Saturday, May 12, 2018

Jefferson Davis's Response to the Emancipation Proclamation, Full Text

President Abraham Lincoln delivered his Emancipation Proclamation on September 22, 1862, to become effective on January 1, 1863.  Northern newspapers carried the news in January 1863, and Jefferson Davis, President of the Confederacy, responded to the proclamation on January 14, 1863.

Unfortunately, someone unknown wrote and disseminated a forgery that was supposed to be Davis's address.  It was vile and put Jefferson Davis in a bad light, much to the glee of followers of the Northern Myth.  The forgery is reprinted in this blog at this link.  Some readers have argued that this document is not a forgery, as Davis's speech had been reprinted in Richmond newspapers.  However, they are assuming that the forgery is the speech that was reprinted.

To end this confusion, I searched for the actual text of Jefferson Davis's actual speech and response to Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, and the actual speech is nothing like the forgery.  I found the actual speech online, as recorded in the Journal of the Congress of the Confederate States of America, January 14, 1863.  I had to refer to scanned copies of the original minutes, but I have transcribed the speech into Word, and now I copy and paste it here.

Jefferson Davis's Response to the Emancipation Proclamation, Full Text
An address to the Confederate Congress, January 14, 1863

The public journals of the North have been received, containing a proclamation dated on the first day of the present a month, signed by the President of the United States, in which he orders and declares all slaves within ten of the States of the Confederacy to be free, except such as are found within certain districts now occupied in part by the forces of the enemy.

We may leave it to the instincts of that common humanity which a beneficent Creator has implanted in the breasts of our fellow-men of all countries to pass judgment on a measure by which several millions of human beings of an inferior race, peaceful and contented laborers in their spheres, are doomed to extermination, while at the same time they are encouraged to a general assassination of their masters by the insidious recommendation “to refrain from violence unless in necessary self-defense.”  Our own detestation of those who have attempted the most execrable measure recorded in the history of guilty man is tempered by profound contempt for the impotent rage which it discloses.  So far as regards the action of this Government on such criminals as may attempt its execution, I confine myself to informing you that I shall, unless in your wisdom you deem some other course more expedient, deliver to the several State authorities all commissioned officers of the United States that may hereafter be captured by our forces in any of the States embraced in the proclamation, that they may be dealt with in accordance with the laws of those States providing for the punishment of criminals engaged in exciting servile insurrection.  The enlisted soldiers I shall continue to treat as unwilling instruments in the commission of these crimes, and shall direct their discharge and return to their homes on the proper and usual parole.

In its political aspect this measure possesses great significance, and to it in this light I invite your attention.  It affords our people the complete and crowning proof of the true nature of the designs of the party which elevated to power the present occupant of the Presidential chair at Washington, and by the perfidious use of the most solemn and repeated pledges on every possible occasion.  I extract, in this connection, as a single example, the following declaration made by President Lincoln, under the solemnity of his oath as Chief Magistrate of the United States, on the 4th of March, 1861: “Apprehension seems to exist among the people of the Southern States that by the accession of a Republican Administration their property and their peace and personal security are to be endangered.  There has never been any reasonable cause for such apprehensions.  Indeed, the most ample evidence to the contrary has all the while existed and been open to their inspection.  It is found in nearly all the speeches of him who now addresses you.  I do but quote from one of those speeches when I declare that I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to interfere with the institution of slavery in the States where it exists.  I believe I have no lawful right to do so; and I have no inclination to do so.  Those who nominated and elected me did so with the full knowledge that I made this and many similar declarations, and have never recanted them.  And, more than this, they placed in the platform for my acceptance, and as a law to themselves and to me, the clear and emphatic resolution which I now read: “’Resolved, That the maintenance inviolate of the rights of the States, and especially the right of each State to order and control its own domestic institutions according to its own judgment exclusively, is essential to that balance of powers on which the perfection and endurance of our political fabric depend; and we denounce the lawless invasion by armed force of the soil of any State or Territory, no matter under what pretext, as among the gravest crimes.’”

Nor was this declaration of the want of power of disposition to interfere with our social system confined to a state of peace.  Both before and after the actual commencement of hostilities the President of the United States repeated in formal official communication to the cabinets of Great Britain and France that he was utterly without constitutional power to do the act which he has just committed, and that in no possible event, whether the secession of these States resulted in the establishment of a separate Confederacy or in restoration of the Union, was there any authority by virtue of which he could either restore a disaffected State to the Union by force of arms or make any change in any of its institutions.  I refer especially for verification of this assertion to the dispatches addressed to the Secretary of State of the United States under direction of the President to the ministers of the United States at London and Paris, under date of 10th and 22d April, 1861.

The people of the Confederacy, then, can not fail to receive this proclamation as the fullest vindication of their own sagacity in foreseeing the uses to which the dominant party in the United States intended from the beginning to apply their power, nor can they cease to remember, with devout thankfulness, that it is to their own vigilance in resisting the first stealthy progress of approaching despotism that they owe their escape from the consequences now apparent to the most skeptical.  This proclamation will have another salutary effect in calming the fears of those who have constantly evinced the apprehension that this war might end by some reconstruction of the old Union or some renewal of close political relations with the United States.  These fears have never been shared by me, nor have I ever been able to perceive on what basis they could rest.   But the proclamation affords the fullest guarantee of the impossibility of such a result; it has established a state of things which can lead to but one of three possible consequences—the extermination of the slaves, the exile of the whole white population from the Confederacy, or absolute and total separation of these States from the United States.

This proclamation is also an authentic statement by the Government of the United States of its inability to subjugate the South by force of arms, and as such must be accepted by neutral nations, which can no longer find any justification in withholding our just claims to formal recognition.  It is also in effect an intimation to the people of the North that they must prepare to submit to a separation, now become inevitable, for that people are too acute not to understand that a restoration of the Union has been rendered forever impossible by the adoption of a measure which, from its very nature, neither admits of retraction nor can coexist with union.

From the Secretary of Jefferson Davis, N.B. Harrison
As recorded in the Journal of the Congress of the Confederate States of America, January 14, 1863
See Volume 3