Compensated Emancipation

Abraham Lincoln

Abraham Lincoln

Historian Olivier Frayssé noted Mr. Lincoln’s support for compensated emancipation dated to the 1840s. “Lincoln came down in favor if indemnifying the owner of a slave stolen by the English in 1814 and against the abolition of the slave trade in the District of Columbia and a fortiori against the abolition of slavery there. After the campaign in the summer of 1848 and the rise of anti-extensionist pressure Lincoln’s position evolved. When a new case to indemnify a slaveholder appeared, Lincoln began by voting in favor of a ‘bill for the relief of the legal representatives of Antonio Pacheco,’ who had lost a slave during an Indian war, before voting, in vain, against it. Was this a significant change in Lincoln’s position on the property rights of slaveholders? Perhaps it was merely a defensive reaction in response to the bitterness of the strictly sectional debate because this position was contradicted by the rest of Lincoln’s attitude. He always insisted that the emancipation of slaves should be compensated financially and should be voluntary. This might have been, then, a sort of parliamentary ‘war measure,’ foreshadowing another war measure taken by the commander in chief in 1862.”1

Historian John Hope Franklin wrote of President Lincoln: “In the fall of 1861 he attempted an experiment with compensated emancipation in Delaware. He interested his friends there and urged them to propose it to the Delaware legislature. He went so far as to write a draft of the bill, which provided for gradual emancipation, and another which provided that the federal government would share the expenses of compensating masters for their slaves. Although these bills were much discussed, there was too much opposition to introduce them.”2 With less than 2000 slaves in the whole state, Delaware seemed like an ideal laboratory for President Lincoln’s idea, but Congressman George Fisher was unable to get state legislative approval for the idea.

Meanwhile, the President worked on a compensated emancipation plan for all slave-owning states. In early 1862, President Lincoln told abolitionist Moncure D. Conway that southerners “had become at an early day, when there was at least a feeble conscience against slavery, deeply involved commercially and socially with the institution. He pitied them heartily, all the more that it had corrupted them; and he earnestly advised us to use what influence we might have to impress on the people the feeling that they should be ready and eager to share largely the pecuniary losses to which the South would be subjected if emancipation should occur. It was the disease of the entire nation, all must share the suffering of its removal.”3

President Lincoln told New York businessman-journalist James R. Gilmore: “The feeling is against slavery, not against the South. The war has educated our people into abolition, and they now deny that slaves can be property. But there are two sides to that question. One is ours, the other, the southern side; and those people are just as honest and conscientious in their opinion as we are in ours. They think they have a moral and legal right to their slaves, and until very recently the North has been of the same opinion. For two hundred years the whole country has admitted it and regarded and treated the slaves as property. Now, does the mere fact that the North has come suddenly to a contrary opinion give us the right to take the slaves from their owners without compensation? The blacks must be freed. Slavery is the bone we are fighting over. It must be got out of the way to give us permanent peace, and if we have to fight this war till the South is subjugated, then I think we shall be justified in freeing the slaves without compensation. But in any settlement arrived at before they force things to that extremity, is it not right and fair that we should make payment for the slaves?”4

In December 1861, the President sent for Massachusetts Senator Charles Sumner. Sumner biographer Moorfield Storey wrote: “Sumner did not believe the plan practicable, but he welcomed the evidence of the President’s tendency towards the course which he so strongly urged. He made some suggestions as to language, which the President adopted, and the message was sent in.”5 Sumner recalled of the period that led up the President message to Congress in March 1862: “Every time I saw him I spoke to him about it, and I saw him every two or three days. One day I said to him, I remember, ‘I want you to make Congress a New Year’s present of your plan. But he had some reasons still for delay. He was in correspondence with Kentucky, there was a Mr. [Joshua] Speed in Kentucky to whom he was writing; he read me one of his letters once, and he thought he should hear from there how people would be affected by such a plan.’ At one time I thought he would send in the message on New Year’s Day; and I said something about what a glorious thing it would be. But he stopped me in a moment; ‘Don’t say a word about that,’ he said; ‘I know very well that the name which is connected with this act will never be forgotten.’ Well there was one delay and another, but I always spoke to him till one day in January he said sadly that he had been up all night with his sick child. I was very much touched, and I resolved that I would say nothing to the President about this or any other business if I could help it till that child was well or dead. And I did not….I have never said a word to him again about it – one morning here, before I had breakfast, before I was up indeed, both his secretaries came over to say that he wanted to see me as soon as I could see him. I dressed at once, and went over. ‘I want to read you my message,’ he said; ‘I want to know how you like it. I am going to send it in to-day.'”6

Historian Allen C. Guelzo wrote: “On March 6, 1862, after meeting with the cabinet and with Charles Sumner, Lincoln sent a special message to Congress, recommending a joint congressional resolution which would offer ‘pecuniary aid’ to any of the border states that would ‘initiate’ a gradual emancipation plan. He bent over backwards to assure the border states that ‘such a proposition…sets up no claim of a right, by federal authority, to interfere with slavery within state limits, referring, as it does, the absolute control of the subject, in each case, to the state and its people, immediately interested.'”7

Lincoln biographer Tarbell wrote: “The first effect of the message was to unite the radical supporters of Mr. Lincoln with the more moderate. ‘We are all brought by the common-sense message,’ said ‘Harper’s Weekly,’ ‘upon the same platform. The cannon shot against Fort Sumter effected three-fourths of our political lines; the President’s message has wiped out the remaining fourth.’ But to Mr. Lincoln’s keen disappointment, the Border States representatives in Congress let the proposition pass in silence. He saw one and another of them but not a word did they say of the message. The President stood this for four days, then he summoned them to the White House to explain his position.”8

President Lincoln complained to Missouri Congressman Frank Blair on March 9: “I sent for you, Mr. Blair about this: Since I sent in my message, about the usual amount of calling by the border-state congressmen has taken place; and although they have all been very friendly, not one of them has yet said a word to me about it. Garrett Davis had been here three times since, but although he has been very cordial, he has never opened his mouth on the subject. Now I should like very much sometime soon to get them all together here and have a frank talk about it. I desired to ask you whether you were aware of any reason why I should not do so.”9

When Blair, who split his time between roles as a congressman and a general, observed that the measure might have more effect if it was pursued after a military victory, President Lincoln responded: “That is just the reason why I do not wish to wait…If we should have successes, they may feel and say, the rebellion is crushed and it matters not whether we do anything about this matter. I want them to consider it and interest themselves in it as an auxiliary means for putting down the rebels. I want to tell them that if they will take hold and do this, the war will cease – there will be no further need of keeping standing armies among them, and that they will get rid of all the troubles incident thereto. If they do not the armies must stay in their midst – it is impossible to prevent negroes from coming into our lines; when they do, they press me on the one hand to have them returned, while another class of our friends will on the other press me not to do so.”10

Blair promised to try to work on his fellow Border State Congressmen and have them visit the President the following day. The response was not positive. Historian James M. McPherson wrote: “At a meeting with Lincoln on March 10…border-state congressmen questioned the constitutionality of the proposal, bristled at Lincoln’s warning, and deplored the anticipated race problem that would emerge with a large free black population.”11 President Lincoln told Carl Schurz, a diplomat-turned general, that “He was not altogether without hope that the proposition he had presented to the southern states in his message of March 6th would find favorable consideration, at least in some of the border states. He had made the proposition in perfect good faith; it was, perhaps, the last of the kind; and if they repelled it, theirs was the responsibility.”12

Pennsylvania editor Alexander K. McClure later observed: “Strange as it may now seem, in view of the inevitable tendency of events at that time, these appeals of Lincoln were not only treated with contempt by those in rebellion, but the Border States Congressmen, who had everything at stake, and who in the end were compelled to accept forcible Emancipation without compensation, although themselves not directly involved in rebellion, made no substantial response to Lincoln’s efforts to save their States and people.”13

Reaction in other quarters was much more positive. New York Times editor Henry J. Raymond, who was also Speaker of the New York State Assembly, wrote President Lincoln from Albany:

You will have seen long before this reaches you, I presume, that the Times has published several articles in support of your special message. As soon as I saw the one to which you allude, I telegraphed to the office to sustain the message without qualification or cavil, and I believe the paper has done so since.

As soon as the message reached us here I drew a resolution & caused it to be introduced into the Assembly endorsing the your recommendations. We shall pass it as soon as it can be reached.

I regard the message as a master piece of practical wisdom and sound policy. It is marked by that plain, self vindicating common sense which, with the people, overbears, as it ought, all the abstract speculations of mere theorists and confounds, all the schemes of selfish intriguers, and which, you will permit me to say, has preeminently characterized every act of your Administration. It furnishes a solid, practical, constitutional basis for the treatment of this great question, and suggests the only feasible mode I have yet seen of dealing with a problem infinitely more difficult than the suppression of the rebellion. It shall have my most cordial & hearty support.

I take the liberty of enclosing here with some remarks I have made on two or three topics of common interest.14

Lincoln chronicler Herbert Mitgang wrote: “The idea of compensated emancipation received strong approval in the New York press; at least the emancipation part did.”15 In response to complimentary editorials from New York newspapers, President Lincoln had written New York Times Editor Raymond: ” I am grateful to the New-York Journals, and not less so to the Times than to others, for their kind notices of the late special Message to Congress. Your paper, however, intimates that the proposition, though well-intentioned, must fail on the score of expense. I do hope you will reconsider this. Have you noticed the facts that less than one half-day’s cost of this war would pay for all the slaves in Delaware, at four hundred dollars per head? – that eighty-seven days cost of this war would pay for all in Delaware, Maryland, District of Columbia, Kentucky, and Missouri at the same price? Were those states to take the step, do you doubt that it would shorten the war more than eighty seven days, and thus be an actual saving of expense. Please look at these things, and consider whether there should not be another article in the Times?”16

In response to President Lincoln’s March 6 message, the New York Tribune, edited by Horace Greeley, editorialized the next day:

We never printed a State paper with more satisfaction than we feel in giving to our readers the Special Message of President Lincoln to Congress yesterday, by which he recommends the passage of a joint resolve proffering National cooperation and pecuniary aid to each and every States which shall see fit to inaugurate the Abolition of Slavery within its borders. This message constitutes of itself an epoch in the history of country. It has no precedent; we trust it may have many consequents. It is the day-star of a new National dawn. Even if it were no more than a barren avowal by the Chief Magistrate of the Nation that IT IS HIGHLY DESIRABLE THAT THE UNION BE PURGED OF SLAVERY, it would be a great fact, of far weightier import than many battles. But it is not destined to remain unfruitful. Congress will be more than ready to welcome and act upon it. It will lead to practical results. And these the most important and beneficent. The 6th of March will yet be celebrated as a day which initiated the Nation’s deliverance from the most stupendous wrong, curse and shame of the Nineteenth century. Years may elapse before the object boldly contemplated in this Message shall be fully attained; but let us never harbor a doubt that it will ultimate in a glorious fruition.”17

President Lincoln wrote the Tribune‘s Greeley: “Your very kind letter of the 16th. to Mr. [Schuyler] Colfax, has been shown me by him. I am grateful for the generous sentiments and purposes expressed towards the administration. Of course I am anxious to see the policy proposed in the late special message, go forward; but you have advocated it from the first, so that I need to say little to you on the subject. If I were to suggest anything it would be that as the North are already for the measure, we should urge it persuasively, and not menacingly, upon the South. I am little uneasy about the abolishment of slavery in this District, not but I would be glad to see it abolished, but as to the time and manner of doing it. If some one or more of the border-states would move fast, I should greatly prefer it; but if this can not be in a reasonable time, I would like the bill to have the three main features – gradual – compensation – and vote of the people – I do not talk to members of congress on the subject, except when they ask me. I am not prepared to make any suggestion about confiscation.”18

The Tribune, which under Editor Horace Greeley was frequently critical of the President on emancipation, returned to its defense of him the next day: “The Message ought, and we think will, unite all parties. The conservative who abhors rash measures, and dreads innovation, will approve a measure which proposes to get rid of the cause of rebellion, to give the country permanent peace and not periodical panic, and to do this gradually and with as little injustice as is possible in so great a social revolution. The radical will not withhold his approbation from a proposal that promises to the eye of faith so much. It may be that some of the Border Slave States will gladly avail themselves of the offer of Mr. Lincoln, and if they do the North will as gladly accept its share of so great an act. But if they do not, though there is, so far as that particular proposition is concerned, as Mr. Lincoln says, an end, yet the end, nevertheless, is not yet as to the subject. And nobody, it is manifest, sees this more clearly than the President. His is one of those minds that work, not quickly nor brilliantly, but exhaustively. Through this matter he has looked to the final conclusion. He sees that, however often rebellion may be suppressed at the South, it will never be ended so long as Slavery has an assured existence. The continuation of Slavery as a permanent institution on which no inroad has been made is the continuation of war, for resistance to the Federal Government must be permanently suppressed, and resistance brings war. Whatever is indispensable to this end must be done, and Slavery, therefore, must fall either in one way or the other. Let the slaveholders begin the reform, and we will give them our hearty aid; if they will not, then we must do it without them, as a necessary step toward the establishment of permanent peace and the supremacy of the Union; for Slavery is Rebellion.”19

After the congressional message, the Anglo-African editorialized: “That the President of these united States sent a message to Congress proposing a means of securing the emancipation of the slaves, was an event which sent a thrill of joy throughout the North, and will meet with hearty response throughout christendom. The quiet manner in which this matter was laid before the national Legislature, and the utter unpreparedness of the public mind for this most important step, was a stroke of policy, grandly reticent on the part of its author, yet most timely and sagacious, which has secured for Abraham Lincoln a confidence and admiration on the part of the people, the whole loyal people, such as no man has enjoyed in the present era.”20

Historian LaWanda Cox wrote: “Arguments available to Lincoln in trying to induce slave-state representatives to initiate gradual, compensated emancipation could not in the nature of things match his earnestness. They were unpersuasive to most border-state Unionists and when reread today appear singularly unconvincing. Lincoln could not argue the moral wrong of slavery, for that would not touch those he would move. He could not press the point that permanent peace would require an end to slavery, for no peace was in sight. His principal contention was that state action would ‘substantially end’ or effectively ‘shorten the war.’ The valid counter argument, used by those to whom he appealed, held that emancipation would consolidate the spirit of rebellion. Lincoln’s effort to enlist, or at least neutralize, economic interest by portraying compensation for slaves as money saved from the cost of war depended upon his main contention that the war would be shortened and was similarly vulnerable. More cogent in retrospect was his argument that, for slaveholders, compensation in hand was far better than being left with ‘nothing valuable’ as the abrasive impact of war undermined slavery; yet in 1862 slavery’s extinction did not appear foreordained, nor in fact was its fate settled.”21 President Lincoln laid out his financial arguments in a detailed letter to California Senator James A. Mcdougall, a Democrat and long-time friend:

As to the expensiveness of the plan of gradual emancipation with compensation, proposed in the late Message, please allow me one or tow brief suggestions.

Less than one half-day’s cost of this war would pay for all the slaves in Delaware at four hundred dollars per head:

by the Census of 1860, are

Thus, all the slaves in Delaware,
Cost of the slaves, $ 719,200.
One day’s cost of the war………………… $ 2,000,000.
Again, less than eighty seven days cost of this war would, at the same price, pay for all in Delaware, Maryland, District of Columbia, Kentucky, and Missouri.
Thus, slaves in Delaware…………………. 1798
” ” Maryland…………………. 87,188
” ” Dis. of Col…………………. 3,181
” ” Kentucky…………………. 225,490
” ” Missouri…………………. 114,965
Cost of the slaves…………………. $173,048,800
Eightyseven days’ cost of the war $174,000,000

Do you doubt that taking the initiatory steps on the part of those states and this District, would shorten the war more than eight-seven days, and thus be an actual saving of expenses?

A word as to the time and manner of incurring the expence. Suppose, for instance, a State devises and adopts a system by which the institution absolutely ceases therein by a named day – say January 1st. 1882. Then, let the sum to be paid to such state by the United States, be ascertained by taking from the Census of 1860, the number of slaves within the state, and multiplying that number by four hundred – the United States to pay such sum to the state in twenty equal annual instalments, in six per cent. bonds of the United States.

The sum thus given, as to time and manner, I think would not be half as onerous, as would be an equal sum, raised now, for the indefinite prossecution [sic] of the war; but of this you can judge as well as I.22

According to Lincoln biographer Ida Tarbell, “Although the message failed to arouse the Border States, it did stimulate the anti-slavery party in Congress to complete several practical measures. Acts of Congress were rapidly approved forbidding the army and navy to aid in the return of fugitive slaves, recognizing the independence of Liberia and Haiti, and completing a treaty with Great Britain to suppress slave trading. One of the most interesting of the acts which followed close on the message of March 6 emancipated immediately all the slaves in the District of Columbia. One million dollars was appropriated by Congress to pay the loyal slaveholders of the District for their loss, and $100,000 was set aside to pay the expenses of such negroes as desired to emigrate to Haiti or Liberia.”23

Ralph Korngold, biographer of Congressman Thaddeus Stevens, suggested other motives may have been at work. Korngold asked: “Was it mere coincidence that the President should have made a proposal to Congress for compensated gradual emancipation with federal aid on March 6, 1862 – four days before the Article of War forbidding the military to turn fugitive slaves was adopted by that body? It will be recalled that Senator [James] Pearce of Maryland had said of that measure: ‘It is not an act of emancipation in its terms; but so far as it can operate, and does operate, it leads directly to that result.’ It does not, therefore, appear unreasonable to believe that President made the proposal in order to arrest, if possible, the congressional drive toward general emancipation the measure portended, and which was to gain momentum during the succeeding months.”24 The reaction of Congressman Stevens, a strong proponent of emancipation, was to “confess I have not been able to see what makes one side so anxious to pass it, or the other so anxious to defeat it. I think it is about the most diluted milk-and-water gruel proposition that was ever given to the American nation.”25

Mr. Lincoln again pressed the issue of compensated emancipation on the Border States in early summer. He summoned Border State representatives to meet with him at the White House on July 12. The President told them:

After the adjournment of Congress, now very near, I shall have no opportunity of seeing you for several months.

Believing that you of the border states hold more power for good than any other equal number of members, I feel it a duty which I can not justifiably waive, to make this appeal to you – I intend no reproach or complaint when I assure you that in my opinion, if you all had voted for the resolution in the gradual emancipation message of last March, the war would now be substantially ended – And the plan therein proposed is yet one of the most potent, and swift means of ending it. Let the states which are in rebellion see, definitely and certainly, that, in no event, will the states you represent ever join their proposed Confederacy, and they can not, much longer maintain the contest. But you can not divest them of their hope to ultimately have you with them so long as you show a determination to perpetuate the institution within your own states. Beat them at elections, as you have overwhelmingly done, and, nothing daunted, they still claim you as their own – You and I know what the lever of their power is – Break that lever before their faces, and they can shake you no more forever –
Most of you have treated me with kindness and consideration; and I trust you will not now think I improperly touch what is exclusively your own, when, for the sake of the whole country I ask “Can you, for your states, do better than to take the course I urge? Discarding punctillio, and maxims adapted to more manageable times, and looking only to the unprecedentedly stern facts of our case, can you do better in any possible event? You prefer that the constitutional relation of the states to the nation shall be practically restored, without disturbance of the institution; and if this were done, my whole duty, in this respect, under the constitution, and my oath of office, would be performed – But it is not done, and we are trying to accomplish it by war The incidents of the war can not be avoided. If the war continue long, as it must, if the object be not sooner attained, the institution in your states will be extinguished by mere friction and abrasion – by the mere incidents of the war – It will be gone, and you will have nothing valuable in lieu of it – Much of it’s [sic] value is gone already – How much better for you, and for your people, to take the step which, at once, shortens the war, and secures substantial compensation for that which is seen to be wholly lost in any other event. How much better to thus save the money which else we sink forever in the war. How much better to do it while we can, lest the war ere long render us pecuniarily unable to do it – How much better for you, as seller, and the nation as buyer, to sell out, and buy out, that without which the war could never have been, than to sink both the thing to be sold, and the price of it, in cutting one another’s throats –

I do not speak of emancipation at once, but of a decision at once to emancipate gradually Room in South America for colonization, can be obtained cheaply, and in abundance; and when numbers shall be large enough to be company and encouragement for one another, the freed people will not be so reluctant to go.

I am pressed with a difficulty not yet mentioned – one which threatens division among those who, united are none too strong – An instance of it is known to you. Gen. [David] Hunter is an honest man – He was, and I hope, still is, my friend. I valued him none the less for his agreeing with me in the general wish that all men everywhere, could be free. He proclaimed all men free within certain states, and I repudiated the proclamation. He expected more good, and less harm from the measure, than I could believe would follow – Yet in repudiating it, I gave dissatisfaction, if not offence, to many whose support the country can not afford to lose. And this is not the end of it. The pressure, in this direction, is still upon me, and is increasing – By conceding what I now ask, you can relieve me, and much more, can relieve the country, in this important point. Upon these considerations I have again begged your attention to the message of March last. Before leaving the Capital, consider and discuss it among yourselves – You are patriots and statesmen; and, as such, I pray you, consider this proposition; and, at the least, commend it to the consideration of your states and people. As you would perpetuate popular government for the best people in the world, I beseech you that you do in no wise omit this. Our common country is in great peril, demanding the loftiest views, and boldest action to bring its speedy relief. Once relieved, it’s form of government is saved to the world; it’s past beloved history, and cherished memories, are vindicated; and it’s happy future fully assured, and rendered inconceivably grand. To you, more than to any others, the previlege [sic] is given, to assure that happiness, and swell that grandeur, and to link your own names therewith forever.– 26

The President was disappointed in their response. “Twenty out of the twenty-eight border representatives and senators politely declined to act on his plea. But the result must not have surprised him, because he had already been at work on an alternative,” wrote historian Allen C. Guelzo.27 The majority sent President Lincoln a lengthy response two days after their meeting:

The undersigned, Representatives of Kentucky, Virginia, Missouri, Tennessee, Delaware, and Maryland in the two houses of Congress, have listened to your address with the profound sensibility naturally inspired by the high source from which it emanates, the earnestness which marked its delivery and the overwhelming importance of the subject of which it treats. We have given it a most respectful consideration, and now lay before you our response. We regret that want of time, has not permitted us to make it more perfect.

We have not been wanting Mr President, in respect to you and in devotion to the Constitution and the Union. We have not been indifferent to the great difficulties surrounding you, compared with which all former national troubles have been but as the summer cloud: and we have freely given you our sympathy and support. Repudiating the dangerous heresies of the Secessionists, we believe with you that the war on their part is aggressive and wicked: and the objects for which it is to be prosecuted, on ours defined by your message at the opening of the present Congress, to be such as all good men should approve. We have not hesitated to vote all supplies necessary to carry it on vigorously. We have voted all the men and money you have asked for, and even more; we have imposed onerous taxes on our people, and they are paying them with cheerfulness and alacrity; we have encouraged enlistments and sent them to the field many of our best men, and some of our number have offered their persons to the enemy as pledges of their sincerity and devotion to country. We have done all this under the most discouraging circumstances, and in the face of measures most distasteful to us, and injurious to the interests we represent, and in the hearing of doctrines, avowed by those who claim to be your friends, most abhorent to us, and to our constituents; but for all this we have never faltered, nor shall we, as long as we have a constitution to defend and a government which protects us. And we are ready for renewed efforts, and even greater sacrifices, yea any sacrifice, when we are satisfied, it is required to preserve our admirable form of government and the priceless blessings of constitutional liberty.

A few of our number voted for the resolution recommended by your message of the 6th of March last; the greater portion of us did not – and we will briefly state the prominent reasons which influenced our action:

In the first place it proposed a radical change of our social system and was hurried through both Houses with undue haste, without reasonable time for consideration and debate, and with no time at all, for consultation with our constituents, whose interests it deeply involved. It seemed like an interference, by this government, with a question which peculiarly and exclusively belonged to our respective States, on which they had not sought advice or solicited aid. Many of us doubted the constitutional power of this government to make appropriations of money for the object designated; and all of us, thought our finances were in no condition to bear the immense outlay which its adoption and faithful execution, would impose upon the National Treasury. If we pause but for a moment to think of the debt its acceptance would have entailed, we are appalled by its magnitude. The proposition was addressed to all the States, and embraced the whole number of slaves. According to the Census of 1860, there were then very nearly four millions of slaves in the country; from natural increase they exceed that number now. At even the low average of $300, – the price fixed by the emancipation Act, for the slaves of this District, and greatly below their real worth, – their value runs up to the enormous sum of Twelve Hundred Million of dollars; and if to that be added the cost of deportation and colonization, at $100 each, which is but a fraction more than is actually paid by the Maryland Colonization Society, we have four hundred millions more! We were not willing to impose a tax on our people sufficient to pay the interest on that sum, in addition to the vast and daily increasing debt already fixed upon them by the exigencies of the War; and if we had been willing, the country could not bear it. Stated in this form, the proposition is nothing less than the deportation from the country of sixteen hundred million dollars’ worth of producing labor, and the substitution in its place of an interest bearing debt of the same amount! But if we are told that it was expected that only the States we represent would accept the proposition, we respectfully submit, that even then it involves a sum too great for the financial ability of this government at this time. According to the Census of 1860,
Kentucky had … 225.490 slaves
Maryland had … 87.188 … ”
Virginia … ” … 490.887 … ”
Delaware … ” … 1.798 … ”
Missouri … ” … 114.965 … ”
Tennessee … ” … 275.784 … ”
making in the whole 1.196.112 … ”
At the same rate of valuation these would amount to $358.833.600
Add for deportation and colonization, $100 each … 119.244.533
And we have the enormous sum of … $478.078.133

We did not feel that we should be justified in voting for a measure, which, if carried out, would add this vast amount to our public debt, at a moment when the Treasury was reeling under the enormous expenditures of the war.

Again, it seemed to us that this resolution was but the annunciation of a sentiment which could not, or was not likely to, be reduced to an actual tangible proposition. No movement was then made to provide and appropriate the funds required to carry it into effect; and we were not encouraged to believe that funds would be provided. And our belief has been fully justified by subsequent events. Not to mention other circumstances, it is quite sufficient for our purpose to bring to your notice the fact, that while this resolution was under consideration in the Senate, our colleague, the Senator from Ky. moved an amendment appropriating $500.000 to the object therein designated, and it was voted down with great unanimity. What confidence, then, could we reasonably feel that if we committed ourselves to the policy it proposed, our constituents would reap the fruits of the promise held out? And on what ground would we, as fair men, approach them, and challenge their support?

The right to hold slaves is a right appertaining to all the States of this Union. They have the right to cherish or abolish the institution as their tastes or their interests may prompt, and no one is authorized to question the right, or limit its enjoyment. And no one has more clearly affirmed that right than you have. Your inaugural address does you great honor in this respect, and inspired the country with confidence in your fairness and respect for the law. Our States are in the enjoyment of that right. We do not feel called on to defend the institution, or to affirm it is one which ought to be cherished; perhaps if we were to make the attempt we might find that we differ even among ourselves. It is enough for our purpose to know that it is a right; and so knowing, we did not see why we should now be expected to yield it. We had contributed our full share to relieve the country at this terrible crisis; we had done as much as had been required of others, in like circumstances, and we did not see why sacrifices should be expected of us, from which others, no more loyal, were exempt. Nor could we see what good the nation would derive from it. Such a sacrifice submitted to by us would not have strengthened the arm of the government, or weakened that of the enemy. It was not necessary as a pledge of our loyalty, for that had been manifested beyond a reasonable doubt, in every form, and at every place possible. There was not the remotest probability that the States we represent would join in the rebellion, nor is there now; or of their electing to go with the Southern section, in the event of a recognition of the independence of any part of the disaffected region. Our States are fixed unalterably in their resolution to adhere to and support the Union; they see no safety for themselves, and no hope for constitutional liberty but by its preservation. They will, under no circumstances, consent to its dissolution; and we do them no more than justice, when we assure you, that while the war is conducted to prevent that deplorable catastrophe they will sustain it, as long as they can muster a man or command a dollar. Nor will they ever consent, in any event, to unite with the Southern Confederacy. The bitter fruits of the peculiar doctrines of that region will forever prevent them from placing their security and happiness in the custody of an association which has incorporated in its organic law the seeds of its own destruction.

We cannot admit, Mr President, that if we had voted for the resolution in the emancipation message of March last, the war would now be substantially ended. We are unable to see how our action in this particular has given, or could give, encouragement to the rebellion. The resolution has passed; and if there be virtue in it, it will be quite as efficacious, as if we had voted for it. We have no power to bind our States in this respect by our votes here; and whether we had voted the one way or the other, they are in the same condition of freedom to accept or reject its provisions. No Sir, the war has not been prolonged or hindered by our action on this or any other measure. We must look for other causes for that lamented fact. We think there is not much difficulty in discovering, nor much uncertainty in pointing out, others far more probable and potent in their agencies to that end.

The rebellion derives its strength from the union of all classes in the insurgent states; and while that union lasts, it the war will never end, until they are utterly exhausted. We know that at the inception of these troubles Southern Society was divided, and that a large portion, probably a majority, were opposed to secession. Now the great mass of Southern people are united. To discover why they are so, we must glance at Southern Society, and notice the classes into which it has been divided, and which still distinguish it. They are in arms but not for the same object; they are moved to a common end but by different, and even inconsistent reasons. The leaders, which comprehend what was previously known as the State rights party, (which is much the lesser class) seek to break down national independence, and set up State domination. With them it is a war against nationality. The other class is fighting, as it supposes, to maintain and preserve its rights of property and domestic Safety, which, it has been made to believe, are assailed by this government. This latter class are not disunionists per se. They are so, only because they have been made to believe, that your administration is inimical to their rights, & is making war on their domestic institutions. As long as these two classes act together they will never assent to a peace. The policy then to be pursued is obvious. The former class will never be reconciled, but the latter may be. Remove their apprehensions – satisfy them that no harm is intended to them, and their institutions: that this government is not making war on their rights of property, but is simply defending its legitimate authority, and they will gladly return to their allegiance, as soon as the pressure of military dominion imposed by the Confederate authority is removed from them. Twelve months ago, both houses of Congress, adopting the spirit of your Message, then but recently sent in, declared with singular unanimity, the objects of the War, and the Country instantly bounded to your side to assist you in carrying it on. If the spirit of that resolution had been adhered to, we are confident that we should before now have seen the end of this deplorable conflict. But what have we seen? In both houses of Congress we have heard doctrines announced subversive of the principles of the Constitution and seen measure after measure founded in substance on these doctrines proposed and carried through which can have no other effect than to distract and divide all loyal men and to exasperate and drive still further from us and their duty the people of the rebellious states. Military officers following these bad examples have stepped beyond the just limits of their authority in the same direction, until in several instances you have felt the necessity of interfering to arrest them. And even the passage of the resolution to which you refer has been ostentatiously proclaimed as the triumph of a principle which the people of the Southern states regard as ruinous to them. The effect of these measures was foretold, and may now be seen in the indurated state of Southern feeling. To these causes Mr President, and not to our…omission to vote for the resolution recommended by you, we solemnly believe, we are to attribute the terrible earnestness of those in arms against the government and the continuance of the war. Nor do we, permit us to say Mr President with all respect for you agree that the institution of slavery is “the lever of their power” but we are of the opinion that “the lever of their power” is the apprehension that the powers of a common government created for common and equal protection to the interests of all will be wielded against the institutions of the Southern States.

There is one other idea in your address we feel called on to notice. After stating the fact of your repudiation of General Hunter[‘]s proclamation you add “yet in repudiating it I gave dissatisfaction if not offence, to many whose support the Country cannot afford to lose. And this is not the end of it. The pressure in this direction is still upon me and is increasing. By conceding what I now ask you can relieve me and much more can relieve the Country in this important point.” We have anxiously looked into this passage to discover its true import but we are yet in painful uncertainty. How can we, by conceding what you now ask relieve you and the Country from the increasing pressure to which you refer? We will not allow ourselves to think that the proposition is that we conse[n]t to give up slavery to the end that the Hunter proclamation may be let loose on the Southern people, for it is too well known that we would not be parties to any such measure, and we have too much respect for you to imagine you would propose it. Can it mean that by sacrificing our interest in Slavery, we appease the Spirit that controls that pressure, cause it to be withdrawn, and rid the Country of the pestilent agitation of the Slavery question? We are forbidden so to think; for that Spirit would not be Satisfied with the liberation of seven hundred thousand Slaves, and cease its agitation while three Millions remain in bondage. Can it mean, that by abandoning Slavery in our States, we are removing the pressure from you and the Country, and by preparing for a separation on the line of the cotton states? We are forbidden so to think; because it is known that we are, and we believe you are unalterably opposed to any division at all. We will believe simply that you desire this concession as a pledge of our support, and thus enable you to withstand a pressure which weighs heavily on you and the Country. Mr President, no such sacrifice is necessary to secure our support. Confine yourself to your constitutional authority: confine your subordinates within the same limits; conduct this war solely for the purpose of restoring the constitution to its legitimate authority; concede to each state and its loyal citizens, their just rights, and we are wedded to you by indissoluble ties; Do this, Mr President, and you touch the American heart and envigorate it with new hopes; and you will, as we solemnly believe, in due time, restore peace to your Country, lift it from dispondency to a future of glory; and preserve to your country men, their posterity, and to man, the inestimable treasure of constitutional government.

Mr President we have stated, with frankness and candor, the reasons on which we forebore to vote for the resolution you have mentioned; but you have again presented this proposition and appealed to us with an earnestness and eloquence which have not failed to impress us, to consider it, and at the least, to commend it to the consideration of our State and people.

Thus appealed to by the Chief Magistrate of our beloved country in the hour of its greatest peril, we cannot wholly decline. We are willing to trust every question relating to their interest and happiness to the Consideration and ultimate judgement of our own people. While differing from you as to the necessity of emancipating the Slaves of our States, as a means of putting down the rebellion, and while protesting against the propriety of any extra territorial interference to induce the people of our States to adopt any particular line of policy on a subject which peculiarly and exclusively belongs to them, yet when you and our brethren of the loyal States sincerely believe, that the retention of Slavery by us is an obstacle to peace and National harmony, and are willing to contribute pecuniary aid to compensate our States & peoples for the inconvenience produced by such change of system, we are not unwilling that our people shall consider the propriety of putting it aside.

But, we have already said that we regarded this resolution as the utterance of a sentiment, and we had no confidence that it would assume the shape of a tangible, practicable proposition, which would yield the fruits of the sacrifices it required. Our people are influenced by the same want of confidence, and will not consider the proposition in its present impalpable form. The interest they are asked to give up, is to them of immense importance, and they ought not to be expected, even to entertain the proposal, until they are assured, that when they accept it, their just expectations will not be frustrated. We regard your plan as a proposition from the Nation to the States, to exercise an admitted constitutional right in a particular manner, and yield up a valuable interest; and Before they ought to consider the proposition, it should be presented in such a tangible, practicable, efficient shape, as to command their confidence, that its fruits are contingent only, upon their acceptance. We cannot trust any thing to the contingencies of future legislation. If Congress, by proper and necessary legislation, shall provide sufficient funds and place them at your disposal, to be applied by you, to the payment of any of our States or the citizens thereof, who shall adopt the abolishment of slavery, either gradual or immediate, as they may determine, and the expense of the deportation and colonization of the liberated slaves, then will our States and people will take this proposition into careful consideration for such decision as in their judgments is demanded by their interests, their honor, and their duty to the whole country.28

The minority of Border State Congressmen who supported President Lincoln sent him a much shorter message the same day.

The undersigned members of Congress from the border States in response to your address of Saturday last beg leave to say, that they attended a meeting on the same day the address was delivered for the purpose of considering the same; The meeting appointed a committee to report a response to your address. That report was made on yesterday and the action of the majority indicated clearly that the response reported, or one in substance the same would be adopted and presented to you.

In as much as we cannot consistently with our own sense of duty to the country under the existing perils which surround us, concur in that response, we feel it to be due to you, and to ourselves, to make to you a brief and candid answer over our own signatures. We believe that the whole power of the Government, upheld and sustained by all the influences and means of all loyal men in all sections, and of all parties, is essentially necessary to put down the rebellion and preserve the Union and the Constitution. We understand your appeal to us to have been made for the purpose of securing the result. A very large portion of the people in the Northern States believe that slavery is the “lever power of the rebellion.” It matters not whether this belief be well founded or not. The belief does exist, and we have to deal with things as they are, and not as we would have them be. In consequence of the existence of this belief we understand that an immense pressure is brought to bear for the purpose of striking down this institution, through the exercise of military authority. The Government cannot maintain this great struggle if the support and influance[sic] of the men who entertain these opinions be withdrawn. Neither can the Government hope for early success if the support of that element called “Conservative” be withdrawn. Such being the condition of things the President appeals to the border State men to step forward and prove their patriotism by making the first sacrifice. No doubt like appeals have been made to extreme men in the North to meet us half way in order that the whole moral, political, pecuniary, and physical force of the nation may be firmly and earnestly united in one grand effort to save the Union and the Constitution. Believing that such were the motives that prompted your address and such the results to which it looked. We cannot reconcile it to our sense of duty in this trying hour to respond in a spirit of fault finding or querulousness over the things that are past.

We are not disposed to seek for the cause of present misfortunes in the errors and wrongs of others who now propose to unite with us in a common purpose. But on the other hand we meet your address in the spirit in which it was made, and as loyal Americans declare to you and to the world that there is no sacrifice that we are not ready to make, to save the government and institutions of our fathers.

That we, few of us though there may be, will permit no men from the north or from the south to go farther than we, in the accomplishment of the great work before us. That in order to carry out these views, we will so far as may be in our power ask the people of the border states, calmly, deliberately, and fairly, to consider your recommendations. We are the more emboldened to assume this position from the fact, now become history, that the leaders of the Southern rebellion have offered to abolish slavery amongst them as a condition to foreign intervention in favor of their independence as a nation.

If they can give up slavery to destroy the Union; We can surely ask our people to consider the question of Emancipation to save the Union.29

Noted Lincoln biographer William Barton, “Lincoln had believed that he understood the border states, and they understood him. Perhaps he was never more bitterly disappointed than in their refusal to accept his plan.”30 But Mr. Lincoln never entirely abandoned compensated emancipation. In his annual message to Congress on December 1, 1862, President Lincoln devoted a large part to proposals for compensated emancipation and colonization:

In this view, I recommend the adoption of the following resolution and articles amendatory to the Constitution of the United States:

Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, (two thirds of both houses concurring,) That the following articles be proposed to the legislatures (or conventions) of the several States as amendments to the Constitution of the United States, all or any of which articles when ratified by three-fourths of the said legislatures (or conventions) to be valid as part or parts of the said Constitution, viz:

Article ___.

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

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


“All slaves who shall have enjoyed actual freedom by the chances of the war, at any time before the end of the rebellion, shall be forever free; but all owners of such, who shall not have been disloyal, shall be compensated for them, at the same rates as is provided for States adopting abolishment of slavery, but in such way, that no slave shall be twice accounted for.

“Article ___.

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

I beg indulgence to discuss these proposed articles at some length. Without slavery the rebellion could never have existed; without slavery it could not continue.

Among the friends of the Union there is great diversity, of sentiment, and of policy, in regard to slavery, and the African race amongst us. Some would perpetuate slavery; some would abolish it suddenly, and without compensation; some would remove the freed people from us, and some would retain them with us; and there are yet other minor diversities. Because of these diversities, we waste much strength in struggles among ourselves. By mutual concession we should harmonize, and act together. This would be compromise; but it would be compromise among the friends, and not with the enemies of the Union. These articles are intended to embody a plan of such mutual concessions. If the plan shall be adopted, it is assumed that emancipation will follow, at least, in several of the States.

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

The emancipation will be unsatisfactory to the advocates of perpetual slavery; but the length of time should greatly mitigate their dissatisfaction. The time spares both races from the evils of sudden derangement – in fact, from the necessity of any derangement – while most of those who habitual course of thought will be disturbed by the measure will have passed away before its consummation. They will never see it. Another class will hail the prospect of emancipation, but will deprecate the length of time. They will feel that it gives too little to the now living slaves. But it really gives them much. It saves them from the vagrant destitution which must largely attend immediate emancipation in localities where their numbers are very great; and it gives the inspiring assurance that their posterity shall be free forever. The plan leaves to each State, choosing to act under it, to abolish slavery now, or at the end of the century, or at any intermediate time, or by degrees, extending over the whole or any part of the period; and it obliges no two states to proceed alike. It also provides for compensation, and generally the mode of making it. This, it would seem, must further mitigate the dissatisfaction of those who favor perpetual slavery, and especially of those who are to receive the compensation. Doubtless some of those who are to pay, and not to receive will object. Yet the measure is both just and economical. In a certain sense the liberation of slaves is the destruction of property – property acquired by descent, or by purchase, the same as any other property. It is no less true for having been often said; that the people of the south are not more responsible for the original introduction of this property, than are the people of the north; and when it is remembered how unhesitatingly we all use cotton and sugar, and share the profits of dealing in them, it may not be quite safe to say, that the south has been more responsible than the north for its continuance. If then, for a common object, this property is to be sacrificed is it not just that it be done at a common charge.

And if, with less money, or money more easily paid, we can preserve the benefits of the Union by this means, than we can by the war alone, is it not also economical to do it? Let us consider it then. Let us ascertain the sum we have expended in the war since compensated emancipation was proposed last March, and consider whether, if that measure had been promptly accepted, by even some of the slave States, the same sum would not have done more to close the war, than has been otherwise done. If so the measure would save money, and, in that view, would be a prudent and economical measure. Certainly it is not so easy to paysomething as it is to pay nothing; but it is easier to pay a large sum than it is to pay a larger one. And it is easier to pay any sumwhen we are able than it is to pay it before we are able. The war requires large sums, and requires them at once. The aggregate sum necessary for compensated emancipation, of course, would be large. But it would require no ready cash; nor the bonds even, any faster than the emancipation progresses. This might not, and probably would not, close before the end of the thirty-seven years. At that time we shall probably have a hundred millions of people to share the burden, instead of thirty one millions, as now. And not only so, but the increase of our population may be expected to continue for a long time after that period, as rapidly as before; because our territory will not have become full. I do not state this inconsiderately. At the same ratio of increase which we have maintained, on an average, from our first national census, in 1790, until that of 1860, we should, in 1900, have a population of 103,208,415. And why may we not continue that ratio far beyond that period? Our abundant room – our broad national homestead – is our ample resource. Were our territory as limited as are the British Isles, very certainly our population could not expand as stated. Instead of receiving the foreign born, as now, we should be compelled to send part of the native born away. But such is not our condition. We have two million nine hundred and sixty-three thousand square miles. Europe has three millions and eight hundred thousand, with a population averaging seventy-three and one-third persons to the square mile. Why may not our country, at some time, average as many? Is it less fertile? Has it more waste surface, by mountains, rivers, lakes, deserts, or other causes? Is it inferior to Europe in any natural advantage? If, then, we are, at some time, to be as populous as Europe, how soon? As to when this may be, we can judge by the past and the present; as to when it will be, if ever, depends much on whether we maintain the Union. Several of our States are already above the average of Europe – seventy three and a third to the square mile. Massachusetts has 157; Rhode Island, 133; Connecticut, 99; New York and New Jersey, each, 80; also two other great States, Pennsylvania and Ohio, are not far below, the form having 63, and the latter 59. The States already above the European average, except New York, have increased in as rapid a ratio, since passing that point, as ever before; while no one of them is equal to some other parts of our country, in natural capacity for sustaining a dense population.

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

ratio of
35.02 per cent

This shows an average decennial increase of 34.60 per cent. in population through the seventy years from our first, to our last census yet taken. It is seen that the ratio of increase, at no one of these seven periods, is either two per cent, below, or two per cent. above, the average; thus showing how inflexible, and consequently, how reliable, the law of increase, in our case is. Assuming that it will continue, gives the following results: –


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

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

The proposed emancipation would shorten the war, perpetuate peace, insure this increase of population, and proportionately the wealth of the country. With thee we should pay all the emancipation would cost, together with our other debt, easier than we should pay our other debt, without it. If we had allowed our old national debt to run at six per cent, per annum, simple interest, from the end of our revolutionary struggle until to day, without paying anything on either principal or interest, each man of us would owe less upon that debt now, than each man owed upon it then; and this because our increase of men, through the whole period, has been greater than six percent.; has run faster than the interest upon the debt. Thus, time alone relieves a debtor nation, so long as its population increases faster than unpaid interest accumulates on its debt.

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

As to the second article, I think it would be impracticable to return to bondage the class of persons therein contemplated. Some of them, doubtless, in the property sense, belong to loyal owners; and hence, provision is made in this article for compensating such. The third article relates to the future of the freed people. It does not oblige, but merely authorizes, Congress to aid in colonizing such as may consent. This ought not to be regard as objectionable, on the one hand, or on the other, in so much as it comes to nothing, unless by the mutual consent of the people to be deported, and the American voters, through their representatives in Congress.

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

It is insisted that their presence would injure, and displace white labor and white laborer. If there ever could be a proper time for mere catch arguments, that time surely is not now. In times like the present, men should utter nothing for which they would not willingly be responsible through time and in eternity. Is it true, then, that colored people can displace any more white labor, by being free, than by remaining slaves? If they say in their old places, they jostle no white laborers; if they leave their old places, they leave them open to white laborers. Logically, there is neither more nor less of it. Emancipation, even without deportation, would probably enhance the wages of white labor, and, very surely, would not reduce them. Thus, the customary amount of labor would still have to be performed; the freed people would surely not do more than their old proportion of it, and very probably, for a time, would do less, leaving an increased part to white laborers, bringing their labor into greater demand, and consequently, enhancing the wages of it. With deportation, even to a limited extent, enhanced wages to white labor is mathematically certain. Labor is like any other commodity in the market – increase the demand for it, and you increase the price of it. Reduce the supply of black labor, by colonizing the black laborer out of the country, and by precisely so much, you increase the demand for, and wages of, white labor.

But it is dreaded that the freed people will swarm forth, and cover the whole land? Are they not already in the land? Will liberation make them any more numerous? Equally distributed among the whites of the whole country, and there would e but one colored to seven whites. Could the one, in any way, greatly disturb the seven There are many communities now, having more than one free colored person, to seven whites; and this, without any apparent consciousness of evil from it. The District of Columbia, and the States of Maryland and Delaware, are all in this condition. The District has more than one free colored to six whites; and yet, in its frequent petitions to Congress, I believe it has never presented the presence of free colored persons as one of its grievances. But why should emancipation south, send the free people north? People, of any color, seldom run, unless there is something to run from. Heretofore colored people, to some extent, have fled north from bondage; and now, perhaps, from both bondage and destitution. But if gradual emancipation and deportation be adopted, they will have neither to flee from. their old masters will give them wages at least until new laborers can be procured; and the freed men, in turn, will gladly give their labor for the ages, till new homes can be found for them, in congenial climes, and with people of their own blood and race. This proposition can be trusted on the mutual interests involved. And, in any event, cannot the north decide for itself, whether to receive them?

Again, as practice proves more than theory, in any case, has there been any irruption of colored people northward, because of the abolishment of slavery in this District last spring?

What I have said of the proportion of free colored persons to the whites, in the District, is from the census of 1860, having no reference to persons called contrabands, nor to those made free by the act of Congress abolishing slavery here.

The plan consisting of these articles is recommended, not but that a restoration of the national authority would be accepted without its adoption.

Nor will the war, nor proceedings under the proclamation of September 22, 1862, be stayed because of the recommendation of this plan. Its timely adoption, I doubt not, would bring restoration and thereby stay both.

And notwithstanding this plan, the recommendation that Congress provide by law for compensating any State which may adopt emancipation, before this plan shall have been acted upon, is hereby earnestly renewed. Such would be only an advance part of the plan, and the same arguments apply to both.

This plan is recommended as a means, not in exclusion of, but additional to, all others for restoring and preserving the national authority throughout the Union. The subject is presented exclusively in its economical aspect. The plan would, I am confident, secure peace more speedily, and maintain it more permanently, than can be done by force alone; while all it would cost, considering amounts, and manner of payment, and times of payment, would be easier paid than will be the additional cost of the war, if we rely solely upon force. It is much – very much – that it would cost no blood at all.

The plan is proposed as permanent constitutional law. It cannot become such without the concurrence of, first, two-thirds of Congress, and, afterwards, three-fourths of the States. The requisite three-fourths of the States will necessarily include seven of the Slave states. Their concurrence, if obtained, will give assurance of heir severally adopting emancipation, at no very distant day, upon the new constitutional terms. his assurance would end the struggle now, and save the Union forever.31


  1. Olivier Frayssé, Lincoln Land, and Labor: 1809-60, p. 124-125.
  2. John Hope Franklin, From Slavery to Freedom: A History of Negro Americans, p. 280.
  3. Don E. and Virginia E. Fehrenbacher, editor, Recollected Words of Abraham Lincoln, p. 119.
  4. Don E. and Virginia E. Fehrenbacher, editor, Recollected Words of Abraham Lincoln, p. 174.
  5. Moorfield Storey, Charles Sumner, p. 206.
  6. Ida M. Tarbell, The Life of Abraham Lincoln, Volume II, p. 97-98.
  7. Allen C. Guelzo, Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President, p. 334.
  8. Ida M. Tarbell, The Life of Abraham Lincoln, Volume II, p. 100.
  9. Michael Burlingame, editor, With Lincoln in the White House: Letters, Memoranda, and Other Writings of John G. Nicolay, 1860-1865, p. 73.
  10. Michael Burlingame, editor, With Lincoln in the White House: Letters, Memoranda, and Other Writings of John G. Nicolay, 1860-1865, p. 74.
  11. James M. McPherson, Crossroads of Freedom: Antietam, p. 66.
  12. Don E. and Virginia E. Fehrenbacher, editor, Recollected Words of Abraham Lincoln, p. 392 (The Reminiscences of Carl Schurz, Volume II, p. 328-329).
  13. Alexander K. McClure, Lincoln and Men of War-Times, p. 105.
  14. Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress. Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois. (Letter from Henry J. Raymond to Abraham Lincoln, March 15, 1862).
  15. Herbert Mitgang, The Fiery Trial: A Life of Abraham Lincoln, p. 79.
  16. Roy P. Basler, editor, The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume V, p. 152-153 (Letter to Henry J. Raymond, March 9, 1862).
  17. Herbert Mitgang, editor, Abraham Lincoln: A Press Portrait, p. 290 (March 7, 1862).
  18. Roy P. Basler, editor, The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume V, p. 169 (Letter to Horace Greeley, March 24, 1862).
  19. Herbert Mitgang, editor, Abraham Lincoln: A Press Portrait, p. 292-293 (March 8, 1862).
  20. James M. McPherson, The Negro’s Civil War, p. 43.
  21. LaWanda Cox, Lincoln and Black Freedom, p. 9-10.
  22. Roy P. Basler, editor, The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume V, p. 160-161 (Letter to James A. McDougall, March 14, 1862).
  23. Ida M. Tarbell, The Life of Abraham Lincoln, Volume II, p. 101.
  24. Ralph Korngold, Thaddeus Stevens: A Being Darkly Wise and Rudely Great, p. 179-180.
  25. Ralph Korngold, Thaddeus Stevens: A Being Darkly Wise and Rudely Great, p. 180.
  26. Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress. Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois. (Abraham Lincoln, Address to Border State Representatives1, [July 12, 1862].
  27. Allen C. Guelzo, Abraham Lincoln: Redeemer President, p. 338.
  28. Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress. Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois. (Message from Border State Congressmen to Abraham Lincoln, July 14, 1862).
  29. Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress. Transcribed and Annotated by the Lincoln Studies Center, Knox College. Galesburg, Illinois. (Message From Border State Congressmen to Abraham Lincoln, July 15, 1862).
  30. William E. Barton, The Life of Abraham Lincoln, Volume II, p. 136.
  31. Roy P. Basler, editor, The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln, Volume V, p. 518-537 (December 1, 1862).


John B. Henderson (Mr. Lincoln and Friends)
Charles Sumner (Mr. Lincoln and Friends)
Charles Sumner (Mr. Lincoln’s White House)