The Writings of Abraham Lincoln Vol. 1-7


If the proposition contained in the resolution does not meet the
approval of Congress and the country, there is the end; but if it
does command such approval, I deem it of importance that the States
and people immediately interested should be at once distinctly
notified of the fact, so that they may begin to consider whether to
accept or reject it. The Federal Government would find its highest
interest in such a measure, as one of the most efficient means of
self-preservation. The leaders of the existing insurrection
entertain the hope that this government will ultimately be forced to
acknowledge the independence of some part of the disaffected region,
and that all the slave States north of such part will then say, "The
Union for which we have struggled being already gone, we now choose
to go with the Southern section." To deprive them of this hope
substantially ends the rebellion, and the initiation of emancipation
completely deprives them of it as to all the States initiating it.
The point is not that all the States tolerating slavery would very
soon, if at all, initiate emancipation; but that, while the offer is
equally made to all, the more northern shall by such initiation make
it certain to the more southern that in no event will the former ever
join the latter in their proposed confederacy. I say "initiation"
because, in my judgment, gradual and not sudden emancipation is
better for all. In the mere financial or pecuniary view, any member
of Congress with the census tables and treasury reports before him
can readily see for himself how very soon the current expenditures of
this war would purchase, at fair valuation, all the slaves in any
named State. Such a proposition on the part of the General
Government sets up no claim of a right by Federal authority to
interfere with slavery within State limits, referring, as it does,
the absolute control of the subject in each case to the State and its
people immediately interested. It is proposed as a matter of
perfectly free choice with them.

In the annual message last December, I thought fit to say, "The Union
must be preserved, and hence all indispensable means must be
employed." I said this not hastily, but deliberately. War has been
made and continues to be an indispensable means to this end. A
practical reacknowledgment of the national authority would render the
war unnecessary, and it would at once cease. If, however, resistance
continues, the war must also continue; and it is impossible to
foresee all the incidents which may attend and all the ruin which may
follow it. Such as may seem indispensable or may obviously promise
great efficiency toward ending the struggle must and will come.

The proposition now made (though an offer only), I hope it may be
esteemed no offense to ask whether the pecuniary consideration
tendered would not be of more value to the States and private persons
concerned than are the institution and property in it in the present
aspect of affairs.

While it is true that the adoption of the proposed resolution would
be merely initiatory, and not within itself a practical measure, it
is recommended in the hope that it would soon lead to important
practical results. In full view of my great responsibility to my God
and to my country, I earnestly beg the attention of Congress and the
people to the subject.



SPRINGFIELD, ILL., March 1, 1862

SECRETARY OF WAR, Washington, D. C.

SIR:--The government at my special request a few months since
contracted for fourteen batteries of the James rifled gun, 6-pounder
calibre, and a limited quantity of the James projectiles, weighing
about fourteen pounds each. The reports showing the superiority of
this gun and projectile, both as regards range, accuracy, and
execution, for field service over that of all others at the battle of
Fort Donelson, leads me to request that there be furnished to the
State of Illinois in the shortest time practicable seven batteries of
12-pounder calibre James rifled guns, with carriages, harness,
implements, etc., complete and ready for field service, together with
the following fixed ammunition to each gun, viz., 225 shells, 225
canister, and 50 solid projectiles, weighing about 24 pounds each,
and also 200 shells, 100 canister, and 100 solid projectiles for each
of the guns of the fourteen batteries named above, weighing about
14 pounds each, all to be of the James model.

Very respectfully,

Governor of Illinois.


March 8, 1862.

The within is from the Governor of Illinois. I understand the seven
additional batteries now sought are to be 6-gun batteries, and the
object is to mix them with the fourteen batteries they already have
so as to make each battery consist of four 6-pounders and two
12-pounders. I shall be very glad to have the requisition filled if
it can be without detriment to the service.




March 8, 1862.

1. That the major-general commanding the Army of the Potomac proceed
forthwith to organize that part of the said army destined to enter
upon active operations (including the reserve, but excluding the
troops to be left in the fortifications about Washington) into four
army corps, to be commanded according to seniority of rank, as

First Corps to consist of four divisions, and to be commanded by
Major-General I. McDowell.
Second Corps to consist of three divisions, and to be commanded by
Brigadier-General E. V. Sumner.
Third Corps to consist of three divisions, and to be commanded by
Brigadier-General S. P. Heintzelman.
Fourth Corps to consist of three divisions, and to be commanded by
Brigadier-General E. D. Keyes.

2. That the divisions now commanded by the officers above assigned
to the commands of army corps shall be embraced in and form part of
their respective corps.

3. The forces left for the defense of Washington will be placed in
command of Brigadier-General James S. Wadsworth, who shall also be
military governor of the District of Columbia.

4. That this order be executed with such promptness and dispatch as
not to delay the commencement of the operations already directed to
be underwritten by the Army of the Potomac.

5. A fifth army corps, to be commanded by Major general N. P. Banks,
will be formed from his own and General Shields's (late General
Lander's) divisions.




Ordered: That no change of the base of operations of the Army of the
Potomac shall be made without leaving in and about Washington such a
force as in the opinion of the general-in-chief and the commanders of
all the army corps shall leave said city entirely secure.

That no more than two army corps (about 50,000 troops) of said Army
of the Potomac shall be moved en route for a new base of operations
until the navigation of the Potomac from Washington to the Chesapeake
Bay shall be freed from enemy's batteries and other obstructions, or
until the President shall hereafter give express permission.

That any movements as aforesaid en route for a new base of operations
which may be ordered by the general-in-chief, and which may be
intended to move upon the Chesapeake Bay, shall begin to move upon
the bay as early as the 18th day of March instant, and the
general-in-chief shall be responsible that it so move as early as
that day.

Ordered, That the army and navy co-operate in an immediate effort to
capture the enemy's batteries upon the Potomac between Washington and
the Chesapeake Bay.



"DEAR SIR:--I called, at the request of the President, to ask you to
come to the White House tomorrow morning, at nine o'clock, and bring
such of your colleagues as are in town."

WASHINGTON, March 10, 1862.

Yesterday, on my return from church, I found Mr. Postmaster-General
Blair in my room, writing the above note, which he immediately
suspended, and verbally communicated the President's invitation, and
stated that the President's purpose was to have some conversation
with the delegations of Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, Virginia, and
Delaware, in explanation of his message of the 6th instant.

This morning these delegations, or such of them as were in town,
assembled at the White House at the appointed time, and after some
little delay were admitted to an audience. Mr. Leary and myself were
the only members from Maryland present, and, I think, were the only
members of the delegation at that time in the city. I know that Mr.
Pearoe, of the Senate, and Messrs. Webster and Calvert, of the
House, were absent.

After the usual salutations, and we were seated, the President said,
in substance, that he had invited us to meet him to have some
conversation with us in explanation of his message of the 6th; that
since he had sent it in several of the gentlemen then present had
visited him, but had avoided any allusion to the message, and he
therefore inferred that the import of the message had been
misunderstood, and was regarded as inimical to the interests we
represented; and he had resolved he would talk with us, and disabuse
our minds of that erroneous opinion.

The President then disclaimed any intent to injure the interests or
wound the sensibilities of the slave States. On the contrary, his
purpose was to protect the one and respect the other; that we were
engaged in a terrible, wasting, and tedious war; immense armies were
in the field, and must continue in the field as long as the war
lasts; that these armies must, of necessity, be brought into contact
with slaves in the States we represented and in other States as they
advanced; that slaves would come to the camps, and continual
irritation was kept up; that he was constantly annoyed by conflicting
and antagonistic complaints: on the one side a certain class
complained if the slave was not protected by the army; persons were
frequently found who, participating in these views, acted in a way
unfriendly to the slaveholder; on the other hand, slaveholders
complained that their rights were interfered with, their slaves
induced to abscond and protected within the lines; these complaints
were numerous, loud and deep; were a serious annoyance to him and
embarrassing to the progress of the war; that it kept alive a spirit
hostile to the government in the States we represented; strengthened
the hopes of the Confederates that at some day the border States
would unite with them, and thus tend to prolong the war; and he was
of opinion, if this resolution should be adopted by Congress and
accepted by our States, these causes of irritation and these hopes
would be removed, and more would be accomplished toward shortening
the war than could be hoped from the greatest victory achieved by
Union armies; that he made this proposition in good faith, and
desired it to be accepted, if at all, voluntarily, and in the same
patriotic spirit in which it was made; that emancipation was a
subject exclusively under the control of the States, and must be
adopted or rejected by each for itself; that he did not claim nor had
this government any right to coerce them for that purpose; that such
was no part of his purpose in making this proposition, and he wished
it to be clearly understood; that he did not expect us there to be
prepared to give him an answer, but he hoped we would take the
subject into serious consideration, confer with one another, and then
take such course as we felt our duty and the interests of our
constituents required of us.

Mr. Noell, of Missouri, said that in his State slavery was not
considered a permanent institution; that natural causes were there in
operation which would at no distant day extinguish it, and he did not
think that this proposition was necessary for that; and, besides
that, he and his friends felt solicitous as to the message on account
of the different constructions which the resolution and message had
received. The New York Tribune was for it, and understood it to mean
that we must accept gradual emancipation according to the plan
suggested, or get something worse.

The President replied that he must not be expected to quarrel with
the New York Tribune before the right time; he hoped never to have to
do it; he would not anticipate events. In respect to emancipation in
Missouri, he said that what had been observed by Mr. Noell was
probably true, but the operation of these natural causes had not
prevented the irritating conduct to which he had referred, or
destroyed the hopes of the Confederates that Missouri would at some
time merge herself alongside of them, which, in his judgment, the
passage of this resolution by Congress and its acceptance by Missouri
would accomplish.

Mr. Crisfield, of Maryland, asked what would be the effect of the
refusal of the State to accept this proposal, and he desired to know
if the President looked to any policy beyond the acceptance or
rejection of this scheme.

The President replied that he had no designs beyond the actions of
the States on this particular subject. He should lament their
refusal to accept it, but he had no designs beyond their refusal of

Mr. Menzies, of Kentucky, inquired if the President thought there was
any power except in the States themselves to carry out his scheme of

The President replied that he thought there could not be. He then
went off into a course of remarks not qualifying the foregoing
declaration nor material to be repeated to a just understanding of
his meaning.

Mr. Crisfield said he did not think the people of Maryland looked
upon slavery as a permanent institution; and he did not know that
they would be very reluctant to give it up if provision was made to
meet the loss and they could be rid of the race; but they did not
like to be coerced into emancipation, either by the direct action of
the government or by indirection, as through the emancipation of
slaves in this District, or the confiscation of Southern property as
now threatened; and he thought before they would consent to consider
this proposition they would require to be informed on these points.
The President replied that, unless he was expelled by the act of God
or the Confederate armies he should occupy that house for three
years; and as long as he remained there Maryland had nothing to fear
either for her institutions or her interests on the points referred

Mr. Crisfield immediately added: "Mr. President, if what you now say
could be heard by the people of Maryland, they would consider your
proposition with a much better feeling than I fear without it they
will be inclined to do."

The President: "That [meaning a publication of what he said] will not
do; it would force me into a quarrel before the proper time "; and,
again intimating, as he had before done, that a quarrel with the
"Greeley faction" was impending, he said he did not wish to encounter
it before the proper time, nor at all if it could be avoided.

[The Greely faction wanted an immediate Emancipation Proclamation.

Governor Wickliffe, of Kentucky, then asked him respecting the
constitutionality of his scheme.

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