History of the Administration of President Lincoln: Including His Speeches, Letters, Addresses, Proclamations, and Messages. With a Preliminary Sketch of His Life

By Henry J. Raymond | Go to book overview

CHAPTER V.
THE REGULAR SESSION OF CONGRESS, DEC. 1861--THE MESSAGE.--DEBATES, ETC.

CONGRESS met in regular session (the second of the thirtyseventh Congress) on the 2d of December, 1861. On the next day the President sent in his Annual Message, as follows:

FELLOW-CITIZENS OF THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES:

In the midst of unprecedented political troubles, we have cause of great gratitude to God for unusual good health, and most abundant harvests.

You will not be surprised to learn that, in the peculiar exigencies of the times, our intercourse with foreign nations has been attended with profound solicitude, chiefly turning upon our own domestic affairs.

A disloyal portion of the American people have, during the whole year, been engaged in an attempt to divide and destroy the Union. A nation which endures factious domestic division, is exposed to disrespect abroad; and one party, if not both, is sure, sooner or later, to invoke foreign intervention.

Nations thus tempted to interfere are not always able to resist the counsels of seeming expediency and ungenerous ambition, although measures adopted under such influences seldom fail to be unfortunate and injurious to those adopting them.

The disloyal citizens of the United States who have offered the ruin of our country, in return for the aid and comfort which they have invoked abroad, have received less patronage and encouragement than they probably expected. If it were just to suppose, as the insurgents have seemed to assume, that foreign nations, in this case, discarding all. moral, social, and treaty obligations, would act solely and selfishly for the most speedy restoration of commerce, including especially the acquisition of cotton, those nations appear, as yet, not to have seen their way to their object more directly, or clearly, through the destruction, than through the preservation, of the Union. If we could dare to believe that foreign nations are actuated by no higher principle than this,

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