President Receives Objection to Emancipation Proclamation

January 7, 1863

Illinois Senator Orville H. Browning visits the White House with former Illinois Judge Walter B. Scates, who hands a letter President Lincoln from his military superior, General John McClernand, arguing that the Emancipation Proclamation would impede chances of peace.  McClernand, whose supposedly had command of an army in the Mississippi River valley, was also complaining of impediments to his authority from General in Chief Henry W Halleck and General Ulysses S. Grant.  He wrote: A gentleman of the first respectability just arrived from the rebel army, at Grenada, Miss. brings suggistions of the most interesting import from officers of high rank in the rebel service, who were formerly my warm personal and political friends.

These officials desire the restoration of peace and are represented to be willing to wheel their columns into the line of that policy. They admit that the South West and the North West are geographically and commercially identified, and that this fact, together with the ties of consanguinity and previous friendly intercourse should forbid persistency in the present war. The same officials are also represented to be willing to accept peace on any terms that the people of the North West may be willing, in honor and justice, to dictate.

Knowing, as they must, that it is only with the national authorities they can deal upon the question of peace their object, doubtless, invoking Western sanction for any measure of peace, is to avoid popular prejudices unwisely and wickedly ca cultivated by rebel leaders, in the South, towards the National Government.

Having heard you say that you would not gratuitously subvert the institutions of any state, and would vouchsafe to every American Citizen the blessings of the old constitution and government who would reach forth his hands to receive them, I have felt it to be, not only proper, but my duty, to lay before you what has been mentioned. Such a n reassurance, specifically and directly made by you would serve to banish the groundless fear professed by the officials referred to, that it is your purpose to enslave or exterminate the whites of the South.

If you should determine to act in the premises and should think that I could speak for you advantageously, either, upon your or my responsibility I am willing to do so.

McClernand added: “The copy of Genl. Halleck’s order to Genl. Grant to assign me to the command of the Miss. Riv. Expn, was not forwarded to me from Washington until after the Expen had left here under command of Genl. Sherman. I started two members of my staff, yesterday, to Holly Springs to get from Genl. Grant the necessary order of assignment. As the road is infested with guerrillas it is doubtful whether they have gotten through. Left here by myself, I shall have to run the gauntlet of the Miss. river, in a common steamer in order to reach my command at Vicksburg. Either accident or intention has conspired to thwart the authority of yourself and the Secretary of War and to betray, me, but with your support I shall not despair of overcoming both.”  Halleck and Grant both thought McClernand, a former Democratic congressman from Illinois, was incompetent.

President Lincoln writes former Representative Green Adams of Kentucky regarding his troubles with that state: “In answer to your inquiries of this morning I have to say I am very anxious to have the special force in Kentucky raised and armed. But the changed conduct towards me of some of her members of congress, and the ominous out-givings as to what the Governor and Legislature of Kentucky intend doing, admonish me to consider whether any additional arms I may send there, are not to be turned against the government.  I hope this may clear up on the right side. So far as I can see, Kentucky’s sons in the field, are acting loyally and bravely, God bless them! I can not help thinking the mass of her people feel the same way.”

Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner visits the White House to urge the reinstatement of General Benjamin F. Butler as military commander in New Orleans.  Butler’s command had been controversial and he had been replaced by another Massachusetts native, General Nathaniel Banks.  Sumner later writes Butler: “I…saw the Presdt, who said that he hoped very soon to return you to New Orleans.  He added that he was anxious to keep you in the public service & to gratify you, as you had deserved well of the country.”

Aggravation for the president from Missouri continues.  President Lincoln responds to a telegram from senatorial candidate Gratz Brown: ““Does the administration desire my defeat if not why are its appointees here working for that end’?’   Lincoln writes: “Yours of to-day just received. The Administration takes no part between it’s friends in Mo, of whom, I at least, consider you one; and I have never before had an intimation that appointees there, were interfering, or were inclined to interfere.”

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Published in: on January 7, 2013 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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