The suggestion in the proclamation as to maintaining the political
framework of the States on what is called reconstruction is made in
the hope that it may do good without danger of harm. It will save
labor and avoid great confusion.
But why any proclamation now upon this subject? This question is
beset with the conflicting views that the step might be delayed too
long or be taken too soon. In some States the elements for
resumption seem ready for action, but remain inactive apparently for
want of a rallying point–a plan of action. Why shall A adopt the
plan of B rather than B that of A? And if A and B should agree, how
can they know but that the General Government here will reject their
plan? By the proclamation a plan is presented which may be accepted
by them as a rallying point, and which they are assured in advance
will not be rejected here. This may bring them to act sooner than
they otherwise would.
The objections to a premature presentation of a plan by the National
Executive consist in the danger of committals on points which could
be more safely left to further developments. Care has been taken to
so shape the document as to avoid embarrassments from this source.
Saying that on certain terms certain classes will be pardoned with
rights restored, it is not said that other classes or other terms
will never be included. Saying that reconstruction will be accepted
if presented in a specified way, it is not said it will never be
accepted in any other way.
The movements by State action for emancipation in several of the
States not included in the emancipation proclamation are matters of
profound gratulation. And while I do not repeat in detail what I
have heretofore so earnestly urged upon this subject my general views
and feelings remain unchanged and I trust that Congress will omit no
fair opportunity of aiding these important steps to a great
In the midst of other cares, however important we must not lose sight
of the fact that the war power is still our main reliance. To that
power alone ( we look yet for a time to give confidence to the people
in the contested regions that the insurgent power will not again
overrun them. Until that confidence shall be established little can
be done anywhere what is called reconstruction. Hence our chiefest
care must still be directed to the Army and Navy who have thus far
borne their harder part so nobly and well; and it may be esteemed
fortunate that giving the greatest efficiency to these indispensable
arms we do also honorably recognize the gallant men, from commander
to sentinel, who compose them, and to whom more than to others the
world must stand indebted for the home of freedom disenthralled,
regenerated, enlarged, and perpetuated.
MESSAGE TO CONGRESS.
WASHINGTON D. C., December 8, 1863.
TO THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:
In conformity to the law of July 16, 1862, I most cordially recommend
that Captain John Rogers United States Navy, receive a vote of thanks
from Congress for the eminent skill and gallantry exhibited by him in
the engagement with the rebel armed ironclad steamer Fingal, alias
Atlanta, whilst in command of the United States ironclad steamer
Weehawken, which led to her capture on the 17th June, 1863, and also
for the zeal, bravery, and general good conduct shown by this officer
on many occasions.
This recommendation is specially made in order to comply with the
requirements of the ninth section of the aforesaid act, which is in
the following words, viz:
That any line officer of the Navy or Marine Corps may be advanced one
grade if upon recommendation of the President by name he receives the
thanks of Congress for highly distinguished conduct in conflict with
the enemy or for extraordinary heroism in the line of his profession.
MESSAGE TO THE SENATE.
WASHINGTON, D. C., December 8, 1863.
TO THE SENATE OF THE UNITED STATES:
Congress, on my recommendation, passed a resolution, approved 7th
February, 1863, tendering its thanks to Commander D. D. Porter “for
the bravery and skill displayed in the attack on the post of Arkansas
on the 10th January, 1863,” and in consideration of those services,
together with his efficient labors and vigilance subsequently
displayed in thwarting the efforts of the rebels to obstruct the
Mississippi and its tributaries and the important part rendered by
the squadron under his command, which led to the surrender of
I do therefore, in conformity to the seventh section of the act
approved 16th July, 1862, nominate Commander D. D. Porter to be a
rear-admiral in the Navy on the active list from the 4th July, 1863,
to fill an existing vacancy.
TELEGRAM TO GENERAL U. S. GRANT.
WASHINGTON, December 8, 1863.
Understanding that your lodgment at Chattanooga and Knoxville is now
secure, I wish to tender you, and all under your command, my more
than thanks, my profoundest gratitude, for the skill, courage, and
perseverance with which you and they, over so great difficulties,
have effected that important object. God bless you all!
TO GOVERNOR CURTIN.
WASHINGTON, December 9, 1863
HIS EXCELLENCY A. G. CURTIN,
Governor of Pennsylvania.
DEAR SIR:–I have to urge my illness, and the preparation of the
message, in excuse for not having sooner transmitted you the inclosed
from the Secretary of War and Provost Marshal General in response to
yours in relation to recruiting in Pennsylvania. Though not quite
as you desire, I hope the grounds taken will be reasonably
satisfactory to you. Allow me to exchange congratulations with you
on the organization of the House of Representatives, and especially
on recent military events in Georgia and Tennessee.
Yours very truly,
TELEGRAM TO GENERAL BUTLER.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, D. C., December 10, 1863.
MAJOR-GENERAL BUTLER, Fort Monroe, Va.:
Please suspend execution in any and all sentences of death in your
department until further order.
TELEGRAM TO GENERAL MEADE.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, December 11, 1863.
MAJOR-GENERAL MEADE, Army of the Potomac:
Lieut. Col. James B. Knox, Tenth Regiment Pennsylvania Reserves,
offers his resignation under circumstances inducing me to wish to
accept it. But I prefer to know your pleasure upon the subject.
TO JUDGE HOFFMAN.
December 15, 1863.
HON. OGDEN HOFFMAN, U. S. District Judge, San Francisco, Cal.:
The oath in the proclamation of December 8 is intended for those who
may voluntarily take it, and not for those who may be constrained to
take it in order to escape actual imprisonment or punishment. It is
intended that the latter class shall abide the granting or
withholding of the pardoning power in the ordinary way.
TELEGRAM TO MARY GONYEAG.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, December 15, 1863.
MOTHER MARY GONYEAG, Superior, Academy of Visitation,
The President has no authority as to whether you may raffle for the
benevolent object you mention. If there is no objection in the Iowa
laws, there is none here.
PROCLAMATION CONCERNING DISCRIMINATING DUTIES,
DECEMBER 16, 1863.
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:
Whereas by an act of the Congress of the United States of the 24th of
May, 1828, entitled “An act in addition to an act entitled ‘An act
concerning discriminating duties of tonnage and impost’ and to
equalize the duties on Prussian vessels and their cargoes,” it is
provided that upon satisfactory evidence being given to the President
of the United States by the government of any foreign nation that no
discriminating duties of tonnage or impost are imposed or levied in
the ports of the said nation upon vessels wholly belonging to
citizens of the United States or upon the produce, manufactures, or
merchandise imported in the same from the United States or from any
foreign country, the President is thereby authorized to issue his
proclamation declaring that the foreign discriminating duties of
tonnage and impost within the United States are and shall be
suspended and discontinued so far as respects the vessels of the said
foreign nation and the produce, manufactures, or merchandise imported
into the United States in the same from the said foreign nation or
from any other foreign country, the said suspension to take effect
from the time of such notification being given to the President of
the United States and to continue so long as the reciprocal exemption
of vessels belonging to citizens of the United States and their
cargoes, as aforesaid, shall be continued, and no longer; and
Whereas satisfactory evidence has lately been received by me through
an official communication of Senor Don Luis Molina, Envoy
Extraordinary and Minister Plenipotentiary of the Republic of
Nicaragua, under date of the 28th of November, 1863, that no other or
higher duties of tonnage and impost have been imposed or levied since
the second day of August, 1838, in the ports of Nicaragua, upon
vessels wholly belonging to citizens of the United States, and upon
the produce, manufactures, or merchandise imported in the same from
the United States, and ,from any foreign country whatever, than are
levied on Nicaraguan ships and their cargoes in the same ports under
Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of
America, do hereby declare and proclaim that so much of the several
acts imposing discriminating duties of tonnage and impost within the
United States are, and shall be, suspended and discontinued so far as
respects the vessels of Nicaragua, and the produce, manufactures, and
the merchandise imported into the United States in the same from the
dominions of Nicaragua, and from any other foreign country whatever;
the said suspension to take effect from the day above mentioned, and
to continue thenceforward so long as the reciprocal exemption of the
vessels of the United States, and the produce, manufactures, and
merchandise imported into the dominions of Nicaragua in the same, as
aforesaid, shall be continued on the part of the government of
Given under my hand at the city of Washington, the sixteenth day of
December, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and
sixty-three, and the eighty-eighth of the Independence of the United
By the President:
WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.
MESSAGE TO CONGRESS,
DECEMBER 17, 1863.
TO THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED STATES:
Herewith I lay before you a letter addressed to myself by a committee
of gentlemen representing the freedmen’s aid societies in Boston, New
York, Philadelphia, and Cincinnati. The subject of the letter, as
indicated above, is one of great magnitude and importance, and one
which these gentlemen, of known ability and high character, seem to
have considered with great attention and care. Not having the time
to form a mature judgment of my own as to whether the plan they
suggest is the best, I submit the whole subject to Congress, deeming
that their attention thereto is almost imperatively demanded.
TELEGRAM TO GENERAL HURLBUT.
[Cipher.] EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, D. C., December 17, 1863.
MAJOR-GENERAL HURLBUT, Memphis, Tenn.:
I understand you have under sentence of death, a tall old man, by the
name of Henry F. Luckett. I personally knew him, and did not think
him a bad man. Please do not let him be executed unless upon
further order from me, and in the meantime send me a transcript of
TELEGRAM TO GENERAL U.S. GRANT.
WAR DEPARTMENT, WASHINGTON, December 19, 1863.
GENERAL GRANT, Chattanooga, Tennessee:
The Indiana delegation in Congress, or at least a large part of them,
are very anxious that General Milroy shall enter active service
again, and I share in this feeling. He is not a difficult man to
satisfy, sincerity and courage being his strong traits. Believing in
our cause, and wanting to fight for it, is the whole matter with him.
Could you, without embarrassment, assign him a place, if directed to
report to you?
TO SECRETARY STANTON.
WASHINGTON, D. C., December 21, 1863.
HON. SECRETARY OF WAR.
MY DEAR SIR:–Sending a note to the Secretary of the Navy, as I
promised, he called over and said that the strikes in the ship-yards
had thrown the completion of vessels back so much that he thought
General Gilimore’s proposition entirely proper. He only wishes (and
in which I concur) that General Gillmore will courteously confer
with, and explain to, Admiral Dahlgren.
In regard to the Western matter, I believe the program will have to
stand substantially as I first put it. Henderson, and especially
Brown, believe that the social influence of St. Louis would
inevitably tell injuriously upon General Pope in the particular
difficulty existing there, and I think there is some force in that
As to retaining General Schofield temporarily, if this should be
done, I believe I should scarcely be able to get his nomination
through the Senate. Send me over his nomination, which, however, I
am not quite ready to send to the Senate.
Yours as ever,
TO O. D. FILLEY.
WASHINGTON, December 22, 1863.
O. D. FILLEY, ST. Louis, Missouri:
I have just looked over a petition signed by some three dozen
citizens of St. Louis, and three accompanying letters, one by
yourself, one by a Mr. Nathan Ranney, and one by a Mr. John D.
Coalter, the whole relating to the Rev. Dr. McPheeters. The
petition prays, in the name of justice and mercy, that I will restore
Dr. McPheeters to all his ecclesiastical rights. This gives no
intimation as to what ecclesiastical rights are withheld.
Your letter states that Provost-Marshal Dick, about a year ago,
ordered the arrest of Dr. McPheeters, pastor of the Vine Street
Church, prohibited him from officiating, and placed the management of
the affairs of the church out of the control of its chosen trustees;
and near the close you state that a certain course “would insure his
release.” Mr. Ranney’s letter says: “Dr. Samuel S. McPheeters is
enjoying all the rights of a civilian, but cannot preach the
Gospel!!!!” Mr. Coalter, in his letter, asks: “Is it not a strange
illustration of the condition of things, that the question of who
shall be allowed to preach in a church in St. Louis shall be decided
by the President of the United States?”
Now, all this sounds very strangely; and, withal, a little as if you
gentlemen making the application do not understand the case alike;
one affirming that the doctor is enjoying all the rights of a
civilian, and another pointing out to me what will secure his
release! On the second day of January last, I wrote to General Curtis
in relation to Mr. Dick’s order upon Dr. McPheeters; and, as I
suppose the doctor is enjoying all the rights of a civilian, I only
quote that part of my letter which relates to the church. It is as
follows: “But I must add that the United States Government must not,
as by this order, undertake to run the churches. When an individual,
in a church or out of it, becomes dangerous to the public interest,
he must be checked; but the churches, as such, must take care of
themselves. It will not do for the United States to appoint
trustees, supervisors, or other agents for the churches.”
This letter going to General Curtis, then in command there, I
supposed, of course, it was obeyed, especially as I heard no further
complaint from Dr. McPheeters or his friends for nearly an entire
year. I have never interfered, nor thought of interfering, as to who
shall or shall not preach in any church; nor have I knowingly or
believingly tolerated any one else to so interfere by my authority.
If any one is so interfering by color of my authority, I would like
to have it specifically made known to me. If, after all, what is
now sought is to have me put Dr. McPheeters back over the heads of a
majority of his own congregation, that, too, will be declined. I
will not have control of any church on any side.
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