LINCOLN AND NEGRO COLONIZATION 173
The law of July 16, 1862, providing for the freeing of all
slaves in the hands of the army, also granted an additional
$500,000 for the president to use in colonizing all persons
freed by this act who were willing to leave the country.-36
This meant that now more than the former slaves of the District of Columbia were eligible to be colonized.
On August 2, 1862, John Usher, who was later secretary
of the interior, wrote Lincoln a lengthy endorsement of immediate colonization. Usher believed the people were ready
to accept colonization and that if the project was undertaken
at once it would allay fears in the North of being overrun by
freedmen.37 Despite these numerous endorsements of colonization, Lincoln's favoring of it, and the fact that it had
been under consideration for almost a year, little had been
done towards putting it into effect. More pressing problems
concerning the prosecution of the war had to be considered
first, and as late as July 22, 1862, the order with respect to
colonization was dropped so that other matters could be considered in a cabinet meeting.388
By August 14~, 1862, however, Lincoln was ready to proceed with the Chiriqui project. On that day he gave an audience to a committee of Negro ministers. This was in itself
a memorable event., for it marked the first time in American
history that a president invited a group of the Negro race to
the White House to discuss a public issue. "One of those
present made a record of Lincoln's remarks as the first memorandum of words of the President of the United States addressed directly and exclusively to the people of that race." 89
36Public Laws of the United States, XII, 582.
37John Usher to Abraham Lincoln, August 2, 1862. Lincoln Papers, Vol. 82, f.
885. H. Dodson., compiler. "Diary and Correspondence of Salmon P. Chase,"'
Annual Report of the American Historical Association 1902 (Washington, 19o3),
ftCarl sandburg, Abraham Lincoln: The War Years (New York, 1939)' I, 574.
It is to this person that we are indebted for the story of that occasion. The text of