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The Slave Experience: Freedom & Emancipation
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Original Documents Freedom & Emancipation

"Stolen and Deported Slaves"
January 1863
Courtesy of "Valley of the Shadow:" Two Communities in the American Civil War,
Virginia Center for Digital History, University of Virginia
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Photo of the text of 'Stolen and Deported Slaves,' which appeared in the STAUNTON SPECTATOR'
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Document Description
In this article, the STAUNTON SPECTATOR re-publishes an excerpt from THE NEW YORK HERALD, which criticizes the Emancipation Proclamation. The Southern writer of the excerpt holds that the Proclamation is legally invalid and calls for restitution by the government to former slaveholders.

The New York Herald, in a late article on Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation, which it declares can have no effect, except where there are armies in a position to carry it out, has the following paragraph:

The Constitution defines treason and prescribes the mode of punishing it. Whole communities cannot be legally made traitors by proclamations, nor their property seized and confiscated; and if Congress passed fifty laws on the subject they would have no legal efficacy. Consequently, if slave property should be taken away from the citizens of the United States by Generals of the army, in virtue of the proclamation of the President, the property must be restored or paid for by the United States Government, unless the persons from whom it had been taken should be convicted of treason in a court of law, and after a full and fair trial.

The Herald is correct. The slaves taken from our citizens during the war will have to be accounted for at its end, either by restoration or indemnity. The matter will not admit of controversy, for, in addition to the obvious propriety of such a course, the exact question has been adjudicated by the United States, and stands on record against them. At the end of the Revolutionary War, and again at the close of the war of 1812, this point came up, and it was settled in the Treaty of Peace of 1788, and in the Treaty of Ghent in 1814, in favor of the restitution of slaves abducted by military authority from the South.

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