The Contrabands and the Proclamation.
The Sanitary Fair at Chicago has at last disposed of the original draft of the president's proclamation of emancipation, for three thousand dollars. Thomas B. Bryan, of Chicago, was the lucky (or unlucky, as the case may be,) purchaser.
This is none of our "show," but there certainly can be no harm done in simply making a suggestion to the Sanitary Fair. It is claimed that many thousand contrabands have been set free by means of the proclamation. It is said that thirty-five thousand negroes are now gathered on the banks of the Mississippi river, between Helena and Natchez. These poor creatures, thus made free, are now suffering, starving and dying for the want of the necessaries of life. They are almost in a state of nudity, and are dying off like cattle, from disease and exposure. These are the fruits of the proclamation. They are now enjoying the sweets of abolition philanthropy. The freedom which was promised has never been realized. They were taught to expect happiness, peace and plenty, in their promised freedom. But in return they have reaped misery, war and poverty. And, in too many instances, the freedom received has only been that which frees them from the cares and vexations of this life, and launches them prematurely into eternity. This is the record of abolition philanthropy. This is the promised freedom to the slaves.
"Heaven shall their witness by, To the foul treachery that made them free — Free for eternity!"
While other objects of charity are commendable, and should be encouraged, these unfortunate contrabands must not be left to starve and die. It is therefore respectfully suggested that the proceeds of the sale of the original draft of the president's proclamation of emancipation — it being the primary cause of the present suffering of the negroes — be devoted to the relief of the contrabands. Let fac similes of the document be procured and let them be sold at so reasonable a price that every approver of the proclamation can purchase a copy, and let canvassers be employed to visit every neighborhood, and let them make the purchasing of one of these fac similes a test of proclamation loyalty, and let all the proceeds be devoted to the relief of the "poor contrabands." Every man is held responsible for his own crimes and follies. So this proclamation should be made to procure relief for the suffering which its pernicious workings have caused.