BECK index


Proclaiming Emancipation

by Sanderson Beck



White House
January 10, 1862


General McClellan is still recovering
from his illness and could not see me.
I have sent for you to discuss strategy.
If something is not done soon,
the bottom could fall out of this whole affair.
If General McClellan does not
want to use the army,
I would like to borrow it,
provided I can see how
it could be made to do something.
General McDowell, what do you think of the plan
to attack Manassas from two directions?

I believe that an energetic movement
upon both flanks of the enemy
is entirely practicable
because of the superior numbers of our army.
The rebels could be forced from their works
and would be compelled to accept battle
on terms favorable to us.

I recommend attacking Richmond
by way of the York River,
but I am concerned about how we obtain
the necessary transportation for either plan.

I would like you both to inform yourselves
thoroughly on this matter,
and we shall meet again tomorrow evening.


Lincoln is meeting with SIMON CAMERON.

Secretary Cameron, I apologize for
the abrupt way in which I informed you
that you are being replaced.
I am grateful for your service
at the War department.
I know you have been much criticized
for making profits from the war.

Sir, I have no difficulty making money
and do not need to steal it.
I knew the Central Railroad
from Baltimore to Harrisburg
would be a good property,
and I invested in it before I ever took this job.
I am glad to be leaving this job and the country
to serve as your minister to Russia.

Whom shall I appoint in your place?

I recommend our lawyer, Edwin M. Stanton.

But I had thought of giving it to Holt.

Sir, Holt is a strong believer in slavery.
If I am to retire, it seems but proper
that a friend of mine,
or at least a man not unfriendly to me,
should be appointed in my place.

I once went to Cincinnati
to work on a legal case with Stanton.
He excluded me, called me a “long-armed ape,”
and would not let me help in the defense.
However, I was impressed
by how well he handled the case.

I assure you, Mr. Lincoln,
he is the most qualified man I know.
Sir, the Congress is preparing
to censure my conduct as
“highly injurious to the public service.”

I shall write a public letter to Congress
explaining that those unfortunate contracts
occurred when the Government was facing
an emergency after the loss of Fort Sumter.
I shall declare that my entire cabinet and I
were at least equally responsible
for whatever error, wrong, or fault
was committed by you.

You are most kind, Mr. President.



I have made this report at the President’s behest,
and I naturally defer to my commanding officer.

You are entitled to have any opinion you please.

McDowell’s plan may be superior
to your proposal to go
down the Chesapeake to Urbana.

The case is so clear a blind man could see it.
Our forces are inadequate to the large number
of rebels we face in northern Virginia.

General McClellan,
just what do you intend to do with the army
and when do you intend to do it?

After an awkward silence, McClellan replies.

General Buell in Kentucky must move first.

That does not answer my question.

I must say that I am unwilling
to develop my plans.
I always believe that in military matters
the fewer persons knowing them the better.
I refuse to answer any more questions
unless I am ordered to do so by the President.

May I ask if you have fixed any particular time
when the movement could begin?

Yes sir.

Then I will adjourn this meeting.



January 27

Lincoln is meeting with his cabinet.

I have issued General War Order Number One.
It reads as follows:
“Ordered that the 22nd day of February 1862
be the day for a general movement
of the land and naval forces of the United States
against the insurgent forces.
That especially
the army at and about Fortress Monroe,
the Army of the Potomac …


Lincoln is meeting with New York Attorney General EDWARD DELAFIELD SMITH.

Mr. President,
I know that considerable pressure has been
put upon you to pardon Nathaniel Gordon,
who is scheduled to hang on February 7
for having taken nine hundred Africans
from the Congo on his ship to sell as slaves.
You must make an example of this man
in order to terrorize those
who would engage in the slave trade.

Mr. Smith, you do not know how hard it is
to have a human being die when you know
that a stroke of your pen may save him.
Because of his appeal I have commuted
the sentence of Mr. Gordon for two weeks
so that he may have the necessary preparation
for the awful change which awaits him.
He shall be hanged on the 21st of February.


MARY LINCOLN is dressed in a white satin evening gown with a low neck and long train, and Lincoln is wearing a tuxedo.

Father, I am so worried about Willie.
I am afraid he has typhoid fever.

Now, Mother, you know that Dr. Stone told us
that he is not in any danger now,
and so we decided to go ahead with this ball.
You have invited five hundred guests.

I don’t think we should allow any dancing
because of the illness in the house.

As you say.

Well, how do you like my new dress?

Whew! Our cat has a long tail tonight.
Mother, it is my opinion,
if some of that tail were nearer the head,
it would be in better style.

But this is the latest fashion.

I hope no one steps on the tail.
Shall we go down, my dear?

He offers her his arm, and they walk together toward the door.


WILLIE LINCOLN is in bed and is very sick. Mary is keeping vigil, and Willie’s friend BUD TAFT is sitting by him but is sleepy. Lincoln lays his arm across Bud’s shoulder and strokes Willie’s hair.

You ought to go to bed, Bud.

If I go, he will call for me.



February 20

A devastated Lincoln comes in where JOHN NICOLAY is working.

Well, Nicolay, my boy is gone.
He is actually gone.
Mary is so distraught.
We loved Willie so much,
and he was such a smart boy.
Tad is sick, too.


Lincoln is meeting with GENERAL BENJAMIN BUTLER.

General Butler, I want you
to get into New Orleans if you can
to break the backbone of the rebellion.
It is of more importance
than anything else that can be done;
but don’t interfere with the slavery question
as Fremont has done at St. Louis.

May I arm the Negroes?

Not yet, not yet.

Andrew Jackson armed the blacks
when he was fighting the Creeks
and other Indians.

That was different because he was not fighting
against their masters but with them.

I will wait for the word or the necessity.

That’s right. God be with you.


Lincoln is sitting by the bed where Mary lays. REBECCA POMROY is led in by the black servant ELIZABETH KECKLY.

Mr. President, this is Mrs. Pomroy.

I am heartily glad to see you.
Dorothea Dix has recommended
you as a good nurse.
I have been told that
you have lost loved ones in your family.
I feel that you can comfort us
and the poor sick boy.
This is Mary, and let me take you to Tad.


As they walk to Tad’s room, Lincoln confides in her. TAD LINCOLN is asleep.

LINCOLN (Cont’d.)
Mrs. Lincoln is so ill
that she could not attend Willie’s funeral.

I eventually found comfort in my faith in God.

Did you always feel that you could say,
“Thy will be done?”

I finally came to that acceptance.

This is the hardest trial of my life.
Why is it? Oh, why is it?


Lincoln is talking with the REVEREND FRANCIS VINTON.

Mr. President, by giving way to your grief
you are making yourself
unfit for your high post.
Heathens, but not Christians,
mourn the dead as lost.
Your son is alive in paradise.
Do you remember the passage in the Gospels,
“God is not the God of the dead but of the living,
for all live unto him”?

Alive! Alive! Surely you mock me.

No, sir, believe me;
it is a most comforting doctrine of the church,
founded upon the words of Christ himself.

Lincoln looks at Vinton, steps forward, and throws his arm around his neck, and laying his head on his chest, he sobs aloud.

Alive? Alive?

My dear, sir, believe this,
for it is God’s most precious truth.
Seek not your son among the dead;
he is not there; he lives today in paradise!
Think of the full import
of the words I have quoted.
The Sadducees, when they questioned Jesus,
had no other conception than that
Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were dead and buried.
Mark the reply:
“Now that the dead are raised
even Moses showed at the bush
when he called the Lord the God of Abraham,
the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.
For he is not the God of the dead
but of the living, for all live unto him!”
It is a part of the Lord’s plan
for the ultimate happiness of you and yours.
Doubt it not.
I have a sermon upon this subject,
which I think might interest you.

Please, Reverend, send it to me soon.
Thank you so much for your hopeful words.


Montgomery Blair has a letter in his hand, but Lincoln declines to accept it.

Because my brother Frank
criticized General Fremont in the Congress,
the New York Tribune published
this old private letter in which
I complained about your past affiliations.
It was a foolish letter,
but I would like you to read it.

I do not intend to read it.

It is due to you to take some amends
by resigning my place.
I leave the whole thing to you
and will do exactly as you wish.

I don’t want you to resign; forget it,
and never mention or think of it again.

I told my father that you need to
stop the spread of factions in the country
and prevent divisions at this time.
My father thinks well
of your appointing Fremont.

I am going to relieve General McClellan
as commander-in-chief of the armies,
but he will continue to command
the Army of the Potomac.
I am combining the departments
of Halleck, Hunter, and Buell
and designating them the Department
of the Mississippi under General Halleck.
In between the Mississippi and the Potomac
I am putting General Fremont
in charge of the Mountain Department.
Now if I can only get McClellan to attack.



March 6

Lincoln is meeting with SENATOR CHARLES SUMNER.

Mr. Sumner, I have a message to Congress
that I am going to send over today.
I want you to be the first Senator to hear it.
I propose the gradual abolishment of slavery,
and it begins this way:
“I recommend the adoption of a joint resolution
by your honorable bodies
which shall be substantially as follows:
resolved that the United States
ought to cooperate with any state which
may adopt gradual abolishment of slavery,
giving to such pecuniary aid
to be used by such state in its discretion
to compensate for the inconveniences,
public and private,
produced by such a change of system.”

This is a good step, Mr. President.

Slavery is the disease of the entire nation,
and all must share the suffering of its removal.
Slavery exists by the actions of the North
as well as of the South,
and in any scheme to get rid of it
the North as well as the South
is morally bound to do
its full and equal share.


Lincoln is meeting with McClellan.

General, an ugly story
has been circulating in Washington.
I do not believe the accusation, but in frankness
I need to ask you about the suspicion that
your Peninsula campaign is a deliberate plot
to uncover Washington to the forces of disunion.

Sir, I have no intention of leaving Washington
without an army of sufficient size
in northern Virginia to protect the Capital.

It seems to me that
going down the bay in search of a field,
instead of fighting at or near Manassas
is only shifting and not surmounting a difficulty.
We will find the same enemy and the same
or equal entrenchments at either place.
I have put your plan before twelve generals,
and eight of them have approved.
I am reluctant to disregard the advice of generals
and so have acceded to your Peninsula strategy.
However, a force large enough must be left
in the camps about Washington.



March 17 midnight

EDWIN STANTON is meeting with Lincoln and showing him a report.

I am sorry to disturb you so late at night.
As I am sure you know,
McClellan has finally launched his campaign
and moved south in boats;
but what you may not realize is that
he has left Washington with less than
twenty thousand raw recruits
and not a single organized brigade.
It’s all here in this report
by Adjutant General Lorenzo Thomas,

That is a clear violation of my orders.
I am going to withdraw
General McDowell’s First Corps
from McClellan’s command
so that Washington will be protected.
Stonewall Jackson has been raiding
in the Shenandoah Valley.
After the rebels withdrew from Manassas,
we found they left behind “Quaker guns”
that were nothing but logs
painted black to look like artillery.
What McClellan feared
was more than a hundred thousand men
turned out to be less than fifty thousand.


Lincoln is reading telegrams in the private office of A. B. CHANDLER, president of the Postal Telegraph Union.

Mr. President,
why do you spend so much time
in this office reading telegrams
when you know that I could send them
over to the White House by special messengers?

Mr. Chandler,
I come here to escape my persecutors.
Many people call and say
they want to see me for only a minute.
That means if I can hear their story
and grant their request in a minute,
it will be enough.
Here I can read these and think in peace,
even though they are about the war.


Lincoln is meeting with his friend SENATOR ORVILLE BROWNING.

I have signed Senator Wilson’s bill
that provides $300 per slave
in payment to the owners
if they free them within ninety days.
I want to thank you, Browning, for helping me
to get the Senate to add a rider
offering steamship tickets to any freed slaves
who wish to emigrate to Haiti or Liberia.

What do you think of the final bill that abolishes
slavery in the District of Columbia?

You know I proposed such a bill
when I was in Congress fourteen years ago.
I would have preferred gradual emancipation.
Now families will at once be deprived
of cooks, stables boys, and so on,
and they of their protectors
without any provision for them.
I waited two days to sign it
because a former government official told me
he has two family servants who are sickly
and would not be benefited by the freedom.
He asked for a brief delay
so that he could get his slaves out of the city.


Lincoln is meeting with Chase.

Mr. President, it seems to me
to be of the highest importance
that you not revoke General Hunter’s order
that emancipated all the slaves
in the Department of the South which includes
South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida.
I am sure that it will be approved
by more than nine-tenths of the people
your administration must rely on for support.

General Hunter asked me to let him
have his own way on the subject of slavery
and said that he would bear the blame;
but I cannot allow this.
No commanding general shall do such a thing
upon my responsibility without consulting me.
I must revoke it
even though it may give dissatisfaction,
if not offense, to many whose support
the country can not afford to lose.



June 6

Lincoln, Stanton, Chase, GENERAL EGBERT VIELE, the elderly GENERAL JOHN WOOL, and COMMODORE LOUIS GOLDSBOROUGH are meeting on board the Minnesota.

General Wool has informed us
that your navy warships may be able
to immobilize the rebel batteries at Norfolk
so that his troops could be safely landed.

The ironclad Merrimac has been terrorizing us,
but the more mobile iron-clad Monitor
that we have developed
may be able to neutralize it.
As long as the Merrimac is a factor,
I believe it is too risky
to carry troops across the water.

I am not so sure.
I want you to start shelling the rebel batteries.

Yes, sir.


During the shelling they see the Merrimac confronted by the Monitor and another powerful ship.

Look, the Merrimac is turning back!
The Monitor has succeeded.

They shout “Hurrah!” and clap their hands in delight.

I am glad we are building several monitors.


Chase and Viele have come back aboard and are entering Lincoln’s room. Lincoln is half-undressed.

Norfolk is ours!
You picked a good landing site, Mr. President.

Stanton comes in wearing a long nightgown and hugs Wool in celebration.

Now that the rebels have destroyed the Merrimac,
we can open our supply lines
from Washington to the peninsula.


The Lincolns have moved into the Soldiers’ Home outside the city. Mary is dressed in black and appears distracted by her mourning, crying out at times. Lincoln tries to comfort her.

Mother, I hope you will be happier here
in this summer residence.

It is a relief to get out of Washington
and away from the White House,
where there is so much disease and death.

Lincoln leads her to the window and points to a lunatic asylum.

Mother, do you see
that large white building on the hill yonder?
It is an asylum for the insane.
Try and control your grief,
or it will drive you mad,
and we may have to send you there.


Lincoln is meeting with a delegation of Progressive Friends that include OLIVER JOHNSON and WILLIAM BARNARD.

I welcome the Progressive Friends
and am relieved that
you are not applicants for office.
I agree with you that slavery is wrong,
but in regard to the ways of removing it
my views probably differ from yours.
If a decree of emancipation could abolish slavery,
John Brown would have done the work effectually;
but such a decree cannot be more binding
than the Constitution,
and that cannot be enforced
in part of the country now.
Would a proclamation of freedom
be any more effective?

It is true, Mr. President, that the Constitution
cannot now be enforced in the South,
but you do not on that account
intermit the effort to enforce it,
and the memorialists are solemnly convinced
that the abolition of slavery
is indispensable to your success.

I feel the magnitude of the task before me,
and I hope to be rightly directed
in the very trying circumstances
by which I am surrounded.

We sympathize with you, Mr. President,
and earnestly desire that you might be led
under divine guidance to free the slaves
and thus save the nation from destruction.
In that case nations yet unborn
will rise up to call you blessed,
and better still you will secure
the blessing of God.

I am deeply sensible of my need
for divine assistance,
and I sometimes think that perhaps
I might be an instrument in God’s hands
for accomplishing a great work,
and I certainly am not unwilling to be so.
Yet perhaps God’s way of accomplishing
the end which you have in view
may be different from yours.
It is my earnest endeavor
with a firm reliance upon the divine arm
and seeking light from above
to do my duty in the place to which
I have been called.


Lincoln is meeting with abolitionist Senators, including Sumner and JAMES HARLAN.

Mr. President, we believe that
the purpose of this war is to free the Negro
and that it is only fair that
he should take his part
in working out his own salvation.
Why not muster slaves into the Union army?

Gentlemen, I have put thousands of muskets
into the hands of loyal citizens of Tennessee,
Kentucky, and western North Carolina.
They have said they could defend themselves
if they had guns.
Now these men do not believe in
mustering in the Negro.
If I do it, these thousands of muskets
will be turned against us.
We should lose more than we should gain.

But, Mr. President,
Europe has anti-slavery sentiment
and yet sympathizes with
the notion of a southern confederacy.
They may prefer two nations to one in this country
and persuade the South
to free her slaves for their recognition.

Gentlemen, I can’t do it.
I can’t see it as you do.
You may be right, and I may be wrong;
but I’ll tell you what I can do.
I can resign in favor of Mr. Hamlin.
Perhaps, Mr. Hamlin could do it.

Oh no, Mr. President, we could not consider
such a step on your part.
From where you stand
you can see all around the horizon,
and you must do what you think is right.
Please, you must not resign.


Lincoln and Senator Sumner are talking.

Why not make Independence Day
more sacred and historic than ever
by issuing an emancipation proclamation?
You need more men, not only in the North,
but in the South at the rear of the rebels.
You need the slaves.

Emancipation is too big a lick.
I would do it if I were not afraid that
half the officers would fling down their arms,
and I fear the rebellion would spread to
Kentucky, Maryland, and Missouri.
We must wait, Senator Sumner.
Time is essential.


Lincoln is sitting at a table in the deciphering room with a paper in front of him on which is some of his writing; but he spends most of his time thinking and looking out the window. CAPTAIN THOMAS ECKERT comes in.

Are you working on your writing again,
Mr. President?

Yes, this is the best place for me to write.
I think it is going to be a proclamation.



July 12

Lincoln is reading a written speech to a delegation of representatives from the border states.

After the adjournment of Congress,
now very near,
I shall have no opportunity
of seeing you for several months.
Believing that you of the border-states
hold more power for good
than any other equal number of members,
I feel it a duty, which I can not justifiably waive,
to make this appeal to you.
I intend no reproach or complaint
when I assure you that in my opinion,
if you all had voted for the resolution in the
gradual emancipation message of last March,
the war would now be substantially ended.
The plan therein proposed is yet
one of the most potent
and swift means of ending it.
Let the states which are in rebellion see,
definitely and certainly, that, in no event,
will the states you represent
ever join their proposed Confederacy,
and they can not much longer
maintain the contest.
But you can not divest them of their hope
to ultimately have you with them
so long as you show a determination
to perpetuate the institution
within your own states.
Beat them at elections,
as you have overwhelmingly done,
and, nothing daunted,
they still claim you as their own.
You and I know
what the lever of their power is.
Break that lever before their faces,
and they can shake you no more forever.

Most of you have treated me
with kindness and consideration;
and I trust you will not now think
I improperly touch
what is exclusively your own,
when, for the sake of the whole country I ask
“Can you, for your states,
do better than to take the course I urge?”
Discarding punctilio and maxims
adapted to more manageable times,
and looking only to the unprecedentedly
stern facts of our case,
can you do better in any possible event?
You prefer that the constitutional relation
of the states to the nation
shall be practically restored
without disturbance of the institution;
and if this were done, my whole duty
in this respect under the constitution,
and my oath of office would be performed.
But it is not done,
and we are trying to accomplish it by war.
The incidents of the war can not be avoided.
If the war continues long, as it must,
if the object be not sooner attained,
the institution in your states
will be extinguished
by mere friction and abrasion—
by the mere incidents of the war.
It will be gone,
and you will have nothing valuable in lieu of it.
Much of it's value is gone already.
How much better for you and for your people
to take the step which at once shortens the war
and secures substantial compensation for that
which is sure to be wholly lost
in any other event!
How much better to thus save the money
which else we sink forever in the war!
How much better to do it while we can
lest the war ere long render us
pecuniarily unable to do it!
How much better for you as seller
and the nation as buyer
to sell out and buy out that without which
the war could never have been,
than to sink both the thing to be sold
and the price of it
in cutting one another's throats!

I do not speak of emancipation at once
but of a decision at once
to emancipate gradually.
Room in South America for colonization
can be obtained cheaply and in abundance;
and when numbers shall be large enough to be
company and encouragement for one another,
the freed people will not be so reluctant to go.

I am pressed with a difficulty
not yet mentioned—
one which threatens division
among those who united are none too strong.
An instance of it is known to you.
General Hunter is an honest man.
He was, and I hope still is, my friend.
I valued him none the less
for his agreeing with me in the general wish
that all men everywhere could be free.
He proclaimed all men free within certain states,
and I repudiated the proclamation.
He expected more good
and less harm from the measure
than I could believe would follow.
Yet in repudiating it, I gave dissatisfaction,
if not offence, to many whose support
the country can not afford to lose.
And this is not the end of it.
The pressure in this direction
is still upon me and is increasing.
By conceding what I now ask,
you can relieve me, and much more,
can relieve the country in this important point.
Upon these considerations I have again begged
your attention to the message of March last.
Before leaving the Capital,
consider and discuss it among yourselves.
You are patriots and statesmen; and as such,
I pray you, consider this proposition;
and at the least commend it
to the consideration of your states and people.
As you would perpetuate popular government
for the best people in the world,
I beseech you that you do in no wise omit this.
Our common country is in great peril,
demanding the loftiest views and boldest action
to bring it speedy relief. Once relieved,
its form of government is saved to the world;
its beloved history and cherished memories
are vindicated;
and its happy future fully assured
and rendered inconceivably grand.
To you, more than to any others,
the privilege is given to assure that happiness
and swell that grandeur
and to link your own names therewith forever.

After a pause, those in the delegation gradually stand up and start to leave the room. Lincoln can see that he has not won them over.



One day later

Lincoln is riding in a carriage with Henry Seward, MRS. FREDERICK SEWARD, and GIDEON WELLES.

I have been giving much thought to the idea
of emancipating the slaves by proclamation
in case the rebels do not cease
to persist in their war on the Government,
which does not seem likely.
I realize the gravity, importance,
and delicacy of this movement,
but I am coming to the conclusion that
it is a military necessity absolutely essential
for the salvation of the nation.
I believe we must free the slaves
or see ourselves subdued.
This is the first occasion
that I have mentioned this subject to anyone
and I wish you to frankly state
how the proposition strikes you.

This subject involves consequences
so vast and momentous
that I want to bestow on it mature reflection
before giving a decisive answer;
but my present opinion inclines
to the measure as justifiable,
and perhaps I might say
expedient and necessary.

Mr. Welles?

I agree with Mr. Seward.
Certainly the reverses the army experienced
under General McClellan outside of Richmond
must force us to re-evaluate
the military situation.
Thousands of slaves are in attendance
upon our armies in the field
as laborers and producers.
They are employed as waiters and teamsters,
and they have been constructing
fortifications and entrenchments.

I wish each of you to give this subject
special and deliberate attention,
for I am in earnest
that something must be done.


Senator Browning is showing Lincoln a copy of the second Confiscation Act.

I oppose this second Confiscation Act
because it violates the constitutional rights
of southern property owners.
I urge you to veto it, Mr. President,
or you may face dangerous
and fatal dissatisfaction in the Army.

Congress has no power
over slavery in the states.
I am willing to grant freedom to slaves
who escape to Union lines,
but I oppose inducing them
to flee their masters.
They come now faster than
we can provide for them,
and they are becoming
an embarrassment to the Government.
I am going to write down my objections
and send them to the Congress.

That will break tradition;
Congressional leaders may resent
your interfering in the legislative process.

I believe in communication.
What is wrong with that?



July 21

Lincoln is meeting with his cabinet except for Blair.

I have signed the second Confiscation Act
and sent to Congress
the text of my veto message as well.
I have prepared several orders
in regard to military action and slavery.
The first would authorize commanders to seize
and use any property in the rebel states.
The second would allow them to employ Negroes
as laborers for reasonable wages in those states.
The third orders them to keep accurate accounts
of the amounts of property and persons used.


Everyone is in agreement on the first two,
but on the third I doubt the expediency
of attempting to keep accounts
for the benefit of the inhabitants of rebel states.

I have some letters from General Hunter,
and he has advised that the withdrawal
of many of his troops
to reinforce General McClellan
has rendered it highly important that
he be authorized to enlist all loyal persons
without reference to complexion.

I support that.

So do I.

I am not prepared to decide that question,
and I am averse to arming Negroes.



One day later

LINCOLN (Cont’d.)
I still believe that organizing, equipping,
and arming of Negroes like other soldiers
would be more productive of evil than good,
but I am not unwilling that
commanders at their discretion
may arm for purely defensive purposes
slaves within their lines.
Now I want to read to you the first draft
of an Emancipation Proclamation.

“In pursuance of the sixth section
of the act of Congress entitled
‘An act to suppress insurrection
and to punish treason and rebellion,
to seize and confiscate property of rebels,
and for other purposes,’
approved July 17, 1862,
and which act and the joint resolution
explanatory thereof are herewith published,
I, Abraham Lincoln,
President of the United States,
do hereby proclaim to and warn all persons
within the contemplation of said sixth section
to cease participating in, aiding, countenancing,
or abetting the existing rebellion, or any rebellion
against the Government of the United States,
and to return to their proper allegiance
to the United States,
on pain of the forfeitures and seizures,
as within and by said sixth section provided.

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 each 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.”

Seward and Welles smile at each other, but all the others are astonished.

Mr. President,
I favor the immediate promulgation
of this proclamation.

I agree with Mr. Stanton, the sooner the better.

Gentlemen, let us consider this carefully.
I am concerned that foreign nations
will intervene to prevent the abolition of slavery
for the sake of cotton.
I think we should wait for more troops
and for General Halleck to get here.
This calls for drum and fife and public spirit.
We may break up our relations
with foreign nations
and the production of cotton for sixty years.

This goes beyond anything I have recommended.
I think it is a measure of great danger.
I think that emancipation could be
much better and more quietly accomplished
by allowing generals to organize
and arm the slaves
and by directing the commanders
of departments to proclaim emancipation
within their districts as soon as practicable.
In this way we could avoid depredation
and massacres on one hand
and support for the insurrection on the other.
Yet this is better than inaction,
and I give it my support.

I think this would be a mistake because it could
cost the administration the fall elections.

Mr. President, if you issue that proclamation,
I will resign and go home
and attack the administration.

Mr. President, I approve of the proclamation,
but I question the expediency
of its issue at this juncture.
The depression of the public mind,
consequent upon our repeated reverses,
is so great that I fear the effect
of so important a step.
It may be viewed as the last measure
of an exhausted Government, a cry for help;
the Government stretching forth
her hands to Ethiopia, instead of Ethiopia
stretching forth her hands to the Government.
This might be considered
our last shriek on the retreat.
Now, while I approve the measure,
I suggest, sir,
that you postpone the issue
until you can give it to the country
supported by military success,
instead of issuing it, as would be the case now,
upon the greatest disasters of the war.

That, I think, is a very good point.
I had not thought of that.
Let us wait for a victory.


Lincoln is talking with GENERAL DANIEL TYLER.

Why is General Buell with more men
unable to defeat Bragg?
What is the meaning of all this?
What is the lesson?
Don’t our men march as well
and fight as well as these rebels?
If not, there is fault somewhere.

Yes, there is a lesson.
Bragg’s little force was superior to our number
because he had it under control.
If a man left his ranks, he was punished;
if he deserted, he was shot.
We had nothing of that sort.
If we attempt to shoot a deserter,
you pardon him,
and our army is without discipline.
Why do you interfere?
Congress has taken from you all responsibility.

Yes, Congress has taken the responsibility
and left the women to howl at me.

Lincoln turns and walks out.



August 4

Lincoln is meeting with a delegation from Indiana.

I will employ all colored men offered as laborers
but will not promise to make them soldiers.
Arming Negroes would turn 5,000 bayonets
from the loyal border states against us.
Gentlemen, you have my decision.
I have made up my mind deliberately
and mean to adhere to it.
If the people are dissatisfied,
I will resign and let Mr. Hamlin try it.
Today I have issued an executive order
to draft three hundred thousand militia
immediately into service.



August 14

Lincoln is meeting with a committee of Negroes led by E. M. THOMAS.

The Congress has put money at my disposal
for colonizing people of African descent,
a cause which I have long favored.
Why should the people of your race
be colonized? and where?
Why should they leave this country?
You and we are different races.
We have between us a broader difference
than exists between almost any other two races.
This physical difference is a great disadvantage
to us both, as I think.
Your race suffers very greatly,
many of them, by living among us,
while ours suffers from your presence.
If this is admitted,
it affords a reason why we should be separated.
You here are freemen, I suppose.

Yes, sir, we are.

Perhaps you have long been free,
or all your lives.
Your race is suffering, in my judgment,
the greatest wrong inflicted on any people.
But even when you cease to be slaves,
you are yet far removed from being placed
on an equality with the white race.
You are cut off from many of the advantages
which the other race enjoys.
The aspiration of men is to enjoy equality
with the best when free,
but on this broad continent
not a single man of your race
is made the equal of a single man of ours.
Go where you are treated the best,
and the ban is still upon you.
I present this as a fact
with which we have to deal.
I cannot alter it if I would.
Slavery has affected both races.
Look at the evil effects on the white race—
the country engaged in war—
our white men cutting one another’s throats,
none knowing how far it will extend;
and then consider what we know to be the truth.
But for your race among us
there could not be war,
although many men engaged on either side
do not care for you one way or the other.
Nevertheless, I repeat,
without the institution of slavery
and the colored race as a basis
the war could not have an existence.
It is better for us both,
therefore, to be separated.

A principal difficulty in the way of colonization
is that the free colored man cannot see
that his comfort would be advanced by it.
While slaves may gladly accept freedom
on condition of leaving
the United States for a colony,
the free man will have nothing to do
with the idea of going to a foreign country.
I do not mean to be unkind,
but I think this is an extremely selfish view.
You ought to do something to help those
who are not so fortunate as yourselves.
There is an unwillingness
on the part of our people, harsh as it may be,
for you colored people to remain with us.
Now if you could give a start to white people,
you would open a wide door
for many to be made free.
If we deal with those
who are not free at the beginning,
whose intellects are clouded by slavery,
we have very poor materials to start with.
If intelligent colored men,
such as are before me now,
would move in this matter,
much might be accomplished.
It is exceedingly important that
we have men at the beginning
capable of thinking as white men,
and not those who have been
systematically oppressed.

There is much to encourage you.
For the sake of your race you should sacrifice
something of your present comfort
for the purpose of being
as grand as the white people.
It is difficult to make a man miserable
while he feels he is worthy of himself
and claims kindred to the great God
who made him.
The colony of Liberia has been in existence
a long time and is a success.
The old President of Liberia, Roberts,
has just been with me.
He says their colony has
more than three hundred thousand people.
The place I am thinking about
for a colony is in Central America,
which is only one-fourth as far as Liberia.
The country is very excellent
with great natural resources and advantages.
There are fine harbors and very rich coal mines.
You are intelligent and know that
success does not as much depend
on external help as on self-reliance.
Much, therefore, depends upon yourselves.
If I get a sufficient number of you engaged,
I shall have provisions made
that you shall not be wronged.
If you will engage in the enterprise,
I will spend some of the money entrusted to me.
I am not sure you will succeed.
The Government may lose the money;
but we cannot succeed unless we try.
Could I get a hundred tolerably intelligent men
with their wives and children
to “cut their own fodder,” so to speak?
Can I have fifty?
If I could find twenty-five able-bodied men
with a mixture of women and children,
good things in the family relation,
I think I could make a successful beginning.
I want you to let me know
whether this can be done or not.
This is the practical part of my wish to see you.
I ask you to consider this seriously.

Mr. President, we will hold a consultation
and in a short time give an answer.

Take your full time—no hurry at all.



August 31

Lincoln shares news with his assistant secretary JOHN HAY.

Well, John, I am afraid we are whipped again.
The enemy reinforced on Pope
and drove back his left wing,
and he has retired to Centreville,
where he says he will be able to hold his men.
I don’t like that expression.
I don’t like to hear him admit
that his men need holding.
We must hurt this enemy before it gets away.


Stanton is showing Welles a paper.

Chase and I have signed this,
and Bates and Smith have agreed to sign also.

WELLES (Reading)
“The undersigned feel compelled
by a profound sense of duty to the government
and the people of the United States
and to yourself as your constitutional advisers,
respectfully to recommend
the immediate removal of George B. McClellan
from any command in the armies
of the United States.”
Why not take the matter up
in face-to-face conversation with Mr. Lincoln,
instead of putting the matter
so uncompromisingly in writing?
I agree with your opinion of McClellan,
but this abrupt manner of approach
shows little consideration for the President.


Lincoln is visiting Secretary of War Stanton.

Chase says we can’t raise any more money;
Pope is licked, and McClellan has diarrhea.
What shall I do, Stanton?
The bottom is out of the tub.

Let us meet with the generals,
fix the bottom of the tub, rally the army,
and order another advance at once.
Why not replace McClellan?

I must have McClellan to reorganize the army
and bring it out of chaos,
but there has been a design—
a purpose in his breaking down Pope
without regard to the consequences
to the country.
It is shocking to see and know this,
but there is no remedy at present.
McClellan has the army with him.


Lincoln is meeting with his cabinet, but Seward is absent.

General Halleck and I have ordered McClellan
to take command of the Federal armies
stationed about Washington.

Stanton and Chase glare at Lincoln.

No order to that effect has been issued
from the War Department.

The order is mine,
and I will be responsible for it to the country.
McClellan knows this whole ground
and can be trusted to act on the defensive.
I realize that he has the “slows”
and that he cannot be depended on
for aggressive fighting;
but he is a good engineer
and a splendid organizer of armed forces.

I cannot but feel that
giving the command to McClellan
is equivalent to giving Washington to the rebels.
This will prove to be a national calamity.
I propose Hooker or Sumner or Burnside.

I do not agree.

Mr. President, can we have a vote?

All those in favor of putting McClellan
in command say “Aye.”

No one says anything.

LINCOLN (Cont’d.)
All those opposed say “Nay.”

Stanton, Chase, Bates, Welles, Smith, and Blair all say “Nay.”

The Ayes have it.
I order McClellan to be in command.


Lincoln and Hay are walking from the White House to the telegraph office.

McClellan is working like a beaver.
He seems to be aroused to do something
by the snubbing he got last week.
Yesterday the members of the cabinet
were unanimous against him.
They were all ready
to denounce me for it except Blair.
McClellan has acted badly,
but we must use what tools we have.
There is no man in the Army
who can man these fortifications
and lick these troops into shape
half as well as he.

Many letters are coming in against McClellan.

Unquestionably he acted badly toward Pope.
He wanted him to fail,
and that is unpardonable;
but he is too useful just now to sacrifice.



September 22

Lincoln is meeting with his cabinet.

Gentlemen, I have, as you are aware,
thought a great deal about
the relations of this war to slavery;
and you all remember that several weeks ago
I read to you an order
I had prepared on this subject,
which on account of objections
made by some of you, was not issued.
Ever since then my mind has been
much occupied with this subject,
and I have thought all along
that the time for acting on it
might probably come.
I think the time has come now.
I wish it was a better time.
I wish that we were in a better condition.
The action of the army against the rebels
has not been quite what I should have best liked.
But they have been driven out of Maryland,
and Pennsylvania is no longer
in danger of invasion.
When the rebel army was at Frederick,
I determined,
as soon as it should be driven out of Maryland,
to issue a proclamation of emancipation
such as I thought most likely to be useful.
I said nothing to anyone,
but I made the promise to myself
and to my Maker.

Did I understand you correctly, Mr. President?

I made a solemn vow before God
that if General Lee should be
driven back from Pennsylvania,
I would crown the result
by the declaration of freedom to the slaves.
The rebel army is now driven out,
and I am going to fulfill that promise.
I have got you together
to hear what I have written down.
“I, Abraham Lincoln,
President of the United States of America
and Commander-in-Chief
of the Army and Navy thereof,
do hereby proclaim ...”


The cabinet has been discussing it.

LINCOLN (Cont’d.)
So I shall accept Mr. Seward’s modification
that the Government “will recognize
and maintain the freedom of such persons.”
And I also adopt his suggestion
that colonization of persons of African descent
shall be by their consent
and the previously obtained consent
of the governments existing there.


Mr. President, for years in Missouri and here
I openly advocated emancipation,
but I have doubts of the expediency
of this executive action
at this particular juncture.
We ought not to put in jeopardy
the patriotic element in the border states,
already severely tried.
This proclamation is likely to carry over
those states to the secessionists.
There are also Democrats in the free states
who are striving to revive
old party lines and distinctions,
into whose hands we are putting a club
to be used against us in the upcoming election.
I approve the measure,
but the time is inopportune,
and so I wish to file my objections.

You are free to do that, Mr. Blair.
I have considered the danger to be apprehended
from the first objection you mentioned,
but the difficulty is as great not to act as to act.
For months I have labored
to get those states to move in this matter,
convinced in my own mind
that it is their true interest to do so;
but my labors were in vain.
We must make the forward movement.
They will acquiesce, if not immediately, soon;
for they must be satisfied that slavery
has received its death-blow from slave-owners.
It cannot survive the rebellion.
Those remaining loyal to the United States
shall be compensated for all losses
by acts of the United States,
including the loss of slaves.


MAJOR JOHN KEY and MAJOR LEVI TURNER are standing before Lincoln.

As I remember it, I asked the question
why we did not bag the rebel army
after the battle of Sharpsburg.
Major Key’s reply was,
“That was not the game.
We should tire the rebels out and ourselves,
and that is the only way
the Union could be preserved.
We come together fraternally,
and slavery be saved.”

Major Key, is this true?

I said something like that,
but I have always been true to the Union.

If there is a game among Union men
to have our army not take any advantage
of the enemy when it could,
it is my object to break up that game.
Mr. Key, you are dismissed
from the military services of the United States.


Lincoln is talking with WILLIAM KELLEY.

Congressman, sit down and tell me
how it is that you,
for whose election nobody seemed to hope,
are returned with a good majority at your back,
while so many of our friends
about whom there was no doubt,
have been beaten badly.

Mr. President,
I was saved by my independent demand
for a fighting general to replace McClellan.
I went to the battlefield at Antietam
as an emergency man and was put in charge
of spare guns and sick horses
of a regular artillery battery.
I saw Porter’s corps of thirty thousand
fresh troops held in reserve.
They were not used at all,
but I think they could have
practically imprisoned Lee’s army.

Congressman EDWARD MCPHERSON comes in, and Lincoln shakes hands with him.

Congressman McPherson,
thank you for coming.
Why was there such an unhappy
and unexpected result in your district?

Well, sir, it’s hard to say.

Mr. President,
my colleague is not treating you frankly;
his friends hold you responsible for his defeat.

Tell me frankly what cost us your district.
If ever there was an occasion
when a man should speak
with perfect candor to another,
it is now when I apply to you
for information that may guide
my course in grave national matters.

Well, Mr. President,
I will tell you frankly what our friends say.
They charge the defeat to the general tardiness
in military movements,
which result, as they believe,
from McClellan’s unfitness for command.
The enforcement of the draft
occurred during the campaign,
and of course our political enemies
made a great deal of capital out of it,
but in my judgment not enough
to change the complexion of the district.
On the Friday and Saturday before the election
Confederate cavalry rode across the district,
burning a railroad station and machine shops,
camping in the streets, taking prisoners
and then paroling sick and wounded
Union soldiers in a hospital at Chambersburg.

Representative J. K. MOORHEAD comes in. Lincoln gets up and shakes his hand.

What word do you bring, Moorhead?
You, at any rate, were not defeated.

No, no, Mr. President, but I am sorry to say
it was not your fault that
we were not all beaten.
The administration delayed
and held on to McClellan for too long.
Some men in Harrisburg told me that
they would be glad to hear some morning
that you had been found hanging
from the post of a lamp
at the door of the White House.

You need not be surprised to find that
the suggestion has been executed any morning.
The violent preliminaries to such an event
would not surprise me.
I have done things lately
that must be incomprehensible to the people
and which cannot now be explained.

Kelly jumps up and paces back and forth.

The President should never let anyone hear
that I had ever considered such a thing!
The President shares a greater personal affection
than any public man since Washington.
Within twenty-four hours after you
replace McClellan with a soldier,
you will command resources
as no other President has.

Who do you think should replace McClellan?

I am inclined to Fighting Joe Hooker.

I am partial to Burnside.

Mr. President, I suggest that
you try one general after another
until you find the right man;
but the first change should be made soon.

We shall see what we shall see.



November 5

Lincoln is conferring with Stanton.

Stanton, do you think I have been fair
to General McClellan?

Sir, I think you have shown
extraordinary forbearance
with his procrastination and excuses.

I set in my mind that if he should permit Lee
to cross the Blue Ridge and place himself
between Richmond and the Army of the Potomac
that I would remove McClellan from command.
I have just received a report that
Lee and Longstreet are at Culpepper Courthouse.
Therefore I want an order sent to McClellan
that he is to report to Trenton, New Jersey
for further orders.
The command of the Army of the Potomac
is to be turned over to General Burnside.

Finally; this is great!


Lincoln is meeting with women from the Sanitary Commission, including MRS. LIVERMORE and MRS. HOGE.

Mrs. Hoge in Chicago has been helping
our Sanitary Commission to raise money,
and Sanitary Aid Societies are springing up
under her departing feet.

Before going home, we have stopped by,
Mr. President, for some word of encouragement.

I have no word of encouragement to give.
The military situation is far from bright,
and the country knows it as well as I do.

The women are silent in their sympathy.

LINCOLN (Cont’d.)
The fact is the people have not yet
made up their minds that
we are at war with the South.
They have not buckled down
to the determination to fight this war through;
for they have got the idea into their heads
that we are going to get out of this fix
somehow by strategy.
General McClellan thinks he is
going to whip the rebels by strategy;
and the Army has got the same notion.
They have no idea that the war is to be carried on
and put through by hard, tough fighting,
that it will hurt somebody;
and no headway is going to be made
while this delusion lasts.

But hundreds of thousands of men
have volunteered and have fought valiantly
at Donelson, Pea Ridge, and Shiloh.

I admit that,
but the people have not made up their minds
that we are at war, I tell you.
They think there is a royal road to peace
and that General McClellan is to find it.
The Army has not settled down
into the conviction that we are in a terrible war
that has got to be fought out.
When you came to Washington, ladies,
some two weeks ago, but very few soldiers
came on the trains with you—
that you will all remember.
But when you go back, you will find the trains
and every conveyance crowded with soldiers.
You won’t find a city on the route,
a town or a village, where soldiers and officers
on furlough are not as plenty as blackberries.
Whole regiments have two-thirds of their men
absent—a great many by desertion
and a great many on leave
granted by company officers,
which is almost as bad.

Are not more troops coming?
Last summer you called for
three hundred thousand more men.

General McClellan is all the time
asking for more troops,
and they are sent to him;
but the deserters and furloughed men
outnumber the recruits.
To fill up the Army is like
undertaking to shovel fleas.
You take up a shovelful;
but before you can dump anywhere,
they are gone.

Do you mean that our men desert?

That is just what I mean.
The number of desertions is
undermining the war effort
and is just now the most serious evil
we have to encounter.

Is not death the penalty for desertion?

Certainly it is.

And does it not lie with the President
to enforce the penalty?


Why not enforce it, then?
Before many soldiers had suffered
death for desertion,
this wholesale depletion on the Army
would be ended.

Oh, no, no! That can’t be done.
It would be unmerciful, barbarous.

But is it not more merciful to stop desertions
and to fill up the Army
so that when a battle comes off,
it may be decisive,
instead of being a drawn game,
as you say Antietam was?

It might seem so.
But if I should go to shooting men
by scores for desertion,
I should soon have such a hullabaloo
about my ears as I have not heard yet,
and I should deserve it.
You can’t order men shot by dozens or twenties.
People won’t stand it,
and they ought not to stand it.
No, we must change the condition of things
in some other way.


Lincoln is reading the text of his annual message to Senator Browning.

“… 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 cannot 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.”

Mr. President, thank you for reading to me
your annual message.
It is very long, and the end is inspiring;
but your proposed amendments
for compensated emancipation will never pass.

Secretary Chase said the same thing.


Lincoln welcomes J. WESLEY GREENE and hands him a letter.

Good morning, Mr. Greene;
please sit down.
Did you write that letter?

I did.

Lincoln rings a bell, and an ATTENDANT steps in.

I will receive no more visitors this morning.

The Attendant goes out.

LINCOLN (Cont’d.)
Please tell me in detail
as well as you can remember
everything touching on the matter
you hinted at in that letter.

I may be guilty of some irregularity
or perhaps an impropriety;
but I hope the end will justify the means.
I am from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
I was acquainted with Jefferson Davis
in the old Mexican War.
I made my way to Richmond
and called on Mr. Davis three times.
Each time he told me his terms
for negotiating a peace,
and these terms were printed
in the Chicago Times by Wilbur Fisk Storey.

What were the terms?

Briefly, there were three points.
First is a general and unconditional amnesty
for all political offenders.
Second is the restoration of all fugitive slaves,
and third is that each of the contending parties
are to be held responsible for its own debts.

I see nothing objectionable in them.

Greene smiles at this, and Lincoln notices.

LINCOLN (Cont’d.)
Of course there are certain contingencies
that would need to be fulfilled.


Senator PRESTON KING is talking with Seward.

Sir, a caucus of Republican senators
is planning to ask for your resignation.
I left the meeting before they agreed to secrecy,
and I thought you ought to know.

They may do as they please about me,
but they shall not put the President
in a false position on my account.

Seward leaves the room and comes back with his son FREDERICK SEWARD.

What is the paper for, Father?

You and I are going to write out our resignations,
and then I would like you and Senator King
to take them over to the White House.


Lincoln is talking with Seward.

Senator King explained about the Senators;
but Seward, you know I depend upon you.

It will be a relief to be freed from official cares.

Ah yes, Governor,
that will do very well for you,
but I am like the starling in Sterne’s story,
“I can’t get out.”



December 18

Lincoln is talking with Senator Browning.

What do these Senators want?

They are exceedingly violent
towards the administration,
and the resolution was the gentlest thing
that could be done.

They want to get rid of me,
and I am sometimes half disposed
to gratify them.
We are now on the brink of destruction
It appears to me the Almighty is against us,
and I can hardly see a ray of hope.

Seward is the especial object of their hostility,
but they are also very bitter towards you.

Why should men believe a lie?
Since I heard last night
of the proceedings of the caucus,
I have been more distressed
than by any event of my life.

The attack in the Senate caucus on Mr. Seward
was by the partisans of Mr. Chase,
and I have reason to believe
that he set them on.
They want to drive out the cabinet
and make Mr. Chase premier.

Browning goes out as the Committee of Nine Senators comes in. They are JACOB COLLAMER, Wade, Sumner, LYMAN TURNBULL, JAMES GRIMES, WILLIAM FESSENDEN, IRA HARRIS, SAMUEL POMEROY, and JACOB HOWARD.

Mr. President, here are our grievances:


The conduct of the war is in the hands of men
who have no sympathy with it or its cause.
The defeat of Republicans in the election
is the result of the President
placing the direction of our military affairs
in the hands of bitter and malignant Democrats.

They are largely pro-slavery men
and sympathize strongly
with the southern feeling.
Anti-slavery men such as Fremont and Hunter
have been disgraced.
It is time to change this.
The war should be conducted by its friends.
General McClellan has been used
for party purposes and is now busy
in attacking the Government.
Secretary of State Seward is
his chief supporter in the cabinet.

This movement against Seward
shocks and grieves me.
The cabinet has been at loggerheads
on certain issues,
but there have never been
serious disagreements.
I have been sustained and consoled
by the cabinet’s mutual and unselfish
confidence and zeal.
I realize now that you are more earnest and sad
than malicious or passionate,
and I am satisfied with the tone
and temper of this conversation.


Lincoln is meeting with those in the cabinet except for Seward.

What is said in this meeting shall be kept secret.
Mr. Seward has submitted a letter of resignation.
I have met with the Committee of Nine,
and I shall read their paper aloud.


LINCOLN (Cont’d.)
… and so it is not possible for me to go on
with a total abandonment of old friends.
While they seemed to believe in my honesty,
they also appeared to think that
when I had in me
any good purpose or intention,
Seward contrived
to suck it out of me unperceived.
I propose a joint session this evening
with the cabinet and the Committee of Nine.

Mr. President,
I object to that in the strongest terms.
I see no point in having the cabinet
face their senatorial accusers.

Does anyone else object?

I also see no good coming out of
such an interview.

If there are no other objections,
then the meeting will begin at seven.


Lincoln is meeting with the cabinet (except for Seward) and the Committee of Nine (except for Wade).

Most questions of importance have received
a reasonable consideration,
and all have acquiesced in measures
when once they have been decided.
Mr. Seward has not improperly interfered
with the prosecution of the war
as the Committee charged,
and he has fully concurred
in the Emancipation Proclamation.
I would like to hear the opinions
of the other cabinet members.

I believe it would be injurious to public service
to have Mr. Seward leave the cabinet,
and the Senate had better not meddle
with matters of that kind.

There has been no want of unity in the cabinet
but a general acquiescence in public measures;
Yet I regret that there was not a more
full and thorough consideration
of every important measure in open cabinet.

How many Senators still think
Seward ought to be excused?

Grimes, Turnbull, Sumner, and Pomeroy raise their hands.

I would not have come to this session
if I had known that I was going to be
arraigned before a committee of the Senate.

Sir, you are not being arraigned,
and I agree that all important questions
should be discussed in full cabinet council.
What you are saying now is different than
what we heard from you before.
I do not think it proper to discuss
the merits or demerits of a member of the cabinet
in the presence of his associates.

I agree, and I think members
of the cabinet should withdraw.

Chase stands up, and the cabinet members file out, followed by Senators Collamer and Harris.

There is a current rumor that
Mr. Seward has resigned.
If so, our opinions are of no consequence.

I have Mr. Seward’s resignation in my pocket
but have not yet made it public or accepted it.

Do you wish us to advise with
our fellow senators on this point?

I think not.
Gentlemen, we have been meeting
for five hours.

The other Senators leave, but Turnbull comes back and speaks to Lincoln privately.

Mr. President, the Secretary of the Treasury
talked in a very different tone
the last time we spoke.


Welles is talking with Lincoln.

Sir, I think it would be a grievous mistake
for you to accept Mr. Seward’s resignation.
I believe the Senators’ presumptions of Seward
are inappropriate and wrong.
You should maintain the rights and privileges
of the executive and reject their attempts
to interfere in internal cabinet matters.

I agree with you, Mr. Welles,
and I would like you tell that to Mr. Seward.


Welles and Montgomery Blair are talking with Seward.

I am pleased that neither of you
wants me to resign.


Lincoln is sitting by the fire with Chase, Stanton, and Welles.

That meeting was a total surprise to me,
and it has painfully affected me.
Mr. President, I have written out my resignation.

Where is it?

I brought it with me.
I wrote it this morning.

Let me have it.

Chase takes the paper out of his pocket and is hesitating about handing it over when Lincoln snatches it out of his hand. Lincoln opens the envelope and reads it quickly. He holds up the letter toward Welles and laughs.

LINCOLN (Cont’d.)
This cuts the Gordian knot.
I see my way clear now
to dispose of this subject without difficulty.

Stanton stands up.

Mr. President,
I informed you day before yesterday
that I was ready to tender you my resignation.
I wish you, sir, to consider my resignation
at this time in your possession.

You may go to your Department.
I don’t want yours.
This is all I want; this relieves me;
my way is clear; the trouble is ended.
I will detain neither of you longer.


Lincoln is talking with Senate secretary JOHN FORNEY and ADMIRAL JOHN DAHLGREN.

I think it would be good to publish the report
of the committee on the fight at Frederick
because the people are excited.

Why will people be such damned fools?

Mr. President, I hope that
you will not let Mr. Chase resign,
nor Mr. Seward either.

If one goes, the other must;
they must hunt in couples.
I am going to send them notes
that I cannot let them quit.
Mr. Caleb Smith has been wanting to resign,
and I have appointed him to be
a district judge in Indiana.
I am nominating his assistant John Usher
to be the new Secretary of the Interior.


Lincoln is standing by the long table used by the cabinet as his friend Z. S. ROBBINS comes in with REV. BYRON SUNDERLAND, who is very short and has to look up to Lincoln.

Abe, this is Dr. Sunderland,
who serves as the chaplain in the Senate.

I have come, Mr. President,
to anticipate the New Year with my respects,
and if I may, to say to you a word
about the serious condition of this country.

Go ahead, Doctor, every little bit helps.

Mr. President, they say that
you are not going to keep your promise
to give us the Emancipation Proclamation,
that it is your intention to withdraw it.

Well, Doctor, you know Peter was going to do it;
but when the time came, he did not.

Mr. President, I have been studying Peter.
He did not deny his Master
until after his Master rebuked him
in the presence of the enemy.
You have a master too, Mr. Lincoln,
the American people.
Don’t deny your master
till he has rebuked you before all the world.

Sit down, Doctor Sunderland; let us talk.

The three men sit down by the table. Lincoln puts an elbow on the table and his hands over his forehead. Then he looks up.

LINCOLN (Cont’d.)
Doctor, if it had been left to you and me,
there would have been no war.
There would have been no cause for this war,
but it was not left to us.
God has allowed men
to make slaves of their fellows.
He permits this war.
He has before him a strange spectacle.
We on our side
are praying him to give us victory
because we believe we are right;
but those on the other side
pray him too for victory,
believing they are right.
What must he think of us?
And what is coming from the struggle?
What will be the effect of it all
on the whites and on the Negroes?



December 31

Lincoln is meeting with his cabinet except for the Secretary of the Interior.

Gentlemen, I have taken into consideration
your suggestions on the final wording
of the Emancipation Proclamation.
I have kept the addition about
receiving persons of suitable condition
into the armed service of the United States.
I have followed the suggestions of Mr. Seward
and others on verbal improvements;
but I have not accepted the view of Mr. Chase
that certain areas within the states of Virginia
and Louisiana should not be excepted.
On that I agree with Attorney General Bates.
However, I have accepted the final paragraph
proposed by Mr. Chase,
though I have substituted the words
“upon military necessity” for the phrase
“and an act of duty demanded by
the circumstances of the country.”
The final paragraph now reads,
“And upon this act,
sincerely believed to be an act of justice,
warranted by the Constitution,
upon military necessity,
I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind
and the gracious favor of almighty God.”



January 1, 1863

Lincoln and Mary are greeting a long line of people. As they file by, Lincoln shakes hands with each person. Marshal WARD HILL LAMON is standing next to Lincoln as his bodyguard, and Benjamin French is standing next to Mary.

I wish you a good year.

Oh, Mr. French, how much
we have passed through
since last we stood here!


How nice to see you again!

I have to rest.
Please excuse me.

Mary leaves the room.


Lincoln is sitting at this desk when Seward and Frederick Seward come in with a document. They unroll it on the cabinet table.

Here it is, Mr. President,
we had the error you noticed
corrected with a new engrossment.

Lincoln sits at the table, picks up a steel pen, and is about to sign the document; but then he hesitates and shakes his right arm.

I never in my life felt more certain
that I was doing right
than I do in signing this paper.
If my name ever goes into history,
it will be for this act,
and my whole soul is in it.
But I have been receiving callers
and shaking hands for the past three hours
till my arm is stiff and numb.
Now this signature is one
that will be closely examined.
If my hand trembles
when I sign the Proclamation,
those who examine the document hereafter
will say, “He had some compunction.”
But any way it is going to be done.

Lincoln signs the Emancipation Proclamation, then looks up and smiles.

LINCOLN (Cont’d.)
That will do.

Seward signs his name as Secretary of State.


Lincoln waves from a balcony, and the serenaders below sing “The Battle Hymn of the Republic.” During the singing, Lincoln weeps.

Mine eyes have seen the glory
of the coming of the Lord:
He is trampling out the vintage
where the grapes of wrath are stored;
He hath loosed the fateful lightning
of His terrible swift sword:
His truth is marching on.

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His truth is marching on.

I have seen Him in the watch-fires
of a hundred circling camps,
They have builded Him an altar
in the evening dews and damps;
I can read His righteous sentence
by the dim and flaring lamps:
His day is marching on.

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
His day is marching on.

I have read a fiery gospel
writ in burnished rows of steel:
“As ye deal with my condemners,
so with you my grace shall deal;
Let the Hero, born of woman,
crush the serpent with his heel,
Since God is marching on.”

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Since God is marching on.

He has sounded forth the trumpet
that shall never call retreat;
He is sifting out the hearts of men
before His judgment-seat:
Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him!
be jubilant, my feet!
Our God is marching on.

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Our God is marching on.

In the beauty of the lilies
Christ was born across the sea,
With a glory in His bosom
that transfigures you and me:
As He died to make men holy,
let us die to make men free,
While God is marching on.

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
While God is marching on.

He is coming like the glory
of the morning on the wave,
He is Wisdom to the mighty,
He is honor to the brave,
So the world shall be His footstool,
and the soul of Time His slave,
Our God is marching on.

Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Glory, glory, hallelujah!
Our God is marching on.

The end of Part 6

Copyright © 2008 by Sanderson Beck

Learning Politics and Law
In Congress and Out
Debating Douglas
Becoming President
Civil War Begins
Proclaiming Emancipation
War by Conscription
Getting Re-elected
Victory and Death

How Lincoln Could Have Prevented Civil War
Lincoln Bibliography
Lincoln Chronology

BECK index