President Meets and Greets and Has His Hand Examined

September 25, 1862

A busy day at the White House as President Lincoln continues to receive expressions of support for the Emancipation Proclamation.  A delegation from New York Association of Congregational Churches, including famed preacher Henry Ward Beecher, presents a resolution of support.  Another visitor is former Massachusetts Senator Edward Everett, who will be the headline speaker at the dedication of the Gettysburg National Cemetary on November 19, 1863. Dr. Isachar Zacharie visited the White House to treat the President for sprain he had suffered while horseback riding earlier in the month.  A few months later, Lincoln would declare: “My chiropodist is a Jew, and he has so many times ‘put me on my feet’ that I would have no objection to giving his countrymen ‘a leg up.”‘

Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase writes in his diary: “”Saw the President, and asked him his opinion of [General John] McClernand  Said he thought him brave and capable, but too desirous to be independent of every body else.” Attorney General Edwin Bates writes President Lincoln a memo regarding plans for colonization: “The President having submitted to all the Heads of Departments, the question of the propriety of seeking to make treaties with American Governments within the tropics, and the European Powers which have Colonies within the tropics, with the view to obtain safe and convenient places of refuge for the free colored population of this Country – as well those who are already free, as those who may become free, by the operations of the war – I have thought it best present, in writing, a brief synopsis of my views.

First.  I am clearly of opinion that it is wise and humane to form such treaties with all of those Powers, or as many of them as will agree to our terms.  The more the better, both for the Government and the individual emigrants, because it enlarges the range of choice, and the inducements and opportunities for both.

Second.  I think that such treaties ought to be single, confined to that one object, so as to avoid, if possible, all other debateable questions, and all disturbing elements.  And I think it would be desirable, to have inserted a clause (if that may be) to preserve the treaty from abrogation, in case of a future war.

Third.  Such treaties ought, of course, to be mutually beneficial to the contracting parties – i.e. to the foreign Governments, by offering a supply of population and labor, such as they desire; and to us, by mitigating our embar[r]assment on account of that same population – drawing off at once, a portion of that population, and enlarging and multiplying the channels of trade and friendly intercourse, so as greatly to accelerate that drainage in the future.

But besides that, and to secure than end, such treaties ought carefully, to provide for the just and humane treatment of emigrants – e.g. ensuring an honest livelihood by their own industry, either in the voluntary service of others, or upon their own land, or both; and guaranteeing to them ‘their liberty, property and the religion which they profess.’”

Fourth.  We ought,, I think, to open as many channels, and offer as many inducements for the egress of that population, as possible, to the end of satisfying the judgment, and gratifying the wishes and even the whims, of the various classes of emigrants, and of all the diversities of our own people , who are disposed, in any manner, to advance the great enterprise.

Fifth.  Simple emigration is free; for I do no know of any foreigh States whose laws prohibit men, only because they are negro[e]s from coming in, acquiring a domicil[e] among the people, owning property, and establishing a civil and social status.  Among our colored people who have been long free, there are many who are intelligent and well advanced in arts and knowledge, and a few, who are ebucated [sic] and able men.  These are free to go where they please, in foreign countries (though it has been guessed by some of our politicians, who are wiser than the constitution, that this government has no power to grant them passports for their protection, in foreign parts.

This class is excellently qualified and might be efficiently used, for guides, instructors, and protectors of those of their race who are fresh from the plantations of the South, where they have been long degraded by the total abolition of the family relation, shrouded in artificial darkness, and studiously kept in ignorance, by state policy and statute law.

Sixth.  I think that those of our blacks who go forth under our present efforts, should go as emigrants, not as colonists.  A colony, in modern political law, means a dependency of the mother country, entitled to its protection and subject to its sovereign power.  Emigrants, on the contrary, are incorporated, as individuals into the body politic which they enter, and are no longer subjects of their former sovereigns.  They may still have the sympathies of their former country, but have no right to appeal to its power for protection, except upon grounds of international comity, and of treaty stipulations, made in their favor.

General George B. McClellan writes his wife: “We are so near the mountains that it is quite cold at night…I think the health of our men is improving much — they look a great deal better than they did on the Peninsula — eyes look brighter — & faces better…

My plans are easily given — for I really do not know whether I am to do as I choose or not. I shall keep on doing what seems best until brought up with a round turn — then I’ll kick up my heels.  My own judgment is to watch the line of the Potomac until the water rises, then to concentrate everything near Harper’s Ferry — reorganize the army as promptly as possible & then if secesh remains near Winchester to attack him — if he retires to follow him up & attack him near Richmond…

It is very doubtful whether I shall remain in the service after the rebels have left this vicinity.  The Presdt’s late Proclamation, the continuation of Stanton & Halleck in office render it almost impossible for me to retain my commission & self respect at the same time.  I cannot make up my mind to fight for such an accursed doctrine as that of a servile insurrection — it is too infamous.  Stanton is as great a villain as ever& Halleck as great a fool — he has no brains whatever!….

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