Abraham Lincoln to John C. Fremont, Monday, September 02, 1861 (Fremont's August 30 Proclamation; endorsed by Lincoln, Sept. 3, 1861)

abe to frem sept 2 p1.gif
abe to frem sept 2 p2.gif


Abraham Lincoln to John C. Fremont, Monday, September 02, 1861 (Fremont's August 30 Proclamation; endorsed by Lincoln, Sept. 3, 1861)


President Lincoln responding to Major-General Fremont's proclamation.


Direct letters indicating what President Lincoln thought of Fremont's Proclamation are indicators of how the Emancipation Proclamation of 1862 was formed. There was some anxiety since Fremont's Proclamation went against the Confiscation Act Congress had passed August 06, 1861.


President Abraham Lincoln


The Library of Congress


The Library of Congress


September 02, 1861


The Abraham Lincoln Papers at the Library of Congress


Library of Congress






Washington D. C. Sept. 2, 1861.

My dear Sir:

Two points in your proclamation of August 30th give me some anxiety. First, should you shoot a man, according to the proclamation, the Confederates would very certainly shoot our best man in their hands in retaliation; and so, man for man, indefinitely. It is therefore my order that you allow no man to be shot, under the proclamation, without first having my approbation or consent

Secondly, I think there is great danger that the closing paragraph, in relation to the confiscation of property, and the liberating slaves of traiterous owners, will alarm our Southern Union friends, and turn them against us -- perhaps ruin our rather fair prospect for Kentucky. Allow me therefore to ask, that you will as of your own motion, modify that paragraph so as to conform to the first and fourth sections of the act of Congress, entitled, "An act to confiscate property used for insurrectionary purposes," approved August, 6th, 1861,2 and a copy of which act I herewith send you. This letter is written in a spirit of caution and not of censure

I send it by a special messenger, in order that it may certainly and speedily reach you--

Yours very truly

A. Lincoln

[ Endorsed by Lincoln:]

Copy of letter sent to Gen. Fremont, by special messenger leaving Washington Sep. 3. 1861.

[Note 1 On August 30, 1861, General John C. Fremont issued a proclamation in which he professed to take over the administrative powers of the state of Missouri. He further declared martial law, pronounced a death penalty for all Confederate guerrillas to be apprehended within Union lines, and most controversially, decreed the confiscation of the property and the slaves of all active Confederate sympathizers in the state. Radical Republicans applauded Fremont's proclamation but Lincoln, still concerned about retaining the sympathies of most Kentuckians for the Union cause, was alarmed by it. Here he requests that Fremont moderate his proclamation to conform to the confiscation legislation already in place.]

[Note 2 This act of Congress provided for the freeing of slaves only if they were "employed in hostile service against the Government."]

Original Format