Abraham Lincoln eBook

George Haven Putnam
This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 191 pages of information about Abraham Lincoln.

During the early part of 1862, Lincoln is giving renewed thought to the great problem of emancipation.  He becomes more and more convinced that the success of the War calls for definite action on the part of the administration in the matter of slavery.  He was, as before pointed out, anxious, not only as a matter of justice to loyal citizens, but on the ground of the importance of retaining for the national cause the support of the Border States, to act in such manner that the loyal citizens of these States should be exposed to a minimum loss and to the smallest possible risk of disaffection.  In July, 1862, Lincoln formulated a proposition for compensated emancipation.  It was his idea that the nation should make payment of an appraised value in freeing the slaves that were in the ownership of citizens who had remained loyal to the government.  It was his belief that the funds required would be more than offset by the result in furthering the progress of the War.  The daily expenditure of the government was at the time averaging about a million and a half dollars a day, and in 1864 it reached two million dollars a day.  If the War could be shortened a few months, a sufficient amount of money would be saved to offset a very substantial payment to loyal citizens for the property rights in their slaves.

The men of the Border States were, however, still too bound to the institution of slavery to be prepared to give their assent to any such plan.  Congress was, naturally, not ready to give support to such a policy unless it could be made clear that it was satisfactory to the people most concerned.  The result of the unwise stubbornness in this matter of the loyal citizens of Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Maryland was that they were finally obliged to surrender without compensation the property control in their slaves.  When the plan for compensated emancipation had failed, Lincoln decided that the time had come for unconditional emancipation.  In July, 1862, he prepares the first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation.  It was his judgment, which was shared by the majority of his Cabinet, that the issue of the proclamation should, however, be deferred until after some substantial victory by the armies of the North.  It was undesirable to give to such a step the character of an utterance of despair or even of discouragement.  It seemed evident, however, that the War had brought the country to the point at which slavery, the essential cause of the cleavage between the States, must be removed.  The bringing to an end of the national responsibility for slavery would consolidate national opinion throughout the States of the North and would also strengthen the hands of the friends of the Union in England where the charge had repeatedly been made that the North was fighting, not against slavery or for freedom of any kind, but for domination.  The proclamation was held until after the battle of Antietam in September, 1862, and was then issued to take effect on the first

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Abraham Lincoln from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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