Lincoln as a social prophet; Freedom Fighter, 1863
The following program is the sixth in a series of readings on Abraham Lincoln entitled Lincoln a social prop. The readings and the commemoration of the Illinois sesquicentennial by Marvin saying our speech instructor at Northern Illinois University. Today's reading freedom fighter 1863 Mr. S. R.. The road to complete emancipation of American Negroes is a long road. The emancipation proclamation of 1863 was a major step on that road as was the 13th Amendment of 1865. Abraham Lincoln knew this. So do we. To better understand Lincoln's role in freeing the slaves it is wise to return to Lincoln's day and see why he did as he did. This procedure certainly will help us at least to understand why Lincoln so slowly initiated emancipation. One of the best explanations for his caution was his reply to a large group of Christians of all denominations. They have publically met on September 7th 1862 in Brian Hall Chicago and had adopted a memorial favoring national emancipation. Although he had decided weeks before to issue a
proclamation he argued with the delegates September 13th as if it were undecided. In actuality the problem of emancipation was one of timing. If emancipation came too soon support for the war might lessen and the South Wind. In any event slavery would have been extended throughout the north. Anyway let us on in here. Lincoln. The subject presented in the Memorial is one upon which I have thought much for weeks past and I may even say for months I am approach with the most opposite opposite opinions and advice and that by religious men who are equally certain that they represent the divine will. I am sure that either the one or the other class is mistaken in that belief and perhaps in some respects both. I hope it will not be irreverent for me to say that if it is probable that God would reveal his will to others on a point so connected with my duty it might be supposed he would reveal it directly to me. For unless I am more deceived in myself than I often am it is my honest desire to know the will of Providence in this matter. And if I can learn what it is I will do it.
These are not however the days of miracles. And I suppose it will be granted that I am not to expect a direct revelation. I must study the plain physical facts of the case ascertain what is possible and learn what appears to be wise and right. The subject is difficult and good men do not agree. For instance the other day for a gentleman of standing in intelligence from New York called as a delegation on business connected with the war. But before leaving two of them earnestly be sent me to proclaim general emancipation upon which the other two at once attacked them. You know also that the last session of Congress had a decided majority of anti-slavery men. Yet they could not unite on this policy and the same is true of the religious people. Why the rebel soldiers are praying with a great deal more earnestness I fear than our own troops and expecting God to favor their side from one of our soldiers who had been taken prisoner told Senator Wilson a few days since that he met with nothing so discouraging as the evidence and seriously of those he was among in their prayers. But we will talk over the merits of the case. What good would a Proclamation of
Emancipation from me do. Especially as we are now situated. I do not want to issue a document that the whole world will see must necessarily be an operative like the Pope's bull against the comet. Would my words free the slaves when I cannot even enforce the Constitution in the rebel states. Is there a single court or magistrate or individual that would be influenced by it there. And what reason is there to think it would have any greater effect upon the slaves in the late last Congress which I approved and which offers protection and freedom to the slaves the rebel masters who come within our lines. Yet I cannot learn that that law has caused the single slave to come over to us. And suppose they could be induced by a proclamation of freedom for me to throw themselves upon it. What should we do with them. How can we feed and care for such a multitude. General Butler wrote me a few days since that he was issuing more ration is to the slaves who have rushed to him then to all of the white troops under his command. They eat and that is all. Though it is true general Barber is feeding the whites also by the thousand. For it nearly amounts to a famine there.
If now the pressure of the world should call off our forces from New Orleans to defend some other point. What is to prevent the masters from reducing the blacks to slavery again. Brian told that whenever the rebels take any black prisoners for years slave the media the auction them off. They did so with those they took from a boat that was aground in the Tennessee River a few days ago and then I am very ungenerously attacked for it. For instance when after the late battles at in near bull run an expedition went out from Washington under a flag of truce to bury the dead and bring in the wounded and the rebel seize the blacks who went along to help and sent them into slavery. Horace Greeley said in his paper that the government would probably do nothing about it. What could I do. Now then tell me if you please. What possible result of good would follow the issuing of such a proclamation as you desire. I understand. I raise no objection against it on legal or constitutional grounds. First commander in chief of the Army and Navy in time of war I suppose I have a right to take any measure which may best subdue the enemy. Nor do I urge objections of a moral nature in view of the
possible consequences of insurrection and massacre at the South. I view the matter as a practical war measure to be decided upon according to the advantages or disadvantages it may offer to the suppression of the rebellion. I admit that slavery is the root of the rebellion or at least its Signy Kwinana. The ambition of politicians may have instigated them to act but they would have been impotent without slavery as their instrument. I will also concede that emancipation would help us in Europe and convince them that we are incited by something more than ambition. I grant further that it would help somewhat at the north though not so much I fear as you and those you represent imagine. Still some additional strength would be added in that way to the war. And then Unquestionably it would weaken the rebels by drawing off their labors which is of great importance. But I'm not so sure we could do much with the blacks if we were to arm them. I fear that in a few weeks the arms would be in the hands of the rebels and indeed thus far we have not had arms enough to keep our white troops. I will mention another thing though it meet only your scorn and
contempt. There are fifty thousand bayonets in the Union armies from the border slave states. It would be a serious matter if in consequence of a proclamation such as you desire they should go over to the red rebels. I do not think they all would. Not so many indeed as a year ago or as six months ago. Not so many today as yesterday. Every day increases their union feeling. They are also getting their pride enlisted in want to beat the rebels. Let me say one more thing. I think you should admit that we already have an important principle to rally and unite the people in the fact that constitutional government is at stake. This is a fundamental idea going down about as deep as anything. Do not misunderstand me because I have mentioned these objections. They indicate the difficulties that have thus far prevented my action in some such way as you desire. I have not decided against a proclamation of Liberty to the slaves but hold the matter under advisement and I can assure you that the subject is on my mind by day and night more than any other Whatever shall appear to be God's will. I will do it. I trust that in the
freedom with which I have canvassed your views I have not in any respect injured your feelings the. Injury of others. Lincoln was always eager to avoid. Perhaps this is why he pressed frequently in Congress and privately were compensated emancipation. Why not pay the rebel states four hundred dollars per Negro and hopefully more quickly end the war. In 1850 the population of Negroes over against whites was approximately one to seven which meant that the total payment for the one million negroes would be around four hundred million dollars or about the cost for 200 days of civil war. In Union expenses the following private letter from Lincoln to Henry J Raymond on March 9th eight hundred sixty two is typical of his abiding interest in compensated emancipation. My dear sir I'm grateful to the New York journals and not less so to the times then to others for their kind notices of the late special message to Congress. Your paper however intimate that the proposition the well-intentioned
must fail on the score of expense. I do hope you will reconsider this. Have you noticed the fact that less than 1 1/2 days cost of this war would pay for all the slaves in Delaware at four hundred dollars per head. That eighty seven days cost of this war would pay for all in Delaware Maryland District of Columbia Kentucky and Missouri at the same price where those states to take this step. You doubt that it would shorten the war more than 87 days and thus be an actual saving of expense. Please look at these things and consider whether there should not be another article in The Times. Yours very truly. A Lincoln. As for the readjustment of Negroes to freedom. Lincoln thought it would be accomplished by around one thousand five hundred thirty seven years after the Emancipation Proclamation. A large number of the negroes he expected would be colonized by their own free will in South America. An opportune time for freeing the slaves soon came and Lincoln eagerly seized the political initiative. Lee had invaded Maryland where by a stroke of luck his plan of action was
captured any victory consequently produced from a column. Lincoln had been hoping for some such improvement of the North's military fortune on September 22nd. Five days after McClellan's victory at Lincoln presented a warning that after January 1st 1863 all slaves in Rebel States would be pronounced free. Congratulations there were in abundance from Americans and from abroad. Yet the president's heart was heavy because he sensed trouble ahead. Evidence of such trouble is gleaned from this private letter of September 28 1862. My dear sir. Your kind letter of the twenty fifth has just received. It is known to some that while I hope something from the proclamation. My expectations are not as sanguine as are those of some friends. The time for its effects southward has not come but northward the effect should be instantaneous. It is six days old and while commendation in newspapers and by distinguished individuals is all that a vain man could wish the stocks have declined and troops come forward
more slowly than ever. This looked soberly in the face is not very satisfactory. We have fewer troops in the field at the end of six days and we had at the beginning the attrition among the orld outnumbering the addition by the new the north response to the proclamation sufficiently in breath but breath alone kills no rebels. I wish I could write more cheerfully. Nor do I thank you the less for the kindness of your letter. Yours very truly. A Lincoln. The Emancipation Proclamation was signed January 1st 1863 Lincoln tired from that day's handshaking was worried lest his signature might appear on firm. The document does not read stylistically as many of his speeches do but it was prepared with care by Lincoln the lawyer. Let us share it in its entirety. Whereas on the twenty second day of September in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred sixty two our proclamation was issued by the president of the United States containing among other things the following to wit.
That on the first day of January in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred sixty three all persons held as slaves within any state or designated part of a state. The people who have shall then be in rebellion against the United States shall be then thenceforward and for ever. Free and the executive government of the United States including the military a naval authority there Rob will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons and will do no act or acts to repress such persons or any of them in any efforts they will make for their actual freedom. That the executive will on the first day of January aforesaid by proclamation designate the states and parts of states if any in which the people there of respective Lee shall then be in rebellion against the United States. And the fact that any state or the people there are Shall on that day be in good faith represented in the Congress of the United States by members chosen there are two elections where any majority of the qualified voters of such State shall have participated shall in the absence of strong countervailing testimony be deemed conclusive evidence that such state and the people there are not then in rebellion against the United
States. Now therefore I Abraham Lincoln President of the United States by virtue of the power in me vested as commander in chief of the Army and Navy of the United States in time of actual armed rebellion against authority and government of the United States and is a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion do on this first day of January in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hundred sixty three and in accordance with my purpose so to do publicly proclaimed for the full period of 100 days from the day first above mentioned order and designate as the states and parts of states wherein the people there of respectively. I this day in rebellion against the United States the following to wit. I can saw Texas Louisiana except the parishes of St. Bernard Plaquemines Jefferson St. John's St. Charles St. James ascension assumption Terre bonne St. Mary St. Martin in Orleans including the city of New Orleans Mississippi Alabama Florida Georgia South Carolina North Carolina and Virginia. Except the 48
counties designated West Virginia and also the counties of Berkeley Accomack Northampton Elizabeth City North York princes and in Norfork including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth and which excepted parts are for the present left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued. And by virtue of the power and for the purpose aforesaid I do order and declare that all persons held as slaves within said designated states and parts of states are enhanced forward shall be free and that the executive government of the United States including the military naval 30s there are will recognize and maintain the freedom of said persons. And I hereby enjoined upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all violence on less unnecessary self-defense. And I recommend to them that in all cases when a law they labor faithfully for reasonable wages. And I further declare and make known that such persons of suitable condition will be received into the arms service of the United States to Garrison forts positions stations and other places and the manned
vessels of all sorts in said service and upon this act sincerely believed to be an act of justice warranted by the Constitution upon military necessity. I invoke the considered judgment of mankind in the gracious favor of Almighty God. In witness whereof I have an ear here on to set my hand and caused the seal of the United States to be affixed down at the city of Washington this first day of January and the year followed one thousand eight hundred sixty three and of the independence of the United States of America the eighty seven by the president Abraham Lincoln. But the Emancipation Proclamation did not automatically mean the civil war would now quickly come to an end. The war dragged on and is Lincoln had anticipated the proclamation created dissent in those areas where strong Southern connections were felt. In consequence of these frictions the Democrats sought political advantage the so-called peace Democrats asserted that the South was on beatable and that Lincoln headed a senseless Republican tyranny. Lincoln however
would not back down from the Confederacy and the proclamation would stand in spite of protest. In the President's annual message to Congress December 6th 1864. He openly reaffirmed his support for the proclamation. In presenting the abandonment of armed resistance to the national authority on the part of the insurgents as the only indispensable condition to ending the war on the part of the government. I retract nothing here to fore said as to slavery. I repeat the declaration made a year ago that while I remain in my present position I shall not attempt to retract or modify the Emancipation Proclamation nor shall I return to slavery any person who is free by the terms of that proclamation or by any of the acts of Congress. If the people should buy whatever mode or means make it an executive duty to really enslave such persons another and not I must be their instrument to perform it. In stating a single condition of peace I mean simply to say that the war will cease on the part of the government whenever it shall have ceased on the
part of those who began it. In the same 1864 and urged passage of an amendment to the Emancipation Proclamation. At the last session of Congress a proposed amendment of the Constitution abolishing slavery throughout the United States passed the Senate but failed for a lack of the requisite two thirds vote in the House of Representatives. Although the present is the same Congress and nearly the same members and without questioning the wisdom or patriotism of those who stood in opposition I venture to recommend the reconsideration and passage of the measure at the present session. Of course the abstract question is not changed but an intervening election shows almost certainly that the next Congress will pass the measure. If this does not hence there is only a question of time as to when the proposed amendment will go to the states for their action. And as it is to sort of go at all events may we not agree that the sooner the better. Two months later Lincoln's wish was granted. February 1st 1865 the 13th amendment was added to
the Constitution. It reads as follows. I Dickel 13. Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude except as a punishment for crime were of the party shall have been duly convicted shall exist within the United States or any place subject to their jurisdiction. Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation. Since the 13th Amendment is so brief it is well to review an eyewitness account of the situation when Lincoln spoke to an audience. Following the passage of the amendment the New York Tribune a February 3rd reported the event. The president said he suppose the passage through Congress of the constitutional amendment for the abolishment of slavery throughout the United States was the occasion to which he was indebted for the honor of this call. Applause. The Cajun was one of congratulation to the country and to the whole world. But there is a task yet before us to go forward and consummate by the votes of the states that which Congress so nobly began yesterday. Applause and cries they will do it
etc.. He had the honor to inform those present that Illinois had already today done the work. Applause. Maryland was about half through but he felt proud that Illinois was a little ahead. He thought this measure was a very fitting if not an indispensable adjunct to the winding up of the great difficulty. He wished the reunion of all the states protected and so effected as to remove all causes of disturbance in the future and to attain this end it was necessary that the original disturbing cause should if possible be rooted out. He thought all would bear him witness that he had never shrunk from doing all that he could to eradicate slavery by issuing an Emancipation Proclamation applause. But that proclamation falls far short of what the amendment will be when fully consummated a question might be raised whether the proclamation was legally valid. It might be added that it only aided those who came into our lines and that it was in operative as to those who did not give themselves up or that it would have no effect upon the children of the slaves born here after. In fact it would
be urged that it did not meet the evil. But this amendment is a king's cure for all the evils. Applause. It winds the whole thing up. He would repeat that it was the fitting if not indispensable adjunct to the consummation of the great game we are playing. He could not but congratulate all present himself the country and the world upon this great moral victory. This great moral victory made the Emancipation Proclamation permanent but the road was not yet smooth for the freedom of American Negroes. The South gave in grudgingly to reconstruction with a wisdom and a tenderness which characterizes most great social prophets. And I can beseech the sophs to come back into the union in a turn and beautiful allusion to the Prodigal Son of the Bible. He promised full pardon to the rebel states. Even if new state governments such as those of Louisiana were not fully ready for emancipation he thought it better to accept them into the Union than to reject them. Here are his own words now about Louisiana and the rebel states in
general. These words come from his last public address of April 11th 1865. We all agree that the seceded States or call are out of their proper practical relation with the union and that the sole object of the government civil and military in regard to those states is to again get them into that proper practical relations. I believe it is not only possible but in fact easier to do this without deciding or even considering whether the states have even been out of the Union then with it finding themselves safely at home. It would be utterly immaterial whether they had ever been abroad but us all joined in doing the acts necessary to restoring the proper practical relations between the states and the union. And each forever after innocently indulge his own opinion whether in doing the acts he brought the states from without into the union or only gave them proper assistance they never having been out of it. The amount of constituency so to speak on which the new Louisiana government rests would be more to satisfactory to all if it
contained 50 30 or even 20000 instead of only about 12000 as it does. It is also on satisfactory to some that the elective franchise is not given to the colored man. I would myself prefer that it were not conferred on the very intelligent and on those who serve our cause as soldiers. Still the question is not whether the Louisiana government as it stands is quite all that is desirable. The question is will it be wiser to take it as it is and help to improve it or to reject and disperse it. Can Louisiana be brought into a proper practical relation with the union sooner by sustaining or by describing her new state government. Some 12000 voters in the heretofore slave state of Louisiana have sworn allegiance to the union assumed to be the rightful political power of the state held elections organized the state government adopted a free state constitution giving the benefit of public schools equally to black and white and empowering the legislature to confer the elective franchise upon the colored man their legislature has already voted to ratify the constitutional amendment
recently passed by Congress abolishing slavery throughout the nation. These 12000 persons are thus fully committed to the union and are perpetual freedom in the state committed to the very things in nearly all the things the nation wants and they asked the nations recognition and its assistance to make good their committal. Now if we reject Inspiron then we do our utmost to disorganize and disperse them. We need facts say to the white man. You are worthless or wrists. We will neither help you nor be helped by you to the blacks we say this cup of cup of Liberty which these your old masters hold to your lives. We will dash from you and leave you to the chances of gathering the spilled and scattered contents in some big and undefined when where and how if this course discouraging and paralyzing both white and black has any tendency to bring Louisiana into proper practical relations with the union. I have so far been able unable to perceive it. If on the contrary we recognize and sustain the new government of Louisiana the Congress of all this is made true.
We encourage the hearts and nurture of the arms of the 12000 to adhere to their work. And I argue for it and proselyte for it and fight for it in feed it and grow it didn't ripen into a complete success. The colored man too in seeing all united for him is inspired with vigilance and energy and daring to the same and granted he desires the elective franchise were he not a teammate sooner by saving the already advanced steps toward it than by running backward over them. I. Can see that the new government of Louisiana is only too what it should be as the AG is to the fall. We shall sooner have the fowl by hatching be aided by smashing it again. If we reject Louisiana we also reject one vote in favor of the proposed amendment to the national constitution to meet this proposition it has been argued that no more than three fourths of those states which have not attempted secession are necessary to validly ratify the amendment. I do not commit myself against this further than to say that such a ratification would be questionable and sure to be persistently questioned a
ratification by three fourths of all the states would be on question and on questionable. I repeat the question. Can Louisiana be brought into a proper practical relation with the union sooner by sustaining or by discarding her new state government. What has been said of Louisiana will apply generally to other states. It's a great peculiarities pertain to each state in such important and sudden changes occur in the same state and with all so new and unprecedented is the one case that no exclusive and inflexible plan can safely be prescribed as to details and collaterals such exclusive an inflexible plan would surely become a new entanglement important principles may and must be inflexible in the present situation as the phrase goes. It may be my duty to make some new announcement to the people of the South. I'm considering and shall not fail to act when satisfied that action will be proper. Was Abraham Lincoln dated in his racial views. Or was he truly a social prophet. In some of his thinking we would conclude that for today the answers would not
work. For instance the colonization of negroes and the world so small and so transcendent. How could this ever do. But in marking slavery is wrong seen each negro as a child of God an individual in his own right. Lincoln was on the correct road. He was also a social prophet in his insistence on the freedom of all men the right to life liberty and the pursuit of happiness. And he put freedom words into action via the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th Amendment. It is no wonder that the famous Negro leader Martin Luther King Jr. said in his book Why We Can't Wait. No president except perhaps Lincoln had ever sufficiently given that degree of support to our struggle for freedom to justify our confidence. If Lincoln failed in any respects as a freedom fighter in 1858 1860 or 1863 or at any point in his life. Perhaps it is up to us to finish the story.
Freedom as we know it has not fully come for all man. Lincoln a social prophet the sixth in a series of readings on Abraham Lincoln commemorating Illinois was intending on today's reading by Northern Illinois University speech instructor Marvin saying our wasn't titled Freedom Fighter. 1863 next week. Words to a divided nation. In the shadow of war. A production of WNYC Radio in Northern Illinois University. This program was distributed by the national educational radio network.
- Lincoln as a social prophet
- Freedom Fighter, 1863
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- Northern Illinois University
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- University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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- For series info, see Item 3446. This prog.: Freedom Fighter, 1863.
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Producing Organization: WNIC
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- Chicago: “Lincoln as a social prophet; Freedom Fighter, 1863,” 1968-07-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed December 4, 2023, http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-125qcs6p.
- MLA: “Lincoln as a social prophet; Freedom Fighter, 1863.” 1968-07-01. University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. December 4, 2023. <http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-125qcs6p>.
- APA: Lincoln as a social prophet; Freedom Fighter, 1863. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from http://americanarchive.org/catalog/cpb-aacip-500-125qcs6p