be assured of his liberty while there remains a spot within the Union where he can be held as a slave.
If we would act as statesmen, having in view the peace and safety of our country through all future time, we must meet the great difficulty before us broadly, effectually, honestly and in accordance with the dictates of Christianity and civilization. The demands of honor coincide with the conditions of safety. To satisfy both we have a great duty to perform. It is to follow the noble example of England and France, and Sweden and Denmark, and Portugal, and Russia, and Holland. It is to enact, not merely that all persons held as slaves, who happened on the 1st of January, 1863, to be within certain insurrectionary limits, shall be free-thus leaving a narrow belt of slavery to divide our country in two, and to separate the freed States of the South from the free States of the North; it is not merely to carry out this fragmentary and imperfect scheme; it is not to do for the cause of humanity, only what we cannot help doing; it is not merely to deprive the enemy in this present war of the means that augment his strength, and enable him to protract the contest; it is by taking a brave,bold stand for human liberty, irrespective of race or color, to lay deep and firm the foundations of that domestic tranquility which endures from generation to generation, only for those nations whose people walk in the paths of justice and mercy, approved in the sight of God and man.
It is to enact once and forever the emancipation of every slave that treads the soil of the United States. In the progress of this insurrectionary upheaval we have reached a point at which there is neither Honorable nor prudent alternative left.
Does any constitutional difficulty stand in the way?
The law or custom of all civilized nations, based on considerations of public utility, authorizes the taking of private property with just compensation for public use, when important public interests demand it. We are familiar with the operations of such a rule. When a conflagration in a city threatens to spread far, houses in the line of its progress may be seized and destroyed by the authorities in order to arrest it; and the owners are not held to have been wronged, if they are paid for such losses under an equitable appraisement. The opening of a street in improving a city, the running of a railroad, are held in this and other countries to be objects of sufficient importance to justify what the French law calls Appropriation force pour cause d"utilite publique.
This principle is expressly recognized by the Constitution. In that instrument there is an admission of the right to take private property, with just compensation made for public use. a And it will n inhabitant of the United States to the service of another, whether for a term of years of for life, is a species of property which has been constitutionally exempted from such appropriation. It is evident that if a claim to the service of a slave cannot constitutionally be so taken and canceled, neither can the claim to the service of an apprentice.
Thus the right to declare compensated emancipation in the United States is clear, provided important public interests demand it. But we have already shown that the public interests demanding such a measure in this case are the highest and the most vital that ever presented themselves to the councils of a nation.
a Amendments to the Constitution, Art. V.