James Ford Rhodes (18481927). History of the Civil War, 18611865 1917.
the object of the war was the restoration of the Union, he proposed emancipation as a fit and necessary military measure for effecting this object. Seward pleaded for delay, fearing that on account of the depression of the public mind the proclamation might be viewed as the last measure of an exhausted government, a cry for help, the government stretching forth its hands to Ethiopia in a last shriek on the retreat. Now while I approve the measure, he added, I suggest sir that you postpone its issue until you can give it to the country supported by military success instead of issuing it, as would be the case now, upon the greatest disasters of the war. The President had not seen the matter in this light; struck with the wisdom of Sewards objection, he put the draft of the proclamation aside waiting for a victory.1
The secret of this conference was well kept and the Radicals, not knowing that Lincoln was disposed to go as far as they wished, continued their criticism. What a pity, wrote Charles Eliot Norton, that the President should not have issued a distinct and telling Proclamation!2 Thaddeus Stevens characterized Lincolns proposal of compensated emancipation as the most diluted milk-and-water gruel proposition that was ever given to the American nation, and declared that the blood of thousands moldering in untimely graves is upon the souls of this Congress and Cabinet. The administration, he said, should free the slaves, enlist and arm them and set them to shooting their masters if they will not submit to this government.3 Sumner, restlessly pacing up and down his room, exclaimed with uplifted hand: I pray that the President may be right in delaying. But I am afraid, I am almost sure, he