AMNESTY
The Government's Open Hand
Lincoln

     "I _______ __________, do solemnly swear, in the presence of Almighty God, that I will henceforth faithfully support, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United States and the union of the States thereunder, and that I will, in like manner, abide by and faithfully support all acts of Congress passed during the existing rebellion with reference to slaves, so long and so far as not repealed, modified, or held void by Congress, or by decision of the Supreme Court, and that I will, in like manner, abide by and faithfully support all proclamations of the President made during the existing rebellion having reference to slaves, so long and so far as not modified or declared void by decision of the Supreme Court. So help me God."

     The oath of allegiance to all parties directly or indirectly implicated in support of Confederate States against the Government of the United States, signed by Proclamation under the hand of President Abraham Lincoln on the 8th day of December 1863.

     The government officially extended an open hand to all persons having been determined in rebellion against the central government an opportunity to permanently turn aside from their current participation and enjoy the rights and protection under the Constitution of the United States once again.

     It was a big step for Americans in conflict with their own government, mostly of the democratic persuasion. Prepared and issued by the State Department it emphatically states the stipulations on which they'll be accepted back as loyal citizens. It was proposed to individuals from the simple farm communities that had not the money to purchase human labors as well as the former senators and congressman rendering services to what was considered the rebellion.

     The document began by labeling citizens of the south in rebellion against the United States as being now guilty of treason, yet in its body, the compassion of the Chief Executive was extended to those willing to comply with its requirements. All persons having willfully taken the oath of allegiance will be forgiven their treason. All property belonging to the individual will be returned with the exception of their slaves, or any property on which a third party or more may claim partial ownership to the same.

     It set the groundwork to establish a republican form of government within its boundaries and promised federal protection as provisioned by the Constitution that: "The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a republican form of government, and shall protect each of them against invasion; and on application of the Legislature, or the Executive against domestic violence."

    In re-establishing a republican form of government this proclamation not only demanded the recognition of the freed people of that state, but shall also provide for their education. It was a pioneer, a new idea, a dangerous thought. To a thinking man, one can see that Mr. Lincoln's view had grown beyond the perspective of civil war. He was eyeing the future of the nation as one body, and offering the healing strength to make it possible. It was there for the taking to all those who were willing to reach out and grab it.

Daniel Moran
© 2001

Editors Note: Mr.Moran is a new feature writer on the US-Civilwar.com writers staff.
He may be contacted with your questions, ideas and requests at dmoran@us-civilwar2.com