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safety of the people of the United States is the su- well, while their nervousness was evident, repreme law; that their will is the supreme rule of frained from any comment. Mr. Chandler, who law, and that we are authorized to pronounce their was unabashed in any mortal presence, roundly will on this subject; take the responsibility to say asked the President if he intended to sign the that we will revise the judgments of our ancestors; bill.1 The President replied: “This bill has that we have experience written in blood which they had not; that we find now, what they darkly been placed before me a few moments before doubted, that slavery is really, radically inconsistent Congress adjourns. It is a matter of too much with the permanence of republican governments, importance to be swallowed in that way.” “If and that being charged by the supreme law of the it is vetoed,” cried Mr. Chandler, “ it will damland on our conscience and judgment to guarantee, age us fearfully in the North-west. The imthat is, to continue, maintain, and enforce, if it portant point is that one prohibiting slavery in exists, to institute and restore when overthrown, the reconstructed States.” Mr. Lincoln said: republican governments throughout the broad limits of the Republic, we will weed out every element of “That is the point on which I doubt the their policy which we think incompatible with its authority of Congress to act.” “ It is no more permanence and endurance.
than you have done yourself,” said the sena
tor. The President answered: “I conceive that The bill was extensively debated. It was I may in an emergency do things on military not opposed to any extent by the Republicans grounds which cannot be done constitutionof the House; the Democrats were left to make ally by Congress.” Mr. Chandler, expressa purely partisan opposition to it. The Presi- ing his deep chagrin, went out, and the President declined to exercise any influence on the dent, addressing the members of the Cabinet debate, and the bill was passed by a vote of who were seated with him, said: “I do not see seventy-four to sixty-six. It was called up in how any of us now can deny and contradict the Senate by Mr. Wade of Ohio, who, in sup- what we have always said, that Congress has porting it, followed very much the same line of no constitutional power over slavery in the argument as that adopted by Mr. Davis in the States.” Mr. Fessenden expressed his entire House. Mr. B. Gratz Brown of Missouri, believ- agreement with this view. ing that as the session was drawing near its close
I have even had my doubts she said) as to the there was no time to discuss a measure of such constitutional efficacy of your own deeree of emantranscendent importance, offered an amend- cipation, in such cases where it has not been carment simply forbidding the States in insurrection ried into effect by the actual advance of the army. to cast any vote for electors of Presidentor VicePresident of the United States, or to elect mem
The President said: bers of Congress until the insurrection in such This bill and the position of these gentlemen State was suppressed or abandoned, and its seem to me, in asserting that the insurrectionary inhabitants had returned to their obedience to States are no longer in the Union, to make the fatal the Government of the United States; such admission that States, whenever they please, may returning to obedience being declared by proc- the Union. Now we cannot survive that admission,
of their own motion dissolve their connection with lamation of the President, issued by virtue of an
I am convinced. If that be true, I am not President; act of Congress hereafter to be passed author- these gentlemen are not Congress. I have laboriizing the same. The amendment of Mr. Brown ously endeavored to avoid that question ever since was adopted by a bare majority, seventeen it first began to be mooted, and thus to avoid convoting in favor of it and sixteen against it. fusion and disturbance in our own councils. It was Mr. Sumner tried to have the Proclamation of to obviate this question that I earnestly favored the Emancipation adopted and enacted as a statute movement for an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, but this proposition was
abolishing slavery, which passed the Senate and
failed in the House. I thought it much better, if it lost by a considerable majority. The House declined to concur in the amendment of the necessity of a violent quarrel among its friends as
were possible, to restore the Union without the Senate and asked for a committee of conference, to whether certain States have been in or out of the in which the Senate receded from its amend- Union during the war —a merely metaphysical quesment and the bill went to the President for his tion, and one unnecessary to be forced into discussion. approval in the closing moments of the session.
Congress was to adjourn at noon on the Fourth Although every member of the Cabinet of July; the President was in his room at the agreed with the President, when, a few minutes Capitol signing bills, which were laid before him later, he entered his carriage to go home, he as they were brought from the two Houses. foresaw the importance of the step he had reWhen this important bill was placed before solved to take and its possibly disastrous conhim he laid it aside and went on with the other sequences to himself. When some one said work of the moment. Several prominent mem- to him that the threats made by the extreme bers entered in a state of intense anxiety over radicals had no foundation, and that people the fate of the bill. Mr. Sumner and Mr. Bout
1 J. H., Diary.
would not bolt their ticket on a question of The refusal of the President to sign the remetaphysics, he answered: “ If they choose to construction bill caused a great effervescence make a point upon this, I do not doubt that at the adjournment of Congress. Mr. Chase, they can do harm. They have never been who had resigned from the Cabinet, made this friendly to me. At all events, I must keep some entry in his diary : consciousness of being somewhere near right.
The President pocketed the great bill providing I must keep some standard or principle fixed for the reorganization of the rebel States as loyal within myself."
States. He did not venture to veto, and so put it in After the fullest deliberation the President his pocket. It was a condemnation of his amnesty remained by his first impression that the bill proclamation and of his general policy of reconwas too rigid and too restrictive in its provisions struction, rejecting the idea of possible reconstructo accomplish the work desired. He had all tion with slavery, which neither the President nor his life hated formulas in government, and he his chief advisers have, in my opinion, abandoned. believed that the will of an intelligent people, This entry, made by Mr. Chase in the bitacting freely under democratic institutions, terness of his anger, places the basest concould best give shape to the special machinery struction upon the President's action; but under which it was to be governed; and, in the this sentiment was shared by not a few of wide variety of circumstances and conditions those who claimed the title of extreme radicals prevailing throughout the South, he held it in Congress. Mr. Sumner reported a feeling unwise for either Congress or himself to pre- of intense indignation against the President. scribe any fixed and formal method by which Two days later the ex-Secretary gleefully rethe several States should resume their practical ported, on the authority of Senator Pomeroy, legal relations with the Union. Thinking in that there was great dissatisfaction with Mr. this way, and feeling himself unable to accept Lincoln, which had been much exasperated the bill of Congress as the last word of recon- by the pocketing of the reconstruction bill. struction, and yet unwilling to reject whatever When Mr. Lincoln, disregarding precedents, of practical good might be accomplished by and acting on his lifelong rule of taking the it, he resolved, a few days after Congress had people into his confidence, issued his proclamaadjourned, to remit the matter to the people tion of the 8th of July, it was received by each themselves and to allow them their choice of division of the loyal people of the country as all the methods proposed of returning to their might have been expected. The great mass allegiance. He issued, on the 8th of July, a of Republican voters, who cared little for the proclamation giving a copy of the bill of Con- metaphysics of the case, accepted his proclagress, reciting the circumstances under which mation, as they had accepted that issued six it was passed, and going on to say:
months before, as the wisest and most practiNow, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of cable method of handling the question; but the United States, do proclaim, declare, and make among those already hostile to the President, known that while I am — as I was in December and those whose devotion to the cause of freelast, when by proclamation I propounded a plan of dom was so ardent as to make them look upon restoration-unprepared by a formal approval of him as lukewarm, the exasperation which was this bill to be inflexibly committed to any single already excited increased. The indignation plan of restoration, and while I am also unprepared of Mr. Davis and Mr. Wade at seeing their to declare that the free State constitutions and gov- work of the last session thus brought to nothernments, already adopted and installed in Arkansas and Louisiana, shall be set aside and held for naught, ing could not be restrained. Mr. Davis prethereby repelling and discouraging the loyal citizens pared, and both of them signed and published who have set up the same as to further effort, or on the 5th of August, a manifesto, the most to declare a constitutional competency in Congress vigorous in attack that was ever directed to abolish slavery in the States, but am at the same against the President from his own party durtime sincerely hoping and expecting that a consti- ing his term. The grim beginning of this docututional amendment abolishing slavery throughout ment, which is addressed “ To the Supporters the nation may be adopted, nevertheless, I am fully of the Government,” is in these terms: satisfied with the system for restoration contained in the bill as one very proper for the loyal people We have read without surprise, but not without of any State choosing to adopt it; and that I am, indignation, the proclamation of the President of the and at all times shall be, prepared to give the execu- 8th of July, 1864. The supporters of the Administrative aid and assistance to any such people, so soon tion are responsible to the country for its conduct; as military resistance to the United States shall have and it is their right and duty tocheck the encroachbeen suppressed in any such State, and the people ments of the Executive on the authority of Congress, thereof shall have sufficiently returned to their and to require it to confine itself to its proper sphere. obedience to the Constitution and the laws of the United States, in which cases military governors
The paper went on to narrate the history of will be appointed, with directions to proceed ac- the reconstruction bill
, and to claim that its cording to the bill.
treatment indicated a persistent though unavowed purpose of the President to defeat the security, committed to their keeping, they sacrifice. will of the people by the Executive perversion Let them consider the remedy of these usurpations, of the Constitution. They insinuated that only and, having found it, fearlessly execute it. the lowest personal motives could have dictated this action :
HORACE GREELEY'S PEACE MISSION. The President (they said), by preventing this bill from becoming a law, holds the electoral votes Not least among the troubles and the vexaof the rebel States at the dictation of his personal tions of the summer of 1864 was the constant ambition. ... If electors for President be allowed criticism of sincere Republicans who were imto be chosen in either of those States, a sinister patient at what they considered the slow proglight will be cast on the motives which induced the ress of the war, and irritated at the deliberation President to "hold for naught” the will of Congress rather than his governments in Louisiana and with which Mr. Lincoln weighed every imporArkansas.
tant act before decision. Besides this, a feel
ing of discouragement had taken possession of They ridiculed the President's earnestly ex- some of the more excitable spirits, which induced pressed hope that the constitutional amend them to give ready hospitality to any suggesment abolishing slavery might be adopted: tions of peace. Foremost among these was
We curiously inquire on what his expectation Horace Greeley, who in personal interviews, rests, after the vote of the House of Representatives in private letters, and in the columns of the at the recent session and in the face of the political “ Tribune" repeatedly placed before the Presicomplexion of more than enough of the States to dent, with that vigor of expression in which prevent the possibility of its adoption within any he was unrivaled, the complaints and the disreasonable time; and why he did not indulge his contents of a considerable body of devoted, if sincere hopes with so large an installment of the blessing as his approval of the bill would have not altogether reasonable, Union men. The
attitude of benevolent criticism which he was secured?
known to sustain towards the Administration When we consider that only a few months naturally drew around him a certain number elapsed before this beneficent amendment was of adventurers and busybodies, who fluttered adopted, we can form some idea of the com- between the two great parties, and were glad parative political sagacity of Mr. Lincoln and to occupy the attention of prominent men on his critics. The fact that the President gave either side with schemes whose only real obthe bill of Congress his approval as a very ject was some slight gain or questionable noproper plan for the loyal people of any States toriety for themselves. A person who called choosing to adopt it seemed to infuriate the himself“ William Cornell Jewett of Colorado" authors of the bill: they say, “A more studied had gained some sort of intimacy with Mr. outrage on the legislative authority of the people Greeley by alleging relations with eminent has never been perpetrated.” At the close of Northern and Southern statesmen. He was a long review of the President's proclamation, one of those newspaper laughing-stocks who in which every sentence came in for its share come gradually to be known and talked about. of censure or of ridicule, this manifesto con- He wrote interminable letters of advice to Mr. cluded:
Lincoln and to Jefferson Davis, which were Such are the fruits of this rash and fatal act of the never read nor answered, but which, printed President-a blow at the friends of his Administra- with humorous comment in the “ New York tion, at the rights of humanity, and at the princi- Herald,” were taken seriously by the undisples of republican government. The President has criminating, and even quoted and discussed in greatly presumed on the forbearance which the the London papers. He wrote to Mr. Greeley supporters of his Administration have so long prac- in the early part of July from Niagara Falls, ticed, in view of the arduous conflict in which we and appears to have convinced the latter that are engaged, and the reckless ferocity of our politi- he was an authorized intermediary from the cal opponents. But he must understand that our support is of a cause and not of a man; that the Confederate authorities to make propositions authority of Congress is paramount and must be re- for peace. He wrote that he had just left spected; that the whole body of the Union men of George N. Sanders of Kentucky on the Canada Congress will not submit to be impeached by him side. of rash and unconstitutional legislation; and if he wishes our support he must confine himself to his I am authorized to state to you she continued), for executive duties - to obey and to execute, not make our use only, not the public, that two ambassadors the laws — to suppress by arms armed rebellion, of Davis & Co. are now in Canada with full and and leave political reorganization to Congress. If complete powers for a peace, and Mr. Sanders rethe supporters of the Government fail to insist on quests that you come on immediately to me at Catathis they become responsible for the usurpations ract House to have a private interview ; or, if you which they fail to rebuke, and are justly liable to will send the President's protection for him and two the indignation of the people whose rights and friends, they will come and meet you. He says the whole matter can be consummated by me, you, hibit their credentials and submit their ultithem, and President Lincoln.
matum.” This letter was followed the next day by a
Mr. Lincoln determined at once to take telegram saying :
action upon this letter. He had no faith in Will you come here ? Parties have full power.
Jewett's story. He doubted whether the em
bassy had any existence except in the imagiMr. Greeley was greatly impressed by this nation of Sanders and Jewett. But he felt communication. The inherent improbabilities the unreasonableness and injustice of Mr. of it did not seem to strike him, though the Greeley's letter, while he did not doubt his antecedents of Sanders were scarcely more good faith; and he resolved to convince him reputable than those of Jewett. He sent the at least, and perhaps others of his way of letter and the telegram to the President, inclosed thinking, that there was no foundation for the in a letter of his own, the perfervid vehemence of reproaches they were casting upon the Govwhich shows the state of excitement he was ernment for refusing to treat with the rebels. laboring under. He refers to his correspond- That there might be no opportunity for disent as “our irrepressible friend Colorado Jew- pute in relation to the facts of the case, he ett.” He admits some doubt as to the “full arranged that the witness of his willingness to powers,” but insists upon the Confederate de- listen to any overtures which might come sire for peace.
from the South should be Mr. Greeley him
self. He answered his letter at once, on the And therefore she says) I venture to remind you that our bleeding, bankrupt, almost dying country 9th of July, saying: also longs for peace; shudders at the prospect of If you can find any person, anywhere, professing fresh conscriptions, of further wholesale devastations, to have any proposition from Jefferson Davis, in and of new rivers of human blood. And a wide- writing, for peace, embracing the restoration of the spread conviction that the Government and its promi- Union, and abandonment of slavery, whatever else nent supporters are not anxious for peace, and do it embraces, say to him he may come to me with not improve proffered opportunities to achieve it, you, and that if he really brings such proposition is doing great harm now, and is morally certain, un- he shall at the least have safe conduct with the less removed, to do far greater in the approaching paper (and without publicity, if he chooses) to the elections.
point where you shall have met with him. The He then rebukes Mr. Lincoln for not having
same if there be two or more persons. received the Stephens embassy, disapprove Mr. Greeley answered this letter the next the warlike tone of the Baltimore platform, day in evident embarrassment. The President urges the President to make overtures for peace had surprised him by his frank and prompt in time to affect the North Carolina elections, acquiescence in his suggestions. He had acand suggests the following plan of adjustment: cepted the first two points of Mr. Greeley's 1. The Union is restored and declared perpet- plan of adjustment — the restoration of the ual. 2. Slavery is utterly and forever abolished Union, and the abandonment of slavery — as throughout the same. 3. A complete amnesty the only preliminary conditions of negotiations for all political offenses. 4. Payment of $400,- upon which he would insist, and requested 000,000 to the slave States pro rata for their this vehement advocate of peace to bring forslaves. 5. The slave States to be represented ward his ambassadors. Mr. Greeley's reply in proportion to their total population. 6. A of the roth seems somewhat lacking both in National convention to be called at once. temper and in candor. He thought the negotia
The letter closes with this impassioned tors would not “open their budget” to him; appeal :
repeated his reproaches at the "rude repulse" Mr. President, I fear you do not realize how in- of Stephens; referred again to the importance tently the people desire any peace consistent with of doing something in time for the North the national integrity and honor, and how joyously Carolina elections; and said at least he would they would hail its achievement and bless its au- try to get a look into the hand of the men at thors. With United States stocks worth but forty Niagara, though he had “ little heart for it." cents in gold per dollar, and drafting about to But on the 13th he wrote in a much more commence on the third million of Union soldiers, positive manner. He said : can this be wondered at ? I do not say that a just peace is now attainable, though I believe it to be so. I have now information, on which I can rely, But I do say that a frank offer by you to the insur- that two persons, duly commissioned and empowgents of terms which the impartial will say ought to ered to negotiate for peace, are at this moment not be accepted will, at the worst, prove an immense far from Niagara Falls in Canada, and are desirous and sorely needed advantage to the national cause; of conferring with yourself, or with such persons it may save us from a Northern insurrection. as you may appoint and empower to treat with them.
Their names (only given in confidence) are Hon. In a postscript Mr. Greeley again urges the Clement C. Clay of Alabama, and Hon. Jacob President to invite “ those at Niagara to ex- Thompson of Mississippi.
He added that he knew nothing and had himself at once in the hands of Jewett, who proposed nothing as to terms; that it seemed was waiting to receive him, and sent by him to him high time an effort should be made to a letter addressed to Clay, Thompson, and terminate the wholesale slaughter. He hoped Holcombe, in which he said: to hear that the President had concluded to act in the premises, and to act so promptly as to Richmond as the bearers of propositions looking to
I am informed that you are duly accredited from do some good in the North Carolina elections. the establishment of peace; that you desire to visit
On the receipt of this letter, which was writ- Washington in the fulfillment of your mission; and ten four days after Mr. Greeley had been fully that you further desire that Mr. George N. Sanders authorized to bring to Washington any one shall accompany you. If my information be thus far he could find empowered to treat
for peace, and substantially correct, I am authorized by the Presiwhich yet was based on the assumption of the dent of the United States to tender you his safe conPresident's unwillingness to do the very thing
duct on the journey proposed, and to accompany he had already done, Mr. Lincoln resolved to you at the earliest time that will be agreeable to you. put an end to a correspondence which prom- No clearer proof can be given than is afised to be indefinitely prolonged, by sending forded in this letter that Mr. Greeley was aban aide-de-camp to New York to arrange in solutely ignorant of all the essential facts a personal interview what it seemed impossible appertaining to the negotiation in which he to conclude by mail. On the 15th he sent Mr. was engaged. As it turned out, he had been Greeley a brief telegram expressing his disap- misinformed even as to the personnel of the pointment, saying, “ I was not expecting you embassy, Jacob Thompson not being, and not to send me a letter, but to bring me a man or having been, in company with the others; none men,” and announced the departure of a mes- of them had any authority to act in the casenger with a letter. The letter was of the pacity attributed to them; and, worse than all briefest. It merely said:
this, Mr. Greeley kept out of view, in his misYours of the 13th is just received, and I am disap
sive thus shot at a venture, the very conditions pointed that you have not already reached here with which Mr. Lincoln had imposed in his letter those commissioners, if they would consent to come, of the 9th and repeated in that of the 15th. on being shown my letter to you of the 9th inst. Yet, with all the advantages thus afforded them, Show that and this to them, and if they will come Clay and Holcombe felt themselves too bare on the terms stated in former, bring them. I not only and naked of credentials to accept Mr. Greeley's intend a sincere effort for peace, but I intend that offer, and were therefore compelled to answer you shall be a personal witness that it is made.
that they had not been accredited from RichThis curt and peremptory missive was deliv- mond, as assumed in his note. They made ered to Mr. Greeley by Major John Hay early haste to say, however, that they were acquainted on the morning of the 16th. He was still some with the views of their Government, and could what reluctant to go; he thought some one not easily get credentials, or other agents could be so well known would be less embarrassed by accredited in their place, if they could be sent public curiosity; but said finally that he would to Richmond armed with “ the circumstances start at once if he could be given a safe con- disclosed in this correspondence.” It is incomduct for four persons, to be named by him. prehensible that a man of Mr. Greeley's exMajor Hay communicated this to the Presi- perience should not have recognized at once dent and received the required order in reply. the purport of this proposal. It simply meant “ If there is or is not anything in the affair,” that Mr. Lincoln should take the initiative in he said, “I wish to know it without unneces- suing the Richmond authorities for peace, on sary delay.”
terms to be proposed by them. The essential The safe conduct was immediately written impossibility of these terms was not apparent and given to Mr. Greeley, who started at once to Mr. Greeley; he merely saw that the situfor Niagara. It provided that Clement C. Clay, ation was somewhat different from what he had Jacob Thompson, James P. Holcombe, and expected, and therefore acknowledged the reGeorge N. Sanders should have safe conduct ceipt of the letter, promised to report to Washto Washington in company with Horace ington and solicit fresh instructions, and then Greeley, and should be exempt from arrest or telegraphed to Mr. Lincoln the substance of annoyance of any kind from any officer of the what Clay and Holcombe had written. The United States during their journey. Nothing President, with unwearied patience, drew up a was said by Mr. Greeley or by Major Hay to final paper, which he sent by Major Hay to the effect that this safe conduct modified in Niagara, informing Mr. Greeley by telegraph any respect the conditions imposed by the that it was on the way. This information Mr. President's letter of the gth. It merely carried Greeley at once sent over the border, with many into effect the proposition made in that letter. apologies for the delay. On arriving at Niagara, Mr. Greeley placed Major Hay arrived at Niagara on the 20th