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Remarks in Response to a Serenade

February 01, 1865

The President said he supposed the passage through Congress of the Constitutional amendment for the abolishment of Slavery throughout the United States, was the occasion to which he was indebted for the honor of this call. [Applause.] The occasion was one of congratulation to the country and to the whole world. But there is a task yet before us---to go forward and consummate by the votes of the States that which Congress so nobly began yesterday. [Applause and cries---"They will do it," &c. ] He had the honor to inform those present that Illinois had already to-day done the work. [Applause.] Maryland was about half through; but he felt proud that Illinois was a little ahead. He thought this measure was a very fitting if not an indispensable adjunct to the winding up of the great difficulty. He wished the reunion of all the States perfected and so effected as to remove all causes of disturbance in the future; and to attain this end it was necessary that the original disturbing cause should, if possible, be rooted out. He thought all would bear him witness that he had never shrunk from doing all that he could to eradicate Slavery by issuing an emancipation proclamation. [Applause.] But that proclamation falls far short of what the amendment will be when fully consummated. A question might be raised whether the proclamation was legally valid. It might be added that it only aided those who came into our lines and that it was inoperative as to those who did not give themselves up, or that it would have no effect upon the children of the slaves born hereafter. In fact it would be urged that it did not meet the evil. But this amendment is a King's cure for all the evils. [Applause.] It winds the whole thing up. He would repeat that it was the fitting if not indispensable adjunct to the consummation of the great game we are playing. He could not but congratulate all present, himself, the country and the whole world upon this great moral victory.

New York Tribune, February 3, 1865, 5:3. The Tribune carried a less acceptable text of this speech on page one. Collation with the text appearing in the New York Times and Herald shows the page five text to be generally superior to either. Brackets are in the source. This response is misdated January 31 by Nicolay and Hay (X, 352).

On February 1, Governor Richard J. Oglesby telegraphed Lincoln that the Illinois legislature had approved the amendment (DLC-RTL).

Abraham Lincoln, Remarks in Response to a Serenade Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/342172

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