Six Months at the White House/XXX
Mr. Chase told me that at the Cabinet meeting, immediately after the battle of Antietam, and just prior to the issue of the September Proclamation, the President entered upon the business before them, by saying that "the time for the annunciation of the emancipation policy could be no longer delayed. Public sentiment," he thought, "would sustain it--many of his warmest friends and supporters demanded it--and he had promised his God that he would do it!" The last part of this was uttered in a low tone, and appeared to be heard by no one but Secretary Chase, who was sitting near him. He asked the President if he correctly understood him. Mr. Lincoln replied: "I made a solemn vow before God, that if General Lee was driven back from Pennsylvania, I would crown the result by the declaration of freedom to the slaves."
In February 1865, a few days after the passage of the "Constitutional Amendment," I went to Washington, and was received by Mr. Lincoln with the kindness and familiarity which had characterized our previous intercourse. I said to him at this time that I was very proud to have been the artist to have first conceived of the design of painting a picture commemorative of the Act of Emancipation; that subsequent occurrences had only confirmed my own first judgment of that act as the most sublime moral event in our history. "Yes," said he,--and never do I remember to have noticed in him more earnestness of expression or manner,--"as affairs have turned, it is the central act of my administration, and the great event of the nineteenth century."