Confiscation and Emancipation, July 1862 (An essay discussing the war and peace powers of the constitution in light of the Civil War)

Confiscation and Emancipation (From Brownson's Quarterly Review for July, 1862)

  Very few of us who call ourselves loyal men and patriots had at the outbreak of the great southern rebellion a perfectly clear and distinct perception of the constitutional principles on which it was to be suppressed.  All were anxious for its speedy suppression, and that, too, in strict accordance with the constitution, for, after saving the life and integrity of the republic, our dearest wish was to save constitutional government; but our minds were not clear as to the principles on which it was to be done.  To many it was evident that the peace powers of the constitution were not adequate to the exigencies of the case, and to others it was not clear that the war power could be constitutionally invoked and exercised against our own citizens, even though in arms against government.

   The administration adopted in the outset the theory that the rebellion is not civil war, and the rebels are not enemies, but citizens criminally combined to obstruct the administration of justice, and to resist the execution of the laws.  This is evident from the president’s inaugural address, and his proclamation calling out the militia.  Congress itself at the extra session, unless its partial confiscation act be an exception, appears to have adopted the president’s theory of the rebellion, and we can call to mind no act of that session incompatible with it.  But on this theory the government is restricted to the peace provisions of the constitution.  The military forces are not an army operating against enemies, but a posse comitatus acting under the orders of the civil magistrate in aid of the civil authority, just as when called out to aid in suppressing a riot.  On this theory, any and every assumption of war powers, or appeal to the rights of war would be manifestly unconstitutional, and unjustifiable on any recognized principles of law.  Yet the government, while apparently adopting this theory, which we call the peace theory, and assuming the country to be at peace, has blockaded the southern ports, has made prizes, sent and received flags of truce, treated captured rebels as prisoners of war, released them on parole, or exchanged them, and done various other things which imply a state of war, and which would be highly improper, in some respects criminal, if the rebels are not enemies as well as criminal citizens.

   The adoption of the peace theory by the government as the constitutional theory, and many of its acts being defensible only on the war theory, has continued and increased the confusion in loyal minds, and at the same time given the opposition in and out of congress some show of reason in organizing themselves as a constitutional party, and in professing to oppose the government on strictly constitutional grounds.  If the government adopts and insists on the peace theory, many of its acts are undeniably open to the strictures of such men as Powell of Kentucky, Saulsbury of Delaware, Vallandingham of Ohio, and Diven of New York.  On this theory the various bills introduced into congress, one of which has passed the house while we are writing, for confiscating the property of rebels and emancipatting their slaves, are, if regarded as penal statutes against the rebels, of doubtful constitutionality.  It may be plausibly argued, to say the least, that such measures are not within the purview of the peace powers of the constitution, and, if defensible at all, are defensible only under the war power, - only on the supposition that the property and slaves in question, are the property and slaves of enemies.

   The constitution says expressly that, “The congress shall have power to declare the punishment of treason, but no attainder shall work corruption of blood, or forfeiture, except during the life of the person attained.”  This, taken in an untechnical sense and as usually understood, positively forbids congress to pass any confiscation laws, as a penalty for treason, except during the life of the traitor.  Confiscation of rebel property as a punishment for treason for a longer period than the life of the traitor, would, consequently, according to this interpretation, be manifestly unconstitutional, and the courts would be obliged to treat the act of congress authorizing it as null and void.  So of emancipation.  As a peace power neither the congress nor the president has any power over the emancipation question.  Slavery does not exist under or by virtue of the constitution of the United States.  So far as it has any legal existence at all in the Union, it exists by the jus proprium of the several states, and all the federal government has authority to do with it is, to see that the constitutional provision for the return of the persons held to service escaping from one state to another is carried out.  If the rebel slaveholders are to be regarded not as enemies, but as simply criminal citizens, an act emancipating their slaves would be undeniably in violation of the constitution, a usurpation of power that no lover of the constitution can for one moment permit.  So far we are disposed to agree with those members of congress, who oppose, on constitutional grounds, both confiscation and emancipation.  

   Yet, we heartily approve a stringent confiscation act, and demand full and immediate emancipation at least of all the slaves claimed by the rebels.  Both are necessary as a means of weakening the rebels, obtaining indemnity for the past, and security for the future.  We demand indemnity for the expenses incurred in suppressing the rebellion.  The government has no right to exempt rebel property, and compel the loyal men of the country not only to pour out their blood in its defense, but to bear the burden of the expense necessarily incurred, when there is within its reach rebel property that can be seized as an indemnity.  It would be paying a premium for treason, and imposing an almost insupportable tax on loyalty.  The rebels have confiscated some two hundred millions of debts due to the loyal men in the loyal states, besides a large amount of property owned by northern men in the seceding states.  They have stolen or destroyed many millions of property owned by the United States, and compelled an expenditure by the Union of at least twelve hundred millions, to say nothing of indemnities to private citizens, especially loyal citizens of the rebellious states, which will be found in the end to be nearly as much more.  We protest against the whole burden of this immense expenditure falling on the federal treasury.  The whole debt contracted, we hold, is a lien on rebel property, and the property of the rebels, as far as it will go, must be made to pay the cost of putting down their rebellion.  We held indeed, that all the property of the rebellious states, and all held under them, has lapsed to the United States by the rebellion of those states, for we hold, as our readers know, that state rebellion is state suicide, the death of the state, and, so far as it depended on the state, the dissolution of all civil society in its territory.  But we demand, if congress will not accept this doctrine, that it authorize the seizure of rebel property as a just indemnity, as far as it will go, of the expense of government and the losses by the rebellion of loyal private citizens.  

   But we cannot make this demand under the peace powers of the constitution, or on the government theory of the rebellion.  We can make it only under the war power, as one of the rights of war, and therefore only on the ground that the country is not at peace, that the rebellion is civil war, and that the rebels are not only criminal citizens and punishable as such, but enemies against whom the government has all the rights of war.  We have against the rebels all the civil rights determined by the constitution, and, besides these, all the rights of war against foreign enemies; for all authorities agree that a rebellion assuming certain dimensions is civil war, and the laws of war apply to civil or domestic war in like manner as to a foreign war, or, in other words, that the government has against domestic enemies all the rights that it has against a foreign state with which it is at war.  That is to say, it has all the rights of a belligerent in addition to its rights as a sovereign.  This clears up the confusion we have referred to, as may be seen in Mr. Sumner’s masterly speech in the senate on confiscation, the title of which we have quoted at the head of this article.  Mr. Sumner has drawn sharply the distinction between the peace powers of the constitution and the war power, and shown what we can and what we cannot do under each of them.  We have done nothing but state in our own way his positions, and we refer to his speech for the authorities he cites in their support, and for the arguments by which he sustains them.  In that speech he proves himself to be scrupulously attached to the constitution as he is ardent and unreserved in his devotion to liberty.  He is not merely the warm-hearted philanthropist, the indefatigable advocate of negro emancipation, but also an able and profound constitutional lawyer.

   The right of both confiscation and emancipation under the war power is undeniable.  The laws of war allow the seizure and appropriation of enemy’s property wherever it can be reached without invading the jurisdiction of a neutral power.  They also authorize the demand of indemnity for expenses incurred in prosecuting the war, and security for the future.  This demand may be complied with by the payment of a sum of money agreed on between the parties, by a concession of territory, or by the concession of certain commercial facilities, as may be stipulated in the treaty of peace.  It is on the right to demand indemnity for the past and security for the future, that rests the validity of the title by conquest.  

   It is true, as Mr. Sumner remarks, that, in modern times the private property of citizens on land is respected, and the rights of war, except on sea, authorize only the seizure and appropriation of the public property of the enemy.  This is because the government is held responsible, and because the citizens in their private character are not held to be enemies, or, if so, not by their own choice.  This is a modification of the laws of war, which we owe to Christianity.  Under the old jus gentium as recognized by Roman jurisprudence, all the property, both public and private, of the hostile nation fell to the conqueror.  Hence Rome or the Roman Emperor was regarded as the sole proprietor of all the land of the conquered provinces, which, if it continued to be held by its former owners, was held by lease or payment of a stipulated rent or tribute.  But this restriction of the war power does not apply in the case of rebels or domestic enemies, for they have no legal government, and are held to act individually, from choice, and therefore must be held individually responsible.  

   This is Mr. Sumner’s doctrine, and in most questions of rebellion is unquestionable.  But in our case the question might arise whether the rebels are not states rather than individuals.  The states have acted in their state capacity, and demanded the support of their citizens by virtue of their allegiance to the state.  In such a case the demand for indemnity and security would be against the state, and not directly against the individual citizen.  This view was taken and urged at some length in our pages in the article on The Struggle of the Nation for Life.  But it was taken not so much to meet the present question, as to escape the difficulties we felt in adopting the peace theory of the administration, on which we did not believe it possible to suppress the rebellion.  Our thought was, in case of success, to compel the states, as states, to meet the demand for indemnity and security.  This, we think, could be defended if it should be denied that state rebellion is state suicide, and it would answer most of the purposes of a confiscation act.  But we have since looked more closely into the question of state sovereignty than we had previously done, and have come to the conclusion that the states are not and never were sovereign states either in law or in fact, that the American people are and always have been one political people, and that the individual allegiance of the citizen is due to the United States alone.  The state by rebellion forfeits all its rights, its very existence ceases to be a legal entity, and therefore the citizen is not bound by any of the acts or enactments of the pretended state after its rebellion.  Hence he must be held individually responsible for his rebellion, and be accounted personally an enemy.  In this case, Mr. Sumner’s doctrine applies, for the private property of rebels is enemy’s property, and may be confiscated as such.

    The right to confiscate enemy’s property under the war power is indubitable; but the war power itself - is that a constitutional power?  As against foreign enemies it is certainly constitutional, and equally so, if the doctrine we have asserted be sound, against domestic enemies.  The war power is not, as some seem to suppose, a power above or outside of the constitution. Every sovereign state has, by virtue of the sole fact that it is a sovereignty, the inherent and indefeasible right of self-defense, or of self preservation, to demand redress for injuries inflicted, and to guard against injuries threatened.  In this is founded the right of war, whence flows the war power.  The war power is inherent in the United States, as a free, independent, and sovereign state, and is by the political people of the United States expressly vested by the constitution in congress, as any one may see by reading Article I, Section 8.  The constitution recognizes the war power, and confers it on congress.  It is, then, a constitutional power, as constitutional as any of the peace powers.  The war power is recognized and conferred by the constitution, but the constitution does not specify or determine the rights or laws of war.  These are determined by the jus gentium, or international law, as recognized and enforced by universal jurisprudence, or the jurisprudence of all civilized or Christian states.  The rights or laws of war, as recognized by international law, which is a part of the civil law of every nation, are constitutional, and congress can, while the war is pending, as constitutionally exercise them as it can any other rights.  The confiscation of rebel property, even if unauthorized, or forbidden under the peace powers of the constitution, is then constitutional under the war power.  

   So much for the right while the war is pending to confiscate.  The expediency of exercising the right or not exercising it, or of exercising it only with discrimination, or to a partial extent, is a question for the government to determine.  No government is obliged to exercise all its rights, or to push its rights to their extreme.  The rebels, while the civil war lasts, are enemies, as much, and as strictly so, as if they were foreigners; but we expect the government to suppress the rebellion, and the people of the seceding states to return, after a while, to their allegiance, and to demean themselves as our countrymen and fellow-citizens.  It is the duty of the government to use against them all the force and all the means authorized by the laws and usages of civilized warfare necessary to induce them to submit, and cease their opposition; but it is for the interest of the whole country that this should be done with as little injury to them as possible.  It could be of no advantage to the loyal states, even if they were so disposed, which they are not, to reduce the great mass of the population of the seceding states to absolute pauperism, to deprive them of all capital, and entirely ruin their industry.  It is the duty of the United States to save them, as far as we can, from completely ruining themselves. We do not think interest, humanity, or sound policy, can counsel extreme and indiscriminate confiscation.  We, if the matter were left to us, would leave the mass of the people,- who have but small means, and who have been drawn into the rebellion by their leaders rather than by their own malice,- when returning to their loyalty, the undisturbed possession of their little properties.  We would exempt them from the operation of the confiscation law. 

   But we would not spare the leaders and the wealthy secessionists, the members of the confederate government, or of the seceding state governments, those who have accepted office under them, and the commissioned officers of the confederate army and navy.  On all these we would let the confiscation law fall with its full force.  It is due to patriotism and loyalty that it should do so.  These should not escape with impunity.  There will, of course, be no hanging, no capital punishment for treason.  The time has gone by for that.  If we intended to inflict on traitors the traitor’s doom, we should have begun our hanging under Mr. Buchanan’s administration, and Mr. Lincoln’s government should have arrested and executed as traitors, the commissioners sent by the so-called confederates to Washington to negotiate the terms of the dissolution of the Union, instead of treating them, unofficially of course, as high-minded, honorable, and accomplished gentlemen.  As much as we disapprove the mistimed leniency in the beginning, whether it sprang from policy or cowardice, we should still more disapprove any prosecutions, after the war is over, under the civil law for treason.  The legal right to do it we of course maintain, but after the past we believe such prosecutions would be highly dishonorable, and that they would prove to be at best a useless and an impolitic vengeance.  Yet some punishment the leaders and influential classes who favored the rebellion should receive.  But if the punishment extends to stripping them of all their property, and reducing them to the necessity of earning their bread by the sweat of their faces, it will probably be punishment enough.  

    The principle on which we defend the constitutionality of confiscation of enemy’s property enables us to defend the emancipation of the enemy’s slaves as a strictly constitutional measure.  We hold, as we endeavored to prove in our last Review, that the slaves in all the rebellious states are already legally free. The suicide of those states of itself emancipated the slaves, and the federal government has no authority to remand them to slavery.  Strictly speaking, slavery does not exist in the United States, and never has existed in them since the adoption of the federal constitution.  The United States knows only persons, whatever their race or complexion, and persons, though they may be bondmen, are not slaves.  The people of the United States, when they formed and adopted the federal constitution, abolished slavery, by recognizing and describing those who had been slaves as “persons held to service,” and thus raising them, though they might be bondmen, from chattels to men.  It would be a nice question, whether the constitution did not also abolish hereditary bondage.  Hereditary bondage is founded on the legal fiction that the mother is chattel, a thing, and that the offspring belongs to the master as the natural increase of property, which cannot be alleged if the mother is recognized as a person.  If hereditary bandage has any legal existence in any of the states it must be by what lawyers call jus proprium, some special or express local statute, or custom having the force of law, not by the jus gentium.  We apprehend, if we should inquire, that a great deal in regard to slavery alleged to be legal would be found to be in reality illegal, without even the shadow of a law, national or municipal, in its support.  But be this as it may, it is undeniable that congress under the war power, as a war measure, has the right to break the bond, and emancipate all the persons held to service by the rebels, and, as to the matter, also all so held by loyal citizens, only in the latter case a fair compensation might be due.  The complete and immediate emancipation of all the slaves or bondmen is thus within the constitutional power of congress, as a war measure, though evidently not as a peace measure.

   We have no doubt, as we maintained in our article Slavery and the War, that the president, as commander-in-chief of the army and navy, has the power to emancipate the slaves, when and where in his judgment it is a military necessity, or necessary to the military operations in hand.  So, we think, has in his department any general having a departmental command, unless he has received positive instructions from his superior not to do it.  The recent order of General Hunter freeing the slaves in the states of South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida, comprised within his military department, was, we have no doubt, a valid order, and the persons previously held to service in those states are now legally free, as are the persons so held freed by General Freemont’s proclamation last autumn in the department of the West.  The president is bound by the legal acts of his generals, unless he can show, as we presume he cannot, that they have disobeyed orders, or disregarded their instructions.  If in these departments the slaves were legally freed by the orders of the generals, the president cannot remand them to slavery by any modification of the orders after they were once formally issued.  Either the orders did not free the slaves, or those slaves are now legally free, whatever may have been the subsequent action of the president.  If the president disapproved of the policy of those orders, he should have instructed his generals not to issue them.  After they are issued it is too late to revoke them.  A third party has then an interest. 

   But the power of the commander-in-chief to emancipate the slaves is confined to strict military necessity, and he can do it only as strictly necessary to his military operations.  The commander-in-chief may believe, though it would be highly advantageous to the prosecution of the war to emancipate the slaves, that it is not in a military point of view absolutely necessary, and, therefore, very properly refuse to proclaim emancipation.  The power, therefore, though in certain supposable cases in the president, yet as it is included in the war power of the government, is more properly vested in congress.  It is a war power rather than a military power, and emancipation must be regarded as a war measure rather than as a military operation, or military expedient.  The military can adopt it only as a measure necessary to its operations, but congress can adopt it as a useful or advantageous war measure, a measure useful in prosecuting the war, in securing its ends, or in bringing it to a more speedy and successful issue.

   Judge Trumball, in his able speech on introducing a bill into the senate, at the opening of the session, for confiscating the property and emancipating the slaves of rebels, has dissipated the notion entertained by not a few, that the war power and the military power are one and the same, and that only the military can exercise the war power.  He cleared up no little confusion by showing that the war power is the legitimate power of the government, and vested by the constitution in congress.  The executive department, so to speak, of the war power, as of the other powers of the government, is committed to the president, who is made by the constitution commander-in-chief of the army and navy; but the power to declare war, to vote supplies of men and money, and to determine the policy and purposes of the war is expressly vested in congress, and the president acts simply in prosecuting it as the executive department of the government.  It is not true to suppose that the war power comes into play only under martial law, and that under the war power the civil gives way to the military.  Under our constitution the civil government holds the war power, and it is by the authority of the civil government that the military operates, or has the right to operate.  The president, as the chief civil magistrate of the nation, watches over the general welfare, takes care of the republic, and sees that the laws are executed,- and to this end he is made commander-in-chief of the army and navy, or the whole land and naval forces of the Union.  His military command is, therefore, subsidiary to his office as chief magistrate.  The military is only an arm of the civil government, and can rightly move only by its will, for it is as chief civil magistrate that the president calls out the militia to repel and invasion, or to quell an insurrection; or has the chief command of the land and naval forces.

   It is of great importance always to keep this in mind.  The civil authority under our system controls the military.  The war power is not the prerogative of the military, but of the civil government, and the military operates under and not over it.  Were it otherwise, we might become a military despotism, or, in time of war at least, the civil authority would be placed in abeyance, and only the military would rule.  Such a case could occur legitimately only when the whole country was placed under martial law.  We have not the fears that many of our countrymen have of military despotism, and have no jealousies, common to most civilians, of the army.  As a people we have held both army and navy in too low esteem, and are now suffering from it.  We have made light of military honors and military glory, and thought we were humane and patriotic in discouraging the cultivation of a military spirit in our young men.  In all this we have been wrong.  An unmilitary people is sure to become a corrupt and an unpatriotic people.  We were personally never a supporter of Andrew Jackson, but we never sympathized in the opposition to him on the ground that he was a “military chieftain,” or had proved himself an able and successful general.  We said years ago, and we say now, that we should always, other things being equal, prefer a real military man for the chief magistrate of the Union, to a civilian.  The military man is usually a better executive officer, and carries into office better formed habits both of obedience and command, more promptness, energy, and activity, and a better coup d’oeil than a man taken from civil life.  If we had a larger sprinkling, not of militia generals and colonels, but of real military men, in congress, we should find our legislation none the worse for it. 

   But the real danger for our institutions comes from the tendency to devolve more and more of the duties of government on the president.  He exercises in times of war extraordinary powers, and prudence requires that no more should be thrown upon him than properly belongs to his office.  It is necessary to keep distinct and separate the several departments of government, as was intended by the constitution, and for each department to take care to neglect none of its own functions, and to avoid encroaching upon those of either of the others.  The habit of devolving upon the executive duties which properly belong to congress, or calling upon it to do what congress itself can do, is fraught with danger, and may, if not checked, cause or permit the president to grow not into a military chieftain, but into a civil chieftain, which is a great deal worse.  For these reasons we prefer that the war measure we insist on should be adopted by congress rather than by the president, far as civil magistrate the president has no power to do more than recommend it to congress, and as the head of the military power he can do it only in a military emergency.  In any case it is more in accordance with the spirit of our institutions that it should be done by the civil than it should be done by the military authority.  Besides congress has freer scope under the war power, and may take a larger and more liberal view of what is called military necessity than the commander-in-chief can.  It can decree emancipation as a useful war measure, though not in the strictest sense of the term absolutely necessary, and even though it be not morally impossible to suppress the rebellion without decreeing it.  It can do it whenever it regards it in the exercise of its best judgment a wise and prudent measure, and likely to be highly advantageous in prosecuting the war, or in obtaining the desired security for the future.  

   We assert the constitutional right of congress under the war power to declare universal emancipation as a war measure.  But as a war measure it is obvious that congress can adopt it only as the war is pending.  When the war is over and peace has returned, congress no longer has any power over it, for we have seen that emancipation in the state does not come within the scope of the peace powers of the federal government.  Hence we have not regarded the proposition of the president, embodied in a resolution adopted by congress, to furnish pecuniary aid to those states that may choose to initiate emancipation, as so important as have some of our friends.  The proposition is intended to be either a peace measure or a war measure.  As a war measure, we doubt its value, for we do not believe any of the states will adopt it, or that it will tend at all to make Delaware, Maryland, Kentucky, and Missouri, one whit more loyal or less disloyal than they now are.  Undoubtedly, if it would secure the hearty support of these states to the Union, or tend to detach Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee, from the so-called confederacy, it would be justifiable under the war power, and a prudent and advantageous war measure.  But we anticipate from it neither of these effects, till the war is virtually over, and both its necessity and its utility as a war measure have passed away.  The menace with which the president accompanied his proposition can be carried into effect only while the war continues; and unless the war continues much longer than it is now hoped, it will turn out to be only a brutum fulmen, intended rather to divert the pressure of foreign or domestic opponents of slavery, than to have any effect in actually promoting the cause of emancipation. 

   As a peace measure, the proposition stokes us as unconstitutional.  We see nothing unconstitutional in compensating the slaveholders in the District of Columbia for the slaves emancipated by the act of congress, for there slavery existed by the authority of the United States.  The United States had, iniquitously if you will, and as we certainly hold, recognized and sanctioned slavery in the district.  It ought at once, no doubt, to free the slaves; but as citizens had acquired under its authority a property in the services of the slaves or persons held to service, it could not justly destroy that property without indemnification.  You may say it owed a still greater indemnity to the slaves for the loss for so many years of their own services, and we shall not dispute you.  But we hold that a state that has authorized slavery cannot justly abolish it without indemnifying the loyal owners of the property it has authorized for the loss they must sustain by its abolition.  But we are aware of no clause in the constitution that authorizes the federal government to impose a tax on me for compensating the owners of slave property in the states, where it has never existed by authority of the United States.  The government could tax me my portion for buying up and shipping off to Haiti, SanDomingo, Central America, or elsewhere, all the negroes in the country as a war measure, but not one cent for any thing of the sort as a peace measure, nor any other citizen.  The tax or the appropriation of money from the treasury for such a purpose would be clearly illegal.

   The president, we doubt not, is opposed to slavery, and would be glad to see it abolished; but he is, as he has declared, not in favor of immediate emancipation, and, we presume, favorable to emancipation at all only as it is coupled with colonization, or deportation of the liberated slaves beyond the limits of the territory of the Union.  We are ourselves favorable to colonization, or rather to the voluntary emigration of the colored population to a territory where they will not have to struggle against the prejudices of race, as they must if they remain the in the Union, and we look forward to such immigration as the final solution of the negro question; but we do not suffer ourselves to couple with the negro question the slavery question, which is a distinct question, and must be disposed of whether the other be or not.  The slavery question is now up for solution, and cannot be much longer safely postponed.  We have great respect for the chief magistrate of the Union; we have great confidence in his shrewdness and judgment, and should treat with grave consideration any opinions, wishes, or even prejudices of his, however unreasonable they might appear to ourselves; but we must confess that we have great difficulty in not losing our patience when we hear people talk about gradual emancipation. What kind of use will gradual emancipation be as a war measure?  If you mean to adopt emancipation as a war measure, you must do it at once, and speedily; if you mean to recommend it only as a peace measure, to be carried out after the war is over, we see not what right you have to meddle with it.

    The pretense that the negroes, if free, will not work, and cannot take care of themselves is, if you protect them against the oppression of the white men, all moonshine, and is every day refuted by what we see before our eyes.  The negroes are far better able to take care of themselves, than are their white masters to take care of themselves, without them.  Do you refer us to the free negroes of the North?  We grant that as a general thing they do not get along very well.  But why?  Because prejudice against their race closes to them almost every avenue of success, shuts them out from the public schools, and confines them to a few, and those the least lucrative, branches of industry.  They in some places may be farm laborers, they may be barbers, waiters in hotels and on steamboats, and servants in private families, even common sailors; but they cannot get employment in factories or as mechanics, as masons, carpenters, joiners, cabinet-makers, blacksmiths, tailors, tanners, curriers, etc.  Yet they do contrive to live, to bring up their families, and some of them acquire handsome properties.  At the South, the free negroes, when suffered to live there, do much better.  In the District of Columbia they are found to have done well, and we have ourselves seen free negroes in Louisiana that were intelligent and wealthy, who, aside from the question of color, would be accounted accomplished and respectable.  Our own barber, a full-blooded negro, is a moral and upright man, and superior in intelligence, wealth, and real respectability, to half of the white men in this city.  

   We have never heard a respectable argument in favor of gradual emancipation.  “Hope deferred makes the heart sick,” and the very worst school possible in which to acquire the habits of freemen is slavery.  What good purpose do you propose to answer by gradual emancipation that could not be answered equally, if not better, by immediate emancipation?  Do you begin to talk of the horrors of San Domingo, and tell us the slaves liberated will turn upon and massacre their late masters, in revenge of past wrongs, or in the mere wantonness of cruelty?  The “horrors of San Domingo” were not the consequence of freeing, but of refusing to free the negro slaves.  Those slaves rose, not because they were free, but because they were not free,- to assert their freedom, and no doubt they did assert their freedom with fire and blood.  But this is a fact that tells the other way.  Do you fear the emancipated slaves will come North, and compete with the free white laborers?  How will this fear be affected by immediate any more than by gradual emancipation?  If they come North, they will leave a demand for labor at the South.  Then let our white laborers migrate southward to supply the demand occasioned by the migration of the negroes northward. But this fear is idle; for if the negroes can be free in the South, few, if any, of them will come North.  The negro is not a migratory animal, he has strong local attachments, attachments which not infrequently overcome his love of freedom.  His natural tendency is southward, to the torrid zone, for the home of his race is within the tropics.  If many come North now, it is to get away from slavery, to a region where they can feel they are freemen.  There is, no doubt, need of an apprenticeship to freedom, but not in slavery do men serve that apprenticeship.  

   The real difficulty and the only difficulty we see in the case, is in the inveterate prejudice of the American people against the negro race.  If the slaves were of our race, our own kith and kin, we should hear little of the gradual emancipation.  The non-slaveholding whites in the slaveholding states, who are now fighting with such madness and fury against the Union, detest slavery as much as we of the North do, but they cannot endure free negroes, and they believe that, if the two races are to occupy the same territory, the black race should be the slave of the white race.  The president is a native of a slave state, and it may be shares to a certain extent the feelings and prejudices of these non-slaveholding whites, as do a large portion of the population of all the free states.  We suppose he wishes gradual emancipation because he couples in his own mind emancipation and colonization, and colonization must in the nature of the case, whether forced or voluntary, go on gradually.  In all we have seen of him, he would seem to be more anxious to provide for the removal of free negroes out of the country, than he is to free the slaves.  We respect his motives; we respect his loyal intentions; and we readily concede that he might be right in his judgment, and we wrong in ours; but he will permit us to say that, as at present informed, we cannot sympathize with him in his opposition to immediate and his preference for gradual emancipation. 

   There is another view of the case which so religious a man as the president ought not to neglect.  Slavery is an injustice, a sin in the state that authorizes it, and in our case becomes a national sin the moment the government gets the constitutional power to abolish it, and neglects to exercise that power.  The war was not and is not waged for the abolition of slavery, but the existence of the war gives to the government the power to abolish it as a war measure.  The manifest injustice of slavery and manifest justice of abolishing it should be allowed to have due weight with the government, and predispose it to adopt emancipation as one of its war measures, if it can do so constitutionally.  We have shown that it can do so.  Then, we say, it is bound to do so, and, if it does not, it makes the sin of slavery a national sin, for which the whole nation is accountable.  Now in this case the question of gradual emancipation is like the question of gradually breaking off from sin.  The morality we have learned is that sin is to be broken off from immediately, at once, without dallying or delaying a moment.  We do not pretend that declaring the slaves free is a complete reparation of the wrongs of slavery, or that it is all that is due in justice to the slaves.  But so much must be done and done at once, or the sin does not cease.  We must do so much at once, and the rest afterwards as soon as we can, or we continue to sin.  

   Finally, if we insist on a preparation of negroes for freedom, the best preparation will be to call them out as loyal Unionists, discipline them, put arms into their hands, and let them fight for their own freedom.  In no way can men be more readily or more thoroughly trained to freedom than in fighting for it as soldiers with arms in their hands.  It makes men of them at once, for it puts them in the way of doing men’s work.  There is no better school of freedom possible than war for or in defense of freedom.  Such a war calls out all the manhood one has in him, and makes him feel the value of freedom by the blood with which he consecrates it, and the costly sacrifices he makes to secure it.  This will do infinitely more to elevate the long oppressed negro race, do infinitely more to prepare them to be freemen, than anything possible while they continue in slavery.  Look at it in what light we can, gradual emancipation strikes us as nonsensical and absurd.  There is no good reason conceivable why gradual emancipation should be preferable to immediate emancipation, while the only power the government has to emancipate at all is to emancipate immediately, not gradually; for gradual emancipation can never be adopted as a war measure, unless we contemplate making the war for the suppression of the rebellion a “Thirty Years War.” 

   Dismissing the question of gradual emancipation, and assuming that congress has under the war power the right to emancipate the slaves, it may still be asked, is it expedient or politic to do it?  It can be done constitutionally as a war measure, if congress judges it expedient.  Is it expedient?  Some say let it alone, why bring constantly the “eternal nigger” upon the tapis?  Do leave slavery to take care of itself.  But in answer to these we add the government has now power over the question; in a few months it may have none.  The life and death of the republic are suspended in the balance, and the solution we give and give now to the slavery question may turn the scale, and save the life or seal the doom of the nation.  It is not a question, therefore, to be postponed.  The “eternal nigger,” as you express it, will not down at the bidding, any more than would Banquo’s ghost.  We cannot silence the slave question, or stop its agitation.  We were to do it with the compromise measures of 1850, and, after that, with a Kansas-Nebraska territorial bill, and we have as the result the present civil war.  There is a moral law in the universe stronger than legislative enactments, against which neither the devices of our politicians nor the strategy of our generals can avail - neither armed hosts, nor newly invented artillery.  They war in vain who war against OPINION.  No despot, even though backed by a million of bayonets and ten thousands guns of the heaviest calibre and the most cunningly devised projectiles, can avail against the laws of God, or against the moral convictions of mankind.  You may as well attempt to silence the ceaseless agitation of the waves, to stop the ebb and flow of the ocean tides, or arrest the course of the viewless winds, as to stop in the American people the agitation of the slavery question, so long as there is a single negro slave left in the land.  It is not wild or silly fanaticism of your abolition men or your abolition women, your Garrisons, your Phillipses, your Fosters, your Pilsburys, your Kellys, your Westons, or your Chapmans that convulse the nation, for these are powerless save in the idea they represent; it is God, the moral laws of the universe, the awakening power of justice, the very logic of your own republic, that keeps up the agitation.  You might as well point your artillery against the lightnings of heaven, as against the spirit that moves and agitates the country on the slavery question.  Silence, in any way you please the voices of those you call abolition fanatics, and you have done nothing to suppress agitation.  Were these to hold their peace, the very stones would cry out.  The spirit would pervade your camps, seize upon your soldiers, and turn the heads of your sedatest generals.  It can no more be confined or restrained than one of the elemental forces of nature.  The time for it in God’s providence has come, and you have no alternative but to accept and obey it as freemen, as men who believe in God, who derive from him the courage to do justice, to lighten the load of the oppressed, and to let the bond go free. 

   It is said emancipation is inexpedient, because it would gravely offend Kentucky, Missouri, Maryland, and even Delaware, and force them out of the Union into open rebellion.  This objection has no weight with us.  The government has been sufficiently embarrassed already by its concessions to these states, and we shall consider it a cause of abundant thankfulness if its efforts to keep them in the Union do not involve irremediably the dismemberment of the republic and the acknowledgment of the independence of the southern confederacy.  If these states are already loyal, the measure, as it affects them only in the market for the surplus produce of slaves, will not drive them out of the Union; if they are at heart disloyal, and willing to stay in the Union only on condition that it adopt no measure not approved by them, the sooner they openly secede the better.   The government is either strong enough to maintain itself against any domestic combination that can be formed against it, or it is not.  If it is, they can be subdued along with the other seceding states; if it is not, then let it perish, for it is not worth sustaining.  A government that can govern only at the mercy or forbearance of a portion of its subjects, is no government at all.  Its stability, its permanence, its consistency, its independence depends on its ability to assert and maintain itself according to its own constitution against any and every combination of domestic enemies that can possibly be armed for its destruction.  We wish, also, these border states, that seem to imagine that the nation owes them special gratitude and deference because they did not openly secede with the other slave states, to bear in mind that they stand with the Union on the footing of equality with the other states, and that there insolent pretensions to superiority or to dictate, under threats of making war on the government, its measures and policy, can no longer be tolerated.  They have been saved once or twice by the arms of the states they insult, and if need be can be saved again, perhaps at some cost to themselves.  The nation owes them no special debt of gratitude for not openly rebelling, which all except Delaware would have done, and perhaps even Delaware herself, had it not been for the presence of the federal forces; and the fact that they hold a portion of their population in bondage entitles their judgment or their wishes to no special consideration.  They are an integral part of the one American political people, and as much bound to fight for the Union as Illinois, Massachusetts, New York, or Pennsylvania.  Let us have no more their insolence in or out of congress.  

   But emancipation will terribly irritate the rebels, and render their future reconciliation impossible. Nonsense.  They are already irritated as they can be.  You cannot increase their hatred or malignity.  Human nature will bear no more than they already have, even with the assistance of Satan to boot.  As for the Union men in the seceding states, save in a few localities, they do not exist.  Our armies have not found them, and wherever they go in rebeldom, meet only hatred, sullenness, or insult.  Even the wounded rebel prisoners in our hospitals, though unable to deny the care and tenderness with which they are treated, cannot conceal, and do not attempt to conceal their bitter hatred of “Yankees.” There need be no fear of irritating the rebels, and the only way possible of conciliating them is to treat them as they treat their own negroes when spiteful or sulky, that is, to flog them, and flog them soundly.  They then will begin to respect us, and finally come to love and honor us.  The mass of the southern people are not like us here at the North. We are addicted to mammon worship, no doubt, but we do at least recognize a moral power, and confess that we ought to worship God.  The southern people as a body worship only force, and to gain their love and respect, you must prove that you are the better man, that you can whip them.  Leniency, forbearance, conciliation are weakness, of a craven or overreaching spirit.  The government has from the first mistaken their character.  It has been too lenient, too conciliatory, and, in endeavoring to conduct the war on humane principles, has been guilty of great inhumanity.  Nothing would so much command the respect of the rebels, and dispose them to live hereafter in peace and friendship with us under one and the same government, as the immediate emancipation of the slaves.  They know our principles require us to do it, and they despise us for not having the courage to act up to our principles.  The measure would be a bold and manly one; it would strike them in their tenderest point, and they would think all the better of us for daring to adopt it.

   But many of the officers and the privates of our army would refuse to fight if the government were to free the slaves.  Then let the officers resign and the privates be discharged.  Your army will be the better officered and the more efficient for the riddance.  The duty of the soldier is to obey his superior, and very few officers in high or subordinate commands would hesitate to fight and do their best, if they must do so or lose their commissions, and still fewer privates when refusal involved dismissal from the service.  The government cannot be controlled by subordinates.  Let the government prove that it is a government, especially in time of war, and there will be no difficulty.  Would not pro-slavery generals show as much submission as the noble Fremont showed when relieved of his command for sympathizing with freedom, or as has probably been shown by the brave Hunter, under the mistimed rebuke of the commander-in-chief?  If not, the sooner they are relieved from their commands the better.  

   Finally, we are told the measure is inexpedient, because it would have no practical effect.  It would not be recognized by the rebel masters, the knowledge of it would be kept from the negroes, and they would be so carefully watched and guarded that they would take no advantage of it even if informed of its adoption.  The knowledge of such a measure, if adopted, we apprehend, would in less than one fortnight find its way to every negro cabin in rebeldom.  As to its efficiency, it would have the effect of securing nearly four millions of people in the very heart of rebeldom as staunch loyalists to the Union.  This of itself would be worth more to us than an army of a hundred thousand well-appointed and well-disciplined troops.  It would carry fear, distrust, consternation even to every rebel home, and render it necessary to keep at home for domestic protection a large number of troops who now are free to go and swell the rebel armies in the field.  It would weaken greatly the forces which can now be placed in the field to operate against us.  Besides, the negroes knowing the success of the federal arms would secure their freedom, would find a thousand ways not easy to point out of injuring the rebel cause, and serving our own.  Moreover, knowing that by coming within our lines they would find freedom and protection, they would in spite of the vigilance of their guards escape in large numbers, and be able to render valuable aid to the Union cause as laborers in camp and on entrenchments, and also as soldiers and sailors.  The able-bodied among them could be easily organized and disciplined under white officers, and acclimated as they are, advantageously relieve our unacclimated northern troops of garrison and guard duty on the southern coast during the sickly season.  They might also be employed as common sailors on our fleets, and do us good service, as may be gathered from the brilliant and daring feat of the pilot robert Small and his companions in taking the Planter out of Charleston under the guns of the forts, and delivering her over to the Union naval commander.  

   The war, let it never be forgotten, is not a war between the North and the South, between two sections of our countrymen, but between the United States and an armed rebellion, seeking the destruction of the government.  All sections are equally bound to support the United States in its efforts to suppress the rebellion, and preserve the unity and integrity of the national territory.  Thee government has no right to throw upon any one section the whole burden and expense of prosecuting the war, and is bound to make all sections, as far as in its power, contribute their respective quotas.  It is bound to call upon the loyal men of the South as well as on the loyal men of the North.  It does a manifest injustice to the North, if it refuses to accept the services of four millions of the population of the rebellious states could and would willingly lend it in suppressing the rebellion.  We demand, therefore, not as a matter of mere expediency, but as a matter of justice to the free states who are so freely pouring out their blood and treasure to sustain the Union, that the government avail itself of the aid of these four millions of loyal men, not as slaves, but as included in the population of states that are not contributing, and otherwise will not contribute their due share or any share at all to the public cause.  These loyal men are an integral portion of the population of those states, and, though under the laws of those states held to service, are known to the United States only as persons.  As such the United States has the right to call upon them to support the government, and is bound to grant them in return for their loyalty, freedom and protection; and the loyal people of the other states have the right to insist on its being done.

   But there is another reason that proves not only the expediency, or the right of emancipation, but its absolute necessity.  It must be done as the only means of saving the integrity of the nation, or of escaping the shame and mortification of acknowledging the independence of the rebels.  France and Great Britain, we cannot doubt, will not see their industrial classes suffering the severe distress they are now suffering for the want of the southern staples, much longer without intervening in our domestic affairs, if the war is to be protracted, or if it is to be conducted on the principles on which it has been hitherto conducted.  In nearly all protracted struggles of modern times for dismemberment of states, the historical precedents are in favor of the intervention of foreign powers to secure the independence of the rebellious or revolutionary party.  It was so in the case of Holland struggling for her independence of the Spanish crown; it was so in the case of the American colonies struggling for independence of the crown of Great Britain, and the United States owe in a small degree their existence as an independent nation to the intervention of foreign powers.  The same ma be said of the Spanish American colonies, of Greece demanding independence of the Ottoman empire, of Belgium demanding separation from Holland, and of Italy demanding her independence of Austria.  The only notable exceptions that we can at this moment recall are Poland and Hungary, but neither of those was able to maintain a prolonged struggle.  What reason have we to suppose that the southern rebels will form another exception?

   The foreign powers most interested in the conflict have, for over a year, refrained from all intervention, at the expense of great suffering to themselves, and it is no secret that they will not refrain much longer.  Nothing can prevent their early effectual intervention in favor of the rebels but immediate, great, and decisive victories by the federal arms, or the emancipation of the negro slaves.  We must show that the war is not merely one of subjugation on one side, and of independence on the other, or they will certainly intervene, if the war threatens to be a protracted struggle.  We must bring it speedily to a close, or else be compelled to acknowledge the independence of the southern confederacy with such boundaries as the intervening powers shall please to prescribe, for we cannot hope, with the southern rebellion on our hands, to resist successfully the combined power of France and Great Britain, without allies either in the Old World or the New.  The only certain way of averting the intervention, and saving the integrity of the republic, is to emancipate the slaves, and enlist the moral sentiments and convictions of the civilized world on the side of the United States.  

   The government knows the danger, and has sought to avert it, by the resolution adopted by congress proffering pecuniary aid to the states that would initiate emancipation, and relaxing the blockade as to the ports of Beaufort, Port Royal, and New Orleans; but these have failed, for no state has yet accepted the proposition with regard to emancipation, and the rebels have destroyed their cotton and tobacco instead of suffering them to come forward to market.  The government now hopes, we presume, to avert it by great and decisive victories at Richmond and Corinth.  But at neither of these places shall we obtain a decisive victory, for at either place, the rebels, if they cannot conquer our forces, can retreat, and protract the war indefinitely; and they undoubtedly will do so, for it is their true policy.  They feel that we have thus far gained only barren victories, for they are well assured that if they can protract the war a few weeks longer, foreign intervention will come to their aid.  One way, and one way only is open to us; one alternative yet remains, and that is to do what should have been done one year ago,- decree complete and immediate emancipation.  It is the only means left to us of escaping a shameful mutilation of the republic.  In the meantime the president hesitates, longs but fears to strike, and congress wrangles, and lets the golden moment glide by.  Terrible will be the responsibility of the government, both executive and legislative, if the rebellion succeeds.  On them, not on the rebels, will fall the blasting curse of outraged humanity.

   But events hasten, and in all human probability, the fate of the nation will be decided, before we can issue from the press, and our words will have only a historic value.  The cloud in the East rises, and will perhaps have risen and spread over the whole heavens before our words reach those for whom they are designed.  All we can say is, that since the rebellion broke out we have in our humble sphere endeavored to discharge the duties of a loyal citizen.  We love our country, and as long as we have a country we shall continue to love her, and to hope for her.  If let alone, the United States in a reasonable time can reduce the rebels to submission, and maintain the integrity of the national territory.  If they fail, it will not be republican institutions that have failed.  They will have failed because our northern men consented in the outset to form an unnatural union of freedom with slavery, and because our statesmen and generals have been too anxious to preserve it.  We, however, still hope, before we appear in print, congress will have reconsidered its vote rejecting the emancipation bill, and have passed an act freeing all the slaves of the rebels.