Tuesday, November 13, 2012

November 12, 1862

November 12, 1862: Pres. Lincoln attends the wedding of Kate Chase, daughter of Sec. of the Treasury Salmon P. Chase, to Senator-elect William Sprague IV of Rhode Island, former governor, and formerly a colonel having served at the Battle of First Bull Run. William and Kate are destined to be the new power couple of Washington, in the eyes of most observers. They are young, handsome, and come from powerful families.

Katherine Chase, daughter of Salmon Chase, and disappointed non-First Lady

Colonel-Governor-Senator-elect William Sprague IV

Sprague had been the "boy governor" of Rhode Island and now has won a seat in the U.S. Senate.  He is very ambitious and has an alcohol problem.  Kate Chase is also very ambitious and very beautiful.  She had planned to act as First Lady when her father won the Presidency, but Chase was of course beaten out by Lincoln for the nomination.  Kate is said to be scornful of the Lincolns, and rather put out that she was usurped by the pretentious and unpleasant Mary Todd Lincoln.

—As a result of the Dakota War in Minnesota, many Dakota have been imprisoned, as that conflict ended. In that war, over 500 white American are killed, and only about 60 Dakota warriors have lost their lives. The government decides to try the Dakota for "murder, rape and other outrages." Ten Dakota are convicted and hanged, and another six are released, but over the ensuing days, 383 Dakota were tried. Lincoln heard tell of the tribunals and asked for them to stop—that no more executions take place without a presidential order, and that he wants to see the documents on each trial. The 1700 uncondemned Dakota are moved to Fort Snelling. Gen. Pope agrees to send Lincoln the requested information, but he says, that the only distinction between the culprits is as to which of them murdered most people or violated most young girls. All of them are guilty of these things in more or less degree. The people . . . are exasperated . . . and if the guilty are not all executed I think it nearly impossible to prevent the indiscriminate massacre of all the Indians---old men, women, and children. . . ."

—Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, of the Confederate Army, finally recovered from his severe wounds at the Battle of Seven Pines back in May, is offered command of the Confederate armies between the Appalachians and the Mississippi River.

—The New York Times, in an editorial, presents an argument for why the Democrats need to stop obsessing about the Emancipation Proclamation:
The President’s Proclamation.
Published: November 12, 1862

We find it utterly impossible to account, on any just principles, for the hostility evinced in Democratic quarters to the President’s Proclamation menacing the rebels with emancipation of their slaves unless they return to their allegiance. It is a purely military proceeding — aiming at the overthrow of the rebellion and the restoration of the Union. If its object were the abolition of Slavery, it would have decreed that abolition, as it might have done under the law of Congress, at once, and as a penalty for past offences. But it does nothing of the sort. . . .

Not a single slave has yet been set free by this Proclamation. The rebels have it in their power to prevent the liberation of a single slave under its provisions: — and that, too, without doing anything but what it is their duty to do under any circumstances. . . . The fate of Slavery is thus exclusively in their own hands. If they seek its abolition, they can secure it. If they desire its preservation, they can secure that.

But it is claimed that they ought not to be thus compelled to choose between Slavery and Secession, but that they should be allowed to enjoy both — that the National Government should protect the former for them while they are waging war upon it to secure the latter. The mere statement of the claim proves its absurdity. No community can have War and Peace at the same time. If they choose to wage war they must surrender for the time the blessings and securities of peace. . . .

Nor is there the shadow of a reason why Slavery should claim exemption from the rigors and exposures which war brings upon all other forms of property and of labor. There is nothing in the Constitution which guarantees to it such exemption. True, that instrument provides that no man shall be "deprived of life, liberty or property, but by due process of law;" but this does not secure the slaveholding rebel in the possession of his slave, any more than of his cattle, his musket or his life. . . .

But it is urged that this measure tends to incite insurrection among the slaves, and thus to involve the innocent in destruction. Whose duty is it to protect them against such calamities? . . . We must not touch their slaves, lest we should thus put them under the necessity of using their troops elsewhere than against us. That seems to us an absolutely conclusive argument on the other side.

With the exception of a very few Abolitionists, nobody at the North was ever in favor of waging war upon the South for the purpose of freeing its slaves. The great body of the Republicans, as of every other party at the North, would to-day oppose a war waged for such a purpose. . . . There is no law of Nations, of the Constitution, or of common sense, which requires or permits us to leave so powerful a weapon in the hands of our enemies, untouched. It is our duty, if we seek success, to wrest it from their hands, or to paralyze it in their grasp. . . . If they [Democrats] are sincere in these professions, they cannot object to emancipation as a legitimate weapon for the accomplishment of these ends.

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