President Abraham Lincoln issued his preliminary Emancipation Proclamation on Sept. 22, 1862. Lecky Harper published it in the pages of the Democratic Banner on Sept. 30. He leaped to the attack:
“The deed is done! The radicals have triumphed! President Lincoln has given way to the Abolition ‘PRESSURE!’ They demanded that he should issue a Proclamation freeing the slaves of the South; and after boring, importuning and dogging him for a year past, he has at length yielded to their insolent and dictatorial behests. This Proclamation, (which we publish elsewhere,) declares that the slaves in all the states in rebellion shall be ‘FOREVER FREE’ after the first of January next!
“Doubtless there are many persons in this country who believe that this proclamation will ‘cripple the rebellion,’ restore peace, and bring about the millennium. But all such hopes are idle and delusive. We honestly believe that the proclamation will have the very opposite effect; that it will unite the South; divide the North; and prolong and increase the violence and bitterness of the rebellion. That a single negro will ever be freed by the operation of this Proclamation we do not believe. It will have about as much effect as to attempt to stop a hurricane with a blast of breath!
“As the overflow of slavery is hereafter to be the radical programme, no Abolitionist can longer hesitate to enlist in the army, to carry out his darling principles. Come, gentlemen, walk up to the captain’s office, and give in your names as volunteers. Go and fight for negro freedom! Go at once! — nor stop on the order of your going!
“The Abolitionists are wild with joy at this exercise of the One Man Power. But on the second Tuesday of October the people will speak in a voice of thunder, that will make these haters and maligners of the Union and the Constitution tremble in their boots, like Belshazzar!
“There is a weapon surer set,
And better than the bayonet,
A weapon that comes down as still
As snow-flakes fall upon the sod,
And executes a Freeman’s will,
And from its force nor bolts nor locks
Can shield them — ‘Tis the ballot box!”
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