Emancipation Riles Border State Representatives

November 21, 1862

President Lincoln is informed by former Wisconsin Governor Alexander Randall of the controversy in Kentucky over the refusal of Army Captain William Utley to return a fugitive slave to editor George Robertson.   A Kentucky delegation also met with him.  The New York Tribune reported: “On Friday President Lincoln, in the course of an interview with unconditional Union Kentuckians, discussed at length the question of Emancipation. He said that he would rather die than take back a word of the Proclamation of Freedom, and he dwelt upon the advantages to the Border States of his scheme for the gradual abolishment of Slavery, which he urged them to bring fairly before their people.

They assured him that it should be done. They propose to start two Emancipation journals in Kentucky to counteract the influence of the Louisville papers, and when the proper time comes, Congressman Casey, Judge Williams, and perhaps Joseph Holt also will canvass the State. They are confident of achieving a success equal to that of the Missouri Emancipationists after they have once fairly got the question before the people.

Mr. Lincoln also expressed his determination to enforce vigorous measures to rid the State of Rebel sympathizers, and for that purpose a new Provost-Marshal General who has his heart in the work will be appointed.

Historian William Ernest Smith wrote that Maryland resident Francis P. Blair, Sr. “advises the President to recommend compensation for the slaves which were the property of Union men and had been lost through the operations of the war.  He proposed the confiscation of the estates of traitors and the use of their property in payment for the freed negroes.  ‘This deserves consideration,’ he says, ‘in view of the not improbable necessity of emancipation by martial law in the Gulph States.’  Such a blow, he thought, ‘would probably divide the slave holders & might bring openly to the side of the Union the greater portion of them with a view to prevent, if possible, the necessity of the measure and to be in condition to great the benefit of the law & it would deprive them of all sympathy,’ if they refused to come back into the Union and accept the offer.  He believed, too, that the slaveholders would not accept the offer unless the President offered to provide for the colonization of the freedmen.”

President Lincoln is annoyed with the lack of progress regarding reconstruction in Louisia and writes two letters to Military Governor  George F. Shepley: “Dr. Kennedy, bearer of this, has some apprehension that Federal officers, not citizens of Louisiana, may be set up as candidates for Congress in that State.  In my view, there could be no possible object in such an election.  We do not particularly need members of congress from there to enable us to get along with legislation here.  What we do want is the conclusive evidence that respectable citizens of Louisiana, are willing to be members of congress & to swear support to the constitution; and that other respectable citizens there are willing vote for them and send them.  To send a parcel of Northern men here, as representatives, elected as would be understood, (and perhaps really so,) at the point of the bayonet, would be disgusting and outrageous; and were I a member of congress here I would vote against admitting any such man to a seat.

In a second letter, President Lincoln writes General Shepley to urge speedy elections: “Your letter of 6th. Inst. to the Secretary of War has been placed in my hands; and I am annoyed to learn from it that, at it’s date, nothing had been done about congressional elections.  On the 14th. of October I addressed a letter to Gen. Butler, yourself and others upon this very subject, sending it by Hon. Mr. Bouligny.  I now regret the necessity of inferring that you had not seen this letter up to the 6th Inst. I inclose you a copy of it, and also a copy of another addressed to yourself this morning, upon the same general subject, and placed in the hands of Dr. Kennedy.  I ask attention to both.”

I wish elections for Congressmen to take place in Louisiana; but I wish it be a movement of the people of the Districts, and not a movement of our military and quasi-military, authorities there I merely wish our authorities to give the people a chance–to protect them against secession interference.  Of course the election can not be according to strict law–by state law, there is, I suppose, no election day, before January; and the regular election officers will not act, in many cases, if any.  These knots must be cut, the main object being to get an expression of the people.  If they would fix a day and a way, for themselves, all the better; but if they stand idle not seeming to know what to do, do you fix these things for them by proclamation.  And do not waste a day about it; but, fix the election day early enough that we can hear the result here by the first of January.  Fix a day for an election in all the Districts, and have it held in as many places as you can.

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Published in: on November 21, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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