Cyclopædia of Political Science, Political Economy, and the Political History of the United States
EMANCIPATION PROCLAMATION, The (IN
—The emancipation proclamation proper was issued Jan. 1, 1863. It recited the substance of the preliminary proclamation, in which he had promised to "designate the states and parts of states, if any, in which the people thereof should be in rebellion against the United States," and in which alone emancipation was to take effect; they included all the states which had seceded (see
—The validity of such a proclamation is hardly to be seriously questioned, and never would have been questioned but for the natural revulsion from so searching an application of the laws of war in a country which had hitherto enjoyed an almost entire exemption from actual warfare. Its authority is well expressed in its preamble; it was issued by Abraham Lincoln, president of the United States; not by virtue of any powers directly entrusted by the constitution to the presidential office, but "by virtue of the power in him vested as commander-in-chief of the army and navy of the United States in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority and government of the United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion." It must be remembered that the powers of the president as commander-in-chief, subject to the laws of war as recognized by all civilized nations, are distinctly recognized by the constitution; that these powers are brought to life and action by the existence of defensive war or by the exercise of congress of its power to declare war, and are controlled by congress through its action in furnishing or refusing troops and supplies to the commander-in-chief; and that the emancipation proclamation and other war measures are therefore as much the work of the representatives of the people in congress assembled as of their executive officer, the commander-in-chief. (See
—The effect of the proclamation, however, in the absolute abolition of slavery, is a different and more doubtful question; it has been warmly asserted that it had no effect whatever, and theoretically the case against it is very strong. The singular feature of the proclamation is that it purports to free the slaves, not of the soil which was then under military occupation, but of that which was not under occupation, and which, therefore, did not come under the jurisdiction of the president as commander-in-chief. Those portions of Virginia and Louisiana which had been conquered by the forces of the United States, and were under military occupation at the time, were expressly excepted from the operation of the proclamation; and in the states designated for the operation of the proclamation Mr. Lincoln had no constitutional power as president and no physical power as commander-in-chief, to free a single slave. It seems to be apparent, then, that the proclamation had, eo instante, no effect whatever, if we follow its own terms, and that the slaves in the designated states and parts of states were no more free Jan. 2, 1863, than Dec 31, 1862.
—The objection, however, may be obviated if we consider the proclamation as one whose accomplishment was to be effected progressively, not instantaneously, taking effect in future as rapidly as the federal lines advanced. It would then be, as its author doubtless designed it to be, a general rule of conduct for the guidance of subordinate officers in the armed forces of the United States, a conciliation of a large portion of the inhabitants of the hostile territory by interesting them in the success of the federal arms, and an announcement to the world that, without further formal notice, each fresh conquest by the federal armies would at once become free soil. The question whether slavery was abolished by the proclamation or by the 13th amendment has never been directly before the supreme court for decision, but instructive reference to it will be found in the cases in Wallace's Reports cited below. The only cases which hold that slavery was abolished by the proclamation, and instantly, are those in Louisiana and Alabama cited below. (See
—The political results of the proclamation are almost beyond calculation and can only be summed up briefly. 1. Foreign mediation by armed force, which had been an important possible factor while the struggle was merely one between a federal union and its rebellious members, passed out of sight forever as soon as ultimate national success was authoritatively defined as necessarily involving the destruction of slavery: from that time any effort by the governments of France and Great Britain to force the government of the United States to recognize the confederate states as a separate slaveholding nation, would have excited the horror and active opposition of a very large and influential portion of their own subjects. 2. In the north it alienated all the weak or doubtful members of the republican party, and made it a compact, homogeneous organization, with well-defined objects, and with sinews toughened to meet the novel and important questions which followed final success. (See
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