« PreviousContinue »
umphed in your election, and of all who desire the unqualified suppression of the Rebellion now desolating our country, are sorely disappointed and deeply pained by the policy you seem to be pursuing with regard to the slaves of Rebels. I write only to set succinctly and unmistakably before you ; what we require, what we think we have a right to expect, and of what we complain.
I. We require of you, as the first servant of the Republic, charged especially and pre-eminently with this duty, that you execute the laws. Most emphatically do we demand that 10 such laws as have been recently enacted, which therefore may fairly be presumed to embody the present will and to be dictated by the present needs of the Republic, and which, after due consideration have received your personal sanction, shall by you be carried into full effect, and that you 15 publicly and decisively instruct your subordinates that such laws exist, that they are binding on all functionaries and citizens, and that they are to be obeyed to the letter.
II. We think you are strangely and disastrously remiss in the discharge of your official and imperative duty with 20 regard to the emancipating provisions of the new Confisca tion Act. Those provisions were designed to fight Slavery with Liberty. They prescribe that men loyal to the Union, and willing to shed their blood in her behalf, shall no longer be held, with the Nation's consent, in bondage to persistent, malignant traitors, who for twenty years have been plotting and for sixteen months have been fighting to divide and destroy our country. Why these traitors should be treated with tenderness by you, to the prejudice of the dearest rights of loyal men, we cannot conceive.
III. We think you are unduly influenced by the counsels the representations, the menaces, of certain fossil politicians hailing from the Border Slave States. Knowing well tha the heartily, unconditionally loyal portion of the White cit zens of those States do not expect nor desire that Slavery shall be upheld to the prejudice of the Union
truth of which we appeal not only to every Republican residing in those states, but to such eminent loyalists as H. Winter Davis, Parson Brownlow, the Union Central Committee of Baltimore, and to the "Nashville Union")—we 5 ask you to consider that Slavery is everywhere the inciting cause and sustaining base of treason: the most slave-holding sections of Maryland and Delaware being this day, though under the Union flag, in full sympathy with the Rebellion, while the Free-Labor portions of Tennessee and of Texas, 10 though writhing under the bloody heel of Treason, are unconquerably loyal to the Union. So emphatically is this the case, that a most intelligent Union banker of Baltimore recently avowed his confident belief that a majority of the present Legislature of Maryland, though elected as and still 15 professing to be Unionists, are at heart desirous of the triumph of the Jeff. Davis conspiracy; and when asked how they could be won back to loyalty, replied — “Only by the complete Abolition of Slavery." It seems to us the most obvious truth, that whatever strengthens or fortifies Slavery 20 in the Border States strengthens also Treason, and drives home the wedge intended to divide the Union. Had you from the first refused to recognize in those States, as here, any other than unconditional loyalty that which stands for the Union, whatever may become of Slavery — those States 25 would have been, and would be, far more helpful and less troublesome to the defenders of the Union than they have been, or now are.
IV. We think timid counsels in such a crisis calculated to prove perilous, and probably disastrous. It is the duty of 30 a Government so wantonly, wickedly assailed by the Rebellion as ours has been to oppose force to force in a defiant, dauntless spirit. It cannot afford to temporize with traitors nor with semi-traitors. It must not bribe them to behave hemselves, nor make them fair promises in the hope of dis35 arming their causeless hostility. Representing a brave and high-spirited people, it can afford to forfeit anything else
better than its own self-respect, or their admiring confidence. For our Government even to seek, after war has been made on it, to dispel the affected apprehensions of armed traitors that their cherished privileges may be assailed by it, is to invite insult and encourage hopes of its own downfall. The rush to arms of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, is the true answer at once to the Rebel raids of John Morgan, and the traitorous sophistries of Beriah Magoffin.
V. We complain that the Union Cause has suffered, and is now suffering immensely, from mistaken-deference to Rebel 10 Slavery. Had you, Sir, in your Inaugural Address,1 unmistakably given notice that, in case the Rebellion already commenced were persisted in, and your efforts to preserve the Union and enforce the laws should be resisted by armed force, you would recognize no loyal person as rightfully held in 15 Slavery by a traitor, we believe the Rebellion would therein have received a staggering if not fatal blow. At that moment, according to the returns of the most recent elections, the Unionists were a large majority of the voters of the Slave States. But they were composed in good part of 20 the aged, the feeble, the wealthy, the timid, the young, the reckless, the aspiring, the adventurous, had already been lured by the gamblers and negro-traders, the politicians by trade and the conspirators by instinct, into the toils of Treason. Had you then proclaimed that Rebellion would 25 strike the shackles from the slaves of every traitor, the wealthy and the cautious would have been supplied with a powerful inducement to remain loyal. As it was, every coward in the South soon became a traitor from fear; for Loyalty was perilous, while Treason seemed comparatively 30 safe. Hence the boasted unanimity of the Southimity based on Rebel terrorism and the fact that immunity and safety were found on that side, danger and probable death on ours. The Rebels from the first have been eager to confiscate, imprison, scourge and kill: we have fought 1 See p. 228.
wolves with the devices of sheep. The result is just what might have been expected. Tens of thousands are fighting in the Rebel-ranks to-day whose original bias and natural leanings would have led them into ours.
5 VI. We complain that the Confiscation Act which you approved is habitually disregarded by your Generals, and that no word of rebuke for them from you has yet reached the public ear. Fremont's proclamation and Hunter's Order favoring Emancipation were promptly annulled by you; 10 while Halleck's No. 3, forbidding fugitives from Slavery to Rebels to come within his lines an order as unmilitary as inhuman, and which received the hearty approbation of every traitor in America, with scores of like tendency, have never provoked even your remonstrance. We complain that the 15 officers of your Armies have habitually repelled rather than invited the approach of slaves who would have gladly taken the risks of escaping from their Rebel masters to our camps, bringing intelligence often of inestimable value to the Union cause. We complain that those who have escaped to 20 us, avowing a willingness to do for us whatever might be required, have been brutally and madly repulsed, and often surrendered to be scourged, maimed and tortured by the ruffian traitors, who pretend to own them. We complain that a large proportion of our regular Army Officers, with 25 many of the Volunteers, evince far more solicitude to uphold Slavery than to put down the Rebellion. And finally, we complain that you, Mr. President, elected as a Republican, knowing well what an abomination Slavery is, and how emphatically it is the core and essence of this atrocious Rebellion, seem never to interfere with these atrocities, and never give a direction to your Military subordinates which does not appear to have been conceived in the interest of Slavery rather than of Freedom.
VII. Let me call your attention to the recent tragedy in 35 New Orleans, whereof the facts are obtained entirely through Fro-Slavery channels. A considerable body of resolute, able
bodied men, held in slavery by two Rebel sugar-planters in defiance of the Confiscation Act which you have approved, left plantations thirty miles distant and made their way to the great mart of the South-West, which they knew to be in the undisputed possession of the Union forces. They made 5 their way safely and quietly through thirty miles of Rebel territory, expecting to find freedom under the protection of our flag. Whether they had or had not heard of the passage of the Confiscation Act, they reasoned logically that we would not kill them for deserting the service of their life- 10 long oppressors, who had through treason become our implacable enemies. They came to us for liberty and protection, for which they were willing to render their best service: they met with hostility, captivity, and murder. The barking of the base curs of Slavery in this quarter deceives no 15 one, - not even themselves. They say, indeed, that the negroes had no right to appear in New Orleans armed (with their implements of daily labor in the cane-field); but no one doubts that they would gladly have laid these down if assured that they should be free. They were set upon and 20 maimed, captured and killed, because they sought the benefit of that Act of Congress which they may not specifically have heard of, but which was none the less the law of the land which they had a clear right to the benefit of which it was somebody's duty to publish far and wide, in order 25 that so many as possible should be impelled to desist from serving Rebels and the Rebellion and come over to the side of the Union. They sought their liberty in strict accordance with the law of the land they were butchered or reenslaved for so doing by the help of Union soldiers enlisted to fight against Slaveholding Treason. It was somebody's fault that they were so murdered if others shall hereafter suffer in like manner, in default of explicit and public direction to your generals that they are to recognize and obey the Confiscation Act, the world will lay the blame on you Whether you will choose to hear it through future History and at the bar of God, I will not judge. I can only hope.