The Writings of Abraham Lincoln Vol. 1-7


iSpeech

Sec. 4. That all persons now within this District, lawfully
held as slaves, or now owned by any person or persons now
resident within said District, shall remain such at the will of
their respective owners, their heirs, and legal representatives:
Provided, That such owner, or his legal representative, may at
any time receive from the Treasury of the United States the full
value of his or her slave, of the class in this section
mentioned, upon which such slave shall be forthwith and forever
free: And provided further, That the President of the United
States, the Secretary of State, and the Secretary of the Treasury
shall be a board for determining the value of such slaves as
their owners may desire to emancipate under this section, and
whose duty it shall be to hold a session for the purpose on the
first Monday of each calendar month, to receive all applications,
and, on satisfactory evidence in each case that the person
presented for valuation is a slave, and of the class in this
section mentioned, and is owned by the applicant, shall value
such slave at his or her full cash value, and give to the
applicant an order on the Treasury for the amount, and also to
such slave a certificate of freedom.

Sec. 5. That the municipal authorities of Washington and
Georgetown, within their respective jurisdictional limits, are
hereby empowered and required to provide active and efficient
means to arrest and deliver up to their owners all fugitive
slaves escaping into said District.

Sec. 6. That the election officers within said District of
Columbia are hereby empowered and required to open polls, at all
the usual places of holding elections, on the first Monday of
April next, and receive the vote of every free white male citizen
above the age of twenty-one years, having resided within said
District for the period of one year or more next preceding the
time of such voting for or against this act, to proceed in taking
said votes, in all respects not herein specified, as at elections
under the municipal laws, and with as little delay as possible to
transmit correct statements of the votes so cast to the President
of the United States; and it shall be the duty of the President
to canvass said votes immediately, and if a majority of them be
found to be for this act, to forthwith issue his proclamation
giving notice of the fact; and this act shall only be in full
force and effect on and after the day of such proclamation.

Sec. 7. That involuntary servitude for the punishment of crime,
whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall in no
wise be prohibited by this act.

Sec. 8. That for all the purposes of this act, the
jurisdictional limits of Washington are extended to all parts of
the District of Columbia not now included within the present
limits of Georgetown.

BILL GRANTING LANDS TO THE STATES TO MAKE RAILWAYS AND CANALS

REMARKS IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES,
FEBRUARY 13, 1849.

Mr. Lincoln said he had not risen for the purpose of making a
speech, but only for the purpose of meeting some of the
objections to the bill. If he understood those objections, the
first was that if the bill were to become a law, it would be used
to lock large portions of the public lands from sale, without at
last effecting the ostensible object of the bill--the
construction of railroads in the new States; and secondly, that
Congress would be forced to the abandonment of large portions of
the public lands to the States for which they might be reserved,
without their paying for them. This he understood to be the
substance of the objections of the gentleman from Ohio to the
passage of the bill.

If he could get the attention of the House for a few minutes, he
would ask gentlemen to tell us what motive could induce any State
Legislature, or individual, or company of individuals, of the new
States, to expend money in surveying roads which they might know
they could not make.

[A voice: They are not required to make the road.)

Mr. Lincoln continued: That was not the case he was making. What
motive would tempt any set of men to go into an extensive survey
of a railroad which they did not intend to make? What good would
it do? Did men act without motive? Did business men commonly go
into an expenditure of money which could be of no account to
them? He generally found that men who have money were disposed
to hold on to it, unless they could see something to be made by
its investment. He could not see what motive of advantage to the
new States could be subserved by merely keeping the public lands
out of market, and preventing their settlement. As far as he
could see, the new States were wholly without any motive to do
such a thing. This, then, he took to be a good answer to the
first objection.

In relation to the fact assumed, that after a while, the new
States having got hold of the public lands to a certain extent,
they would turn round and compel Congress to relinquish all claim
to them, he had a word to say, by way of recurring to the history
of the past. When was the time to come (he asked) when the
States in which the public lands were situated would compose a
majority of the representation in Congress, or anything like it?
A majority of Representatives would very soon reside west of the
mountains, he admitted; but would they all come from States in
which the public lands were situated? They certainly would not;
for, as these Western States grew strong in Congress, the public
lands passed away from them, and they got on the other side of
the question; and the gentleman from Ohio [Mr. Vinton] was an
example attesting that fact.

Mr. Vinton interrupted here to say that he had stood on this
question just where he was now, for five and twenty years.

Mr. Lincoln was not making an argument for the purpose of
convicting the gentleman of any impropriety at all. He was
speaking of a fact in history, of which his State was an example.
He was referring to a plain principle in the nature of things.
The State of Ohio had now grown to be a giant. She had a large
delegation on that floor; but was she now in favor of granting
lands to the new States, as she used to be? The New England
States, New York, and the Old Thirteen were all rather quiet upon
the subject; and it was seen just now that a member from one of
the new States was the first man to rise up in opposition. And
such would be with the history of this question for the future.
There never would come a time when the people residing in the
States embracing the public lands would have the entire control
of this subject; and so it was a matter of certainty that
Congress would never do more in this respect than what would be
dictated by a just liberality. The apprehension, therefore, that
the public lands were in danger of being wrested from the General
Government by the strength of the delegation in Congress from the
new States, was utterly futile. There never could be such a
thing. If we take these lands (said he) it will not be without
your consent. We can never outnumber you. The result is that
all fear of the new States turning against the right of Congress
to the public domain must be effectually quelled, as those who
are opposed to that interest must always hold a vast majority
here, and they will never surrender the whole or any part of the
public lands unless they themselves choose to do so. That was
all he desired to say.

ON FEDERAL POLITICAL APPOINTMENTS

TO THE SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.

WASHINGTON, March 9, 1849.

HON. SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.

DEAR SIR: Co1onel R. D. Baker and myself are the only Whig
members of Congress from Illinois of the Thirtieth, and he of the
Thirty-first. We have reason to think the Whigs of that State
hold us responsible, to some extent, for the appointments which
may be made of our citizens. We do not know you personally, and
our efforts to you have so far been unavailing. I therefore hope
I am not obtrusive in saying in this way, for him and myself,
that when a citizen of Illinois is to be appointed in your
department, to an office either in or out of the State, we most
respectfully ask to be heard.

Your obedient servant,

A. LINCOLN.

MORE POLITICAL PATRONAGE REQUESTS

TO THE SECRETARY OF STATE.

WASHINGTON, March 10, 1849.

HON. SECRETARY OF STATE.

SIR:--There are several applicants for the office of United
States Marshal for the District of Illinois. Among the most
prominent of them are Benjamin Bond, Esq., of Carlyle, and
Thomas, Esq., of Galena. Mr. Bond I know to be personally every
way worthy of the office; and he is very numerously and most
respectably recommended. His papers I send to you; and I solicit
for his claims a full and fair consideration.

Having said this much, I add that in my individual judgment the
appointment of Mr. Thomas would be the better.

Your obedient servant,

A. LINCOLN.

(Indorsed on Mr. Bond's papers.)

In this and the accompanying envelope are the recommendations of
about two hundred good citizens of all parts of Illinois, that
Benjamin Bond be appointed marshal for that district. They
include the names of nearly all our Whigs who now are, or have
ever been, members of the State Legislature, besides forty-six of
the Democratic members of the present Legislature, and many other
good citizens. I add that from personal knowledge I consider Mr.
Bond every way worthy of the office, and qualified to fill it.
Holding the individual opinion that the appointment of a
different gentleman would be better, I ask especial attention and
consideration for his claims, and for the opinions expressed in
his favor by those over whom I can claim no superiority.

A. LINCOLN.

TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR

SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS, April 7, 1849

HON. SECRETARY OF THE HOME DEPARTMENT.

DEAR SIR:--I recommend that Walter Davis be appointed receiver of
the land-office at this place, whenever there shall be a vacancy.
I cannot say that Mr. Herndon, the present incumbent, has failed
in the proper discharge of any of the duties of the office. He
is a very warm partisan, and openly and actively opposed to the
election of General Taylor. I also understand that since General
Taylor's election he has received a reappointment from Mr. Polk,
his old commission not having expired. Whether this is true the
records of the department will show. I may add that the Whigs
here almost universally desire his removal.

I give no opinion of my own, but state the facts, and express the
hope that the department will act in this as in all other cases
on some proper general rule.

Your obedient servant,

A. LINCOLN.

P. S.--The land district to which this office belongs is very
nearly if not entirely within my district; so that Colonel Baker,
the other Whig representative, claims no voice in the
appointment.
A. L.

TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR.

SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS, April 7, 1849.

HON. SECRETARY OF THE HOME DEPARTMENT.

DEAR SIR:--I recommend that Turner R. King, now of Pekin,
Illinois, be appointed register of the land-office at this place
whenever there shall be a vacancy.

I do not know that Mr. Barret, the present incumbent, has failed
in the proper discharge of any of his duties in the office. He
is a decided partisan, and openly and actively opposed the
election of General Taylor. I understand, too, that since the
election of General Taylor, Mr. Barret has received a
reappointment from Mr. Polk, his old commission not having
expired. Whether this be true, the records of the department
will show.

Whether he should be removed I give no opinion, but merely
express the wish that the department may act upon some proper
general rule, and that Mr. Barret's case may not be made an
exception to it.

Your obedient servant,

A. LINCOLN.

P. S.-The land district to which this office belongs is very
nearly if not entirely within my district; so that Colonel Baker,
the other Whig representative, claims no voice in the
appointment.
A. L.

TO THE POSTMASTER-GENERAL.

SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS, April 7,1849.

HON. POSTMASTER-GENERAL.

DEAR Sir:--I recommend that Abner Y. Ellis be appointed
postmaster at this place, whenever there shall be a vacancy. J.
R. Diller, the present incumbent, I cannot say has failed in the
proper discharge of any of the duties of the office. He,
however, has been an active partisan in opposition to us.

Located at the seat of government of the State, he has been, for
part if not the whole of the time he has held the office, a
member of the Democratic State Central Committee, signing his
name to their addresses and manifestoes; and has been, as I
understand, reappointed by Mr. Polk since General Taylor's
election. These are the facts of the case as I understand them,
and I give no opinion of mine as to whether he should or should
not be removed. My wish is that the department may adopt some
proper general rule for such cases, and that Mr. Diller may not
be made an exception to it, one way or the other.

Your obedient servant,

A. LINCOLN.

P. S.--This office, with its delivery, is entirely within my
district; so that Colonel Baker, the other Whig representative,
claims no voice in the appointment.L.

TO THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR.

SPRINGFIELD, ILLINOIS, April 7, 1849.

HON. SECRETARY OF THE HOME DEPARTMENT.

DEAR SIR:--I recommend that William Butler be appointed pension
agent for the Illinois agency, when the place shall be vacant.
Mr. Hurst, the present incumbent, I believe has performed the
duties very well. He is a decided partisan, and I believe
expects to be removed. Whether he shall, I submit to the
department. This office is not confined to my district, but
pertains to the whole State; so that Colonel Baker has an equal
right with myself to be heard concerning it. However, the office
is located here; and I think it is not probable that any one
would desire to remove from a distance to take it.

Your obedient servant,

A. LINCOLN.

TO THOMPSON.

SPRINGFIELD, April 25, 1849.

DEAR THOMPSON:
A tirade is still kept up against me here for recommending T. R.
King. This morning it is openly avowed that my supposed
influence at Washington shall be broken down generally, and
King's prospects defeated in particular. Now, what I have done
in this matter I have done at the request of you and some other
friends in Tazewell; and I therefore ask you to either admit it
is wrong or come forward and sustain me. If the truth will
permit, I propose that you sustain me in the following manner:
copy the inclosed scrap in your own handwriting and get everybody
(not three or four, but three or four hundred) to sign it, and
then send it to me. Also, have six, eight or ten of our best
known Whig friends there write to me individual letters, stating
the truth in this matter as they understand it. Don't neglect or
delay in the matter. I understand information of an indictment
having been found against him about three years ago, for gaming
or keeping a gaming house, has been sent to the department. I
shall try to take care of it at the department till your action
can be had and forwarded on.

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