“Those enemies must understand that they cannot experiment for ten years trying to destroy the government, and if they fail still come back into the Union unhurt.”
The feared black jacquerie never materialized, but the Emancipation Proclamation did achieve its strategic objective. It made a negotiated settlement between the CSA and the Union based on the status quo ante virtually impossible and guaranteed the prolongation of the war until, hopefully, the North could finally bring its massive industrial and population superiority (4:1) to bear on the South.
In order to obscure the fact that Lincoln’s decision to employ it was a sign that the Union was stuck in a military and political cul-de-sac, he waited for a Union victory at another butcher-ground, Antietam, in September 1862 (according to historian James McPherson, 6000 dead and 16,000 wounded total on both sides, “four times the total suffered by American soldiers at the Normand beaches on June 6, 1944. More …than fell in combat in the War of 1812, the Mexican War, and the Spanish-American War combined”), in order to provide the suitable public relations backdrop for the announcement on January 1, 1863.
“Vallandigham professed himself a better unionist than the Republicans whose fanaticism had provoked this ruinous war. These same Republicans, he continued, were now fighting not for Union but for abolition. And what had they accomplished? ‘Let the dead at Fredericksburg and Vicksburg answer.’ He proposed an armistice and burshed aside the objection that it would preserve slavery. “I see more of barbarism and sin, a thousand times, in the continuance of this war…and the enslavement of the white race by debt and taxes and arbitrary power’ than in Negro slavery.”…In the West, “identity with the South and hostility to the Northeast gave rise to talk among western Democrats of a ‘Northwest Confederacy’ that would reconstruct a Union with the South, leaving New England out in the cold…However bizarre such a scheme appears in retrospect, it commanded much rhetorical support during the war. ‘The people of the West demand peace, and they begin to more than suspect that New England is in the way,’ warned Vallandigham…”
“When the two legislatures began work on bills to take control of state troops away from the Republican governors…these governors decided to act. With the acquiescence of the Lincoln administration, in June 1863 Richard Yates of Illinois used an obscure clause of the state constitution to prevent the legislature from meeting. Indiana’s iron-willed Oliver P. Morton simply persuaded Republican legislators to absent themselves, thereby forcing the legislature into adjournment for lack of a quorum. For the next two years Morton ran the state without a legislature—and without the usual appropriation. He borrowed from banks and business, levied contributions on Republican counties, and drew $250,000 from a special service fund in the War Department…”
“With a homely but effective metaphor, Lincoln affirmed that he could no more believe that the necessary curtailment of civil liberties in wartime would establish precedents fatal to liberty in peacetime “than I am able to believe that a man could contract so strong an appetite for emetics during temporary illness, as to persist in feeding upon them through the remainder of his healthful life.”
Another speed bump on the road to freedom was, of course, the infamous draft riots of New York City, fueled by a combination of racist working class resentment at emancipation, the inequities of the draft, and local Democratic resistance to Lincoln’s war agenda.
It is rather for us to be here dedicated to the great task remaining before us -- that from these honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion -- that we here highly resolve that these dead shall not have died in vain -- that this nation, under God, shall have a new birth of freedom -- and that government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth.
Illustration: On Antietam Battlefield, 1862 Matthew Brady