NEW YORK, May 16.
Hunter’s proclamation excites scarcely any interest in Washington, no one attaching any importance to its efficiency to produce the end designed. Martial law is only enforced by martial power, and Hunter has no force at his command adequate to enforce this proclamation. His declaring freedom to all the slaves in three States, when he has no power to free a single one outside of his camp, is regarded in Washington as an act of stultification highly discreditable to any one holding the rank of General, supposed to have ordinary intelligence. If the military power is withdrawn from Hunter’s department before his proclamation is executed throughout those States, it is conceded that the civil power will not complete or countenance what martial law proclaimed but did not practically execute.
The President’s policy is supposed to be authoritatively settled by his action in Fremont’s case, in which all his Cabinet concurred.
Gen. Fremont freed, by proclamation the slaves of all men engaged in the rebellion. Hunter’s proclamation frees the slaves of all men in three States, whether they have engaged in the rebellion or not, punishing loyalists as well as traitors, and all because he had declared martial law where he has confessedly no ability to execute it. It is understood that Hunter took no specific instruction from the President, in regard to the management of matters in his department, but was left as all other military commanders have been, to his own discretion, in this attempt to re-establish the constitution and laws in the revolted States.
It is said that the President will be waited on this evening by gentlemen, to ascertain under what authority was acting.
WASHINGTON, May 16.
Gen. Hunter’s proclamation, it can be positively stated, was issued without the authority or knowledge of the President, whom it took entirely by surprise. What will be done with it, is a question yet to be settled. There was no Cabinet meeting, and it is not probably that any determination will be definitely made until the three members of the Cabinet, Secretary Seward, Secretary Wells and Attorney General Bates, who are still at Ft. Monroe, return, which will not be till Monday.
The Senate committee on public lands have unanimously reported back Senator Wade’s bill donating 20,000 acres of land for each Senator and Representative, to every State which provides a college for the benefit of agriculture and the mechanic arts.
The House naval committee have authorized the chairman, Mr. Sedgwick, to report the Senate bill re-organizing the Navy department. It creates three additional bureaus.
The Committee have also authorized Mr. Sedgwick to report the bill re-organizing the naval service, which was some time since prepared by a sub-committee of both Houses. It provides for ten grades, running from a cadet to rear admiral.
The Hunter proclamation has presented an issue which it is believed will result in the breaking up of the cabinet. The President has expressed not only dissatisfaction but indignation. It is ascertained that four members of the cabinet sustain the course of Gen. Hunter, one at least of [the] others is known to entertain different views. It is stated positively that Gen. Hunter will be recalled, and the characteristic firmness of the President will be exhibited in the manner in which he will meet the issue thus forced upon him, and that he will, whether with our without the support of the cabinet, act substantially with his repeatedly expressed opinions and intentions.
Senator Rice is extremely ill, suffering from a sever hemorrhage. Fears are entertained for his recovery.
– Published in The Davenport Daily Gazette, Davenport, Iowa, Monday Morning, May 19, 1862, p. 1