Author: Horace Greeley  | Date: August 20, 1862

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Slavery and the Union (1862)



[NEW YORK, August 19, 1862.]

. . . I DO not intrude to tell you — for you must know already — that a great proportion of those who triumphed in your election, and of all who desire the unqualified suppression of the Rebellion now desolating our country, are sorely disappointed and deeply pained by the policy you seem to be pursuing with regard to the slaves of Rebels. . . .

VIII. On the face of this wide earth, Mr. President, there is not one disinterested, determined, intelligent champion of the Union cause who does not feel that all attempts to put down the Rebellion and at the same time uphold its inciting cause are preposterous and futile — that the Rebellion, if crushed out to-morrow, would be renewed within a year if Slavery were left in full vigor — that Army officers who remain to this day devoted to Slavery can at best be but half-way loyal to the Union — and that every hour of deference to Slavery is an hour of added and deepened peril to the Union. I appeal to the testimony of your Embassadors in Europe. It is freely at your service, not at mine. Ask them to tell you candidly whether the seeming subserviency of your policy to the salveholding, slavery-upholding interest, is not the perplexity, the despair, of statesmen of all parties, and be admonished by the general answer!

IX. I close as I began with the statement that what an immense majority of the Loyal Millions of your countrymen require of you is a frank, declared, unqualified, ungrudging execution of the laws of the land, more especially of the Confiscation Act. That Act gives freedom to the slaves of Rebels coming within our lines, or whom those lines may at any time inclose — we ask you to render it due obedience by publicly requiring all your subordinates to recognize and obey it. The Rebels are everywhere using the late anti-negro riots in the North, as they have long used your officers’ treatment of negroes in the South, to convince the slaves that they have nothing to hope from a Union success — that we mean in that case to sell them into a bitterer bondage to defray the cost of the war. Let them impress this as a troth on the great mass of their ignorant and credulous bondmen, and the Union will never be restored — never. We cannot conquer Ten Millions of People united in solid phalanx against us, powerfully aided by Northern sympathizers and European allies. We must have scouts, guides, spies, cooks, teamsters, diggers and choppers from the Blacks of the South, whether we allow them to fight for us or not, or we shall be baffled and repelled. As one of the millions who would gladly have avoided this straggle at any sacrifice but that of Principle and Honor, but who now feel that the triumph of the Union is indispensable not only to the existence of our country but to the well-being of mankind, I entreat you to render a hearty and unequivocal obedience to the law of the land.

New York Daily Tribune, August 20, 1862.


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Chicago: Horace Greeley, "Slavery and the Union (1862)," Liberator in American History Told by Contemporaries, ed. Albert Bushnell Hart (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1903), Original Sources, accessed December 1, 2022,

MLA: Greeley, Horace. "Slavery and the Union (1862)." Liberator, in American History Told by Contemporaries, edited by Albert Bushnell Hart, Vol. 4, New York, The Macmillan Company, 1903, Original Sources. 1 Dec. 2022.

Harvard: Greeley, H, 'Slavery and the Union (1862)' in Liberator. cited in 1903, American History Told by Contemporaries, ed. , The Macmillan Company, New York. Original Sources, retrieved 1 December 2022, from