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.
nation.  Right or wrong, I assumed this ground, and now avow it.  I could not feel that, to the best of my ability, I had even tried to preserve the Constitution if, to save slavery or any minor matter, I should permit the wreck of government, country, and Constitution all together.  When, early in the war, General Fremont attempted military emancipation, I forbade it, because I did not then think it an indispensable necessity.  When, a little later, General Cameron, then Secretary of War, suggested the arming of the blacks, I objected because I did not yet think it an indispensable necessity.  When, still later, General Hunter attempted military emancipation, I again forbade it, because I did not yet think the indispensable necessity had come.  When in March and May and July, 1862, I made earnest and successive appeals to the border States to favor compensated emancipation, I believed the indispensable necessity for military emancipation and arming the blacks would come unless averted by that measure.  They declined the proposition, and I was, in my best judgment, driven to the alternative of either surrendering the Union, and with it the Constitution, or of laying strong hand upon the colored element.  I chose the latter.”


Negro Soldiers—­Fort Pillow—­Retaliation—­Draft—­Northern Democrats—­Governor Seymour’s Attitude—­Draft Riots in New York—­Vallandigham—­Lincoln on his Authority to Suspend Writ of Habeas Corpus—­Knights of the Golden Circle—­Jacob Thompson in Canada

On the subject of negro soldiers, as on many other topics, the period of active rebellion and civil war had wrought a profound change in public opinion.  From the foundation of the government to the Rebellion, the horrible nightmare of a possible slave insurrection had brooded over the entire South.  This feeling naturally had a sympathetic reflection in the North, and at first produced an instinctive shrinking from any thought of placing arms in the hands of the blacks whom the chances of war had given practical or legal freedom.  During the year 1862, a few sporadic efforts were made by zealous individuals, under apparently favoring conditions, to begin the formation of colored regiments.  The eccentric Senator Lane tried it in Kansas, or, rather, along the Missouri border without success.  General Hunter made an experiment in South Carolina, but found the freedmen too unwilling to enlist, and the white officers too prejudiced to instruct them.  General Butler, at New Orleans, infused his wonted energy into a similar attempt, with somewhat better results.  He found that before the capture of the city, Governor Moore of Louisiana had begun the organization of a regiment of free colored men for local defense.  Butler resuscitated this organization for which he thus had the advantage of Confederate example and precedent, and against which the accusation of arming slaves could not be urged.  Early in September, Butler reported, with his usual biting sarcasm: 

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