The Richmond Daily Dispatch sees Lincoln’s amnesty proposal as a sinister plot to prolong the war intentionally. It’s the only reasonable explanation. And besides, the South wouldn’t give in even if the north promised to make Jeff Davis the next president.
The only reasonable explanation of Lincoln’s motives in offering the South an amnesty which is an insult and outrage to the common humanity and common sense of mankind is that suggested by an English correspondent in the North, and which is substantially this: The Washington Administration desires to protract the war in order to make its plots for the extermination of the South a continual military necessity, swallowing up all questions of constitutional powers, and to ripen into political uses the appetites of the Northern people, which is fast growing into a national passion for seizing and dividing among themselves the whole property and land of the South. For these ends military operations are designedly delayed, and peace offered only upon such terms that any extremity of resistance, however hopeless of success, would be preferable to submission. Such at all events is the opinion of many people at the North.
Look for a moment at the terms usually offered by civilized and Christian Princes wherever acknowledged rebellion has been thoroughly crushed, and the triumphant Sovereign instead of calling for 500,000 additional troops is reducing his army to a peace establishment. Death perhaps to a few of the ringleaders, and banishment of a handful of others, and confiscation of their property; or, if the rebellion, though unsuccessful, has still some elements of vitality, even greater clemency is exhibited, while, in the case of a civil war, where the probabilities are that the struggle will be long and doubtful, no Christian ruler ever dreams of offering any other terms than the entire abandonment of all criminal proceedings against any of the parties to the contest and the restoration of all to their previous status in every respect before the war began.
What then are the terms which Abraham Lincoln offers? He excepts from his amnesty a host of the best citizens of the South in the army and in civil life. To others he offers a free pardon upon condition that they will take an oath not only of allegiance to the United States but of obedience to all the proclamations of Abraham Lincoln, and to all the abolition decrees of his Black Republican Congress. And these terms he offers not to acknowledged rebels but to sovereign States, not to a crushed rebellion but to a powerful Government, which has in the field an army so strong that, after calling for more than two millions of men to crush it, and failing in the effort, he is now calling for half a million more in the same breath that he professes to treat the Confederacy as a conquered people.
Is it not evident upon the mere statement of the case that Lincoln’s amnesty was never expected or designed by himself to have any other effect than irritation and insult to the Southern people? No one, however, knows better than Abraham Lincoln that any terms he might offer the Southern people which contemplate their restoration to his bloody and brutal Government would be rejected with scorn and execration. If instead of devoting to death our President and military and civil officers he had proposed to make Jeff. Davis his successor, Lee commander-in-chief of the Yankee armies, and our domestic institutions not only recognized at home but re-adopted in the Free States, provided the South would once more enter the Yankee Union, there is not a man, woman or child in the Confederacy who would not spit upon the proposition. We desire no companionship upon any terms with a nation of robbers and murderers. The miscreants whose atrocities in this war have caused the whole civilized world to shudder, must keep henceforth their distance. They shall not be our masters, and we would not have them for our slaves.