The Great Conspiracy

“Ascertain from the statistics the small proportion of the region which
has, as yet, been brought into cultivation, and also the large and
rapidly increasing amount of its products, and we shall be overwhelmed
with the magnitude of the prospect presented. And yet this region has
no sea coast, touches no ocean anywhere. As part of one Nation, its
people now find, and may forever find, their way to Europe by New York,
to South America and Africa by New Orleans, and to Asia by San

“But separate our common Country into two nations, as designed by the
present Rebellion, and every man of this great interior region is
thereby cut off from some one or more of these outlets, not, perhaps, by
a physical barrier, but by embarrassing and onerous trade regulations.

“And this is true, wherever a dividing or boundary line may be fixed.
Place it between the now Free and Slave country, or place it South of
Kentucky, or North of Ohio, and still the truth remains, that none South
of it can trade to any port or place North of it, and none North of it
can trade to any port or place South of it except upon terms dictated by
a Government foreign to them.

“These outlets, East, West, and South, are indispensable to the well-
being of the people inhabiting, and to inhabit, this vast interior
region. Which of the three may be the best, is no proper question.
All, are better than either; and all, of right belong to that People,
and to their successors forever. True to themselves, they will not ask
where a line of separation shall be, but will vow rather that there
shall be no such line.

“Nor are the marginal regions less interested in these communications to
and through them, to the great outside World. They too, and each of
them, must have access to this Egypt of the West without paying toll at
the crossing of any National boundary.

“Our National strife springs not from our permanent part; not from the
Land we inhabit; not from our National homestead. There is no possible
severing of this, but would multiply, and not mitigate, evils among us.
In all its adaptations and aptitudes it demands Union, and abhors
separation. In fact it would, ere long, force reunion, however much of
blood and treasure the separation might have cost.

“Our strife pertains to ourselves–to the passing generations of men;
and it can, without convulsion, be hushed forever–with the passing of
one generation.

“In this view I recommend the adoption of the following Resolution and
Articles Amendatory of the Constitution of the United States.

“‘Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United
States of America, in Congress assembled, (two-thirds of both Houses
concurring). That the following Articles be proposed to the
Legislatures (or Conventions) of the several States, as Amendments to
the Constitution of the United States, all or any of which Articles when
ratified by three-fourths of the said Legislatures (or Conventions) to
be valid as part or parts of the said Constitution, namely:

“‘ARTICLE–Every State wherein Slavery now exists, which shall abolish
the same therein, at any time, or times, before the first day of
January, in the year of our Lord one thousand nine hundred, shall
receive compensation from the United States, as follows, to wit;

“‘The President of the United States shall deliver to every such State,
bonds of the United States, bearing interest at the rate of per cent.
per annum, to an amount equal to the aggregate sum of for each Slave
shown to have been therein by the eighth census of the United States,
said bonds to be delivered to such States by installments, or in one
parcel, at the completion of the abolishment, accordingly as the same
shall have been gradual, or at one time, within such State; and interest
shall begin to run upon any such bond only from the proper time of its
delivery as aforesaid. Any State having received bonds as aforesaid,
and afterward reintroducing or tolerating Slavery therein, shall refund
to the United States the bonds so received, or the value thereof, and
all interest paid thereon.

“‘ARTICLE–All Slaves who shall have enjoyed actual freedom by the
chances of the War at any time before the end of the Rebellion, shall be
forever Free; but all owners of such, who shall not have been disloyal,
shall be compensated for them, at the same rates as is provided for
States adopting abolishment of Slavery, but in such way that no Slave
shall be twice accounted for.

“‘ARTICLE–Congress may appropriate money, and otherwise provide for
colonizing Free Colored Persons, with their own consent, at any place or
places within the United States.’
“I beg indulgence to discuss these proposed Articles at some length.
Without Slavery the Rebellion could never have existed; without Slavery
it could not continue.

“Among the friends of the Union there is great diversity of sentiment
and of policy in regard to Slavery, and the African race among us. Some
would perpetuate Slavery; some would abolish it suddenly, without
compensation; some would abolish it gradually, and with compensation;
some would remove the Freed people from us; and some would retain them
with us; and there are yet other minor diversities. Because of these
diversities, we waste much strength in struggles among ourselves.

“By mutual Concession we should harmonize and act together. This would
be Compromise; but it would be Compromise among the friends, and not
with the enemies of the Union. These Articles are intended to embody a
plan of such mutual concessions. If the plan shall be adopted, it is
assumed that Emancipation will follow, at least, in several of the

“As to the first Article, the main points are: first, the Emancipation;
secondly, the length of time for consummating it–thirty-seven years;
and, thirdly, the compensation.

“The Emancipation will be unsatisfactory to the advocates of perpetual
Slavery; but the length of time should greatly mitigate their
dissatisfaction. The time spares both races from the evils of sudden
derangement–in fact from the necessity of any derangement–while most
of those whose habitual course of thought will be disturbed by the
measure will have passed away before its consummation. They will never
see it.

“Another class will hail the prospect of Emancipation, but will
deprecate the length of time. They will feel that it gives too little
to the now living Slaves. But it really gives them much. It saves them
from the vagrant destitution which must largely attend immediate
Emancipation in localities where their numbers are very great; and it
gives the inspiring assurance that their posterity shall be Free

“The plan leaves to each State, choosing to act under it, to abolish
Slavery now, or at the end of the century, or at any intermediate time,
or by degrees, extending over the whole or any part of the period; and
it obliges no two States to proceed alike. It also provides for
compensation,–and generally, the mode of making it. This, it would
seem, must further mitigate the dissatisfaction of those who favor
perpetual Slavery, and especially of those who are to receive the
compensation. Doubtless some of those who are to pay, and not to
receive, will object. Yet the measure is both just and economical.

“In a certain sense, the liberation of Slaves is the destruction of
Property–Property acquired by descent, or by purchase, the same as any
other property. It is no less true for having been often said, that the
people of the South are not more responsible for the original
introduction of this Property than are the people of the North; and when
it is remembered how unhesitatingly we all use cotton and sugar, and
share the profits of dealing in them, it may not be quite safe to say
that the South has been more responsible than the North for its

“If, then, for a common object, this Property is to be sacrificed, is it
not just that it be done at a common charge?

“And if, with less money, or money more easily paid, we can preserve the
benefits of the Union by this means than we can by the War alone, is it
not also economical to do it? Let us consider it then. Let us
ascertain the sum we have expended in the War since compensated
Emancipation was proposed last March, and consider whether, if that
measure had been promptly accepted, by even some of the Slave States,
the same sum would not have done more to close the War than has been
otherwise done. If so, the measure would save money, and, in that view,
would be a prudent and economical measure.

“Certainly it is not so easy to pay something as it is to pay nothing;
but it is easier to pay a large sum than it is to pay a larger one. And
it is easier to pay any sum when we are able, than it is to pay it
before we are able. The War requires large sums, and requires them at

“The aggregate sum necessary for compensated Emancipation of course
would be large. But it would require no ready cash, nor the bonds,
even, any faster than the Emancipation progresses. This might not, and
probably would not, close before the end of the thirty-seven years. At
that time we shall probably have a hundred million people to share the
burden, instead of thirty-one millions, as now. And not only so, but
the increase of our population may be expected to continue, for a long
time after that period, as rapidly as before; because our territory will
not have become full.

“I do not state this inconsiderately. At the same ratio of increase
which we have maintained, on an average, from our first National census
in 1790, until that of 1860, we should, in 1900, have a population of
103,208,415. And why may we not continue that ratio far beyond that

“Our abundant room–our broad National homestead–is our ample resource.
Were our territory as limited as are the British Isles, very certainly
our population could not expand as stated. Instead of receiving the
foreign born, as now, we should be compelled to send part of the Native-
born away.

“But such is not our condition. We have two million nine hundred and
sixty-three thousand square miles. Europe has three million and eight
hundred thousand, with a population averaging seventy-three and one-
third persons to the square mile. Why may not our Country at some time,
average as many? Is it less fertile? Has it more waste surface by
mountains, rivers, lakes, deserts, or other causes? Is it inferior to
Europe in any natural advantage?

“If, then, we are at some time to be as populous as Europe, how soon?
As to when this may be, we can judge by the past and the present; as to
when it will be, if ever, depends much on whether we maintain the Union.

“Several of our States are already above the average of Europe–seventy-
three and a third to the square mile. Massachusetts has 157; Rhode
Island, 133; Connecticut, 99; New York and New Jersey, each, 80. Also
two other great States, Pennsylvania and Ohio, are not far below, the
former having 63, and the latter 59. The States already above the
European average, except New York, have increased in as rapid a ratio,
since passing that point, as ever before; while no one of them is equal
to some other parts of our Country in natural capacity for sustaining a
dense population.

“Taking the Nation in the aggregate, and we find its population and
ratio of increase, for the several decennial periods, to be as follows:


1790 3,929,827

1800 5,305,937 35.02 Per Cent.

1810 7,239,814 36.45

1820 9,638,131 33.13

1830 12,866,020 33.49

1840 17,069,453 32.67

1850 23,191,876 35.87

1860 31,443,790 35.58

“This shows an average Decennial Increase of 34.69 per cent. in
population through the seventy years from our first to our last census
yet taken. It is seen that the ratio of increase, at no one of these
seven periods, is either two per cent. below or two per cent. above the
average; thus showing how inflexible, and, consequently, how reliable,
the law of Increase, in our case, is.

“Assuming that it will continue, gives the following results:


1870 42,323,041

1880 56,967,216

1890 76,677,872

1900 103,208,415

1910 138,918,526

1920 186,984,335

1930 251,680,914

“These figures show that our Country may be as populous as Europe now is
at some point between 1920 and 1930–say about 1925–our territory, at
seventy-three and a third persons to the square mile, being of capacity
to contain 217,186,000.

“And we will reach this, too, if we do not ourselves relinquish the
chance by the folly and evils of Disunion or by long and exhausting War
springing from the only great element of National discord among us.
While it cannot be foreseen exactly how much one huge example of
Secession, breeding lesser ones indefinitely, would retard population,
civilization and prosperity, no one can doubt that the extent of it
would be very great and injurious.

“The proposed Emancipation would shorten the War, perpetuate Peace,
insure this increase of population, and proportionately the wealth of
the Country. With these, we should pay all the Emancipation would cost,
together with our other debt, easier than we should pay our other debt
without it.

“If we had allowed our old National debt to run at six per cent. per
annum, simple interest, from the end of our Revolutionary Struggle until
to-day, without paying anything on either principal or interest, each
man of us would owe less upon that debt now than each man owed upon it
then; and this because our increase of men through the whole period has
been greater than six per cent.; has run faster than the interest upon
the debt. Thus, time alone, relieves a debtor Nation, so long as its
population increases faster than unpaid interest accumulates on its

“This fact would be no excuse for delaying payment of what is justly
due, but it shows the great importance of time in this connection–the
great advantage of a policy by which we shall not have to pay until we
number a hundred millions, what, by a different policy, we would have to
pay now, when we number but thirty-one millions. In a word, it shows
that a dollar will be much harder to pay for the War, than will be a
dollar for Emancipation on the proposed plan. And then the latter will
cost no blood, no precious life. It will be a saving of both.

“As to the Second Article, I think it would be impracticable to return
to Bondage the class of Persons therein contemplated. Some of them,
doubtless, in the property sense, belong to loyal owners and hence
provision is made in this Article for compensating such.

“The Third Article relates to the future of the Freed people. It does
not oblige, but merely authorizes, Congress to aid in colonizing such as
may consent. This ought not to be regarded as objectionable on the one
hand or on the other, insomuch as it comes to nothing, unless by the
mutual consent of the people to be deported, and the American voters,
through their Representatives in Congress.

“I cannot make it better known than it already is, that I strongly favor
colonization. And yet I wish to say there is an objection urged against
free Colored persons remaining in the Country which is largely
imaginary, if not sometimes malicious.

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