The Salmon P. Chase Papers - Vol. 3

By John Niven; James P. McClure et al. | Go to book overview
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President to break up the Virginia trade in slaves by the only measure which can at once crush the traffic & the rebellion. If your administration makes peace, leaving slavery & the domestic slave-trade existing in Virginia what will the world, what will the next generation say of you? The boldest measures are the safest; the way & the only way to preserve the union is by abolishing slavery. Look at the imbecility of your pro- slavery McClellan; look at your sham pacification in the Eastern shore of Virginia.3 Would to God, we could see disinterested patriotism, & strong will, & a clear perception of the character of this struggle united. The constitution has for its primal object the maintenance of the Union; it entrusts the government with all power to enact laws necessary & proper for the carrying into execution the powers vested in the government; & as the termination of slavery is proper & necessary to that end, Congress & the President in this extreme case of its own life or death, the life or death of the constitution, should adopt (& has not congress substantially adopted)4 the measure of doing away with the institution, which so long as it continues, renders a restoration of the union impossible. Slavery ought forthwith to be put an end to in Virginia, & forever; and avowedly & openly on the ground that so only can regenerated Virginia be reconciled to the union.
1. On July 24, Chase had sent Bancroft a copy of comments Chase had made in a cabinet meeting on December 25, 1861, shortly after the beginning of the Trent affair. For those comments, see Chase Papers, 1:318-20. Chase to Bancroft, July 24, 1862 ( Banc­ croft Coll., Mass. Soc.).
2. John Slidell and James Murray Mason.
3. Federal policy toward conquered counties on the Eastern Shore of Virginia left society there virtually unaltered and permitted slavery to continue. Susie M. Ames, "Federal Policy Toward the Eastern Shore of Virginia in 1861," Virginia Magazine of History and Biography 69 ( Oct. 1961): 432-59.
4. Congress stopped short of abolishing slavery in the first and second confiscation acts, August 6, 1861, and July 17, 1862. Statutes at Large, 12:319, 589-92.


Autograph letter. Chase Papers, Historical Society of Pennsylvania (micro 29:0226).

Head Qrs 5th. Divn. Memphis Tenn. Aug 11, 1862

Hon S. P. Chase, Secretary of the Treasury.


Your letter of August 2 just received invites my discussion of the Cotton Question.1

I will write plain & slow because I know you have no time to listen to trifles. This is no trifle. When one nation is at war with another, all the Poeple of the one are enemies of the other. Then the Rules are plain and easy of understanding. Most unfortunately the war in which we are


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The Salmon P. Chase Papers - Vol. 3
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