Harper's Weekly 12/17/1864


The President's Message was transmitted to Congress
December 6. It is a brief but comprehensive document.
The President regards the condition of our Foreign affairs
as reasonably satisfactory. In this connection he dwells
at length on our relations with the South American States.
Alluding to the progress of the Republic of Liberia, he so-
licits authority to furnish the republic with a gun-boat to
protect it against the native African races, and to facilitate
its operations in arresting the slave-trade. The President
briefly alludes to the two projects to connect America with
Europe, the one by sea and the other by land, as satisfac-
torily under way. He refers to the temporary difficulties
which, after the decease of Consul-General Thayer, re-
sulted in a suspension of intercourse between Egypt and
the United States; to the suppression of the Chinese re-
bellion, and the opening of the inland sea in Japan. After
mentioning that the ports of Norfolk, Fernandina, and
Pensacola have been opened to the world, he proceeds to
the consideration of the difficulties on the Canadian bor-
der. He recommends that notice be given to the British
Government that after the expiration of six months the
United States must feel at liberty to increase their naval
armament upon the Lakes, if they shall find it necessary
to do so.

The President also recommends an amendment of the
act for the encouragement of emigration which shall pre-
vent the practice of fraud against immigrants on their
way hither or on their arrival in port, so as to secure
them a free choice of avocations and places of settlement.
He reports that the enterprise for connecting the Atlantic
with the Pacific States has been entered upon with a vigor
which gives promise of success, notwithstanding the em-
barrassments from the high prices of labor and material.
The route of the main line of the road has been definitely
located for one hundred miles westward from the central
point at Omaha City, Nebraska; and a preliminary loca-
tion of the Pacific Railroad of California has been made
from Sacramento, eastward, to the great bend of Mucker
River in Nevada. Numerous discoveries of gold, silver,
and cinnabar mines have been added to the many hereto-
fore known; and the country occupied by the Sierra Ne-
vada and Rocky Mountains and the subordinate ranges
now teems with enterprising labor, which is richly remu-

It is believed that the products of the mines of precious
metals in that region have, during the year, reached, if
not exceeded, $100,000,000 in value.

The President recommends that further attention be
given to the reorganization of the Indian system.

The number of invalid pensioners is 23,479, of which
710 are from the Navy. The number of widows and or-
phans on the Army Pension Rolls is 25,443, the Navy pen-
sioners numbering 793. During the year ending June 30,
1864, $4,504, 616 have been paid to pensioners of all classes.

The President alludes to General Sharman's march
through Georgia as an evidence of our great increase of
relative strength. He states that 12,000 citizens in each
of the States of Arkansas and Louisiaua have organized
loyal State governments with free constitutions, and that
movements in a similar direction should not be overlooked.
In Maryland an example is presented of complete success.

The President congratulates the country on the fact that
the number of voters at the last election in the loyal por-
tion of the country is greater than the corresponding num-
ber in 1860, by 145,000, without including 90,000 soldiers
who could not vote and the largely augmented population
of the Territories. This fact proves that the resources of
the nation in respect of men are not in any measure ex-
hausted by the war

Negotiations for peace with the insurgent leader the
President regards as impossible, as the latter has so dis-
tinctly and frequently declared that he would accept of no
terms involving a return to the Union. We are left then
to the issue of war. When the Southern people are beaten
in the field or by their withdrawal from the field secure
the defeat of their leaders, then peace will follow upon
victory. In regard to this people the President says:

“They can at any moment have peace simply by laying
down their arms and submitting to the National authori-
ty under the Constitution. After so much the Government
could not, if it would, maintain war against them. The
loyal people would not sustain or allow it. If questions
should remain, we would adjust them by the peaceful
means of legislation, conference, courts, and votes.”

In taking this position the President declares that he
retracts nothing heretofore said by him as to slavery.
He repeats his former declaration that he will not attempt,
while he remains in his present position, to retract or
modify the Emancipation Proclamation. “Nor,” adds
he, “shall I return to slavery any person who is free by
the terms of that Proclamation, or by any of the acts of

“If the people should, by whatever mode or means,
make it an Executive duty to re-enslave such persons,
another, and not I, must be their instrument to perform

“In stating a single condition of peace, I mean simply
to say that the war will cease on the part of the Govern-
ment whenever it shall have ceased on the part of those
who began it.”

The President recommends that Congress should take
the necessary measures to bring before the State Legisla-
tures the proposition for an amendment to the Constitution
to abolish Slavery. He considers the popular vote in the
recent election to have indicated a desire on the part of
the people that such an amendment should be adopted.

The proposition came up at the last session, and was car-
ried in the Senate by a vote of 38 to 6, but was lost in the
House, receiving only 95 votes against 66; a two-thirds
vote was requisite. Twenty-two members of the House
did not vote at all

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