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it was, that could help the confederates and make them stronger. In all war this is fair and is always done, and it is called "contraband of war." So, General Butler informed the Colonel that he should not return the slaves; and he kept them to help build fortifications and do what else they could; and he called them and other slaves that came into our lines "contraband of war.'
The term was caught up instantly all over the country; and the newspapers and the people laughed over the cleverness of this lawyer general and saw the point at once. Why should Union men dig in the ditches and send back the slaves to do the confederates' digging for them? Why should the government try to save the confederates at the cost of its own soldiers, since everything that helped these confederates hurt its own men?
And Congress took up the matter after a time.
But first it passed a bill declaring slavery abolished in the District of Columbia, and the President signed this April sixteenth, 1862. Mr. Lincoln as he signed it said: "Little did I dream in 1849 when I proposed to abolish slavery at this capital, and could scarcely get a hearing for the proposition, that it would be so soon accomplished."
On the nineteenth of June, 1862, Congress passed a bill forbidding slavery forever in all the Territories of the United States then existing, or that might hereafter be acquired.
March thirteenth, 1862, President Lincoln signed a bill passed by Congress forbidding officers and soldiers in the army and navy from returning fugitive slaves. And July sixteenth, 1862, Mr. Lincoln signed a law passed by Congress declaring that all slaves of persons in arms against the government or aiding the confederacy escaping from such persons and taking refuge within Union army lines, and all slaves captured from such persons or deserted by them, and coming under control of the government, or slaves found in a place where the confederate army had been and the Union army came, should be considered "captives of war, and shall be forever free of their servitude and not again held as slaves.'
If good Union men in confederate States or in the border States remaining in the Union lost their slaves, the government was to pay them for these. But this law came later.
At the beginning of the war when General Frémont, given command in Missouri, had issued a proclamation freeing the blacks of the confederates whom he was fighting, Mr. Lincoln had forbidden it because the time had not then
But in 1862 when the slaves had been freed at Washington and the war was going on, with men always needed to fill up the army, the question of arming the blacks to fight for their own freedom and help the Union as soldiers, was discussed. The right to do this became a law, on the seventeenth of July, 1862.
But this was not all. The rest which was so much needed was coming, not too soon, but at the time when it must come, the time that Abraham Lincoln had been waiting for with his wise patience, when the people were ready, too, and waiting, and when emancipation-freedom for the colored race-would unite the North and not divide it. At last he spoke; and the world heard.
THE EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION.
While all this discussion about slavery was going on, and Congress was passing laws as to what should be done with the slaves, and Abraham Lincoln with all the powers of his great mind and all the earnestness of his great heart and all the prayers of his soul that trusted in God for guidance, was laboring over the question as to what he was to do for them-what were the slaves doing for themselves? How were they behaving? The South had always been in terror lest they should rise and murder their masters and seize upon freedom with hands red with the blood of the white men? It had watched all travelers, for fear that these should bring suggestions to the slaves; it had forbidden teaching of all kind for the colored peopleall for fear of what might happen.
And when the war came, what did happen!
Did the negroes rise against their masters? Not at all. The worst thing they did was to run away from them; or, sometimes, it was the masters who ran away and left the colored people they had owned to do as they pleased. And many and many a time, instead of cruelty to their old masters when these grew poor and helpless in the war, the former slaves were full of loyalty and goodness to them.
But there was one thing the slaves all wanted -to be free. And not the wisest man in America knew so surely from the very beginning that the war was going to make them free as these ignorant black men and women knew it.
As soldiers in the Union army they fought well and bravely side by side with other soldiers who were trying to save the Union. But except as soldiers under discipline, they were peaceable; they waited for the liberty which was certainly coming to them. The spirit of faith and prayer in which they waited Whittier has told us in his "At Port Royal" where the negro boatmen, freed by the coming of the Union troops, row and sing:
"We pray de Lord; He gib us signs