by Andy Mateja

On December 1st 1862, Abraham Lincoln delivered his Annual Message to Congress. In it he addressed the affairs of state, including foreign affairs and domestic concerns. However the most powerful part of his message was Lincoln’s detailed plan for remunerative emancipation of ALL slaves, both in the loyal states and those currently in rebellion.

Lincoln had mentioned remunerative emancipation once before in March of 1861, which pretty much fell on deaf ears. This time though he was going to provide details behind his concept and present it in such a persuasive way that Congress would have to acquiesce.

The essence of Lincolns plan was simple… the remunerative emancipation would take place over a period of 37 years and be completed by 1900. The Federal Government would gradually fund the program by sending money to the states so they can apply to emancipating the current slaves.

Lincoln’s logic was that even though the total U.S. population at the time was 31 million, he believed by 1900 the population would reach almost 100 million and would aid financially in the emancipation process. His projection was based on an average of 34% in U.S. population growth every decade derived from actual census reports beginning in 1790. The slaves, once free, would have a choice of remaining in the U.S. or immigrating at government expense to other countries willing to accept former slaves as citizens. There would be NO forced relocation – all choices would be made by the former slave.

Lincoln reasoned that his remuneration emancipation plan would not require many millions of dollars in immediate funding – it would be a gradual process over a span of 37 years. It also would not require military action which, through the first two years of the Civil War, already cost the lives of over 150,000 men.

If on the other hand if the war was allowed to continue toward forced emancipation, hundreds of thousands of additional lives would be lost and many millions of dollars more in immediate funding would be required for its’ continuance and there would be no guarantee that it would be successful.

Clearly Lincoln was still focused on preserving the Union while at the same time ending slavery without sacrificing any more lives. His plan was genuine and sincere and was totally above politics, as the end result favored neither side. Lincoln wanted ALL Americans to live harmoniously and be part of the growth in population, wealth and prosperity that he envisioned would occur over the next 100 years.

As Horace Greeley said in the NY Tribune of Lincoln …“Sentiments so noble, so forceful, so profoundly true, have very rarely found their way into the manifestos of rulers and Government”

Yet despite all this, the Congress failed to act on Lincoln’s request and emancipation was finally gained three years later at the cost of hundreds of thousands of additional lives and many millions in government funds……………….exactly what Lincoln tried to avoid.