I have received no instructions from you and am not informed as to the policy it is desired I should pursue. I send with this copies of orders and a short proclamation* to the people of East Tennessee. They, together with this letter, will indicate somewhat of the policy I propose to pursue, and I have respectfully to ask that you will submit them to the President and inform me if they meet his approval.
Very respectfully, your obedient servant,
KNOXVILLE, TENN., October 3, 1862.
Address of Honorable T. A. R. Nelson to the People of East Tennessee.
In all the speeches which I made to you in the spring and summer of 1961, as well as in a printed address to the people of the State on or about May 30, 1861, I declared in substance that if I had believed it was the object of the North to subjugate the South and to emancipate our slaves in violation of the Constitution, I would have gone as far as the farthest in advocating resistance to the utmost extent.
My attention has just been called to a proclamation issued by the President of the United States on September 22, 1862, in which he declares that-
On the 1st day of January, A. D. 1863, all persons held as slaves within any State, or any designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall be thenceforward and forever free, and the executive Government of the United States, including the military and naval authority, will recognize and maintain the freedom of such persons and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or any of them, in any efforts they make for their actual freedom.
I need scarcely remind you that one of the evils which I dreaded and predicted as the results of the which were made to dissolve the Union was, that in the progress of war they might open the way for servile insurrection and the overthrow of the institution of slavery. My opinions as to the unconstitutionally and impolicy of secession remain unchanged, but in my last speech in Congress and on various other public occasions I have vindicated and maintained, and still maintain, the right of revolution. On no occasion, however, did I ever assert the doctrine that a violation of the Constitution by one party would authorize or justify similar or other violations by the opposing party. The paramount causes which have controlled and influenced my conduct and opinions were love for the Union and an unshaken confidence that we had the best Constitution and Government in the world; but of all the acts of despotism of which the civil war in which we are now engaged has been the prolific source there is not one which in the slightest degree equals the atrocity and barbarism of Mr. Lincoln's proclamation. At one blow it deprives all the citizens of the slave States without distinction of the right to hold slaves, a right guaranteed by the very Constitution he pretends to uphold. It is true he makes an intimation that he will recommend to Congress to provide just compensation to Union masters in the slave States, but what right has he, or the Government of the United States, to deprive them of this property without their consent? And what assurance have they that his vague and general intimation will be applied to them, or that an Abolition
* See September 27, 29, and 30, pp.884, 890, 894.