James Ford Rhodes (18481927). History of the Civil War, 18611865 1917.
was made during the military successes of the North and though, as a practical measure, there was no expectation that any but the Union border slave States would avail themselves of it, the offer was open to all; and, if the people of any or all of the Confederate States had at this time laid down their arms and respected the authority of the national government they would have received, in a plan of gradual emancipation, about four hundred dollars for each slave set free.
Lincoln measured the steps forward with discretion and kept the determination of the slavery question entirely in his own hands. On May 9, General Hunter, who commanded the Department of the South, issued an order declaring free all the slaves in South Carolina, Florida and Georgia. Lincoln heard of this a week later through the newspapers and at the same time received a letter from Chase, saying that in his judgment the order should be suffered to stand. The President replied to his Secretary, No commanding general shall do such a thing upon my responsibility without consulting me, and, on May 19, he issued a proclamation declaring Hunters order void. In this proclamation, he made an earnest appeal to the people of the Union border slave States to give freedom gradually to their slaves and accept the compensation proffered them by himself and Congress. I do not argue, he said; I beseech you to make arguments for yourselves. You cannot, if you would, be blind to the signs of the times. The abolition of slavery contemplated would come gently as the dews of heaven, not rending or wrecking anything.
Then came the utter failure of McClellans campaign, which convinced the President that slavery must be struck at. He grew eager to develop his policy of gradual emancipation of the slaves, compensation of their owners by the