William Howard Day to Salmon P. Chase 31 March 1862
William Howard Day spent much of the winter of 1861-62 in Birmingham lecturing against "inroads of pro-slavery spirit" in Britain, endorsing the African Aid Society's program of black emigration and cotton cultivation in Africa, and raising funds for the black Elgin community in Canada West. Like many black leaders, Day was discouraged by American race relations during the 1850s and turned to emigration as a solution. As the Civil War progressed, he became excited by the prospect of emancipation. He wrote a 31 March 1862 letter to Secretary of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase, congratulating the U.S. government for actions pointing in that direction. Day returned to the United States shortly after writing the letter. ASRL, 2 December 1861 [ 13: 0954]; African Aid Society, The American Crisis and the Slave Trade ( Birmingham, England, 1861), 6-7 [ 13:0970, 0971]; William Howard Day to [ Hamilton] Hill, 20 May 1862, 00 [ 14:0317]; Trefousse, Lincoln's Decision for Emancipation, 30-32, 72-73.
Russell's Temperance Hotel
Off Clayton Square
Liverpool, [ England]
March 31, 1862
To The Hon. Salmon P. Chase1
Sec[retar]y of the U.S. Treasury
At this distance from home but with no less interest in the Cause of Freedom than when you knew me more intimately, I essay to ask You and The Government with which you stand connected, to accept my best thanks for the movement lately made so decidedly in the direction of The Liberty of the U.S. Bondsmen. I refer, of course, to the Proposition made to accept the Act of State decreeing Emancipation, and the pecuniary sacrifice supposed to be involved in their so decreeing. 2
Whilst I hold that Liberty is God-given--is the Birth Right of all--I am not insensible to the fact that Governments must often act in the direction of The Right in view of the highest expediency. And as I regard this as a triumph of our principles--as a consideration of that from which nearly all, [even] a year since, turned away--as a beginning of the end-- I would not question the terms, but would rejoice that in it all I see Liberty.
Thanks therefore, heartfelt thanks for this grand instalment of Good: and may The God of Liberty ever bless and keep you.