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The Emancipation Proclamation — Will it be Withdrawn?

As soon as the result of the late elections became known, it was confidently assumed by the party in opposition, that the President would withdraw his proclamation of emancipation — or rather, omit to issue it, as foreshadowed in the proclamation of September 22d. But the intimations which come to us from Washington of the temper of the President, and the position he will assume in his forthcoming message, do not support any such assumption. On the contrary, there are indications that President Lincoln will not recede from the position he has assumed. A recent special dispatch, in allusion to the forthcoming message, says: "It treats the proclamation as an accomplished fact, suggests various legislation necessary previous to January 1st, to carry it into effect. Other legislation is also recommended."

It has been maintained by the leaders of the opposition party, that the expressed will of the people, as indicated in the elections, implied the clearest instructions to the Administration to change its policy in the conduct of the war, and it was assumed that their expression would be so interpreted. But the opposition was a mere opposition. It had no line of policy, and was careful to enunciate none. If any practical policy in reference to the management of the war had been affirmed the leaders well know that their defeat would have been the result. But by affirming no definite course of action, they were enabled, however unjustly, to combine all opposition to the Administration from whatever cause — including those who demanded a more vigorous policy on the part of the Government, as well as those who demanded a less vigorous one, through all the grades down to passive submission to the demands of traitors in open rebellion against the Government — and thus obtain a success in several of the States. They were further and most materially aided by the absence of voters in the service of their country in the field, much the largest share of whom would have supported, and do support, they policy of the Administration.

That the Administration has accepted the result of the elections as instructing it to change the policy of the war, is proved by its subsequent action. New vigor has been infused into all departments of the military service. Inactive commanders have been relieved by those who are believed to possess the elements necessary to insure success. Along our whole line, from the Potomac to the western frontier of Missouri, our armies have been advancing. This may not have been just what the leaders of the opposition desired; but in the absence of more explicit instructions, (which they carefully avoided to give,) the Administration had the right to assume that this was what they want.

So far the Administration has acknowledged itself instructed. So far the instructions (whether meant or not) agreed with its own conception of what was demanded. But was it under any necessity of adopting those various lines of policy which various leaders, after the election, affirmed to be the policy it was instructed to pursue? If such a thing had been attempted, the Administration would have attempted the most diverse and contradictory acts. It was, therefore, simply impossible. — The Administration must exercise its own judgment, just as it had done before.

Notwithstanding the result of the election, Mr. Lincoln is still President. Upon his shoulders rests the responsibility of conducting the country through its present troubles. He cannot lay aside that responsibility on any pretext whatever. His oath binds him now to the faithful discharge of his official duty, as it ever has done. He cannot delegate the duties of his office into the hands of any individual, or any party, however numerous. He is therefore compelled to exercise his own judgment in choosing means to ends. That he will shrink from any duty in this respect no one who knows the man will dare to suspect.

But, acknowledging that those who voted against the Administration at the late elections were unanimous in demanding the withdrawal of the emancipation proclamation, (which is not true,) does it follow that President Lincoln is therefore bound to accept their instructions? — We think not. As we have already said, all the responsibilities of his official duty, which involve the very life of the Nation itself, still rest upon him. His oath demands that he should discharge that duty faithfully and constitutionally, for the present and future welfare of the nation; and no instructions of individuals or of parties can release him from that responsibility. He must not for himself still, on the conviction of what is best under the circumstances. If thoroughly convinced that the Union can be best preserved by receding from the proclamation, we have an abiding faith that he will recede. But if, on the other hand, he is convinced that the course he has marked out for his official conduct, is the only one by which he can save the nation, it is his duty to adhere to it through all opposition.

All we have said has been based upon the assumption that a majority of the loyal citizens of the loyal States have declared themselves opposed to the policy of the Administration, — But such is not the case. We will say nothing of the disloyal men in the North, all of whom are arrayed in the ranks of the opposition. — The soldiers in the field are no less citizens than those who remain at home. Though mostly denied the right of voters, they have, no less than other citizens, the right to demand that their views shall be regarded in shaping the policy of the Government. Of the hundreds of thousands now in the field, it has been shown, whenever they have been permitted to vote, that a majority of three-fourths to seven-eights invariably support the policy of the Administration. If we take into the calculation, therefore, those who support the policy of the President, whether in the ranks of civil or military life, (as it is but just we should do so,) the Administrations will be triumphantly sustained.