Status: Complete


neither West Point nor the Democratic party have been good schools in which
to learn justice and fair play to the negro.

It was when General Grant was fighting his way through the Wilderness
to Richmond, on the "line" he meant to pursue "if it took all summer," and
every reverse to his arms was made the occasion for a fresh demand for
peace without emancipation, that President Lincoln did me the honor to
invite me to the Executive Mansion for a conference on the situation. I need
not say I went most gladly. The main subject on which he wished to confer
with me was as to the means most desirable to be employed outside the army
to induce the slaves in the rebel States to come within the Federal lines. The
increasing opposition to the war, in the north, and the mad cry against it,
because it was being made an abolition war, alarmed Mr. Lincoln, and made
him apprehensive that a peace might be forced upon him which would leave
still in slavery all who had not come within our lines. What he wanted was
to make his proclamation as effective as possible in the event of such a
peace. He said in a regretful tone, "The slaves are not coming so rapidly and
so numerously to us as I had hoped." I replied that the slaveholders knew
how to keep such things from their slaves, and probably very few knew of
his proclamation. "Well," he said, "I want you to set about devising some
means of making them acquainted with it, and for bringing them into our
lines." He spoke with great earnestness and much solicitude, and seemed
troubled by the attitude of Mr. Greeley, and the growing impatience there
was being manifested through the north at the war. He said he was being
accused of protracting the war beyond its legitimate object, and of failing to
make peace, when he might have done so to advantage. He was afraid of
what might come of all these complaints, but was persuaded that no solid
and lasting peace could come short of absolute submission on the part of the
rebels, and he was not for giving them rest by futile conferences at Niagara
Falls, or elsewhere, with unauthorized persons. He saw the danger of premature
peace, and, like a thoughtful and sagacious man as he was, he wished to
provide means of rendering such consummation as harmless as possible. I
was the more impressed by this benevolent consideration because he before
said, in answer to the peace clamor, that his object was to save the Union,
and to do so with or without slavery. What he said on this day showed a
deeper moral conviction against slavery than I had ever seen before in anything
spoken or written by him. I listened with the deepest interest and profoundest
satisfaction, and, at his suggestion, agreed to under-take the
organizing of a band of scouts, composed of colored men, whose business
should be somewhat after the original plan of John Brown, to go into the

Notes and Questions

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Italicization needed at line 36.