The Writings of Abraham Lincoln, Volume 6 by Abraham Lincoln
To General N. P. Banks. August 5, 1863.
EXECUTIVE MANSION, WASHINGTON,
MY DEAR GENERAL BANKS:
While I very well know what I would be glad for Louisiana to do, it is quite a different thing for me to assume direction of the matter. I would be glad for her to make a new constitution, recognizing the emancipation proclamation, and adopting emancipation in those parts of the State to which the proclamation does not apply. And while she is at it, I think it would not be objectionable for her to adopt some practical system by which the two races could gradually live themselves out of their old relation to each other, and both come out better prepared for the new. Education for young blacks should be included in the plan. After all, the power or element of "contract" may be sufficient for this probationary period, and by its simplicity and flexibility may be the better.
As an antislavery man, I have a motive to desire emancipation which proslavery men do not have but even they have strong enough reason to thus place themselves again under the shield of the Union, and to thus perpetually hedge against the recurrence of the scenes through which we are now passing.
Governor Shepley has informed me that Mr. Durant is now taking a registry, with a view to the election of a constitutional convention in Louisiana. This, to me, appears proper. If such convention were to ask my views, I could present little else than what I now say to you. I think the thing should be pushed forward, so that, if possible, its mature work may reach here by the meeting of Congress.
For my own part, I think I shall not, in any event, retract the emancipation proclamation: nor, as executive, ever return to slavery any person who is free by the terms of that proclamation, or by any of the acts of Congress.
If Louisiana shall send members to Congress, their admission to seats will depend, as you know, upon the respective Houses, and not upon the President.
Yours very truly,