The President's Emancipation Scheme.
As we anticipated, the President's special message recommending a general system for "the gradual abolishment of slavery" is likely to be opposed by two classes in the North — those, namely, who desire to extinguish slavery entirely by forceable means, and those who are in favor of slavery for its own sake. Of the latter class, the Illinois Register, true to its old-time instincts and antecedent, and as usual, feeling itself personally assailed whenever the subject of slavery is touched, gives itself wonderful concern over the President's proposition. Misrepresenting its entire spirit and design, broaching the impracticability, as well as the "unconstitutionality" of the project, apologizing for slavery as not being the cause of our civil dissentions, and falsely arguing that the gradual emancipation schemes offered as a "capituation" to the rebels, it labors at great length to show that the country is on the eve of even greater dangers that now beset it, if any such proposition is adopted. We do not propose to follow the Register through all its platitudes, absurd reasonings and irrelevant "episodes." They are so transparent as hardly to need to be more than pointed out; and they only seem to have been employed as a weak device or shallow bend, to conceal the true ground of its opposition to the message, which is that it embodies a scheme for the gradual and final extrication of slavery. The President favors this because the Union will be relieved of the sole and only disturbing cause which now threatens or can ever in the future seriously threaten the stability of the government. The Register opposes it because it loves slavery as an important political card, which can be used and played at pleasure, by corrupt and designing politicians for the purpose of seccuring power; and its extinction would deprive it of such an element of strategy. The President looks upon slavery as a National evil and sees in its destruction by constitutional means, a permanent and continuing quiet to the country. The Register sees in slavery, if not a national good, at least a subject which, it insists the Government should have nothing to do with, even by way of suggestion; and it denounces any plan for its removal as "unconstitutional," revolutionary, and in opposition to sound, national policy. Its attenuated strictures upon all these points are ridiculous, if not absurd. If there is one thing certain us to this measure, it is its entire "constitutionality;" for it leaves the whole question of slavery to the people of the States themselves, and proposes to do nothing except in aid of the action of those States. As to the question of National policy, we would simply reply, that the scheme, so far from being new and ill considered, has for years been before the country and has received the approval of some of the ablest statesmen the Government has ever known. Coupled with colonization, the people of Ohio, Illinois, and perhaps other States, have already indorsed and approved it. We are indebted to the "Memoirs of the late Governor Edwards," by the Hon. N. W. Edwards, for a copy of the following resolutions on the subject adopted by the Legislature of Illinois, as early as 1824, viz:
WHEREAS, the General Assembly of the State of Ohio did on the 17th day of January, 1824, pass the following resolutions by way of proposition to the States and Congress, viz:
Resolved, That the consideration of a system providing for the GRADUAL EMANCIPATION of the people of color [unknown] in the United States, be recommended to the Legislature of the several States of the American Union, and to the Congress of the United States.
"Resolved, that in the opinion of the General Assembly, a system of foreign colonization, with correspondent measures, in be adopted that and would, in due time, effect the entire emancipation of the slaves in our country, WITHOUT ANY VIOLATION OF THE NATIONAL COMPACT, OR INFRINGEMENT OF THE RIGTHS OF INDIVIDUALS, by the passage of a LAW by the General Government, (WITH THE CONSENT OF THE SLAVE HOLDING STATES), which would provide that all children of person now held in slavery, born after the passage of such law, should be free at the age of twenty-one years, (being supported during their minority by the person claiming the service of their parents,) provided they had consent to be transported to the place of colonization.
Resolved, That it is expedient that such a system should be predicated on the principle THE EVIL OF SLAVERY IS A NATIONAL ONE, and that the PEOPLE AND THE STATES ought mutually to PARTICIPATE in the duties and BURDENS of removing it."
Therefore, Resolved, by the General Assembly of the State of Illinois, that it is expedient to concur in the plan proposed in the foregoing resolutions.
The Legislatures of Illinois and Ohio, in 1824, it will be seen, took the same view of this absorbing subject, which the President does now. They did not question, for a moment, that it in any manner "violated the national compact or infringed the rights of individuals," but they saw in it a principle, which, duly carried out, would relieve the nation of "the evil of slavery," which is "a National one," and "in the duties and burdens of removing which the PEOPLE AND THE STATES ought mutually to participate." And this meets the point raised by the Register, that the people of the free States, of Illinois, have no interest in the matter. They have every one a deep and personal interest in it. They have an interest in everything which concerns the nation's welfare and the perpetuity of the Government. As slavery is a "national evil," a continuing element of danger to the Republic, the people of Illinois have as much concern in removing it from the body politic as the loyal people of the slave States themselves; and it is the part of national wisdom to "initiate" any constitutional scheme which by equalizing "the duties and burdens," will result in the peaceful and gradual emancipation of every slave in the Union. The "tax" necessary to carry it into execution, which the Register sets up as a scare-crew, is a mere pretext for opposition to all interference with the peculiar institution by the people of the States or otherwise. In estimating the blessings of peace and of united counsels and interests which will thus result to the country, it is insignificant and not for a moment worthy of consideration.
Bu the Register sees other direful things in the President's proposition. It says it is nothing more than "an offer of capituation," a "white flag" to the rebels, "a means of putting down the rebellion by buying a peace, etc.," and that "the JOURNAL acknowledges as much." Such misrepresentation as this characteristic of the Register, but in the very face of the President's language, and our own comment ot the contrary, it is astonishing that that sheet should attempt to impose so palpable a falsehood upon its readers. The President emphatically says, "in the annual message, last December, I thought fit to say ‘the Union must be preserved and hence all indispensible means must be employed.’ I said this not hastily but deliberately. War has been and continues to be an indispensible means to this end. A practical acknowledgment of the National authority would render the war unnecessary, and it should at once cease. If, however, resistance continues the war must also continue; and IT IS IMPOSSIBLE TO FORSEE ALL THE INCIDENTS WHICH MAY ATTEND AND ALL THE RUIN WHICH MAY FOLLOW SUCH MEASURES as may seem indispensible or may obviously promise great efficiency towards ending the struggle." It will be seen from this how grossly the Register misrepresents, if stating that the President's proposition is in anywise offered as a bid to "buy the rebels back" to their allegiance. It has nothing whatever to do with rebels or rebels slaves. They must look out for themselves. The President proposes no amnesty to either. The war will continue so long as the rebellion continues, and all indispensable means will be used to put it down. The President even hints at the conflation of all rebel property. But as a wise and conservative measure for "self-preservation" and the removal of all cause for domestic dissensions in the future, and for all time to come, the scheme of the President, if adopted by Congress and the States interested, promises most satisfactory results. If it is not so adopted, "there is the end." But with the cradication of this prolific source of our civil disturbances, thereby establishing a community of interests and of institutions in all the States there can be no further danger to our national Union. Slavery will thus be placed "in process of ultimate extinction" by the consent and action of the slave States themselves, and "the agitation" which is so deprecated by the Register will permanently cease. The last "cause of irritation, of violence and possibly of frequent intestine wars," will be numbered among the things that were. The era of domestic "discord" will give way to a beneficent reign of perpetual peace; and the United States of America, at last freed from the national shame and national evil of slavery, will begin anew its career of prosperity and glory. "The nigger has cost enough." Let us get rid of him now and forever.