"WHEREAS THE PRESIDENT SHALL HAVE POWER TO GRANT REPRIEVES AND PARDONS": EXCEEDINGLY RARE FIRST EDITION OF LINCOLN'S POWERFUL AMNESTY PROCLAMATION OF 1863, PRINTED WITH HIS THIRD STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS
LINCOLN, Abraham. Amnesty Proclamation and Third Annual Message of Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, Read in Congress, Wednesday, December 9, 1863. [Philadelphia, 1863]. Octavo, original wrappers, original stitching; pp. 20. Housed in a custom clamshell box. $16,000.
First and very rare printing of one of Lincoln's greatest reconciliation efforts with the Confederacy, printed along with his third State of the Union Address, highly elusive in fragile original wrappers.
Lincoln's Amnesty Proclamation offered a full pardon and return of all property, excepting slaves, to any participant in the rebellion (excluding Confederate officers, Union defectors and others specifically mentioned) who would take an oath to "faithfully support, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States and the Union of the States thereunder… all acts of Congress… [and] all proclamations of the President made during the existing rebellion, having reference to slaves." The Proclamation further promised to recognize "as the true government of the State" any re-established State government "in nowise contravening said oath" that has the support of a mere one-tenth of the State's electorate. In his annual message, Lincoln addresses the question: "Why any proclamation now upon this subject?" The Emancipation Proclamation had been in effect since January, in the past month Grant had ended Bragg's siege of Chattanooga, and the Union army was preparing to march through Georgia; Lincoln, anticipating an end to the war, sought a catalyst to entice willing citizens of the Confederacy toward reconciliation. The President explains: "In some States the elements for resumption seem ready for action, but remain inactive apparently for want of a rallying point—a plan of action… [and] how can [the States] know but that the General Government here will reject their plan? By the proclamation a plan is presented which may be accepted by them as a rallying point, and which they are assured in advance will not be rejected here. This may bring them to act sooner than they otherwise would."
Lincoln's vision proved quixotic—even within his own party many objected to the leniency he proposed—and the war continued for two more years of bloodshed and misery that included Vicksburg, Gettysburg, and the Siege of Petersburg. When Andrew Johnson became president following Lincoln's assassination, the new amnesty terms he proposed denied amnesty to officers of the Confederacy and threatened to confiscated the property of the richest Southerners. Ultimately, the final amnesty terms of 1868 fell closer to those proposed by Lincoln, with even Jefferson Davis securing a pardon. Monaghan 191. Sabin 41163 note.
A fine copy.