Lincoln on Race and Slavery

By Henry Louis Gates Jr.; Donald Yacovone et al. | Go to book overview

44

Message to Congress:
CW, 5:144–146

Lincoln preferred that Congress adopt a compensated emancipation scheme as the best way to retain the border states and satisfy the more radical members of the Republican Party, like Charles Sumner, who lobbied the president continuously to move against slavery. Lincoln hoped to convince Delaware to be the first state to voluntarily give up slavery, with significant congressional incentives, thus becoming a model for the other border states. Lincoln gained the support of his secretary of the treasury Salmon P. Chase—who also backed colonization—and Sumner agreed not to oppose any compensation plan if a border state agreed to such a program. None did. The president even went so far as to print up proposals and distribute them to members of the Delaware legislature, but the state refused to cooperate. Lincoln followed a slow, deliberate, step-by-step process that favored action by Congress and voluntary cooperation by the states. His March message to Congress did contain a warning, which border state congressmen especially in Maryland were quick to seize upon: “If, however, resistance continues, the war must also continue; and it is impossible to foresee all the incidents, which may attend and all the ruin which may follow it.”

March 6, 1862

Fellow-citizens of the Senate, and House of
Representatives,

I recommend the adoption of a Joint Resolution by
your honorable bodies which shall be substantially as
follows:

“Resolved that the United States ought to co-operate
with any state which may adopt gradual abolishment of

-222-

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