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In principle, Lincoln approved of emancipation as a war measure, but he postponed executive action against slavery until he believed he had both the legal authority to do so and broader support from the American public.
Furthermore, most former slaves had no interest in leaving their homeland.
Like Frémont, General David Hunter also tried his hand at emancipation when in May 1862 he declared slaves free in his Department of the South, which included Florida, Georgia, and South Carolina.
The Second Confiscation Act included provisions that freed the slaves of disloyal owners, authorized the president to employ African Americans in the suppression of the rebellion, and called for exploring voluntary colonization efforts.
The Militia Act authorized the employment of African Americans in the military, emancipated those who were enslaved, and freed their families, if owned by those disloyal to the Union.
Once again, Lincoln felt compelled to overrule a commander who overstepped his authority with regard to emancipation.
Although in revoking Hunter's action, Lincoln suggested that the power to determine such military necessities belonged to the president.
On August 6, 1861, Congress passed the First Confiscation Act, which negated owners' claims to escaped slaves whose labor had been used on behalf of the Confederacy.
In 1862 Congress also acted against slavery in areas under the jurisdiction of the federal government.
Butler instead appropriated the fugitives and their valuable labor as "contraband of war." The Lincoln administration approved Butler's action, and soon other fugitive slaves (often referred to as "contrabands") sought freedom behind Union lines.
The increasing number of fugitives and questions about their status eventually prompted action by the United States Congress.