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A Month of the Proclamation


October 1862

From The Missouri Democrat,Tuesday, October 28, 1862.


We invite the attention of every reader to an article in another column, under the above heading, from the New York Times.  The subject is there so thoroughly and so well discussed, that we need not add a word to the argument.  If the writer had been so disposed he might have given numerous additional illustrations of the successful workings of the new policy.  If he had seen fit to come to Missouri, as he did to Kentucky, he might have found another instance of the acquiescence of a slaveholding people in a decree which might be expected to run counter to all their prejudices of association and education.  Missouri has been more quiet, less infested with guerrilla bands, and generally has furnished fewer recruits to the rebel army, and been more loyally disposed, during the last month–the month under the proclamation–than any time within the last eight months.  We have yet to hear of the first Union man in Missouri who has turned secessionist on account of it.

The fact is that slaveholding communities were much less taken by surprise upon the appearing of the proclamation than the people of non-slaveholding communities.  They had been prepared for such a measure by the fiery ordeal of war.  They were in a situation to welcome almost any act of interposition with a view to the restoration of order.  They knew from experience that slavery was the cause of the rebellion.  They had been taught by the terrible scourge of war the necessity of strong remedies.  They had been prepared by the vicissitudes of the past, not simply to bear a measure which promised to remove the cause of the trouble, with patience, but secretly, at least, to greet it with satisfaction.  We do not hesitate to say that Mr. Lincoln has many more decided friends in Missouri now than he had before he took the important step.  The increased order of the State testifies to the increased confidence of the people in the strength and determination of the Government since the proclamation was issued.  Even disloyalists respect the President the more for it.

The President may expect soon to receive numerous testimonials of the approbation with which the proclamation has been hailed in Missouri, in the shape of petitions from her citizens asking the extension of its operation over her territory, according to the plan recently suggested by Hon. B. Gratz Brown.  Missouri, notwithstanding the unflinching loyalty of a large portion of her citizens all the time, never less, in our opinion, than a majority, has suffered more of the practical workings of the rebellion–gathered more of the bitter fruits of slavery, since the war began, than has any one of the cotton States.  Not a single county within her borders which has not been the theater of battles.  Whatever necessity for the proclamation existed anywhere, exists in Missouri; and whatever advantages are likely to accrue from it, are especially needed here.

Missouri, ever since the rebellion began, has presented the singular spectacle of a State, with her population more than half loyal, and with a government, with the exception of a short interval, wholly loyal, in a condition of active rebellion.  Notwithstanding such has been the character of her population and her State government, with the exception of Virginia, she has cost the General Government more for the conquest of her territory than any State in the Union.  And with no exception have the people of the State suffered more of the ravages of the war than hers have.  This is what slavery in its mildest form has done.  Missouri has had but few slaves, yet these few have been enough to make her a slave State, and to create in the minds of a good proportion of her people the impression that her proper destiny was with her sister slaveholding States.  The few slaves in Missouri have already cost the nation many times their value, and to protect the brittle tenure of property which is yet retained in them, principally in favor of disloyal owners, is every day costing many times more than all their labor is worth. Such being the case, no community in the broad Union has as good a reason and as strong claims as the people of Missouri, to ask at once the application of the remedy, which, by removing the cause of the disorder wholly from the system, will most speedily call back to their desolated firesides and wasted field, that, which they have so long wanted, and which has so long been a stranger to them–Peace.




 [From the N. Y. Times of the 23d.]

 It is just one month since the issue of the emancipation proclamation by the President.  How stands it to-day?  In view of the tremendous consequences involved in the final consummation, the inquiry is of moment.  The time has been brief, but has sufficed to settle many mooted points.  It has settled,

First–That the people of the loyal States were, in general, prepared to receive such a measure favorably.  Though the suddenness of its appearance excited for a moment some misgiving that it might be inopportune, the public mind quickly came to a most positive conviction that it was all right in time, as well as in form and substance.  This popular sentiment soon became so marked that the opponents of the Administration, though seeking material in all directions for an effective election canvass, have generally taken good care to avoid any direct issue on this subject.  After a few grave complaints and vulgar flings, they have left it for more available party capital.  Sixty members of Congress have been chosen since the Proclamation was issued, and the Democratic net gain in the entire number had been only three; in spite of the fact, that in none of the elections, save Iowa, were the soldiers–numbering some three hundred thousand voters, four-fifths of whom are for the proclamation–allowed suffrage.  Were the single clean issue presented to-day to the people of the loyal States, whether or not the proclamation shall be revoked, and the old policy restored, it is morally certain that for every ballot saying yes, there would be five saying No!  The people of the North, as a body, have gladly accepted the measure and they mean to maintain it.  This the month has developed most plainly.

Second–It is settled that the people of the border States will not be alienated by such a demonstration against slavery.  The prediction was made with the utmost assurance, that these States would stand no such policy–that they would at once cast their fortunes with the Confederacy and fight us to the death.  Nothing of this kind has happened.  The predictions have been utterly falsified.  Kentucky, the very State upon which they were made most emphatically, was at the time of the issue of the proclamation almost entirely in the possession of the rebels, and yet, instead of improving the opportunity to join hands with the Confederacy, it held true to the old flag, and is to-day more firm in its loyalty than at any time since the rebellion.  The proclamation, though doubtless unwished for, has produced no serious disaffection in any of the border States.  It is already cheerfully acquiesced in, and, if we may judge by the outgivings of some of their most influential loyal men, will soon be heartily indorsed and zealously supported.

Third–It is settled that the army will not be offended by it.  Prophecy had free play here too.  It was foretold that high officers would resign by the score–that whole regiments would throw down their arms–that the entire army would be demoralized and ruined.  Not a single officer has resigned because of the proclamation; not a solitary act of insubordination has been shown; not even a complaining word has reach[ed] the public ear.  On the contrary, all the evidence goes to prove that the army is decidedly in favor of this action of the President, and that, when the day comes for giving it practical enforcement, the army will do its part in the work with a will which no rebel can mistake.  Our soldiers of all parties are disposed to judge of it as they should, as a military measure, without regard to old party prejudices.  The declaration of Gen. Prentiss, in his speech the other evening in Washington–than whom no soldier has a better opportunity to judge–that “this Proclamation will do more to crush out the rebellion than any battle that has been fought, or any other effort that has been made in any quarter for that purpose,” is already the general and will soon become the universal conviction of the army.  The ill-boding on this score had been entirely delusive.

Fourth–It is settled that the blacks themselves will, in due time, be ready to do their part in giving practical effect to the proclamation.  It was asserted that such a proclamation would prove a mere brutum fulmen–that the slaves would never hear of it, or even if they should, would give it no heed.  It is made certain, from the fugitives who reach our army lines, that the slaves already know of it, and are excited about it.  All evidence goes to show that in every part of the South the blacks have an intense desire for freedom.  That fact established, the knowledge of the existence of such a proclamation of freedom could not but work excitement.  This ferment has begun already, and must daily widen and deepen.

Fifth–It is settled that the rebel leaders themselves have a fear of the new policy.  The Proclamation was received in the rebel Congress with maledictions, and proposals for the most unheard-of forms of vengeance, which, it was finally voted, President Davis should be empowered to inflict at discretion.  Measures have been taken, too, to withdraw all the slaves, that can possibly be spared, into the far interior.  Most assuredly all this commotion could not have been made by a simple brutum fulmen.  The rebels full well understand that this Proclamation is not empty menace, no harmless bolt.  They are quick to perceive its power of terrible damage, and are doing their best to deter us from driving it on, and to guard against it–so far as they can–should we persist.  They themselves being the witnesses, we know then that the Proclamation is beginning to strike home.

Sixth–Though the advices respecting the reception of the proclamation in Europe are yet too meagre to justify any decided judgment upon that point, yet the absence of denunciation in the comments of the London Times, which of all other sheets has hitherto been most denunciatory of our cause, is significant that a popular chord in Europe has been struck by our President in a style which even our worst enemies there feel bound to respect.  Full intelligence will in all probability reveal that this proclamation of liberty has silenced all serious opposition to the National Government, and forever dispelled all danger of foreign intervention.

Seventh–It seems to be settled that the rebels will not avail themselves of the hundred days’ grace accorded by the President, and seasonably make their submission.  Thus far there has not been the slightest movement in that direction.  The reason is plain enough.  The rebel leaders, who have the management of every organ of public opinion, and who exercise absolute sway over the affairs of the Confederacy, would gain no advantage from submission.  They have staked their all on the Confederacy, and are ruined if it fails.  Of course they will cleave to it to the last bitter extremity, and with iron power put down the very first attempt to weight the alternative presented by President Lincoln.  They have no alternative themselves, and mean that their people shall have none.  If there were any hope that the people would, by some convulsive effort, turn upon the Government, that hope has languished and become extinct.  There is not the least indication of any such purpose.  The grace is spurned, and the proclamation must, in its own prescribed time, take effect.

In all particulars then, save this last, the proclamation has made an excellent beginning.  We have no doubt that it will continue to justify itself more and more in the same respects up to the very day of its practical application.  And when it is once fairly in operation, it will make, we believe, very quick work of the rebellion.  With our army cordon stretched from the Chesapeake to the furthest frontier, with a strong foothold in every rebel State without exception, and with our gunboats penetrating the swollen rivers in all directions, the rebels will find it an absolute impossibility to prevent this proclamation of freedom from bringing to a speedy end the whole system through which alone they have been able to keep their rebellion alive thus far.  Slavery in less than a month, from the first day of January, will be so utterly demoralized and broken up, that even the most obdurate rebel will admit that the last slave-grown crop has been raised, and that stark famine confronts the Confederacy.

so long accustomed to do everything in pursuance of some fixed formula of law, we are scarcely yet able to conceive how anything can be done without the express warrant of some written statute.  Hence, we are glibly told that the President’s proclamation is not legal, except so far as it rests immediately upon some express law of Congress which could sustain at least but the minor portion of it.