"Do you mean to say," said the planter, "that there is a State called Wisconsin that has sent thirty thousand men into your armies?"
Mr. Lincoln writes to his wife from Exeter, N.H., March 4, 1860, as follows:
I asked Hewitt whether he had seen Lincoln after this matter of the mortar-beds. "Yes," said Hewitt, "I saw him a year later and Lincoln's action was characteristic. I was in Washington and thought it was proper to call and pay my respects. I was told on reaching the White House that it was late in the day and that the waiting-room was very full and that I probably should not be reached. 'Well,' I said, 'in that case, I will simply ask you to take in my card.' No sooner had the card been delivered than the door of the study opened and Lincoln appeared reaching out both hands. 'Where is Mr. Hewitt?' he said; 'I want to see, I want to thank, the man who does things.' I sat with him for a time, a little nervous in connection with the number of people who were waiting outside, but Lincoln would not let me go. Finally he asked, 'What are you in Washington for?' 'Well, Mr. Lincoln,' said I, 'I have some business here. I want to get paid for those mortar-beds.' 'What?' said Lincoln, 'you have not yet got what the nation owes you? That is disgraceful.' He rang the bell violently and sent an aid for Secretary Stanton and when the Secretary appeared, he was questioned rather sharply. 'How about Mr. Hewitt's bill against the War Department? Why does he have to wait for his money?' 'Well, Mr. Lincoln,' said Stanton, 'the order for those mortar-beds was given rather irregularly. It never passed through the War Department and consequently the account when rendered could not receive the approval of any ordnance officer, and until so approved could not be paid by the Treasury.' 'If,' said Lincoln, 'I should write on that account an order to have it paid, do you suppose the Secretary of the Treasury would pay it?' 'I suppose that he would,' said Stanton. The account was sent for and Lincoln wrote at the bottom: 'Pay this bill now. A. Lincoln.' 'Now, Mr. Stanton,' said Lincoln, 'Mr. Hewitt has been very badly treated in this matter and I want you to take a little pains to see that he gets his money. I am going to ask you to go over to the Treasury with Mr. Hewitt and to get the proper signatures on this account so that Mr. Hewitt can carry a draft with him back to New York.' Stanton, rather reluctantly, accepted the instruction and," said Hewitt, "he walked with me through the various departments of the Treasury until the final signature had been placed on the bill and I was able to exchange this for a Treasury warrant. I should," said Hewitt, "have been much pleased to retain the bill with that signature of Lincoln beneath the words, 'Pay this now.'
The men of the Border States were, however, still too bound to the institution of slavery to be prepared to give their assent to any such plan. Congress was, naturally, not ready to give support to such a policy unless it could be made clear that it was satisfactory to the people most concerned. The result of the unwise stubbornness in this matter of the loyal citizens of Missouri, Kentucky, Tennessee, and Maryland was that they were finally obliged to surrender without compensation the property control in their slaves. When the plan for compensated emancipation had failed, Lincoln decided that the time had come for unconditional emancipation. In July, 1862, he prepares the first draft of the Emancipation Proclamation. It was his judgment, which was shared by the majority of his Cabinet, that the issue of the proclamation should, however, be deferred until after some substantial victory by the armies of the North. It was undesirable to give to such a step the character of an utterance of despair or even of discouragement. It seemed evident, however, that the War had brought the country to the point at which slavery, the essential cause of the cleavage between the States, must be removed. The bringing to an end of the national responsibility for slavery would consolidate national opinion throughout the States of the North and would also strengthen the hands of the friends of the union in England where the charge had repeatedly been made that the North was fighting, not against slavery or for freedom of any kind, but for domination. The proclamation was held until after the battle of Antietam in September, 1862, and was then issued to take effect on the first of January, 1863. It did produce the hoped-for results. The cause of the North was now placed on a consistent foundation. It was made clear that when the fight for nationality had reached a successful termination, there was to be no further national responsibility for the great crime against civilisation. The management of the contrabands, who were from week to week making their way into the lines of the Northern armies, was simplified. There was no further question of holding coloured men subject to the possible claim of a possibly loyal master. The work of organising coloured troops, which had begun in Massachusetts some months earlier in the year, was now pressed forward with some measure of efficiency. Boston sent to the front the 54th and 55th Massachusetts regiments composed of coloured troops and led by such men as Shaw and Hallowell. The first South Carolina coloured regiment was raised and placed under the command of Colonel Higginson.
"Gentlemen," he said, "suppose all the property you possess were in gold, and you had placed it in the hands of Blondin to carry across the Niagara River on a rope. With slow, cautious, steady steps he walks the rope, bearing your all. Would you shake the cable and keep shouting to him, 'Blondin, stand up a little straighter! Blondin, stoop a little more; go a little faster; lean more to the south! Now lean a little more to north! Would that be your behaviour in such an emergency? No, you would hold your breath, every one of you, as well as your tongues. You would keep your hands off until he was safe on the other side."
The broken fetters of the slave.