James Ford Rhodes (18481927). History of the Civil War, 18611865 1917.
most that can be saidif so muchis that slaves are property. Is therehas there ever beenany question that by law of war, property, both of enemies and friends, may be taken when needed? The Proclamation, making clear as it did, the real issue of the war, was of incontestable value in turning English sentiment into a favorable channel. It already had the approval of the House of Representatives and, when enforced by victories in the field, received the support of the majority of the Northern people.
In addition to military emancipation, the President purposed giving the slaves their freedom in a strictly legal manner and insuring the compensation of their owners by the Federal Government. In his annual message to Congress of December 1, 1862, he took as his text the sound and now familiar proposition that Without slavery the rebellion [as he and the North called the Civil War] could never have existed; without slavery it could not continue and showed in his argument a grasp of the subject which, in the light of our subsequent experience, has proved him a consummate statesman. He pleaded for gradual emancipation, appointing January 1, 1900 as the time when it should be completed to spare both races from the evils of sudden derangement. It is to be regretted that this prophetic appeal was not re-enforced by victories in the field such as were wont to point the utterances of Cæsar and Napoleon. As matters stood, distrust of Lincoln pervaded both the Senate and the House, and for the moment his personal prestige amongst the people had paled because his armies had made no headway; so it was hardly surprising that his policy of gradual and compensated emancipation failed to receive the approval of either Congress or the country. Nevertheless he had been happy in seizing the right moment for issuing his Proclamation of Emancipation, as from Antietam in September, 1862