James Ford Rhodes (18481927). History of the Civil War, 18611865 1917.
the purpose of issuing deeds of manumission to slaves. Although this major-general of two months standing, without careful survey of the whole field, without comprehension of the important and various interests involved had, on a sudden impulse, assumed to solve a question which the President, his Cabinet and Congress were approaching only in a careful and tentative manner, Lincolns letter to Frémont of September 2, sent by a special messenger, was as full of kindness as of wisdom. The liberating slaves of traitorous owners, he wrote, will alarm our Southern Union friends and turn them against us; perhaps ruin our rather fair prospect for Kentucky. Allow me, therefore, to ask that you will, as of your own motion, modify that paragraph1 so as to conform to the Confiscation act of Congress. This letter is written in a spirit of caution and not of censure. Frémont was unwilling to retract the provision objected to and asked that the President should openly direct him to make the correction: this Lincoln cheerfully did by public order.
Frémonts proclamation stirred the anti-slavery sentiment of the country to its utmost depths, receiving enthusiastic commendation from many States. Senator Sumner wrote, Our President is now dictator, imperatorwhich you will; but how vain to have the power of a god and not use it godlike! A large number of men in Ohio were furious and found fit expression in the words of an eminent lawyer and judge: Our people are in a state of great consternation and wrath on account of the quarrel between Frémont and the administration, public opinion being entirely
Note 1. This paragraph also confiscated the real and personal property of the Confederates in Missouri, but as the reference to slaves gave the proclamation its importance, I have confined my attention to that provision. O. R., III, 466, 469. [back]