A Short Life of Abraham Lincoln eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 609 pages of information about A Short Life of Abraham Lincoln.

It was on July 22 that the President read to his cabinet the draft of this first emancipation proclamation, which, after a formal warning against continuing the rebellion, was in the following words: 

“And I hereby make known that it is my purpose, upon the next meeting of Congress, to again recommend the adoption of a practical measure for tendering pecuniary aid to the free choice or rejection of any and all States which may then be recognizing and practically sustaining the authority of the United States, and which may then have voluntarily adopted, or thereafter may voluntarily adopt, gradual abolishment of slavery within such State or States; that the object is to practically restore, thenceforward to be maintained, the constitutional relation between the general government and each and all the States wherein that relation is now suspended or disturbed; and that for this object the war, as it has been, will be prosecuted.  And as a fit and necessary military measure for effecting this object, I, as commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States, do order and declare that on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any State or States wherein the constitutional authority of the United States shall not then be practically recognized, submitted to, and maintained, shall then, thenceforward, and forever be free.”

Mr. Lincoln had given a confidential intimation of this step to Mr. Seward and Mr. Welles on the day following the border State interview, but to all the other members of the cabinet it came as a complete surprise.  Blair thought it would cost the administration the fall elections.  Chase preferred that emancipation should be proclaimed by commanders in the several military districts.  Seward, approving the measure, suggested that it be postponed until it could be given to the country supported by military success, instead of issuing it, as would be the case then, upon the greatest disasters of the war.  Mr. Lincoln’s recital continues: 

“The wisdom of the view of the Secretary of State struck me with very great force.  It was an aspect of the case that, in all my thought upon the subject, I had entirely overlooked.  The result was that I put the draft of the proclamation aside, as you do your sketch for a picture, waiting for a victory.”


Criticism of the President for his Action on Slavery—­Lincoln’s Letters to Louisiana Friends—­Greeley’s Open Letter—­Mr. Lincoln’s Reply—­Chicago Clergymen Urge Emancipation—­Lincoln’s Answer—­Lincoln Issues Preliminary Proclamation—­President Proposes Constitutional Amendment—­Cabinet Considers Final Proclamation—­Cabinet Discusses Admission of West Virginia—­Lincoln Signs Edict of Freedom—­Lincoln’s Letter to Hodges

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A Short Life of Abraham Lincoln from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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