Civil War Documents Of Interest To All
|Notices and Announcements
|American Civil War The American Civil War.
29 Nov 10, 21:47
Abraham Lincoln to Henry W. Halleck, Monday, December 02, 1861 (Executive Order authorizing suspension of writ of habeas corpus; endorsed by William H. Seward)
From Abraham Lincoln to Henry W. Halleck [Copy in a Secretarial Hand]1, December 2, 1861
As an insurrection exists in the United States and is in arms in the State of Missouri, you are hereby authorized and empowered to suspend the Writ of Habeas Corpus within the limits of the military division under your command and to exercise martial law as you find it necessary in your discretion to secure the public safety and the authority of the United States.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed at Washington, this second day of December, A D 1861.
By the President:
William H Seward ... Secretary of State.
[Note 1 On November 20, 1861, General Halleck had written to General George B. McClellan, complaining of having no authority to declare and enforce martial law in Missouri. Writing a few days later of insurgents in North Missouri, he declared "I cannot arrest such men and seize their papers for there is no civil law or civil authority to reach them." See Collected Works, V, 27-28.]
[Note 2 Signed by Lincoln.]
29 Nov 10, 21:48
Abraham Lincoln, Thursday, January 01, 1863 (Final Emancipation Proclamation, Official Copy)
Abraham Lincoln, Emancipation Proclamation, Official Copy [Photostat] , January 1, 1863
Final Emancipation Proclamation, Final Draft, January 1, 1863.
By the President of the United States of America:
Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, a proclamation was issued by the President of the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to wit:
"That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom.
"That the Executive will; on the first day of January aforesaid, by proclamation, designate the States and parts of States, if any, in which the people thereof, respectively, shall then be in rebellion against the United States; and the fact that any State, or the people thereof, shall on that day be, in good faith, represented in the Congress of the United States by members chosen thereto at elections wherein a majority of the qualified voters of such State shall have participated, shall, in the absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such State, and the people thereof, are not then in rebellion against the United States."
Now, therefore I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue of the power in me vested as Commander-in-Chief, of the Army and Navy of the United States in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority and government of the United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion, do, on this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and in accordance with my purpose so to do publicly proclaimed for the full period of one hundred days, from the day first above mentioned, order and designate as the States and parts of States wherein the people thereof respectively, are this day in rebellion against the United States, the following, to wit:
Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, (except the Parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemines, Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James Ascension, Assumption, Terrebonne, Laforche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the City of New Orleans) Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, (except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of Berkley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Ann, and Norfolk, including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth, and which excepted parts are, for the present, left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued.
And by virtue of the power, and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated States, and parts of States, are, and henceforward shall be free; and that the Executive government of the United States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons.
And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence, unless in necessary self-defense; and I recommend to them that, in all cases when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages.
And I further declare and make known, that such persons of suitable condition, will be received into the armed service of the United States to garrison forts, positions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service.
And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Constitution, upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious favor of Almighty God.
In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed.
Done at the city of Washington, this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty three, and of the Independence of the United States of America the eighty-seventh.
By the President:
William H. Seward,3
Secretary of State.
[Note 2 Signed by Lincoln.]
[Note 3 Signed by Seward.]
29 Nov 10, 21:51
John A. Gilmer to Abraham Lincoln, Saturday, December 29, 1860 (Lincoln's response to secession)
From John A. Gilmer to Abraham Lincoln, December 29, 1860
Private & confidential
Greensboro N. C.
Decr 29th 1860
I left Washington on the evening of the 21st. I waited with much anxiety to receive a reply from you before leaving-- Your despatch of that day1 to me was forwarded to this place--
I am advised by my clerk's letter from Washington of the 26th that he had that day received a letter from you to me--2 Under my instructions to him before I left, he opened it -- but did not send it to me, apprehending that it might pass me on my return-- He tells me nothing that is in it except a request that I should come to Springfield Such a visit would I apprehend not be useful to either of us, or the country -- about which we doubtless alike feel great concern--
I am satisfied, (if you could have concurred with me,) that an early answer to my letter3 would have indescribably quieted the south, & have confined secession to the state of South Carolina, & she being alone in a short time, would gladly return to the Union--
But the excitement has been & now is spreading with fearful rapidity through all the slave states--
Your speaking to the people now might retain all but S. C. Ga. Florida - Ala. & Miss. If the stampede could be confined to these states, the result would not be so serious--
I presumed that you could [courteously?] word answers to all my questions, except the territorial one, that would be satisfactory to the South--
I conceived that as to the territorial one, you could truly say that on this question you held the same opinions that were held by Mr Clay -- that, in fact it had become a question (now the struggle to force Kansas to become a slave state against her will being ended, and from the ill success of the fraud and swindle in that case attempted, the same thing was not likely to be tried again) so much more abstract than real, that the good sense of both sections ought and doubtless would settle it in some regular way satisfactory to all -- that the excitement of a great political contest being ended, there was nothing wanting but to divest ourselves of all prejudice & passion, work ourselves with the spirit of our fathers, and of the statesmen of 1820, and settle all points of difference-- True that honest differences had arisen, & had been warmly discussed as to the power and duty of Congress connected with that territorial question -- but there was really no substantial reason why all these might not be reconciled by constitutional amendments, and that differences could thereby be settled without involving any sacrifice of present opinions, which have arisen under the constitution, and which must continue to exist and distract the public councils without such amendments--
That this question was settled in 1820 and doubtless the nation being restored to a proper frame of mind, can be again in a manner fair and just to both sections--
If when you disclaim all right on the part of Congress to interfere with slavery where it now exists, you would intimate that there would be a propriety in amending the constitution expressly inhibiting the interference on the part of Congress, & that such article should not be altered or amended except by consent of all the states, you would take out of the hands of Southern disunionists, that great weapon
I verily beleive it is in your power even now to save substantially the Union--
Please pardon this freedom -- any suggestion you will I pray not consider in the light of dictation-- The country is in imminent peril -- and you must attribute all improprieties to my distracted anxiety to have peace & the Union preserved
John A. Gilmer
In answer to the other questions propounded where if your answers must necessarily be different from Southern opinions on them, I can see no reason why you might not explain kindly, and so indicating deference for the opinions of others, as to remove from your answers all irritation
If we can retain all the states but those mentioned, I beleive the Republic would be improved-- But to do this you must come as far South as you can-- You may drive from you many party friends, but by the preservation of the peace of the country you will nationalize yourself & your party-- You would make to yourself deservedly a name, far beyond that of President--
Your own sense of duty must be your guide, but should you conclude to come before the country, the sooner the better--
A trying time is upon us-- Each citizen has a duty to perform-- I am desirous to perform mine-- When the trade of the country shall be destroyed -- when our farm fields are made waste -- when our towns, villages, & cities are burned -- when our shipping is destroyed -- when our sons are dragged to the bloody fields of civil strife & human butchery -- and when the mothers -- wives -- & sisters gather around me, with aching hearts and gushing tears I want to be able to feel & say that I did all in my power to prevent these things--
John A Gilmer
Pardon haste-- I am pressed for time -- & have written a long letter, because I have not had time to write a short one
[Note 1 Lincoln's December 21 dispatch to Gilmer has not been located.]
[Note 2 Lincoln's letter has not been located. Presumably it raised the question of whether Gilmer would be willing to accept a place in the cabinet.]
[Note 3 Gilmer had written to Lincoln on December 10 ( q. v.) and requested that he issue a letter of reassurance to the South. Lincoln wrote a reply to Gilmer on December 15 ( q. v.) and enclosed it in a note to Thomas Corwin. Corwin wrote to Lincoln on December 24 ( q. v.) that he had not yet delivered Lincoln
29 Nov 10, 21:52
William H. Seward to Abraham Lincoln, Saturday, December 29, 1860 (Fort Sumter)
From William H. Seward to Abraham Lincoln1, December 29, 1860
Washington Dec. 29. 1860
My Dear Sir,
At length I have gotten a position in which I can see what is going on in the Councils of the President
It pains me to learn that things there are even worse than is understood. The President is debating day and night on the question whether he shall not recal Maj. Anderson2 & surrender Fort Sumpter, and go on arming the South-- A plot is forming to seize the Capitol on or before the 4th of March -- and this too has its accomplices in the public councils-- I could tell you more particularly than I dare write. But you must not imagine that I am not giving you suspicions and rumors-- Believe that I know what I write--
In point of fact the responsibilities of your administration must begin before the time arrives-- I therefore revive the suggestion of your coming here earlier than you otherwise would -- and coming in by surprise -- without announcement.
I ought as soon as may be to know your Secretary of War & Secretary of the Navy, and they ought to be here as soon as possible -- that I may confer with them, and they may be prepared. The same is true of the Treasury
I trust that by this time you will be able to know your correspondent without his signature, which for prudence is omitted.
[Note 1 Though unsigned and sent under the frank of Senator John P. Hale, Lincoln recognized the handwriting as that of William H. Seward.]
[Note 2 Robert Anderson]
29 Nov 10, 21:56
Abraham Lincoln, [June-July 1861] (Message to Congress, July 4, 1861, Second Printed Draft, with Suggested Changes by William H. Seward)
Abraham Lincoln, Message to Congress, Second Printed Draft with Suggested Changes by William H. Seward1, [late June or July 1861]
Fellow-citizens of the Senate and
House of Representatives:
Having been convened on an extraordinary occasion, as authorized by the Constitution, your attention is not called to any ordinary subject of legislation.
At the beginning of the present presidential term, four months ago, all the functions of the federal government were found to be entirely generally2 suspended within the several States of South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, and Florida, excepting only those of the Post Office Department.
Within these States all the forts, arsenals, dock-yards, custom-houses, and the like, including the movable and stationary property in and about them, had been seized, and were held in open hostility to this government, excepting only Forts Pickens, Taylor, and Jefferson, on and near the Florida coast, and Fort Sumter, in Charleston harbor, South Carolina. The forts thus seized had been put in improved condition; new ones had been built, and armed forces had been organized, and were organizing, all avowedly with the same hostile purpose.
The forts remaining in the possession of the federal government in and near these States were either besieged or3 menaced by warlike preparations, and especially Fort Sumter was nearly surrounded by well-protected hostile batteries, with guns equal in quality to the best of its own, and outnumbering the latter as ... to one. A disproportionate share, both in number and quality, of the federal arms and ammunition had somehow found their way into these States, and had been seized to be used against the government. Accumulations of the public revenue, lying within these States them,4 had been seized for the same object. The navy was scattered, and in distant seas, leaving but a very small part of it within the immediate reach of the government. The officers of the federal army and navy had resigned in great numbers, and of those resigning a large proportion had taken up arms against the government. Simultaneously, and in connexion with all this, the purpose to sever the Federal Union was openly avowed. In accordance with this purpose, an ordinance had been adopted in each of these States, declaring the States, respectively, to be separated from the National Union. Also the A formula5 forms of establishing a federal combined6 government of these States, with departments and provisions similar to our own, had been gone through promulgated;7 and this supposed federal government illegal organization,8 under the name and style of "The Confederate States of America," had assumed national independence, and was suing for its recognition by the powers of the earth. invoking recognition aid and intervention by Forei from Foreign Powers;9
Finding this condition of things, and believing it to be an imperative duty upon the incoming Executive to prevent, if possible, the consummation of such attempt to destroy the Federal Union, a choice of means to that end became indispensable. This choice was made, and was declared in the inaugural address. The policy chosen looked to the exhaustion of all peaceful measures, before a resort to any stronger ones. It sought only to hold the public places and property not already wrested from the government, and to collect the revenue; relying for the rest, on time, discussion, and the ballot-box. It promised a continuance of the mails, at government expense, to the very people who were resisting the government; and it gave repeated pledges against any disturbance to any of the people, or any of their rights. Of all that which a President might constitutionally and justifiably do in such a case -- everything was forborne, without which, it was believed possible to keep the government on foot.
On the 5th of March, (the present incumbent's first full day in office,) a letter of Major Anderson, commanding at Fort Sumter, written on the 28th of February, and received at the War Department on the 4th of March, was, by that department, placed in his hands. This letter expressed the professional opinion of the writer, that re-enforcements could not be thrown into that fort within the time for his relief, rendered necessary by the limited supply of provisions, and with a view of holding possession of the same, with a force of less than twenty thousand good and well-disciplined men. This opinion was concurred in by all the officers of his command, and their memoranda on the subject, were made enclosures of Major Anderson's letter. The whole was immediately laid before Lieutenant General Scott, who at once concurred with Major Anderson in opinion. On reflection, however, he took full time, consulting with other officers, both of the army and the navy, and, at the end of four days, came reluctantly, but decidedly, to the same conclusion as before. He also stated at the same time that no such sufficient force was then at the control of the government, or could be raised and brought to the ground within the time when the provisions in the fort would be exhausted. In a purely military point of view, this reduced the duty of the administration in the case, to the mere matter of getting the garrison safely out of the fort.
It was believed, however, that to so abandon that position under the circumstances10 would be utterly ruinous; that the necessity under which it was to be done would not be fully understood; that by many, it would be construed as a part of a voluntary policy; that at home, it would discourage the friends of the Union, and11 embolden its adversaries, and go far to insure to the latter, a recognition of independence abroad; that, in fact, it would be our national destruction consummated. This could not be allowed. Starvation was not yet upon the garrison; and ere it would be reached, Fort Pickens might be re-enforced. This last would be a clear indication of policy, and would better enable the country to accept the evacuation of Fort Sumter, as a military necessity. An order was at once directed to be sent for the landing of the troops from the steamship Brooklyn, into Fort Pickens. This order could not go by land, but must take the longer and slower route by sea. The first return news from the order was received just one week before the fall of Fort Sumter. The news itself was, that the officer commanding the Sabine, to which vessel the troops had been transferred from the Brooklyn, acting upon some quasi armistice of the late administration, (and of the existence of which the present administration, up to the time the order was despatched, had only too vague and uncertain rumors to fix attention,) had refused to land the troops. To now re-enforce Fort Pickens, before a crisis would be reached at Fort Sumter, was impossible -- rendered so by the near exhaustion of provisions in the latter-named fort. In precaution against such a conjuncture, the government had, a few days before, commenced preparing an expedition, as well adapted as might be, to relieve Fort Sumter, which expedition was intended to be ultimately used, or not, according to circumstances. The strongest anticipated case for using it was now presented; and it was resolved to send it forward. As had been intended, in this contingency, it was also resolved to notify the governor of South Carolina, that he might expect an attempt would be made to provision the fort; and that, if the attempt should not be resisted, there would be no effort to throw in men, arms, or ammunition, without further notice, or in case of an attack upon the fort. This notice was accordingly given; whereupon the fort was attacked, and bombarded to its fall, without even awaiting the arrival of the provisioning expedition.
It is thus seen that the assault upon, and reduction of, Fort Sumter, was, in no sense, a matter of self defence on the part of the assailants. They well knew that the garrison in the fort could, by no possibility, commit aggression upon them. They knew -- they were expressly notified -- that the giving of bread to the few brave and hungry men of the garrison, was all which would on that occasion12 be attempted, unless themselves, by resisting so much, should provoke more. They knew that this government desired to keep the garrison in the fort, not to assail them, but merely to maintain visible possession, and thus to preserve the Union from actual and immediate dissolution -- trusting, as herein before stated, to time, discussion, and the ballot-box for final adjustment; and they assailed, and reduced the fort, for precisely the reverse object -- to drive out the visible authority of the federal Union, and thus force it to immediate dissolution. That this was their object the Executive well understood; and having said to them, in the inaugural address, "You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors," he took pains, not only to keep this declaration good, but also to keep the case so free from the power of ingenious sophistry, as that the world should not be able to misunderstand it. By the affair at Fort Sumter, with its surrounding circumstances, that point was reached. Then, and thereby, the assailants of the government, began the conflict of arms, without a gun in sight, or in expectancy to return their fire, save only the few in the fort, sent to that harbor, years before, for their own protection, and still ready to give that protection in whatever was lawful. In this act, discarding all else, they have forced upon the country, the distinct issue: "Immediate dissolution or blood."
And this issue embraces more than the fate of these United States. It presents to the whole family of man the question, whether a democracy -- a government of the people, by the same people -- can, or cannot, maintain its territorial integrity against its own domestic foes. It presents the question, whether discontented individuals, too few in numbers to control administration, according to organic law, in any case, can always, upon the pretences made in this case, or on any other pretences, or arbitrarily, without any pretence, break up their government, and thus practically put an end to free government upon the earth. It forces us to ask: "Is there, in all republics, this inherent and fatal weakness?" "Must a government, of necessity, be too strong for the liberties of its own people, or too weak to maintain its own existence?"
So viewing the issue, no choice was left but to call out the war power of the government; and so to resist force, employed for its destruction, by force, for its preservation.
The call was made, and the response of the country was most gratifying, surpassing in unanimity, and spirit, the most sanguine expectation. Yet, except patriotic Delaware13 none of the States commonly called slave States gave a regiment through regular State organization. A few regiments have been organized within some of those States by individual enterprise, and received into the government service. Of course, the seceded States, so called, (and to which Texas had been joined about the time of the inauguration,) gave no troops to the cause of the Union. The border States, so called, were not uniform in their action; some of them being almost for the Union, while others -- as Virginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas -- were apparently quite against it. The course taken in Virginia was the most remarkable -- perhaps the most important. A convention, elected by the people of that State to consider this very question of disrupting the Federal Union, was in session at the capital of Virginia when Fort Sumter fell. To this body the people had chosen a large majority of professed Union men. Almost immediately after the fall of Sumter, many members of that majority went over to the original disunion minority, and, with them, adopted an ordinance for withdrawing the State from the Union. Whether this change was wrought by their great approval of the assault upon Sumter, or their great resentment at the government's resistance to that assault, is not definitely known. Although they submitted the ordinance, for ratification, to a vote of the people, to be taken on a day somewhat more than a month distant, the convention, and the legislature, (which was also in session at the same time and place,) with leading men of the State, not members of either, immediately commenced acting as if the State was already out of the Union. They pushed military preparations vigorously forward all over the State. They seized the United States armory at Harper's Ferry, and the navy yard at Gosport, near Norfolk. They received -- perhaps invited -- into their State large bodies of troops, with their warlike appointments, from the so-called seceded States. They formally entered into a treaty of temporary alliance, and co-operation with the so-called "Confederate States of America," and sent members to their Congress at Montgomery. And, finally, they permitted the insurrectionary government to be transferred to their capital at Richmond.
The people of Virginia have thus allowed this giant insurrection to make its nest within her borders; and this government has no choice left but to deal with it where it finds it. And it has the less regret, as the loyal citizens have, in due form, claimed its protection. Those loyal citizens this government is bound to recognize, and protect, as being Virginia.
In the border States, so called -- in fact, the middle States -- there are those who favor a policy which they call "armed neutrality:" that is, an arming of those States to prevent the Union forces passing one way, or the disunion the other, over their soil. This would be disunion consummated. Figuratively speaking, it would be the building of an impassable wall along the line of separation -- and yet, not quite an impassable one; for, under the guise of neutrality, it would tie the hands of the Union men, and freely pass supplies from among them to the insurrectionists, which it could not do as an open enemy. At a stroke, it would take all the trouble off the hands of secession, except only what proceeds from the external blockade. It would do for the disunionists that which, of all things, they most desire -- feed them well, and give them disunion without a struggle of their own. It recognizes no fidelity to the Constitution, no obligation to maintain the Union; and while they may not all be traitors who have favored it, the thing is, in fact, treason in disguise. very many who have favored it are loyal citizens it is nevertheless treason in effect.14
Recurring to the action of the government, it may be stated that, at first, a call was made for seventy-five thousand militia; and rapidly following this, a proclamation was issued for closing the ports of the insurrectionary districts by proceedings in the nature of blockade. So far all was believed to be strictly legal. At this point the insurrectionists announced their purpose to enter upon the practice of privateering. On more mature reflection, with observation on current events, it was concluded that the measures adopted, were inadequate to the occasion, both by reason of the very limited time the militia would be held to serve, and the general insufficiency of numbers, in the regular land and naval forces. Accordingly another call was15 Other calls were made for -- -- volunteers to serve three years, unless sooner discharged, and also for large additions to the regular army and navy. These measures, whether strictly legal or not, were ventured upon, under what appeared to be a popular demand, and a public necessity; trusting then, as now, that Congress would readily ratify them. It is believed that nothing has been done beyond the constitutional competency of Congress.
Whether the proceedings in the nature of blockade, be technically a blockade, scarcely needs to be considered; since foreign nations only claim what we concede, that, as between them and us, the strict law of blockade shall apply.
The attention of Congress is sought in aid of this means for suppressing the insurrection, as the one affording at once the greatest efficiency, and least danger to life, of any at the control of the government.16
Soon after the first call for militia, it was considered a duty to authorize the commanding general, in proper cases, according to his discretion, to suspend the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus, or, in other words, to arrest and detain, without resort to the ordinary processes and forms of law, such individuals as he might deem dangerous to the public safety. This authority has purposely been exercised but very sparingly. Nevertheless, the legality and propriety of what has been done under it are questioned, and the attention of the country has been called to the proposition that one who is sworn to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed," should not himself violate them. Of course some consideration was given to the questions of power and propriety before this matter was acted upon. The whole of the laws which were required to be faithfully executed were being resisted, and failing of execution in nearly one-third of the States, must they be allowed to finally fail of execution, even had it been perfectly clear that by the use of the means necessary to their execution, some single law, made in such extreme tenderness of the citizen's liberty, that practically it relieves more of the guilty than of the innocent, should, to a very limited extent, be violated? To state the question more directly, are all the laws but one to go unexecuted, and the government itself go to pieces, lest that one be violated broken?17 Even in such a case would not the official oath be broken, if the government should be overthrown, when it was believed that disregarding the single law, would tend to preserve it? But it was not believed that this question was presented. It was not believed that any law was violated. The provision of the Constitution that "the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus shall not be suspended unless when, in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety may require it," is equivalent to a provision -- is a provision -- that such privilege may be suspended when, in cases of rebellion or invasion, the public safety does require it. It was decided that we have a case of rebellion, and that the public safety does require the qualified suspension of the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus which was authorized to be made. Now it is insisted that Congress, and not the Executive, is vested with this power. But the Constitution itself is silent as to which or who is to exercise the power; and as the provision was plainly made for a dangerous emergency, it cannot be believed that the framers of the instrument intended that in every case, the danger should run its course until Congress could be called together; the very assembling of which might be prevented, as was intended in this case, by the rebellion.
No more extended argument is now offered, as an opinion, at some length, will probably be presented by the Attorney General. Whether there shall be any legislation upon the subject, and if any, what, is submitted entirely to the better judgment of Congress.
The forbearance of this government had been so extraordinary, and so long continued, as to lead some foreign nations to shape their action as if they supposed the early destruction of our National Union was probable. While this, on discovery, gave the Executive some concern, he is now happy to say he finds no cause of complaint against the present course, of any foreign power, upon this subject. that the sovereignty and rights of the United States are now every where practically respected by all nations which by foreign powers and a general sympathy with the Country is manifested throughout the world.18
The reports of the Secretaries of the Treasury, War, and the Navy, will give the information in detail deemed necessary, and convenient for your deliberation, and action; while the Executive, and all the departments, will stand ready to supply omissions, or to communicate new facts, considered important for you to know.
It is now recommended that you give the legal means for making this contest a short and decisive one; that you authorize to be applied to the work if necessary19 at least 420 hundred thousand men, and three hundred millions of dollars. That number of men is less than one-twelfth of those of proper ages within the regions where, apparently, all are willing to engage; and the sum is less than a thirtieth part of the money value owned by the men who seem ready to devote the whole. A debt of six hundred millions of dollars now, is a less sum per head, than was the debt of our revolution when we came out of that struggle; and the money value in the country now, bears even a greater proportion to what it was then, than does the population. Surely each man has as strong a motive now, to preserve our liberties, as each had then, to establish them.
A right result, at this time, will be worth more to the world than ten times the men, and ten times the money it will cost. The evidence reaching us from the country leaves no doubt that the material for the work is abundant; and that it needs only the hand of legislation to give it legal sanction, and the hand of the Executive to give it practical shape and efficiency. One of the greatest perplexities of the government is to avoid receiving troops faster than it can provide for them. In a word, the people will save their government, if the government itself, will do its part, only indifferently well.
It might seem, at first thought, to be of little difference whether the present movement at the South be called "secession" or "rebellion." The movers, however, well understand the difference. At the beginning they knew they could never raise their treason to any respectable magnitude by any name which implies violation of law. They knew their people possessed as much of moral sense, as much of devotion to law and order, and as much pride in, and reverence for, the history and government of their common country as any other civilized and patriotic people. They knew they could make no advancement directly in the teeth of these strong and noble sentiments. Accordingly they commenced by an insidious debauching of the public mind. They invented an ingenious sophism, which, if conceded, was followed by perfectly logical steps, through all the incidents, to the complete destruction of the Union. The sophism itself was, and is, that any State of the Union may, consistently with the national Constitution, and therefore lawfully, and peacefully, withdraw from the Union, without the consent of the Union, or of any other State. The little disguise that the supposed right is to be exercised only for just cause, themselves to be the sole judge of its justice, is too thin to merit any notice.
With rebellion thus sugar-coated, they have been drugging the public mind of their section for more than thirty years; and until at length they have brought many good men to a willingness to take up arms against the government the day after some assemblage of men have enacted the farcical pretence of taking their State out of the Union, who could have been brought to no such thing the day before.
This sophism derives much, perhaps the whole, of its currency from the assumption that there is some omnipotent and sacred supremacy pertaining to a State -- to each State of our Federal Union. Our States have neither more, nor less power, than that reserved to them, in the Union, by the Constitution -- no one of them ever having been a State out of the Union. The original ones passed into the Union even before they cast off their British colonial dependence; and the new ones each came into the Union directly from a condition of dependence, excepting Texas. And even Texas, in its temporary independence, was never designated a State. The new ones only took the designation of States, on coming into the Union, while that name was first adopted for the old ones, in and by the Declaration of Independence. Therein the "United Colonies" were declared to be "free and independent States;" but, even then, the object plainly was not to declare their independence of one another, or of the Union, but directly the contrary, as their mutual pledge, and their mutual action, before, at the time, and afterwards, abundantly show. The express plighting of faith, by each and all of the original thirteen, in the Articles of Confederation, two years later, that the Union shall be perpetual, is most conclusive. Having never been States, either in substance or in name, outside of the Union, whence this magical omnipotence of "State rights," asserting a claim of power to lawfully destroy the Union itself? Much is said about the "sovereignty" of the States; but the word, even, is not in the national Constitution, nor, as is believed, in any of the State constitutions. What is a "sovereignty," in the political sense of the term? Would it be far wrong to define it, "A political community without a political superior?" Tested by this, no one of our States, except Texas, ever was a sovereignty. And even Texas gave up the character on coming into the Union, by which act she acknowledged the Constitution of the United States, and the laws and treaties of the United States made in pursuance of the Constitution, to be, for her, the supreme law of the land. The States have their status IN the Union, and they have no other legal status. If they break from this, they can only do so against law, and by revolution. The Union, and not themselves separately, procured their independence and their liberty. By conquest or purchase the Union gave each of them whatever of independence and liberty it has. The Union is older than any of the States, and, in fact, it created them as States. As States, the Union gave birth to them. Originally some dependent colonies made the Union, and, in turn, the Union threw off their old dependence and made them States, such as they are. Not one of them ever had a State constitution independent of the Union. Of course, it is not forgotten that all the new States framed their constitutions before they entered the Union; nevertheless, dependent upon, and preparatory to, coming into the Union.
Unquestionably the States have the powers and rights reserved to them in and by the national Constitution; but among those, surely, are not included all conceivable powers, however mischievous or destructive; but, at most, such only as were known in the world at the time as governmental powers; and certainly a power to destroy the government itself had never been known as a governmental -- as a merely administrative power. This relative matter of national power and State rights, as a principle, is no other than the principle of generality and locality. Whatever concerns the whole should be confided to the whole -- to the general government; while whatever concerns only the State should be left exclusively to the State. This is all there is of original principle about it. Whether the national Constitution, in defining boundaries between the two, has applied the principle with exact accuracy, is not to be questioned. We are all bound by that defining, without question.
What is now combatted, is the position that secession is consistent with the Constitution -- is lawful, and peaceful. It is not contended that there is any express law for it; and nothing should ever be implied as law, which leads to unjust or absurd consequences. The nation purchased, with money, the countries out of which several of these States were formed. Is it just that they shall go off without leave, and without refunding? The nation paid very large sums, (in the aggregate, I believe nearly a hundred millions,) to relieve Florida of the aboriginal tribes. Is it just that she shall now be off without consent, or without making any return? The nation is now in debt for money applied to the benefit of these so-called seceding States, in common with the rest. Is it just, either that the creditors shall go unpaid, or the remaining States pay the whole? A part of the present national debt was contracted to pay the old debts of Texas. Is it just that she shall leave, and pay no part of this herself?
Again, if one State may secede, so may another; and when all shall have seceded, none is left to pay the debts. Is this quite just to creditors? Did we notify them of this sage view of ours when we borrowed their money? If we now recognize this doctrine by allowing the seceders to go in peace, it is difficult to see what we can do if others choose to go, or to extort terms upon which they will promise to remain.
The seceders insist that our Constitution admits of secession. They have assumed to make a national constitution of their own, in which, of necessity, they have either discarded or retained the right of secession, as, they insist, it exists in ours. If they have discarded it, they thereby admit that, on principle, it ought not to be in ours. If they have retained it, by their own construction of ours they show that they will secede from one another, whenever they shall find it the easiest way of settling their debts, or effecting any other selfish or unjust object. The principle itself is one of disintegration, and upon which no government can possibly endure.
If all the States, save one, should assert the power to drive that one out of the Union, it is presumed the whole class of seceder politicians would at once deny the power, and denounce the act as the greatest outrage upon State rights. But suppose that precisely the same act, instead of being called "driving the one out," should be called "the seceding of the others from that one," it would be exactly what the seceders claim to do; unless, indeed, they make the point, that the one, because it is a minority, may rightfully do what the others, because they are a majority, may not rightfully do. These politicians are subtle and profound on the rights of minorities. The dread of their existence is that power which made the Constitution, and speaks from the preamble, calling itself "We, the People."
It may well be questioned whether there is, to-day, a majority of the legally qualified voters of any State, except perhaps21 South Carolina, in favor of disunion. There is much reason to believe that the Union men are the majority in many, if not in every other one, of the so-called seceded States. The contrary has not been demonstrated in any one of them. It is ventured to affirm this, even of Virginia and Tennessee; for the result of an election, held in military camps, where the bayonets are all on one side of the question voted upon, can scarcely be considered as demonstrating popular sentiment. At such an election all that large class who are, at once, for the Union, and against coercion, would be coerced to vote against the Union.
It may be affirmed, without extravagance, that the free institutions we enjoy have developed the powers, and improved the condition, of our whole people, beyond any example in the world. Of this we now have a striking and an impressive illustration. So large an army as the government has now on foot, was never before known, without a soldier in it, but who had taken his place there, of his own free choice. But more than this: there are many single regiments whose members, one and another, possess full practical knowledge of all the arts, sciences, professions, and whatever else, whether useful or elegant, is known in the world; and there is scarcely one from which there could not be selected, a President, a Cabinet, a Congress, and perhaps a Court, abundantly competent to administer the government itself! Nor do I know I do not say that this22 that this is not true, also, in the army of our late friends, now adversaries in this contest; but if it is, so much better the reason why the government, which has conferred such benefits on both them and us, should not be broken up. Whoever, in any section, proposes to abandon such a government, would do well to consider, in deference to what principle it is that he does it -- what better he is likely to get in its stead -- whether the substitute will give, or be intended to give, so much of good to the people. There are some foreshadowings on this subject. Our adversaries have adopted some declaration of independence, in which, unlike the good old one, penned by Jefferson, they omit the words "all men are created equal." Why? They have adopted a temporary national constitution, in the preamble of which, unlike our good old one, signed by Washington, they omit "We, the people," and substitute "We, the deputies of the sovereign and independent States." Why? Why this deliberate pressing out of view, the rights of men, and the authority of the people?
Last edited by Bladerunnernyc; 29 Nov 10 at 21:58..
29 Nov 10, 21:59
This is essentially a People's contest. On the side of the Union, it is a struggle for maintaining in the world, that form and substance of government, whose leading object is, to elevate the condition of men -- to lift artificial weights from all shoulders; to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all; to afford all an unfettered start, and a fair chance in the race of life. Yielding to partial and temporary departures, from necessity, this is the leading object of the government for whose existence we contend.
I am most happy to believe that the plain people understand and appreciate this. It is worthy of note, that while in this, the government's hour of trial, large numbers of those in the army and navy who have been favored with the offices, have resigned, and played false to the very hand which had pampered them, not one common soldier, or common sailor, has deserted his flag.
Greater honor is due to those officers who remained true, despite the example of their treacherous associates; but the greatest honor, and most important fact of all, is the unanimous firmness of the common soldiers, and common sailors. To the last man, they have successfully resisted the traitorous efforts of those whose commands, but an hour before, they obeyed as absolute law. This is the patriotic instinct of plain people. They understand, without an argument, that the destroying the government which was made by Washington means no good to them.
Our popular government has often been called an experiment. Two points in it our people have already settled -- the successful establishing and the successful administering of it. One still remains -- the successful maintenance of it, against a formidable attempt to overthrow it. It is now for them to demonstrate to the world, that those who can fairly carry an election, can also suppress a rebellion; that ballots are the rightful and peaceful successors of bullets; and that when ballots have fairly and constitutionally decided, there can be no successful appeal back to bullets; that there can be no successful appeal except to ballots themselves, at succeeding elections. Such will be a great lesson of peace; teaching men that what they cannot take by an election, neither can they take it by a war; teaching all the folly of being the beginners of a war.
Lest there be some uneasiness in the minds of candid men as to what is to be the course of the government towards the southern States after the rebellion shall have been suppressed, the Executive deems it proper to say it will be his purpose then, as ever, to be guided by the Constitution and the laws, and that he probably will have no different understanding of the powers and duties of the federal government relative to the rights of the States and the people, under the Constitution, than that expressed in the inaugural address:
He desires to preserve the government, that it may be administered for all, as it was administered by the men who made it. Loyal citizens everywhere, have the right to claim this of their government; and the government has no right to withhold, or neglect it. It is not perceived that, in giving it, there is any coercion, any conquest, or any subjugation, which any honest man should regret.23 or any deprivation of any citizen of any right of life liberty or pursuit of happiness guaranteed to him by the Constitution or the laws of the land:
It was with the deepest regret that the Executive found the duty of employing the war-power, in defence of the government, forced upon him. He could but perform this duty, or surrender the existence of the government. No compromise, by public servants, could, in this case, be a cure; not that compromises are not often proper, but that no popular government can long survive a marked precedent, that those who carry an election can only save the government from immediate destruction by giving up the main point upon which the people gave the election. The people themselves, and not their servants, can safely reverse their own deliberate decisions.
As a private citizen, he could not have consented that these institutions shall perish; much less could he, in betrayal of so vast and so sacred a trust as these free people had confided to him. He felt that he had no moral right to shrink, nor even to count the chances of his own life, in what might follow. In full view of his great responsibility, he has, so far, done what he has deemed his duty. You will now, according to your own judgment, perform yours. He sincerely hopes that your views, and your action, may so accord with his as to assure all faithful citizens, who have been disturbed in their rights, of a certain and speedy restoration to them, under the Constitution and the laws.
And having thus chosen our course, without guile, and with pure purpose, let us renew our trust in God, and go forward without fear, and with manly hearts.
[Note 1 This document is the copy of the second printed draft of Lincoln's Message to Congress, July 4, 1861, sent by Lincoln to his Secretary of State, William H. Seward, for comment and suggestions. Seward's suggested changes, largely in the handwriting of his son and secretary, Frederick W. Seward, are the changes reflected here. Suggested deletions are self-evident, being rendered as stricken text, but, in the interest of clarity, all of Seward's other suggested changes have been annotated. In the latest surviving draft of this message, Lincoln adopted most of Seward's suggestions. See Message to Congress, July 4, 1861, With Changes in Lincoln's Hand, [June or July, 1861]. For a discussion of the various versions of this important message and its evolution, see Abraham Lincoln, Message to Congress, July 4, 1861, Second Printed Draft, With Changes in Lincoln's Hand.]
[Note 2 Seward struck the word "all" and substituted "generally" for "entirely".]
[Note 3 Seward here inserted "either besieged or".]
[Note 4 Seward here substituted "them" for "these States".]
[Note 5 Seward here substituted "A formula" for "Also the", though he probably meant to strike the word "forms" also.]
[Note 6 Seward here struck "federal" and substituted "combined".]
[Note 7 Seward here struck "gone through" and substituted "promulgated".]
[Note 8 Seward here struck "supposed federal government" and substituted "illegal organization".]
[Note 9 Seward here struck the original ending of the sentence and substituted a different one, though perhaps inadvertently ending with a semi-colon.]
[Note 10 Seward here inserted "under the circumstances".]
[Note 11 Seward here inserted "and".]
[Note 12 Seward here inserted "on that occasion ".]
[Note 13 Seward here inserted "except patriotic Delaware".]
[Note 14 Seward here struck the words "they may not all be" and wrote in the margin "very many who have favored it are loyal citizens it is nevertheless treason in effect." While he did not strike the rest of the sentence, his suggested alteration seems to have been intended as a substitute for the entire ending of the sentence. This is the way Lincoln treated the passage in accepting Seward's suggestion in the final version.]
[Note 15 Seward's suggestion of deleting the preceding passage and substituting "Other calls were" was accepted by Lincoln in his final revision.]
[Note 16 Seward's recommended deletion of the two preceding paragraphs was subsequently adopted by Lincoln in his final revision.]
[Note 17 Seward here struck "violated" and substituted "broken".]
[Note 18 Seward here recommended a new tack and a new ending for the sentence, which Lincoln subsequently adopted in his final revision. As a gloss on the hard-to-read text either Seward or his secretary had written in the margins. Seward's suggested ending for this sentence is written out on a slip and attached to the page: "that the sovereignty and rights of the United States are now everywhere practically respected by foreign powers, and a general sympathy with the country is manifested throughout the world."]
[Note 19 Seward here inserted "if necessary".]
[Note 20 Seward here inserted "4".]
[Note 21 Seward here inserted "perhaps".]
[Note 22 Seward here struck Lincoln's "Nor do I know" and then wrote in the margin as an insertion "I do not say that this."]
[Note 23 Seward proposed striking the conclusion of Lincoln's sentence and substituting the text that follows.]
29 Nov 10, 22:10
McClellan Letter to Lincoln on His Evacuation from the Penninsula Campaign
Headquarters, Army of the Potomac,
Camp near Harrison's Landing, Va.,
July 7, 1862.
You have been fully informed that [the] rebel army is in [our] front, with the purpose of overwhelming us by attacking our positions or reducing us by blocking our river communications. I cannot but regard our condition as critical, and I earnestly desire, in view of possible contingencies, to lay before your excellency, for your private consideration, my general views concerning the existing state of the rebellion, although they do not strictly relate to the situation of this army or strictly come within the scope of my official duties. These views amount to convictions, and are deeply impressed upon my mind and heart. Our cause must never be abandoned; it is the cause of free institutions and self-government. The Constitution and the Union must be preserved, whatever may be the cost in time, treasure, and blood. If secession is successful other dissolutions are clearly to be seen in the future. Let neither military disaster, political faction, nor foreign war shake your settled purpose to enforce the equal operation of the laws of the United States upon the people of every state.
The time has come when the government must determine upon a civil and military policy covering the whole ground of our national trouble.
The responsibility of determining, declaring, and supporting such civil and military policy, and of directing the whole course of national affairs in regard to the rebellion, must now be assumed and exercised by you, or our cause will be lost. The Constitution gives you power sufficient even for the present terrible exigency.
This rebellion has assumed the character of war; as such it should be regarded, and it should be conducted upon the highest principles known to Christian civilization. It should not be a war looking to the subjugation of the people of any State in any event. It should not be at all a war upon population, but against armed forces and political organization. Neither confiscation of property, political executions of persons, territorial organization of States, or forcible abolition of slavery should be contemplated for a moment. In prosecuting the war all private property and unarmed persons should be strictly protected, subject only to the necessity of military operations. All private property taken for military use should be paid or receipted for; pillage and waste should be treated as high crimes; all unnecessary trespass sternly prohibited, and offensive demeanor by the military towards citizens promptly rebuked. Military arrests should not be tolerated, except in places where active hostilities exist, and oaths not required by enactments constitutionally made should be neither demanded nor received. Military government should be confined to the preservation of public order and the protection of political rights. Military power should not be allowed to interfere with the relations of servitude, either by supporting or impairing the authority of the master, except for repressing disorder, as in other cases. Slave contraband under the act of Congress, seeking military protection, should receive it. The right of the Government to appropriate permanently to its own service claims to slave labor should be asserted, and the right of the owner to compensation therefor should be recognized.
This principle might be extended, upon grounds of military necessity and security, to all the slaves within a particular State, thus working manumission in such State; and in Missouri, perhaps in Western Virginia also, and possibly even in Maryland, the expediency of such a measure is only a question of time.
A system of policy thus constitutional and conservative, and pervaded by the influences of Christianity and freedom, would receive the support of almost all truly loyal men, would deeply impress the rebel masses and all foreign nations, and it might be humbly hoped that it would commend itself to the favor of the Almighty.
Unless the principles governing the future conduct of our struggle shall be made known and approved, the effort to obtain requisite forces will be almost hopeless. A declaration of radical views, especially upon slavery, will rapidly disintegrate our present armies. The policy of the government must be supported by concentration of military power. The national forces should not be dispersed in expeditions, posts of occupation, and numerous armies, but should be mainly collected into masses and brought to bear upon the armies of the Confederate States. Those armies thoroughly defeated, the political structure which they support would soon cease to exist.
In carrying out any system of policy which you may form you will require a commander-in-chief of the army, one who possesses your confidence, understands your views and who is competent to execute your orders by directing the military forces of the nation to the accomplishment of the objects by you proposed. I do not ask that place for myself. I am willing to serve you in such position as you may assign me, and I will do as faithfully as ever subordinate served superior.
I may be on the brink of eternity; and as I hope forgiveness from my Master, I have written this letter with sincerity towards you and from love of my country.
your obedient servant,
Geo. B. McClellan,
29 Nov 10, 22:19
To Alexander H. Stephens
For your own eyes only.
Dec. 22, 1860
Hon. A. H. Stephens--
My dear Sir
Your obliging answer to my short note is just received, and for which please accept my thanks. I fully appreciate the present peril the country is in, and the weight of responsibility on me.
Do the people of the South really entertain fears that a Republican administration would, directly or indirectly, interfere with their slaves, or with them, about their slaves? If they do, I wish to assure you, as once a friend, and still, I hope, not an enemy, that there is no cause for such fears.
The South would be in no more danger in this respect than it was in the days of Washington. I suppose, however, this does not meet the case. You think slavery is right and should be extended; while we think slavery is wrong and ought to be restricted. That I suppose is the rub. It certainly is the only substantial difference between us. Yours very truly
29 Nov 10, 22:30
Crawfordsville, Ga., January 25th, 1860.
Hon. Abraham Lincoln,
My Dear Sir:
Yours of the 19. is here. I have little faith in any new or old party being able to save us from the madness, as much of the south as the north. A Constitutional Union party pledged to the enforcement of all laws, and in its platform fully recognizing the paramount State sovereignty, seems hopeful to some men -- less so to me than when I wrote, as you will see by my reply to Senator Crittenden. As a railway man might say -- "I foresaw a smash up on our road, and got off at the first station." My retirement from congress means -- I trust -- rest and an end of public life. There are two points in your letter. First, illustrating our constitution and amendments by a fee-simple deed with a post-script. This is clever. Just such deeds are known to Georgia law, the tail inserted before signing. To avoid the equity of redemption of mortgage, the Insurance loan companies, mostly from the North West, take a fee-simple deed, conditional to be void if the loan and interest are paid in three years. What remains of the title? Everything, -- if the condition is kept. Let me give you a better illustration. Pensioners of the United States, receive for service or wound, each a part of what rightfully and originally is of the government, i. e. money of the public revenue, when granted it is truly inalienable. The pensioner cannot sell or pawn the certificate, not even for the full value of it for an average life-time and such premium as the certainty of payment commands with public bonds. Not voidable, but void is such a sale, the government admitting no consideration as equal to its faith with the pensioner. This government right is devisible, -- inheritable -- inalienable. Take a scripture illustration. The covenant of the Holy Family ran by inheritance through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. In the third step it fell to the younger brother; in the fourth, it divided to twelve sons, Dinah not inheriting. Each son had an equal inalienable tribal right as entire as that Abraham and Isaac possessed. This was tested when the David line of the royal tribe of Judah represented by Rehoboam, undertook to coerce the seceded ten tribes under Jeroboam (1, Kings XI th 31, 32,) and although possessed of Kingly divine right, he was forbidden of the Lord. (I. King XII: 21.) The thirteen colonies revolting from the British crown, were successful; and whether you date Independence from July 4, 1776, or in 1783, when seven years later it was recognized, the original sovereignty of Great Britain became all vested in the colonies, and if Dinah had been wed the partition of the sovereignty into thirteen full nations or tribes would be a parallel. Indeed it was so since Joseph parted to Ephram -- Manasseh the younger first. Again, the Hebrew could not alienate heritage or liberty; all came back in the Jubilee; only strangers could (Leviticus XXV: 10 to 17). State sovereignty like "life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness," is inalienable -- priceless -- above all consideration, expediency or necessity. States could not give away -- could not sell -- that Pension of the Divine Governor -- that heritage and that birth-right of the mother birth-pangs of 1776-1783. Born in a bed of fire of the Revolution -- States sold not their rights -- as did Esau for a mess of pottage. Sovereignty here in our states is no longer in the crown, nor is it in the agent appointee: but it is in the states. The southern fire-eaters who clamor for extension of Slavery into the territories, by the popular local vote or by Congress, have no sense. We will settle no more slave territory unless we reopen the African slave trade to get more negroes. Granting Congress power to put it in, also concedes power to keep it out. When once these malcontents have conceded to the Federal Agent, the right to intermeddle with the paramount local sovereignty; the same in the territory preparing for statehood as in the states; all barriers will break and centralism will obliterate state lines. Review this matter again. Slavery and sectionalism will not always force issues, and Statehood is as precious to the North West as it is to the South East. Your second point is the word "Perpetual" and in the last two words of the caption "Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union" -- the sense of the title is submerged and also of all of the articles, except Thirteen.
Articles of Confederation: Each of them is equally vital. No delegate would have signed one without them all. "Perpetual Union" -- "This union shall be perpetual" on these terms only. Did you ever notice that this language is not repeated in the "More perfect" Constitution? You know as well as I do that Virginia and other states as New York and Rhode Island in all of the early proposals to extend the power of Congress over import duties for the sake of public credit based on revenue; asked that the experiment be limited to a term of years, ten, fifteen or thirty. Only the general trust in each other and in the limitations exacted: made it a general and not a limited time partnership. Granting more power against such protests as that of Rhode Island that it might be used against the states. The language of the Articles of 1778 as to perpetuity was intentionally omitted. Our ancestors did not foresee that slavery, then general would sectionalize; and that in doing business as a firm for one hundred years, that valuable assets viz: our vast territorial farms -- would be struggled for by greedy banks of partners -- and, as Henry Clay foresaw in our expansion by conquest from Mexico, would threaten or produce inter-state and sectional war. I pray that there may be no disunion. The one weakness of the south is the concretion of wealth in the hands of a few. A recent book "Cotton is King" -- shows that the King is administered by an aristocracy of three hundred thousand (300,000) out of four millions of whites (4.000,000). If the entire white population seek separate Independence; the northern states will no more repress it than did George III with the Colonies. There will be no "peacable secession;" the firm has assets now contended for -- and the arbiter is the sword. No constitutional party will avail when sections differ as you and I do as to what it means. No law will be enforced when men like William H. Seward say there is a "Higher Law" than is the Federal Supreme law, and when men like Salmon P. Chase say in the Senate, they and their states will not observe the great Compromises of 1850-1854-6. Our Union is a compact between sovereigns, and if one breaks a treaty the others are not bound. Call it a partnership -- unlimited in times as they usually are -- but strictly limited in action. Few partnerships anticipate their dissolution or fix the time. One partner extravagant and greedy releases the rest, for no one may hold others to take advantage of his own wrong. Death dissolves but it is rarely provided for. When we dissolve, the less will leave the greater, and if the less be then the ricber, as the south now is, the greater will not be amiable. That means war; not doubtful if Independence, not selfish greed, shall actuate a tier of states. Once made, the breach will never heal. Horace Greeley says two sections may be pinned together by bayonets, but not the hearts. General Scott in his words, "Wayward sisters depart in peace" refers to the In Pace of the convent nun walled up alive. That we will see. Finally, I do not think the Jeffersonian amendments are unmeaning. They express what the convention implied. Esto Perpetua has been inscribed on pyramids and empire gates and cut deeply into granite and marble tombs. The works of man are not eternal. We are far from the hoary years of Thebes and Rome and England -- Wait! Our temple is very new, but it shakes. Oysters and little brooks, coilia insects and earth worms have terms outlasting empires, Wait! We are very new. Rereading your valuable letter, I note this question, "What of state rights is there remaining after all of the enumerated concessions to the Federal government?" I answer Sovereignty that is everything. I now have in my hands as Attorney and Trustee, the estate of three girls who have sixty thousand dollars each. This is my admission that I do not own the estate. The three departments of the General Government do not constitute the union -- remove the states and the agent is nothing.
Let me suppose that you return to public life and one day you pen this entry * * * "On the fourth day of March 1861 I. A. L. found myself to be the secretary of a convention of all the states, met by Delegates in Phila. I The members of the constitutional convention sat and looked at each other. II They all agreed to disagree. III They then all went home. Would you then write "Finding myself in the historic hall like a bean in an empty bag, I, therefore, am The Union?" Let me suppose that to pass the time, you spread the blue Union-Jack on a table and with chalk, mark out among the stars, the line of dissolving power. You admit that all of say thirty three states could dissolve the Union. Mark out one as dissenting -- Maine or South Carolina, and you will admit that thirty-two states could still dissolve the Union. The matter is practical. The constitution of 17 September 1787 began to take shape in the Delaware convention 7 Dec. 1787, but up to 21 November 1789 North Carolina and Rhode Island had not ratified and were of the 1778 Confederation. Twelve states in convention made the constitution, omitting to record as perpetual the greater powers they loaned -- and up to May 29, 1790, Rhode Island was left alone in the Confederation of July 9, 1778. Then R. I. was taxed in. You can easily divide thirty-three states into three groups of eleven each; Eastern, Western, Southern, Remove slavery and the South and West naturally unite for good commercial reasons. Could not twenty-two states then dissolve the Union? Surely. If 22: could not seventeen (17) a majority of one? So the old Democratic party is practically divided now. If 17, could not eleven (11)? Interest so divides us now. Judge Benning in a speech I send you, argues that eleven states make the tobacco, cotton, rice, sugar and corn, the five money producing staples; against the potatoes, hay and wheat of the more populous states. Only by their commerce that of lakes, rivers and railways being largely in excess of the oceanic, do the twenty-two states compare with the fruitful eleven. I may say that fourteen states are yet interested in the productiveness of slave labor. Surely the old thirteen states could have dissolved the union which they made. The repeated recitation of the term perpetual purposely left out of the constitution is like the "till death do you part" of marriage. Christ and Paul admit it may be broken, although the Vinculo Matrimoni never so recites. Any other fourteen states emerged from territorial chrysalis become vested with all of the attributes of statehood, sovereignty included. If fourteen could ever dissolve the union -- can they not now -- cannot one? Where do you draw the line of power? Eleven less populous states, having a million more of whites and four millions more of total population than had the old thirteen, if united as then for a new Independence, would surely attain it. Great Britain had as many available millions as you have and failed. You in your welcome to Louis Kossuth, expressed high regard for any people struggling for liberty, yet the slaves of the south are in as good condition as were Hungarian serfs. A century of storm and shine has not yet merged our thirteen stripes and thirty three bright stars into one smear of indistinguishable Union. God keeps us yet distinct? I am for the Union as our fathers made it. Georgia commands me -- as said Ruth to Naomi, "The Lord do so to me and more also if aught save death separate me and my state."
Alexander H. Stephens.
29 Nov 10, 22:34
Springfield, Illinois, 19 January, 1860.
Duplicated for Senator Jno. J. Crittenden
Honorable A. H. Stephens
Dear Sir: Your letter and one from Hon. J. J. Crittenden, reached me at the same time. He wants a new party on the platform of "The Union, the constitution and the enforcement of the Laws" -- not construed. You from your retirement at Liberty Hall complain of the bad faith of many in the free states who refuse to return fugitives from labor, as agreed in the compromise of 1850, 1854: but I infer that you agree with Judge Douglas that the territories are to be left to "form and regulate their own domestic institutions subject only to the Constitution of the United States." I remember the letter of the Whigs in Congress in 1852 which defeated Gen'l Winfield Scott on the ground that he did not present your view of States' rights. Also that your letter destroyed the Whig party and it is said that you and Toombs voted for Webster after he was dead. You are still "harping" on "my daughter" and you supported Zach Taylor as a sound Kentuckian. If I understand you, here are two constructions: Crittenden being willing for the Henry Clay gradual emancipation, I think. The rights of local self-government as defined by Webster, also including state determination of citizenship, are clearly in the Constitution. When we were both Members of the Young-Indian Club in Washington you then argued for paramount state Sovereignty going very nearly to the extreme of state nullification of Federal laws with John C. Calhoun: and of secession at will with Robert Toombs. The Colonies were subject up to July 4, 1776, and had no recognized independence until they had won it in 1783: but the only time they ever had the shadow of separate sovereignty was in the two years before they were compelled to the articles of Confederation July 9, 1778. They fought England for seven years for the right to club together but when were they independent of each other? Let me say right here that only unanimous consent of all of the states can dissolve this Union. We will not secede and you shall not. Let me show you what I think of the reserved rights of the states as declared in the articles of Confederation and in the Constitution and so called Jeffersonian amendments; suppose that I sold a farm here in Illinois with all and singular the rights, members and appurtenances to the same in any wise belonging or appertaining, signed, sealed and delivered: I have now sold my land. Will it at all change the contract if I go to the clerk's office and add a post script to the record; that all rights not therein conveyed I reserve to myself and my children? The colonies, by the Declaration of July 4, 1776, did not get nationality, for they were leagued to fight for it. By the articles of Confederation of July 9, 1778 under stress and peril of failure without union; a government was created to which the states ceded certain powers of nationality, especially in the command of the army and navy, as yet supported by the states. Geo. Washington was commander in Chief and congress was advisory agent of the states, commending but not enacting laws for the thirteen, until empowered This proved insufficient and the peril of failure was great as ever, at home and abroad. Alexander Hamilton and others of New York were first to urge that a government with no revenues, except state grants, could have no credit at home or abroad. Three years later Virginia led the states in urging concessions of power, and then by twelve states -- Rhode Island objecting -- was framed our original Constitution of 1787 fully three and a half years after the peace that sealed our United national Independence. The post-script erroneously all attributed to Thomas Jefferson; came in three installments. The first ten (10) proposed in the first session of the Congress of the United States 25th September 1789 were ratified by the constitutional number of states 15 December 1791, New Jersey 20 November 1789 and Virginia 15 December 1791, eleventh states only; Georgia and Connecticut dissenting. The eleventh amendment proposed 5 March 1794; Third Congress was then declared duly adopted by a President's message of, 8 January, 1798; Eleven states consenting & finally all consenting. The twelvth amendment was proposed in congress 12 December 1803 and declared ratified through the secretary of State 25 September 1804 by the constitutional quorum of states. The first ten articles are the Bill of Rights and each set of amendments had a preface. The eleventh limited the Federal Judiciary The twelfth regulated general elections for President and Vice-President of the United States. Do any or all of these retract the fee-simple grant of great and permanent powers to the Federal Government? There are three great Departments I the President commanding the Army and Navy and with a veto upon a plurality of Congress. II the Congress coining all moneys; collecting all imposts on imports, regulating all interstate as all external commerce; making all subordinate Federal Judiciary as appointed of the President with power to have a ten mile square seat and to take grants or to buy for Forts, Dock yards and Arsenals; having post offices and post roads under laws executed by the President, and to frame supreme consitutional laws and set up courts and Judges. III The supreme court set as arbiter and expounder of the constitution and of all differences of states and with states or of them with the Federation; no loop hole left for nullification, and none for secession, -- because the right of peaceable assembly and of petition and by article Fifth of the Constitution, the right of amendment, is the Constitutional substitute for revolution. Here is our Magna Carta not wrested by Barons from King John, but the free gift of states to the nation they create and in the very amendments harped upon by states rights men are proposed by the Federal congress and approved by Presidents, to make the liberties of the Republic of the West forever sure. All of the States' Rights which they wished to retain are now and forever retained in the Union, including slavery; and so I have sworn loyalty to this constitutional union, and for it let me live or let me die. But you say that slavery is the corner stone of the south and if separated, would be that of a new Republic; God forbid. When a boy I went to New Orleans on a flat boat and there I saw slavery and slave markets as I have never seen them in Kentucky, and I heard worse of the Red River plantations. I hoped and prayed that the gradual emancipation plan of Henry Clay or the Liberian colonization of John Q. Adams might lead to its extinction in the United States. Geo. Washington, the Massachusetts Adams, presidents James Madison and Monroe, Benj. Franklin; opposed its extension into the territories before I did. The ordinance of 1784, 1787 for the North West territory ceded by Virginia, was written by Thomas Jefferson and signed only by slave-holders and that prohibited forever slavery, or involuntary servitude not imposed for crime. Your grandfather, Captain Stephens, suffered at Valley Forge and bled at Brandywine for the principles of the men of 1776-1783. Your Uncle, Justice Grier of the Supreme Bench has recently expounded the Supreme Law as I honestly accept it. Senator Crittenden complains that by the device of party conventions and nominations of candidates for Presidents and Vice-Presidents the Federal plan of separate and unbiased Electoral Colleges is taken away and the popular feature of elections is restored to the people. I reckon they wanted it so. What are you agoing to do about it? To abolish conventions you must abolish candidates. In your Oxford College oration, you say "I love the Union and revere its memories; I rejoice in all its achievements in arts in letters and in arms." If it is a good thing, why not just keep it and say no more about it?
I am not in favor of a party of Union constitution and law to suit Mr. Bell or Mr. Everett and be construed variously in as many sections as there are states.
This is the longest letter I ever dictated or wrote.
But this is to, only you alone, not to the public.
29 Nov 10, 22:38
Address to the Pennsylvania General Assembly at Harrisburg
February 22, 1861
Mr. Speaker of the Senate and also Mr. Speaker of the House of Representatives, and Gentlemen of the General Assembly of the State of Pennsylvania, I appear before you only for a very few brief remarks in response to what has been said to me. I thank you most sincerely for this reception, and the generous words in which support has been promised me upon this occasion. I thank your great Commonwealth for the overwhelming support it recently gave---not me personally---but the cause which I think a just one, in the late election. [Loud applause.]
Allusion has been made to the fact---the interesting fact perhaps we should say---that I for the first time appear at the Capitol of the great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, upon the birthday of the Father of his Country. In connection with that beloved anniversary connected with the history of this country, I have already gone through one exceedingly interesting scene this morning in the ceremonies at Philadelphia. Under the kind conduct of gentlemen there, I was for the first time allowed the privilege of standing in old Independence Hall, [enthusiastic cheering], to have a few words addressed to me there and opening up to me an opportunity of expressing with much regret that I had not more time to express something of my own feelings excited by the occasion---somewhat to harmonize and give shape to the feelings that had been really the feelings of my whole life.
Besides this, our friends there had provided a magnificent flag of the country. They had arranged it so that I was given the honor of raising it to the head of its staff [applause]; and when it went up, I was pleased that it went to its place by the strength of my own feeble arm. When, according to the arrangement, the cord was pulled and it flaunted gloriously to the wind without an accident, in the light [bright] glowing sun-shine of the morning, I could not help hoping that there was in the entire success of that beautiful ceremony, at least something of an omen of what is to come. [Loud applause.] Nor could I help, feeling then as I often have felt, that in the whole of that proceeding I was a very humble instrument. I had not provided the flag; I had not made the arrangement for elevating it to its place; I had applied but a very small portion of even my feeble strength in raising it. In the whole transaction, I was in the hands of the people who had arranged it, and if I can have the same generous co-operation of the people of this nation, I think the flag of our country may yet be kept flaunting gloriously. [Enthusiastic, long continued cheering.]
I recur for a moment but to repeat some words uttered at the hotel in regard to what has been said about the military support which the general government may expect from the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, in a proper emergency. To guard against any possible mistake do I recur to this. It is not with any pleasure that I contemplate the possibility that a necessity may arise in this country for the use of the military arm. [Applause.] While I am exceedingly gratified to see the manifestation upon your streets of your military force here, and exceedingly gratified at your promise here to use that force upon a proper emergency, while I make these acknowledgments, I desire to repeat, in order to preclude any possible misconstruction, that I do most sincerely hope that we shall have no use for them---[loud applause]---that it will never become their duty to shed blood, and most especially never to shed fraternal blood. I promise that, (in so far as I may have wisdom to direct,) if so painful a result shall in any wise be brought about, it shall be through no fault of mine. [Cheers.]
Allusion has also been made, by one of your honored Speakers, to some remarks recently made by myself at Pittsburg, in regard to what is supposed to be the especial interest of this great Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. I now wish only to say, in regard to that matter, that the few remarks which I uttered on that occasion were rather carefully worded. I took pains that they should be so. I have seen no occasion since to add to them or subtract from them. I leave them precisely as they stand; [applause] adding only now that I am pleased to have an expression from you, gentlemen of Pennsylvania, significant that they are satisfactory to you.
And now, gentlemen of the General Assembly of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania, allow me again to return to you my most sincere thanks.
[Mr. Lincoln took his seat amid rapturous and prolonged cheering.]
29 Nov 10, 22:38
Speech at Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
February 15, 1861
Mayor Wilson and Citizens of Pennsylvania: I most cordially thank his Honor Mayor Wilson, and the citizens of Pittsburg generally for this flattering reception. It is the more grateful, because I know that, while it is not given to me alone, but to the cause which I represent, yet it is given under circumstances which clearly prove to me that there is good will and sincere feeling at the bottom of it.
And here, fellow citizens, I may remark that in every short address I have made to the people, and in every crowd through which I have passed of late, some allusion has been made to the present distracted condition of the country. It is naturally expected that I should say something upon this subject, but to touch upon it all would involve an elaborate discussion of a great many questions and circumstances, would require more time than I can at present command, and would perhaps unnecessarily commit me upon matters which have not yet fully developed themselves. [Immense cheering, and cries of ``good!'' ``that's right!'']
The condition of the country, fellow-citizens, is an extraordinary one, and fills the mind of every patriot with anxiety and solicitude. My intention is to give this subject all the consideration which I possibly can before I speak fully and definitely in regard to it---so that, when I do speak, I may be as nearly right as possible. And when I do speak, fellow-citizens, I hope to say nothing in opposition to the spirit of the Consititution, contrary to the integrity of the Union, or which will in any way prove inimical to the liberties of the people or to the peace of the whole country. And, furthermore, when the time arrives for me to speak on this great subject, I hope to say nothing which will disappoint the reasonable expectations of any man, or disappoint the people generally throughout the country, especially if their expectations have been based upon anything which I may have heretofore said.
Notwithstanding the troubles across the river, [the speaker pointing southwardly, and smiling] there is really no crisis, springing from anything in the government itself. In plain words, there is really no crisis except an artificial one! What is there now to warrant the condition of affairs presented by our friends ``over the river?'' Take even their own view of the questions involved, and there is nothing to justify the course which they are pursuing. I repeat it, then---there is no crisis, excepting such a one as may be gotten up at any time by designing politicians. My advice, then, under such circumstances, is to keep cool. If the great American people will only keep their temper, on both sides of the line, the troubles will come to an end, and the question which now distracts the country will be settled just as surely as all other difficulties of like character which have originated in this government have been adjusted. Let the people on both sides keep their self-possession, and just as other clouds have cleared away in due time, so will this, and this great nation shall continue to prosper as heretofore. But, fellow citizens, I have spoken longer on this subject than I had intended in the outset---and I shall say no more at present.
Fellow citizens, as this is the first opportunity which I have had to address a Pennsylvania assemblage, it seems a fitting time to indulge in a few remarks upon the important question of a tariff---a subject of great magnitude, and one which is attended with many difficulties, owing to the great variety of interests which it involves. So long as direct taxation for the support of government is not resorted to, a tariff is necessary. The tariff is to the government what a meal is to the family; but, while this is admitted, it still becomes necessary to modify and change its operations according to new interests and new circumstances. So far there is little difference of opinion among politicians, but the question as to how far imposts may be adjusted for the protection of home industry, gives rise to various views and objections. I must confess that I do not understand this subject in all its multiform bearings, but I promise you that I will give it my closest attention, and endeavor to comprehend it more fully. And here I may remark that the Chicago platform contains a plank upon this subject, which I think should be regarded as law for the incoming administration. In fact, this question, as well as all other subjects embodied in that platform, should not be varied from what we gave the people to understand would be our policy when we obtained their votes. Permit me, fellow citizens, to read the tariff plank of the Chicago platform, or rather, to have it read in your hearing by one who has younger eyes than I have...
But I am trespassing upon your patience---[cries of ``no!'' ``no!'' ``Go on---we'll listen!''] and must bring my remarks to a close. Thanking you most cordially for the kind reception which you have extended me, I bid you all adieu. [Enthusiastic applause.]
29 Nov 10, 22:41
Fort Leavenworth, Kansas,
Oct. 20th 1860.--
Dear Sir: Your success and safety being identified with the great Republican cause, the cause of peace, union and conservatism; must be my apology for addressing you.--
On a recent visit to the east, I met a lady of high character, who had been spending part of the summer among her friends and relatives in Virginia. She informed me that a number of young men in Virginia had bound themselves, by oaths the most solemn, to cause your assassination, should you be elected. Now Sir, you may laugh at this story, and really it does appear too absurd to repeat, but I beg you to recollect, that on "the institution" these good people are most certainly demented, and being crazy, they should be taken care of, to prevent their doing harm to themselves or others.-- Judicious, prompt and energetic action on the part of your Secretary of War, will no doubt secure your own safety, and the peace of the country,
I have the honor to be,
Your mo. ob.
U. S. Army--
I had the pleasure of meeting you in early days at Chicago, and again at the great Whig Convention at Springfield in 1840.