James Ford Rhodes (1848–1927). History of the Civil War, 1861–1865. 1917.
|must precede the issuance of his proclamation of emancipation. This, as we have seen, he had laid aside on July 22 until some military success should give support to the policy. The working of his mind in the interval of two months is an open page to us of to-day. Although he had already come to a decision, he showed the true executive acumen in not regarding the policy of striking directly at slavery as absolutely and finally determined until it had been officially promulgated. From the Cabinet meeting of July 22, when he announced his purpose, to that of September 22, when he informed his advisers that he should issue the irrevocable decree, he endeavored, in his correspondence, formal interviews and private conversation, to get all possible light to aid him in deciding when the proper moment had come to proclaim freedom for the slaves. To Conservatives he argued the Radical side of the question; “I shall not surrender this game leaving any available card unplayed,” he wrote to Reverdy Johnson. To Radicals he put forth the conservative view or laid stress on the necessity of proceeding with caution. He said to a committee of clergymen, who presented a memorial in favor of national emancipation, “I do not want to issue a document that the whole world will see must necessarily be inoperative like the Pope’s bull against the comet.”|| 44|
| There was pressure on the President to issue a proclamation of emancipation and there was pressure against it. He talked with Conservatives and Radicals, listened to their arguments, reasoned with them and left different impressions on different minds. Much of his talk was after his characteristic manner of thinking aloud when the stimulus of contact with sympathetic or captious men afforded him an opportunity to revolve his thoughts and see the question on all sides. There was indeed much to be considered. |