Abraham Lincoln Orders "Do Not Free the Slaves"


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Civil War Harper's Weekly, May 31, 1862

This page is part of our online version of all the Harper's Weekly newspapers published during the Civil War. This archive contains a wealth of incredible eye-witness illustrations of the War, as well as in depth analyses of the key battles and events of the day.

(Scroll Down to See Entire Page, or Newspaper Thumbnails below will take you to a specific page of interest)


Fort Darling

Fort Darling

Lincoln Slavery

Lincoln Orders, "Do Not Free Slaves"

General Hunter Frees Slaves

General Hunter Orders Slaves Freed

British Iron-Clads

British Iron-Clads

Fort Darling

Battle of Fort Darling

Hamburg Landing

Hamburg Landing

Jefferson Davis Cartoon

Jefferson Davis Cartoon



Mobile, Alabama

Naval Battle

Naval Battle

Pea Ridge

The Battle of Pea Ridge, Tennessee


Richmond, Virginia




[MAY 31, 1862.




On, well the Ninth New Jersey fought On bloody Roanoke!

Its front stood firm, its colors waved,

Its line was never broke!

And every eye flashed bright that day,

And every heart beat strong;

For every manly soul kept time

To the musket-buIlet's song.

Brave men grew braver as they marked

How Corporal Lorence fought,

And ever while the contest raged

The post of danger sought.

Columbia's grand, inspiring voice

Was sounding in his ear:

"Strike nobly now," it seemed to say,

"And cast away all fear!"

Alas! before the day was won,

While fiercer grew the fray,

And John was rushing on, a shot

Took both his legs away!

Oh, not a man that saw him fall

But wished it had been he:

Each struggled, when they bore him off,

His chief support to be.

The hero lay insensible

While knives and probes pierced deep:

God bless the noble art of man

That caused that painless sleep!

At last the surgeon's task is o'er:

The sleeper wakes. What sound

Has thrilled his soul, and made him glance

So eagerly around?

"Victory!" is the thrilling cry

Borne in upon the gale.

The patriot rose upon his arm,

His face, till now so pale,

Flushed with new joy: he waved his cap, And gave three hearty cheers

For the Union and the glorious Ninth New Jersey Volunteers!

And now he lies, unmurmuring,

A cripple, thin and weak:

Yet none mistake the patriot fire

Who chance to hear him speak.

He longs to go, though on his stumps,

And serve his country more:

Brave Lorence! well your country knows

Your fighting days are o'er!


SATURDAY, MAY 31, 1862.


WE publish in another column the President's Proclamation rescinding the General Order of General Hunter, by which the slaves in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida were freed. The President takes the ground that the right of emancipating negroes under the war power belongs to him, and that he does not choose to delegate it to commanders in the field.

This message will satisfy the conservative people in the Northern States. So grave a question as the abolition of slavery in the States can not be left to the discretion of military officers. A uniform policy must be adopted by the Government, and carried out in every case. The only person who can determine that policy is the President, and he only does his duty when be refuses to share the privilege and the responsibility.

The closing paragraph of the Proclamation indicates clearly enough to which side the President's sympathies and inclinations lean. Indeed, it may be regarded somewhat in the light of a threat and a warning. He appeals to the people of the slaveholding States to accept the generous offer made to them by Congress while it is yet time. The "signs of the times," he warns them, point to the abolition of an institution which is not in harmony with the spirit of the age or reconcilable with the peace of the country. It is for the Slave States to decide whether they will run the risk of having it abolished under the war power, with suddenness and disaster, and without compensation, or whether they will have the sagacity to anticipate necessity, and avail themselves of a Congressional subsidy. The country pauses to hear Maryland's answer.


THE rebel Legislature of Virginia is debating resolutions affirming the determination of the insurgents in that State to persevere in their purpose of rebellion, notwithstanding the fall of New Orleans and the other mishaps which have lately befallen the "Confederate" cause.

The fall of New Orleans and Pensacola, the capture of Fort Macon, and the successful advance of McClellan to within a day's march of

Richmond, may not prove, in themselves, fatal to the rebel cause. They must operate to dishearten the soldiery enlisted in the service of Jeff Davis, and they must serve to correct the impression, once widely prevalent at the South, that one Southerner was a match for five or ten Yankees. But the mere seizure by our troops of one or two more points on the Southern coast does not in itself involve the failure of the rebellion.

It is the material results flowing from the seizure of these points which are important. The capture of New Orleans and the presence of our gun-boats in the Mississippi cut off the rebel armies from their principal supplies of food. When the cotton States first seceded their leaders insisted that the possession of the rich States of Virginia, Kentucky, and Missouri was essential to their success, because without them they could not feed their armies. They lost Missouri in January, and Kentucky in March; they long since consumed all that Virginia could supply. Texas and Arkansas, both large producers of beef, still remained to them, and from them the bulk of the meat used by the rebels during the past sixty days has been drawn. They have now lost them too, and the question arises, whence can the rebel army in Virginia and the rebel army of the Southwest draw rations?

They can get corn every where, and there is some pork in Alabama, Mississippi, and the other cotton States. But in the Confederacy, as at present bounded, there is no beef. How long can the armies fight without beef?

The rebels comfort themselves by reading accounts of the Whig partisan corps during the Revolutionary war, and assert their readiness to endure the same privations as were borne by those heroes. There is more chivalry than calculation in this. Marion, leading a small squadron of horse, could manage to exist on sweet-potatoes and the accidental products of occasional foraging expeditions. But when fifty or seventy-five thousand men are to be fed the question of commissariat assumes an entirely different shape. Such an army can not live on sweet-potatoes, nor, if they could, does the favorite Southern esculent exist any where in sufficient quantity to satisfy their wants. A successful foraging expedition may gather food enough to supply a regiment for a few days. But when it comes to feeding brigades and divisions, foraging, in a country already somewhat exhausted, is a very inadequate resource. Armies can only be fed through the agency of a regular commissariat which has depots of provisions at central points, and constant and reliable communication with regions where all kinds of food are produced.

If McClellan and Halleck remain quietly where they are, the rebellion will be starved out in a few weeks. It is not probable they will do so, because the public require battles, and the army would be impatient in inactivity. But for the main purpose of the war they need not move.


SOUTHERN bribes have again purchased intimations in European journals to the effect that England and France are about to intervene in this country. As of old, the Emperor Napoleon is represented as panting for intervention, while England is feebly holding him back.

There is not a word of truth in the whole story. The Emperor Napoleon has never desired to intervene in our quarrel. He knows that intervention, so far from procuring the cotton he needs, would protract the cotton famine indefinitely. The United States would fight for fifty years rather than submit to have their internal politics regulated by foreigners. From first to last the Emperor of the French has exhibited a statesmanlike appreciation of the merits of the war which shines in bright contrast with the mean policy of the British Government, and the besotted opinions of the person who misrepresents France at Washington.

Mr. Gladstone and several British newspapers expatiate upon the suffering inflicted by the war upon British artisans. Whose fault is this? As Mr. Seward well said when the war broke out, the rebellion would collapse in ninety days but for the hope of foreign intervention.

The thousands of Englishmen who are starving in consequence of the want of cotton have only their own Government and their own aristocracy to blame. If the British Government had not been so eager to see this country divided and democracy discredited, the rebellion would have been crushed long ago. It was the moral aid and comfort they gave the rebels which induced the latter to persevere in their insane policy. The British aristocracy is alone responsible for the starvation which now desolates the seats of manufacturing industry in England.



THE Thirty- Seventh Congress of the United States has just confirmed the policy of the First Congress, seventy-three years ago. That body declared that "there shall be neither slavery nor involuntary servitude in the said Territory, otherwise than in punishment of crimes whereof the

parties shall be duly convicted." The act of the present Congress is in similar and even more comprehensive terms: "That slavery, or involuntary servitude, in all cases whatsoever other than in punishment of crime, whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall henceforth cease and be prohibited forever in all the Territories of the United States now existing or hereafter to be formed or to be acquired in any way."

It would be thought that in any civilized Christian nation the vote for such a proposition would be unanimous; but in a nation which was a popular republic that it would be a matter of course. And yet, while the consequences of slavery are showing themselves in the most desperate and bloody civil war, there were fifty representatives who voted against it. And to complete the extraordinary story, they claim to be Democrats.

Yet no man can look over the list of names of the representatives who voted against this act—O woeful list for their children to read!—and not feel that it comprises some men who are as patriotic and humane as many who voted for it. They would say in explanation, that whether slavery were right or wrong the people of the Territory are the persons to decide whether they will have slaves or not. Then these men are not Democrats, for Democracy asserts certain human rights which no power can justly take away, while their vote upon this act declares that men have no rights except such as the majority chooses to confer. Is that their political faith?

Among the negative votes are some from this State. If they think slavery a fair, and profitable, and peaceful system for civilized society, we may reject their conviction, but we must applaud their fidelity. But if they voted in the negative because they think that although it may be a great wrong yet the majority of any political community may enslave a minority, they have deliberately sanctioned a principle which puts the life, liberty, property, and welfare of every man in this State—white, black, yellow, or red—at the mercy of a majority. Such a principle is not only the most dangerous conceivable to human society, but it is directly repugnant to the spirit and letter of the Constitution. Our system is a constant check upon the tyranny of a majority. A striking illustration was the choice of Mr. Lincoln. The moment his constitutional election was announced the newspapers, which at that time clamored for the submission of the nation to a rebellious faction, loudly and constantly declared that he had not a majority of all the votes cast. It was true, but the Constitution did not require that he should have. On the other hand, an overpowering majority, or a unanimous vote of the people, could not shorten or lengthen his term by a single year. For the Constitution regulates the action of majorities. Nor only that, but it declares itself to be established to protect those rights of the individual which the Revolution had vindicated.

The enormity of the principle involved in the negative vote upon Territorial freedom is easily tested. "Leave it to a majority of the people in the Territory" is the argument by which that vote is justified. Leave what? In the words of the bill, "Slavery, or involuntary servitude, in all cases whatsoever other than in punishment for crime." But who are to vote? What possible standard can you set up which will not include some that may be enslaved? The fact that some of the population of the Territory may have been slaves before does not avail, for, by the argument, they are like any other men until the vote is taken.

But if it be a tolerable principle in a Territory that a majority can dispose of the liberty and other rights of one man or of a minority, it is no less so in a State—in New York, for instance; and if, acting in due legal form, a majority should decide that one or all of the representatives who voted in the negative should be hung, upon their own principle it would be all right. "Oh no!" they would reply. "The State Constitution secures our life and liberty except for crime." Yes, but why does it do so? Simply because you have a natural right to your life and liberty, except for crime. And so has every other man in the world. And as no majority can override your right in your own State, you were sent to Congress to take care that in the National State, or Territory, every man should be as secure as you are. As representatives of this State you were no more justified in abandoning the rights of men in the Territories, for which you are the constitutional legislators, to the will of a majority, than you would be in destroying the safeguards that protect those rights in your own State. Liberty is not something that men enjoy because other men choose that they shall. It is theirs of right, and no force can alter it.

The majority of voters in this State might constitutionally amend the Constitution, by declaring that the blind residents of the State should be drowned. Being the majority, and having the power, they might enforce the law. What then? Suppose it were a majority of every voter in the State except the blind themselves that decreed it. What then? It would be law. What then? It would be the direst conceivable wrong and wickedness. Would it be right, justifiable, human, decent? Would any one whose heart was not black excuse it upon the ground that the majority chose to do it? No! the human instinct rejects and scorns such a plea. But, gentlemen, it is no more valid against the liberty of black men in Nevada than against the lives of blind men in New York. If it is right that the majority should decide in the one case, it can not be wrong in the other.

This is the principle which your votes have sustained. It is the principle of brute force. It is the principle of the King of Dahomey and of Bomba of Naples. It is the denial of human rights. It is the assertion that men owe Liberty to the favor of a majority, and not to the grace of God. And, gentlemen, it is the effort to make that the creed of the Democratic party which has annihilated that party, by driving from it the true Democrats, who held that men have rights as well as majorities.


THE progress of the National victory shows itself in nothing more than in the character of the proclamations of the Generals commanding in the insurgent section. They are no longer gingerly. The Government no longer apologizes to rebels for enforcing the law. The "Southern brethren" talk is ended. If there are loyal citizens of the United States in the revolted region, the proclamations are not addressed to them. They are not designed, for instance, for such men as Parson Brownlow, but for such as the Mayor Monroe of New Orleans—for such as carve into drinking-cups the skulls of their Northern brethren whom they have murdered, and who whittle the bones of loyal men into bracelets for slave-driving viragoes.

It is clearly idle to expect any thing but sullenness and hatred from the men who have staked every thing upon the bloody destruction of this Government, and who have been educated to despise those whom they call Yankees—which is the Southern nickname for those who believe that a man ought to live by the sweat of his own brow, and not by that of other people. Parson Brownlow says that Tennessee will return to the Union by fifty thousand majority. Let us hope so. But meanwhile we remember that Missouri gave nearly eighty thousand majority for the Union sentiment, and Kentucky on the 17th of May a year ago announced a "Union" victory. The history of the year shows simply that the minority controlled those States. And the words and votes of the senators and representatives from those States, with a few noble exceptions, indicate at least a doubt upon their part whether the "Union" feeling of their States is not entirely conditional—which is the simple doctrine of secession.

In Western Virginia General Fremont has hung two men taken in the act of guerrilla fighting. In New Orleans General Butler has proclaimed martial law under the most stringent conditions. In Tennessee Governor Andrew Johnson has frankly warned the rebels that he shall retaliate fivefold all their severity. In the Department of the South General Hunter has also established martial law. In North Carolina General Burnside has taken military possession—issued summary warning to all traitors to seal their mouths, and imposed silence upon a man who wanted to talk politics out of season.

This is pure despotism. This is the arbitrary will of one man in each department. Certainly it is. When the rebels invoked war they invoked despotism. War is the appeal to brute force. War reaches and maintains its ends by violence. Jeff Davis and his friends Vallandigham, and Powell, and Saulsbury, and Bayard, and the rest of them in Congress, are very nervous about the violation, as they call it, of the Constitution. To attempt to destroy it by force is a constitutional right, according to their logic; but to maintain it by force is its overthrow.

But when the Government drew the sword to maintain its authority, it knew that it must use the sword according to its nature. It was not an instrument to tickle with, but to kill with. And all that belongs to the sword goes with it. When it has thrust open a way for the Government to enter a rebellious region it is used to enforce respect there for the Government, and to protect its friends who have been oppressed. To allow Monroe to talk defiant treason was, under the circumstances, as foolish for all the purposes of our occupation of New Orleans as to allow Lovell to hold a battery that commanded the city. What Union man would dare to discover himself when a rebel magistrate talked pure rebellion to the Government unrebuked, and the national flag was torn down? At such times words are things.

The Union feeling in the insurgent section will not spontaneously appear; it must be developed by the conviction of overwhelming superiority of force. When men are convinced that resistance is hopeless the mass will begin to see why they had better submit. This nation will never encounter an enemy so savage and remorseless as that which is now making war upon it. And none know this so well as the faithful citizens in the rebellious section. They are not afraid of irritating the rebels. They are the most vehement for vigorous measures. And they are the men at the South for the Government to consider.


PARSON BROWNLOW'S speech at the Academy of Music ought to be published and scattered every where in the land. Every man and woman and child who can read should read it, and those who can not read should hear it. All the speeches on the war together are not such a cordial stimulant. He did not mention the words slavery or slave, but no anti-slavery orator or scores of orators ever dealt suck deadly blows at slavery. It was a glimpse of the black interior of this rebellion. It was a thrilling picture of the ghastly spirit which engendered and sustains it. "This," cried the weary, pale, sad man, as he paused after calmly recounting horrors at which the heart stopped, "this is the spirit of secession, the spirit of murder, of assassination, of death, of hell!" and every soul there said inwardly Amen. "And yet you have among you men who palliate and excuse and befriend it." The audience answered with a yell of indignation.

The speaker himself was a living illustration of the spirit of the society in which he had lived. Listening to the intense vindictiveness of his tones and words, it was impossible not to think of Browning's Italian, who had seen his brother fall under the bullets of Metternich's soldiers, who had been hated, hunted, exiled, losing every thing under the fell tyranny but life, and who says, calmly, that his utmost hope of happiness is to feel Metternich's "Red, wet throat distill In blood through my two hands."

Dr. Brownlow's appearance only deepened the effect. He is not the thick, coarse, loud man that the descriptions and his reported speeches prefigure; but he is tall, wiry, of decided and delicate, though




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