From the manuscript letters and memoranda we glean more fully the modifications of the amendments proposed by the several members of the Cabinet.
Continuing Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation,
with a selection from Abraham Lincoln, A History by John Hay and by John G. Nicolay published in 1890. For works benefiting from the latest research see the “More information” section at the bottom of these pages. This selection is presented in 7 installments, each one 5 minutes long.
Previously in Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation.
Time: 1862 – 1863
Place: The White House
It will be remembered that when the President proposed emancipation on the 22d of July, and again when he announced emancipation on the 22d of September, he informed his Cabinet that he had decided the main matter for himself and that he asked their advice only upon subordinate points. In now taking up the subject for the third and final review there was neither doubt nor hesitation in regard to the central policy and act about to be consummated. But there were several important minor questions upon which, as before, he wished the advice of his Cabinet, and it was to present these in concise form for discussion that he wrote his draft and furnished each of them a copy on the 30th of December, as Mr. Welles relates. This draft, omitting its mere routine phraseology and quotations from the former proclamation, continued as follows:
Now therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested, as Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority and Government of the United States, and as a proper and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion, do on this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and in accordance with my intention so to do, publicly proclaimed for one hundred days as aforesaid, order and designate as the States and parts of States in which the people thereof respectively are this day in rebellion against the United States the following, to wit : Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, except the Parishes of Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of . . . .
And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose afore said, I do order, and declare, that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward forever shall be free ; and that the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons, and will do no act, or acts, to repress said persons, or any of them, in any suitable efforts they may make for their actual free dom. And I hereby appeal to the people so declared to be free to abstain from all disorder, tumult, and violence, unless in necessary self-defense ; and in all cases, when allowed, to labor faithfully for wages.
And I farther declare, and make known, that such persons of suitable condition will be received into the armed service of the United States to garrison and defend forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service.
It will be seen that this draft presented for discussion, in addition to mere verbal criticism, the question of defining the fractional portions of Virginia and Louisiana under Federal control and the yet more important policy, now for the first time announced by the President, of his intention to incorporate a portion of the newly liberated slaves into the armies of the Union. Mr. Welles’s diary for Wednesday, December 31, 1862, thus continues:
We had an early and special Cabinet meeting — convened at 10 a. m. The subject was the proclamation of to-morrow to emancipate the slaves in the rebel States. Seward proposed two amendments. One included mine, and one enjoining upon, instead of appealing to, those emancipated to for bear from tumult. Blair had, like Seward and myself, proposed the omission of a part of a sentence and made other suggestions which I thought improvements. Chase made some good criticisms and proposed a felicitous closing sentence. The President took the suggestions, written in order, and said he would complete the document.”
From the manuscript letters and memoranda we glean more fully the modifications of the amendments proposed by the several members of the Cabinet. The changes suggested in Mr. Seward’s note were all verbal, and were three in number. First: Following the declaration that ” the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons,” he proposed to omit the further words which had been used in the September proclamation, “and will do no act, or acts, to repress said persons, or any of them, in any suitable efforts they may make for their actual freedom.” Mr. Welles had suggested the same change. Second: The next sentence, which read, “And I hereby appeal to the people so declared to be free to abstain from all disorder,” etc., Mr. Seward proposed should read, ” And I hereby command and require the people so declared to be free to abstain from all disorder,” etc. Third: The phrase, “and in all cases, when allowed, to labor faithfully for wages,” he proposed should read, ” and I do recommend to them in all cases, when allowed, to labor faithfully for just and reasonable wages.”
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