Who was Turner anyway?

Who was Turner anyway?

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The Event and the Time.


September 1862

From The Missouri Democrat, Thursday, September 25, 1862.


The conservatives and reactionists were affected by the President’s proclamation like men staggered by a sudden blow.  So utterly unprepared were they for it that, for a time, it in a measure, divested them of their faculties.  They have now had time to draw a breath and take thought, and we begin to see the policy they are disposed to pursue towards it.  They dare not oppose it; they exceedingly dislike it, and so are cross and captious, while they aim to put on an air of indifference, and treat it as something after all of very little practical consequence.  Say they, “It will avail nothing where the President’s armies are not in possession.”  We don’t know altogether about this.  What effect a knowledge of the fact may have upon the slaves, that they are to be free wherever the flag of the Union floats, remains to be seen.  But suppose it be true that the proclamation will only be effective on slave soil, to the extent of Federal occupancy, does that make the document of no consequence?  Mr. Lincoln is waging war against the rebellious States; he has great armies in the field; he is organizing much greater; he expects to put down rebellion and re-occupy with his armies and other representatives of his authority, the whole of the slave States; and if he succeeds in this, will the proclamation then be unavailing?  That is the time when Mr. Lincoln expects it to be practically operative.  He is certainly not weak enough to suppose that his words alone will prevail against rebel bayonets.  Wherever his authority is acknowledged now, the proclamation will at once (that is, after the first of January next,) be effective, and as the flag is advanced, its operation will follow.  It is more than probable that the President calculates that before the first of January our arms will have made considerable additional progress.  The time he selects for issuing his declaration of purpose is appropriate—just after our army has achieved a victory, and is in pursuit of a flying enemy into his own territory.

In one sense, then, the time is well chosen.  We think the same thing had better been done before—when our armies had possession of more of the enemy’s soil than they now hold.  Then, if the slaves had been freed, the rebels would have been deprived of a power which they have used for our expulsion to some extent.  As it is a portion of the ground has again to be conquered.  We failed to use an element of strength when it was in our grasp, which the enemy has successfully employed.  The President is determined the same thing shall not be re-enacted; hence his proclamation just at the time when he is again in greater force, and about to assume the offensive.

We have no doubt the President long hesitated to take the step, because one so momentous, although all the time favorably inclined to it.  It has evidently been long in his thoughts It is in entire keeping with his oft repeated expression of general policy.  The time and way of its execution have been points upon which his mind has not been so clear.  Who can doubt of his being theoretically in favor of general emancipation all the time, when he calls to mind his famous declarations upon that subject, in his celebrated canvass with Senator Douglas in Illinois, some time before he was President?  “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”  “The country cannot exist half free and half slave.”  Such were his avowed opinions before he was President.  Who can doubt that he carried the same convictions into the Presidential chair, and that he has all the time continued to entertain them?  His conduct now is entirely consistent with his former views and declarations.  The only period it appeared inconsistent was before he issued the proclamation.  Those who are called radicals had ground to urge upon him the step he has finally taken, from the very pledges upon which he was elected.  They have had reason to complain he was slow in the fulfillment of the policy to which he was committed.  That he did halt and hesitate long, out of the profoundest desire to consult and study everything fully for the greatest good, is not at all dishonorable to either his heart or his head, but at last, when fully convinced of the absolute justice and propriety of the course, he has acted like a great, brave and true man, and not only the whole nation, but the whole civilized world will say, “GOD BLESS ABRAHAM LINCOLN.”