The Writings of Abraham Lincoln, v7
Part 1 out of 7
This etext was produced by David Widger
THE WRITINGS OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN, Volume Seven
OPINION ON THE LOSS OF
GENERAL R. H. MILROY'S DIVISION.
October 27, 1863.
In June last a division was substantially lost at or near Winchester,
Va. At the time, it was under General Milroy as immediate commander
in the field, General Schenck as department commander at Baltimore,
and General Halleck as general-in-chief at Washington.
General Milroy, as immediate commander, was put in arrest, and
subsequently a court of inquiry examined chiefly with reference to
disobedience of orders, and reported the evidence.
The foregoing is a synoptical statement of the evidence, together
with the judge-advocate-general's conclusions. The disaster, when it
came, was a surprise to all. It was very well known to Generals
Shenck and Milroy for some time before, that General Halleck thought
the division was in great danger of a surprise at Winchester; that it
was of no service commensurate with the risk it incurred, and that it
ought to be withdrawn; but, although he more than once advised its
withdrawal, he never positively ordered it. General Schenck, on the
contrary, believed the service of the force at Winchester was worth
the hazard, and so did not positively order its withdrawal until it
was so late that the enemy cut the wire and prevented the order
reaching General Milroy.
General Milroy seems to have concurred with General Schenck in the
opinion that the force should be kept at Winchester at least until
the approach of danger, but he disobeyed no order upon the subject.
Some question can be made whether some of General Halleck's
dispatches to General Schenk should not have been construed to be
orders to withdraw the force, and obeyed accordingly; but no such
question can be made against General Milroy. In fact, the last order
he received was to be prepared to withdraw, but not to actually
withdraw until further order, which further order never reached him.
Serious blame is not necessarily due to any serious disaster, and I
cannot say that in this case any of the officers are deserving of
serious blame. No court-martial is deemed necessary or proper in the
TO GENERAL SCHOFIELD.
Private and confidential
WASHINGTON, October 28, 1863.
GENERAL JOHN M. SCHOFIELD:
There have recently reached the War Department, and thence been laid
before me, from Missouri, three communications, all similar in import
and identical in object. One of them, addressed to nobody, and
without place or date, but having the signature of (apparently) the
writer, is a letter of eight closely written foolscap pages. The
other two are written by a different person, at St. Joseph, Mo., and
of the dates, respectively, October 12 and 13, 1863, and each
inclosing a large number of affidavits. The general statements of
the whole are that the Federal and State authorities are arming the
disloyal and disarming the loyal, and that the latter will all be
killed or driven out of the State unless there shall be a change. In
particular, no loyal man who has been disarmed is named, but the
affidavits show by name forty-two persons as disloyal who have been
armed. They are as follows: [The names are omitted.]
A majority of these are shown to have been in the rebel service. I
believe it could be shown that the government here has deliberately
armed more than ten times as many captured at Gettysburg, to say
nothing of similar operations in East Tennessee. These papers
contain altogether thirty--one manuscript pages, and one newspaper in
extenso, and yet I do not find it anywhere charged in them that any
loyal man has been harmed by reason of being disarmed, or that any
disloyal one has harmed anybody by reason of being armed by the
Federal or State Government. Of course, I have not had time to
carefully examine all; but I have had most of them examined and
briefed by others, and the result is as stated. The remarkable fact
that the actual evil is yet only anticipated--inferred--induces me to
suppose I understand the case; but I do not state my impression,
because I might be mistaken, and because your duty and mine is plain
in any event. The locality of nearly all this seems to be St.
Joseph and Buchanan County. I wish you to give special attention to
this region, particularly on election day. Prevent violence from
whatever quarter, and see that the soldiers themselves do no wrong.
TELEGRAM TO GOVERNOR JOHNSON.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, D. C., October 28, 1863.
HON. ANDREW JOHNSON, Nashville, Tenn.:
If not too inconvenient, please come at once and have a personal
conversation with me.
TO VICE-PRESIDENT HAMLIN.
AN ACT TO REGULATE THE DUTIES OF THE CLERK OF THE HOUSE OF
REPRESENTATIVES IN PREPARING FOR THE ORGANIZATION OF THE HOUSE.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the
United States of America in Congress assembled, that, before the
first meeting of the next Congress, and of every subsequent Congress,
the clerk of the next preceding House of Representatives shall make a
roll of the Representatives elect, and place thereon the names of all
persons, and of such persons only, whose credentials show that they
were regularly elected in accordance with the laws of their States
respectively, or the laws of the United States.
Approved March 3, 1863.
TO J. W. GRIMES.
WASHINGTON, D.C., October 29, 1863.
HON. JAMES W. GRIMES.
MY DEAR SIR :--The above act of Congress was passed, as I suppose,
for the purpose of shutting out improper applicants for seats in the
House of Representatives; and I fear there is some danger that it
will be used to shut out proper ones. Iowa, having an entire Union
delegation, will be one of the States the attempt will be made, if
upon any. The Governor doubtless has made out the certificates, and
they are already in the hands of the members. I suggest that they
come on with them; but that, for greater caution, you, and perhaps
Mr. Harlan with you, consult with the Governor, and have an
additional set made out according to the form on the other half of
this sheet; and still another set, if you can, by studying the law,
think of a form that in your judgment, promises additional security,
and quietly bring the whole on with you, to be used in case of
necessity. Let what you do be kept still.
TELEGRAM TO P. F. LOWE.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, D. C., October 30, 1863.
HON. F. F. LOWE, San Francisco, Cal.:
Below is an act of Congress, passed last session, intended to exclude
applicants not entitled to seats, but which, there is reason to fear,
will be used to exclude some who are entitled. Please get with the
Governor and one or two other discreet friends, study the act
carefully, and make certificates m two or three forms, according to
your best judgement, and have them sent to me, so as to multiply the
chances of the delegation getting their seats. Let it be done
without publicity. Below is a form which may answer for one. If you
could procure the same to be done for the Oregon member it might be
TELEGRAM TO GENERAL MEADE.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, D. C., October 30, 1863.
MAJOR-GENERAL MEADE, Army of Potomac:
Much obliged for the information about deserters contained in your
dispatch of yesterday, while I have to beg your pardon for troubling
you in regard to some of them, when, as it appears by yours, I had
the means of answering my own questions.
WASHINGTON, October 31, 1863.
The Provost-Marshal-General has issued no proclamation at all. He
has in no form announced anything recently in regard to troops in New
York, except in his letter to Governor Seymour of October 21, which
has been published in the newspapers of that State. It has not been
announced or decided in any form by the Provost-Marshal-General, or
any one else in authority of the Government, that every citizen who
has paid his three hundred dollars commutation is liable to be
immediately drafted again, or that towns that have just raised the
money to pay their quotas will have again to be subject to similar
taxation or suffer the operations of the new conscription, nor it is
probable that the like of them ever will be announced or decided.
TELEGRAM TO W. H. SEWARD.
WAR DEPARTMENT, WASHINGTON, D. C., November 1, 1863.
HON. W. H. SEWARD, Auburn, N.Y.:
No important news. Details of Hooker's night fight do great credit
to his command, and particularly to the Eleventh Corps and Geary's
part of the Twelfth. No discredit on any.
TO POSTMASTER-GENERAL BLAIR.
WASHINGTON, November 2, 1863.
HON. MONTGOMERY BLAIR.
MY DEAR SIR:--Some days ago I understood you to say that your
brother, General Frank Blair, desires to be guided by my wishes as to
whether he will occupy his seat in Congress or remain in the field.
My wish, then, is compounded of what I believe will be best for the
country; and it is that he will come here, put his military
commission in my hands, take his seat, go into caucus with our
friends, abide the nominations, help elect the nominees, and thus aid
to organize a House of Representatives which will really support the
Government in the war. If the result shall be the election of
himself as Speaker, let him serve in that position. If not, let him
retake his commission and return to the army for the benefit of the
This will heal a dangerous schism for him. It will relieve him from
a dangerous position or a misunderstanding, as I think he is in
danger of being permanently separated from those with whom only he
can ever have a real sympathy--the sincere opponents of slavery.
It will be a mistake if he shall allow the provocations offered him
by insincere time-servers to drive him from the house of his own
building. He is young yet. He has abundant talents--quite enough to
occupy all his time without devoting any to temper.
He is rising in military skill and usefulness. His recent
appointment to the command of a corps, by one so competent to judge
as General Sherman, proves this. In that line he can serve both the
country and himself more profitably than he could as a member of
Congress upon the floor.
The foregoing is what I would say if Frank Blair was my brother
instead of yours.
TO GOVERNOR BRADFORD.
WASHINGTON, November 2, 1863.
His EXCELLENCY A. W. BRADFORD, Governor of Maryland.
SIR:--Yours of the 31st ult. was received yesterday about noon, and
since then I have been giving most earnest attention to the subject-
matter of it. At my call General Schenck has attended, and he
assures me it is almost certain that violence will be used at some of
the voting places on election day unless prevented by his provost-
guards. He says that at some of those places Union voters will not
attend at all, or run a ticket, unless they have some assurance of
protection. This makes the Missouri case, of my action in regard to
which you express your approval.
The remaining point of your letter is a protest against any person
offering to vote being put to any test not found in the laws of
Maryland. This brings us to a difference between Missouri and
Maryland. With the same reason in both States, Missouri has, by law,
provided a test for the voter with reference to the present
rebellion, while Maryland has not. For example, General Trimble,
captured fighting us at Gettysburg, is, without recanting his
treason, a legal voter by the laws of Maryland. Even General
Schenck's order admits him to vote, if he recants upon oath. I think
that is cheap enough. My order in Missouri, which you approve, and
General Scherick's order here, reach precisely the same end. Bach
assures the right of voting to all loyal men, and whether a man is
loyal, each allows that man to fix by his own oath. Your suggestion
that nearly all the candidates are loyal, I do not think quite meets
the case. In this struggle for the nation's life, I cannot so
confidently rely on those whose elections may have depended upon
disloyal votes. Such men, when elected, may prove true; but such
votes are given them in the expectation that they will prove false.
Nor do I think that to keep the peace at the polls, and to prevent
the persistently disloyal from voting, constitutes just cause of
offense to Maryland. I think she has her own example for it. If I
mistake not, it is precisely what General Dix did when your
Excellency was elected Governor.
I revoke the first of the three propositions in General Schenek's
General Order No. 53; not that it is wrong in principle, but because
the military, being of necessity exclusive judges as to who shall be
arrested, the provision is too liable to abuse. For the revoked part
I substitute the following:
That, all provost-marshals and other military officers do prevent all
disturbance and violence at or about the polls, whether offered by
such persons as above described, or by any other person or persons
The other two propositions of the order I allow to stand. General
Schenek is fully determined, and has my strict orders besides, that
all loyal men may vote, and vote for whom they please.
Your obedient servant,
TO J. H. HACKETT
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON,
November 2, 1863.
JAMES H. HACKETT.
MY DEAR SIR:--Yours of October 22d is received, as also was, in due
course, that of October 3d. I look forward with pleasure to the
fulfillment of the promise made in the former to visit Washington the
following winter and to "call."
Give yourself no uneasiness on the subject mentioned in that
of the 22d. My note to you I certainly did not expect to see in
print, yet I have not been much shocked by the newspaper comments
Those comments constitute a fair specimen of what has occurred
to me through life. I have endured a great deal of ridicule, without
much malice; and have received a great deal of kindness not quite
free from ridicule. I am used to it.
TELEGRAM TO W. H. SEWARD.
WASHINGTON CITY, November 3, 1863.
HON. W. H. SEWARD, Auburn, N. Y.:
Nothing new. Dispatches up to 12 last night from Chattanooga show
all quiet and doing well. How is your son?
TELEGRAM TO GENERAL MEADE
WASHINGTON, November 3, 1863.
MAJOR-GENERAL MEADE, Army of Potomac:
Samuel Wellers, private in Company B, Forty-ninth Pennsylvania
Volunteers, writes that he is to be shot for desertion on the 6th
instant. His own story is rather a bad one, and yet he tells it so
frankly, that I am somewhat interested in him. Has he been a good
soldier except the desertion? About how old is he?
TELEGRAM TO GENERAL MEADE.
WASHINGTON, D. C., November 5, 1863.
MAJOR-GENERAL MEADE, Army of Potomac:
Please suspend the execution of Samuel Wellers, Forty-ninth
Pennsylvania Volunteers, until further
TELEGRAM TO GENERAL A. E. BURNSIDE.
WASHINGTON, November 9, 1863.4 P.M.
MAJOR-GENERAL BURNSIDE, Knoxville, Tenn.:
Have seen dispatch from General Grant about your loss at Rogersville.
Per contra, about the same time, Averell and Duffle got considerable
advantage of the enemy at and about Lewisburg, Virginia: and on
Saturday, the seventh, Meade drove the enemy from Rappahannock
Station and Kelly's Ford, capturing eight battle-flags, four guns,
and over 1800 prisoners, with very little loss to himself. Let me
hear from you.
TELEGRAM TO GENERAL G. G. MEADE.
WASHINGTON, November 9, 1863 7.30 P.M.
I have seen your dispatches about operations on the Rappahannock on
Saturday, and I wish to say, "Well done!" Do the 1500 prisoners
reported by General Sedgwick include the 400 taken by General French,
or do the Whole amount to 1900?
ORDER CONCERNING THE EXPORT OF TOBACCO PURCHASED BY FOREIGN NATIONS.
WASHINGTON, November 10, 1863.
In consideration of the peculiar circumstances and pursuant to the
comity deemed to be due to friendly powers, any tobacco in the United
States belonging to the government either of France, Austria, or any
other state with which this country is at peace, and which tobacco
was purchased and paid for by such government prior to the 4th day of
March, 1861, may be exported from any port of the United States under
the supervision and upon the responsibility of naval officers of such
governments and in conformity to such regulations as may be presented
by the Secretary of State of the United States, and not otherwise.
TELEGRAM TO GENERAL SCHOFIELD.
WASHINGTON, D. C., November 10, 1863.
GENERAL SCHOFIELD, Saint Louis, Mo.:
I see a dispatch here from Saint Louis, which is a little difficult
for me to understand. It says "General Schofield has refused leave
of absence to members in military service to attend the legislature.
All such are radical and administration men. The election of two
Senators from this place on Thursday will probably turn upon this
thing." what does this mean? Of course members of the legislation
must be allowed to attend its sessions. But how is there a session
before the recent election returns are in? And how is it to be at
"this place"--and that is Saint Louis? Please inform me.
TELEGRAM TO GENERAL SCHOFIELD.
WASHINGTON, D. C., November 11, 1863.
GENERAL SCHOFIELD, Saint Louis, Mo.:
I believe the Secretary of War has telegraphed you about members of
the legislation. At all events, allow those in the service to attend
the session, and we can afterward decide whether they can stay
through the entire session.
TELEGRAM TO HIRAM BARNEY.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, D. C., November 11, 1863.
HON. HIRAM BARNEY, New York;
I would like an interview with you. Can you not come?
TELEGRAM TO J. MILDERBORGER.
WASHINGTON, D. C., November 11, 1863.
JOHN MILDERBORGER, Peru, Ind.:
I cannot comprehend the object of your dispatch. I do not often
decline seeing people who call upon me, and probably will see you if
TELEGRAM to E. H. AND E. JAMESON.
WASHINGTON, D. C., November 13, 1863.
E. H. and E. JAMESON, Jefferson City, Mo.:
Yours saying Brown and Henderson are elected Senators is received. I
understand this is one and one. If so it is knocking heads together
TELEGRAM TO GENERAL W. S. ROSECRANS.
WAR DEPARTMENT, WASHINGTON, November 14, 1863. 12.15 P.M.
MAJOR-GENERAL ROSECRANS, Cincinnati, Ohio:
I have received and considered your dispatch of yesterday. Of the
reports you mention, I have not the means of seeing any except your
own. Besides this, the publication might be improper in view of the
court of inquiry which has been ordered. With every disposition, not
merely to do justice, but to oblige you, I feel constrained to say I
think the publications better not be made now.
TELEGRAM TO GENERAL BURNSIDE.
WASHINGTON CITY, November 16, 1863.
MAJOR-GENERAL BURNSIDE, Knoxville, Tenn.:
What is the news?
TO SECRETARY CHASE
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, November 17, 1863.
HON. SECRETARY OF THE TREASURY.
MY DEAR SIR:--I expected to see you here at Cabinet meeting, and to
say something about going to Gettysburg. There will be a train to
take and return us. The time for starting is not yet fixed, but when
it shall be I will notify you.
ADDRESS AT GETTYSBURG
NOVEMBER 19, 1863.
Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this
continent, a new nation, conceived in Liberty, and dedicated to the
proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation
or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are
met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a
portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here
gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether
fitting and proper that we should do this.
But, in a larger sense, we can not dedicate--we can not consecrate--
we can not hallow--this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who
struggled here, have consecrated it, far above our poor power to add
or detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we
say here, but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us
the living, rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which
they who fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather
for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us--
that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause
for which they gave the last full measure of devotion that we here
highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain--that this
nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom--and that
government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not
perish from the earth.
TELEGRAM TO GENERAL MEADE.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, D. C., November 20, 1863.
MAJOR-GENERAL MEADE, Army of Potomac:
If there is a man by the name of King under sentence to be shot,
please suspend execution till further order, and send record.
TELEGRAM TO GENERAL MEADE.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON. November 20, 1863.
MAJOR-GENERAL MEADE, Army of Potomac:
An intelligent woman in deep distress, called this morning, saying
her husband, a lieutenant in the Army of Potomac, was to be shot next
Monday for desertion, and putting a letter in my hand, upon which I
relied for particulars, she left without mentioning a name or other
particular by which to identify the case. On opening the letter I
found it equally vague, having nothing to identify by, except her own
signature, which seems to be "Mrs. Anna S. King." I could not again
find her. If you have a case which you shall think is probably the
one intended, please apply my dispatch of this morning to it.
TELEGRAM TO E. P. EVANS.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, D. C., November 23, 1863.
E. P. EVANS, West Union, Adams County, Ohio:
Yours to Governor Chase in behalf of John A Welch is before me. Can
there be a worse case than to desert and with letters persuading
others to desert? I cannot interpose without a better showing than
you make. When did he desert? when did he write the letters?
TO SECRETARY SEWARD.
WASHINGTON, D. C., November 23, 1863.
MY DEAR SIR:--Two despatches since I saw you; one not quite so late
on firing as we had before, but giving the points that Burnside
thinks he can hold the place, that he is not closely invested, and
that he forages across the river. The other brings the firing up to
11 A.M. yesterday, being twenty-three hours later than we had before.
TELEGRAM TO GENERAL GRANT.
WASHINGTON, November 25, 1863. 8.40 A.M.
MAJOR-GENERAL U.S. GRANT:
Your despatches as to fighting on Monday and Tuesday are here. Well
done! Many thanks to all. Remember Burnside.
TO C. P. KIRKLAND.
WASHINGTON, December 7, 1863.
CHARLES P. KIRKLAND, ESQ., New York:
I have just received and have read your published letter to the HON.
Benjamin R. Curtis. Under the circumstances I may not be the most
competent judge, but it appears to me to be a paper of great ability,
and for the country's sake more than for my own I thank you for it.
Yours very truly,
ANNOUNCEMENT OF UNION SUCCESS IN EAST TENNESSEE.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, D. C.,
December 7, 1863.
Reliable information being received that the insurgent force is
retreating from East Tennessee, under circumstances rendering it
probable that the Union forces cannot hereafter be dislodged from
that important position; and esteeming this to be of high national
consequence, I recommend that all loyal people do, on receipt of this
information, assemble at their places of worship, and render special
homage and gratitude to Almighty God for this great advancement of
the national cause.
PROCLAMATION OF AMNESTY AND RECONSTRUCTION
DECEMBER 8, 1863.
BY THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA:
Whereas in and by the Constitution of the United States it is
provided that the President "shall have power to grant reprieves and
pardons for offenses against the United States, except in cases of
Whereas a rebellion now exists whereby the loyal State governments of
several States have for a long time been subverted, and many persons
have committed and are now guilty of treason against the United
Whereas, with reference to said rebellion and treason, laws have been
enacted by Congress declaring forfeitures and confiscation of
property and liberation of slaves, all upon terms and conditions
therein stated, and also declaring that the President was thereby
authorized at any time thereafter, by proclamation, to extend to
persons who may have participated in the existing rebellion in any
State or part thereof pardon and amnesty, with such exceptions and at
such times and on such conditions as he may deem expedient for the
public welfare; and
Whereas the Congressional declaration for limited and conditional
pardon accords with well-established judicial exposition of the
pardoning power; and
Whereas, with reference to said rebellion, the President of the
United States has issued several proclamations with provisions in
regard to the liberation of slaves; and
Whereas it is now desired by some persons heretofore engaged in said
rebellion to resume their allegiance to the United States and to
reinaugurate loyal State governments within and for their respective
Therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, do
proclaim, declare, and make known to all persons who have, directly
or by implication, participated in the existing rebellion, except as
hereinafter excepted, that a full pardon is hereby granted to them
and each of them, with restoration of all rights of property, except
as to slaves and in property cases where rights of third parties
shall have intervened, and upon the condition that every such person
shall take and subscribe an oath and thenceforward keep and maintain
said oath inviolate, and which oath shall be registered for permanent
preservation and shall be of the tenor and effect following, to wit:
"I, ________, do solemnly swear, in presence of Almighty God, that I
will henceforth faithfully support, protect, and defend the
Constitution of the United States and the Union of the States
thereunder; and that I will in like manner abide by and faithfully
support all acts of Congress passed during the existing rebellion
with reference to slaves, so long and so far as not repealed,
modified, or held void by Congress or by decision of the Supreme
Court; and that I will in like manner abide by and faithfully support
all proclamations of the President made during the existing rebellion
having reference to slaves, so long and so far as not modified or
declared void by decision of the Supreme Court. So help me God."
The persons excepted from the benefits of the foregoing provisions
are all who are or shall have been civil or diplomatic officers or
agents of the so-called Confederate Government; all who have left
judicial stations under the United States to aid the rebellion; all
who are or shall have been military or naval officers of said so-
called Confederate Government above the rank of colonel in the army
or of lieutenant in the navy; all who left seats in the United States
Congress to aid the rebellion; all who resigned commissions in the
Army or Navy of the United States and afterwards aided the rebellion;
and all who have engaged in any way in treating colored persons, or
white persons in charge of such, otherwise than lawfully as prisoners
of war, and which persons may have been found in the United States
service as soldiers, seamen, or in any other capacity.
And I do further proclaim, declare, and make known that whenever, in
any of the States of Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi,
Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia, Florida, South Carolina, and North
Carolina, a number of persons, not less than one-tenth in number of
the votes cast in such State at the Presidential election of the year
A.D. 1860, each having taken oath aforesaid, and not having since
violated it, and being a qualified voter by the election law of the
State existing immediately before the so-called act of secession, and
excluding all others, shall reestablish a State government which
shall be republican and in nowise contravening said oath, such shall
be recognized as the true government of the State, and the State
shall receive thereunder the benefits of the constitutional provision
which declares that "the United States shall guarantee to every State
in this Union a republican form of government and shall protect each
of them against invasion, and, on application of the legislature, or
the EXECUTIVE (when the legislature can not be convened), against
And I do further proclaim, declare, and make known that any provision
which may be adopted by such State government in relation to the
freed people of such State which shall recognize and declare their
permanent freedom, provide for their education, and which may yet be
consistent as a temporary arrangement with their present condition as
a laboring, landless, and homeless class, will not be objected to by
the National EXECUTIVE.
And it is suggested as not improper that in constructing a loyal
State government in any State the name of the State, the boundary,
the subdivisions, the constitution, and the general code of laws as
before the rebellion be maintained, subject only to the modifications
made necessary by the conditions hereinbefore stated, and such
others, if any, not contravening said co and which may be deemed
expedient by those framing the new State government.
To avoid misunderstanding, it may be proper to say that this
proclamation, so far as it relates to State governments, has no
reference to States wherein loyal State governments have all the
while been maintained. And for the same reason it may be proper to
further say that whether members sent to Congress from any State
shall be admitted to seats constitutionally rests exclusively with
the respective Houses, and not to any extent with the EXECUTIVE. And,
still further, that this proclamation is intended to present the
people of the States wherein the national authority has been
suspended and loyal State governments have been subverted a mode in
and by which the national authority and loyal State governments may
be re-established within said States or in any of them; and while the
mode presented is the best the EXECUTIVE can suggest, with his
present impressions, it must not be understood that no other possible
mode would be acceptable.
Given under my hand at the city of WASHINGTON, the 8th day of
December, A. D. 1863, and of the Independence of the United States of
America the eighty-eighth.
By the President:
WILLIAM H. SEWARD, Secretary of State.
ANNUAL MESSAGE TO CONGRESS,
DECEMBER 8, 1863.
FELLOW-CITIZENS OF THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF
REPRESENTATIVES:--Another year of health, and of sufficiently
abundant harvests, has passed. For these, and especially for the
improved condition cf our national affairs, our renewed and
profoundest gratitude to God is due.
We remain in peace and friendship with foreign powers.
The efforts of disloyal citizens of the United States to involve us
in foreign wars, to aid an inexcusable insurrection, have been
unavailing. Her Britannic Majesty's government, as was justly
expected, have exercised their authority to prevent the departure of
new hostile expeditions from British ports. The Emperor of France
has, by a like proceeding, promptly vindicated the neutrality which
he proclaimed at the beginning of the contest. Questions of great
intricacy and importance have arisen out of the blockade, and other
belligerent operations, between the Government and several of the
maritime powers, but they have been discussed, and, as far as was
possible, accommodated, in a spirit of frankness, justice, and mutual
good-will. It is especially gratifying that our prize courts, by the
impartiality of their adjudications, have commanded the respect and
confidence of maritime powers.
The supplemental treaty between the United States and Great Britain
for the suppression of the African slave-trade, made on the 17th day
of February last, has been duly ratified and carried into execution.
It is believed that, so far as American ports and American citizens
are concerned, that inhuman and odious traffic has been brought to an
I shall submit, for the consideration of the Senate, a convention for
the adjustment of possessory claims in Washington Territory, arising
out of the treaty of the 15th of June, 1846, between the United
States and Great Britain, and which have been the source of some
disquiet among the citizens of that now rapidly improving part of the
A novel and important question, involving the extent of the maritime
jurisdiction of Spain in the waters which surround the island of
Cuba, has been debated without reaching an agreement, and it is
proposed, in an amicable spirit, to refer it to the arbitrament of a
friendly power. A convention for that purpose will be submitted to
I have thought it proper, subject to the approval of the Senate, to
concur with the interested commercial powers in an arrangement for
the liquidation of the Scheldt dues upon the principles which have
been heretofore adopted in regard to the imposts upon navigation in
the waters of Denmark.
The long-pending controversy between this government and that of
Chile touching the seizure at Sitana, in Peru, by Chilean officers,
of a large amount in treasure belonging to citizens of the United
States has been brought to a close by the award of His Majesty the
King of the Belgians, to whose arbitration the question was referred
by the parties. The subject was thoroughly and patiently examined by
that justly respected magistrate, and although the sum awarded to the
claimants may not have been as large as they expected there is no
reason to distrust the wisdom of His Majesty's decision. That
decision was promptly complied with by Chile when intelligence in
regard to it reached that country.
The joint commission under the act of the last session of carrying
into effect the convention with Peru on the subject of claims has
been organized at Lima, and is engaged in the business intrusted to
Difficulties concerning interoceanic transit through Nicaragua are in
course of amicable adjustment.
In conformity with principles set forth in my last annual message, I
have received a representative from the United States of Colombia,
and have accredited a minister to that Republic.
Incidents occurring in the progress of our civil war have forced upon
my attention the uncertain state of international questions touching
the rights of foreigners in this country and of United States
citizens abroad. In regard to some governments these rights are at
least partially defined by treaties. In no instance, however, is it
expressly stipulated that in the event of civil war a foreigner
residing in this country within the lines of the insurgents is to be
exempted from the rule which classes him as a belligerent, in whose
behalf the government of his country can not expect any privileges or
immunities distinct from that character. I regret to say, however,
that such claims have been put forward, and in some instances in
behalf of foreigners who have lived in the United States the greater
part of their lives.
There is reason to believe that many persons born in foreign
countries who have declared their intention to become citizens, or
who have been fully naturalized have evaded the military duty
required of them by denying the fact and thereby throwing upon the
Government the burden of proof. It has been found difficult or
impracticable to obtain this proof. from the want of guides to the
proper sources of information. These might be supplied by requiring
clerks of courts where declarations of intention may be made or
naturalizations effected to send periodically lists of the names of
the persons naturalized or declaring their intention to become
citizens to the Secretary of the Interior, in whose Department those
names might be arranged and printed for general information.
There is also reason to believe that foreigners frequently become
citizens of the United States for the sole purpose of evading duties
imposed by the laws of their native countries, to which on becoming
naturalized here they at once repair, and though never returning to
the United States they still claim the interposition of this
government as citizens. Many altercations and great prejudices have
heretofore arisen out of this abuse. It is therefore submitted to
your serious consideration. It might be advisable to fix a limit
beyond which no citizen of the United States residing abroad may
claim the interposition of his government.
The right of suffrage has often been assumed and exercised by aliens
under pretenses of naturalization, which they have disavowed when
drafted into the military service. I submit the expediency of such
an amendment of the law as will make the fact of voting an estoppe
against any plea of exemption from military service or other civil
obligation on the ground of alienage.
In common with other Western powers, our relations with Japan have
been brought into serious jeopardy through the perverse opposition of
the hereditary aristocracy of the Empire to the enlightened and
liberal policy of the Tycoon, designed to bring the country into the
society of nations. It is hoped, although not with entire
confidence, that these difficulties may be peacefully overcome. I
ask your attention to the claim of the minister residing there for
the damages he sustained in the destruction by fire of the residence
of the legation at Yedo.
Satisfactory arrangements have been made with the Emperor of Russia,
which, it is believed, will result in effecting a continuous line of
telegraph through that Empire from our Pacific coast.
I recommend to your favorable consideration the subject of an
international telegraph across the Atlantic Ocean, and also of a
telegraph between this capital and the national forts along the
Atlantic seaboard and the Gulf of Mexico. Such communications,
established with any reasonable outlay, would be economical as well
as effective aids to the diplomatic, military, and naval service.
The consular system of the United States, under the enactments of the
last Congress, begins to be self-sustaining, and there is reason to
hope that it may become entirely so with the increase of trade which
will ensue whenever peace is restored. Our ministers abroad have
been faithful in defending American rights. In protecting commercial
interests our consuls have necessarily had to encounter increased
labors and responsibilities growing out of the war. These they have
for the most part met and discharged with zeal and efficiency. This
acknowledgment justly includes those consuls who, residing in
Morocco, Egypt, Turkey, Japan, China, and other Oriental countries,
are charged with complex functions and extraordinary powers.
The condition of the several organized Territories is generally
satisfactory, although Indian disturbances in New Mexico have not
been entirely suppressed. The mineral resources of Colorado, Nevada,
Idaho, New Mexico, and Arizona are proving far richer than has been
heretofore understood. I lay before you a communication on this
subject from the Governor of New Mexico. I again submit to your
consideration the expediency of establishing a system for the
encouragement of immigration. Although this source of national
wealth and strength is again flowing with greater freedom than for
several years before the insurrection occurred, there is still a
great deficiency of laborers in every field of industry, especially
in agriculture and in our mines, as well of iron and coal as of the
precious metals. While the demand for labor is much increased here,
tens of thousands of persons, destitute of remunerative occupation,
are thronging our foreign consulates and offering to emigrate to the
United States if essential, but very cheap, assistance can be
afforded them. It is easy to see that under the sharp discipline of
civil war the nation is beginning a new life. This noble effort
demands the aid and ought to receive the attention and support of the
Injuries unforeseen by the Government and unintended may in some
cases have been inflicted on the subjects or citizens of foreign
countries, both at sea and on land, by persons in the service of the
United States. As this government expects redress from other powers
when similar injuries are inflicted by persons in their service upon
citizens of the United States, we must be prepared to do justice to
foreigners. If the existing judicial tribunals are inadequate to
this purpose, a special court may be authorized, with power to hear
and decide such claims of the character referred to as may have
arisen under treaties and the public law. Conventions for adjusting
the claims by joint commission have been proposed to some
governments, but no definitive answer to the proposition has yet been
received from any.
In the course of the session I shall probably have occasion to
request you to provide indemnification to claimants where decrees of
restitution have been rendered and damages awarded by admiralty
courts, and in other cases where this government may be acknowledged
to be liable in principle and where the amount of that liability has
been ascertained by an informal arbitration.
The proper officers of the Treasury have deemed themselves required
by the law of the United States upon the subject to demand a tax upon
the incomes of foreign consuls in this country. While such a demand
may not in strictness be in derogation of public law, or perhaps of
any existing treaty between the United States and a foreign country,
the expediency of so far modifying the act as to exempt from tax the
income of such consuls as are not citizens of the United States,
derived from the emoluments of their office or from property not
situated in the United States, is submitted to your serious
consideration. I make this suggestion upon the ground that a comity
which ought to be reciprocated exempts our consuls in all other
countries from taxation to the extent thus indicated. The United
States, I think, ought not to be exceptionally illiberal to
international trade and commerce.
The operations of the Treasury during the last year have been
successfully conducted. The enactment by Congress of a national
banking law has proved a valuable support of the public credit, and
the general legislation in relation to loans has fully answered the
expectations of its favorers. Some amendments may be required to
perfect existing laws, but no change in their principles or general
scope is believed to be needed.
Since these measures have been in operation all demands on the
Treasury, including the pay of the Army and Navy, have been promptly
met and fully satisfied. No considerable body of troops, it is
believed, were ever more amply provided and more liberally and
punctually paid, and it may be added that by no people were the
burdens incident to a great war ever more cheerfully borne.
The receipts during the year from all sources, including loans and
balance in the Treasury at its commencement, were $901,125,674.86,
and the aggregate disbursements $895,796,630.65, leaving a balance on
the 1st of July, 1863, of $5,329,044.21. Of the receipts there were
derived from customs $69,059,642.40, from internal revenue
$37,640,787.95, from direct tax $1,485,103.61, from lands
$167,617.17, from miscellaneous sources $3,046,615.35, and from loans
$776,682,361.57, making the aggregate $901,125,674.86. Of the
disbursements there were for the civil service $23,253,922.08, for
pensions and Indians $4,216,520.79, for interest on public debt
$24,729,846.51, for the War Department $599,298,600.83, for the Navy
Department $63,211,105.27, for payment of funded and temporary debt
$181,086,635.07, making the aggregate $895,796,630.65 and leaving the
balance of $5,329,044.21. But the payment of funded and temporary
debt, having been made from moneys borrowed during the year, must be
regarded as merely nominal payments and the moneys borrowed to make
them as merely nominal receipts, and their amount, $181,086,635.07,
should therefore be deducted both from receipts and disbursements.
This being done there remains as actual receipts $720,039,039.79 and
the actual disbursements $714,709,995.58, leaving the balance as
The actual receipts and disbursements for the first quarter and the
estimated receipts and disbursements for the remaining three-quarters
of the current fiscal year (1864) will be shown in detail by the
report of the Secretary of the Treasury, to which I invite your
attention. It is sufficient to say here that it is not believed
that actual results will exhibit a state of the finances less
favorable to the country than the estimates of that officer
heretofore submitted while it is confidently expected that at the
close of the year both disbursements and debt will be found very
considerably less than has been anticipated.
The report of the Secretary of War is a document of great interest.
It consists of:
1.The military operations of the year, detailed in the report of the
General in Chief.
2.The organization of colored persons into the war service.
3.The exchange of prisoners, fully set forth in the letter of General
4.The operations under the act for enrolling and calling out the
national forces, detailed in the report of the Provost Marshal
5.The organization of the invalid corps, and
6.The operation of the several departments of the Quartermaster-
General, Commissary-General, Paymaster-General, Chief of Engineers,
Chief of Ordnance, and Surgeon-General.
It has appeared impossible to make a valuable summary of this report,
except such as would be too extended for this place, and hence I
content myself by asking your careful attention to the report itself.
The duties devolving on the naval branch of the service during the
year and throughout the whole of this unhappy contest have been
discharged with fidelity and eminent success. The extensive blockade
has been constantly increasing in efficiency as the Navy has
expanded, yet on so long a line it has so far been impossible to
entirely suppress illicit trade. From returns received at the Navy
Department it appears that more than 1,000 vessels have been captured
since the blockade was instituted? and that the value of prizes
already sent in for adjudication amounts to over $13,000,000.
The naval force of the United States consists at this time of five
hundred and eighty-eight vessels completed and in the course of
completion, and of these seventy-five are ironclad or armored
steamers. The events of the war give an increased interest and
importance to the Navy which will probably extend beyond the war
The armored vessels in our Navy completed and in service, or which
are under contract and approaching completion, are believed to exceed
in number those of any other power; but while these may be relied
upon for harbor defense and coast service, others of greater strength
and capacity will be necessary for cruising purposes and to maintain
our rightful position on the ocean.
The change that has taken place in naval vessels and naval warfare
since the introduction of steam as a motive power for ships of war
demands either a corresponding change in some of our existing navy
yards or the establishment of new ones for the construction and
necessary repair of modern naval vessels. No inconsiderable
embarrassment, delay, and public injury have been experienced from
the want of such governmental establishments. The necessity of such
a navy-yard, so furnished, at some suitable place upon the Atlantic
seaboard has on repeated occasions been brought to the attention of
Congress by the Navy Department, and is again presented in the report
of the Secretary which accompanies this communication. I think it my
duty to invite your special attention to this subject, and also to
that of establishing a yard and depot for naval purposes upon one of
the Western rivers. A naval force has been created on those interior
waters, and under many disadvantages, within little more than two
years, exceeding in numbers the whole naval force of the country at
the commencement of the present Administration. Satisfactory and
important as have been the performances of the heroic men of the Navy
at this interesting period, they are scarcely more wonderful than the
success of our mechanics and artisans in the production of war
vessels, which has created a new form of naval power.
Our country has advantages superior to any other nation in our
resources of iron and timber, with inexhaustible quantities of fuel
in the immediate vicinity of both, and all available and in close
proximity to navigable waters. Without the advantage of public
works, the resources of the nation have been developed and its power
displayed in the construction of a Navy of such magnitude, which has
at the very period of its creation rendered signal service to the
The increase of the number of seamen in the public service from 7,500
men in the spring of 1861 to about 34,000 at the present time has
been accomplished without special legislation or extraordinary
bounties to promote that increase. It has been found, however, that
the operation of the draft, with the high bounties paid for army
recruits, is beginning to affect injuriously the naval service, and
will, if not corrected, be likely to impair its efficiency by
detaching seamen from their proper vocation and inducing them to
enter the Army. I therefore respectfully suggest that Congress
might aid both the army and naval services by a definite provision on
this subject which would at the same time be equitable to the
communities more especially interested.
I commend to your consideration the suggestions of the Secretary of
the Navy in regard to the policy of fostering and training seamen and
also the education of officers and engineers for the naval service.
The Naval Academy is rendering signal service in preparing midshipmen
for the highly responsible duties which in after life they will be
required to perform. In order that the country should not be
deprived of the proper quota of educated officers, for which legal
provision has been made at the naval school, the vacancies caused by
the neglect or omission to make nominations from the States in
insurrection have been filled by the Secretary of the Navy. The
school is now more full and complete than at any former period, and
in every respect entitled to the favorable consideration of Congress.
During the past fiscal year the financial condition of the Post-
Office Department has been one of increasing prosperity, and I am
gratified in being able to state that the actual postal revenue has
nearly equaled the entire expenditures, the latter amounting to
$11,314,206.84 and the former to $11,163,789.59, leaving a deficiency
of but $150,417.25. In 1860, the year immediately preceding the
rebellion, the deficiency amounted to $5,656,705.49, the postal
receipts of that year being $2,645,722.19 less that those of 1863.
The decrease since 1860 in the annual amount of transportation has
been only about twenty-five per cent, but the annual expenditure on
account of the same has been reduced thirty-five per cent. It is
manifest, therefore, that the Post-Office Department may become self-
sustaining in a few years, even with the restoration of the whole
The international conference of postal delegates from the principal
countries of Europe and America, which was called at the suggestion
of the Postmaster-General, met at Paris on the 11th of May last and
concluded its deliberations on the 8th of June. The principles
established by the conference as best adapted to facilitate postal
intercourse between nations and as the basis of future postal
conventions inaugurate a general system of uniform international
charges at reduced rates of postage, and can not fail to produce
I refer you to the report of the Secretary of the Interior, which is
herewith laid before you, for useful and varied information in
relation to the public lands, Indian affairs, patents, pensions, and
other matters of public concern pertaining to his Department.
The quantity of land disposed of during the last and the first
quarter of the present fiscal years was 3,841,549 acres, of which
161,911 acres were sold for cash, 1,456,514 acres were taken up under
the homestead law, and the residue disposed of under laws granting
lands for military bounties, for railroad and other purposes. It
also appears that the sale of the public lands is largely on the
It has long been a cherished opinion of some of our wisest statesmen
that the people of the United States had a higher and more enduring
interest in the early settlement and substantial cultivation of the
public lands than in the amount of direct revenue to be derived from
the sale of them. This opinion has had a controlling influence in
shaping legislation upon the subject of our national domain. I may
cite as evidence of this the liberal measures adopted in reference to
actual settlers; the grant to the States of the overflowed lands
within their limits, in order to their being reclaimed and rendered
fit for cultivation; the grants to railway companies of alternate
sections of land upon the contemplated lines of their roads, which
when completed will so largely multiply the facilities for reaching
our distant possessions. This policy has received its most signal
and beneficent illustration in the recent enactment granting
homesteads to actual settlers. Since the 1st day of January last the
before-mentioned quantity of 1,456,514 acres of land have been taken
up under its provisions. This fact and the amount of sales furnish
gratifying evidence of increasing settlement upon the public lands,
notwithstanding the great struggle in which the energies of the
nation have been engaged, and which has required so large a
withdrawal of our citizens from their accustomed pursuits. I
cordially concur in the recommendation of the Secretary of the
Interior suggesting a modification of the act in favor of those
engaged in the military and naval service of the United States. I
doubt not that Congress will cheerfully adopt such measures as will,
without essentially changing the general features of the system,
secure to the greatest practicable extent its benefits to those who
have left their homes in the defense of the country in this arduous
I invite your attention to the views of the Secretary as to the
propriety of raising by appropriate legislation a revenue from the
mineral lands of the United States.
The measures provided at your last session for the removal of certain
Indian tribes have been carried into effect. Sundry treaties have
been negotiated, which will in due time be submitted for the
constitutional action of the Senate. They contain stipulations for
extinguishing the possessory rights of the Indians to large and
valuable tracts of lands. It is hoped that the effect of these
treaties will result in the establishment of permanent friendly
relations with such of these tribes as have been brought into
frequent and bloody collision with our outlying settlements and
emigrants. Sound policy and our imperative duty to these wards of
the Government demand our anxious and constant attention to their
material well-being, to their progress in the arts of civilization,
and, above all, to that moral training which under the blessing of
Divine Providence will confer upon them the elevated and sanctifying
influences, the hopes and consolations, of the Christian faith.
I suggested in my last annual message the propriety of remodeling our
Indian system. Subsequent events have satisfied me of its necessity.
The details set forth in the report of the Secretary evince the
urgent need for immediate legislative action.
I commend the benevolent institutions established or patronized by
the Government in this District to your generous and fostering care.
The attention of Congress during the last session was engaged to some
extent with a proposition for enlarging the water communication
between the Mississippi River and the northeastern seaboard, which
proposition, however, failed for the time. Since then, upon a call
of the greatest respectability, a convention has been held at Chicago
upon the same subject, a summary of whose views is contained in a
memorial addressed to the President and Congress, and which I now
have the honor to lay before you. That this interest is one which
ere long will force its own way I do not entertain a doubt, while it
is submitted entirely to your wisdom as to what can be done now.
Augmented interest is given to this subject by the actual
commencement of work upon the Pacific Railroad, under auspices so
favorable to rapid progress and completion. The enlarged navigation
becomes a palpable need to the great road.
I transmit the second annual report of the Commissioner of the
Department of Agriculture, asking your attention to the developments
in that vital interest of the nation.
When Congress assembled a year ago, the war had already lasted nearly
twenty months, and there had been many conflicts on both land and
sea, with varying results; the rebellion had been pressed back into
reduced limits; yet the tone of public feeling and opinion, at home
and abroad, was not satisfactory. With other signs, the popular
elections then just past indicated uneasiness among ourselves, while,
amid much that was cold and menacing, the kindest words coming from
Europe were uttered in accents of pity that we are too blind to
surrender a hopeless cause. Our commerce was suffering greatly by a
few armed vessels built upon and furnished from foreign shores, and
we were threatened with such additions from the same quarter as would
sweep our trade from the sea and raise our blockade. We had failed
to elicit from European governments anything hopeful upon this
subject. The preliminary emancipation proclamation, issued in
September, was running its assigned period to the beginning of the
new year. A month later the final proclamation came, including the
announcement that colored men of suitable condition would be received
into the war service. The policy of emancipation and of employing
black soldiers gave to the future a new aspect, about which hope and
fear and doubt contended in uncertain conflict. According to our
political system, as a matter of civil administration, the General
Government had no lawful power to effect emancipation in any State,
and for a long time it had been hoped that the rebellion could be
suppressed without resorting to it as a military measure. It was all
the while deemed possible that the necessity for it might come, and
that if it should the crisis of the contest would then be presented.
It came, and, as was anticipated, it was followed by dark and
doubtful days. Eleven months having now passed, we are permitted to
take another review. The rebel borders are pressed still farther
back, and by the complete opening of the Mississippi the country
dominated by the rebellion is divided into distinct parts, with no
practical communication between them. Tennessee and Arkansas have
been substantially cleared of insurgent control, and influential
citizens in each, owners of slaves and advocates of slavery at the
beginning of the rebellion, now declare openly for emancipation in
their respective States. Of those States not included in the
emancipation proclamation, Maryland and Missouri, neither of which
three years ago would tolerate any restraint upon the extension of
slavery into new Territories, dispute now only as to the best mode of
removing it within their own limits.
Of those who were slaves at the beginning of the rebellion full
100,000 are now in the United States military service, about one-half
of which number actually bear arms in the ranks, thus giving the
double advantage of taking so much labor from the insurgent cause and
supplying the places which otherwise must be filled with so many
white men. So far as tested, it is difficult to say they are not as
good soldiers as any. No servile insurrection or tendency to
violence or cruelty has marked the measures of emancipation and
arming the blacks. These measures have been much discussed in
foreign countries, and, contemporary with such discussion, the tone
of public sentiment there is much improved. At home the same
measures have been fully discussed, supported, criticized, and
denounced, and the annual elections following are highly encouraging
to those whose official duty it is to bear the country through this
great trial. Thus we have the new reckoning. The crisis which
threatened to divide the friends of the Union is past.
Looking now to the present and future, and with reference to a
resumption of the national authority within the States wherein that
authority has been suspended, I have thought fit to issue a
proclamation, a copy of which is herewith transmitted. On
examination of this proclamation it will appear, as is believed, that
nothing will be attempted beyond what is amply justified by the
Constitution. True, the form of an oath is given, but no man is
coerced to take it. The man is promised a pardon only in case he
voluntarily takes the oath. The Constitution authorizes the
Executive to grant or withhold the pardon at his own absolute
discretion, and this includes the power to grant on terms, as is
fully established by judicial and other authorities.
It is also proffered that if in any of the States named a State
government shall be in the mode prescribed set up, such government
shall be recognized and guaranteed by the United States, and that
under it the State shall, on the constitutional conditions, be
protected against invasion and domestic violence. The constitutional
obligation of the United States to guarantee to every State in the
Union a republican form of government and to protect the State in the
cases stated is explicit and full. But why tender the benefits of
this provision only to a State government set up in this particular
way? This section of the Constitution contemplates a case wherein the
element within a State favorable to republican government in the
Union may be too feeble for an opposite and hostile element external
to or even within the State, and such are precisely the cases with
which we are now dealing.
An attempt to guarantee and protect a revived State government,
constructed in whole or in preponderating part from the very element
against whose hostility and violence it is to be protected, is simply
absurd. There must be a test by which to separate the opposing
elements, so as to build only from the sound; and that test is a
sufficiently liberal one which accepts as sound whoever will make a
sworn recantation of his former unsoundness.
But if it be proper to require as a test of admission to the
political body an oath of allegiance to the Constitution of the
United States and to the Union under it, why also to the laws and
proclamations in regard to slavery? Those laws and proclamations were
enacted and put forth for the purpose of aiding in the suppression of
the rebellion. To give them their fullest effect there had to be a
pledge for their maintenance. In my judgment, they have aided and
will further aid the cause for which they were intended. To now
abandon them would be not only to relinquish a lever of power, but
would also be a cruel and an astounding breach of faith. I may add
at this point that while I remain in my present position I shall not
attempt to retract or modify the emancipation proclamation, nor shall
I return to slavery any person who is free by the terms of that
proclamation or by any of the acts of Congress. For these and other
reasons it is thought best that support of these measures shall be
included in the oath, and it is believed the Executive may lawfully
claim it in return for pardon and restoration of forfeited rights,
which he has clear constitutional power to withhold altogether or
grant upon the terms which he shall deem wisest for the public
interest. It should be observed also that this part of the oath is
subject to the modifying and abrogating power of legislation and
supreme judicial decision.
The proposed acquiescence of the National Executive in any reasonable
temporary State arrangement for the freed people is made with the
view of possibly modifying the confusion and destitution which must
at best attend all classes by a total revolution of labor throughout
whole States. It is hoped that the already deeply afflicted people
in those States may be somewhat more ready to give up the cause of
their affliction if to this extent this vital matter be left to
themselves, while no power of the National Executive to prevent an
abuse is abridged by the proposition.
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.
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.
TELEGRAM TO MILITARY COMMANDER AT POINT LOOKOUT.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, December 22, 1863.
MILITARY COMMANDER, Point Lookout, Md.:
If you have a prisoner by the name Linder--Daniel Linder, I think,
and certainly the son of U. F. Linder, of Illinois, please send him
to me by an officer.
TELEGRAM TO MILITARY COMMANDER AT POINT LOOKOUT.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, D. C., December 24, 1863.
MILITARY COMMANDER, Point Lookout, Md.:
If you send Linder to me as directed a day or two ago, also send
Edwin C. Claybrook, of Ninth Virginia rebel cavalry.
TELEGRAM TO U. F. LINDER.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON D. C., December 26, 1863.
HON. U. F. LINDER, Chicago, Ill.:
Your son Dan has just left me with my order to the Secretary of War,
to administer to him the oath of allegiance, discharge him and send
him to you.
TO GENERAL N. P. BANKS.
WASHINGTON, December 29, 1863.
Yours of the sixteenth is received, and I send you, as covering the
ground of it, a copy of my answer to yours of the sixth, it being
possible the original may not reach you. I intend you to be master
in every controversy made with you.
TELEGRAM TO GENERAL BUTLER.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON, D. C., December 30, 1863.
MAJOR-GENERAL BUTLER, Fort Monroe, Va.:
Jacob Bowers is fully pardoned for past offence, upon condition that
he returns to duty and re-enlists for three years or during the war.
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