respect the private property of non-combatant enemies, so far as this is compatible with the exigencies of war. If a commander-in- chief violate these rules which civilization in its progress has dictated, it is an offense, not against the Constitution, but against international law. The legality of his acts may be called in question, not their constitutionality.
What was the manner in which the President, as Commander-in- Chief, took and canceled the claims to involuntary labor owned by inhabitants of the insurrectionary States?
On the 25th July, 1862, in pursuance of the sixth section of the act of July 17, 1862, commonly called the "confiscation act", the President issued a proclamation warning all the insurgents to return to their allegiance within sixty days, on pain of certain forfeitures and seizures.
This warning proving ineffectual, the President when the sixty days" notice had expired issued a second proclamation declaring that the slaves held within any State which, on the 1st of January then succeeding should still be in rebellion against the United States, 'shall be then, thenceforth, and forever free."
On the 1st of January, 1863, "by virtue of the power in him vested as Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States," he declared certain States, namely, Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, Virginia-certain parishes in Louisiana and certain counties in Virginia excepted-to be then in rebellion against the United States; and he further declared that all slaves in the said ten States, with the exceptions aforesaid, "are and henceforward shall be, free."
In the last-mentioned proclamation the President recites that it is issued "in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority and Government of the United States;" and further, that emancipation is declared "as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing said rebellion."
The number of claims to involuntary labor which this proclamation declared to be canceled was about 3,000,000. The forfeiture under the war power of so great an amount of property, the cancelling of so vast a number of claims, disturbing, as it must, the social and commercial elements throughout a large and populous country, requires, for its justification, an object commensurate in grandeur with the magnitude of the measure itself.
What was that object?
"All that a man hath," we are told, "will he give for his life," and this is as true of nations as of individuals. No higher or greater object can be proposed to any people than the maintenance of its national unity, which is its national life.
At the time when the President as Commander-in-Chief issued his proclamation of emancipation the life of the Nation was imminently threatened.
A civil war, of proportions more gigantic than any which history records, had been raging in our country for more than a year and a half. The contending parties had put into the field upward of a million of combatants. We of the North had already expended, or contracted to expend, full a thousand millions of dollars. The war had been carried on with varying success; now the Federal arms triumphant, now the Confederate; Northern counsels were divided, and there was a loud clamor for peace, on terms the acceptance of which could but result in perpetual war. So far as foreign nations had