September 30, 1862: The Richmond Daily Dispatch does not care for the Emancipation Proclamation

The editor of the Richmond Daily Dispatch, predictably, isn’t too happy about the Emancipation Proclamation. There’s also a certain element of “I told you so” in there. Southern radicals had insisted that the Republicans would abolish slavery, and here they were doing it. In the eyes of the South, the war had always been an “abolition contest”. If you don’t think the war was about slavery, read what they were saying in the capital of the Confederacy.


Lincoln’s proclamation.

The Yankee Government has at last laid aside all disguise. Lincoln openly proclaims the abolition of slavery throughout the entire South, wherever a slave is held. The time for issuing this proclamation has been singularly well chosen. It is when the discharge of Pope’s last officer has left our Government, for the present, entirely without the means of retaliation. It is singularly consistent with the behavior of Lincoln when Pope’s infamous proclamation was issued. That document was not sent forth until Lincoln had assured himself that the cartel either had been or would be signed.

For the proclamation itself, it does not in the least alter the character of the war. It has been an abolition contest from the beginning, and is no more an abolition contest now than it was at first. The Yankees have stolen and set free all the negroes who were willing to go, wherever their soldiers have had possession of the country. It is best for us, indeed, that the mask should be entirely laid aside, since our people, no longer deluded into the belief that their slave property will be respected, will be careful hereafter to remove it beyond the reach of danger.–This document is merely curious, from the clear demonstration which it affords, of the entire possession which the abolition party has taken of the Federal Government, and the utter prostration of the last remnant of what used with so much unction to be termed by the canting knaves of New England”the bulwark of our liberties” –we mean that ridiculous old Constitution of the United States, which no party ever paid any attention to when they were strong enough to disregard it, and from which no party too weak to justify its position with the sword ever received the slightest protection.

That the whole North will acquiesce in this last kick at the expiring Constitution, cannot be doubted. Experience has proved that we have nothing to hope from any party in that quarter. Eager as they may be to cut each others throats, they are still more eager to cut ours, and to that pious work, we may be assured, they will devote themselves with all their energy. They are already calling for a million more of men, and the probability is that they will have them long before Christmas. We must make up our minds to meet these men, and to beat them, as we both can and will if they come here.

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