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Broadsheet of Lincoln’s 1862 State of the Union Message
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We cannot escape history… In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free… We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best, hope of earth...”

One month before signing the Emancipation Proclamation, the president proposes colonization and his plan for compensated emancipation, discusses foreign affairs, reports on progress of the Pacific Railroad, the war and finance. This rare “Sentinel Extra” broadsheet (apparently unrecorded in OCLC) has other news of the day on the verso, including a fantastic article quoting General Meagher’s reaction to the resignation of several officers after McClellan was removed.

ABRAHAM LINCOLN. Broadsheet, “Sentinel Extra” [place unknown[1]], ca. December 2, 1862, 9⅛ x 24 in. 2 pp.

Inventory #22179       Price: $5,500

Excerpt

“The suspension of specie payments by the banks…  made large issues of United States notes unavoidable. In no other way could the payment of the troops and the satisfaction of other just demands be so economically or so well provided for…. A return to specie payments, however, at the earliest period … should ever be kept in view. Fluctuations in the value of currency are always injurious… Convertibility, prompt and certain convertibility, into coin is generally acknowledged to be the best and surest safeguard against them; and it is extremely doubtful whether a circulation of United States notes payable in coin and sufficiently large for the wants of the people can be permanently, usefully, and safely maintained…. 

There is no line, straight or crooked, suitable for a national boundary upon which to divide…Among the friends of the Union there is great diversity of sentiment and of policy in regard to slavery and the African race amongst us…. emancipation will be unsatisfactory to the advocates of perpetual slavery, but the length of time [37 years in Lincoln’s compensated emancipation proposal] should greatly mitigate their dissatisfaction. The time spares both races from the evils of sudden derangement… while most of those whose habitual course of thought will be disturbed by the measure will have passed away before its consummation. They will never see it. Another class will hail the prospect of emancipation, but will deprecate the length of time. They will feel that it gives too little to the now living slaves. But it really gives them much. It saves them from the vagrant destitution which must largely attend immediate emancipation in localities where their numbers are very great, and it gives the inspiring assurance that their posterity shall be free forever…. Let us ascertain the sum we have expended in the war since compensated emancipation was proposed last March, and consider whether if that measure had been promptly accepted by even some of the slave States the same sum would not have done more to close the war than has been otherwise done….  

Fellow-citizens, we cannot escape history. We, of this Congress and this administration, will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No personal significance, or insignificance, can spare one or another of us. The fiery trial through which we pass, will light us down, in honor or dishonor, to the latest generation. We say we are for the Union. The world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The world knows we do know how to save it. We—even we here—hold the power, and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom to the slave, we assure freedom to the free—honorable alike in what we give, and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last best, hope of earth...”

Additional Content, Below Lincoln’s State of the Union

Three news items cover the bottom half of the third column verso.

The first discusses the three top western cities as grain shippers, Chicago, Milwaukee, and Toledo. The numerical measurements of the grain are counted in bushels. Chicago tallied a total export of Wheat, Corn, Oats, Rye, and Barely, which amounted to 55,526,816 bushels. Milwaukee totaled 14,869,625 bushels. Toledo totaled 18,667,817 bushels.

The second re-prints news from Liverpool Journal of Commerce published on November 11th regarding the British government’s adherence to neutrality policies. 

The third reports on Gen. Thomas Meagher’s reaction to the resignation of some of his officers after Gen. McClellan was removed from his command of the Army of the Potomac:

“Commanding a brigade composed principally of Irish soldiers, the Brigadier-General considers it not out of place to remind them that the great error of the Irish people, in their struggle for an independent national existence, has been their passionate and blind adherence to an individual, instead of to a principle of cause.  Thus for generations their heroic efforts in the right direction have been feverish and spasmodic, when they should have been continuous, equable and consistent...”

Thomas Francis Meagher (1823-1867) was an Irish nationalist and leader of the Young Irelanders in the Rebellion of 1848. After being convicted of sedition, he was first sentenced to death, but received transportation for life to Van Diemen’s Land in Australia. In 1852 he escaped and made his way to the United States, where he settled in New York City. At the beginning of the American Civil War, Meagher joined the U.S. Army and rose to the rank of brigadier general.  He was most notable for recruiting and leading the Irish Brigade, U.S. 69th Infantry Regiment New York State Volunteers, and encouraging support among Irish immigrants for the Union. He had one surviving son, from his first wife.

Following the Civil War, Meagher was appointed acting governor of the Montana Territory. In 1867, Meagher drowned in the swift-running Missouri River after falling accidentally from a steamboat at Fort Benton.



[1] In 1862 there were several U.S. newspapers with the word “Sentinel” in the title and we need to do additional research to try to determine which one published this broadsheet extra. Two possibilities are Burlington Vermont and Bath, Maine.


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