President Lincoln Discusses Fate of Freed Slaves

August 10, 1864

President Lincoln meets with Col. John Eaton, Jr., a Methodist preacher who had been appointed superintendent of freedmen for Department of Tennessee. Eaton recalled in his memoirs: “On reaching Washington on August 10, I went directly to the White House. Mr. Lincoln was alert to know the facts I had come to present, and his reception of me was cordiality itself. Although he felt the force of the argument in favor of making the most out of the crops, and of introducing into that disaffected section of the country a population which might be presumed to be loyal and devoted to the interests of the Union, he was at the same time fully prepared to consider the question from every point of view. When I told him of the danger and suffering of the Negroes occasioned by raids upon plantations, of the difficulty of exercising adequate authority and restraint over operations so extended and remote from the military posts, when I related the freedom with which the lessees interpreted and applied the orders issued by the Treasury, Mr. Lincoln’s keen face sharpened with indignation. ‘I have signed no regulations authorizing that!’ he exclaimed more than once in the course of my narrative.” In his conversations President Lincoln relayed his confidence in General Grant. President Lincoln told Eaton: “Before Grant took command of the eastern forces we did not sleep at night here in Washington. We began to fear the rebels would take the capital, and once in possession of that, we feared that foreign countries might acknowledge the Confederacy. Nobody could foresee the evil that might come from the destruction of records and of property. But since Grant has assumed command on the Potomac, I have made up my mind that whatever it is possible to have done, Grant will do, and what ever he doesn’t do, I don’t believe it to be done. And now we sleep at night.”

New York lawyer James Hamilton, the son of Alexander Hamilton, writes President Lincoln: “I am led by a sense of public duty, as well as from personal regard for you; to make the following suggestion” regarding slavery:

Whenever we meet with a signal military success, such as the taking of Atlanta or Petersburgh — I advise; that you send a Gentleman to Richmond in your name to inform Mr Jefferson Davis that whenever the enemy will lay down their arms; you will conveen Congress and urge them to pass a law to pay for all “persons ” shall be made free and that the Legislature of every such state shall declare that slavery is forever abolished in such state — and that you will further earnestly recommend; that all confiscation laws be repealed; and all property heretofore sold under such laws be returned to the former owners thereof; except in those cases in which to do so would involve the violation of personal rights acquired to such property — and also that an act of General amnesty be passed, the proposed payments to be made — by the Bonds of the U S redeemable at the pleasure of the Government after twenty years with interest to be paid half yearly at the rate of so 6% per an.

Such an offer made at such a time would commend itself to the approval of all mankind — and if rejected would reunite the People of the Loyal States; in a most vigorous prosecution of the war.

Should you think favorably of this suggestion; which is made after the most deliberate consideration; I will with pleasure go to Washington to confer with you on the subject; and allow me to say without intending to ask the employment; I am ready to take the responsibility of the advice I give; by becoming the instrument for carrying it out; without being paid for my services

Virginia Governor Francis H. Peirpoint writes to President Lincoln to complain about General Benjamin F. Butler’s interference with civil and judicial affairs in Norfolk, Virginia.

A more personal request regarding Virginia is sent to President Lincoln by a former Illinois legal client, Richard Lloyd: “In the writer you will no doubt recognise your humble quondam client, in a suit in ejectment at Springfield in which you gained my cause, I write you now to, solicit your favor in a matter of some importance to me, Some ten years since my Father the late John Lloyd of Alexandria Virginia died leaving the Estate to my Step Mother during her life & then to his heirs, She is since decd The residence in Alexandria now occupied by Mr J Packard I am notified is ordered to be given up by him for the benefit of the Treasury Dept, This would surely be an act of wrong. You nor any other person would question my loyalty a citizen of Illinois since 1842 I shall start for Washington on Monday next Be so kind as to order Mayor Silvey to stay proceedings, untill I can be there to defend my right.”

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Published in: on August 10, 2014 at 9:00 am  Leave a Comment  

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