The Negro and the Nation: A History of American Slavery and Enfranchisement

By George S. Merriam | Go to book overview

CHAPTER XXVII
EMANCIPATION ACHIEVED

INSTEAD of victory came defeat. Pope, taking the command after McClellan's failure, was beaten and driven back in the second battle of Bull Run, and matters were at the worst. McClellan was recalled; his genius for organization rehabilitated the demoralized army; the soldiers' confidence in their old chief gave them new courage. When Lee, after a year on the defensive, took the offensive and entered Maryland, he was beaten and turned back at Antietam.

Then Lincoln summoned his cabinet again, September 22, 1862. Before he spoke the momentous word, he freshened himself in his own way,--he said that Artemus Ward had sent him his book, and he would read them a chapter which he thought very funny; and read it he did, with great enjoyment; the secretaries also laughing as in duty bound--all except Stanton! Then the President became grave enough-- he told them that he had been thinking a great deal about the proclamation he had read them two months before; that victory seemed to have brought a favorable occasion; that when the rebel army was at Fredericksburg he determined as soon as it was driven out of Maryland to proclaim emancipation. He went on: "I said nothing to any one, but I made the promise to myself, and,"--hesitating a little-- "to my Maker." So now, he tells them, he fulfills that promise. One last word,--some other might do better than he; he would surrender his place to a better man if he saw the way; he believes that he has not so much of the confi-

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