say what had happened to the thief. The petty kingdom of Casso, which they came to next, proved very trying. There were six rivers to cross, full (says Isaaco) of alligators and hippopotami. There was the forbidding rock of Tap-Pa in the desert of Maretoumane to get by. And there was the mountain of Lambatara, on the top of which they were attacked by a cloud of bees. Maddened with the stings, the Negroes ran everywhere; the mules broke loose and threw their packs down the hill. Poor Isaaco had to collect them all, physick the dying and distressed, and number the living and the lost. At nightfall he slept like a log "under a monkey-bread tree." The following day was darkened by an ominous message from the King of Bambarra. There was evidently trouble brewing ahead. To gain some friendship in the capital, Isaaco decided to bribe. To Sabila, the Chief of the King's slaves, he sent a pair of scissors, a snuff-box, and a looking-glass, and desired to be his friend. And to his old friend Allasana Bosiara, then ambassador at Bambarra from the King of Sego, he sent a piece of silver "as a mark of being near him," and begged him not to leave until he was in safety. As he drew nearer, other signs made Isaaco convinced that "something unpleasant was planning." He was refused lodgings and water by the chiefs. A friendly merchant who had travelled under his protection was secretly warned to take himself and his goods away before it was too late. Thereupon Isaaco retired to another monkey-bread tree, ringed his little company about with muskets, double-barrelled guns, and assegais and "waited for what should happen." The following morning the King tempted them away with the friendliest of welcomes and gave them lodging and water at Wassaba, near the Royal Palace. His suggestion, however, that Isaaco should sleep separately from his people, was courteously but firmly declined. Indeed, Isaaco left nothing to chance. He first fortified the lodgings assigned to him, and then set out to find Sabila. But the King's spies who dogged his steps gave him the wrong directions, and at last he abandoned the quest. It seemed clear that Sabila did not wish him well. The next day the King sent word that he would like to see Isaaco. It had to be. Taking his life in his hands, as he had done a thousand times before, the old guide mounted his horse and rode off to the royal quarters. On the way, a friend whispered to him that he was betrayed; and on no account must he tell the King that he was bound with presents to the King of Sego; for there was not a being he hated and feared so much as that monarch, who usurped his rightful throne. "But," replied Isaaco, "he knows already I am bound there. To Sego I was sent and to Sego I must go unless force or death prevents." Arrived at the King's door, Isaaco was told that he was sleeping (yet another ruse) and that he must remain in the guard-room. It was then about sunset. For hours Isaaco waited, but the King slept on and not a soul of Isaaco's friends in the capital came to relieve his suspense. They knew he was marked down to die. "The only person," he writes, "who came to comfort me was a Griot, that is, a dancing woman. On leaving me she went, as I afterwards learned, to the Ambassadors of Sego and said to them: 'Oh! me, oh! me, my back is broke (which is an expression of sorrow among the Cassoukes). They are going to kill Isaaco.'"


Meantime, as the guards were dancing, singing, and drinking, Isaaco stole out unperceived and made good use of his time. To the keeper of the inn, with whom he had formerly stayed, and who had some influence with the King, he gave one of his wives' necklaces and seven grains of coral. From him he went to Madiguijou, a Counsellor of State, explained his mission to Sego, and hinted what Governor Maxwell would do if he were put to death. He even crept into Sabila's hut, and told him the same thing; but the chief of the slaves smiled and promised nothing. Isaaco plied him with more amber No. 1, but he "smiled and smiled and still remained a villain." Then Isaaco thought it wiser to get back into the guard-room, before the drunken soldiers grew sober and looked for him. In the morning he played his last card by getting into touch with the Ambassadors from Sego. These distinguished gentlemen were by no means eager to take on the burden of his protection, but Isaaco bade them know that the present which Mungo Park had promised King Mansong, he (Isaaco) was commissioned to bring to their King Dacha, his son. If they were determined to go without him, they might do so; but whether he lived or died they should hear of it at Sego. That fetched them. They were by no means pleased with the picture Isaaco drew of their sufferings, and proceeded to save themselves by saving him. As the King their master could simply eat up the King of Bambarra and his army at one swallow, they commanded the release of Isaaco and twenty men to conduct him on his way. At this peremptory message, King Figuing Coroba found it politic to wake, and summoned Isaaco to his presence. The latter obeyed, went through the highest salutations, and proffered a tin box by way of asking: "Is it peace?" But there was no sign of peace. The King suddenly lost his temper, raged at the King of Sego, and, swearing he would seize everything Isaaco possessed, hurled the tin box at his head. Isaaco discreetly withdrew, while Sabila promised to pour oil on the troubled waters. The next day Isaaco, not the least daunted, presented himself with the aforesaid tin box and in addition a quantity of amber, and gunpowder, and the horse Robert Ainsley had given him. Sabila was bribed once more, and the King's singer was won over with a snuff-box. At the sight of his share, the King's anger melted like wax, and he not only gave Isaaco leave to depart that same day, but promised an escort too.... Isaaco coolly answered that he was in no hurry and would wait a day or two—an exhibition of nerve that quite astonished the King. "You see," he said to Sabila, "Isaaco appears to be a courageous man. If he had been of a weak-spirited mind, he would have run away and left his things in my hands." To confirm his friendship, the King called up the heir to the throne, and made him swear protection to Isaaco, an oath which the Prince hinted should be cemented by the gift of a cousaba or shirt. But Isaaco delicately replied that he had none quite clean enough to present. When he returned to his own country, he swore to bring him a new one. So Isaaco triumphed and returned to his own people, who were mourning him as dead. Nor did he come empty-handed, for he met a man on the way who wanted a priestly charm or amulet (grisgris). Isaaco scribbled an Arabic prayer on a leaf and received a bullock in exchange. This he slaughtered forthwith, feasted his large family, and made a sacrifice of thanksgiving to his god.


Three days after this distressing delay, Isaaco set out for Sego, and was brought in safety to the end of the Bambarra dominions. For further guidance he then hired four promising natives; but, having landed the party in the midst of a gloomy forest, they grew superstitious and ran away. "I was much disappointed," says the mild Isaaco, "at their behavior." More likely he was speechless with rage.[4] But there was nothing to do but to press on, and that they did through forest and desert to the lakes of Chicare and Tirium. As they reached the mud-walled village of Giangounta, one of the fatting pigs, which were to be given to King Dacha, became too fat to carry. Isaaco begged the chief of the village to look after it until it could be fetched, but he objected, "being afraid to take charge of an unknown animal." However, Isaaco explained all about its ways, wrote a grisgris to ward off all evil, and dumped it on the still-astonished hamlet. Thence over more lakes by canoe, through Toucha, where they found the trees from which African gunpowder was made, and by a great pyramid with a large stone on its head, where the murderous Moors lie in wait. Going by night to avoid them, Isaaco did not till day discover that one of his servants had made off with his box of jewellery and his one and only cousaba. Then he swore as only a Mohammedan priest can, and rode after the thief. In three days he was back with the felon, whose death penalty he postponed for a time on condition that he carried the remaining pig into Sego. At Sannanba, Isaaco found again the sister and the wife he had left there five years before. He seems to have quite forgotten them; but they had faithfully waited his return, knowing that nothing would kill him. It was from them that he first learnt that Mungo Park was dead. They had seen Alhaji Beraim,[5] who had been shown the canoe in the country of Haoussa, where Park met his end. However, Isaaco was determined to go on and learn for himself on the spot. So he dismissed his sister with a piece of muslin, took on the wife, and released the prisoner, for (he says) "I was certain, once in the King's power, he would be put to death." At Counnow, a little further along the road, Isaaco came upon "an enormous large tree inhabited by a large number of bats. Another such tree lies on the west of the village, likewise full of bats; but what is most extraordinary, the bats of the east constantly go at night to the west, and return to the east at the approach of day; those of the west never go to the east. And the natives say their lawful King (Figuing Coroba who had been driven out to the petty kingdom of Bambarra) lies upon the west."

Impressing four men of every district to carry the pig to the next, Isaaco journeyed on through Dedougou, Issicord, and five other villages, all deserted. At Yamina, one of the women slaves whom Isaaco had redeemed, and who had followed his expedition, found her long-lost husband. There was much rejoicing and dancing and exchange of presents all round. Then after crossing the Niger at Jolliba, they struck Sego Coro, the ancient palace of the kings, where to that day (and possibly to this) the King resorted when war was declared, to have his amulets prepared, and don his forefathers' armor. There, too, the royal prisoners were wont to be brought for confinement until the fasting moon, and then cruelly murdered in the House of Death. For eight days after it was against the law for anyone to pass the house without putting off his hat and shoes. In the reign of the great warrior-king, Walloo, not a moon passed without the sacrifice of blood.


The next day Isaaco was summoned to the presence of the King, who scented his presents from afar. Indeed the royal message was concerned only with the pigs: they were to be brought in the same ingenious manner by which Isaaco had tied them for transit. In this fashion then, with the swine, like peace-offerings, suspended in advance, Isaaco's motley company, begrimed with eight months' travel, came straggling into Sego.

Encircled with his companies of guards, "young, strong, and beardless," the great King Dacha squatted on the ground. Behind and beside him, standing upright in the earth, glittered the four broadswords which Mungo Park had given. As a sign that he had loosed his hounds of war, the King was dressed in his military coat, shining with countless amulets of gold. In the wild flaming sky burned the remnants of the storm which had just driven him back from Douabougou. So squatted King Dacha, and with royal impassive face, showing no mark of the boiling curiosity within, stared at those unknown animals, the swine. Hard on their heels shuffled Isaaco, himself also on all fours in a deep obeisance. Behind him the bearers of the inevitable bribes: a drum, two blunderbusses, a bed, a piece of scarlet cloth, and a solitary dog. (There should have been another, but it had bolted far back at Mariancounda.) Then said Isaaco: "Maxwell, Governor of Senegal, salutes you and sends his compliments to you. Here is the present your father asked of Mr. Park and which he promised to send him." "Is the Governor well?" asked Dacha. "Yes," replied Isaaco, "he is well and desired me to beg your assistance to discover what has become of Mr. Park. We would know if he is dead or alive." After these civilities they fell to business, and Isaaco bargained for a canoe to row as far as needful down the Niger. The King hesitated over the Governor's offer of two hundred bars, for was he not far enough away to break his word? But when the two pigs got loose and waddled about, he became as happy as a child, and was no more trouble to Isaaco. To confirm his goodwill, he killed a bullock for him, and begged him to remain as his guest throughout the remainder of that moon. After a fortnight's festivities, Isaaco was preparing to depart, when the King's mind was suddenly turned another way. A message was brought in that the Prince of Timbuctoo was at hand and desired an audience. King Dacha scowled. Then he leapt to his feet, summoned his 600 guards, and went out in full war-paint to meet him. The Prince rode up airily and said: "Being a friend of your father, I thought it my duty to let you know of my coming to take a wife, promised to me in your tribe." "And why," asked Dacha in his dreadful voice, "why have you permitted the people of your country to plunder one of my caravans, and why did you yourself plunder another?"

With no more said, the King returned to his kraal. It was from others the Prince learned that the merchants of the caravans had denounced him before the King, that his betrothed had been given to another, and that he was in danger of being plundered of his life. With almost indecent haste he despatched three horses to the King, gave pieces of colored stuff to all the captains of the guards, and slunk back ashamed to Timbuctoo. But King Dacha was so furiously enraged, he could neither stay in his kraal nor allow Isaaco to take leave. Away he rode to Impelbara and Banangcoro, with Isaaco trailing behind, very much out of temper and somewhat out of breath. It seemed, as the chief slave tried to explain, that when the King was angry, he pacified himself by visiting his children. Apparently he visited his wrath on them. Isaaco groaned and wondered how many there might be, and in what score of villages they dwelt apart. But he cheered up when they told him the legitimate children were six. There had been more, but by an ancient law of Sego, if a male child was born of one of the King's wives upon a Friday, its throat was cut immediately. This had accounted for three. After a decent interval, Isaaco made it known to the King that he also was very angry, and demanded to have his canoe and go after Mungo Park. The King then sent for him, apologized for forgetting all about him, and pointed in justification to the pigs, which, like a good father, he had brought along to please the children. He himself could hardly keep his eyes off such fat and unusually happy creatures. The next day Isaaco pressed the bargain, and, though it was Friday, steered away in the King's canoe for Sansanding, where he had parted from Mungo Park. And then, with the prospect of hundreds of miles in hostile country before him, he had a stroke of good fortune; for in the next village of Medina, whom should he run against but Amady Fatouma! As one might expect, Isaaco nailed him to the spot with a hundred questions. Poor Amady began to weep. "They are all dead," he sobbed. Isaaco demanded to know when and where and why. "They are all dead," the guide repeated. "They are lost for ever. It is no use asking. It is no good looking for what is irrecoverably lost." Like a sensible man, Isaaco checked the ardor of his curiosity. It certainly was hopeless to ply Amady with questions; his tears threatened to flood the Niger; it was not safe to stay there. So Isaaco gave him a day or two to subside, and arranged a meeting higher up the river.


Amady's tale has often been printed, and there is no need here to repeat anything but essentials; his padding is even more woolly than Isaaco's. In the great canoe,[6] which Isaaco had helped to load before departing, Mungo Park rowed away on November 17th, 1805, with the survivors of his company of forty, namely, four white men and five Negroes, including Amady, for crew. From the very outset the voyage proved unpropitious. Almost every village they passed on the river bank came out against them in canoes, armed with bows and arrows, pikes and assegais. Each member of the crew kept fifteen muskets in action; to kill and kill was the only chance of forcing a passage through. There was no Isaaco to try the magic of conciliation. Once indeed, when they had beaten off sixty canoes with appalling slaughter, Amady ventured to remonstrate. "Martin," he said, taking hold of his arm, "let us cease firing: we have killed too many already." "On which," he comments, "Martin wanted to kill me and would have done so had not Mr. Park intervened." The troubles thickened. The news of their coming had evidently been spread in advance. Just beyond Gotoigega they encountered a whole army, comprised of the Poule nation, such beasts themselves, that (says Amady) they possess no beasts of any other kind. They were suffered to go by in ominous silence—only to fall foul of a squadron of hippopotami, who nearly washed them over. At an island just beyond, Amady was landed to forage for milk; but there was no milk to be had, not even the milk of human kindness. The natives took him prisoner and decided he should be done to death. But Mungo Park was watching; and by a fortunate chance two canoes full of natives, bringing fresh provisions for sale, had come alongside at that moment. Mungo Park made it abundantly clear that he would kill every man-jack of them if a hair of Amady's head were touched. So the prisoners were exchanged. It was a narrow escape for Amady; and the uneasiness it caused was increased by the constant cries from the shore, "Amady Fatouma, how can you pass through our country without giving us anything?" "I seriously promised," he observed, "never to pass there again without making considerable charitable donations to the poor." As they came to the frontiers of Haoussa another large army of Moors watched them from a mountain. Fortunately they had no fire-arms, and could do no harm. On reaching Yaour, the first place of any size in Haoussa, Amady was landed, as his bargain was to bring the party only so far. In addition to his pay, he conveyed Mungo Park's presents to the King; but, instead of delivering these in person, gave them to the Chieftain of Yaour, who promised to forward them. A little slip, it seems, but fraught with deadly consequence. The Chieftain, finding out from Mungo Park that he did not intend to return that way, determined to keep the presents for himself. The next morning, as Amady was paying his court to the King and expecting the presents to come, two horsemen rode in from Yaour and said: "We are sent from the Chief to let you know that the white men went away without giving you or him anything. They have a great many things with them and have given nothing. This Amady Fatouma now before you is a bad man, and has made a fool of you." Poor Amady was forthwith put in irons and all his goods confiscated, with the exception of his Arabic charms, which they dared not touch. The next morning the King sent his army to Boussa and posted it on a rock which straddled the width of the river, leaving only a narrow opening for the current to race through. Mungo Park, seeing the danger, nevertheless resolved to force a passage. But the odds were terrific. It took half the men to keep the canoe moving against the current, while the rest fired at the enemy as they hurled stones and assegais upon their heads. At last the two steersmen were slain, and the canoe went adrift. In a desperate attempt to lighten it, they cast all the baggage into the river, but still could make no headway. Overpowered by numbers and fatigue, and with no chance of killing a whole army, they saw but one hope of escape—namely, to make for the shore and get away into the bush. Taking hold of one of the white men, Mungo Park leapt into the river, Martin, with another white man, following after; but, fine swimmers as they were, the current proved too strong for them and all four were drowned. The one Negro left in the canoe surrendered, and both he and the canoe were dragged to shore and carried to the King.

After being kept three months in irons, Amady was released and in part consoled with a concubine. But he made it his first business before departing to visit the slave taken in the canoe, and learn from him the sad details of Mungo Park's destruction. The only thing that was found in the canoe after its capture was a sword belt which the King used as a saddle-girth for his horse.


Such was Amady Fatouma's tale, that Isaaco had journeyed for nine months to hear. And as he was a "good, honest, and upright man" and had sworn truth upon the Koran, there was nothing to do but believe and carry back the mournful tidings. To make "assurance double sure," Isaaco sent to Yaour a native who bribed a slave girl to steal the sword belt from the king's charger. Then, passing homeward through Sego, he told the news to Dacha, who was so furious that he despatched his army to wipe the country of Haoussa off the face of the earth. But Isaaco set his face for Senegal, to exchange his Arabic Journal for a thousand pounds.



[1] Extract from The Cream of Curiosity, by Reginald L. Hine, 1920, pp. 291-316.

[2] To this day no news has reached England of Isaaco's death, and indeed after all he survived it seems impossible that he should ever die.

[3] Isaaco was better able to appreciate their music than Mungo Park. In one item of his accounts, the latter writes: "To the native singers for singing their nonsense."

[4] It must be remembered that Isaaco was writing a government report and careful to suppress all signs of indecorum. What a heap of money one would give to possess his private, unexpurgated journal!

[5] A priest of Yaour to whom Amady Fatouma, the guide, had given a small present from Mungo Park.

[6] Mansong had sold it to Park for a quantity of firearms. It was half rotten and took eighteen days to make water-tight. Forty feet long by six broad and flat-bottomed. They christened it "His Majesty's Schooner Joliba."


Mr. A. A. Taylor, who contributed the article on Negro Congressmen a Generation After in the April number, recently received from Mr. Henry A. Wallace, a participant in the Reconstruction in South Carolina, the following important letter:

326 Flower St., Chester, Pa., April 19, 1922.


The West Virginia Collegiate Institute, Institute, W. Va.

Dear Sir: I am still confined to the house, not having been outside since the last week of December. When we get some good sunshiny weather I will venture out. I am writing this to let you know how much I enjoyed reading your very interesting article "Negro Congressmen a Generation After," in the April number of The Journal of Negro History. This article and Dr. Woodson's "Fifty Years of Negro Citizenship as Qualified by the United States Supreme Court" are worth the subscription price to The Journal.

As your article is now in permanent form and no doubt will be quoted frequently, there are one or two little slips that I would like to invite your attention to, feeling that you, like myself, believe in accuracy.

On page 130, foot note relative to Mr. Rainey you have not included his service in the 41st Congress. He was seated in that Congress on December 12, 1870, to succeed Mr. Whittemore, who was unseated on account of a serious charge brought against him. Mr. Rainey was the first Negro Congressman. Mr. Long was seated in the same Congress, but later—January 16, 1871. This would give Mr. Rainey a record of five Congresses. On the same page (130) foot note relative to General Smalls, you have him as a member of five Congresses. My record does not show him a member of the 47th Congress. Mr. Rainey holds the record for length of service. In connection with Mr. Rainey's record I will state that he was the only one of the Negro congressmen who presided over the House of Representatives, that courtesy was extended to him by Speaker Blaine. Altho the House was democratic he was honored by the Republican caucus at one time for Clerkship of the House, showing the esteem in which he was held by his colleagues, after he retired from the House. Page 134—High Hollow Academy should be High Holborn Academy. On the same page, foot note, it is stated that Gen. Elliott resigned from Congress to accept the office of sheriff. While Gen. Elliott had his official residence in Aiken county, he and Mrs. Elliott had their home in Columbia, one of the show places of the city. I cannot conceive of him resigning the position of congressman to accept the insignificant office of sheriff of the small county of Aiken. He resigned in order to go to the House of Representatives at Columbia for the purpose of being elected Speaker of that body, and he succeeded. The other time he resigned was for the purpose of being a candidate for the U. S. Senatorship, but the Pennsylvania R. R. interests put John J. Patterson, who was a Cameron protege, over. Had he been elected sheriff of Aiken county it would have necessitated his living there.

On page 139—"From the year 1871—the period of service of the first Negro in Congress" should be 1870—Rainey, Dec. 12, 1870.

The greatest compliment I think that was ever paid to a Negro by a prominent white man was that by Benjamin F. Butler, the distinguished Union General, afterwards Governor of Massachusetts, and who had charge of Sumner's civil rights bill in the House of Representatives. In the prefatory remarks to his speech on the day following the great speech made by Gen. Elliott on the same bill, he said:

"I should have considered more at length the constitutional argument, were it not for the exhaustive presentation by the gentleman from South Carolina (Mr. Elliott) of the law, and the only law quoted against us in this case that has been cited, to wit, the Slaughter-House cases. He, with the true instinct of freedom, with a grasp of mind that shows him to be the peer of any man on this floor, be he who he may, has given the full strength and full power of that decision of the Supreme Court."

Garfield, Cannon, Frye, Hale, Hawley, Hoar (Geo. F.), Platt, Dawes, Phelps, Lamar, Beck, Stephens (A. H.), Randall, Mills, Cox, and Barnum, were among the prominent members of the House at that time, many of whom afterwards reached the Senate, and Garfield, the presidency. General Butler was considered one of the great constitutional lawyers of that period.

The following relative to Senator Bruce and Mr. Langston may interest you if you have not already heard of the incidents:

It is always customary when a new Senator appears with his credentials for his colleague to escort him to the Vice-President's desk to be sworn in. When Senator Bruce presented himself, his colleague, Senator Alcorn, was not present. Senator Roscoe Conkling taking in the situation, walked over to Senator Bruce and escorted him up the aisle and the oath was administered. For this gracious act Senator Bruce named his son, recently of Washington, after the distinguished senator from New York.

As Mr. Venable, the democrat, was given the certificate of election by the Virginia officials for the Congressional seat, Mr. Langston made the contest. The Committee on privileges and elections voted in favor of Mr. Langston. When the time set for action on the case arrived, the whole democratic membership withdrew from the House, thinking that they would catch the Republicans napping and without a quorom, the republican majority being small. The Republicans, however, got wind of what the Democrats were doing and had all of their members rounded up. They not only seated Mr. Langston but the chairman of the elections committee took advantage of the absence of the Democrats and called up the case of Miller versus Elliott from South Carolina and then seated Miller, though the case was not slated for that time. The feelings of the Democrats can be better imagined than described when they returned to the House and found two of their colleagues unseated and two Negro Congressmen seated in their places. The Democrats never again resorted to such tactics.

Very respectfully, HENRY A. WALLACE.


The following extracts from the Daily Record, Greensboro, North Carolina, February 2nd and 3rd, 1911, setting forth the reminiscences of Captain Ball, a participant in the Reconstruction of the Southern States, gives valuable information as to the troublous times of that period:

New York, Feb. 2.—I have now told nearly all of the authenticated facts concerning the Stephens murder; the rest is merely speculative. There have been stories coming from the negroes which are interesting, even if not strictly true. A negro has quite an imagination. I will relate some of these stories, without expressing an opinion, leaving others to decide as to their accuracy and naturalness.

Much of what follows comes from Governor Holden, at the time an aged man, retired (perhaps not voluntarily) from public life. The tendency of his political opinions in his later years was toward "Conservation." I called upon him in February, 1885 (twenty-six years ago) and took notes of what he said, because of its inherent interest. His memory was clear and comprehensive. While governor—he was elected by the Republicans in 1868—and before his impeachment and removal from office by the Democratic legislature of 1870, he sought to unravel the mysteries of the Kuklux brotherhoods; and tried in every way to discover the perpetrators of the Stephens assassination.

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