A few days ago U.S. President Abraham Lincoln had written Judge George Robertson in Kentucky and offered to pay him $500 for one of Robertson’s former slaves who had escaped to freedom behind Union lines. Robertson rejects Lincoln’s offer of payment; first, he thinks that by bringing a civil suit against U.S. Colonel William Utley (who refuses to turn over the former slave) he can obtain a judgement of $1,000 or more. Second, he wants to try the question in front of a judge as to whether civil or military power is Constitutionally supreme in his state of Kentucky. Robertson will press on with his case to get it heard by the courts, though it will not happen anytime in the near future.
The Confederate soldier has always had issues with obtaining the necessary supplies; shoes are one of the more requested items as they tend to wear through them quickly. Since the government in Richmond has been inefficient in getting the necessities to the men out in the field, the Georgia legislature decides to at least try and look after their own men by passing a bill that appropriates shoes from tanneries to furnish to soldiers if acceptable arrangements cannot be made otherwise.
The Georgia newspaper “The Countryman” praises the Southern women for their support of the Confederate war efforts:
God Bless our Southern Women!
From the hovel of the poor and the tent of the soldier, the bivouac and the hospital, ascends this earnest prayer to the Creator. In the heart of every true Southerner, be he rich or poor, warrior or civilian, the sentiment finds an echo. A whole nation, united as one man, invokes the choicest favors Heaven has in store, on the heads of the fair of our land; the ministering angels who, with such noble abnegation of self, such untiring persistence of benevolence, are devoting themselves to the task of administering to the wants and alleviating the sufferings of those who give up everything to fight for their country.
In Chicago, Illinois, actor John Wilkes Booth begins his first of twenty evening performances at McVicker’s Theatre, where he will perform in a variety of plays including Richard III, Hamlet, Othello, Romeo & Juliet, The Apostate to The Marble Heart.
Tonight President Lincoln will also be giving a performance, but in the form of his second annual address to Congress, which will only contain 8,400 words and will focus on the topic of emancipation. It has been ten weeks since he has issued the Emancipation Proclamation, stating that on January 1, 1863, slaves in states under the control of the Confederacy will be made free. It did not address those border states such as Maryland, Delaware, Kentucky and Missouri that remain in the Union but are slave-holding states. While the proclamation was welcomed by radical Republicans, it is unpopular among many conservative Democrats in the North who see the war as an effort to preserve the Union, not abolish slavery. Democrats gained 34 House seats in the recent midterm elections, but the Republicans gained 5 Senate seats and retain control of most of the state legislatures. Though Republicans still maintain the power, he still needs to work to gain the support of Democrats.
Lincoln proposes three Constitutional amendments to the new Congress:
1. All slaves will gradually be emancipated until 1900
2. Slaves freed during the war will remain free
3. The U.S. will pay for consensual colonization and will provide just compensation to slaveholders
Near the close of the speech, he states:
“Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history. We of this Congress and this administration will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance or insignificance can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the latest generation.
We say we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The world knows we do know how to save it. We, even we here, hold the power and bear the responsibility.
On giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free — honorable alike in what we give and what we preserve. We shall nobly save or meanly lose the last best hope of earth.”