Harper's Weekly 05/31/1862


WE publish in another column the Presi-
dent's Proclamation rescinding the Gen-
eral Order of General Hunter, by which the slaves
in South Carolina, Georgia, and Florida were
freed. The President takes the ground that the
right of emancipating negroes under the war
power belongs to him, and that he does not
choose to delegate it to commanders in the field.

This message will satisfy the conservative peo-
ple in the Northern States. So grave a ques-
tion as the abolition of slavery in the States can
not be left to the discretion of military officers.
A uniform policy must be adopted by the Gov-
ernment, and carried out in every case. The
only person who can determine that policy is
the President, and he only does his duty when
he refuses to share the privilege and the respon-

The closing paragraph of the Proclamation
indicates clearly enough to which side the Presi-
dent's sympathies and inclinations lean. In-
deed, it may be regarded somewhat in the light
of a threat and a warning. He appeals to the
people of the slaveholding States to accept the
generous offer made to them by Congress while
it is yet time. The “signs of the times,” he
warns them, point to the abolition of an institu-
tion which is not in harmony with the spirit of
the age or reconcilable with the peace of the
country. It is for the Slave States to decide
whether they will run the risk of having it
abolished under the war power, with sudden-
ness and disaster, and without compensation, or
whether they will have the sagacity to antici-
pate necessity, and avail themselves of a Con-
gressional subsidy. The country pauses to hear
Maryland's answer.

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