A Great Mistake.
The president has shorn Gen. Fremont's proclamation to the very point in it calculated to strike terror to the heart of treason. — The following is his letter:
Washington, D. C., Sept 11th, 1861.
Major General John C. Fremont:
SIR: — Yours of the 8th, in answer to mine of the 2d inst., is just received. Assuming that you, upon the ground, could better judge of the necessity of your position than I could at this distance, on seeing your proclamation of Aug. 30th, I perceived no general objection to it. The particular clause, however, in relation to the confiscation of property and the liberation of slaves, appeared to me to be objectionable in its non-conformity to the act of congress passed the 6th of last August upon the same subject, and hence I wrote you expressing my wish that that clause should be modified accordingly. Your answer, just received, expresses the preference on your part that I should make an order for the modification, which I cheerfully do.
It is therefore ordered that the said clause of said proclamation be so modified, held and construed as to conform to and not transcend the provisions on the same subject contained in the act of congress entitled "an act to confiscate property used for insurrectionary purposes, approved August 6th, 1861;" and that said act be published at length with this order.
The act alluded to only confiscates slaves who bear arms against the union, or work upon fortifications, or in camps, or slaves who are used in any way in aid of the military rebellion. Slaves can, according to that law, stay on the plantations and raise food for the traitors and still the traitors be protected in their property. We do not believe in that doctrine, and we think the president has made a great mistake in interfering with the good work Gen. Fremont was doing. The entire property of a traitor should be confiscated. No matter whether his teams or his negroes were used to build fortifications, he should instantly be deprived of every dollar of property, and, as far as he is concerned, the property should be annihilated, thus depriving him of any means of aiding treason. All the property, except the negroes, should be converted into money and the money placed in the treasury. The negroes should be set free. — All the property the slaveholder has in the negro is his labor. Of course, the government ought not to set up a slave market, and the only way to do with the slaves is to give them their time. It wouldn't look very well for a nation that prohibits the slave trade to go into the slave trade herself. Gen. Fremont was right and we regret that the president has shorn his proclamation of the point calculated to cripple treason in its tenderest spot.