Sunday, October 2, 2016

Senator Charles Sumner to John M. Forbes, December 28, 1862

Washington, 28th December, 1862.

My Dear Forbes, — Last evening I handed to the President a memorial from clergymen, calling on him to stand by his Proclamation, reading it to him aloud.

I then handed him your slip Audax, which he commenced reading.

Then a slip from a Boston paper, advertising a musical celebration in honor of the Proclamation, 1st January, with all the names, yours among the rest.

Then the unsigned address1 from the electors, which he proceeded to read aloud.

I then read to him Mr. Chapman's letter, which I enforced by saying that he was now a very able judge of our Supreme Court,2 once a Hunker, and not much of my way of thinking in times past.
I then proceeded to dwell on the importance and grandeur of the act, and how impatient we all are that it should be done in the way to enlist the most sympathy and to stifle opposition. On his account I urged that it should be a military decree, countersigned by the Secretary of War, and that it should have something in it showing that though an act of military necessity and just self-defense, it was also an act of justice and humanity, which must have the blessings of a benevolent God.

The President says that he could not stop the Proclamation if he would, and he would not if he could. Burnside was present at this remark.

I find Stanton unusually sanguine and confident. He says that he shall have 200,000 negroes under arms before June, holding the Mississippi River and garrisoning the ports, so that our white soldiers can go elsewhere. The President accepts this idea.

Let the music sound, and the day be celebrated.

1 This was an address slightly different in form from that sent through Mr. Sedgwick. — Ed.

2 Afterwards the chief justice. — Ed.

SOURCE: Sarah Forbes Hughes, Letters and Recollections of John Murray Forbes, Volume 1, p. 352-3

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