Excerpt from The Tenth Decade of the United States, Vol. 4: Lincoln's Policy of Mercy
Congress, although extremists in both houses were actually proposing to abol ish slavery everywhere by ordinary stat ute, would not appropriate the money to compensate the owners. When it be came plainly necessary to decide at once the fate of the fast increasing number of negroes delivered from slavery by the pro gress of the Union arms, Lincoln there fore turned reluctantly away from the hope which for a hundred years the wisest Americans had cherished. Still firmly of the opinion that neither he nor Con gress had any right to interfere with the domestic institutions of states, save only in the prosecution of the war, he made up his mind, after much thought, that emancipation could reasonably be con sidered a necessary and proper means to the supreme end of saving the Union. He accordingly decreed emancipation in those states and parts of states which on January 1, 1863, were still in insurrection against the government. He plainly stated his opinion both that the act was military, and that he could not if he would have thrown upon Congress any part of the responsibility for it. Few momentous deeds have ever been done so cautiously; yet few have been braver.
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