State of the Union Address
Fellow-Citizens of the Senate and House of Representatives:
Since your last annual assembling another year of health and bountiful
harvests has passed, and while it has not pleased the Almighty to bless
us with a return of peace, we can but press on, guided by the best light
He gives us, trusting that in His own good time and wise way all will yet
The correspondence touching foreign affairs which has taken place during
the last year is herewith submitted, in virtual compliance with a request
to that effect made by the House of Representatives near the close of the
last session of Congress. If the condition of our relations with other
nations is less gratifying than it has usually been at former periods,
it is certainly more satisfactory than a nation so unhappily distracted
as we are might reasonably have apprehended. In the month of June last
there were some grounds to expect that the maritime powers which at the
beginning of our domestic difficulties so unwisely and unnecessarily, as
we think, recognized the insurgents as a belligerent would soon recede
from that position, which has proved only less injurious to themselves
than to our own country. But the temporary reverses which afterwards befell
the national arms, and which were exaggerated by our own disloyal citizens
abroad, have hitherto delayed that act of simple justice.
The civil war, which has so radically changed for the moment the occupations
and habits of the American people, has necessarily disturbed the social
condition and affected very deeply the prosperity of the nations with which
we have carried on a commerce that has been steadily increasing throughout
a period of half a century. It has at the same time excited political ambitions
and apprehensions which have produced a profound agitation throughout the
civilized world. In this unusual agitation we have forborne from taking
part in any controversy between foreign states and between parties or factions
in such states. We have attempted no propagandism and acknowledged no revolution.
But we have left to every nation the exclusive conduct and management of
its own affairs. Our struggle has been, of course, contemplated by foreign
nations with reference less to its own merits than to its supposed and
often exaggerated effects and consequences resulting to those nations themselves.
Nevertheless, complaint on the part of this Government, even if it were
just, would certainly be unwise. The treaty with Great Britain for the
suppression of the slave trade has been put into operation with a good
prospect of complete success. It is an occasion of special pleasure to
acknowledge that the execution of it on the part of Her Majesty's Government
has been marked with a jealous respect for the authority of the United
States and the rights of their moral and loyal citizens.
The convention with Hanover for the abolition of the Stade dues has
been carried into full effect under the act of Congress for that purpose.
A blockade of 3,000 miles of seacoast could not be established and vigorously
enforced in a season of great commercial activity like the present without
committing occasional mistakes and inflicting unintentional injuries upon
foreign nations and their subjects. A civil war occurring in a country,
where foreigners reside and carry on trade under treaty stipulations is
necessarily fruitful of complaints of the violation of neutral rights.
All such collisions tend to excite misapprehensions, and possibly to produce
mutual reclamations between nations which have a common interest in preserving
peace and friendship. In clear cases of these kinds I have so far as possible
heard and redressed complaints which have been presented by friendly powers.
There is still, however, a large and an augmenting number of doubtful cases
upon which the Government is unable to agree with the governments whose
protection is demanded by the claimants. There are, moreover, many cases
in which the United States or their citizens suffer wrongs from the naval
or military authorities of foreign nations which the governments of those
states are not at once prepared to redress. I have proposed to some of
the foreign states thus interested mutual conventions to examine and adjust
such complaints. This proposition has been made especially to Great Britain,
to France, to Spain, and to Prussia. In each case it has been kindly received,
but has not yet been formally adopted.
I deem it my duty to recommend an appropriation in behalf of the owners
of the Norwegian bark Admiral P. Tordenskiold, which vessel was in May,
1861, prevented by the commander of the blockading force off Charleston
from leaving that port with cargo, notwithstanding a similar privilege
had shortly before been granted to an English vessel. I have directed the
Secretary of State to cause the papers in the case to be communicated to
the proper committees.
Applications have been made to me by many free Americans of African
descent to favor their emigration, with a view to such colonization as
was contemplated in recent acts of Congress. Other parties, at home and
abroad--some from interested motives, others upon patriotic considerations,
and still others influenced by philanthropic sentiments--have suggested
similar measures, while, on the other hand, several of the Spanish American
Republics have protested against the sending of such colonies to their
respective territories. Under these circumstances I have declined to move
any such colony to any state without first obtaining the consent of its
government, with an agreement on its part to receive and protect such emigrants
in all the rights of freemen; and I have at the same time offered to the
several States situated within the Tropics, or having colonies there, to
negotiate with them, subject to the advice and consent of the Senate, to
favor the voluntary emigration of persons of that class to their respective
territories, upon conditions which shall be equal, just, and humane. Liberia
and Hayti are as yet the only countries to which colonists of African descent
from here could go with certainty of being received and adopted as citizens;
and I regret to say such persons contemplating colonization do not seem
so willing to migrate to those countries as to some others, nor so willing
as I think their interest demands. I believe, however, opinion among them
in this respect is improving, and that ere long there will be an augmented
and considerable migration to both these countries from the United States.
The new commercial treaty between the United States and the Sultan of
Turkey has been carried into execution.
A commercial and consular treaty has been negotiated, subject to the
Senate's consent, with Liberia, and a similar negotiation is now pending
with the Republic of Hayti. A considerable improvement of the national
commerce is expected to result from these measures. Our relations with
Great Britain, France, Spain, Portugal, Russia, Prussia, Denmark, Sweden,
Austria, the Netherlands, Italy, Rome, and the other European States remain
undisturbed. Very favorable relations also continue to be maintained with
Turkey, Morocco, China, and Japan.
During the last year there has not only been no change of our previous
relations with the independent States of our own continent, but more friendly
sentiments than have heretofore existed are believed to be entertained
by these neighbors, whose safety and progress are so intimately connected
with our own. This statement especially applies to Mexico, Nicaragua, Costa
Rica, Honduras, Peru, and Chile. The commission under the convention with
the Republic of New Granada closed its session without having audited and
passed upon all the claims which were submitted to it. A proposition is
pending to revive the convention, that it may be able to do more complete
justice. The joint commission between the United States and the Republic
of Costa Rica has completed its labors and submitted its report. I have
favored the project for connecting the United States with Europe by an
Atlantic telegraph, and a similar project to extend the telegraph from
San Francisco to connect by a Pacific telegraph with the line which is
being extended across the Russian Empire. The Territories of the United
States, with unimportant exceptions have remained undisturbed by the civil
war; and they are exhibiting such evidence of prosperity as justifies an
expectation that some of them will soon be in a condition to be organized
as States and be constitutionally admitted into the Federal Union.
The immense mineral resources of some of those Territories ought to
be developed as rapidly as possible. Every step in that direction would
have a tendency to improve the revenues of the Government and diminish
the burdens of the people. It is worthy of your serious consideration whether
some extraordinary measures to promote that end can not be adopted. The
means which suggests itself as most likely to be effective is a scientific
exploration of the mineral regions in those Territories with a view to
the publication of its results at home and in foreign countries--results
which can not fail to be auspicious.
The condition of the finances will claim your most diligent consideration.
The vast expenditures incident to the military and naval operations required
for the suppression of the rebellion have hitherto been met with a promptitude
and certainty unusual in similar circumstances, and the public credit has
been fully maintained. The continuance of the war, however, and the increased
disbursements made necessary by the augmented forces now in the field demand
your best reflections as to the best modes of providing the necessary revenue
without injury to business and with the least possible burdens upon labor.
The suspension of specie payments by the banks soon after the commencement
of your last session made large issues of United States notes unavoidable.
In no other way could the payment of the troops and the satisfaction of
other just demands be so economically or so well provided for. The judicious
legislation of Congress, securing the receivability of these notes for
loans and internal duties and making them a legal tender for other debts,
has made them an universal currency, and has satisfied, partially at least,
and for the time, the long-felt want of an uniform circulating medium,
saving thereby to the people immense sums in discounts and exchanges.
A return to specie payments, however, at the earliest period compatible
with due regard to all interests concerned should ever be kept in view.
Fluctuations in the value of currency are always injurious, and to reduce
these fluctuations to the lowest possible point will always be a leading
purpose in wise legislation. Convertibility, prompt and certain convertibility,
into coin is generally acknowledged to be the best and surest safeguard
against them; and it is extremely doubtful whether a circulation of United
States notes payable in coin and sufficiently large for the wants of the
people can be permanently, usefully, and safely maintained.
Is there, then, any other mode in which the necessary provision for
the public wants can be made and the great advantages of a safe and uniform
I know of none which promises so certain results and is at the same
time so unobjectionable as the organization of banking associations, under
a general act of Congress, well guarded in its provisions. To such associations
the Government might furnish circulating notes, on the security of United
States bonds deposited in the Treasury. These notes, prepared under the
supervision of proper officers, being uniform in appearance and security
and convertible always into coin, would at once protect labor against the
evils of a vicious currency and facilitate commerce by cheap and safe exchanges.
A moderate reservation from the interest on the bonds would compensate
the United States for the preparation and distribution of the notes and
a general supervision of the system, and would lighten the burden of that
part of the public debt employed as securities. The public credit, moreover,
would be greatly improved and the negotiation of new loans greatly facilitated
by the steady market demand for Government bonds which the adoption of
the proposed system would create. It is an additional recommendation of
the measure, of considerable weight, in my judgment, that it would reconcile
as far as possible all existing interests by the opportunity offered to
existing institutions to reorganize under the act, substituting only the
secured uniform national circulation for the local and various circulation,
secured and unsecured, now issued by them.
The receipts into the treasury from all sources, including loans and
balance from the preceding year, for the fiscal year ending on the 30th
June, 1862, were $583,885,247.06, of which sum $49,056,397.62 were derived
from customs; $1,795,331.73 from the direct tax; from public lands, $152,203.77;
from miscellaneous sources, $931,787.64; from loans in all forms, $529,692,460.50.
The remainder, :$2,257,065.80, was the balance from last year.
The disbursements during the same period were: For Congressional, executive,
and judicial purposes, $5,939.009.29; for foreign intercourse, $1,339,710.35;
for miscellaneous expenses, including the mints, loans, Post-Office deficiencies,
collection of revenue, and other like charges, $14,129,771.50; for expenses
under the Interior Department, 985.52; under the War Department, $394,368,407.36;
under the Navy Department, $42,674,569.69; for interest on public debt,
$13,190,324.45; and for payment of public debt, including reimbursement
of temporary loan and redemptions, $96,096,922.09; making an aggregate
of $570,841,700.25, and leaving a balance in the Treasury on the 1st day
of July, 1862, of $13,043,546.81.
It should be observed that the sum of $96,096,922.09, expended for reimbursements
and redemption of public debt, being included also in the loans made, may
be properly deducted both from receipts and expenditures, leaving the actual
receipts for the year $487,788,324.97, and the expenditures $474,744,778.16.
Other information on the subject of the finances will be found in the
report of the Secretary of the Treasury, to whose statements and views
I invite your most candid and considerate attention.
The reports of the Secretaries of War and of the Navy are herewith transmitted.
These reports, though lengthy, are scarcely more than brief abstracts of
the very numerous and extensive transactions and operations conducted through
those Departments. Nor could I give a summary of them here upon any principle
which would admit of its being much shorter than the reports themselves.
I therefore content myself with laying the reports before you and asking
your attention to them.
It gives me pleasure to report a decided improvement in the financial
condition of the Post-Office Department as compared with several preceding
years. The receipts for the fiscal year 1861 amounted to $8,349,296.40,
which embraced the revenue from all the States of the Union for three quarters
of that year. Notwithstanding the cessation of revenue from the so-called
seceded States during the last fiscal year, the increase of the correspondence
of the loyal States has been sufficient to produce a revenue during the
same year of $8,299,820.90, being only $50,000 less than was derived from
all the States of the Union during the previous year. The expenditures
show a still more favorable result. The amount expended in 1861 was $13,606,759.11.
For the last year the amount has been reduced to $11,125,364.13, showing
a decrease of about $2,481,000 in the expenditures as compared with the
preceding year, and about $3,750,000 as compared with the fiscal year 1860.
The deficiency in the Department for the previous year was $4,551,966.98.
For the last fiscal year it was reduced to $2,112,814.57. These favorable
results are in part owing to the cessation of mail service in the insurrectionary
States and in part to a careful review of all expenditures in that Department
in the interest of economy. The efficiency of the postal service, it is
believed, has also been much improved. The Postmaster-General has also
opened a correspondence through the Department of State with foreign governments
proposing a convention of postal representatives for the purpose of simplifying
the rates of foreign postage and to expedite the foreign mails. This proposition,
equally important to our adopted citizens and to the commercial interests
of this country, has been favorably entertained and agreed to by all the
governments from whom replies have been received.
I ask the attention of Congress to the suggestions of the Postmaster-General
in his report respecting the further legislation required, in his opinion,
for the benefit of the postal service.
The Secretary of the Interior reports as follows in regard to the public
The public lands have ceased to be a source of revenue. From the 1st
July, 1861, to the 30th September, 1862, the entire cash receipts from
the sale of lands were $137,476.26--a sum much less than the expenses of
our land system during the same period. The homestead law, which will take
effect on the 1st of January next, offers such inducements to settlers
that sales for cash can not be expected to an extent sufficient to meet
the expenses of the General Land Office and the cost of surveying and bringing
the land into market. The discrepancy between the sum here stated as arising
from the sales of the public lands and the sum derived from the same source
as reported from the Treasury Department arises, as I understand, from
the fact that the periods of time, though apparently, were not really coincident
at the beginning point, the Treasury report including a considerable sum
now which had previously been reported from the Interior, sufficiently
large to greatly overreach the sum derived from the three months now reported
upon by the Interior and not by the Treasury.
The Indian tribes upon our frontiers have during the past year manifested
a spirit of insubordination, and at several points have engaged in open
hostilities against the white settlements in their vicinity. The tribes
occupying the Indian country south of Kansas renounced their allegiance
to the United States and entered into treaties with the insurgents. Those
who remained loyal to the United States were driven from the country. The
chief of the Cherokees has visited this city for the purpose of restoring
the former relations of the tribe with the United States. He alleges that
they were constrained by superior force to enter into treaties with the
insurgents, and that the United States neglected to furnish the protection
which their treaty stipulations required.
In the month of August last the Sioux Indians in Minnesota attacked
the settlements in their vicinity with extreme ferocity, killing indiscriminately
men, women, and children. This attack was wholly unexpected, and therefore
no means of defense had been prodded. It is estimated that not less than
800 persons were killed by the Indians, and a large amount of property
was destroyed. How this outbreak was induced is not definitely known, and
suspicions, which may be unjust, need not to be stated. Information was
received by the Indian Bureau from different sources about the time hostilities
were commenced that a simultaneous attack was to be made upon the white
settlements by all the tribes between the Mississippi River and the Rocky
Mountains. The State of Minnesota has suffered great injury from this Indian
war. A large portion of her territory has been depopulated, and a severe
loss has been sustained by the destruction of property. The people of that
State manifest much anxiety for the removal of the tribes beyond the limits
of the State as a guaranty against future hostilities. The Commissioner
of Indian Affairs will furnish full details. I submit for your especial
consideration whether our Indian system shall not be remodeled. Many wise
and good men have impressed me with the belief that this can be profitably
I submit a statement of the proceedings of commissioners, which shows
the progress that has been made in the enterprise of constructing the Pacific
Railroad. And this suggests the earliest completion of this road, and also
the favorable action of Congress upon the projects now pending before them
for enlarging the capacities of the great canals in New York and Illinois,
as being of vital and rapidly increasing importance to the whole nation,
and especially to the vast interior region hereinafter to be noticed at
some greater length. I purpose having prepared and laid before you at an
early day some interesting and valuable statistical information upon this
subject. The military and commercial importance of enlarging the Illinois
and Michigan Canal and improving the Illinois River is presented in the
report of Colonel Webster to the Secretary of War, and now transmitted
to Congress. I respectfully ask attention to it.
To carry out the provisions of the act of Congress of the 15th of May
last, I have caused the Department of Agriculture of the United States
to be organized.
The Commissioner informs me that within the period of a few months this
Department has established an extensive system of correspondence and exchanges,
both at home and abroad, which promises to effect highly beneficial results
in the development of a correct knowledge of recent improvements in agriculture,
in the introduction of new products, and in the collection of the agricultural
statistics of the different States.
Also, that it will soon be prepared to distribute largely seeds, cereals,
plants, and cuttings, and has already published and liberally diffused
much valuable information in anticipation of a more elaborate report, which
will in due time be furnished, embracing some valuable tests in chemical
science now in progress in the laboratory.
The creation of this Department was for the more immediate benefit of
a large class of our most valuable citizens, and I trust that the liberal
basis upon which it has been organized will not only meet your approbation,
but that it will realize at no distant day all the fondest anticipations
of its most sanguine friends and become the fruitful source of advantage
to all our people.
On the 22d day of September last a proclamation was issued by the Executive,
a copy of which is herewith submitted. In accordance with the purpose expressed
in the second paragraph of that paper, I now respectfully recall your attention
to what may be called "compensated emancipation."
A nation may be said to consist of its territory, its people, and its
laws. The territory is the only part which is of certain durability. "One
generation passeth away and another generation cometh, but the earth abideth
forever." It is of the first importance to duly consider and estimate this
ever-enduring part. That portion of the earth's surface which is owned
and inhabited by the people of the United States is well adapted to be
the home of one national family, and it is not well adapted for two or
more. Its vast extent and its variety of climate and productions are of
advantage in this age for one people, whatever they might have been in
former ages. Steam, telegraphs, and intelligence have brought these to
be an advantageous combination for one united people.
In the inaugural address I briefly pointed out the total inadequacy
of disunion as a remedy for the differences between the people of the two
sections. I did so in language which I can not improve, and which, therefore,
I beg to repeat:
One section of our country believes slavery is right and ought to be
extended, while the other believes it is wrong and ought not to be extended.
This is the only substantial dispute. The fugitive-slave clause of the
Constitution and the law for the suppression of the foreign slave
trade are each as well enforced, perhaps, as any law can ever be in
a community where the moral sense of the people imperfectly supports the
law itself. The great body of the people abide by the dry legal obligation
in both cases, and a few break over in each. This I think, can
not be perfectly cured, and it would be worse in both cases after the
separation of the sections than before. The foreign slave trade, now imperfectly
suppressed, would be ultimately revived without restriction in one section,
while fugitive slaves, now only partially surrendered,
would not be surrendered at all by the other. Physically speaking,
we can not separate. We can not remove our respective sections from each
other nor build an impassable wall between
them. A husband and wife may be divorced and go out of the presence
and beyond the reach of each other, but the different parts of our country
can not do this. They can not but remain face to face, and intercourse,
either amicable or hostile, must continue between them, Is it
possible, then, to make that intercourse more advantageous or more
satisfactory after separation than before? Can aliens make treaties easier
than friends can make laws? Can treaties be more faithfully enforced between
aliens than laws can among friends? Suppose you go to war, you can not
fight always; and when, after much loss on both sides and no gain on either,
you cease fighting, the identical old questions, as to terms of intercourse,
are again upon you.
There is no line, straight or crooked, suitable for a national boundary
upon which to divide. Trace through, from east to west, upon the line between
the free and slave country. and we shall find a little more than one-third
of its length are rivers, easy to be crossed, and populated, or soon to
be populated, thickly upon both sides; while nearly all its remaining length
are merely surveyors' lines, over which people may walk back and forth
without any consciousness of their presence. No part of this line can be
made any more difficult to pass by writing it down on paper or parchment
as a national boundary. The fact of separation, if it comes, gives up on
the part of the seceding section the fugitive-slave clause, along with
all other constitutional obligations upon the section seceded from, while
I should expect no treaty stipulation would ever be made to take its place.
But there is another difficulty. The great interior region bounded east
by the Alleghanies, north by the British dominions, west by the Rocky Mountains,
and south by the line along which the culture of corn and cotton meets,
and which includes part of Virginia, part of Tennessee, all of Kentucky,
Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota,
and the Territories of Dakota, Nebraska, and part of Colorado, already
has above 10,000,000 people, and will have 50,000,000 within fifty years
if not prevented by any political folly or mistake. It contains more than
one-third of the country owned by the United States--certainly more than
1,000,000 square miles. Once half as populous as Massachusetts already
is, it would have more than 75,000,000 people. A glance at the map shows
that, territorially speaking, it is the great body of the Republic. The
other parts are but marginal borders to it. the magnificent region sloping
west from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific being the deepest and also
the richest in undeveloped resources. In the production of provisions grains,
grasses, and all which proceed from them this great interior region is
naturally one of the most important in the world. Ascertain from the statistics
the small proportion of the region which has as yet been brought into cultivation,
and also the large and rapidly increasing amount of its products, and we
shall be overwhelmed with the magnitude of the prospect presented. And
yet this region has no seacoast--touches no ocean anywhere. As part of
one nation, its people now find, and may forever find, their way to Europe
by New York, to South America and Africa by New Orleans, and to Asia by
San Francisco; but separate our common country into two nations, as designed
by the present rebellion, and every man of this great interior region is
thereby cut off from some one or more of these outlets, not perhaps by
a physical barrier, but by embarrassing and onerous trade regulations.
And this is true, wherever a dividing or boundary line may be fixed.
Place it between the now free and slave country, or place it south of Kentucky
or north of Ohio, and still the truth remains that none south of it can
trade to any port or place north of it, and none north of it can trade
to any port or place south of it, except upon terms dictated by a government
foreign to them. These outlets, east, west, and south, are indispensable
to the well-being of the people inhabiting and to inhabit this vast interior
region. Which of the three may be the best is no proper question. All are
better than either, and all of right belong to that people and to their
successors forever. True to themselves, they will not ask where a line
of separation shall be, but will vow rather that there shall be no such
line. Nor are the marginal regions less interested in these communications
to and through them to the great outside world. They, too, and each of
them, must have access to this Egypt of the West without paying toll at
the crossing of any national boundary.
Our national strife springs not from our permanent part; not from the
land we inhabit: not from our national homestead. There is no possible
severing of this but would multiply and not mitigate evils among us. In
all its adaptations and aptitudes it demands union and abhors separation.
In fact, it would ere long force reunion, however much of blood and treasure
the separation might have cost. Our strife pertains to ourselves--to the
passing generations of men--and it can without convulsion be hushed forever
with the passing of one generation.
In this view I recommend the adoption of the following resolution and
articles amendatory to the Constitution of the United States:
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States
of America in Congress assembled (two-thirds of both Houses concurring),
That the following articles be proposed to the legislatures (or conventions)
of the several States as amendments to the
Constitution of the United States, all or any of which articles, when
ratified by three-fourths of the said legislatures (or conventions ), to
be valid as part or parts of the said Constitution, viz:
ART.--. Every State wherein slavery now exists which shall abolish the
same therein at any time or times before the 1st day of January., A. D.
1900, shall receive compensation from the United States as follows, to
The President of the United States shall deliver to every such State
bonds of the United States bearing interest at the rate of per cent per
annum to an amount equal to the aggregate sum of____for each slave shown
to have been therein by the Eighth Census of the United States,
said bonds to be delivered to such State by installments or in one
parcel at the completion of the abolishment, accordingly as the same shall
have been gradual or at one time within such State; and interest shall
begin to run upon any such bond only from the proper time of its
delivery as aforesaid. Any State having received bonds as aforesaid
and afterwards reintroducing or tolerating slavery therein shall refund
to the United States the bonds so received, or the value thereof, and all
interest paid thereon.
ART--All slaves who shall have enjoyed actual freedom by the chances
of the war at any time before the end of the rebellion shall be forever
free; but all owners of such who shall not have been disloyal shall be
compensated for them at the same rates as is provided for States adopting
abolishment of slavery, but in such way that no slave shall be twice accounted
ART.--Congress may appropriate money and otherwise provide for colonizing
free colored persons with their own consent at any place or
places without the United States.
I beg indulgence to discuss these proposed articles at some length.
Without slavery the rebellion could never have existed; without slavery
it could not continue.
Among the friends of the Union there is great diversity of sentiment
and of policy in regard to slavery and the African race amongst us. Some
would perpetuate slavery; some would abolish it suddenly and without compensation;
some would abolish it gradually and with compensation: some would remove
the freed people from us, and some would retain them with us; and there
are yet other minor diversities. Because of these diversities we waste
much strength in struggles among ourselves. By mutual concession we should
harmonize and act together. This would be compromise, but it would be compromise
among the friends and not with the enemies of the Union. These articles
are intended to embody a plan of such mutual concessions. if the plan shall
be adopted, it is assumed that emancipation will follow, at least in several
of the States.
As to the first article, the main points are, first, the emancipation;
secondly, the length of time for consummating it (thirty-seven years);
and, thirdly, the compensation.
The emancipation will be unsatisfactory to the advocates of perpetual
slavery, but the length of time should greatly mitigate their dissatisfaction.
The time spares both races from the evils of sudden derangement--in fact,
from the necessity of any derangement--while most of those whose habitual
course of thought will be disturbed by the measure will have passed away
before its consummation. They will never see it. Another class will hail
the prospect of emancipation, but will deprecate the length of time. They
will feel that it gives too little to the now living slaves. But it really
gives them much. It saves them from the vagrant destitution which must
largely attend immediate emancipation in localities where their numbers
are very great, and it gives the inspiring assurance that their posterity
shall be free forever. The plan leaves to each State choosing to act under
it to abolish slavery now or at the end of the century, or at any intermediate
time, or by degrees extending over the whole or any part of the period,
and it obliges no two States to proceed alike. It also provides for compensation,
and generally the mode of making it. This, it would seem, must further
mitigate the dissatisfaction of those who favor perpetual slavery, and
especially of those who are to receive the compensation. Doubtless some
of those who are to pay and not to receive will object. Yet the measure
is both just and economical. In a certain sense the liberation of slaves
is the destruction of property--property acquired by descent or by purchase,
the same as any other property. It is no less true for having been often
said that the people of the South are not more responsible for the original
introduction of this property than are the people of the North; and when
it is remembered how unhesitatingly we all use cotton and sugar and share
the profits of dealing in them, it may not be quite safe to say that the
South has been more responsible than the North for its continuance. If,
then, for a common object this property is to be sacrificed, is it not
just that it be done at a common charge?
And if with less money, or money more easily paid, we can preserve the
benefits of the Union by this means than we can by the war alone, is it
not also economical to do it? Let us consider it, then. Let us ascertain
the sum we have expended in the war since compensated emancipation was
proposed last March, and consider whether if that measure had been promptly
accepted by even some of the slave States the same sum would not have done
more to close the war than has been otherwise done. If so, the measure
would save money, and in that view would be a prudent and economical measure.
Certainly it is not so easy to pay something as it is to pay nothing, but
it is easier to pay a large sum than it is to pay a larger one. And it
is easier to pay any sum when we are able than it is to pay it before we
are able. The war requires large sums, and requires them at once. The aggregate
sum necessary for compensated emancipation of course would be large. But
it would require no ready cash, nor the bonds even any faster than the
emancipation progresses. This might not, and probably would not, close
before the end of the thirty-seven years. At that time we shall probably
have a hundred millions of people to share the burden, instead of thirty-one
millions as now. And not only so, but the increase of our population may
be expected to continue for a long time after that period as rapidly as
before, because our territory will not have become full. I do not state
this inconsiderately. At the same ratio of increase which we have maintained,
on an average, from our first national census, in 1790, until that of 1860,
we should in 1900 have a population of 103,208,415. And why may we not
continue that ratio far beyond that period? Our abundant room, our broad
national homestead, is our ample resource. Were our territory as limited
as are the British Isles, very certainly our population could not expand
as stated. Instead of receiving the foreign born as now, we should be compelled
to send part of the native born away. But such is not our condition. We
have 2,963,000 square miles. Europe has 3,800,000, with a population averaging
73 1/3 persons to the square mile. Why may not our country at some time
average as many? Is it less fertile? Has it more waste surface by mountains,
rivers, lakes, deserts, or other causes? Is it inferior to Europe in any
natural advantage? If, then, we are at some time to be as populous as Europe,
how soon? As to when this may be, we can judge by the past and the present;
as to when it will be, if ever, depends much on whether we maintain the
Union. Several of our States are already above the average of Europe 73
1/3 to the square mile. Massachusetts has 157; Rhode Island, 133; Connecticut,
99; New York and New Jersey, each 80. Also two other great States, Pennsylvania
and Ohio, are not far below, the former having 63 and the latter 59. The
States already above the European average, except New York, have increased
in as rapid a ratio since passing that point as ever before, while no one
of them is equal to some other parts of our country in natural capacity
for sustaining a dense population.
Taking the nation in the aggregate, and we find its population and ratio
of increase for the several decennial periods to be as follows:
Year Population Ratio of increase.
1790 3,929,827 ..........
1800 5,304,937 35.02
1810 7,239,814 36.45
1820 9,638,131 36.45
1830 12,866,020 33.49
1840 17,069,453 32.67
1850 23,191,876 35.87
1860 31,443,790 35.58
This shows an average decennial increase of 34.60 per cent in population
through the seventy years from our first to our last census vet taken.
It is seen that the ratio of increase at no one of these seven periods
is either 2 per cent below or 2 per cent above the average, thus showing
how inflexible, and consequently how reliable, the law of increase in our
case is. Assuming that it will continue, it gives the following results:
These figures show that our country may be as populous as Europe now
is at some point between 1920 and 1930--say about 1925--our territory,
at 73 1/3 persons to the square mile, being of capacity to contain 217,186,000.
And we will reach this, too, if we do not ourselves relinquish the chance
by the folly and evils of disunion or by long and exhausting war springing
from the only great element of national discord among us. While it can
not be foreseen exactly how much one huge example of secession, breeding
lesser ones indefinitely, would retard population, civilization, and prosperity,
no one can doubt that the extent of it would be very great and injurious.
The proposed emancipation would shorten the war, perpetuate peace, insure
this increase of population, and proportionately the wealth of the country.
With these we should pay all the emancipation would cost, together with
our other debt, easier than we should pay our other debt without it. If
we had allowed our old national debt to run at 6 per cent per annum, simple
interest, from the end of our revolutionary struggle until to-day, without
paying anything on either principal or interest, each man of us would owe
less upon that debt now than each man owed upon it then; and this because
our increase of men through the whole period has been greater than 6 per
cent--has run faster than the interest upon the debt. Thus time alone relieves
a debtor nation, so long as its population increases faster than unpaid
interest accumulates on its debt.
This fact would be no excuse for delaying payment of what is justly
due, but it shows the great importance of time in this connection--the
great advantage of a policy by which we shall not have to pay until we
number 100,000,000 what by a different policy we would have to pay now,
when we number but 31,000,000. In a word, it shows that a dollar will be
much harder to pay for the war than will be a dollar for emancipation on
the proposed plan. And then the latter will cost no blood, no precious
life. It will be a saving of both.
As to the second article, I think it would be impracticable to return
to bondage the class of persons therein contemplated. Some of them, doubtless,
in the property sense belong to loyal owners, and hence provision is made
in this article for compensating such. The third article relates to the
future of the freed people. It does not oblige, but merely authorizes Congress
to aid in colonizing such as may consent. This ought not to be regarded
as objectionable on the one hand or on the other, insomuch as it comes
to nothing unless by the mutual consent of the people to be deported and
the American voters, through their representatives in Congress.
I can not make it better known than it already is that I strongly favor
colonization; and yet I wish to say there is an objection urged against
free colored persons remaining in the country which is largely imaginary,
if not sometimes malicious.
It is insisted that their presence would injure and displace white labor
and white laborers. If there ever could be a proper time for mere catch
arguments, that time surely is not now. In times like the present men should
utter nothing for which they would not willingly be responsible through
time and in eternity. Is it true, then, that colored people can displace
any more white labor by being free than by remaining slaves? If they stay
in their old places, they jostle no white laborers; if they leave their
old places, they leave them open to white laborers. Logically, there is
neither more nor less of it. Emancipation, even without deportation, would
probably enhance the wages of white labor, and very surely would not reduce
them. Thus the customary amount of labor would still have to be performed--the
freed people would surely not do more than their old proportion of it,
and very probably for a time would do less, leaving an increased part to
white laborers, bringing their labor into greater demand, and consequently
enhancing the wages of it. With deportation, even to a limited extent,
enhanced wages to white labor is mathematically certain. Labor is like
any other commodity in the market--increase the demand for it and you increase
the price of it. Reduce the supply of black labor by colonizing the black
laborer out of the country, and by precisely so much you increase the demand
for and wages of white labor.
But it is dreaded that the freed people will swarm forth and cover the
whole land. Are they not already in the land? Will liberation make them
any more numerous? Equally distributed among the whites of the whole country,
and there would be but one colored to seven whites. Could the one in any
way greatly disturb the seven? There are many communities now having more
than one free colored person to seven whites and this without any apparent
consciousness of evil from it. The District of Columbia and the States
of Maryland and Delaware are all in this condition. The District has more
than one free colored to six whites, and yet in its frequent petitions
to Congress I believe it has never presented the presence of free colored
persons as one of its grievances. But why should emancipation South send
the free people North? People of any color seldom run unless there be something
to run from. Hertofore colored people to some extent have fled North from
bondage, and now, perhaps, from both bondage and destitution. But if gradual
emancipation and deportation be adopted, they will have neither to flee
from. Their old masters will give them wages at least until new laborers
can be procured, and the freedmen in turn will gladly give their labor
for the wages till new homes can be found for them in congenial climes
and with people of their own blood and race. This proposition can be trusted
on the mutual interests involved. And in any event, can not the North decide
for itself whether to receive them?
Again, as practice proves more than theory in any case, has there been
any irruption of colored people northward because of the abolishment of
slavery in this District last spring?
What I have said of the proportion of free colored persons to the whites
in the District is from the census of 1860, having no reference to persons
called contrabands nor to those made free by the act of Congress abolishing
The plan consisting of these articles is recommended, not but that a
restoration of the national authority would be accepted without its adoption.
Nor will the war nor proceedings under the proclamation of September
22, 1862, be stayed because of the recommendation of this plan. Its timely
adoption, I doubt not, would bring restoration, and thereby stay both.
And notwithstanding this plan, the recommendation that Congress provide
by law for compensating any State which may adopt emancipation before this
plan shall have been acted upon is hereby earnestly renewed. Such would
be only an advance part of the plan, and the same arguments apply to both.
This plan is recommended as a means, not in exclusion of, but additional
to, all others for restoring and preserving the national authority throughout
the Union. The subject is presented exclusively in its economical aspect.
The plan would, I am confident, secure peace more speedily and maintain
it more permanently than can be done by force alone, while all it would
cost, considering amounts and manner of payment and times of payment, would
be easier paid than will be the additional cost of the war if we rely solely
upon force. It is much, very much, that it would cost no blood at all.
The plan is proposed as permanent constitutional law. It can not become
such without the concurrence of, first, two-thirds of Congress, and afterwards
three-fourths of the States. The requisite three-fourths of the States
will necessarily include seven of the slave States. Their concurrence,
if obtained, will give assurance of their severally adopting emancipation
at no very distant day upon the new constitutional terms. This assurance
would end the struggle now and save the Union forever.
I do not forget the gravity which should characterize a paper addressed
to the Congress of the nation by the Chief Magistrate of the nation, nor
do I forget that some of you are my seniors, nor that many of you have
more experience than I in the conduct of public affairs. Yet I trust that
in view of the great responsibility resting upon me you will perceive no
want of respect to yourselves in any undue earnestness I may seem to display.
Is it doubted, then, that the plan I propose, if adopted, would shorten
the war, and thus lessen its expenditure of money and of blood? Is it doubted
that it would restore the national authority and national prosperity and
perpetuate both indefinitely? Is it doubted that we here--Congress and
Executive can secure its adoption? Will not the good people respond to
a united and earnest appeal from us? Can we, can they, by any other means
so certainly or so speedily assure these vital objects? We can succeed
only by concert. It is not "Can any of us imagine better?" but "Can we
all do better?" Object whatsoever is possible, still the question recurs,
"Can we do better?" The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the
stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must
rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew and act
anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country.
Fellow-citizens, we can not escape history. We of this Congress and
this Administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal
significance or insignificance can spare one or another of us. The fiery
trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to
the latest generation. We say we are for the Union. The world will not
forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The world knows
we do know how to save it. We, even we here, hold the power and bear the
responsibility. In giving freedom to the slave we assure freedom to the
free--honorable alike in what we give and what we preserve. We shall nobly
save or meanly lose the last best hope of earth. Other means may succeed;
this could not fail. The way is plain, peaceful, generous, just--a way
which if followed the world will forever applaud and God must forever bless.