The Writings of Abraham Lincoln Vol. 1-7

I ask the attention of Congress to the suggestions of the
Postmaster-General in his report respecting the further legislation
required, in his opinion, for the benefit of the postal service.

The Secretary of the Interior reports as follows in regard to the
public lands:

“The public lands have ceased to be a source of revenue. From the
1st July, 1861, to the 3oth September, 1862, the entire cash receipts
from the sale of lands were $137,476.2–a sum much less than the
expenses of our land system during the same period. The homestead
law, which will take effect on the 1st of January next, offers such
inducements to settlers that sales for cash cannot be expected to an
extent sufficient to meet the expenses of the General Land Office and
the cost of surveying and bringing the land into market.”

The discrepancy between the sum here stated as arising from the sales
of the public lands and the sum derived from the same source as
reported from the Treasury Department arises, as I understand, from
the fact that the periods of time, though apparently were not really
coincident at the beginning point, the Treasury report including a
considerable sum now which had previously been reported from the
Interior, sufficiently large to greatly overreach the sum derived
from the three months now reported upon by the Interior and not by
the Treasury.

The Indian tribes upon our frontiers have during the past year
manifested a spirit of insubordination, and at several points have
engaged in open hostilities against the white settlements in their
vicinity. The tribes occupying the Indian country south of Kansas
renounced their allegiance to the United States and entered into
treaties with the insurgents. Those who remained loyal to the United
States were driven from the country. The chief of the Cherokees has
visited this city for the purpose of restoring the former relations
of the tribe with the United States. He alleges that they were
constrained by superior force to enter into treaties with the
insurgents, and that the United States neglected to furnish the
protection which their treaty stipulations required.

In the month of August last the Sioux Indians in Minnesota attacked
the settlements in their vicinity with extreme ferocity, killing
indiscriminately men, women, and children. This attack was wholly
unexpected, and therefore no means of defense had been provided. It
is estimated that not less than 800 persons were killed by the
Indians, and a large amount of property was destroyed. How this
outbreak was induced is not definitely known, and suspicions, which
may be unjust, need not to be stated. Information was received by
the Indian Bureau from different sources about the time hostilities
were commenced that a simultaneous attack was to be made upon white
settlements by all the tribes between the Mississippi River and the
Rocky Mountains. The State of Minnesota has suffered great injury
from this Indian war. A large portion of her territory has been
depopulated, and a severe loss has been sustained by the destruction
of property. The people of that State manifest much anxiety for the
removal of the tribes beyond the limits of the State as a guaranty
against future hostilities. The Commissioner of Indian Affairs will
furnish full details. I submit for your especial consideration
whether our Indian system shall not be remodeled. Many wise and good
men have impressed me with the belief that this can be profitably

I submit a statement of the proceedings of commissioners, which shows
the progress that has been made in the enterprise of constructing the
Pacific Railroad. And this suggests the earliest completion of this
road, and also the favorable action of Congress upon the projects now
pending before them for enlarging the capacities of the great canals
in New York and Illinois, as being of vital and rapidly increasing
importance to the whole nation, and especially to the vast interior
region hereinafter to be noticed at some greater length. I purpose
having prepared and laid before you at an early day some interesting
and valuable statistical information upon this subject. The military
and commercial importance of enlarging the Illinois and Michigan
Canal and improving the Illinois River is presented in the report of
Colonel Webster to the Secretary of War, and now transmitted to
Congress. I respectfully ask attention to it.

To carry out the provisions of the act of Congress of the 15th of May
last, I have caused the Department of Agriculture of the United
States to be organized.

The Commissioner informs me that within the period of a few months
this department has established an extensive system of correspondence
and exchanges, both at home and abroad, which promises to effect
highly beneficial results in the development of a correct knowledge
of recent improvements in agriculture, in the introduction of new
products, and in the collection of the agricultural statistics of the
different States.

Also, that it will soon be prepared to distribute largely seeds,
cereals, plants, and cuttings, and has already published and
liberally diffused much valuable information in anticipation. of a
more elaborate report, which will in due time be furnished, embracing
some valuable tests in chemical science now in progress in the

The creation of this department was for the more immediate benefit of
a large class of our most valuable citizens, and I trust that the
liberal basis upon which it has been organized will not only meet
your approbation, but that it will realize at no distant day all the
fondest anticipations of its most sanguine friends and become the
fruitful source of advantage to all our people.

On the 22d day of September last a proclamation was issued by the
Executive, a copy of which is herewith submitted.

In accordance with the purpose expressed in the second paragraph of
that paper, I now respectfully recall your attention to what may be
called “compensated emancipation.”

A nation may be said to consist of its territory, its people, and its
laws. The territory is the only part which is of certain durability.
“One generation passeth away and another generation cometh, but the
earth abideth forever.” It is of the first importance to duly
consider and estimate this ever enduring part. That portion of the
earth’s surface which is owned and inhabited by the people of the
United States is well adapted to be the home of one national family,
and it is not well adapted for two or more. Its vast extent and its
variety of climate and productions are of advantage in this age for
one people, whatever they might have been in former ages. Steam,
telegraphs, and intelligence have brought these to be an advantageous
combination for one united people.

In the inaugural address I briefly pointed out the total inadequacy
of disunion as a remedy for the differences between the people of the
two sections. I did so in language which I cannot improve, and
which, therefore, I beg to repeat:

“One section of our country believes slavery is right and ought to be
extended, while the other believes it is wrong and ought not to be
extended. This is the only substantial dispute. The fugitive-slave
clause of the Constitution and the laws for the suppression of the
foreign slave trade are each as well enforced, perhaps, as any law
can ever be in a community where the moral Sense of the people
imperfectly supports the law itself. The great body of the people
abide by the dry legal obligation in both cases, and a few break over
in each. This, I think, cannot be perfectly cured, and it would be
worse in both cases after the separation of the sections than before.
The foreign slave trade, now imperfectly suppressed, would be
ultimately revived without restriction in one section, while fugitive
slaves, now only partially surrendered, would not be surrendered at
all by the other.

“Physically speaking, we can not separate. We can not remove our
respective sections from each other nor build an impassable wall
between them. A husband and wife may be divorced and go out of the
presence and beyond the reach of each other, but the different parts
of our country cannot do this. They cannot but remain face to face,
and intercourse, either amicable or hostile, must continue between
them. Is it possible, then, to make that intercourse more
advantageous or more satisfactory after separation than before? Can
aliens make treaties easier than friends can make laws? Can treaties
be more faithfully enforced between aliens than laws can among
friends? Suppose you go to war, you cannot fight always; and when,
after much loss on both sides and no gain on either, you cease
fighting, the identical old questions, as to terms of intercourse,
are again upon you.”

There is no line, straight or crooked, suitable for a national
boundary upon which to divide. Trace through, from east to west,
upon the line between the free and slave country, and we shall find a
little more than one third of its length are rivers, easy to be
crossed, and populated, or soon to be populated, thickly upon both
sides; while nearly all its remaining length are merely surveyors’
lines, over which people may walk back and forth without any
consciousness of their presence. No part of this line can be made
any more difficult to pass by writing it down on paper or parchment
as a national boundary. The fact of separation, if it comes, gives
up on the part of the seceding section the fugitive-slave clause
along with all other constitutional obligations upon the section
seceded from, while I should expect no treaty stipulation would ever
be made to take its place.

But there is another difficulty. The great interior region bounded
east by the Alleghenies, north by the British dominions, west by the
Rocky Mountains, and south by the line along which the culture of
corn and cotton meets, and which includes part of Virginia, part of
Tennessee, all of Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin,
Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, and the Territories of
Dakota, Nebraska, and part of Colorado, already has above 10,000,000
people, and will have 50,000,000 within fifty years if not prevented
by any political folly or mistake. It contains more than one third
of the country owned by the United States–certainly more than
1,000,000 square miles. Once half as populous as Massachusetts
already is, it would have more than 75,000,000 people. A glance at
the map shows that, territorially speaking, it is the great body of
the Republic. The other parts are but marginal borders to it, the
magnificent region sloping west from the Rocky Mountains to the
Pacific being the deepest and also the richest in undeveloped
resources. In the production of provisions, grains, grasses, and all
which proceed from them this great interior region is naturally one
of the most important in the world. Ascertain from statistics the
small proportion of the region which has yet been brought into
cultivation, and also the large and rapidly increasing amount of
products, and we shall be overwhelmed with the magnitude of the
prospect presented. And yet this region has no seacoast–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 Francisco; 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 to 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,

ART.–Every State wherein slavery now exists which shall abolish the
same therein at any time or times before the 1st day of January, A.D.
1900, 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 State by
instalments 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 afterwards reintroducing or
tolerating slavery therein shall refund to the United States the
bonds so received, or the value thereof, and all interest paid

ART.–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.

ART.–Congress may appropriate money and otherwise provide for
colonizing free colored persons with their own consent at any place
or places without the United States.

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