September 24, 1862
“The President wrote the Proclamation on Sunday morning carefully,” wrote aide John Hay. “He called the Cabinet together on Monday made a little talk to them…and read the momentous document. Mr. Blair and Mr. Bates made objections, otherwise the Cabinet was unanimous. The next day Mr. Blair who had promised to file his objections, sent a note stating that as his objections were only to the time of the act he would not file them, lest they should be subject to misconstruction.” Hay added: “I told the President of the Serenade that was coming and asked if he would make any remarks. He said, no, but he did say half a dozen words & said them with great grace and dignity. I spoke to him about the editorials in the leading papers. He said he had studied the matter so long that he knew more about it than they did.
In response to a large evening serenade by Washington residents – accompanied by a band — at the White House, President Lincoln said: “I appear before you to do little more than acknowledge the courtesy you pay me, and to thank you for it. I have not been distinctly informed why it is in this occasion you appear to do me this honor, though I suppose [interruptions] it is because of the proclamation. [Cries of ‘Good,’ and applause.] I was about to say, I suppose I understand it. [Laughter–Voices: ‘That you do,’ ‘You thoroughly understand it.’] What I did, I did after very full deliberation, and under a very heavy and solemn sense of responsibility [Cries of ‘Good,’ ‘Good,’ ‘Bless you,’ and applause.]”
I can only trust in God I have made no mistake. [Cries ‘No mistake–al right; you ‘ve made no mistakes yet. Go ahead, you’re right.’] I shall make no attempt on this occasion to sustain what I have done or said by any comment. [Voices–‘That’s unnecessary; we understand it.’] It is now for the country and the world to pass judgement on it, and, may be, take action upon it. I will say no more upon this subject. In my position I am environed with difficulties. [A voice–‘That’s so.’]
Yet they are scarcely so great as the difficulties of those who, upon the battle field, are endeavoring to purchase with their blood and their lives the future happiness and prosperity of this country. [Applause, long and continued.] Let us never forget them. On the 14th and 17th days of the present month there have been battles bravely, skillfully and successfully fought. [Applause.] We do not yet know the particulars, we do no injustice to others. I only ask you, at the conclusion of these few remarks, to give three hearty cheers to all good and brave officers and men who fought those successful battles.
A morning cabinet meeting focused a program to colonize freed blacks outside the United States. Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase writes in his diary: “The President called a special meeting of the Cabinet to-day, and asked our judgments on two questions:
First, as to the expediency of Treaties with Governments desiring their immigration, for voluntary colonization of blacks.”
Second, As to the proper answer to be returned to the letter from John Ross, excusing the Treaty of the Chero kees with the Rebels, and asking the protection of the United States and the fulfilment of old Treaties.
On the first question, there was the usual diversity of opinion. I not thinking Colonization in its self desirable, except as a means of getting a foothold in Central America,” thought no Treaties expedient; but simple arrangements, under the legislation of Congress by which any person who might choose to emigrate, would be secured in such advantages as might be offered them by other States or Governments. Seward rather favored Treaties, but evidently did not think much of the wisdom of any measures for sending out of the country laborers needed here. The President asked us to think of the subject, and be ready to express our opinions when we next come together.
As to the Cherokee question there seemed to be a general concurrence that no new pledges should be given them but that, at the end of the war, their condition and relation to the United States should have just consideration.