In this selection, the position of the Copperheads on Lincoln's offer of amnesty to the South are outlined. The position is couched in the penumbra of the Emancipation Proclamation. Moreover, C. Chauncey Burr defines what he believes the Democratic party of the North needs to be in order to entice the South back into the Union.
August Glen-James, editor
His whole proceedings, for the last year and a half, rests upon the assumption that all who are not knaves are fools. And if we except the “Copperheads,” he has too much ground for his conclusion. A man who imagines that the Union can be restored by war, is fairly an object for the sympathy of intelligent men. We may pity while we deplore his simplicity.
It is not much that we shall say about Mr. Lincoln’s message, and the thing he calls an “amnesty.” It is not deserving of a respectful notice from any man who respects himself, and loves his country. His terms of “amnesty” are such as no man of honor can accept, and as none but a demagogue and knave would offer. The oath he prescribes not only requires every southern man to swear that he will faithfully support all the emancipation proclamations, passed and to come, but he shall devote to death, to the Abolition gibbet, all his leaders, all his companions in arms, above the rank of captain. If there is one man in the South who would not sooner die than accept such terms, he is fit only for the companionship of the basest of men. And if there is a human being in the North who can restrain his contempt for the wretch who deliberately insults a whole people with an offer of such degrading terms, in the name of an “amnesty,” he, too, is an abettor of assassination and theft. . . . It simply says to the people of the South, you consent to let your negroes run, to give up all your property, and turn States’ evidence against your companions and friends, and come over and join us Abolitionists, and help us murder and rob your neighbors, then you shall have our gracious pardon. That is Mr. Lincoln’s “amnesty.” Such amnesty as the hawk offers to the dove, the wolf to the lamb, the highway man to his victim.
This message and proclamation ends all chance of controversy about the designs of the Administration in the prosecution of the war. It proves what far-seeing men have said from the beginning, that it is war for the negro, with disunion for its inevitable result. It shuts the door and bolts it against the return of the southern States to the fold of the Union. It says to them, you shall never, never, never come back, except as paupers, or the pensioned assassins of your companions and neighbors. Thank God this message and proclamation drops all disguises. The cloven foot, long sneakingly hid under the stolen robes of patriotism, is here, at last, thrust boldly out into the very face and eyes of that non-descript style of politicians called the “War Democracy,” with this hieroglyphic pronunciamento blazing at them. No more dodging and fault-finding about the manner of conducting the war. If you are for it at all, you must be for it not to restore the Union as it was, but to abolish slavery. There is no war for the restoration of the Union, and you must take the war for its objects, or reject it for its objects.
All this is impudent, but honest. Though Mr. Lincoln meant it not for honesty. From the depths of his shallowness he imagined that he was playing the cunningest trick of all the games of charlitanery (sic) that have distinguished his Administration. He has adopted a theory implying an immense confidence in the gullibility of the northern people. His whole proceedings, for the last year and a half, rests upon the assumption that all who are not knaves are fools. And if we except the “Copperheads,” he has too much ground for his conclusion. A man who imagines that the Union can be restored by war, is fairly an object for the sympathy of intelligent men. We may pity while we deplore his simplicity. But the time for pity is passed now. This message ends the dispensation to which pity belongs, and begins an era in which infamy and eternal shame attach to every man who gives further aid or comfort to the bloody measures of Mr. Lincoln’s administration. Support not, help not, from this time forward must be the watch-word of every man who is not an Abolition disunionist. Mr. Lincoln has run up his black banner so high that none can fail to see it. The New York World, one of the most persistent war papers in the United States, says of this document:
“It is a proposition which the South will feel that it cannot accept without a degree of voluntary self-degradation which every southerner of spirit and character will regard as worse than death.”
It might have truthfully added, that there is not one man of honor in the United States who would not, in his heart, despise a southerner who should accept so degrading a proposition. A proposition which is alike degrading to North and South, because it strikes at a principle that is held sacred by all honorable men everywhere. It was meant to insult the whole people of the South. It is a characteristic jibe of Abolitionism, intended to drive men already goaded to madness, to deeper, to unappeasable, desperation.
After this Message and Proclamation, there is no longer left a vestige of hope for the Union, except it be in the immediate and determined action of the Democratic party in a tremendous counter Proclamation. The South must be convinced that the great Democratic party of the North is itself again—is back upon the old platform of principle, embraced in the Kentucky and Virginia resolutions of 1798, on which it firmly, triumphantly stood, in every campaign, up to the breaking out of this Abolition revolution, before it will be possible for her to entertain a proposition to return. How do we ask her to come back, where there are none to welcome her, except with hearts of hate and hands of blood? On terms that devote her people to death, her property to annihilation, and her States to obliteration? Let us pray Almighty God that she never will come back on such accursed ground as that. If these are the only terms offered, then her battles are ours! Her cause is ours, for it is the cause of self-government, of liberty, of humanity, and of State sovereignty, recognized and claimed by every State in the Union, and which is the solid foundation of the Federal Government itself. If the Democratic party does not immediately and defiantly separate itself from all support of this war of Abolition and State annihilization (sic), then farewell the Union, and farewell liberty in the North, if not in the South.
Burr, C. Chauncey. The Old Guard: A Monthly Journal Devoted to the Principles of 1776 and 1787. Vol. II--1864. Forgotten Books, 2012. Originally published by Van Evrie, Horton and Co. New York, 1864.