a course which, if acquiesced in by those most in interest, would, he believed, in a legal way open the road to ultimate, if not immediate, emancipation. Instead of assenting to the demands of the radical extremists that he should, by arbitrary proceedings, and in disregard of law and Constitution, decree freedom to all slaves, he preferred milder and more conciliatory measures. The authority or right of the national Government to abolish or interfere with an institution that was reserved and belonged exclusively to the States, he was not prepared to act upon or admit, though entreated and urged thereto by sincere party friends, and also by party supporters, whose sincerity was doubtful.
There could be no excuse or pretext for such interference but the insurrection; and, even as a war measure, there were obstacles in the condition of the border slave States, to say nothing of loyal, patriotic citizens in the insurrectionary region, that could not be overlooked.
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