I do not mean that you could continue to do this with propriety or even with safety; I merely assert that the power is, in point of fact, in your hands. And for such a power, what a responsibility to God and man!
It has always been a great wrong that these men and their families should be held in bondage. We of the North have hitherto acquiesced in it, lest, in the endeavor to redress it in violation of the Constitution, greater evils might ensue.
They have nearly a million of able-bodied men of fit age for war or for labor. Holding these men in bondage, and employing them to till the soil, they are enabled to send to the battle-field almost their entire white male adult population, yet preserve their commisariat sufficiently supplied.
We can constitutionally extirpate slavery at this time. But if we fail to do this, then unless we intend hereafter to violate the Constitution, we shall have a fugitive slave law in operation whenever the war is over.
You can declare emancipated his slaves, the suppliers of his commiseriat. Gradually, you can deprive him of these; and for every hundred thousand productive laborers he loses, you may have a hundred thousand soldiers.