The Writings of Abraham Lincoln Vol. 1-7


iSpeech

I perceive no objection to the third or fourth sections.

So far as I wish to notice the fifth and sixth sections, they may be
considered together. That the enforcement of these sections would do
no injustice to the persons embraced within them, is clear. That
those who make a causeless war should be compelled to pay the cost of
it, is too obviously just to be called in question. To give
governmental protection to the property of persons who have abandoned
it, and gone on a crusade to overthrow the same government, is
absurd, if considered in the mere light of justice. The severest
justice may not always be the best policy. The principle of seizing
and appropriating the property of the persons embraced within these
sections is certainly not very objectionable, but a justly
discriminating application of it would be very difficult and, to a
great extent, impossible. And would it not be wise to place a power
of remission somewhere, so that these persons may know they have
something to lose by persisting and something to gain by desisting?

[A man without hope is a most dangerous man--he has nothing to lose!]

I am not sure whether such power of remission is or is not in section
thirteen. Without any special act of Congress, I think our military
commanders, when--in military phrase, "they are within the enemy's
country," should, in an orderly manner, seize and use whatever of
real or personal property may be necessary or convenient for their
commands; at the same time preserving, in some way, the evidence of
what they do.

What I have said in regard to slaves, while commenting on the first
and second sections, is applicable to the ninth, with the difference
that no provision is made in the whole act for determining whether a
particular individual slave does or does not fall within the classes
defined in that section. He is to be free upon certain conditions
but whether those conditions do or do not pertain to him no mode of
ascertaining is provided. This could be easily supplied.

To the tenth section I make no objection. The oath therein required
seems to be proper, and the remainder of the section is substantially
identical with a law already existing.

The eleventh section simply assumes to confer discretionary power
upon the executive. Without the law, I have no hesitation to go as
far in the direction indicated as I may at any time deem expedient.
And I am ready to say now--I think it is proper for our military
commanders to employ, as laborers, as many persons of African descent
as can be used to advantage.

The twelfth and thirteenth sections are something better than
unobjectionable; and the fourteenth is entirely proper, if all other
parts of the act shall stand.

That to which I chiefly object pervades most parts of the act, but
more distinctly appears in the first, second, seventh, and eighth
sections. It is the sum of those provisions which results in the
divesting of title forever.

For the causes of treason and ingredients of treason, not amounting
to the full crime, it declares forfeiture extending beyond the lives
of the guilty parties; whereas the Constitution of the United States
declares that "no attainder of treason shall work corruption of blood
or forfeiture except during the life of the person attainted." True,
there is to be no formal attainder in this case; still, I think the
greater punishment cannot be constitutionally inflicted, in a
different form, for the same offence.

With great respect I am constrained to say I think this feature of
the act is unconstitutional. It would not be difficult to modify it.

I may remark that the provision of the Constitution, put in language
borrowed from Great Britain, applies only in this country, as I
understand, to real or landed estate.

Again, this act in rem forfeits property for the ingredients of
treason without a conviction of the supposed criminal, or a personal
hearing given him in any proceeding. That we may not touch property
lying within our reach, because we cannot give personal notice to an
owner who is absent endeavoring to destroy the government, is
certainly not satisfactory. Still, the owner may not be thus
engaged; and I think a reasonable time should be provided for such
parties to appear and have personal hearings. Similar provisions are
not uncommon in connection with proceedings in rem.

For the reasons stated, I return the bill to the House in which it
originated.

TELEGRAM TO GENERAL G. B. McCLELLAN.

WAR DEPARTMENT, WASHINGTON CITY, D.C., July 21, 1862.

MAJOR-GENERAL McCLELLAN:

This is Monday. I hope to be able to tell you on Thursday what is to
be done with Burnside.

A. LINCOLN.

ORDER IN REGARD TO BEHAVIOR OF ALIENS
WAR DEPARTMENT, ADJUTANT-GENERAL'S OFFICE,

WASHINGTON, July 21, 1862.

The following order has been received from the President of the
United States:

Representations have been made to the President by the ministers of
various foreign powers in amity with the United States that subjects
of such powers have during the present insurrection been obliged or
required by military authorities to take an oath of general or
qualified allegiance to this government. It is the duty of all
aliens residing in the United States to submit to and obey the laws
and respect the authority of the government. For any proceeding or
conduct inconsistent with this obligation and subversive of that
authority they may rightfully be subjected to military restraints
when this may be necessary. But they cannot be required to take an
oath of allegiance to this government, because it conflicts with the
duty they owe to their own sovereigns. All such obligations
heretofore taken are therefore remitted and annulled. Military
commanders will abstain from imposing similar obligations in future,
and will in lieu thereof adopt such other restraints of the character
indicated as they shall find necessary, convenient, and effectual for
the public safety. It is further directed that whenever any order
shall be made affecting the personal liberty of an alien reports of
the same and of the causes thereof shall be made to the War
Department for the consideration of the Department of State.

By order of the Secretary of War:
L. THOMAS, Adjutant-General.

ORDER AUTHORIZING EMPLOYMENT OF "CONTRABANDS."

WAR DEPARTMENT, July 22, 1862.

Ordered:
1. That military commanders within the States of Virginia, South
Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, Texas,
and Arkansas in an orderly manner seize and use any property, real or
personal, which may be necessary or convenient for their several
commands as supplies or for other military purposes; and that while
property may be destroyed for proper military objects, none shall be
destroyed in wantonness or malice.

2. That military and naval commanders shall employ as laborers
within and from said States so many persons of African descent as can
be advantageously used for military or naval purposes, giving them
reasonable wages for their labor.

3. That as to both property and persons of African descent accounts
shall be kept sufficiently accurate and in detail to show quantities
and amounts and from whom both property and such persons shall have
come, as a basis upon which compensation can be made in proper cases;
and the several departments of this government shall attend to and
perform their appropriate parts toward the execution of these orders.

By order of the President:
EDWIN M. STANTON, Secretary of War.

WARNING TO REBEL SYMPATHIZERS

PROCLAMATION, JULY 25, 1862.

THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:

A Proclamation.

In pursuance of the sixth section of the act of Congress entitled "An
act to suppress insurrection and to punish treason and rebellion, to
seize and confiscate property of rebels, and for other purposes,"
approved July 17, 1862, and which act and the joint resolution
explanatory thereof are herewith published, I, Abraham Lincoln,
President of the United States, do hereby proclaim to and warn all
persons within the contemplation of said sixth section to cease
participating in, aiding, countenancing, or abetting the existing
rebellion or any rebellion against the Government of the United
States and to return to their proper allegiance to the United States,
on pain of the forfeitures and seizures as within and by said sixth
section provided.

In testimony 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 twenty-fifth day of July, A.D.
1862, and of the independence of the United States the
eighty-seventh.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN.

By the President:
WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.

HOLD MY HAND WHILST THE ENEMY STABS ME

TO REVERDY JOHNSON.

(Private.)

EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, July 26, 1862.

HON. REVERDY JOHNSON.

MY DEAR SIR:--Yours of the 16th is received...........

You are ready to say I apply to friends what is due only to enemies.
I distrust the wisdom if not the sincerity of friends who would hold
my hands while my enemies stab me. This appeal of professed friends
has paralyzed me more in this struggle than any other one thing. You
remember telling me, the day after the Baltimore mob in April, 1861,
that it would crush all Union feeling in Maryland for me to attempt
bringing troops over Maryland soil to Washington. I brought the
troops notwithstanding, and yet there was Union feeling enough left
to elect a Legislature the next autumn, which in turn elected a very
excellent Union United States senator! I am a patient man--always
willing to forgive on the Christian terms of repentance, and also to
give ample time for repentance. Still, I must save this government,
if possible. What I cannot do, of course, I will not do; but it may
as well be understood, once for all, that I shall not surrender this
game leaving any available card unplayed.

Yours truly,

A. LINCOLN.

TO CUTHBERT BULLITT.
(Private.)
WASHINGTON, D. C., July 28, 1862.

CUTHBERT BULLITT, Esq., New Orleans, Louisiana.

SIR:--The copy of a letter addressed to yourself by Mr. Thomas J.
Durant has been shown to me. The writer appears to be an able, a
dispassionate, and an entirely sincere man. The first part of the
letter is devoted to an effort to show that the secession ordinance
of Louisiana was adopted against the will of a majority of the
people. This is probably true, and in that fact may be found some
instruction. Why did they allow the ordinance to go into effect?
Why did they not assert themselves? Why stand passive and allow
themselves to be trodden down by minority? Why did they not hold
popular meetings and have a convention of their own to express and
enforce the true sentiment of the State? If preorganization was
against them then, why not do this now that the United States army is
present to protect them? The paralysis--the dead palsy--of the
government in this whole struggle is that this class of men will do
nothing for the government, nothing for themselves, except demanding
that the government shall not strike its open enemies, lest they be
struck by accident!

Mr. Durant complains that in various ways the relation of master and
slave is disturbed by the presence of our army, and he considers it
particularly vexatious that this, in part, is done under cover of an
act of Congress, while constitutional guaranties are suspended on the
plea of military necessity. The truth is, that what is done and
omitted about slaves is done and omitted on the same military
necessity. It is a military necessity to have men and money; and we
can get neither in sufficient numbers or amounts if we keep from or
drive from our lines slaves coming to them. Mr. Durant cannot be
ignorant of the pressure in this direction, nor of my efforts to hold
it within bounds till he and such as he shall have time to help
themselves.

I am not posted to speak understandingly on all the police
regulations of which Mr. Durant complains. If experience shows any
one of them to be wrong, let them be set right. I think I can
perceive in the freedom of trade which Mr. Durant urges that he would
relieve both friends and enemies from the pressure of the blockade.
By this he would serve the enemy more effectively than the enemy is
able to serve himself. I do not say or believe that to serve the
enemy is the purpose, of Mr. Durant, or that he is conscious of any
purpose other than national and patriotic ones. Still, if there were
a class of men who, having no choice of sides in the contest, were
anxious only to have quiet and comfort for themselves while it rages,
and to fall in with the victorious side at the end of it without loss
to themselves, their advice as to the mode of conducting the contest
would be precisely such as his is. He speaks of no duty--apparently
thinks of none--resting upon Union men. He even thinks it injurious
to the Union cause that they should be restrained in trade and
passage without taking sides. They are to touch neither a sail nor a
pump, but to be merely passengers--deadheads at that--to be carried
snug and dry throughout the storm, and safely landed right side up.
Nay, more: even a mutineer is to go untouched, lest these sacred
passengers receive an accidental wound. Of course the rebellion will
never be suppressed in Louisiana if the professed Union men there
will neither help to do it nor permit the government to do it without
their help. Now, I think the true remedy is very different from what
is suggested by Mr. Durant. It does not lie in rounding the rough
angles of the war, but in removing the necessity for the war. The
people of Louisiana who wish protection to person and property have
but to reach forth their hands and take it. Let them in good faith
reinaugurate the national authority, and set up a State government
conforming thereto under the Constitution. They know how to do it
and can have the protection of the army while doing it. The army
will be withdrawn so soon as such State government can dispense with
its presence; and the people of the State can then, upon the old
constitutional terms, govern themselves to their own liking. This is
very simple and easy.

If they will not do this--if they prefer to hazard all for the sake
of destroying the government--it is for them to consider whether it
is probable I will surrender the government to save them from losing
all. If they decline what I suggest, you scarcely need to ask what I
will do. What would you do in my position? Would you drop the war
where it is? Or would you prosecute it in future with elder-stalk
squirts charged with rose water? Would you deal lighter blows rather
than heavier ones? Would you give up the contest, leaving any
available means unapplied? I am in no boastful mood. I shall not do
more than I can, and I shall do all I can, to save the government,
which is my sworn duty as well as my personal inclination. I shall
do nothing in malice. What I deal with is too vast for malicious
dealing.

Yours truly,

A. LINCOLN.

TO LOYAL GOVERNORS.

WAR DEPARTMENT, WASHINGTON, D.C.,

July 28, 1862.

GOVERNORS OF ALL LOYAL STATES:

It would be of great service here for us to know, as fully as you can
tell, what progress is made and making in recruiting for old
regiments in your State. Also about what day the first regiments can
move with you, what the second, what the third, and so on. This
information is important to us in making calculations. Please give
it as promptly and accurately as you call.

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