Saturday, July 23, 2011

Special Message Of The President To Congress


The President transmitted to Congress to-day the Following message:

Fellow-citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:  I recommend the adoption of a joint resolution by your honorable bodies, which shall be substantially as follows:

            Resolved, That the United States ought to co-operate with any State which may adopt a gradual abolishment of slavery, giving such State pecuniary aid to be used by such State at its discretion, to compensate for the inconveniences, public and private, produced by such change of system.

If the proposition contained in the resolution does not met with the approval of Congress and the country, there is the end; but if it does command such approval I deem it of importance that the States and people immediately interested should be at once distinctly notified of the fact, so that they may begin to consider whether to accept or reject it.  The Federal Government would find its highest interest in such a measure as one of the most efficient measures of self-preservation.  The leaders of the existing insurrection entertain the hope that the government will ultimately be forced to acknowledge the independence of some part of the disaffected region, and that all slave States north of such parts will then say, the Union for which we have struggled being already gone, we now choose to go with them.  To deprive them of this hope substantially ends the rebellion, and the initiation of emancipation completely deprives them of it, as to all the States initiating.  The Point is not that all States tolerating slavery would very soon, if at all, initiate emancipation; but that while the offer is equally made to all, the more Northern shall by such initiation make it certain to the Southern that in no event shall the former join the latter in their proposed confederacy.

I say ‘initiation,’ because, in my judgment gradual, and not sudden, emancipation is better for all.  In the mere financial or pecuniary view, any member of Congress with the census tables and the Treasury reports before him, can readily see for himself how very soon the current expenditures of the war would purchase, at a fair valuation, all the slaves in any named State.

Such a proposition on the part of the general Government sets up no claim or right by the 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.  It is proposed as a matter of perfectly free choice with them in the annual message last December, I thought fit to say the Union must be preserved, and hence all indispensable means must be employed.  I said this not hastily, but deliberately.  War has been, and continues to be, an indispensable means to this end.  A practical re-acknowledgement of the national authority would render the war unnecessary, and it would at once cease.  If, however, resistance continues, the war must also continue; and it is impossible to foresee all the incidents which may attend, and all the ruin which may follow.  Such as may seem indispensable, or may obviously promise greater efficiency towards ending the struggle, must and will come.

The proposition now made is an offer only.  I hope it may be esteemed no offense to ask whether the pecuniary consideration tendered would not be of more value to the States and private persons concerned than are the institution and property in it, in the present aspect of affairs?  While it is true that the adoption of the proposed resolution would be merely initiatory, and not within itself a practical measure, it is recommended in the hope that it would sooner lead to important results.

In full view of my great responsibility to my God and to my country I earnestly beg the attention of congress and the people to the subject.



– Published in The Davenport Daily Gazette, Davenport, Iowa, Monday Morning, March 10, 1862, p. 2

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