Proclamation of Emancipation by President Lincoln Approaches

December 30, 1862

In Manchester, England, workers approve a letter to President Lincoln supporting his emancipation proclamation and praising his opposition to slavery.  At a Cabinet meeting, the President’s proposed final version of the Emancipation Proclamation is discussed.  Historian John Hope Franklin wrote: “There ensued a lively discussion in which several members, notably Edward Bates, the Attorney General, offered suggestions. Bates thought that the executive branch should use the military and naval forces to maintain the freedom of the former slaves.  He also suggested that the President call on Negroes to ‘show themselves worthy of freedom by fidelity and diligence in the employments which may be given to them by the observance of order and by abstaining from all violence not required by duty or for self defence.’  The suggestions of Seward and Blair were largely of an editorial nature.”

President Lincoln is poised to make a momentous change in Administration policy toward black Americans.  Massachusetts Senator Charles Summer writes to Boston businessman  John Murray Forbes:  “But you seem anxious to convince me that the Proclamation is one the ground of military necessity.  I believe that I am the first, who, in our day, called for this exercise of power.  There are at least half a dozen speeches where I have argued it & vindicated as a military act.

“But while I put it on this constitutional & legal ground, I am anxious that it should have all possible elevation in its tone, its form & associate ideas, so that it shall at once command & captivate the universal assent.

“The Presdt. thank God, is now for the emplyt. of the Negroes.  A new epoch is at hand.”

Statehood for West Virginia is also discussed.   Attorney General Edward Bates writes in his diary: “On the 30th of Decr. all of us except Mr. C.B. Smith (who has just retired, having been apptd Dist Judge in Inda.) Gave in our ‘opinions in writing”

“I Believe, tho’ I have not read the opinions, that the six are equally divided – Seward Chase and Stanton, for the bill – and Welles, Blair and bates against it.

“I denounced it on both grounds.  Blair rather waived the constitutional question, but was strong on the other.

“The views of the others, as written, I do not know.  But if the bill pass, I foresee that they will have ause to regret that those opinions are written

“I think they have bought their peace with the extremists by supporting that monstrous bill – and by intensifying the Prests, proclamation, of emancipation, to come out Jany. 1, 63.

“I have taken care to put myself on record, as I choose to stand, on those questions.

“I  a country of free thought and ative motion, opinion is never stationary – it advances and retires – it swings from side to side – as driven by the rush of events.

“Public opinion is never spontaneous with the people – It is always a manufactured articled.  Weak and hesitating men allow their bold and active enemies to make public opinion against them.  Bold and active rules make it on their own side.

The evidences of public opinion against the administration, as exhibited in the recent elections in Indiana, Ohio and Pennsylvania, and in various popular demonstrations elsewhere do not disturb me as much as they do some wiser and better men.  I think I know the causes of that adverse feeling among the people; and I think I know an efficient and not difficult remedy for the evil.

“The causes lie upon the surface of our current history: They are cognizable by the lowest capacity; and simple enough to be used effectually against us, by men of every division and every phase of the opposition.  Thye are made available against us, alike by the malcontents who are such because they are the secret friends of the public enemy, and by the outs who are against us only because they wish to get in.

“We cannot deny that the People have extended to this administration a reasonable degree of supporting confidence, and, that Congress with unhesitating liberality, has granted all our demands for men, money, means and appliances – and all this for the avowed and only purpose of enabling us to suppress the rebellion.

“But we have not suppressed the rebellion.  We have, during the whole of this year, made no important advance toward its suppression.  On the contrary, our present position is, relatively, worse than it was last spring.”

Disturbed by reports from the subordinates of Union General Ambrose E. Burnside – Generals John Cochrane and John Newton –  President Lincoln writes Burnside, commander of the Army of the Potomac,: “I have good reason for saying you must not make a general movement of the army without letting me know.”

Published in: on December 30, 2012 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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