Gettysburg, 1862

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ON A GLOOMY NEW YEAR’S DAY 1863, A MELAN- choly Lincoln called Republican congressional leaders and state governors to the White House. “This is not the duty I had hoped to discharge today,” he told them. “Last July I decided to issue a proclamation freeing the slaves in Rebel states, to take effect today,” he continued sadly. “There is no chance of that now. Would my word free the slaves when I cannot even enforce the Constitution in the Rebel States?” Instead “we are faced with a situation in which the whole world seems to be against us. Last summer, after McClellan was driven back from Richmond, I said that in spite of that setback, ‘I expect to maintain this contest until successful, or till I die, or am conquered, or my term expires, or Congress or the country forsakes me.’ Gentlemen, the people expressed their opinion in the late elections. The country has forsaken us, and the next Congress will be against us. Whether or not we admit we are conquered, we must admit that we have failed to conquer the rebellion. Today I will issue a proclamation accepting the insurgents’ offer of an armistice. Secretary Seward will accept the good offices of foreign powers for mediation.” The President’s voice choked as he concluded: “Gentlemen, the United States no longer exists as one nation, indivisible.”