In accomplishing these important results men have been but the instruments of God. The Almighty has so guided the current of events, that we have been borne onward by superior power to the safe harbor wherein we now repose. The destruction of slavery and the enfranchisement of the African race have been compelled by necessity as well as enjoined by duty. To prove this you need not invoke the aid of history. Your memories will supply every essential fact.

In the beginning of the decade just closed the protracted struglle between freedom and slavery was approaching its culmination. The people, appalled by the grim visage of imminent war, began to cry out for compromise in all parts of the land, and Congress would have yielded to any reasonable demands the partisans of slavery could have made. But no compromise could appease them. They would not be content with any guaranty, however solemn, of slavery in the States where it then existed. They defiantly insisted upon disunion, and proceeded to wage war against the United States for the avowed purpose of establishing an independent Gorvernment, the cornerstone of which should be slavery. Still the country hesitated to accept the issue, and patiently talked of concession and conciliation. Under the counsels of which then prevailed, the people actually took up arms and fought bloody battles, protesting all the while that they would not assail the institutions of the South. When Fremont attempted military emancipation his orders were revoked, when Cameron recommended the arming of the blacks his advice was rejected, and when, still later, Hunter renewed the attempt at military emancipation, it was a second time forbidden. Mr. Lincoln himself in his celebrated letter to Horace Greeley, dated August 22nd, 1862 said, "My paramount object is to save the Union, and not either to save or destroy slavery." On the contrary, many military officers had been using their soldiers to return fugitive slaves to their owners, and continued the practice until Congress, by act approved 3d March, 1862, made a new article of war, expressly prohibiting it. All this moderation availed only to strengthen the rebellion and to weaken the cause of the Union. AT length it becoming apparent that slavery was the real foe of the nation's peace [applause], and that the rebellion was finding shelter behind it [applause], Congress, by act approved 27th July 1862, enacted that the slaves of all persons thereafter engaged in rebellion should be forever free and should not be delivered up. A prepopsition previously made by message dated March 6th of the same year, for compensated emancipation by the Border States had been rejected with so much unaminity by the representatives of those States, as precluded all hope of its acceptance. Meantime the great mill of God's providence was grinding on. Defeats and disasters pursued the Union forces. Our armies were beaten in front of Richmond and afterwards more signally in front of Washington, and the Rebels were permitted again to advance and plant their standards in sight of the National Capitol. Growing still more aggressive, the hosts of rebellion were rallied in force, and finished with victory they crossed the Potomac and threatened the very heart of the loyal North. After a drawn battle on the field of Antietam it was determined, all other efforts having failed, that a preliminary proclamation of emancipation should be issued. [Applause.] It came on the 22d of September, 1862 cautiously almost timidly, expressed, preceded, and followed by a golden pill in the shape of promised compensation. It declared that after the 1st of January then next all slaves held in the Rebel States should be forever free. [Cheers.] One hundred days elapsed. On one side not a Rebel had laid down his arms, but on the other the loyal nation having been brought face to face with the crucial question of the war, had slowly cleared its mental vision and had recognized the necessity for emancipation. When the 1st of January came our army had recovered its courage and spirit the people were hopeful and earnest and brightening prospects cheered the heart of our anxious President. [Applause.] Full of confidence, he issued his final proclamation and its stirring words and exalted sentiments rang like a trumpet peal throughout the land, announcing to the poeople the grandest jubilee of all the ages. [Cheers.] So clear had he become in the exercise of this unprecedented power that he closed this ever memorable paper with these words, "And upon this act sincerely believed to be an act of Justice, warranted by the Constitution upon military necessity I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind and the gracious favor of Almighty God." The proclamation announced a great principle upon which a controlling public sentiment was soon organized and with a voice of authority that public sentiment demanded that emancipation should be freed from all legal doubts and made universal in its application by constitutional provision. [Cheers.] In pursuance thereof the Thirteenth Amendment was adopted by Congress on the 31st of January 1865, and I proudly boast that my name may be recorded in its favor at every stage of its progress. In due season it was ratified by the requisite number of States, and thus became a part of the fundamental law. [Applause.]