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Local Editorials

From our archives: Emancipation of slaves Lincoln’s ‘crowning act’

What we thought: 150 years ago

Note to readers – Sauk Valley Media reprints editorials from the past as a regular Monday feature. The following editorial appeared in the Sterling Gazette on Jan. 10, 1863.


America is at last a free country.

After 80 odd years of professed freedom, this country has produced a man who has the moral courage to issue an edict granting unequivocal freedom to American slaves.

On the first of January, 1863, the proclamation was issued, the shackles were very lawfully sundered, and today, within the strongholds of the rebel government, there are three millions of loyal freemen who one month ago were the cowering minions of despotic masters.

That this crowning act of President Lincoln was made absolutely necessary by the exigencies of the federal cause, and that it was also just, cannot be denied by anyone who will reason fairly, unprejudiced by party affiliation; and all who pretend to argue that it is an assumption of power on the part of the president, that it is unconstitutional, that it will make a civil war at the North, demonstrate very clearly that they have allowed their prejudices to blind them until their sympathies are now almost entirely with the slaveholders, against that federal union for which our brave soldiers are so nobly battling.

A man who will acknowledge that the weakening of the rebels at the South will incite rebellion at the North proves conclusively that something else than loyal blood courses through his veins.

But the decree has gone forth, and the mutterings of discontented spirits will be of no avail. The slaves are free, and await but the assistance of our army to proclaim themselves freemen and capable of taking care of themselves.

God bless the man who dared to take the responsibility and strike the death blow of the rebellion, even “honest Old Abe, the rail splitter of Illinois.”

• • •

The last of the Monitor

The little Monitor, which crowned itself with glory at the naval battle in Hampton Roads, with the huge Merrimac, has foundered at sea and been lost.

She was on her way south, in company with other vessels, and was lost in a gale off Cape Hatteras. She sunk in 45 fathoms of water (270 feet) and is probably a total loss. Four officers and 12 men were drowned.

A dispatch says that the official report of the foundering of the Monitor shows her loss attributable to the springing of a large leak above the line where her armor joined onto her hull, caused by the weight of her armor and the strain thus produced on her woodwork during the violent pitching of the vessel in the heavy sea.

When she rose on the swell, the flat undersurface of her projecting armor came down with a great shock to the vessel and turret, and, as supposed, increasing the leak. The pumps were entirely powerless to keep the water down in the hold, and it became necessary to transfer the crew to the ship which had the Monitor in tow.

As the waves were dashing over her whole deck, this transfer was extremely hazardous, and it was while attending to this that most of those who were lost perished.

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