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tor from New Hampshire, said: “If this administration will not listen to the voice of the people, they will find themselves engulfed in a fire that will consume them like stubble; they will be helpless before a power that will hurl them from their places.” Nevertheless, Lincoln remained firm. The envoys must be surrendered. Lincoln could not follow the dictates of passion or prejudice in this matter; and it required a lofty regard for what was right, just, and expedient for him to rise above the commotions of the hour and insist that the claim of Great Britain must be allowed at any cost of private resentment. Secretary Seward was won over to Lincoln's view of the case, and, in a paper of singular ingenuity and skill, he gave answer to the demand of the British Government. The envoys were surrendered.
Great was the derision of the Rebels over this act. Great also was the wrath and humiliation of most of the loyal people of the North. The Rebel Government, always hoping for full recognition and assistance from foreign governments, were dismayed and angry that this provocation to war had been averted by Lincoln's sagacity and sense of justice. They heaped upon his head every possible epithet to denote their contempt and hatred. And in the North, it must be admitted, men were slow in arriving at the rational conclusion that Lincoln had done the Republic a service invaluable. His enemies and critics were clamorous and bitter. But, serene, confident of the strength of the position he had taken in this weighty affair, Lincoln remained silent; he waited for time to vindicate the wisdom of his course.
During all those years of darkness and trial, the attitude of the European governments was most unfriendly towards the United States. Our envoys were, however, instructed to assure the courts to which they were sent, that under no circumstances would the Government of the United States consent that the Civil War should be regarded by any foreign nation as other than a domestic disturbance, to be dealt with after our own ideas of public policy, and to be ended by an exercise of the sovereign power of the Republic. But it required all of Lincoln's magnanimity, all his wisdom, all his influence with the people of the United States, to restrain and guide public opinion so that the Republic should not be hurried into an unnecessary war. Smarting under repeated insults offered to the American name and flag in foreign lands, Americans everywhere were irritated and resentful towards English leaders and European governments. But Lincoln never, President, allowed his resentments to influence his public policy. As the man Lincoln had been patient under great provocation, forgiving, kind, and merciful, so the President showed in his high office the same noble qualities, the same elevated character.
THE SLAVERY QUESTION ARISES.
Frémont's Troubles in Missouri-His Policy Disapproved by the
President-Gen. Hunter's Proclamation Revoked-Irritation in
The irrepressible slavery question came to the surface and would not be long disregarded. Two generals of the Federal army, McClellan and Frémont, took views on this question that were directly opposed to each other. Lincoln stood between. McClellan, by a series of brilliant victories in West Virginia, and by his short and pungent bulletins announcing the same, had won the hearts of the people, and had inspired the popular belief that he was the great military genius that was to put down the rebellion. Frémont, who had been the Presidential candidate of the Republicans four years before Lincoln's election, had hurried home from Europe on the breaking out of the Rebellion, and had thrown himself enthusiastically into the war for the preservation of the Union. Almost on the same day in July, 1861, Frémont was commissioned a majorgeneral and McClellan was assigned to command of the Army of the Potomac, then numbering about
two hundred thousand men. Frémont was assigned to command of the Department of the West, with headquarters at St. Louis. Missouri was plunged in a state of wild disorder. Murders, neighborhood feuds, assassinations, secret crimes of various degrees of turpitude, and outrages of every sort were common. The State was classed as doubtful for the Union, being overrun with secessionists, although the local government had not declared for separation. It was time that something vigorous and decisive in character should be done. The State was distressed with all the horrors of bloody feuds and guerilla warfare.
On the 31st of August, General Frémont issued a proclamation declaring Missouri to be under martial law, defining the lines of the army of occupation, and notifying the people that all persons found within those lines with arms in their hands, unless in the service of the United States, would be put to death. Furthermore, the proclamation declared that the property of all persons in a state of rebellion against the authority of the United States would be seized and confiscated, and that the slaves of such persons would be free under the operation of his proclamation.
These declarations fell on the people of the United States with astounding effect. They were, in brief, a proclamation of a policy of confiscation of Rebel property and emancipation of the slaves of Rebels. In the loyal States, the people were thrilled with the thought that a heavy blow had been struck at the institution of slavery. The Rebels, on the other hand, were infuriated. Up to this time, no sacri
legious hand had been laid on the time-honored right of property in slaves. Here was a proclamation of emancipation from a general of the army. For a space, all men held their breath and waited. What would Lincoln say?
There were many reasons why he should disapprove of the proclamation of a policy of emancipation, confiscation, and “no quarter.” Congress had already passed a bill to confiscate property used for insurrectionary purposes; and the people had become somewhat used to the idea that slaves, as property, employed in military operations, could be confiscated. In the next place, Lincoln was even then trying to soothe the angry and uneasy feelings of the people of the border States and induce them to remain loyal to the Union, and, if possible, prepare the way for a gradual emancipation. The sudden order of Frémont would be sure to make Lincoln's task more difficult. And the notification that armed men inside the lines of the army of occupation would be shot would certainly provoke reprisals from the Rebels. In fact, almost as soon as Frémont's proclamation was issued, Jeff. Thompson, a brigadier commanding Rebel forces in Missouri, put forth a counter-proclamation announcing that for every soldier of the State guard, or of the Confederate army, so executed, he would “hang, draw, and quarter a minion of Abraham Lincoln,” thereby meaning any person who remained true to the Federal cause.
It should be understood that Frémont was very popular in the West, where he was looked upon not only as the ideal soldier, but as a champion and