After voluntary exertions on the part of our people to which the history of the world furnishes no parallel, is the old root of bitterness still to remain in the ground, to sprout and bear fruit in the future as it has borne fruit in the past?
The people are forbidden to give aid and comfort to rebels. What of a government that has the power to cut off from aid and comfort all the rebels of the South and fails to exercise it?
And I hereby distinctly and emphatically declare that I consider myself, and earnestly desire to be considered by others, as utterly divested, now and during the rest of my life, of any such rights, the barbarous relics of a feudal, despotic system.
In the due exercise of your official power, in strictest accordance with law and the Constitution, you can deprive the enemy of that which, above all else, has given, and still gives him, aid and comfort.
It is within your power at this very moment not only to consumate an act of enlightened statesmanship, but, as the instrument of the Almighty, to restore to freedom a race of men.
They feel assured, as to yourself, that if the option remain with you, it is but a question of time and of form when and how a proclamation of emancipation will be issued.
We can constitutionally extirpate slavery at this time.
In days when the public safety is imminently threatened, and the fate of a nation may hang upon a single act, we owe frank speech, above all other men, to him who is highest in authority. I shall speak to you as man to man.
Property in man, always morally unjust, has become nationally dangerous.
How few, since the foundation of the world, have found themselves in a position environed with public perils so numerous, oppressed with responsibilities so high and solemn, as yourself!
Can you look forward to the future of our country and imagine any state of things in which, with slavery still existing, we should be assured of permanent peace? I cannot.
It has always been a great wrong that these men and their families should be held in bondage.
Men acquiesce in a thousand things, once righteously and boldly done, to which, if proposed to them in advance, they might find endless objections.
Men ever follow willingly a daring leader: most willingly of all, in great emergencies.
The dangers which threaten us are twofold: First, from the Confederate forces, composed of men whose earnest convictions and reckless bravery it is idle to deny.