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Welles, Gideon (1802-1878) [Notes on division in President Lincoln's cabinet over the issue of emancipation]

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Gilder Lehrman Collection #: GLC06577 Author/Creator: Welles, Gideon (1802-1878) Place Written: Washington, D.C. Type: Autograph manuscript Date: 1873-1874 circa Pagination: 2 p. ; 25.3 x 19.6 cm.

Summary of Content: Appears to be part of a draft to Welles' book, "Lincoln and Seward: Remarks Upon the Memorial Address of Chas. Francis Adams, on the Late William H. Seward..." first published in 1874. In the notes, Welles quotes Secretary of State William H. Seward's reluctance to address the slavery issue during the war. Welles writes, "The President was aware of the position taken by Mr. Seward, and of the embarrassment which he might feel in acceding to a measure that conflicted with that position stated...but he thought to make known to us that emancipation appeared to him an inevitable necessity." With cross outs and corrections.

Background Information: William H. Seward served as United States Secretary of State under Abraham Lincoln and Andrew Johnson. He was a radical opponent of slavery and opposed the Fugitive Slave Act, defending ...runaway slaves in court. Although Seward urged Lincoln not to take any action that would lead to the war between the North and South during the Fort Sumter crisis, once fighting began he became a strong supporter of the war effort. After Lincoln wrote the Emancipation Proclamation, Seward successfully persuaded Lincoln not to announce the Proclamation until after a major military victory. As a result, Lincoln did not issue the Emancipation Proclamation until 22 September 1862, after the Battle of Antietam. Although both sides took a heavy toll during the battle, the Confederate army was severely crippled that Lincoln felt confident enough to issue the proclamation.See More

Full Transcript: Complete Transcript:
He had it will be remembered only the preceding year in his carefully prepared and studied speech of the 12' of January 1861 avowed a policy diametrically opposed to ...emancipation by the general government. [struck: And in addition to this] "I am willing" said he on that occasion "to vote for an amendmis [sic] to the Constitution declaring that it shall not, by any future amendment be so altered as to confer on Congress a power to abolish or interfere with slavery in any state." In addition to this speech on the floor of the Senate [inserted: and in corroboration of it] [struck: he proposed that winter] [inserted: he] as a member of the Senatorial committee of thirteen [struck: of which he was a Member] proposed the following amendment to the Federal Constitution: "No amendment shall be made to the Constitution, which will authorize or give to Congress any power to abolish or interfere in any state with the domestic institutions thereof, including that of persons held to service or labor by the laws of said state."
The President was aware of the position taken by Mr Seward, and of the embarrassment which he might feel in [struck: view] acceding to a measure [2] that conflicted with that position stated he wished [inserted: from neither of us] [strikeout] committal, but [inserted: he thought [struck: proper] best] to make known to us [inserted: that emancipation] [struck: what] appeared to him an inevitable necessity.
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People: Welles, Gideon, 1802-1878
Lincoln, Abraham, 1809-1865

Historical Era: Civil War and Reconstruction, 1861-1877

Subjects: Civil WarLincoln's CabinetPresidentAfrican American HistorySlaveryEmancipation ProclamationEmancipationUnion Forces

Sub Era: Reconstruction

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