Back from the War Front, President Lincoln Awaits Word

November 28, 1862

Somewhat mysteriously, General Ambrose Burnside telegraphs President Lincoln: “The officer that was to meet you this evening will call upon you at 8 — or 9 Oclock.”  The commander of the Army of the Potomac is maneuvering to get his army across the Rappahannock River to confront Confederate troops under General Robert E. Lee.

Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase writes President Lincoln regarding his upcoming annual message to Congress and the upcoming Emancipation Proclamation: “The noble sentiments and admirable language of your message touch my heart and increase my respect for your character and my affection for your person.

You did not ask my opinion of the particular plan developed, and, perhaps, I ought not to give it unasked.

Still I feel myself warranted by the very respect & affection I feel for you & my deep anxiety for the future of our country, in begging you to reflect whether, inasmuch as the argument of the message will apply, for the most part, as well to the proclamation, the acts to be yet performed by you under it, and to the scheme of compensated emancipation heretofore proposed, it would not be wise to forbear the introduction of the amendment of the Constitution and the recommendation of any more specific action than you have heretofore already submitted to the consideration of Congress

Men often agree as to a general policy, when details, such as time or mode, cannot be so easily agreed on. All our friends agree with you, in general, as to the ends to be reached by the proclamation & compensated emancipation: but many of them will probably be averse to attempting any such amendments of the Constitution as you have embodied in your draft of the pages.

In my judgment indeed there is no probability that a vote of two thirds can be commanded for any amendment of the constitution touching slavery or that any such amendment can obtain the sanction of two thirds of the States. Is it expedient to propose the measure if there is not a strong probability of its adoption? Will not such an act weaken rather than strengthen yourself and your administration?

Let me beg you most respectfully to consider these suggestions, if not already weighed and set aside.

Published in: on November 28, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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