Commentary about Emancipation Proclamation Begins

September 23, 1862

The reaction to the release on Monday of the Preliminary Emancipation Proclamation begins to reach the White House.  From New York, Senator Preston King wrote: “You have made me very glad to day in reading your Proclamation which reached here this morning.”  One North Carolina native, B.S. Hedrick, writes President Lincoln: “Permit me to thank you on behalf of myself, and such Southern men as have been for the Union first, last and all the time, for your Proclamation of yesterday.1 The measures there indicated will end the rebellion. All that is further necessary is that the people shall heartily cooperate for carrying into effect those measures. I am a southerner, but I trust one not unduly prejudiced. I have carefully studied the events which preceded as well as those which have followed the out-break of the insurrection. I have always desired that as much as possible the war should not be against the Southern States or people, but against the offending portion of them, that is against Slavery. The power of the Gov’t can be restored only by the humbling, or the extinction of Slavery as an organized institution.”   Even Postmaster General Montgomery Blair, who had argued against the timing of the proclamation, wrote President Lincoln: “Upon consideration I think it best not to file the paper spoken of yesterday.1 For though it shows that I only questioned the expediency of the proclamation at this moment it may if filed & the fact escapes be supposed to be of a different character.”

Meanwhile, Attorney General Edward Bates, himself a Missouri resident, write President Lincoln about conditions in that state: “The State of Missouri is, at this moment, in a trying crisis. It is notorious that the Enemy is preparing an army, in Arkansas & farther South & west, for the invasion of Missouri, with the avowed purpose of penetrating the Country to the Missouri River, and occupying the State the coming winter.

This state of facts has, as the crafty enemy designed, stimulated the malcontents of Missouri, and they are ready to rise, at the first advance of the invading army.

To meet this emergency, the Governor of the State has promptly enrolled and reorganized the whole body of the loyal militia, all of whom are held subject to instant duty, “to suppress the insurrection and repel the invasion.” The danger is extreme, and the cry for help brooks no delay.

Under these circumstances, I come once more Sir, earnestly to entreat you to grant such aid, not to Missouri only, but to the whole South West, as lies clearly within your own power — to grant an order for the continuation of the of the S. W. Branch of the Pacific Railroad, from Rolla to Lebanon, through the Ozark Mountains. [A draft of an order for that purpose, is herewith presented.]1 This is a military necessity, not only for the defence of Missouri, but also obviously important as an efficient means of supporting the power of the Government, in Western Arkansas and Louisiana, Eastern Texas and the Indian tribes. And, to prove that it is a military necessity, I can produce to you the autograph letters of Major Generals Halleck, Sigel, Sherman and Pope.

Although, in the month of July last, when Genl Halleck was new in the chief command, I knew that he did decline to take the responsibility of asking you to issue such an order, still I entertained the hope that, under the altered circumstances of the Country and the increased necessity of the case, he would freely do it now. Consequently, I waited upon Genl Halleck, and again requested his concurrence in the measure. But he refused, and astonished me by saying (in substance) that he was not the judge of the propriety or impropriety of building a Railroad — that it was none of his business — that it belonged to the President!

Last July, I urged this matter upon you, with all the earnestness of a conscientious conviction; and you then, in delicate respect for the “General in Chief”, referred the question to Genl Halleck– He now, throws it back to you.

President Lincoln remains the court of last resort for those having problems with the government.   He orders that  Mr. Garton, who “is represented to me by good authority to have done valuable service for the Government, and to have made many sacrifices. I think his account is a very reasonable one and ought to be paid. Let no merely technical objection stand in the way of the payment.”

Published in: on September 23, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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