His work for the Coloured Race

“Liberator of a Race”—His Sentiments Stated—Letter to Greeley—Sojourner Truth—Frederick Douglas—Children of Concord—Counting Greenbacks for a Negro—Coloured Delegation from Louisiana—Protection of Coloured Soldiers, his Order—Refusing to give up Coloured Soldiers—Refused to Pardon Slave- Trader—Committed to Negro Suffrage—Reverence of Coloured Soldiers for him—Negroes in Virginia—Their Joy over Lincoln in Richmond—Colonel McKaye's Account of them—Their Gift of a Bible—Of Wax Flowers—Asking for Proclamation of Emancipation—First Proposed Freedom—Cabinet Meeting—Proclamation Issued—His Signature—Carpenter's Painting—Copy of Proclamation—Words of Colfax

President Lincoln’s life in the White House was distinguished by his work for the coloured race. So providential and important were his relations to both free and enslaved negroes, that justice could not be done to him or the subject without a separate exhibit of his work for them. He was not only “The Saviour of His Country,” but, also, “The Liberator of a Race.” While his great purpose was to save the Union, giving freedom to the slaves became absolutely necessary. He expressed his views in the following clear, forcible, and characteristic way, after three years of war:—

“I am naturally anti-slavery. If slavery is not wrong, nothing is wrong. I cannot remember when I did not see, think, and feel that it was wrong, and yet I have never understood that the Presidency conferred upon me an unrestricted right to act officially upon this judgment and feeling. … I could not feel that, to the best of my ability, I had tried to preserve the Constitution, if, to preserve slavery or any minor matter, I should permit the wreck of the government, country, and Constitution altogether. … I claim not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have controlled me. Now, at the end of three years’ struggle, the nation’s condition is not what either party or any man devised or expected; God alone can claim it. Whither it is tending seems plain. If God now wills the removal of a great wrong, and wills, also, that we of the North as well as you of the South shall pay fairly for our complicity in that wrong, impartial history will find therein new cause to attest and revere the justice and goodness of God.”

His memorable letter to Horace Greeley contained the following passages, which will appear more and more remarkable as the ages roll on:—

“If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them.

“If there be those who would not save the Union unless they could at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them.

My paramount object is to save the Union, and not either to save or destroy slavery.

“If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it—if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it—and if I could do it by freeing some and leaving others alone, I would also do that.

“What I do about slavery and the coloured race, I do because it helps to save the Union; and what I forbear, I forbear because I do not believe it would help to save the Union.

“I shall do less whenever I shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more whenever I believe doing more will help the cause.

“I shall try to correct errors when shown to be errors, and I shall adopt new views as fast as they appear to be true views.

“I have here stated my purpose according to my view of official duty, and intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere could be free.”

For independent thought, invincible purpose, clearness of expression, model composition, and lofty sentiment, the foregoing was never excelled by American statesmen.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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