On January 12, 1863, President Jefferson Davis addressed the Confederate Congress in Richmond. Since the Union offensives in the western and eastern theatres had stalled, Davis remained confident that the Confederacy would prevail. He called the recently enacted Emancipation Proclamation, “the most execrable measure recorded in the history of guilty man.”
Davis complained that Lincoln had condemned the otherwise “peaceful and contented” slave population of the South to extermination. He then asked the Confederate Congress for authorization to hold any Union officer attempting to carry out President Lincoln’s proclamation guilty of “exciting servile insurrection,” a crime punishable by hanging. Although the Congress agreed to his request, few such punishments were in fact ever carried out.