LINCOLN, ABRAHAM. 1809-1865.
Autograph Note Signed ("A. Lincoln"), 1 p, 8vo (remnant of conjoined blank), Executive Mansion, March 5, 1862 to William H. Seward, endorsed by Seward and with period annotation in another hand at the bottom, light dust-soiling and a tiny nick.
Provenance: William H. Seward (original recipient, additionally signed by him); unidentified period collector (ink notes at foot); Perc S. Brown, Newark, NJ (his[?] pencil notes on conjoined slip; The Collected Works of Abraham Lincoln citation, 1953).
LINCOLN CALLS A CABINET MEETING ON THE EVE OF HIS SPEECH TO CONGRESS RECOMMENDING EMANCIPATION. On the morning of March 6, 1862 Lincoln recommended a resolution "that the United States ought to cooperate with any State which may adopt gradual abolishment of slavery, giving to such State pecuniary aid, to be used by such State, in its discretion, to compensate for the inconveniences, public and private, produced by such a change of system" (see Nicolay & Hay Speeches and State Papers of Abraham Lincoln p 129). This was the President's first recommendation to Congress of a specific policy of emancipation.
In the event, compensated emancipation was enacted only in Washington D.C. (which bill had been introduced in 1861 by Senator Henry Wilson) freeing over 3000 slaves some 9 months before the Emancipation Proclamation.
This letter was published in Basler's edition of Lincoln's Collected Works and he corroborates the early manuscript note at the foot of this letter to the effect that emancipation was the topic of discussion although it is unmentioned in the diaries of Gideon Welles or of Edward Bates. There is also a letter in the Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress which sheds light on this particular Cabinet meeting: Montgomery Blair, the Post-Master General, wrote to Lincoln at 10:30pm on March 5 to recommend a provision for voluntary colonization by emancipated slaves (LOC no 22217), clearly following up on the Cabinet meeting earlier in the evening and promising to call on Lincoln early in the morning.