The criticisms submitted by Mr. Chase were quite long and full, and since they suggested the most distinctive divergence from the President’s plan . . . .
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
The criticisms submitted by Mr. Chase were quite long and full, and since they suggested the most distinctive divergence from the President’s plan, namely, that of making no exceptions of fractional portions of States, except the forty-eight counties of West Virginia, his letter needs to be quoted in full:
In accordance with your verbal direction of yesterday I most respectfully submit the following observations in respect to the draft of a proclamation designating the States and parts of States within which the proclamation of September 22, 1862, is to take effect according to the terms thereof.
I. It seems to me wisest to make no exception of parts of States from the operation of the proclamation save the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia. My reasons are these:
1. Such exceptions will impair, in public estimation, the moral effect of the proclamation, and invite censure which it would be well, if possible, to avoid.
2. Such exceptions must necessarily be confined to some few parishes and counties in Louisiana and Virginia, and can have no practically useful effect. Through the operation of various acts of Congress the slaves of disloyal masters in those parts are already enfranchised, and the slaves of loyal masters are practically so. Some of the latter have already commenced paying wages to their laborers, formerly slaves; and it is to be feared that if, by these exceptions, slavery is practically reestablished in favor of some masters, while abolished by laws and by the necessary effect of military occupation as to others, very serious inconveniences may arise.
3. No intimation of exceptions of this kind is given in the September proclamation, nor does it appear that any intimations otherwise given have been taken into account by those who have participated in recent elections, or that any exceptions of their particular localities are desired by them.
II. I think it would be expedient to omit from the proposed proclamation the declaration that the Executive Government of the United States will do no act to repress the enfranchised in any efforts they may make for their, actual freedom. This clause in the September proclamation has been widely quoted as an incitement to servile insurrection. In lieu of it, and for the purpose of shaming these misrepresentations, I think it would be well to insert some such clause as this: “not encouraging or countenancing, however, any disorderly or licentious con duct.” If this alteration is made, the appeal to the enslaved may, properly enough, be omitted. It does not appear to be necessary, and may furnish a topic to the evil-disposed for censure and ridicule.
III. I think it absolutely certain that the rebellion can in no way be so certainly, speedily, and economically sup pressed as by the organized military force of the loyal population of the insurgent regions, of whatever complexion. In no way can irregular violence and servile insurrection be so surely prevented as by the regular organization and regular military employment of those who might otherwise probably resort to such courses. Such organization is now in successful progress, and the concurrent testimony of all connected with the colored regiments in Louisiana and South Carolina is that they are brave, orderly, and efficient. General Butler declares that without his colored regiments he could not have at tempted his recent important movements in the Lafourche region; and General Saxton bears equally explicit testimony to the good conduct and efficiency of the colored troops recently sent on an expedition along the coast of Georgia. Considering these facts, it seems to me that it would be best to omit from the proclamation all reference to the military employment of the enfranchised population, leaving it to the natural course of things already well begun ; or to state distinctly that, in order to secure the suppression of the rebellion without servile insurrection or licentious marauding, such numbers of the population declared free as may be found convenient will be employed in the military and naval service of the United States.
Finally, I respectfully suggest, that on an occasion of such interest, there can be no just imputation of affectation against a solemn recognition of responsibility before men and before God; and that some such close as follows will be proper:
And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice warranted by the Constitution, and of duty demanded by the circumstances of the country, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God.”
It is not remembered whether Mr. Stanton, Secretary of War, was present at the Cabinet meeting, but he appears to have left no written memorandum of his suggestions, if he offered any. Stanton was preeminently a man of action, and the probability is that he agreed to the President’s draft without amendment. The Cabinet also lacked one member of being complete. Caleb B. Smith, Secretary of the Interior, had lately been transferred to the vacant bench of the United States District Court of Indiana, and his successor, John P. Usher, was not appointed until about a week after the date of which we write.
The memorandum of Mr. Blair, Postmaster-General, proposed a condensation of several of the paragraphs in the President’s draft, as follows:
I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States and parts of States shall be free; and that the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons. And, in order that they may render all the aid they are willing to give to this object and to the support of the Government, authority will be given to receive them into the service whenever they can be usefully employed, and they may be armed to garrison forts, to defend positions and stations, and to man vessels. And I appeal to them to show themselves worthy of freedom by fidelity and diligence in the employments which may be given to them, by the observance of order, and by abstaining from all violence not required by duty or for self-defense. It is due to them to say that the conduct of large numbers of these people since Blair the war began justifies confidence in their fidelity and humanity generally.”
We want to take this site to the next level but we need money to do that. Please contribute directly by signing up at https://www.patreon.com/history