Friday, December 2, 2016

Diary of Gideon Welles: Wednesday, December 31, 1862

We had an early and special Cabinet-meeting, convened at 10 A.M. The subject was the Proclamation of to-morrow to emancipate the slaves in the Rebel States. Seward proposed two amendments, — one including mine, and one enjoining upon, instead of appealing to, those emancipated, to forbear from tumult. Blair had, like Seward and myself, proposed the omission of a part of a sentence and made other suggestions which I thought improvements. Chase made some good criticisms and proposed a felicitous closing sentence. The President took the suggestions, written in order, and said he would complete the document.

I met General Burnside on the portico of the White House this A.M. He was about entering his carriage, but waited my coming. Says he is here a witness in Fitz John Porter's case.

The year closes less favorably than I had hoped and expected, yet some progress has been made. It is not to be denied, however, that the national ailment seems more chronic. The disease is deep-seated. Energetic measures are necessary, and I hope we may have them. None of us appear to do enough, and yet I am surprised that we have done so much. We have had some misfortunes, and a lurking malevolence exists towards us among nations, that could not have been anticipated. Worse than this, the envenomed, relentless, and unpatriotic spirit of party paralyzes and weakens the hand of the Government and country.

SOURCE: Gideon Welles, Diary of Gideon Welles, Secretary of the Navy Under Lincoln and Johnson, Vol. 1: 1861 – March 30, 1864, p. 210-1

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