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Abraham Lincoln. 



Author of " The Life of Benedict Arnold," etc. ; Late President 

of the Chicago Historical Society ; Member of 

Congress during the Civil War. 





A. D. 18S4. 

11. R. DoxxKr.i.KV & Soys, The Lakeside Press, CniOAOo. III. 


By the Hon. E. B. Washburne. 

This work — "The Life of Abraham Lincoln" — was 
completed only a few days before the death of the dis- 
tinguished author, the Hon. Isaac N. Arnold. He did 
not live to oversee its publication. That was entrusted to 
competent and friendly hands; and the work, with its chap- 
ter heads and its full and elaborate index, is herewith pre- 
sented to an indulgent public. 

Few had known Mr, Lincoln better than had Mr. Arnold, 
and no man was more familiar with his life or had studied 
more profoundly his personal and political character, or his 
public career. They had been personal friends for a quar- 
ter of a century. They were much together in the courts 
and often associated in the trial of causes, and had been 
opposing counsel in important litigation. Their long 
acquaintance and association had made them to know each 
other well and had engendered mutual respect and mutual 

From the time that Mr. Arnold entered Congress, at the 
breaking out of the War of the Rebellion, he became one of 
the most trusted advisers of Mr. Lincoln, and few men out- 
side of the Cabinet were more frequently consulted by him 
in important matters. No one knew better Mr. Lincoln's 



thoughts and intentions than Mr. Arnold, and no one 
enjoyed his confidence to a higher degree. It may be truly 
said that no man was better qualified to write a serious and 
authoritative life of Mr. Lincoln, and to enlighten the 
public in respect to the character, career and services of 
that illustrious man. 

There is no doubt that for some time prior to the 
assassination of Mr. Lincoln, Mr. Arnold had contemplated 
writing his life. Previous to that event, and while yet a 
member of Congress, he had commenced to write the 
" History of Abraham Lincoln and the Overthrow of 
Slavery," which he completed and published in 1867. He 
brought to the preparation of that work the qualities of an 
able and conscientious historian, who wrote very largely 
from personal knowledge and personal observation. It is a 
book of real interest and exceptional historic value. Impor- 
tant and valuable facts are to be obtained therein which are 
not to be found elsewhere. 

This work was never entirely satisfactory to Mr. Arnold, 
so far as it related to Mr. Lincoln, and hence some two 
years since he determined to write in a stricter sense the 
life of Mr. Lincoln, in the light of additional material he 
had gathered, and disconnected with the history of the 
overthrow of slavery, except in so far as the subject was 
connected generally with the administration of Mr. Lincoln. 

Stimulated by his admiration and friendship for Mr. 
Lincoln, Mr. Arnold entered on his work con amore, and 
devoted to it his most earnest thoughts and great labor. He 
undertook his self-imposed task with the idea and purpose 
that it would be the finishing work of his life. His great 
object was to write a life worthy of the man. He has taken 


the utmost pains to procure reliable material, to verify all 
statements of fact, and to bring out the incidents of Mr. 
Lincoln's life, with candor, fairness, and accuracy. 

Mr. Arnold has shown in his life of Mr. Lincoln that he 
has a full and just appreciation of the true province of 
history. He was guided by that spirit which governed the 
greatest historian of modern times, M. Adolph Thiers. M. 
Xavier Marmier, in his admirable discourse before the 
French Academy, quotes M. Thiers as saying : 

" I have for the mission of history such a respect, that 
the fear of alleging an inexact fact fills me with a sort of 
consternation. I have no repose till I have discovered the 
proof of the fact, the object of my doubt. I seek it wher- 
ever it ought to be, and I never stop till I have found it, or 
when I have acquired the certainty that it does not exist." 

In the present volume Mr. Arnold has shown himself, in 
this regard, a worthy disciple of M. Thiers. 




Early History of the Family. — Removal of the President's Grandfather 
from Virginia to Kentucky. — He is Killed by the Indians. — Auto- 
biography of the President. — His Father's Marriage. — His Mother. 
— Their Children. — Death of His Mother. — His Education. — Books 
He Read. — Father's Second Marriage. — Trip to New Orleans. 13-27 



The Lincoln Family Remove to Illinois. — Second Trip to New Orleans. 
— Life at New Salem. — Jack Armstrong and the Clary Grove Boys. 
— Black Hawk War. — Acquires the Name of " Honest Abe." — Post- 
master at Salem. — Trust Funds. — Studies Law. — A Surveyor. — 
Story of Anne Rutledge. — Elected to the Legislature. . 28-44 



Lincoln at Twenty-Five. — At Vandalia. — Re-elected in 1836. — Replies 
to Forquer. — To Dr. Early. — To Col. Taylor. — State Capital 
Removed from Vandalia to Springfield. — Anti-Slavery Protest. — 
Re-elected in 1838. — Removes to Springfield. — Re-elected in 1840. — 
Partnership with John T. Stuart. — Riding the Circuit. . 45-60 





Speech of 1837 on Perpetuation of the Government. — Reply to Douglas 
in 1839. — Temperance Address. — Partnership with Judge Logan. — 
Campaign of 1840. — Protects Baker while Speaking. — Mary Todd. — 
Lincoln's Courtship. — Challenged by Shields. — His Marriage. — 
Entertains President Van Buren. — Elected to Congress. . 61-75 



Lincoln Takes His Seat in Congress. — His Colleagues and Associates. 
— How He Impressed Them. — His First Speech. — Speech on the 
Mexican War. — Delegate to National Convention. — His Campaign 
Speech. — Introduces Bill to Abolish Slavery in District of Columbia. 
— Seeks Appointment as Commissioner of Land Office. — Declines to 
be Governor of Oregon. — At the Bar. — Defends Bill Armstrong. — 
Lincoln as an Advocate, Lawyer and Orator. . . . 76-91 



Slavery at the Adoption of the Constitution. — Efforts for its Abolition. 
— Ordinance of 1787. — Its Growth. — Its Acquisition of Territory. — 
Florida. — Louisiana. — The Missouri Compromise. — Annexation of 
Texas. — The Wilmot Proviso. — Mexican Provinces Seized. — The 
Liberty Party. — Its Growth.— The Buffalo Convention.— The Com- 
promise of 1850 92-107 



Stephen Arnold Douglas. — Repeal of the Missouri Compromise. — The 
Nebraska Bill. — Condition of Matters in Kansas. — Lincoln Comes 
Forward as the Champion of Freedom. — Speeches at Springfield and 
Peoria. — Election of Trumbull to the United States Senate. 108-123 




The Republican Party. — The Bloomington Convention. — Platform. — 
William H. Bissell. — Republican Convention at Pittsburgh. — At 
Philadelphia. — Nomination of Fremont and Dayton. — Douglas 
Opposes the Lecompton Constitution. — Dred Scott Decision. — 
Lincoln Nominated for the Senate. — Speech at Springfield, June, 
1858 124-138 



Douglas's Return to Illinois. — Speeches of Lincoln and Douglas at 
Chicago, Bloomington and Springfield. — Lincoln and Douglas Com- 
pared. — The Joint Discussions at Charleston. — At Freeport. — At 
Alton 139-152 



Douglas Re-elected to the Senate. — Lincoln Assessed for Expenses of 
the Canvass.— Visit to Kansas. — Called to Ohio. — Speaks at Colum- 
bus and Cincinnati. — In the New England States. — He Shrinks 
from the Candidacy. — The Cooper Institute Speech. — Is Nomi- 
nated for President. — The Campaign. — Douglas's Canvass. — Lin- 
coln's Election 153-171 



Buchanan's Weakness. — Traitors in his Cabinet. — Efforts to Compro- 
mise. — Seven States Secede and Organize Provisional Government. — 
The Counting of the Electoral Vote. — Lincoln Starts for Washing- 
ton. — His Journey. — The Assassination Plot. — His Arrival at the 
Capital. 172-187 




Lincoln's Inauguration. — His Cabinet. — Douglas's Prophecy. — South 
Carolina, the Prodigal Son. — Douglas's Rallying Cry for the Union. 
— His Death. — Difficulties of the President. — Rebels Begin the 
War. — Uprising of the People. — Death of Ellsworth. — Great Britain 
and France Recognize the Confederates as Belligerents. — Negroes 
Declared " Contraband." 188-219 



Prominent Members of 37th Congress. — President's Message. — Vacant 
Chairs of Prominent Rebels. — Baker's Reply to Breckenridge. — 
Andrew Johnson. — Owen Lovejoy. — Law to Free the Slaves of 
Rebels. — Bull Run. — Fremont's Order Freeing Slaves Modified by 
the President. — Capture and Release of Mason and Slidell. 220-236 



President's Message. — Condition of the Country. — Death of Baker. — 
Stanton, Secretary of War. — Abolition of Slavery in the District of 
Columbia. — Prohibition in the Territories. — Employment of Negroes 
as Soldiers. — Emancipation in the Border States. . 237-252 



Lincoln and Emancipation. — Greeley Demands It. — The People Pray 
for It. — McClellan's Warning. — Crittenden's Appeal. — Lovejoy's 
Response. — The Proclamation Issued. — Its Reception. — Question of 
Its Validity. 253-271 


Battles in the West. — Belmont to Corinth. — Successes in the South. — 
New Orleans Captured. — The Monitor. — McClellan and the Presi- 
dent. — Pope's Campaign. —McClellan Re-instated. . 272-294 




Harper's Ferry Captured. — Antietam. — McClellan's Delay. — Relieved 
of Command. — Burnside Appointed. — Fredericksburg. — Burnside 
Resigns. — Hooker Succeeds Him. — Lincoln's Letter to Hooker. — 
Chancellorsville 295-305 



The Conscription.— West Virginia Admitted. — The War Powers. — 
Suspension of Habeas Corpus. — Case of Vallandigham. — Grant's 
Capture of Vicksburg. — Gettysburg. — Lincoln's Speech. 306-330 



Effects of the Battle. — Lee Crosses the Potomac. — Chickamauga. — 
Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge. — The Draft Riot in New 
York.— Meeting at Springfield. — The President's Letter to his old 
Friends . . . 331-34* 



Debate in the Senate. — Speeches of Trumbull, Wilson, Johnson, 
Howard and Others. — A New Year's Call on the President. — Debate 
in the House. — Test Vote. — Speeches of Wilson, Arnold, Randall, 
Pendleton and Others. — The Amendment Fails. . . 342-356 



The President's Message. — His Personal Appeal to Rollins and Border 
States Members. — Speeches by Voorhees, Kasson, Woodbridge and 
Garfield. — Thaddeus Stevens Closes the Debate. — The Resolution 
Passes. — Lincoln's Speech on Its Passage. — Ratification by the 
States. — Seward Certifies Its Adoption. . . . 357-368 

a 2 . CONTENTS. 



General Grant Comes to the Potomac. — Sherman Goes Through Dixie 
to the Ocean. — Fort McAllister Taken. — Savannah Falls. — The 
Alabama is Sunk. — Farragut Captures Mobile. . . 369-383 



Lincoln Renominated and Re-elected. — His Administration. — Peace 
Conference. — Greeley and the Rebel Emissaries. — Blair's Visit 
to Richmond. — Hampton Roads Conference. — Second Inaugu- 
ration 384-405 



The Sanitary and Christian Commissions. — Lincoln's Sympathy with 
Suffering. — Proposed Retaliation. — Treatment of Negro Prisoners. — 
Lincoln's Reception at Baltimore. — Plans for Reconstruction. — 
Views Upon the Negro Franchise. — His Clemency. . 406-417 



Conference of Lincoln, Grant and Sherman. — Richmond Falls. — Lee 
Surrenders. — Davis Captured. — Lincoln's Visit to Richmond. — Last 
Day of His Life. — His Assassination. — Funeral. — The World's 
Grief. — Mrs. Lincoln Distracted. — Injustice to Her. — Her 
Death. 418-440 



INDEX 455 




Early History of the Family. — Removal of the President's 
Grandfather from Virginia to Kentucky. — He is Killed by 
the Indians. — Autobiography of the President. — His Fath- 
er's Marriage. — His Mother. — Their Children. — Death of 
His Mother. — His Education. — Books He Read. — His Fath- 
er's Second Marriage. — Woodcraft. — Trip to New Orleans. 

History furnishes the record of few lives at once so 
eventful and important, and ending so tragically, as that of 
Abraham Lincoln. Poets and orators, artists and histo- 
rians, have tried to depict his character and illustrate his 
career, but the great epic of his life has yet to be written. 
We are probably too near him in point of time fully to com- 
prehend and appreciate his greatness, and the influence he 
is to exert upon his country and the world. The storms 
which marked his tempestuous career have scarcely yet fully 
subsided, and the shock of his dramatic death is still felt ; 
but as the clouds of dust and smoke which filled the air dur- 
ing his life clear away, his character will stand out in bolder 
relief and more perfect outline. I write with the hope that 
I may contribute something which shall aid in forming a just 
estimate of his character, and a true appreciation of his- 



Abraham Lincoln was born to a very humble station 
in life, and his early surroundings were rude and rough, but 
his ancestors for generations had been of that tough fiber, 
and vigorous physical organization and mental energy, so 
often found among the pioneers on the frontier of Ameri- 
can civilization. His forefathers removed from Massachu- 
setts to Pennsylvania, in the first half of the seventeenth cen- 
tury; and from Pennsylvania some members of the family 
moved to Virginia, and settled in the valley of the Shenan- 
doah, in the county of Rockingham, whence his immediate 
ancestors came to Kentucky. For several generations they 
kept on the crest of the wave of Western settlement. The 
family were English, and came from Norfolk County, Eng- 
land, in about the year 1638, when they settled in Hingham, 
Massachusetts. Mordecai Lincoln, the English emigrant 
who thus settled in Massachusetts, removed afterwards to 
Pennsylvania, and was the great-great-grandfather of the 
President. His son John, who was the great-grandfather of 
the President, moved to Virginia, and had a son Abraham, 
the grandfather of the President. He and his son Thomas 
moved, in 1782, from Rockingham County, Virginia, to 
Kentucky. 1 It was in the same year that General George 

1. The following statement, of which a fac-simile is now before me, was drawn 
up by Mr. Lincoln, at the request of J. W. Fell, of Bloomington, Illinois : 

I was born Feb. 12, 1809, in Hardin County, Kentucky. My parents were both 
born in Virginia, of undistinguished families — second families, perhaps I should say. 
My mother, who died in my tenth year, was of a family of the name of Hanks, some 
of whom now reside in Adams, and others in Macon Counties, Illinois. My paternal 
grandfather, Abraham Lincoln, emigrated from Rockingham County, Virginia, to 
Kentucky, about 1781 or '2, where, a year or two later, he was killed by Indians, 
not in battle, but by stealth, when he was laboring to open a farm in the forest. His 
ancestors, who were Quakers, went to Virginia from Berks County, Pennsylvania. 
An effort to identify them with the New England family of the same name, ended in 
nothing more definite than a similarity of Christian names in both families, such as 
Enoch, Levi, Mordecai, Solomon, Abraham, and the like. 

My father, at the death of his father, was but six years of age, and he grew up 
literally without education. He removed from Kentucky to what is now Spencer 
County, Indiana, in my eighth year. We reached our new home about the time the 
state came into the Union. It was a wild region, with many bears and other wild 
animals still in the woods. There I grew up. There were some called,but no 
qualification was ever required of a teacher beyond "reading writin\ and ciphering" 
to the Rule of Three. If a straggler supposed to understand Latin happened to sojourn 


Rogers Clark captured Kaskaskia, and on the 12th of Sep- 
tember, 1782, Patrick Henry, Governor of Virginia, ap- 
pointed John Todd commandant of the county of Illinois, 
then a part of Virginia. These ancestors of the President 
were rough, hardy, fearless men, and familiar with wood- 
craft ; men who could endure the extremes of fatigue and 
exposure, who knew how to find food and shelter in the for- 
est ; brave, self-reliant, true and faithful to their friends, and 
dangerous to their enemies. 

The grandfather of the President and his son Thomas 
emigrated to Kentucky in 1781 or 1782, and settled in Mer- 
cer county. This grandfather is named in the surveys of 
Daniel Boone as having purchased of the United States 
five hundred acres of land. 1 

A year or two after this settlement in Kentucky, Abra- 
ham Lincoln, having erected a log cabin near " Bear Grass 

in the neighborhood, he was looked upon as a wizard. There was absolutely nothing 
to excite ambition for education. Of course, when I came of age I did not know 
much. Still somehow, I could read, write, and cipher to the Rule of Three, but that 
was all. I have not been to school since. The little advance I now have upon this 
store of education, I have picked up from time to time under the pressure of neces- 

I was raised to farm work, which I continued till I was twenty-two. At twenty- 
one I came to Illinois, and passed the first year in Macon County. Then I got to New 
Salem, at that time in Sangamon, now in Menard County, where I remained a year as 
a sort of clerk in a store. Then came the Black Hawk war, and I was elected a Cap- 
tain of Volunteers— a success which gave me more pleasure than any I have had since. 
I went [through] the campaign, was elated, ran for the Legislature the same year 
(1832), and was beaten— the only time I have ever been beaten by the people. The 
next, and three succeeding biennial elections, I was elected to the Legislature. I was 
not a candidate afterwards. During this legislative period I had studied law, and 
removed to Springfield to practice it. In 1846 I was once elected to the Lower House 
of Congress. Was not a candidate for re-election. From 1849 to 1854, both inclusive, 
practiced law more assiduously than ever before. Always a Whig in politics, and gen- 
erally on the Whig electoral tickets, making active canvasses. I was losing interest 
in politics, when the repeal of the Missouri Compromise aroused me again. What I 
have done since then is pretty well known. 

If any personal description of me is thought desirable, it may be said, I am in 
height, six feet, four inches, nearly ; lean in flesh, weighing, on an average, one hun- 
dred and eighty pounds : dark complexion, with coarse black hair, and gray eyes. No 
other marks or brands recollected. Yours very truly, 

A. Lincoln . 

1. " Abraham Lincoln enters 500 acres of land on a Treasury warrant on the 
south side of Licking Creek or River, in Kentucky." See the original Field Book of 
Daniel Boone, in possession of the Wisconsin Historical Society. 


Fort," the site of the present city of Louisville, began tt> 
open up his farm. Shortly after this, he was one day, while 
at work in the field, waylaid, shot, and instantly killed, by a 
party of Indians. Thomas Lincoln, born in 1778, and the 
father of the President, was in the field with his father when 
he fell. Mordecai and Josiah, his elder brothers, were near 
by in the forest. Mordecai, startled by the shot, saw his 
father fall, and, running to the cabin, seized the loaded rifle, 
rushed to one of the loop-holes cut through the logs of the 
cabin, and saw the Indian who had fired; he had just caught 
the boy, Thomas, and was running towards the forest. Point- 
ing the rifle through the logs, and aiming at a silver medal 
on the breast of the Indian, Mordecai fired. The Indian 
fell, and the boy, springing to his feet, ran to the open arms 
of his mother, at the cabin door. Meanwhile, Josiah, who 
had run to the fort for aid, returned with a party of settlers, 
who brought in the body of Abraham Lincoln, and the 
Indian who had been shot. From this time throughout his. 
life, Mordecai was the mortal enemy of the Indians, and, it 
is said, sacrificed many in revenge for the murder of his 

It was in the midst of such scenes that the ancestors of 
the President were nurtured. They were contemporaries 
of Daniel Boone, of Simon Kenton, and other border heroes 
and Indian fighters on the frontiers,, and were often engaged 
in those desperate conflicts between the Indians and the set- 
tlers, which gave to Kentucky the suggestive name of " the 
dark and bloody ground." l 

These Kentucky hunters, of which the grandfather and 
the father of the President are types, were a very remarkable 
class of men. They were brave, sagacious, and self-reliant, 
ready in the hour of danger, frank, generous and hospitable. 
Tough and hardy, with his trusty rifle always in his hands or 

1. It is a curious fact that the grandfather of the President should have been a 
comrade of Daniel Boone in Kentucky, and that the President and a grandson of 
Boone should have been fellow soldiers in the Black Hawk war; both volunteers from 
Illinois. See Major Robert Anderson's manuscript sketch of the Black Hawk war 
(quoted hereafter), in possession of the Chicago Historical Society. 


by his side, his long, keen knife always in his belt, and his 
faithful hunting-dog his constant companion, of greater 
endurance and of far superior intellect, the Kentucky hunter 
could outrun his Indian enemy, or whip him in a man to man 
fight. This man, who has driven away or killed the Indian, 
who has cleared the forests, broken up and reclaimed the 
wilderness, and whose type still survives in the pioneer, is one 
of the most picturesque figures in American history. From 
this sort of ancestry have sprung Andrew Jackson and David 
Crockett, Benton and Clay, Grant and Lincoln. 

Thomas Lincoln was married on the 2d of September,, 
1806, to Nancy Hanks, she being twenty -three and he 
twenty-eight years of age. They were married by the Rev. 
Jesse Head, a Methodist clergyman, near Springfield, Ken- 
tucky. She has been described as a brunette, with dark hair,, 
regular features, and soft, sparkling hazel eyes. Her ances- 
tors were of English descent, and they, like the Lincolns, 
had emigrated from Virginia to Kentucky. Thomas and 
his wife settled on Rock Creek farm, in Hardin County; and 
here, on the 12th of February, 1809, Abraham Lincoln was 
born. He was the second child, having an older sister, 
named Sarah. He had, besides, a younger brother, named 
Thomas, who died in infancy. 

The ancestors of President Lincoln for several genera- 
tions were farmers, and, as has already been stated, his grand- 
father purchased from the United States five hundred acres 
of land. His father, Thomas, on the 18th of October, 1817, 
entered a quarter-section of government land; and President 
Lincoln left, as a part of his estate, a quarter-section which 
he had received by patent from the United States for ser- 
vices rendered as a volunteer in the Black Hawk war. So 
that this humble pioneer family for three generations owned 
land, by direct grant from the government, and in that sense 
may be said to have belonged to "the landed gentry." 

It is curious to note in this race of Lincolns many of the 
same strong and hardy traits of character which have marked 
the founders of influential historic families in older nations, 


and especially among the English. Had Abraham Lincoln 
been born in England or in Normandy, or on the Rhine, some 
centuries ago, he might have been the founder of a baronial 
family, perhaps of a royal dynasty. He could have wielded 
with ease the battle-axe of " Richard of the Lion Heart," or 
the two-handed sword of Guy, the first Earl of Warwick, 
some of whose characteristics were his also. Indeed, the 
difference between such men as Boone, and Kenton, and 
Abraham Lincoln, the grandfather of the President, on the 
one hand, and the early Warwicks, the Douglases and the 
Percys on the other, is that the Kentucky heroes were far 
better men and of a more advanced civilization. 

In 1816, the year in which Indiana was admitted into 
the Union, the family of Lincoln removed from Kentucky 
to Spencer County, in the former state. It was a long, hard, 
weary journey. Many streams were to be forded, and a part 
of the way was through the primeval forest, where they were 
often compelled to cut their path with the axe. At the time 
of this removal the lad Abraham was in his eighth year, but 
tall, large and strong of his age. The first things he had 
learned to use were the axe and the rifle, and with these he 
was already able to render important assistance to his parents 
on the journey, and in building up their new home. The 
family settled near Gentryville, and built their log-cabin on 
the top of an eminence which sloped gently away on every 
side. The landscape was beautiful, the soil rich, and in a 
short time some land was cleared and a crop of corn and 
vegetables raised. The struggle for life and its few com- 
forts was in this wilderness a very hard one, and none but 
those of the most vigorous constitution could succeed. The 
trials, privations, and hardships incident to clearing, break- 
ing up, and subduing the soil and establishing a home, so far 
away from all the necessaries of life, taxed the strength and 
endurance of all to the utmost. Bears, deer and other sorts 
of wild game were abundant, and contributed largely to the 
support of the family. 


Mrs. Lincoln, the mother of the President, is said to have 
been in her youth a woman of beauty. She was by nature 
refined, and of far more than ordinary intellect. Her friends 
spoke of her as being a person of marked and decided char- 
acter. She was unusually intelligent, reading all the books 
she could obtain. She taught her husband, as well as her 
son Abraham, to read and write. 1 She was a woman of deep 
religious feeling, of the most exemplary character, and most 
tenderly and affectionately devoted to her family. Her 
home indicated a degree of taste and a love of beauty excep- 
tional in the wild settlement in which she lived, and, judg- 
ing from her early death, it is probable that she was of a 
physique less hardy than that of most of those by whom she 
was surrounded. But in spite of this she had been reared 
where the very means of existence were to be obtained but 
by a constant struggle, and she had learned to use the rifle 
and the tools of the backwoods farmer, as well as the distaff, 
the cards, and the spinning wheel. She could not only kill 
the wild game of the woods, but she could also dress it, 
make of the skins clothes for her family and prepare the flesh 
for food. Hers was a strong, self-reliant spirit, which com- 
manded the respect as well as the love of the rugged peo- 
ple among whom she lived. She died on the 5th of Octo- 
ber, 1 81 8, aged thirty-five years. Two children, Abraham, 
and his sister, Sarah, alone survived her. 

The country burying-ground where she was laid, half a 
mile from their log cabin home, had been selected perhaps 
by herself, and was situated on the top of a forest-covered 
hill. There, beneath the dark shade of the woods, and 
under a majestic sycamore, they dug the grave of the 
mother of Abraham Lincoln. The funeral ceremonies were 
very plain and simple, but solemn withal, for nowhere does 
death seem so deeply impressive as in such a solitude. At 
the time no clergyman could be found in or near the settle- 
ment to perform the usual religious rites. But this devoted 
mother had carefully instructed Abraham to read the Bible, 

1. John Hanks. 


and to write; and perhaps the first practical use the boy- 
made of the acquisition was to write a letter to David Elkin, 
a traveling preacher whom the family had known in Ken- 
tucky, begging him to come and perform religious services 
over his mother's grave. The preacher came, but not until 
some months afterwards, traveling many miles on horseback 
through the wild forest to reach their residence; and then 
the family, with a few friends and neighbors, gathered in the 
open air under the great sycamore beneath which they had 
laid the mother's remains. A funeral sermon was preached, 
hymns were sung, and such rude but sincere and impressive 
services were held as are usual among the pioneers of the 

His mother's death and these sad and solemn rites made 
an impression on the mind of the son as lasting as life. She 
had found time amidst her weary toil and the hard struggle 
of her busy life, not only to teach him to read and to write,, 
but to impress ineffaceably upon him that love of truth and 
justice, that perfect integrity and reverence for God, for 
which he was noted all his life. These virtues were ever 
associated in his mind with the most tender love and respect 
for his mother. " All that I am, or hope to be," he said, 
" I owe to my angel mother." 

The common free schools which now so closely follow 
the heels of the pioneer and settler in the western portions 
of the republic had not then reached Indiana. An itinerant 
teacher sometimes " straggled " into a settlement, and if he 
could teach "readin', writin', and cipherin'" to the rule of 
three, he was deemed qualified to set up a school. With 
teachers thus qualified, Lincoln attended school at different 
times; in all about twelve months. Among anecdotes re- 
lating to this period, there is one that peculiarly illustrates, 
his kindness and his readiness of invention. A poor, diffi- 
dent girl, who spelled definite with a y, was threatened and 
frightened by the rude teacher. Lincoln, with a significant 
look, putting one of his long fingers to his eye, enabled 
her to change the letter in time to escape punishment. He 


early manifested the most eager desire to learn. He 
acquired knowledge with great facility. What he learned he 
learned thoroughly, and everything he had once acquired 
was always at his command. 

There were no libraries, and but few books, in the " back 
settlements " in which he lived. Among the few volumes 
which he found in the cabins of the illiterate families by 
which he was surrounded were the Bible, Bunyan's " Pil- 
grim's Progress," Weems' " Life of Washington," and the 
poems of Robert Burns. These he read over and over 
again, until they became as familiar as the alphabet. The 
Bible has been at all times the one book in every home 
and cabin in the republic; yet it was truly said of Lincoln 
that no man, clergyman or otherwise, could be found so 
familiar with this book as he. This is apparent, both in his 
conversation and his writings. There is hardly a speech or 
state paper of his in which allusions and illustrations taken 
from the Bible do not appear. Burns he could quote from 
end to end. Long afterwards he wrote a most able lecture 
upon this, perhaps next to Shakespeare, his favorite poet. 

His father afterwards married Mrs. Sally Johnson, of 
Kentucky, a widow with three children. She was a noble 
woman, sensible, affectionate, and tenderly attached to her 
step-son. She says of him: " He read diligently. * * * 
He read everything he could lay his hands on, and when he 
came across a passage that struck him, he would write it 
down on boards, if he had no paper, and keep it until he had 
got paper. Then he would copy it, look at it, commit it to 
memory, and repeat it." He kept a scrap-book, into which 
he copied everything which particularly pleased him. His 
step-mother adds: " He never gave me a cross word or 
look, and never refused, in fact or appearance, to do any- 
thing I requested of him." He loved to study more than to 
hunt, although his skill with the rifle was well known, for 
while yet a boy he had brought down with his father's rifle, 
a wild turkey at which he had shot through an opening 
between the logs of the cabin. 


The family consisted now of his father and step-mother,, 
his sister Sarah, sometimes called Nancy, the three chil- 
dren of his step-mother, and himself. The names of Mrs. 
Johnson's children were John, Sarah, and Alexander. They 
all went to school together, sometimes walking four or five 
miles, and taking with them for their dinner, cakes made of 
the coarse meal of the Indian corn (maize), and known as 
"corn dodgers." The settlers used the phrase "corn 
dodgers and common doings," to indicate ordinary fare, as- 
distinguished from the luxury of " white bread and chicken 
fixings." In these years he wore a cap made from the skin 
of the coon or squirrel, buckskin breeches, a hunting shirt 
of deerskin, or a linsey-woolsey shirt, and very coarse cow- 
hide shoes. His food was the "corn dodger " and the game 
of the forests and prairies. The tools he most constantly 
used were the axe, the maul, the hoe and the plough. His 
life was one of constant and hard manual labor. 

The settlers on the frontier, both in Indiana and Illinois, 
whose homes dotted the edges of the timber, or were pitched 
along the banks of streams, were so far apart at that time 
that they could rarely see the smoke from each other's 
cabins. The mother with her own hands carded and spun 
the rolls of flax and wool on her own spinning-wheel. She 
and her daughters wove the cloth, dyed it, and made up the 
garments her children wore. The utensils of the farm and 
the furniture of the cabin were rude, primitive, and often 
home-made. Pewter plates and wooden trenchers were used. 
The tea and coffee cups were made of japanned tin; these, 
and the shells of the gourd, were the usual drinking-vessels. 
In those days Lincoln ate his 

"Milk and bread 
With pewter spoon and bowl of wood, 
On the door-stone, gray and rude." 

The wild thorn and the acacia furnished a good substitute 
far pins. The axe, the rifle, the maul, and the plough were 
the farmer's tools and means of livelihood. Every child, 


boy or girl, was early trained to habits of industry. The 
people were kind and neighborly, always ready to help one 
another, and were frugal, industrious, and moral. There 
was a quick sense of justice among them. No gross wrong, 
fraud, or injustice, but was promptly punished, and, if too 
often repeated, the offender was expelled from the com- 

Young Abraham borrowed of the neighbors and read 
every book he could hear of in the settlement within a wide 
circuit. If by chance he heard of a book that he had not 
read, he would walk many miles to borrow it. Among other 
volumes, he borrowed of one Crawford, Weems' " Life of 
Washington." Reading it with the greatest eagerness, he 
took it to bed with him in the loft of the cabin, and read on 
until his nubbin of tallow candle had burned out. Then he 
placed the book between the logs of the cabin, that it might 
be at hand as soon as there was light enough in the morn- 
ing to enable him to read. But during the night a violent 
rain came on, and he awoke to find his book wet through 
and through. Drying it as well as he could, he went to 
Crawford and told him of the mishap, and, as he had no 
money to pay for it, offered to work out the value of the 
injured volume. Crawford fixed the price at three days' 
work, and the future President pulled corn three days, and 
thus became the owner of the fascinating book. He thought 
the labor well invested. He read, over and over again, this 
graphic and enthusiastic sketch of Washington's career, and 
no boy ever turned over the pages of Cooper's " Leather 
Stocking Tales " with more intense delight than that with 
which Lincoln read of the exploits and adventures and vir- 
tues of this American hero. Following his plough in break- 
ing the prairie, he pondered over the story of Washington 
and longed to imitate him. Perhaps there is no biography 
in the language better calculated to exert a lasting influence 
on an ingenuous and ambitious boy, situated as he then was, 
than this of Weems'. Its enthusiasm was contagious, and 


Lincoln began to dream of being himself a doer of great 
deeds. Why might not he also be a soldier and a patriot ? 
Bred in solitude, brooding and thoughtful, he began very- 
early to study the means of success, and to prepare himself 
for a life which, as we shall see by and by, he early had a 
presentiment was to be an eventful one. 

He now set himself resolutely to learn, to educate him- 
self. It has been a matter of surprise that, with such meagre 
opportunities, he became a man of such general intelligence 
and culture. But when it is remembered that, united with an 
intense desire to learn, he had great facility in acquisition; 
that he early formed the important habit of learning thor- 
oughly and going to the bottom of everything he studied; 
and that his memory was both ready and tenacious enough 
to enable him to retain forever what he had once learned; 
it will not seem so surprising. His habits of study, of con- 
stant investigation and acquisition, he retained up to the day 
of his death. He studied Euclid, Algebra, and Latin, when 
traveling the circuit as a lawyer. He began early to exercise 
himself in writing prose and in making speeches. One of 
the companions of his boyhood says: " He was always read- 
ing, writing, cyphering, writing poetry." "He would go to 
the store of an afternoon and evening, and his jokes and 
stories were so odd, so witty, so humorous, that all the peo- 
ple of the town would gather around him." l * * * * 
"He would sometimes keep his crowd until midnight." 2 
" He was a great reader, and a good talker." 

In after life, when pronouncing a eulogy on Henry Clay, 
whose opportunities for education at schools were little bet- 
ter than his own, Lincoln said: "His example teaches us 
that one can scarcely be so poor, but that, if he will, he can 
acquire sufficient education to get through the world 
respectably." 3 A truth of which he himself furnished a still 
more striking illustration. 

1. Dennis Hanks. 

2. "I would get tired, want to go home, curse him for staying." — Dennis Hanks. 

3. See Lincoln's Eulogy on Henry Clay, in July, 1852. 


In practicing his speeches on political and other subjects, 
he made them so amusing and attractive that his father had 
to forbid his speaking during working hours, " for," said he, 
"when Abe begins to speak, all the hands flock to hear 

He attended court at Boonville, the county seat of War- 
wick County, to witness a trial for murder, at which one of 
the Breckenridges, from Kentucky, made a very eloquent 
speech for the defence. The boy was carried away with 
intense admiration, and was so enthusiastic, that, although a 
perfect stranger, he could not refrain from expressing his 
admiration to Breckenridge. He wished he could be a law- 
yer, and went home and dreamed of courts, and got up 
mock trials, at which he would defend imaginary prisoners. 
Several of his companions at this period of his life, as well 
as those who knew him after he went to Illinois, declare that 
he was often heard to say, not in joke, but seriously, as if he 
were deeply impressed, rather than elated with the idea: " I 
shall some day be President of the United States." 1 

In March, 1826, Lincoln was seventeen years old. At 
that time, from specimens of his writing in the possession of 
the author, he wrote a clear, neat, legible hand, which is 
instantly and easily recognized as his by those familiar 
with Lincoln's handwriting when President. He was 
quick at figures, and could readily and accurately solve any 
and all problems of arithmetic up to, and including, the 
" rule of three." 2 He studied, at about this time, the theory 
of surveying. Afterwards, and after his removal to Illinois, 

1. I have myself heard from many of Lincoln's old friends, that he often said, 
■while still an obscure man : " Some day I shall be President ." He undoubtedly had, 
for years, some presentiment of this. 

2. I have in my possession, a few pages from his manuscript "Book of Exam- 
ples in Arithmetic." One of these is dated March 1, 1826, and headed "Discount," 
and then follows in his careful handwriting, first; k 'A definition of Discount," second; 
*' Rules for its computation," third; " Proofs and Various Examples," worked out in 
figures etc.; then " Interest on money" is treated in the same way, all in his own 
handwriting. I doubt whether it would be easy to find among scholars of our common 
or high schools, or any school of boys of the age of seventeen, a better written speci- 
men of this sort of work, or a better knowledge of figures than is indicated by this 
book of Lincoln's, written at the age of seventeen. 


as we shall see, he became like Washington, a good practical 
surveyor. 1 

In the spring of 1828, young Lincoln, in the employ of 
the proprietor of Gentryville, and in company with Allen, 
a son of Mr. Gentry, made a trip to New Orleans. They 
made the descent of the Mississippi in a flat-boat loaded 
with bacon and other farm produce. This was his first 
opportunity of seeing the world outside of the little settle- 
ment in which he lived. Having disposed very successfully 
of their cargo and boat, the young adventurers returned 
home by steamboat. 

Living thus on the extreme frontier, mingling with the 
rude, hard-working, simple, honest backwoodsmen, while he 
soon became superior in knowledge to all around him, he 
was at the same time an expert in the use of every imple- 
ment of agriculture and woodcraft. As an axe-man he was 
unequalled. He grew up strong in body, healthful in mind, 
with no bad habits, no stain of intemperance, profanity or 
vice. He used neither tobacco nor intoxicating drinks, and 
thus living, he grew to be six feet and four inches high, and 
a giant in strength. In all athletic sports he had no equal. 
His comrades say " he could strike the hardest blow with 
axe or maul, jump higher and further, run faster than any 
of his fellows, and there was no one, far or near, could lay 
him on his back." 2 

Among these rough people he was always popular. He 
early developed that wonderful power of narration and story- 
telling, for which he was all his life distinguished. This, and 
his kindness and good-nature, made him a welcome guest at 
every fireside and in every cabin. A well authenticated inci- 
dent illustrating his kindness occurred while he lived near 

1. I have also In my possession, the book from which he learned the art of sur- 
veying. It is entitled, "The Theory and Practice of Surveying, by Robert Gibson." 
It was published by Evert Duyckinck, New York, in 1814, as appears from the title 
page. Lincoln's name, In his own handwriting, appears in several places and on blank 
leaves of the book. 

2. "He could strike with an axe," says old Mr. Wood, "a heavier blow than any 
man." * * "He could sink an axe deeper than any of his fellows." 


Gentryville. Going home with a companion, late on a cold 
night, they found an acquaintance dead drunk in the road. 
Although his companion refused assistance, young Lincoln 
would not leave the drunken man, but, lifting him in his 
long, stalwart arms to his shoulders, he carried him a con- 
siderable distance to the cabin of Dennis Hanks, and there 
warmed him and brought him to consciousness. The poor 
fellow often afterwards declared : " Abe Lincoln's strength 
and kindness saved my life." 



The Lincoln Family Remove to Illinois. — Abraham's Second 
Trip to New Orleans. — Life at New Salem. — Jack Arm- 
strong and the Clary Grove Boys. — Black Hawk War. — 
Lincoln Acquires the Name of " Honest Abe." — Postmaster 
at Salem. — Trust Funds. — Studies Law. — A Surveyor. — 
Story of Anne Rutledge. — Elected to the Legislature. 

In the spring of 1830, the Lincoln family removed from 
Indiana to Illinois, and settled near Decatur, in Macon 
County. The family and their personal effects were trans- 
ported by an ox-team, consisting of four yoke of oxen, 
which were driven by the future President. 

Young Lincoln helped to build a cabin for his father, and 
to break up, fence, and plant a portion of the farm — splitting 
the rails for the enclosure himself. He was now in his 
twenty-second year, and living in the land of the Illinii, 
which signifies the land of full grown men ; as an example 
of such in size, strength, and capacity, one might search the 
country through and not find his equal. Up to this time all 
his earnings, with the exception of his own very frugal sup- 
port, had gone to the maintenance of his father and family. 
Ambitious to make his way in the world, he now asked per- 
mission to strike out for himself, and to seek his own 

His father, after several changes, finally settled near 
"Goosenest Prairie," in Coles County. There he made his 
home, until his death, in 185 1, at the age of seventy-three. 
He lived to see his son one of the most prominent lawyers, 



and one of the most distinguished men of the state. During 
his life this son was continually performing for him acts of 
kindness and generosity. He shared in the prosperity, and 
his pride was gratified in the rising fortunes of his son, who 
often sent money and other presents to his father and mother,, 
bought land for them, and always treated them with the kind- 
est consideration. 

When, in 1830, Lincoln became a citizen of Illinois, this 
great commonwealth, now the third or fourth state in the 
Union, and treading fast upon the heels of Ohio and Penn- 
sylvania, was on the frontier, with a population a little exceed- 
ing one hundred and fifty thousand. In i860, when Lincoln 
was elected President, it had nearly two millions, and was- 
rapidly becoming the center of the republic. 

Perhaps he was fortunate in selecting Illinois as his. 
home. Touching on the northeast the vast chain of lakes 
through which passes to the Hudson and to the St. Lawrence 
the commerce of the valley of the Mississippi, and having- 
that river along its entire western boundary, more than five 
hundred miles in length ; on the south the Ohio, reaching- 
eastward to the mountains of Pennsylvania and Virginia ; 
while from the west comes to its shores the Missouri, bring- 
ing for three thousand miles the waters of the springs of the 
Rocky Mountains ; this was the Illinois in which he settled ; 
then a wilderness, but destined to become in the near future 
the keystone of the Federal arch. Being thus situated, the 
National Union was to this state an obvious necessity, and 
Lincoln, as we shall see, early and always recognized this 
fact. He realized that his own state, with its vast products, 
must seek the markets of the world by the Mississippi and 
the Gulf of Mexico, as well as by the Great Lakes and the 
Hudson, but never through foreign territory. He early 
declared that no foreign flag or custom house must ever inter- 
vene between Illinois and salt water. To these lakes and 
rivers encircling her with their mighty arms, is Illinois 
indebted for her prosperity. Her rich soil, her emerald prai- 
ries, her streams fringed with stately forests, have made her 



the emigrant's paradise. And this land so attractive and 
beautiful, lacked not the charm of early historic association. 
Before Penn had pitched his tent on the banks of the Dela- 
ware, LaSalle had found his way around the chain of lakes 
to Chicago, and erected Fort St. Louis on the banks of the 
Illinois. The settlement of Kaskaskia and Cahokia was 
contemporaneous with the founding of Philadelphia. 

Young Lincoln, although a thoughtful, dreamy youth, 
would, when brooding over the future, have been almost as 
unlikely to anticipate the marvelous growth of the state, as 
to foresee his own still more wonderful elevation. When 
the sturdy blows of his axe resounded through the primeval 
forests, or while he lay on the grass at his nooning, with his 
ear to the earth, one would like to know whether he heard 

" The sound of that advancing multitude, 
"Which soon should fill these deserts ; from the ground 
Come up the laugh of children, the soft voice 
Of maidens, and the sweet and solemn hymn 
Of Sabbath worshippers." 

Did he hear this ? If so, he was soon awakened to the 
stern necessities of the hour. Day dreams would bring 
neither food nor clothing. 

Leaving his father's cabin and seeking abroad for employ- 
ment, he was engaged by one Denton Offutt to aid in taking 
a flat-boat loaded with provisions to New Orleans. In April, 
1 83 1, the boat reached New Salem, on the Sangamon, and 
lodged on the dam which had been erected across the stream. 
When the owner had given up all hope of being able to get 
the craft over the dam, Lincoln, by the exercise of that inge- 
nuity of invention for which he was ever distinguished, de- 
vised a means for the extrication of the boat, and it passed 
on safely to the Illinois and down the Mississippi to New 

On this his second visit, he for the first time observed slavery 
in its most brutal and revolting form. New Orleans was a 
slave mart, and his companion 1 reports that Lincoln then 

1. John Hanks. 


witnessed for the first time the spectacle of the chaining 
together and whipping of slaves. He saw families sold, the 
separation forever of husband and wife, of parent and child. 
When we recall how deeply he always sympathized with 
suffering, brute as well as human, and his strong love of 
justice, we can realize how deeply he was affected by these 
things. His companions on this trip to New Orleans have 
attempted to describe his indignation and grief. They said, 
" his heart bled," * * * "he was mad, thoughtful, 
abstracted, sad and depressed." 

Lincoln often declared to his intimate friends that he 
was from boyhood superstitious. He said that the near 
approach of the important events in his life were indicated 
by a presentiment or a strange dream, or in some other 
mysterious way it was impressed upon him that something 
important was to occur. There is a tradition that on this 
visit to New Orleans he and his companion, John Hanks, 
visited an old fortune teller, a Voudou negress. Tradition 
says that during the interview she became very much 
excited, and after various predictions exclaimed: " You will 
be President, and all the negroes will be free." That the 
old Voudou negress should have foretold that the visitor 
would be President is not at all incredible. She doubtless 
told this to many aspiring lads, but the prophecy of the free- 
dom of the slaves requires confirmation. 1 

On his return from New Orleans, in July, 1831, he was 
employed by Off utt to take charge of a country store at New 

1. The author wrote to William H. Herndon, the partner of the President, inquir. 
ing if he had heard of the tradition referred to in the text. In the reply, dated Octo- 
ber 21, 1882, Herndon said: " It seems to me just now that I once heard of the fortune- 
telling story, hut can not state when I heard it, nor from whom I got it. It seems 
that John Hanks, who was with Lincoln at New Orleans in 1831, told me the story. 
At that time and place Lincoln was made an anti-slavery man. He saw a slave, a 
beautiful mulatto girl, sold at auction. She was felt over, pinched, trotted around to 
show to bidders that said article was sound, etc. Lincoln walked away from the sad, 
inhuman scene with a deep feeling of unsmotherable hate. He said to John Hanks 
this: 'By God! if I ever get a chance to hit that institution, I'll hit it hard, John.' 
He got his chance, and did hit it hard. John Hanks, who was two or three times 
examined by me, told me the above facts about the negro girl and Lincoln's declara- 
tion. There is no doubt about this. As to the fortune-telling story, I do not affirm 
anything or deny anything." 


Salem, a small village near the Sangamon River. In Aug- 
ust of the same year, he acted as clerk of the election. He 
remained as a salesman with Offutt until the spring of 1832. 
He was a great favorite, both with his employer and his cus- 
tomers. Anecdotes of his scrupulous honesty and his 
bravery in protecting women from annoyance by bullies, are 
so numerous that we have not space to relate them. Offutt 
often declared that his clerk, or salesman, knew more than 
any man in the United States, and that he could outrun, 
whip or throw any man in the county. These boasts came 
to the ears of "The Clary Grove Boys," a set of rude, roy- 
stering, good-natured fellows, who lived in and around 
" Clary's Grove," a settlement near New Salem. Their 
leader was Jack Armstrong, a great, square-built fellow, 
strong as an ox, and who was believed by his partisans to be 
able to whip any man on the Sangamon River. The issue 
was thus made between Lincoln and Armstrong as to which 
was the better man, and although Lincoln tried to avoid such 
contests, nothing but an actual trial could settle the question 
among their partisans. And so they met and wrestled for 
some time, without any decided advantage on either side. 
Finally Jack resorted to some foul play which roused Lin- 
coln's indignation. Putting forth his whole strength, he 
seized the great bully by the throat, and holding him at 
arm's length, shook him like a boy. The "Clary Grove Boys," 
who made up most of the crowd of the lookers-on, were 
ready to pitch in, on behalf of their champion, and a general 
onslaught upon Lincoln was threatened. Lincoln backed 
up against Offutt's store, and was ready, calmly awaiting the 
attack of the whole crowd. But his cool courage touched 
the manhood of Jack Armstrong. He stepped forward, 
seized Lincoln's hand and shook it heartily as he declared; 
"Boys! Abe Lincoln is the best fellow that ever broke into 
this settlement. He shall be one of us." From that time 
on, Jack Armstrong was Lincoln's man and his most willing 
thrall. His hand, his table, his purse, his vote, and that of 
the " Clary Grove Boys," belonged to Lincoln. Lincoln's 


popularity with them was unbounded, and his rule was just. 
He would have fair play, and he repressed the violence and 
brutality of these rough fellows to an extent which would 
have been impossible to another man. He could stop a 
fight and quell a riot among these rude neighbors when all 
others failed. 

What made Lincoln so popular with the " Clary Grove 
Boys " ? He did not use tobacco, nor drink, nor gamble,. 
nor fight except when he was obliged to, and yet the rough 
fellows almost worshipped him. Why ? He was brave, he 
could fight, and physically he was their superior, but he 
indulged in none of their vices, nor did he flatter them. 
Although he was their companion, he made them respect 
him. He treated them like men, and always brought out the 
best there was in them. They felt his moral and intellectual 
superiority, but they also felt that he did not despise them,, 
and that he sympathized with them. In a certain sense he 
was one of them, but he was their ideal, their hero. 

A fellow-clerk in Offutt's store, a Mr. Green, declares 
that Lincoln's talk showed that he was, even then, dreaming 
of " a great life, and a great destiny." He, at this time> 
although extremely poor, took, and read, the Louisville Jour- 
nal, edited by George D. Prentice, a man who for wit and 
repartee has, perhaps, never had his superior among the edi- 
tors of the United States. 

In the spring of 1832, (Mutt having failed, Lincoln was 
again out of employment. During the spring and summer, 
great excitement and alarm prevailed in Northern Illinois, 
on account of the Black Hawk war. There is nowhere a 
more beautiful, fertile, and picturesque valley, than the valley 
of Rock River, in Northern Illinois. It had been the hunt- 
ing-ground and home of the Sac tribe of Indians of which 
Black Hawk was the chief. The tribe for several years had 
been living on their reservation, west of the Mississippi, but 
this brave warrior and skillful leader, uniting several tribes 
under his leadership, determined to return to the old home, 
and re-occupy the old hunting-grounds. Crossing the Miss- 


issippi with his warriors, several white families were mur- 
dered, and the whole state was alarmed. John Reynolds, 
Governor of Illinois, issued his proclamation, calling for vol- 
unteers to help the Federal troops drive the Indians out of 
the state. Lincoln promptly volunteered, and his friends, 
the " Clary Grove Boys," soon made up a company. 

The volunteers gathered at Rushville, in Schuyler Coun- 
ty, — at which place they were to be organized — and elected 
officers. Lincoln was a candidate for the place of captain, 
and in opposition to him was one William Kirkpatrick. The 
mode of election was novel. By agreement, each candidate 
walked off to some distance, and took position by himself ; 
the men were then to form, and those who voted for Lin- 
coln were to stand in a line with him, and those who voted 
for Kirkpatrick to range on a line with their candidate. 
When the lines were formed, Lincoln's was three times as 
long as that of Kirkpatrick, and so Lincoln was declared 
elected. Speaking of this when President, he said that he 
was more gratified with this, his first success, than with any 
other election of his life. Neither Lincoln nor his company 
was in any engagement during the campaign, but there was 
plenty of hardship and fatigue, and some incidents occurred 
to illustrate his courage and power over men. Perhaps the 
most notable event in the campaign, so far as Captain Lin- 
coln was concerned, was his determined and successful effort 
to save the life of an Indian from the infuriated soldiers. 

One day there came into camp, a poor, old, hungry 
Indian. He had in his possession, General Cass's " safe-con- 
duct," and certificate of friendship for the whites. But this 
he did not at first show, and the soldiers, suspecting him to 
be a spy, and exasperated by the late Indian barbarities, with 
the recent horrible murder by the Indians of some women 
and children still fresh in their minds, were about to kill him. 
Many of these soldiers were Kentuckians with the hereditary 
Indian hatred, and some, like their captain, could recall the 
murder by the red men, of some ancestor, or other 
member of their own families. In a phrensy of excitement 


and blind rage, they believed, or affected to believe, that the 
" safe-conduct " of the old Indian, which was now produced, 
was a forgery, and they were approaching the old savage, 
with muskets cocked, to dispatch him, when Lincoln rushed 
forward, knocked up their weapons, and standing in front of 
the victim, in a determined voice ordered them not to fire, 
declaring that the Indian should not be killed. The mob, 
their passions fully roused, were not so easily to be 
restrained. Lincoln stood for a moment between the 
Indian and a dozen muskets, and, for a few seconds, it 
seemed doubtful whether both would not be shot down. 
After a pause, the militia reluctantly, and like bull-dogs 
leaving their prey, lowered their weapons and sullenly turned 
away. Bill Green, an old comrade, said: "I never in all my 
life saw Lincoln so roused before." 

The time for which the company had volunteered having 
expired, the men were discharged. But Black Hawk and 
his warriors being still east of the Mississippi, Governor Rey- 
nolds issued a second call for troops, and Lincoln at once 
responded by volunteering again, and this time he served as 
a private in a company of which Elijah lies, of Springfield, 
was elected captain. This company did service as a company 
of mounted rangers, and in it Lincoln served until the close 
of the war. Here he met as a fellow soldier, John T. Stuart, 
afterwards member of Congress, and others, who became 
prominent citizens of Illinois. 1 

In their camp on the banks of Rock River, near where 
the city of Dixon is now situated, there met at this time, 

1. In a letter to the author, dated Springfield, Ills., December 7, 1868, Captain lies 
Says: * * * " I have yours asking whether Mr. Lincoln was a member of my com- 
pany in the Black Hawk war, etc. In reply, I answer he was a member of my 
company during a portion of the time, and received an honorable discharge. The first 
call for volunteers, Mr. Lincoln volunteered, and was elected captain. The term of 
Governor Reynolds' first call being about to expire, he made a second call and the first 
was then disbanded. * * * I was elected a captain of one of the companies. I 
had as members of my company, General James D. Henry, John T. Stuart, and 
A. Lincoln, and we were mustered into the service on the 29th of May, 1832, by 
Lieutenant Robert Anderson, Assistant Inspector General. We reported to Colonel 
Zachary Taylor, at Dixon's Ferry (on Rock River). Mr. Lincoln remained with the 
company to the close of the war." 


Lieutenant Colonel Zachary Taylor, Lieutenant Jefferson 
Davis, Lieutenant Robert Anderson, and private Abraham 
Lincoln of Captain Iles's company of Illinois Mounted 
Rangers. ! 

Lincoln and Anderson did not meet again until sometime 
in 1 86 1, and after Major Anderson had evacuated Fort 
Sumter. He then visited Washington, and called at the 
White House to pay his respects to the President. After 
having expressed his thanks to Anderson for his conduct in 
South Carolina, Mr. Lincoln said: "Major, do you remem- 
ber of ever meeting me before ? " " No, Mr. President, I 
have no recollection of ever having had the pleasure before.'" 
" My memory is better than yours," said Mr. Lincoln. " You 
mustered me into the service of the United States, in 1832, 
at Dixon's Ferry, in the Black Hawk war." 2 

Father Dixon, who, as below stated, was attached to this 
company of mounted rangers as guide, says that in their 
marches, when approaching a grove or depression in which 
an Indian ambush might be concealed, and when scouts 
were sent forward to examine the cover, Lincoln was often 
selected for that duty, and he adds that while many, as they 
approached the place of suspected ambush, found an excuse 
for dismounting to adjust girths or saddles, Lincoln's saddle 
was always in order. He also states that at evening, when 
off duty, Lincoln was generally found sitting on the grass, 
with a group of soldiers eagerly listening to the stories of 

1. John Dixon, who then kept the ferry across Eock Eiver, was a guide attached 
to the troops. The Indians gave him the name of Na-chu-sa, or " White-Head." He 
told the author of the curious meeting mentioned in the text. 

2. The author happened to be present at this interview. Colonel Eobert Ander- 
son, in a manuscript sketch of the Black Hawk war, now before me, dated May 10, 
1870, and addressed to the Hon. E. B. Washburne, to whom the manuscript belongs, 
says : "I also mustered Abraham Lincoln twice into the service, and once out. He 
was a member of two of the Independent Companies. * * * I mustered him into 
the service at the mouth of Fox Eiver (Ottawa), May 29, 1832, in Captain Elijah Iles's 
company. I have no recollection of Mr. Lincoln, but when President he reminded me 
of it. * * * William S. Hamilton, son of Alexander Hamilton, joined us with a 
small party of friendly Indians. * * * The Eock Eiver country was beautiful 
beyond description, surpassing any thing II ever saw in our country, Mexico, or in 


which his supply seemed inexhaustible, and that he invariably 
declined the whiskey which his comrades, grateful for the 
amusement he afforded, pressed upon him. 

When a member of Congress, Mr. Lincoln made a very 
amusing campaign speech, in which, alluding to the custom 
of exaggerating the military service of candidates, and 
ridiculing the extravagant claims to heroism set up for 
General Lewis Cass, then a candidate for the Presidency 
against General Zachary Taylor, he referred with great good 
humor to his own services in the Black Hawk war in the 
following terms: 

' ' By the way, Mr. Speaker, did you know I am a military hero ? 
Yes, sir; in the days of the Black Hawk war I fought, bled, and came 
away. Speaking of General Cass's career reminds me of my own. I 
was not at Stillman's defeat, but I was about as near it as Cass was to 
Hull's surrender; and, like him, I saw the place very soon afterwards. It 
is quite certain I did not break my sword, for I had none to break; but I 
bent my musket pretty badly on one occasion. If Cass broke his sword, 
the idea is he broke it in desperation. I bent my musket by 
accident. If General Cass went in advance of me in picking whortle- 
berries, I guess I surpassed him in charges upon the wild onions. If 
he saw any live fighting Indians, it was more than I did ; but I had a 
good many bloody struggles with the musquitoes, and, although I never 
fainted from loss of blood, I can truly say I was often very hungry. 
Mr. Speaker, if I should ever conclude to doff whatever our democratic 
friends may suppose there is of black-cockade federalism about me, and 
thereupon they shall take me up as their candidate for the Presidency, I 
protest they shall not make fun of me, as they have of General Cass, by 
attempting to write me into a military hero." 

The volunteers returned from the Black Hawk war a 
short time before the state election. In this expedition 
Lincoln had rendered himself so popular that his comrades 
and others insisted upon his being a candidate for the 
Legislature. Although not elected, he received the unani- 
mous vote of New Salem. For member of Congress both 
candidates together received 206 votes, while Lincoln alone 
received 207 votes for the Legislature. 

Left again without employment, he was induced, in asso- 
ciation with one Berry as partner, to become the purchaser 


of a small store at New Salem. Berry turned out to be a 
dissipated, worthless fellow, and within a few months the 
enterprise failed, leaving Lincoln responsible for the purchase 
money. It was six years before he was able entirely to pay 
off the liabilities thus incurred. 

It was while he was salesman for Offutt, and proprietor 
of this little store, that Mr. Lincoln acquired the sobriquet 
of " Honest Abe." Of many incidents illustrating his integ- 
rity one or two may be mentioned. One evening he found 
his cash overrun a little, and he discovered that in making 
change for his last customer, an old woman who had come 
in a little before sundown, he had made a mistake, not having 
given her quite enough. Although the amount was small, a 
few cents only, he took the money, immediately walked to 
her house, and corrected the error. At another time, on his 
arrival at the store in the morning, he found on the scales a 
weight which he remembered having used just before closing, 
but which was not the one he had intended to use. He had 
sold a parcel of tea, and in the hurry had placed the wrong 
weight on the scales, so that the purchaser had a few ounces 
less of tea than had been paid for. He immediately sent 
the quantity required to make up the deficiency. These 
and many similar incidents are told, exhibiting his scrupu- 
lous honesty in the most trifling matters, and for these the 
people gave him the name which clung to him through life. 

In the course of the great debate between Lincoln and 
Douglas, in 1858, at their joint discussion at Ottawa, Doug- 
las alluded to Lincoln's store-keeping. He said : 

" I have known him for nearly twenty-four years. There were many 
points of sympathy between us. When we first got acquainted, I was a 
school-teacher at Winchester, and he a flourishing grocery-keeper at 
Salem." * * * " He soon got into the Legislature. I met him 
then, and had a sympathy with him because of the up-hill struggle we 
both had in life." 1 

On the 7th of May, 1833, he was appointed postmaster 
at New Salem. This was a small office with a weekly mail. 

1. Lincoln and Douglas Debates, p. 69. 



He kept the office until the station was discontinued and the 
place of delivery changed to Petersburg. The balance in 
his hands at the time of the discontinuance of the office was 
sixteen or eighteen dollars. This small sum was perhaps 
overlooked by the post-office department and was not called 
for until some years after Lincoln had removed to Spring- 
field. During these years he had been in debt and very 
poor. So poor, indeed, that he had often been compelled 
to borrow money of his friends to pay for the very necessa- 
ries of life. One day an agent of the post-office called on 
Dr. Henry, with whom Lincoln at that time kept his law 
office. Knowing Mr. Lincoln's poverty, and how often he 
had been pressed for money, Henry says: 1 "I did not 
believe he had the money on hand to meet the draft, and I 
was about to call him aside and loan him the money, when 
he asked the agent to be seated a moment, while he went 
over to his trunk at his boarding-house, and returned with 
an old blue sock with a quantity of silver and copper coin 
tied up in it. Untying the sock, he poured the contents on 
the table and proceeded to count the coin, which consisted 
of such silver and copper pieces as the country-people 
were then in the habit of using in paying postage. On 
counting it up there was found the exact amount, to a cent, 
of the draft, and in the identical coin which had been 
received. He never used, under any circumstances, trust 
funds." The anecdote will recall an incident narrated by Sir 
Walter Scott, in the famous "Chronicles of the Canongate." 2 
On the return of Craftengry, who had been absent twenty 
years, honest " Shanet," in triumph, hands him the fifteen 
shillings, she has kept sacred for him, saying: " Here they are, 
and Shanet has had siller, and Shanet has wanted siller, mony a 
time since that. The gauger has come, and the factor has 
come, and the butcher, and the baker. Cot bless us — just 
like to tear poor ould Shanet to pieces, but she took good 

1. Dr. Henry gave me the details of this incident at Washington when Mr.L. was. 

2. " Waverley Novels," Black's Ed., v. 19, p. 384. 


care of Mr. Craftengry's fifteen shillings." So with Mr. 
Lincoln, the tailor came, the boarding-house keeper came, 
and the law bookseller came, but Lincoln took good care of 
Uncle Sam's post-office money. 

In 1832, Lincoln bought at auction, in Springfield, a sec- 
ond hand copy of Blackstone's Commentaries, and began to 
study law. A few weeks hard study, and he had mastered 
this elementary work, and laid the foundation of a good 
lawyer's education ; he then resolved to make the law his 
profession. But he had neither books, nor any means of 
buying them. In this dilemma he sought the advice of his 
old friend, comrade and fellow soldier in the Black Hawk 
war, John T. Stuart. Mr. Stuart was a prosperous and suc- 
cessful lawyer at Springfield, and had, for a new country, a 
respectable law library. Stuart encouraged him to go on, 
and generously offered to loan to him all the law books he 
needed. And now, with an application which showed that 
he had at last found a congenial pursuit, he devoted himself 
to study. 

He still lived at New Salem, some fourteen miles from 
Springfield ; he walked into town to exchange one book for 
another, and, it is said, he would often master thirty or forty 
pages of the new book on his way home. He was often 
seen seated against the trunk of a tree, or lying on the grass 
under its shade, poring over his books, changing his position 
as the sun advanced, so as to keep in the shadow. So 
intense was his application, and so absorbed was he in his 
study, that he would pass his best friends without observing 
them, and some people said that Lincoln was going crazy 
with hard study. He very soon began to make a practical 
application of his knowledge. He bought an old form-book, 
and began to draw up contracts, deeds, leases, mortgages, 
and all sorts of legal instruments for his neighbors. He also 
began to exercise his forensic ability in trying small cases 
before justices of the peace and juries, and he soon acquired 
a local reputation as a speaker, which gave him considerable 


But he was able in this way to earn scarcely money 
enough for his maintenance. To add to his means, he again 
took up the study of surveying, and soon became, like Wash- 
ington, a skillful and accurate surveyor. John Calhoun, an 
intelligent and courteous gentleman, was at that time sur- 
veyor of the County of Sangamon. He became interested 
in Lincoln, and appointed him as his deputy. His work was 
so accurate, and the settlers had such confidence in him, that 
he was much sought after to survey, fix and mark the boun- 
daries of farms, and to plot and lay off new towns and vil- 
lages. Among others, he plotted and laid off the town of 
Petersburg. His accuracy must have been attained with 
some difficulty, for the old settlers who survive say that 
when he began to survey his chain was a grape-vine. He 
did not speculate in the land he surveyed. Had he done 
so, the rapid advance in the value of real estate would have 
made it easy for him to make good investments. But he 
was not in the least like one of his appointees when Presi- 
dent — a surveyor-general of a western territory, who bought 
up much of the best land, and to whom the President said : 
" I am told, sir, you are monarch of all you survey." 

By surveying, and his small law practice, he earned his 
very frugal livelihood, and made some progress in reducing 
the debts incurred by the purchase of the store. But, in 
1834, one of the notes which he had given for it was put in 
judgment, and the impatient creditor seized his horse, saddle 
and bridle, and surveying instruments, and sold them under 
execution. Lincoln was, it is said, somewhat discouraged, 
but his friends bid in and restored to him the property. One 
of them, who had often befriended him, and whose name was 
Bolin Greene, was especially kind and generous. He bid in 
and restored the horse, saddle, and bridle, and waited Lin- 
coln's convenience for payment. Lincoln was a very grate- 
ful and warm-hearted man, and Bolin Greene's friendship 
and repeated acts of kindness touched him. Bolin Greene 
died a short time thereafter, and Lincoln tried to deliver a 
funeral oration over his remains. " When he rose to speak 


his voice was choked with deep emotion." 1 The tears ran 
down his cheeks, and he was so overcome that he could not 
go on. His tears were more eloquent than any words he 
could have spoken. 

Lincoln had not grown up to manhood without the usual 
experiences of the tender passion. Like most young men, 
he had his youthful fancies ; perhaps on one occasion some- 
thing which approached a " grand passion." There is more 
than a mere tradition, that, while residing at New Salem, he 
became very much attached to a prairie beauty, with the 
sweet and romantic name of Anne Rutledge. Irving, in his 
" Life of Washington," says: "before he was fifteen years 
old, he had conceived a passion for some unknown beauty, 
so serious as to disturb his otherwise well regulated mind,, 
and to make him really unhappy." Lincoln was less pre- 
cocious than Washington, or perhaps his heart was better 
shielded by the hard labor to which he was subjected. Some- 
thing sensational and dramatic has been printed in regard to 
this attachment. Gossip and imagination have represented 
this early romance as casting a shadow over his whole after 
life, and as having produced something bordering upon insan- 
ity. The picture has been somewhat too highly colored, and 
the story made rather too tragic. 

James Rutledge, one of the founders of New Salem, and 
who is said to have been of the distinguished South Caro- 
lina family of that name, one of whom was a signer of the 
"Declaration of Independence," was a warm personal friend 
of Lincoln. He was the father of a large family, and among 
the daughters was Anne, born January 7th, 1813. She is 
described as being a blonde, with golden hair, lips as red as 
the cherry, a cheek like the wild rose, with blue eyes, as 
sweet and gentle in manners and temper as attractive in per- 
son. Lincoln was among her suitors, and they were engaged 
to be married as soon as he should have finished his legal 
studies, and he should be admitted to the bar of the Supreme 
Court. But in August, 1835, she died. Her beauty and 

1. W. H. Herndon. 



attractions, and her early death, made a very deep impres- 
sion upon him. He idealized her memory, and in his recol- 
lections of her, there was a poetry of sentiment, which 
might possibly have been lessened had she lived, by the pro- 
saic realities of life. 

With all his love of fun and frolic, with all his wit and 
humor, with all his laughter and anecdotes, Lincoln, from 
his youth, was a person of deep feeling, and there was 
always mingled with his mirth, sadness and melancholy. He 
always associated with the memory of Anne Rutledge the 
plaintive poem which in his hours of melancholy he so often 
repeated, and whose familiar first stanzas are as follows: 

" Oh, why should the spirit of mortal be proud ? 
Like a swift fleeting meteor, a fast flying cloud, 
A flash of the lightning, a break of the wave, 
He passeth from life to his rest in the grave. 

' ' The leaves of the oak and the willow shall fade, 
Be scattered around, and together be laid, 
And the young and the old, and the low and the high 
Shall moulder to dust and together shall lie." 1 

Lincoln loved at twilight, or when in the country, or in 
solitude, or when with some confidential friend, to repeat 
this poem. I think he exaggerated its merits, and I attribute 
his great love of the poem to its association with Anne 
Rutledge. Several years passed after the sad death of Miss 
Rutledge before he married. It is not impossible that his 
devotion to her memory may have been, in part, the cause 
of so long a delay. 

An old friend 2 of Lincoln long years afterwards, on one 
occasion when they were talking of old times at New Salem, 
of the Greenes and Armstrongs and Rutledges, ventured to 
ask him about his early attachment, to which he replied: " I 
loved her dearly. She was a handsome girl, and would 
have made a good, loving wife. She was natural, and quite 
intellectual, though not highly educated." 

1. See Carpenter's " Six Months in the White House." 

2. Isaac Cogswell. 


In 1834, Lincoln was again a candidate for the Legisla- 
ture, and was now elected, receiving a greater number of 
votes than any other man on either ticket. This is the more 
remarkable as among his colleagues was his old friend and 
comrade, John T. Stuart. Thus, at the age of twenty-five, 
this plain, rough, sturdy son of a pioneer found himself a 
member of the Illinois Legislature, and the most popular 
man in Sangamon County. 



Lincoln at Twenty-Five. — At Vandalia. — Re-elected in 1836. — 
Replies to Forquer. — To Dr. Early. — To Col. Taylor. — 
State Capital Removed from Vandalia to Springfield. — 
Anti-Slavery Protest. — Re-elected in 1838. — Removes to 
Springfield. — Re-elected in 1840. — Partnership with John 
T. Stuart. — Riding the Circuit. 

Up to this time Lincoln's work had been up-hill, and his 
humble life had been a constant struggle with difficulties. 
By heroic endeavor, by persevering effort, by fortitude and 
constancy, and a resolute will, he had overcome these 
difficulties, and had at length found his true vocation. He 
was now to enter upon a new career. What he was he had 
made himself. What he knew he owed to his own exertions. 
Let us pause for a moment, and see what he was and what 
were his acquirements. 

We find him now, at the age of twenty-five, a vigorous, 
well-developed man, with a constitution inured to toil and 
hardened by exposure — a sound body upon which he could 
rely for almost any amount of physical or mental labor, and 
great powers of endurance. He knew the Bible by heart. 
There was not a clergyman to be found so familiar with it 
as he. Scarcely a speech or paper prepared by him, from 
this time to his death, but contains apt allusions and striking 
illustrations from the sacred book. He could repeat nearly 
all the poems of Burns, and was familiar with Shakespeare, 
In arithmetic, surveying, and the rudiments of other branches 



of mathematics, he was perfectly at home. He had mastered 
Blackstone, Kent, and the elementary law books. He had 
considerable knowledge of physics and mechanics. He 
showed how much better it is to know thoroughly a few 
books, than to know many superficially. Such had been his 
education. He was maniy, gentle, just, truthful, and honest. 
In conduct, kind and generous; so modest, so considerate of 
others, so unselfish, that every one liked him and wished him 
success. True, he was homely, awkward, diffident; but he 
was, in fact, strictly a gentleman — " in substance, at least, if 
not in outside polish." 1 

From the books named, and especially from the Bible, he 
had acquired that clear, concise, simple, nervous, Anglo- 
Saxon style so effective with the people, and in this he was 
scarcely equalled by any American writer or speaker. It is 
wonderful how many sentences can be found in his writings, 
short, striking, clear and emphatic, in which every word 
consists of a single syllable. 

His residence at Vandalia during the session of the 
Legislature, and his removal to Springfield, brought him 
into association with many families of culture and refine- 
ment. He now met as associates men of learning and 
intellect. He had access to all the books he could read, and 
the world of English literature, history and science lay open 
before him. He became and continued through life a 
student, always seeking and constantly acquiring knowl- 
edge. He was never ashamed to acknowledge his ignorance 
of any subject, and he rarely lost an opportunity to remedy 
it. At the first session of the Legislature he took no very 
active part in the discussions, but was studious and observ- 
ant. He said little, and learned much. 

In 1836, he was again a candidate for the Legislature, 
and in this canvass he greatly distinguished himself. On 

1. In his reply to Douglas, at Springfield, July 17, 1858, he said: "I set out in 
this campaign with the intention of conducting it strictly as a gentleman, in substance, 
at least, if not in outside polish. The latter I shall never be, but that which consti- 
tutes the inside of a gentleman, I hope I understand, and I am not less inclined to 
practice than another." (Lincoln and Douglas Debates, p. 57.) 


one occasion there was to be a public discussion among the 
opposing candidates, held at the Court House at Springfield, 
and Lincoln, among others, was advertised to speak. This 
was his first appearance " on the stump " at the County Seat. 
There lived at this time in the most pretentious house in the 
town a prominent citizen with the name of George Forquer. 
He had been long in public life, had been a leading whig, 
the party to which Lincoln belonged, but had lately gone 
over to the democrats, and received from the democratic 
administration an appointment to the lucrative post of 
Register of the Land Office at Springfield. Upon his hand- 
some new house he had lately placed a lightning rod, the 
first one ever put up in Sangamon County. As Lincoln was 
riding into town with his friends they passed the fine house 
of Forquer, and observed the novelty of the lightning rod, 
discussing the manner in which it protected the house from 
being struck by lightning. 

There was a very large meeting, and there was great 
curiosity to hear the orator from New Salem, who, as the 
" Clary Grove Boys " insisted, could make a better stump 
speech than any man at the County Seat. A Kentuckian, 1 
then lately from his native state, and who had heard Clay, 
Rowan, and many of the orators for which that state was 
then so distinguished, says: " I stood near Lincoln and heard 
his speech, and it struck me then, and it seems to me now, I 
never heard a more effective speaker." * * * " The 
crowd seemed to be swayed by him, as he pleased." 2 

There were seven whig and seven democratic candidates 
for the lower branch of the Legislature, and after several had 
spoken, it fell to Lincoln to close the discussion. He did it 
with great ability. Forquer, though not a candidate, then 
asked to be heard for the democrats in reply to Lincoln. 
He was a good speaker, and well known throughout the 
county. His special task that day was to attack and ridicule 

1. Joshua F. Speed. 

2. Joshua F. Speed. See the Lincoln Memorial Album, pp. 144, 145. 


the young countryman from Salem. Turning to Lincoln, 
who stood within a few feet of him, he said : " This young 
man must be taken down, and I am truly sorry that the task 
devolves upon me." He then proceeded, in a very overbear- 
ing way, and with an assumption of great supe- 
riority, to attack Lincoln and his speech. He was 
fluent and ready with the rough sarcasm of the stump, and 
he went on to ridicule the person, dress, and arguments of 
Lincoln with so much success that Lincoln's friends feared 
that he would be embarrassed and overthrown. The " Clary 
Grove Boys," who were present to cheer, applaud, and back 
Lincoln, could scarcely be restrained from getting up a fight 
in behalf of their favorite. They and all his friends, felt 
that the attack was ungenerous and unmanly. 

Lincoln, however, stood calm, but his flashing eye and 
pale cheek indicated his indignation. As soon as Forquer 
had closed, he took the stand and first answered his oppo- 
nent's arguments, fully and triumphantly. So impressive 
were his words and manner that a hearer 1 believes that he 
can remember to this day, and repeat, some of the expres- 
sions. Among other things, he said : " The gentleman com- 
menced his speech by saying that i this young man,' alluding 
to me, must be taken down. I am not so young in years, as 
I am in the tricks and the trades of a politician, but," said 
he, pointing to Forquer, " live long or die young, I would 
rather die now, than, like the gentleman, change my politics, 
and with the change receive an office worth three thousand 
dollars a year, and then," continued he, " then feel obliged 
to erect a lightning-rod over my house to protect a guilty 
conscience from an offended God." 

It is difficult to-day to appreciate the effect on the old 
settlers, of this figure. This lightning rod was the first 
which most of those present had ever seen. They had slept all 
their lives in their cabins, in conscious security. Here was 
a man who seemed to these simple-minded people to be 
afraid to sleep in his own house, without special and extra- 

1. Joshua F. Speed. Letter of 1882. 


ordinary protection from Almighty God. These old settlers 
thought that nothing but the consciousness of guilt, the 
stings of a guilty conscience, could account for such timid- 
ity. Forquer and his lightning-rod were talked over in every 
settlement from the Sangamon to the Illinois and the 
Wabash. Whenever he rose to speak thereafter, they said 
" there is the man who dare not sleep in his own house, 
without a lightning-rod to keep off the vengeance of the 

Lincoln's reply to Dr. Early, a prominent democratic lead- 
er, in the same canvass, has been often spoken of as exhibiting: 
wonderful ability, and a crushing power of sarcasm and 
ridicule. When he began he was embarrassed, spoke slowly,, 
and with some hesitation and difficulty, but soon becoming 
warm, and excited by his subject, he forgot himself entirely, 
and went on with argument and wit, anecdote and ridicule, 
until his opponent was completely crushed. 1 Old settlers: 
of Sangamon County, who heard this reply, speak of his 
personal transformation as wonderful. When Lincoln be- 
gan, they say, he seemed awkward, homely, unprepossessing. 
As he went on, and became excited, his figure rose to its full 
height, and became commanding and majestic. His plain 
face was illuminated and glowed with expression. His 
dreamy eye flashed with inspiration, and his whole person, 
his voice, his gestures, were full of the magnetism of power- 
ful feeling, of conscious strength and true eloquence. 

Among the democratic orators who canvassed Sanga- 
mon County in 1836, was Colonel Dick Taylor. He was a 
small, but very pompous little gentleman, who rode about in his 
carriage, neatly dressed, with many and very conspicuous ruf- 
fles to his shirt, with patent leather boots, kid gloves, some dia- 
monds and gold studs in his linen, an immense watch-chain 
with many seals, charms, and pendants, and altogether in 
most striking contrast with the simple, and plainly clad peo- 
ple whom he addressed. The Colonel was a very amiable 
man, but pompous. Vain, and affecting to be, withal, an ex- 

1. Holland's Life of Lincoln. 


treme democrat, he had much to say of "the bone and 
sinew" of the land, "the hard-handed yeomanry." He was 
very sarcastic on the whig "aristocracy," the "rag barons," 
the "silk stocking gentry." Lincoln, the candidate of this 
so-called aristocracy, was dressed in Kentucky jeans, coarse 
boots, checkered shirt buttoned round his neck without a 
neck-tie, an old slouched hat, and certainly the last thing he 
or his appearance could suggest, would be that of anything 

On one occasion when Lincoln was present, Taylor, in 
the midst of a most violent harangue against the whig aris- 
tocrats, made a gesture so forcibly, that he tore the buttons 
off his vest, and the whole magnificence of his ruffles, gold 
watch chain, seals, etc., burst forth, fully exposed. Taylor 
paused in embarrassment. Lincoln stepping to the front, and 
turning to Taylor, pointed to his ruffles and exclaimed, " Be- 
hold the hard-fisted democrat. Look, gentlemen, at this 
specimen of the bone and sinew. And here, gentlemen," 
said he, laying his great bony hand bronzed with work, on 
his own heart, "here at your service," bowing, "here is your 
aristocrat! here is one of your silk stocking gentry! " Spread- 
ing out his hands. " Here is your rag baron with his lily-white 
hands. Yes, I suppose," continued he, " I, according to my 
friend Taylor, am a bloated aristocrat." The contrast was 
irresistibly ludicrous, and the crowd burst into shouts of 
laughter and uproar. In this campaign the reputation of 
Lincoln as a speaker was established, and ever afterwards 
he was recognized as one of the great orators of the state. 

The Sangamon delegation to the Legislature, there being 
two senators and seven members of the House — nine in all, 
and each over six feet high — was known as the "Long Nine," 
and Lincoln, being tallest of all, was called the " Sangamon 
Chief." Among his colleagues from Sangamon, were Ed- 
ward D. Baker, afterwards member of Congress and United 
States Senator,— killed at Balls Bluff, and Ninian W. Ed- 
wards, son of Governor Ninian Edwards. Among his 
fellow-members of the House, were Stephen Arnold 


Douglas, John J. Hardin, James Shields, William A. 
Richardson, John Logan, John A. McClernand, and others 
who became prominent in the state and nation. In this 
canvass he had received, as in 1834, the highest vote given 
to any man on the ticket. At the first session (1836-7), he 
advocated and voted for measures for opening the great 
ship canal from Lake Michigan to the Illinois River. This 
work, which would bring into exchange the commerce of the 
Lakes and the Mississippi, by cutting through the short por- 
tage between Lake Michigan and the Illinois River, needs 
but to be enlarged to the size contemplated in its original 
plan, to realize all, and more, than was expected from it. He 
also voted for a system of internal improvements by means 
of railroads, far, very far, in advance of the needs of the 
state at that time, and very much exceeding the ability of 
the people to pay for; yet such was the popular delusion, 
that the people of Sangamon County instructed their delega- 
tion to vote " for a general system of internal improvement," 
and not only Lincoln, but Douglas, and nearly all the prom- 
inent members, voted for this extravagant measure. 1 Or- 
ville H. Browning, then senator from Adams County, and 
afterwards United States senator, had the honor of opposing 
this system. 

For the immediate constituents of Sangamon County, Lin- 
coln'and the "Long Nine "succeeded in getting a law passed 
removing the capital from Vandalia to Springfield. A fel- 
low member, one of the " Nine," speaking of this measure 
says: "When our bill to all appearance was dead, and beyond 
resuscitation, * * and our friends could see no hope, Lin- 
coln never for a moment despaired, but collecting his col- 
leagues in his room for consultation, his practical common 
sense, his thorough knowledge of human nature, made him 
an overmatch for his compeers, and for any man I have ever 
known." 2 

At this session, and on the 3d of March, 1837, he began 
that series of anti-slavery measures which were ended and 

1. See Ford's History of Illinois. 

2. Robert L Wilson. See Journal of House of Representatives, 1836-7. 


consummated in the "Proclamation of Emancipation," and! 
the "Amendment of the Constitution," abolishing and pro- 
hibiting slavery forever throughout the republic. At this 
time it required courage to speak or write against slavery. 
Resolutions of an extremely violent pro-slavery character, 
and denunciatory of " abolitionists " and all efforts to abol- 
ish or restrict slavery, were carried through the Legislature 
by overwhelming majorities. The people of Illinois at that 
time, were made up largely of emigrants from the slave 
states, filled with the prejudices of that section, and the 
feeling against anti-slavery men was violent, and almost uni- 
versal. There then existed in Illinois a body of laws against 
negroes, called " The Black Code," of most revolting cruelty 
and severity. Under these circumstances Lincoln jeopar- 
dized his popularity by drawing up and signing a solemn 
protest against these resolutions. But among all the mem- 
bers of the House, over one hundred in number, he found 
only one who had the courage to join him. Abraham Lin- 
coln and Dan Stone were the only ones who had the nerve 
to express and record their protest against the injustice of 
slavery. This protest, qualified as it was to meet, if possi- 
ble, the temper of the times, declared that slavery is founded 
on injustice and bad policy. 1 

1. The following is the protest in full. See House Journal of Illinois Legislature v 
1836-7, pp. 817, 818. 

"March 3, 1837. 

" The following protest was presented to the House, which was read and ordered 
to be spread on the journals, to wit : 

''Resolutions upon the subject of domestic slavery having passed both branches 
of the General Assembly at its present session, the undersigned hereby protest against 
the passage of the same. 

" They believe that the institution of slavery is founded on both injustice and ba<J 
policy, but that the promulgation of abolition doctrine tends rather to increase than 
to abate its evils. 

14 They believe that the Congress of the United States has no power, under the 
' Constitution ' to interfere with the institution of slavery in the different States. 

"They believe that the Congress of the United States has the power, under the 
1 Constitution,' to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia, but that that power 
ought not to be exercised, unless at the request of the people of said district. 

"The differences between these opinions, and those contained in the said resolu- 
tions, is their reason for entering this protest. 



" Representatives from the county of Sangamon.''* 


In 1838, Lincoln was again elected to the Legislature. 
One of his colleagues, 1 who made the canvass in a part of 
the county with him, says: " We called at nearly every 
house. * * * Everybody knew Lincoln. It was, then, 
the universal custom to keep whiskey in the house, for pri- 
vate use, and to treat friends. Everywhere the master of the 
house, addressing Lincoln, would say: ' You never drink, 
but may be your friend will take a little.'" " I never saw 
Lincoln drink, and he told me he never drank." 2 He was 
now the acknowledged leader of his party, and they made 
him their candidate for speaker; but his party, the whigs, 
being in a minority, he was not elected. 

The great service he had rendered the town of Spring- 
field, in carrying through the law for removing the capital 
to that place, was gratefully appreciated, and his many 
friends urged him to come there to live and practice law. 
His old friend, John T. Stuart, a lawyer of established posi- 
tion and in good practice, offered him a partnership. This 
offer he gladly accepted, and in April, 1837, he removed to, 
and made his home in Springfield. He had been admitted 
to the bar of the Supreme Court in the fall of 1836, but his 
name does not appear on the roll of attorneys until 1837. 
On the 27th of April of that year he entered into partnership 
with Stuart, under the name of Stuart and Lincoln, and this 
partnership continued until the 14th day of April, 1841. 3 

His friend Speed, speaking of his entry into Springfield, 
says: " He rode into town on a borrowed horse, without 

1. Robert L. Wilson. 

2. Robert L. Wilson. 

3. " Springfield, III., September 7, 1882. 
'" Hon. Isaac N. Arnold. 

" Dear Sir: — I have received your favor of the 4th inst., and I answer. 

" The partnership, between myself and Mr. Lincoln, was entered into, on the 27th 
•day of April, 1837, and continued until the 14th day of April, 1841. 

" The partnership, between Judge Logan and Mr Lincoln, was entered into on the 
14th of April, 1841, and continued until about the 20th of September, 1843. 

"About the 20th of September, 1843, Mr. Lincoln and William H. Herndon, entered 
into partnership, which continued until the death of Mr. Lincoln. 

" Mr. Lincoln never had any other partner in Sangamon County, his home, and so 
far as I am Informed, never had one elsewhere. 

" Respectfully your friend, John T. Stuart." 


earthly goods, but a pair of saddle-bags, two or three law- 
books, and some clothing in his saddle-bags. He came into 
my store, set his saddle-bags on the counter, and said: 

" ' Speed, tell me what the furniture for a single bed-room 
will cost.' 

" I took my pencil, figured it up, and found it would cost 
seventeen dollars. 

"Lincoln replied: 'It is cheap enough, but I want to- 
say, cheap as it is, I have not the money to pay. But if you 
will credit me until Christmas, and my experiment here is a 
success, I will pay you then. If I fail, I will probably never 
be able to pay you.' 

" The voice was so melancholy, I felt for him." 

Lincoln was evidently suffering from one of his fits of 
depression and sadness. Speed kindly replied: 

" I have a very large double bed which you are perfectly 
welcome to share with me, if you choose." 

" Where is your bed ? " said Lincoln. 

"Up-stairs," replied Speed. 

He took his saddle-bags on his arm, went up stairs, 
placed them on the floor, and came down, laughing, saying: 
" Speed, I am moved." 1 The ludicrous idea of " moving "' 
all his goods and chattels, by taking his saddle-bags up- 
stairs, made him as mirthful as he had been melancholy. 

From that time on, Springfield was his home until when, 
twenty-three years thereafter, he left his humble residence to 
occupy the White House as President of the United States. 
He and Speed took their meals with William Butler, a 
mutual friend, and afterwards Treasurer of the State of 
Illinois. In a short time, by his close application and indus- 
try, and by his association with Stuart, he had a good prac- 
tice, and attended courts in all the counties near Springfield. 

We are indebted to Mr. Speed for another incident, illus- 
trating his kindness of heart. Lincoln and the other mem- 
bers of the bar from the capital had, been attending court 
at Christiansburg, and Speed was riding with them towards 

1. Joshua F. Speed, Lincoln Memorial Album, pp. 145, 146. 


Springfield. He tells us that there was quite a party of these 
lawyers, riding, two by two, along a country lane. Lincoln 
and John J. Hardin 1 brought up the rear of the cavalcade. 
" We had passed through a thicket of wild plum and crab- 
apple trees, and stopped to water our horses. Hardin came 
up alone. 

" 'Where is Lincoln,' we inquired. 

" ' Oh,' replied he, ' when I saw him last, he had caught 
two young birds, which the wind had blown out of their 
nest, and he was hunting the nest to put them back.' 

" In a short time, Lincoln came up, having found the 
nest and placed the young birds in it. 

"The party laughed at him, but he said; ' I could not 
have slept if I had not restored those little birds to their 
mother.' " 2 

The act was characteristic, and illustrates a tenderness of 
heart which never failed him. To that tenderness in after 
life, many a mother appealed in behalf of a wayward son, 
and rarely in vain. 

When Lincoln began the practice of law in Springfield, 
all the federal courts in the state were held there. John 
McLean, Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, 
was the circuit, and Nathaniel Pope the district judge. Both 
were good lawyers, and very able men. The Supreme 
Court of the state then held all its sessions at the capital, 
and the judges were sound lawyers and men of high per- 
sonal character. The Springfield bar was especially distin- 
guished for its able lawyers and eloquent advocates. The 
state was sparsely settled, with a hardy, fearless, and honest, 
but very litigious, population. 

The court house was sometimes framed and boarded, 
but more frequently of logs. The judge sat upon a raised 
platform, behind a rough board, sometimes covered with 
green baize, for a table on which to write his notes. A small 
table stood on the floor in front, for the clerk, and another 

1. Killed in the Mexican war at the battle of Buena Vista. 

2. Speed. Lincoln Memorial Album, p. 147. 


larger one in front of the clerk, and in the area in the cen- 
ter of the room, around which in rude chairs the lawyers 
were grouped, too often with their feet on top of it. Rough 
benches were placed there for the jury, parties, witnesses, 
and by-stand ers. The court rooms were nearly always 
crowded, for here were rehearsed and acted the dramas, the 
tragedies, and the comedies of real life. 

The court house has always been a very attractive place 
to the people of the frontier. It supplied the place of thea- 
tres, lecture and concert rooms, and other places of interest 
and amusement, in the older settlements and towns. The 
leading lawyers and judges were the star actors, and had each 
his partisans. Hence crowds attended the courts to see 
the judges, to hear the lawyers contend with argument, and 
law, and wit for success, victory, and fame. The merits and 
ability of the leading advocates ; their success or discomfit- 
ure in examining or cross-examining a witness ; the ability 
of this or that one to obtain a verdict, were canvassed at 
every cabin-raising, bee or horse-race, and at every log house 
and school in the county. Thus the lawyers were stimu- 
lated to the utmost exertion of their powers, not only by 
controversy and desire of success, but by the consciousness 
that their efforts were watched with eagerness by friends, 
clients, partisans, and rivals. 

From one to another of these rude court houses, the 
gentlemen of the bar passed, following the judge around 
his circuit from county to county, traveling generally on 
horseback, with saddle-bags, brushes, an extra shirt or two, 
and perhaps two or three law books. Sometimes two or three 
lawyers would unite and travel in a buggy, and the poorer 
and younger ones not seldom walked. But a horse was not 
an unusual fee, and in those days when horse thieves, as 
clients, were but too common, it was not long before a young 
man of ability found himself well mounted. There was 
great freedom in social intercourse. Manners were rude, 
but genial, kind, and friendly. Each was always ready to 
assist his fellows, and selfishness was not tolerated. The 
relations between the bench and bar were familiar, free, and 


easy, and flashes of wit, humor, and repartee were constantly 

Such was the life upon which Lincoln now entered, and 
there gathered with him, around those pine tables of the 
frontier court house, a very remarkable combination of 
men ; men who would have been leaders of the bar at Bos- 
ton or New York, Philadelphia or Washington ; men who 
would have made their mark in Westminster Hall, or upon 
.any English circuit. At the capital were John T. Stuart, 
Stephen T. Logan, l Edward D. Baker, Ninian W. Edwards, 
Josiah Lamborn, attorney-general, and many others. Among 
the leading lawyers from other parts of the state, who prac- 
ticed in the Supreme and Federal Courts at the capital, 
were Stephen Arnold Douglas ; Lyman Trumbull, for many 
many years chairman of the judiciary committee of the 
United States Senate ; O. H. Browning, senator and mem- 
ber of the cabinet at Washington ; William H. Bissell, mem- 
ber of Congress, and governor of the state ; David Davis, 
justice of the Supreme Court, senator, and Vice-President 
of the United States ; Justin Butterfield, 2 of Chicago, and 
many others almost, or quite, equally distinguished. 

1. A man whom Judge McLean pronounced the ablest nisiprius lawyer In the 
•United States. 

2. Justin Butterfield was among the ablest lawyers of Chicago. I insert the fol- 
lowing incidents connected with him and illustrating life at that time: 

In Presence of the Pope, Angels, Prophet, and Apostles. — In December, 1842, 
Governor Ford, on the application of the executive of Missouri, issued a warrant 
for the arrest of Joseph Smith, the apostle of Mormonism, then residing at Nauvoo in 
this state, as a fugitive from justice. He was charged with having instigated the 
attempt, by some Mormons, to assassinate Governor Boggs of Missouri. Mr. Butter- 
field, in behalf of Smith, sued out, from Judge Pope, a writ of habeas corpus, and 
Smith was brought before the United States District Court. On the hearing it clearly 
appeared that he had not been in Missouri, nor out of Illinois, within the time in 
which the crime had been committed, and if he had any connection with the offence, 
the acts must have been done in Illinois. Was he then a fugitive from justice? It 
was pretty clear, that if allowed to be taken into Missouri, means would have been 
found to condemn and execute him. The Attorney General of Illinois, Mr. Lamborn, 
appeared to sustain the warrant. Mr. Butterfield, aided by B. F. Edwards, appeared 
for Smith, and moved for his discharge. The prophet (so called) was attended by his 
twelve apostles, and a large number of his followers, and the case attracted great 
interest. The court room was thronged with prominent members of the bar and pub- 
lic men. Judge Pope was a gallant gentleman of the old school, and loved nothing 
better than to be in the midst of youth and beauty. Seats were crowded on the 
judge's platform on both sides and behind the judge, and an array of brilliant and 



It was with these men that Lincoln now came into con- 
stant collision and competition. It was in conflict with 
these intellectual giants at the bar and on the stump that he 
was trained and disciplined for the great work before him. 
In those days law libraries were small, and comparatively 

beautiful ladies almost encircled the court. Mr. Butterfield, dressed a la Webster, in 
blue dress-coat and metal buttons, with buff vest, rose with dignity, and amidst the 
most profound silence. Pausing, and running his eyes admiringly from the central 
figure of Judge Pope along the rows of lovely women on each side of him, he said: 

"May it please the Court, 

" I appear before you to-day under circumstances most novel and peculiar. I am 
to address the ' Pope ' (bowing to the judge) surrounded by angels (bowing still lower 
to the ladies), in the presence of the holy apostles, in behalf of the prophet of the 

Among the most lovely and attractive of these " angels," were the daughters of 
Judge Pope, a daughter of Mr. Butterfield, Mrs. Lincoln, Miss Dunlap, afterwards 
Mrs. Gen. Jno. A. McClernand, and others, some of whom still live, and the tradition 
of their youthful beauty is verified by their lovely daughters and grandchildren. 

General Shields and the Shot that Killed Breese. — All the old members of the bar 
will recall with pleasant recollections a gallant and genial Irishman, James Shields, of 
Tyrone County, Ireland. He was, however, more distinguished as a politician and 
soldier, than as a lawyer and judge. In 1848, he was elected to the United States 
Senate, succeeding Senator Breese, who was a candidate for re-election. At the bat- 
tle of Cerro Gordo, in the war against Mexico, he was shot through the lungs, the 
ball passing out at his back. His nomination over a man so distinguished as Judge 
Breese was a surprise to many, and was the reward for his gallantry and wound. His 
political enemies said his recovery was marvellous, and that his wound was miracu- 
lously cured, so that no scar could be seen where the bullet entered and passed out of 
his body, all of which was untrue. The morning after the nomination, Mr. Butter- 
field, who was as violent a whig as General Shields was a democrat, met one of the 
judges in the Supreme Court room, who expressed his astonishment at the result, but 
added the judge, "It was the war and that Mexican bullet that did the business." 
"Yes," answered Mr. Butterfield, dryly, "and what an extraordinary, what a wonder- 
ful shot that was! The ball went clean through Shields without hurting him, or even 
leaving a scar, and killed Breese a thousand miles away." 

"'Oyer" and " Terminer."" — It was on one of the Northern Circuits, held by Judge 
Jesse B. Thomas, that Mr. Butterfield, irritated by the delay of the judge in deciding 
a case, which he had argued some time before, came in one morning and said with 
great gravity: " I believe, if your Honor please, this Court is called the ' Oyer and 
Terminer.' /think it ought to be called the 'Oyer sans Terminer,'" and sat down. 
The next morning, when counsel were called for motions, Mr. Butterfield called up a 
pending motion for new trial in an important case. " The motion is overruled," said 
Judge Thomas, abruptly. " Yesterday you declared this Court ought to be called Oyer 
sans Terminer, so," continued the judge, "as I had made up my mind in this case, I 
thought I would decide it promptly.' 1 " Mr. Butterfield seemed for a moment a little 
disconcerted, but directly added: " May it please your Honor, yesterday this Court was 
a Court of Oyer sans Terminer; to-day your Honor has reversed the order, it is now 
Terminer sans Oyer. But I believe I should prefer the injustice of interminable 
delay, rather than the swift and inevitable blunders your Honor is sure to make by- 
guessing without hearing argument." 


few adjudicated cases could be found, so that the questions- 
which arose had to be solved, not by finding a case in point, 
but by the application of principle. These men were there- 
fore constantly trained to reason from analogy, and the result 
was a bar, which for ability, logic, and eloquence, had no 
occasion to fear comparison with any in the American Union. 
It was thus that Lincoln was educated and trained, and 
became one of the ablest lawyers and advocates in the 
United States. From 1839 to i860 he was in constant prac- 
tice before the State and Federal Courts of Illinois, and was 
often called on special retainers into other states. 

There will be occasion to speak more fully of Lincoln as 
a lawyer and advocate by and by ; suffice it now to say 
that in his practice on the circuit and before the Supreme 
Court he was popular with the bench, bar, jury, and specta- 
tors. His wit and humor, his wonderful ability to illustrate 
by apt stories and anecdotes, was unrivaled. 

This " circuit riding " involved all sorts of adventures. 
Hard fare at miserable country taverns, sleeping on the 
floor and fording swollen streams were every day occur- 
rences. All such occurrences were met with good humor 
and often turned into sources of frolic and fun. In fording 
swollen streams, Lincoln was frequently sent forward as a 
scout, or pioneer. His extremely long legs enabled him, by 
taking off his boots and stockings, and by rolling up, or 
otherwise disposing of his trousers, to test the depth of the 
stream, find the most shallow water, and thus to pilot the 
party through the current without wetting his garments. 

In 1840 he was again elected to the Legislature, and at 
this term he had as his colleague his old friend, John Cal- 
houn. He was again a candidate for speaker. Having 
been elected four times to as many biennial terms of the 
Legislature, he declined again to be a candidate. 

In looking over his eight years service in the General 
Assembly, there appears little indication of the great ability 
as a statesman, which he afterwards developed. It is true 
that his party was, at all times, in a minority, and that the 


population of the state was small. The legislation con- 
sisted largely of measures for opening roads, building 
bridges, and for other local purposes, and the bills for the 
construction of the Illinois and Michigan Canal, and other 
internal improvements. If he had died at the close of his 
service in the General Assembly, neither the nation nor his 
own state would have known very much of Abraham Lin- 
coln. He had not yet fully developed those great qualities, 
nor rendered those great services, which have since made 
him known throughout the world. All who closely studied 
his history will observe that he continued to grow and 
-expand in intellect and character to the day of his death. 



Speech of 1837 on Perpetuation of the Government. — Reply- 
to Douglas in 1839. — Temperance Address. — Partnership 
with Judge Logan. — Campaign of 1840. — Protects Baker 
while Speaking. — Mary Todd. — Lincoln's Courtship. — 
Challenged by Shields. — His Marriage. — Entertains- 
President Van Buren. — Elected to Congress. 

During these years in the State Legislature, Lincoln had 
written and delivered various occasional addresses, which, 
in the light of his subsequent history, are curiously signifi- 

On the 27th of January, 1837, he read before the Young- 
Men's Lyceum at Springfield, and at the request of that 
body, an address on the " Perpetuation of our Political 
Institutions." Also at the request of the young men com- 
posing the association he furnished a copy of this address 
for publication, and it may be found in the Weekly Journal^ 
then published at Springfield. He was not at that time 
twenty-eight years old, and taking into consideration his- 
early life and education, it is very remarkable as a literary 
effort. As such it would do credit to any college graduate. 
It is also the speech of a young statesman who has already 
reflected deeply upon our institutions and the dangers to 
which they are to be exposed. It is the speech of an ardent 
patriot, glowing with an enthusiastic love of liberty and of 
country. The language is impassioned and poetic, and as 



compared with the more sober and chastened efforts of later 
years, is especially interesting. It begins as follows : 

" In the great journal of things happening under the sun, we, the 
American people, find our account running under date of the nineteenth 
century of the Christian era. We find ourselves in the peaceful posses- 
sion of the fairest portion of the earth, as regards extent of territory, 
fertility of soil, and salubrity of climate. We find ourselves under the 
government of a system of political institutions, conducing more essen- 
tially to the ends of civil and religious liberty, than any of which the his- 
tory of former times tells us. We, when mounting the stage of exist- 
ence, found ourselves the legal inheritors of these fundamental blessings. 
We toiled not in the acquirement or the establishment of them ; they are 
a legacy bequeathed to us by a once hardy, brave, and patriotic, but now 
lamented and departed race of ancestors. 

" Theirs was the task (and nobly they performed it) to possess them- 
selves, and through themselves us, of this goodly land, and to rear upon 
its hills and valleys a political edifice of liberty and equal rights : 'tis 
ours only to transmit these, the former unprofaned by the foot of the 
invader ; the latter undecayed by the lapse of time. This, our duty to 
ourselves and to our posterity, and love for our species in general, imper- 
atively require us to perform. 

" How then shall we perform it ? At what point shall we expect 
the approach of danger ? By what means shall we fortify against it ? 
Shall we expect some trans-atlantic military giant to step across the 
ocean and crush us at a blow ? Never. All the armies of Europe, Asia 
and Africa combined, with all the treasure of the earth (our own excepted) 
in their military chest, with a Bonaparte for a commander, could not, by 
force, take a drink from the Ohio, or make a track on the Blue Ridge, in 
a trial of a thousand years. 

" At what point then is the approach of danger to be expected ? I 
answer, if it ever reaches us, it must spring up among us. It can not 
come from abroad. If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its 
author and finisher. As a nation of freemen we must live through all 
time, or die by suicide. * * * * 

" There is even now something of ill omen among us. I mean the 
increasing disregard for law which pervades the country ; the growing 
disposition to substitute the wild and furious passions in lieu of the sober 
judgment of courts ; and the worse than savage mobs, for the executive 
ministers of justice. This disposition is awfully fearful in any commu- 
nity, and that it now exists in ours, though grating to our feelings to 
admit, it would be a violation of truth, and an insult to our intelligence 
to deny." 


He then proceeds to recite various instances of violation 
of law, and mob violence, and recalls the shocking case of 
negro burning at St. Louis, in these words : 

" Turn then to that horror striking scene at St. Louis. A single 
victim only was sacrificed there. His story is very short, and is perhaps 
the most highly tragic of anything of its length, that has ever been wit- 
nessed in real life. A mulatto man, by the name of Mcintosh, was 
seized in the street, dragged to the suburbs of the city, chained to a tree, 
and actually burned to death. And all within a single hour from the 
time he had been a free man, attending to his own business, and at peace 
with the world." ****** 

" I know the American people are much attached to their govern- 
ment. I know they would suffer much for its sake. I know they would 
endure evils long and patiently, before they would ever think of exchang- 
ing it for another. Yet notwithstanding all this, if the laws be contin- 
ually despised and disregarded, if their rights to be secure in their per- 
sons and property, are held by no better tenure than the caprice of a mob, 
the alienation of their affection from the government is the natural con- 
sequence, and to that sooner or later it must come. 

" Here, then, is one point at which danger may be expected. The 
question recurs, How shall we fortify against it ? The answer is sim- 
ple. Let every American, every lover of liberty, every well wisher to 
his posterity, swear by the blood of the revolution, never to violate in 
the least particular the laws of the country, and never to tolerate their 
violation by others. As the patriots of ' seventy-six ' did to the support 
of the Declaration of Independence, so to the support of the Constitu- 
tion and the Laws, let every American pledge his life, his property, and 
his sacred honor ; — let every man remember that to violate the law is to 
trample on the blood of his father, and to tear the charter of his own and 
his children's liberty. Let reverence for the laws be breathed by every 
American mother to the lisping babe that prattles on her lap. Let it be 
taught in schools, in seminaries, and in colleges. Let it be written in 
primers, spelling books and in almanacs. Let it be preached from the pul- 
pit, proclaimed in legislative halls, and enforced in courts of justice. 
And in short, let it become the political religion of the nation." 

" There is," says he, " no grievance that is a fit object of 
redress by mob-law." He then points out the dangers threat- 
ening our institutions, from military leaders and reckless 
ambition, and continues thus : 

" Many great and good men, sufficiently qualified for any task they 
should undertake, may ever be found, whose ambition would aspire to 
nothing beyond a seat in Congress, a gubernatorial or a presidential 


chair. But such belong not to the family of the lion, or the brood of the 
eagle. What ? Think you these places would satisfy an Alexander, a. 
Caesar, or a Napoleon ? Never ! Towering genius disdains a beaten 
path. It seeks regions hitherto unexplored. It sees no distinction in 
adding story to story, upon the monuments of fame, erected to the mem- 
ory of others. It denies that it is glory enough to serve under any chief. 
It scorns to tread in the footsteps of any predecessor, however illustrious. 
It thirsts and burns for distinction, and if possible, it will have it, 
whether at the expense of emancipating slaves, or enslaving free men. Is 
it unreasonable, then, to expect that some men, possessed of the loftiest 
genius, coupled with ambition sufficient to push it to its utmost stretch, 
will at some time spring up among us ? And when such a one does, it 
will require the people to be united with each other, attached to the gov- 
ernment and laws, and generally intelligent, to successfully frustrate his 

" Distinction will be his paramount object, and although he would 
as willingly, perhaps more so, acquire it by doing good as harm, yet that 
opportunity being passed, and nothing left to be done in the way of build- 
ing up, he would sit down boldly to the task of pulling down. Here 
then is a probable case, highly dangerous, and such a one as could not 
have well existed heretofore." ***** 

Alluding to our revolutionary ancestors, he says : 

" In history we hope they will be read of, and recounted, so long as 
the Bible shall be read. But even granting that they will, their influence 
can not be what it heretofore has been. Even then, they can not be so uni- 
versally known, nor so vividly felt, as they were by the generation just 
gone to rest. At the close of that struggle, nearly every adult male had 
been a participator in some of its scenes. The consequence was, that of 
those scenes, in the form of a husband, a father, a son, or a brother, a 
living history was to be found in every family — a history bearing the indu- 
bitable testimonies to its own authenticity, in the limbs mangled, in the 
scars of wounds received in the midst of the very scenes related ; a history, 
too, that could be read and understood alike by all, the wise and the igno- 
rant, the learned and the unlearned. But those histories are gone. They 
can be read no more forever. They were a fortress of strength ; but 
what the invading foemen could never do, the silent artillery of time has 
done — the leveling of its walls. They are gone. They were a forest of 
giant oaks ; but the resistless hurricane has swept over them, and left 
only, here and there a lonely trunk, despoiled of its verdure, shorn of its 
foliage ; unshading and unshaded, to murmur in a few more gentle 
breezes, and to combat with its mutilated limbs a few more ruder 
storms, then to sink and be no more." 


The figure of the " forest of giant oaks," and the effects 
upon it of time and tempest is a very striking one. That is 
also a curious passage in which he speaks of the ambitious 
man, who will seek glory and distinction, and who will have 
it by " the emancipati?ig of slaves" or " enslaving freemen." 
Was that intense ambition of his, of which there exists so 
many evidences, and that mysterious presentiment that in 
some unknown way he was to be the deliverer of the slaves* 
the inspiration of the language quoted ? 

There is another very remarkable speech of his, made in 
the Hall of the House of Representatives, in December, 
1839, in reply to Douglas, Lamborn, and Calhoun. 1 A joint 
discussion was arranged between the democratic and whig 
parties. Stephen A. Douglas, John Calhoun, Josiah Lam- 
born, and Jesse B. Thomas spoke for the democrats, and 
Stephen T. Logan, Edward D. Baker, Orville H. Browning, 
and Lincoln for the whigs. It was continued from evening 
to evening, an advocate of each party speaking alternately, 
until Lincoln's turn came to close the discussion. In reply 
to Mr. Lamborn, who taunted the opponents of Van Buren 
with the hopelessness of their struggle, Lincoln exclaimed: 

"Address that argument to cowards, and knaves. With the free and 
the brave it will effect nothing. It may be true; if it must, let it. Many 
free countries have lost their liberties, and ours may lose hers, but if she 
shall, let it be my proudest plume, not that I was the last to desert, but 
that I never deserted her." 

Alluding to the denunciation and persecution heaped 
upon those who opposed the administration, he says: " Bow 
to it I never will," and then in a prophetic spirit, with impass- 
ioned eloquence, he dedicated himself to the cause of his 

" Here, before Heaven, and in the face of the world, I swear eternal 
fidelity to the just cause of the land of my life, my liberty, and my love." 
* * * •» The cause approved of our judgment and our hearts, in 
disaster, in chains, in death, we never faltered in defending." 

On the 2 2d of February, 1842, he delivered before the 
Washingtonian Temperance Society, at Springfield, an 

1. See Weekly Journal^ at Springfield. 


address upon temperance. It is calm, earnest, judicious, and 
it is difficult to find anywhere the subject treated with more 
ability, 1 or with a finer spirit. " When," says he, " the victory 
shall be complete, when there shall be neither a slave nor a 
drunkard on the earth, how proud the title of that land 
which may claim to be the birth-place and cradle of those 
resolutions that shall have ended in that victory." He was 
already dreaming, it would seem, of the time when there 
should be no slave in the republic. 

Wishing to devote his time exclusively to his profession, 
he did not, as has already been stated, seek in 1840 re-elec- 
tion to the Legislature. He had been associated as partner 
with one of the most prominent lawyers at the capital of the 
state, and he himself was the leader of his party, and alto- 
gether the most popular man in Central Illinois. In August, 
1837, Stuart, his partner, was elected to Congress over 
Stephen A. Douglas, after one of the severest contests which 
ever occurred in the state. The district then extended from 
Springfield to Chicago, and embraced nearly all the northern 
part of Illinois. Stuart was re-elected in 1839. Their part- 
nership terminated on the 14th day of April, 1841, and on 
the same day Lincoln entered into a new partnership with 
Judge Stephen T. Logan, one of the ablest and most suc- 
cessful lawyers of the state, and at that time universally 
recognized as at the head of the bar at the capital. 

In 1840, Lincoln was on the "Whig Electoral Ticket," as 
candidate for state presidential elector. This was the presi- 
dential canvass known as the " Log Cabin " campaign, which 
resulted in the election of General Harrison. It was one of 
the most exciting since the organization of the government. 
Log cabins for political meetings, with the traditional gourd 
in place of the mug for cider, hanging on one side of the 
door, and the coon-skin nailed to the logs on the other, 
sprang up like magic, not only on the frontier and over all 
the West, but in every city, town, village and hamlet at the 

1. Published in the Springfield Journal^ and re-published in full in the Lincoln 
Memorial Album, pp. 84-97. 


East. Lincoln entered into the contest with great ardor, and 
" stumped " the state for his party, and in many parts of it 
he and Douglas held joint political discussions. In this way 
they traveled the large circuit of Judge Treat, speaking 
together at every county seat in the circuit. 

A great whig meeting was held at the capital in June, to 
which the people came in throngs from every part of Illinois. 
Chicago sent a large delegation, which brought as a repre- 
sentative of the commercial capital, a full rigged ship on 
wheels. The delegation were supplied with tents and pro- 
visions, and plenty of cider, and at night, camped out like 
an army on the prairies. Their camp-fires illuminated the 
groves, and their campaign songs echoed and resounded all 
the way from Lake Michigan to the Illinois and the Sanga- 
mon. At this great meeting, all the leading whig orators 
spoke. Among them were Lincoln, Baker, and Logan, of 
Springfield; Hardin, of Morgan; Browning, of Quincy, and 
Butterfield and Lisle Smith, of Chicago. For argument 
and apt illustration, the palm was generally given to Lincoln, 
but he himself said that no one could be compared to a 
young lawyer from Chicago, whose name was Lisle Smith. 1 

It was during the canvass of 1840 that Lincoln protected 
Baker from a mob which threatened to drag him off the 
stand. Baker was speaking in a large room, rented and used 
for the court sessions, and Lincoln's office was in an apart- 
ment over the court room, and communicating with it by a 
trap-door. Lincoln was in his office, listening to Baker 
through the open trap-door, when Baker, becoming excited, 
abused the democrats, many of whom were present. A cry 
was raised, " Pull him off the stand ! " The instant Lincoln 
heard the cry, knowing a general fight was imminent, his 
athletic form was seen descending from above through the 

1. This young man died in early life. I have heard the silver-tongued Baker, 
the vehement, passionate, and tempestuous Lovejoy,the great actor Clay, the majestic 
"Webster, hut within a certain narrow range, I never heard the equal of Smith. At a 
public dinner speech, a commemorative oration, or an eulogy, he was unequaled. For 
a union of music and poetry, beauty of language, and felicity of illustration, I have 
never heard his equal. 


opening of the trap-door, and springing to the side of Baker,, 
and waving his hand for silence, he said with dignity: 
" Gentlemen, let us not disgrace the age and country in 
which we live. This is a land where freedom of speech is 
guaranteed. Baker has a right to speak, and a right to be 
permitted to do so. I am here to protect him, and no man 
shall take him from this stand if I can prevent it." Quiet 
was restored, and Baker finished his speech without further 

In 1839, Miss Mary Todd came from Lexington, Ken- 
tucky, to Springfield, on a visit to her sister, Mrs. Ninian 
W. Edwards, who was the daughter of the Hon. Robert S. 
Todd, of Kentucky. In 1778, John Todd, the great-uncle 
of Mary Todd, accompanied General George Rogers Clark 
to Illinois, and was present at the capture of Kaskaskia and 
Vincennes. 1 On the 12th of December, 1778, he was 
appointed by the Governor of Virginia, Patrick Henry, 
County Lieutenant, or commandant of the county of Illinois,. 
in the state of Virginia. In 1779, John Todd arrived at 
Kaskaskia and organized civil government under the author- 
ity of Virginia. 2 It is a curious and interesting fact that the 
great-uncle of Mary Todd, afterwards wife of President Lin- 
coln, should, in 1779, have been acting Governor of Illinois. 
He may be justly regarded as the founder of the state, a 
pioneer of progress, education, and liberty. 3 He was killed 
at the battle of Blue Licks, on the 18th of August, 1782. 
His two brothers, Levi and Robert, settled in Lexington, 
Kentucky. Levi was the grandfather of Mary Todd, after- 
wards Mrs. Lincoln, and he was the only field officer at the 
battle of Blue Licks who was not killed. 4 Such was the family 

1. Manuscript Letter of Ninian W. Edwards, also "Illinois in the Eighteenth 
Century, " by Edward G-. Mason— a paper read before the Chicago Historical Society. 

2. See the manuscript "Records of the County of Illinois," with Todd's appoint- 
ment, in the Chicago Historical Society. 

3. The original records of his administration, in manuscript, were presented to 
the Chicago Historical Society by Edward G. Mason. 

4. Manuscript Letter of Ninian W. Edwards. Col. John Todd pre-empted a large 
tract of land in and near the present city of Lexington. While encamped on its site 
he heard of the battle of Lexington, in the far East, " and named his infant settlement 
in its honor." 


and lineage of Mary Todd. When she came to visit her 
sister she was twenty-one years of age. Her mother died 
when she was a child, and she had been educated and well 
taught at a boarding school for young ladies at Lexington. 
She was intelligent and bright, full of life and animation, 
with ready wit, and quick at repartee and satire. Her eyes 
were a grayish blue, her hair abundant, and dark brown in 
color. She was a brunette, with a rosy tinge in her cheeks, 
of medium height, and form rather full and round. 

The Edwards and the Stuarts were among the leading 
families in social life at the capital. Ninian W. Edwards 
was a lawyer of distinction. His father had been Chief 
Justice of Kentucky, and was the first Governor of the Ter- 
ritory of Illinois, holding the position from 1809 to 1818. 
He was the first senator from Illinois after its admission into 
the Union, and afterwards Governor of the State. 

When Miss Todd came to Springfield, nearly all ambitious 
young men sought distinction at the bar and in public life. 
Young ladies sympathized with this ambition to an extent 
scarcely appreciated at the present day. This young Lex- 
ington belle was very ambitious, and is said to have declared 
on leaving Kentucky that she meant to marry some one who 
would be President. On her arrival at Springfield she met 
in Lincoln a man of bright political prospects, already 
popular, and the leader of his party; one who was regarded 
by her relations and connections as an intellectual prodigy. 1 
Lincoln, who had had his fancies, and his romantic passion 
for Anne Rutledge, now became the suitor of Miss Todd. 
His courtship was distinguished with the somewhat novel 
incident of a challenge to fight a duel. 

At this time there was living at Springfield, James Shields, 
a gallant hot-headed bachelor, from Tyrone County, Ireland. 

1. It is noteworthy that those who heard Lincoln talk, even at that early day, 
were impressed with his ability. I have heard old settlers in Springfield say, " every 
lady wanted to get near Lincoln to hear him talk " An old gentleman told me that 
when dining one day at the same table with Miss Todd and Lincoln, he said to her 
after dinner, half in jest and half in earnest: " Mary, Ihave heard that you have said 
you want to marry a man who will be President. If so, Abe Lincoln is your man." 


Like most of his countrymen, he was an ardent democrat, 
and he was also a great beau in society. He had been so 
fortunate as to be elected Auditor of the State. Miss Todd, 
full of spirit, very gay, and a little wild and mischievous, 
published in the " Sangamon Journal," under the name of 
"Aunt Rebecca, or the Lost Townships," some amusing satir- 
ical papers, ridiculing the susceptible and sensitive Irishman. 
Indeed Shields was so sensitive he could not bear ridicule, 
and would much rather die than be laughed at. On seeing 
the papers, he went at once to Francis, the editor, and furi- 
ously demanded the name of the author, declaring that 
unless the name of the writer was given he would hold the 
editor personally responsible. Francis was a large broad man, 
and Shields was very thin, and slim, and the editor realized 
that with his great bulk it would be very unsafe for him to 
stand in front of Shields' pistol. He had plenty of stomach, 
but none for such a fight. He was a warm personal and 
political friend of Lincoln, and knowing the relations be- 
tween him and Miss Todd, in this dilemma he disclosed the 
facts to Lincoln, and asked his advice and counsel. He was 
not willing to expose the lady's name, and yet was 
extremely reluctant himself to meet the fiery Irishman on 
the field. Lincoln at once told Francis to tell Shields to 
regard him as the author. 

The Tazewell Circuit Court, at which he had several cases 
of importance to try, being in session, Lincoln departed for 
Tremont, the county seat. As soon as Francis had notified 
Shields that Lincoln was the author of the papers, he and his 
second, General Whitesides, started in hot pursuit of Lincoln. 
Hearing of this, Dr. Merryman, and Lincoln's oid friend 
Butler, started also for Tremont, " to prevent," as Merryman 
said, "any advantage being taken of Lincoln, either as to 
his honor, or his life." They passed the belligerent Shields 
and Whitesides in the night, and arrived at Tremont in 
advance. They told Lincoln what was coming, and he replied, 
that he was altogether opposed to duelling, and would do 
anything to avoid it that would not degrade him in the es- 


timation of himself and of his friends, but if a fight were the 
only alternative of such degradation he would fight. 

In the meanwhile, the young lady, having heard of the 
demand that Shields had made, wrote another letter in which 
she said: " I hear the way of these fire-eaters is to give the 
challenged party the choice of weapons, which being the 
case, I'll tell you in confidence, that I never fight with any- 
thing but broomsticks, or hot water, or a shovelful of coals, 
the former of which being somewhat like a shillala, may not 
be objectionable to him." This spirited and indiscreet young 
Kentucky girl, brought up where duelling was very common 
and popular, would undoubtedly have had the courage her- 
self to meet the Irishman, with the usual weapon, the pistol, 
and, if public opinion had sanctioned it, would have enjoyed 
the excitement of the meeting. 

While this badinage was going on, Shields had challenged 
Lincoln, and the challenge had been accepted. The weap- 
ons were to have been cavalry broad swords of the largest 
size, and the place of meeting was to have been on the west 
bank of the Mississippi, within three miles of Alton. The 
principals, and their seconds and surgeons, started for the 
place of meeting. As they approached the river, they were 
joined by Colonel Hardin and others, who sought to bring 
about a reconciliation. Hostilities were suspended. Shields was 
induced to withdraw the challenge, and satisfactory explana- 
tions were made. Lincoln declared that the obnoxious arti- 
cles were written " solely for political effect," and with " no 
intention of injuring the personal or private character of 
Shields," and so the parties returned reconciled. It is quite 
clear that no tragedy was intended by Lincoln. With very 
heavy broad swords, under the conditions of this meeting, 
Shields, who was a comparatively weak man, could not have 
injured Lincoln, and Lincoln would not have injured Shields. 
If the meeting had taken place, however, nothing but a trag- 
edy could have prevented its being a farce. 

The romance of fighting for the lady to whom he was 
making love, probably deepened Lincoln's devotion, and the 


chivalry and courage of Lincoln in so promptly stepping 
forward as her champion, could not but increase Miss Todd's 
admiration for and attachment to him, and their union soon 
followed. The hostile correspondence took place late in 
September, 1842, and, on the 4th of November thereafter, 
Lincoln and Miss Todd were married. Neither before nor 
after the challenge, had Lincoln any unkind feelings towards 
Shields, and later, during the war of the rebellion, Shields 
having proved himself a brave soldier in the war against 
Mexico, the President gave him an important military com- 

After their marriage, Lincoln and his wife went to live 
in pleasant rooms, in a very comfortable hotel, called the 
" Globe Tavern," kept by Mrs. Bede, and about two hun- 
dred yards southwest of the old " State House," paying four 
dollars a week only for board and rooms. On one occasion 
shortly after her marriage, Mrs. Lincoln, speaking of a friend 
who had married an old but very rich man, said : " I would 
rather marry a good man, a man of mind, with bright pros- 
pects for success, and power, and fame, than all the horses, 
and houses, and gold in the world." In 1844. Mr. Lincoln 
purchased of the Rev. Nathan Dresser, a small but com- 
fortable house, in which he lived until his election as Presi- 
dent, and his removal to Washington. 

There are few Congressional districts in the republic 
which have been represented by such a succession of distin- 
guished men, as those who represented the Sangamon district 
from 1839 to 1850 ; beginning with John T. Stuart, who was 
in 1839 elected over Stephen A. Douglas, and served until 
March, 1843. ^ n J 842, three very prominent men were the 
whig candidates, Lincoln, Edward D. Baker, and John J. 
Hardin. Baker carried the delegation from Sangamon 
County, and Lincoln was one of the delegates to the Con- 
gressional Convention, and was instructed to vote for Baker. 
He took his defeat with good humor, saying, when he tried to 
nominate Baker : " I shall be fixed a good deal like the fellow 


who is made groomsman to the man who cut him out, and 
is marrying his own girl." ! On this occasion Hardin, of 
Morgan County, was nominated and elected. In 1843, 
Baker was nominated and elected, and, in 1846, Lincoln was 
elected. Of these four members of Congress, Stuart alone 
survives, at the age of seventy-five years. The others all 
died by violence. Hardin was shot on the field of B'uena 
Vista. Baker received a volley of bullets as he was leading 
his troops at Ball's Bluff, in Virginia, and Lincoln was assas- 

Mr. Lincoln's opponent on the democratic ticket for 
Congress, was the celebrated Methodist circuit preacher, 
Peter Cartwright. The democrats supposed that the back- 
woods preacher would " run " far ahead of his ticket, and 
might beat Lincoln. But it fell otherwise ; the " Sangamon 
Chief," as he was sometimes called, receiving a majority of 
sixteen hundred and eleven, a vote considerably greater 
than his party strength. 

In 1844, in the presidential contest between Clay and 
Polk, Lincoln, who had admired Clay from boyhood, was 
placed at the head of the electoral ticket, and canvassed with 
great zeal and ability, Illinois, and a part of Indiana for his 
favorite. In this campaign he again met the leaders of the 
democratic party, and especially Douglas, and added to his 
reputation as one of the ablest and most popular speakers 
of the Northwest. His chagrin and disappointment at the 
election of Polk was very great. 

The partnership between Judge Logan and Lincoln was, 
on the 20th day of September, 1843, dissolved, and on the 
same day he formed a partnership with a young lawyer, 
William H. Herndon, a relative of one of his old Clary 

1. Of Colonel Baker, the following Incredible, but characteristic anecdote was 
current around the mess-table of the early circuit-riders and judges of Central Illi- 
nois. Soon after he settled in Springfield, a friend found him in the woods, seated on a 
fallen tree, weeping bitterly. On being pressed to tell the cause of his grief, he 
said : " I have been reading the Constitution of the United States, and I find a provis- 
ion that none but native citizens can be President. I was born in England, and am 


Grove friends, which partnership continued until his election 
as President. 

A very amusing illustration of Lincoln's power to enter- 
tain in conversation was given the author by the late Judge 
Peck. 1 In June, 1842, the year after Martin Van Buren 
had left the presidential office, he and the late Secretary of 
the Navy, Mr. Paulding, made a journey to the West, and 
visited Illinois. The party on their way to the capital were 
delayed by bad roads, and compelled to spend the night at 
Rochester, some miles from Springfield. The accommoda- 
tions at this place were very poor, and a few of the ex-Presi- 
dent's Springfield friends, taking some refreshments, went 
out to meet him, and try and aid in entertaining him. 
Knowing Lincoln's ability as a talker and narrator of anec- 
dotes, they begged him to go with them, and aid in making 
their guest at the country inn pass the evening as pleas- 
antly as possible. Lincoln, with his usual good nature, 
went with them, and, on their arrival, entertained the party 
for hours with graphic descriptions of Western life, bar 
anecdotes, and witty stories. Judge Peck, who was of the 
party, and then a democrat, and a warm friend of the ex- 
President, says that Lincoln was at his best, and adds: "I 
never passed a more joyous night." There was a constant 
succession of brilliant anecdotes and funny stories, accom- 
panied by loud laughter in which Van Buren bore his full 
share. " He also," says the Judge, "gave us incidents and 
anecdotes of Elisha Williams, and other leading members of 
the New York Bar, and going back to the days of Hamilton 
and Burr — altogether there was a right merry time, and 
Mr. Van Buren said the only drawback upon his enjoyment 
was that his sides were sore from laughing at Lincoln's 
stories for a week thereafter." 

1. See also to the same effect the statement of the Hon. Joseph Gillespie, in the 
Lincoln Memorial Album, p. 461. "As a boon companion," says Judge Gillespie, 
" Lincoln, though he never drank a drop of liquor, nor used tobacco in any form in his- 
life, was without a rival." 


During Lincoln's administration, John Van Buren, son 
of President Van Buren, and distinguished alike for his bril- 
liant wit and his eloquence, visited Washington, and, dining 
with the President, the latter recalled and described to the 
son, the night which Van Buren and he had passed so pleas- 
antly at the country inn on the prairies of Illinois. 



Lincoln Takes His Seat in Congress. — His Colleagues and 
Associates. — How He Impressed Them. — His First Speech. — 
Speech on the Mexican War. — Delegate to National Con- 
vention. — His Campaign Speech. — Introduces Bill to Abol- 
ish Slavery in District of Columbia. — Seeks Appointment as 
Commissioner of Land Office. — Declines to be Governor of 
Oregon. — At the Bar. — Defends Bill Armstrong. — Lincoln 
as an Advocate, Lawyer and Orator. 

In December, 1847, Lincoln took his seat in Congress 
(the 30th) the only whig member from Illinois. His great 
rival, Douglas, had already run a brilliant career in the 
House, and now for the first time had become a member of 
the United States Senate. These two had met at Vandalia, 
and in the Illinois Legislature had always been rivals, and 
each was now the acknowledged leader of his party. The 
democratic party had, since the year 1836, been strongly in 
the majority, and Douglas in his state, more than any other 
man, directed and controlled it. Among Lincoln's colleagues 
in Congress from Illinois, were John Wentworth, John A. 
McClernand and William A. Richardson. This Congress 
had among its members many very distinguished men. 
Amongthem were ex-President John Quincy Adams ; George 
Ashmun, who presided over the convention which nominated 
Lincoln for President; Caleb B. Smith, a member of his cab- 
inet ; John G. Palfrey, the historian of New England ; Rob- 
ert C. Winthrop, speaker ; Jacob Collamer, postmaster-gen- 



eral ; Andrew Johnson, elected Vice-President with Lincoln 
on his second election ; Alexander H. Stephens, Vice-Presi- 
dent of the Confederacy; besides Toombs, Rhett, Cobb, and 
other prominent leaders in the rebellion. 

In the Senate were Daniel Webster, John P. Hale, John 
A. Dix, Simon Cameron, Lewis Cass, Thomas H. Benton, 
John J. Crittenden, Mason and Hunter from Virginia, John 
C. Calhoun, and Jefferson Davis. Lincoln entered Congress 
as the leader of the whig party in Illinois, and with the rep- 
utation of being an able and effective popular speaker. It 
is curious to learn the impression which this prairie orator, 
with no college culture, made upon his associates. Robert 
C. Winthrop, a scholarly and conservative man, representing 
the intelligence of Boston, says, when writing thirty-four 
years thereafter : " I recall vividly the impressions I then 
formed, both of his ability and amiability. We were old 
whigs together, and agreed entirely upon all questions of 
public interest. I could not always concur in the policy of 
the party which made him President, but I never lost my 
personal regard for him. For shrewdness and sagacity, and 
keen practical sense, he has had no superior in our day and 
generation." 1 

The vice-president of the Confederacy, Alexander H. 
Stephens, writing seventeen years after Lincoln's death, and 
recalling their service together in Congress, from 1847 to 
1849, says : 

" I knew Mr. Lincoln well and intimately, and we were both ardent 
supporters of General Taylor for President in 1848. Mr. Lincoln, 
Toombs, Preston, myself and others, formed the first Congressional Tay- 
lor club, known as 4 The Young Indians,' and organized the Taylor 
movement, which resulted in his nomination." * * * 

" Mr. Lincoln was careful as to his manners, awkward in his 
speech, but was possessed of a very strong, clear, vigorous mind." * 

* * " He always attracted and riveted the attention of the 
House when he spoke. His manner of speech as well as thought was 
original. He had no model. He was a man of strong convictions, and 
what Carlyle would have called an earnest man. He abounded in anec- 

1. The Lincoln Mem arial Album, p. 165. 


dote. He illustrated everything he was talking about by an anecdote, 
always exceedingly apt and pointed, and socially he always kept his 
company in a roar of laughter." * 

From the time they parted as members of the Taylor 
Club, until the Hampton Roads Conference in 1865, of 
which hereafter, these two remarkable men did not again 

Lincoln took a more prominent part in the debates than 
is usual for new members. On the 8th of January, 1848, 
writing to his young partner, Herndon, he says: " By way 
of experiment, and of getting ' the hang of the house,' I 
made a little speech two or three days ago on a post-office 
question of no general interest." (He was second on the 
Committee of Post-offices and Post Roads.) "I find speak- 
ing here and elsewhere almost the same thing. I was about 
as badly scared, and no more than when I speak in court." 
Writing to his partner again soon after, he gave the young 
gentleman some very good advice. " The way for a young 
man to rise," said he, " is to improve himself every way he 
can, never suspecting anybody wishes to hinder him. Allow 
me to assure you that suspicions and jealousy never did help 
any man in any station." And it may be truthfully added, 
as will hereafter appear, that no man was ever more free 
from these faults than Lincoln. 

On the 12th of January, 1848, he made an able and 
elaborate speech on the Mexican war, which established his 
reputation in Congress as an able debater. Douglas, long 
afterwards, in their joint debate at Ottawa, charged him with 
taking the side of the enemy against his own country in this 
Mexican war. To which Lincoln replied: " I was an old 
whig, and whenever the democratic party tried to get me 
to vote that the war had been righteously begun by the 
President, I would not do it. But when they asked money, 
or land warrants, or anything to pay the soldiers, I gave 
the same vote that Douglas did." 2 

1. Lincoln Memorial Album, p. 241. 

2. Lincoln and Douglas debates. 


He had offered resolutions calling on the President, Mr. 
Polk, for a statement of facts respecting the beginning of 
this war, and speaking to these resolutions said: 

"Let him answer, fully, fairly, and candidly. Let him remember he 
sits where Washington sat, and so remembering let him answer as Wash- 
ington would answer." * * 

"But if the President," he said, "trusting to escape scrutiny by 
fixing the public gaze upon the exceeding brightness of military glory, 
that attractive rainbow that rises in showers of blood, that serpent's eye 
that charms to destroy, plunged into it (the war) and was swept on and 
on till disappointed in the ease with which Mexico might be enslaved, 
he now finds himself he knows not where." 

On the 27th of July, after he had, as a delegate from 
"Illinois, aided to nominate General Taylor for President, 
Lincoln made what is called a campaign speech to promote 
his election against Cass, the democratic candidate. For 
that purpose the speech was very effective. It is full of 
satire, sarcasm, and wit; some of it rather coarse, but it was 
designed to reach and influence a class of voters by whom 
coarse and keen illustrations would be appreciated. The 
following extract will exhibit its characteristics: 

' ' But in my hurry I was very near closing on the subject of military 
coat-tails before I was done with it. There is one entire article of the 
sort I have not discussed yet; I mean the military tail you democrats are 
now engaged in dovetailing on to the great Michigander. Yes, sir, all 
his biographers (and they are legion) have him in hand, tying him to 
a military tail, like so many mischievous boys tying a dog to a bladder 
of beans. True, the material they have is very limited, but they drive at 
it might and main. He mvaded Canada without resistance, and he out- 
vaded it without pursuit. As he did both under orders, I suppose there 
was to him credit in neither of them; but they are made to constitute a 
large part of the tail. He was volunteer aid to General Harrison on the 
day of the battle of the Thames, and as you said in 1840 that Harrison 
was picking whortleberries, two miles off, while the battle was fought, I 
suppose it is a just conclusion with you to say Cass was aiding Harrison 
to pick whortleberries. This is about all, except the mooted question of 
the broken sword. Some authors say he broke it; some say he threw it 
away, and some others, who ought to know, say nothing about it. Per- 
haps it would be a fair historical compromise to say, if he did not break 
it, he did not do anything else with it." 


Lincoln entered into this presidential canvass very zeal- 
ously. Writing to Herndon to get up clubs and get the young 
men to join, he says: " Let everyone play the part he can play 
the best. Some can speak, some sing, and all can hallo ! "' 
He went to New York and New England, speaking often 
and earnestly for Taylor. Returning, he spoke with great 
effect in Illinois and other parts of the West during the can- 
vass. General Taylor's election inspired hopes that the 
extension of slavery might be stopped, and that the admin- 
istration might be brought back to the policy of prohibiting 
it in the territories. 

The most important and significant act of Lincoln at this 
Congress, was the introduction by him into the House, of a 
bill to abolish slavery in the District of Columbia. The bill 
provided that no person from without the District should be 
held to slavery within it, and that no person born thereafter 
within the District should be held to slavery. It provided 
for the gradual emancipation of all the slaves in the District, 
with compensation to their masters, and that the act should 
be submitted to a vote of the people of the District. He 
prepared the bill with reference to the condition of public 
sentiment at that time, and what was possible to be accom- 
plished. The bill represents what he hoped he could carry 
through Congress, and into a law, rather than his own 
abstract ideas of justice and right. He believed, as he had 
declared many times, and emphatically in his protest to the 
resolutions in the Illinois Legislature, that slavery was 
" unjust to the slave, impolitic to the nation," and he meant 
to do all in his power to restrict and get rid of it. 

Even this bill, mild as it was, would not be tolerated by 
the slave states, and their opposition was so decided and 
unanimous that he was not able even to bring it to a vote. 
He also at about this time voted against paying for slaves 
lost by officers in the Seminole war. His term as member of 
Congress expired March 4, 1849, and he was not a candi- 
date for re-election. 


He sought an appointment as Commissioner of the Gen- 
eral Land Office from President Taylor, but, to the surprise 
of his friends, it was given to Justin Butterfield, a distin- 
guished lawyer from Chicago. The offices of secretary and 
governor of Oregon Territory were offered to him, but were 
declined. When it is remembered how very active and 
influential he had been in securing the nomination and 
election of Taylor, the failure of the administration to 
appoint him to the office which his friends asked, is strange,, 
and it was a great disappointment. He did not hesitate to 
decline the appointment to Oregon, conscious, perhaps, that 
there was a great work for him to do on this side of the 
Rocky Mountains. 

After he became President, the member of Congress rep- 
resenting the Chicago district, in behalf of a son of Mr. 
Butterfield, asked for an appointment in the army. When 
the application was presented, the President paused, and 
after a moment's silence, said: " Mr. Justin Butterfield once 
obtained an appointment I very much wanted, and in which 
my friends believed I could have been useful, and to which 
they thought I was fairly entitled, and I have hardly ever 
felt so bad at any failure in my life, but I am glad of an 
opportunity of doing a service to his son." And he made 
an order for his commission. He then spoke of the offer 
made to him of the governorship of Oregon. To which the 
reply was made: " How fortunate that you declined. If 
you had gone to Oregon, you might have come back as sen- 
ator, but you would never have been President." "Yes, you 
are probably right," said he, and then with a musing, dreamy 
look, he added: " I have all my life been a fatalist. What 
is to be will be, or rather, I have found all my life as Ham- 
let says: 

' There's a divinity that shapes our ends, 
Rough-hew them how we will. ' " 

Mrs. Lincoln was not with him much of the time while he 
was in Congress. Robert Todd, their eldest son, was born 
on the i st day of August, 1843; the second, Edward Baker, 


on the ioth of March, 1846; the third, William Wallace, on 
December 21st, 1850; and the fourth, Thomas, on April 4th, 
1853. The mother was too busily engaged with family cares 
and maternal duties while her husband was at Washington, 
to leave home for any considerable time. His term having 
expired, and he having failed to obtain the office his friends 
sought for him, he left the capital for his prairie home, not 
to return until he went back, amidst the throes and convul- 
sions of the rebellion, clothed with the fearful responsibilities 
of the Executive. While at Washington as member of Con- 
gress, did any dim, mysterious vision of the future dawn 
upon his mind ? Did he sometimes dream of the White 
House, of the Presidency, of emancipation? Did the 
prophecy of the Voudou negress ever recur to him ? What- 
ever his dreams, he returned to Illinois to devote himself, 
with zeal and energy, to the practice of the law. 

Before entering upon the history of the slavery conflict, 
let us pause and consider Mr. Lincoln as a lawyer, advocate, 
and orator. From his retirement from Congress in 1849, 
until the great Lincoln and Douglas debate in 1858, and, 
indeed, until his nomination for the Presidency in i860, he 
was engaged in the laborious and successful practice of his 
profession. He rode the circuit, attended the terms of the 
Supreme Court of the state and United States circuit and 
district courts, and was frequently called on special retainers 
to other states. He had a very large, and it might have 
been a very lucrative practice, but his fees were, as his 
brethren of the bar declared, ridiculously small. He lived 
simply, comfortably, and respectably, with neither expensive 
tastes nor habits. His wants were few and simple. He oc- 
cupied a small, unostentatious house in Springfield, and was 
in the habit of entertaining, in a very simple way, his friends 
and his brethren of the bar, during the terms of the Court 
and the sessions of the Legislature. Mrs. Lincoln often en- 
tertained small numbers of friends at dinner, and somewhat 
larger numbers at evening parties. In his modest and sim- 
ple home, everything was orderly and refined, and there was 


always on the part of both Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln, a cordial, 
hearty, western welcome, which put every guest perfectly at 
ease. Her table was famed for the excellence of its rare 
Kentucky dishes, and in season was loaded with venison, 
wild turkeys, prairie chickens, quails, and other game, which 
in those early days was abundant. Yet it was the genial 
manner and ever kind welcome of the hostess, and the wit 
and humor, anecdote, and unrivalled conversation of the 
host, which formed the chief attraction, and made a dinner 
at Lincoln's cottage an event to be remembered. 

Lincoln's income from his profession was from $2,000 to 
$3,000 per annum. His property at this time consisted of 
his house and lot in Springfield, a lot in the town of Lincoln, 
which had been given to him, and 160 acres of wild land in 
Iowa, which he had received for his services in the Black 
Hawk war. He owned a few law and miscellaneous books. 
All his property may have been of the value of $10,000 or 

When he returned from Washington in 1849, he would 
have been instantly recognized in any court room in the 
United States, as being a very tall specimen of that type of 
long, large-boned men produced in the northern part of the 
Mississippi valley, and exhibiting its most peculiar character- 
istics in the mountains of Virginia, Tennessee, Kentucky, 
and in Illinois. He would have been instantly recognized 
as a western man, and his stature, figure, dress, manner, 
voice, and accent indicated that he was from the Northwest. 
In manner he was cordial, frank, and friendly, and, although 
not without dignity, he put every one perfectly at ease. 
The first impression a stranger meeting him or hearing him 
speak would receive, was that of a kind, sincere and genuinely 
good man, of perfect truthfulness and integrity. He was 
one of those men whom everybody liked at first sight. If he 
spoke, before many words were uttered, the hearer would 
be impressed with his clear, direct good sense, his simple, 
homely, short Anglo-Saxon words, by his wonderful wit and 


Attention has already been called to the great number of 
short and simple words in his writings and speeches. Lin- 
coln was, upon the whole, the strongest jury lawyer in the 
state. He had the ability to perceive with almost intuitive 
quickness the decisive point in the case. In the examina- 
tion and cross-examination of a witness he had no equal. 
He could compel a witness to tell the truth when he meant 
to lie, and if a witness lied he rarely escaped exposure under 
Lincoln's cross-examination. He could always make a jury- 
laugh, and often weep, at his pleasure. His legal arguments 
addressed to the judges were always clear, vigorous, and 
logical, seeking to convince rather by the application of 
principle than by the citation of cases. A stranger going 
into court when he was trying a cause would, after a few 
moments, find himself on Lincoln's side, and wishing him 
success. He seemed to magnetize every one. He was so- 
straightforward, so direct, so candid, that every spectator 
was impressed with the idea that he was seeking only truth 
and justice. He excelled in the statement of his case. 
However complicated, he would disentangle it, and present 
the real issue in so simple and clear a way that all could 
understand. Indeed, his statement often rendered argument 
unnecessary, and frequently the court would stop him and 
say: " If that is the case, Brother Lincoln, we will hear the 
other side." His illustrations were often quaint and homely, 
but always apt and clear, and often decisive. He always 
met his opponent's case fairly and squarely, and never inten- 
tionally misstated law or evidence. 1 

Out of a multitude of causes a few are cited for illustra- 
tion. One of the most interesting cases in which Lincoln 
was engaged early in his professional life, grew out of the 
sale of a negro girl named Nancy. It was the case of Bailey 

1. Judge David Davis said of Lincoln: 4t In order to bring into activity his great 
powers, it was necessary he should be convinced of the right and justice of the case 
he advocated. When so convinced, whether the case was great or small, he was 
usually successful." 

Judge Thomas Drummond says: "He had a clearness of statement which was 
itself an argument. * * He was one of the most successful lawyers we ever had in 
the state." 


vs. Cromwell, argued and decided at the December term of 
the Supreme Court of Illinois, 1841. 1 

The girl was alleged to have been held as an indentured 
servant or slave, and had been sold by Cromwell to Bailey, 
and a promissory note taken in payment. Suit was brought 
in the Tazewell Circuit Court to recover the amount of the 
note, and judgment was recovered. The case was taken to 
the Supreme Court, and Mr. Lincoln made an elaborate 
argument in favor of reversing the judgment. Judge Logan 
represented the opposite side. Lincoln contended, among 
other positions, that the girl was free by virtue of the ordi- 
nance of 1787, prohibiting slavery in the Northwestern Ter- 
ritory, of which Illinois was a part, as well as by the consti- 
tution of the state, which prohibited slavery. He insisted 
that, as it appeared from the record that the consideration of 
the note was the sale of a human being in a free state, the 
note was void; that a human being in a free state could not 
be the subject of sale. The court, the opinion given by 
Judge Breese, reversed the judgment. The argument by 
Lincoln, a very brief and imperfect statement of which is 
given in the report, was most interesting, and the question 
of slavery under the constitution, the ordinance of 1787, and 
the law of nations, was very carefully considered. He was 
then thirty-two years of age, and it is probable that in 
preparing the argument of this case he gave the subject of 
slavery and the legal questions connected with it a more full 
and elaborate investigation than ever before. 2 

The suit of Case vs. Snow, tried at the spring term of 
tne Tazewell Circuit Court, illustrates both Mr. Lincoln's 
love of justice and his adroitness in managing an ordinary 
case. He had brought an action in behalf of an old man 
named Case, against the Snow boys, to recover the amount 
•of a note given by them in payment for what was known as a 

1. See 3d Scammon's Illinois Reports, p. 71, where an imperfect report of the case 
■will be found. 

2. Mr. Lincoln's private library was never large. There was a respectable law 
library at Springfield, and a fair miscellaneous library in the office of the Secretary of 
State, to which he always had access. 


" prairie team." This consists of a breaking plow and two 
or three yoke of oxen, making up a team strong enough to 
break up the strong, tough, thick turf of the prairie. The 
defendants, the Snow boys, appeared by their counsel and 
plead that they were infants, or minors, when the note was 
given. On the trial Lincoln produced the note, and it was 
admitted that it was given for the oxen and plow. The 
defendants then offered to prove that they were under 
twenty-one years of age when they signed the note. " Yes," 
said Lincoln, " I guess that is true and we will admit it." 

" Is there a count in the declaration for oxen and plow, 
sold and delivered ? " inquired Judge Treat, the presiding 

" Yes," said Lincoln, "and I have only two or three 
questions to ask of the witness." This witness had been 
called to prove the age of the Snow boys. 

" Where is that prairie team now ? " said Lincoln. 

"On the farm of the Snow boys." 

" Have you seen any one breaking prairie with it lately ? " 

"Yes," replied the witness, "the Snow boys were break- 
ing up with it last week." 

" How old are the boys now ? " 

" One is a little over twenty-one, and the other near 

" That is all," said Mr. Lincoln. 

" Gentlemen," said Lincoln to the jury, " these boys never 
would have tried to cheat old farmer Case out of these oxen 
and that plow, but for the advice of counsel. It was bad 
advice, bad in morals and bad in law. The law never sanc- 
tions cheating, and a lawyer must be very smart indeed to 
twist it so that it will seem to do so. The judge will tell you 
what your own sense of justice has already told you, that 
these Snow boys, if they were mean enough to plead the 
baby act, when they came to be men should have taken the 
oxen and plow back. They can not go back on their con- 
tract, and also keep what the note was given for." The 


jury without leaving their seats gave a verdict for old farmer 
Case. 1 

One of the great triumphs of Lincoln at the bar was won 
in the trial of William D. Armstrong, indicted with one Nor- 
ris, for murder. The crime had been committed in Mason 
County, near a camp-meeting. Norris was convicted and 
sent to the state prison. Armstrong took a change of venue 
to Cass County, on the ground that the prejudices of the 
people in Mason County were so strong against him that he 
could not have a trial. He was the son of Jack Armstrong, 
who had been so kind to Lincoln in early life. Jack was 
.dead, but Hannah, who when Lincoln was roughing it at 
New Salem, had been so motherly; who had made his shirts, 
and mended his well worn clothes; who, when Lincoln was 
depressed and gloomy, had in her rude and motherly way 
tried to cheer him ; she now came to him and begged that 
he would save her son from the gallows. She had watched 
his rise to distinction with pride and exultation. In a cer- 
tain way she looked upon him as her boy, and she believed 
in him. Lincoln, and Lincoln only, as she thought, could 
save Bill from disgrace and death ; he could do anything. 
She went to Springfield, and begged him to come and save 
her son. He at once relieved her by promising to do all he 

The trial came on at Beardstown, in the spring of 1858. 
The evidence against Bill was very strong. Indeed, the case 
for the defence looked hopeless. Several witnesses swore 
positively to his guilt. The strongest evidence was that of a 
man who swore that at eleven o'clock at night he saw 
Armstrong strike the deceased on the head. That the moon 
was shining brightly and was nearly full, and that its posi- 
tion in the sky was just about that of the sun at ten o'clock 
in the morning, and that by it he saw Armstrong give the 
mortal blow. This was fatal, unless the effect could be 
broken by contradiction or impeachment. Lincoln quietly 
looked up an almanac, and found that, at the time this, the 

1. See Lincoln Memorial Album, pp. 187-188. 


principal witness, declared the moon to have been shining 
with full light, there was no moon at all. There were some 
contradictory statements made by other witnesses, but on the 
whole the case seemed almost hopeless. Mr. Lincoln made 
the closing argument. " At first," says Mr. Walker, one of 
the counsel associated with him, " he spoke slowly and care- 
fully, reviewed the testimony, and pointed out its contradic- 
tions, discrepancies, and impossibilities. When he had thus 
prepared the way, he called for the almanac, and showed 
that, at the hour at which the principal witness swore he had 
seen, by the light of the full moon, the mortal blow given, 
there was no moon at all." l 

This was the climax of the argument, and of course 
utterly disposed of the principal witness. But it was Lin- 
coln's eloquence which saved Bill Armstrong. His closing 
appeal must have been irresistible. His associate says : 
" The last fifteen minutes of his speech was as eloquent as I 
ever heard." * * "The jury sat as if entranced, and 
when he was through, found relief in a gush of tears.'' One 
of the prosecuting attorneys says : " He took the jury by 
storm." * "There were tears in Lincoln's eyes while he 
spoke, but they were genuine." * * "I have said an hun- 
dred times that it was Lincoln's speech that saved that crim- 
inal from the gallows." He pictured to the jury the old 
Armstrong home, the log cabin at New Salem; the aged 
mother, her locks silvered with time, was sitting by his side, 
as he spoke; all the associations of those early days came 
thronging up, his own feelings were thoroughly roused, and 
when he was once thus roused, his personal magnetism was 
well nigh irresistible. None but men of the strongest will 

1. The story has been widely circulated that Mr. Lincoln deceived the jury, by 
producing an almanac of a year other than the one in which the man was killed. Mr. 
Henry Shaw says (see Lamon's Lincoln, p. 330), " I have seen several of the jury, who 
sat in the case, who only recollect that the tiimavLtic floored the witness. * * 

" My own opinion is that Lincoln was entirely innocent of any deception in the 
matter. Mr. Milton Logan, the foreman of the jury, says that he is willing to make 
an affidavit that the almanac was of the year of the murder." Shaw adds: "Arm- 
strong was not cleared by want of testimony against him, but by the irresistible 
appeal of Mr. Lincoln " to the jury. 


could stand against his appeals. The jury in this case knew 
and loved Lincoln, and they could not resist him. He told 
the anxious mother: " Your son will be cleared before sun- 
down." When Lincoln closed, and while the state's attor- 
ney was attempting to reply, she left the court room and 
" went down to Thompson's pasture," where, all alone, she 
remained awaiting the result. Her anxiety may be imag- 
ined, but before the sun went down that day, Lincoln's mes- 
senger brought to her the joyful tidings : " Bill is free. 
Your son is cleared." For all of this Lincoln would accept 
nothing but thanks. 

There was a latent power in him, which when roused was 
literally overwhelming. There were times, when fired by 
^reat injustice, fraud, or wrong, when his denunciation was 
.so crushing that the object of it would be driven from the 
court room. A story is current around Springfield, that on 
-one occasion his reply to an outrageous attack by a man 
named Thomas, was so severe, that Thomas was completely 
broken down, and ran out of the court room, weeping with 
rage and mortification. 

The only instance known of his taking a fee regarded as 
large, was his charge of five thousand dollars to the Illinois 
Central Railroad, for very important services in the Supreme 
Court. This great corporation, extending with its road bed 
and branches, more than seven hundred miles in the state, 
was party in a case involving questions of difficulty ; in this 
case Lincoln appeared and obtained a decision of vast pecu- 
niary importance to the road. His friends, knowing his cus- 
tom of charging small fees, insisted that in this case, and 
against a client so abundantly able to pay, his charge should 
be liberal, and bear some relation to the great service he had 

In 1855, he was retained by Manny, in the great 
patent case of McCormick vs. Manny, involving the 
question of the infringement of the McCormick reaping 
machine patents. It was argued at Cincinnati, before Jus- 
tice McLean, of the Supreme Court of the United States. 


Lincoln was associated with Edwin M. Stanton, afterwards 
his Secretary of War, and George Harding, of Philadelphia. 
On the side of McCormick were William H. Seward, Reverdy 
Johnson, and Edward N. Dickinson. 1 

The last case Mr. Lincoln ever tried, was that of Jones 
vs. Johnson, in April and May, i860, in the United States 
Circuit Court, at Chicago. The case involved the title to 
land of very great value, the accretion on the shores of Lake 
Michigan. During the trial, Judge Drummond and all the 
counsel on both sides, including Mr. Lincoln, dined together 
at the house of the author. Douglas and Lincoln were at the 
time both candidates for the nomination for President. 
There were active and ardent political friends of each at the 
table, and when the sentiment was proposed, " May Illinois 
furnish the next President," it was drunk with enthusiasm by 
the friends of both Lincoln and Douglas. 

Was Lincoln, then, an orator ? Yes, at times as great as 
the greatest of orators. He was always simple, earnest, and 
entirely sincere. At times he rose to the very highest elo- 
quence — on rare occasions when greatly moved. When car- 
ried away by some great theme, with some vast audience 
before him, he seemed at times like one inspired. He would 
begin in a diffident and awkward manner, but, as he became 
absorbed in his subject, then there would come that wonder- 
ful transformation, of which so many have spoken. Self-con- 
sciousness, diffidence, and awkwardness disappeared. His 
attitude became dignified, his figure seemed to expand, his. 
features were illuminated, his eyes blazed with excitement, 
and his action became bold and commanding. Then his 
voice and everything about him became electric, his cadence 
changed with every feeling, and his whole audience became 
completely magnetized. Every sentence called forth a 
responsive emotion. To see Lincoln, on such great occa- 
sions, on an open prairie, the central figure of ten thousand 
people, every sound but that of his voice hushed to perfect 
silence, every eye bent upon him, every ear open, eager to 

1. See McCormick vs. Manny, 6 McLean's Rep. p. 539. 


catch each word, his voice clear and powerful, and of a key 
that could be distinctly heard by all the vast multitude ; to hear 
him on such occasions, speaking on the great themes of lib- 
erty and slavery, was to hear Demosthenes thundering against 
Philip ; it was like hearing Patrick Henry plead for 
American liberty. 



Slavery at the Adoption of the Constitution. — Efforts for 
its Abolition. — Ordinance of 1787. — Its Growth. — Its 
Acquisition of Territory. — Florida. — Louisiana. — The 
Missouri Compromise. — Annexation of Texas. — The Wilmot 
Proviso. — Mexican Provinces Seized. — The Liberty Party. 
— Its Growth. — The Buffalo Convention.— The Compro- 
mise of 1850. 

The life of Lincoln had thus far been one of prepara- 
tion. He had hardly begun his great work. He had become, 
by study and experience, fitted and armed for the great 
career upon which he was now about to enter. His life may be 
considered as divided into three distinct periods, which may 
be thus characterized. The first period, that of preparation, 
embraces his life from his birth in 1809, to 1849-50; the 
second covers the birth, growth, and triumph of the repub- 
lican party from 1850 to i860; the third includes his 
administration and re-election, his triumph in the abolition 
-of slavery and the suppression of the rebellion, closing with 
his death in 1865. When he entered upon his life-work, he 
was, like Moses, the deliverer of the Jews, about forty years 
of age. 

Before entering upon the narrative of the second period 
of his life, let us pause to consider his surroundings. To 
understand and fully appreciate his work, we must first 
sketch in brief outline, the history of African slavery in the 
republic. The antagonism between freedom and slavery 



has never been more strikingly exhibited than in the United 
States. From the beginning, slavery was the only serious 
cause of division in the republic. The people of our coun- 
try were substantially one. They had to a great extent a. 
common lineage, the same religion, literature, laws, and his- 
tory. That portion of the earth known as the United States 
is adapted by its physical conformation to be the home of 
one great national family, and not of many. Without slavery 
the people would naturally have gravitated into one homo- 
geneous nation. But the antagonism between free and slave 
labor produced a great conflict of ideas, growing more and 
more earnest and fierce, until it ended in a tremendous con- 
flict of arms. Let us briefly sketch the history of this 
anomaly of slavery in a nation which, in the words of Lin- 
coln, was "conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposi- 
tion that all men are created equal," and embodying in its- 
Declaration of Independence, the great charter of human 

Slavery was introduced into the English Colonies in 
America, against the protests of the early settlers. As early 
as 1772, the Assembly of Virginia petitioned the British 
Government to stop the importation of slaves. To which, 
petition the King replied that " upon pain of his highest dis- 
pleasure, the importation of slaves should not be, in any 
respect, obstructed." 

The fathers of the revolution tolerated slavery as a tem- 
porary evil, which they justly regarded as incompatible with 
the principles of liberty embraced in the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence, and the Constitution of the United States. They 
never intended that it should be a permanent institution, 
much less, that it should extend beyond the states in which 
it then existed. They confidently hoped that it would soon 
disappear before the moral agencies then operating against 
it. They believed that public opinion, finding expression 
through the press, public discussion, and religious organiza- 
tions, would secure such state and national legislation, as 


would at an early day, secure liberty to all, throughout the 
republic. 1 

At the first general Congress of the colonies, held in 
Philadelphia, in 1774, Jefferson presented a bill of rights, in 
which it is declared that " the abolition of slavery is the 
greatest object of desire of these colonies." In October, 
1774, Congress declared: "We will neither import, nor 
purchase any slave imported after the 1st of December 

On the 14th of April, 1775, there was organized at the 
Sun Tavern, on Second Street, in Philadelphia, the first anti- 
slavery society ever formed. 2 Patrick Henry, in a letter 
dated January 18th, 1773, and addressed to Robert Pleasant, 
afterwards president of the Virginia Abolition Society, says: 
"I believe a time will come when an opportunity will be 
offered to abolish this lamentable evil." General Washington, 
in a letter to Robert Morris, speaking of slavery, says: 
"There is not a man living, who wishes more sincerely than 
I do, to see a plan adopted for the abolition of it." In 1787, 
Benjamin Franklin and Benjamin Rush, both signers of the 
Declaration of Independence, were president and secretary 
of the Pennsylvania Anti-Slavery Society. In 1787, a society 
was formed in New York, of which John Jay,who had presided 
over the Continental Congress, was president, "for promoting 
the manumission of slaves." Alexander Hamilton was a mem- 
ber, and afterwards president. The Maryland Society for the 
promotion of the abolition of slavery was formed in 1789, 
and in the same year, a society for the same purpose was 
organized in Rhode Island. The Connecticut Society was 
organized in 1790, and of this, Dr. Ezra Stiles, president of 
Yale College, was president. The Virginia Society was 

1. There is nowhere to be found in American literature, an exposition of the 
opinions of the fathers on the subject of slavery, and the power of the Federal Gov. 
ernment to control and prohibit its extension in the territories, as full as that con- 
tained in Mr. Lincoln's Cooper Institute speech. It is thorough, exhaustive and 

2. See a very carefully prepared and learned tract by William F. Poole, entitled 
"Anti-Slavery Opinions before 1800." P. 43. 


formed in 1791, and that of New Jersey in 1792.1 The 
officers of these anti-slavery societies were the most eminent 
men of the time. 

In 1780, Pennsylvania passed a law for gradual eman- 
cipation, Rhode Island and Connecticut did the same in 
1784, and New York in 1799. I n J 784, Mr. Jefferson drew 
up an ordinance for the government of the western 
territories, prohibiting slavery after 1800. Had this been 
adopted, there would have been no slave state added to the 
original thirteen, for there would have been no slave terri- 
tories out of which to form new slave states. The original 
thirteen were, state after state, abolishing slavery. The 
institution was thus, in the language of Lincoln, in " the way 
of ultimate extinction." 

The ordinance of 1787, by which freedom was forever 
secured to the Northwest, to the territory out of which were 
formed the important states of Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Mich- 
igan, and Wisconsin, was by far the most important anti- 
slavery measure from the organization of the government 
down to the proclamation of emancipation by Abraham 
Lincoln. Its influence has been decisive, both on the moral 
and martial conflict which was then a thing of the future. 
Without the votes and influence of the Northwest, slavery 
would probably have triumphed. It is true, that the love of 
freedom nurtured by the free schools and literature of New 
England, beginning like the source of her great rivers 
among her granite hills, expanded like those rivers, until it 
became a mighty stream, but it was the broad and majestic 
torrent from the Northwest, which, like its own Mississippi, 
gave to the current of freedom, volume and power and irre- 
sistible strength, until it broke down all opposition and swept 
away all resistance. 

While the principles of the Revolution seemed likely by 
peaceful agencies to destroy slavery, new elements entered 
into the conflict. The most important of these was the 

1. See u Anti-Slavery Opinions before 1800," by William F. Poole. 


invention by Whitney of the cotton-gin, and the rapid 
increase in the production of cotton, thereby making slave 
labor far more profitable. This was followed soon after, by 
a vast addition to the domain of the Union of new territory, 
adapted to the cultivation by negro labor of the cotton plant. 
Then there soon arose also a gigantic pecuniary interest 
which found rapidly acquired wealth in slave labor. A 
powerful cotton and slave aristocracy was with consummate 
skill soon organized, and, with an immense property invested 
in lands and negroes, soon dominated over the cotton states, 
and by and by in its arrogance proclaimed " Cotton is King.'" 
In sympathy with this, there grew up in the more northern 
slave states a powerful interest which sought wealth in rear- 
ing negroes for sale. And simultaneously with these, there 
grew up in the North a strong cotton manufacturing interest 
hostile to any interference with slavery. Knowing their own- 
weakness, feeling the insecurity of property founded upon 
wrong and injustice, the slaveholders, relatively few in num- 
bers, combined and united into a compact, active, bold, 
unscrupulous, and determined political power. They became- 
skillful politicians. They selected their ablest men for lead- 
ers, and kept them in office and power. They carefully 
educated their most talented young men for public life. In 
the free states they bought up, and subsidised, by the rewards 
of official position, many of the most talented and ambi- 
tious public men. The masses of the people in the free 
states, absorbed in material pursuits, engrossed with the labor 
of subduing the forests, and in opening their farms, in build- 
ing towns, cities, schools, churches, colleges, canals, and 
railways, were skillfully kept divided, and were for many 
years ruled by the more adroit and experienced politicians 
of the slave states. 

A great change in public sentiment soon became appa- 
rent. The abolition societies, which not long after the 
organization of the government were very generally formed, 
and embraced among their members the most prominent and 
influential citizens, gradually disappeared, while the religious 


organizations ceased to protest against slavery, and many of 
them went so far as to give the institution their sanction and 

The vigilant and sagacious leaders of the slave power 
began carefully and systematically to strengthen and 
entrench. In 1790, Congress accepted from North Carolina 
the territory now constituting the state of Tennessee, upon 
condition that so much of the ordinance of 1787 as forbade 
slavery should not be applied to it, and that no regulation 
should be made by Congress for the emancipation of slaves. 
This was followed, in 1796, by the admission of Tennessee 
into the Union as a slave state. 

In 1790, the capital was located at Washington, in the 
District of Columbia, upon territory ceded for that purpose 
to the United States by Maryland and Virginia. All the 
laws of these two states relating to slavery were continued 
over this territory. Thus slavery was legalized in the capi- 
tal of the republic, and in a district over which Congress- 
had exclusive jurisdiction and control. The capital, which 
had been on free soil in Philadelphia and New York, was 
removed to slave territory, and this was a most important 
step in strengthening the slave aristocracy. The public 
opinion of the capital to some extent gave tone to national 
sentiment. This change secured for slavery the great and 
active influence of fashionable society. The power of Wash- 
ington society and public opinion over the executive, judi- 
cial, and legislative departments of the government, has 
always been felt, and down to the advent of Lincoln as 
President was an ever present ally of slavery. 

In 1802, Georgia ceded to the United States the country 
lying between her present western boundary and the Missis- 
sippi, providing that the ordinance of 1787 should be 
extended over it, carefully excepting the clause which 
prohibited slavery. From the territory thus ceded came the 
slave state of Mississippi, admitted into the Union in 18 17, 
and the state of Alabama, admitted in 1819. In 1803, the 
United States purchased from France, for fifteen millions of 


dollars, the territory of Louisiana, where there were already 
forty thousand slaves. Louisiana territory was cut up into 
three states: Louisiana, admitted in 181 2; Missouri, admitted 
in 1 82 1, and Arkansas, admitted in 1836. In 1809, the 
United States purchased of Spain the territory of Florida, 
and Florida was admitted as a slave state in 1836. 

Thus the slave aristocracy had secured four new slave 
states from the original territory of the United States, viz.: 
Kentucky, Tennessee, Alabama, and Mississippi, and from 
new territory purchased for its expansion it had secured four 
other states, to-wit: Louisiana, Missouri, Arkansas, and 
Florida. Not content with this, but eager for power and 
expansion, the slaveholders determined to extend the insti- 
tution still further south, and as the first step, resolved to 
annex the immense territory of Texas. The leading slave- 
holding statesmen, shrewd and sagacious, now boldly 
declared that Texas would give them the control of the 
national government, and make slavery secure. " It will 
give a Gibraltar to slavery," said one of their leaders. This 
compact, well organized power now pursued its purpose 
with vigor and sagacity and relentless, determination, strik- 
ing down and politically sacrificing every statesman and 
every public man who dared to oppose its designs. Van 
Buren, Benton, and Wright, each of whom had been a 
trusted leader, were sacrificed because of their opposition to 
the annexation of Texas. 

President Garfield, in Congress in 1865, speaking on the 
joint resolution to abolish and prohibit slavery forever 
throughout the republic, and alluding to the power of slavery, 
exclaimed: " Many mighty men have been slain by her, and 
many proud ones have humbled themselves at her feet. All 
along the coast of the political sea they lie like stranded 
wrecks, broken on the headlands of freedom." 

Unable to accomplish the annexation by treaty, the lead- 
ers of the slavery party finally, in 1845, carried it by joint 
resolution of both houses of Congress. « Thus slavery had 
secured nine slave states, and eighteen senators in the 


United States Senate, thereafter appropriately called the 
citadel of its power. The free states saw with uneasiness 
these vast accessions of territory in the hands of imperious 
slave holders, and murmurs, deep if not loud, began to be 
heard, but the cotton growing and manufacturing interests 
rebuked these murmurs, tried to stifle discussion, and cried 
peace to those who agitated for freedom. 

A most determined resistance was made to the admission 
of Missouri as a slave state. The conflict over this question 
continued from 1819 to i82i,and was finally settled by what 
is known as the Missouri Compromise, carried through Con- 
gress largely by the personal influence of Henry Clay. By 
this compromise, Missouri was admitted as a slave state, with 
a law providing that all the western territory, north of the 
parallel of latitude of 36 30', should be forever free. It was 
the first great and direct conflict between the free and the 
slave states, and was terminated by a victory for the slave- 
holders in the form of this compromise, which all parties for 
a long time considered sacred, and which afterwards, the 
author of its repeal, Douglas, declared that " no ruthless 
hand would ever be reckless enough to disturb." 

Although the admission of Missouri as a slave state was 
opposed with the utmost vigor, yet the importance of the 
question was not at the time fully appreciated by the free 
states. Had Missouri come in as a free state, it would 
probably have been decisive, and have given the balance of 
power to the North, and perhaps might have saved the 
republic from the great Civil War. As a free state, the route 
of free labor, of pioneer colonization, would have passed up 
the valleys of the Mississippi, the Missouri, and the Arkan- 
sas, to all the West, and to Northern Texas. As a slave state, 
free labor was crowded far to the North and West. By this 
success, the slave holders secured in the great state of Mis- 
souri, a most commanding position in the very center of the 
republic. From that time until i860, the control of slavery 
over the National Government was substantially absolute. 
Whatever the slave power seriously determined should be 


done, was done. It is true free labor triumphed in Califor- 
nia and in Kansas, but it was over, and in spite of, the adverse 
influence of the Federal Government. From the Missouri 
struggle down to, and after, the Mexican war, the predomi- 
nating influence of the slave power was marked and decided. 
That power had a great advantage in the provision of the 
Constitution which gave representation to slaves. In the 
apportionment of members of Congress, and in the electoral 
college, a man owning five thousand slaves had a power 
equivalent to three thousand freemen, and practically far 
more, because the slaveholders, relatively few in number, 
and held together by a common interest, were a compact, 
vigilant, sagacious body. They constituted an aristocratic 
class, carefully educated for affairs and public life. Nearly 
all the brightest intellects of the South were absorbed in 
politics, while in the free states, they were engaged in all the 
varied pursuits of civilization. They were inventing labor- 
saving machinery, producing the steam engine, the cotton 
gin, the telegraph, the reaping machine, opening canals and 
constructing railways, rivaling the world in ship building, 
creating a national literature and schools of art, and com- 
peting successfully with Europe in the products of skilled 
labor, in learning, in science, and in the fine arts. During 
this period the slaveholders, though in a minority, largely 
monopolized the offices of power, profit, and influence under 
the government. And it must be admitted, that they fur- 
nished able statesmen to govern the country. They selected 
their best men, trained them for, and kept them permanently 
in public life, while in the North, a custom of rotation in 
office, kept many of the ablest men out of public life, and if 
elected, they did not remain long enough to acquire the 
practical skill and experience necessary to govern a great 
nation. Thus the slave power, united, wise, and watchful,, 
seized and held the reins of government. The national 
capital became a slave mart. The noble old commonwealth 
of Virginia, with her stern motto " sic semper tyrannis" 
sought wealth, but found poverty and barbarism, in breeding 
slaves for sale to the Gulf States. 


We have already stated the fact that this power, desiring 
Texas for the extension of slavery, made war on Mexico, 
and seized and appropriated the coveted territory. Gov- 
ernor Wise, of Virginia, boldly announced the determination 
that " slavery should pour itself abroad, and have no limit 
but the southern ocean." 

This grasping spirit, as will be seen directly, overreached 
itself. Texas, and Mexican territory, was needed for the 
extension of slavery, and Mexico refusing to sell or cede, 
the territory was seized by force. On the 7th of July, 1845, 
Commodore Sloat, of the United States Navy, issued a proc- 
lamation declaring that California (then a Mexican province) 
"now belongs to the United States." The gallant and 
adventurous Fremont scaled the Rocky Mountains, and took 
possession of that land of gold. Scott and Taylor marched 
their armies at will through Mexico, and took possession of 
its capital. Mexico, unable to resist, yielded all of Texas ; 
New Mexico and Upper and Lower California were also 
ceded, and now the slave power was more confident than 
ever of securing the ultimate control of the republic, and 
of the indefinite extension of the slave empire. But the 
end of the day of their supremacy was rapidly approaching. 

When, in 1846, President Polk asked an appropriation of 
two millions, with which to negotiate peace, David Wilmot, 
member of Congress from Pennsylvania, moved what is 
known as the " Wilmot Proviso," which declared that it 
should be a condition to the acquisition of any territory from 
Mexico, " that neither slavery nor involuntary servitude 
should ever exist in any part thereof, except for crime, 
whereof the party should be duly convicted." This proviso 
was adopted by the House of Representatives, but was not 
at that session acted upon by the Senate. At the next ses- 
sion, President Polk asked an appropriation of three millions 
for the same purpose, and to that appropriation the same 
proviso was applied. It was adopted, after a fierce contest 
in the House, but rejected in the Senate, and the bill coming 
back to the House, was finally, after a long and passionate 


struggle, passed without the proviso. In the negotiations 
which followed, Mexico sought to make the prohibition of 
slavery a condition of cession, and this especially as slavery 
did not then exist in the territory in question. The United 
States minister peremptorily refused to treat on this basis T 
declaring that " if the whole territory was offered, increased 
ten fold in value, and covered a foot thick with pure gold, 
upon the single condition that slavery should be excluded 
therefrom, he would not entertain the idea, nor even think 
of communicating the proposition to Washington." Such 
was the animus of the Mexican war, and such the arrogance 
of the slave power. Mexico, weak and helpless, her capital 
and provinces held by the Federal troops, was compelled to. 
accept such terms as were dictated to her. But these aggres- 
sions had at last aroused the free states, and brought on at 
last the " Irrepressible Conflict." 

An anti-slavery party, independent of all existing ones, 
was about to be organized, and thereafter rapidly to increase 
in power. In December, 1833, a f ew zealous and determined 
men met in Philadelphia, and formed the American Anti- 
Slavery Society. The convention was composed of sixty- 
two delegates from ten states. 1 John G. Whittier, the poet, 
was secretary. This, with other and similar local associa- 
tions, formed the beginnings of the party which, twenty-seven 
years thereafter, elected the great statesman of Illinois to the 
presidency. These men planted the acorn of that oak 
which, in i860, overshadowed the land. Garrison, Wendell 
Phillips, the Lovejoys, John Quincy Adams, Giddings, Ger- 
rit Smith, Dr. Channing, Cassius M. Clay, and many others 
were pioneers in the great cause of freedom. Differing 
widely in opinions and as to means, yet in various ways they 
exerted a powerful influence in arousing the public mind to 
the wrongs of slavery, and the dangerous encroachments of 
the slave power. 

1. See "Rise and Fall of the Slave Power," by Henry Wilson, pp. 254, 255. Whit- 
tier said thirty years thereafter, and after his fame as a poet had extended over the 
world : " I love perhaps too well the praise and good will of my fellow men, but I set 
a higher value on my name as appended to the anti-slavery declaration of 1833, than 
on the title page of any book." 



The societies thus organized boldly declared their reso- 
lution to exterminate slavery from the republic, but declared 
that this was to be done by moral influences. They encoun- 
tered mobs and personal violence. Their printing presses 
were destroyed. The halls in which they met were burned, 
and some of them were murdered for boldly expressing^ 
by voice and pen, their convictions. While in the free states, 
the outrages of mobs and the various persecutions to which 
the anti-slavery men were subjected, served only rapidly to 
add to their strength, in the slave states, liberty of the press 
and freedom of speech were subject to every outrage, and 
the laws furnished neither protection nor redress. Neither 
at the bar nor in the pulpit, neither from the newspaper nor 
from the stump, not in courts nor in legislative halls, was the 
voice of free debate permitted to be heard. Free negroes 
and fugitives from slavery were scourged, whipped, and tor- 
tured. The literature of the vernacular in school books, 
history, and poetry was expurgated, and the generous and 
manly utterances of liberty stricken from their pages. Such 
was the dark despotism which settled over a republic which 
had been constructed on the principles of the Declaration of 

It was against this despotic power, many of whose repre- 
sentatives were vulgar, gross, licentious, cruel, and treacher- 
ous men, that the free spirit of the North now rose. 
The anti-slavery party, small in numbers, yet full of fiery 
zeal and ardor, and counting in its ranks much of the cul- 
ture and intellect of the nation, grappled with a power which 
at that time controlled the national and nearly all the state 
governments, which dominated both the great parties, ruled 
the churches, the press, and the financial and business inter- 
ests of the country ; a power whose social influence was 
almost omnipotent. It held the press and the sword of the 
nation, and filled every office, from that of village postmas- 
ter to that of President. This small anti-slavery party, 
armed with truth and right, met this giant despotism, and 
ultimately triumphed over it. Although its first vote was so 


small as to be almost counted among the "scattering," in 
1840 it had increased more than ten fold. The ability, elo- 
quence, and genius displayed by its advocates in their 
speeches and publications, largely aided by the encroach- 
ments, cruelties, and arrogance of the slave power, prepared 
the way for the free soil party of 1848. 

In that year the whig party nominated as its candidate 
for President, General Zachary Taylor. The democratic 
party nominated General Lewis Cass over Mr. Van Buren, 
who had opposed the annexation of Texas. Both of these 
great parties refused to take position against the extension of 
slavery. Then the liberty, or anti-slavery democrats, with 
the anti-slavery men of all parties, called the convention 
which met at Buffalo in June, 1848, and organized the free 
soil party. It was largely attended, both by delegates from 
all the free states, and by representatives from Maryland, 
the District of Columbia, Delaware, Virginia, Kentucky, and 
Missouri. Many very distinguished and able men were 
there, who had hitherto acted with the whig and democratic 
parties, and their presence indicated the breaking up of old 
party organizations. Among its leading members were 
Salmon P. Chase, Charles Sumner, Preston King, Charles 
Francis Adams, Benjamin F. Butler of New York, Joshua 
R. Giddings, and many others scarcely less distinguished. 

This memorable convention, made up of many thousands 
of active, intelligent, zealous men, exerted a great influence 
in advancing the cause of freedom. Its declaration of prin- 
ciples was bold and independent. Disclaiming any power 
to interfere with slavery in the states, it declared that Con- 
gress possessed and should exercise the right of prohibiting 
slavery in all the territories. To the demand of the South 
for more slave states and more slave territory, its answer was 
clear and categorical, " No more slave states and no slave 

The leaders of this free soil party were made up of 
ardent, enthusiastic democrats and whigs, active and zealous 
against the encroachments of slavery ; and of the "Old 


Guard." as they called themselves, who had organized and 
led the anti-slavery and liberty parties; and with these 
were many personal friends of Van Buren, indignant at, and 
determined to revenge his sacrifice by the slave power. 
They were determined by all means to defeat General Cass. 
The canvass against the old parties was conducted with a 
zeal, an eloquence, an ability of speech and of the pen, never 
surpassed. It was the romance and poetry of politics, the 
religion of patriotism. 

John Van Buren, the son of the late President, then in the 
meridian of his power, canvassed most of the free states, and 
brought into the discussion an indignant personal feeling 
towards those who had " done his father to death." He 
possessed a fiery eloquence, a scathing wit and sarcasm, 
which rendered him a great popular favorite and secured for 
him a most brilliant national reputation. Each free state 
had its great popular leaders, and the people turned out in 
vast numbers to listen to eloquence, inspired by all the fervor 
and poetry of liberty, and the wrongs and cruelties of 
slavery. John P. Hale, Charles Sumner, Henry Wilson in 
New England, Benjamin F. Butler, William C. Bryant, 
Preston King and John A. Dix in New York, Salmon P. 
Chase and Joshua R. Giddings of Ohio, and David Wilmot 
of Pennsylvania, were among the most active and ardent in 
the contest. Although the ticket carried no electoral vote, 
it received a very large popular support, especially in New 
England, New York, Ohio, and the Northwest, and it 
defeated the election of Cass. General Taylor received the 
support of many earnest anti-slavery whigs. Among them 
were William H. Seward, Horace Greeley, and he who was, 
by and by, to lead the anti- slavery party to victory — Abra- 
ham Lincoln. 

Meanwhile the whig and democratic leaders, alarmed 
by the rapid growth of this new and vigorous party, under- 
took again to settle the slavery question by compromise. 
When. Congress met in December, 1849, the slavery issue 
confronted its members. The United States had acquired 


from Mexico, Upper and Lower California and New Mexico. 
The Wilmot proviso excluding slavery had twice passed the 
House of Representatives, but had been as often rejected by 
the Senate. The slave power had secured a cession of the 
territory, but the extension of slavery into it was not yet 
secure. Fourteen free states had adopted resolutions pro- 
testing against its extension. The slaveholders, fearing the 
result of a struggle in Congress, attempted to frustrate Con- 
gressional action by sending out emissaries to California to 
organize a slave state. After the inauguration of General 
Taylor, in March, 1849, Thomas Butler King, a whig, and 
a warm advocate of slavery, and Senator Gwynne, of Missis- 
sippi, representing the democratic party, went to California 
and sought to get up a state constitution which should secure 
and protect slavery. Slaves were already there. Mr. King 
declared: "We can not settle this question on the other side 
of the Rocky Mountains. We look to you to settle it by 
becoming a state." 

The friends of freedom on the eastern side of the conti- 
nent had not much hope of success in the Constitutional 
Convention of California. They rather expected to be 
compelled to make the fight in Congress on the admission 
of that territory as a slave state. There was then no tele- 
graph spanning the continent, and no railroad to the Pacific, 
and mails were slow and tedious. Few more thrilling mes- 
sages from that distant shore were ever received than that 
which told that the new constitution excluded slavery. It 
was the prelude, heralding the death of the system. The 
miners and laborers of California, who had flocked there in 
great numbers, would not tolerate the competition of the 
slaveholder with his gang of slaves, and they, uniting with 
those who were opposed to slavery from conviction, secured 
by constitutional provision the exclusion of slavery, and 
now, with her free constitution, California presented herself 
at the capital for admission into the Union. 

This was a surprise to the slaveholders, and they, who 
would have welcomed her as a slave state, now wheeled 


about and refused her admission. Thus another issue was 
added to the grave questions growing out of slavery. After 
long debate, Mr. Clay, who had carried through Congress 
the Missouri Compromise, reported a series of measures by 
which he and his associates hoped to settle the slavery 
agitation. California was to be admitted as a free state. 
Territorial governments were to be established in New 
Mexico and Utah, without attaching to them the proviso 
excluding slavery. The claim of Texas to nearly ninety 
thousand square miles of territory north of 36 , 30', and 
thus made free by the Missouri Compromise, was to be 
recognized, and slavery extended over it. Ten millions of 
dollars were to be paid to Texas for her relinquishment of 
New Mexico. The slave trade was to be abolished at the 
national capital, but a new fugitive slave law, cruel and 
stringent in its provisions, was to be enacted. 

These measures, by a combination of the leaders of both 
great parties, were finally forced through Congress. Mr. 
Webster made them the occasion of his celebrated 7th of 
March speech, and now the leaders said: "There shall be 
no more agitation, these measures are a finality, and we will 
have peace," and they drew up and signed a paper declar- 
ing this, and pledging one another to oppose any man wha 
should not so regard them. But they soon learned that the 
conflict between slavery and freedom was irrepressible,, 
inevitable, and must go on until one or the other should 
triumph. In this Lincoln was wiser than Webster, and more 
sagacious than Clay, who in early life had been his great 



Stephen Arnold Douglas. — Repeal of the Missouri Compro- 
mise. — The Nebraska Bill. — Condition of Matters in Kan- 
sas. — Lincoln Comes Forward as the Champion of Free- 
dom. — Speeches at Springfield and Peoria. — Election of 
Trumbull to the United States Senate. 

The 33d Congress convened December 5th, 1853. The 
election of 1852 had resulted in the choice of Franklin 
Pierce as President, General Scott, the whig candidate, 
receiving the votes of only four states. The celebrated com- 
promise measures of 1850, already described, were, it was 
claimed, endorsed by the election of Pierce, and the leaders 
of the slavery party boasted that the slavery question was 
settled, and that the abolitionists and agitators were crushed 
to rise no more. The territory out of which the great 
states of Kansas and Nebraska were to grow, was then 
becoming settled, and the people were asking for the organ- 
ization of territorial governments. Throughout all this ter- 
ritory, slavery had been prohibited by the time-honored Mis- 
souri Compromise. 

The great senatorial leaders, Webster, Clay, Calhoun, and 
Benton, had left the theatre of their renown. In the Senate 
there were three only, who were distinctly anti-slavery men, 
or " free soilers," as they were called — Charles Sumner, 
Salmon P. Chase and John P. Hale. Edward Everett occu- 
pied the seat of Webster, William H. Seward was the leader 
of the anti-slavery whigs, but perhaps the most prominent 



figure then in the Senate was the young and ambitious mem- 
ber from Illinois, Stephen Arnold Douglas. 

Douglas was then not quite forty years old, but had 
already become the idol of his party, and was then in the 
zenith of his popularity. He had had a brilliant career in 
Illinois in the House of Representatives, and since his elec- 
tion to the Senate in 1847, had been constantly rising in 
influence and power. He was especially the favorite of the 
young democracy, who looked upon him as certain, and at 
no distant day, of the presidency. He had a frank, open, 
cordial, familiar manner ; at the same time he was bold, 
decided, and magnetic, possessing the qualities which made 
a popular leader in a degree hardly surpassed by any other 
man in American history. 

Possessed of a retentive memory, without being a scholar 
and without much study, by conversation and otherwise, his 
mind had become well stored with practical knowledge, and 
he was well informed in regard to the history and politics of 
the country. He did not forget anything he had ever read 
or seen or heard, and he had the happy faculty, so useful to the 
politician, of always remembering faces and names. His 
resources were fully at his command, so that he was always 
ready. Although he lacked humor and wit, yet as a speaker 
he had few equals, either in the Senate or on the stump. He- 
had great fluency; he seized the strong points of his case, and 
enforced them with much vigor. His denunciation and 
invective were extremely powerful. 

He was chairman of the Committee on Territories, and 
now had the audacity to introduce, in his bill organizing the 
territories of Kansas and Nebraska, a provision respecting 
the prohibition of slavery. The proposition started the peo- 
ple of the free states like the fire-bell at midnight, and 
opened again the question of slavery, with a violence and 
bitterness never before equalled. The motives which led 
Douglas to introduce this measure were denounced with the 
greatest severity. He was accused of being bribed by the 
promise of the presidency to break down this barrier against 


the extension of slavery. It was charged that the leaders of 
the slavery party dazzled his eyes and bewildered his judg- 
ment by holding up to his eager ambition the White House. 
But whatever his motives, the act was political suicide to him 
and to slavery itself; it was the beginning of the end. From 
that time on, the conflict raged with ever increasing force, 
until slavery was destroyed in the flames which itself had 
kindled. It must be conceded that Douglas carried on the 
conflict with a nerve and vigor, a courage and ability, worthy 
of a nobler cause. 

Senators Seward, Chase, Sumner, and Hale led the oppo- 
sition to the bill. The speech of Mr. Seward against it was 
able, calm, and philosophic. After an historical review of 
the whole question, he spoke of the uselessness of all efforts 
to stifle the love of liberty and hatred of slavery. " You 
may," said he, "drive the slavery question out of these halls 
to-day, but it will revisit them to-morrow. You buried the 
Wilmot proviso here in 1850, and here it is again to-day, 
stalking through these halls incomplete armor." * * * 
" Slavery," he continued, " is an eternal struggle between 
truth and error, right and wrong." * * * "You may 
sooner, by act of Congress, compel the sea to suppress its 
upheavings, and the earth to extinguish its internal fires, than 
oblige the human mind to cease its inquiries, and the human 
heart to desist from its throbbings." In its last maddened 
throes, this early, able champion of liberty was struck down 
by the hand of slavery, the same hand which assassinated 
Lincoln, but not until he had lived as Secretary of State, 
officially to proclaim, that " slavery no longer exists " in the 

At five o'clock, on the 3d of March, 1854, the Nebraska 
bill passed the Senate. On its passage, Senator Seward 
said: " The shifting sands of compromise are passing from 
under my feet." With characteristic hopefulness, he 
exclaimed: " Through all the darkness and gloom of the 
present hour, bright stars are breaking that inspire me with 
hope, and excite me to persevere." Sam Houston, of Texas, 


was one of the two senators from the slave states, who voted 
against the bill. 1 In concluding his speech against it, Hous- 
ton said: "Yon proud symbol" (pointing to the eagle), 
" above your head remains enshrouded in black, as if deplor- 
ing the misfortune that has fallen upon us, or as a fearful 
omen of the future calamities which await our nation in the 
event that this bill becomes a law." 

In the House of Representatives, the struggle over the 
passage of the bill was renewed with still greater violence. 
During the struggle the House remained in continuous ses- 
sion for more than thirty-four hours. Colonel Benton, then 
a. member of the House, and representing St. Louis, vigor- 
ously opposed the bill. Having gone out for refreshments, 
he was, on a call of the House, arrested and brought to the 
bar by the sergeant-at-arms, to offer an excuse for his 
absence. The venerable old man said: " It was neither on 
account of age nor infirmity that I was absent." * * * 
" I went away ammo revertandi, intending to return, re- 
freshed and invigorated, and take my share and sit it out; 
to tell the exact truth, to husband some strength for a pinch 
when it should come, for I did not think we had got to the 
tightest place." 

Benton was indignant at the violation of the compact; he 
saw the danger which would follow, and resisted with all the 
ability and pluck of his best days. 2 

On the 8th of May, 1854, the bill finally passed the 
House. Salvos of artillery from Capitol Hill announced the 
triumph of the slave power, but the boom of these cannon 
awakened echoes and aroused the people, filling them with 
indignation, in every valley and on every hillside in the free 
states. The repeal of the Missouri Compromise shocked 
the moral sense, and was everywhere regarded in the free 

1. John Bell, of Tennessee, was the other. 

2. I am Indebted to my late colleague In Congress, the Hon. E. B. Washburne, 
for much of the material and language of the account of the repeal of the Missouri 
Compromise. He was an able and fearless actor in these exciting scenes, and has 
written a most graphic sketch of them. 


states, not only as a humiliation, but as a gross violation of 
faith. Thoughtful men realized that the days of concession, 
of mutual compromise and forbearance had passed, and that 
the struggle between freedom and slavery was irresistible 
and at hand. 

The repeal of the Missouri Compromise removed the 
barrier against the extension of slavery over an area equal 
in extent to that of the entire thirteen original states. This 
territory was now open, and the leaders of the slaveholders 
determined to occupy and control it, and especially the 
southern portion, called Kansas. The people of the free 
states, betrayed and defeated at Washington, determined to 
prevent this. Douglas and a large portion of the demo- 
cratic party defended the repeal, on the ground that the 
people of each territory should determine for themselves 
whether they would exclude or protect slavery. This doc- 
trine, known as "popular sovereignty," or "squatter sover- 
eignty," became a watchword of that party. Each section 
resolved to colonize and settle Kansas; the one to make it 
a free, and the other a slave state. The slave states had the 
immense advantage of proximity. Kansas was directly west 
of Missouri, and the only direct route to it was across Mis- 
souri, and up her great river to its border. Western Mis- 
souri was full of slaves, and their masters could not tolerate 
the idea of a free state just west of them. 

Under the lead of General Atchison, then a senator, and 
formerly Vice-President of the United States, the slave- 
holders organized secret societies, known as " Blue Lodges," 
and by force of arms endeavored tq seize and hold Kansas. 
With arms in their hands, their organized bands marched in 
military array into that territory, marked out their claims, 
and, taking their negroes with them, declared that slavery 
already existed there, and proclaimed " Lynch law " for all 
abolitionists. In New England and in the Northwest, and 
elsewhere in the free states, " Emigrant aid societies " were 
organized, with a view of aiding to settle Kansas with free 
labor. Settlers were furnished with mills, farming imple- 


ments, domestic animals, seed, and cheap dwelling houses; 
school houses and churches were also supplied to the emi- 
grants. This property soon began to be seized by the slave 
party in its passage up the Missouri river. Settlers and 
their families were arrested, maltreated, and their property 
plundered or destroyed, and they were compelled by force 
to turn back. But with pluck and persistence they turned 
aside, and with horses and ox teams, made the long, weary, 
overland journey through Iowa to the disputed territory. 
Each party was striving to found a state. The slavehold- 
ers had, as has been stated, the great advantage of close 
proximity, and, under the lead of Atchison and Stringfellow,. 
sent their organized bands, armed with revolvers and bowie 
knives, to build up the new commonwealth with slaves and 
whiskey. In the long run it was found to be bad material. 
The free state emigrant, starting often from a distance of 
hundreds of miles, took with him his family, his farming- 
tools, school books for his children, his Bible, and often the 
farm house, school house, and little church framed at home, 
and by and by, he took also his Sharp's rifle, which he quickly 
learned to use with skill. Under the lead of John Brown, 
known in Kansas as Ossawatomie Brown, Charles Robinson, 
Generals Pomeroy and Lane, and others, farms were opened, 
and villages and settlements were located and built up. The 
negro in Kansas did not long remain a slave. The grog- 
shop, the bowie knife and the revolver could not permanently 
compete with the school house, free labor, order, and thrift. 
But the struggle was long, and for a time doubtful. On the 
side of slavery was all the influence of the United States 
officials, the state government of Missouri, its border militia, 
ever ready to make a raid into Kansas for plunder, violence, 
and destruction. The free state party had the aid of the 
northern press, Yankee enterprise and persistence, and the 
rough and rude sense of justice, which characterizes the 
pioneer of the West. The slave party, by the aid of votes 
imported from Missouri, the Missouri militia, and the Federal 
officers, held for a time the nominal government, and perpe- 



trated a series of outrages, frauds, and ballot- stuffings to 
secure a constitution establishing slavery. But the free state 
men soon outnumbered their wandering, plundering, whiskey 
drinking adversaries. The slaves ran away, and found secur- 
ity in the free state settlements or beyond the border. 

Territorial governor after governor was appointed by 
Presidents Pierce and Buchanan, and resigned or was 
removed, finding the task of imposing slavery on Kansas too 
difficult. Governor Geary, one of these, became disgusted 
and indignant at the outrages of the slave party, and gives 
this picture of the situation. He says : 

" I reached Kansas and entered upon the discharge of my official 
duties in the most gloomy hour of her history. Desolation and ruin 
reigned on every hand ; homes and firesides were deserted ; the smoke 
of burning dwellings darkened the atmosphere ; women and children, 
driven from their habitations, wandered over the prairies, and among the 
woodlands, or sought refuge and protection from the Indian tribes. The 
highways were infested with predatory bands, while the towns were for- 
tified and garrisoned by armies of conflicting partisans, excited almost 
to frenzy, and determined on mutual extermination." 

Such was the struggle in Kansas upon the slavery ques- 
tion. It was like the great civil war, of which it was the 
type and prophetic prelude, a contest between barbarism and 
civilization. Whenever anything like a fair vote of the act- 
ual settlers could be obtained, the free state men had large 
majorities. The story of this struggle between freedom and 
slavery ; between fraud, violence, and outrage on the one 
side, and heroic firmness, energy, and determination on the 
other, was carried all over the land, and made a profound 
impression upon the American people. It was amidst these 
scenes that John Brown of Ossawatomie was prepared, by 
the murder of his son, for his wild crusade against slavery 
in Virginia. It was here that the heroic Lyon and Hunter 
learned to hate that institution. The plains of Kansas were 
red with the blood of her martyrs to liberty ; her hills and 
valleys were black with the charred remains of her burned 
and devastated towns, villages, and cities, attesting alike the 
heroic constancy of her people to freedom, and the savage 


barbarity of the slave power. When the convulsions of the 
great national conflict began to shake the land, Kansas was 
the rock which rolled back the tide of the slave conspirators. 
All honor to Kansas. She successfully withstood the slave 
power, backed by the Federal Government. The struggle 
was watched by the people everywhere, with the most intense 
solicitude, and it nerved them to a still firmer determination 
to resist the encroachment of the slaveholders. 

The repeal of the Missouri Compromise roused Lincoln 
from retirement, and stimulated him to the utmost exertion 
of his powers. He now prepared to enter the arena as the 
•great champion of freedom. He had bided his time. He 
had waited until the harvest was ripe. With unerring saga- 
city he realized that the day for the triumph of freedom was 
at hand. He entered upon the conflict with the deepest con- 
viction that the perpetuity of the republic required the 
extinction of slavery. So adopting as his motto, " A house 
divided against itself cannot stand," he girded himself for 
the contest. He sought to take with him, bodily, the old 
whig party of Illinois, into the new organization called the 
republican party. He was to build up and consolidate the 
'heterogeneous mass which composed the new party. The 
years from 1854 to i860, were, on his part, years of constant, 
active, and unwearied effort. He had, in 1850, declared to 
his old partner, Stuart, that the slavery question could not 
be compromised. He was now to become the recognized 
leader of the anti-slavery party in the Northwest, and in all 
the valley of the Mississippi. His position in the state of 
Illinois was central and commanding. He who could lead 
the republican party of that state and the surrounding 
states, would be pretty sure to lead that party in the Union. 
Lincoln was a practical statesman, never attempting the 
impossible — but seeking to do the best practicable under sur- 
rounding circumstances. If he was sagacious in selecting 
the time, he was also skillful in the single issue he made. He 
took his stand with the fathers of the republic, against the 
extension of slavery. He knew that prohibition in the ter- 


ritories would result in no more slave states, and no slave 
territory. And now, when the repeal of the Missouri Com- 
promise shattered all parties into fragments, and he came 
forward to build up the free soil party, he threw into the 
conflict all his strength and vigor, and devoted his life to the 
struggle. From this time, Lincoln was to guide the whirl- 
wind and direct the storm. He realized that the conflict 
was unavoidable and inevitable. The conviction of his duty 
was deep and sincere. Hence he plead the cause of liberty 
with an energy, ability, and power, which rapidly gained for 
him a national reputation. Conscious of the greatness of 
his cause, inspired by a genuine love of liberty, and animated 
and made strong by the moral sublimity of the conflict, he 
solemnly announced his determination to speak for freedom 
and against slavery, until, in his own words, wherever the 
Federal Government has power, u the sun shall shine, the 
rain shall fall, and the wind shall blow, upon no man who 
goes forth to unrequited toil." 

It is difficult fully to realize or describe the gravity of 
the situation or the dignity of his topics. We can do so only 
by comparing them with great efforts of the orators of the 
past, and who, even of them, had a theme so grand ? When 
Demosthenes sought to rouse the Athenians against Philip, 
the fate of his country hung on the issue, and the result was- 
that great series of orations which are read with admiration 
to this day. When Cicero exposed and denounced the 
treason of Catiline, the Roman orator uttered words which 
yet echo through the Roman forum. When Edmund Burke 
and Sheridan plead the cause of the millions of India before 
the House of Lords, on the impeachment of Warren Hast- 
ings, the people of the world were spectators, and it taxed 
the graphic power of Macaulay to the utmost to picture the 
scene, 1 but when Lincoln plead the cause of liberty, not only 
the freedom of four millions of slaves, but the fate and 
perpetuity of the Union and the republic hung on the 
result. His speeches were great battles fought and won. 

1. See Warren Hastings, by Macaulay. 


Whole counties were sometimes revolutionized by one of his 
great arguments. 

From 1854 to i860 the conflict raged, and then the 
defeated party, beaten at the ballot-box, appealed from the 
forum of debate to the battlefield of arms. Let us try to 
tell the story of this prolonged debate. When, late in Sep- 
tember, 1854, Douglas, after the passage of the Kansas and 
Nebraska bill, returned to Illinois, he was received with a 
storm of indignation which would have crushed a man of 
less power and will. A bold and courageous leader, con- 
scious of his personal power over his party, he bravely met 
the storm and sought to allay it. In October, 1854, the 
State Fair being then in session at Springfield, and there 
being a great crowd of people from all parts of the state, 
Douglas went there and made an elaborate and able speech 
in defense of the repeal. Mr. Lincoln was called upon by 
all the opponents of this repeal to reply, and he did so with 
a power which he never surpassed, and which he had never 
before equalled. All other issues which had divided the 
people were as chaff, and were scattered to the winds by the 
intense agitation which arose on the question of extending 
slavery, not merely into free territory, but into territory 
which had been declared free by solemn compact. 

Douglas had a hard and difficult task in attempting to 
defend his action in the repeal of this compact. But he 
spoke with his usual great ability. He had lately come from 
the discussions of the Senate Chamber, where he had car- 
ried the measure against the utmost efforts of Chase, Seward, 
Sumner, and others, and he was somewhat arrogant and 
overbearing. Lincoln was present and listened to this 
speech, and at its close it was announced that he would on 
the following day reply. This reply occupied more than 
three hours in delivery, and during all that time Lincoln 
held the vast crowd in the deepest attention. No report of 
this speech was made, but the arguments and topics were 
■substantially the same as in the speech he delivered at 
Peoria on Monday, the 16th of October thereafter, and 


which Lincoln wrote out afterwards, it being published in 
the " Sangamon Journal." As printed it lacks the fire and 
vehemence of the extemporaneous speech, but as an argu- 
ment against the extension of slavery it has no equal in the 
anti-slavery literature of the country. The effect of the 
Springfield speech upon his hearers was wonderful. Hern- 
don, his partner, says: ''The house (it was spoken in the 
State House) was as still as death. Lincoln's whole heart 
was in the subject. He quivered with feeling and emotion." 
Sometimes his emotions "came near stifling his utterance." 
Loud and long continued applause greeted his telling points. 
At the conclusion, every person who had heard Lincoln felt 
that the speech was unanswerable. The reader who peruses 
the Peoria speech to-day will so declare. Douglas himself 
felt that he was crushed. At the close of Lincoln's speech 
he attempted a reply, but he was excited, angry, loud, and 
furious, and after a short time closed by saying that he 
would continue his reply in the evening, but he did not 
return to the State House, and left the city without resuming 
his discourse. 

Lincoln followed Douglas to Peoria. There Douglas 
spoke for three hours in the afternoon, and Lincoln again 
followed in the evening and spoke for three hours also. 
Here, as in Springfield, he carried the audience with him, 
and Douglas was more disconcerted by the vigor and ability 
of Lincoln's replies in these two great discussions than on 
any other occasion of his life. The consciousness of being 
in the wrong probably contributed to this result. There was 
something approaching the sublime in this intellectual con- 
flict. Lincoln was then in the prime of life, of great physical 
and mental power, and perfectly master of his subject. 

Douglas felt that he was beaten, and asked Lincoln not 
to follow or reply to him any more. He said : " Lincoln, 
you understand this question of prohibiting slavery in the 
territories better than all the opposition in the Senate of the 
United States. I cannot make anything by debating it with 
you. You, Lincoln, have here and at Springfield, given me 


more trouble than all the opposition in the Senate com- 
bined." Douglas then appealed to Lincoln's magnanimity 
and generosity, and proposed that each should go home, 
and that there should be no more joint discussions, to which 
Lincoln acceded. 1 There were then no more joint discus- 
sions, although Lincoln had started out with the purpose of 
following and replying to Douglas whenever he spoke, and 
a joint discussion had been arranged for at Lacon. Both went 
to Lacon, and neither spoke. 

Lincoln, in the Peoria speech, gave a full history of the 
slavery question from the organization of the government, 
■tracing the policy of prohibiting it in the territories to the 
author of the Declaration of Independence. 

11 Thus," said he, " with the author of the Declaration of Independ- 
ence, the policy of prohibiting slavery in new territory originated. Thus, 
away back of the constitution, in the pure, fresh, free breath of the Revo- 
lution, the State of Virginia and the National Congress put that policy 
into practice. Thus, through sixty odd of the best years of the republic 
did that policy steadily work to its great and beneficent end. And thus 
in those five states, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Michigan, and Wisconsin, 
with their five millions of free, enterprising people, we have before us 
the rich fruits of this policy." * * 

The speech is distinguished above all others by its full, ac- 
curate, and exhaustive knowledge of the history of the legisla- 
tion relating to slavery. He demonstrates that under the 
policy of prohibition there had been peace, while the repeal 
of prohibition had brought agitation. He sums up: 

" Slavery is founded in the selfishness of man's nature, opposition 
to it in his love of justice. These principles are in eternal antagonism; 
and when brought into collision so fiercely as slavery extension brings 
them, shocks and throes and convulsions must ceaselessly follow. Re- 
peal the Missouri Compromise — repeal all compromise — repeal the Dec- 
laration of Independence — repeal all past history, you still cannot repeal 
human nature. It still will be out of the abundance of man's heart that 
he will declare slavery extension is wrong; and out of the abundance of 
his mouth he will continue to speak." * * * 

1. Such is the statement, in substance, of W. H. Herndon. See Lamon's Life of 
Lincoln, p. 358, and the statement of B. F. Irwin. Lincoln's action seems strange, 
and I think there must have been other reasons not fully disclosed. 


" Some Yankees in the East are sending emigrants to exclude slav- 
ery from it, and, so far as I can judge, they expect the question to be de- 
cided by voting in some way or other. But the Missourians are awake 
too. They are within a stone's throw of the contested ground. They 
hold meetings and pass resolutions, in which not the slightest allusion to 
voting is made. They resolve that slavery already exists in the territory; 
that more shall go there; that they remaining in Missouri will protect it, 
and that abolitionists shall be hung or driven away. Through all this, 
bowie-knives and six-shooters are seen plainly enough, but never a 
glimpse of the ballot-box, and really what is to be the result of this? 
Each party within having numerous and determined backers, without, is 
it not probable that the contest will come to blows and bloodshed? 
Could there be a more apt invention to bring about a collision and vio- 
lence on the slavery question, than this Nebraska project? " * * 

He urges the restoration of the Missouri Compromise. " But," 
says he, "restore the compromise, and what then? We thereby restore 
the national faith, the national confidence, the national feeling of 
brotherhood. We thereby re-instate the spirit of concession and com- 
promise — that spirit which has never failed us in past perils, and which 
may be safely trusted for all the future. The South ought to join in 
doing this. The peace of the Nation is dear to them, as to us; in mem- 
ories of the past, and hopes for the future, they share as largely as we." 

But, says he, " they say if you do this you will be stand- 
ing with the abolitionists. I say stand with anybody that 
stands right. Stand with him while he is right, and part 
with him when he goes wrong." 

He contrasted the position of the founders of the repub- 
lic towards slavery, with that now assumed, saying : 

"Thus we see the plain, unmistakable spirit of that early age 
towards slavery was hostility to the principle, and toleration only by 
necessity. But now it is to be transformed into a ' sacred right.' Nebraska 
brings it forth, places it on the high road to extension and perpetuity, 
and with a pat on its back says to it: ' Go, and God speed you.' Hence- 
forth it is to be the chief jewel of the nation, the very figure head of 
the ship of state. Little by little, but steadily as man's march to the 
grave, we have been giving the old for the new faith. Nearly eighty years 
ago we began by declaring that all men are created equal ; but now from 
that beginning we have run down to that other declaration, ' that for 
some men to enslave others is a sacred right of self government.' " * 

* "In our greedy chase to make profit of the negro, let us 
beware lest we cancel and tear to pieces even the white man's charter 
of freedom." 


On another occasion Mr. Lincoln said: 1 "Pharaoh's 
-country was cursed with plagues, and his hosts were drowned 
in the Red Sea, for striving to retain in bondage a captive 
people who had already served them more than five hundred 
years. May like disaster never befall us." How like in senti- 
ment to the paragraph in his second inaugural address, in which 
he said : " If God wills that it [the war] continues until all 
the wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty 
years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop 
of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn 
by the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it 
must be said, that the judgments of the Lord are true, and 
righteous altogether." 

When Lincoln made this Peoria speech he was an obscure 
man. Scarcely heard of out of Illinois, his audience was far 
inland, and away from the great cities, where reputation and 
fame are acquired. There were present no reporters of any 
great metropolitan papers, to take down the speech and 
spread it the next morning by the thousand, broadcast, on 
the breakfast tables of the voters. There were no admiring 
scholars, with wealth and appreciation, to put it in pamphlet 
form, and scatter it by the hundred thousand. There is a 
single copy of this speech in an obscure newspaper, and it 
would be difficult, if not impossible, to duplicate. Had 
Charles Sumner made the speech in Faneuil Hall, all New 
England would, the next morning, have read and admired 
it. If it had been addressed to the United States Senate by 
Seward or Chase, it would have appeared the next day in 
the leading papers of Boston, New York, Philadelphia, 
Washington, Cincinnati, St. Louis, and Chicago. Neverthe- 
less, from this time on, the fame of the prairie orator spread, 
and could be no longer hemmed in by state lines. 

The Congressional election of that year, in Illinois, 
resulted in the election of four democrats, and five opposi- 
tion members of Congress, and the State Legislature would 

1. In his eulogy of Henry Clay, 1852. 


have been completely revolutionized had there not been a 
large number of democrats in the State Senate, whose terms 
of office had not expired. The opponents of the Nebraska 
bill had in the House of Assembly forty, and the democrats 
thirty-five. In the Senate there were seventeen elected as 
democrats, and eight elected as opponents of the Nebraska 
bill. However, three of those elected two years before as 
democrats, now repudiated Douglas and his policy, and were 
ready to act with the opposition, at least so far as to aid in the 
election to the United States Senate of an anti- Nebraska sen- 
ator. These were Norman B. Judd, of Chicago, Burton C. 
Cook, of Ottawa, and John M. Palmer, afterwards Governor 
of Illinois. These were all able men, and skillful politicians, 
and with their votes there would be on joint ballot a majority 
of two against Douglas. 

James Shields, the colleague of Douglas in the Senate, and 
who had been induced by Douglas's great personal influence 
to vote for the Kansas and Nebraska bill, was a candidate 
for re-election. Lincoln had led the opposition, and to his- 
efforts the great revolution in the state was largely to be 
attributed, and he was naturally selected as the candidate for 
United States senator. It is known that he especially desired 
the office of senator. In a letter to N. B. Judd, written 
some years thereafter, he said : " I would rather have a full 
term in the United States Senate than the Presidency." 
When the Legislature came together, it was generally 
expected that Lincoln would be elected senator in place of 
Shields. On the 8th of February, 1855, the Legislature met 
in joint session, and Palmer nominated Lyman Trumbull. 
Judge Logan nominated Abraham Lincoln. On the first bal- 
lot Lincoln received forty-five, Shields forty-one, and Trum- 
bull five votes, and there were some scattering votes. Judd, 
Cook and Palmer steadily voted for Trumbull, who received 
other votes, varying in number, until the tenth ballot, when 
Lincoln urged his friends to vote for Trumbull, who received 
fifty-one votes, to forty-seven for Joel A. Matteson, and one 
for Archy Williams. » 

1. House Journal, 1855, pp. 345-349. 


This result was accomplished by the utmost personal 
efforts of Lincoln. When he saw that the friends of Trum- 
bull were firm, and would not vote for any one else, and that 
there was danger that Matteson would be elected, he made 
an appeal to his personal and political friends so earnest that 
he carried them all, with one exception, over to Trumbull, 
and elected him. It was a most magnanimous and generous 
act, and exhibited such an unselfish devotion to principle as 
to call forth the admiration of all. It strengthened and con- 
solidated the opposition, and contributed to their success in 
the following year. It is said that Judge Stephen T. Logan 
actually shed tears when, at Lincoln's earnest request, he 
gave up his friend Lincoln and voted for his life-long politi- 
cal opponent. Owen Lovejoy was a member of this Legis- 
lature, and voted for Lincoln as long as there was a 
probability of his election. 

Trumbull was a brilliant and able lawyer, then residing 
in Belleville, in St. Clair County. He had been Secretary of 
State, and Judge of the Supreme Court of Illinois, and made 
a most able and distinguished senator. He was, during* 
Lincoln's administration, chairman of the Committee on the 
Judiciary, and a very prominent member of the Senate. 



The Republican Party. — The Bloomington Convention. — Plat- 
form. — William H. Bissell. — Republican Convention at 
Pittsburgh. — At Philadelphia. — Nomination of Fremont and 
Dayton. — Douglas Opposes the Lecompton Constitution. — 
The Dred Scott Decision. — Lincoln Nominated for the 
Senate. — His Speech at Springfield, June, 1858. 

Let us row turn back and notice some important events 
which occurred at Washington. When Congress met in 
December, 1855, the slavery conflict was raging with increas- 
ing violence. There was a long struggle for the election of 
speaker. After sixty days spent in excited and fierce debate 
and in balloting, Nathaniel P. Banks, of Massachusetts, was 
elected over Governor Aiken, of South Carolina. In the 
general breaking up of parties caused by the slavery agita- 
tion, a powerful section of the democratic party, having 
strong convictions against slavery, was driven from its ranks. 
The old whig party divided; a part, made up of the more 
aged and conservative, went into a new organization, which 
called itself the American party, the leading principle of 
which was opposition to the influence of foreign-born citi- 
zens in American politics; a much larger portion became 
" free soilers," and went into the republican party. 

It was obvious that the time had come for the organiza- 
tion of a new party, on the basis of opposition to the exten- 
sion of slavery. Into this party went the life, vigor, 
enthusiasm, and genuine democratic principles of the old 



democracy — the democracy of Jefferson. Among its rep- 
resentatives were Wilmot, the author of the Wilmot proviso, 
the Blairs, Fremont, Bryant, Bissell, and Trumbull. With 
them were the old liberty party, the abolitionists, and the 
anti-slavery whigs. Up to this time the democratic party, 
with its attractive name and professions, had secured nearly 
all the foreign-born vote of the country. But a large and 
intelligent class of Germans, Swedes, and Norwegians, and 
some Irish, were so hostile to slavery that they were now 
ready to join any party which should oppose it, and especially 
its leading principle, that of extension. It was apparent that, 
if these elements could be combined and consolidated, an. 
organization would be formed having every element of suc- 
cess. Still there were difficulties, great difficulties, growing 
out of prejudice of race, former associations, and diversity 
of opinion, in the way of a cordial union. The new party 
needed a great leader, an organizer, and at length found 
such a leader in Abraham Lincoln. He was selected by the 
instincts of the people, and was, of all others, the representa- 
tive man of this new organization. Perhaps the greatest 
difficulty was that of harmonizing the native American whigs; 
with the foreign-born voters. Lincoln had the sagacity to 
make a simple and single issue, that of hostility to the exten- 
sion of slavery, and prohibition in all the territories, and to 
fight the battle on that issue. A triumph upon this issue 
would be the triumph over slavery, and all else would fol- 

The leaders called a convention to meet at Pittsburgh on 
the anniversary of Washington's birthday, the 226. of Feb- 
ruary, 1856. The venerable Francis P. Blair was an active 
member of the convention. It prepared the way for a 
national convention to nominate candidates for President and 

On the 29th of May, 1856, a convention of the people of 
Illinois, who were opposed to the extension of slavery, met at 
Bloomington and organized the republican party. It was 
made up of elements which had never before acted together r , 


and which stood for very conflicting opinions. The com- 
mittee on resolutions found themselves, after hours of 
discussion, unable to agree, and at last they sent for Lin- 
coln. He suggested that all could unite on the principles of 
the Declaration of Independence and hostility to the exten- 
sion of slavery. " Let us," said he, " in building our new 
party, let us make our corner-stone the Declaration of Inde- 
pendence — let us build on this rock, and the gates of hell 
shall not prevail against us." The problem was mastered, 
and the convention adopted the following: 

" Resolved, That we hold, in accordance with the opinions and 
practices of all the great statesmen of all parties for the first sixty years 
of the administration of the government, that, under the Constitution, 
Congress possesses full power to prohibit slavery in the territories; and 
that while we will maintain all constitutional rights of the South, we also 
hold that justice, humanity, the principles of freedom, as expressed 
in our Declaration of Independence and our National Constitution, and 
the purity and perpetuity of our government require that that power 
should be exerted, to prevent the extension of slavery into territories here- 
tofore free." 

Thus was organized the party which, against the potent 
influence of Douglas, revolutionized the state of Illinois, 
and elected Lincoln to the Presidency. Lincoln's speech to 
this convention has rarely been equalled. " Never," says 
one of the delegates, "was an audience more completely 
electrified by human eloquence. Again and again, during 
the delivery, the audience sprang to their feet, and by long- 
continued cheers, expressed how deeply the speaker had 
roused them." It fused the mass of incongruous elements 
into harmony and union. 

Delegates were appointed to the national convention, 
which was to meet in Philadelphia, to nominate candidates 
for President and Vice-President. The convention then 
nominated as its candidate for Governor, the gallant soldier 
and eloquent statesman, Colonel William . H. Bissell. He 
had distinguished himself for his courage on the field of 
Buena Vista, and elsewhere, in the war against Mexico. Re- 
turning to his home at Belleville, a grateful people elected 


him to Congress. At the session of 1850, the Illinois sol- 
diers who had been in that battle, were assailed by a dis- 
tinguished member of Congress from Virginia. 1 Bissell, on 
the 21st of July, 1850, replied in a speech in which he dis- 
cussed the slavery question, and defended the Illinois sol- 
diers with an eloquence and spirit which created a sensation 
throughout the Union, and which gave him a great personal 
popularity in the Northwest. For this manly defense he 
was challenged by Jefferson Davis, and promptly accepted 
the challenge. They were to fight with rifles. Intelligence 
of the challenge reached President Taylor, whose daughter 
Davis had married; he and other friends interfered, and 
the difficulty was adjusted. 

In June, 1856, the national convention of the republi- 
can party met at Philadelphia, and nominated John C. Fre- 
mont for President, and William L. Dayton for Vice-Presi- 
dent. The declaration of principles was substantially the 
same as that adopted at the Bloomington convention, and 
on which Lincoln and his friends had determined to. fight 
the battle in Illinois. That Mr. Lincoln began to be appre- 
ciated as the leader of the new party in the Northwest was 
indicated by his receiving at this convention, on the informal 
ballot for Vice-President, one hundred and ten votes. 

The democratic national convention met at Cincinnati, 
on the second of June, 1856, and on the sixteenth ballot for 
President, James Buchanan received one hundred and sixty- 
eight votes, and Douglas one hundred and twenty-one. 
Buchanan was finally nominated, Douglas being considered 
unavailable, because of his direct instrumentality in the re- 
peal of the Missouri Compromise; and the incumbent, Pierce, 
being abandoned because he had been made unpopular by 
the outrages upon the free-state settlers in Kansas during 
his administration. John C. Breckenridge, of Kentucky, 
was nominated for Vice-President. The convention, al- 
though it dared not, or would not, nominate Douglas, 
indorsed the compromise measures of 1850, and the laws 

1. Mr. Sedden. 


organizing Kansas and Nebraska. The Southern whigs, and 
the " conservative " whigs of the North, sometimes called, 
in consideration of their wise and venerable looks, the " Sil- 
ver Greys," nominated Millard Fillmore for President. This 
convention laid upon the table a resolution declaring that 
no man should be nominated who was not in favor of pro- 
hibiting slavery north of $6° 30', by Congressional action, 
whereupon a large number of delegates left the convention,, 
and supported Fremont and Dayton. 

Then followed one of the most animated, earnest, and, in 
the free states, most closely contested political campaignsr 
since the organization of the government. Lincoln was 
constantly speaking. Up to the state elections in October- 
it seemed quite probable that the republicans would succeed, 
but the democratic party managed to carry, by small major- 
ities, the close and doubtful states of Pennsylvania and Indi- 
ana, and the contest was virtually ended. Buchanan received 
one hundred and seventy-two electoral votes, Fremont one 
hundred and fourteen, and Fillmore the vote of Maryland. 
The slaveholders were greatly elated by their triumph in* 
the election of Buchanan, but the republicans, so far from 
being discouraged, became conscious of their power, nerved 
themselves for still greater efforts, and began at once to pre- 
pare for the campaign of i860. 

The contest between freedom and slavery in Kansas still 
went on. The pro-slavery men, by fraud and trickery, and 
by disfranchising the free-state voters, had formed a consti- 
tution at Lecompton, which established slavery. The vot- 
ers in favor of a free state, after seeing the elections repeat- 
edly carried by non-residents and armed intruders from Mis- 
souri, refused to take part in the mock elections, and, call- 
ing a convention of actual settlers, elected delegates to a 
convention, which met at Topeka, and adopted a free state 
constitution. This they submitted to the people, and it was 
almost unanimously adopted. They then proceeded to> 
elect officers under it. This brought the contending par- 
ties into direct collision, and civil war menaced Kansas. In. 


1856, Congress appointed an investigating committee, which, 
after full investigation, reported that every election held under 
the auspices of the United States officials had been con- 
trolled, not by actual settlers, but by non-residents from Mis- 
souri, and that every officer in the territory owed his election 
to these non-residents. Meanwhile the persons elected by 
the bona fide settlers, under the Topeka constitution, had been 
arrested, and the Legislature dispersed, by the regular army 
of the United States, acting under orders of the President. 
It was thus that Kansas was to be brought into the Union as 
a slave state. 

. Douglas had the sagacity to see whither this extreme- 
course of the administration was tending, and the courage 
and good faith to resist it. When President Buchanan, on 
the 9th of December, 1857, urged Congress to admit Kan- 
sas under the fraudulent Lecompton constitution into the 
Union, Douglas at once announced his opposition, and fol- 
lowed this announcement with an elaborate and able speech, 
against the proposed measure. " Why," said he, " force this 
constitution down the throats of the people, in opposition to 
their wishes, and in violation of our pledges ? " * * 

* " The people want a fair vote, and will never be 
satisfied without it." * * * " If it is to be forced 
upon the people, under a submission that is a mockery and 
an insult, I will resist to the last." Douglas never exhibited 
more commanding ability, than when he led the opposition, 
in the United States Senate, to the Lecompton constitution. 
His opposition so exasperated the slaveholders that they 
sought to degrade him, by taking from him the position he 
had long held as chairman of the Committee on Territories. 
While the Kansas question was pending, the Illinois senator 
called at the White House on official business. Mr. Buchanan 
expostulated with him for opposing the administration in its 
Kansas policy. At length he went so far as to warn Doug- 
las of the personal consequences. Recalling the fact that 
Douglas had always been a great admirer of General Jack- 
son, the President said : " You are an ambitious man, Mr. 


Douglas, and there is a brilliant future for you, if you retain 
the confidence of the democratic party ; if you oppose it, let 
me remind you of the fate of those who in former times 
rebelled against it. Remember the fate of Senators Rives 
and Talmadge, who opposed General Jackson, when he 
removed the government deposits from the United States 
Bank. Beware of their fate, Mr. Douglas." 

" Mr. President," replied Douglas, " General Jackson is 
dead. Good morning, sir ! " 

We have seen that the executive and legislative depart- 
ments of the government had long been under the control 
of the slave party. The judiciary, over which, in the early 
days of the republic, had presided the pure and spotless abo- 
litionist, John Jay, and the great constitutional lawyer and 
intellectual giant, John Marshall, had become an object of 
profound respect, even of reverence, to the people. It had 
been the forum before which the highest forensic discussions 
had been held, involving the most important questions of 
private rights and the gravest questions of constitutional 
power. The great lawyers and statesmen of the country, 
whose names are most prominent in forensic literature: Pinck- 
ney, Henry, Emmet, Ogden, Mason, Dexter, Webster, Wirt, 
Clay, Sargent, and others, had discussed before the Supreme 
Court, with matchless ability and learning, questions involving 
state rights and national sovereignty, as well as the law of 
nations, and of maritime and constitutional law. The peo- 
ple had learned to regard this court as the most dignified, 
learned, and august tribunal on earth. The period had now 
come when this great tribunal was to be prostituted, and our 
national jurisprudence disgraced, by its decision in the Dred 
Scott case. 

Dred Scott, a negro, held as a slave in Missouri, had been 
voluntarily taken by his master into the free state of Illi- 
nois, and subsequently to Fort Snelling, in territory north of 
the line of 36 30', where slavery was prohibited by law. 
Up to the time of the decision in this case, it had been con- 
sidered a well settled principle of law, that when a master 


voluntarily brought a slave from a slave state into a state or 
territory in which slavery was prohibited, that slave became 
free. The case was fully argued before the Supreme Court 
in May, 1854. It was for decision at the following term in 
1855-6, but the decision was postponed until after the Presi- 
dential election of 1856. The intense excitement which the 
repeal of the Missouri Compromise and the outrages in Kan- 
sas had created, would have been greatly increased if the 
decision had been announced before the election, and it is 
quite probable that the result of the election would thereby 
have been changed. The court, through Chief Justice 
Taney, held that Dred Scott, being descended from an 
African slave, was not and could not be a citizen of the 
United States, and therefore could not maintain a suit in the 
Federal Court. This disposed of the case, but as the point 
had been made in the argument that Scott was free by the 
prohibition of the Missouri Compromise, the Chief Justice 
and a majority of the Court eagerly seized the opportunity, 
in the interest of slavery, to declare the prohibition uncon- 
stitutional and void, and the Court proceeded to say that, by 
virtue of the Constitution, slavery existed in all the territories, 
and that Congress had no power to prohibit it. Justices 
McLean and Curtis gave able dissenting opinions. 

Thus the triumph of slavery was complete. The revolu- 
tion on the subject was absolute. The government was 
organized on the basis that slavery was local, tolerated in 
the states, but prohibited in the territories, and on this prin- 
ciple "the government had been administered down to the 
Dred Scott decision." 1 It is difficult adequately to describe 

1. George Bancroft, in his funeral oration on Lincoln, though a life-long demo- 
crat, thus characterizes this decision: " The Chief Justice of the United States, with- 
out any necessity or occasion, volunteered to come to the rescue of the theory of 
slavery; and from his court there lay no appeal but to the law of humanity and his- 
tory. Against the Constitution, against the memory of the nation, against a previous 
decision, against a series of enactments, he decided that the slave is property; that 
slave property is entitled to no less protection than any other property; that the Con- 
stitution upholds it in every territory against any act of a local Legislature, and even 
against Congress itself ; or, as the President for that term tersely promulgated the 
saying, 'Kansas is as much a slave state as South Carolina or Georgia; slavery, by 
virtue of the Constitution, exists in every territory.' " 


the astonishment and indignation created by this decision. 
It everywhere roused the people to a sense of their danger. 
There was needed but one step further, and a much shorter 
step than the one taken in this case — namely, for the Court 
to say that the Constitution carried slavery as well into the 
states as into the territories, and the work would be done, 
for every state would thus become a slave state. 

In June, 1858, the Illinois republican state convention 
met at Springfield, and nominated, with the greatest enthu- 
siasm and with perfect unanimity, Lincoln as their candidate 
for senator. The resolution nominating him was carried by 
acclamation, and that there should be no slip this time, the 
convention declared: "Abraham Lincoln is our first and 
only choice for United States Senator." 

Lincoln's speech to this convention was the platform of 
the memorable debate between him and Douglas, and is one 
of the most remarkable in American history. It was earnest 
and solemn, and gave so clear an exposition of the antago- 
nism between liberty and slavery, that his words secured 
the immediate and universal attention of the nation. "A 
house divided against itself cannot stand." Governor 
Seward, on the 25th of October thereafter, at Rochester, 
expressed the same idea, and in language, some of which 
was identical with that used in June by Lincoln. "It is," 
said he, "an irrepressible conflict between opposing and 
enduring forces, and it means that the United States will, 
sooner or later, become either a slaveholding nation, or an 
entirely free-labor nation." This speech, whose great 
importance demands its insertion, was as follows: 

Mr. President and Gentlemen of the Convention : If we 
could first know where we are, and whither we are tending, we could 
better judge what to do, and how to do it. We are now far into the fifth 
year since a policy was initiated with the avowed object and confident 
promise of putting an end to slavery agitation. Under the operation of 
that policy, that agitation has not only not ceased, but has constantly 
augmented. In my opinion, it will not cease until a crisis shall have 
been reached and passed. " A house divided against itself cannot stand." 
I believe this government cannot endure permanently half slave and half 


free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved, I do not expect the 
house to fall, but I do expect it will cease to be divided. It will become 
all one thing, or all the other. Either the opponents of slavery will 
arrest the further spread of it, and place it where the public mind shall 
rest in the belief that it is in the course of ultimate extinction, or its 
advocates will push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the 
states, old as well as new — North as well as South. 

Have we no tendency to the latter condition ? Let any one who 
doubts, carefully contemplate that now almost complete legal combina- 
tion — piece of machinery, so to speak — compounded of the Nebraska 
doctrine and the Dred Scott decision. Let him consider not only what 
work the machinery is adapted to do, and how well adapted, but also let 
him study the history of its construction, and trace, if he can, or rather 
fail, if he can, to trace, the evidences of design, and concert of action, 
among its chief architects from the beginning. 

The new year of 1854 found slavery excluded from more than half 
the states by state constitutions, and from most of the national territory 
by Congressional prohibition. Four days later commenced the struggle 
which ended in repealing that Congressional prohibition. This opened 
all the national territory to slavery, and was the first point gained. 

But so far Congress only had acted, and an indorsement by the peo- 
ple, real or apparent, was indispensable to save the point already gained 
and give chance for more. 

This necessity had not been overlooked, but had been provided for, 
as well as might be, in the notable argument of " squatter sovereignty," 
otherwise called " sacred right of self-government," which latter phrase, 
though expressive of the only rightful basis of any government, was so 
perverted in this attempted use of it as to amount to just this : That if 
any one man choose to enslave another no third man shall be allowed to 
object. That article was incorporated into the Nebraska bill itself, in 
the language which follows: " It being the true intent and meaning of 
this act not to legislate slavery into any territory or state, nor to exclude 
it therefrom; but to leave the people thereof perfectly free to form and 
regulate their domestic institutions in their own way, subject only to the 
Constitution of the United States." Then opened the roar of loose 
declamation in favor of "squatter sovereignty," and "sacred right of 
self-government." " But," said the opposition members, " let us amend 
the bill so as to expressly declare that the people of the territory may 
exclude slavery." " Not we," said the friends of the measure, and down 
they voted the amendment. 

While the Nebraska bill was passing through Congress, a law case, 
involving the question of a negro's freedom, by reason of his owner 
having voluntarily taken him first into a free state, and then into a free 


territory covered by the Congressional prohibition, and held him as a 
slave for a long time in each, was passing through the United States Circuit 
Court for the District of Missouri ; and both Nebraska bill, and law 
suit, were brought to a decision in the same month of May, 1854. The 
negro's name was "Dred Scott," which name now designates the decis- 
ion finally rendered in the case. Before the then next presidential elec- 
tion, the law came to, and was argued in the Supreme Court of the United 
States ; but the decision of it was deferred until after the election. Still, 
before the election, Senator Trumbull, on the floor of the Senate, requested 
the leading advocate of the Nebraska bill to state his opinion whether the 
people of a territory can constitutionally exclude slavery from their 
limits, and the latter answers: "That is a question for the Supreme 

The election came. Mr. Buchanan was elected, and the endorse- 
ment, such as it was, secured. That was the second point gained. The 
endorsement, however, fell short of a clear popular majority, by nearly 
four hundred thousand votes, and so, perhaps, was not overwhelmingly 
reliable and satisfactory. The outgoing President, in his last annual 
message, as impressively as possible echoed back upon the people the 
weight and authority of the endorsement. The Supreme Court met 
again ; did not announce their decision, but ordered a re-argument. The 
presidential inauguration came, and still no decision of the Court ; but 
the incoming President, in his inaugural address, fervently exhorted the 
people to abide by the forthcoming decision, whatever it might be. Then 
in a few days, came the decision. 

The reputed author of the Nebraska bill finds an early occasion to 
make a speech at this Capitol, indorsing the Dred Scott decision, and 
vehemently denouncing all opposition to it. The new President, too, 
seizes the early occasion of the Silliman letter to indorse and strongly 
construe that decision, and to express his astonishment that any different 
view had ever been entertained. 

At length a squabble springs up between the President and the author 
of the Nebraska bill, on the mere question of fact, whether the Lecomp- 
ton constitution was or was not, in any just sense, made by the people 
of Kansas ; and in that quarrel the latter declares that all he wants is a 
fair vote for the people, and that he cares not whether slavery be voted 
down or up. I do not understand his declaration, that he cares not 
whether slavery be voted down or voted up, to be intended by him other 
than as an apt definition of the policy he would impress upon the public 
mind — the principle for which he declares he has suffered so much, and 
is ready to suffer to the end. And well may he cling to that principle. 
If he has any parental feeling, well may he cling to it. That principle 
is the only shred left of his original Nebraska doctrine. Under the 


Dred Scott decision, " squatter sovereignty " squatted out of existence, 
tumbled down like temporary scaffolding — like the mould at the foundry, 
it served through one blast and fell back into loose sand — helped to carry 
an election, and then was kicked to the winds. His late joint struggle 
with the republicans, against the Lecompton constitution, involves noth- 
ing of the original Nebraska doctrine. That struggle was made on a 
point — the right of the people to make their own constitution — upon 
which he and the republicans have never differed. 

The several points of the Dred Scott decision, in connection with 
Senator Douglas's " care not" policy, constitute the piece of machinery, 
in its present state of advancement. This was the third point gained. 
The working points of that machinery are : 

First, That no negro slave, imported as such from Africa, and no 
descendant of such slave, can ever be a citizen of any state, in the sense 
of that term as used in the Constitution of the United States. This 
point is made in order to deprive the negro, in every possible event, of 
the benefit of that provision of the United States Constitution, which 
declares that " citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and 
immunities of citizens in the several states." 

Secondly, That " subject to the Constitution of the United States," 
neither Congress nor a territorial legislature can exclude slavery from any 
United States territory. This point is made in order that individual men 
may fill up the territories with slaves, without danger of losing them as 
property, and thus to enhance the chances of permanency to the institu- 
tion through all the future. 

Thirdly, That whether the holding a negro in actual slavery, in a 
free state, makes him free, as against the holder, the United States 
Courts will not decide, but will leave to be decided by the courts of any 
slave state the negro may be forced into by the master. This point 
is made, not to be pressed immediately ; but, if acquiesced in for awhile, 
and apparently indorsed by the people at an election, then to sustain the 
logical conclusion that what Dred Scott's master might lawfully do with 
Dred Scott, in the free state of Illinois, every other master may lawfully 
do with any other one, or one thousand slaves, in Illinois, or in any other 
free state. 

Auxiliary to all this, and working hand in hand with it, the 
Nebraska doctrine, or what is left of it, is to educate and mould public 
opinion not to care whether slavery is voted down or voted up. This 
shows exactly where we now are, and partially, also, whither we are 

It will throw additional light on the latter, to go back, and run 
the mind over the string of historical facts already stated. Several 
things will now appear less dark and mysterious than they did when they 


were transpiring. The people were to be left " perfectly free," " subject 
only to the Constitution. " What the Constitution had to do with it, 
outsiders could not then see. Plainly enough now, it was an exactly 
fitted niche, for the Dred Scott decision to afterwards come in, and 
declare the perfect freedom of the people to be just no freedom at all. 
Why was the amendment expressly declaring the right of the people, 
voted down ? Plainly enough now. The adoption of it would have 
spoiled the niche for the Dred Scott decision. Why was the court decis- 
ion held up ? Why even a senator's individual opinion withheld, till 
after the presidential election ? Plainly enough now : the speaking out 
then would have damaged the perfectly free argument upon which the 
election was to be carried. Why the outgoing President's felicitation on 
the indorsement ? Why the delay of a re-argument ? Why the incom- 
ing President's advance exhortation in favor of the decision ? These 
things look like the cautious patting and petting of a spirited horse pre- 
paratory to mounting him, when it is dreaded that he may give the rider 
a fall. And why the hasty after-indorsement of the decision by the 
President and others ? 

We cannot absolutely know that all these adaptations are the result 
of preconcert. But when we see a lot of framed timbers, different por- 
tions of which we know have been gotten out at different times and 
places, and by different workmen — Stephen, Franklin, Roger, and 
James, for instance, * and when we see these timbers joined 
together, and see they exactly make the frame of a house, or a mill, all 
the tenons and mortises exactly fitting, and all the lengths and propor- 
tions of the different pieces exactly adapted to their respective places, 
and not a piece too many or too few — not omitting even scaffolding — or, 
if a single piece be lacking, we see the place in the frame exactly fitted 
and prepared yet to bring such piece in, in such a case, we find it impos- 
sible not to believe that Stephen, and Franklin, and Roger, and James, 
all understood one another from the beginning, and all worked upon a 
common plan or draft, drawn up before the first blow was struck. 

It should not be overlooked that, by the Nebraska bill, the people of 
a state as well as territory, were to be left " perfectly free," " subject 
only to the Constitution." Why mention a state? They were legislat- 
ing for territories, and not for or about states. Certainly the people of 
a state are and ought to be subject to the Constitution of the United 
States; but why is mention of this lugged into this merely territorial 
law? Why are the people of a territory and the people of a state therein 
lumped together, and their relation to the Constitution therein treated 
as being precisely the same? While the opinion of the court, by Chief 
Justice Taney, in the Dred Scott case, and the separate opinions of all the 

1. Stephen A. Douglas, Franklin Pierce, Roger B. Taney, and James Buchanan. 


concurring judges, expressly declare that the Constitution of the United 
States neither permits Congress nor a territorial Legislature to exclude 
slavery from any United States territory, they all omit to declare whether 
or not the same Constitution permits a state, or the people of a state, to 
exclude it. Possibly, this is a mere omission; but who can be quite sure, 
if Mr. McLean or Curtis had sought to get into the opinion a declara- 
tion of unlimited power in the people of a state to exclude slavery from 
their limits, just as Chase and Mace sought to get such declaration, in 
behalf of the people of a territory, into the Nebraska bill; — I ask who 
can be quite sure that it would not have been voted down in the one 
case as it had been in the other ? The nearest approach to the point of 
declaring the power of a state over slavery, is made by Judge Nelson. 
He approaches it more than once, using the precise idea, and almost the 
■language, too, of the Nebraska act. On one occasion, his exact lan- 
guage is, " except in cases where the power is restrained by the Consti- 
tution of the United States, the law of the state is supreme over the sub- 
ject of slavery within its jurisdiction." In what cases the power of the 
states is so restrained by the United States Constitution, is left an open 
question, precisely as the same question, as to the restraint on the 
power of the territories, was left open in the Nebraska act. Put 
this and that together, and we have another nice little niche, which 
we may, ere long, see filled with another Supreme Court decision, 
declaring that the Constitution of the United States does not permit 
a state to exclude slavery from its limits. And this may especially 
be expected if the doctrine of " care not whether slavery be voted 
down or voted up," shall gain upon the public mind sufficiently to give 
promise that such a decision can be maintained when made. 

Such a decision is all that slavery now lacks of being alike lawful in 
all the states. Welcome, or unwelcome, such decision is probably com- 
ing, and will soon be upon us, unless the power of the present political 
dynasty shall be met and overthrown. We shall lie down, pleasantly 
dreaming that the people of Missouri are on the verge of making their 
state free, and we shall awake to the reality instead, that the Supreme 
Court has made Illinois a slave state. To meet and overthrow the power 
of that dynasty, is the work now before all those who would prevent that 
consummation. That is what we have to do. How can we best do it? 

There are those who denounce us openly to their own friends, and 
yet whisper to us softly, that Senator Douglas is the aptest instrument 
there is with which to effect that object. They wish us to infer all, 
from the fact that he now has a little quarrel with the present head of 
the dynasty; and that he has regularly voted with us on a single point, 
upon which he and we have never differed. They remind us that he is 
a great man, and that the largest of us are very small ones. Let this be 


granted. But " a living dog is better than a dead lion." Judge Doug- 
las, if not a dead lion for this work, is at least a caged and toothless one. 
How can he oppose the advances of slavery ? He don't care anything 
about it. His avowed mission is impressing the " public heart" to 
care nothing about it. A leading Douglas democratic newspaper thinks 
Douglas's superior talent will be needed to resist the revival of the Afri- 
can slave trade. Does Douglas believe an effort to revive that trade is 
approaching? He has not said so. Does he really think so ? But if it 
is, how can he resist it ? For years he has labored to prove it a sacred 
right of white men to take negro slaves into the new territories. Can he. 
possibly show that it is less a sacred right to buy them where they can 
be bought cheapest ? And unquestionably they can be bought cheaper 
in Africa than in Virginia. He has done all in his power to reduce the 
whole question of slavery to one of a mere right of property; and as 
such, how can he oppose the foreign slave trade — how can he refuse that 
trade in that "property" shall be " perfectly free," unless he does it as- 
a protection to the home production ? And as the home producers will 
probably not ask the protection, he will be wholly without a ground of 

Senator Douglas holds, we know, that a man may rightfully be 
wiser to-day than he was yesterday — that he may rightfully change 
when he finds himself wrong. But can we, for that reason, run ahead, 
and infer that he will make any particular change, of which he, himself, 
has given no intimation? Can we safely base our action upon any such 
vague inference ? Now, as ever, I wish not to misrepresent Judge 
Douglas's position, question his motives, or do aught that can be person- 
ally offensive to him. Whenever, if ever, he and we can come together 
on principle, so that our cause may have assistance from his great ability, 
I hope to have interposed no adventitious obstacle. But clearly, he is 
not with us — he does not pretend to be — he does not promise ever to be. 

Our cause, then, must be intrusted to, and conducted by, its own 
undoubted friends — those whose hands are free, whose hearts are in the 
work — who do care for the result. Two years ago the republicans of the 
nation mustered over thirteen hundred thousand strong. We did this 
under the single impulse of resistance to a common danger, with every 
external circumstance against us. Of strange, discordant, and even 
hostile elements, we gathered from the four winds, and formed and 
fought the battle through, under the constant hot fire of a disciplined, 
proud, and pampered enemy. Did we brave all then, to falter now ? — 
now, when that same enemy is wavering, dissevered, and belligerent ? 
The result is not doubtful. We shall not fail — if we stand firm, we 
shall not fail. Wise counsels may accelerate, or mistakes delay it, but » 
sooner or later, the victory is sure to come. 



Douglas's Return to Illinois. — Speeches of Lincoln and Douglas 
at Chicago, Bloomington, and Springfield. — Lincoln and 
Douglas Compared. — The Joint Discussions at Charleston. 
— At Freeport. — At Alton. 

The discussions between Lincoln and Douglas, in 1858, 
were unquestionably, with reference to the importance of the 
topics discussed, the ability of the speakers, and their influ- 
ence upon events, the most important in American history. 

There had been great debates in the old Continental Con- 
gress, on the subject of independence, and upon other vital 
questions; great debates in Congress in 1820-21, on the 
Missouri question. The discussion between Webster and 
Hayne, and Webster and Calhoun on nullification and the 
Constitution, were memorable; but the debates in 1858, 
between Lincoln and Douglas, in historic interest surpassed 
them all. 

It is no injustice to others to say that these discussions, 
and especially the speeches of Lincoln, circulated and read 
throughout the Union, did more than any other agency to 
create the public opinion which prepared the way 
for the overthrow of slavery. The speeches of John 
Quincy Adams and of Charles Sumner were more learned 
and scholarly ; those of Lovejoy and Wendell Phillips 
were more vehement and impassioned; Senators Seward, 
Hale, Trumbull, and Chase spoke from a more conspicuous 
forum; but Lincoln's were more philosophical, while as able 




and earnest as any, and his manner had a simplicity and 
directness, a clearness of statement and felicity of illustra- 
tion, and his language a plainness and Anglo-Saxon strength, 
better adapted than any other to reach and influence the 
common people, the mass of the voters. 

At the time of these discussions, both Lincoln and 
Douglas were in the full maturity of their powers. Douglas 
was forty-five, and Lincoln forty-nine years of age. Physi- 
cally and mentally, they were as unlike as possible. Doug- 
las was short, not much more than five feet high, with a large 
head, massive brain, broad shoulders, a wide, deep chest, and 
features strongly marked. He impressed every one at first 
sight, as a strong, sturdy, resolute, fearless man. Lincoln's 
herculean stature has been already described. A stranger 
who listened to him for five minutes would say: " This is a 
kind, genial, sincere, genuine man; a man you can trust, 
plain, straightforward, honest, and true." If this stranger 
were to hear him make a speech, he would be impressed 
with his clear good sense, by his wit and humor, by his gen- 
eral intelligence, and by the simple, homely, but pure and 
accurate language he used. 

Douglas was, in his manners, cordial, frank, and hearty. 
The poorest and humblest found him friendly. In his 
younger days he had a certain familiarity of manner quite 
unusual. When he was at the bar, and even after he went 
on the bench, it was not unusual for him to come down from 
the bench, or leave his chair at the bar, and take his seat on 
the knee of a friend, and, with an arm thrown familiarly 
around the neck of his companion, have a social chat, or a 
legal or political consultation. 1 

Such familiarity had disappeared before 1858. In his 
long residence at Washington, Douglas had acquired the 

1. Such familiarities were not general at the West, as is shown by an incident 
which illustrates the personal dignity of the great senator from Missouri, Mr. Ben- 
ton. A distinguished member of Congress, who was a great admirer of Benton, but 
a man of brusque manners, one day approached and slapped Benton familiarly and 
rudely on the shoulder. The senator haughtily drew himself up and said: "That, sir, is 
a familiarity I never permit my friends, much less a comparative stranger. Sir, it 
must not be repeated." 


bearing and manners of a perfect gentleman and man of the 
world. But he was always a fascinating and attractive man, 
and always and everywhere personally popular. He had 
been, for years, carefully and thoroughly trained ; on the 
stump, in Congress, and in the Senate, to meet in debate the 
ablest speakers in the state and nation. For years he had 
been accustomed to meet on the floor of the Capitol, the 
leaders of the old whig and free soil parties. Among them 
were Webster and Seward, Fessenden and Crittenden, Chase, 
Trumbull, Hale, and others of nearly equal eminence, and 
his enthusiastic friends insisted that never, either in single con- 
' flict, or when receiving the assault of the senatorial leaders 
of a whole party, had he been discomfited. His style was 
bold, vigorous, and aggressive, and at times even defiant. 
He was ready, fluent, fertile in resources, familiar with 
national and party history, severe in denunciation, and he 
handled with skill nearly all the weapons of debate. His 
iron will and restless energy, together with great personal 
magnetism, made him the idol of his friends and party. 
His long, brilliant, and almost universally successful career, 
gave him perfect confidence in himself, and at times he was 
arrogant and overbearing. 

Lincoln was also a thoroughly trained speaker. He had 
met successfully, year after year, at the bar, and on the 
stump, the ablest men of Illinois and the Northwest, includ- 
ing Lamborn, Stephen T. Logan, John Calhoun, and many 
others. He had contended in generous emulation with Hardin, 
Baker, Logan, and Browning, and had very often met 
Douglas, a conflict with whom he always courted rather 
than shunned. He had at Peoria, and elsewhere, extorted 
from Douglas the statement, that in all his discussions at 
Washington, he had never met an opponent who had given 
him so much trouble as Lincoln. His speeches, as we read 
them to-day, show a more familiar knowledge of the slavery 
question, than those of any other statesman of our country. 
This is especially true of the Peoria speech, and the Cooper 
Institute speech. Lincoln was powerful in argument, always 


seizing the strong points, and demonstrating his propositions 
with a clearness and logic approaching the certainty of 
mathematics. He had, in wit and humor, a great advantage 
over Douglas. Douglas's friends loved to call him " the lit- 
tle giant;" Lincoln was physically and intellectually the big 

Such were the champions who, in 1858, were to discuss 
before the voters of Illinois, and with the whole nation as 
spectators and readers of the discussion, the vital questions 
relating to slavery. It was not a single debate, but, begin- 
ning at Chicago, in July, extended late into October, nearly 
to the time of the November elections. Reporters, repre- 
senting the great daily newspapers of New York, Chicago, 
St. Louis, and Cincinnati, were present, and the speeches 
were reported, printed, and scattered broadcast over the 
nation : and were so widely read, that it is not too much to 
say that the whole American people paused to watch the pro- 
gress of the debates, and hung with intense interest on the 
words and movements of the champions. x 

It was indeed a grand spectacle. Each speaker, while 
addressing from five to ten thousand people, or as many as 
could hear any human voice in the open air, was also con- 
scious that he spoke not to his hearers only, but to hundreds 
of thousands of readers; conscious that he was speaking, not 
for a day, or for a political campaign, but for all time — and 
thus stimulated, each rose to the gravity and dignity of the 
occasion. There was not then, nor is there now, any hall in 
Illinois large enough to receive the vast crowds which 
gathered. The groves and prairies alone could furnish 
adequate space, and so the people gathered under the locusts 

1. As an illustration of this, I insert a paragraph from a letter of Henry W. 
Longfellow, to whom a sketch of this debate was sent a short time before his death. 
The letter is dated at Cambridge, Feb. 22d, 1881, and he says : 

" I have read it (the sketch) with interest and pleasure, particularly that part of 
it which relates to Mr. Lincoln. 

I well remember the impression made upon me by his speeches in this famous 
political canvass, in 1858, as reported in the papers at the time, and am glad to find it 
renewed and confirmed by your vivid sketches. 

I am, my dear Sir, Yours Very Truly, 

Henry W. Longfellow." 


on the public square at Ottawa, on the oak and elm shaded 
banks of Rock River at Freeport, at Quincy near the Missis- 
sippi, and elsewhere, to hear these their leaders. 

The first speech was made by Douglas, Lincoln being 
present, at Chicago, on the evening of the 9th of July, 1858, 
from the balcony of the old Tremont House ; Dearborn and 
Lake Streets being completely packed with citizens, and the 
hotel parlors and rotunda filled with ladies and privileged 
guests. On the following evening Lincoln replied from the 
same place, to a crowd equally great. On the 16th of July, 
Douglas spoke again at Bloomington, Lincoln being present. 
On the 17th of July, Douglas spoke at the Capitol in Spring- 
field, and on the evening of the same day Lincoln replied. 

On the 24th of July, Lincoln addressed a note to Doug- 
las, proposing arrangements for a series of joint discussions 
during the canvass. 1 After some correspondence it was 
agreed that there should be seven joint discussions, that the 
opening speech should occupy one hour, the reply one hour 
and a half, and the close a half hour, so that each discussion 
should occupy three hours. They were to speak at Ottawa, 
August 2 1 st ; at Freeport, August 27th ; at Jonesborough, 
September 15th; at Charleston, September 18th; at Gales- 
burg, October 7th ; at Quincy, October 13th ; and at Alton, 
October 15th. Douglas was to have the opening and the 
close of the debate at four of these seven meetings. 

The disinterested spectator at one of these discussions 
would, when they began, probably find his sympathy with 
"the little giant," on the principle that one is apt to sympa- 
thize with the smaller man in a fight. If so, and he were 
to remain to the close, he would be likely to change sides 
before the end, seeing that Lincoln was so fair, so candid, so 
frank, so courteous, and answered every question so well, 

1. Chicago, III., July 24, 1858. 

Hon. S. A. Douglas.— My Dear Sir : Will It be agreeable to you to make an 
arrangement for you and myself to divide time and address the same audiences the 
present canvass. Mr. Judd, who will hand you this, is authorized to receive your 
answer, and, if agreeable to you, to enter into the terms of such arrangement. 

Your obedient servant, A. Linoolk. 

— Lincoln and Douglas Debates, p . 64. 


while Douglas was at times evasive, at others arrogant, and 
not always even courteous. 

There is in one of Lincoln's speeches, made in 1856, 1 an 
allusion to Douglas, so beautiful, generous, and eloquent, 
that I quote it as an indication of the temper in which he 
carried on these discussions : " Twenty years ago," said 
he, " Douglas and I first became acquainted. We were both 
young then — he a trifle younger than I. Even then we 
were both ambitious — I, perhaps, quite as much as he. With 
me the race of ambition has been a failure — a flat failure. 
With him it has been one of splendid success. His name 
fills the nation, and is not unknown even in foreign lands. I 
affect no contempt for the high eminence he has reached. 
So reached, that the oppressed of my species might have 
shared with me in the elevation, I would rather stand on 
that eminence than wear the richest crown that ever pressed 
a monarch's brow." We know, the world knows, that Lin- 
coln did reach that high, nay, far higher eminence, and that 
he did reach it in such a way that the " oppressed of his 
species " shared with him in the elevation. 

There is no reason to doubt that each of these great men 
believed, at that time, that he was right. Douglas had that 
ardor of temperament which would make him believe while 
in the midst of such a conflict that he was right, and Lin- 
coln's friends all know that he argued for freedom and 
against slavery with the most profound conviction that the 
fate of his country hung on the result. He said to a friend 
during the canvass: " Sometimes in the excitement of speak- 
ing I seem to see the end of slavery. I feel that the time is 
soon coming when the sun shall shine, the rain fall, on no 
man who shall go forth to unrequited toil." * * " How 
this will come, when it will come, by whom it will come, I 
cannot tell — but that time will surely come." 

Lincoln had several advantages over Douglas in this 
conflict. He had the right side, the side of liberty, the side 
towards which the tide of popular feeling was setting with 

1. See Holland's Life of Lincoln, p. 155. 


tremendous force. Then he had the better temper, he was 
always good humored; while Douglas, when hard pressed, 
was sometimes irritable. Lincoln's wit and humor, his apt 
stories for illustration were an immense advantage, especially 
when addressing a popular assembly. Speaking then, for his 
country, for the principles of the fathers, and for freedom, 
his eloquence surpassed all his own previous efforts. His 
lips seemed at times touched by fire from off the very altar 
of liberty. Patrick Henry had always been his ideal orator, 
and both Henry and Lincoln were great men by nature, both 
country-bred and self-educated. Patrick Henry had little 
of Lincoln's humor, but Lincoln had at times the fire and 
enthusiasm of him who said : " Give me liberty or give me 
death." It was liberty that made Henry so eloquent; it was 
the same theme that made Lincoln so great. 

Douglas, perhaps, carried away the more popular applause.. 
Lincoln made the deeper, and more lasting impression. 
Douglas did not disdain an immediate, ad captandum triumph, 
while Lincoln aimed at permanent conviction. Sometimes, 
when Lincoln's friends urged him to raise a storm of applause, 
which he could always do by his happy illustrations and amus- 
ing stories, he refused, saying: " The occasion is too serious; 
the issues are too grave. I do not," said he, " seek applause, 
or to amuse the people, but to convince them." It was 
observed, in the canvass, that while Douglas was greeted 
with the loudest cheers, when Lincoln closed, the people 
seemed serious and thoughtful, and could be heard all 
through the crowds, gravely and anxiously discussing the 
subjects on which he had been speaking. 

The echo and the prophecy of this great debate were 
heard, and inspired hope, in the far-off cotton and rice fields 
of the South. The toiling and superstitious negroes began 
to hope for freedom, and in a mysterious way (did the 
sibylline lips of the Voudou whisper it ? ), faith was inspired 
in them that their deliverance was at hand, that their liber- 
ator was on the earth. In the words of Whittier, they lifted 
up their prayer: 


4 ' We pray de Lord. He gib us signs 
Dat some day we be free; 
De Norf winds tell it to de pines, 
De wild duck to de sea. 

" We tink it when de church bell ring; 
We dream it in de dream; 
De rice bird mean it when he sing; 
De eagle when he scream." 

The friends of Douglas, who managed the machinery of 
the campaign, did it well. A special train of cars, a band of 
music, a cannon to thunder forth his approach, and a party 
of ardent and enthusiastic friends accompanied him to cheer 
and encourage; so that his passage from place to place was 
like that of a conquering hero. 

The democratic party, so long dominant in Illinois, were 
now, from Douglas down, confident, and his partisans full 
of bluster and brag. They everywhere boasted, and were 
ready to bet, that their " little giant" would " use up and 
utterly demolish ' old Abe '. " They were so noisy and 
demonstrative; they seemed so absolutely sure of success, 
that many of the republicans, unconscious of the latent 
power of Lincoln, became alarmed. Douglas had so uni- 
formly triumphed, and his power over the people was so 
great, that many were disheartened, and feared the ordeal of 
a joint discussion, which would certainly expose the weaker 
man. This feeling was apparent in the editorials of some 
of the leading republican newspapers. 

Just before the first joint discussion, which was to take 
place at Ottawa, there was a large gathering at the Chenery 
House, then the leading hotel at Springfield. The house 
was filled with politicians, and so great was the crowd, that 
large numbers were out of doors, in the street, and on the 
sidewalk. Lincoln was there, surrounded by his friends, 
but it is said ' that he looked careworn and weary. He had 
become conscious that some of his party friends distrusted 
his ability to meet successfully a man whom, as the demo- 

1. By H. W. Beckwith, of Danville, Vermillion Co., Illinois. 


crats declared and believed, had never had his equal on the 
stump. Seeing an old friend from Vermillion County, Lincoln 
came up, and, shaking hands, inquired the news. His friend 
replied: "All looks well, our friends are wide awake, but — ," 
he continued, " they are looking forward with some anxiety 
to these approaching joint discussions with Douglas." A 
shade passed over Lincoln's face, a sad expression came and 
instantly passed, and then a blaze of light flashed from his 
eyes, and his lips quivered. " I saw," said his friend, " that 
he had penetrated my feelings and fears, and that he knew 
of the apprehensions of his friends. With his lips com- 
pressed, and with a manner peculiar to him, half jocular, he 
said : ' My friend, sit down a minute, and I will tell you a 
story.' We sat down on the door step leading into the hotel, 
and he then continued : ' You and I, as we have traveled the 
circuit together attending court, have often seen two men 
about to fight. One of them, the big, or the little giant, 
as the case may be, is noisy, and boastful ; he jumps high in 
the air, strikes his feet together, smites his fists, brags about 
what he is going to do, and tries hard to sheer the other man. 
The other says not a word.' Lincoln's manner became earn- 
est, and his look firm and resolute. ' The other man says 
not a word, his arms are at his side, his fists are clenched, his 
teeth set, his head settled firmly on his shoulders, he saves 
his breath and strength for the struggle. This man will 
whip, just as sure as the fight comes off. Good-bye,' said 
he, ' and remember what I say.' From that moment, I felt 
as certain of Lincoln's triumph, as after it was won." 

The joint discussion at Charleston, was on the 18th of 
September. This was in Lincoln's old circuit, where he was 
personally known, and popular, but a majority of the people 
were politically opposed to him. There was a vast throng, 
eager to witness the contest. Many were in wagons, having 
taken with them their provisions, and camping out in the 
groves at night. It was estimated that twenty thousand peo- 
ple were in attendance. 

Lincoln, on that day, had the opening and the close. 


This was the fourth joint discussion, and no one who wit- 
nessed it could ever after doubt Lincoln's ample ability to meet 
Douglas. The " little giant " and his friends, had learned 
that there were blows to be received, as well as to be given. 
The Senator, who had begun the canvass at Ottawa, aggres- 
sive and overbearing, had learned caution, and that he must 
husband his resources. Ugly questions had been propounded 
to him, which it was difficult for him to answer. His action 
in relation to the repeal of the Missouri Compromise, which 
he was trying to justify, enabled Lincoln to keep him on the 
defensive. In reply to Douglas's charge against Lincoln, 
of arousing sectional feeling, and leading a sectional party, 
the reply was always ready: " It was you, Douglas, that 
started the great conflagration; it was you that set the dry 
prairie on fire, by repealing the Missouri Compromise." 

Douglas's reply to Lincoln at Charleston, was mainly a 
defense. Lincoln's close was intensely interesting and dra- 
matic. His logic and arguments were crushing, and Doug- 
las's evasions were exposed, with a power and clearness 
that left him utterly discomfited. Republicans saw it, demo- 
crats realized it, and " a sort of panic seized them, and ran 
through the crowd of up-turned faces." * Douglas real- 
ized his defeat, and, as Lincoln's blows fell fast and heavy, 
he lost his temper. He could not keep his seat, he rose and 
walked rapidly up and down the platform, behind Lincoln, 
holding his watch in his hand, and obviously impatient for 
the call of " time." A spectator says : " He was greatly agi- 
tated, his long grizzled hair waving in the wind, like the 
shaggy locks of an enraged lion." 

It was while Douglas was thus exhibiting to the crowd 
his eager desire to stop Lincoln, that the latter, holding the 
audience entranced by his eloquence, was striking his heav- 
iest blows. The instant the second hand of his watch reached 
the point at which Lincoln's time was up, Douglas, holding 
up the watch, called out : " Sit down, Lincoln, sit down.. 
Your time is up." 

1. The expression of a spectator. 


Turning to Douglas, Lincoln said calmly : " I will. I 
will quit. I believe my time is up." " Yes," said a man on 
the platform, " Douglas has had enough, it is time you let 
him up." And this spectator expressed the feeling of friend 
and foe, concerning this battle of the giants. 

Douglas had declared that certain telling charges made 
by Senator Trumbull, and indorsed by Lincoln, were false. 
He did not deny the facts stated by Trumbull, nor attempt 
by argument to disprove the conclusions which were drawn, 
but coarsely said that Trumbull had declared and Lincoln 
indorsed what was false. In reply, Lincoln used this fine 
illustration, exposing the ad captandum argument : " Why, 
sir," exclaimed Lincoln, " there is not a statement in Trum- 
bull's speech that depends upon Trumbull's veracity. Why 
does he not answer the facts?" * * * * " If," con- 
tinued he, " you have ever studied geometry, you remember 
that by a course of reasoning Euclid proves that all the 
angles in a triangle are equal to two right angles. Euclid 
has shown how to work it out. Now, if you undertook to 
disprove that proposition, to show that it was erroneous, 
would you do it by calling Euclid a liar ? That is the way 
Judge Douglas answers Trumbull." i The result of this 
memorable campaign, so far as the voters were concerned, 
was a drawn battle. Douglas was re-elected to the Senate, 
but the manly bearing, the vigorous logic, the great ability 
and love of liberty exhibited by Lincoln in these debates, 
secured, two years later, his nomination and election to the 

The debates and debaters have passed into history, and 
the world has pronounced Lincoln the victor ; but it should 
be remembered that Lincoln spoke for liberty and a young 
and enthusiastic party, and that Douglas, while a candidate 
for the Senate, was looking also to the White House, and 
that, while he kept one eye on Illinois, he had to keep the 
other on the slaveholders. Thus he was hampered and em- 
barrassed, but he made a brilliant canvass. It should not be 

1. Lincoln and Douglas Debates, p. 160. 


forgotten that the whole power of Buchanan's administra- 
tion was used to aid in his defeat. The patronage of the 
Federal Government, in the hands of the unscrupulous 
Slidell, was used against him. 

There was something almost heroic in the gallantry with 
which Douglas threw himself into the contest, and dealt his 
blows right and left, against the republican party on the 
one hand, and the Buchanan administration on the other. 
Douglas's great power as a leader, and his personal popu- 
larity, are exhibited in the facts that every democratic mem- 
ber of Congress from Illinois stood by him faithfully, that 
the Democratic State Convention indorsed him, and that no 
considerable impression against him could be made by all 
the power and patronage of the administration. J There is, 
on the whole, hardly any greater personal triumph in the 
history of American politics, than his re-election. 

No extracts from these debates can do anything like jus- 
tice to their merits. They were entirely extemporaneous, 
and the reports which were made and widely circulated in 
book and pamphlet, while full of striking and beautiful pas- 
sages, of strong arguments, and keen repartee, are disap- 
pointing and unsatisfactory to those who had the great 
pleasure of listening to them. 

At the discussion at Freeport, Lincoln replied, with per- 
fect fairness and frankness, to various questions of Douglas; 
questions skillfully framed to draw out unpopular opinions, 
and such as should be especially obnoxious to the extreme 
anti-slavery men. Lincoln answered all without evasion. He 
then in turn propounded certain questions to Douglas, and 
among others, questions designed to expose the inconsis- 
tency of the Senator, in upholding his doctrine of " popular 
sovereignty," and that part of the Dred Scott decision in 
which the court declared that the people — the " popular 
sovereigns," had no right to exclude slavery. His second 

1. The popular vote stood thus: Lincoln, 126,084; Douglas, 121,940; Buchanan, 
5,091. Douglas was elected by the party with a minority vote, because some demo- 
cratic senators, representing republican districts, held over. 


interrogatory was: " Can the people of a United States ter- 
ritory, in any lawful way, against the wish of any citizen of 
the United States, exclude slavery from its limits, prior to the 
formation of a state constitution." It was in reference to this 
that a friend of Lincoln said: " If Douglas answers in such 
a way as to give practical force and effect to the Dred Scott 
decision, he inevitably loses the battle; but he will reply, by 
declaring the decision an abstract proposition; he will adhere 
to his doctrine of ' squatter sovereignty,' and declare that a 
territory may exclude slavery." " If he does that," said Mr. 
Lincoln, "he can never be President." "But," said the 
friend, " he maybe Senator." "Perhaps," replied Lincoln, 
"but I am after larger game; the battle of i860 is worth a 
hundred of this." 

It was obviously impossible to reconcile Douglas's posi- 
tion at Freeport, and elsewhere, that " the people could 
exclude slavery if they pleased, and that their right to do so 
was perfect and complete, under the Nebraska bill," with the 
decision of the Court, that the people of the territory could 
do nothing of the kind. The Court said that a master had 
the right, under the Constitution, to take, and hold his slaves, 
in all the territories. If so, slavery could not be excluded 
by the people of the territory. Lincoln, in one of those 
terse, clear sentences, into which he often condensed a whole 
speech, exposed the absurdity of this. " Douglas holds," 
said he, " that a thing may lawfully be driven away from a 
place where it has a lawful right to go." He thus describes 
his appreciation of the momentous issue: " I do not claim 
to be unselfish. I do not pretend that I would not like to go 
to the United States Senate." * * * " But I say to you, 
that in this mighty issue, it is nothing to the mass of the peo- 
ple of the nation, whether or not Judge Douglas or myself 
shall ever be heard of after this night. It may be a trifle to 
us, but in connection with this mighty issue, upon which, per- 
haps, hang the destinies of the nation, it is absolutely 

At their last joint discussion in October, at Alton, where 


Lovejoy, twenty one years before, had been killed because 
of his fidelity to freedom, Lincoln, in closing the debate, 
said: "Is slavery wrong ? That is the real issue. That 
is the issue that will continue in this country when these poor 
tongues of Judge Douglas and myself shall be silent. It is 
the eternal struggle between these two principles — right and 
wrong — throughout the world. They are two principles that 
have stood face to face from the beginning of time; and will 
ever continue to struggle. The one is the common right of 
humanity, and the other the divine right of kings. It is the 
same principle in whatever shape it developes itself. It is the 
same spirit that says: 'You work, and toil, and earn bread, 
and I'll eat it.' No matter in what shape it comes, whether 
from the mouth of a king who seeks to bestride the people 
of his own nation, and live by the fruit of their labor, or 
from one race of men, as an apology for enslaving another 
race, it is the same tyrannical principle." * * * 

" On this subject of treating it (slavery) as a wrong, and 
limiting its spread, let me say a word. Has anything ever 
threatened the existence of the Union, save and except this 
very institution of slavery? What is it that we hold most 
dear among us ? Our own liberty and prosperity. What 
has ever threatened our liberty and prosperity, save and 
except this institution of slavery ? If this is true, how do 
you propose to improve the condition of things by enlarging 
slavery ? By spreading it out and making it bigger ? You 
may have a wen or cancer upon your person, and not be 
able to cut it out lest you bleed to death; but surely it is 
not the way to cure it, to engraft it and spread it over your 
whole body. That is no proper way of treating what you 
regard as wrong. You see this peaceful way of dealing 
with it as a wrong — restricting the spread of it, and not 
allowing it to go into new countries, where it has not already 
existed. That is the peaceful way, the old fashioned way, 
the way in which the fathers themselves set us the example." 



Douglas Re-elected to the Senate. — Lincoln Assessed for Ex- 
penses of the Canvass. — Visit to Kansas. — Called to Ohio. 
— Speaks at Columbus and Cincinnati. — In the New England 
States. — Shrinks from the Candidacy. — Cooper Institute 
Speech. — Nominated for President. — His Election. 

The great intellectual conflict was over. Lincoln, weary 
but not exhausted, returned to his home at Springfield, and 
when the returns came in, it appeared that he had won the 
victory for his cause, his party, and his country. The re- 
publican state ticket was elected; he had carried a majority 
of the popular vote, but he was again baffled in obtaining 
the position of Senator, which he so much desired. A suffi- 
cient number of Douglas democrats elected two years before 
from districts now republican, still held over, and inequali- 
ties in the apportionment enabled Douglas to control a 
small majority of the Legislature, although defeated in the 
popular vote. 

As soon as this became known, a perfect ovation was 
given to that popular idol. After a little rest, the Senator 
started for Washington, by way of the Mississippi river. 
Popular receptions awaited him at St. Louis, at Memphis, 
and at New Orleans. Taking a steamer to New York, on 
his arrival in that city, he was welcomed by a great con- 
course of people, and this welcome was repeated, with the 
utmost enthusiasm, at Philadelphia, Baltimore, and Wash- 

Lincoln was resting quietly at his little cottage in Spring- 


field. He had been speaking constantly from July to No- 
vember, for both he and Douglas, when not engaged in 
joint discussion, were speaking elsewhere. He was cheer- 
ful, and apparently so gratified with the result, that he 
almost forgot his personal disappointment. It does not 
appear that the honors lavished upon his rival disturbed his 
sleeping or waking hours. At the end of the canvass, both 
Douglas and Lincoln visited Chicago; Douglas was so 
hoarse that he could scarcely articulate, and it was painful 
to hear him attempt to speak. Lincoln's voice was clear 
and vigorous, and it really seemed in better tone than usual. 
His dark complexion was bronzed by the prairie sun and 
winds, but his eye was clear, his step firm, and he looked 
like a trained athlete, ready to enter, rather than one who 
had closed a conflict. 

On the 1 6th of November, in reply to a letter of the 
Chairman of the State Committee relating to the expendi- 
tures of the canvass, he says: 

" I have been on expense so long, without earning anything, that I 
am absolutely without money now to pay for even household expenses. 
Still, you can put in two hundred and fifty dollars for me towards dis- 
charging the debt of the committee. I will allow it when we settle the 
private matter between us." * * 

" This, too, is exclusive of my ordinary expenses during the cam- 
paign, all of which, added to my loss of time and business, bears heavily 
on one no better off than I am." 1 

He owned at this time the little house and lot on which 

1. The letter is as follows: 

Springfield, Nov. 16, 1858. 

Hon. N. B. Jtjdd— My Dear Sir: Yours of the 15th Is just received. I wrote 
you the same day. As to the pecuniary matter, I am willing to pay according to my 
ability, but I am the poorest hand living to get others to pay. I have been on expense 
so long, without earning anything, that I am absolutely without money now for even 
household expenses. Still, if you can put in two hundred and fifty dollars for me 
towards discharging the debt of the committee, I will allow it when you and I settle 
the private matter between us. This, with what I have already paid with an out- 
standing note of mine, will exceed my subscription of five hundred dollars. This, too, 
is exclusive of my ordinary expenses during the campaign, all of which being added to 
my loss of time and business, bears pretty heavily upon one no better off than I am. 
But as I had the post of honor, it is not for me to be over-nice. You are feeling 
badly, * and this, too, shall pass away,' never fear. 

Yours as ever, A. Lincoln. 


he lived, and a few law-books, and was earning not to 
exceed three thousand dollars per annum in his profession. 
He was not then worth over ten or fifteen thousand dollars 

One would suppose that the sacrifice of time and money 
involved in paying his own expenses in the canvass, had 
fully met his share of the cost, and that the committee 
would have raised the money they had expended, from the 
wealthy members of the party in Chicago and elsewhere, 
rather than, under the circumstances, have called upon 
their candidate for the Senate. The close of his letter: 
"•You are feeling badly," "and this too shall pass away, 
never fear," shows that so far from feeling chagrin or 
depression over his defeat, he had a word of cheer for his 

In the autumn of 1859 he visited Kansas, and the people 
of that young commonwealth received him as one who had 
so eloquently plead their cause should be received. 

That Lincoln's friends began, during the debates of 1858, 
seriously to consider him as an available candidate for the 
Presidency, is well known. Late in the autumn of that year, 
after the close of the canvass, some of his friends proposed 
to begin an organization with the view of bringing him 
before the people for nomination in i860. Mr. Fell, of 
Bloomington, Secretary of the Republican State Central 
Committee, had an interview with him on the subject. 1 

Lincoln discouraged the proposition, and said that he 
was not well enough known. "What," said he, "is the use 
of talking of me, whilst we have such men as Seward and 
Chase, and everybody knows them, and scarcely anybody, 
outside of Illinois, knows me? Besides," said he, "as a 
matter of justice, is it not due to them?" In reply, his 
friends urged his great availability, on the ground that he 
was not obnoxious as a radical, or otherwise. They 
reminded him that the party was in a minority; that defeated 

1. See a full statement of this interview in the Lincoln Memorial Album, pp. 477- 


in 1856, with Fremont, they would be beaten in i860 — unless 
a great many new votes could be obtained. These would 
be repelled by the extreme utterances and votes of Seward 
and Chase, but on the simple issue of opposing the exten- 
sion of slavery, an issue with which Lincoln was distinctly 
identified, a majority could probably be obtained. That, by 
his debate with Douglas, he, more than any other man in 
the nation, represented that distinct issue, and that he had 
no embarrassing record ; that he was personally popular, and 
that with him for their candidate, the republican party had a 
fair chance of success. Nothing came of this conference at 
that time, but it was not forgotten. 

In the autumn of 1859, Douglas visited Ohio, and made 
a canvass for the democratic party. On his appearance, the 
cry arose at once: "Where is Lincoln, the man who beat 
him in Illinois ? Send for him! " Lincoln was sent for. He 
came, and spoke with great ability, at Columbus and at Cin- 
cinnati, and, at the latter place, addressed himself especially 
to Kentuckians. He said, among other things, that they 
ought to nominate for President " my distinguished friend, 
Judge Douglas." "In my opinion it is," says he, "for you 
to take him or be beaten." 

A portion of this speech was as follows: 

" I should not wonder that there are some Kentuckians about this 
audience; we are close to Kentucky; and whether that be so or not, we 
are on elevated ground, and by speaking distinctly, I should not wonder 
if some of the Kentuckians would hear me on the other side of the river. 
For that purpose I propose to address a portion of what I have to say to 
the Kentuckians. * * I have told you what we mean to do. I want 
to know now, when that thing takes place, what you mean to do. I 
often hear it intimated that you mean to divide the Union whenever a 
republican, or anything like it, is elected President of the United States. 
(A voice — * That is so.') ' That is so,' one of them says; I wonder if 
he is a Kentuckian? (A voice — ' He is a Douglas man.') Well, then, 
I want to know what you are going to do with your half of it ? Are you 
going to split the Ohio down through, and push your half off a piece ? 
Or are you going to keep it right alongside of us outrageous fellows ? 
Or are you going to build up a wall some way between your country and 
ours, by which that movable property of yours can't come over here any 


more, to the danger of your losing it ? Do you think you can better your- 
selves on that subject, by leaving us here under no obligation whatever to 
return those specimens of your movable property that come hither ? You 
have divided the Union because we would not do right with you, as you 
think, upon that subject; when we cease to be under obligations to do 
anything for you, how much better off do you think you will be? Will 
you make war upon us and kill us all ? Why, gentlemen, I think you 
are as gallant and as brave men as live; that you can fight as bravely in 
a good cause, man for man, as any other people living; that you have 
shown yourselves capable of this upon various occasions; but man for man, 
you are not better than we are, and there are not so many of you as there 
are of us. You will never make much of a hand at whipping us. If we 
were fewer in numbers than you, I think that you could whip us; if we 
we're equal it would likely be a drawn battle; but being inferior in num- 
bers, you will make nothing by attempting to master us." 

This speech showed how confident he was of success. It 
defined his position, and added much to his popularity. 

In December, 1859, the feeling in favor of his nomina- 
tion for the Presidency had become so general, that he con- 
sented to permit his friends to take such steps as they deemed 
expedient to bring him forward as a candidate for the nom- 
ination. On the 20th of December, he gave to Mr. Fell 
that modest paper giving some details of his life, which has 
already been set forth in the early part of this volume. 

On Tuesday evening, February 27th, i860, Mr. Lincoln 
delivered, in the city of New York, the Cooper Institute 
speech ; a speech that probably did more to secure his nom- 
ination, than any other act of his life. He had become 
widely known as the successful stump-speaker against Doug- 
las. It was known that he was an able, effective debater, 
but many supposed that he was a mere declaimer, and suc- 
cessful stump-speaker only ; that with much coarse humor, 
he was probably superficial. True, he had beaten Douglas, 
and by beating Douglas, he had beaten the whole field ; but 
exactly what manner of man he was, nobody outside of Illi- 
nois knew. Great curiosity was manifested to hear this West- 
ern prodigy, this prairie orator, this rough, uncouth, unlearned 
backwoodsman. He realized all this, and his Cooper Insti- 
tute speech, either designedly, or otherwise, was admirably 


adapted to remove prejudice, and create confidence. It was 
the speech of a statesman. 

Cooper Institute, an immense hall, was filled to its utmost 
capacity. Horace Greeley, who, in the New York Tribune, 
had advised the Illinois republicans not to oppose Douglas 
in his canvass for the Senate, and who had thus, by implica- 
tion, opposed Lincoln, now said : " No man has been wel- 
comed by such an audience of the intellect and mental cul- 
ture of our city, since the days of Clay and Webster." 

On the platform were the most distinguished scholars, 
jurists, and divines of the city. Bryant, the poet, presided, 
and introduced the speaker. Never was an audience more 
surprised, and never more delighted. It was a political argu- 
ment ; brief, profound, and exhaustive. Instead of rant, 
declamation, striking and witty points, it was a calm, clear, 
learned, dignified, and complete exposition of the whole sub- 
ject ; the speech of a scholar, and showed that he was an 
accurate and laborious student of history. There is com- 
pressed into it such an amount of historical learning, stated 
in the simplest language, as within such a compass, is per- 
haps unparalleled. 

The argument demonstrating the right of Congress to 
prohibit slavery in the territories, and that such was the 
understanding of "our fathers," who framed the Constitu- 
tion and organized the government, has never been sur- 
passed; it never has been, nor can it be, successfully answered. 
The effort was so dignified, and exhibited so much learning, 
and such thorough mastery of the subject, that, coming from 
a source whence this kind of excellence was not expected, 
it was a surprise and revelation, and, therefore, made the 
greater impression. He awoke the next morning to find 
himself famous. He closed his great argument with these 
words : " Let us have faith that right makes might, and in 
that faith, let us to the end dare to do our duty as we under- 
stand it." The speech was published in full by the New 
York Tribune and other papers, and scattered all over the 
Union, and it perfectly satisfied the thoughtful and intellect- 


ual men of the republican party as to Lincoln's great intel- 
lectual power and wise moderation, and it prepared the way 
for his nomination Subsequently, he spoke in Connecticut, 
Rhode Island, and New Hampshire, everywhere making per- 
sonal friends, and leaving a lasting impression of his great 

A clergyman of Norwich, Connecticut, who heard him in 
that city, met him the following day in the cars. Introduc- 
ing himself, he said: 

" Your speech last night was the most remarkable I ever 
heard." " I should like to know," said Lincoln, " what there 
was you thought so remarkable ?" The clergyman replied: 
" The clearness of your statements, the unanswerable style of 
your reasoning, and especially your illustrations, which were 
romance and pathos, fun and logic, all welded together." 1 

The presidential election of i860 now approached. The 
storm of political excitement, North and South, was raging 
with intense violence. The democratic convention to nomi- 
nate candidates was called to meet at Charleston, S. C, in 
April. Douglas was the popular candidate in the free 
states, with many strong personal friends in the slave states. 
The politicians of that party believed, as Lincoln had told 
them at Cincinnati, that they must take Douglas or be 
defeated. But the ultra slaveholders, as a class, were bit- 
terly opposed to him, on account of his opposition to the 
Lecompton Constitution, and his replies to Lincoln at Free- 
port, Illinois. Hitherto the North had generally yielded to 
the more determined leaders among the slaveholders, and 
many supposed that the friends of Douglas, as those of 
Benton, Van Buren, and Wright had done in days gone by, 
would yield, and permit the nomination of some negative 
man, some compromise candidate. An Illinois republican, 
a short time before the Charleston convention, said to Colonel 
Richardson, one of Douglas's efficient friends, and one likely 
to lead his friends in that convention: 

" Douglas will be sacrificed. As Van Buren was sacri- 

1. The Rev. John Sullivan. New York Independent, September 1st, 1864. 


ficed because of his opposition to Texas annexation, so the 
South will sacrifice Douglas because he opposed Lecompton." 

" No," replied Richardson, " the South will find Doug- 
las's friends as firm and determined as they are. We have 
the majority, and our leader shall not be sacrificed. The 
South will find they have now to deal with the West, with 
men as determined as themselves." 

In the Charleston convention was a large party who were 
secessionists, disunionists, and who desired separation. 
They meant to push matters to extremes, to divide the 
democratic party, thereby rendering the success of the 
republican party certain, and then to make the election of a 
republican a pretext for the dissolution of the Union. 

The first thing done after organization was the adoption 
of a platform. A majority reported resolutions declaring 
that neither Congress nor a territorial legislature had any 
power to abolish or prohibit slavery in the territories, " nor 
to impair or destroy the right of property in slaves by any 
legislation whatever." This was intended to be, and was, a 
direct repudiation of Douglas's doctrine of popular sov- 
ereignty, and his friends knew that they might as well give 
up the canvass as go before the people with this platform. 
A minority of the committee, but representing states which 
held a decided majority of the electoral votes, reported 
resolutions re-affirming the platform adopted by the national 
convention at Cincinnati four years before; declaring that 
" inasmuch as there were differences of opinion in the demo- 
cratic party as to the powers of a territorial legislature, and 
as to the powers and duties of Congress under the Constitu- 
tion over the institution of slavery in the territories, the 
democratic party would abide by the decrees of the Supreme 
Court on questions of constitutional law." Butler, of Massa- 
chusetts, reported the old Cincinnati platform. After voting 
down Mr. Butler's proposition, the convention adopted the 
minority report. This was supported by the friends of 

Thereupon L. P. Walker, subsequently the rebel Secre- 


tary of War, presented the protest of the delegates from 
Alabama, and these delegates withdrew from the conven- 
tion. Among these delegates was William L. Yancey, long 
before a notorious secessionist. The delegates from Missis- 
sippi, Louisiana, Texas, South Carolina, Florida, Arkansas,, 
Georgia, and Delaware thereupon also withdrew. The con- 
vention then resolved that it should require two-thirds of a 
full convention to nominate. After balloting several times,. 
on each of which ballots Mr. Douglas had a large, but not 
the two-thirds majority required, the convention adjourned 
to meet at Baltimore on the 18th of June. The seceding 
delegates adjourned to meet at Richmond on the second 
Monday in June. 

The Baltimore convention met and nominated Stephen 
A. Douglas for President, and Benjamin Fitzpatrick, of Ala- 
bama, for Vice-President; but on his declining, Herschel V. 
Johnson, of Georgia, was substituted. The convention of 
the seceders met at Richmond, and, adopting the resolu- 
tions of the majority of the committee, nominated John C. 
Breckenridge, of Kentucky, for President, and Colonel 
Joseph Lane, of Oregon, for Vice-President. The disrup- 
tion of the democratic party was hailed with delight by the 
infatuated people of Charleston and other parts of the rebel 
states as the prelude to the breaking up of the Union. 

The republican convention had been called to meet at 
Chicago on the 16th of May. On the ioth of May, the Illi- 
nois republican state convention was held at Decatur, in 
Macon County, to nominate state officers and appoint dele- 
gates to the national presidential convention. This was not 
very far from where Lincoln's father had settled and worked 
a farm in 1830, and where young Abraham Lincoln and 
Thomas Hanks had split the rails for enclosing the old 
pioneer's first corn field. On the 9th of February preced- 
ing, Lincoln had written a characteristic letter to Mr. Judd, 
the chairman of the state central committee, in which he 
said : " I am not in a position where it would hurt much 
for me not to be nominated on the national ticket, but I am 


where it would hurt some for me not to get the Illinois dele- 
gates." l 

Lincoln was present at the Decatur convention, and as 
he entered the hall he was received with such demonstrations 
of attachment as left no doubt as to the wishes of Illinois on 
the question of his nomination. When he was seated, Gen- 
eral Oglesby announced that an old democrat of Macon 
County desired to make a contribution to the convention. 
Immediately some farmers brought into the hall two old 
fence rails, bearing the inscription : " Abraham Lincoln, the 
rail candidate for the Presidency in i860. Two rails from 
a lot of three thousand, made in i<?jo, by Thomas Hanks 
a?id Abe Lincoln, whose father was the first pioneer of Macon 

The effect of this cannot be described. For fifteen 
minutes, cheer upon cheer went up from the crowd. Lin- 
coln was called to the stand, but his rising was the signal for 
renewed cheering, and this continued until the audience had 
exhausted itself, and then Mr. Lincoln gave a history of 
these two rails, and of his life in Macon County. He told 
the story of his labor in helping to build his father's log 
cabin, and fencing in a field of corn. This dramatic scene 
was not planned by politicians, but was the spontaneous 
action of the old pioneers. The effect it had upon the peo- 
ple satisfied all present that it was a waste of words to talk 
in Illinois of any other man than Abraham Lincoln for 

No public man had less of the demagogue than Mr. Lin- 
coln. He never mentioned his humble life, or his manual 
labor, for the purpose of getting votes. He knew perfectly 

1. " Springfield, III., February 9, 1860. 

" Hon. N. B. Judd — Dear Sir: I am not in a position where it would hurt much 
for me not to be nominated on the national ticket ; but I am where it would hurt some 
for me not to get the Illinois delegates. What I expected when I wrote the letter to 
Messrs. Dole and others is now happening. Your discomfited assailants are more bit- 
ter against me, and they will, for revenge upon me, lay to the Bates egg in the South 
and the Seward egg in the North, and go far towards squeezing me out in the middle 
with nothing. Can you not help me a little in this matter in your end of the vine- 
yard? (I mean this to be private.) Yours as ever, A. Lincoln." 


well that it did not follow because a man could split rails, 
that he would make a good statesman or President. So far 
from having any feeling of this kind, he realized painfully 
the defects of his education, and did his utmost to supply 
the deficiencies. When told that the people were talking of 
making him President, he said : " They ought to select some 
one who knows more than I do." But while he did not 
think any more of himself because he had in early life split 
rails, he had too much real dignity to lose any self-respect 
on that account. 

The committee appointed to select delegates to the na- 
tional convention, submitted the list of names to him. 
As illustrating how presidents are nominated, I will add that 
the committee, and other personal friends of Lincoln, among 
whom were Judd, David Davis, Swift, Cook, and others, 
retired from the convention, and, in a grove near by, lay 
down upon the grass and revised the list of delegates, which 
they reported to, and which were appointed by, the con- 

An immense building called the " Wigwam" and capable 
of holding many thousands of people, had been erected 
especially for the meeting of the national convention. A 
full, eager, and enthusiastic representation was present from 
all the free states, together with representatives from Dela- 
ware, Maryland, Kentucky, Missouri, and Virginia, and some 
scattering representatives from some of the other slave 
states ; but the Gulf states were not represented. Indeed, 
few of the slave states were fully and perfectly represented. 
On motion of Governor Morgan, chairman of the national 
executive committee, David Wilmot, author of the Wilmot 
proviso, was made temporary chairman, and George Ash- 
mun, of Massachusetts, permanent president. 

There was not much difficulty about the platform. The 
convention resolved " that the new dogma that the Constitu- 
tion carried slavery into all the territories, was a dangerous 
political heresy, revolutionary in tendency, and subversive of 


the peace and harmony of the country ; that the norma? 
condition of all the territories is that of freedom ; that 
neither Congress, the territorial legislature, nor any individ- 
ual, could give legal existence to slavery ; that Kansas 
ought to be immediately admitted as a free state ; that the 
opening of the slave trade would be a crime against human- 
ity." It declared also in favor of a homestead law, harbor 
and river improvements, and the Pacific railroad. 

The leading candidates for the nomination for President, 
were William H. Seward, of New York ; Abraham Lincoln, 
of Illinois ; Salmon P. Chase, of Ohio ; Simon Cameron, of 
Pennsylvania ; and Edward Bates, of Missouri ; but it early 
became apparent that the contest was between Seward and 
Lincoln. Mr. Seward had been for many years a leading 
statesman. Governor of New York, and long its most dis- 
tinguished senator ; he had brought to the discussions of 
the great issue between liberty and slavery, a philosophic 
mind, broad and catholic views, great sagacity, and an ele- 
vated love of liberty and humanity. Few, if any, had done 
more to enlighten, create, and consolidate public opinion in 
the free states. His position had been far more conspicuous 
than that of Mr. Lincoln. Hence he had been supposed to 
be more in the way of rivals, and had become the object of 
more bitter personal and political hostility. 

The Illinois candidate was principally known, outside of 
the Northwest, as the competitor of Douglas. Yet the sobri- 
quet oi "honest old Abe, the rail-splitter of Illinois," had 
extended throughout the free states ; he had no enemies, 
and was the second choice of nearly all those delegates of 
whom he was not the first. He was supposed by shrewd 
politicians to have, and he did possess, those qualities which 
make an available candidate. Although a resident of the 
state, he did not attend the convention, but was quietly at 
his home in Springfield. 

Few men of that convention realized, or had the faintest 
foreshadowing of the terrible ordeal of civil war, which was 
before the candidate whom they should nominate and the 


people elect. Yet there seems to have been a peculiar pro- 
priety in Mr. Lincoln's nomination ; and there was here illus- 
trated that instinctive sagacity, or more truly, p7-ovidential 
guidance, which directs a people in a critical emergency to 
.act wisely. 

Looking back, we now see how wise the selection. The 
Union was to be assailed ; Lincoln was from the national 
Northwest, which would never surrender its great communi- 
cations with the ocean, by the Mississippi, or the East. The 
great principles of the Declaration of Independence were to 
be assailed by vast armies ; his political platform had ever 
been that Declaration. Aristocratic power, with the sympa- 
thy of the kings and nobility of Europe, was to make a 
gigantic effort to crush liberty and democracy ; it was fit 
that the great champion of liberty, of a government " of the 
people, for the people, by the people," should be a man, born 
on the wild prairie, nurtured in the rude log cabin, and 
reared amidst the hardships and struggles of humble life. 

On the first ballot, Mr. Seward received 173^ votes, to 
102 for Lincoln ; the others being divided on Messrs. Cam- 
eron, Chase, Bates, and others. On the second ballot, Mr. 
Seward received 184, to 181 for Mr. Lincoln. On the third 
ballot Mr. Lincoln received a majority, and his nomination 
was then made unanimous. 

An incident occurred, which, but for the tact and elo- 
quence of George William Curtis, a delegate from New 
York, might have proved a serious blunder. Cartter, of Ohio, 
'Chairman of the committee, reported the resolutions consti- 
tuting the platform, and endeavored to put them through 
under the previous question. Joshua R. Giddings, the old 
gray-haired veteran anti-slavery leader from the Western 
Reserve, Ohio, begged Cartter to withdraw the previous ques- 
tion, so that he might offer an amendment. Cartter refused 
but on a vote, the previous question was not sustained. The 
convention was not willing to treat the great Ohio abolition- 
ist with rudeness, but was obviously afraid of his radicalism. 
He offered an amendment, embracing that part of the Dec- 


laration of Independence, which declares that " all men are 
created equal, and that they are endowed by their Creator 
with certain inalienable rights," etc. He accompanied his 
motion with a most earnest and eloquent speech, but the con- 
vention, by a large majority, rejected the amendment. 

The venerable old man was grieved and disappointed, 
and, being the representative man of the abolitionists, it was 
feared the result would create coolness, or drive away these 
earnest men from supporting the ticket. Many members of 
the convention were still very much afraid of abolitionism. 
The party was far from homogeneous, and there was danger 
of a rupture. At this crisis, George William Curtis, one of 
the most scholarly, earnest, and enthusiastic young men in 
the republic, came forward, and renewed Giddings's amend- 
ment, slightly altered, and in a speech of ten or fifteen 
minutes, electrified, and carried with him the convention. 
" Is this convention prepared," cried he, " to vote down the 
Declaration of your fathers, the charter of American 
liberty ? " 

The speech was impromptu, but vehement and eloquent 
beyond description. It was received with deafening 
applause, and he carried with him the convention; the amend- 
ment was adopted by almost universal acclamation. No 
speaker ever achieved a more brilliant immediate triumph 
than young Curtis. It was touching to see old Mr. Giddings 
as he went up to Curtis, and throwing his arms around his 
neck, exclaimed: " God bless you, my boy. You have saved 
the republican party. God bless you." Curtis certainly did 
save the party from a great blunder, if from nothing worse. 

On the first day of the convention, the friends of Lincoln 
discovered that there was an organized body of New York- 
ers and others in the " Wigwam," who cheered vociferously 
whenever Seward's name was mentioned, or any allusion was 
made to him. The New Yorkers did the shouting, Lincoln's 
friends were modest and quiet. 

At a meeting of the Illinois delegation at the Tremont, 
on the evening of the first day, at which Judd, Davis, Cook, 


and others were present, it was decided, that on the second 
day, Illinois and the West should be heard. There was then 
living in Chicago, a man whose voice could drown the roar 
of Lake Michigan in its wildest fury; nay, it was said that 
his shout could be heard on a calm day, across that lake; 
Cook, of Ottawa, knew another man, living on the Illinois 
River, a Dr. Ames, who had never found his equal in his 
ability to shout and huzza. He was, however, a democrat. 
Cook telegraphed to him to come to Chicago by the first 
train. These two men, with stentorian voices, met some of 
the Illinois delegation at the Tremont House, and were 
instructed to organize, each a body of men to cheer and 
shout, which they speedily did out of the crowds which were 
in attendance from the Northwest. They were placed on 
opposite sides of the "Wigwam," and instructed that when 
Cook took out his white handkerchief, they were to cheer, 
and not to cease until he returned it to his pocket. Cook was 
conspicuous on the platform, and, at the first utterance of the 
name of Lincoln, simultaneously with the wave of Cook's hand- 
kerchief, there went up such a cheer, such a shout as had never 
before been heard, and which startled the friends of Seward, as 
the cry of " Marmion " on Flodden Field " startled the Scottish 
foe." The New Yorkers tried to follow when the name of 
Seward was spoken, but, beaten at their own game, their 
voices were instantly and absolutely drowned by cheers for 
Lincoln. This was kept up until Lincoln was nominated r 
amidst a storm of applause never before equalled. 

Ames was so carried away with his own enthusiasm for 
Lincoln, that he joined the republican party, and continued 
to shout for Lincoln during the whole campaign; he was 
afterwards rewarded with a country post-office. The New 
York delegation were greatly disappointed and chagrined, 
especially the immediate personal friends of Thurlow Weed 
and Mr. Seward. 

Horace Greeley, while not especially pleased with Lin- 
coln's nomination (his candidate having been Edward Bates, 
of Missouri), had telegraphed to his paper, the New York 


Tribune, at 2 a. m. on the night preceding the day of Lin- 
coln's nomination : " Seward will be nominated to-morrow." 
He now rejoiced at the defeat of Weed and Seward, but the 
New York delegation could not understand how it was done. 
On the second day Seward had lacked but a very few votes, 
and their confidence in Weed, who had long and successfully 
managed the politics and controlled the conventions of the 
Empire State, was so great, that he had acquired the title of 
the " Warwick of New York." He was the " King maker." 

They wondered greatly how the Illinois boys had man- 
aged to beat the old veteran, and especially when, as many 
thought, he held the winning cards in his hands. The can- 
vass for Lincoln had been skillfully conducted, and his 
personal friends, and especially Mr. Judd, the chairman of 
the delegation, together with David Davis and others, were 
entitled to great credit. 

There was in the New York delegation, an eloquent and 
jovial member, James W. Nye, afterward Senator from 
Nevada. He was a great wag ; his wit and humor were 
well known, and the echo of the laughter caused by his 
jokes and stories had been heard from the Hudson to Lake 
Michigan. The Illinois delegation was in session, anxiously 
considering how the friends of Seward and Weed could be 
satisfied, so that they would give the ticket their cordial and 
hearty support. A knock at the door was heard, and the 
door-keeper announced : " General Nye, of New York. 
He says he has a message from New York to Illinois." 

" Admit him instantly," said Judd, the chairman. 

The General entered. 

"What can Illinois do for New York?" enquired Judd. 
" Name it, and if in our power, consider it done." 

"Well," said Nye, "if you sucker boys will please send 
an Illinois school-master to Albany to teach Thurlow Weed 
his political alphabet, we will be greatly obliged." 

The Illinois delegation appreciated the compliment. 

While the convention was in session, Lincoln was at his 
home in Springfield. The proceedings and the result of 


each ballot were immediately communicated to him by a 
telegraph wire extending from the "Wigwam." At the 
time of the second ballot, Lincoln was with some friends in 
the office of the "Sangamon Journal." Soon a gentleman 
hastily entered from the telegraph office, bearing a slip 
of paper, on which his nomination — the result of the third 
ballot — was written. He read the paper to himself, and 
then aloud, and then, without stopping to receive the con- 
gratulations of his friends, he said : " There is a little 
woman down at our house who will like to hear this. I'll go 
down and tell her." The incident speaks eloquently of the 
affectionate relations between him and his wife. She was 
far more anxious that he should be President than he him- 
self was, and her early dream was now to be realized. 

No words can adequately describe the enthusiasm with 
which this nomination was received in Chicago, in Illinois, 
and throughout the Northwest. A man who had been 
placed on top of the Wigwam to announce to the thousands 
outside the progress of the balloting, as soon as the secretary 
read the result of the third ballot shouted to those below: 
"Fire the salute — Lincoln is nominated 7" The cannon was 
fired, and before its reverberations died away a hundred 
thousand voters of Illinois and the neighboring states were 
shouting, screaming, and rejoicing at the result. Hannibal 
Hamlin, of Maine, was nominated for Vice-President. The 
nomination of Lincoln was hailed with intense enthusiasm, 
not only by the crowds in attendance and the Northwest, 
but throughout the free states. Everywhere the people 
were full of zeal for the champion from the West. Never 
did a party enter upon a canvass with more earnest devotion 
to principle than the republican party of i860. Love of 
country, devotion to liberty, hatred of slavery, pervaded all 
hearts. A keen sense of the wrongs and outrages inflicted 
upon the free state men of Kansas, the violence, and in 
many instances the savage cruelty, by which freedom of 
speech and liberty of the press had been suppressed in por- 
tions of the slave states, and strong indignation at the long 



catalogue of crimes of the slaveholders, fired all hearts. 
Confident of success, and determined to leave nothing 
undone to secure it, the republican party entered upon the 

This Presidential campaign has had no parallel. The 
enthusiasm of the people was like a great conflagration, like 
a prairie fire before a wild tornado. A little more than 
twenty years had passed since Owen Lovejoy, brother of 
Elijah Lovejoy, on the bank of the Mississippi, kneeling on 
the turf not then green over the grave of the brother who 
had been killed for his fidelity to freedom, had sworn eternal 
war against slavery. From that time on, he and his associate 
abolitionists had gone forth preaching their crusade against 
oppression, with hearts of fire and tongues of lightning, and 
now the consummation was to be realized of a President 
elected on the distinct ground of opposition to the extension 
of slavery. For years the hatred of that institution had 
been growing and gathering force. Whittier, Bryant, 
Lowell, Longfellow, and others, had written the lyrics of 
liberty; the graphic pen of Mrs. Stowe, in " Uncle Tom's 
Cabin," had painted the cruelties of the overseer and the 
slaveholder, but the acts of slaveholders themselves did 
more to promote the growth of anti-slavery than all other 
causes. The persecutions of abolitionists in the South; the 
harshness and cruelty attending the execution of the fugitive 
slave laws; the brutality of Brooks in knocking down, on the 
floor of the Senate, Charles Sumner, for words spoken in 
debate; these and many other outrages had fired the hearts- 
of the people of the free states against this barbarous insti- 
tution. Beecher, Phillips, Channing, Sumner, and Seward, 
with their eloquence; Chase, with his logic; Lincoln, with his- 
appeals to the principles of the Declaration of Independ- 
ence, and to the opinions of the founders of the republic, his* 
clear statements, his apt illustrations, above all, his wise 
moderation — all had swelled the voice of the people, which 
found expression through the ballot-box, and which declared 
that slavery should go no further. It was now proclaimed 


that " the further spread of slavery should be arrested, and 
it should be placed where the public mind should rest in the 
belief of its ultimate extinction." 

A most remarkable feature of the campaign was the 
personal canvass made by Douglas. This is almost the only 
instance in which a presidential candidate has taken the 
stump in his own behalf. The division in the democratic 
party must have destroyed any hope on his part of success; 
yet he made a personal canvass, displaying all the vigor, and 
spirit, and eloquence, for which he was so distinguished. 
He spoke in most of the free, and in many of the slave 
states, and his appeals were against Breckenridge on one 
side, and Lincoln on the other, as representing sectionalism, 
while he assumed that he carried the banner of the Union. 
If the efforts of any one man could have changed the result, 
his would have changed it, but they were in vain. Lincoln 
received 180 electoral votes, and a popular vote of 1,866,452. 
Douglas received 12 electoral votes, and 1,375,157 of the 
popular vote. Breckenridge received 72 electoral, and a 
popular vote of 847,953; and Bell 39 electoral votes, and 
590,631 of the popular vote. By the success of Mr. Lin- 
coln, the executive power of the country passed from the 
hands of the slaveholders. They had controlled the govern- 
ment for much the larger portion of the time during which 
it had existed. 



'Buchanan's Weakness.— Traitors in his Cabinet.— Efforts to 
Compromise. — Seven States Secede and Organize Provisional 
Government. — Counting the Electoral Vote. — Lincoln 
Starts for Washington. — His Journey. — Assassination Plot. 
— Arrival at the Capital. 

On the 7th of November, i860, it was known throughout 
the republic, that Lincoln had been elected. Not until the 
4th of March could he be inaugurated. Meanwhile the 
clouds, black and threatening, were gathering at the South. 
It was evident that mischief was brewing. South Carolina 
rejoiced over the election of Lincoln, with bonfires and pro- 
cessions. His election furnished a pretext for rebellion. A 
conspiracy had existed since the days of nullification, to 
seize upon the first favorable opportunity to break up the 
Union. 1 

For the four eventful months between Lincoln's election 
and inauguration, conspirators against the Union would 
still have control of the government. Buchanan, a weak, 
old man, was influenced to a great extent by traitors in his 
cabinet, and conspirators in Congress. A majority of his 

1. In October, 1856, a meeting of the governors of slave states was held at Ka- 
leigh, North Carolina, convened at the Instance of Governor Wise, who afterward 
proclaimed that if Fremont had been elected, he would have marched to Washing- 
ton at the head of twenty thousand men, and prevented his inauguration. 

Mr. Keltt, member of Congress from South Carolina, said in the convention of 
his state, which adopted the ordinance of secession: "I have been engaged in this 
movement ever since I entered political life." 

Mr. Rhett said: " The secession of South Carolina is not the event of a day. It 
Is not anything produced by Mr. Lincoln's election, or the non-enforcement of the 
fugitive slave law. It is a matter that has been gathering head for thirty years." 



Cabinet were open disunionists — secessionists, who retained 
their places, and used their power to disarm and dismantle 
the ship of state, that it might be surrendered an easy con- 
quest to those preparing to seize it. Mr. Memminger, of 
South Carolina, who became the rebel Secretary of the 
Treasury, boasted that Buchanan being President, the Fede- 
ral Government would be taken at great disadvantage, and 
it was necessary to prepare things, so that Lincoln would be 
for a while powerless. 

On the 1 2th of December, Lewis Cass, Secretary of 
State, resigned, because the President refused to reinforce 
the forts in Charleston harbor. Jeremiah S. Black, who, as. 
Attorney General of Buchanan, had given an opinion that 
the Federal Government had no power to coerce a seceding 
state, was his successor. Howell Cobb, of Georgia, the 
Secretary of the Treasury, and afterwards a general in the 
rebel army, managed to destroy the credit of the govern- 
ment, and when, December 10, he resigned, because his 
"duty to Georgia required it," he left the treasury empty. 

John B. Floyd, soon to hold the rank of general in the 
rebel army, was Secretary of War. Before he resigned, he 
partly disarmed the free states, by transferring the arms in 
the northern arsenals to the slave states, and he sent the few 
soldiers belonging to the United States regular army so far 
away as not to be available, until the conspirators should 
have time to consummate the revolution. Isaac Toucey, of 
Connecticut, Secretary of the Navy, scattered the navy 
beyond seas, so that the naval force should be beyond the 
reach of the government. Such were the bold, unscrupulous 
acts of the conspirators. Some of them intended to prevent 
the inauguration of Lincoln, and to surrender the Capitol 
and the public archives to the insurgents, and it is probable 
that they would have carried out this design, but for the 
fact that General Winfield Scott was at the head of the 
army, and that with him was a small but reliable force, so 
that an overt act of treason might have been dangerous. 

But the leaders of the conspiracy went forward in their 


guilty preparations with impunity. If Buchanan had dis- 
missed the traitors in his Cabinet, arrested the conspirators 
at the capital, called to his aid strong and loyal men, and 
declared like General Jackson: " The Union must be pre- 
served," it is possible that the conspiracy might have been 
crushed in its inception. But he was weak, vacillating, and 
like clay in the hands of Jefferson Davis, Cobb, Toombs, 
and their associates. The strange spectacle was presented 
of a government in the hands of conspirators plotting to 
overthrow it. From the official desks and portfolios of its 
officers were sent forth their messages of treason. While 
in Congress, and in the Cabinet, the conspirators were boldly 
carrying on their schemes for the overthrow of the govern- 
ment, no attempt was made to interfere with, much less to 
arrest, open and avowed traitors. 

I have said that nothing was done ; yet this is not strictly 
true. The feeble old man in the executive chair did appoint 
a day of fasting, humiliation, and prayer ; declaring that, 
though secession was wrong, he had no power to prevent it. 
Meanwhile the conspirators were laboring industriously to 
make the revolution an accomplished fact before the inaugu- 
ration of Lincoln, or, if they could not accomplish this, then 
by plundering the government, securing the forts, ships, and 
munitions of war, they meant to leave Lincoln with no means 
at his command wherewith to protect and maintain the 
government, and put down the rebellion. 

Some of the democratic party were indignant at the con- 
duct of the Executive. General Cass, as has been stated, 
resigned because the President refused to reinforce Fort 
Moultrie, held by the gallant and faithful Major Anderson. 
Joseph Holt, of Kentucky, succeeded Floyd as Secretary of 
War. Edwin M. Stanton, bold, staunch, and true, succeeded 
Black as Attorney General, and General John A. Dix was 
appointed Secretary of the Treasury. Stanton, Dix, and 
Holt were unflinching Union men, and did all in their 
power to prevent the surrender of the government to the 


conspirators. They most efficiently aided General Scott in 
securing the peaceful inauguration of Lincoln. 

The absence of any real grievance or excuse for rebellion 
was strongly expressed by Alexander H. Stephens, afterward 
Vice-President of the Confederate States, in a speech to the 
Legislature of Georgia, on the 14th of November, i860. He 
said : " Mr. Lincoln can do nothing unless he is backed by 
the power of Congress. The House of Representatives is 
largely in majority against him. In the Senate he is power* 
less. There will be a majority of four against him." * * * 
" Many of us," said he, " have sworn to support the Consti- 
tution. Can we, for the mere election of a man to the Presi- 
dency, and that, too, in accordance with the forms of the 
Constitution, make a point of resistance without becoming 
the breakers of that same instrument ?" ! 

Lincoln remained at his home, a deeply anxious yet hope- 
ful spectator. The whole country was eager to learn his 
views, and ascertain his intentions. He was reticent as to 
his policy, but expressed strong hopes of being able to 
quiet the storm and restore tranquillity. To an inquiry as 
to what kind of a man Lincoln was, an intimate friend 
replied : " He has the firmness and determination, without 
the temper, of Jackson." Those long days, from Novem- 
ber, i860, to March, 1861, were perhaps more gloomy than 
any during the war. Patriots saw conspirators plotting, and 
traitors plundering the treasury, dispersing the United States 
soldiers, sending armed ships abroad, stripping arsenals of 
arms, and with them arming the insurgents. They saw 
rebels preparing to scuttle the ship of state, and the very 
conspirators were the chief officers, and the people but pass- 
engers, with no power to interfere. The people watched, 
and earnestly prayed that the " ides of March " would come 
speedily, and bring Lincoln to the helm. 

In the meanwhile, efforts at pacification and conciliation 
were made. Committees of the Senate and of the House 

1. See McPherson's History of the Rebellion, pp. 20-25, for Stephens' speech 
in full. 


were raised to consider measures of compromise. But all' 
measures of this character were voted down by the conspira- 
tors themselves. They wished neither compromise nor 
guarantees, but separation. A so-called " Peace Conven- 
tion " met at Washington, to see whether any terms could 
induce the disaffected to abandon their purposes. There 
were many who believed that the secession movement was 
all threat and bluster, made to secure additional guarantees 
for slavery. But when the most liberal concessions were 
made in the interests of peace, and were voted down by 
the most extreme slaveholders and disunionists, it became 
evident that those who controlled the slave power had delib- 
erately resolved to force an issue, and go out of the 

Charles Francis Adams, from the House committee of 
thirty-three, reported "that no form of adjustment will be 
satisfactory to the recusant states, which does not incorpor- 
ate into the Constitution of the United States, an obligation 
to protect and extend slavery. On this condition, and on 
this alone, will they consent to withdraw their opposition to 
the recognition of the constitutional election of the Chief 
Magistrate. Viewing the matter in this light, it seems unad- 
visable to attempt to proceed a step further in the way of 
offering unacceptable propositions." It was clear the con- 
spirators had resolved on revolution. 

During these gloomy days, Lincoln was firm and deter- 
mined. On the question of slavery extension, he was as 
unyielding as adamant. On the 13th day of December, 
i860, he wrote to his friend Washburne, member of Con- 
gress from Illinois, as follows: 

" Springfield, III., Dec. 13, i860. 
" Hon. E. B. Washburne — My Dear Sir: Your long letter 
received. Prevent as far as possible, any of our friends from demoraliz- 
ing themselves and our cause, by entertaining propositions for compro- 
mise of any sort on the slavery extension. There is no possible com- 
promise upon it, but which puts us under again, and leaves us all our 
work to do over again. Whether it be a Missouri line, or Eli Thayer's 


Popular Sovereignty, it is all the same. Let either be done, and imme- 
diately filibustering, and extending slavery recommences. On that point 
hold firm, as with a chain of steel. Yours as ever, 

" A. Lincoln." 

And again, on the 21st of December, he wrote as follows: 

" Confidential" 

"Springfield, III., Dec. 21, i860. 
" Hon. E. B. Washburne — My Dear Sir: Last night I received your 
letter, giving an account of your interview with General Scott, and for 
which I thank you. Please present my respects to the General, and tell 
him confidentially, I shall be obliged to him to be as well prepared as he 
can to either hold, or retake, the forts, as the case may require, at and 
after the inauguration. Yours as ever, 

" A. Lincoln." l 

There was a meeting held at the capital on the night of 
January 5th, at which Jefferson Davis, Senators Toombs, 
Iverson, Slidell, Benjamin, Wigfall, and other leading con- 
spirators were present. They resolved in secret conclave to 
precipitate secession and disunion as soon as possible, and 
at the same time resolved that senators and members of the 
House should remain in their seats at the Capitol as long as 
possible, to watch and control the action of the Executive, 
and thwart and defeat any hostile measures proposed. 

In accordance with concerted plans, some of the sena- 
tors and members, as the states they represented passed 
ordinances of secession, retired from the Senate and House 
of Representatives. Some went forth, breathing war and 
vengeance, others expressing deep feeling and regret. 
Nearly all were careful to draw their pay, stationery, and 
documents, and their mileage home from the treasury of the 
government which they went forth avowedly to overthrow. 
There were two honorable exceptions among the representa- 
tives from the Gulf states — Mr. Bouligny, representative 
from New Orleans, and Andrew J. Hamilton, from Texas. 
They remained true to the Union. On the evening of the 
3d of March, 1861, when the Thirty-sixth Congress was 

1. The originals of these letters are in the Washburne MSS. in possession of the 
Chicago Historical Society. 


about to expire, Hamilton, upon bidding farewell to his 
associates, said: "I am going hoine to Texas, a?id I shall 
stand by the old flag as long as there is a shred of it left as big 
as my hand." 

In accordance with the programme of the conspirators, 
South Carolina had adopted the ordinance of secession on 
the 17th of November, i860; Mississippi, January 9th, 1861; 
Georgia, January 19th; Florida, January 10th; Alabama, 
January nth; Louisiana, January 25th, and Texas, February 
1st. 1 

It is obvious that Lincoln had very clear and positive 
convictions of his duty. The Union and the integrity of the 
republic must be preserved at all hazards. Whether slavery 
would survive the impending struggle who could foretell ? 
He feared immediate emancipation; he believed that gradual 
and compensated emancipation would be better, and how 
earnestly he urged this we shall by and by learn. But it 
would seem that slavery was one of those devils that could 
only be cast out by " fasting and prayer;" by bloodshed and 
war. Feeling deeply the responsibility, he asked earnestly 
and humbly the guidance of Providence, resolved " with 
malice toward none, and charity for all," to do his duty as 
God should give him to see his duty, and with this resolu- 
tion to go forward. 

While awaiting the course of events at Springfield, the 
religious — perhaps superstitious — character of Lincoln's 
mind was strongly manifested. Newton Bateman, a highly 
respectable and christian gentleman, was Superintendent of 
Public Instruction in Illinois, and his rooms were adjoining 
those of Lincoln in the Capitol at Springfield. They were 
associates and friends, and often conversed together in 
regard to the threatening condition of affairs. There was a 
remarkable interview between them shortly before the 
November election. It is quoted here in part, as detailed 

1. McPherson's History of the Eebellion, pp. 2 and 3. 


by Bateman, 1 not to prove Lincoln's belief or disbelief in 
any dogma, but as illustrating the tone and character of his 
mind. He said to Bateman: " I know there is a God, and 
he hates injustice and slavery. I see the storm coming. I 
know that his hand is in it. If he has a place and work for 
me — and I think he has — I believe I am ready. I am noth- 
ing, but truth is everything. I know I am right because 
I know that liberty is right, for Christ teaches it, and Christ 
is God. I have told them that a house divided against itself 
cannot stand, and Christ and reason say the same, and they 
will find it so." 

" Douglas don't care whether slavery is voted up or 
down, but God cares, and humanity cares, and I care ; 
and with God's help I shall not fail. I may not see 
the end ; but it will come, and I shall be vindicated ; 
and these men will find that they have not read their Bible 

After a pause, he resumed. " Does it not appear strange 
that men can ignore the moral aspects of this contest ? A 
revelation could not make it plainer to me that slavery or the 
government must be destroyed. The future would be some- 
thing awful, as I look at it, but for this rock on which I 
stand " (alluding to the Testament, which he held in his 

The one who recounts this interview, continues thus : 
" He referred to his conviction that the day of wrath was at 
hand, and that he was to be an actor in the terrible struggle 
which would issue in the overthrow of slavery, though he 
might not live to see the end. He stated his belief in the 
duty and privilege, and efficacy of prayer." 2 

These passages are quoted, not to show, as before stated, 
his belief in any controverted question of theology, but to 
illustrate the religious character of his mind, his presenti- 

1. Holland's Life of Lincoln, p. 237. Herndon says this interview was " colored." 
Bateman wrote to the author that, as reported by Holland, " it is substantially cor- 

2. Holland's Life of Lincoln, p. 238. 



ment of the part he was to act in the great drama, and that 
he placed his dependence for success on Divine assistance. 
Mr. Bateman may have made mistakes in the exact words 
used by Lincoln, but that the substance of what he said is 
given, there can be no reasonable doubt, and with these 
statements, his speeches, state-papers, and conduct, from this 
time to his death, are perfectly consistent. l 

Time passed on, and the seceding states appointed dele- 
gates to meet in convention at Montgomery, Alabama. 
They met on the 4th of February, and organized a provis- 
ional government, similar in many respects to the Constitu- 
tion of the United States, under which Jefferson Davis 
was made President, and Alexander H. Stephens, Vice-Presi- 

The President of the Confederate States was a man of 
culture and large experience in public affairs. Born in Ken- 
tucky, educated at West Point, at the expense of the gov- 
ernment he sought to overthrow, he entered public life as 
the follower of Calhoun. He was of an imperious temper, 

1. To his friend, Judge Grant Goodrich, he made a statement in regard to his 
dependence on God, and his prayer, for assistance, of much the same purport. 

In this connection I quote a paragraph from a paper written hy John Hay, one of 
his private secretaries, and published in Harper's Monthly Magazine, for July, 1865. 
" It was just after my election, in 1860," said Mr. Lincoln, "when the news had 
been coming in thick and fast all day, and there had been a great ' hurrah, boys ! ' so 
that I was well tired out, and went home to rest, throwing myself upon a lounge in 
my chamber. Opposite to where I lay, was a bureau with a swinging glass upon it ; 
and looking in that glass, I saw myself reflected nearly at full length ; but my face. I 
noticed, had two separate and distinct images, the tip of the nose of one being about 
three inches from the tip of the other. I was a little bothered, perhaps startled, and 
got up and looked in the glass, but the Illusion vanished. On lying down again, I saw 
it the second time, plainer, if possible, than before ; and then I noticed that one of the 
faces was a little paler— say five shades— than the other. I got up, and the thing 
melted away, and I went off, and, in the excitement of the- hour, forgot all about it — 
nearly, but not quite — for the thing would once in a while come up, and give me a 
pang, as though something uncomfortable had happened. When I went home, I told 
my wife about it, and a few days after, I tried the experiment again, when, sure 
enough, the thing came back again ; but I never succeeded in bringing the ghost 
back after that, though I once tried very industriously to show it to my wife, who 
was worried about it somewhat. She thought it was a sign that I was to be elected 
to a second term of office, and that the paleness of one of the faces was an omen 
that I should not see life through the last term." 

Mr. Lincoln regarded this as an optical illusion. Mrs. Lincoln's interpretation was. 
a strange coincidence, to say the least, when compared with subsequent events. 


and of a most intense personal ambition. He favored the 
repudiation by the state of Mississippi, of the bonds issued 
by that state, and thus brought deep disgrace upon the 
American character. He was called to the position of Sec- 
retary of War, by President Pierce, and in that position he 
deliberately conducted the affairs of the war department with 
a view to strengthen the slave states, preparatory to a sepa- 
ration, and even with a view to war, if it should be neces- 
sary to secure separation. As the head of the insurgents at 
Montgomery, he was guilty of opening the bloody tragedy 
of civil war, by ordering the fire upon Fort Sumter. The 
character of the man may be inferred from the language he 
used in a speech on his way from Mississippi to Montgom- 
ery, to assume the Presidency. " We will carry the war," 
said he, " where it is easy to advance, where food for the 
sword and torch awaits our armies in the densely populated 
cities." Such was the war this man inaugurated and car- 
ried on until his ignominious capture. How different this 
from the forbearing, dignified, christian spirit of magnanimity, 
which ever characterized the language of the Chief Magis- 
trate of the Union during the war. 

The Vice President, Alexander H. Stephens, was a very 
different character. Intellectually an abler, and morally a 
far better man, he had vigorously opposed secession, and 
never heartily approved of it. No man made sounder and 
stronger arguments than Stephens against secession. In the 
Georgia convention he said: 

" Pause, I entreat you, and consider for a moment what reasons you 
can give that will even satisfy yourselves in calmer moments — what 
reasons you can give to your fellow-sufferers in the calamity that it will 
bring upon us. What reasons can you give to the nations of the earth 
to justify it? They will be calm and deliberate judges in the case; and 
what cause or one overt act can you name or point to, on which to rest 
the plea of justification. What right has the North assailed? What 
interest of the South has been invaded ? What justice has been denied ? 
And what claim, founded in justice and right, has been withheld? Can 
either of you name one governmental act of wrong, deliberately and 


purposely done by the government of "Washington, of which the South 
has a right to complain." * * * 

" When we of the South demanded the slave trade, or the importa- 
tion of Africans for the cultivation of our lands, did they not yield the 
right for twenty years ? When we asked a three-fifth representation in 
Congress for our slaves, was it not granted ? When we asked and 
demanded the return of any fugitive from justice, or the recovery of 
those persons owing labor or allegiance, was it not incorporated in the 
Constitution, and again ratified and strengthened by the Fugitive Slave 
Law of 1850?" * * * 

" Again, gentlemen, look at another act ; when we have asked that 
more territory should be added, that we might spread the institution of 
slavery, have they not yielded to our demands in giving us Louisiana. 
Florida, and Texas, out of which four states have been carved, and ample 
territory for four more to be added in due time, if you by this unwise 
and impolitic act do not destroy this hope, and perhaps by it lose all, and 
have your last slave wrenched from you, by stern military rule, as South 
America and Mexico were, or by the vindictive decree of a universal 
emancipation, which may reasonably be expected to follow?" * * * l 

His prophetic declaration that "a decree of universal 
emancipation " might be reasonably expected, was most 
remarkable and sagacious. He was by far the ablest 
of the Southern leaders. 

On the 15th of February, 1861, the Houses of Congress 
met in joint session to count and declare the electoral vote. 
Fears were entertained that, by some fraud or violence, the 
ceremony might be interrupted, or not performed ; but the 
schemes of the conspirators were not yet ripe for violence. 
In accordance with the forms of the Constitution, both 
Houses of Congress met at 12 m., in the gorgeous hall 
of the House of Representatives ; the Vice-President, as 
President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House, 
sitting side by side, and the Vice-President presiding. 

The crowds of people who thronged to the Capitol, were 
impressed with the peculiarly solemn character of the pro- 
ceedings. The deep anxiety of the public mind found 
expression in the impressive prayer of the chaplain, who 
invoked the blessing and protection of Almighty God upon 

1. McPherson's History of the Rebellion, p. 25. 


the President elect ; prayed for his safe arrival at the capi- 
tal and for his peaceful inauguration, and that threatened 
war might be averted. Vice-President Breckenridge and 
Senator Douglas, both unsuccessful candidates for the 
Presidency, were the most conspicuous personages present. 
On the nth of February, with his family and some per- 
sonal friends, Lincoln left his home at Springfield for Wash- 
ington. There is nothing in history more pathetic than the 
scene when he bade good-bye to his old friends and neigh- 
bors. Conscious of the difficulties and dangers before him ; 
difficulties which seemed almost insurmountable, but with a 
sadness, as though a presentiment that he should return no 
more was pressing upon him, and with a deep religious 
trust, which was very characteristic, he paused, as he stepped 
on the platform of the railroad carriage which was to bear 
him away, and uttered these beautiful and touching words : 

" My Friends : No one, not in my position, can realize the sadness 
I feel at this parting. To this people I owe all that I am. Here I 
have lived more than a quarter of a century. Here my children were 
born, and here one of them lies buried. I know not how soon I shall 
see you again. I go to assume a task more difficult than that which 
has devolved upon any other man since the days of Washington. He 
never would have succeeded except for the aid of Divine Providence, 
upon which he at all times relied. I feel that I cannot succeed without 
the same Divine blessing which sustained him ; and on the same Almighty 
Being I place my reliance for support. And I hope you, my friends, will 
all pray that I may receive that Divine assistance, without which I can- 
not succeed, but with which success is certain. Again, I bid you an 
affectionate farewell." 

As he grasped the hard hand of many an old friend and 
client, and bade farewell to the old home to which he was 
never to return, the responses came from many old neigh- 
bors : "God bless and keep you." "God save you from 
all traitors," his friends " sorrowing most of all," for the 
fear "that they should see his face* no more." 

The profound religious feeling which pervades this 
farewell speech, characterized him to the close of his life. 
He was sustained by his trust in God, and he earnestly 


solicited the prayers of the people. From the time of his 
departure from Springfield, until his remains were borne 
back from the capital of the republic he had saved, hal- 
lowed forever in the hearts of the people, and deified by the 
superstitious race he had emancipated — he was the object 
of constant and earnest prayer, at the family altar, and in the 
places of public worship. From the time when he started 
forth upon his great mission, and to fulfill his destiny and 
meet his martyrdom, the hearts of the people went with him. 

On his way to Washington, he passed through the great 
states of Indiana, Ohio, New York, New Jersey, and Penn- 
sylvania, and was everywhere received with demonstrations 
of loyalty, as the representative of the national govern- 
ment. He addressed the people at the capitals of these 
states, and at many of their chief towns and cities. 

The city of Washington was surrounded by slave terri- 
tory, and was really within the lines of the insurgents. Balti- 
more was not only a slaveholding city, but nowhere was 
the spirit of rebellion more hot and ferocious than among a 
large class of its people. The lower classes, the material of 
which mobs are made, were reckless, and ready for any out- 
rage. From the date of his election to the time of his start 
for Washington, there had often appeared in the press and 
elsewhere, vulgar threats and menaces that he should never 
be inaugurated, nor reach the capital alive. Little atten- 
tion was paid to these threats, yet some of the President's 
personal friends, without his knowledge, employed a detect- 
ive, 1 who sent agents to Baltimore and Washington to inves- 
tigate. Not only were the personal friends of Lincoln in 
Illinois uneasy, but the officers of the railroads from Phila- 
delphia, Baltimore, and Washington, became apprehensive 
of a plot to destroy the roads, ferry-boats, and bridges, by 
which communication was carried on between Washington 
and Philadelphia. The detectives ascertained the existence 
of a plot to assassinate the President elect, as he passed 
through Baltimore. 2 

1. Allan Plnkerton. 

2. See "The Spy of the Rebellion," by Allan PInkerton, pp. 50-80. 


The first intelligence of this conspiracy was communi- 
cated to Lincoln at Philadelphia. On the facts being laid 
before him, he was urged to take the train that night (the 
21st of February), by which he would reach Washington the 
next morning, passing through Baltimore earlier than the 
conspirators expected, and thus avoid the danger. Having 
already made appointments to meet the citizens of Philadel- 
phia at, and raise the United States flag over, Independence 
Hall, on Washington's birthday, the 22nd, and also to meet 
the Legislature of Pennsylvania at Harrisburg, he declined 
starting for Washington that night. Finally his friends per- 
suaded him to allow the detectives and the officers of the 
railways to arrange for him to return from Harrisburg, and, 
by special train, to go to Washington the night following 
the ceremonies at Harrisburg. 

On the 22nd of February, he visited old Independence 
Hall, where the Congress of the revolution had adopted the 
Declaration of Independence. This declaration of princi- 
ples had always been the bible of his political faith. He 
honestly and thoroughly believed in it. His speech on that 
occasion was most eloquent and impressive. He said among 
other things : . 

"All the political sentiments I entertain have been drawn, so far as 
I have been able to draw them, from the sentiments which originated in, 
and were given to the world from, this hall. I never had a feeling, politi- 
cally, that did not spring from the sentiments embodied in the Declara- 
tion of Independence." * ***** 
" It was not the mere matter of the separation of the colonies from the 
mother-land, but that sentiment in the Declaration of Independence, 
which gave liberty not alone to the people of this country, but I hope to 
the world, for all future time. It was that which gave promise that, in 
due time, the weight would be lifted from the shoulders of men. This 
is the sentiment embodied in the Declaration of Independence. Now, 
my friends, can this country be saved upon that basis? If it can, I will 
consider myself one of the happiest men in the world, if I can help to 
save it. If it cannot be saved upon that principle, it will be truly awful ! 
But if this country cannot be saved without giving up the principle, I 
was about to say : ' / would rather be assassinated on the spot, than sur- 
render it. '" * * * ***** 


" I have said nothing but what I am willing to live by, and if it be the 
pleasure of Almighty God, to die by." 

The allusion to the assassination was not accidental. The 
subject had been brought to his attention in such a way that, 
although he did not feel that there was serious danger, yet he 
had been assured positively, by a detective, whose veracity 
his friends vouched for, that a secret conspiracy was organ- 
ized at a neighboring city, to take his life on his way to the 

He went to Harrisburg, according to arrangement, met 
the Legislature, and retired to his room. In the meanwhile, 
General Scott and Mr. Seward had learned, through other 
sources, of the existence of the plot to assassinate him, and 
had despatched Mr. F. W. Seward, a son of Senator Seward, 
to apprise him of the danger. Information coming to him 
from both of these sources, each independent of the other, 
induced him to yield to the wishes of his friends, and antici- 
pate his journey to Washington. Besides, there had reached 
him from Baltimore no committee, either of the municipal 
authorities or of citizens, to tender him the hospitalities, and 
to extend to him the courtesies of that city, as had been done 
by every other city through which he had passed. He was 
persuaded to permit the detective to arrange for his going to 
Washington that night. 

The telegraph wires to Baltimore were cut, Harrisburg 
was isolated, and, taking a special train, he reached Philadel- 
phia, and driving to the Baltimore depot, found the Wash- 
ington train waiting his arrival, stepped on board, and passed 
on without interruption through Baltimore to the national 
capital. He found, on his arrival at Washington, Senator 
Seward, Mr. Washburne, and other friends awaiting him. 
Stepping into a carriage, he was taken to Willard's Hotel, 
and Washington was soon startled by the news of his 

He afterwards declared: " I did not then, nor do I now 
believe I should have been assassinated, had I gone through 
Baltimore as first contemplated, but I thought it wise to run 


no risk where no risk was necessary." l Such arrangements 
were made by General Scott and others, as secured his 
immediate personal safety. His family and personal friends 
followed and joined him, according to the programme of his 

1. See Lossing's Pictorial History of the Eebellion, Vol. 1, p. 279. 



Lincoln's Inauguration. — His Cabinet. — Douglas's Prophecy.— 
Butler Predicts End of Slavery. — South Carolina the 
Prodigal Son. — Douglas's Rallying Cry for the Union. — His 
Death. — Difficulties of the President. — Rebels Begin the 
War. — Uprising of the People. — Death of Ellsworth. — 
Great Britain and France Recognize the Confederates as 
Belligerents. — Negroes Declared "Contraband." 

Mr. Lincoln availed himself of the earliest opportunity 
after his arrival at the capital, and before his inauguration, 
to express his kindly feelings to the people of Washington 
and the Southern states. On the 27th of February, when 
waited upon by the Mayor and Common Council, he assured 
them, and through them the South, that he had no disposi- 
tion to treat them in any other way than as neighbors, and 
that he had no disposition to withhold from them any con- 
stitutional right. He assured the people that they should 
have all their rights under the Constitution. " Not grudg- 
ingly, but fully and fairly." 

On the 4th of March, 1861, he was inaugurated Presi- 
dent of the United States. An inauguration so impressive 
and solemn had not occurred since that of Washington. The 
ceremonies took place, as usual, on the eastern colonnade 
of the Capitol. General Scott had gathered a few soldiers 
of the regular army, and had caused to be organized some 
militia, to preserve peace, order, and security. 

Thousands of Northern voters thronged the streets of 
Washington, only a very few of them conscious of the vol- 
cano of treason and murder, thinly concealed, around and 



beneath them. The public offices and the departments were 
full of plotting traitors. Many of the rebel generals — Lee, 
Johnston, Ewell, Hill, Stewart, Magruder, Pemberton, and 
others, held commissions under the government they were 
about to abandon and betray. Rebel spies were everywhere. 
The people of Washington were, a large portion of them, in 
sympathy with the conspirators. 

None who witnessed it, will ever forget the scene of 
that inauguration. There was the magnificent eastern front 
of the Capitol, looking towards the statue of Washington; and 
there were gathered together the Senate and House of Rep- 
resentatives, the Judges of the Supreme Court, the Diplo- 
matic Corps, the high officers of the Army and the Navy, and, 
outside of the guards, a vast crowd of mingled patriots and 
traitors. Men looked searchingly into the eyes of every 
stranger, to discover whether he were a traitor or a friend. 
Standing in the most conspicuous position, amidst scowl- 
ing traitors with murder and treason in their hearts, 
Lincoln was perfectly cool and self-possessed. Near him 
was President Buchanan, conspicuous with his white neck- 
tie, bowed as with the consciousness of duties unperformed; 
there were Chief Justice Taney and his associates, made 
notorious by the Dred Scott decision ; there was Chase, 
with his fine and imposing presence; and the venerable Scott,, 
his towering form still unbroken by years; the ever hopeful 
and philosophic statesman, Seward ; the scholarly Sumner, 
and blunt Ben Wade, of Ohio. There were also distin- 
guished governors of states, and throngs of eminent men 
from every section of the Union. But there was no man 
more observed than Douglas, the great rival of Lincoln. 
He had been most marked and thoughtful in his attentions 
to the President elect; and now his small but sturdy figure, 
in striking contrast to the towering form of Lincoln, was 
conspicuous; gracefully extending every courtesy to his suc- 
cessful competitor.i His bold eye, from which flashed energy 

1. The author is here reminded of the following incident. As Mr. Lincoln 
removed his hat, hefore commencing the reading of his "Inaugural," from the- 


and determination, was eagerly scanning the crowd, not 
unconscious, it is believed, of the personal danger which 
encircled the President, and perfectly ready if need be to 
share it. Lincoln's calmness arose from an entire absence 
of self -consciousness; he was too fully absorbed in the gravity 
of the occasion and the importance of the events around and 
before him, to think of himself. 

In the open air, and with a voice so clear and distinct 
that he could be heard by thrice ten thousand men, he read 
his inaugural address, and on the very verge of civil war, he 
made a most earnest appeal for peace. This address is so 
important, and shows so clearly the causelessness of the 
rebellion, that no apology is offered for the following quota- 
tions from it: 

Fellow Citizens of the United States: In compliance with a 
custom as old as the government itself, I appear before you to address 
you briefly, and to take in your presence the oath prescribed by the Con- 
stitution of the United States, to be taken by the President " before he 
enters upon the execution of his office." ***** 

Apprehension seems to exist, among the people of the Southern 
states, that by the accession of a republican administration their property 
and their peace and personal security are to be endangered. There has 
never been any real cause for such apprehension. Indeed, the most 
ample evidence to the contrary has all the while existed and been open to 
their inspection. It is found in nearly all the published speeches of him 
who now addresses you. I do but quote from one of those speeches 
when I declare that " I have no purpose, directly or indirectly, to inter- 
fere with the institution of slavery, in the states where it now exists. I 
believe I have no lawful right to do so, and I have no inclination to do 
so." Those who nominated and elected me did so with a full knowledge 
that I had made this and many similar declarations, and have never 
recanted them. * * * * 

I now reiterate those sentiments, and in so doing I only press upon 
the public attention the most conclusive evidence of which the case is 
susceptible, that the property, peace, and security of no section are to be 
in anywise endangered by the now incoming administration. * * * 

I hold, that in contemplation of universal law, and of the Constitu- 

proximity of the crowd he saw nowhere to place it, and Senator Douglas, by his side, 
seeing this, instantly extended his hand and held the President's hat, while he was 
occupied in reading the address. 


tion, the Union of the states is perpetual. Perpetuity is implied, if not 
expressed, in the fundamental law of all national governments. * * 

I therefore consider that, in view of the Constitution and the laws, 
the Union is unbroken, and to the extent of my ability 1 shall take care, 
as the Constitution itself expressly enjoins upon me, that the laws of the 
Union be faithfully executed in all the states. * * * * 

As Mr. Lincoln pronounced the foregoing sentence, with 
clear, firm, and impressive emphasis, a visible sensation ran 
through the vast audience, and earnest, sober, but hearty 
cheers were heard. 

In doing this there need be no bloodshed nor violence: and there 
shall be none, unless it be forced upon the national authority. The 
power confided to me will be used to hold, and occupy, and possess the 
property and places belonging to the government, and to collect the 
duties and imposts; but beyond what may be necessary for these objects 
there will be no invasion, no using of force against or among the people 
anywhere. * * * * * • * * * * * 

Physically speaking, we cannot separate. We cannot remove our 
respective sections from each other, nor build an impassable wall between 
them. A husband and wife may be divorced, and go out of the presence, 
and beyond the reach of each other, but the different parts of our country 
cannot do this. ********* 

This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit 
it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they 
can exercise the constitutional right of amending, or their revolutionary 
right to dismember or overthrow it. I cannot be ignorant of the fact 
that many worthy and patriotic citizens are desirous of having the national 
Constitution amended. ******** 

My countrymen, one and all, think calmly and well upon this whole 
subject. Nothing valuable can be lost by taking time. If there be an 
object to hurry any of you in hot haste to a step which you would never 
take deliberately, that object will be frustrated by taking time; but no 
good object can be frustrated by it. Such of you as are now dissatisfied, 
still have the old Constitution unimpaired, and on the sensitive point, the 
laws of your own framing under it. The new administration will have 
no immediate power, if it would, to change either. If it were admitted 
that you who are dissatisfied hold the right side in the dispute, there still 
is no single good reason for precipitate action. Intelligence, patriotism, 
Christianity, and a firm reliance on Him, who has never yet forsaken this 
favored land, are still competent to adjust, in the best way, all our pres- 
ent difficulties. ********* 


No one can ever forget how solemn was his utterance of 
the following: 

In your hands, my dissatisfied fellow-countrymen, and not in mine, 
are the momentous issues of civil war. The government will not assail 

You can have no conflict without being yourselves the aggressors. 
You have no oath registered in heaven to destroy the government, while 
I have the most solemn one to " preserve, protect, and defend it." 

I am loath to close. We are not enemies, but friends. We must not 
be enemies; though passion may have strained, it must not break, our 
bonds of affection. 

The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battle field and 
patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad 
land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely 
they will be, by the better angels of our nature. 

Alas ! such appeals were received by the parties to whom 
they were addressed, with jeers, and ribaldry, and all the 
maddening passions which riot in blood and war. It was to 
force only, stern, unflinching, and severe, that the powers and 
passions of treason would yield. 

With reverent look and impressive emphasis, he repeated 
the oath to preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of 
his country. Douglas, who knew from his personal famil- 
iarity with the conspirators, better than Lincoln, the dangers 
that surrounded and were before him, who knew the conspi- 
rators and their plots, with patriotic magnanimity then 
grasped the hand of the President, gracefully extended his 
congratulations, and the assurance that in the dark future he 
would stand by him, and give to him his utmost aid in 
upholding the Constitution, and enforcing the laws of his 
country. Nobly did Douglas redeem that pledge. 

Here the author pauses a moment, to relate a most sin- 
gular prophecy in regard to the war, uttered by Douglas, 
January 1st, 1861. Senator Douglas, with his wife, one of 
the most beautiful and fascinating women in America, and a 
relative of Mrs. Madison, occupied one of the houses which 
formed the Minnesota block. 


"On New Year's Day, 1861," says General Stewart, of 
New York, who tells the story, " I was making a New Year's 
call on Senator Douglas; after some conversation, I asked 
him : 

" ' What will be the result, Senator, of the efforts of Jef- 
ferson Davis and his associates, to divide the Union ? ' 

"We were," says Stewart, "sitting on the sofa together, 
when I asked the question. Douglas rose, walked rapidly 
up and down the room for a moment, and then pausing, he 
exclaimed, with deep feeling and excitement : 

" ' The cotton states are making an effort to draw in the 
border states to their schemes of secession, and I am but too 
fearful they will succeed. If they do, there will be the most 
fearful civil war the world has ever seen, lasting for years.* 

"Pausing a moment, he looked like one inspired, while he 
proceeded : ' Virginia, over yonder across the Potomac/ 
pointing towards Arlington, ' will become a charnel-house ; 
but in the end the Union will triumph. They will try,' he 
continued, Ho get possession of this capital, to give them 
prestige abroad, but in that effort they will never succeed ; 
the North will rise en masse to defend it. But Washington 
will become a city of hospitals, the churches will be used 
for the sick and wounded. This house,' he continued, ' the 
Minnesota block, will be devoted to that purpose before the 
end of the war.' 

" Every word of this prediction was literally fulfilled ; 
nearly all the churches were used for the wounded, and 
the Minnesota block, and the very room in which this 
declaration was made, became the 'Douglas Hospital.' " 

" What justification is there for all this ? " asked Stewart. 

" There is no justification," replied Douglas. " I will go 
as far as the Constitution will permit to maintain their just 
rights. But," said he, rising to his feet, and raising his arm, 
" if the Southern states attempt to secede, I am in favor of 
their having just so many slaves, and just so much slave 
territory, as they can hold at the point of the bayonet, and 
no more." 



The President having been inaugurated, announced his 
Cabinet as follows : William H. Seward, Secretary of State ; 
Simon Cameron, Secretary of War ; Salmon P. Chase, Sec- 
retary of the Treasury ; Gideon Welles, Secretary of the 
Navy ; Caleb B. Smith, Secretary of the Interior ; Mont- 
gomery Blair, Postmaster General ; and Edward Bates, Attor- 
ney General. 

Seward, Chase, Cameron, and Bates had been his com- 
petitors for the nomination at the Chicago convention. Dis- 
regarding the remonstrances of some of his friends, who 
feared that such a Cabinet would lack harmony, and that 
some of its members (as the fact turned out) would be seek- 
ing the Presidency, he is said to have replied : 

" No, gentlemen, the times are too grave and perilous for 
ambitious schemes, and personal rivalries. I need the aid 
of all of these men. They enjoy the confidence of their several 
states and sections, and they will strengthen the administra- 
tion." To some of them he made an appeal, saying : " It will 
require the utmost skill, influence, and sagacity of all of us to 
save the republic ; let us forget ourselves, and join hands 
like brothers to save the republic. If we succeed, there 
will be glory enough for all." 

Mr. Seward, the Secretary of State, had been the Presi- 
dent's most formidable competitor for the nomination. He 
was the recognized leader of the republican party in New 
York, and he had been for many years a leading statesman in 
the anti-slavery ranks. His able speeches had done much 
to create and consolidate the party which triumphed in i860. 
He was an accomplished scholar, a polished gentleman, 
familiar with the history of his country, and its foreign pol- 
icy ; a clear and able writer, familiar with international law, 
and altogether well adapted to conduct its foreign corre- 
spondence. He was hopeful and cheerful, an optimist, and 
believed, or appeared to believe, the rebellion would be short. 
He was a shrewd politician, and did not forget his friends in 
the dispensation of patronage. 1 

1. In the early part of Lincoln's administration, a prominent editor of a German 


Salmon P. Chase, Secretary of the Treasury, had been 
also a prominent candidate for the Presidency. He was a 
man of commanding person, fine manly presence, dignified, 
sedate, and earnest. His mind was comprehensive, logical, 
and judicial. He was an earnest, determined, consistent, 
radical abolitionist. His had been the master mind at the 
Buffalo Convention of 1848, and his pen had framed the 
Buffalo platform. By his writings, speeches, and forensic 
arguments, and as Governor of the State of Ohio, and in the 
United States Senate, acting with the accomplished free-soil 
senator from Massachusetts, Charles Sumner, he had con- 
tributed largely to the formation of the republican party. Up 
to the time when he became Secretary of the Treasury, he 
had developed no special adaptation to, or knowledge of 
finance ; but he brought to the duties of that most difficult 
position, a clear judgment and sound sense. 

Simon Cameron had been a very successful Pennsylvania 
politician ; he was of Scotch descent, as his name indicates, 
with inherent Scotch fire, pluck, energy, and perseverance. 
He had a marked Scotch face, a keen gray eye, was tall and 
commanding in form, and had the faculty of never forgetting 
a friend or an enemy. He was accused of being unscrupu- 
lous, of giving good offices and fat contracts to his friends. 
He retired after a short time, to make room for the com- 
bative, rude, fearless, vigorous, and unflinching Stanton. A 
man who was justly said to have " oi-ganized victory." 

Montgomery Blair, the Postmaster General, represented 
the Blair family, one of large political influence, and long 
connected with national affairs. F. P. Blair, senior, as the 
editor of the Globe during General Jackson's administration, 

newspaper published in the West, came to Washington to seek an appointment abroad. 
With the member of Congress from his district, he visited the "Executive Mansion," 
and his wishes were stated. The editor had supported Mr. Seward for the nomina- 
tion as President. Mr. Lincoln immediately sent a messenger to the Secretary of 
State, asking him to come to the White House. Mr. Seward soon arrived, and Lin- 
coln, after a cordial greeting, said : " Seward, here is a gentleman (introducing the 
editor) who had the good sense to prefer you to me for President. He wants to go 
abroad, and I want you to find a good place for him.'' This Mr. Seward did, and the 
President immediately appointed him. 


was one of the ablest and strongest of the able men who sur- 
rounded that great man. He had been associated with, and 
was the friend of, Benton, Van Buren, and Silas Wright ; he 
had seen those friends stricken down by the slave power, and 
he had learned to hate and distrust the oligarchy of slave- 
holders, and his counsels and advice, and his able pen, had 
efficiently aided in building up the party opposed to slavery. 
Montgomery Blair had argued against the Dred Scott decis- 
ion. F. P. Blair, Jr., and B. Gratz Brown, had led the anti- 
slavery men of Missouri, having, after a most gallant 
contest, carried the city of St. Louis, and the former was 
now its honored representative in Congress. 

Edward Bates, the Attorney General, was a fine, digni- 
fied, scholarly, gentlemanly lawyer of the old school. Gid- 
eon Welles had been a leading editor in New England, 
and conducted the affairs of the Navy with great ability. 
Caleb B. Smith was a prominent politician from Indiana,, 
and had been a colleague of Mr. Lincoln in Congress. 

On the evening of the 4th of March, when Mr. Lincoln 
entered the White House, he found a government in ruins. 
The conspiracy which had been preparing for thirty years, 
had culminated. Seven states had passed ordinances of 
secession, and had already organized a rebel government at 
Montgomery. The leaders in Congress and out of it, had 
fired the excitable Southern heart, and had infused into the 
young men a fiery, headlong zeal, and they hurried on, with 
the greatest rapidity, the work of revolution. 

North Carolina still hesitated. The people of that 
staunch old Union state, first voted down a call for a con- 
vention by a vote of 46,671 for, to 47,333 against, but a 
subsequent convention, on the 21st of May, passed an ordi- 
nance of secession. Nearly all the Federal forts, arsenals, 
dock-yards, custom houses and post offices, within the terri- 
tories of the seceded states, had been seized, and were held 
by the rebels. Large numbers of the officers of the army 
and the navy deserted, entering the rebel service. Among 
the most conspicuous in this infamy, was General David E. 


Twiggs, the second officer in rank in the army of the United 
States, and in January, 1861, commanding the Department 
of Texas. He had been placed there by Secretary Floyd, 
because he was known to be in the conspiracy. Secretary 
Holt, on the 18th of January, ordered that he should turn 
over his command to Colonel Waite ; but before this order 
reached Colonel Waite, Twiggs had consummated his trea- 
son by surrendering to the rebel Ben. McCullough, all the 
national forces in Texas, numbering twenty-five hundred 
men, and a large amount of stores and munitions of war. 

There was little or no struggle in the Gulf states, except- 
ing in Northern Alabama, against the wild tornado of excite- 
ment in favor of rebellion, which carried everything before 
it. In the border states, in Maryland, Virginia, North 
Carolina, Tennessee, and Missouri, there was a contest, and 
the friends of the Union made a struggle to maintain their 
position. Ultimately the Union triumphed in Maryland, 
Kentucky, and Missouri ; and the rebels carried the state of 
Tennessee against a most gallant contest on the part of the 
Union men of East Tennessee, under the lead of Andrew 
Johnson, Governor Brownlow, Horace Maynard, and others. 
They also carried Virginia, which seceded April 17th, and 
North Carolina, which adopted secession on the 20th of 

Some of the rebel leaders labored under the delusion, and 
they most industriously inculcated it among their followers, 
that there would be no war ; that the North was divided ; that 
the Northern people would not fight, and that if there was 
war, a large part of them would oppose coercion, and per- 
haps fight on the side of the rebellion. 1 There was in the 
tone of a portion of the Northern press, and in the speeches 
of some of the Northern democrats, much to encourage this 

1. Ex-President Pierce, in a letter to Jefferson Davis, dated January 6th, 1860, 
among other things, said : "If through the madness of Northern abolitionists, that 
dire calamity (disruption of the Union), must come, the fighting will not be along 
Mason and Dixon's line merely. It will be within our own borders, in our own streets, 
between the two classes of citizens to whom I have referred. Those who defy law, 
and scout constitutional obligation, will, if we ever reach the arbitrament of arms, 
find occupation enough at home ! " Such a letter is sufficiently significant. 


idea, and some leading republican papers were at least ambig- 
uous on the subject. There was, however, one prominent 
man from Massachusetts, who had united with the rebel 
leaders in the support of Breckenridge, and who sought to 
dispel this idea ; this was Benjamin F. Butler, who came to 
Washington, to know of his old political associates what it 
meant ? " It means," said his Southern friends, " separation, 
and a Southern Confederacy. We will have our independ- 
ence, and establish a Southern government, with no discor- 
dant elements." 

" Are you prepared for war? "said Butler. 

" Oh ! there will be no war ; the North will not fight." 

" The North will fight. The North will send the last man, 
and expend the last dollar to maintain the government," said 

"But," said his Southern friends, "the North can't fight; 
we have too many allies there." 

" You have friends," said Butler, " in the North, who will 
stand by you so long as you fight your battles in the Union ; 
but the moment you fire on the flag, the Northern people 
will be a unit against you. And," added Butler, "you maybe 
assured if war comes, slavery ends." Butler, sagacious and 
true, became satisfied that war was inevitable. With the 
boldness and directness which has marked his character, he 
went to Buchanan, and advised the arrest of the commission- 
ers sent by the seceding states, and their trial for treason. 
This advice it was as characteristic of Butler to give, as it 
was of Buchanan to disregard. 

As an illustration of the prejudice against Lincoln at the 
South, the following incident is related. Two or three days 
before the inauguration, on the 4th of March, 1861, and 
while Lincoln was staying at Willard's Hotel, a distinguished 
South Carolina lady — one of the Howards — the widow of a 
Northern scholar — called upon him out of curiosity. She 
was very proud, aristocratic, and quite conscious that she 
had in her veins the blood of " all the Howards" and she 



was curious to see a man who had been represented to her 
as a monster, a mixture of the ape and the tiger. 

She was shown into the parlor where were Mr. Lincoln, 
and Senators Seward, Hale, Chase, and other prominent 
members of Congress. As Mr. Seward, whom she knew, 
presented her to the President elect, she hissed in his ear : 
" I am a South Carolinian." Instantly reading her charac- 
ter, he turned and addressed her with the greatest courtesy, 
and dignified and gentlemanly politeness. After listening a 
few moments, astonished to find him so different from what 
he had been described to her, she said : 

"Why, Mr. Lincoln, you look, act, and speak like a kind, 
good-hearted, generous man." 

" And did you expect to meet a savage ? " said he. 

" Certainly I did, or even something worse," replied she. 
" I am glad I have met you," she continued, "and now the 
best way to preserve peace, is for you to go to Charleston, 
and show the people what you are, and tell them you have 
no intention of injuring them." 

Returning home, she found a party of secessionists, and 
on entering the room she exclaimed : 

"I have seen him ! I have seen him !" 

" Who ? " they inquired. 

" That terrible monster, Lincoln, and I found him a gen- 
tleman, and I am going to his first levee after his inaugura- 

At his first reception, this tall daughter of South Caro- 
lina, dressing herself in black velvet, with two long white 
plumes in her hair, repaired to the White House. She was 
nearly six feet high, with black eyes, and black hair, and, in 
her velvet and white feathers, she was a very striking and 
majestic figure. As she approached, the President recog- 
nized her immediately. 

"Here I am again," said she, "that South Carolinian." 

" I am glad to see you," replied he, " and I assure you 
that the first object of my heart is to preserve peace, and I 


wish that not only you, but every son and daughter of South 
Carolina was here, that I might tell them so." 

Mr. Cameron, Secretary of War, came up, and after some 
remarks, he said : " South Carolina (which had already 
seceded), South Carolina is the prodigal son." 

"Ah! Mr. Secretary," said she, "if South Carolina is 
the prodigal son, 'Uncle Sam,' our father, ought to divide 
the inheritance, and let her go ; but they say you are going 
to make war upon us, is it so ? " 

" Oh ! come back," said he, " tell South Carolina to come 
back now, and we will kill the fatted calf." 

The conduct of Douglas towards the President was most 
magnanimous and patriotic. They who had been so long 
such keen and earnest competitors, became now close friends. 
Such friendship under such circumstances, shows that there 
was something fine, noble, and chivalrous in both. Conscious 
of the peril of the republic, Douglas did all in his power to 
strengthen the man who had beaten him in the race for the 

On the 15th of April, the President issued his proclama- 
tion calling for seventy-five thousand soldiers. While he was 
considering the subject, Douglas called and expressed his 
approval, regretting only that it was not for two hundred 
thousand instead of seventy-five thousand, and, on the 18th 
of April, Douglas wrote the following dispatch, and placed 
it in the hands of the agents of the associated press, to be 
sent throughout the country: 

"April 18th, 1861, Senator Douglas called on the President, and had 
an interesting conversation on the present condition of the country. The 
substance of it was, on the part of Mr. Douglas, that while he was 
unalterably opposed to the administration in all its political issues, he was 
prepared to fully sustain the President in the exercise of all his Constitu- 
tional functions, to preserve the Union, maintain the government, and 
defend the Federal capital. A firm policy and prompt action was neces- 
sary. The capital was in danger, and must be defended at all hazards, 
and at any expense of men and money. He spoke of the present and 
future without any reference to the past." 1 

1. The original of this dispatch in Douglas's handwriting was in possession of the 
late Hon. George Ashmun, of Massachusetts, who kindly furnished a copy to the 


Douglas took this means to inform the country how he 
stood, and to exert all the weight of his influence in uniting 
the people to sustain the Executive in his efforts to suppress 
the rebellion by force. Not only did he issue this dispatch, 
but he started for the Northwest, and everywhere, by his 
public speeches and conversation, sounded the alarm, and 
rallied the people to support the Government. On the 23d 
of April, at Columbus, Ohio, he made a speech for the Union, 
in which he said that the chairman of a committee of seces- 
sionists had been instructed to tender the command of all 
the forces in Virginia to General Scott. The reply of the 
General, said Douglas, was this: " I have served my coun- 
try more than fifty years, and so long as I live, I shall stand 
by it, against all assailants, even though my native state, Vir- 
ginia, be among them." * 

Douglas made a speech at Wheeling, Virginia, of the same 
tenor, and passing on to Springfield, on the 25th of April, 
spoke to the Legislature and citizens of Illinois at the capital. 
In this great speech he said, among other things: 

" So long as there was a hope of a peaceful solution, I prayed and 
implored for compromise. I have spared no effort for a peaceful solu- 
tion of these troubles; I have failed, and there is but one thing to do — to 
rally under the flag. * * * The South has no cause of complaint. 
* * * Shall we obey the laws, or adopt the Mexican system of war 
-on every election. * * * Forget party — all — remember only your 
country. * * * The shortest road to peace is the most tremendous 
preparation for war. * * * It is with a sad heart, and with a grief 
I have never before experienced, that I have to contemplate this fearful 
struggle. * * * But it is our duty to protect the government and 
the flag from every assailant, be he who he may." 2 

1, If General Lee, who had been chief-of-staff to General Scott, and his rebel 
associates, had followed the example of the Commander in Chief, how much blood- 
shed and misery might have been prevented. 

2. Governor Shelby M. Cullom, then Speaker of the House, who presided at the 
meeting, says, in a letter to the author: 

"Douglas spoke with great earnestness and power. Never in all my experience 
in public life, before or since, have I been so impressed by a speaker. While he was 
speaking, a man came into the hall bearing the American flag. Its appearance 
caused the wildest excitement, and the great assemblage of legislators and citizens 
was wrought up to the highest enthusiasm of patriotism by the masterly speech." 

Douglas told me that " the Union was in terrible peril, and he had come home to 
rouse the people in favor of the Union." 


From Springfield, Douglas came to his home in Chicago, 
and, at the great " Wigwam," repeated his appeal for the 
Union. He said that we had gone to the very extreme to 
prevent war, and the return for all our efforts has been 
" armies marching on the national capital," a movement to 
blot the United States from the map of the world. " The 
election of Lincoln is a mere pretext," the secession move- 
ment is the result of an enormous conspiracy, existing before 
the election. " There can be no neutrals in this war — only 
patriots and traitors." Worn with excitement and fatigue, 
he went to the Tremont House in Chicago, was taken ill, 
and on the 3rd of June thereafter died, at the early age of 

Senator McDougall, of California, his warm personal 
and political friend, said in the Senate, speaking of his last 
speeches: "Before I left home I heard the battle-cry of 
Douglas resounding over the mountains and valleys of Cali- 
fornia and far-off Oregon. His words have communicated 
faith and strength to millions. The last words of the dead 
Douglas, I have felt to be stronger than the words of multi- 
tudes of living men." ! 

The name of Douglas is familiar in Scottish history, as 
it is in Scottish poetry and romance, but among all the his- 
toric characters who have borne it, from him of " the bleed- 
ing heart " down, few, if any, have surpassed in interest 
Stephen Arnold Douglas. 2 

His death was a great loss to the country, and a severe 
blow to the President. It recalled the words which Mr. 
Van Buren, then Senator from New York, had spoken on 
the death of his great rival, De Witt Clinton: " I, who while 
Clinton lived, never envied him anything, am now almost 

1. Congressional Globe, July 9th, 1861. 

2, It fell to the author as the representative in Congress from Chicago, the 
home of Douglas, to make some remarks in the House of representatives, on the 
occasion of his death. He attempted to compare Lincoln and Douglas, and to do 
justice to both. Neither Mrs. Lincoln nor Mrs. Douglas was pleased with the com- 
parison. Each expressed to him afterwards her astonishment; the one that any- 
body could compare Douglas to her husband, and the other, that any one could think 
for a moment of comparing Lincoln to Douglas! 


tempted to envy him his grave with its honors." 1 These 
words might have expressed in part the feelings of Lincoln 
on the death of Douglas. 

The states in rebellion, having organized a hostile gov- 
ernment, with Jefferson Davis as President, and Alexander 
H. Stephens as Vice-President, Lincoln anxiously surveyed 
the political horizon, that he might fully understand the 
difficulties and dangers by which he was surrounded. It 
should be remembered that although his electoral vote was 
large, his popular vote was in a minority of nearly one mil- 
lion. 2 The treasury was empty ; the national credit failing 
arid broken ; the nucleus of a regular army scattered and 
disarmed ; the officers who had not deserted were strangers ; 
the old democratic party which had ruled for most of the 
time for half a century, was largely in sympathy with the 
insurgents. Lincoln's own party was made up of discordant 
elements ; neither he nor his party had acquired prestige; nor 
had the party yet learned to have confidence in its leaders. 
He had to create an army, to find military skill and leader- 
ship by experience. In this respect the rebels had great 
advantage. They had been for years preparing. The 
Southern people were the more used to firearms and to vio- 
lence. They had in the beginning a great superiority in 
their military leaders. The national government had not at 
the beginning any officers known to the administration, who 
were equal in skill to Lee, Stonewall Jackson, and Johnston. 
Mr. Lincoln had to learn by costly experience who could 
win victories; he could not know by intuition, and in the 
beginning there were many and humiliating reverses, until 
merit and skill could be developed and placed at the head 
of the armies 

In addition to all this, he entered upon his great work of 
restoring the integrity of the Union, without sympathy from 
any of the great powers of Western Europe. Those of 

1. See address of William Allen Butler, on Martin Van Buren, p. 39. 

2. The popular vote was: For Lincoln, 1.866,452; for Douglas, 1,375,157; for Breck- 
enridge, 847,953; for Bell, 590,631. The three defeated candidates received a majority 
of 947,289 over Lincoln. 


them who were not hostile, manifested a cold neutrality, 
exhibiting towards him and his government no cordial good 
will, nor extending to him any moral aid. 

Let us trace the history of his administration, through 
these days of trial down to his final triumph. His first and 
great object was to encourage and strengthen the Union 
sentiment in the border states. If he could hold these 
states in the Union, the contest would be shortened. There- 
fore he had delayed his call for troops to the last moment, 
in the hope that by conciliation he might prevent the seces- 
sion of the border states. 

In the language of his inaugural, he left the " momentous 
issues of civil war " in the hands of the rebels. The war was 
" forced upon the national authority." On the 9th of April, 
the rebel commissioners, whom the government refused to 
receive or recognize, left Washington, declaring that " they 
accepted the gage of battle." * The Confederates had seized 
the "arsenals, forts, custom-houses, post-offices, ships, and 
materials of war of the United States," excepting the forts 
in Charleston Harbor, and were constructing fortifications 
and placing guns in position to attack even these. While 
some of the border states seemed to hesitate, the rebel gov- 
ernment resolved, for the purpose of arousing sectional feel- 
ing and prejudice, to bring on at once a conflict of arms. 

The attack on Fort Sumter was ordered by the rebel 
authorities on the nth of April, Major Robert Anderson, in 
command, was summoned to surrender and refused. He 
had a feeble garrison of a handful of men, and was encircled 
with hostile cannon. A peremptory message was sent to 
him, that unless he surrendered within an hour, the rebel 
forts would open upon him. He still refused, and the bom- 
bardment began, and continued for thirty-six hours, when he 
and his seventy men surrendered. 

The fall of Sumter and the President's call for troops 
were the signals for the rally to arms throughout the loyal 
states. Twenty millions of people, forgetting party divisions 

1. McPherson's History of the Rebellion, p. 110. 


and all past differences, rose with one voice of patriotic 
enthusiam, and laid their fortunes and their lives upon the 
altar of their country. The proclamation of the President 
calling for seventy-five thousand men and convening an extra 
session of Congress to meet on the 4th of July, was followed, in 
every free state, by the prompt action of the governors, call- 
ing for volunteers. In every city, town, village, and neighbor- 
hood, the people rushed to arms, and almost fought for the 
privilege of marching to the defense of the national capital. 
Forty-eight hours had not passed after the issue of the proc- 
lamation, when four regiments had reported to Governor 
Andrew, at Boston, ready for service. On the 17th, he 
commissioned B. F. Butler, of Lowell, as their commander- 
Governor Sprague, of Rhode Island, calling the Legisla- 
ture of that state together, on the 17th of July, tendered to 
the government a thousand infantry, and a battalion of 
artillery, and placing himself at the head of his troops, started 
for Washington. 

The great state of New York, whose population was 
nearly four millions, through her Legislature, and the action 
of Governor Morgan, placed her immense resources in the 
hands of the national Executive. So did Pennsylvania, 
with its three millions of people, under the lead of Governor 
Curtin. And Pennsylvania has the honor of having fur- 
nished the troops that first arrived for the defense of the 
capital, reaching there on the 18th, just in time to prevent a 
seizure of the nearly defenceless city. 

By the 20th of April, although the quota of Ohio, under 
the President's call, was only thirteen regiments, seventy-one 
thousand men had offered their services through Governor 
Dennison, the Executive of that state. It was the same 
everywhere. Half a million of men, citizen volunteers, at 
this call sprang to arms, and begged permission to fight for 
their country. The enthusiasm pervaded all ranks and 
classes. Prayers for the Union and the integrity of the 
nation were heard in every church throughout the free 
states. State legislatures, municipalities, banks, corpora- 


tions, and capitalists everywhere offered their money to 
the government, and subscribed immense sums for the sup- 
port of the volunteers and their families. Independent 
military organizations poured in their offers of service. 
Written pledges were widely circulated and signed, offering 
to the government the lives and property of the signers to 
maintain the Union. Great crowds marched through the 
principal cities, cheering the patriotic, singing national airs, 
and requiring all to show, from their residences and places 
of business, the stars and stripes, or "the red, white and 
blue." The people, through the press, by public meetings, 
and by resolutions, placed their property and lives at the 
disposal of the government. 

Thus at this gloomy period, through the dark clouds of 
gathering war, uprose the mighty voice of the people to cheer 
the heart of the President. Onward it came, like the rush 
of many waters, shouting the words that became so familiar 
during the war — 

" We are coming, Father Abraham, 
Six hundred thousand strong." 

The government was embarrassed by the number of men 
volunteering for its service. Hundreds of thousands more 
were offered than could be armed or received. Senators, 
members of Congress, and other prominent men, went to 
Washington to beg the government to accept the services of 
the eager regiments everywhere imploring permission to 

The volunteer soldier was the popular idol. He was 
everywhere welcome. Fair hands wove the banners which 
he carried, and knit the socks and shirts which protected 
him from the cold; and everywhere they lavished upon him 
luxuries and comforts to cheer and encourage him. Every 
one scorned to take pay from the soldier. Colonel Stetson, 
proprietor of the Astor House Hotel, in New York, replied 
to General Butler's offer to pay: " The Astor House makes 
no charge for Massachusetts soldiers." And while the best 


hotels were proud to entertain the soldier, whether private 
or officer, the latch-string of the cabin and farm-house was 
never drawn in upon him who wore the national blue. Such 
was the universal enthusiasm of the people for their country's 

The feeling of fierce indignation towards those seeking 
to destroy the government, was greatly increased by the 
attack of a mob in the streets of Baltimore upon the Sixth 
Regiment of Massachusetts Volunteers, while passing from 
one depot to the other on their way to the capital. This 
attack, on the 19th of April, in which several soldiers were 
shot, roused the people to the highest pitch of excitement. 
The secessionists were so strong in that state as to induce 
the Mayor of Baltimore, and Governor Hicks, a Union man, 
to protest against troops marching over the soil of Maryland 
to the defense of the national capital. The rebels burned 
the bridges on the railroads leading to Washington, and for 
a time interrupted the passage of troops through Baltimore. 
The Governor so far humiliated himself, and forgot the dig- 
nity of his state and nation, as to suggest that the differences 
between the government and its rebellious citizens should be 
referred to Lord Lyons, the British Minister. The Secre- 
tary of State fittingly rebuked this unworthy suggestion; 
alluding to an incident in the late war with Great Britain, he 
reminded the Governor of Maryland " that there had been a 
time when a general of the American Union, with forces 
designed for the defense of its capital, was not unwelcome 
anywhere in Maryland;" and he added, "that if all the 
other nobler sentiments of Maryland had been obliterated, 
one, at least, it was hoped would remain, and that was, that 
no domestic contention should be referred to any foreign 
arbitrament, least of all to that of a European monarchy." 

While such was the universal feeling of loyal enthusiasm 
throughout the free states, in the border slave states there 
was division and fierce conflict. Governor Magoffin, of Ken- 
tucky, in reply to the President's call, answered: " I say, 
emphatically, Kentucky will furnish no troops for the wicked 


purpose of subduing her sister Southern states." Governor 
Harris, of Tennessee, said: "Tennessee will not furnish a 
man for coercion, but fifty thousand for the defense of our 
Southern brothers." Governor Jackson, of Missouri, refused, 
saying: " Not one man will Missouri furnish to carry on such 
an unholy crusade;" and Virginia not only refused, through 
her governor, to respond, but her convention, then in session, 
immediately passed an ordinance of secession by a vote of 
eighty-eight to fifty-five. 

The Northwest, the home of the President, and the home 
of Douglas, was, if possible, more emphatic, it could scarcely 
be more unanimous, than other sections of the free states, 
in the expression of its determination to maintain the Union 
at all hazards, and at any cost. The people of the vast 
country between the Alleghanies and the Rocky Mountains, 
and north of the Ohio, regarded the Mississippi as peculiarly 
their river, their great outlet to the sea. Proud and confident 
in their hardy strength, familiar with the use of arms, they 
never at any time, for a moment, hesitated in their deter- 
mination not to permit the erection of a foreign territory 
between themselves and the Gulf of Mexico. Here were ten 
millions of the most energetic, determined, self-reliant 
people on earth; and the idea that anybody should dare to 
set up any flag other than their's between them and the 
ocean, betrayed an audacity they would never tolerate. 
"Our great river," exclaimed Douglas, indignantly, "has 
been closed to the commerce of the Northwest." The 
seceding states, conscious of the strength of this feeling, 
early passed a law providing for the free navigation of the 
Mississippi. But the hardy Western pioneers were not dis- 
posed to accept paper guarantees for permission to " possess, 
occupy, and enjoy " their own. They would hold the Mis- 
sissippi with their rifles. When closed upon them, they 
resolved to open it. They immediately seized upon the im- 
portant strategic point of Cairo, and from Belmont to 
Vicksburg and Fort Hudson, round to Lookout Mountain, 
Chattanooga, and Atlanta, they never ceased to press the 


enemy, until the great central artery of the republic, and 
all its vast tributaries from its source to its mouth, were free; 
and then, marching to the sea, joined their gallant brethren 
on the Atlantic coast, to aid in the complete overthrow of 
the rebellion, and the final triumph of liberty and law. 

It has been stated that the people of the border states 
had been divided in sentiment, and it was very doubtful for 
a time, which way they would go ; but the attack upon Fort 
Sumter, and the call by the President for troops, forced the 
issue, and the unscrupulous leaders were able to carry Vir- 
ginia, North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas, into the 
Confederate organization, against the will of a majority of 
the people of those states. Virginia, the leading state of 
the Revolution, the one which, under the leadership of 
Washington and Madison, had been the most influential in 
the formation of the national government, the " Old 
Dominion," as she was called, " the mother of states and of 
statesmen," had been for years descending from her high 
position. Her early and Revolutionary history had been 
one of unequaled brilliancy ; she had largely shaped the 
policy of the nation, and furnished its leaders. Her early 
statesmen were anti-slavery men, and if she had relieved her- 
self of the burden of slavery, she would have held her posi- 
tion as the leading state of the Union ; but, with this heavy 
drag, the proud old commonwealth had seen her younger 
sisters of the republic rapidly overtaking and passing her in 
the race of progress, and the elements of national greatness. 
Indeed, she had fallen so low, that her principal source of 
wealth was from the men, women, and children she raised 
and sent South to supply the slave markets of the Gulf 
states. Her leading men had been advocating extreme 
state rights doctrines, fatal to national unity, and thus sow- 
ing the seeds of secession. Her politicians had threatened 
disunion, again and again. Still, when the crisis came, a 
majority of her people were true ; a large majority of their 
convention was opposed to secession, and when afterwards, 
by violence and fraud, the ordinance was passed, the people 


of the Northwest, the mountain region of Virginia, resisted, 
and determined to stand by the Union. This portion of 
the state maintained its position with fidelity and heroism, 
and ultimately established the state of West Virginia. 

The secession of Virginia added greatly to the danger of 
Washington, and a bold movement upon it then, in its 
defenceless condition, would have been successful. Alex- 
ander H. Stephens, Vice-President of the Confederacy, 
came to Richmond, and everywhere raised the cry of " on to 
Washington ! " The state authorities of Virginia did not 
wait the ratification of the secession ordinance by the peo- 
ple, to whom it was submitted for adoption or rejection, but 
immediately joined the Confederacy, commenced hostilities, 
and organized expeditions for the capture of Harper's 
Ferry and the Gosport Navy-yard. Senator Mason imme- 
diately issued an address to the people, declaring that those 
who could not vote for a separation of Virginia from the 
United States, " must leave the state /" Submission, banish- 
ment, or death was proclaimed to all Union men of the old 
commonwealth. Nowhere, except in West Virginia, and 
some small localities, was there resistance to this decree. In 
the Northwest, the mountain men rallied, organized, resolved 
to stand by the old flag, and protect themselves under its 

The secession of Virginia gave to the Confederates a 
moral and physical power, which imparted to the conflict 
the proportions of a tremendous civil war. She placed her- 
self as a barrier between her weaker sisters and the Union, 
and she held her position with a heroic endurance and cour- 
age, worthy of a better cause and of her earlier days. 
Indeed, she kept the Union forces at bay for more than four 
long years, preserving her capital, and yielding only, when 
the hardy soldiers of the North had marched from the Ohio 
to the sea, cutting her off and making the struggle hopeless. 

North Carolina naturally followed Virginia, and, on the 
21st of May, adopted an ordinance of secession. Maryland, 
from her location between the free states and the national 


capital, occupied a position of the utmost importance. 
Could she be induced to join the Confederates, their design 
of seizing the national capital and its archives would be 
made comparatively easy. Emissaries from the conspirators 
were busy in her borders during the winter of 1861. But 
while there were many rebel sympathizers and traitors 
among her slaveholders, and while many leading families 
gave in their adhesion to the conspiracy, the mass of the 
people were loyal. The governor of the state, Thomas H. 
Hicks, though he yielded for a time to the apparent popu- 
lar feeling in favor of the Confederates, and greatly embar- 
rassed the government by his protests against troops 
marching over Maryland soil to the defense of the capital, 
was, at heart a loyal man and in the end became a decided 
and efficient Union leader. He refused, against induce- 
ments and threats of personal violence, to call the Legisla- 
ture of the state together, a majority of whom were known 
to be secessionists, and who would have passed an ordinance 
of secession. But the man to whom the people of Mary- 
land are most indebted, who was most influential in the 
maintenance of the Union cause at this crisis, and who 
proved the benefactor of the state in relieving her from the 
curse of slavery, was the bold, eloquent, and talented Henry 
Winter Davis. He took his position from the start, for the 
unconditional maintenance of the Union. 

The officials of the city of Baltimore were, most of them, 
secessionists, and its chief of police was a traitor, and was 
implicated in the plot to assassinate Mr. Lincoln on his way 
to the capital. On the 19th of April, a mob in the city of 
Baltimore had attacked the Massachusetts Sixth Regiment, 
which was quietly passing through to the defense of the capi- 
tal, and several soldiers and citizens were killed in the affray. 
The bridges connecting the railways from Pennsylvania and 
New York with Baltimore, were burned, and for a time, 
communication by railroad was interrupted. General B. F. 
Butler, leading the Massachusetts troops, together with the 
New York Seventh Regiment, was compelled to go around 


by Annapolis and to rebuild the railway to Washington.. 
But one dark, stormy night, General Butler marched into 
Baltimore, encamped on Federal Hill, and reopened com- 
munication with the North. The Union men of Maryland 
rallied ; the leading secessionists fled or were arrested, and 
from that time, Maryland was a loyal state, giving to the 
Union the aid of her moral influence, and furnishing many 
gallant soldiers to right its battles. 

What course would be taken by Missouri, the leading 
state west of the Mississippi ? With a population exceeding 
a million, she had only 115,000 slaves. Her interests were 
with the free states, yet she had a governor in direct sym- 
pathy with the traitors, as were the majority of her state offi- 
cers. A state convention was called, but an overwhelming 
majority of Union men had been elected. The truth is, 
that although the slave power had succeeded in destroying 
the political power of her great senator, Thomas H. Benton, 
yet the seeds of opposition to slavery which he had scat- 
tered, were everywhere springing up in favor of union and 
liberty. The city of St. Louis, the commercial metropolis 
of the state, had become a free-soil city ; it had elected 
Francis P. Blair, Jr., a disciple of Benton, to Congress. The 
large German population, under the lead of Franz SigeL 
and others, were for the Union, to a man. 

To the President's call for troops, the rebel Governor, 
Claiborne F. Jackson, returned an insulting refusal, but the 
people, under the lead of Blair, responded. The United 
States Arsenal at St. Louis was, at this time, under a guard 
commanded by Captain Nathaniel Lyon, one of the boldest 
and most energetic officers of the army. He, in connection 
•with Colonels Blair, Sigel,,and others, organized volunteer 
regiments in St. Louis, preparing for a conflict, which they 
early saw to be inevitable. The arms of the St. Louis Arse- 
nal were, during the night of the 25th of April, under the 
direction of Captains Stokes and Lyon, transferred to 
steamer and taken to Alton, Illinois, for safety, and wer 



soon placed in the hands of the volunteers from that 

On the 19th of April, the President issued a proclama- 
tion, blockading the ports of the Gulf states, and on the 27th 
this was extended to North Carolina and Virginia, both of 
which states had been carried into the vortex of revolution. 
On the 3d of May, the President called into the service 
forty-two thousand volunteers and a large increase of the 
regular army. The navy was thus provided for. In the 
meanwhile, the insurgents had been active and enterprising. 
They had boldly seized Harper's Ferry, and the Gosport 
Navy-yard, near Norfolk, Virginia. Within twenty-four 
hours after the secession ordinance passed the Virginia Con- 
vention, they sent forces to capture those places, where were 
•situated very important arsenals of arms and ordnance. 
Harper's Ferry had long been a national armory, and com- 
manded the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad, one of the most 
important connections of the capital with the West. It was 
the gate of the beautiful valley of the Shenandoah, and of 
great importance as a military post. On the 18th of April, 
it was abandoned by its small garrison, and taken possession 
of by the insurgents. At about the same time, the Gosport 
Navy-yard, with two thousand pieces of heavy cannon and 
various material of war, and its large ships, including the 
Pennsylvania of one hundred and twenty guns, and the Mer- 
rimac, afterwards famous for its combat with the Monitor, 
fell into their hands. Owing to imbecility, or treachery, or 
"both, this navy-yard, with its vast stores and property, esti- 
mated to be worth from eight to ten millions, was left 
exposed to seizure and destruction. 

Meanwhile, troops gathered to the defense of the national 
•capital. Among others, came Colonel Elmer E. Ellsworth, 
with a splendid regiment of picked men, which he had 
raised from the New York firemen. On the evening of the 
23d of May, the Union forces crossed the Potomac and 
took possession of Arlington Heights, and the hills over- 
looking Washington and Alexandria. As Colonel Ellsworth 


was returning from pulling down a rebel flag from the Mar- 
shal House, in Alexandria, he was instantly killed by a shot 
fired by the keeper of the hotel over which the obnoxious 
symbol had floated. 

This young man had accompanied Mr. Lincoln from 
Illinois to Washington, and was a protege' of the President. 
He had introduced the Zouave drill into the United States. 
He was among the first martyrs of the war, and his death 
was deeply mourned by the President. His body was taken to 
the Executive Mansion, and his funeral, being among the first 
of those who died in defense of the flag, was very impres- 
sive, touching, and solemn. A gold medal was taken from 
his body after his death, stained with his heart's blood, and 
bearing the inscription: u non solum nobis sed pro patria" 
"Not for ourselves alone, but for the country." 

The secession of Virginia had been followed by the 
removal of the rebel government to Richmond. Virginia, 
North Carolina, Tennessee, and Arkansas had also joined 
the Confederacy. At last freedom and slavery confronted 
each other, face to face, in arms. The loyal states at this 
time, had a population of 22,046,472, and the eleven seced- 
ing states had a population of 9,103,333, of which 3,521,110 
were slaves. 

The rebel government having been established and its 
constitution adopted, Alexander H. Stephens, its Vice-Presi- 
dent, boldly and frankly declared: " Our new government 
is founded, * * its foundations are laid, its corner-stone 
rests on the great truth that the negro is not equal to the 
white man, that slavery, subordination to the superior race is the 
natural and normal condition} 

The Confederate government being based on slavery, 
and the fact openly avowed that slavery was its corner-stone, 
how would it be received by Europe? and especially by 
those great nations England and France, both of which had 
so often reproached the United States for the existence of 

1. McPherson's History of the Rebellion, p. 103. 


slavery ? These powers and the world were now to be spec- 
tators of a conflict between an established government, per- 
fectly free, on one side, and a rebellion organized by a por- 
tion of its citizens with the avowed purpose to erect upon its 
ruins a government based upon, and formed to protect and 
extend, slavery. Surely there was every reason to expect 
that these powers would rebuke with their indignation the 
suggestion that they should recognize — even as belligerents 
— a government with such a basis, and would, in the most 
emphatic manner, express their opposition to a rebellion 
begun and carried on, because the authority rebelled against 
had opposed the further extension of slavery. 

But far from doing this, Great Britain and France, act- 
ing in concert, even before the representatives of President 
Lincoln's administration had arrived in London and Paris, 
hastened to recognize the rebels as a belligerent power. This 
eagerness to encourage rebellion ; this indecent haste to 
accord belligerent rights to an insurgent power, based on 
slavery, was justly attributed to a secret hostility on the part 
of those governments towards the American republic. The 
United States stood before the world as a long established 
government, representing order, civilization, and freedom. 
The Confederates, as a disorganizing rebellion, with no griev- 
ance, except opposition to the extension of slavery, with no 
purpose, except to extend and perpetuate slavery; and yet the 
powers of Western Europe, and especially the aristocracy of 
England, made haste to hail them as belligerents, and extend 
to them moral aid and sympathy. 

The London Times, the organ of the English aristoc- 
racy, exultingly announced : " The great republic is no more ! 
Democracy is a rope of sand." The United States, it 
said, lacked the cohesive power to maintain an empire of 
such magnitude. 

At the moment of extremest national peril, when the son 
of the Western pioneer, whom the people had chosen for 
their Chief Magistrate, was confronted by the dangers which 
gathered around his country ; when his great and honest soul 


bowed itself to God, and as a simple child, in deepest suppli- 
cation asked his guidance and blessing ; at this hour, from 
no crowned head, from no aristocratic ruler abroad, came any 
word of sympathy ; but those proud rulers could coarsely jest 
at his uncouth figure, his uncourtly bearing. " The bubble is 
burst," said they. But the Almighty answered that prayer; he 
joined the hearts and linked the hands of the American peo- 
ple and their President together ; and from that hour to his 
death, the needle does not more quickly respond to the polar 
influence, than did Lincoln to the highest and God-inspired 
impulses of a great people — a people capable of the highest 
heroism and the grandest destiny. 

Very soon the work-shops of England and Scotland were 
set in motion to prepare the means of sweeping American com- 
merce from the ocean. The active sympathy of the masses of 
European populations, and the cold and scarcely concealed 
hostility of the aristocratic and privileged classes, were early 
and constantly manifested during the entire struggle. This 
was, perhaps, not unnatural. In addition to the uneasiness 
which the rapid growth and commanding position of our 
country had created, the whole world instinctively felt that 
the contest was between freedom and slavery, democracy 
and aristocracy. Could a government, for the people and by 
the people, maintain itself through this fearful crisis ? It 
was quite evident, from the beginning, that the privileged 
classes abroad were more than willing to see the great repub- 
lic broken up, to see it pronounced a failure. The conspir- 
ators had prepared the way, as far as possible, by their 
scarcely veiled intrigues, for the recognition of the Confed- 
eracy. The rebels had a positive, vigorous organization, 
with agents all over Europe, many of them in the diplomatic 
service of the United States. They had created a 
wide-spread prejudice against Mr. Lincoln, representing 
him as merely an ignorant, vulgar " rail-splitter " of the 

Mr. Faulkner, of Virginia, represented our government 
in France, and Mr. Preston, a slaveholder from Kentucky, in 


Spain, both secessionists. It was not long, however, before 
Mr. Lincoln impressed the leading traits of his character 
upon our foreign policy. Frankness, straightforward integ- 
rity, patient forbearance, and unbroken faith in the triumph 
of the Union and liberty, based upon his trust and confi- 
dence in the Almighty and the American people, character- 
ized his foreign policy. This policy was simple and thor- 
oughly American ; our representatives were instructed to ask 
nothing but what was clearly right, to avoid difficulty, and 
to maintain peace, if it could be done consistently with 
national honor. The record of the diplomatic correspond- 
ence of the United States during the critical years of this 
administration, is one of which Americans may justly be 
proud. Time and events have vindicated the statesmanship 
by which it was conducted. Mr. Seward, in his instructions 
to Mr. Adams, on the eve of his departure for the Court of 
St. James, very clearly laid down the principles which should 
govern our relations with foreign nations. Mr. Adams was 
instructed not to listen to any suggestion of compromise 
between the United States and any of its citizens, under for- 
eign auspices. He was directed firmly to announce that no 
foreign government could recognize the rebels as an inde- 
pendent power, and remain the friends of the United States. 
Recognition was war. If any foreign power recognized, 
they might prepare to enter into an alliance also, with the 
enemies of the republic. He was instructed to represent 
the whole country, and should he be asked to divide that 
duty with the representatives of the Confederates, he was 
directed to return home. 

The action of the insurgent states was treated as a rebel- 
lion, purely domestic in its character, and no discussion on 
the subject with foreign nations would be tolerated. Eng- 
land did not recognize the Confederates as a nation. She 
did not choose war ; but short of recognition, alliance, and 
war, it is difficult to see how she could have done more to 
encourage and aid the insurgents than she did. 

When the insurgents raised the flag of rebellion, the 


army and navy were scandalized, and the nation disgraced, 
by large numbers of the officers deserting their flag. Nearly 
two hundred of the graduates of the military school at 
West Point deserted, and joined the rebel army. 

Yet, among the officers born in the seceding states, were 
patriots and loyalists, faithful and true, and scorning all 
temptations addressed to their fidelity. Among others, in 
civil life, Andrew Johnson and Andrew J. Hamilton have 
been already named, and in the military and naval service 
were Scott and Thomas, Meade and Farragut, and many 
others. The names of Jefferson Davis and of his military 
associates grow dark, in contrast with those of the hero of 
Lundy's Lane, of the victors at Gettysburg and Nashville, 
and the blunt, honest, and chivalric sailor, who so gloriously 
triumphed over traitors at New Orleans and Mobile. Loyalty 
to a state may palliate, it cannot justify treachery and 
treason. Unless all moral distinctions are to cease, all good 
men who honor Scott and George H. Thomas must condemn 
Twiggs. Honoring David G. Farragut, they must condemn 
Raphael Semmes. 

There were, at the time of the breaking out of the rebel- 
lion, and mostly in the rebel states, nearly four millions of 
slaves. How should they be treated ? Should the govern- 
ment, by offering them freedom, make them its active friends, 
or alienate them by returning them to slavery ? In the light 
of to-day it is difficult to understand why there should have 
been hesitation or vacillation in this matter. The transfer 
of four millions of people in the rebel states to the Union 
side would have been decisive. 

In the beginning, the officers of the army, and especially 
those educated at West Point, were slow in availing them- 
selves of the aid of the negroes. Some went so far as to 
return to the rebels their runaway slaves. General Butler 
did much towards ending this policy. In May, 1861, he was 
in command at Fortress Monroe. One evening three negroes 
came into camp, saying that " they had fled from their mas- 
ter, Colonel Mallory, who was about to set them to work on 


rebel fortifications." If they had been Colonel Mallory's 
horses or mules, there could be no question as to what should 
be done with them. But so strangely deluded were the 
army officers, that up to that time they had returned fugitive 
slaves to rebel masters, to work and fight for the rebel cause. 
Would Butler continue in this folly ? 

In reply, he said : " These men are contraband of war" 
This sentence, expressing an obvious truth, was more import- 
ant than a battle gained. It was a victory in the direction 
of emancipation, upon which the success of the Union cause 
was ultimately to depend. He, of course, refused to sur- 
render them, but set them to work on his own defences. Up 
to this time the South had fought to maintain slavery, and 
the government, for fear of offending Kentucky and other 
border states, would not touch it. Strange as it may seem, 
a rebel officer had the presumption, under a flag of truce, to 
demand the return of these negroes under the alleged con- 
stitutional obligation to return fugitive slaves ! General 
Butler, of course, refused, saying: " I shall retain the 
negroes as contraband of war ! You were using them upon 
your batteries; it is merely a question whether they shall be 
used for or against us." Other generals of the Union army 
were very slow in recognizing this obvious truth. General 
McClellan, on the 26th of May, issued an address to the 
people of his military district, in which he said: " Not only 
will we abstain from all interference with your slaves, but we 
will, on the contrary, with an iron hand crush any attempt at 
insurrection on their part." 



Prominent Members of 37TH Congress. — President's Message. — 
Vacant Chairs of Prominent Rebels. — Baker's Reply to 
Breckenridge. — Andrew Johnson. — Owen Lovejoy. — Law to 
Free the Slaves of Rebels. — Bull Run. — Fremont's Order 
Freeing Slaves Modified by the President. — Capture and 
Release of Mason and Slidell. 

The Thirty-seventh Congress convened in an extra and 
called session, on the 4th of July, 1861. The Thirty-sixth 
Congress had expired on the 4th of March, without making 
any provision to meet the impending dangers. It devolved 
upon this, the Thirty-seventh, to sanction what the President 
had been compelled to do, and to clothe him with extraordi- 
nary war powers, and under his lead to call into the field, 
and to provide for, those vast armies whose campaigns were 
to extend over half the continent. It was for this Congress 
to create and maintain that system of finance, which without 
the aid of foreign loans, carried the republic triumphantly 
through the most stupendous war of modern times, and 
which, in the " green-back " currency, still survives. 

Hannibal Hamlin, Vice-President, presided in the Senate; 
Galusha A. Grow, of Pennsylvania, was elected Speaker, and 
Emerson Etheridge, of Tennessee, Clerk of the House. 
In the Senate, only twenty- three, and in the House 
twenty - two states were represented. No representa- 
tives in either appeared from North or South Caro- 
lina, Georgia, Florida, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, 
Texas, or Arkansas. No senators, and only two members of 



the House, appeared from Virginia. Andrew Johnson, from 
his mountain home in Tennessee, " faithful among the faith- 
less," alone represented Tennessee in the Senate, and at the 
second session, Horace Maynard and Andrew J. Clements 
appeared, and took their seats in the House. 

Among the more prominent senators of New England, 
and men who had already secured a national reputation, were 
Fessenden and Morrill, of Maine; Hale, of New Hampshire;. 
Sumner and Wilson, of Massachusetts; Collamer and Foot, 
of Vermont, and Anthony, of Rhode Island. New York 
was represented by Preston King and Ira Harris. 
. Mr. Hale, from New Hampshire, had been the leader of 
the old " liberty party." " Solitary and alone " in the United 
States Senate, by his wit and humor, his readiness and ability, 
he had maintained his position against the whole senatorial 
delegation of the slave states, and their numerous allies from 
the free states. From Vermont came the dignified, urbane, 
and somewhat formal Solomon Foot; his colleague, Jacob 
Collamer, was a gentleman of the old school, who had been; 
a member of cabinets, and was one of the wisest jurists and 
statesmen of our country. Preston King had been the friend 
and confidant of Martin Van Buren, Silas Wright, and 
Thomas H. Benton, and a leader at the Buffalo convention;, 
genial, true, and devoted to the principles of democracy. 
From Pennsylvania there was David Wilmot, who while a 
member of the House, had introduced the "Wilmot proviso," 
which connects his name forever with the anti-slavery 

The senators from Ohio were John Sherman, a brother 
of General Sherman, and late a distinguished member of the 
House of Representatives and Chairman of the Committee 
on Finance, and Benjamin Wade, staunch, rude, earnest, 
and true. From Illinois, came Lyman Trumbull and Orville 
H. Browning, both distinguished lawyers and competitors at 
the bar with Douglas and Lincoln. From Iowa, Senators 
Grimes and Harlan ; from Wisconsin, Doolittle and Howe ;; 
from Michigan, Bingham and Chandler ; from Indiana,. 


Jesse D. Bright and Henry S. Lane, the latter of whom had 
presided over the Philadelphia convention of 1856. 

The House of Representatives of this memorable Con- 
gress was composed in the main of men of good sense, 
respectable abilities, and earnest patriotism. It well repre- 
sented the intelligence, integrity, and devotion to their 
country of the American people. The leader of the House, 
as Chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means, was 
Thaddeus Stevens, of Pennsylvania ; although a man of 
nearly three score years and ten, he combined with large 
experience, the vigor and the energy of thirty-five. He was 
the most sarcastic and witty, as well as the most eccentric 
member of the House. Respected, and somewhat feared, 
alike by friend and foe, few desired a second encounter with 
him in the forensic war of debate. If he did not demolish 
with an argument or crush with his logic, he could silence 
with an epigram or a sarcasm. Ready, adroit, and saga- 
cious, as well as bold and frank, he exerted a large influence 
upon legislation. He was a bitter and uncompromising 
party chief, and better adapted to lead an opposition, than 
to conduct and control a majority. 

In the New York delegation was Roscoe Conkling, 
already distinguished for his eloquence and ability, Charles 
B. Sedgwick, Chairman of the Committee on Naval Affairs, 
and E. G. Spaulding and Erastus Corning, leading members 
of the Committee of Ways and Means. From Ohio were 
Pendleton, Vallandigham, and Cox, leaders of the remnant 
of the democratic party, and among the republicans was 
John A. Bingham, one of the most ready and effective 
debaters on the floor. Schuyler Colfax, from Indiana, a 
rising member, was then serving his fourth term. He was 
industrious and genial, with great tact and good sense. 
Differing from his political opponents, he did not rouse 
their anger by strong statements, or harsh language, and he 
was popular on both sides of the House. Illinois was rep- 
resented by Washburne, Lovejoy, Kellogg, and Arnold, 
republicans ; while among the friends of Douglas were 


Richardson, McClernand, Fouke, and Logan, and these 
generally supported the war measures of the administration. 
They had followed the lead of Douglas ; and McClernand, 
Fouke, and Logan entered the Union army, and, especially 
Logan, did good service as soldiers during the war. 

But many vacant chairs in the House and the Senate, 
indicated the extent of the defection, the gravity of the sit- 
uation, and the magnitude of the impending struggle. The 
old pro-slavery leaders were absent, some in the rebel gov- 
ernment set up at Richmond, and others in the field, mar- 
shalling their troops in arms against their country. The 
chair of the late senator, now the rebel President, Jefferson 
Davis, those of the blustering and fiery Bob Toombs, of the 
accomplished Hunter, of the polished and learned Jew from 
Louisiana, Judah P. Benjamin, of the haughty and preten- 
tious Mason, of the crafty and unscrupulous Slidell, and of 
their compeers, who had been accustomed to domineer over 
the Senate, were all vacant. 

The seat of Douglas, the ambitious and able senator from 
Illinois, had been vacated, not by treason, but by death. 
Life-long opponents, recalling his last patriotic words spoken 
at Springfield, and in Chicago, gazed sadly on that unoccu- 
pied seat, now draped in black. Well had it been for John 
C. Breckenridge, lately the competitor of Douglas, if his 
chair also had been made vacant by his early death. But 
still conspicuous among the senators was the late Vice-Presi- 
dent, now the senator from Kentucky. His fellow traitors 
from the slave states had all gone. He alone lingered, shun- 
ned, and distrusted by all loyal men, and treated with the 
most freezing and formal courtesy, by his associates. Dark 
and lowering, he could be daily seen in his carriage — always 
alone — driving to the Senate chamber, where his voice and 
his votes were always given to thwart the war measures of 
the government. It was obvious that his heart was with his 
old associates at Richmond. As soon as the session closed, 
he threw off all disguise, and joined the army of the insur- 
gents. While at Washington, gloomy, and it may be sor- 


rowful, he said : " We can only look with sadness on the 
melancholy drama that is being enacted." 

Hostile armies were gathering and confronting each other, 
and from the dome of the Capitol, on the distant hills beyond 
Arlington, and on towards Fairfax Court House, could be 
seen the rebel flag. President Lincoln, in his message to 
this Congress, calmly reviewed the situation. He called 
attention to the fact that at his inauguartion the functions 
of the Federal Government had been suspended in the states 
of Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, 
Texas, and Florida. All the national property in these states 
had been appropriated by the insurgents. They had seized 
all the forts, arsenals, etc., excepting those on the Florida 
coast, and Fort Sumter, in Charleston harbor, and these 
were then in a state of siege by the rebel forces. The 
national arms had been seized, and were in the hands of the 
hostile armies. A large number of the officers of the United 
States army and navy, had resigned and taken up arms 
against their government. He reviewed the facts in relation 
to Fort Sumter, and showed that by the attack upon it, the 
insurgents began the conflict of arms, thus forcing upon the 
country immediate dissolution, or war. No choice remained 
but to call into action the war powers of the government, and 
to resist the force employed for its destruction, by force, for 
its preservation. The call for troops was made, and the 
response was most gratifying. Yet no slave state, except 
Delaware, had given a regiment through state organization. 
He then reviewed the action of Virginia, including the seiz- 
ure of the national armory at Harper's Ferry, and the navy 1 
yard at Gosport, near Norfolk. The people of Virginia 
had permitted the insurrection to make its nest within her 
borders, and left the government no choice but to deal with 
it where it found it. He then reviewed the action of the 
government, the calls for troops, the blockade of the ports 
in the rebellious states, and the suspension of the habeas 
corpus. He asked Congress to confer upon him the power 
to make the conflict short and decisive. He asked to have 


placed at his disposal four hundred thousand men, and four 
hundred millions of money. Congress responded promptly 
to the message of the President, and voted five hundred 
thousand men, and five hundred millions of dollars, to sup- 
press the rebellion. 

As an illustration of those days and debates, let us 
recall an incident which occurred in the Senate, on the first 
of August, a few days after the battle of Bull Run. Senator 
Baker, of Oregon, Lincoln's old friend and competitor, and 
his successor in Congress from the Springfield district, was 
making a brilliant and impassioned reply to a speech of 
Breckenridge. Charles Sumner, speaking of this, and allud- 
ing to Breckenridge, said : " A senator with treason in his 
heart, if not on his lips, has just taken his seat." Baker,, 
who had entered the chamber direct from his camp, rose at 
once to reply. ! His rebuke of the disloyal sentiments of 
Breckenridge was severe, and in the highest degree dra- 
matic, and worthy of the best days of that Roman eloquence 
to which he alluded. 

" What," said he, " would the senator from Kentucky have? These 
speeches of his, sown broadcast over the land ; what clear, distinct mean- 
ing have they ? Are they not intended for disorganization in our very 
midst ? Are they not intended to destroy our zeal ? Are they not 
intended to animate our enemies? Sir, are they not words of brilliant, 
polished treason ; even in the very Capitol of the republic ? What 
would have been thought, if, in another Capitol, in another republic, in 
a yet more martial age, a senator as grave, not more eloquent or dig- 
nified than the senator from Kentucky, yet with the Roman purple flow- 
ing over his shoulders, had risen in his place, surrounded by all the em- 
blems of Roman glory, and declared that the cause of the advancing Han- 
nibal was just, and that Carthage ought to be dealt with in terms of peace? 
What would have been thought, if after the battle of Cannae, a senator 
there had risen in his place, and denounced every levy of the Roman peo- 
ple, every expenditure of its treasure, and every appeal to the old recol- 
lections, and the old glories? " 

There was a silence so profound throughout the Senate 
and galleries, that a pinfall could have been heard; while 
every eye was fixed upon Breckenridge. Fessenden ex- 

1. Congressional Globe, Dec. 11, 1861. 


claimed, in deep, low tones: "He would have been hurled 
from the Tarpeian rock." Baker then resumed: 

"Sir, a senator, himself learned far more than myself in such lore 
(Mr. Fessenden), tells me, in a voice I am glad is audible, that ' he 
would have been hurled from the Tarpeian rock.' It is a grand com- 
mentary upon the American Constitution, that we permit these words of 
the senator from Kentucky to be uttered. I ask the senator to recol- 
lect, too, what, save to send aid and comfort to the enemy, do these pre- 
dictions amount to ? Every word thus uttered falls as a note of inspira- 
tion upon every Confederate ear." 

Baker was the man, brilliant alike as an orator and a 
soldier, of whom Sumner happily said: " He was the Prince 
Rupert of debate, and if he had lived, would have become 
the Prince Rupert of battle." It was he who, on the prairies 
of Illinois, had contested the. palm of eloquence with Lincoln 
and Douglas, who had gone to California and pronounced 
the memorable oration over Senator Broderick, and who, 
going thence to Oregon, came to Washington as senator 
from that state. 

Andrew Johnson, in reply to Breckenridge, on the 27th 
of July, quoted the remark: "When traitors become numer- 
ous enough, treason becomes respectable. Yet," said he, 
u God willing, whether traitors be many or few, as I have 
heretofore waged war against traitors and treason, I intend 
to continue to the end." 1 His denunciation of Jefferson 
Davis was vehement and impassioned. He said: "Davis, 
a man educated and nurtured by the government, who 
sucked its pap, who received from it all his military instruc- 
tion, a man who got all his distinction, civil and military, in 
the service of the government, beneath its flag, and then 
without cause, without being deprived of a single right or 
privilege, the sword he unsheathed in vindication of the 
stars and stripes in a foreign land, given to him by the hand 
of a cherishing mother, he stands this day prepared to 
plunge into her bosom." 2 

Senator Fessenden,Chairman of the Committee on Finance, 

1. Congressional Globe, July 27, 1861, p. 291. 

2. See Congressional Globe 


and the successor of Mr. Chase as Secretary of the Treas- 
ury, was a very able and learned New England senator. 
Ever ready, well informed, keen, witty, and sarcastic, as a 
general debater he had no superior. 

At this its first session, Congress inaugurated that series 
of measures against slavery, which, in connection with the 
action of the President and the victories of the Union sol- 
diers, resulted in its destruction. Among its members, 
known distinctly as an abolitionist, was Owen Lovejoy; a 
man, as has been stated, of powerful frame, strong feelings, 
and great personal magnetism as a speaker. In February, 
1859, during his first term in Congress, in reply to the furi- 
ous denunciations of the slaveholders, which charged among 
other things, that he was a " nigger stealer," he indignantly 
and defiantly exclaimed : 

"Yes, I do assist fugitives to escape. Proclaim it upon the house- 
tops; write it upon every leaf that trembles in the forest; make it blaze 
from the sun at high noon, and shine forth in the radiance of every star 
that bedecks the firmament of God. Let it echo through all the arches of 
heaven, and reverberate and bellow through all the deep gorges of hell, 
where slavecatchers will be very likely to hear it. Owen Lovejoy lives 
at Princeton, Illinois, and he aids every fugitive that comes to his door 
and asks it. Thou invisible demon of slavery! Dost thou think to cross 
my humble threshold, and forbid me to give bread to the hungry and 
shelter to the homeless? I bid you defiance in the name of God." 1 

1. At the May term, 1842, of the Bureau County Circuit Court, Richard M. Young, 
presiding ; Norman H. Purple, Prosecuting Attorney pro tern.; the grand jury 
returned a " true hill " against Owen Lovejoy (then lately a preacher of the Gospel), 
for that "a certain negro girl named Agnes, then and there being a fugitive slave, 
he, the said Lovejoy, knowing her to be such, did harbor, feed, secrete, and 
clothe," contrary to the statute, etc., and the grand jurors did further present, "that 
the said Lovejoy, a certain fugitive slave called Nance, did harbor, feed, and aid," 
contrary to the statute, etc. At the October term, 1842, the Hon. John Dean Caton, 
a Justice of the Supreme Court, presiding, the case came up for trial, on the plea of 
not guilty. Judge Purple, and B. F. Fridley, State's Attorney for the people, and 
James H. Collins, and Lovejoy in person, for the defense. The trial lasted nearly a 
week, and Lovejoy and Collins fought the case with a vigor and boldness almost with- 
out a parallel. The prosecution was urged by the enemies of Lovejoy, with an energy 
and vindictiveness with which Purple and Fridley could have had little sympathy. 
When the case was called for trial, a strong pro-slavery man, one of those by whom 
the indictment had been procured, said to the State's Attorney : 

11 Fridley, we want you to be sure and convict this preacher, and send him to 


On the 6th of August, a bill introduced by Senator 
Trumbull, giving freedom to all slaves used by the rebels in 
carrying on the war became a law. It was vehemently 
opposed by Breckenridge and other democratic members, as 
an interference with the rights of the slaveholders, but those 
who voted for the bill, justified their votes on the ground 
that in the battle of Bull Run and other engagements, the 
rebels used their negroes and slaves, not only in construct- 
ing fortifications, but in battle against the Union forces. 
Burnett, of Kentucky, declared that the bill would result in 
a wholesale emancipation of slaves in the states in rebellion, 
and some one replied: "If it does, so much the better." 
Thaddeus Stevens then said : " I warn Southern gentlemen, 
that if this war continues, there will be a time when it will 
be declared by this free nation, that every bondman in the 
South, belonging to a rebel (recollect, I confine it to them), 
shall be called upon to aid us in war against their masters, 
and to restore the Union." 

From the beginning of the contest, the slaves flocked to 
the Union army, as to a haven of refuge. They believed 
freedom was to be found within its picket lines and under 
the shelter of its flag. They were ready to act as guides, to 
dig, to work, to fight for liberty. The Yankees, as their 
masters called the Union troops, were believed by them to 
come as their deliverers from long and cruel bondage. And 
yet, almost incredible as it may now seem, many officers 
permitted masters and agents to enter their lines, and carry 
away by force these fugitive slaves. Many cruelties and 
outrages were perpetrated by these masters, and in many 
instances, the colored men who had rendered valuable ser- 
vice to the Union cause, were permitted to be carried from 
beneath the flag of the Union back to bondage. 

Lovejoy was most indignant at this stupid and inhuman 

"Prison ! Lovejoy to prison !" replied Fridley, " your persecutions will be a 
damned sight more likely to send him to Congress." 

Fridley was right. Lovejoy was acquitted, and very soon after elected to the- 
State Legislature, and then to Congress, where, as all know, he was Boon heard by the 
whole country. 



treatment, and early in the special session, introduced a reso- 
lution declaring that it was no part of the duty of the sol- 
diers of the United States, to capture and return fugitive 
slaves. This passed the House by a very large majority, the 
vote being ninety-three to fifty-nine. 

While the President, by his moderation, was seeking to 
hold the border states, and while his measures were severely 
criticized by many extreme abolitionists, he enjoyed, to 
the fullest extent, the confidence of Lovejoy and other radi- 
cal members from Illinois. This old and ultra abolitionist 
perfectly understood and appreciated the motives of the 
Executive. On the death of Lovejoy, in 1864, Lincoln said: 
" Throughout my heavy and perplexing responsibilities 
here (at Washington), to the day of his death, it would 
scarcely wrong any other to say: he was my most generous 
•friend." " 

There were, in the border states, many Union men who 
desired to maintain the Union, and who wished also, that 
there should be no interference with slavery. These, with 
the small band of anti-slavery men in Maryland, Kentucky, 
and Missouri, had rendered efficient aid in preventing those 
states from seceding. Their representative man in Con- 
gress was the aged, venerable, and eloquent John J. Critten- 
den, of Kentucky. He had been the confidential friend and 
colleague of Clay, and had never faltered in his loyalty to 
the Union. He had been conspicuous in the Thirty-sixth 
Congress, in attempting to bring about terms of compromise 
to prevent the threatened war. 

On the 15th of July, on motion of General John A. 
McClernand, the House, by a vote of one hundred and 
twenty-one to five, adopted a resolution pledging itself to vote 
any amount of money and any number of men which might be 
necessary, to ensure a speedy and effectual suppression of 
the rebellion. 

On the 2 2d of July, 1861, Mr. Crittenden offered the fol- 
lowing resolution, defining the object of the war: 

1. Letter from Lincoln to John H. Bryant, dated May 30, 1864. 


Resolved, That the present deplorable civil war has been forced upon 
the country by the disunionists of the Southern states, now in revolt 
against the constitutional government, and in arms around the capital; 
that, in this national emergency, Congress, banishing all feeling of mere 
passion or resentment, will recollect only its duty to the whole country; 
that this war is not waged, upon our part, in any spirit of oppression, 
nor for any purpose of conquest, or subjugation, nor purpose of over- 
throwing or interfering with the rights or established institutions of those 
states; but to defend and maintain the supremacy of the Constitution, 
and to preserve the Union, with all the dignity, equality, and rights of the 
several states unimpaired; that as soon as these objects are accomplished, 
the war ought to cease. " ! 

This resolution was adopted by the House, there being 
only two dissenting votes. It served to allay the apprehen- 
sion of the border states, whose sensitiveness had been excited 
by the agents and abettors of the rebellion. 

Congress, after long debate, sanctioned the acts of the 
President, and, as has been stated, voted more men and 
money than he had in his message called for. Among the 
speeches made at this special session, one of the ablest was 
that of Senator Baker, whose effective reply to Breckenridge 
has already been noticed. His speech on the resolutions 
approving the acts' of the President, was distinguished for its 
eloquence, its boldness, and its almost prophetic sagacity. 
He said: 

"lam one of those who believe that there may be reverses. I am 
not quite confident that we shall overrun the Southern states, as we shall 
have to overrun them, without severe trials of our courage and patience. 
I believe they are a brave, determined people filled with enthusiasm, 
false in its purpose as I think, but still one which animates almost all 
classes of their population. But however that may be, it may be that 
instead of finding within a year loyal states sending members to Con- 
gress, and replacing their senators upon this floor, we may have to reduce 
them to the condition of territories, and send from Massachusetts, or 
from Illinois, governors to control them." 2 

The military situation was substantially as follows: The 
Union troops held Fortress Monroe and vicinity, and thus 
guarded Baltimore and the approaches to Washington; a 

1. See Congressional Globe, July 22, 1861, p. 223. 

2. Congressional Globe, July 10th, 1861, pp. 44-45. 


force under command of George B. McClellan, was driving 
the rebels out of West Virginia. The Confederates, under 
Beauregard, confronted the Union army near Washington, 
holding a position along Bull Run creek, their right at 
Manassas, and left at Winchester, under Johnston. The peo- 
ple of the North, confident, sanguine, and impatient of delay, 
through an excited press, urged an immediate attack by the 
Union troops, and the army, under General McDowell, 
started on the 16th of July, and on the 21st attacked the 
enemy. The attack seemed well planned and was at first 
successful, but re-enforcements under the rebel General 
Johnston reaching the field at the crisis of the battle, Gen- 
eral Patterson, of the Union army, neither holding Johnston 
in check, nor coming up in time, the Union troops were 
repulsed, a panic seized them, and they fled towards Wash- 
ington in great confusion. 

The disaster of Bull Run mortified the national pride, 
but aroused also the national spirit and courage. The 
morning following the defeat witnessed dispatches flashing 
over the wires to every part of the North, authorizing the 
reception of the eager regiments ready to enter the service 
and retrieve the results of the battle. The administration 
and the people, immediately upon learning of this defeat, set 
themselves vigorously to increase and reorganize the army. 
Grave and thoughtful men left their private pursuits, organ- 
ized regiments, and offered them to the government. None 
were now refused. The popular feeling throughout the 
loyal states again rose to a height even greater than it did 
at the time of the attack upon Fort Sumter. 

Expeditions were organized and sent to the South, and 
Fort Hatteras was surrendered to the Union troops on the 
28th of August. On the 31st of October, Port Royal came 
into the possession of the Union army. The rebels were 
driven out of West Virginia, and General George B. McClel- 
lan, who had been in command there, and who was believed 
at the time to possess military ability of a high order, was 
called to command the armies, again gathering in vast num- 


bers around the capital. In October, General Scott retired 
on account of age and infirmity, and General McClellan was 
appointed to the command. 

When the war began, John C. Fremont was in Paris. He 
immediately returned home, was appointed a Major General, 
and given command of the Western Department, embracing 
Missouri and a part of Kentucky. On the 30th of August, 
he issued an order declaring martial law throughout Mis- 
souri, confiscating the property of rebels, and saying: "Their 
slaves, if any they have, are hereby declared free men." ! 

This grave act was done without consulting the Presi- 
dent, and severely embarrassed the Executive in the efforts 
he was making to retain Maryland, Kentucky, and other 
border states, in the Union. It was received with the 
greatest alarm and consternation by the Union men of these 
states. 2 The President, on the 2d of September, wrote to 
Fremont, saying: " There is great danger. * * The 
confiscation of property and liberating slaves will alarm our 
Southern Union friends, and turn them against us, perhaps 
ruin our fair prospect for Kentucky." 3 

He asked Fremont to modify his order so as to conform 
to the act of Congress lately passed on that subject. General 
Fremont replied, excusing and justifying his acts, and 
requesting the President himself to modify the order, which 
the President did, issuing an order himself, altering that of 
Fremont so that it should conform to and not " transcend '' 
the act of Congress. 

The reason for this modification, and also for his action 
with reference to the suggestions of the Secretary of War, 
Cameron, as to arming the negroes, and with reference to 
the emancipation order of General David Hunter, appear in 
a letter dated April 4th, 1864, in which he says: 

"When, early in the war, General Fremont attempted military eman- 
cipation, I forbade it, because I did not then think it an indispensable 

1. McPherson's History of the Rebellion, p. 246. 

2. See Protest of Joseph Holt and other Union men of Kentucky. 

3. See McPherson's History of the Rebellion, pp. 246-247. 


necessity. When, a little later, General Cameron, then Secretary of 
War, suggested the arming of the blacks, I objected, because I did not 
yet think it an indispensable necessity. When, still later, General Hunter 
attempted military emancipation, I again forbade it, because I did not yet 
think the indispensable necessity had come. When, in March, and May, 
and July, 1862, I made earnest and successive appeals to the border 
states, to favor compensated emancipation, I believed the indispensable 
necessity for military emancipation and arming the blacks would come, 
unless averted by that measure. They declined the proposition, and I 
was, in my best judgment, driven to the alternative of either surrender- 
ing the Union, and with it, the Constitution, or of laying strong hands 
upon the colored element. I chose the latter. In choosing it, I hoped for 
greater gain than loss, but of this I was not entirely confident. More 
than a year of trial now shows no loss by it in our foreign relations, 
none in our home popular sentiment, none in our white military force, 
no loss by it anyhow, or anywhere. On the contrary, it shows a gain 
of quite a hundred and thirty thousand soldiers, seamen, and laborers. 
These are palpable facts, about which, as facts, there can be no cavilling. 
We have the men; and we could not have had them without the measure." ! 

The President for a time adhered firmly, and against the 
earnest remonstrance of many friends, to what was called 
the border state policy. 

Military preparations on a large scale were going on. 
McClellan, who had, on the resignation of General Scott, 
been appointed commander in chief, had organized an im- 
mense army, which was encamped around Washington. On 
the 21st of October occurred the fight at Ball's Bluff, at 
which Colonel Baker, the senator from Oregon, fell, pierced 
by a volley of bullets. In September, 1861, information was 
communicated to the government that the Legislature of 
Maryland was to meet, with a view of passing an act of 
secession. General McClellan was directed to pre- 
vent this by the arrest of the members. His order to Gen- 
eral Banks, dated September 12th, 1861, says, among other 
things : " When they meet on the 17th, you will please have 
everything prepared to arrest the whole party, and be sure 
that none escape." * * "If successfully carried 
out, it will go far towards breaking the backbone of the 

1. McPherson's History of the Rebellion (letter to Col. Hodges), p. 336. 


rebellion." * * "I have but one thing to impress 
upon you, the absolute necessity of secresy and success." ' 

This act has been censured as an arbitrary arrest. How- 
ever arbitrary, it was a military measure of great importance, 
and in the propriety of which General McClellan fully coin- 
cided. Governor Hicks said in the Senate of the United 
States : " I believe that arrests, and arrests alone, saved the 
state of Maryland from destruction. I approved them then, 
and I approve them now." 

On the 8th of November, 1861, Captain Wilkes, in the 
San Jacinto, intercepted the Trent, a British mail steamer 
from Havana, with Messrs. Mason and Slidell, late senators, 
and then rebel agents, on their way to represent the Confed- 
eracy at the courts of St. James and St. Cloud. He took 
them prisoners, and bringing them to the United States, they 
were confined at Fort Warren, in Boston harbor. There 
were few acts in the life of Lincoln more characteristic, indi- 
cating a higher and firmer courage and independence, 
together with the exercise of a cool, dispassionate judgment, 
than the release of Mason and Slidell. No act of the Brit- 
ish Government, since the days of the Revolution, ever excited 
such an intense feeling of hostility, as her haughty demand 
for the release of these rebels. The people had already been 
exasperated by her hasty recognition of the Confederates as 
belligerents, and the seizure by Captain Wilkes of these 
emissaries, gratified popular passion and pride. On the 
first day of the session of Congress, after intelligence of the 
seizure reached Washington, Lovejoy, by unanimous consent, 
introduced a resolution of thanks to Captain Wilkes, which, 
with blind impetuosity, was rushed through under the call of 
the previous question. 

The position of the President was rendered still more 
embarrassing by the hasty and ill-considered action of mem- 
bers of his Cabinet. The Secretary of the Navy wrote to 
Wilkes a letter of congratulation on the " great public 
service " he had rendered in " capturing the rebel emissaries 

1. McPherson's History of the Rebellion, p. 153. 


Mason and Slidell." 1 Stanton cheered and applauded the 
act. The Secretary of State was at first opposed to any 
concession or the surrender of the prisoners. 2 The people 
were ready to rush " pell mell " into a war with England. 
The Confederates were rejoicing at the capture, as the 
means of bringing the English navy and armies to their aid. 
But Lincoln, cool, sagacious, and far-seeing, uninfluenced 
by resentment, with courage and a confidence in the deliber- 
ate judgment of the country never exceeded, stepped in 
front of an exasperated people, told them to pause and " to 
forbear." "We fought Great Britain," said he, "for doing 
just what Captain Wilkes has done. If Great Britain pro- 
tests against this act and demands their release, we must 
adhere to our principles of 181 2. We must give up these 
prisoners. Besides," said he significantly, "one war at a 
time." It is scarcely too much to say that his firmness and 
courage saved the republic from a war with England. 

Had the President, yielding to popular clamor, accepted 
the challenge of Great Britain and gone to war, he would 
have done exactly what the rebels desired, and would have 
thus made Mason and Slidell incomparably more useful 
to the Confederates than they were after their surrender, 
and while hanging around the back doors of the Courts 
to which they were sent, but at which they were never 
received. No one can calculate the results which would 
have followed upon a refusal to surrender these men. The 
sober second thought of the people recognized the wise 
statesmanship of the President. The Secretary of State, 
with his facile pen, made an able argument sustaining the 
views of the President. No instance in which Lincoln ever 

1. Benson J. Lossing, in Lincoln Album, p. 328. 

2. See Lincoln and Seward, by Gideon Welles, p. 188. 

Secretary Welles distinctly says : 

" Mr. Seward was at the beginning opposed to any idea of concession, which 
involved giving up the emissaries, but yielded at once, and with dexterity, to the per- 
emptory demand of Great Britain." 

" The President expressed his doubts of the legality of the capture * * * *• 
and from the first was willing to make the concession." 

Lincoln and Seward, by Gideon Welles, pp. 186-138. 


acted from private resentment towards any individual, or 
nation, can be found. Towards individuals who had injured 
him, he was ever magnanimous, and often more than just ; 
and towards nations, no more striking illustration of his dig- 
nified disregard of personal insult and injustice could be 
found than that furnished by his conduct towards England 
at this time. He was not insensible of the personal insults 
and injuries heaped upon him in England, but he was too 
great to be to any extent influenced by them. It required 
nerve and moral courage to stem the tide of popular feeling, 
but he did not for a moment hesitate. And when the 
excitement of the hour had passed, his conduct was univer- 
sally approved. Lovejoy's speech in Congress illustrates 
the hatred and excitement which the conduct of Great Brit- 
ain produced. 1 

1. Congressional Globe, Second Session Thirty-seventh Congress, p. 333. Lovejoy 
said: "Every time this Trent affair comes up; every time that an allusion is made to 
it. * * * * I am made to renew the horrible grief which I suffered 
when the news of the surrender of Mason and Slidell came. I acknowledge it, I 
literally wept tears of vexation. I hate it; and I hate the British government, I have 
never shared in the traditionary hostility of many of my countrymen against Eng- 
land. But I now here publicly avow and record my inextinguishable hatred of that 
government. I mean to cherish it while I live, and to bequeath it as a legacy to my 
children when I die. And if I am alive when war with England comes, as sooner or 
later it must, for we shall never forget this humiliation, and if I can carry a musket 
in that war, I will carry it. I have three sons, and I mean to charge them, and I 
do now publicly and solemnly charge them, that if they shall have, at that time, 
reached the years of manhood and strength, they shall enter into that war." 

Senator Hale, of New Hampshire, went so far as to threaten the administration 
of Mr. Lincoln. 

"If," said he, " this administration will not listen to the voice of the people, they 
will find themselves engulphed in a fire that will consume them like stubble: they 
will be helpless before a power that will hurl them from their places." 

See Congressional Globe, 2d Session 37th Congress, January 7, 1862, p. 177. 



President's Message. — Condition of the Country. — Death of- 
Baker. — Eulogies upon Him. — Stanton, Secretary of War. — 
Abolition of Slavery in the District of Columbia. — Prohibi- 
tion in the Territories. — Employment of Negroes as Sol- 
diers. — Emancipation in the Border States. 

When Congress met, December 2, 186 1, no decisive mil- 
itary events had occurred, but the great drama of civil war 
was at hand. Thus far the work had been one of prepar- 
ation. Nearly two hundred thousand Union troops, under 
General George B. McClellan, on the banks of the Potomac, 
confronted a rebel army, then supposed to number about the 
same, but now known to have been much smaller. The 
President in his message, congratulated Congress that the 
patriotism of the people had proved more than equal to the 
demands made upon it, and that the number of troops ten- 
dered to the government greatly exceeded the force called 
for. He had not only been successful in holding Maryland, 
Kentucky, and Missouri in the Union, but those three states,, 
neither of which had in the beginning given, or promised' 
through state organization, a single soldier, had now forty 
thousand men in the field under the Union flag. In West 
Virginia, after a severe struggle, the Union had triumphed, 
and there was no armed rebel force north of the Potomac 
or east of the Chesapeake, while the cause of the Union 
was steadily advancing southward. 

On the slavery question, he said : "I have adhered to 
the act of Congress freeing persons held to service, used for 



insurrectionary purposes." In relation to the emancipation, 

and arming the negroes, he said : " The maintenance of the 

integrity of the Union is the primary object of the contest." 


" The Union must be preserved, and all indispensable 
means must be employed. We should not be in haste to de- 
termine that radical and extreme measures, which may reach 
the loyal, as well as the disloyal, are indispensable." 

Before proceeding to view in detail the action, during 
this session, of Congress and the President on the slavery 
question, let us pause a moment to notice the honors paid in 
the Senate to the memory of Senator Baker. It will be re- 
membered that he was killed at Ball's Bluff, on the 21st of 
October, while leading his troops against the enemy. 

When Congress assembled in regular session, the nth of 
December was fixed as the day on which the funeral orations 
in his honor should be pronounced in the Senate. The 
chamber of the Senate was draped in black; the brilliant 
colors of the national flag, which the war made all worship, 
were now mingled with the dark, in honor of the dead sol- 
dier and senator. The floor was crowded with senators, 
members of the House, governors of states, and distin- 
guished civil and military officers, among whom Seward and 
Chase, and the Blairs and Stanton were conspicuous. The 
galleries were filled by members of the diplomatic corps, 
ladies, and prominent citizens from all parts of the republic. 
As soon as Vice-President Hamlin had called the Senate 
to order, President Lincoln, in deep mourning, slowly 
entered from the marble room, supported by the senators 
from Illinois: Trumbull and Browning. Not very long be- 
fore he had been present among the chief mourners at the 
funeral in the White House of his protege', young Ellsworth, 
shot down in the bloom of youth, and now it was Baker, his 
old comrade at the bar of Sangamon County; his successor 
in Congress; he for whom the President's second son, 
Edward Baker Lincoln, had been named, and to whom he 
was very warmly attached. 


Senator Nesmith, of Oregon, sorrowfully announced the 
death of Baker, and was followed by McDougall of Califor- 
nia, in one of the most touching and beautiful speeches ever 
heard in the Senate. Turning towards Lincoln, aud allud- 
ing to the dead senator's enthusiastic love of poetry, he said: 
" Many years since, on the wild plains of the West, in the 
midst of a starlight night, as we journeyed together, I heard 
from him the chant of that noble song, ' The Battle of Ivry.' 

" He loved freedom, if you please, Anglo-Saxon free- 
dom, for he was of that grand old race." 

As descriptive of the warlike scenes of every-day occur- 
rence when Baker left the senatorial forum for the field, 
McDougall repeated in a voice which created a sensation 
throughout the Senate: 

" Hurrah ! the foes are moving. Hark to the mingled din 
Of fife, and steed, and trump, and drum, and roaring culverin! 
The fiery duke is pricking fast across St. Andre's plain, 
With all the hireling chivalry of Guelders and Almayne. 
Now by the lips of those ye love, fair gentlemen of France, 
Charge for the golden lilies! upon them with the lance!" 

And then comparing Baker at Ball's Bluffs with Henry 
of Navarre, McDougall quoted the words: 

" And if my standard-bearer fall, as fall full well he may, 
For never saw I promise yet of such a bloody fray — 
Press where ye see my white plume shine, amidst the ranks of war, 
And be your oriflamme to-day the helmet of Navarre! " 

It was a most eloquent speech, and as McDougall re- 
called the old comradeship of Lincoln and Baker, and 
Browning, and himself in early days as circuit riders in 
Central Illinois, every heart was touched, and few eyes were 

Sumner's speech was among the best he ever made. It 
was perhaps the only occasion upon which he ever cut loose 
from his manuscript, and gave free scope to the inspiration 
of the scene and the moment. 

Senator Browning, the successor of Douglas, followed, 


and his speech was as good as the best. " Baker," said he, 
" to a greater extent than most men, combined the force and 
severity of logic, with grace, fancy, and eloquence, filling at 
the bar, at the same time the character of the astute and 
profound lawyer, and of the able, eloquent, and successful 
advocate; and in the Senate, the wise, prudent, and discreet 
statesman was combined with the chaste, classic, brilliant,, 
and persuasive orator. He was not only a lawyer, an ora- 
tor, a statesman, and a soldier, but he was also a poet, and 
at times spoke and acted under high poetic inspiration." 

The remains of Baker were taken across the continent to 
California, and he was buried by the side of his friend 
Broderick, 1 in "The Lone Mountain Cemetery." There on 
that rocky cliff, by the Bay of San Francisco, looking out 
upon the Golden Gate and the Pacific, lies the dust of the 
gallant soldier and eloquent senator. At this session of Con- 
gress, three of Lincoln's old associates at the bar in Illinois 
(if Baker had been alive, there would have been four), occu- 
pied seats in the Senate: Trumbull and Browning from 
Illinois, and McDougall from California. 2 

There was something very beautiful and touching in the 
attachment and fidelity of these his old Illinois comrades to> 
Lincoln. They had all been pioneers, frontiersmen, circuit- 
riders together. They were never so happy as when talking 
over old times, and recalling the rough experiences of their 
early lives. Had they met at Washington in calm and peace- 
ful weather, on sunny days, they would have kept up their 
party differences as they did at home, but coming together 
in the midst of the fierce storms of civil war, and in the hour 

1. Late a senator from California, and killed in a duel. Baker had pronounced 
in San Francisco, a funeral oration over his remains. 

2. One evening in the summer of 1863, when the President was living in a cot- 
tage at the "Soldier's Home," on the heights north of the capital, some one spoke to 
him of Baker' s burial place in the '''Lone Mountain Cemetery. , '' The name seemed 
to kindle his imagination and touch his heart. He spoke of this " Lone Mountain " 
on the shore of the Pacific, as a place of repose, and seemed almost to envy Baker 
his place of rest. Lincoln then gave a warm and glowing sketch of Baker's eloquence, 
full of generous admiration, and showing how he had loved this old friend. 


of supreme peril, they stood together like a band of brothers. 
Not one of them would see an old comrade in difficulty or 
danger, and not help him out. The memory of these old 
Illinois lawyers and statesmen: Baker, McDougall, Trumbull, 
Lovejoy, Washburne, Browning, and others, recalls a passage 
in Webster's reply to Hayne. Speaking of Massachusetts 
and South Carolina, the great New England orator said: 
" Shoulder to shoulder they went through the Revolution 
together; hand in hand they stood around the administra- 
tion of Washington, and felt his own great arm lean on them 
for support." 

So, in the far more difficult administration of Lincoln, 
these old and trusty comrades of his, whatever their former 
differences, stood shoulder to shoulder, and hand in hand, 
around the administration of Lincoln; his strong arm leaned 
on them for support, and that support was given vigorously 
and with unwavering loyalty. 1 

On the 14th of January, 1862, Simon Cameron resigned 
the position of Secretary of War, accepting the place of 
Minister to Russia. Edwin M. Stanton was appointed his 
successor. The new secretary soon gave evidence of his 
great energy, industry, and efficiency as an organizer. In 
accomplishing great objects he was not very scrupulous 
about the means of removing obstacles, and was somewhat 

1. McDougall, before going to California, had been a prominent lawyer at Jack- 
sonville and Chicago, and Attorney- General of Illinois. He was the bitter enemy of 
the Secretary of State, Mr. Seward having caused some of his California friends to 
be arrested, and confined in Fort LaFayette. I shall state what was universally known 
and deeply mourned by all of McDougall' s friends, when I mention that habits of 
intemperance overclouded the last years of his life. But it could not be said of him 
that " when the wine was in, the wit was out." Poor McDougall's wit was always 
ready, drunk or sober. 

Coming down from the Senate chamber, after a late executive session in which 
he had been opposing one of Seward's nominations, he found the rain falling in tor- 
rents, the night dark and dismal, and his own steps unsteady. As he passed from the 
Capitol gate towards Pennsylvania Avenue, the senator had to cross a ditch full of filth 
and water. McDougall, in the darkness, made a misstep, and tumbled in. A police- 
man ran to his aid, and helping him out, enquired gruffly : '* Who are you, any- 
how ? " " I, I was," said poor Mac, " I, I was Senator McDougall, when I fell in, now 
I think," looking at his filthy garments with disgust, "now, I think I, I am Seward.''* 


careless of the forms and restraints of law. Honest and 
true, and intensely in earnest if he believed a thing was 
right, he was not likely to be thwarted by any formal obsta- 
cles which might stand in the way. He was irritable, but 
placable in temper; sometimes doing acts of injustice, which 
the more patient and considerate President was obliged to 
correct, but he himself was ready to repair a wrong when 
satisfied that one had been committed. 

At this session, Congress entered upon that series of anti- 
slavery measures which were to end in the emancipation 
proclamation, and the amendment of the Constitution pro- 
hibiting slavery throughout the republic. The forbearance 
towards slavery and slaveholders, so conspicuous at the 
beginning of the war, disappeared rapidly before the fierce 
necessities of the conflict. 

The House had scarcely completed its organization, when 
Lovejoy, indignant that loyal negroes should still be sent 
back to slavery from the camps of the Union army, on the 
4th of December introduced a bill making it a penal offence 
for any officer to return a fugitive slave. Senator Wilson 
gave early notice of a bill in the Senate for the same purpose. 
The various propositions on the subject finally resulted in 
the enactment of an additional article of war, forbidding, on 
pain of dismissal from the service, the arrest of any fugitive, 
by any officer or person in the military or naval service of 
the United States. 

The location of the capital on slave territory had proved 
one of the most important triumphs ever achieved by the 
slaveholders. The powerful influence of society, local pub- 
lic sentiment, fashion, and the local press, in favor of the 
institution, was ever felt; and its power, from 1800 to i860, 
could scarcely be overestimated. Our country had long 
been reproached and stigmatized by the world, and the 
character of a pro-slavery despotism over the colored race 
fixed upon it, by reason of the existence of slavery at the 
national capital. The friends of liberty had for years 
chafed and struggled in vain against this malign influence. 


Congress had supreme power to legislate for the District of 
Columbia, and was exclusively responsible for the continued 
existence of slavery there. Mr. Lincoln, it will be remem- 
bered, when serving his single term in Congress, had, in 
December, 1849, introduced a bill for its gradual abolition. 
The President and his friends thought it quite time this relic 
of barbarism at the national capital should be destroyed. 

Senator Wilson, of Massachusetts, the confidential friend 
of the President, on the 15th of December introduced a bill 
for the immediate emancipation of slaves in the District of 
Columbia, and the payment to their loyal masters of an 
average sum of three hundred dollars for each slave thus set 
free; providing for the appointment of commissioners to 
assess the sums to be paid each claimant, and appropriating 
one million of dollars for the purpose. The debates upon 
this bill involved the whole subject of slavery, the rebellion, 
the past, present, and future of the country. The bill passed 
the Senate by yeas twenty nine, nays six. 

When the bill came up for action in the House, contain- 
ing as it did an appropriation of money, under the rules, it 
was necessarily referred to the committee of the whole 
House. As there was a large number of bills in advance of 
it on the calendar, its enemies, although in a minority, had 
hopes of delaying action or defeating it. The struggle to 
take up the bill came on the 10th of April, under the lead of 
that accomplished, adroit, and bold parliamentarian, Thad- 
deus Stevens. He moved that the House go into commit- 
tee, which motion was agreed to, Mr. Dawes of Massachu- 
setts in the chair. The chairman called the calen&ar in its 
order, and on motion of Mr. Stevens every bill was laid 
aside until the bill for the abolition of slavery in the District 
was reached. An unsuccessful effort to lay the bill on the 
table was made by a member from Maryland. 

F. P. Blair. Jr., in an able speech, advocated coloniza- 
tion in connection with abolition. He said: " It is in the 
gorgeous region of the American tropics, that our freedmen 
will find their homes ; among a people without prejudice 


against their color, and to whom they will carry and impart 
new energy and vigor, in return for the welcome which will 
greet them, as the pledge of the future protection and 
friendship of our great republic; I look with confidence to 
this movement, as the true and only solution of this 
question of slavery." l Mr. Bingham closed an eloquent 
speech by saying: "One year ago (nth April, 1861) 
slavery opened its batteries of. treason upon Fort Sumter at 
Charleston; let the anniversary of the crime be signalized by 
the banishment of slavery from the national capital." 

The bill passed the House by ninety-two ayes to thirty- 
eight noes, and, on the 16th of April, was approved by the 
President. Lincoln said : " Little did I dream in 1849, 
when I proposed to abolish slavery at this capital, and could 
scarcely get a hearing for the proposition, that it would be 
so soon accomplished." Still less did he anticipate that he 
as President would be called upon to approve the measure. 

The territories had long been the battle-fields on which 
free. labor and slavery hafl struggled for supremacy. The 
early policy of the government, that of the fathers, was 
prohibition. The proposition of Jefferson, that slavery 
should never exist in any territory in the United States, failed 
only by one vote, caused by the absence of a delegate from 
New Jersey. The Ordinance of 1787 inaugurated the policy. 
Slavery was strong enough in 1820 to secure a division by 
the line of $6° 30' of latitude, in what was called the Mis- 
souri Compromise. In 1854, that compromise was repealed, 
with the avowed purpose on the part of the slaveholders of 
carrying slavery into all the territories. Then came the 
Dred Scott decision, that Congress could not prohibit slavery 
in the territories, and then followed the hand-to-hand 
struggle in Kansas. The distinct issue of the exclusion of 
slavery by Congressional enactment was, in i860, submitted 
to the people, and Mr. Lincoln was elected upon the distinct 
and unequivocal pledge of prohibition. 

On the 24th of March, 1862, Mr. Arnold, of Illinois, 

1. Congressional Globe, 2d Session 3?th Congress, pp. 1634-1635. 


introduced " a bill to render freedom national, and slavery 
sectional," and which, after reciting: " To the end that free- 
dom may be and remain forever the fundamental law of the 
land in all places whatsoever, so far as it lies in the power, or 
•depends upon the action of the government of the United 
States to make it so," enacted that slavery, except as a 
punishment for crime, whereof the party had been duly con- 
victed, should henceforth cease and be prohibited forever, 
in all the following places, viz.: First, in all the territories 
of the United States then existing, or thereafter to be formed 
or acquired in any way. Second, In all places purchased 
or acquired with the consent of the United States for forts, 
magazines, dock-yards, and other needful buildings, and 
over which the. United States have or shall have exclusive 
legislative jurisdiction. Third, In all vessels on the high 
seas. Fourth, In all places whatsoever where the national 
government has exclusive jurisdiction." ' 

Mr. Cox opposed the bill vehemently, declaring that, in 
his judgment, it was a bill for the benefit of secession. Mr. 
Fisher, in an able speech, also opposed the passage of the 
bill. In conclusion, he appealed to the majority to " let this 
cup pass from our lips." He said: " We have done nobly; 
we have done much in behalf of liberty and humanity at this 
session of Congress. Let us then here call a halt and take 
our bearings." Finally, as a concession to the more conser- 
vative members, Mr. Lovejoy offered an amendment strik- 
ing out all except the prohibition of slavery in the territories, 
which amendment Mr. Arnold accepted, and on which he 
demanded the previous question. 

The bill passed the House, ayes, eighty-five, noes, fifty, 
was slightly modified in the Senate, and finally passed the 
House on the 19th of June, prohibiting slavery forever in 
all the territories of the United States then existing, or that 
might thereafter be acquired. Thus, the second great step 
towards the destruction of slavery was taken ; and thus was 
terminated the great struggle over its existence in the terri- 

1. Congressional Globe, 2d Session 37th Congress, p. 2042. 


tories, which had agitated the country, with short intervals, 
from the organization of the republic. Had this act been 
passed in 1784, when Jefferson substantially proposed it, 
the terrible war of the slaveholders might not have come. 
The institution would never have grown to such vast power. 
Missouri would have had the wealth of Ohio, and* slavery, 
driven by moral and economical influences towards the 
Gulf, would have gradually and peacefully disappeared. 1 

Slavery having been abolished at the capital, and pro- 
hibited in all the territories, the question of arming the 
freedmen, and of freeing the slaves and organizing and 
arming them as soldiers that they might fight for their lib- 
erty and that of their race, pressed more and more upon the 

The first regiment of negro troops raised during the war 
was organized by General David Hunter, in the spring of 
1862, while in command of the Department of the South. 
Finding himself charged with the duty of holding the coasts 
of Florida, South Carolina, and Georgia, with inadequate 
force, and these three states swarming with able bodied 
negroes, ready to fight for their liberty, he saw no reason 
why they should not be organized and used as soldiers. 

On the 9th of July, 1862, Senator Grimes, of Iowa, pro- 
posed that "there should be no exemption from military 
service on account of color," and authorized the President 
to organize negro soldiers. The proposition was vehemently 
opposed by the border states, and by some of the demo- 
cratic members of Congress. Senator Garret Davis, of 
Kentucky, said : " You propose to place arms in the hands 
of the slaves, or such of them as are able to handle arms, 
and manumit the whole mass, men, women, and children,, 
and leave them among us. Do you expect us to give our 
sanction and approval to these things ? No ! No ! We 
would regard their authors as our worst enemies, and there 

1. The New York Tribune of June 20, 1862, speaking of the law, said : " It is not 
often that so much of that 'righteousness that exalteth a nation,' is embodied in a 
legislative act. Had this act been passed in 1784, when Jefferson proposed something 
similar, the war in which we are now engaged would never have existed." 


is no foreign despotism, that could come to our rescue, that 
we would not joyfully embrace before we would submit. 1 

The proposition authorizing the employment of negroes 
as soldiers, and conferring freedom on all who should render 
military service, and on the families of all such as belonged 
to rebel owners, became a law on the 17th of July, 1862. 
On this subject Lincoln said : " Negroes, like other people, 
act from motives. Why should they do anything for us, if 
we do nothing for them ? If they stake their lives for us, 
they must be prompted by the strongest of motives, even 
the promise of freedom. And the promise being made 
must be kept." 

The opposition to the employment of the negroes as sol- 
diers, seems now almost inexplicable. That the master's 
claim to the negro should be set up in the way of the gov- 
ernment's superior claim to the service of the negro as a sol- 
dier, seems to us very strange. The government could, for- 
sooth, take the son from his father for a soldier, but not the 
slave from the master ! If the slave be considered as prop- 
erty, the plea of the master is equally absurd. It is con- 
ceded by all that the government, in case of necessity, could 
take the horses and animals of loyal or disloyal, and press 
them into service. And if animals, why not persons held as 
property? If the negroes were property, they could be 
taken as such for public use, and if considered as persons, 
they were like others subject to call for military service. 

In discussing the many and grave questions growing out 
of the war, confiscation, and emancipation, wide differences 
appeared among the friends of the administration. The 
discussions of these questions in Congress, were earnest, 
and often intemperate and violent, and the opinions and con- 
duct of the President were often criticised by his own political 
friends, with a degree of passion rarely paralleled by the 
attacks of even political opponents upon the Executive. 
The President bore these unjust and often unfair attacks 
with patience, and without resentment. Senator Trumbull, 

1. Congressional Globe, 2d Session 37th Congress, 4th Part, p. 3205, July 9, 1862. 


from Illinois, on the 27th of June, 1862, made some remarks 
in relation to him, so just and so appropriate that they will 
help us to understand his character. He said : 

" I know enough of honest Abraham Lincoln to know that he will not 
regard as his truest friends men who play the courtier, and swear that every- 
thing he does is right. He, sir, is honest enough, and great enough, and tal- 
ented enough, to know that he is not perfect, and to thank his friends who 
rally around him in this hour of trial, and honestly suggest to him, when 
they believe such to be the fact, that some measures that he has adopted 
may not be the wisest. He will think better of a man who has the can- 
dor and the honesty to do it, than he will of the sycophant who tells him 
'all is right that you do, and you cannot do wrong.' Sir, he is no 
believer in ' the divine right of kings,' or that a chief magistrate can 
never do wrong. He is a believer in the intelligence of the people, and 
knowing his own fallibility, is not above listening to their voice." ! 

There was a very large and earnest party among the 
President's friends, who urged immediate and universal 
emancipation. Regarding slavery as the cause of the war, 
and believing that freedom would bring the negroes to the 
Union cause, they were impatient of any delay, or consid- 
eration of the rights of the owners, even when the owners 
were loyal. Up to this period, as has been observed, Lin- 
coln had carefully considered the rights, under the Constitu- 
tion, of the loyal slaveholders of the border states. Nat- 
urally conservative, he hesitated before adopting the extreme 
measure of emancipation. But the question was every day 
becoming more and more pressing. 

On the 6th of March, 1862, in a special message to Con- 
gress, he said : " In my judgment, gradual, and not sud- 
den, emancipation, is better for all." 2 In this message he 
suggested the adoption of a joint resolution, declaring "that 
the United States ought to cooperate with any state which 
may adopt a gradual abolition of slavery, giving to such 
state pecuniary aid to compensate for the inconvenience, 
public and private, produced by such change of system." 3 

1. Congressional Globe, 2d Session 37th Congress, part 4th., p. 2973. 

2. President's Message. McPherson's History of the Rebellion, p. 209. 

3. Congressional Globe, 2d Session 37th Congress, part 2d, p. 1102. 


He strongly urged this policy as a means of shortening the 
war, with all its expenses and evils. He concluded his mess- 
age by saying : " In full view of my great responsibility to 
my God, and to my country, I earnestly beg the attention of 
Congress and the people to the subject." l 

On the 10th of March, Roscoe Conkling, of New York, 
moved the adoption by the House, of the resolution which 
the President had sent to the House with his message. 2 
Thaddeus Stevens said : " I think it (the President's prop- 
osition) about the most diluted milk and water gruel proposi- 
tion that was ever given to the American people." 3 Mr. 
Olin, of New York, on the contrary, said : " It is the mag- 
nanimous, the great, the god-like policy of the administra- 
tion." 4 It was vehemently opposed by the members from 
the border states, the very states it was intended especially 
to aid. Hickman, of Pennsylvania, said : " I regard this 
message as an awful note of warning to those residing in 
the border states, and as an act of justice and magnanimity 
to them, which I am sorry to see some of their representa- 
tives on this floor fail to appreciate." 5 The resolution was 

On the 10th of March, 1862, there was a conference 
between the President and the representatives of the border 
states, at which the subject was discussed, and the President 
earnestly urged his plan upon their consideration, but no 
action followed. On the 12th of July, the President invited 
the members of Congress from the border states to meet 
him at the Executive Mansion, and submitted to them an 
appeal in writing, in which he said : 

" Believing that you, in the border states, hold more power for good 
than any other equal number of members, I feel it a duty which I cannot 
justifiably waive, to make this appeal to you." * * * 

1. Congressional Globe, 2d Session 37th Congress, part 2d, p. 1103. 

2. Congressional Globe, 2d Session 37th Congress, part 2d, p. 1154. 

3. Congressional Globe, 2d Session 37th Congress, part 2d, p. 1154. 

4. Congressional Globe, 2d Session 37th Congress, part 2d, p. 1170. 

5. Congressional Globe, 2d Session 37th Congress, part 2d, p. 1176. 


' ' I intend no reproach or complaint when I assure you that in my 
opinion, if you all had voted for the resolution in the gradual emancipa- 
tion message of last March, the war would now be substantially ended. 
And the plan therein proposed is yet one of the most potent and swift 
means of ending it. Let the states which are in rebellion see definitely 
and certainly that in no event will the states you represent ever join their 
proposed confederacy, and they cannot much longer maintain the con- 
test." * * * 

1 ' If the war continues long, as it must, if the object be not sooner 
attained, the institution in your states will be extinguished by mere fric- 
tion and abrasion, by the mere incidents of the war. It will be gone, 
and you will have nothing valuable in lieu of it. Much of its value is. 
gone already. How much better for you and for your people to take the 
step which at once shortens the war and secures substantial compensa- 
tion for that which is sure to be wholly lost in any other event ! How 
much better to thus save the money which else we sink forever in the 
war ! How much better to do it while we can, lest the war ere long 
render us pecuniarily unable to do it ! How much better for you as 
seller, and the nation as buyer, to sell out and buy out that without 
which the war could never have been, than to sink both the thing to be 
sold and the price of it in cutting one another's throats ! " 

4 ' I do not speak of emancipation at once, but of a decision to eman- 
cipate gradually." * * * 

" Upon these considerations I have again begged your attention to 
the message of March last. Before leaving the Capitol, consider and 
discuss it among yourselves. You are patriots and statesmen, and as 
such I pray you consider this proposition, and at the least commend it to« 
the consideration of your states and people. As you would perpetuate 
popular government for the best people in the world, I beseech you that 
you do in nowise omit this. Our common country is in great peril, 
demanding the loftiest views and boldest action to bring a speedy relief. 
Once relieved, its form of government is saved to the world, its beloved 
history and cherished memories are vindicated, and its happy future fully 
assured and rendered inconceivably grand. To you, more than to any 
others, the privilege is given to assure that happiness and swell that 
grandeur, and to link your own names therewith forever." ! 

In his proclamation of the 19th of May, 1862, relating 
to the proclamation of General Hunter, declaring the slaves 
in the states of Georgia, Florida, and South Carolina free, 
the President alludes to his proposition to aid the states, 
which should inaugurate emancipation, and says: 

1. McPherson's History of the Rebellion, pp. 213, 214. 


*' To the people of those states I now earnestly appeal. I do not 
argue — I beseech you to make the argument for yourselves — you cannot 
if you would, be blind to the signs of the times. I beg of you a calm 
and enlarged consideration of them, ranging, if it may be, far above 
personal and partisan politics. This proposal makes common cause for 
a common object, casting no reproach upon any. It acts not the Phari- 
see. The change it contemplates would come gently as the dews of 
heaven, not rending or wrecking anything. Will you not embrace it ? 
So much good has not been done by one effort, in all past time, as, 
in the providence of God, it is now your high privilege to do. May the 
vast future not have to lament that you have neglected it." * 

It will be remembered that the interview between the 
President and the members of Congress from the border 
states, took place on Saturday, the 12th of July. On Sun- 
day, July 13th, two members of Congress from Illinois 
called upon him at his summer residence at the " Soldier's 
Home." He conversed freely of his late interview with the 
border state members, and expressed the deep anxiety he 
felt that his proposition should be acted upon and accepted 
by these states. Rarely, if ever, was he known to manifest 
such great solicitude. In conclusion, addressing Lovejoy, 
one of his visitors, he said : " Oh, how I wish the border 
states would accept my proposition. Then," said he, " you, 
Lovejoy, and you, Arnold, and all of us, would not have 
lived in vain ! The labor of your life, Lovejoy, would 
be crowned with success. You would live to see the end of 

In his second annual message, the President again urged 
the proposition of gradual and compensated emancipation, 
with an earnestness which can scarcely be over-stated. He 
presented a most able and impressive argument to show that 
the plan proposed would shorten the war and lessen the 
expenditure of money and of blood. He concluded a most 
eloquent appeal to Congress in these words : 

1 ' The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate to the stormy pres- 
ent. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with. 

1. McPherson's History of the Rebellion, p. 251. 


the occasion. As our case is new, so we must think anew, and act anew. 
We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we shall save our country." 

"Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history. We, of this Congress 
and this administration, will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No 
personal significance or insignificance can spare one or another of us. 
The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down, in honor or dis- 
honor, to the latest generation. We say we are for the Union. The world 
will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the Union. The 
world knows we do know how to save it. We — even we here, — hold the 
power, and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom to the slave we 
assure freedom to the free — honorable alike in what we give and what we 
preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last, best hope of 
earth. Other means may succeed; this could not fail. The way is 
plain, peaceful, generous, just — a way which, if followed, the world will 
forever applaud, and God must forever bless." 

The plan so earnestly and repeatedly pressed by the 
President resulted in no action. He realized that the time 
was rapidly approaching, when it would become his duty as 
Commander in Chief to issue a military proclamation of 
immediate and unconditional emancipation. 



Lincoln and Emancipation. — Greeley Demands It. — The Peo- 
ple Pray for it. — McClellan's Warning. — Crittenden's- 
Appeal. — Lovejoy's Response. — The Proclamation Issued. — 
Its Reception. — The Question of Its Validity. 

The bestowal of freedom upon the negro race, by mili- 
tary edict, had long been considered, and was now to be 
decided upon by the President. The dream of his youth, 
the aspiration of his life, was to be the liberator of the negro 
race. 1 But in his wish to promote alike the happiness of 
white and black, he hesitated before the stupendous decree 
of immediate emancipation. He wished the change to be 
gradual, as he said in his appeal to the border states, " he 
wished it to come gently as the dews of heaven, not rend- 
ing or wrecking anything." 

The people were watching his action with the most 
intense solicitude. Every means was used to influence him, 
alike by those who favored, and those who opposed, emanci- 
pation. Thousands of earnest men believed that the fate, 
not only of slavery, but of the/epublic, depended upon his 
decision. The anxiety of many found expression in daily 
prayers, sent up from church, farm-house, and cabin, that 
God would guide the President to a right conclusion. The 
friends of freedom across the Atlantic sent messages urg- 
ing the destruction of slavery. Many of the President's 

1. See his Lyceum speech of January 27th, 1837, in which he said : "Towering 
genius disdains a beaten path. * * * It thirsts and burns for dis- 

tinction, and will seek it by emancipating slaves, or la regions hitherto unex- 
plored," etc. 



friends believed that there could be no permanent peace 
while slavery existed. " Seize," cried they, " seize the oppor- 
tunity, and hurl the thunderbolt of emancipation, and shat- 
ter slavery to atoms, and then the republic will live. Make 
the issue distinctly between liberty and slavery, and no for- 
eign nation will dare to intervene in behalf of slavery." 

It was thus that the friends of liberty impeached slavery 
before the President, and demanded that he should pass sen- 
tence of death upon it. They declared it the implacable 
enemy of the republic. " A rebel and a traitor from the 
beginning, it should be declared an outlaw." " The institu- 
tion now," said they, " reels and totters to its fall. It has 
by its own crime placed itself in your power as Commander 
in Chief. You cannot, if you would, and you ought not, if 
you could, make with it any terms of compromise. You have 
abolished it at the national capital, prohibited it in all the 
territories. You have cut off and made free West Virginia. 
You have enlisted, and are enlisting, negro soldiers, who 
have bravely shed their blood for the Union on many a hard 
fought battle-field. You have pledged your own honor and 
the national faith, that they and their families shall be for- 
ever free. That pledge you will sacredly keep. Here then 
you stand on the threshold of universal emancipation. You 
will not go back, do not halt, nor hesitate, but strike, and 
slavery dies." 

On the 19th of August, Horace Greeley published, under 
his own name, in the New York Tribune, a letter addressed 
to the President, urging emancipation. With characteristic 
exaggeration, he headed his long letter of complaint : " The 
Prayer of Twenty Millions of People ! " It was full of 
errors and mistaken inferences, and written in ignorance of 
many facts which it was the duty of the President to con- 

On the 22d of August, the President replied. He made 
no response to its " erroneous statements of facts," its 
" false inferences," nor to its "impatient and dictatorial 
tone," but in a calm, dignified, and kindly spirit, as to "an 


old friend, whose heart he had always supposed to be right," 
he availed himself of the opportunity to set himself right 
before the people. 

The letter was as follows 

Executive Mansion, 
Washington, Friday, Aug. 22, 1862. 
Hon. Hoi'ace Greeley : 

Dear Sir : I have just read yours of the 19th instant, addressed to 
myself, through the New York Tribune. 

If there be in it any statements or assumptions of fact, which I may 
know to be erroneous, I do not now and here controvert them. 

If there be any inferences which I believe to be falsely drawn, I do 
not. now and here argue against them. 

If there be perceptible in it, an impatient and dictatorial tone, I 
waive it in deference to an old friend, whose heart I have always sup- 
posed to be right. 

As to the policy " I seem to be pursuing," as you say, I have not 
meant to leave any one in doubt. I would save the Union. I would save 
it in the shortest way under the Constitution. 

The sooner the national authority can be restored, the nearer the 
Union will be — the Union as it was. 

If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could 
at the same time save slavery, I do not agree with them. 

If there be those who would not save the Union, unless they could 
at the same time destroy slavery, I do not agree with them. 

My paramount object is to save the Union, and not either to save or 
destroy slavery. 

If I could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it. 
And if I could save it by freeing all the slaves, I would do it. And 
if I could save it by freeing some, and leaving others alone, I would 
also do that. 

What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe 
it helps to save the Union, and what I forbear, I forbear because I do 
not believe it would help to save the Union. 

I shall do less whenever I believe what I am doing hurts the cause, 
and shall do more, whenever I believe doing more will help the cause. 

I shall try to correct errors, when shown to be errors, and I shall 
adopt new views, so fast as they shall appear to be true views. 

I have here stated my purpose, according to my view of official duty, 
and I intend no modification of my oft-expressed personal wish, .that all 
men everywhere could be free. Yours, 

A. Lincoln. 

To this letter Mr. Greeley, on the 24th of July, replied 


through the Tribune, and his tone and spirit may be inferred 
from a single paragraph: " Do you," said the editor of the 
paper to the President of the United States, " Do you pro- 
pose to do this (save the Union) by recognizing, obeying, 
and enforcing the laws, or by ignoring, disregarding, and, 
in fact, defying them ? " Such was the insolent language of 
this "old friend." 

On the other hand, the Union men of the border states 
were urging the President not to interfere with slavery, and 
from the headquarters of the army on the Potomac, General 
McClellan wrote to him, under date of July 7th, warning 
him by saying that a " declaration of radical views, especially 
upon slavery, will rapidly disintegrate our present armies." 
To be thus menaced by the general commanding, and noti- 
fied that the measure he had under consideration would 
"rapidly destroy the armies in the field," was a very grave 

There were at this time in Congress two distinguished 
men, who well represented the two contending parties into 
which the friends of the Union were divided — John J. Crit- 
tenden, of Kentucky, and Owen Lovejoy, of Illinois. Both 
were sincere and devoted personal friends of the President. 
Each enjoyed his confidence, each was honest in his convic- 
tions, and each, it is believed, would have cheerfully given 
his life to save the republic. Lovejoy, the ultra-abolition- 
ist, was one of Lincoln's confidential advisers. Crittenden 
had been in his earlier days — in those days when the Presi- 
dent was a Henry Clay whig — his ideal of a statesman. 
Lincoln and Crittenden were both natives of Kentucky, old 
party associates, and life long personal friends. Crittenden 
— a man whom every one loved — now old, his locks whitened 
by more than seventy years, yet still retaining all his physi- 
cal and mental vigor, had been a distinguished Senator, 
Governor of his state, and Attorney General of the United 
States. Now, in his extreme old age, he had accepted a 
seat in Congress that he might aid in preserving the Union. 
His tall and venerable form, his white head, which a mem- 


ber 1 said " was like a Pharos on the sea to guide our storm- 
tossed and storm-tattered vessel to its haven," made him a 
conspicuous figure on the floor of the House. He was 
a courtly, fascinating, genial gentleman of the old school. 
He would often relieve the tedium of routine business by 
stories and anecdotes of western life, and characteristic inci- 
dents of Clay, Webster, Calhoun, Benton, and Jackson, with 
whom he had served many years in public life. Of Love- 
joy and his relations to the President we have already 

When the question of emancipation became the engross- 
ing topic, the border state members of Congress, with wise 
sagacity, selected Mr. Crittenden to make on the floor of the 
House a public appeal to the President that he withhold the 
proclamation, which they believed would lead to disaster 
and ruin. None who witnessed can ever forget the eloquent 
and touching appeal which this venerable statesman and 
great orator made. He said: 

" I voted against Mr. Lincoln, and opposed him honestly and sin- 
cerely; but Mr. Lincoln has won me to his side. There is a niche in 
the temple of fame, a niche near to Washington, which should be occu- 
pied by the statue of him who shall save his country. Mr. Lincoln has- 
a mighty destiny. It is for him, if he will, to step into that niche. It 
is for him to be but a President of the people of the United States, and 
there will his statue be. But if he chooses to be in these times, a mere 
sectarian and a party man, that niche will be reserved for some future 
and better patriot. It is in his power to occupy a place next to Wash- 
ington — the founder and the preserver, side by side. Sir, Mr. Lincoln 
is no coward. His not doing what the Constitution forbade him to do, 
and what all our institutions forbade him to do, is no proof of coward- 
ice." 2 

Lovejoy made an impassioned impromptu reply to Crit- 
tenden. He said: " There can be no union until slavery is 
destroyed. * * We may bind with iron bands, but 
there will be no permanent, substantial Union, and this 
nation will not be homogeneous, and be one in truth as well 
as in form, until slavery is destroyed." 

1. Cox, of Ohio. 

2. Congressional Globe, 2d Session 37th Congress, Part 2, p. 1805. 



" The gentleman from Kentucky says he has a niche for 
Abraham Lincoln. Where is it ?" and Lovejoy turned to 
Crittenden, who raised his hand and pointed upwards, 
whereupon Lovejoy resuming said: 

" He points towards Heaven. But, sir, should the President follow 
the counsels of that gentleman, and become the defender and perpetuator 
of human slavery, he should point downward to some dungeon in the 
temple of Moloch, who feeds on human blood, and is surrounded with 
fires, where are forged manacles and chains for human limbs; in the 
crypts and recesses of whose temple woman is scourged, and man tor- 
tured, and outside the walls are lying dogs gorged with human flesh, as 
Byron describes them, stretched around Stamboul. That is a suitable 
place for the statue of one who would defend and perpetuate human 
slavery. 1 * * * 

" I, too, have a niche for Abraham Lincoln, but it is in freedom's 
holy fane, and not in the blood-besmeared temple of human bondage; 
not surrounded by slaves, fetters, and chains, but with the symbols of 
freedom; not dark with bondage, but radiant with the light of liberty. 
In that niche he shall stand proudly, nobly, gloriously, with shattered 
fetters, and broken chains, and slave whips at his feet. If Abraham 
Lincoln pursues the path evidently pointed out for him in the provi- 
dence of God, as I believe he will, then he will occupy the proud posi- 
tion I have indicated. That is a fame worth living for; ay, more, that is 
a fame worth dying for, though that death led through the blood of 
Gethsemane, and the agony of the accursed tree. That is a fame which 
has glory, and honor, and immortality, and eternal life. Let Abraham 
Lincoln make himself, as I trust he will, the emancipator, the liberator, 
as he has the opportunity of doing, and his name shall not only be en- 
rolled in this earthly temple, but it will be traced on the living stones 
of the temple which rears itself amidst the thrones and hierarchies of 
heaven, whose top-stone is to be brought in with shouting of ' Grace, 
grace unto it. ' " 2 

Such were the appeals addressed to the President. One 
party promised him a niche beside Washington, if he would 
not issue the proclamation, and the other that " his name 
should be enrolled in heaven," among the benefactors of the 
world, if he would issue it. 

To his personal friends of the Illinois delegation in Con- 
gress, who conferred with him on the subject, he said that 

1. Congressional Globe, 2d Session 37th Congress, Part 2, p. 1818. 

2. Congressional Globe, 2d Session 37th Congress, Part 2, p. 1818. 


in his letter to Greeley, he meant that he would proclaim 
freedom to the slaves, just as soon as he felt assured he 
could do it effectively and that the people would sustain 
him, and when he felt sure that he would strengthen the 
Union cause thereby. 

On the 13th of September, a delegation of the clergy of 
nearly all the religious organizations of Chicago waited upon 
him at the Executive Mansion, and presented a memorial 
urging immediate and universal emancipation. For the 
purpose of drawing out their views, in accordance with his 
old practice as a lawyer, he started various objections to the 
policy they urged, he himself stating the arguments 
against emancipation by proclamation, a rough draft of 
which he had already made. This he did to see what answer 
they would make to these objections. After a free and full 
discussion, he said: 

" I am approached with the most opposite opinions and advice, and 
by religious men who are certain they represent the Divine Will. * * * 
I hope it will not be irreverent in me to say, that if it be probable that 
God would reveal his will to others, on a point so connected with my 
duty, it might be supposed he would reveal it directly to me. * * * 
If I can learn His will, I will do it. These, however, are not the days 
of miracles, and I suppose I am not to expect a direct revelation. I must 
study the plain physical facts of the case, and learn what appears to be 
wise and right. * * * Do not misunderstand me, because I have 
mentioned these objections. They indicate the difficulties which have 
thus far prevented my action in some such way as you desire. I have 
not decided against a proclamation of emancipation, but hold the matter 
in advisement. The subject is in my mind by day and by night. What- 
ever shall appear to be God's will I will do." * 

What were the feelings of the negroes during these days 
of suspense ? They knew, many of them, and this knowledge 
was most widely and mysteriously spread about, that their 
case was being tried in the mind of the President. Long 
had they prayed and hoped for freedom. The north star had 
often guided the panting fugitive to liberty. They saw 
armies come forth from the North and fight their masters. 

1. McPherson's History of the Kebelllon, p. 231. 


The starry flag they now hoped was to be the emblem of 
their freedom as well as that of the white man. They had 
welcomed the Union soldiers with joy, and given them food, 
and guidance, and aid, to the extent of their limited and 
humble means. The hundreds of thousands of these slaves, 
from the Shenandoah and the Arkansas, to the rice swamps 
of the Carolinas and the cane brakes of Louisiana, believed 
their day of deliverance was at hand. In the corn and sugar 
fields, in their cabins, and the fastnesses of swamps and 
forests, the negro prayed that " Massa Linkum and liberty " 
would come. Their hopes and prayers were happily 
expressed by the poet Whittier : 

" We pray de Lord ; he gib us signs 
Dat some day we be free ; 
De Norf wind tell it to de pines, 
De wild duck to de sea. 

11 We tink it when de church bell ring, 
We dream it in de dream ; 
De rice bird mean it when he sing, 
De eagle when he scream. 

" De yam will grow, de cotton blow, 
We'll hab de rice and corn ; 
Oh nebber you fear if nebber you hear 

De driver blow his horn ! 
*• # # 

" Sing on, poor heart ! your chant shall be 
Our sign of blight or bloom — 
The vala-song of liberty, 

Or death-rune of our doom." 

With these considerations and under these influences, as 
early as July, the President, without consulting the Cabinet, 
made a draft of the proclamation. In August, he called a 
special meeting of his Cabinet, and said to them that he had 
resolved to issue the proclamation, that he had called them 
together, not to ask their advice, but to lay the matter before 
them, and he would be glad of any suggestions after they 
had heard the paper read. After it had been read, there was 
some discussion. Mr. Blair deprecated the policy, fearing it 


would cause the loss of the approaching fall elections. But 
this had been considered by the President, and it did not at 
all shake his purpose. Mr. Seward then said: " Mr. Presi- 
dent, I approve of the proclamation, but I question the 
expediency of its issue at this juncture. The depression of 
the public mind consequent upon our repeated reverses is so 
great, that I fear the effect of so important a step. It may 
be viewed as the last measure of an exhausted government — 
.a cry for help ; the government stretching forth its hands to 
Ethiopia, instead of Ethiopia stretching forth her hands to 
the government. Now, while I approve the measure, I sug- 
gest, sir, that you postpone its issue until you can give it to 
the country supported by military success, instead of issuing 
it, as would be the case now, upon the great disasters of 
war." Mr. Lincoln was impressed by these considerations, 
and resolved to delay the issuing of the proclamation for the 
time. These events had been occurring in the darkest days 
of the summer of 1862, made gloomy by the disastrous cam- 
paigns of McClellan and Pope. 

Meanwhile General Lee was marching northwards 
towards Pennsylvania, and now the President, with that 
tinge of superstition which ran through his character, 
" made," as he said, "a solemn vow to God that if Lee was 
driven back he would issue the proclamation." l Then came 

1. The following interesting account of the proclamation is from Carpenter's 
" Six Months in the White House." " It had got to be," said he, " midsummer, 1862. 
Things had gone on from bad to worse, until I felt that we had reached the end of our 
rope on the plan of operations we had been pursuing ; that we had about played 
our last card, and must change our tactics, or lose the game ! I now determined 
upon the adoption of the emancipation policy; and, without consultation with, or the 
knowledge of the Cabinet, I prepared the original draft of the proclamation, and, after 
much anxious thought, called a Cabinet meeting upon the subject. This was the last 
of July, or the first part of the month of August, 1862." (The exact date he did not 
remember.) " This Cabinet meeting took place, I think, upon a Saturday. All were 
present, excepting Mr. Blair, the Postmaster-General, who was absent at the opening 
of the discussion, but came in subsequently. I said to the Cabinet that I had 
resolved upon this step, and had not called them together to ask their advice, but 
to lay the subject-matter of a proclamation before them; suggestions as to which 
would be in order, after they had heard it read. Mr. Lovejoy," said he, " was in error 
when he informed you that it excited no comment, excepting on the part of Secretary 
Seward. Various suggestions were offered. Secretary Chase wished the language 
■stronger in reference to the arming of the blacks. Mr. Blair, after he came in, dep- 


news of the battle of- Antietam, fought on the 17th of Sep- 
tember. "I was," said Lincoln, "when news of the battle 
came, staying at the Soldiers' Home. Here I finished writ- 
ing the second draft. I came to Washington on Saturday, 
called the Cabinet together to hear it, and it was published 
on the following Monday, the 226. of September, 1862." ! It 

recated the policy, on the ground that it would cost the administration the fall 
elections. Nothing, however, was offered that I had not already fully anticipated and 
settled in my own mind, until Secretary Seward spoke. He said in substance: 'Mr. 
President, I approve of the proclamation, but I question the expediency of its issue at 
this juncture. The depression of the public mind, consequent upon our repeated 
reverses, is so great that I fear the effect of so important a step. It may be viewed as 
the last measure of an exhausted government, a cry for help ; the government stretch- 
ing forth its hands to Ethiopia, instead of Ethiopia stretching forth her hands to the 
government.' His idea," said the President, "was that it would be considered 
our last shriek, on the retreat." (This was his precise expression.) "'Now,' contin- 
ued Mr. Seward, ' while I approve the measure, I suggest, sir, that you postpone 
its issue, until you can give it to the country supported by military success, instead of 
issuing it, as would be the case now, upon the greatest disasters of the war! ' " Mr. 
Lincoln continued: "The wisdom of the view of the Secretary of State struck 
me with very great force. It was an aspect of the case that, in all my thought upon 
the subject, I had entirely overlooked. The result was that I put the draft of 
the proclamation aside, as you do your sketch for a picture, waiting for a victory. 
From time to time I added or changed a line, touching it up here and there, anxiously 
waiting the progress of events. Well, the next news we had was of Pope's disaster at 
Bull Run. Things looked darker than ever. Finally, came the week of the battle of 
Antietam. I determined to wait no longer. The news came, I think, on Wednesday, 
that the advantage was on our side. I was then staying at the Soldiers' Home (three 
miles out of Washington). Here I finished writing the second draft of the preliminary 
proclamation; came up on Saturday; called the Cabinet together to hear it, and it was 
published the following Monday." 

At the final meeting of September 20th, another interesting incident occurred in 
connection with Secretary Seward. The President had written the important part of 
the proclamation in these words : — 

"That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight 
hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any state or designated part 
of a state, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, 
shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive Government 
of the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recog- 
nize the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such persons, or 
any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom." "When I 
finished reading this paragraph," resumed Mr. Lincoln, "Mr. Seward stopped me,, 
and said, 1 1 think, Mr. President, that you should insert after the word "recognize" 
'■'■and maintain: 1 ' ' I replied that I had already fully considered the import of that 
expression in this connection, but I had not introduced it, because it was not my way 
to promise what I was not entirely sure that I could perform, and I was not prepared to 
say that I thought we were exactly able to ' maintain ' this." 

"But," said he, "Seward insisted that we ought to take this ground; and the 
words finally went in! " 

1. Carpenter's Six Months in the White House, pp. 21-23. 


was the act of the President alone. It exhibited far-seeing 
sagacity, courage, independence, and statesmanship. The 
words "and maintain," after " recognize," were added at 
the suggestion of Mr. Seward, and Secretary Chase wrote 
the concluding paragraph in the final proclamation : " And 
upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, war- 
ranted by the Constitution upon military necessity, I invoke 
the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious 
favor of Almighty God." In this paragraph the words 
" upon military necessity," were inserted by the President. 1 

1. The proclamation of September 22, 1862, is in these words: 
. I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States of America, and Com- 
mander-in-Chief of the army and navy thereof, do hereby proclaim and declare that 
hereafter, as heretofore, the war will be prosecuted for the object of practically 
restoring the constitutional relations between the United States and each of the states 
and the people thereof, in which states that relation is or may be suspended or dis- 

That it is my purpose, upon the next meeting of Congress, to again recommend 
the adoption of a practical measure tendering pecuniary aid to the free acceptance or 
rejection of all slave states, so called, the people whereof may not then be in rebellion 
against the United States, and which states may then have voluntarily adopted, or 
thereafter may voluntarily adopt, immediate or gradual abolishment of slavery within 
their respective limits; and that the effort to colonize persons of African descent with 
their consent upon this continent or elsewhere, with the previously obtained consent 
of the governments existing there, will be continued. 

That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight hun- 
dred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any state or designated part of 
a state, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, shall 
be then, thenceforward, and forever free; and the Executive government of the 
UDited States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize and 
maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such per- 
sons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom. 

That the Executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid, by proclamation, 
designate the states and parts of states, if any, in which the people thereof respec- 
tively, shall then be in rebellion against the United States; and the fact that any 
state, or the people thereof, shall on that day be, in good faith, represented in the 
Congress of the United States by members chosen thereto at elections wherein a 
majority of the qualified voters of such state shall have participated, shall, in the 
absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such 
state, and the people thereof, are not in rebellion against the United States. 

That attention is hereby called to an act of Congress entitled " An act to make 
an additional article of war," approved March 13, 1862, and which act is in the words 
and figures following: 

" Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of 
America in Congress assembled, That hereafter the following shall be promulgated as 
an additional article of war, for the government of the army of the United States, and 
shall be obeyed and observed as such. 

" Article — . All officers or persons in the military or naval service of the United 
States are prohibited from employing any of the forces under their respective com- 
mands for the purpose of returning fugitives from service or labor who may have 



The final proclamation was issued on the 1st of January, 
1863. In obedience to an American custom, the President 
had been receiving calls on that New Year's day, and for 

escaped from any persons to whom such service or labor Is claimed to be due, and any 
officer who shall be found guilty by a court-martial of violating this article shall be 
dismissed from the service. 

"Sec. 2. And be it further enacted, That this act shall take effect from and after 
its passage." 

Also to the ninth and tenth sections of an act entitled "An act to suppress insur- 
rection, to punish treason and rebellion, to seize and confiscate property of rebels, 
and for other purposes," approved July 17, 1862, and which sections are in the words 
and figures following: 

" Sec. 9. And be it further enacted, That all slaves of persons who shall hereafter 
be engaged in rebellion against the government of the United States or who shall in 
any way give aid or comfort thereto, escaping from such persons and taking refuge 
within the lines of the army; and all slaves captured from such persons or deserted 
by them, and coming under the control of the government of the United States; and 
all slaves of such persons found on [or] being within any place occupied by rebel 
forces, and afterwards occupied by the forces of the United States, shall be deemed 
captives of war, and shall be forever free of their servitude, and not again held as 

" Sec. 10. And be it further enacted, That no slave, escaping into any state, ter- 
ritory, or the District of Columbia, from any other state, shall be delivered up, or in 
any way impeded or hindered of his liberty, except for crime, or some offence against 
the laws, unless the person claiming said fugitive shall first make oath that the person 
to whom the labor or service of such fugitive is alleged to be due is his lawful owner, 
and has not borne arms against the United States in the present rebellion, nor in any 
way given aid and comfort thereto; and no person engaged in the military or naval ser- 
vice of the United States shall, under any pretence whatever, assume to decide on the 
validity of the claim of any person to the service or labor of any other person, or sur- 
render up any such person to the claimant, on pain of being dismissed from the ser- 

And I do hereby enjoin upon and order all persons engaged in the military and 
naval service of the United States to observe, obey, and enforce, within their respec- 
tive spheres of service, the act and sections above recited. 

And the Executive will in due time recommend that all the citizens of the United 
States who shall have remained loyal thereto throughout the rebellion, shall (upon the 
restoration of the constitutional relation between the United States and their respec- 
tive states and people, if that relation shall have been suspended or disturbed) be 
compensated for all losses by acts of the United States, including the loss of slaves. 

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand, and caused the seal of the 
United States to be affixed. 

Done at the city of Washington this twenty -second day of September, in the year 
of our Lord one thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, and of the Independence of 
the United States the eighty-seventh. Abraham Lincoln. 

By the President: William H. Sewaed, Secretary of State. 

The final proclamation of January 1, 1863, is as follows : 

Whereas, on the twenty-second day of September, in the year of our Lord one 
thousand eight hundred and sixty-two, a proclamation was issued by the President of 
the United States, containing, among other things, the following, to-wit: 

"That on the first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand eight 
hundred and sixty-three, all persons held as slaves within any state or designated part 
of a state, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States, 
shall be then, thenceforward, and forever, free; and the Executive government of 
the United States, including the military and naval authority thereof, will recognize 
and maintain the freedom of such persons, and will do no act or acts to repress such 
persons, or any of them, in any efforts they may make for their actual freedom. 

"That the Executive will, on the first day of January aforesaid, by proclamation. 


hours shaking hands. As the paper was brought to him by 
the Secretary of State to be signed, he said : " Mr. Seward, I 
have been shaking hands all day, and my right hand is 
almost paralyzed. If my name ever gets into history, it will 
be for this act, and my whole soul is in it. If my hand 
trembles when I sign the proclamation those who examine 

designate the states and parts of states, if any, in which the people thereof, 
respectively, shall then he in rebellion against the United States; and the fact that 
any state, or the people thereof, shall on that day be in good faith represented in the 
■Congress of the United States, by members chosen thereto at elections wherein a 
majority of the qualified voters of such states shall have participated, shall, in the 
absence of strong countervailing testimony, be deemed conclusive evidence that such 
state, and the people thereof, are not then in rebellion against the United States." 

Now, therefore, I, Abraham Lincoln, President of the United States, by virtue 
of the power in me vested as Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the 
United States, in time of actual armed rebellion against the authority and govern- 
ment of the United States, and as a fit and necessary war measure for suppressing 
said rebellion, do, on this first day of January, in the year of our Lord one thousand 
eight hundred and sixty-three, and in accordance with my purpose so to do, publicly 
proclaimed for the full period of one hundred days from the day first above mentioned, 
■order and designate as the states and parts of states wherein the people thereof, 
respectively, are this day in rebellion against the United States, the following, to- 

Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana, (except the parishes of St. Bernard, Plaquemine, 
Jefferson, St. John, St. Charles, St. James, Ascension, Assumption, Terre Bonne, 
Lafourche, St. Mary, St. Martin, and Orleans, including the city of New Orleans,) 
Mississippi, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, North Carolina, and Virginia, 
(except the forty-eight counties designated as West Virginia, and also the counties of 
Berkeley, Accomac, Northampton, Elizabeth City, York, Princess Anne, and Norfolk, 
including the cities of Norfolk and Portsmouth,) and which excepted parts are for the 
present left precisely as if this proclamation were not issued. 

And by virtue of the power and for the purpose aforesaid, I do order and declare 
that all persons held as slaves within said designated states and parts of states are, 
and henceforward shall be, free; and that the Executive government of the United 
States, including the military and naval authorities thereof, will recognize and main- 
tain the freedom of said persons. 

And I hereby enjoin upon the people so declared to be free to abstain from all 
violence, unless in necessary self-defence; and I recommend to them that, in all cases 
when allowed, they labor faithfully for reasonable wages. 

And I further declare and make known that such persons, of suitable condition, 
will be received into the armed service of the United States to garrison forts, posi- 
tions, stations, and other places, and to man vessels of all sorts in said service. 

And upon this act, sincerely believed to be an act of justice, warranted by the Con- 
stitution upon military necessity, I invoke the considerate judgment of mankind and 
the gracious favor of Almighty God. 

In witness whereof, I have hereunto set my hand and caused the seal of the 
United States to be affixed. 

Done at the city of Washington this first day of January, in the year of our Lord 
one thousand eight hundred and sixty-three, and of the Independence of the United 
States of America the eighty-seventh. Abraham Lincoln. 

By the President: William H. Sbward, Secretary of State. 


the document hereafter, will say : ' He hesitated.' " Then 
resting his arm a moment, he turned to the table, took up 
the pen, and slowly and firmly wrote, Abraha?n Lincoln. 
He smiled as, handing the paper to Mr. Seward, he said : 
" That will do." 

This edict was the pivotal act of his administration, and 
may be justly regarded as the great event of the century. 
Before the sun went down on the memorable 2 2d of Sep- 
tember, the contents of this edict had been flashed by the 
telegraph to every part of the republic. By a large majority 
of the loyal people of the nation, it was received with thanks 
to its author, and gratitude to God. Bells rang out their 
joyous peals over all New England and over New York, 
over the mountains of Pennsylvania, across the prairies of 
the West, even to the infant settlements skirting the base of 
the Rocky Mountains. Great public meetings were held in 
the cities and towns ; resolutions of approval were passed, 
and in thousands of churches thanksgiving was rendered. 
In many places the soldiers received the news with cheers, 
and salvos of artillery ; in others, and especially in some 
parts of the army commanded by General McClellan, some 
murmurs of dissatisfaction were heard, 1 but generally the 
intelligence gave gladness, and an energy and earnestness 
before unknown. The governors of the loyal states held a 
meeting at Altoona, on the 24th of September, and sent an 
address to the President, saying: " We hail with heartfelt 
gratitude and encouraged hope the proclamation " 2 

When the words of liberty and emancipation reached the 
negroes, their manhood was roused and many thousands 
joined the Union army, so that before the close of the war, 
nearly two hundred thousand were mustered into the service 
of the United States. 3 

1. See General McClellan' Borders. 

2. McPherson's History of the Rebellion, p. 232. 

3. The original draft of the proclamation was offered for sale at the Sanitary Fair 
held at Chicago, in the autumn of 1863. It was purchased by Thomas B. Bryan, Esq., 
and by him presented to the Chicago Historical Society, in whose hall it was burned at 
the time of the great fire of October, 1871. The following letters will show Its 
history : 


It will be observed that the state of Tennessee was not 
included in the proclamation. It was omitted in deference 
to the opinions and wishes of Andrew Johnson, and other 
Union men of that state. ! The Union men of Tennessee 
themselves changed the constitution of that state, abolishing 
and prohibiting slavery. 

Congress, on the 15th of December, 1862, by a very 
large majority, adopted a resolution sanctioning the edict. * 
A bill was also, on the 14th of December, 1863, introduced 
into the House, by a member from Illinois, prohibiting the 
holding, or attempting to hold, as slaves, any persons declared 
free by the proclamation, or their descendants. 3 

Along the path of the once feeble, obscure, and perse- 
cuted abolitionists, to this their crowning victory, are to be 
found the wrecks of many parties, and the names of great 

Washington, October 13, 1863. 

To the President — My Dear Sir : I take the liberty of inclosing to you the cir- 
cular of the Northwestern Fair for the Sanitary Commission, for the benefit and aid 
of the brave and patriotic soldiers of the Northwest. The ladies engaged in this 
enterprise will feel honored by your countenance, and grateful for any aid it may be 
convenient for you to give them. 

At their suggestion, I ask, that you would send them the original of your procla- 
mation of freedom, to be disposed of for the benefit of the soldiers, and then depos- 
ited in the Historical Society of Chicago, where it would ever be regarded as a relic 
of great interest. This, or any other aid it may be convenient for you to render, 
would have peculiar interest as coming from one whom the Northwest holds in the 
highest honor and respect. 

Very respectfully yours, 

Isaac N. Arnold. 
Executive Mansion, Washington, October 26, 1863. 
Ladies having in charge the Northwestern Fair for the Sanitary Commission, Chicago., 

Illinois : 

According to the request made in your behalf, the original draft of the emanci- 
pation proclamation is here inclosed. The formal words at the top, and the conclu- 
sion, except the signature you perceive, are not in my handwriting. They were writ- 
ten at the State Department, by whom I know not. The printed part was cut from a 
copy of the preliminary proclamation, and pasted on merely to save writing. J had 
some desire to retain the paper ; but if it shall contribute to the relief or comfort of the 
soldiers, that loill be better. 

Your ob't serv't, A. Lincoln. 

1. Such was the statement of the President to the author. 

2. Congressional Globe, December 15, 1862. Also McPherson's History of the 
Rebellion, p. 229. 

3. Congressional Globe, 1st Session 38th Congress, part 1, p. 20. Also McPher- 
son's History of the Rebellion, pp. 229, 230. 


men who had fallen by placing themselves in the way of this 
great reform. Liberty and justice are mighty things to 
conjure with, and vain is the power of man when he tries to 
stay their advance. The timid and over-cautious were 
startled by the boldness and courage of this act of the Presi- 
dent, and his opponents, and especially those who sympa- 
thized with the rebels, hoped to make it the means of the 
defeat and overthrow of his administration. They did not 
realize or appreciate the strength of a good cause, and the 
power of courage in behalf of a great principle. From the 
day of its promulgation to the final triumph of the Union 
cause, Lincoln grew stronger and stronger in the confidence 
of the people, and the tide of victory in the field set more 
and more in favor of the republic. 

While congratulations came pouring in upon the Presi- 
dent from the people of Great Britain, Lincoln rather 
expected that now the government of good old Mother 
England would pat him on the head and express its 
approval. Senator Sumner, whose social relations with 
many English members of Parliament had been most 
friendly and cordial, said to the President : " The British 
government cannot fail to hail your proclamation with fra- 
ternal congratulations. Great Britain, whose poets and 
whose orators have long boasted that 

'Slaves cannot breathe in England,' 

will welcome the edict of freedom with expressions of 
approval and good will ; " yet, when the proclamation 
reached London, Lord John Russell, in a dispatch to the 
British minister at Washington, sneered at the paper " as a 
measure of a very questionable kind," " an act of vengeance 
on the slave owner." " It professes," said he, with cynical 
ill-nature, " it does no more than profess, to emancipate 
slaves, where the United States authorities cannot make 
emancipation a reality, but emancipates no one where the 
decree can be carried into effect." 1 Yet, without the good 

1. Memorial Address of George Bancroft, on Lincoln, pp. 30, 31. 


wishes of his lordship, or encouragement from the English 
government, the United States did make emancipation event- 
ually a reality, and Lord Russell lived to see the decree of 
Mr. Lincoln carried into effect to the extent of freeing every 
slave in the republic. But for this result no thanks to him 
or to the government of which he was the organ. 

Was this proclamation valid, and effectual in law to free 
the negroes ? This question is not now, since the amend- 
ments to the Constitution of the United States and of the 
states, abolishing and prohibiting slavery, of very great 
practical importance. It did result, practically, in the- 
destruction of slavery, and under its operation, as carried 
into effect by the President and military and naval authori- 
ties of the United States, slavery ceased. Was it a legal and 
valid edict under the Constitution and laws of war ? 

The government of the United States possessed all the 
powers with reference to the Confederates in rebellion, and 
who were making war upon the republic, which any nation 
has with relation to its enemies in war. It had the clear 
right to treat them as public enemies, according to the laws 
of war. The emancipation of an enemy's slaves is a bellig- 
erent right, and it belongs exclusively to the President, as* 
Commander in Chief, to judge whether he will exercise this 
right. The exercise of the tremendous power of enfranchis- 
ing the slaves, and thereby weakening the public enemy and 
strengthening the government, is in accordance with the 
law of nations, and with the practice of civilized belligerents 
in modern times. 

The able and learned lawyer and publicist, Alexander H. 
Stephens, in the passage already quoted, took it for granted: 
that this power would be exercised by the Federal Govern- 
ment, and before hostilities commenced he warned the peo- 
ple of Georgia against it. He knew that in May, 1836, that 
learned jurist and statesman, John Quincy Adams, had 
declared on the floor of Congress that the President could 
legally exercise this power. Mr. Adams had concluded an 
exhaustive discussion of the question, by saying: " I lay 


this down as the law of nations, that in case of war, the 
President of the United States and the commander of the 
army has power to order the universal emancipation of the 
slaves." ! 

The right was claimed and exercised by Great Britain, 
both in the war of the revolution and the war of 181 2. Sir 
Henry Clinton, Lord Dunmore, and Lord Cornwallis all 
issued proclamations promising liberty to the slaves of the 
colonies. Jefferson says, in a letter to Dr. Gordon, that 
under Lord Cornwallis 2 Virginia lost about thirty thousand 
slaves. Speaking of the injury to himself, he says: "He 
(Cornwallis) carried off about thirty slaves." " Had this 
been done to give them freedom, he would have done 
right." The English commanders in the war of 181 2 
invited, by proclamation, the slaves to join them, promising 
them freedom. The slaves who joined them were liberated 
and carried away. The United States, when peace was 
declared, demanded indemnity. The question was referred 
to the Emperor of Russia as umpire, who decided that 
indemnity should be paid to the extent to which payment 
had been stipulated in the treaty of peace, but for such as 
were not included in the treaty no payment should be made. 

Justice Miller, of the Supreme Court of the United 
States, says: " In that struggle (to subdue the rebellion) 
slavery as a legalized social institution perished." 3 * * 
"The proclamation of President Lincoln expressed an 
accomplished fact as to a large portion of the insurrec- 
tionary districts, when he declared slavery abolished." In 
the state of Louisiana it has been judicially decided that the 
sale of a slave after the proclamation of emancipation was 
void. 4 In the state of Texas it was held by the Supreme 
Court, in 1868, that the effect of the President's proclama- 

1. See Whiting's War Powers. Mr. Adams's speech, pp. 77-79. In that able work 
of Mr. Whiting will be found a full discussion of the subject. 

2. Whiting's War Powers, p. 69. 

3. The Slaughter House Cases, 16 Wallace Reports, p. 68. 

4. See 20th Louisiana Rep., p. 199. 


tion of January 1, 1863, was to liberate the slaves under the 
national control, that all slaves became free as fast as the 
nation obtained control, and that, on the final surrender, all 
slaves embraced in the terms of the edict became free. 1 
Judge Lindsey says: " The legal effect of the proclama- 
tion was eo instanti to liberate all slaves under control of the 
federal forces." " It was a proper measure, and made 
effectual by force of arms." Chief Justice Chase says: 
" Emancipation was confirmed rather than ordained by the 
amendment prohibiting slavery throughout the Union." 2 

The proclamation of emancipation did not change the 
local law in the insurgent states, it operated on the persons 
held as slaves; " all persons held as slaves are and hence- 
forth shall be free." The law sanctioning slavery was not 
necessarily abrogated, hence the necessity for the amend- 
ment of the Constitution. 3 The Supreme Court of the 
United States declared that: " When the armies of freedom 
found themselves upon the soil of slavery, they (and the 
President their commander) could do nothing less than free 
the poor victims whose enforced servitude was the founda- 
tion of the quarrel." 4 Let then no impious hand seek to 
tear from the brow of Lincoln the crown so justly his due, 
as the emancipator of the negro race in America. 

1. See 31st Texas Rep., p. 504-531, 551, for able opinions of the judges. See also 
44th Alabama Rep., p. 71. 

2. Chief Justice Chase, in 7 Wall. Rep. 728. 

3. See also North American Review, for December, 1880, A. A. Ferris, and cases 

4. Wallace Rep. 16, p. 68. 



Battles in the West. — From Belmont to Corinth. — Successes 
in the South. — Farragut Captures New Orleans.— The. 
Monitor. — McClellan and the President. — Pope's Cam- 
paign. — McClellan Re-Instated in Command. 

That a consecutive narrative might be given of the action 
of Congress and of the Executive, on the all-important 
question of slavery, up to the period of emancipation, mili- 
tary movements have been neglected. Everything depended 
upon the success of the Union armies. Laws and procla- 
mations, without victories, would amount to little. The 
President realized this, and on the threshold of the war, his 
most anxious thought, and most difficult problem, was to find 
officers who could lead the Union troops to victory. The 
republic had few soldiers of experience. Scott and Wool 
had won reputation in the war of 181 2, and in Mexico, but 
were old for active service. Military skill must be developed 
by costly experience. In his appointments to high command, 
the President, without regard to party or personal consider- 
ations, sought for skill and ability. None realized more 
fully than he, that the success of his administration depended 
upon the triumph of his armies. Hence, while he 
appointed Fremont, and Hunter, and McDowell, Banks, and 
others, from among his political and personal friends, he did 
not hesitate to give to those who had hitherto acted with 
the democratic party, such as McClellan, Halleck, Buell, 
Grant, and others, the very highest positions. The question 



with him was — who will lead our troops to the most speedy 
and decisive victories ? 

The general plan of the war seemed to be : first, to 
blockade the entire coast of the insurgent states ; second, the 
military occupation of the border slave states, so as to pro- 
tect and sustain the Union men resident therein ; third, the 
recovery of the Mississippi River to the Gulf, by which the 
Confederacy would be divided, and the great outlet of the. 
Northwest to New Orleans and the ocean would be secured; 
fourth, the destruction of the rebel army in Virginia, and the; 
capture of Richmond, the rebel capital. To accomplish 
these purposes, and to resist their accomplishment, stupen- 
dous preparations were made on both sides. 

In the autumn of 1861, General George B. McClellan." 
had under his command, at Washington and its vicinity, on 
the line of the Baltimore and Ohio, and at Fortress Monroe,, 
more than two hundred thousand well armed men. General! 
Halleck, who was in command in the West, had a very large 
army. McClellan was a skillful organizer, and had the power 
of making himself personally popular, but was slow, very cau- 
tious, and was never ready. With his magnificent army, 
greatly exceeding that which confronted him — he lay inactive 
all the fall of 1861, and the winter of 1861-2, into February,, 
permitting the Potomac to be closed by batteries on the 
western shore, above and below his army, and the rebel flag 
to be flaunted in his face, and in that of the government, 
from the Virginia hills overlooking the capital. 1 

It was the era of brilliant reviews and magnificent mil- 
itary displays, of parade, festive parties, and junketings. 
The President was impatient at this inactivity, and again and 
again urged action on the part of the General. But McClel- 
lan, having in August, 1861, offended General Scott, by 
whom he was styled " an ambitious Junior," and caused the 

1. "During all this time the Confederate army lay at Centerville, insolently men- 
acing Washington. * * It never presented an effective strength of over 50,- 
000 men." Webb's Peninsular Campaign, p. 26. 



old veteran to ask to be placed on the retired list, 1 was left 
in command. When urged to action by the President, he 
always had some plausible excuse for delay. At length the 
patience of the Executive was exhausted, and, on the 27th 
of January, 1862, he issued an order that a general move- 
ment of the land and naval forces should be made, on the 
22d of February, against the insurgents. This order has 
been much criticised. It was addressed to the army and 
navy generally, but was intended especially for General 
McClellan and his army. 

A brief recital of what had been done at the West and 
elsewhere, will show that, with the exception of the great 
army of the Potomac, the forces of the republic had been 
active, energetic, and generally successful. On the 6th of 
November, 1861, General U. S. Grant, moving from Cairo, 
attacked Belmont, and destroyed the military stores of the 
enemy at that place. On the 10th of January, 1862, Colonel 
James A. Garfield attacked and defeated Humphrey Mar- 
shall, at Middle Creek, Kentucky. On the 18th of January, 
General George H. Thomas, a true and loyal Virginian, who, 
like Scott, was faithful to his flag, gained a brilliant victory 
over the rebel Generals Zollikoffer and Crittenden, at Mill 

The Cumberland and Tennessee rivers, having their 
sources far within the rebel lines, and running to the north 
and west, empty into the Ohio. To secure these rivers from 
Union gun-boats, the insurgents had constructed and garri- 
soned Fort Henry, on the Tennessee, and Fort Donelson, on 
the Cumberland. Flag-officer Foote, one of the most skill- 
ful and energetic officers of the navy, commanded the Union 
fleet on the Western rivers. Co-operating with General Grant, 
they planned an attack on Fort Henry. On the 6th of Feb- 
ruary, Foote, with his gun-boats, attacked and captured that 
Fort — not waiting for the arrival of Grant, who was approach- 
ing. Grant and Foote then moved to the attack of Fort 

1. The Records of the War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Vol. II, Part 3d, Corre- 
spondence, etc., pp, 4, 5, 6, etc. 


Donelson. On the 16th of February, they invested the fort. 
After several days hard fighting, the rebel General Buckner 
sent a flag of truce to General Grant, asking a cessation of 
hostilities, to settle terms of surrender. Grant replied: " No 
terms except unconditional surrender can be accepted. I 
propose to move immediately on your works." Buckner did 
not wait the assault, but surrendered at discretion. This 
victory, and the note of Grant, gave to him the sobriquet of 
"Unconditional Surrender Grant." Arms, stores, and more 
than twelve thousand prisoners were captured. This brilliant 
victory electrified the country, and the President, impatient, 
and careworn over the long and mysterious delay of the army 
of the Potomac, looked ten years younger upon the evening 
of the reception of the inspiring news. 

General Floyd, late the treacherous Secretary of War 
under Buchanan, and who had been in command, was con- 
scious that a man who had plotted treason against the 
national government while in the Cabinet, deserved punish- 
ment as a traitor, and fled at night before the surrender. 
These substantial victories compelled the evacuation by the 
rebels of Kentucky, and opened Tennessee to the Union 
forces. Bowling Green, called by the insurgents the Gibral- 
tar of Kentucky, was, on the 15th of February, occupied by 
General Mitchell of the Union army. 

On the 24th of February, the Union troops occupied 
Nashville, the capital of the great state of Tennessee, and, 
in March thereafter, Andrew Johnson, having been appointed 
provisional governor, arrived, and the persecuted Unionists 
of the state gladly rallied around him. In East Tennessee 
— his old home — loyalty was general, and the Union flag 
was hailed with exclamations of joy and gratitude. 

On the 6th, 7th, and 8th of March, was fought the battle 
of Pea Ridge, and General Halleck telegraphed with exulta- 
tion: " The Union flag is floating in Arkansas." On the 
13th of March, General John Pope, of Illinois, moving down 
the west bank of the Mississippi, compelled the evacuation 
of New Madrid, and then laid siege to Island No 10, in the 


Mississippi, which, on the 7th of April, he captured, with 
provisions, arms, and military stores. 

Thus the Union forces had been steadily advancing in 
the valley of the Mississippi. Buell's army was at Nash- 
ville, and the Confederates saw with dismay Missouri, Ken- 
tucky, Arkansas, and Tennessee, wrenched from them, and 
realized that unless the armies of Grant and Buell could be 
driven back, the whole valley of the Mississippi would be 

Lee seemed to calculate, with confidence, that all would 
remain " quiet on the Potomac" as usual, for he sent Beau- 
regard from his army in Virginia to the West, while the 
rebel forces west of the Alleghanies were placed under the 
command of their ablest general, Albert Sidney Johnston. 
He realized the vast, perhaps decisive importance of the 
impending conflict in the valley of the Mississippi. In his^ 
address to his army, before the battle of Shiloh, he said : 
" Remember, soldiers, the fair, broad, abounding lands, the 
happy homes, that will be desolated by your defeat. The eyes 
and hopes of eight millions of people rest upon you." 

On the 6th of April, the great armies met on the bank of 
the Tennessee and fought the terrible and bloody battle of 
Shiloh, or Pittsburgh Landing. General Grant occupied the 
southern bank of the river. Buell was approaching from the 
north. It was the intention of the Confederates to surprise 
and whip Grant before Buell could come to his support. 
Before six o'clock, on the morning of April 6th, the rebel 
columns attacked furiously, and rushing on like a whirlwind, 
threatened to drive the Union troops into the river. Grant 
arrived on the field at 8 a. m., and, rallying and re-forming 
his lines, with unflinching determination, continued the fight. 
Charge after charge was made by the impetuous and confi- 
dent Confederates, but they were met with dogged and per- 
sistent courage. Thus the fight went on during the long 
day, but the Union troops were gradually forced back 
towards the river, into a semi-circle, with the river in the 
rear. The Union General Wallace, and the rebel com- 


mander Johnston, with many other brave and distinguished 
officers on both sides, were killed. The long dreary day 
dosed, with the advantage all on the side of the rebels, and 
Beauregard at evening announced a complete victory. But 
with the night Buell arrived with his gallant army, and the 
morrow brought victory to the Union arms. Grant had 
exhibited those stubborn, resolute, persistent qualities, which 
would not know defeat. With the fresh troops of Buell 
and Lew Wallace, he early the next morning attacked the 
rebels, drove them from the field, and pursued them towards 
their intrenchments at Corinth. 

This, one of the most bloody battles of the war, was 
fought by troops not many months in the service, but many 
of whom had been already often in battle. It was a long, 
terrible fight, but when the sun went down on the second 
•day, it went down on an army of flying rebels, who had 
gained an experience of the courage, persistence, and effi- 
ciency of the soldiers of the West, which they never forgot. 

On the 30th of May, the batteries of General Halleck, 
commanding in the W^est, opened on the rebel fortifications 
at Corinth, in the state of Mississippi, and the rebels were 
driven out, abandoning their fortifications with a vast quan- 
tity of military stores. Such, in brief, is the eventful story 
of the armies of the West, during the year 1861 and the 
earlier part of 1862. Nor were the national forces idle at 
the extreme South. 

On the 8th of February, 1862, Roanoke Island, on the 
coast of North Carolina, was captured by General Burnside 
and Admiral Goldsborough, with prisoners, arms, and mili- 
tary stores. On the 14th of March, General Burnside cap- 
tured Newbern. On the nth of April, General David 
Hunter captured Fort Pulaski, and on the 25th of April, 
1862, Fort Macon was taken. 

New Orleans, at the mouth of the Mississippi, was early 
in the war an object of anxious consideration on the part of 
the President. Having passed his life in the West, know- 
ing this great river as one who in early manhood had urged 


a boat over its majestic waters, he had seen its thousands of 
miles of navigable tributary streams, and itself from the Gulf 
to the far North, covered with steamers, carrying to salt 
water the vast products of a delta and territory more pro- 
ductive than that of the Nile. From the beginning, he felt 
perfectly certain that the hardy Western pioneers would "hew 
their way to the sea." New Orleans had long been the 
object of national pride. The victory of General Jackson 
at that place had always been regarded as one of the most 
brilliant military achievements on record. This interesting 
city, over which had floated the lilies of France ; this metro- 
polis of the Southwest had fallen by the treason of General 
Twiggs, an unresisting victim, into the toils of the conspira- 

In the autumn of 1 861, an expedition under the command 
of Captain David G. Farragut, and General B. F. Butler, 
was organized for its capture. Farragut was a native of 
Tennessee, a hearty, bluff, honest, downright sailor, full of 
energy, determination, and ability; with a courage and fer- 
tility of resources never surpassed. He was one of those 
men who dare everything, and rarely fail. There is no 
brighter name than his among the naval heroes of the world. 
On the 25th of March, 1862, Butler landed his troops on 
Ship Island, in the Gulf of Mexico, between New Orleans 
and Mobile. On the 17th of April, Farragut with his fleet 
arrived in the vicinity of the forts which guarded the 
approach to the city. After bombarding these forts for 
several days without reducing them, with the inspiration of 
genius he determined to run past their guns. The hazard 
was fearful. Forts St. Philip and Jackson, on opposite sides 
of the river, mounted over an hundred heavy cannon; 
besides this, the river was blocked up by sunken hulks, 
piles, and every obstruction which could be devised. In 
addition, he would have to encounter thirteen gunboats, 
the floating ironclad Louisiana, and the ram Manassas. The 
authorities at New Orleans were confident. " Our only 
fear," said the city press, " is that the Northern invaders 



will not appear." Farragut soon dissipated these fears. On 
the night of the 24th of April, amidst a storm of shot and 
shell, the darkness illuminated by the mingled fires of ships, 
forts, and burning vessels, he passed Forts Jackson and St. 
Philip; he crushed through all obstructions; he destroyed the 
ram and gunboats which opposed him; he steamed past the 
batteries; he ascended the great river, and laid his broadsides 
to the proud city of the Southwest. 

The town of one hundred and fifty thousand people 
surrendered, and the flag of the Union floated once more over 
the Crescent City, never again to be removed. For, as was 
grimly said by a rebel officer on the fall of Richmond, " It 
has never been the policy of the Confederates to retake the 
cities and posts captured by the Union forces." Baton 
Rouge, the capital of Louisiana, was taken without resistance 
on the 7th of May, Natchez on the 12th, and for a time 
the Mississippi was opened as far up as Vicksburg. 

As the President read the report of these various suc- 
cesses, he could not fail to compare and to contrast them 
with the inaction of the grand army of the Potomac. Of that 
army great and sanguine expectations had been formed. It 
was commanded, as has been stated, by George B. McClel- 
lan, who at the time of his appointment, in November, i86i r 
as General in Chief of the armies of the United States, was 
less than thirty-six years of age. Popular feeling, eager to 
welcome victories and to reward him with honor, had 
already called him the " Young Napoleon." 

The army of the Potomac was regarded as the main 
army; it was encamped in and around Washington, the 
source of supplies; when there were not arms for all, this 
army was first supplied, and if there was a choice, this body 
of troops had the preference. It is not intended to ques- 
tion the patriotism or the courage of the General in Chief,, 
nor to suggest a doubt of his loyalty, but he did not dis- 
guise his hostility to the radicals. He had no sympathy for 
the abolitionists, and he let them know it. While condemn- 
ing secession, he had more sympathy for slaveholders than 


for slaves. He criticised freely the radical acts of Congress 
and the administration, and he very soon became the center 
around which gathered all who opposed the radical meas- 
ures of the President and of Congress. They flattered the 
young general, and suggested to him that he could become 
the great pacificator. This may aid in explaining his strange 
and mysterious inactivity. 

It will be remembered that on the 27th of January the 
President issued an order for active operations. This order 
contemplated a general advance in concert by all the forces 
in the field. On the 31st of January, the President ordered 
an expedition, the immediate object of which was to seize 
and occupy a position on the railway southwest of Manassas 
Junction. McClellan did not move until early in March, 
and then reached Centreville with his immense army, to find 
it abandoned, and wooden guns in position on the works 
behind which the rebels, in far inferior numbers, had 
remained all the autumn and winter unassailed. But his 
words, addressed to his army at Fairfax Court House, led 
the country to hope that he would now make up in energy 
and celerity his long delay. He said : " The army of the 
Potomac is now a real army. Magnificent in material, 
admirable in discipline, excellently equipped and armed. 
Your commanders are all that I could wish." 

Such being the case, and with a force more than one 
hundred and fifty thousand strong, carrying three hundred 
and fifty pieces of artillery, a brilliant and triumphant cam- 
paign was confidently looked for. Lincoln had given 
McClellan his confidence, and was very slow to withdraw it, 
for he was always noted for the unflinching fidelity with 
which he stood by those whom he trusted. He had sus- 
tained this general against a very large majority of the 
earnest Union men of the nation. The committee on the 
conduct of the war appointed by Congress, the fiery Secre- 
tary of War, and many others, had chafed and complained 
during all the winter of 1861-62 at McClellan's inactivity. 
He had done a great work in organizing this splendid army, 


but he could not be made to lead a bold, aggressive cam- 
paign. Could this army, on the day it struck its tents 
around Washington, have been transferred to the command 
of a rapid, indefatigable, and energetic officer like Sheridan, 
or to the hero of Atlanta and the " Grand March," or to 
Thomas, or to the unflinching iron will of Grant, it would 
have marched into Richmond long before McClellan reached 
the Chickahominy. 

Celerity of movement, quick and rapid blows, were 
impossible with the amount of impedimenta which hampered 
McClellan's movements. Washington was an attractive 
place to the gay young officers of this army. Members of 
Congress were curious to learn what was the camp equipage 
which required six immense four-horse wagons drawn up 
before the door of the general, each wagon marked: " Head- 
quarters of the Army of the Potomac;" and when it was 
reported that Grant had taken the field with only a spare 
shirt, a hair brush, and a tooth brush, comparisons were 
made between Eastern luxury and Western hardihood. 

During this long inaction on the Potomac, while the 
forces of the West were capturing Forts Donelson and 
Henry, and driving the rebels out of Kentucky, Missouri, and 
Tennessee, the impatience of the President was not always 
suppressed. On one occasion he said : " If General Mc- 
Clellan does not want to use the army for some days, I 
should like to borrow it and see if it cannot be made to do 

On the 8th of March, the President directed that, Wash- 
ington being left entirely secure, a movement should begin 
not later than the 18th of March, and that the General in 
Chief should be responsible for its commencement as early 
as that day. Also that the army and navy should cooperate 
in an immediate effort to capture the rebel batteries on the 
Potomac. ' The army did not cooperate, and the batteries 
were not captured. 

1 President's War Order No. 3. See Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, 
•Series 1, Vol II., p. Ill, p. 58. 


On the 1 2th of March, at a council of war held at Fair- 
fax Court House, a majority decided to proceed against 
Richmond by Fortress Monroe. The President acquiesced, 
although his opinion had been decidedly in favor of a direct 
march upon Richmond. His acquiescence was upon the con- 
dition that Washington should be left entirely secure, and 
the remainder of the force move down the Potomac to 
Fortress Monroe, or anywhere between Washington and 
Fortress Monroe, " or at all events to move at once in pur- 
suit of the enemy by some route." 

While impatiently following the slow movements of Mc- 
Clellan, the nation was electrified by news of a conflict upon 
the water, between the iron clad " Virginia " and the " Moni- 
tor," which took place on the 9th of March, 1862. When 
Norfolk was shamefully abandoned in the spring of 1861 
by the federal onicers, among other vessels left in the hands 
of the enemy was the " Merrimac." Sheathing her sides with 
iron armor, and changing her name to the " Virginia," on 
the 9th of March she steamed down the James, and attacked 
and destroyed the United States frigates, " Cumberland I 
and " Congress." The officers of the " Cumberland " fought 
until the ship went down with her flags still flying. The 
" Minnesota," coming to the aid of the " Cumberland," ran 
aground and lay at the mercy of this terrible iron-clad bat- 
tery. But just at the time when it seemed that the James, 
and the Potomac, and Washington itself, was at the mercy 
of this apparently invulnerable ship, there was seen approach- 
ing in the distance, a low, turtle-like looking nondescript, 
which, as she came nearer, was made out to be the iron-clad 
" Monitor," just built as an experiment by the distinguished 
engineer, Ericsson. She mounted two eleven inch Dahl- 
gren guns, carrying one hundred. and sixty-eight pound 
shot. As compared with the " Virginia," she was a David 
to a Goliath. She boldly and successfully attacked her 
gigantic enemy, thereby saving the fleet, and perhaps the 
capital. Whole broadsides were fired at the little " Moni- 


tor," with no more effect than volleys of stones would 
have had. 

On the 3rd of April, the President ordered the Secretary 
of War to direct General McClellan " to commence his for- 
ward movement from his new base at once." ' On the 5th 
of April, General McClellan, when near Yorktown, said to 
the President: " The enemy are in large force along our 
front, * * * their works formidable," 2 and adds: "I 
am of opinion I shall have to fight all the available force of 
the rebels not far from here." On the other hand, the rebel 
General Magruder, in his report of July 3rd, says that the 
whole force with which Yorktown was held, was eleven 
thousand, and that a portion of his line was held by five 
thousand men. " That with five thousand men exclusive 
of the garrisons, we stopped and held in check over one 
hundred thousand of the enemy. * * * The men 
slept in the trenches, and under arms, but to my great 
surprise, he (McClellan) permitted day after day to elapse 
without any assault." 3 

This force detained McClellan from April isttoMay4th. 
With an army of nearly or quite one hundred thousand men, 
he set down to a regular siege, and when he was fully ready to 
open with his great guns, the enemy had left. A vigorous and 
active commander would not have permitted this handful of 
men to delay his march. On the nth of April, the President 
telegraphed to McClellan: " You now have one hundred 
thousand troops with you, independent of General Wool's 
command. I think that you had better break the enemy's 
line at once." 4 

In reply to McClellan's constant applications for re-en- 
forcements, the President, on the 9th of April, wrote him a 

1. Official Records of the Rebellion, Series I. VII. p. 3d, p. 65. 

2. Official Reports of the Rebellion, S. I. VII. p. 3d, p. 71. 

3. This report of Magruder is corroborated by a letter from General Raines to> 
General Hill, in which he says that when McClellan approached Yorktown, Magruder 
had but 9,300 effective men. See Official Records of the War of the Rebellion, S. I„ 
VII. p. 3d, p. 516. 

4. Report of the Committee on the Conduct of the War, pp. 319-320. 


very kind and frank letter, in which, among other things, he 
says: " I suppose the whole force which has gone forward 
to you, is with you by this time, and if so, I think that it is 
the precise time for you to strike a blow. By delay, the 
enemy will relatively gain upon you — that is, he will gain 
faster by fortifications and re-enforcements than you can by 
re-enforcements alone; and once more let me tell you, it is 
indispensable to you that you strike a blow. I am powerless 
to help this. You will do me the justice to remember I 
always insisted that going down the bay in search of a field, 
instead of fighting near Manassas, was only shifting, not sur- 
mounting the difficulty. * * * The country will not fail 
to note — and it is now noting — that the present hesitation to 
move upon an intrenched enemy, is but the story of Manas- 
sas repeated. I beg to assure you I have never written * 
* * in greater kindness, nor with a fuller purpose to sus- 
tain you, so far as in my most anxious judgment I con- 
sistently can. But you must act." ! 

Yet McClellan, disregarding these urgent and repeated 
appeals and orders, still remained in front of the works at 
Yorktown. His " long delay," as Johnston called it, was as 
inexplicable to the Confederates, as to the administration at 
Washington. 2 On the 22d of April, General Joseph E. 
Johnston, writing to Lee, says, " No one but McClellan 
could have hesitated to attack. " 3 

No one can read the official records of the war, as pub- 
lished by the government, without being impressed by the 
patience and forbearance of the President. Earnestly, and 
frequently, and vainly, he urged, entreated, and directed 
McClellan, again and again, " to strike a blow." The impar- 
tial judgment of the future will be that Lincoln's forbear- 

1. Report on Conduct of War, p. 1. pp. 321-322. 

2. General Johnston, writing to General Robert E. Lee, April 29th, says :"I sus- 
pect McClellan is waiting for iron-clad war vessels for James River. They would 
enable him to reach Richmond three days before us. I cannot account otherwise for 
this long delay here." * * "Yorktown cannot hold out." See Official Rec- 
ords of the War of the Rebellion, Sec. 1, Vol. VII, Pt. 3d, p. 473. 

3. The same, p. 454. 


ance was continued long after it had " ceased to be a vir- 

On the 6th of April, the President telegraphed to McClel- 
lan : " I think you had better break the enemy's line from 
Yorktown at once." On the 9th of April, he said : " I 
think it the precise time for you to strike a blow. It is indis- 
pensable for you to strike a blow. You must act." On the 
1st of May, he asked : " Is anything to be done ? " On the 
25th of May, Mr. Lincoln telegraphed McClellan : " I think 
the time is near at hand when you must either attack Rich- 
mond, or give up the job, and come to the defense of Wash- 

On the 21st of June, McClellan, from his camp on the: 
Chickahominy, addressing the President, asked permission 
" to lay before your Excellency my views as to the present 
state of military affairs throughout the whole country." The 
President replied, with great good nature and some sarcasm : 
" If it would not divert your time and attention from the army 
under your command, I should be glad to hear your views 
on the present state of military affairs throughout the whole 

On the 27th of June, McClellan announced his intention 
to retreat to the James River, and he had the indiscretion to 
send to the Secretary of War an insubordinate and insulting 
dispatch, in which he says : " If I save this army, I tell you 
plainly, I owe no thanks to you, nor to any one at Washing- 
ton. You have done your best to destroy this army." Such 
a dispatch addressed to any government, the head of which 
was less patient and forbearing than Lincoln, would have 
resulted in his removal, arrest, and trial. The great army, 
with its spirit unbroken, at times turning at bay, retreated to 
Malvern Hill. 

On the 7th of July, while at Harrison's Landing, McClel- 
lan had the presumption to send to the President a long let- 
ter of advice upon the general conduct of the administration. 
This letter is important, as it illustrates the character of the 
man, and the relations between him and the Executive.. 


Unfortunately for his usefulness as a soldier, he had per- 
mitted himself to become the head of a party, and was look- 
ing to the Presidency, at the hands of those in opposition to 
the President, and whose nominee he became at the next 
Presidential election. 

The high command which Mr. Lincoln had given him ; 
the crowd of staff-officers and subordinates, by which he was 
surrounded and flattered ; his personal popularity with his 
soldiers ; all these had turned his head, and his failures as a 
leader did not restore his judgment. This young captain of 
engineers, not thirty-seven years old, who had never seen a 
day's service in public life, whose studies had been those of 
a civil and military engineer, and who, by the grace and favor 
of the President was in command of the army, undertook to 
enlighten the Executive on the most grave, and novel, and 
complex questions involved in the civil war. Questions 
which taxed to the utmost the ablest and most experienced 
statesmen of the world. This young engineer and railroad 
president had the presumption to advise and seek to instruct 
the President and his Cabinet. 

The tone of the letter was immodest and dictatorial. 
McClellan said to his commander: " Let neither military dis- 
aster, political faction, nor foreign war shake your settled 
purpose to enforce the equal operation of the laws upon 
the people of every state." Then he tells the Executive 
how the war must be carried on. " Neither confiscation of 
property, political executions of persons, territorial organ- 
ization of states, or forcible abolition of slavery should be 
contemplated for one moment." And he then intimates, 
that unless his views as presented, " should be made known 
and approved, the effort to obtain the requisite forces will 
be almost hopeless. A declaration of radical views, espe- 
cially upon slavery, will rapidly disintegrate our present 
armies." 1 

The President had a right to expect from the commander 
of his armies personal fidelity and sympathy, if not loyalty 

1. McPherson's History of the Rebellion, pp. 385-386. 


to his administration. General McClellan gave him neither. 
He was in the hands, and he was the instrument, of those 
who wished to overthrow the administration, and to go into 
power upon its ruins. Knowing this, Mr. Lincoln continued 
him at the head of the armies, and urged him again and 
again " to strike a blow," to achieve those victories which 
might have made him President. General McClellan had 
done nothing then — he has done nothing since — to justify 
or excuse the presumption of his conduct. 

On the 8th of July, 1862, the President visited the camp 
of General McClellan, and was depressed upon finding that, 
of the magnificent army with which that general had started 
to capture Richmond, and with all the re-enforcements which 
had been sent to it, there were now remaining only eighty- 
five thousand effective men. There is a touching story in 
Roman history of the Emperor Augustus calling in vain 
upon Varus to give him back his legions. The President 
might well have said to McClellan, at Harrison Landing : 
" Where are my soldiers, where the patriotic young volun- 
teers, vainly sacrificed in fruitless battles from Yorktown to 
Malvern Hill, and the still larger numbers who have per- 
ished in hospitals, and in the swamps of the Chickahominy ?" 
" What has been gained by this costly sacrifice ? " 

The records of the Confederates make it perfectly clear 
that there were several occasions when the army of the 
Potomac could have broken through their thin lines and 
gone into Richmond, but McClellan had not the sagacity to 
discover it, and if he had known of their weakness, he would 
probably have hesitated until it was too late. The dis- 
asters and failures of the great army of McClellan, con- 
trasted with the brilliant successes at the West, naturally 
suggested the transfer to the East of some of the officers 
under whom these successes had been achieved. On the 
nth of July, 1862, Halleck had been appointed General in 
Chief, and on the 23d he entered upon his duties as such. 

General John Pope, son of Nathaniel Pope, United 
States District Judge of Illinois, in whose courts the Presi- 


dent had for many years practised law, was believed to be 
one of the most brilliant and rising young officers of the 
West. He had been successful at Island No. 10, and at 
New Madrid on the Mississippi. Lincoln knew him and his 
family well. They had been neighbors, and the President 
rejoiced in his fame. On the 27th of June he issued an 
order, creating the army of Virginia, under the command of 
General Pope, to consist of the three army corps of Generals 
Fremont, Banks, and McDowell. Fremont resigned on the 
ground that Pope was his junior. 

On the 14th of July, Pope assumed command, and issued 
an address to his army in which he said: 

" I have come to you from the West, where we have always seen 
the backs of our enemies ; from an army whose business it has been 
to seek an adversary, and beat him when found ; whose policy has been 
attack and not defense. In but one instance has the enemy been able to 
place our Western armies in a defensive attitude. I presume I have been 
called here to pursue the same system, and to lead you against the 
enemy. It is my purpose to do so, and that speedily. I am sure you 
long for an opportunity to win the distinction you are capable of achiev- 
ing; that opportunity I shall endeavor to give you. In the meantime, I 
desire you to dismiss certain phrases I am sorry to find in vogue amongst 

" I hear constantly of taking strong positions and holding them — of 
lines of retreat and bases of supplies. Let us discard such ideas. The 
strongest position a soldier should desire to occupy is one from which he 
can most easily advance against the enemy. Let us study the probable 
line of retreat of our opponents, and leave our own to take care of itself. 
Let us look before us and not behind. Success and glory are in the 
advance — disaster and shame lurk in the rear. Let us act on this under- 
standing, and it is safe to predict that your banners shall be inscribed 
with many a glorious deed, and that your names will be dear to your 
countrymen forever." 

This indiscreet address, though so full of the ardor of a 
young, successful, and sanguine soldier, was as bad in taste 
as mistaken in policy. While it indicated a vigorous policy 
and a spirited campaign, it naturally created an intense feel- 
ing of hostility against him among the officers of the army 
of the Potomac. It aroused local jealousy, and increased 


the prejudice which resulted in the sacrifice of Pope and 
others. At the close of a brilliant and successful campaign 
it would have been more excusable. 

The failure of McClellan's campaign did not in the least 
dishearten the North, nor shake the determination of the 
people to crush the rebellion. It created the necessity for 
still greater efforts. The governors of seventeen states met 
at Altoona, in Pennsylvania, on the 28th of June, and united 
in an address to the President, announcing the readiness of 
the people of their respective states to respond to a call for 
more soldiers, and their desire for the most vigorous meas- 
ures for carrying on the war. The President issued a calk 
for three hundred thousand additional volunteers. 

Pope had but about thirty-eight thousand men. With 
this small force he was to defend Washington, hold the- 
valley of the Shenandoah, and repel the expected approach 
of Lee. He was early aware that he had incurred the hos- 
tility of McClellan, and that he could not rely on the hearty 
cooperation of that general and his subordinates. Conscious 
of this, and seeing the fearful odds he was to encounter, he 
asked to be relieved. This was declined, and there was 
nothing left for him but to do all that was possible with the 
force under his command. Lee and the army of Virginia 
were nearer Washington than McClellan. General Burn- 
side had brought his army to Fortress Monroe, ready to 
cooperate with McClellan. A bold move upon Richmond 
would keep Lee on the defensive, but such a movement 
under McClellan — judging from the past — could scarcely be 
expected. It was determined to withdraw McClellan's army 
from the James, and concentrate it with the command of 
Pope. Pope was active and vigilant, and did all that could 
be done with the force under his control. On the 14th of 
August, he was reinforced by General Reno's division of 
Burnside's army. On the 16th, he captured a letter of 
General Lee to Stuart, showing that Lee was preparing to 
mass an overwhelming force in his front, and crush him 
before he could be re-enforced from the army of the Poto- 


mac. He retired on the night of the 18th behind the Rap- 
pahannock. The presence of the army of McClellan was 
now imperatively needed, and its absence made Pope's posi- 
tion critical. 

Where was it, and why did it not cooperate with Pope ? 
It made no movement towards Richmond nor towards Pope. 
Why was this, and who was responsible for Pope's defeat ? 
Let us examine the orders which were sent to McClellan, 
and try to determine whether he honestly and in good faith 
obeyed these orders, or whether he sullenly disregarded 
them, and left Pope to be crushed. As early as the 30th of 
July, McClellan had been ordered to send away his sick and 
wounded, and to clear his hospitals, preparatory to moving. 
This order was repeated August 2d. On the 3d, he was 
directed to prepare to withdraw his army to Acquia Creek, a 
stream that empties into the Potomac, and within support- 
ing distance of Pope. He remonstrated, delayed obedience, 
and remained where he was until the 6th. He was then 
advised that " the order to withdraw would not be 
rescinded," and it was said to him, with emphasis: "You 
will be expected to obey it with all possible promptness." On 
the 6th, he was ordered to send a regiment of cavalry and 
several batteries to Burnside, who was at Acquia Creek. 
Instead of obeying promptly, he sent reasons for still fur- 
ther delay, and said he would " obey as soon as circum- 
stances would permit it." 

McClellan did not arrive at Alexandria until August 
26th. On the 9th, General Halleck telegraphed as follows : 
" I am of the opinion that the enemy is massing his forces 
in front of Generals Pope and Burnside, and that he expects 
to crush them, and move forward to the Potomac. You 
must send re-enforcements instantly to Acquia Creek. Con- 
sidering the amount of transportation at your disposal, your 
delay is not satisfactory. You must move with all possible 
celerity ! " This was August 9th, and yet re-enforcements 
did not leave Fortress Monroe for Acquia, until the 23d 
of August ! On the 10th, a week after the order was 


first given, Halleck again telegraphed : " The enemy is 
•crossing the Rapidan in large force. They are fighting 
General Pope to-day. There must be no further delay in 
your movements. That which has already occurred was 
entirely unexpected, and must be satisfactorily explained." 
Pope was gallantly fighting against an overwhelming 
force. Lee was massing troops to crush him and reach 
Washington, and yet McClellan did not move. On the 12th 
of August, General Halleck telegraphed : 

" The Quartermaster General informs me that nearly every available 
steam vessel in the country is now under your control. Burnside moved 
nearly thirteen thousand troops to Acquia Creek in less than two days, 
and his transports were immediately sent back to you. All the vessels in 
the James River and the Chesapeake Bay were placed at your disposal, 
and it was supposed that eight or ten thousand of your men could be 
transported daily. There has been, and is, the most urgent necessity 
for dispatch, and not a single moment must be lost in getting additional 
troops in front of Washington." 

On the 21st, Halleck again telegraphed to McClellan at 
Fortress Monroe : 

M The forces of Burnside and Pope are hard pushed, and require 
aid as rapidly as you can send it. By all means see that the troops sent 
have plenty of ammunition," etc. 

On the evening of August 23d, the reluctant and tardy 
McClellan at last sailed from Fortress Monroe, arriving at 
Acquia Creek on the morning of the 24th, and at Alexandria 
on the 27th of August ! 

It would seem that no candid mind can read the corre- 
spondence between Halleck and McClellan and the Presi- 
dent, from early August until September, without being 
convinced that McClellan neglected to obey orders, and that 
he did so with a knowledge of the dangerous position of 
Pope. If Porter, or any of McClellan's lieutenants had 
been in the position of Pope, would he have been left to 
fight, with the force at his command, the battles of the 27th, 
28th, and 29th of August? 

It may be asked — as it often has been — why was not 


McClellan removed ? He was popular with his army. His 
subordinates were generally his friends. He was the head, 
and expected candidate of the democratic party for the 
Presidency. It had been the earnest endeavor of Mr. Lin- 
coln to unite and combine with the republican party all of 
the democrats who were loyal to the Union ; the removal of 
McClellan would be regarded by many as a political move- 
ment, and for these and other political reasons, his removal! 
was considered unwise. 

Meanwhile Pope was being driven towards Washington,. 
by Jackson, Longstreet, and Lee himself, and neither Por- 
ter, nor Franklin, nor any of McClellan's subordinates,, 
came to his aid. Porter, although within the sound of 
Pope's artillery and the rebel guns, and conscious of his 
critical position, did not go to his support. He was tried 
for his disobedience to orders, found guilty, and dismissed 
from the army. This judgment the President approved. 

It is not intended to review the trial of Porter. * His 

1. At 12 o'clock, on the 27th of August, Halle ck telegraphed to McClellan p 
"Telegrams from Porter to Burnside." " Porter is marching on Warrenton to re- 
enforce Pope. " * * "Porter reports a general battle imminent. Franklin's 
corps should move out by forced marches," etc. 

On the 25th Halleck telegraphed to McClellan : 

"Not a moment must be lost in pushing as large a force as possible towards- 
Manassas, so as to communicate with Pope before the enemy is re-enforced." See 
Report on the Conduct of War, Pt. 1, pp. 459, 461. 

On the same day he telegraphed again : 

"There must be no further delay in moving Franklin's corps towards Manassas ; 
they must go to-morrow morning, ready or not ready. If we delay too long to get 
ready, there will be no necessity to go at all, for Pope will either be defeated or vic- 
torious, without our aid. If there is a want of wagons, the men must carry provis- 
ions with them till the wagons can come to their relief." 

At 3 p. m., on the 29th, Halleck telegraphed to McClellan, in reply to his dispatch 
of 12 m. : 

•'I want Franklin's corps to go far enough to find out something about the 
enemy. Perhaps he may get such information at Anandale as to prevent his going 
further, otherwise he will push on towards Fairfax. Try to get something from 
direction of Manassas, either by telegram or through Franklin's scouts. Our people 
must move more actively, and find out where the enemy is. I am tired of guesses." 

At 2:40, the President, in his intense anxiety to know the fate of the army fight- 
ing against odds, telegraphed to McClellan to know : " What news from direction of 
Manassas Junction ? What generally ? " 

At 2:45, General McClellan replied : 

" The last news I received from the direction of Manassas, was from stragglers, 
to the effect that the enemy were evacuating Centreville, and retiring towards Thor- 



-conduct has been much discussed. He was found guilty by 
a court of general officers, composed of men of the highest 
character. There does not seem to be any room for doubt 
that he did not give Pope his loyal and hearty support. 
Some of his apologists have said that this ought not to 
have been expected ; that it was not in human nature. 
This depends on the sort of human nature. A true 
patriot and soldier would have forgotten his grievances, and 
those of his chief ; would have been at the front in the bat- 
tle. His duty clearly was to do his utmost to relieve Pope. 
Few candid men will believe he did this. Suppose McClel- 
lan had been in the position of Pope — are there any who 
believe Fitz-John Porter would have left him alone " to get 
out of his scrape ? " Or suppose Porter had been fighting 
Lee and his whole army, as Pope was, would it have taken 
McClellan an entire month to come up the Potomac to his 
relief ? No, McClellan would have joined his favorite lieu- 
tenant long before the arrival of Longstreet, and Lee would 
have had to meet the combined armies. If McClellan had 
been exposed as Pope was, the guns of Porter would have 
been playing upon the enemy, and not at rest in sullen 
silence in his camp. 

On the 2d of September, Pope fell back to the fortifica- 
tions of Washington. The situation was critical. As Pope 
retired to Washington, Lee advanced towards Maryland, 

oughfare Gap. This is by no means reliable. I am clear that one of two courses 
should be adopted : First, To concentrate all our available forces to open communi- 
cation with Pope. Second, To leave Pope to get out of his scrape, and at once use all 
means to make the capital perfectly safe. No middle course will now answer. Tell 
me what you wish me to do, and I will do all in my power to accomplish it. I wish 
to know what my orders and authority are. I ask for nothing, but will obey what- 
ever orders you give. I only ask a prompt decision, that I may at once give the nec- 
essary orders. It will not do to delay longer." 

General Halleck telegraphed the following peremptory order, at 7:30, on the 

" Tou will immediately send construction train and guards to repair the railroad 
to Manassas. Let there be no delay in this. I have just been told that Franklin's 
•corps stopped at Anandale, and that he was this evening at Alexandria. This is all 
contrary to my orders. Investigate and report the fact of this disobedience. That 
<corps must push forward as I directed, to protect the railroad, and open communica- 
tion with Maj&assas." 


threatening the capital. The defeat of Pope might have been 
prevented by the union and co-operation with him of McClel- 
lan. Two courses of action were discussed in the Cabinet 
of Mr. Lincoln. One, urged by the friends of McClellan, 
was to place him in command of all the forces, including the 
remnants of the army of Virginia; the other, to arrest him 
and some of his subordinates, and try them for disobedience 
and insubordination. General Halleck, the Secretary of 
War, and others, charged him with being responsible for the 
defeat of Pope, and many in high positions declared that he 
ought to be shot for his military offences. It was one of 
the most critical periods of the war. Party spirit was a vio- 
lent faction in Congress, and as represented by the press, 
was intemperate. The army was split by cabals, jealousies, 
and quarrels. This, with defeat and disaster in the field, 
made the prospect gloomy and perilous, but the President's 
fortitude and courage did not desert him. Unselfish and 
firm, he trusted in the people and in God. That firm belief 
in an overruling Providence, which some called superstition, 
sustained him in this the darkest hour. 

McClellan was the representative man of the so-called 
war democrats. He had the confidence of his officers, and 
was personally popular with the soldiers. The President 
yielded to the military necessity, or supposed military neces- 
sity, and placed him again in command of all the troops, and 
McClellan assumed the responsibility of defending the capi- 
tal, and defeating Lee. Indeed, it seems the wisest thing he 
could have done. The army of the Potomac was demoral- 
ized, some of it on the verge of mutiny, and the conduct of 
Franklin and Fitz-John Porter indicates the spirit in which 
McClellan's lieutenants would have supported any other 
chief. With Lee and his victorious troops menacing Wash- 
ington, it was a military necessity; Lincoln, with his usual 
good sense, saw and yielded to it. 



Harper's Ferry Captured. — Antietam. — McClellan's Delay. — 
, Relieved of Command. — Burnside Appointed his Successor. 
— Fredericksburg. — Burnside Resigns. — Hooker Succeeds 
Him. — Llncoln's Letter to Hooker. — Chancellorsville. 

Lincoln now magnanimously gave General McClellan 
another and a splendid opportunity to achieve success. His 
command embraced the army of the Potomac, the remains 
of the army of Pope, and the troops of Burnside, while to 
these were added the large number of recruits and volun- 
teers which poured in from the loyal states, so that he had, 
before November, more than two hundred thousand soldiers 
under his command. 

If he had possessed to any extent the elements of a hero, 
if he could have led a rapid and brilliant campaign, he had 
now the opportunity, and the people would have eagerly 
crowned him with the laurels of victory. But as soon as he 
was settled in his command, he continued to make the old 
complaints and calls for more troops. He wished those 
engaged in the defense of Washington sent to him, even if 
the capital should fall into the hands of the enemy. 1 

Colonel Miles and General Julius White, in September, 
1862, occupied the picturesque village of Harper's Ferry, 
with some twelve thousand soldiers. On the nth, McClel- 
lan asked that these troops be directed to join his army. 
That order was not given, but it was suggested to him that 

1. He wished the troops sent to him, "even if Washington should he taken." 
* * " That would not hear comparison with a single defeat of this 

army.'' Eeport on Conduct of the War, Pt. 1, p. 39. 



he open communication with Harper's Ferry, and that then 
these troops would be under his command. On the 13th, 
he knew that Lee's army was divided, and that Jackson 
had been detached from the main army for the purpose of 
capturing Harper's Ferry. McClellan by promptness could 
have saved Harper's Ferry. Swinton, who excuses him 
when he can, says: "If he had thrown forward his army 
with the vigor used by Jackson * * * he could have 
relieved Harper's Ferry, which did not surrender until the 
15th." 1 Palfrey, in his " Antietam and Fredericksburg," 
says: "He was not equal to the occasion. He threw away 
his chance, and a precious opportunity of making a great 
name passed away." 2 

On the 17th, was fought the bloody battle of Antietam. 
Of this battle, alluding to McClellan's delay in attacking 
while Lee's forces were divided, Palfrey says : " He fought 
his battle one day too late, if not two." "He did very little 
in the way of compelling the execution of his orders." 3 A 
very large portion of his army did not participate in the 
battle, and Palfrey adds: " It is probable, almost to a point 
of certainty, that if a great part of the Second and Fifth 
corps, and all the Sixth, animated by the personal presence 
of McClellan, had attacked vigorously in the center, and 
Burnside on the Federal left, * * * the result would 
have been the practical annihilation of Lee's army ! " 4 

McClellan, against the advice of Burnside and others, 
decided not to renew the attack on the 18th. " It is," says 
Palfrey, "hardly worth while to state his reasons." Two 
divisions had joined him. "The fault was in the man. 
There was force enough at his command either day had he 
seen fit to use it." 5 By the time that McClellan got ready 
to renew the attack Lee was gone. On the 18th, the enemy 

1. Swinton' s Army of the Potomac, p. 202. 

2. Palfrey's " Antietam and Fredericksburg," p. 41. 

3. Palfrey's "Antietam and Fredericksburg," p. 119. 

4. Palfrey's 1 "Antietam and Fredericksburg," pp. 121-122. 

5. Palfrey's "Antietam and Fredericksburg," p. 127. 


•were permitted to retire across the Potomac. The Union 
.army slowly followed, occupying Maryland Heights on the 
20th, and Harper's Ferry on the 23d of September. On the 
7th of October, Halleck telegraphed to McClellan that "the 
army must move. The country is becoming very impatient 
at the want of activity of your army, and we must push it 

The President was also impatient at these slow move- 
ments of McClellan, and to a friend of the General's who 
called at the White House, he said, doubtless with the expec- 
tation that it would be repeated : " McClellan's tardiness 
reminds me of a man in Illinois, whose attorney was not 
sufficiently aggressive. The client knew a few law phrases, 
and finally, after waiting until his patience was exhausted 
by the non-action of his counsel, he sprang to his feet and 
exclaimed: 'Why don't you go at him with a ft. fa., demur- 
rer, a capias, a surrebutter, or a ne exeat, or something; and 
not stand there like a nudum pactum, or a non est? ' " 

By the 6th of October, the President's impatience of 
McClellan's long delay induced him to telegraph the General: 
" The President directs that you cross the Potomac and give 
battle to the enemy or drive him South." McClellan did not 
obey. On the 10th, Stuart, a rebel cavalry officer, crossed 
the Potomac, went as far as Chambersburg in Pennsylvania, 
made the circuit of the Federal army, and re-crossed the 
Potomac without serious loss. This was the second time 
Confederate cavalry had been permitted to ride entirely 
around McClellan's army. On the 13th of October, the 
President made one more effort to induce McClellan to act, 
by writing him a long and kindly personal letter. 1 

1. The letter was as follows : 

11 My Dear Sir:— You remember my speaking to you of what I called your over- 
-cautiousness. Are you not over-cautious when you assume that you cannot do what 
the enemy is constantly doing? Should you not claim to be at least his equal in prow- 
ess, and act upon the claim? 

*'As I understand, you telegraphed General Halleck that you cannot subsist your 
army at Winchester, unless the railroad from Harper's Ferry to that point be put in 
working order. But the enemy does now subsist his army at Winchester, at a distance 
nearly twice as great from railroad transportation, as you would have to do without 
the railroad last named. He now wagons from Culpepper Court House, which is just 

2 9 8 


Near the end of October McClellan started, and on the 
2d of November his army crossed the Potomac. Thus 
the autumn had gone by, from the battle of Antietam on the 
17th of September until the 2d of November, before 
McClellan crossed the Potomac. The President had writ- 
ten, begged, and entreated McClellan to act. In his letter of 
October 13th, he says: " I say try. If we never try, we 
shall never succeed." "We should not operate so as to 

about twice as far as you would have to do from Harper's Ferry. He is certainly not 
more than half as well provided with wagons as you are. I certainly should be pleased 
for you to have the advantage of the railroad from Harper's Ferry to Winchester; but 
it wastes all the remainder of autumn to give it to you, and, in fact, ignores the 
question of time which cannot and must not be ignored. 

"Again, one of the standard maxims of war, as you know, is, 'to operate upon 
the enemy's communications as much as possible without exposing your own.' You 
seem to act as if this applies against you, but cannot apply in your favor. Change 
positions with the enemy, and think you not he would break your communication with 
Richmond within the next twenty-four hours? You dread his going into Pennsylvania. 
But if he does so in full force, he gives up his communication to you absolutely, and 
you have nothing to do, but to follow and ruin him; if he does so with less than full 
force, fall upon and beat what is left behind, all the easier. 

" Exclusive of the water line, you are now nearer Richmond than the enemy is, 
by the route that you can, and he must take. Why can you not reach there before him, 
unless you admit that he is more than your equal on a march. His route is the arc of 
a circle, while yours is the chord. The roads are as good on yours as on his. 

"You know I desired, but did not order you, to cross the Potomac below, instead 
of above the Shenandoah and Blue Ridge. The idea was that this would at once 
menace the enemy's communications, which I would seize, if he would permit. If he 
should move northward, I would follow him closely, holding his communications. If 
he should prevent our seizing his communications, and move towards Richmond, I 
would press closely to him, fight him if a favorable opportunity should present, and 
at least try to beat him to Richmond on the inside track. I say try; if we never try^ 
we shall never succeed. If he makes a stand at Winchester, moving neither north 
nor south, I would fight him there, on the idea that if we cannot beat him when he 
bears the wastage of coming to us, we never can when we bear the wastage of going 
to him. This proposition is a simple truth, and is too important to be lost sight of for 
a moment. In coming to us, he tenders us an advantage which we should not waive. 
We should not so operate as to merely drive him away. As we must beat him some- 
where, or fail finally, we can do it, if at all, easier near to us than far away. If we 
cannot beat the enemy where he now is, we never can, he again being within the 
intrenchments of Richmond. 

" Recui-ring to the idea of going to Richmond on the inside track, the facility for 
supplying from the side away from the enemy, is remarkable, as it were by the differ- 
ent spokes of a wheel extending from the hub towards the rim, and this, whether you 
move directly by the chord or on the inside arc, hugging the Blue Ridge more closely. 
The chord line, as you see, carries you by Aldie, Haymarket, and Fredericksburg, and 
you see how turnpikes, railroads, and finally the Potomac, by Acquia Creek, meet you 
at all points from Washington. The same, only the lines lengthened a little, if you 
press closer to the Blue Ridge part of the way. The gaps through the Blue Ridge, I 


merely to drive him (the enemy) away." In a dispatch on 
the 27th day of October, the President says: "I now ask 
a distinct answer to the question: "Is it your purpose not 
to go into action again until the men now being drafted are 
incorporated in the old regiments?" 1 The patience of Mr. 
Lincoln was finally exhausted, and, on the 5th of November, 
he issued an order relieving McClellan, and directing him to 
turn over the command to General Burnside. Thus ends 
the military career of George B. McClellan. 

The judgment of General Palfrey, who served under 
him, is certainly not too severe. He sums up his military 
history in these words: " His interminable and inexcusable 
delays upon the Peninsula afforded great ground for dissatis- 
faction, and they seemed — to say no more — to be followed 
by similar delays upon the Potomac." " He never made 
his personal presence felt on a battle-field." 2 

McClellan retired to New Jersey, to emerge no more 
except as the candidate for the Presidency, in 1864, of the 
party who declared "the war a failure." He contributed to 
this failure, in so far as it was one — considering the means 
at his command to make it a success — more than almost any 
other man. But he himself was the most conspicuous failure 
of the war. After all his disasters and delays upon the Pen- 
insula, the President generously re-instated him in com- 
mand, and at Antietam and afterwards, he had golden oppor- 
tunities to redeem his failure. He was retained long after 

understand to be about the following distances from Harper's Ferry, to-wit: Vestala, 
five miles; Gregory's, thirteen; Snicker's, eighteen; Ashby's, twenty-eight; Manas- 
sas, thirty-eight; Chester, forty-five; and Thornton's, fifty-three. I should think it 
preferable to take the route nearest the enemy, disabling him to make an important 
move without your knowledge, and compelling him to keep his forces together for 
dread of you. The gaps would enable you to attack if you should wish. For a great 
part of the way you would be practically between the enemy and both Washington 
and Richmond, enabling us to spare you the greatest number of troops from here. 
When at length, running for Richmond ahead of him, enable him to move his way; if 
he does so, turn and attack him in rear. But I think he should be engaged long before 
such point is reached. It is all easy if our troops march as well as the enemy, and it 
is unmanly to say they cannot do it. This letter is in no sense an order. 

"Yours truly, A. Lincoln." 

1. Report on Conduct of the War, pt. 1, p. 525. 

2. Palfrey's " Antietam and Fredericksburg," p. 133-134. 


his removal had been demanded by the friends of the Presi- 
dent. The patience, fidelity, and forbearance of the Presi- 
dent in his treatment of McClellan, are strikingly illustrated 
by his correspondence. History will censure him for adher- 
ing to the General too long rather than for any failure 
■to support him. But McClellan was a courteous gentleman, 
whose personal character was amiable and respectable. Mr. 
Lincoln respected his private virtues, and said of him: 
" With all his failings as a soldier, McClellan is a pleasant 
and scholarly gentleman. He is an admirable engineer, but," 
he added, " he seems to have a special talent for a stationary 

On the 9th of November General Burnside assumed 
command of the great army. He was a frank and manly 
soldier, of fine person, and everywhere respected as a gentle- 
man and an unselfish patriot. He accepted the high posi- 
tion with diffidence, and with the consciousness that he 
would scarcely receive the earnest cooperation of the favor- 
ite generals of McClellan. On the 12th of this month, 
Generals Halleck and Meigs visited him in his camp, and 
held a conference on the movements to be made. Halleck 
and Burnside failed to agree, and the subject was referred 
to the President. Burnside's plan was to make a feint on 
Gordonsville, but to concentrate rapidly and attack Fred- 
ericksburg. The President, in assenting to Burnside's plan 
as reported by Halleck, said to the General: " He thinks it 
(the plan) will succeed if you move rapidly; otherwise not." 

The absolute necessity of rapid movement, and the 
crossing of the Rappahannock before Lee coul'd concentrate 
his army and fortify Fredericksburg, were obvious. By 
some misunderstanding or gross neglect, the pontoons with 
which to cross the river were not sent forward in time. This 
delay was fatal in its consequences. Burnside arrived at 
Falmouth, on the banks of the Rappahannock, on the 19th 
of November, but the pontoons did not arrive until the 25th. 
By this delay, all the advantages of surprise were lost; the 
^nerny had time to concentrate his army on the heights over- 


looking Fredericksburg, to intrench and prepare to meet 
the attack. There has been much discussion as to who was- 
responsible for this delay in the arrival of the pontoons. 
Considering the importance of their being there in time, and 
that the fate of the movement depended on their presence 
when needed, it would seem that all were negligent — Hal- 
leck, and Meigs, and Burnside. Each should have known? 
personally that the pontoons were there in time. When, on 
the 13th of December, Burnside attacked Fredericksburg, 
he found Lee with his army concentrated and occupying 
a strong position which had been well and skillfully fortified. 
The assault on these works was gallantly made, but, 
as might have been anticipated, was repulsed with terrible 
slaughter. Lee occupied a fortified ridge, the approach to 
which was swept by artillery. It is difficult to understand? 
why this army should have been ordered across a river like 
the Rappahannock, and to assault a fortified position so weir 
covered by breast-works and rifle-pits ; or why, when the 
delay of the pontoons and failure to surprise the enemy 
rendered success impossible, some flank movement, such as 
was repeatedly made by Sherman and Grant, should not 
have been made, thus forcing the enemy to battle on more 
equal ground. 

After a fearful loss of life, the troops were withdrawn to 
Falmouth, and there the two armies confronted each other 
from the opposite banks of the river. 1 

In the campaign of 1862, in the East, the results were 
on the whole favorable to the rebels. With a much smaller 
force, they kept the Union army during all the autumn of 
1 86 1 and the winter of 1862 in the defences of Washington.. 
They blockaded the Potomac. They had, by the blunders 
and want of vigor of McClellan, repulsed him from Rich- 
mond. They had sent Stonewall Jackson like an eagle 
swooping down through the valley of the Shenandoah, driv- 
ing Banks across the Potomac, and escaping from Fremont 

1. It is no more than justice to McClellan to say, that he never sacrificed hie- 


and McDowell. They had frightened McClellan from Rich- 
mond without ever decidedly defeating his combined army. 
On the contrary, his troops often gained great advantages 
over the rebels, yet he would never follow up these suc- 
cesses and seize the fruits of victory; but always, after 
knocking the enemy down, would stop, call for re-enforce- 
ments, or run away from them. 

Then came the hard fought campaign of Pope, when, if 
McClellan and Porter had loyally obeyed and heartily 
cooperated with Pope, the armies of McClellan, Pope, and 
Burnside would have been consolidated on the field of 
Manassas, and would have crushed the much smaller force 
of Lee. Then came the rebel march into Maryland, the 
battle of Antietam, a repulse of Lee which ought to have 
been a crushing defeat, followed again by the long delays of 
McClellan — a dreary waste of time, and of inactive com- 
plaint. Then came McClellan's removal, Burnside's cam- 
paign, and the slaughter of Fredericksburg. Such is the 
sad story of the brave but badly commanded army of the 
Potomac to the close of 1862. 

Burnside survived his terrible defeat; survived to render 
good but subordinate service on the field, and died a useful 
and respected senator in Congress from Rhode Island. 

The progress of the Union armies was also checked in 
the West. Buell was forced back, and the rebel General 
Bragg entered Kentucky, and occupied Frankfort, Lexing- 
ton, and other important positions. A provisional govern- 
ment was organized by the rebels at Frankfort. Louisville 
and Cincinnati were threatened and fortified. On the 8th 
of October, the battle of Perryville was fought. On the 
25th, Buell was superseded by General Rosecrans. 

Vicksburg, on the Mississippi, a strong position by 
nature, and fortified with skill, was still an insurmountable 
obstacle to the complete recovery by the Union troops of 
the Mississippi. Generals Sherman and McClernand, on 
the 29th of December, 1862, made a gallant assault upon 
the defences in the rear of this stronghold, but were repulsed 


with serious loss. On the 31st of December, the Union 
army under Rosecrans fought the battle of Stone River, 
where there was great loss on both sides, but the rebels, 
under their able leader, Johnston, retreated to Murfreesboro. 

The year 1862 closed in gloom. There had been vast 
expenditures of blood and treasure by the government, and 
great successes, yet the Union cause had suffered still greater 
defeats and many grievous disasters, and the hopes of the 
insurgents rose high. 

The President was greatly depressed by the terrible 
defeat at Fredericksburg, and especially by the great and 
useless sacrifice of the lives of his gallant soldiers. The 
leading generals of the army of the Potomac were quarrel- 
ing and abusing each other. Burnside demanded the per- 
emptory removal of several of them, and among others that 
of Hooker, making this the condition of his retaining his 
own command. The Cabinet was divided, and its members 
denouncing each other. Faction ran high in Congress, and 
the committee on the conduct of war became censorious and 
abusive. The press grew bitter, arrogant, and denunciatory, 
Mr. Greeley in the New York Tribune demanding foreign 
intervention, and declaring to Raymond that he would drive 
Lincoln into it. 1 

Leading officers of the army went so far as to say that 
"both the army and the government needed a dictator." 2 
During these gloomy days, in which it seemed that many of 
the leading men in civil and military life lost their heads, 
and were ready for almost any change, however wild, the 
President was calm, patient, tolerant of those who differed 
from him, and hopeful. At this crisis, when his generals 
were denouncing each other, his Cabinet quarreling and 
making combinations against him, Congress factious, for- 
eign nations hostile and ready to recognize the Confederacy, 
and some in high position calling for a dictator, it is not too 

1. Private Journal of Henry J. Raymond, printed in Soribner's Magazine, March, 

2. See Letter of Lincoln to Hooker, dated January 26, 1863, quoted hereafter. 


much to say that Lincoln bore on his Atlantean shoulders 
the fate of the republic, that his firm, vigorous hand saved 
the country from anarchy and ruin. 

On the 26th of January, the President sent the following 
letter to General Hooker : 

Executive Mansion, Washington, D. C, 

January 26, 1863. 
Major General Hooker. — General : I have placed you at the 
head of the army of the Potomac. Of course I have done this upon 
what appear to me to be sufficient reasons ; and yet I think it best for 
you to know that there are some things in regard to which I am not satis- 
fied with you. I believe you to be a brave and skillful soldier, which of 
course I like. I also believe that you do not mix politics with your pro- 
fession, in which you are right. You have confidence in yourself, which 
is a valuable if not indispensable quality. You are ambitious, which, 
within reasonable bounds, does good rather than harm ; but I think that, 
during General Burnside's command of the army, you have taken counsel 
of your ambition, and thwarted him as much as you could, in which you 
did a great wrong to the country, and to a most meritorious and honora- 
ble brother officer. I have heard, in such a way as to believe it, of your 
recently saying that both the army and the government needed a dictator. 
Of course, it was not for this, but in spite of it, that I have given you 
the command. Only those generals who gain success can be dictators. 
What I now ask of you is military success, and I will risk the dictator- 
ship. The government will support you to the utmost of its ability, 
which is neither more nor less than it has done and will do for all com- 
manders. I much fear that the spirit which you have aided to infuse 
into the army, of criticizing their commander and withholding confidence 
from him, will now turn upon you. I shall assist you as far as I can to 
put it down. Neither you nor Napoleon, if he were alive again, could 
get any good out of an army while such a spirit prevails in it. And 
now, beware of rashness. Beware of rashness, but, with energy and 
sleepless vigilance, go forward and give us victories. 

Yours, very truly, A. Lincoln^ 

Hooker passed three months in preparation, and then 
suffered the terrible defeat of Chancellorsville, and again 
was the brave army of the Potomac beaten by superior gen- 
eralship. Among the misfortunes of the rebels in this battle 
was the death of their most brilliant soldier, Stonewall 
Jackson. It was the nature of Mr. Lincoln to do full justice 


to his enemies. His heart was touched by the death of 
Jackson, and he said to a friend 1 who praised the dead : 
" I honor you for your generosity to one who, though con- 
tending against us in a guilty cause, was a gallant man. Let 
us forget his sins over his fresh made grave." 

1. Col. J. W. Forney, editor. 



The Conscription. — West Virginia Admitted. — The War Pow- 
ers. — Suspension op Habeas Corpus. — Case of Vallandig- 
ham. — Grant's Capture of Vicksburg. — Gettysburg. — Lin- 
coln's Speech. 

We now approach the turning point in this great civil 
war. Up to 1863, the fortunes of the conflict had been so 
varied ; victory and defeat had so alternated, that neither 
party to the struggle could point to anything absolutely 
decisive. After the Union defeats at Fredericksburg and 
Chancellorsville, the world of spectators seemed to think 
the probabilities of success were with the rebels. But in the 
summer of 1863, the tide turned, and a series of successes 
followed the national armies, which rendered their triumph 
only a question of time. Before entering upon a narration 
of these successes, we must turn for a brief space from the 
camp and battle field to the halls of Congress. 

During this entire conflict, public opinion was guided, 
and largely controlled, by the pen and the tongue of the 
President. No voice was so potent as his, either in Congress 
or elsewhere, to create and guide public opinion. His admin- 
istration was continually assailed by the democratic party, 
and criticised, often with asperity and injustice, by the lead- 
ing members of his own party. The great leaders of the 
press were fault-finding, unjust, and often unfriendly. This 
threw upon him, in addition to all his other great difficulties 
and cares, the burden of explaining and defending the 
measures of his administration. He made many speeches, 



and wrote many letters, in addition to his messages and state 
papers. His frankness and sincerity, his unselfish patriot- 
ism, and his great ability as a speaker and writer, were never 
more strikingly illustrated than in those speeches and writ- 

When Congress convened, in December, 1862, the Presi- 
dent communicated the fact of his proclamation of the 2 2d 
of September. The absolute necessity of national union 
was never presented in a more statesmanlike manner than in 
this message. He says : 

" A nation may be said to consist of its territory, its people, and its laws. 
The territory is the only part which is of certain duration. ' One genera- 
tion passeth away, and another generation cometh, but the earth abideth 
forever.' That portion of the earth's surface which is owned and 
inhabited by the people of the United States, is well adapted to be the 
home of one national family ; and it is not well adapted for two, or more. 
Its vast extent, and its variety of climate and productions, are of advant- 
age, in this age, for one people, whatever they might have been in form- 
er ages. Steam, telegraphs, and intelligence, have brought these to be 
an advantageous combination for one united people. * * * 

* There is no line, straight or crooked, suitable for a national 
boundary, upon which to divide. Trace through, from East to West, 
upon the line between the free and slave country, and we shall find a 
little more than one-third of its length are rivers, easy to be crossed, and 
populated, or soon to be populated thickly upon both sides ; while nearly 
all its remaining length are merely surveyor's lines, over which people may 
walk back and forth, without any consciousness of their presence. No 
part of this line can be made any more difficult to pass by writing it down 
on paper or parchment as a national boundary. The fact of separation, 
if it comes, gives up on the part of the seceding section the fugitive 
slave clause, along with all other constitutional obligations upon the sec- 
tion seceded from, while I should expect no treaty stipulations would 
ever be made to take its place. 

" But there is another difficulty. The great interior region, bounded 
east by the Alleghanies, north by the British dominions, west by the 
Rocky Mountains, and south by the line along which the culture of corn 
and cotton meets, and which includes part of Virginia, part of Tennes- 
see, all of Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, Mis- 
souri, Kansas, Iowa, Minnesota, and the territories of Dakota, Nebraska, 
and part of Colorado, already has above ten million people, and will 
have fifty millions within fifty years, if not prevented by any political 


folly or mistake. It contains more than one-third of the country owned 
by the United States, certainly more than one million square miles. Once 
half as populous as Massachusetts already is, it would have more than 
seventy-five million people. A glance at the map shows that, territo- 
rially speaking, it is the great body of the republic. The other parts are 
but marginal borders to it, the magnificent region sloping west from the 
Rocky Mountains to the Pacific, being the deepest, and also the richest in 
undeveloped resources. In the production of provisions, grains, grasses, 
and all which proceed from them, this great interior region is naturally 
one of the most important in the world. Ascertain from statistics the 
small proportion of the region which has, as yet, been brought into cul- 
tivation, and also the large and rapidly increasing amount of its pro- 
ducts, and we shall be overwhelmed with the magnitude of the prospect 
presented. And yet this region has no sea-coast, touches no ocean any- 
where. As part of one nation, its people may find, and may forever find 
their way to Europe by New York, to South America and Africa by New 
Orleans, and to Asia by San Francisco. But separate our common country 
into two nations, as designed by the present rebellion, and every man of 
this great interior region is thereby cut off from some one or more of 
these outlets, not, perhaps, by a physical barrier, but by embarrassing 
and onerous trade regulations." 

Lincoln uttered the convictions, the sentiments, and the 
unwavering determination of avast majority of the people of 
the West, when he declared that the " portion of the earth's 
surface called the United States is adapted to be the home 
of one national family, and not for two or more." 

Lincoln had come to be recognized as not only the lead- 
ing mind of the Mississippi Valley, but of the republic, and 
he declared with authority that there could be " no peace 
except on the basis of national unity." He closes this most 
statesmanlike paper with these words: 

" I do not forget the gravity which should characterize a paper 
addressed to the Congress of the nation by the Chief Magistrate of the 
nation. Nor do I forget that some of you are my seniors, nor that many 
of you have more experience than I in the conduct of public affairs. Yet 
I trust that in view of the great responsibility resting upon me, you will 
perceive no want of respect to yourselves in any undue earnestness I may 
seem to display. * * * The dogmas of the quiet past are inade- 
quate to the stormy present. The occasion is piled high with difficulty, 
and we must rise with the occasion. As our case is new, so we must 



think anew and act anew. We must disenthrall ourselves, and then we 
shall save our country. 

44 Fellow citizens, we cannot escape history. We, of this Congress 
and this administration, will be remembered in spite of ourselves. No 
personal significance, or insignificance, can spare one or another of us. 
The fiery trial through which we pass will light us down, in honor or 
dishonor, to the latest generation. We say we are for the Union. The 
world will not forget that we say this. We know how to save the 
Union. The world knows we do know how to save it. We — even we 
here — hold the power and bear the responsibility. In giving freedom to 
the slave we assure freedom to the free — honorable alike in what we give 
and what we preserve. We shall nobly save, or meanly lose, the last, 
best hope of earth. Other means may succeed, this could not fail. The 
way is plain, peaceful, generous, just — a way which, if followed, the 
world will forever applaud, and God must forever bless." 

At this session of Congress an enrollment bill providing 
that all able bodied citizens, black as well as white, should 
be liable to military duty, and subject to be drafted into 
service, was passed. The Confederates had nearly a year 
before passed a much more stringent conscription law. The 
democratic party opposed vehemently the bill. Senator 
Kennedy, of Maryland, said : " I stand in the midst of the 
ruins of the republic. I deplore that I can see no hope 
from the black gloomy cloud of convulsion and ruin by 
which we are surrounded." ! 

A law was also passed at this session admitting West 
Virginia into the Union, upon condition of the abolition of 
slavery. The great civil war called into exercise, by the 
Executive and Congress, a class of powers called war pow- 
ers ; powers dormant until the exigencies arose demanding 
their exercise, and of the existence of which many of the 
statesmen of the republic had been unconscious. The peo- 
ple, educated to an appreciation of the full value of the 
quiet securities of liberty embraced in Magna Charta, and 
still more perfectly in the Constitution of the United States, 
were always jealous of the exercise of extraordinary pow- 
ers. Those safeguards of liberty : freedom of the press, 
liberty of speech, personal security protected by the writ of 

1. Congressional Globe, 37th Congress, p. 1374. 


habeas corpus, an independent judiciary, a speedy and fair 
trial by jury, the old, time-honored principles of the com- 
mon law that no person should be deprived of life, liberty, 
or property but by due and impartial process of law and 
judgment of his peers ; these great principles were the 
foundations of our government. They were revered as sacred, 
and no people were ever more jealous or watchful of every 
encroachment upon them. In these principles the President, 
as a lawyer, had been educated, and he was slow and reluc- 
tant to assume the exercise of the vast and novel and ill-de- 
fined powers growing out of insurrection and war. Imper- 
ative necessity forced him to the exercise of such powers. 
The rebels, and those who sympathized with them, claimed 
all the rights of citizens. They claimed that even while 
waging war against the Constitution, they should enjoy all 
the rights of citizenship under it ; that while they made war 
on the government, they could claim its protection as citi- 
zens. Mr. Lincoln was reluctant to proclaim martial law,, 
even where conspirators were plotting treason and organ- 
izing rebellion. He suffered the rebels, Breckenridge and 
others, to talk rebellion and organize treason at the national 
capital without arrest, and then to leave and join the rebel 
armies. But the public safety finally compelled him to exer- 
cise the powers necessary to preserve the life of the republic. 
He saved Maryland to the Union, and prevented a bloody 
civil war among its citizens, by causing General McClellan 
to arrest the Maryland Legislature, when it was about to- 
pass an act of secession. He proclaimed martial law, sus- 
pended the writ of habeas corpus, and caused persons to be 
summarily arrested who held criminal intercourse with the 
enemy. The suspension of the writ of habeas corpus is 
authorized by the Federal Constitution, " when in cases of 
rebellion or invasion the public safety may require it." But 
who is to judge when the public safety does require it? 
Congress may authorize the Executive to exercise this 
power. But the exigency and necessity for its exercise may 
arise when Congress is not in session. If so, may the Pres- 


ident, or a military commander, do it when and where public 
safety demands it ? These, and cognate questions, were 
most earnestly discussed by the public press, in Congress, 
and before judicial tribunals ; and these discussions may be 
regarded as settling the question that the President may 
rightfully exercise this power when and where such necessity 
exists, and that of this necessity he must in the first instance 
judge. ' 

The case of Vallandigham, who was arrested, tried by 
court martial, found guilty of expressing in public speeches 
disloyal sentiments, and sentenced to confinement during 
fhe war, was very much discussed. Public meetings were 
held at Albany, New York, and in Ohio, by the democratic 
friends of Vallandigham, and memorials were drawn up and 
presented to the President, asking him to restore Vallandig- 
ham to liberty. To these memorials the President made full 
and careful replies, in which, with the clearness, earnestness, 
and great ability for which his papers were distinguished, 
he discussed the questions involved. These papers of the 
President went far towards satisfying the public mind that 
such arrests were but the proper exercise of the legal powers 
of the Executive. In these papers there is exhibited that 
clear, simple statement and argument, by which Mr. Lincoln 
always made himself perfectly understood by the mass of 
the people, and by which he rarely failed to carry conviction. 
He said: 

"Of how little value the constitutional provisions I have quoted will 
be rendered, if arrests shall never be made until denned crimes shall have 
been committed, may be illustrated by a few notable examples. General 
John C. Breckenridge, General Robert E. Lee, General Joseph E. John- 
ston, General John B. Magruder, General William B. Preston, General 
Simon B. Buckner, and Commodore Franklin Buchanan, now occupying 
the very highest places in the rebel war service, were all within the power 
of the government since the rebellion began, and were nearly as well- 
known to be traitors then as now. Unquestionably if we had seized and 
held them, the insurgent cause would be much weaker. But no one of 

1. See opinion of Chief Justice Parsons. Eeprinted in McPherson's " History of 
the Rebellion," pp. 162-163. 


them had then committed any crime defined in the law. Every one of 
them, if arrested, would have been discharged on habeas corpus were the 
writ allowed to operate. In view of these and similar cases, I think the 
time not unlikely to come, when I shall be blamed for having made too 
few arrests rather than too many. * * * * ■ Long experience has 
shown that armies cannot be maintained unless desertion shall be pun- 
ished by the severe penalty of death. The case requires, and the law 
and the Constitution sanctions, this punishment. Must I shoot a simple- 
minded soldier-boy who deserts, while I must not touch a hair of a wily 
agitator who induces him to desert ? This is none the less injurious 
when effected by getting a father, or brother, or friend into a public 
meeting, and there working upon his feelings till he is persuaded to 
write the soldier-boy that he is fighting in a bad cause, for a wicked 
administration of a contemptible government, too weak to arrest and 
punish him if he shall desert. I think that, in such a case, to silence the 
agitator and save the boy is not only constitutional, but withal a great 

This correspondence satisfied all the loyal people that 
these war powers would be used by the President only to 
the extent of maintaining the government, that the rights of 
no individual would be wantonly violated, and that the 
liberties of the people were entirely safe in the hands of 
Abraham Lincoln. 1 

After a very full and able discussion in the Senate and 
in the House, a law was passed on the 3d of March, 1863, 
authorizing the President, whenever during the existence of 
the rebellion the public safety might require, to suspend the 
writ of habeas corpus throughout the United States, or any 
part thereof. 

The President often spoke upon the absolute necessity 
that our country should be the home of " one national fami- 
ly, and no more." His convictions on this subject so ably 
presented to Congress in December, 1862, were often 
expressed. To restore this so necessary union, the President 
and his military advisers planned the campaign of 1863. To 
open the Mississippi by capturing Vicksburg was the great 
objective point of the campaign in the West. The President 

1. See McPherson's History of the Rebellion, pp. 163-167, for this correspondence 
In full. 


was unquestionably the best informed person in the repub- 
lic concerning its military condition. His rooms at the 
White House were full of maps and plans, every movement 
was carefully traced on these maps, and no subordinate was 
so completely advised of, and master of the military situa- 
tion as the Commander in Chief. To open the Mississippi, 
.as has been stated, by the capture of the stronghold of 
Vicksburg, was the great objective point of the campaign in 
the West, and in the East to destroy the army of Lee, and 
seize the rebel capital. 

Lincoln selected General Grant to lead the difficult enter- 
prise against Vicksburg. There were those high in posi- 
tion, who at that time charged Grant with habits of intoxi- 
cation, and sought to shake the confidence of the President 
in him. To such Lincoln replied: "If Grant is a drunkard 
I wish some of my other generals would give the same evi- 
dence of intoxication." 

On the 2nd of February, 1863, Grant arrived in the vicin- 
ity of Vicksburg, and assumed command. After various 
fruitless expedients, in April, he finally resolved to send his 
army by land from Milliken's Bend to a point below Vicks- 
burg, and to run his transports and gunboats past and below 
the menacing batteries of that city. A large fleet of iron- 
clad gunboats and transports were prepared, protected as 
far as possible by cotton bales, hay, railroad iron, timber, 
and chains. The night of the 16th of April was selected for 
the attempt. Everything was in readiness before dark. The 
plan was that the iron-clads should pass down in single file 
— with intervals between them, and when opposite the bat- 
teries, should engage them, and that then, under cover of 
smoke, the transports should endeavor to pass. 

The country had been growing impatient of the long 
delays at Vicksburg. The cutting of the canals and the open- 
ing of the bayous had proved failures. All the attempts 
thus far to flank the stronghold, seemed likely to prove abor- 
tive, and great anxiety existed in the public mind. After all 
these failures, Grant, with a persistence which has marked 


his whole career, conceived a plan without parallel in mili- 
tary history for its boldness and daring. This was to march 
his army and send his transportation by land on the Louisi- 
ana side of the Mississippi, from Milliken's Bend to a point 
below Vicksburg ; then to run the bristling batteries of 
that rebel Gibraltar, exposed to its hundreds of heavy guns, 
with his transports ; then to cross the Mississippi below 
Vicksburg, and returning, attack that city in the rear. 

The crews of the frail Mississippi steamers used as trans- 
ports, conscious of the hazardous service, with one excep- 
tion refused to go. Volunteers were called for by General 
Grant, and no sooner was the call made, than from the noble 
army of the West, pilots, engineers, firemen, and deck-hands 
offered themselves for the dangerous adventure in such 
numbers, that it became necessary to select those needed 
from the crowd of volunteers by lot. Such was the gener- 
ous emulation among the soldiers to participate in the dan- 
gerous service, that one Illinois boy who had drawn the 
coveted privilege of exposing his life, was offered one hun- 
dred dollars in greenbacks for his chance ; but he refused 
to take it, and held his post of honor. 

Ten o'clock at night was the hour at which the fleet was 
to start. At that hour the camps of the Union army were 
hushed into silence, watching with intense anxiety the result. 
All was obscurity and silence in front of the city. Soon an 
indistinct, shadowy mass was seen, dimly, noiselessly float- 
ing down the river. It was the flag-shipj the iron-clad Ben- 
ton. It passed on into the darkness, and another and 
another followed, until ten black masses, looking like spec- 
tral steamers, came out of the darkness, passed by, and dis- 
appeared down the river. No sound disturbed the stillness. 
Every eye was fixed on the space in front of the city ; every 
ear intent, expecting each moment to see the gleam and 
flash of powder and fire, and hear the thunders of cannon. 
For three-quarters of an hour the silence was unbroken, 
when first came a sharp line of light from the extreme right 
of the batteries, and in an instant after, the whole length of 



the bluffs was one blaze of fire and roll of crashing thunder. 
The light exhibited the fleet squarely in front of the city; 
and immediately its heavy guns were heard in reply, firing 
directly upon the city. Clouds of smoke enveloped the gun- 
boats, and then the transports, putting on full steam, plunged 
down the river. The batteries were passed in an hour and 
a quarter; and although some of the transports were injured 
and one set on fire, no person on either of them was 
killed: and General Grant immediately prepared and sent 
the remaining transports. Meanwhile, the army marched 
around and struck the river below Vicksburg, nearly oppo- 
site Grand Gulf. This was a strong position on the east 
bank of the Mississippi, below the mouth of the Big Black. 
It was hoped that Admiral Porter with the gunboats could 
reduce the batteries at Grand Gulf, after which the troops 
would be taken over in the transports, and carry the place 
by assault. But, after nearly five hours bombardment, 
Admiral Porter drew off his fleet. Grant, after consulting 
with Porter, adopted a new expedient; this was to march his 
troops three miles below Grand Gulf, and after night the 
transports were to run these batteries, as they had done those 
of Vicksburg. When darkness came, Porter renewed the 
attack with his gunboats; and amidst the thunder and smoke 
of this attack, the transports went safely by, and reaching 
the camps below, cheered the soldiers as they approached, 
by responding " all's well " to their anxious inquiries. In 
the morning they were in readiness to transfer the army to 
the long coveted position below Vicksburg. 

Early the next morning, General Grant, on the Benton, 
led the way to a landing for his eager army. Going ashore 
at Bruinsburg, he found faithful and intelligent negroes to 
guide him in the important movements which were now to 
be made. Instantly the debarkation of the troops com- 
menced, and the line of march was taken up towards Port 
Gibson. Before two o'clock the next morning, May 1, 
1863, the enemy was encountered, and the battle of Port 
Gibson was fought, the first of the series of battles and vie- 


tories resulting in the investment and capture of Vicksburg. 
The attitude of Grant was certainly a bold one. He was in 
the enemy's country, a fortified city above him, a fortified 
city below him, a large army gathering under Johnston to 
assail him and relieve Vicksburg, with another large army to 
protect and garrison its fortifications. Celerity was of the 
highest importance. No better troops ever met an enemy 
than those he commanded; and he was most ably seconded 
by Sherman, McClernand, McPherson, Logan, Blair, Oster- 
haus, and others. 

To the indomitable will, energy, and activity of Grant, 
striking the enemy in detail, beating him in every field, giv- 
ing him no time for concentration, the country is indebted 
for these wonderful successes, not surpassed by any 
other achievements in military history. General Grant 
seemed fully conscious that success in this, the boldest 
movement of the war, depended upon striking quick and 
rapid blows, and hence he himself set the example of taking 
no baggage. He took neither horse nor servant, nor camp 
chest, nor overcoat, nor blanket; his entire personal bag- 
gage, according to Washburne, who accompanied him during 
the six eventful and decisive days from his landing, was a 
tooth brush. During this time, his fare was the common 
soldier's rations, and his bed the ground, with no covering 
but the sky. 

The victory at Port Gibson was so important that General 
Grant issued a general order thanking his soldiers, and in a 
few spirited words advised them that more difficulties and 
privations were before them, but called upon them to 
endure these manfully. "Other battles," said he, "are to 
be fought ; let us fight them bravely. A grateful country 
will rejoice at our success, and history will record it with 
immortal honor." Moving rapidly to the north, General 
Grant interposed his forces between the army of Johnston, 
seeking to relieve Vicksburg, and the garrison under Pem- 
berton, seeking a junction with Johnston. Then followed 
the rapid marches, brilliant with gallant charges and deeds 


of heroic valor, the victories won in quick succession at 
Raymond, on the 12th; at Jackson, the capital of Mississippi, 
on the 14th; at Baker's Creek and Champion Hills on the 
16th, and at the Big Black River on the 17th, and finally 
closing with driving the enemy into his works at Vicksburg, 
and with the aid of Admiral Porter and the gunboats, com- 
pletely investing the city. And now, on the 19th of May, 
Grant and his army were before the stronghold. Jefferson 
Davis, conscious of the importance of this position, had 
implored every man who could do so to march to Vicks- 
burg. General Grant now determined to take the city by 
assault. On the 2 2d of May, the attack was most gallantly 
made. The assaulting columns moved promptly and steadily 
upon the rebel works, and stood for hours under a wither- 
ing fire, failing only because the position could not possibly 
be taken by storm. 

Then, with tireless energy, with sleepless vigilance night 
and day, with battery and rifle, with trench and mine, the 
army made its approaches, until the enemy, worn out with 
fatigue, exhausted of food and ammunition, and driven to 
despair, finally laid down their arms. 

On the 3d of July, General Grant received a communica- 
tion from Lieutenant-General Pemberton, commanding the 
rebel forces, proposing an armistice and commissioners to 
arrange terms of capitulation. This correspondence resulted 
in the surrender of the city and garrison of Vicksburg on 
the 4th of July, 1863. This capture and the preceding bat- 
tles resulted in a loss to the rebels of thirty-seven thousand 
taken prisoners, including fifteen general officers; ten thou- 
sand killed and wounded, and ammunition for sixty thousand 

Thus perseverance, skill, and valor triumphed. The 
stronghold of the Mississippi was taken. No language can 
describe the tumultuous joy which thrilled the hearts of the 
gallant men who had won this great prize. The exultation 
of the army is illustrated in the glowing language of the 


young and brave McPherson, in his congratulatory address 
issued on the 4th of July. 

"The achievements of this hour," said he, " will give a 
new meaning to this memorable day: and Vicksburg will 
heighten the glow in the patriot's heart which kindles at the 
mention of Bunker Hill and Yorktown. The dawn of a 
conquered peace is breaking before you. The plaudits of 
an admiring world will hail you wherever you go." 

President Lincoln fully comprehended what he termed 
"the almost unappreciable services "of Grant in the capture 
of Vicksburg. He wrote to him the following letter, which 
illustrates the generous feelings of his heart: 

1 ' My dear General: I do not remember that you and I ever met per- 
sonally. I write this now as a grateful acknowledgment for the almost 
inestimable service you have done the country. I wish to say a word 
further. When you first reached the vicinity of Vicksburg, I thought 
you should do what you finally did, march the troops across the neck, 
run the batteries with the transports, and thus go below; and I never 
had any faith except a general hope that you knew better than I, that 
the Yazoo Pass expedition and the like could succeed. When you got 
below and took Port Gibson, Grand Gulf, and vicinity, I thought you 
should go down the river and join General Banks; and when you turned 
northward, east of the Big Black, I thought it was a mistake. I now 
wish to make the personal acknowledgment that you were right and I 
was wrong." 

No military enterprise recorded in history presented 
greater difficulties to be overcome, none the success of which 
was ever more fatal to an enemy, nor is there any which 
exhibits in a higher degree, courage, endurance, military 
skill, bold conception, fertility of resource/ and rapidity of 
execution, than that which triumphed in the fall of Vicks- 
burg. Take it altogether it was perhaps the most brilliant 
operation of the war, and establishes the reputation of Grant 
as one of the greatest military leaders of any age. 

Let us now return to the armies near Washington. After 
the defeat of the Union army at Chancellorsville, Lee 
assumed the offensive, and advanced again into Maryland. 
He now made the greatest preparations for striking a deci- 


sive blow, and hoped to carry the war into Pennsylvania and 
the North. Hooker, marching on an interior line, covered 

On the 28th of June, General Lee, having entered Penn- 
sylvania, occupied Chambersburg. Learning that Hooker's 
army had crossed the Potomac and was advancing north- 
ward, he gave orders for the concentration of his forces at 
Gettysburg. On the 27th, General Hooker, in consequence 
of a refusal by Halleck to order the troops at Harper's Ferry 
to join him, asked to be relieved, and Halleck gladly issued 
the order by which he was relieved, and the command of the 
army transferred to General Meade. On that day, the head- 
quarters of the Union army were at Frederick City, and those 
of the slaveholder's army were at Hagerstown. The Union 
force was thus interposed between the rebels, and Baltimore 
and Washington. On the 30th, General Meade issued an 
address to his army, in which he pointed out the important 
issue involved in the approaching conflict. " Homes, fire- 
sides, and domestic altars are involved. The army has fought 
well heretofore; it is believed it will fight more desperately 
and bravely than ever." 

On Wednesday, General Reynolds of the First Corps, 
marching directly through the town of Gettysburg, came 
unexpectedly upon the enemy. The heroic General Wads- 
worth, who had left his princely estate on the banks of the 
Genessee, in Western New York, to offer himself as a 
volunteer for liberty and union, led the advance, the divi- 
sion of General Doubleday, one of the subordinates of 
Anderson at Fort Sumter, followed and formed on the left, 
with Robinson on the right. On discovering the enemy in 
force, Reynolds sent word to Howard to hasten up the 
Eleventh; that Eleventh, that since Chancellorsville had 
been in disgrace; a disgrace that must now be wiped out. 

The advance encountered a heavy force of the enemy, 
and was forced back, but retired in good order. The enemy 
rashly pressing too far on the center, the left closed in upon 
them, and took many prisoners. As General Reynolds was 


pressing up to the front, he was killed by a sharpshooter. At 
i p. m., the gallant Howard, riding in advance of his corps, 
reached the field and assumed command, leaving his corps in 
charge of the gallant young soldier and eloquent German 
orator, Carl Schurz. The death of Reynolds left Doubleday 
in command of the First Corps. At half-past two, from the 
heights of Cemetery Hill, could be seen the long line of rebel 
gray-backs under Ewell, the famous brigade which Stone- 
wall Jackson had so often led to victory. As they advanced 
they were met by a fire so sharp as to cause them to fall 
back. Twice the rebels were repulsed, but being re-enforced, 
the remnants of the First Corps were ordered back to the 
town. In moving, the left of the Eleventh was exposed, and 
a heavy rebel advance compelled it to fall back in some con- 
fusion. The enemy pursued and took possession of the 
town, while the two corps took possession of the western 
slope of the hill. 

While the Union troops were being driven by superior 
numbers through the town, a rapid and general charge might 
possibly have destroyed these two corps; but it was not made, 
and their commander, the one-armed hero Howard, posted 
them on a commanding eminence south of the town, called 
Cemetery Hill, and prepared for the shock. When the line 
of gray again advanced, it met a shower of balls and shells 
which arrested its progress. It had been a fearful and 
bloody fight; one single brigade, which under Wadsworth 
held the left, going into battle with one thousand, eight hun- 
dred and twenty men, came out with only seven hundred. 

Thus ended the first day's conflict. Each army was being 
concentrated as rapidly as possible. Howard had seized and 
occupied Cemetery Hill, south and a little east of the village. 
To the right of it, the hills extended to Rock Creek, and 
across this was Wolf Hill ; while to the left, the hills 
extended south, and bent a little westward to the Round 
Top. The Union army was posted on these hills, in shape 
like a crescent, with its center on Cemetery Hill, its left 
extending to Round Top, and its right to Rock Creek. It 


had the advantage of position, and was so placed that the 
wings and center could readily support each other. 

At dark on Wednesday evening, the Third and Twelfth 
Corps came in and were posted, the former on the ridge 
extending south and to the left of Cemetery Hill, and the 
latter on the same ridge as it curved to the right. The Third 
came up during Wednesday night, and the Fifth at 10 o'clock 
Thursday morning. At 11 o'clock at night, General Meade 
arrived upon the field and placed the troops in order of bat- 
tle. Howard with the Eleventh, and what was left of the 
First and the Second under the gallant Hancock, constituted 
the center. The Twelfth under Slocum held the right. The 
Third under Sickles, and the Fifth, after its arrival, were 
placed on the extreme left. The Union army was so com- 
pact, that troops could be readily removed from either wing 
to the other, or to the center, as they might be needed. 
General Meade had his headquarters on the ridge, in the 
rear of the cemetery, and more than one hundred guns brist- 
led along the crest of these hills fronting the enemy, and 
were confronted by one hundred and fifty guns of the rebels. 
An effort was made to induce Meade to assume the offensive 
and attack on Thursday morning, pouring his whole army on 
the rebel center, and smashing through, dividing it into two 
parts; but Meade wisely preferred to await the attack in his 
strong position. Thus the bright July morning wore away, 
and no movement of importance was made until near the 
middle of the afternoon. 

Lee had ordered a general attack by Longstreet on the 
Union left and center, to be followed by Hill. While pre- 
parations were being made in the rebel army for this move- 
ment, Sickles sent Berdan's regiment of sharp-shooters into 
the woods in his front, and they, advancing a mile, descried 
the gray-backs moving large masses to turn the Union left. 
Longstreet was bringing his whole corps, nearly a third of 
the slaveholder's army, to precipitate it upon the Union left. 
Sickles immediately moved out and occupied another ridge, 
which he thought a more commanding position than the one 


in which he had been placed, but which did not connect with 
the main force. His left rested upon Round Top hill. On 
came the rebels, and both armies opened with artillery. Then 
came the wild yell, and the charge of the gray-backs was 
met by a storm of grape and canister, and their line shat- 
tered and sent whirling back; immediately another line came 
from the forest, and another and weightier charge was 
approaching. General Warren, who as chief of staff was 
watching the fight, sent for re-enforcements. Sedgwick and 
the fighting Sixth were not yet available. Sickles held on 
desperately; aid after aid was dispatched for help; but from 
the clouds of smoke and flame it was seen that Sickles 
was being pushed back. He finally yielded so far as to 
occupy his first position, and the Fifth Corps came to his 
support, while the brigades, winding down among the rocks 
to the front, braced up his lines, and like a rock turned back 
the assaulting columns. Longstreet was repulsed, and then 
Anderson moved upon the Union center. With massed 
columns, and the well known yell with which the rebels ever 
charged, they come swarming on. Hancock repelled the 
assault. Sickles, severely wounded, was borne from the 
front, and Birney, the abolitionist, assumed command. 

The conflict in the center raged fiercely. Hancock was 
wounded in the thigh, and Gibbon in the shoulder. The 
First and Second wavered; the rebels pressed to the muzzle 
of the batteries, shot down the artillery horses, and the fight 
was hand to hand, when the banners of the welcome Sixth 
Corps, under the brave Sedgwick, came up. Although wearied 
with a march of thirty-two miles in seventeen hours, they 
hurried forward with shouts to the rescue, and the enemy 
were hurled back, repulsed — destroyed. The right had been 
weakened to sustain the left and center; and now Ewell made 
a dash upon Slocum on the extreme right. For a short time 
the attack was most ferocious; but a part of the Sixth and 
some of the First came again at the critical moment, and the 
enemy, although they had succeeded in taking some posi- 
tions held by Slocum, were finally driven back, and the day 


-closed with the rebels repulsed from every part of the field. 
It had been a bloody day. Sickles's and Hancock's corps 
had been badly shattered, both these commanders wounded, 
and Sickles had a leg shot off. For miles, every house and 
barn was filled with the wounded and the dying. Thursday 
had gone and yet the result was not decided. Friday came, 
and Northern persistence was to crown with victory the three 
days struggle. 

Early in the morning a file of soldiers marched slowly to 
the rear, bearing tenderly upon a stretcher the heroic Sickles; 
yesterday leading his corps with the dash and spirit for 
which he was ever distinguished; to-day, with his right leg 
amputated, grave and stoical, his cap drawn over his face, 
and a cigar in his mouth. The enemy opened at daylight 
with artillery. At dawn, General Slocum made an attack on 
Ewell, who commanded, it will be remembered, Stonewall 
Jackson's men, and the fight was maintained with equal spirit 
on both sides, Slocum being aided by Sykes's and Hum- 
phreys's divisions of the Third Corps. Ewell's forces were 
at length driven back, and at eleven o'clock, a. m., there 
was quiet on the bloody field. 

It has been stated that the key to the Union position 
was Cemetery Hill. Lee determined to make a desperate 
effort to get possession of this hill. With this purpose he 
directed upon it the concentric fire of more than one hun- 
dred guns, ranged in a half circle. The lull had continued 
until nearly 1 p. m. Meade, Howard, and other leaders 
were watching for the attack, when at one o'clock, the thun- 
der of a hundred heavy guns burst upon the position. It was 
held by the Eleventh and Twelfth Corps. The storm came 
suddenly. Soldiers and officers worn with battle and seeking 
rest were scattered upon the grass. Many were struck as they 
lay; some died with cigars in their mouths; some at their din- 
ners on the crest of the hill, and some with letters and pho- 
tographs of friends in their hands; taking a last fond look 
before the battle which all knew was to be decisive, and fatal 
to many. Horses were shot down as they stood quietly wait- 


ing for their riders to mount. The air in an instant was filled 
with missiles and splinters; the earth and rocks torn up and 
shattered; the air filled with clouds of dust; the branches of 
trees were torn off, and the grave stones and monuments 
scattered in wild confusion. Within five minutes after the 
terrific rain of death began, the hill was cleared in all its 
unsheltered places of every living thing. All but the dead 
sought shelter. For an hour and a half, this terrible concen- 
trated fire on Cemetery Hill was continued, and was replied 
to with equal vigor by the batteries on the ridge and range 
of hills. After the cannonade had continued about three 
hours, General Howard slackened his fire to allow his guns 
to cool. It was supposed by the enemy that our batteries 
were silenced, and that the time for an irresistible charge had 
come. The divisions of Virginians under General Picket 
led the advance, supported by large bodies of other troops.. 
As the leading columns of the advance emerged from the 
woods and became fully exposed to the Union fire, they 
wavered. But Picket's brigades did not falter; although they 
were exposed to the terrific fire of grape, canister, and shell 
from at least forty guns, with a bravery worthy of old Vir- 
ginia, they still held on their way steady and firm, closing up 
their ranks as their comrades were cut down. They crossed 
the Emmittsburg road, and approached the masses of in- 
fantry. General Gibbon, then in command of the Second 
Corps, walked along his line bare-headed, shouting: " Hold 
your fire, boys, they are not near enough yet." Still they 
came on, and with fixed bayonets swept up to the rifle pits. 
" Now fire ! " thundered Gibbon. A blaze of death all 
along the line of the Second Corps followed; down fell the 
rebels, but the survivors did not yet falter; they charged on 
the pits, pressing up to the very muzzles of the artillery; 
but here they were met with such storms of grape and 
canister, that the survivors threw down their arms and sur- 
rendered, rather than run the gauntlet of the retreat. Three 
thousand prisoners were taken. The result is thus stated 
by General Meade in a dispatch dated at 8: 30 p. m.: 


" The enemy opened at one o'clock, P. M., from about one hundred 
and fifty guns. They concentrated upon my left center, continuing with- 
out intermission for about three hours, at the expiration of which time they 
assaulted my left center twice, being upon both occasions handsomely 
repulsed with severe loss to them, leaving in our hands nearly three 
thousand prisoners." l 

When the repulse was complete, whole companies and 
regiments threw down their arms and surrendered, to avoid 
the terrific fire to which they were exposed. The battle was 
over. The army of the Potomac had again vindicated its 
bravery and its endurance. As General Meade rode proudly 
yet sadly over the bloody field, a band passing, struck up, 
4i Hail to the Chief." 

The next morning was as sweet, fresh, and balmy, as 
though the storm of death had not been sweeping for three 
long days over these quiet, pastoral Pennsylvania hills and 
valleys. Alas ! must the historian forever, to the last period 
of recorded time, recount these terrible scenes of slaughter, 
suffering, and death ! 

Lee was in no condition to renew the attack. His ammu- 
nition was short, the spirit of his army broken, and yet Meade 
made no vigorous pursuit. The rebel loss was fourteen 
thousand prisoners, and probably twenty-five thousand in 
killed, wounded, and missing. The Union loss was about 
twenty-three thousand in all. Few battles in ancient or 
modern times have been more severely contested; there have 
been few where greater numbers were engaged, and where 
there was a greater loss of life; none where more heroic 
valor was displayed on both sides. Had Sheridan, or 
Grant, or McPherson, commanded in place of Meade, it is 
believed Lee's army would never have recrossed the Poto- 

We have seen with how grateful a heart Lincoln returned 
thanks to Grant and his brave officers and soldiers in the 
West. He received the intelligence of the victory of the 
army of the Potomac with emotions not less warm. On the 
4th of July, he issued the following announcement: 

1. Military and Naval History of the Rebellion, p. 404. See Meade's Report. 


" The President of the United States announces to the country, that 
the news from the army of the Potomac, up to 10 o'clock p. m. of the 
3d, is such as to cover the army with the highest honor — to promise 
great success to the cause of the Union — and to claim the condolence of 
all for the many gallant fallen; and that for this, he especially desires 
that on this day, ' He whose will, not ours, should ever be done,' be 
everywhere remembered and reverenced with the prof oundest gratitude." 1 

On the evening of the 4th of July, the popular exultation 
over these successes found expression in a serenade to the 
President. Mr. Lincoln said: "I do most sincerely thank 
Almighty God for the occasion of this call; " and ever mind- 
ful of the principles of the Declaration of Independence, 
which were the basis of his political creed, he said: " How 
long ago is it ? Eighty odd years since, on the 4th of July, 
for the first time in the history of the world, a nation by its 
representatives assembled, and declared as a self-evident 
truth, that all men are created equal. That was the birthday 
of the United States of America." He then alluded to the 
other extraordinary events in American history which had 
occurred on the 4th of July — the death of Jefferson and 
Adams on that day, and said: "And now at this last 4th of 
July just passed, we have a gigantic rebellion, at the bottom 
of which, is an effort to overthrow the principle that all men 
are created equal. We have the surrender of a most impor- 
tant position and an army on that very day." And then he 
alluded proudly and gratefully to the battles in Pennsylvania, 
on the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd of July, as victories over the 
cohorts of those who opposed the Declaration of Indepen- 

On the 15th of July, the President issued his proclama- 
tion, breathing throughout a spirit of grateful reverence to 
God, of supreme love of country and of liberty, and sym- 
pathy with the afflicted and the suffering. He said: 

" It has pleased Almighty God to hearken to the supplications and 
prayers of an afflicted people, and to vouchsafe to the army and the navy 
of the United States, victories on the land and on the sea, so signal and 
so effective, as to furnish reasonable ground for augmented confidence 

1. Military and Naval History of the War, p. 505. 


that the Union of these States will be maintained, their Constitution pre- 
served, and their peace and prosperity permanently restored. But these 
victories have been accorded not without sacrifice of life, limb, health, and 
liberty, incurred by brave, loyal, and patriotic citizens. Domestic afflic- 
tion, in every part of the country, follows in the train of these fearful 
bereavements. It is meet and right to recognize and confess the presence 
of the Almighty Father, and the power of His hand, equally in these 
triumphs and these sorrows." ' 

He then invited the people to assemble on the 4th of 
August, for thanksgiving, praise, and prayer, and to render 
homage to the Divine Majesty, for the wonderful things He 
had done in the nation's behalf; and he called upon the peo- 
ple to invoke His Holy Spirit to subdue the anger which had 
produced and so long sustained a needless and cruel rebel- 
lion; to change the hearts of the insurgents; to guide the 
councils of the government with wisdom, and to visit with 
tender care and consolation those who through the vicissi- 
tudes of battles and sieges had been brought to suffer in 
mind, body, or estate, and finally to lead the whole nation 
through the paths of repentance and submission to the 
Divine Will, to unity and fraternal peace. 

With these most important victories East and West, a load 
was lifted from the troubled heart of the President. His 
form, bowed and almost broken with anxiety, once more was 
erect; his eye grew visibly brighter, and his whole aspect 
became again hopeful. But it is not proper to suppress the 
fact that he was greatly chagrined that Meade permitted Lee 
and his army again to escape across the Potomac. 

In the autumn of this year of battles and of Union vic- 
tories, the ground adjoining the village cemetery of Gettys- 
burg, a part of the field on which this great battle was 
fought, was purchased, and prepared for consecration as a 
national burying ground for the gallant soldiers who fell in 
that conflict. Here in this little grave yard, 

" The rude forefathers of the hamlet sleep." 

Here, too, slept the hosts of dead of one of the great battles 

1. Military and Naval History, p. 408. 


of the world; a battle which saved the republic, and in 
which heroes and patriots worthy of Thermopylae or Mara- 
thon had given life for their country. 

Here, on the 19th of November, with solemn, touching, 
and most impressive ceremonies, this ground was conse- 
crated to its pious purpose. The President, his Cabinet, 
the officials of the state of Pennsylvania, governors of states, 
foreign ministers, officers of the army and navy, soldiers and 
citizens, gathered in great numbers to witness the proceed- 
ings. Edward Everett, late Secretary of State, and Senator 
from Massachusetts, an orator and scholar whose renown 
had extended over the world, was selected to pronounce the 
oration. He was a polished and graceful speaker, and 
worthy of the theme and the occasion. President Lincoln, 
while in the cars on his way from the White House to the 
battlefield, was notified that he would be expected to make 
some remarks also. Asking for some paper, a rough sheet 
of foolscap was handed to him, and, retiring to a seat by 
himself, with a pencil, he wrote the address which has 
become so celebrated; an address which for appropriate- 
ness and eloquence, for pathos and beauty, for sublimity in 
sentiment and expression, has hardly its equal in English or 
American literature. Everett's oration was a polished speci- 
men of consummate oratorical skill. It was memorized, and 
recited without recurring to a note. It was perhaps too 
artistic; so much so, that the audience sometimes during its 
delivery forgot the heroic dead to admire the skill of the 
speaker before them. When at length the New England 
orator closed, and the cheers in his honor had subsided, an 
earnest call for Lincoln was heard through the vast crowd in 
attendance. Slowly, and very deliberately, the tall, homely 
form of the President rose; simple, rude, his careworn face 
now lighted and glowing with intense feeling. All uncon- 
scious of himself, absorbed with recollections of the heroic 
dead, he adjusted his spectacles, and read with the most 
profound feeling the following address: 


" Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth upon this 
continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the pro- 
position that all men are created equal. 

" Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that 
nation, or any nation so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. 
We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We are met to dedi- 
cate a portion of it as the final resting-place of those who here gave 
their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and 
proper that we should do this. 

" But, in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate — we cannot consecrate 
— we cannot hallow this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who 
struggled here, have consecrated it far above our power to add or 
detract. The world will little note, nor long remember what we say here, 
but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us, the living, 
rather to be dedicated here to the unfinished work that they have 
thus far so nobly carried on. It is rather for us to be here dedicated to 
the great task remaining before us, that from these honored dead we 
take increased devotion to the cause for which they here gave the last 
full measure of devotion, that we here highly resolve that the dead shall 
not have died in vain; that the nation shall, under God, have a new 
birth of freedom; and that government of the people, by the people, and 
for the people shall not perish from the earth. " 

Before the first sentence was completed, a thrill of feel- 
ing, like an electric shock, pervaded the crowd. That mys- 
terious influence called magnetism, which sometimes so 
affects a popular assembly, spread to every heart. The 
vast audience was instantly hushed, and hung upon his 
every word and syllable. When he uttered the sentence: 
" the world will little note nor long remember what we say 
here, but it can never forget what they did here," every one 
felt that it was not the " honored dead " only, but the living 
actor and speaker, that the world for all time to come would 
note and remember, and that he, the speaker, in the thrilling 
words he was uttering, was linking his name forever with 
the glory of the dead. He seemed so absorbed in honoring 
the "heroic sacrifices" of the soldiers, as utterly to forget 
himself, but all his hearers realized that the great actor in 
the drama stood before them, and that the words he was 
speaking would live as long as the language; that they were 
words which would be recalled in all future ages, among all 


peoples ; as often as men should be called upon to die for 
liberty and country. 

Thus were the immortal deeds of the dead commemor- 
ated in immortal words. There have been four instances in 
history in which great deeds have been celebrated in words 
as immortal as themselves ; the well-known epitaph upon 
the Spartans who perished at Thermopylae, the words of 
Demosthenes on those who fell at Marathon, the speech of 
Webster in memory of those who died at Bunker Hill, and 
these words of Lincoln in honor of those who laid down 
their lives on the field of Gettysburg. 

As he closed, and the tears, and sobs, and cheers which 
expressed the emotions of the people subsided, he turned 
to Everett, and grasping his hand, said : " I congratulate 
you on your success." The orator gracefully replied : "Ah, 
Mr. President, how gladly would I exchange all my hundred 
pages to have been the author of your twenty lines." ' 

1. The author is indebted to Governor Dennison, the Postmaster General and an 
eye-witness, for some of the incidents detailed in the text. 



Effects of the Battle. — Lee Crosses the Potomac. — Chicka- 
mauga. — Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge. — The 
Draft Riot in New York. — Meeting at Springfield, Illi- 
nois. — The President's Letter to his old Friends. 

The battle of Gettysburg, and the capture of Vicks- 
burg, were in their results more decisive than any which 
had preceded them. The army of Lee, naturally elated by 
their brilliant victory at Chancellorsville, had invaded Mary- 
land and Pennsylvania, with the most sanguine hopes of suc- 
cess, and with the determination to carry the war into the 
free states. They boasted that they would water their horses 
in the Susquehanna and the Delaware. The rich grain 
fields, the stock farms, and big barns of Pennsylvania and 
New Jersey, should furnish them with abundant supplies. 
The vast stores and the wealth of the great Northern cities 
were passing vividly before the gloating imaginations of these 
soldiers. The savage threats made by Jefferson Davis, on 
his way to Montgomery to assume the presidency, when he 
said : " We will carry the war where it is easy to advance ; 
where food for the sword and the torch wait our army in the 
densely populated cities," l were now, they believed, to be 
realized. But this arrogant host, proud and elated with their 
successes, were met on the rocky hills of Gettysburg, and 
hurled back, never again in force to cross the border. 

By the brilliant capture of Vicksburg the rebel territory 
was severed, and the " great Father of Waters, went unvexed 

1. Greeley's Conflict, Vol. 1, p. 415. f 



to the sea." No rebel flag was again to float over the majes- 
tic stream. The rebel power west of the great river was 
broken, never to be re-established. Before the end of 1863, 
fully one hundred thousand negroes, emancipated slaves, 
were in the military service of the United States. ! 

Lincoln entertained sanguine hopes that Lee's army 
would never be permitted to recross the Potomac, and its 
destruction, he believed, would bring the war to a close. It 
seems to have been quite within the power of General 
Meade to annihilate the enemy that he had so signally 
defeated at Gettysburg. He had a much larger force, and 
abundant supplies. Lee's three days fight had nearly ex- 
hausted his ammunition, and when he reached the Potomac he 
had the swollen waters of that river in his front, with no 
means of crossing his artillery, and another defeat must 
have caused the surrender of his whole army. But Meade 
allowed him to collect lumber from canal boats and ruined 
wooden houses, to construct a bridge and cross the river. 
On the 14th of July, Meade telegraphed to Halleck : "The 
enemy are all across the Potomac." It would seem as 
though Meade thought his duty was performed when he 
drove the enemy back to Virginia, forgetting that Virginia 
was as much a part of the republic as Pennsylvania. He 
displayed so little enterprise that Lee thought it safe to send 
Longstreet to Tennessee, to the aid of Bragg against Rose- 

On September 19th and 20th, was fought the battle of 
Chickamauga, in which the gallant Thomas, commanding 
the center of Rosecrans's army, firmly withstood and beat 
back the rebels under Bragg. He did this after the rebels 
had turned the Union right, and Rosecrans had been 
driven from the field. Thomas, the loyal Virginian, by his 
heroism and good conduct on this occasion saved the army, 
and acquired the name of the " Rock of Chickamauga." 
Garfield, chief of staff of Rosecrans, especially distinguished 
himself in this battle. 

1. President's Message, December 8th, 1863. 



On the 19th of October, General Grant arrived at Lou- 
isville, and assumed command of the military division of the 
Mississippi, into which the departments of the Ohio and the 
Cumberland were now merged. This brought unity of 
action into this important field. Rosecrans was relieved, 
and Thomas became commander of the army of the Cum- 

When Thomas retired to Chattanooga, after the battle of 
Chickamauga, the rebels advanced and occupied the passes 
and heights of Lookout Mountain and Missionary Ridge, 
and prepared to invest Chattanooga. Longstreet had been 
sent to drive Burnside out of East Tennessee. In the mean- 
while, Hooker had been dispatched from the East to the 
West with fifteen thousand men. 

Grant reached Thomas on the 2 2d of October, and the 
next morning made a reconnoissance with a view of driving 
the enemy out of the overlooking mountains, and regaining 
the use of the Tennessee River, to bring to his army much 
needed supplies. He had ordered Sherman and his corps 
to join him at Chattanooga. Grant never had better lieu- 
tenants than the gallant officers who now surrounded him. 
Sherman, sagacious and rapid ; Thomas, ever reliable, the 
hero of Chickamauga ; Sheridan, the impetuous and inde- 
fatigable, and Hooker, who, while not equal to the com- 
mand of a great army, was well able to lead a division or 
army corps ; and now, with these and their gallant associates, 
and an army hardy and well disciplined, Grant determined 
to storm and carry the heights of Lookout Mountain and 
Missionary Ridge. 

It was a bold and difficult undertaking. Sherman's 
forces crossed the Tennessee, and, on the 24th of Novem- 
ber, gained possession of the north end of Missionary 
Ridge. Thomas attacked in the center, and drove the 
enemy back to the hills. Hooker pushed round Lookout 
Mountain, and drove the enemy up its western slope, cap- 
turing their rifle pits, and following them with impetuous 
ardor through the forests and up the sides of the mountain, 


until he reached the summit, above the smoke and vapor of 
the hills, and then the spectators from the valley beheld 
the dramatic spectacle of Hooker's battle-flags waving 
in triumph from the top of the mountain and above 
the clouds. The next day, the army of the Cumberland 
assailed the field works at the foot of Missionary Ridge, 
captured them at the point of the bayonet, and then 
pressed bravely up the ridge and captured the summit 
while Sherman and Hooker pressed the enemy so vig- 
orously, that long before the day was spent, Lookout 
Mountain, Chattanooga Valley, and Missionary Ridge 
were in possession of the Union troops, and Bragg was in 
rapid retreat. Many prisoners and guns were captured. 
Thomas pursued Bragg, fought him again at Ringgold, and 
drove him to Tunnel Hill, twenty miles from Chatta- 

Meanwhile, Burnside was at Knoxville, confronted by 
Longstreet, and Sherman was sent by forced marches to his 
relief. His approach sent Longstreet retreating back to 
Virginia, and thus closed in triumph the campaign in 
Tennessee. The relief of Western Tennessee, where, 
among the mountains, attachment to the Union had been 
general and strong, and where, in the absence of national 
protection, the loyal people had been most cruelly perse- 
cuted, was very grateful to the President. He issued a 
proclamation appointing a day of thanksgiving and grati- 
tude to God for this signal triumph of the national 

It will be remembered that on the 3d of March, 1863, 
a law was passed for the enrollment of the entire military 
force of the United States. The enrollment having been 
completed, in June a draft for three hundred thousand men 
was ordered. Time was, however, given to each state to fill 
up its quota, and thus prevent a resort to drafting. While 
there was in the loyal states a considerable party opposed to 
the war, and many who openly or secretly opposed volun- 
teering to fill up the ranks of the army, the great majority 


were loyal, and active in promoting the success of the 
national cause. There had been, and there was still, great 
pride and emulation in the towns, cities, and states, as to 
which should fill up its quota of troops first, and there was 
everywhere manifested a desire that each locality should 
fill its quota without the draft. Large local bounties were 
offered, and much the larger proportion of the men called 
for were obtained without drafting. All who were opposed 
to the war, and all who sympathized with the rebels, availed 
themselves of the draft to excite prejudice against and oppo- 
sition to the administration. Every means was resorted to 
to oppose enlistments and to stir up, if possible, resistance 
to the draft. 

But the loyalty and patriotism of the people were too 
strong to be subdued, and no formidable opposition to the 
law was manifested, except in the city of New York. Here 
were a large number of Southern immigrants and Southern 
sympathizers, and a large population foreign by birth, whose 
attachment to the republic was so slight that the emissaries 
of the rebellion succeeded in creating a formidable opposi- 
tion to the law. When orders were issued to proceed with 
the draft, on the nth of July, threats of opposition were 
made, and, on the 13th, the proceedings were arrested by a 
furious mob, which broke into and set fire to the building 
in which the marshal's office was situated. The mob pre- 
vented the firemen from extinguishing the flames, and a 
whole block was burned. The police were attacked and 
overpowered. There was no considerable force of regular 
troops on hand, and many of the state militia were absent in 
Pennsylvania, to aid in resisting the invasion of Lee, so that 
it was found difficult immediately to raise a force adequate 
to suppress the riot. It was joined by the criminal classes, 
and the worst elements of a great city, and for a time it went 
from street to street, murdering, pillaging, and burning. 
Hatred of the negro was the animus of the infuriated mob. 
They set fire to the half-orphan asylum for colored children, 
and, with the spirit of devils, abused and scattered the 


orphans, burned the building, and caught and hung every 
negro they could find. The police did their duty manfully, 
but were overpowered. Governor Seymour, of New York, 
was in the city, and addressed the rioters in the park, elo- 
quently urging forbearance. But musket balls, grape shot, 
and cold steel, rather than civil words, were needed. 
Troops were recalled from Pennsylvania and elsewhere 
and the riot suppressed, but not until the most cruel out- 
rages had been perpetrated. 

When the President first heard of the disturbance, and 
before it had assumed formidable proportions, he was told 
that there was danger of an Irish riot in New York, in oppo- 
sition to the draft, and it was suggested that he should send 
an efficient officer there to preserve order. He said: " I 
think I will send General Kilpatrick," a dashing cavalry 
officer. " His very name may be sufficient." But he soon 
learned that something more stern than words or names was 
needed to put down the frenzied mob. 

On the 3d of September, 1863, a great meeting of the 
Union men of all parties was called to meet at the Capitol of 
Illinois. The President was most earnestly and affection- 
ately invited to attend, " to meet his old friends at his old 
home." He had left that old home in February, 1861, con- 
scious that he had a task before him far more difficult than 
that which had devolved upon " any other man since the 
days of Washington," and, in parting from his neighbors, he 
had humbly, sincerely, and hopefully asked his old friends 
to pray that he might receive the " divine assistance of that 
Almighty Being," in whom he placed his reliance. Two 
and a half years had passed in the midst of the convulsions 
of this tremendous civil war. The young men of Illinois 
and the Northwest, the sons of his old friends, were in the 
Union armies ; some of them in soldiers' graves. It had 
become very obvious that his task was far more difficult than 
that which had devolved upon Washington. His comrades, 
the pioneers of Illinois, had watched his career with deep solic- 
itude and anxiety. Could he succeed in saving his country,. 


and redeeming it from the curse of slavery? They had 
talked of him around their firesides. In their log cabins 
and humble chapels they had prayed for his success ; they 
had freely sent their sons to the field to fight, and now they 
yearned to see him again face to face, to see how he bore 
himself, and to hear his familiar voice. 

To this meeting Lincoln wished very much to go, but 
he could not leave the helm, and so he sent them a kind let- 
ter. This letter to his neighbors contains such a simple, 
clear, and frank exposition of his policy, and is so character- 
istic, that it is inserted here in full. He says : 

Executive Mansion, 
Washington, August 26, 1863. 

Hon. James C. Conkling. — My Dear Sir : Your letter inviting 
me to attend a mass meeting of unconditional Union men, to be held at 
the capital of Illinois, on the 3d day of September, has been received. 
It would be very agreeable for me thus to meet my old friends at my 
own home ; but I cannot just now be absent from here so long as a visit 
there would require. 

The meeting is to be of all those who maintain unconditional devo- 
tion to the Union ; and I am sure that my old political friends will thank 
me for tendering, as I do, the nation's gratitude to those other noble 
men whom no partisan malice or partisan hope can make false to the 
nation's life. 

There are those who are dissatisfied with me. To such I would 
say : You desire peace, and you blame me that we do not have it. But 
how can we attain it ? There are but three conceivable ways : First — 
to suppress the rebellion by force of arms. This I am trying to do. 
Are you for it? If you are, so far we are agreed. If you are not for 
it, a second way is to give up the Union. I am against this. Are you 
for it ? If you are, you should say so plainly. If you are not for force, 
nor yet for dissolution, there only remains some imaginable compromise. 

I do not believe that any compromise embracing the maintenance of 
the Union is now possible. All that I learn leads to a directly opposite 
belief. The strength of the rebellion is its military, its army. That 
army dominates all the country, and all the people within its range. Any 
offer of terms made by any man or men within that range, in opposition 
to that army, is simply nothing for the present ; because such man or 
men have no power whatever to enforce their side of a compromise, if 
one were made with them. 

To illustrate : Suppose refugees from the South and peace men of 



the North get together in convention, and frame and proclaim a com- 
promise embracing a restoration of the Union. In what way can that 
compromise be used to keep Lee's army out of Pennsylvania ? Meade's 
army can keep Lee's army out of Pennsylvania, and, I think, can ulti- 
mately drive it out of existence. But no paper compromise to which the 
controllers of Lee's army are not agreed, can at all affect that army. In 
an effort at such compromise we would waste time, which the enemy 
would improve to our disadvantage ; and that would be all. 

A compromise, to be effective, must be made either with those who 
control the rebel army, or with the people, first liberated from the domi- 
nation of that army by the success of our own army. Now, allow me 
to assure you that no word or intimation from that rebel army, or from 
any of the men controlling it, in relation to any peace compromise, has 
■ever come to my knowledge or belief. All charges and insinuations to 
the contrary are deceptive and groundless. And I promise you that if 
any such proposition shall hereafter come, it shall not be rejected and 
kept a secret from you. I freely acknowledge myself to be the servant 
of the people, according to the bond of service, the United States Con- 
stitution ; and that, as such, I am responsible to them. 

But, to be plain. You are dissatisfied with me about the negro. 
Quite likely there is a difference of opinion between you and myself upon 
that subject. I certainly wish that all men could be free, while you, I 
suppose, do not. Yet, I have neither adopted nor proposed any meas- 
ure which is not consistent with even your view, provided that you are 
for the Union. I suggested compensated emancipation ; to which you 
replied you wished not to be taxed to buy negroes. But I had not asked 
you to be taxed to buy negroes, except in such a way as to save you from 
greater taxation to save the Union exclusively by other means. 

You dislike the emancipation proclamation, and perhaps would 
have it retracted. You say it is unconstitutional. I think differently. 
I think the Constitution invests its Commander in Chief with the law of 
war in time of war. The most that can be said, if so much, is, that 
slaves are property. Is there, has there ever been, any question that by 
the law of war, property, both of enemies and friends, may be taken 
when needed ? And is it not needed whenever it helps us and hurts the 
enemy ? Armies, the world over, destroy enemies' property when they 
cannot use it ; and even destroy their own to keep it from the enemy. 
Civilized belligerents do all in their power to help themselves or hurt the 
enemy, except a few things regarded as barbarous or cruel. Among 
the exceptions are the massacre of vanquished foes and non-combatants, 
male and female. 

But the proclamation, as law, either is valid or is not valid. If it is 
not valid, it needs no retraction. If it is valid, it cannot be retracted, 


any more than the dead can be brought to life. Some of you profess to 
think its retraction would operate favorably for the Union. Why better 
after the retraction than before the issue ? There was more than a year 
and a half of trial to suppress the rebellion before the proclamation was 
issued, the last one hundred days of which passed under an explicit 
notice that it was coming, unless averted by those in revolt returning to 
their allegiance. The war has certainly progressed as favorably for us 
since the issue of the proclamation as before. 

I know as fully as one can know the opinion of others, that 
some of the commanders of our armies in the field, who have given us 
our most important victories, believe the emancipation policy and the 
use of colored troops constitute the heaviest blows yet dealt to the 
rebellion, and that at least one of those important successes could 
not have been achieved when it was, but for the aid of the black 

Among the commanders who hold these views are some who have 
never had an affinity with what is called " abolitionism," or with "repub- 
lican party politics," but who hold them purely as military opinions. I 
submit their opinions as entitled to some weight against the objections 
often urged that emancipation and arming the blacks are unwise as 
military measures, and were not adopted as such in good faith. 

You say that you will not fight to free negroes. Some of them 
seem willing to fight for you ; but no matter. Fight you, then, exclu- 
sively, to save the Union. I issued the proclamation on purpose to aid 
you in saving the Union. Whenever you shall have conquered all 
resistance to the Union, if 1 shall urge you to continue fighting, it will 
be an apt time then for you to declare you will not fight to free negroes. 
I thought that in your struggle for the Union, to whatever extent the 
negroes shall cease helping the enemy, to that extent it weakened the 
enemy in his resistance to you. Do you think differently? I thought 
whatever negroes can be got to do as soldiers, leaves just so much less 
for white soldiers to do in saving the Union. Does it appear otherwise 
to you ? But negroes, like other people, act upon motives. Why should 
they do anything for us if we will do nothing for them ? If they stake 
their lives for us, they must be prompted by the strongest motives, 
even the promise of freedom. And the promise, being made, must 
be kept. 

The signs look better. The Father of Waters again goes unvexed 
to the sea. Thanks to the great Northwest for it ; nor yet wholly to 
them. Three hundred miles up they met New England, Empire, Key- 
stone, and Jersey, hewing their way right and left. The sunny South, 
too, in more colors than one, also lent a helping hand. On the spot, 
their part of the history was jotted down in black and white. The job 


was a great national one, and let none be slighted who bore an honorable 
part in it. And while those who have cleared the great river may well, 
be proud, even that is not all. It is hard to say that anything has been 
more bravely and well done than at Antietam, Murfreesboro, Gettys- 
burg, and on many fields of less note. Nor must Uncle Sam's web feet 
be forgotten. At all the watery margins they have been present, not 
only on the deep sea, the broad bay, and the rapid river, but also up. 
the narrow, muddy bayou, and wherever the ground was a little damp, 
they have been and made their tracks. Thanks to all. For the great 
Republic — for the principle it lives by and keeps alive — for man's vast 
future — thanks to all. 

Peace does not appear so distant as it did. I hope it will come soon, 
and come to stay ; and so come as to be worth the keeping in all future 
time. It will then have been proved that among freemen there can be 
no successful appeal from the ballot to the bullet, and that they who- 
take such appeal are sure to lose their case and pay the cost. And there 
will be some black men who can remember that with silent tongue, and 
clenched teeth, and steady eye, and well-poised bayonet, they have helped 
mankind on to this great consummation, while I fear there will be some 
white ones unable to forget that with malignant heart and deceitful 
speech they have striven to hinder it. 

Still, let us not be over-sanguine of a speedy, final triumph. Let 
us be quite sober. Let us diligently apply the means, never doubting 
that a just God, in his own good time, will give us the rightful result. 
Yours, very truly, A. Lincoln. 

This honest and manly explanation of his policy was. 
received with the most enthusiastic satisfaction and applause. 
His reasons for the emancipation proclamation, and all 
other acts for which he had been criticised, were approved,, 
and when his words of hope and faith in final success were 
read, beginning: "The signs look better. The Father of 
Waters goes unvexed to the sea, thanks to the great North- 
west, nor yet not wholly to them," etc., the people felt that 
nature itself, the great rivers and prairies of the West, were 
rejoicing in the triumphs of the Union cause. The people 
had such faith in his sagacity and honesty that they felt 
assured of final victory, and were ready to make any sacri- 
fice which he should ask to secure it. And so Illinois sent 
back her greetings and congratulations to the White House. 
The people joined with the President in thanks to God that 


no longer did any rebel flag float over any part of the Mis- 
sissippi; that the national capital and all national territories 
were now free; that the border states were all becoming free 
states, and that the triumph of the national arms would, 
under the influence of the proclamation of emancipation, 
abolish slavery everywhere throughout the republic. The 
people rejoiced that as slavery had drawn the sword, it was 
doomed to die by the sword; that having plunged the nation 
into war, slavery was to perish by the laws of war. 

The elections in the autumn of 1863 indicated the confi- 
dence of the people in the President, and their unanimity in 
support of his administration. Every state in which elec- 
tions were held, except New Jersey, gave great majorities 
for the administration; and in Ohio, where the democrats 
had nominated Vallandigham for governor, he was in a 
minority of nearly one hundred thousand votes. 



Debate in the Senate. — Speeches of Trumbull, Wilson, John- 
son, Howard, and Others. — A New Year's Call on the 
President. — Debate in the House. — Test Vote. — Speeches of 
Wilson, Arnold, Randall, Pendleton, and Others. — The 
Amendment Fails. 

In the early part of this book we have seen that Lincoln 
in his younger days dreamed of being an emancipator. In 
what way this day dream or presentiment entered his mind, 
whether it was due to the prophecy of the Voudou on his 
visit to New Orleans, or ' whether it was one of those 
mysterious impressions which come from no one knows 
where, it is impossible to tell. A careful reading of his 
speeches and writings will indicate that in some way there 
had been impressed upon his mind a premonition that he 
was to be an agent in freeing the slaves. 

So early as January, 1837, when he was a very obscure 
man, in his lecture to the young men's association at Spring- 
field, on " The Perpetuation of Our Political Institutions," 
he spoke of the glory and distinction to be gained by the 
"emancipation of slaves." "Many great and good men 
may be found," he said, " whose ambition would aspire to 
nothing beyond a seat in Congress, a gubernatorial or presi- 
dential chair, but such belong not to the family of the lion 
or the tribe of the eagle." In the same year, as a member 
of the Illinois Legislature, he joined one other member (they 
being the only members who would sign it) in a protest 
against pro-slavery resolutions. A Kentuckian by birth, and 



representing a district very hostile to abolition, he intro- 
duced into Congress, in 1849, a bill to abolish slavery in the 
District of Columbia. In June, 1858, he made the speech 
in which he said: "A house divided against itself cannot 
stand." In that most thoughtful, sagacious, and philosophic 
address he anticipated Governor Seward's " irrepressible 
conflict " speech, which was delivered at Rochester, in New 
York, October 25th, 1858. In this June speech of the then 
little known philosophic statesman, he said: "Either the 
opponents of slavery will arrest the further spread of it, and 
place it where the public mind shall rest in the belief that it 
is- in the course of ultimate extinction, or its advocates will 
push it forward, till it shall become alike lawful in all the 
states, old as well as new — North as well as South." * * 
" To meet and overcome the power of the dynasty (slavery) 
* * * is what we have to do," and he concludes with 
these solemn words: " The result is not doubtful. Wise 
counsels may accelerate or mistakes delay, but sooner or 
later the victory is sure to come." There are few if any 
words more expressive of the character of Lincoln than 
those with which he concluded his great speech at Cooper 
Institute: "Let us have faith that right makes might, and 
in that faith let us to the end do our duty, as we understand 
it." J 

It was this faith, and the courage to do his duty as he 
understood it, that sustained and carried him through the 
darkest days of his administration. As to slavery, and his 
action in relation to it, he said in his letter to Hodges, of 
Kentucky, April 4, 1864: 

1 ' I am naturally anti-slavery. If slavery is not wrong, nothing is 
wrong. I cannot remember when I did not so think and feel, and yet I 
have never understood that the Presidency conferred upon me an unre- 
stricted right to act officially upon this judgment and feeling. * * * 
When, early in the war, General Fremont attempted military emancipa- 
tion, I forbade it, because I did not then think it an indispensable ne- 
cessity. When still later, General Cameron, then Secretary of War, sug- 

1. Observe the number of words of one syllable in this and all his writings and 


gested the arming of the blacks, I objected, because I did not yet think it 
an indispensable necessity. When, still later, General Hunter attempted 
military emancipation, I again forbade it, because I did not yet think the 
indispensable necessity had come. When in March, and May, and July, 
1862, I made earnest and successive appeals to the border states to favor 
compensated emancipation, I believed the indispensable necessity for 
military emancipation and arming the blacks would come, unless averted 
by that measure. They declined the proposition, and I was, in my 
best judgment, driven to the alternative of either surrendering the Union, 
and with it, the Constitution, or of laying strong hands upon the colored 
element. I chose the latter. In choosing it, I hoped for greater gain 
than loss, but of this I was not entirely confident. More than a year of 
trial now shows no loss by it in our foreign relations, none in our home 
popular sentiment, none in our white military force, no loss by it anyhow 
or anywhere. On the contrary, it shows a gain of quite a hundred and 
thirty thousand soldiers, seamen, and laborers. These are palpable 
facts, about which, as facts, there can be no cavilling. We have the 
men; and we could not have had them without the measure. * * 

" I add a word which was not in the verbal conversation. In tell- 
ing this tale, I attempt no compliment to my own sagacity. I claim 
not to have controlled events, but confess plainly that events have con- 
trolled me. Now, at the end of three years' struggle, the nation's condi- 
tion is not what either party or any man devised or expected. God alone 
can claim it. Whither it is tending seems plain. If God now wills the 
removal of a great wrong, and wills also that we of the North, as well 
as you of the South, shall pay fairly for our complicity in that wrong, 
impartial history will find therein new causes to attest and revere the 
justice and goodness of God." 1 

The history of the emancipation proclamation has already 
been told. It had been issued by him with the sincere belief 
that it was "an act of justice warranted by the Constitution, 
and upon military necessity," and upon it he had invoked 
"the considerate judgment of mankind, and the gracious 
favor of Almighty God." Congress had abolished slavery 
at the capital, prohibited it in the territories, and had de- 
clared all negro soldiers in the Union army, and their 
families, free ; repealed the fugitive slave laws, and indeed 
all laws which recognized or sanctioned slavery, and it had 
approved the proclamation. The states not embraced in this 
proclamation had emancipated their slaves, so that slavery 

1. McPherson's History of the Rebellion, p. 336. 


existed only within the rebel lines, and only on territory 
over which the rebels had military control. The abolition 
of slavery in the republic so far as it could be done by 
Congress and the Commander in Chief was an accomplished 
fact. It existed within the rebel lines alone, and there the 
slaves were held by force. Lincoln was by nature a con- 
servative, and he had always wished to emancipate the 
negroes, but he desired to accomplish it by gradual and 
compensated emancipation. He wished the change to 
" come gently as the dews of heaven, not rending or wreck- 
ing anything." ! 

These efforts failed, and he was compelled to resort to the 
proclamation, under the laws of war. From the day of its issue, 
he labored by pen and voice, and personal and official influx 
ence, to make that proclamation effective. After all that 
had been done by Congress, by war, and by the Executive, 
one thing alone remained, to complete and make perma- 
nently effective these great anti-slavery measures. This was 
to introduce into the Constitution itself a provision to abol- 
ish slavery in the United States, and prohibit its existence in 
every part thereof forever. To accomplish this required the 
adoption, by a two-thirds vote of each House of Congress, 
of a joint resolution to be submitted to, and ratified by 
three-fourths of the states. To use the homely but expres- 
sive phrase of Mr. Lincoln, *« this would finish the job," and 
to this he now devoted his constant efforts. " We cannot," 
says he, " escape history. We will be remembered in spite 
of ourselves. * * * * The fiery trial through 
which we pass will light us down in honor or dishonor to the 
latest generation." 2 

In the midst of the war, we pause to give a history of 
this thirteenth, and far most important of all amendments to 
the Constitution. The debates thereon, in both branches of 
Congress, were the most important in American history. 
Indeed it would be difficult to find any others so important 

1. McPherson's History of the Rebellion, p. 256. 

2. McPherson's History of the Rebellion, p. 224. 


in the history of the world. They ran through two sessions 
of Congress, and in eloquence and ability equal the discus- 
sions of any deliberative assembly ever held. The speeches 
were fully reported, which was not the case in other great 
debates of earlier date. We are indebted to the imagina- 
tion of Webster for the speeches in the Continental Con- 
gress on the Declaration of Independence. The greatest 
debate in the Senate, prior to this, was the memorable one 
between Webster and Hayne, and their associates, on nulli- 

On the 14th of December, 1863, as soon as the Speaker 
had announced the standing committees of the House, he 
proceeded in regular order of business to call the states for 
resolutions. As Ohio, the first state organized under the 
great Ordinance of 1787, was called, one of her representa- 
tives, James M. Ashley, introduced a joint resolution, sub- 
mitting to the states a proposition to amend the Constitu- 
tion, by abolishing and prohibiting slavery. When Iowa was. 
called, James F. Wilson, Chairman of the Committee on the 
Judiciary, introduced a joint resolution providing for the 
submission to the states of an amendment to the Constitu- 
tion for the same purpose. On the nth of January, 1864, 
Senators Henderson, of Missouri, and Sumner, of Massa- 
chusetts, presented joint resolutions with the same object, 
and they were referred to the Committee on the Judiciary, of 
which Lyman Trumbull, of Illinois, was chairman. Trum- 
bull had been elected to the Senate in 1856, by the personal 
influence of Mr. Lincoln. He was a ready speaker, an able 
debater, and in the discussions in the Senate had been a 
worthy rival of his great associate, Douglas. He was prob- 
ably, without exception, the best practical legislator in the 
Senate, and, as Chairman of the Judiciary Committee, did 
more than any one else to frame the various acts of Con- 
gress which became laws during the war. 

On the 10th of February, 1864, he reported from the 
Judiciary Committee a substitute for the resolutions which 
had been offered by Henderson and Sumner. Adopting 


the language of the celebrated Ordinance of 1787, he 
reported the proposed amendment in these words : 

"Art. XIII, Sec. 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, 
except as a punishment for crime, whereof the party shall have been duly 
convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject 
to their jurisdiction. 

1 ' Sec. 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appro- 
priate legislation." 

On the 28th of March the Senate proceeded to consider 
the question, and the debate was opened by Senator Trum- 
bull. He sketched with great clearness and force the 
struggle between freedom and slavery during the last sev- 
enty years, and showed how slavery was at the bottom of 
all our difficulties. He said : ! 

' ' If these halls have resounded from our earliest recollections with 
the strifes and contests of sections, ending sometimes in blood, it was 
slavery which almost always occasioned them. No superficial observer 
even of our history, North or South, or of any party, can doubt that 
slavery lies at the bottom of our present troubles. Our fathers who 
made the Constitution regarded it as an evil, and looked forward to its 
early extinction. They felt the inconsistency of their position, while 
proclaiming the equal rights of all to life, liberty, and happiness, they 
denied liberty, happiness, and life itself to a whole race, except in subor- 
dination to them. It was impossible in the nature of things, that a 
government based on such antagonistic principles could permanently and 
peacefully endure, nor did its founders expect it would. They looked 
forward to the not distant nor, as they supposed, uncertain period, when 
slavery should be abolished, and the government become in fact what 
they made it in name, one securing the blessings of liberty to all. The 
history of the last seventy years has proved that the founders of the 
republic were mistaken in their expectations ; and slavery, so far from 
gradually disappearing as they had anticipated, had so strengthened 
itself, that in i860, its advocates demanded the control of the nation 
in its interests, failing in which, they attempted its overthrow. This 
attempt brought into hostile collision the slaveholding aristocracy, who 
made the right to live by the toil of others the chief article of their faith, 
and the free laboring masses of the North, who believed in the right of 
every man to eat the bread his own hands had earned." 

He then reviewed the action of Congress and of the 

1. Congressional Globe, vol. 51, p. 1313. 


Executive on the subject of slavery during the war, and 
closed the review by showing that the only way of ridding 
the country forever of slavery so that it could never be 
resuscitated, either by state or congressional action, was by 
a Constitutional amendment, prohibiting it forever every- 
where within the United States. His practical mind then 
discussed the probability of the adoption of the amendment, 
and on that point came to this conclusion : 

"I think, then, it is reasonable to suppose, that if this proposed 
amendment passes Congress, it will within a year receive the ratification 
of the requisite number of states to make it a part of the Constitution. 
That accomplished, and we are forever freed of this troublesome ques- 
tion. We accomplish then what the statesmen of this country have been 
stru ggli n g to accomplish for years. We take this question entirely away 
from the politics of the country. We relieve Congress of sectional strife, 
and what is better than all, we restore to a whole race that freedom 
which is theirs by the gift of God, but which we for generations have 
wickedly denied them." l 

Trumbull was followed by Senator Wilson, of Massa- 
chusetts, who said: 2 

" Why is it, Mr. President, that this magnificent continental repub- 
lic is now rent, torn, dissevered by civil war ? Why is it that the land 
resounds with the measured tread of a million of armed men? Why is 
it that our bright waters are stained, and our green fields reddened with 
fraternal blood ? Why is it that the young men of America, in the pride 
and bloom of early manhood, are summoned from homes, from the 
mothers who bore them, from the wives and sisters who love them, to 
the fields of bloody strife ?#**#* 

"Sir, this gigantic crime against the peace, the unity, and the life 
of the nation, is to make eternal the hateful domination of man over 
the souls and bodies of his fellow men. These sacrifices of property, of 
health, and of life, these appalling sorrows and agonies now upon us, 
are all the merciless inflictions of slavery, in its gigantic effort to found 
its empire, and make its hateful power forever dominant in Christian 
America. ******* 

" Sir, under the new Constitution, framed to secure the blessings of 
liberty, slavery strode into the chambers of legislation, the halls of 
justice, the mansion of the Executive, and with menaces in the one hand 

1. Congressional Globe, vol. 51, p. 1314. 

2. Congressional Globe, vol. 51, pp. 1320, 1323-4. 


and bribes in the other, it awed the timid and seduced the weak. March- 
ing on from conquest to conquest, crushing where it could not awe, 
seduce, or corrupt, slavery saw institutions of learning, benevolence, and. 
religion, political organizations and public men, aye, and the people too,, 
bend before it and acknowledge its iron rule. Seizing on the needed 
acquisitions of Louisiana and of Florida, to extend its boundaries, con- 
solidate its power, and enlarge its sway, slavery crossed the Mississippi, 
and there established its barbarous dominion against the too feeble resist- 
ance of a not yet conquered people. Controlling absolutely the policy 
of the South, swaying the policy of the nation, impressing itself upon the- 
legislation, the sentiments, and opinions of the North, slavery moved on 
to assured dominion. Under its aggressive advances, emancipation 
societies, organized by the men of the revolutionary era in the first bright 
ardor of secured liberty, one by one disappeared, presses and churches 
forgot to remember those in bonds as bound with them, and recreant sons- 
disowned the sentiments, opinions, and principles of a glorious ances- 

He then rapidly sketched the anti-slavery legislation of 
Congress and the action of the Executive, and thus alluded: 
to the proclamation of emancipation : 

"The enforcement of this proclamation will give peace and order, 
freedom and unity, to a now distracted country ; the failure to enforce- 
it will bring with it discord and anarchy, a dissevered Union, and a 
broken nation. * * * But, sir, the crowning act in this series of acts- 
for the restriction and extinction of slavery in America, is this proposed 
amendment to the Constitution, prohibiting the existence of slavery for- 
evermore in the republic of the United States." 

The amendment was vigorously opposed by the senators 
from Kentucky, by Saulsbury, of Delaware, and others. 

On the 5th of April, a memorable speech in favor of the 
amendment was made by Reverdy Johnson, of Maryland. 
He was a lawyer of great learning, had been Attorney Gen- 
eral, was a contemporary of Webster, Clay, and Calhoun, 
and an experienced statesman, and represented a state not 
included in the emancipation proclamation, but which was- 
by its own action throwing off the burden of slavery. His, 
speech attracted marked attention in the Senate and 
throughout the nation. He said, among other things : 

" I concurred, and concur still, in the judgment of the great apostle 
of American liberty, the author of that declaration which is to live through. 


all time as the Magna Charta of human rights, that in a contest between 
the slave to throw off his thralldom, and the master who holds him to it, 
the God of justice could take no part in favor of the latter." * * * 
" God and nature, judging by the history of the past, intend us to 
be one. Our unity is written in the mountains and rivers in which we all 
have an interest. The very difference of climate renders each important 
to the other, and alike important. That mighty horde, which from time 
to time have gone from the Atlantic imbued with the principles of human 
freedom which animated their fathers in running the perils of the mighty 
deep, and seeking liberty here, are now there, and, as they have said, 
they will continue to say until time shall be no more: ' We mean that 
the government in future shall be as in the past, an example of human 
freedom for the light and example of the world, and illustrating in the 
blessings and happiness it confers, the truth of the principles incorpor- 
ated into the Declaration of Independence ; that life and liberty are 
man's inalienable rights.' " * 

As to the power of the President to free the slaves, he 
said : 

" I believe that it is the rightful exercise of a belligerent power to 
emancipate the slaves of the enemy, if we can get possession of them, 
just as it is the rightful exercise of a belligerent right to take any other 
property belonging to the enemy, which may be taken under the civilized 
rules of modern warfare, or as it is a belligerent right to capture any 
other person of the enemy." 2 

Charles Sumner closed the debate in the Senate, bringing 
to the discussion rich stores of historic illustration, and quot- 
ing largely from the poets, historians, and statesmen of the 
past against slavery. " The amendment," said he " will give 
completeness and permanence to emancipation, and bring the 
Constitution into harmony with the Declaration of Independ- 
ence." He desired to change the phraseology of the 
amendment, so that, instead of using the language of the 
Ordinance of 1787, the resolution should declare the "equal- 
ity of all persons before the law" and he referred to the 
constitutions of France as precedents. 3 Senator Howard, of 
Michigan, said : " I prefer to dismiss all reference to French 
constitutions or French codes, and to go back to the good 

1. Congressional Globe, vol. 51, p. 1424. 

2. Congressional Globe, April 5th, 1864. 

3. Congressional Globe, April 8th, 1864. 


old Anglo-Saxon language employed by our fathers in the 
Ordinance of 1787 — language well understood, and which 
has been adjudicated upon repeatedly, and, I may add, near 
and dear to the people of the Northwestern territory, from 
whose soil slavery was excluded." ! 

Mr. Sumner withdrew the amendment he had proposed, 
and the resolution, on the 8th of April, 1864, passed the 
Senate, in the language in which it had been reported by 
Mr. Trumbull; ayes, thirty-eight; noes, six. Senators Hen- 
dricks, of Indiana, and McDougall, of California, were the 
only senators from the free states who voted against it. 

The honor of having been the author of the Ordinance 
of 1787, has been claimed by Virginia, for Jefferson, and by 
Massachusetts, through Daniel Webster, for " one Nathan 
Dane," but it has been settled by a very accurate historical 
student 2 that its real author was Dr. Cutler. 

No one will ever dispute that Senator Trumbull is enti- 
tled to the honor of framing, reporting,and carrying through 
the Senate, the thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution 
of the United States, a measure as much more important 
when compared with the Ordinance, as the whole country is 
more important than the Northwest territory. The honor of 
this great service would, in most countries of the world, 
have been rewarded with a title of high nobility, and pecu- 
niary independence. This republic will not be so ungrateful 
as to forget to whom this great honor is due. 

The resolution having passed the Senate, the main diffi- 
culty was to come in the House of Representatives. There, 
it was well known, the vote would be close, and the result 

On the 1 st of January, 1864, while the resolution was 
pending in both houses of Congress, a friend 3 of the Presi- 
dent called at the White House to pay his respects and the 

1. Congressional Globe, April 8th, 1864. 

2. Mr. Poole, librarian of the Chicago Public Library. See his paper on the Ordi- 
nance of 1787, read before the Chicago Historical Society. 

3. The Author. 


compliments of the season. After congratulating the Presi- 
dent on the great victories which had been achieved in the 
East and in the West, and the brightening prospects of 
peace, the visitor said: 

" I hope, Mr. President, that on next New Year's day I 
may have the pleasure of congratulating you on three events 
which now seem very probable." 

" What are they ? " said he. 

" Fir 5t y That the war may be ended by the complete 
triumph of the Union forces. 

"Second, That slavery may be abolished and prohibited 
throughout the Union by an amendment of the Constitu- 

" Third, That Abraham Lincoln may have been re-elected 

" I think," replied he, with a smile, " I think, my friend, 
I would be willing to accept the first two by way of com- 

It has already been stated that propositions for the 
amendment had been offered in the House by Ashley, of 
Ohio, and Wilson, of Iowa. The President was extremely 
anxious about the vote in the House, and very often, with 
the friends of the measure, canvassed the House to see if 
the requisite number could be obtained, but we could never 
count a two-thirds vote. One day, after we had been specu- 
lating on the probabilities of the passage of the resolution, 
the author said: " I will test our strength. I will introduce 
a resolution as a feeler. I will make it just as simple as I 
can, and we will have a test vote ;" and so, on the 15th of 
February, 1864, the author had the honor to introduce into 
the House the following: 

" Resolved, That the Constitution should be so amended 
as to abolish slavery in the United States wherever it now 
exists, and to prohibit its existence in every part thereof 
forever." ' This resolution was adopted by a decided 
majority, but not by a majority of two-thirds, and it is 

1. Congressional Globe, vol. 50, p. 659. 


believed that it was the first resolution ever adopted for the 
entire abolition of slavery. But, although it did not pass by 
two-thirds, yet it enabled us to know our strength, and just 
how many votes were needed to carry us through. 

The discussion in the House began on the 19th of 
March, and a vote was not reached until the 15th of June. 
Mr. Wilson, of Iowa, who on the first day of the session had 
given notice of his Constitutional amendment, and who had 
introduced a joint resolution for that purpose, made a very 
able and logical argument in favor of its adoption. His 
proposition was that " slavery is incompatible with a free 
government," and he demonstrated that proposition. He 
said: "What are the thunders of this war but the voice of 
God calling upon the nation to return from the evil paths, 
made rough by errors and misfortunes, blunders and crimes,, 
made slippery by the warm, smoking blood of our brothers 
and friends, to the grand highway of prosperity, happiness,, 
glory, and peace in which He planted the feet of the fathers. 
Can we not hear amid the awful rushing roar of this war- 
storm the voice of Him who rides upon the whirlwind, and 
rules the tempest, saying: ' You cannot have peace until 
you secure liberty to all who are subject to your laws.' " 1 

On the same day, Mr. Arnold, of Illinois, spoke in favor 
of the resolution. Among other things he said : 

" Our aim is national unity without slavery. Not ' the Union as it 
was, and the Constitution as it is,' but a nation without slavery, the Con- 
stitution the Magna Charta which shall secure liberty to all. * * 
The wandering stars must be brought back with their lustre brightened 
by the ordeal through which they have passed. * * We can have no 
national harmony and union without freedom. The fearful error of 
uniting free and slave states, we shall never repeat. But if the grand 
idea can be realized of a free, homogeneous people, united in a great 
continental republic based on liberty for all, and retaining the great prin- 
ciples of Magna Charta, we shall see realized the noblest structure of 
government and national polity ever organized on earth. * * * It 
is the duty of the Executive, by the sword, and by war, to destroy all 
armed opposition. Everything necessary to accomplish this, consistent 

1. Congressional Globe, March 19th, 1864, 1st Session 38th Congress, p. 1203. 


with the rules of war as recognized by civilized nations, he may rightfully 
do. He may emancipate and arm slaves, arrest and confine dangerous 
enemies, and thus prevent the execution of treasonable designs, and sup- 
press, for the time, treasonable publications. All this may be done 
under the rules of war, and in the exercise of the powers vested in the 
Executive of carrying the war against public enemies and traitors." ' 
* * * " Slavery is the soul, body, and spirit of the rebellion. 
It is slavery which marshals yonder rebel hosts which confront the 
armies of Grant and Sherman. * * * 

" In view of all the long catalogue of wrongs which slavery has 
inflicted upon the country, I demand to-day of the Congress of the 
United States, the death of African slavery. We can have no perma- 
nent peace while slavery lives. It now reels and staggers towards 
its last death struggle. Let us strike the monster this last decisive 

" The Thirty-seventh Congress will live in history as the Congress 
which prohibited slavery in all the territories of the Union, and abolished 
it at the national capital. The President of the United States will be 
remembered as the author of the proclamation of emancipation, as the 
liberator of a race, the apostle of freedom, the great emancipator of his 
country. The Thirty-eighth Congress, if we pass this joint resolution, 
will live in history as that which consummated the great work of freeing 
a continent from the curse of human bondage. Never, since the day 
when John Adams plead for the Declaration of Independence, has so 
important a question been submitted to an American Congress, as that 
upon which you are now about to vote. The signing of the immortal 
Declaration is a familiar picture in every log cabin and home all over the 
land. Pass this resolution, and the vote which knocks off the fetters of a 
whole race, will make this scene immortal. Live a century, nay a thou- 
sand years, and no such opportunity to do a great deed for humanity, 
for liberty, for peace, and for your country, will ever again present itself. 
Pass this joint resolution, and you will win a victory over wrong and 
injustice, lasting as eternity. The whole world will rise up to do you 
honor. Every lover of liberty in Germany, France, Italy, Great Britain, 
the world, will rise up and call you blessed. The gallant soldiers in the 
field who are giving their lives for liberty and union, will call down upon 
you the blessings of heaven. Let the lightnings of God (fit instruments 
for the glorious message) transmit to the toiling and struggling soldiers 
of Sherman, and Hunter, and Grant, the thrilling words, ' slavery abol- 
ished forever,' and their joyous shouts will echo over the land and strike 
terror into the ranks of the rebels and traitors fighting for tyranny and 
bondage. The thousands of wounded in the hospitals around this capital, 

1. Congressional Globe, 1st Session 38th Congress, pp 1196-7. 


would hail the intelligence as a battle fought, and a"great victory won." 
* * * " xhe people and the states are eager and impatient to ratify it. 
Will those who claim to represent the ancient democracy refuse to give 
the people an opportunity to vote upon it ? Is this your confidence in 
the loyal masses ? The passage of this resolution will strike the rebellion 
at the heart. I appeal to border state men, and democrats of the free 
states ; look over your country ; see the bloody footsteps of slavery. See 
the ruin and desolation which it has brought upon our once happy land ; 
and I ask, why stay the hand now ready to strike down to death the 
cause of all these evils ? Why seek to prolong the life, to restore to vigor, 
the institution of slavery, now needing but this last act to doom it to ever- 
lasting death and damnation? Gentlemen may flatter themselves with the 
hope of a restoration of the slave power in this country. ' The Union 
as it was ! ' It is a dream never again to be realized. The America of 
the past is gone forever ! A new nation is to be born from the agony 
through which the people are now passing. This new nation is to be 
wholly free. Liberty, equality before the law, is to be the great corner 
stone. Much yet remains to be done to secure this. Many a battle on 
the field has yet to be fought and won against the mighty power which 
fights for slavery, the barbarous system of the past. Many a battle has 
yet to be won in the higher sphere of moral conflict. While our gallant 
soldiers are subduing the rebels in the field, let us second their efforts by 
sweeping from the statute book every stay, and prop, and shield, of 
human slavery — the scourge of our country — and let us crown all by 
incorporating into our organic law, the law of universal liberty." l 

Randall, of Pennsylvania, a leading democrat from that 
state, opposed the resolution. He said: " Let the Consti- 
tution alone. It is good enough. Let the old Constitutional 
tree stand in all its fulness and beauty, and not a bough 
lopped off, and under its green branches there will yet 
repose a united, a happy, and a prosperous people. * * 

1 " Woodman, spare that tree ! 
Touch not a single bough. 
In youth it sheltered me, 
And I'll protect it now.' " 2 

Pendleton, of Ohio, closed the debate with an able 
speech in opposition to the resolution. On the 15th of June, 
1864, the vote was taken, amidst the most intense solicitude 

1. Congressional Globe, vol. 53, p. 2988-89. 

a. Congressional Globe, 1st Session 38th Congress, p. 2991. 


as to the result. The vote was: ayes, ninety-three, noes,, 
sixty-five — not a majority of two-thirds. Thereupon Ashley, 
of Ohio, changed his vote from aye to no, to enable him 
to move a reconsideration, which he did, and pending this 
the resolution went over to the next session. Lincoln was 
chagrined and disappointed, but not discouraged by the 
vote; as Henry Clay once said to his friends, the pioneer 
hunters of Kentucky, "We must pick our flints and try 



The President's Message. — His Personal Appeal to Rollins 
and Border States Members. — Speeches by Voorhees, Kas- 


the Debate. — The Resolution Passes. — Lincoln's Speech on 
Its Passage. — Ratification by the States. — Seward Certi- 
fies its Adoption. 

When Congress convened on the 5th of December, 1864, 
the President, in his annual message, earnestly recommended 
and urged the passage of the Constitutional amendment. 
Alluding to the elections which had lately been held, he 
said: " They show almost certainly that the next Congress 
will pass the measure if this does not. Hence there is only 
a question of time as to when the proposed amendment will 
go to the states for their action. And as it is to so go, at all 
events may we not agree that the sooner the better." He 
closed by saying: "While I remain in my present position 
I shall not attempt to retract or modify the emancipation 
proclamation, nor shall I return to slavery any person who is 
free by the terms of that proclamation, or by any of the acts 
of Congress. If the people should, by whatever mode or 
means, make it an Executive duty to re-enslave such persons; 
another, and not I must be their instrument to perform it." 
He thus linked his fortunes with the cause of emancipation: 
4i 'Sink or swim, live or die, survive or perish,' I give my 
heart and my hand to this measure." 

Just before the meeting of the national convention at 
Baltimore, in 1864, to nominate candidates for President and 



Vice President — which will be more fully described here- 
after — Senator Morgan, of New York, chairman of the 
national republican committee, at the request of the Presi- 
dent called at the White House, and Mr. Lincoln said him: 
" Senator Morgan, I want you to mention in your speech 
when you call the convention to order, as its key note, and 
to put into the platform as the key-stone, the amendment of 
the Constitution abolishing and prohibiting slavery forever." 
This was done, the amendment was thus made the promin- 
ent issue, and was sanctioned by the people. 

Mr. Lincoln hoped to induce some of the border state 
members, and war democrats who had at the last session 
voted against the proposition, to change their votes. To 
this end he sought interviews with them, and urged them to 
vote for the amendment. Among them was Mr. Rollins, a 
distinguished member of Congress from Missouri, and a 
warm personal friend. Mr. Rollins says: 

" The President had several times in my presence expressed his deep 
anxiety in favor of the passage of this great measure. He and others 
had repeatedly counted votes in order to ascertain, as far as they could, 
the strength of the measure upon a second trial in the House. He was 
doubtful about its passage, and some ten days or two weeks before it 
came up for consideration in the House, I received a note from him, 
written in pencil on a card, while sitting at my desk in the House, stat- 
ing that he wished to see me, and asking that I call on him at the White 
House. I responded that I would be there the next morning at nine 
o'clock. I was prompt in calling upon him and found him alone in his 
office. He received me in the most cordial manner, and said in his usual 
familiar way: ' Rollins, I have been wanting to talk to you for some- 
time about the thirteenth amendment proposed to the Constitution of 
the United States, which will have to be voted on now, before a great 
while.' I said : ' Well, I am here, and ready to talk upon that subject.' 
He said : ' You and I were old whigs, both of us followers of that 
great statesman, Henry Clay, and I tell you I never had an opinion 
upon the subject of slavery in my life that I did not get from him. I 
am very anxious that the war should be brought to a close at the earliest 
possible date, and I don't believe this can be accomplished as long as those 
fellows down South can rely upon the border states to help them; but if 
the members from the border states would unite, at least enough of them 
to pass the thirteenth amendment to the Constitution, they would soon 


see that they could not expect much help from that quarter, and be will- 
ing to give up their opposition and quit their war upon the government ; 
this is my chief hope and main reliance to bring the war to a speedy 
close, and I have sent for you as an old whig friend to come and see me, 
that I might make an appeal to you to vote for this amendment. It is 
going to be very close, a few votes one way or the other will decide it.' 

" To this I responded : ' Mr. President, so far as I am concerned 
you need not have sent for me to ascertain my views on this subject, for 
although I represent perhaps the strongest slave district in Missouri, 
and have the misfortune to be one of the largest slave-owners in the 
county where I reside, I had already determined to vote for the thirteenth 
amendment.' He arose from his chair, and grasping me by the hand, 
gave it a hearty shake, and said : 'lam most delighted to hear that.' 

" He asked me how many more of the Missouri delegates in the 
House would vote for it. I said I could not tell ; the republicans of 
course would ; General Loan, Mr. Blow, Mr. Boyd, and Colonel 
McClurg. He said : ' Won't General Price vote for it ? He is a good 
Union man.' I said I could not answer. ' Well, what about Governor 
King? ' I told him I did not know. He then asked about Judges 
Hall and Norton. I said they would both vote against it, I thought. 

" 'Well,' he said, 'are you on good terms with Price and King?' 
I responded in the affirmative, and that I was on easy terms with the 
entire delegation. He then asked me if I would not talk with those who 
might be persuaded to vote for the amendment, and report to him as 
soon as I could find out what the prospect was. I answered that I 
would do so with pleasure, and remarked at the same time, that when I 
was a young man, in 1848, I was the whig competitor of King for Gov- 
ernor of Missouri and as he beat me very badly, I thought now he should 
pay me back by voting as I desired him on this important question. I 
promised the President I would talk to this gentleman upon the subject. 
He said : ' I would like you to talk to all the border state men whom 
you can approach properly, and tell them of my anxiety to have the 
measure pass ; and let me know the prospect of the border state vote,' 
which I promised to do. He again said : ' The passage of this amend- 
ment will clinch the whole subject ; it will bring the war, I have no 
doubt, rapidly to a close.' " * 

The debate on the subject in the House began on the 
6th of January, 1865. Ashley of Ohio and Orth of Indi- 
ana spoke in its favor. Voorhees of Indiana opposed it, 
saying : 

1. Lincoln Memorial Album, pp. 491, 2, 3. 


" When the sky shall again be clear over our heads, a peaceful sun 
illuminating the land, and our great household of states all at home 
in harmony once more, then will be the time to consider what changes, 
if any, this generation desire to make in the work of Washington, Madi- 
son, and the revered sages of our antiquity." * 

Mr. Kasson, of Iowa, said : 

" I would rather stand solitary, with my name recorded for this 
amendment, than to have all the honors which could be heaped upon me 
by any party in opposition to this proposition." 2 

Mr. Woodbridge, of Vermont, said: 

"Coming from the Green Mountain state, where a good old judge 
fifty years ago said to a claimant, who claimed and presented a bill of 
sale for a slave: ' Show me a bill of sale from God Almighty, and your 
title will be recognized,' it is not necessary for me to say that in my 
judgment there can be no property in man. * * * I want this reso- 
lution to pass, and then, when it (the war) does end, the beautiful statue 
of liberty which now crowns the majestic dome above our heads may 
look north and south, east and west, upon a free nation, untarnished by 
aught inconsistent with freedom ; redeemed, regenerated, and disen- 
thralled by the genius of universal emancipation." 3 

As has been said, one of the very ablest speeches in 
favor of the amendment was made by Rollins of Missouri. 
He said : 

"The convention which recently assembled in my state, I learned 
from a telegram a morning or two ago, had adopted an amendment to 
our present state constitution, for the immediate emancipation of all the 
slaves in the state. I am no longer the owner of a slave, and I thank 
God for it. If the giving up of my slaves without complaint shall 
be a contribution upon my part, to promote the public good, to uphold 
the Constitution of the United States, to restore peace and preserve this 
Union, if 1 had owned a thousand slaves, they would most cheerfully have 
been given up. I say with all my heart, let them go ; but let them not go 
without a sense of feeling and a proper regard on my part for the future 
of themselves and their offspring." 4 

Of the power of the slaveholders in ruling the republic, 
he used the following language : 

1. Congressional Globe, 2d Session 38th Congress, p. 141. 

2. Congressional Globe, 2d Session 38th Congress, p. 193. 

3. Congressional Globe, 2d Session 38th Congress, pp. 243-4. 

4. Congressional Globe, 2d Session 38th Congress, pp. 258-60. 


' ' Sir, the peculiar friends of slavery have controlled the govern- 
ment for much the greater part of the time since its establishment, and 
but for their own wickedness and folly might have saved the institution, 
and had their full share in its management for many years to come. If 
they have lost the political control, all are blameless save themselves ! 

" ' But yesterday, the word of Csesar might 

Have stood against the world; now lies he there, 
And none so poor to do him reverence.' " 

Of the necessity of abolishing slavery to secure perma- 
nent peace, he said : 1 

"We never can have an entire peace as long as the institution of 
slavery remains as one of the recognized institutions of the country. It 
•occurs to me that the surest way to obtain peace is to dispose of the insti- 
tution now." 

Of Mr. Lincoln's proposition for compensated emancipa- 
tion, he said : 

"And, sir, if ever a people made a mistake on earth, it was the men 
•of Kentucky, by whom I was somewhat governed myself, when three 
years ago they rejected the offer of the President of the United States, 
who, wiser than we were, seeing the difficulties before us, but seeing the 
bow of promise set in the sky, and knowing what was to come, proposed 
to us to sweep the institution of slavery from the border states, offering 
the assistance of the United States, to aid in compensating the loyal men 
•of those states for their losses in labor and property." 

Of the effects of slavery upon Missouri, he eloquently 
said : 

" I come now to speak a word in reference to my own state of Mis- 
souri. She came into the Union as it were in the midst of a revolution. 
For the purpose only of having a few thousand slaves there, the whole 
continent shook with the agitation of this Missouri question. We were 
fighting for the privilege of holding a few slaves in bondage in that great 
state. We forgot the paramount good in this miserable struggle. * * 
Look at Illinois, just across the Father of Waters. She came into the 
Union in 1818, two years before Missouri, and with less population, 
fewer mineral resources, not so many rivers, no better facilities for com- 
merce, yet she has four thousand miles of railroad, while Missouri has 
only twelve hundred. Illinois has a prosperous, happy, and peaceful 
population of two millions; while we have only half this number, and 
our people are leaving in every direction, seeking homes in the terri- 

1. Congressional Globe, 2d Session 38th Congress, pp. 260-61. 


tories, in the distant mountains, in South America, in Mexico, in Illinois,, 
flying away from the horrible spectre of this infernal rebellion. Why is 
this ? I know of but one real, substantial, specific reason, and that is 
that the framers of the Missouri Constitution allowed slavery to remain, 
while Illinois was made forever free by the Ordinance of 1787, penned by 
Thomas Jefferson, a son of Virginia, and by which Virginia ceded an 
empire within itself (the Northwestern territory) to the United States." 

He then indulged in the following predictions of the 
future : 

" When the poor and humble farmers and mechanics of Alabama 
and Mississippi shall have left the bloody trials in which they are now 
engaged to tear down this temple of human liberty; when they will return 
perhaps to their desolated homes; when they shall look once more upon 
and hug to their bosoms the wives and children whom they love, 
in poverty and in rags; when they will go, perhaps, without an arm, or 
without an eye, or without a leg, and in poverty, to those who are depend- 
ent upon them for support in life; taught by experience, they will ask 
the question of themselves: ' Why all this? What have we been fighting 
for? ' They will bring to mind the sweet memories of other days. They 
will remember the peaceful and happy home which they were induced to 
leave, and which they enjoyed under the benign influences of wholesome 
and liberal laws passed here, and they will inquire: ' By what sophistry, 
by what appeal, by what force, by what maddening influence is it that we 
have been induced to enter into this terrible rebellion ? ' Not to promote 
any interest of wife and children, but to destroy all the blessings vouchsafed 
to us and to them by a free government and equitable laws; and they 
will further ask: ' Who has been the author of my misfortunes, and the 
ruin of my family, my all? ' Sir, they will point to those who hold the 
power at Richmond; they will direct their vengeance against them; and 
Davis and his traitorous crew, as I have said upon a former occasion, 
will, like Actseon of old, be in the end destroyed by their own friends." 

The speech of Garfield of Ohio, afterwards President, 
was especially able and interesting. As a soldier he had 
already won the rank and laurels of a Major General. His 
victory over Humphrey Marshall, at Middle Creek, and the 
brilliant record he made at Chickamauga, had been rewarded 
by the President with the commission of Major General, 
dated on the day of that battle. He now represented the 
district in Ohio known as the Giddings district, and his 
manly appearance, his ruddy complexion, bronzed by expos- 


ure and hardship as a soldier, as well as his fervid eloquence, 
attracted general attention. His speech was mainly in reply 
to his colleague, Pendleton, was full of classical allusions, 
and gave evidence of scholarship and culture. He said : 

' ' Who does not remember that thirty years ago, a short period in 
the life of a nation, but little could be said with impunity in these halls 
on the subject of slavery ? How well do gentlemen here remember the 
history of that distinguished predecessor of mine, Joshua R. Giddings, 
lately gone to his rest, who, with his forlorn hope of faithful men, took 
his life in his hands, and in the name of justice protested against the 
great crime, and who stood bravely in his place until his white locks, 
like the plume of Henry of Navarre, marked where the battle of free- 
dom raged fiercest ? We can hardly realize that this is the same people, 
and these the same halls, where now scarcely a man can be found who 
will venture to do more than falter out an apology for slavery, protesting 
at the same time that he has no love for the dying tyrant. None, I 
believe, but that man of more than supernal boldness from the city of 
New York [Mr. Fernando Wood] has ventured this session to raise his 
voice in favor of slavery for its own sake. He still sees in its features 
the reflection of divinity and beauty, and only he. 'How art thou fallen 
from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning? How art thou cut down 
to the ground, which didst weaken the nations !' Many mighty men have 
been slain by thee ; many proud ones have humbled themselves at thy 
feet ! All along the coast of the political sea they lie like stranded 
wrecks, broken on the headlands of freedom. How lately did its advo- 
cates with impious boldness maintain it as ' God's own,' to be venerated 
and cherished as divine. It was another and higher form of civilization. 
It was the holy evangel of America, dispensing its blessings to the wil- 
derness of the West. In its mad arrogance it lifted its hands to strike 
down the fabric of the Union, and since that fatal day, it has been a 
fugitive and a vagabond upon the earth, and like the spirit that Jesus 
cast out, it has since then been ' seeking rest, and finding none.' " * 

And now, on the 13th of January, came Thaddeus Ste- 
vens, Chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means, and 
the recognized leader of the House, to close the debate. 
As he came limping with his club foot along down the aisle 
from his committee room, the members gathered thickly 
around him. He was tall and commanding in person, and 
although venerable with years, his form was unbent and his 
intellect undimmed. The galleries had already been filled 

1. Congressional Globe, 2d Session 38th Congress, p. 263. 


with the most distinguished people in Washington. As the 
word ran through the Capitol that Stevens was speaking on 
the Constitutional Amendment, senators came over from the 
Senate, lawyers and judges from the court rooms, and dis- 
tinguished soldiers and citizens filled every available seat, to 
hear the eloquent old man speak on a measure that was to 
consummate the warfare of forty years against slavery. 
Reviewing the past, he said : 

" When, fifteen years ago, I was honored with a seat in this body, 
it was dangerous to talk against this institution, a danger which gentle- 
men now here will never be able to appreciate. Some of us, however, 
have experienced it ; my friend from Illinois on my right [Mr. Wash- 
burne] has. And yet, sir, I did not hesitate, in the midst of bowie 
knives and revolvers, and howling demons upon the other side of the 
House, to stand here and denounce this infamous institution in language 
which possibly now, on looking at it, I might deem intemperate, but 
which I then deemed necessary to rouse the public attention, and cast 
odium upon the worst institution upon earth, one which is a disgrace to 
man, and would be an annoyance to the infernal spirits * * 

" Perhaps I ought not to occupy so much time, and I will only say 
one word further. So far as the appeals of the learned gentleman [Mr. 
Pendleton] are concerned, his pathetic winding up, I will be willing to 
take my chance when we all molder in the dust. He may have his 
epitaph written, if it be truly written, ' Here rests the ablest and most 
pertinacious defender of slavery and opponent of liberty,' and I will be 
satisfied if my epitaph shall be written thus: ' Here lies one who never 
rose to any eminence, and who only courted the low ambition to have it 
said that he had striven to ameliorate the condition of the poor, the lowly, 
the downtrodden of every race and language and color. ' 

" I shall be content, with such an eulogy on his lofty tomb, and 
such an inscription on my humble grave, to trust our memories to the 
judgment of other ages. 

" We have suffered for slavery more than all the plagues of Egypt. 
More than the first born of every household has been taken. We still 
harden our hearts, and refuse to let the people go. The scourge still 
continues, nor do I expect it to cease until we obey the behests of the 
Father of men. We are about to ascertain the national will by an amend- 
ment to the Constitution. If the gentlemen opposite will yield to the 
voice of God and humanity and vote for it, I verily believe the sword of 
the destroying angel will be stayed, and this people be re-united. If we still 


harden our hearts, and blood must still flow, may the ghosts of the 
slaughtered victims sit heavily upon the souls of those who cause it." l 

The vote on the passage of the resolution was taken 
amidst the most intense anxiety and solicitude. Up to the 
last roll call no one knew what the result would be. Demo- 
cratic votes were needed to carry the measure. We knew 
we should get some, but whether enough none could telh 
The most intense anxiety was felt, and as the clerk called 
the names of members, so perfect was the silence that the 
sound of a hundred pencils, keeping tally as the names 
were called and recorded, could be heard. When the name 
of Governor English, a democrat from Connecticut, was 
called, and he voted aye, there was great applause on the 
floor and in the crowded galleries, and this was repeated 
when Ganson, Nelson, Odell, and other democrats from New 
York responded aye. The clerk handed the vote to the 
speaker, Colfax, who announced in breathless silence the 
result: ayes, one hundred and nineteen; noes, fifty-six. Every 
negative vote was given by a democrat. 

When the speaker made the formal announcement: 
" The constitutional majority of two-thirds having voted in 
the affirmative, the joint resolution is passed," it was received 
with an uncontrollable outburst of enthusiasm. The repub- 
lican members, regardless of the rules, instantly sprang to 
their feet and applauded with cheers. The example was 
followed by the spectators in the galleries, who waved their 
hats and their handkerchiefs, and cheers and congratula- 
tions continued for many minutes. Finally, Mr. Ingersoll 
of Illinois, representing the district of Owen Lovejoy, in 
honor, as he said, of the sublime event, moved that the 
House adjourn. The motion was carried, but before the 
members left their seats the roar of artillery from Capitol 
Hill announced to the people of Washington that the amend- 
ment had passed Congress. The personal friends of Mr. 
Lincoln, hastening to the White House, exchanged con- 
gratulations with him on the auspicious result. The pass- 

1. Congressional Globe, 2d Session 38th Congress, p. 124. 


age of the resolution filled his heart with joy. He saw in it 
the complete consummation of his own great work, the 
emancipation proclamation. 

On the following evening a vast crowd of rejoicing and 
enthusiastic friends, with music, marched to the White 
House, publicly to congratulate the President on the pass- 
age of the joint resolution. Arriving at the Executive 
Mansion, the band played national airs, and as Mr. Lincoln 
appeared at a window over the portico he was greeted with 
the greatest enthusiasm. When the cheering had subsided, 
his whole form and every feature radiant with joy, raising 
his arm, he slowly said: 

" The great job is ended." * * " The occasion is one 
of congratulation, and I cannot but congratulate all present, 
myself, the country, and the whole world upon this great 
moral victory. The amendment," he continued, " has 
already been ratified by Illinois, and Maryland is half 
through, but I feel proud," said he, " that Illinois is a little 
ahead. * * This ends the job." 

Yes, and it was the brave heart, the clear, sagacious 
brain, the indomitable but patient will of Abraham Lincoln 
that carried through the great revolution. There remained 
now but a few more battles, a few more victories, and all 
would be won, and a free and united republic established 
from the lakes to the gulf, and then the work of the prairie 
statesman would be finished. He would have fully vindi- 
cated his right to be called one " of the family of the lion 
and the tribe of the eagle." The dream of his youth, the 
prophecy of his manhood would be realized. As yet no 
dark shadow, no presentiment of death rose on the landscape 
of the future. 

When in June, 1858, at his home in Springfield, Abra- 
ham Lincoln startled the people by the declaration: "This 
nation cannot endure permanently half slave and half free," 
and when in concluding that very remarkable speech, with 
prophetic voice, uplifted eye, and the inspired mien of a 
seer, he exclaimed: "We shall not fail ; if we stand firm we 


shall not fail. Wise counsels may accelerate, or mistakes 
delay, but sooner or later the victory is sure to come." He 
looked to long years of political controversy ; he expected 
a severe struggle and a final triumph through the use of all 
the agencies by which public opinion is influenced and 
formed ; and he anticipated the final triumph through the 
ballot box. But he did not foresee, unless in those myste- 
rious, dim shadows which sometimes startle by half reveal- 
ing the future, his own elevation to the Presidency ; he did 
not foresee that he should be chosen by God and the people 
to lead on to that victory which he then felt was sure to 
come ; that he should speak the word which should emanci- 
pate a race and free his country. Nor did he foresee that 
a martyr's death would crown a life which was so consecrated 
to duty, a life which was to be from that day forth so filled 
with unselfish, untiring devotion to country and to liberty, 
that his example will be everlasting, growing brighter with 
years ; forever to inspire the patriot, and give courage to 
those who labor, and struggle, and die, for the poor and the 
oppressed ; until in all the world, there shall be left no slave 
to be freed, no oppressor to be overthrown. 

As has been stated, Illinois, under the inspiration of Lin- 
coln, took the lead of all the states in ratifying the amend- 
ment. Then followed Rhode Island and Michigan, and on 
the same day, the 2nd of February, regenerated Maryland ; 
on the 3rd, and keeping pace with her, were New York and 
West Virginia. Then Maine and Kansas, Massachusetts and 
Pennsylvania ; and then old Virginia and Ohio and redeemed 
Missouri; and then Nevada and Indiana, and Louisiana and 
the other states followed, until more than three-fourths of 
all ratified the amendment. 

It was a proud moment when William H. Seward, on the 
1 8th of November, 1865, as Secretary of State, officially 
proclaimed the ratification of the amendment and certified 1 

1. The following correspondence gives in a semi-official form the dates of the 
ratification : 

3 68 


"that the same had become to all intents and purposes valid 
as a part of the Constitution of the United States." ' 

Washington, July 23, 1866. 
Hon. W. H. Seward, Secretary of State. 

My Dear Sir : * * * May I trouble you to furnish me the dates at which the 
several states adopted the Constitutional amendment prohibiting slavery forever 
throughout the republic, and a copy of your official certificate or proclamation, 
announcing such ratification by the requisite number of states? I cannot forbear 
congratulating you on the part you have taken in this great revolution. Few have 
had the felicity of living to witness such glorious results from their labors. How few 
could have anticipated when you began your anti-slavery labors, that you would live 
to officially proclaim that " slavery is no more.'''' 

Very Respectfully Yours, 


Department of State, Washington, August 22, 1866. 
Isaac N. Arnold, Esq., 

Sir : Your letter of the 23d ultimo, asking to be furnished the dates at which the 
several states adopted the amendment to the Constitution prohibiting slavery, etc., 
was duly received; but owing to the exigencies of public business in this Department, 
it has not been convenient to answer it until now. 

The dates of ratification by the several states, up to this time, are as follows : 
Illinois, February 1st, 1865; Rhode Island, February 2d, 1865; Michigan, February 
2d, 1865; Maryland, February 1st and 3d, 1865; New York, February 2d and 3d, 1865;. 
West Virginia, February 3d, 1865; Maine, February 7th, 1865; Kansas, February 7th, 
1865; Massachusetts, February 8th, 1865; Pennsylvania, February 8th, 1865; Virginia, 
February 9th, 1865; Ohio, February 10th, 1865; Missouri, February 10th, 1865; Ne- 
vada, February 16th, 1865; Indiana, February 16th, 1865; Louisiana, February 17th, 
1865; Minnesota, February 8th and 23d, 1865; Wisconsin, March 1st, 1865; Vermont, 
March 9th, 1865; Tennessee, April 5th and 7th, 1865; Arkansas, April 20th, 1865; Con- 
necticut, May 5th, 1865; New Hampshire, July 1st, 1865; South Carolina, November 
13th, 1865; Alabama, December 2d, 1865; North Carolina, December 4th, 1865; 
Georgia, December 9th, 1865; Oregon, December 11th, 1865; California, December 
20th, 1865; Florida, December 28th, 1865; New Jersey, January 23d, 1866; Iowa, 
January 24th, 1866. 

I transmit a copy of the certificate of ratification, agreeably to your request- 
Thanking you for the congratulations with which you conclude your letter. 
I am, Your Obedient Servant, 




General Grant Comes to the Potomac. — Sherman Goes 
Through Dixie to the Ocean. — Fort McAllister Taken. — 
. Savannah Falls. — The Alabama is Sunk. — Farragut Cap- 
tures Mobile. 

Again must the reader return with us to the fields of 
war. Grand marches are yet to be made, bloody battles to> 
be fought, carnage, suffering, desolation, and death must 
yet be encountered in their utmost horror before the end of 
the great drama is reached. But the result of it all is, to the 
intelligent reader, no longer doubtful. 

In the West, victory had of late everywhere attended the 
Union flag, the capture of Vicksburg and Port Hudson 
having been followed by the brilliant victory of Missionary 
Ridge and Lookout Mountain. But in the East, the case 
was far different. The defeat of the rebel forces at Gettys- 
burg had been so crushing that, had the Union armies 
followed up their advantages, the war might have been 
brought to a more speedy termination. Instead of this, Lee 
was permitted, to the great mortification and grief of the 
President, to recover from his defeat, to re-cross the Poto- 
mac, and to occupy his former lines. But the time was near 
when the conduct of military operations was to be entrusted 
to the able hands of the hero of Vicksburg, and when 
reverses would no longer alternate with the successes of the 
Northern armies. 

Early after the opening of the Thirty-eighth Congress, 
Washburne, of Illinois, the ever faithful friend of Grant, and 
24 369 


to whom this great soldier was more indebted for opportun- 
ities to serve his country than to any other man, brought for- 
ward a bill creating the office of Lieutenant General. It was 
the wish of the friends of that law that the great soldier 
who had achieved such signal success in the valley of the 
Mississippi should take the high position of commander, 
under the President, of all the armies of the United States. 
On the 2 2d of February, 1864, the President approved the 
act, and sent the name of Grant to the Senate as Lieutenant 
General. On the 2d of March the nomination was confirmed, 
and the President immediately requested the General's 
presence at Washington. Up to this time Grant had not, 
during the war, visited the capital. He was personally 
unknown to the President, the Secretary of War, and most 
of the members of Congress. This unsolicited appointment 
found him at his post of duty, and, with a modesty and gen- 
erosity towards his most trusted lieutenant, General Sher- 
man, as rare as it was honorable, he said : " I think Sherman 
better entitled to the position than I am." He arrived at the 
capital on the 8th of March, and in the evening attended a 
levee at the White House. He entered the reception room 
unannounced, and almost a stranger. He was instantly rec- 
ognized by the President, and the Western soldier was never 
more cordially welcomed. As soon as it was known that he 
was present, the pressure of the crowd to see the hero of 
Vicksburg was so great, that he was forced to shelter himself 
behind a sofa. So irrepressible was the desire to see him, 
that Secretary Seward finally induced him to mount a sofa, 
that this curiosity might be gratified. When parting from 
the President, he said, " This has been rather the warmest 
campaign I have witnessed during the war." 

On the next day, at the Executive Mansion, the Presi- 
dent in person, and in the presence of a few friends, pre- 
sented him his commission, saying : 

" General Grant : The nation's appreciation of what 
you have done, and its reliance upon you for what remains 
to be done in the existing great struggle, are now presented 


with this commission, constituting you Lieutenant General in 
the army of the United States. With this high honor 
devolves upon you also a corresponding responsibility. As 
the country herein trusts you, so, under God, it will sustain 
you. I scarcely need to add, that with what I here speak 
for the nation, goes my own hearty personal concurrence." 
To this General Grant made the following reply : 

" Mr. President : I accept the commission with grati- 
tude for the high honor conferred. With the aid of the 
noble armies that have fought on so many fields for our 
common country, it will be my earnest endeavor not to dis- 
appoint your expectations. I feel the full weight of the 
responsibilities now devolving on me, and I know that if 
they are met, it will be due to those armies, and above all to 
the favor of that Providence which leads both nations and 

After visiting the army of the Potomac, he returned to 
Washington, and after an interview with the President and 
Secretary of War in regard to his plans, prepared to leave 
for the West. Mrs. Lincoln, sharing in the universal grati- 
tude and admiration felt for him, and desirous of showing 
him some attention, invited him to meet a brilliant party at 
dinner that evening. He received the invitation at the close 
of this important interview with the President. The General 
said : " Mrs. Lincoln must excuse me. I must be in Ten- 
nessee at a given time." "But we can't excuse you," said 
the President. " Mrs. Lincoln's dinner without you, would 
be Hamlet with Hamlet left out." " I appreciate the honor 
Mrs. Lincoln would do me," said the General, "but time is 
very important now — and really — Mr. Lincoln, I have had 
enough of this show business." This was a remark Mr. 
Lincoln could well appreciate and with which he could fully 
sympathize. General Grant went to the West without wait- 
ing for the dinner. 

General Sherman, on the recommendation of General 
Grant, was assigned to the command of the military division 
of Mississippi. General Grant, on the 17th of March, 


assumed command of the armies of the United States, and 
announced that his headquarters would be in the field, and 
until further orders, with the army of the Potomac. From 
this time there was unity of purpose — each army cooperating 
and acting under one far-seeing executive head. From this- 
time on, there was energy in attack, rapidity in pursuit, and 
everywhere a fit man in the fittest place for him. Grant had 
the very great advantage of having subordinates who enjoyed 
his most perfect confidence, and who reposed the most per- 
fect faith in him. • Henceforth rivalries and jealousies were, 
to a great extent, banished from the armies of the republic. 
Nothing had given Mr. Lincoln more anxiety than the rival- 
ries and quarrels among his generals. From the time that 
Grant assumed command as Lieutenant General, this annoy- 
ance to a great extent ceased. Sherman was justly regarded' 
as Grant's right arm. Grant and Sherman, at the head of 
the armies of the East and the West, had perfect confidence 
in each other and in the President, and he in them. A 
great load of responsibility was lifted from his shoulders. 

On the 30th of April, the President wrote a letter to- 
Grant, in which he says: 

"You are vigilant and self-reliant, and pleased with this, I wish 
not to obtrude any restraints or constraints upon you. * * * 
If there be anything wanting in my power to give, do not fail to let me 
know. And now, with a brave army and a just cause, may God sustain. 
you." x 

With these words Lincoln sent Grant to the field. Gen- 
eral Grant's plan is clearly and simply stated by him. He 
said : 

" The armies in the East and West acted independently and with- 
out concert, like a balky team, no two ever pulling together; enabling" 
the enemy to use to a great advantage his interior lines of communica- 
tion for transporting troops from East to West, re-enforcing the army 
most vigorously pressed, and to furlough large numbers, during seasons 
of inactivity on our part, to go to their homes and do the work of pro- 
ducing for the support of their armies. It was a question whether our 

1. McPherson's History of the Rebellion, p. 425. 


-numerical strength and resources were not more than balanced by these 
disadvantages and the enemy's superior position. " 

' ' From the first I was firm in the conviction that no peace could be 
had that would be stable and conducive to the happiness of the people, 
both North and South, until the military power of the rebellion was 
entirely broken, I therefore determined; first, to use the greatest num- 
ber of troops practicable against the armed force of the enemy; prevent- 
ing him from using the same force at different seasons against first one and 
then another of our armies, and the possibility of repose for refitting and 
producing necessary supplies for carrying on resistance. Second, to ham- 
mer continuously against the armed force of the enemy and his resources, 
until by mere attrition, if in no other way, there should be nothing left to 
him but an equal submission with the loyal section of our common coun- 
try to the Constitution and laws of the land." 

The campaign in Virginia opened on the 4th of May. 
With the army of the Potomac under Meade, re-enforced by 
the Ninth Corps, under Burnside, Grant started by the over- 
land route for Richmond. When he pitched his tent on the 
banks of the Rapidan, he found the two hostile armies 
grimly and proudly confronting each other. Each army was 
in high spirits. Each could look with pride upon a long 
list of victories inscribed on its battle flags. Every one real- 
ized that the rebel army of Northern Virginia carried upon 
its standard the fate of the Confederacy, and now there 
came from the valley of the Mississippi the brilliant and 
hitherto invincible hero of the West, to test his genius and 
his fortunes against the great leader of the rebellion. It was 
believed the crisis was at hand. But while the Confederates 
were nearly exhausted in men and money and credit, the 
military resources of the Union did not seem to be seriously 
lessened. Men swarmed in Northern towns, cities, and states; 
and labor, and every branch of industry was stimulated to 
the utmost activity by the war. Meade, as has been stated, 
had under Grant the immediate command of the army of 
the Potomac, which was divided into three corps, under 
Hancock, commanding the Second ; Warren, the Fifth, and 
Sedgwick, the Sixth. Hancock, perhaps the most capable and 
brilliant of all McClellan's subordinates, was the model of a 
hero. He had that fine martial bearing, that personal gallantry 


and magnetism which made him the idol of his soldiers. War- 
ren was a rapid, clear thinker, and ready alike on the field 
and in council. Sedgwick was an able, experienced, stead- 
fast soldier, perfectly certain to do his whole duty wherever 
placed. Under them was a long list of brave and intelli- 
gent officers, whose names will live in history. 

At midnight, on the 3d of May, the Union troops began 
to move, and on the 4th the whole army was across the Rap- 
idan. On the 5th and 6th were fought the bloody battles of 
the Wilderness. On the 7th, Grant began to move by the 
flank towards Spottsylvania Court House. Lee, being on the 
inner and shorter line, reached there first. On the 9th, 10th 
and nth, there was continual maneuvering and fighting. 
On the nth Grant sent to Washington a dispatch, saying : 
"Our losses have been heavy, as well as those of the 
enemy, and I propose to fight it out on this line if it takes 
all summer." 

The armies fought again on the 12th, and again at North 
Anna, and at Cold Harbor. During these weeks of May and 
early June, there was constant fighting and marching, and 
great loss of life, and during all these furious and persistent 
struggles, the losses were greater to the Union than to the 
rebel forces. Lee was on the inner and shorter line, knew 
the ground perfectly, and could choose the time and place 
of attack. Grant had fought his way to the Chickahominy, 
but he had not taken Richmond, nor destroyed the brave 
army of Northern Virginia. 

Those of the wounded of the Union army who could be 
moved were brought on steamboats to Washington, where a 
large number of great field hospitals covered the hills over- 
looking the capital. These wounded came in appalling 
numbers. The line of ambulances, moving from the steam- 
ers to the hospitals, was often one and two miles long, and 
unbroken from wharf to hospital. The President, whose 
sympathy for human suffering was most tender, could often 
be seen with Mrs. Lincoln in his carriage driving slowly 
along this line of sufferers, speaking kind and cheering 


words, and personally seeing that every want and need was 

During these long days of terrible slaughter the face of 
the President was grave and anxious, and he looked like one 
who had lost the dearest member of his own family. I 
recall one evening late in May, when I met the President in 
his carriage driving slowly towards the Soldiers' Home. 
He had just parted from one of those long lines of ambu- 
lances. The sun was just sinking behind the desolate and 
deserted hills of Virginia; the flags from the forts, hospitals, 
and camps drooped sadly. Arlington, with its white colon- 
hade, looked like what it was — a hospital. Far down the 
Potomac, towards Mount Vernon, the haze of evening was 
gathering over the landscape, and when I met the President 
his attitude and expression spoke the deepest sadness. He 
paused as we met, and pointing his hand towards the line of 
wounded men, he said: " Look yonder at those poor fel- 
lows. I cannot bear it. This suffering, this loss of life is 
dreadful." Recalling a letter he had written years before to 
a suffering friend whose grief he had sought to console, I 
reminded him of the incident, and asked him: " Do you 
remember writing to your sorrowing friend these words: 
' And this too shall pass away. Never fear. Victory will 
come.'" "Yes," replied he, "victory will come, but it 
comes slowly." 

General Butler commanded a force on the James River. 
On the 5th of May he took possession of City Point and 
Bermuda Hundred. On the 16th, he was attacked, and 
forced back between the James and the Appomattox. Here, 
the enemy erecting fortifications in his front, he was, as 
General Grant said, "bottled up." 

Grant now resolved to move his army to the south of the 
James. Meanwhile, General Hunter had marched up the 
valley of the Shenandoah, routed the enemy at Piedmont, 
and from thence marched on Lynchburg, which he reached 
on the 1 6th of June. Lee had sent a large force from Rich- 
mond to meet Hunter. Breckenridge occupied the defences 


of Lynchburg, and was joined by Early, and they compelled 
Hunter to retreat by way of the Kanawha. General Early 
then, with twelve thousand veterans, marched down the 
valley towards Maryland. General Lew Wallace gathered a 
small force and placed himself at Monocacy in Early's front, 
to protect Baltimore and Washington. Wallace could only 
delay the advance of Early, but Grant had despatched the 
Sixth Corps under Wright, and the Nineteenth from Fort- 
ress Monroe, and they arrived in time to prevent an attack 
upon the capital. But so near were the enemy that the 
country home of Montgomery Blair, the Postmaster General, 
was plundered and burned, and %t Silver Spring," the resi- 
dence of Francis P. Blair, was for a short time occupied by 
the rebel General Breckenridge. These residences were 
only about seven miles from the White House. Lincoln, 
from Fort Stevens, witnessed the repulse of Early's troops, 
and this was the last attempt of the rebels to capture the 
capital. They retired into their old retreat, and there 
remained a menace to Washington. 

Grant now determined to drive Early out of this rich and 
productive valley, and leave it in a condition to be no longer 
useful in furnishing supplies to the enemy. There had 
been many Union commanders in the Shenandoah, but none 
who had achieved a complete success. Grant now selected 
Sheridan to execute the decisive campaign he had planned. 
On the 19th of September, Sheridan attacked Early at 
Opequan, and drove him from the field with a loss of four 
thousand men. From this day Maryland was never more in 
danger of invasion. Sheridan pursued Early to the passes 
of the Blue Ridge Mountains, destroying the railroads, and 
on his return destroyed everything in the way of provisions 
and forage, drove off the stock, and left the rich and beauti- 
ful valley a desolate waste. Rendering, in his own words, 
" the whole country from the Blue Ridge " untenable for a 
rebel army. 

On the morning of the 19th of October, Early crossed 
the mountains, and, in the absence of Sheridan, surprised 


and drove from the field the left of the Union army. 
Retreating in confusion, and with heavy loss, the Union 
troops were rallied near Middletown, and made a stand. At 
this juncture, Sheridan, who had been at Winchester, and 
there heard the heavy guns, came dashing forward at the 
full speed of his horse. Arriving on the field, his magnetic 
presence, heroic bearing, and indomitable will, inspired his 
troops with fresh courage and enthusiasm. Passing rapidly 
along his lines, he arranged them in time to repel a heavy 
attack. Immediately following the repulse, he attacked 
with great impetuosity in turn, recapturing the guns and 
prisoners that Early had taken. The rebel army was 
broken, routed, and destroyed, the remnants of it only 
escaping during the night. Thus ended the war in the She- 
nandoah, and Sheridan's victory at Cedar Creek was the last 
of the many battles fought in the valley. 

Sheridan's ride to the battle-field, and the battle itself, 
have been made the theme of one of the most spirited poems 
of the war. 1 No name on the records of either army of 
those who fought in this famed valley can compare with 
Sheridan's, unless it be that of Stonewall Jackson. 

We will leave Grant preparing to invest Petersburg, 
and follow the victorious standards of Sherman on the other 
side of the Alleghanies. He opened the campaign on the 
6th of May, 1864, and on the 2d of September entered 
Atlanta. In the graphic language of his report dated Sep- 
tember 8th, he says : " On the first of May our armies were 
lying in garrison seemingly quiet, from Knoxville to Hunts- 
ville, and our enemy lay behind his Rocky-Faced barrier at 
Dalton, proud, defiant, and exultant." 

The rebels had recovered from their defeat at Mission 
Ridge, their ranks were again filled up, and a new com- 
mander, General Johnston, second to none for skill and 
sagacity, was now at the head of their army. " All at once," 
says Sherman, " our armies assumed life and action, and 
appeared before Dalton. Threatening Rocky Face, we 

1. Sheridan's Ride, by Thomas Buchanan Read. 


threw ourselves upon Resaca, and the rebel army escaped by 
the rapidity of his retreat." * * * * " He took post at 
Allatoona, but we gave him no rest, and by our circuit 
towards Dallas and subsequent movement, gained the Alla- 
toona Pass. Then followed the eventful battles about Kene- 
saw, and the escape of the enemy across the Chattahooche ; 
the crossing of the Chattahooche, and the breaking of the 
Augusta Road was most handsomely executed. At this stage 
of our game, our enemies became dissatisfied with their old 
and skillful commander, and selected one (Hood) more rash 
and bold. New tactics were adopted. Hood boldly, on the 
20th of July, fell on our right at Peach Tree Creek, and lost. 
On the 2 2d, he struck our extreme left, and was severely 
punished, and finally, on the 28th, he repeated the attempt 
on our right, and this time must have become satisfied, for 
since that time he has remained on the defensive." Sher- 
man then drew his lines about Atlanta, and, on the 2d of 
September, obtained possession of that important railroad 
and military position. In this short, brilliant, and decisive 
campaign, in an attack by Hood on the 2 2d of July, the 
brave and accomplished McPherson was killed. The Presi- 
dent, who had watched these successful movements with the 
greatest interest, issued a general order of thanks to Sher- 
man and his gallant officers and soldiers, in which he justly 
says : " This campaign will be ever famous in the annals of 

Far from his base of supplies, General Sherman deemed 
it a military necessity to remove the inhabitants of Atlanta so 
that it should be occupied exclusively for military purposes. 
General Hood and the mayor of Atlanta protested against 
this order for removal. In reply, General Sherman said: 

" The use of Atlanta for warlike purposes is inconsistent with its 
character as a home for families. There will be no manufactures, com- 
merce, or agriculture here for the maintenance of families, and sooner or 
later, want will compel the inhabitants to go. Why not go now, when 
all the arrangements are completed for the transfer, instead of waiting 
till the plunging shot of contending armies will renew the scenes of the 
past month. * * * You cannot qualify war in harsher 


terms than I will. War is cruelty, and you cannot refine it; and those 
who brought war on our country, deserve all the curses and maledictions 
a people can pour out. I know I had no hand in making this war, and 
I know I will make more sacrifices to-day than any of you to secure 
peace. But you cannot have peace and a division of our country. If 
the United States submits to a division now, it will not stop, but will go 
on till we reap the fate of Mexico, which is eternal war. The United 
States does and must assert its authority wherever it has power; if it 
relaxes one bit to pressure, it is gone, and I know that such is not the 
national feeling. This feeling assumes various shapes, but always 
comes back to that of the Union; once admit the Union; once more 
acknowledge the authority of the national government, and instead of 
devoting your houses, and streets, and roads to the dread uses of war, I 
and this army become at once your protectors and supporters, shielding 
you from danger, let it come from whatever quarter it may." 

This reply of Sherman is written with great vigor, and 
shows that he could use the pen with as much ability as the 
sword. Meanwhile, Hood, with the hope of compelling 
Sherman to retire to the North, moved to the right of Atlan- 
ta, towards Tennessee. But Sherman proposed to Grant to 
destroy Atlanta and the railroads leading to it, and boldly 
strike through the enemy's country to the sea. Grant evi- 
dently at first thought the enterprise very hazardous, if not 
rash, and in reply, on the nth of October, he telegraphed 
to Sherman: " Hood will probably strike for Nashville. * * 
If there is any way of getting at Hood's army I would prefer 
that, but I must trust to your judgment. * * * I am 
afraid Thomas, with such lines of road as he has to protect, 
could not prevent Hood from going North." On the same 
day, Sherman telegraphed to Grant from Kingston, Georgia: 
" We cannot remain here on the defensive. * * * I 
would prefer making a wreck of the roads and the country 
from Chattanooga to Atlanta, including the latter city, send- 
ing back my wounded, and with my effective army move 
through Georgia, smashing things to the sea" To this Grant 
on the same day replied: "If j^ou are satisfied the trip to 
the sea can be made, holding the line of the Tennessee 
River firmly, you may make it." And so the bold and 
adventurous Sherman cut loose from his communications in 


the rear, cut the wires of the telegraph and started for the 
sea, which he must reach or perish. 

But before we follow the path of this enterprising soldier, 
let us see what were the fortunes of Hood. Thomas was 
being strengthened. Hood, following Schofield, who was 
marching towards Thomas, attacked him at Franklin, but 
was repulsed with serious loss. Thomas and Schofield 
formed a line of battle in front of Nashville, and, on the 
15th of January, Thomas attacked Hood, and after a fierce 
and bloody conflict, continuing through two days, the Con- 
federates broke and fled in confusion, the Union army cap- 
turing several thousand prisoners, and a vast amount of 
small arms and artillery. The soldiers of Hood were scat- 
tered or captured, and never again appeared in the field as 
an army organization. Some fragments of his army escaped, 
and under Johnston, surrendered to Sherman in the spring 
of 1865, at the final surrender of Johnston. 

Where now was Sherman ? Jefferson Davis prophesied 
that Sherman's army, then in the heart of the Confederacy, 
would meet the fate of the army of Napoleon when it 
invaded Russia. " Our cavalry and our people," said the 
rebel leader, " will harass and destroy this army, as did the 
Cossacks that of the French, and the Yankee General, like 
Napoleon, will escape with only a body guard." 

But this " Yankee General," at whom Davis so arrogantly 
sneered, marched at pleasure through his Confederacy, and 
soon Davis himself, as the result, became first a fugitive, and 
then a captive, and his empire based on slavery crumbled 
into ruins. 

Sherman marched eastward towards Macon, destroying 
railroads and everything which could be of service to the 
Confederacy. He reached Milledgeville, the capital of 
Georgia, in November, without any serious opposition. By 
the 1 2th of December he had reached and invested Savannah. 
Lincoln had sent Admiral Dahlgren with a fleet, to find and 
cooperate with Sherman. To open communication with 
the fleet it was necessary to capture Fort McAllister, which 


commanded the approaches from the sea on the south side 
of the city. On the 13th of December, General Hazen 
assaulted and captured the Fort, a boat was sent to the fleet, 
General Sherman went on board, and sent a despatch to 
Washington announcing his arrival and his complete suc- 
cess. On the 20th, Hardee, in command of Savannah, 
abandoned the city, Sherman took possession, and sent to 
the President a despatch saying: "I present to you as a 
Christmas gift the City of Savannah, with one hundred and 
fifty guns, plenty of ammunition, and about twenty-five 
thousand bales of cotton." 

Thus ended this grand march to the sea, a part of the 
romance of history. With the overwhelming force of the 
avalanche Sherman descended from the North, crushing 
everything in his path from the mountains to the sea. And 
now it only remained for this Northwestern army to turn 
again to the North, and, cooperating with the veterans of 
Grant, to crush the remaining fragments of the rebellion. 

Nothing occurred during the war which more incensed 
the American people than the ravages upon their commerce 
by English built cruisers sailing under the rebel flag. Avoid- 
ing armed antagonists, they long roamed the sea with 
impunity, robbing and destroying American merchantmen, 
and finding refuge and protection, and often supplies, in 
neutral ports, especially those of Great Britain. Among the 
most destructive of these cruisers were the Alabama, the 
Florida, and the Georgia. Early in June, 1864, the Ala- 
bama, after a successful cruise, put in to Cherbourg, France. 
The Kearsarge, Captain John A. Winslow, immediately 
sailed for that port, and waited for the Alabama to put to 
sea. The Alabama, having made the most careful prepara- 
tion for the conflict, on the 19th of June steamed out of the 
harbor to meet her foe. As she came out she opened fire at 
long range. The Kearsarge made no reply, but steamed 
directly for her antagonist. Arriving at close quarters, she 
opened a tremendous fire, and in a short time the Alabama 
surrendered. Captain Semmes, her commander, and her 


other officers abandoned their ship, and were picked up and 
carried to England by the English yacht Deerhound. The 
Alabama in a few moments went down, even before all the 
wounded could be saved. Of this gallant fight, Admiral 
Farragut, in a letter to his son, says: " It was fought like a 
tournament in full view of thousands of French and Eng- 
lish, with full confidence on the part of all but the Union 
people that we would be whipped. * * * I would 
sooner have fought that fight than any ever fought on the 
ocean." 1 The Florida and the Georgia were both captured 
during the year. Neither the sinking of the Alabama, nor 
the payment by the English government to the Americans of 
the Alabama claims, have entirely removed from the people 
of this republic, their indignation towards the English for 
their unfriendly conduct in permitting, while professing 
friendship to our government, the Alabama and other rebel 
cruisers to be fitted out in their ports. 

In the same summer of 1864, Admiral Farragut was in 
command of the national squadron off Mobile. The city 
was supposed to be able to defy any attack. It was defended 
by Forts Gaines, Morgan, and Powell, by water batteries and 
earth-works, by torpedoes, and by the iron-clad ram Tennes- 
see, which it was supposed could destroy any fleet which 
should attempt its capture. But with Farragut there was 
nothing impossible. He made his preparations for attack on 
the 5th of August. " Strip your vessels and prepare for the 
conflict," said he. As he went into close action, the grand 
old Admiral stood in the port-rigging of the flag-ship, a few 
ratlins up, standing on, and steadying himself by the ropes, 
and, as the smoke increased, he ascended the rigging step by 
step, until he found himself above the futtock-bands, and 
holding on to the shrouds. Captain Drayton, seeing the per- 
ilous position of the Admiral, and seeing that if wounded he 
would fall into the sea, sent a sailor with a line to secure 
him. The sailor took a lead line, and fastening it around 
the Admiral, made it fast to the shrouds. "For," said the 

1. See Life of Farragut, p. 403. 


sailor, " I feared he would fall overboard if anything should 
carry away, or he should be struck." And thus lashed to 
the shrouds, in a position above the smoke, and where he 
could see the fight, the Admiral fought the most brilliant 
naval battle of the war. Captain Craven, of the Tecumseh, 
eager to engage the Tennessee, pressed rapidly on, struck a 
torpedo, and went down with nearly all on board. Farra- 
gut, from his lofty position, saw his brave comrades go down 
by his side, and at the same moment the Brooklyn, leading 
the fleet, and discovering the line of torpedoes across the 
channel, began to back water. 

" What's the trouble ? " was shouted through a trumpet 
to the Brooklyn. 

" Torpedoes," was shouted back in reply. 

"Damn the torpedoes ! " said Farragut. 

" Go ahead, full speed," he shouted to his own captain. 
And away went the flag-ship, the Hartford, passing the 
Brooklyn, and leading the fleet to victory, ' at a moment 
when hesitation would have been fatal. This brilliant vic- 
tory by Farragut was followed by the surrender of Mobile, 
and the forts, on being invested by General Granger, soon 
also surrendered. 

The President issued a proclamation of thanksgiving and 
gratitude to God. He was now buoyant with hope, and 
began to expect an early termination of the war. 

1. Life of Farragut, p. 417. 



Lincoln Renominated and Re-Elected. — His Administration. 

— Peace Conference. — Greeley and the Rebel Emissaries. 

— Blair's Visit to Richmond. — Hampton Roads Confer- 
ence. — Second Inauguration. 

In the meanwhile, time and tide, and Presidential elec- 
tions, wait for no man. Lincoln's first term was approach- 
ing its end, and the people began to prepare for the election. 

There was not only an active, hostile party organization 
against the President, eager to obtain power, ready to seize 
upon and magnify the faults and errors of the administration, 
but there were also many ambitious men in the Union party, 
who, with their friends and followers, believed the best inter- 
ests of the republic required a change. There were candi- 
dates for the Presidency among the generals, whom the 
President had been compelled by his sense of duty to relieve 
of command, and even in his Cabinet was an eager aspi- 
rant for the White House. The attention of all the world 
was directed to this approaching election. 

Occurring in the midst of this tremendous civil war, it was 
regarded as the most fearful ordeal to which our institutions 
could be subjected. Many candid and intelligent men did 
not believe we could pass through its dangers without 
anarchy and revolution. There were also elements of dan- 
ger in secret and factious organizations which bold, ambi- 
tious, and unscrupulous men, sympathizing with the rebels, 
were ready to use for dangerous purposes. All thoughtful 
observers know that in time of war, and especially civil war,. 



the passions, prejudices, and convictions of men become 
strongly excited and difficult to control. The people are 
easily led to throw off the restraints of law, and to adopt 
questionable means to secure their ends. There was danger, 
grave danger, in this election. 

The safety and triumph of law, order, and the Constitution 
were largely due to the forbearance, the patriotism, and the 
personal character of the President. He was so modest, SO' 
calm, so just, so truthful, so magnaminous to others, so sin- 
cerely honest, and so clearly and obviously unselfish and 1 
patriotic, that faction and personal hostility were calmed and 
quieted. With " malice towards none, and charity for all," 
he could not be provoked to do any act of personal injury 
or wrong; and faction stood disarmed by his transparent 
truth, and honest desire to do right. He would not be pro- 
voked into personal controversy. The great mass of the 
people stood firmly by him. They trusted him fully, and 
while the politicians, a majority of both Houses of Congress,, 
and the great leaders of the press in the great cities, were 
not favorable to his re-election, the people, with the instinc- 
tive good sense which characterized them during the war, 
were almost universally in his favor. The prominent men 
who opposed him in Congress, and out of it, could get no* 
following. In vain Mr. Horace Greeley, through the New 
York Tribune, and over his name, in the Independent, 
opposed the renomination. ! In vain an organization was 
gotten up at Washington in opposition to him, composed of 
a large number of able, eloquent, and influential senators 
and members of Congress, and in vain were secret circulars 
issued, and speeches made opposing him. * The people would 

1. See Letter of Horace Greeley In The Independent of February 25th, 1864. See 
also New York Daily Tribune, February 13th, 1864, and other issues during the winter 
and spring of that year. 

2. See Secret Circular issued by Senator Pomeroy and others. As an illustration 
of the opinion of Congress, the following incident is recalled. A prominent editor 
from the interior of Pennsylvania, a warm friend of the President, came to Washing- 
ton in the winter of 1864, and, going to the Congressional leader, Mr. Thaddeus 
Stevens, said : M Introduce me to some member of Congress friendly to Mr. Lincoln's 
renomination." " Come with me," replied Stevens. They came to the seat of the 



not respond to their appeals. They said: " We know and 
trust Lincoln, and we will not change pilots in the midst of 
the storm." To use his own homely but expressive illustra- 
tion, they said: " We will not swap horses while fording the 

The opposition to him was divided in its preferences. 
Some were for General Fremont, and more for Salmon P. 
Chase, the Secretary of the Treasury. He had been a 
trusted leader in the anti-slavery movement, a distinguished 
senator, an able secretary, but he had the fault of many 
great men ; he was ambitious, he wished to be President. 
And, while holding a position in Mr. Lincoln's Cabinet, he 
not only permitted, but encouraged his friends to seek his 
elevation over the man in whose political family he held 
a position so confidential. He was not loyal to his chief. 
He used the power which the President gave him to place 
his own partisans in office. They did not scruple to use this 
power to pull Lincoln down and set Chase up. The Presi- 
dent was fully conscious of this, but permitted it to go on, 
saying : " It will all come out right in the end." But when 
Ohio, Mr. Chase's own state, declared for Mr. Lincoln, he 
withdrew from the canvass. Lincoln was so magnanimous 
that a short time thereafter, when a vacancy occurred in the 
great office of Chief Justice of the United States, he 
appointed Mr. Chase to that high position. 

The people were satisfied with the President, and they 
were so engrossed with the contest for national existence, 
and the overthrow of slavery, that they were impatient of 
divisions and controversies among the Union leaders. So 

member from the Chicago District in Illinois. Addressing him, Mr. Stevens said : 
" Here is a man who wants to find a Lincoln member of Congress. Tou are the only 
one I know, and I have come over to introduce my friend to you." "Thank you," said 
the member. " I know a good many such, and I will present your friend to them, and 
I wish you, Mr. Stevens, were with us." 

But Stevens was quite right in supposing a large majority to be opposed to the 
President. In January, 1865, Mr. Stevens said : " If the question could be sub- 
mitted to the people of the United States, whom they would elect for the next Presi- 
dent, amajority would vote for General Butler." Cong. Globe, 2nd Session 38th Con- 
gress, part 1, p. 400. 


■much so, that the opposition to Mr. Lincoln, talented, elo- 
quent, zealous, and active, and supported by many of the 
leading journals of the country, produced hardly a ripple 
upon the wave of public sentiment, which rolled on in favor 
•of his renomination. The voters at home, and the soldiers 
in the field, had learned to trust him fully and absolutely. 
They knew his hands were clean, and that his heart was 
thoroughly honest ; that he was bold and sagacious. They 
knew that there was no bribe big enough, no temptation of 
wealth or power sufficient to seduce his integrity. Hence 
their instinctive sagacity settled the presidential question, 
and the politicians and the editors, after vain efforts to turn 
the tide, acquiesced. 

The convention was called to meet at Baltimore, on the 
Sth of June, 1864. The opposition to Mr. Lincoln made a 
great effort to have it postponed until autumn, but failed. 1 

1. The following letter will show the manner in which the President's friends 
met this effort, and the spirit of the canvass. 

" To the Editors of the Evening Post: 

"I have received a printed circular to which several distinguished names arc 
attached, urging the postponement of the national convention. 

"Believing that such postponement would be most unwise and dangerous to the 
loyal cause, I ask the privilege, through the columns of the Evening Post, very briefly 
to give my reasons for such belief. 

" I concur most fully with the gentlemen who signed the paper referred to, that 
It is very important that all parties friendly to the government should be united in 
support of a single candidate (for President), and that when a selection shall be made 
it shall be acquiesced in by all sections of the country, and all branches of the loyal 

"I am perfectly convinced that the best means of securing a result so essential to 
success is an early convention, and that nothing would be more likely to prevent such 
union than its postponement. 

"The postponement would be the signal for the organization of the friends of the 
various aspirants for the Presidency, and for the most earnest and zealous canvass of 
the claims, merits, and demerits of those candidates. 

"If the time should be changed to September, we should see the most violent 
controversy within the Union ranks known in the history of politics. 

"Is such a controversy desirable, and shall we encourage and stimulate it by post- 
poning the convention? 

"I think I am fully warranted in stating that up to this time there has been no 
considerable difference of opinion among the people on the Presidential question. It 
is a most significant fact that, notwithstanding the efforts made in this city and else- 
where in behalf of prominent and able men in military and civil life; notwithstanding 
a thoroughly organized, able, ardent, and zealous opposition to President Lincoln here, 
embodying great abilities and abundant means ; with the co-operation of some of the 



A few disappointed members of the party met at Cleveland. 
Ohio, and nominated General Fremont for President, but 
this nomination was so obviously without popular support 
that Fremont withdrew, and his friends generally voted for 
Lincoln. An attempt was made to bring out General Grant 

great leading newspapers of the Union, and with the aid of some of the distinguished 
names of trusted national leaders attached to your petition; yet all this has produced 
no perceptible effect upon public opinion. The minds of the people are fixed upon the 
great contest for national existence, and are impatient of quarrels and controversies 
among ourselves. The opposition to the President in our own party, talented, elo- 
quent, zealous, and active as it is, has scarcely produced a ripple on the wave of public 
sentiment which is so strongly running in favor of Mr. Lincoln's re-election. 

"There is no organization among the friends of the President, they are doing 
nothing; but this action of the people is spontaneous, unprompted, earnest, and sin- 
cere. State after state holds its convention, appoints its delegates, and without a 
dissenting voice instructs them to vote for Mr. Lincoln. This popularity of the Presi- 
dent, this unanimity of the people, is confined to no section, but East as well as West, 
middle state and border state, they all speak one voice, ' Let us have Lincoln for our 
candidate.' Do I exaggerate? Maine speaks for him on the Atlantic, and her voice 
is echoed by California from the Pacific, New Hampshire and Kansas, Connecticut 
and Minnesota, Wisconsin and West Virginia, and now comes the great state of Penn- 
sylvania, seconding Maryland; one after another, all declare for the re-election of the 
President. Is it not wiser to recognize and accept this great fact than to struggle 
against it? 

"The truth is, the masses of the people, and the soldiers everywhere, trust and 
love the President. They know his hands are clean and his heart is honest and pure. 
They know that the devil has no bribe big enough, no temptation of wealth or power, 
which can seduce the integrity of Abraham Lincoln. 

" Hence the people — the brave, honest, self-denying people— the people who have 
furnished the men, and who are ready to pay the taxes necessary to crush the rebel- 
lion, and who are determined to establish national unity based on liberty — they are 
more wise, less factious, and more disinterested than the politicians. Their instinc- 
tive sagacity and good sense have already settled the Presidential question. It can- 
not be unsettled without a convulsion which will endanger the Union cause. A post- 
ponement of the convention would not prevent Mr. Lincoln's renomination ; it might 
possibly endanger his election. 

"Acquiescence, union, and harmony will follow the June convention. Delay 
encourages faction, controversy, and division. I say harmony will follow the June 
convention. I say this because I believe General Fremont and his friends are loyal 
to liberty and will not endanger its triumph by dividing the friends of freedom. I say 
this because I believe the radical Germans who support Fremont, who have done so 
much in this contest to sustain free institutions, cannot be induced by their enthusi- 
asm for a man to desert or endanger the triumph of their principles. 

"The hour is critical. We approach the very crisis of our fate as a nation. With 
union and harmony our success is certain. 

"The Presidential election rapidly approaches. We cannot divert attention from 
it by postponing the convention. We cannot safely change our leaders in the midst 
of the storm raging around us. 

" The people have no time for the discussions which must precede and follow 
such a change. 


as a candidate, but the people saw that he was more useful 
at the head of their armies. General Grant himself, with 
the good sense, fidelity, and integrity which marked his 
career, refused to have his name used to divide the Union 
party. Mr. Lincoln said to a friend in regard to this move- 
ment: "If General Grant could be more useful as Presi- 
dent in putting down the rebellion, I would be content. He 
is pledged to our policy of emancipation and the employ- 
ment of negro soldiers, and if this policy is carried out, it 
won't make much difference who is President." 

The national convention met on the 8th of June, and 
was organized by the election of the Rev. Robert J. Breck- 
enridge, of Kentucky, as temporary chairman. He was a 
stern old Presbyterian clergyman, and, although the uncle of 
General John C. Breckenridge of the rebel army, a deter- 
mined Unionist and an emancipationist. In a bold and 
fervid speech, and amidst the applause of the convention, 
he declared slavery to be " contrary to the spirit of the 
Christian religion, and incompatible with the natural rights 
of man," and he continued: "I fervently pray God that 
the day may come when throughout the whole land every 
man may be as free as you are, and as capable of enjoying 
regulated liberty." 1 

Ex-Governor William Dennison, of Ohio, was made 
President. After endorsing the administration, and approv- 
ing the anti-slavery acts of Congress and the Executive, and 
especially the proclamation of emancipation, the convention 
declared in favor of amending the Constitution so as to 
abolish and prohibit slavery forever throughout the republic. 
Lincoln was unanimously nominated for President, and 
Andrew Johnson, of Tennessee, for Vice-President. Han- 

" I repeat, we cannot safely or wisely change our leader In the midst of the great 
events which will not wait for conventions. Such is the instinctive, nearly universal 
judgment of the people. Let, then, the convention meet and ratify the choice which 
the people have already so clearly indicated. 

" I am, very truly and respectfully yours, 

"Isaac N. Arnold. 
" Washington, May 2, 1864." 

1. McPherson's History of the Rebellion, p. 505. 


nibal Hamlin, the incumbent, an able man of unquestionable 
integrity, and in every way unexceptionable, was dropped, 
and from motives of policy, Johnson was nominated in his 
place. Johnson's heroic fidelity to the Union, as senator 
from Tennessee, when so many of his associates proved 
faithless, his bold and stern denunciation of traitors and 
treason on the floor of the Senate, had secured for him the 
admiration of the loyal people, and by many it was thought 
expedient to take one who was a war democrat for the posi- 
tion of Vice-President. 

Among the members of Mr. Lincoln's Cabinet, Mont- 
gomery Blair, the Postmaster General, was especially noted 
as his personal and political friend. The Blair family had 
made a bitter war upon Fremont, and Francis P. Blair had 
made a severe attack upon him in the House of Represent- 
atives. The hostility between the Blairs and Fremont and 
his friends was mutual. The latter sought by every means 
in their power to get Montgomery Blair out of the Cabinet, 
Finally, after the Presidential nominations had been made r 
Fremont's friends made the removal or retirement of Mont- 
gomery Blair a condition of Fremont's declining the Cleve- 
land nomination for the Presidency. They induced the 
Union national committee, or a part of it, to agree that if 
Fremont would decline, the Postmaster General should 
resign. They succeeded in making the committee believe 
that Fremont would so divide the Union vote in some of 
the states as to endanger the success of the Union party. 
They tried in vain to induce the President to ask Mr. Blair 
to retire. The President was satisfied with Blair as a mem- 
ber of his Cabinet ; did not believe there was any serious 
danger of defeat ; and consequently refused, but finally, the 
national committee sent for Judge Ebenezer Peck, of 
Illinois, a warm friend of the Blairs, and devoted to Mr. 
Lincoln, to visit Washington. He went, and said to the 
President : " Your reelection is necessary to save the Union, 
and no man must stand in the way of that success. Mr. 
Blair himself," continued Judge Peck, u will gladly retire to 


strengthen the ticket." " By these arguments, Judge Peck 
and others finally induced the President to ask the resigna- 
tion of Mr. Blair, which he did in a note of great kindness 
and friendship. Mr. Blair promptly sent his resignation, 
and Governor William Dennison, of Ohio, was appointed 
his successor. 

Mr. Lincoln gratefully and modestly accepted the 
nomination, saying: " I view this call to a second term as 
in no wise more flattering to myself than as an expression of 
the public judgment, that I may better finish a difficult work 
than could any one less severely schooled to the task." In 
relation to the great question of the impending Constitu- 
tional amendment, he said: " Such an amendment as is now 
proposed becomes a fitting and necessary conclusion to the 
final success of the Union cause. Such alone can meet all 
cavils. The unconditional Union men, North and South, 
perceive its importance, and embrace it. In the joint names 
of Liberty and Union let us labor to give it legal form and 
practical effect." 2 

The democratic convention met at Chicago, on the 20th 
of August, and nominated George B. McClellan for Presi- 
dent, and George H. Pendleton, of Ohio, for Vice-President. 
Clement L. Vallandigham, having returned to Ohio from the 
rebel lines to which he had been sent in pursuance of the 
sentence of a court-martial, was an active and prominent 
member, and chairman of the committee on resolutions. 
The second resolution declared "that after four years of 
failure to restore the Union by war * * immediate efforts 
should be made for a cessation of hostilities with a view to 
an ultimate convention of the states or other practicable 
means, to the end that peace may be restored on the basis of 
the Federal Union of the states." 3 

1. Judge Peck to the author. 

2. Lincoln's response to the committee, which announced his renomination. 
McPherson's History of the Rebellion, p. 408. 

3. The following is the resolution: 

"Resolved, That this convention explicitly declare, as the sense of the Ameri- 
can people, that after four years of failure to restore the Union by the experiment of 


The issue was thus distinctly presented. The union 
republican party declared for the most vigorous prosecution 
of the war to the complete suppression of the rebellion, the 
utter and complete extinction of slavery — approving of the 
anti-slavery measures of Congress and the Executive, and 
the pending anti-slavery amendment to the Constitution. 
The democratic convention denounced the action of Con- 
gress and the Executive, declared the war " a failure," and 
that peace should be sought through a national convention, 
or other feasible means. 

A most exciting canvass followed. The people longed 
for peace, but they believed peace could only be secured by 
successful war. In the language of Mr. Lincoln, they 
" hoped it would come soon, and come to stay, and so come 
as to be worth keeping in all future time." The President 
looked for it, and the people expected it, from some great 
battle-field in Virginia, a field in which the hosts of the 
rebellious slaveholders would be crushed and overthrown. 
They believed that the path which it should take was 
through Richmond, and that the best agents to bring it were 
not Vallandigham, nor Seymour, nor McClellan, but Grant 
and Sherman, Sheridan, Thomas, and Farragut. Such a 
peace as they would bring would be based on union and 
a restored nationality ; liberty for all and a continental 
republic. It would harmonize and mould into one homo- 
geneous people, a territory stretching from sunrise to sunset, 
from where the water never thaws to where it never freezes. 
The brilliant successes of Sherman and Schofield in the 
West, of Sheridan under Grant in the East, and of Farragut 
at Mobile in the summer and autumn of 1864, rendered cer- 

war, during which, under the pretense of a military necessity, or war power higher 
than the Constitution, the Constitution itself has heen disregarded in every part, and 
public liberty and private right alike trodden down, and the material prosperity of 
the country essentially impaired; justice, humanity, liberty, and the public welfare 
demand that immediate efforts be made for a cessation of hostilities, with a view to 
an ultimate convention of the states, or other peaceful means, to the end that at the 
earliest practicable moment peace may be restored on the basis of the Federal Union 
of the states." 


tain the success of the Union ticket in November, and indi- 
cated an early triumph of the Union cause. 

Early in July, Mr. Chase resigned the position of the 
Secretary of the Treasury, and William Pitt Fessenden, the 
very able Chairman of the Committee of Finance of the 
Senate, was appointed his successor. Mr. Chase had been a 
very able secretary, and in his management of the finances 
during his administration had rendered great service to the 
country. Senator Fessenden was reluctant to accept the 
position, and he expressed this reluctance very frankly to 
the President. Mr. Lincoln would not excuse him, and 
"playfully said to him : " Fessenden, it is your duty to 
accept, and if you don't, I'll send you to Fort Lafayette as a 

During the canvass made by the friends of the President 
for his nomination and election, he never used his power or 
his patronage to secure success. 1 

The closing paragraph refers to his own nomination for 
the Presidency. Indeed, such was his scrupulous delicacy 
on this point, that Preston King, Senator from New York, 
was sent by the New York politicians to enquire, as King 
himself humorously said, " whether Lincoln intended to 
support the ticket nominated at Baltimore." 

Lincoln was re-elected almost by acclamation, receiving 
every electoral vote, except those of New Jersey, Delaware, 
and Kentucky. His majority of the popular vote was nearly 

1. The following note, written in behalf of a friend in Illinois to an officeholder 
who was charged with using his power against his friend, will illustrate the views of 
the President: 

" Executive Mansion, Washington, July 4th, 1864. 

" To Esq. 

" Dear Sir: Complaint is made to me that you are using your official power to 

defeat Mr. 's nomination to Congress. I am well satisfied with Mr. , 

as a member of Congress, and I do not know that the man who might supplant him 
would be as satisfactory. But the correct principle I think is, that all our friends 
should have absolute freedom of choice among our friends. My wish therefore is, 
that you will do just as you think fit with your own suffrage in the case, and not con- 
strain any of your subordinates to do other than he thinks fit with his. This is pre- 
cisely the rule I inculcated and adhered to on my part, when a certain other nomina- 
tion now recently made was being canvassed for. 

" Yours very truly, 

" A. Lincoln " 


half a million, a majority greater than has been given before 
or since for any presidential candidate. Those who feared 
the ordeal of a popular election amidst the excitement and 
passion of civil war, were compelled to acknowledge the 
calmness, the sobriety, the wisdom and dignity with which 
the people passed through the crisis. 

As soon as the result was known, General Grant tele- 
graphed from City Point his congratulations, and added 
that " the election having passed off quietly * * * is a 
victory worth more to the country than a battle won." At 
a late hour on the evening of the election, Mr. Lincoln, in 
response to a serenade, said: " I am thankful to God for 
this approval of the people. But while deeply grateful for 
this mark of their confidence in me, if I know my own heart, 
my gratitude is free from any taint of personal triumph. 
* * It is not in my nature to triumph over any one,, 
but I give thanks to Almighty God for this evidence of the 
people's resolution to stand by free government and the 
rights of humanity." 

The autumn of 1864 and winter of 1865 were eventful,, 
and changes were rapid. The success of the national armies, 
the undiminished ability of the government to carry on the 
war, and its unflinching determination to do so until its 
objects were fully accomplished, inspired a constantly 
increasing confidence in the loyal people, and the rebels 
became more and more desperate and disheartened. Loyal 
state governments, with constitutions securing freedom to 
all, had been organized in Arkansas and Louisiana, and 
movements in the same direction were in progress, and soon 
to be successful, in Missouri, Kentucky, and Tennessee. 
Maryland was at peace under a free government. 

Chief Justice Taney, who will go down to posterity as 
the author of the decision of the Supreme Court pronounced 
in favor of slavery in the notable Dred Scott case, died Octo- 
ber 1 2th, 1864. Salmon P. Chase was immediately suggested 
as his successor, but the hostility of his friends to Mr. Lin- 
coln's renomination, and his abrupt retirement from the Cab- 



inet, led those who did not know Lincoln's magnanimity to 
believe that he would not be nominated. The President 
himself, however, declared that he early determined to nom- 
inate Mr. Chase, and had never changed that determination. 
His only hesitation arose from a conviction that Mr. Chase, 
even after he had taken a seat on the bench, would not aban- 
don his aspirations for the Presidency. Salmon P. Chase, 
the abolitionist, as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and 
the successor of Roger B. Taney, marked the completion of 
the revolution on the subject of slavery. 

Meanwhile the cause of the insurgents was growing 
more and more desperate. They had no credit. They 
could not fill up their armies. They were discussing the 
project of arming their negroes, and giving them liberty as 
the reward of military service. And, as their cause became 
more and more dark and uncertain, schemes of desperation, 
involving the burning of Northern cities, murder, robbery, 
and assassination, were being discussed and organized by the 
desperate men who began to despair of success in civilized 

The emissaries of the rebels, in the summer of 1864, 
succeeded in creating the conviction in the mind of that 
good but credulous and sometimes indiscreet man, Horace 
Greeley, that certain Southern agents in Canada were anx- 
ious for peace, and that it would be wise for the President 
to confer with them. On the 7th of July, 1864, Greeley 
wrote to the President a letter, in which he said : " I ven- 
ture to remind you that our bleeding, bankrupt, almost dying 
country also longs for peace — shudders at the prospect of 
fresh conscriptions, of future wholesale devastations, and of 
rivers of human blood. * * I fear, Mr. President, you do 
not realize how intensely the people desire any peace con- 
sistent with national integrity and honor." He begged 
Mr. Lincoln to extend safe conduct to certain rebel 
agents then at Niagara, that they might submit their 
propositions. The President was in a position to know, and 
did know, far better than Mr. Greeley or any private indi- 


vidual, the views of the insurgents. Their object, especially 
of the emissaries in behalf of whom Greeley wrote, was to 
aid the democratic party to divide the loyal states, and they 
made a dupe of good Mr. Greeley. The President knew 
that the best means of securing peace was to destroy the 
rebel armies, and that Grant and Sherman and Farragut 
were doing more to bring it than any negotiations. He 
-doubted whether these agents had any authority. But as 
Mr. Greeley was a prominent editor, and a man of the best 
and purest motives, Lincoln, with his usual sagacity, deter- 
mined to convince him, not only of his own desire for peace, 
but to expose what he believed to be the deceptive character 
of these agents. In reply to Mr. Greeley, he said : " If 
you can find any person anywhere, professing to have any 
proposition of Jefferson Davis, in writing, for peace, embrac- 
ing the restoration of the Union and abandonment of 
slavery, whatever else it embraces, say to him he may come 
to me with you." In another letter, the President said to 
Mr. Greeley : " I not only intend a sincere effort for peace, 
but you shall be a personal witness that it is made." 

Messrs. Clay, Sanders, and Holcombe, the persons, 
alluded to by Mr. Greeley, had no authority whatever to 
treat for peace ; they declared that they were in the confi- 
dential employment of their government, but for what pur- 
pose they were discreetly silent. They asked for a safe con- 
duct to and from Washington, which Mr. Greeley urged the 
President to give. This application was met by the follow- 
ing passport, or safe conduct, under the hand of the Presi- 
dent : 

"July 18th, 1864. 
' ' To whom it may concern : 

"Any proposition which embraces the restoration of peace, the integ- 
rity of the whole Union, and the abandonment of slavery, and which 
comes by and with an authority that can control the armies now at war 
against the United States, will be received and considered by the Execu- 
tive Government of the United States, and will be met by liberal terms 
•on substantial and collateral points ; and the bearer or bearers thereof 
shall have safe conduct both ways. 

"Abraham Lincoln." 


This put an end to the intrigues with which these men, 
Clay and his associates, had entrapped Mr. Greeley. 

Another prominent editor from the West visited Wash- 
ington soon after the November election, to urge upon the 
Executive that he should make peace. He said, in sub- 
stance : 

"Assuming that Grant is baffled and delayed in his efforts to take 
Richmond, will it not be better to accept peace on favorable terms, than 
to prolong the war ? Have not nearly four years of war demonstrated 
that, as against a divided North, a united South can make a successful 
defence ? The South is a unit, made so, it is conceded, by despotic 
. power. We of the North cannot afford to secure unity by giving up our 
constitutional government ; we cannot secure unity without despotism. 
* * * The rebels will fill up their exhausted armies by 

three hundred thousand negroes ; these negroes, under the training 
and discipline of white officers, and with freedom as their reward, 
will fight for them. The Union armies will be very greatly reduced 
next year by the expiration of the term of service of many of the men. 
How will you fill up the ranks? The people are divided ; one-third or 
more, as the election shows, are positively and unalterably for carrying it 
on until the rebellion is thoroughly subjugated ; the remainder of the 
people, when the clouds gather black and threatening again, when 
another draft comes, and increased taxation, the peace men, and the 
timid, facile, doubtful men, will go over to the opposition, and make it a 
majority. You can now secure any terms you please, by granting to the 
rebels recognition. You can fix your own boundary. You can hold all 
within your own lines — the Mississippi River, and all west of it, and 
Louisiana. You can retain Maryland, West Virginia, and Tennessee. 
Take this — make peace. Is not this as much territory, which was for- 
merly slave territory, as the republic can digest, and assimilate to free- 
dom at once. Make this a homogeneous country — make it free, and then 
improve and develope the mighty empire you have left. If you succeed 
in subduing the entire territory in rebellion, can the nation assimilate and 
make it homogeneous ? Are the people in the Gulf states sufficiently 
intelligent to make freedom a blessing ? You can people, educate, and 
bring up to the capability of self-government, the territory you have 
within your lines. But taking it all — with its people accustomed to 
slavery, with the ignorance and vice resulting therefrom, is it clear that 
it is worth the blood and treasure it may cost ? " 

The President was unmoved by these representations. 
His reply was brief and emphatic. " There are," said he,, 


" just two indispensable conditions to peace — national imity 
and national liberty. The national authority must be restored 
through all the states, and I will never recede from the posi- 
tion I have taken on the slavery question. The people 
have the courage, the self-denial, the persistence, to go 
through, and before another year goes by, it is reasonably 
certain, we shall bring all the rebel territory within our lines. 
We are neither exhausted nor in process of exhaustion. We 
are really stronger than when we began the war. The pur- 
pose of the people to maintain the integrity of the republic 
has never been shaken." 

For the purpose of learning the views of the Confeder- 
ate leaders, Francis P. Blair, a private citizen, but a man of 
large political experience and great influence with many 
family and personal friends among the rebels, on the 28th 
day of December, 1864, obtained from the President per- 
mission to pass through the military lines South, and return. 
The President was informed that he intended to use the pass 
as a means of getting to Richmond, but no authority to 
speak or act for the government was conferred upon him. 
On his return, he brought Mr. Lincoln a letter from Jefferson 
Davis, addressed to himself, the contents of which he had 
been authorized by Davis to communicate to the President, 
and in which Davis stated that he was now, as he had always 
been, willing to send commissioners or receive them, and " to 
enter into a conference with a view to secure peace to the 
two countries." Thereupon, the President addressed a note 
to Mr. Blair, dated January 18th, 1865, in which, after stat- 
ing that he had read the note of Davis, he said he had been, 
was now, and should continue, ready to receive any agent 
whom Davis, or other influential person resisting the national 
authority, might informally send to him, with a view of secur- 
ing peace to the people of " our common coimtry." This note 
was delivered by Mr. Blair to Jefferson Davis. The visit of 
Mr. Blair resulted in the appointment by Davis, of Alexander 
H. Stephens, R. M. T. Hunter, and John A. Campbell, to 
confer with the President on the subject of peace, on the 


basis of his letter to Mr. Blair. When their arrival at the 
camp of General Grant was announced, Secretary Seward 
was charged by the President with representing the govern- 
ment at the proposed informal conference. With the frank- 
ness which was characteristic of Mr. Lincoln, he instructed 
Mr. Seward to make known to Messrs. Stephens, Hunter, 
and Campbell, that three things were indispensable, to-wit: 

First, The restoration of the national authority through- 
out all the states. 

Second, No receding by the Executive of the United 
States, on the slavery question, from the position assumed 
thereon in the late annual message to Congress, and in pre- 
ceding documents. 

Third, No cessation of hostilities, short of an end of the 
war, and the disbanding of all forces hostile to the govern- 

He was further instructed to inform them that all propo- 
sitions of theirs not inconsistent with the above, would be 
considered and passed upon in a spirit of sincere liberality. 
He was further instructed " to hear and report, but not to 
consummate anything." 

Before any conference was held, however, the President 
joined Secretary Seward at Fortress Monroe, and, on the 3rd 
of February, Messrs. Stephens, Hunter, and Campbell came 
on board the steamer of the President, and had an interview 
of several hours with him. The conditions contained in 
the President's instructions to Mr. Seward were stated and 
insisted upon. Those conditions, it will be observed, con- 
tained an explicit statement that the Executive would not 
recede from the emancipation proclamation, nor from any of 
the positions which he had taken in regard to the abolition 
of slavery. The agents of Davis were also informed that 
Congress had, by a constitutional majority, adopted the joint 
resolution, submitting to the states the proposition to abolish 
slavery throughout the Union, and that there was every rea- 
son to believe it would be adopted by three-fourths of the 
states, so as to become a part of the Constitution. The rebel 


agents earnestly desired a temporary cessation of hostilities,, 
and a postponement of the questions, but to this the Presi- 
dent would not listen. So far from it, Mr. Lincoln said to 
General Grant: " Let nothing that is transpiring change, 
hinder, or delay your military movements or plans." The 
conference ended without accomplishing anything. 1 

In their extremity, General Lee was, on the 2d of Febru- 
ary, 1865, made commander of all the rebel forces, and in 
their desperate fortunes, the rebel authorities resolved to 
call upon their negroes for aid. Judah P. Benjamin, their 
Secretary of State, in a public meeting after the Hampton 
Roads conference, said that the Confederates had six hun- 
dred and eighty thousand black men, and expressed regret 
that they had not been called into service as soldiers. He 
added: " Let us now say to every negro who wishes to go 
into the ranks on condition of being free: ' Go and fight; you 
are free.' " " My own negroes," continued he, " have been 

1. Mr. Stephens is stated by a Georgia paper to have repeated the following char- 
acteristic anecdote of what occurred during the interview : " The three Southern 
gentlemen met Mr. Lincoln and Mr. Seward, and after some preliminary remarks, the 
subject of peace was opened. Mr. Stephens, well aware that one who asks much may 
get more than he who confesses to humble wishes at the outset, urged the claims of 
his section with that skill and address for which the Northern papers have given him 
credit. Mr. Lincoln, holding the vantage ground of conscious power, was, however, 
perfectly frank, and submitted his views almost in the form of an argument. * * * 
Davis had, on this occasion, as on that of Mr. Stephens's visit to Washington, made it 
a condition that no conference should be had, unless his rank as Commander or Presi- 
dent should first be recognized. Mr. Lincoln declared that the only ground on which 
he could rest the justice of war — either with his own people, or with foreign powers — 
was that it was not a war for conquest, for that the states have never been separated 
from the Union. Consequently he could not recognize another government inside of 
the one of which he alone was President ; nor admit the separate independence of 
states that were yet a part of the Union. ' That,' said he, ' would be doing what you 
have so long asked Europe to do in vain, and be resigning the only thing the armies of 
the Union have been fighting for.' 

" Mr. Hunter made a long reply to this, insisting that the recognition of Davis's 
power to make a treaty was the first and indispensable step to peace, and referred to 
the correspondence between King Charles I. and his Parliament, as a trustworthy pre- 
cedent of a constitutional ruler treating with rebels. Mr. Lincoln's face then wore 
that indescribable expression which generally preceded his hardest hits, and he re- 
marked : ' Upon questions of history I must refer you to Mr. Seward, for he is posted 
in such things, and I don't pretend to be bright. My only distinct recollection of the 
matter is that Charles lost his head.' That settled Mr. Hunter for a while." 


to me and said: ' Master, set us free, and we will fight for 
you.' You must make up your mind to try this or see your 
army withdrawn from before your town. * * I know not 
where white men can be found." General Lee had long 
before recommended this policy. But it was too late, if 
indeed it could ever have been successful. 

Meanwhile the ides of March had come, the term of the 
Thirty-eighth Congress expired, and Mr. Lincoln, on the eve 
of final triumph, was to be inaugurated President. The morn- 
ing of the 4th of March was stormy and cloudy, but as the 
hour of twelve approached, the rain ceased, the clouds dis- 
appeared, and the sun came forth in all its splendor. Crowds 
of people, the best, the noblest, the most patriotic, those 
who had given time and means and offered life to save the 
republic, gathered at the Capitol to witness the second 
inauguration of a man now recognized as the savior of his 
country. As the great procession started from the White 
House for the Capitol, a brilliant star made its appearance 
in the sky, and was by many regarded as an omen of 
approaching peace. The two houses of Congress had 
adjourned at twelve, but a special session of the Senate had 
been called, at which Andrew Johnson, the Vice-President, 
appeared, took the oath of office, and became presiding 
officer of that august and dignified body. Mr. Lincoln 
was attended by the judges of the Supreme Court in their 
official robes, by the diplomatic corps, brilliant in the court 
costumes of the nations they represented, and by a crowd of 
distinguished officers of the army and navy in full uniform, 
prominent citizens, scholars, statesmen, governors, judges, 
editors, clergy, from all parts of the Union. The galleries 
were filled with ladies, and with soldiers who had come in 
from the camp and hospitals around Washington to witness 
the inauguration of their beloved chief. Striking was the 
contrast between this audience and that which had greeted 
him four years before at his first inauguration. 

As the President, followed by the brilliant assembly from 


the Senate, was conducted to the eastern portico of the 
Capitol, the vast crowd met him in front of the colonnade ; 
a crowd of citizens and soldiers who would willingly have 
died for their Chief Magistrate. It was touching to see the 
long lines of invalid and wounded soldiers in the national 
blue, some on crutches, some who had lost limbs, many pale 
from unhealed wounds, who had sought permission to wit- 
ness the scene. As the President reached the platform, and 
his tall form, high above his associates, was recognized, 
•cheers and shouts of welcome filled the air ; and not until he 
raised his arm in token that he would speak, could they be 
hushed. He paused a moment, and, looking over the brill- 
iant scene, still hesitated. What thronging memories passed 
through his mind ! Here, four years ago, he had stood on 
this colonnade, pleading earnestly with his " dissatisfied fel- 
low countrymen " for peace, but they would not heed him. 
He had there solemnly told them that in their hands, and 
not in his was the momentous issue of civil war. He had 
told them they could have no conflict without being them- 
selves the " aggressors " ; and even while he was pleading 
for peace, they had taken up the sword and compelled him 
to " accept war." Now, four long, weary years of wretched, 
desolating, cruel war had passed ; those who had made that 
war were everywhere being overthrown ; that cruel institution 
which had caused the war had been destroyed, and the 
dawn of peace was already brightening the sky behind the 
clouds of the storm. 

Chief Justice Chase administered the oath. 1 Then, with 

1. Two or three days after the inauguration, the author called at the White 
House, and Mrs. Lincoln showed him the Bible used by the Chief Justice in adminis- 
tering the oath to the President. The 27th and the 28th verses of the 5th chapter 
of Isaiah were marked as the verses which the lips of Mr. Lincoln touched in kissing 
the book. She seemed to think the text admonished him to be on his guard, and not 
to relax at all in his efforts. The words marked are these : 

"None shall be weary, nor stumble among them; none shall slumber nor sleep; 
neither shall the girdle of their loins be loosed, nor the latchet of their shoes be broken. 

"Whose arrows are sharp, and all their bows bent, their horses' hoofs shall be 
counted like flint, their wheels like a whirlwind." 

Chief Justice Chase had given this Bible to Mrs. Lincoln so marked. 


a clear but at times saddened voice, President Lincoln 
pronounced his second and last inaugural. 

" Fellow Countrymen : — At this second appearing to take the oath 
of the Presidential office, there is less occasion for an extended address 
than there was at the first. Then, a statement somewhat in detail of a 
course to be pursued, seemed very fitting and proper. Now, at the expi- 
ration of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly 
called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still 
absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little that 
is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all 
else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself, and it 
is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With high 
hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured. 

" On the occasion corresponding to this, four years ago, all thoughts 
were anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it, all 
sought to avoid it. While the inaugural address was being delivered 
from this place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, 
insurgent agents were in the city, seeking to destroy it with war, — 
seeking to dissolve the Union, and divide the effects by negotiation. 
Both parties deprecated war, but one of them would make war rather 
than let the nation survive, and the other would accept war rather than let 
it perish; and the war came. One-eighth of the whole population were 
colored slaves, not distributed generally over the Union, but localized in 
the southern part of it. These slaves constituted a peculiar and power- 
ful interest. All knew that this interest was somehow the cause of the 
war. To strengthen, perpetuate, and extend this interest, was the object 
for which the insurgents would rend the Union by war, while the gov- 
ernment claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial 
enlargement of it. 

" Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration 
which it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the 
conflict might cease with, or even before the conflict itself should cease. 
Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental and 

" Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God, and each 
invokes His aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men 
should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from 
the sweat of other men's faces. But let us judge not, that we be not 
judged. The prayer of both could not be answered. That of neither 
has been answered fully. The Almighty has his own purposes. ' Woe 
unto the world because of offenses, for it must needs be that offenses 
come, but woe to that man by whom the offense cometh.' If we shall 
suppose that American slavery is one of these offenses, which in the 


providence of God must needs come, but which, having continued through 
his appointed time, he now wills to remove, and that he gives to both 
North and South this terrible war as the woe due to those by whom the 
offense came, shall we discern there any departure from those divine 
attributes which the believers in a living God always ascribe to him ? 
Fondly do we hope, fervently do we pray, that this mighty scourge of war 
may speedily pass away. Yet if God wills that it continue until all the 
wealth piled by the bondsman's two hundred and fifty years of unre- 
quited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the 
lash shall be paid by another drawn by the sword, as was said three 
thousand years ago, so still it must be said, that 'the judgments of the 
Lord are true and righteous altogether. ' 

" With malice towards none, with charity for all, with firmness in the 
right as God gives us to see the right, let us finish the work we are in, 
to bind up the nation's wounds, to care for him who shall have borne 
the battle, and for his widow and his orphans, to do all which may 
achieve and cherish a just and a lasting peace among ourselves and 
with all nations." 

Since the days of Christ's sermon on the mount, where is 
the speech of emperor, king, or ruler, which can compare 
with this? May we not, without irreverence, say that pas- 
sages of this address are worthy of that holy book which 
daily he read, and from which, during his long days of trial, 
he had drawn inspiration and guidance ? Where else, but 
from the teachings of the Son of God, could he have drawn 
that Christian charity which pervades the last sentence, in 
which he so unconsciously describes his own moral nature: 
" With malice towards none, with charity for all, with firmness 
in the right as God gives us to see the right." No other state 
paper in American annals, not even Washington's farewell 
address, has made so deep an impression upon the people 
as this. 

A distinguished divine, coming down from the Capitol, 
said: "The President's inaugural is the finest state paper in 
all history." A distinguished statesman from New York 
said in reply: " Yes, and as Washington's name grows 
brighter with time, so it will be with Lincoln's. A century 
from to-day that inaugural will be read as one of the most 
sublime utterances ever spoken by man. Washington is the 


great man of the era of the Revolution. So will Lincoln be 
of this, but Lincoln will reach the higher position in history." 
This paper, in its solemn recognition of the justice of 
Almighty God, reminds us of the words of the old Hebrew 
prophets. The paper was read in Europe with the most 
profound attention, and from this time all thinking men 
recognized the intellectual and moral greatness of its author. 



The Sanitary and Christian Commissions. — Sanitary Fairs. — 
Lincoln's Sympathy with Suffering. — Proposed Retalia- 
tion. — Rebel Treatment of Negro Prisoners. — Lincoln's Re- 
ception at Baltimore. — Plans for Reconstruction. — The 
President's Views Upon the Negro Franchise. — His 

In following the currents of great events at the capital 
and at the theatre of war, some facts of minor importance, 
but of great interest, have not been noticed. Among them 
were the great organizations for the relief, health, and com- 
fort of the soldiers, known as the Sanitary and Christian 
Commissions. These organizations were novel, and indi- 
cate an advance in humanity and civilization; they re- 
lieved war of half the horrors and of much of the suffering 
incident to its destruction of human life. The tenderness 
and sympathy of the President with all forms of suffering 
was apparent in all his life, and the stern soldiers of the war 
often regarded his humane spirit as a weakness. They 
claimed that his clemency was often abused, and that his 
reluctance to inflict punishment interfered with rigid dis- 
cipline. There were some grounds for these complaints. 

When, therefore, in the summer of 1861, Dr. Henry W. 
Bellows, of New York, visited Washington, and laid before 
the President a plan for organizing the Sanitary Commis- 
sion, he was listened to with the most careful consideration, 
and he found in Mr. Lincoln one as zealous as himself to 
carry out his humane purposes. The project was to organ- 



ize a commission of the most intelligent, highly respected, 
and best citizens of the country, whose special duty it should 
be, in connection with the regular medical officers of the 
army, to look after and improve the sanitary condition of 
the soldiers, including their food and their medical and 
surgical treatment. The President organized this commis- 
sion by naming Dr. Bellows as its president, and asso- 
ciating with him some of the leading citizens of the great 
cities of the Union. Its object was to bring the wealth 
and social influence, and the highest intelligence, skill, and 
culture of the republic, to secure to the soldier every possible 
means of preserving and maintaining his health, and the 
very best possible treatment when wounded or sick. The 
attention of the very best experts was directed to securing 
for them the best and most wholesome food, and especially 
to the comfort and hygiene of camps and hospitals. Volun- 
tary associations, composed of the best men and women of 
the republic, were organized all over the loyal states, and 
all the people, with generous and patriotic liberality, placed 
in the hands of this commission, and in those of a kindred 
association called the Christian Commission, money, medi- 
cines, food, clothing, wine, fruit, and every delicacy for the 
hospitals; secular and religious reading, trained nurses, and 
everything which could contribute to the welfare and re- 
lieve the wants of the soldiers. Sanitary stores, the most 
skillful surgeons, and kind and well-trained nurses, followed 
the soldiers to every battle-field. The wounded of both 
armies were tenderly cared for and nursed, the dying 
soothed, and their last messages carefully sent to family and 
friends. By such means the battle-field was robbed of half 
its horrors, and the soldier realized that kindness, skill, and 
care would attend him; that everything would be done to 
relieve his sufferings and restore him to health. And if it 
was his fate to die for his country, he knew that his last hours 
would be soothed by affection and Christian sympathy, and 
that he would be honored and cherished as a patriot, by his 
family and friends. For objects so noble and purposes so 


holy, no appeal for aid was ever made in vain. From the 
widow's mite and the orphan's pittance, from the day laborer's 
dollar, the products of the farm and the shop, the gold and 
jewels of the rich, the means flowed in so lavishly that the 
resources of the commissions were never exhausted, and 
many millions were freely given during the war. In further- 
ance of these objects, a series of great Sanitary Fairs was 
inaugurated at Chicago, and extended to Philadelphia, New 
York, Baltimore, Boston, Pittsburgh, and all the great cities 
and towns of the Union. The President attended many of 
these fairs, and made many speeches recommending them 
and urging the most liberal contributions. To the great 
Northwestern Fair held at Chicago in September, 1863, he 
sent the original draft of the proclamation of emancipation, 
to be sold for the benefit of the soldiers, as has already been 

The women of the nation, in every social position, were 
the most active and efficient agents in these enterprises. 
With a power of organization rivalling that which organized 
armies, with a tireless energy and executive ability which 
knew no pause nor rest, many noble women, and especially 
the widows, mothers, and sisters of soldiers who had been 
killed, consecrated their time and sacrificed their lives to 
these noble and patriotic purposes. Party, sect, creed, and 
social distinction melted away before the holy influence of 
these objects, and all, rich and poor, laborer and millionaire, 
laid their gifts upon the altar of patriotism. Here was a 
universal brotherhood. These institutions were the fruits of 
religious inspiration, and the fairest flowers of Christian 
civilization. The Christian Commission expended more than 
six millions of these generous contributions, and sent 
five thousand clergymen, from among the very best and 
ablest, to the camps and battle-fields of the war. The Sani- 
tary Commission had seven thousand associated societies, 
and, through an unpaid board of directors, distributed with 
skill and discretion fifteen millions of dollars in supplies and 


In this connection may be mentioned the extreme ten- 
derness and sympathy of Mr. Lincoln for all forms of suffer- 
ing. One day in November, 1864, his attention was called 
to the fact that a widow of Boston, Massachusetts, had lost 
five sons in battle. He immediately wrote to her from the 
White House, saying: 

" I feel how weak and fruitless must be any word of mine which 
should attempt to beguile you from the grief of a loss so overwhelming, 
but I cannot refrain from tendering to you the consolation that may be 
found in the thanks of the republic they died to save. 

" I pray our Heavenly Father may assuage the anguish of your 
■ bereavements and leave only the cherished memory of the loved and lost, 
and the solemn pride that must be yours to have laid so costly a sacrifice 
upon the altar of freedom. 

" Yours, very sincerely and respectfully, 

"A. Lincoln." 1 

Incidents illustrating the same feeling might be multi- 
plied without number. 8 

1. McPherson's History of the Rebellion, p. 606. 

2. I venture to add the following, which came under my personal observation. In 
the early spring of 1862, a young lad, who had lost his right hand at the battle of Bel- 
mont, came to Washington to obtain an appointment as assistant quartermaster. He 
arrived on Saturday, and calling at my house found that I was out of the city. With 
the confidence of youth, he did not wait my return,but, having very strong recommenda- 
tions, went to the Secretary of War, and was greatly disappointed when Mr. Stanton 
refused to appoint him. In the evening he came to me in great distress, and stated 
his case. I told him I would go with him on Monday to the War Office, but that his 
case was injured by his having been once rejected. On Monday we called on Mr. 
Stanton, who was receiving and dispatching a multitude of suitors. I noticed that 
the Secretary was in an ill humor; however, we took our turn, and I stated the case. 
Turning to the young soldier, Stanton said: " Were not you here Saturday, and did 
I not refuse to appoint you? And now here you are again on Monday, troubling me 
again. I cannot and will not have my time wasted in this way." 

I said: "Mr. Stanton, I am responsible for this second application." But he 
would not listen to me, and continued to scold at the young soldier. I thought him 
rude and uncivil, but seeing his irritability, retired as soon as possible, saying to the 
young soldier: " We will stop at the White House, and see what the President has to 
say to this." 

We found Mr. Lincoln alone in his office, and I had scarcely stated the case, when 

he took a card and wrote on it: "Let be appointed Assistant Quartermaster, 

etc. A. Lincoln." He had not then become familiar with one-armed and one-legged 
soldiers, and he seemed touched by the empty sleeve of the fine-looking young man. 
Putting the card in my pocket, I went to the Capitol. In the course of the day, Stanton 
came on the floor of the House, and as he seemed in good humor, I went to him and 
said: ** Mr. Stanton, you seemed very harsh and rude to my friend and constituent 
this morning. It seems to me that those who lose their right hands in the service of 


Great dissatisfaction was expressed at one time because 
Mr. Lincoln hesitated, or seemed to hesitate, in ordering 
retaliation for cruelties and barbarities practiced by the 
rebels on Union soldiers and prisoners. The story of the 
terrible cruelties inflicted upon Union prisoners at Ander- 
sonville, and at other places, and the alleged massacre of 
colored soldiers at Fort Pillow, filled all the people with 
horror. The committee on the conduct of the war reported 
that the statements were true, and, on the 16th of January, 
1865, Senator Wade offered a resolution directing retaliation 
in kind, with unflinching severity. ! But Senator Sumner 
replied : " We cannot be cruel, or barbarous, or savage, 
because the rebels, whom we are meeting in war, are cruel, 
barbarous, and savage." He quoted Dr. Lieber as saying : 
" If we fight with Indians, who slowly roast their prisoners, 
we cannot roast in turn the Indians whom we may capture." 
When reports of these barbarities, and the official report of 
the committee on the conduct of the war, were brought to the 
attention of Mr. Lincoln, and he was urged to retaliate in 
kind, he said : " No, I never can. I can never starve men 
like that." Edward Everett, speaking, however, of the con- 
duct of the rebels at Andersonville and elsewhere, said : 
" You have no more right to starve than to poison a pris- 
oner of war." Senator Chandler advocated retaliation in 
kind, declaring that Sumner's " sublimated humanitarianism 
would not do for * these accursed rebels.'" McDougall, of 

the country should at least be entitled to kindness and courtesy from the Secretary of 

"Well, well," he replied, "I was vexed and annoyed this morning. Take your 
young friend to the President. He always does anything you ask him, and he will, I 
doubt not, appoint him." 

" Mr. Stanton," I replied, "if the President grants my requests, I take care 
never to ask anything but what I am sure is right; but in this instance you do the 
President no more than justice. He has already directed the appointment, and I beg 
you will not interpose any obstacle or delay, as you sometimes do." 

Taking the card, Mr. Stanton said: "I will send you the commission as soon as I 
get to the War Department." An hour later a messenger brought the commission. 

t. See the debate in the Senate. Cong. Globe, 2d Session 38th Congress, pp.. 


California, a man of rare eloquence and genius, spoke 
against the resolution, comparing the proposal with the wild 
outrages and cruelties of the French Revolution, and which 
had no parallel save in the barbarities of the dark ages. 
But it was the eloquent voice of Sumner, appealing to the 
nobler and more humane feelings of our nature, which 
restrained the just indignation, and the fierce and terrible 
demands for retaliation in kind; and the resolution was so 
modified as to require " retaliation according to the laws 
and usages of war among civilized nations." 

Mr. Sumner had become the sincere and confidential 
adviser of Mr. Lincoln. These two men, in many respects 
so unlike, became the most ardent and affectionate personal 
friends. They rode and walked together, and seemed to 
enjoy each other's society like brothers. Sumner, the 
scholar and the man of conventionality, the favorite Ameri- 
can of the English aristocracy, found in Lincoln one that 
he admired and confided in above all others. 

The employment of negroes as soldiers in the Union 
armies had created intense excitement and bitterness in the 
rebellious states. The Confederate press and members of 
the Confederate Congress, at first, in their angry fury, pro- 
posed to execute all slaves found in arms, and to put their 
officers to death. Conscious that such acts of atrocity 
would bring severe retaliation, the whole subject was re- 
ferred to Jefferson Davis, with power to act. He issued a 
proclamation declaring that negro troops and their white 
officers would, if captured, not be treated as prisoners of 
war, but would be turned over to state authority for punish- 
ment, and that all free negroes captured with arms should 
be sold into slavery. In reply to this, the President issued 
an order directing " that for every soldier of the United 
States killed in violation of the laws of war, a rebel soldier 
shall be executed ; and for every one enslaved or sold into 
slavery, a rebel soldier shall be placed at hard labor on pub- 
lic works, and continued at such labor until the other shall 


be released and receive the treatment due to a prisoner of 
war." 1 

At the Sanitary Fair at Baltimore, Mr. Lincoln said : 
" The black soldier shall have the same protection as the 
white soldier. If the reports relative to this massacre [at 
Fort Pillow] are substantiated, retribution will be surely 
given." 2 In accordance with the order of the President, 
certain rebel prisoners were, in 1864, placed at hard labor 
on the Dutch Gap Canal, in retaliation for certain negro 
soldiers captured by the rebels and employed at work in 
the trenches of the rebels at Fort Gilmer. General Grant, 
in his correspondence with General Lee on the subject, laid 
down the rule which governed the Union authorities, based 
on the order of the President, saying : " I shall always 
regret the necessity for retaliating for wrongs done our 
soldiers, but regard it my duty to protect all persons received 
into the army of the United States, regardless of color or 
nationality." 3 The firmness of the President and General 
Grant resulted in compelling the Confederates to accord the 
negro soldiers, when captured, the rights of prisoners of 

This visit to the Baltimore Fair was the occasion of an 
exhibition of love and veneration towards Mr. Lincoln on 
the part of the negro race, almost without a parallel in his- 
tory. They crowded around the Washington depot, and so 
filled the streets along which he was to pass that it was diffi- 
cult for him to make his way. Hundreds of negro women 
kneeled on the sidewalks, holding up their children that they 
might see him and be blessed by him. They seemed to feel 
that to look at him was a privilege, and that to be touched by 
him would bring a blessing. Their feeling recalled the old 
superstition that the touch of the king would heal all disease. 
But he was to them more than king, more than mortal. 

1. McPherson's History of the Rebellion, p. 280. 

2. McPherson's History of the Rebellion, p. 281. 

3. See correspondence of Grant and Lee on the subject. McPherson's History 
of the Rebellion, p. 445. 


He was to these simple, sincere worshipers something super- 
naturally good and great. The scene at Baltimore might 
without irreverence be compared to that when Christ rode 
into Jerusalem. The negroes, ignorant, simple, and earnest, 
looked upon him as their savior, their deliverer, and they 
were ready " to spread their garments in his way ; to cut 
down branches of the trees and strew them in his path." 
"And they that went before, and they that followed after, 
cried, ' Hosanna. Blessed be he that cometh in the name of 
the Lord.' " To the negro race he had passed into mythol- 
ogy, and already become a great historic figure, free from all 
human infirmity. 

The subject of reconstruction, of restoring the rebel 
states to their former relations with the national government, 
was one of difficulty, and one in relation to which there was 
a wide difference of opinion. Upon no question of states- 
manship was Mr. Lincoln's sagacity and practical good 
sense more strikingly illustrated. There were many theories 
on the subject, which were advocated with great vehemence 
and passion. Mr. Lincoln did not adopt any particular 
theory as to any one mode by which the national authority 
could be restored. Daniel Webster, speaking of the seces- 
sion of the states and of the dissolution of the Union, 
sadly said : " If these columns fall, they will be raised not 
again. Like the Colosseum and the Parthenon, they will be 
destined to a mournful and melancholy immortality. Bit- 
terer tears, however, will flow over them than were ever 
shed over Grecian or Roman art, for they will be the ruins 
of a more glorious edifice than Greece or Rome ever saw — 
the edifice of constitutional American freedom." J It was 
the difficult but not impossible work of Lincoln to raise 
again and reconstruct the shattered fragments of the repub- 
lic ; to rear again the broken and prostrate columns of the 
seceding states ; but this time, their foundation was to be 
on the rock of liberty. As has been said before, he was no 
mere theorist, but a practical statesman, looking ever for the 

1. Webster's Speeches, vol. 1, p. 231. 


wisest means to secure the end. One indispensable con- 
dition — emancipation, the freedom of the colored race — he 
made the condition of every act of reconstruction. This 
he repeatedly declared in his messages to Congress, in his 
instructions to Mr. Seward at the time of the Hampton 
Roads conference, and in many speeches. Loyalty and 
fidelity to the national government and the Constitution, 
including the proclamation of emancipation and the amend- 
ment prohibiting slavery, were the conditions of recon- 
struction. He appointed provisional governors over rebel- 
lious states, and recommended Congress to provide by law for 
the establishment of courts for " all such parts of the insur- 
gent states and territories as may be under the control of 
the government, whether by voluntary return to its allegiance 
and order, or by the power of our armies." 

The rebel state governments he regarded as public ene- 
mies to be subdued, while a new government, republican in 
form, was to be established in their place. In initiating steps 
to organize new, loyal, and republican state governments, he, 
as the Executive and Commander in Chief, and in the 
absence of the action of Congress, prescribed the qualifica- 
tions of voters, requiring all to be loyal to the Constitution. 
These proceedings he regarded as preliminary, and subject 
to the action and approval of Congress, before the new state 
government should be entitled to representation in Congress 
or to vote in the electoral college. He treated the Confed- 
erates as public enemies ; all acts of the Confederate gov- 
ernment, and of the rebel states while in rebellion, were void, 
and these organizations were to be overthrown and subju- 
gated, and the territory from which they were expelled to be 
governed, until otherwise provided, by martial law. The 
states in rebellion were not entitled to vote in the electoral 
college. 2 

The question as to whether the loyal negro was to vote 
had not been definitely settled at the time of Mr. Lincoln's 

1. Message of December, 1861. Also message of December, 1863. 

2. See President's Message of February 8th, 1865, and resolutions of Congress. 


death. As early as March 13th, 1864, the President, writing to 
Michael Hahn, Governor of Louisiana, said : " Now you are 
about to have a convention, which, among other things, will 
probably define the elective franchise. I barely suggest for 
your private consideration whether some of the colored peo- 
ple might not be let in, as, for instance, the very intelligent, 
and especially those who have fought gallantly in our 
ranks." In his speech of April nth, 1865, four days 
before his assassination, speaking of the new constitution in 
Louisiana, he said : " It is unsatisfactory to some that the 
elective franchise is not given to the colored man. I would 
•myself prefer that it were now conferred on the very intelli- 
gent, and on those who serve our cause as soldiers. Still 
the question is not whether the Louisiana government is 
quite all that is desirable. The question is, will it be wiser 
to take it as it is, and help to improve it, or to reject it." 1 

In a letter to General Wadsworth, Mr. Lincoln says: " I 
cannot see, if universal amnesty is granted, how, under the 
circumstances, I can avoid exacting, in return, universal suf- 
frage, or at least suffrage on the basis of intelligence and 
military service." 2 It may be assumed as settled, that Mr. 

1. McPherson's History of the Rebellion, p. 609. He adds : 

"We encourage the hearts and nerve the arms of the twelve thousand to adhere 
to their work, and argue for it, and proselyte for it, and fight for it, and feed it 
and grow it, and ripen it to complete success. The colored man, too, seeing all unit- 
ing for him, is inspired with vigilance and energy and daring to the same end. 
Grant that he desires the elective franchise, will he not obtain it sooner by saving 
the already advanced steps towards it, than by running backward over them ? Con- 
cede that the new government of Louisiana is only to what it should be, as the egg 
to the fowl ; we shall sooner have the fowl by hatching the egg than by smashing it. 
Again, if we reject Louisiana, we also reject one vote in favor of the proposed 
amendment to the national constitution. To meet this proposition it has been argued 
that no more than three-fourths of those states which have not attempted secession 
are necessary to validly ratify this amendment. I do not commit myself against this 
farther than to say that such a ratification would be questionable, and sure to be per- 
sistently questioned ; whilst a ratification by three-fourths of all the states would be 
unquestioned and unquestionable." 

2. The following is an extract from the Wadsworth letter. I have never seen the 
authenticity of this letter denied, and it bears internal evidence of being genuine. 
Mr. Lincoln says : 

"Your desire to know, in the event of our complete success in the field, the same 
being followed by a loyal and cheerful submission on the part of the South, if uni- 
versal amnesty should not be accompanied with universal suffrage. Now, since you 


Lincoln favored negro suffrage " on the basis of intelligence 
and military service " at least, but it is not clearly proved 
that he would have made it universal. 

He was a man of great evenness of temper, rarely excited 
to anger. Personal abuse, injustice, and indignity offered 
to himself did not disturb him, but gross injustice and bad 
faith towards others made him indignant, and when such 
were brought to his knowledge, his eyes would blaze with 
indignation, and his denunciation few could endure. When 
some one dared to suggest to him that he might placate the 
rebel masters, and secure peace, by abandoning the freed- 
men, he exclaimed: " Why, it would be an astounding breach 
of faith ! If I should do it, I ought to be damned in time 
and eternity." To this day, the South does not appreciate, 
nor does the world know, how much the Confederates were 
indebted to the humane, kind, almost divine spirit of Lin- 
coln. The key-note of his policy towards the rebels was 

know my private inclinations as to what terms should be granted to the South in the 
contingency mentioned, I will here add, that if our success should thus be realized, 
followed by such desired results, I cannot see, if universal amnesty is granted, how, 
under the circumstances, I can avoid exacting in return universal suffrage, or, at 
least, suffrage on the basis of intelligence and military service. How to better the 
condition of the colored race has long been a study which has attracted my serious 
and careful attention ; hence I think I am clear and decided as to what course I shall 
pursue in the premises, regarding it as a religious duty, as the nation's guardian of 
those people who have so heroically vindicated their manhood on the battle-field, 
where, in assisting to save the life of the republic, they have demonstrated their 
right to the ballot, which is but the humane protection of the flag they have so fear- 
lessly defended." 

The following note from the Hon. Charles A. Dana, Assistant Secretary of War 
during the last two years of Mr. Lincoln's administration, will throw some light on 
Mr. Lincoln's views: 

" New York, November 13, 1866. 

" My Dear Sir: In a speech here before the election, I stated that at the time of 
Mr. Lincoln's death, a printed paper was under consideration in the Cabinet, provid- 
ing ways and means for restoring state government in Virginia. In that paper it was 
stated that all loyal men, white or black, were to be called upon to vote in holding a 
state convention, while all rebels were to be excluded. I said that I could not affirm 
that Mr. Lincoln had definitively adopted that policy with respect to black suffrage, 
but that I knew his mind was tending to it, and that I was morally certain he would 
have finally adhered to it. After Mr. Johnson's accession, all the provisions of the 
paper were incorporated in the presidential proclamation respecting the reorganiza- 
tion of state governments, with the single exception of this one making all loyal men, 
voters, whether white or black. * * Yours very truly, 

•* Eon. Isaac Arnold. Charles A. Dana." 


boldly struck in his second inaugural, when he declared " with 
malice towards none, with charity for all, with firmness in 
the right as God gives us to see the right, let us finish the 
work we are in, to bind up the nation's wounds, * 
to do all which may achieve a just and lasting peace among 
ourselves and among all nations." 

In the midst of the fierce passions and bitter animosities 
growing out of the war, many thought him too mild and too' 
forbearing; but his conviction was clear, and his determina- 
tion firm, that when there was a sincere repentance, then 
there should be pardon and amnesty. In the face of those 
who sternly demanded punishment and confiscation, and 
the death of traitors and conspirators, he declared: "When 
a man is sincerely penitent for his misdeeds, and gives satis- 
factory evidence of it, he can safely be pardoned." 

When the fiery and eloquent Henry Winter Davis, the 
stern, blunt, downright Ben Wade, and the unforgiving. 
Thaddeus Stevens, demanded retaliation, confiscation, death,, 
desolation, and bloody execution, the voice of Lincoln rose 
clear above the storm, firm, gentle, but powerful, like the 
voice of God. " With malice towards none, with charity for 
all, with firmness in the right as God gives us to see the 
right," he hushed the raging storm of passion, and brought 
back peace and reconciliation. 




Conference of Lincoln, Grant, and Sherman. — Richmond 
Falls. — Lee Surrenders. — Jefferson Davis Captured. — Lin- 
coln's Visit to Richmond. — The Last Day of His Life.— His 
Assassination. — Funeral. — The World's Grief. — Mrs. Lin- 
coln Distracted. — Injustice to Her. — Her Death. 

Let us resume the narration of the progress of the 
Union arms. Fort Fisher, which guards the harbor of Wil- 
mington, North Carolina, was captured by General Terry, 
on the 15th of January, 1865. Sherman, moving from Savan- 
nah, entered Columbia, the capital of South Carolina, on the 
17th of February. From thence he moved to Goldsboro, 
North Carolina, and opened communication with General 
Schofield, who had, after the destruction of Hood's army at 
Nashville, been ordered east. The rebels under Hardee 
abandoned Charleston, and Admiral Dahlgren and General 
Foster took possession of the capital of South Carolina. 
General Lee appointed General Joe Johnston to command 
the forces which were trying to oppose the advance of Sher- 
man, and at Bentonville there was a severe battle, but John- 
ston was compelled to retire; and now the Union forces 
were concentrating around Lee, and the end was rapidly 

On the 3d of March, 1865, as is usual on the last night 
of the sessions of Congress, the Executive with the Cabinet 
was in the President's room at the Capitol, to receive and 
act upon the numerous bills which pass during the last hur- 
ried hours of the session. Congress continued in session 



from seven o'clock in the evening to eight o'clock on the 
morning of the 4th. It was a stormy, snowy night, but 
within all was bright, cheerful, and full of hope. While the 
President was thus waiting, and receiving the congratula- 
tions of senators, members of Congress, and other friends, a 
telegram came from General Grant to the Secretary of War, 
informing him that Lee had at last sought an interview, with 
the purpose of seeing whether any terms of peace could be 
agreed upon. The despatch was handed to the President. 
Reflecting a few moments, he wrote the following reply, 
which was then submitted to the Cabinet and sent: 

" Washington, March 3, 1865, 12 p. m. 
" Lieutenant General Grant: — The President directs me to 
say to you that he wishes you to have no conference with General Lee, 
unless it be for the capitulation of General Lee's army, or on some other 
minor and purely military matter. He instructs me to say that you are 
not to decide, discuss, or confer upon any political question. Such ques- 
tions the President holds in his own hands, and will submit them to no 
military conferences or conventions. Meanwhile you are to press to the 
utmost your military advantages. Edwin M. Stanton, 

" Secretary of War." 

On the 27th of March, the President, by appointment, 
met Generals Grant and Sherman in the cabin of the steamer 
" Ocean Queen," lying in the James River, and not far from 
the headquarters of General Grant. This meeting has been 
appropriately made the subject of a great historical painting 
called " The Peace Makers," and the artist has very felicit- 
ously represented the prophetic rainbow spanning the boat, 
and shining in at the windows, where these remarkable 
men held their last conference. l 

The perfect harmony, earnest and cordial cooperation, 
and brotherly friendship between the great military leaders, 
Grant and Sherman, Sheridan and Meade, and their subor- 
dinates, was in striking contrast with the jealousy and quar- 
rels of some of the President's earlier generals. He could 
not but recall the days of McClellan and others, when such 

1. This painting by Healy was made for E. B. McCagg, Esq., of Chicago, and now 
hangs on the walls of the Calumet Club of that city. 


quarrels were among the heaviest burdens he had to bear. 
It would be difficult to find in history three men more 
unlike physically and mentally, and yet of greater historic 
interest or more distinguished ability, than the statesman 
President, and Grant and Sherman. And, although so 
entirely unlike one another, each was a type of American 
character, and all had peculiarities not only distinctively Amer- 
ican, but Western. Lincoln's towering form had been given 
dignity and repose by the great deeds and great thoughts to 
which he had given such eloquent expression. His rugged 
and strongly marked features, lately so deeply furrowed 
with care, anxiety, over-work, and responsibility, were now 
full of hope and confidence. He met the two great soldiers 
with the most grateful cordiality. With clear intelligence,, 
he grasped the military situation, and listened with the most 
eager and profound attention to the details of the final 
moves which it was hoped would end the terrible game of 

Contrasting with the tall, towering form of Lincoln, was 
the short, sturdy, firm figure of the hero of Vicksburg, every 
feature and every movement expressing inflexible will and 
resolute determination. Also strikingly in contrast with 
these was Sherman, with his intellectual head, his keen rest- 
less eye, his nervous energy, his sharply outlined features, 
bronzed by that magnificent campaign from Chattanooga to 
Savannah, and now fresh from the conquest of North and 
South Carolina. "Hold Lee," he said to Grant, "in his for- 
tified lines for two weeks; our wagons will be loaded, and 
we will start for Burksville. If Lee will remain in Rich- 
mond until I can reach Burksville, we will have him between 
our thumb and fingers." 1 

1. The following most interesting letter from General Sherman to the author 
gives the details of this interview : 

"Washington, D. C, November 28th, 1872. 
"Thanksgiving Day. 
" Hon. I. ST. Arnold, Chicago, 111. 

"My Dear Sir: I have just received your letter of November 26th, and it so 
happens that it comes to me on an official holiday, when I am at leisure, and at my 
house, where I keep the books of letters written by me during and since the civil war*. 


Sherman, with his army of eighty thousand men, as hardy 
and as brave as Caesar's Gallic Legion, once in close commu- 
nication with Grant, Lee would be " shut up in Richmond 

My records during the war are quite complete, but since the war I have only retained 
copies of letters on purely official business, and I find no copy of the one you describe 
as having been lost in the great fire of Chicago last year. I regret this extremely, as 
in my official records I find but a bare allusion to the interview with Mr. Lincoln at 
City Point, in March, 1865, an account of which was contained in my former letter, 
and which you now desire me to repeat. I must do so entirely from memory, and 
you must make all allowances, for nearly eight eventful years have intervened. 

" On the 21st of March, 1865, the army which I commanded reached Goldsboro, 
North Carolina, and there made junction with the forces of Generals Schofield and 
Terry, which had come up from the coast at Newbern and Wilmington. 

" My army was hard up for food and clothing, which could only reach us from the 
coast, and my chief attention was given to the reconstruction of the two railroads 
which meet at Goldsboro, from Newbern and Wilmington, so as tore-clothe the men, 
and get provisions enough with which to continue our march to Burksville, Virginia, 
where we would come into communication with General Grant's army, then investing 
Richmond and Petersburg. I had written to General Grant several times, and had 
received letters from him, but it seemed to me all important that I should have a per- 
sonal interview. Accordingly, on the 25th of March, leaving General Schofield in 
command, I took the first locomotive which had come over the repaired railroad, 
back to Newbern and Morehead City, where I got the small steamer ' Russia' to con- 
vey me to City Point. We arrived during the afternoon of March 27th, and I found 
General Grant and staff occupying a neat set of log huts, on a bluff overlooking the 
James River. The General's family was with him. We had quite a long and friendly 
talk, when he remarked that the President, Mr. Lincoln, was near by in a steamer 
lying at the dock, and he proposed that we should call at once. We did so, and found 
Mr. Lincoln on board the ' Ocean Queen." We had met in the early part of the war, 
and he recognized me, and received me with a warmth of manner and expression that 
was most grateful. We then sat some time in the after-cabin, and Mr. Lincoln made 
many inquiries about the events which attended the march from Savannah to Golds- 
boro, and seemed to enjoy the humorous stories about 'our bummers,' of which he 
had heard much. When in lively conversation, his face brightened wonderfully; but 
if the conversation flagged, his face assumed a sad and sorrowful expression, 

"General Grant and I explained to him that my next move from Goldsboro would 
bring my army, increased to eighty thousand men by Schofield' s and Terry's reinforce- 
ments, in close communication with General Grant's army, then investing Lee in Rich- 
mond, and that unless Lee could effect his escape, and make junction with Johnston in 
North Carolina, he would soon be shut up in Richmond with no possibility of supplies, 
and would have to surrender. Mr. Lincoln was extremely interested in this view of 
the case, and when we explained that Lee's only chance was to escape, join Johnston, 
and, being then between me in North Carolina and Grant in Virginia, could choose 
which to fight. Mr. Lincoln seemed unusually impressed with this, but General 
Grant explained that at the very moment of our conversation, General Sheridan was 
passing his cavalry across James River from the north to the south, that he would, 
with this cavalry, so extend his left below Petersburg as to meet the South Shore 
Road, and that if Lee should l let go ' his fortified lines, he (Grant) would follow 
him so close that he could not possibly fall on me alone in North Carolina. I, in like 
manner, expressed the fullest confidence that my army in North Carolina was willing 
to cope with Lee and Johnston combined, till Grant could come up. But we both 


with no possibility of obtaining supplies, and would have to 
surrender." Lincoln, when told that " one more bloody bat- 
tle was likely to occur before the close of the war," with 

agreed that one more bloody battle was likely to occur before the close of the 

"Mr. Lincoln repeatedly inquired as to General Schofield's ability, in my absence, 
and seemed anxious that I should return to North Carolina, and more than once 
exclaimed: ' Must more blood be shed? Cannot'this last bloody battle be avoided?' 
We explained that we had to presume that General Lee was a real general; that 
he must see that Johnston alone was no barrier to my progress, and that if my army 
of eighty thousand veterans should reach Burksville, he was lost in Eichmond, and 
that we were forced to believe he would not await that inevitable conclusion, but 
make one more desperate effort. 

" I think we were with Mr. Lincoln an hour or more, and then returned to General 
Grant's quarters, where Mrs. Grant had prepared us some coffee, or tea. During this 
meal, Mrs. Grant inquired if we had seen Mrs. Lincoln. I answered: ' No. I did not 
know she was on board.' 'Now,' said Mrs. Grant, 'you are a pretty pair,' and went 
on to explain that we had been guilty of a piece of unpardonable rudeness; but 
the General said, 'Never mind. We will repeat the visit to-morrow, and can then see 
Mrs. Lincoln.' 

" The next morning a good many officers called to see me, among them Generals 
Meade and Ord, also Admiral Porter. The latter inquired as to the 'Russia,' in which 
I had come up from Morehead City, and explained that she was a slow tub, and he 
would send me back in the steamer 'Bat,' Captain Barnes, U. S. Navy, because 
she was very fleet, and could make seventeen knots an hour. Of course I did not 
object, and fixed that afternoon to start back. 

"Meantime we had to repeat our call on Mr. Lincoln on board the ' Ocean Queen,' 
then anchored out in the stream at some distance from the wharf. Admiral Porter 
went along, and we took a tug at the wharf, which conveyed us off to the ' Ocean 
Queen.' Mr. Lincoln met us all in the same hearty manner as on the previous occa- 
sion, and this time we did not forget Mrs. Lincoln. General Grant inquired for her, 
and the President explained that she was not well, but he stepped to her state-room 
and returned to us asking us to excuse her. We all took seats in the after-cabin, and 
the conversation became general. I explained to Mr. Lincoln that Admiral Porter 
had given me the 'Bat,' a very fleet vessel, to carry me back to Newbern, and that I 
was ready to start back then. It seemed to relieve him, as he was afraid that some- 
thing might go wrong at Goldsboro in my absence. I had no such fears, and the most 
perfect confidence in General Schofield, and doubt not I said as much. 

"I ought not, and must not, attempt to recall the words of that conversation. Of 
course none of us then foresaw the tragic end of the principal figure of that group 
so near at hand ; and none of us saw the exact manner in which the war was to close ; 
but I knew that I felt, and I believe the others did, that the end of the war was 

" The imminent danger was, that Lee, seeing the meshes closing surely around 
him, would not remain passive, but would make one more desperate effort ; and Gen- 
eral Grant was providing for it, by getting General Sheridan's cavalry well to his left 
flank, so as to watch the first symptoms, and to bring the rebel army to bay till the 
infantry could come up. Meantime I only asked two weeks delay, the status qtio, 
when we would have our wagons loaded, and would start from Goldsboro for Burks- 
ville, via Raleigh. Though I cannot attempt to recall the words spoken by any one of 
the persons present on that occasion, I know we talked generally about what was to 


characteristic humanity exclaimed: 'Must more blood be 
shed ? Cannot this bloody battle be avoided ? " And even 
while they were consulting, Sheridan, the embodiment of 
energy and rapidity of movement, was marching with the 
utmost celerity far to Grant's left, to seize and cut off the 
only available route for Lee's escape. Ten days of inces- 
sant marching and fighting, with Sheridan in the lead and 
Grant closely following, finished the campaign. The line of 
intrenchments around Richmond and Petersburg extended 

be done when Lee's and Johnston's armies were beaten and dispersed. On this point 
Mr. Lincoln was very full. He said that he had long thought of it, that he hoped this 
end could be reached without more bloodshed, but in any event he wanted us to get the 
deluded men of the rebel armies disarmed and back to their homes ; that he contem- 
plated no revenge; no harsh measures, but quite the contrary, and that their suffering 
and hardships during the war would make them the more submissive to law. I cannot 
say that Mr. Lincoln, or any body else, used this language; but I know I left his pres- 
ence with the conviction that he had in his mind, or that his Cabinet had, some plan of 
settlement ready for application, the moment Lee and Johnston were defeated. 

" In Chicago, about June or July of that year, when all the facts were fresh in my 
mind, I told them to Geo. P. A. Healy, the artist, who was casting about for a sub- 
ject for an historical painting, and he adopted this interview. Mr. Lincoln was 
then dead, but Healy had a portrait which he himself had made at Springfield, some 
five or six years before. With this portrait, some existent photographs, and the strong 
resemblance in form of Mr. Swett, of Chicago, to Mr. Lincoln, he made the picture 
of Mr. Lincoln seen in this group. For General Grant, Admiral Porter, and myself, 
he had actual sittings, and I am satisfied the fine portraits in this group of Healy's 
are the best extant. The original picture, life size, is, I believe, now in Chicago, the 
property of Mr. McCagg; but Healy afterwards, in Rome, painted ten smaller cop- 
ies, about 18x24 inches, one of which I now have, and it is now within view. I think 
the likeness of Mr. Lincoln by far the best of the many I have seen elsewhere, and 
those of General Grant, Admiral Porter, and myself, equally good and faithful. I 
think Admiral Porter gave Healy a written description of our relative positions in that 
interview, also the dimensions, shape, and furniture of the cabin of the 'Ocean 
Queen/ but the rainbow is Healy's— typical, of course, of the coming peace. In this 
picture I seen to be talking, the others attentively listening. Whether Healy made 
this combination from Admiral Porter's letter or not, I cannot say ; but I thought that 
he caught the idea from what I told him had occurred, when saying 'that if Lee would 
only remain in Richmond until I could reach Burksville, we would have him between 
our thumb and fingers,' suiting the action to the word. It matters little what Healy 
meant by his historic group, but it is certain we four sat pretty much as represented, 
and were engaged in an important conversation, during the forenoon of March 28th, 
1865, and that we parted never to meet again. 

" That afternoon I embarked on the k Bat,' and we steamed down the coast to Hat- 
teras Inlet, which we entered, and proceeded to Newbern, and from Newbern to 
Goldsboroby rail, which I reached the night of March 30th. 

"I hope this letter covers the points of your inquiry. 
" With great respect, " Yours truly, 

"W. T. Sherman, General." 

Hon. I. 2\T. Arnold, Chicago, III. 


some forty miles. Grant had resolved to interpose Sheridan 
between Lee and retreat. On the 29th, he wrote to Sheri- 
dan: " I now feel like ending the matter, if it be possible, 
before going back. * * Push round the enemy, and get 
on his right rear; we will act as one army here, until it is 
seen what can be done with the enemy." 

The rain fell in torrents, the soil was deep mud, and the 
roads were nearly impassable; but nothing could stop or stay 
Sheridan. He pushed on over all obstacles to Five Forks. 
On the morning of March 31st, Lee, struggling to escape, 
had eighteen thousand men in front of Sheridan's ten thou- 
sand. While he fought, Sheridan sent word to Grant: " I 
will hold Dinwiddie until I am compelled to leave." Grant 
promptly sent an entire corps to his aid. Fighting and 
marching, and preventing Lee from making his escape, 
nothing could exceed the activity and energy of Sheridan. 
On the morning of the 2d of April, the works in front of 
Petersburg were carried. Lee fled westward, his object 
being to reach Burksville Junction, where two roads met, 
and from thence either to join Johnston, or escape to the 
mountains. Sheridan captured a telegraphic message, not 
yet sent, ordering three hundred thousand rations to feed 
Lee's famishing army. Sheridan forwarded the message, 
with the hope that the rations would be sent forward and 
fall into the hands of the Union army. Such was the result. 
And now Sheridan had seized and occupied the only road 
by which Lee could obtain supplies. The rebel army was 
without food, with Sheridan and his cavalry and the Fifth 
Army Corps in its front, while Grant was behind, at its heels 
and on its flank, with his eager and victorious troops. Lee 
made desperate efforts to escape, to cut his way through, 
but in vain. The remains of the proud and often victorious 
Army of Northern Virginia struggled and fought gallantly, but 
were hemmed in, and everywhere met by a force which they 
could not break through. On Sunday, the 2d of April, 
Longstreet, who had held the lines north of the James, was 
ordered to join Lee. 


The bells of Richmond tolled the knell of the Confed- 
eracy. The drums beat, calling on the citizens and militia 
to man the lines from which Longstreet was retiring. The 
rebellion was at its last gasp. At 1 1 a. m. of that Sunday 
morning, Lee sent a message to Jefferson Davis, saying that 
Richmond and Petersburg could no longer be held. Davis 
hurriedly fled, and on the dawn of Monday, the 3d, General 
Weitzel sent forward a party of Union cavalry, who hoisted 
the national flag on the State House, and took possession of 
the rebel capital. But not for Richmond and Petersburg did 
the iron will of Grant for one moment turn aside from his 
determination to "end the matter" then and there, by the 
destruction of the army of Lee. Pushing on with all possi- 
ble speed, the army of the James, under General Ord, on 
one side of the Appomattox, and that of Grant on the other, 
and Sheridan on his front, there was left no escape possible. 
The chase was up. On the 9th of April, after one last des- 
perate effort to cut his way through, Lee sent a white flag, 
asking a suspension of hostilities, pending negotiations for 
terms of surrender. An interview was held between Grant 
and Lee, and generous terms of capitulation agreed upon. 
The arms, artillery, and public property were given up; offi- 
cers and soldiers were paroled not to take up arms against 
the United States until properly exchanged, and the officers 
and men were allowed to return to their homes, not to be dis- 
turbed so long as they observed their parole and the laws. 

Lee had many qualities which created sympathy, and the 
scene after the surrender was sadly pathetic. Riding through 
the ranks of his ragged and half-starved soldiers, he said, in 
a voice broken with grief: " Men, we have fought through 
the war together; I have done the best I could for you." It 
was not in the heart of his generous and victorious foe to 
exact severe terms, and his misfortunes almost disarmed jus- 
tice. The meeting of the rank and file, and of the officers 
of the two armies, was cordial. They had learned to respect 
each other. The rebels were really starving. The Union 
soldiers grasped the hands of their late enemies, made them 


their guests, divided with them their rations, supplied them 
with clothing, and loaned them money with which to go to 
their homes. 

The surrender of Lee was regarded by the other rebel 
leaders as fatal. They deemed it useless to prolong the 
struggle. On the 5th of April, Grant had requested Sherman 
to push forward against Johnston. " Let us," said he, "see 
if we cannot finish the job." On the 13th of April, Sherman 
occupied Raleigh, and on the 14th, intelligence of the sur- 
render of Lee reached him, and a correspondence was 
opened between him and Johnston for the disbandment of 
the rebel army, and to propose a basis of peace, subject tO' 
the approval of the President. The terms were not 
approved. On the 24th, General Grant arrived at the head- 
quarters of Sherman, and immediately Sherman notified 
Johnston that the terms were disapproved, and a demand was 
made for the surrender of his army. A meeting between 
Sherman and Johnston was had on the 26th of April, which 
resulted in the surrender of Johnston and his army, on the 
same terms substantially as those which Lee had accepted. 
The surrender of all the organized rebel forces everywhere 
soon followed. On the nth of May, Jefferson Davis, fleeing 
in disguise, was captured in Georgia. 

After the meeting of the President with Grant and Sher- 
man, before described, Lincoln, anxious to be near the scene 
of action, where he could keep in constant communication 
with Grant, remained at City Point. General Grant tele- 
graphed to him from day to day and hour to hour the pro- 
gress of the movements, and these despatches were for- 
warded by Mr. Lincoln to the Secretary of War at Washing- 
ton, and by him to the exulting people of the loyal states. 
The brilliant and decisive successes of the army filled the 
nation with joy and gratitude. 

When, on the morning of the 4th of April, the Union 
troops took possession of Richmond, they found a terrific 
fire raging, which had been caused by the rebels setting fire 
to the great tobacco warehouses, ordnance foundries, and 


other public property, which they had burned to prevent its 
falling into the hands of the Union army. These were 
destroyed, and with them, before the fire could be extin- 
guished, fully one-third of the beautiful city. 

On the day of its capture, the President, leading his 
youngest son Thomas (Tad) by the hand, and accompanied 
by Admiral Porter and a few others, visited Richmond. 
Leading his son — then twelve years old — he walked from 
the wharf near Libby prison to the headquarters of General 
Weitzel, which had been the residence of Jefferson Davis, 
and from which he had so lately fled. The coming of the 
President had been unannounced, but the news of his pres- 
ence spread through the city, and immediately the exulting 
negroes came running from every direction to see their 
deliverer. They danced, shouted, and cried for joy; for 
their enthusiasm was uncontrollable. He held a brief recep- 
tion in the room lately occupied by the rebel President, took 
a drive about the town, saw that the fire was being subdued, 
and returned the same evening to City Point. 

On the Thursday following, with Mrs. Lincoln, the Vice- 
President, and several senators and friends, he again visited 
Richmond. On this occasion he was called upon by several 
prominent citizens of Virginia, anxious to learn what the 
policy of the government towards them would be. Without 
committing himself to specific details, he satisfied them that 
his policy would be magnanimous, forgiving, and generous. 
He told these Virginians they must learn loyalty and devo- 
tion to the nation. They need not love Virginia less, but 
they must love the republic more. 

On the 9th of April, the President returned to Washing- 
ton, and he had scarcely settled at the White House before 
the news of Lee's surrender reached him. Robert T. Lin- 
coln, his oldest son, was on the staff of General Grant, and 
in the field at the front. When the intelligence of Lee's sur- 
render reached the President, no language can express the 
joy and gratitude to Almighty God which filled his heart 
and that of the people. 


On the evening of the nth, a great crowd, exultant and 
happy, went to the White House to congratulate him, and 
with him rejoice over the triumph. Again his tall form stood 
at the window of the Executive Mansion, and looked out on 
Xhe happy multitude. How often during the past four years 
had he stood there. In times of disaster and of danger, 
when all was dark and uncertain, how often had he cheered 
and encouraged his hearers with words of hope and con- 
fidence; how often had he cheered the soldiers marching to 
the field. Now the great work was done. The rebellion 
was crushed, and throughout the republic there was not a 
slave. To him, more than to any other; to him more than 
to all others; to him under God were these grand results 
due. But there was no selfish exultation. Modest, just, and 
grateful to others, he said: "We meet this evening in 
gladness of heart. The surrender of the insurgent army 
gives hopes of a righteous and speedy peace. * * * * 
In the midst of this, He from whom all blessings flow 
must not be forgotten. * * * I was near the front, * 
* * but no part of the honor for plan or execution is 
mine. To General Grant, his skillful officers and brave men, 
all belongs." ! 

From the nth to the 14th were eventful, memorable 
days. The surrender of all the rebel armies followed in 
rapid succession. The whole country, every city, town, vil- 
lage, and neighborhood, was intoxicated with joy. All the 
houses, even the houses of mourning, were bright with Union 
flags. Every window in every home was illuminated. Bells 
were rung and salutes fired. Bands of music played, patri- 
otic songs were sung, and the voice of praise and thanks- 
giving to Almighty God went up from every house of wor- 
ship, and from every home and fireside. No one was more 
joyous and happy than Mr. Lincoln. The dark clouds had 
disappeared. Full of hope and happiness, with the con- 
sciousness of great difficulties overcome, of great duties 
well and successfully performed, his heart was filled, and 

1. McPherson's History of the Rebellion, p. 609. 


now visions of days of peace and happiness were rising 
before him. He was considering plans of reconciliation;, 
how he could best bind up and heal the wounds of the whole 
country, and how obliterate the scars of war and restore 
good feeling and friendship to every section. There was in; 
his heart no bitterness, no desire for revenge. He wished 
to frighten the leading rebels out of the country, that there 
might be no executions. 

On the morning of the 14th, his son Robert, just returned 
from the front, where he had witnessed the surrender of 
Lee, breakfasted with his father. The family passed a 
happy hour together, Mr. and Mrs. Lincoln listening to the 
details of the events witnessed by Robert. After breakfast, 
the President spent an hour with Mr. Speaker Colfax. Then 
followed a happy meeting and exchange of congratulations 
with a party of Illinois friends. At 12 m. there was a meet- 
ing of the Cabinet, at which General Grant was present, and 
all remarked the hopeful, happy spirits of the President, and 
his kindly disposition towards those lately in arms against 
him. While waiting for the Secretary of War, Mr. Lincoln 
was observed to look very grave, and said : " Gentlemen, 
something serious is going to happen. I have had a strange 
dream, and have a presentiment such as I have had several 
times before, and always just before some important event- 
But," he added abruptly as Mr. Stanton came in, "let us 
proceed to business." 

After the Cabinet meeting he went to drive with Mrs. 
Lincoln, expressing a wish that no one should accompany 
them, and evidently desiring to converse alone with her. 1 
" Mary," said he, " we have had a hard time of it since 
we came to Washington, but the war is over, and with God's 
blessing we may hope for four years of peace and happi- 
ness, and then we will go back to Illinois and pass the rest 
of our lives in quiet." He spoke of his old Springfield 
home, and recollections of his early days, his little brown 
cottage, the law office, the court room, the green bag for his- 

1. I state this conversation from memory, as related by Mrs. Lincoln. 


briefs and law papers, his adventures when riding the 
circuit, came thronging back to him. The tension under 
which he had for so long been kept was removed, and he 
was like a boy out of school. "We have laid by," said he 
to his wife, " some money, and during this term we will try 
and save up more, but shall not have enough to support us. 
We will go back to Illinois, and I will open a law-office at 
Springfield or Chicago, and practice law, and at least do 
enough to help give us a livelihood." Such were the dreams, 
the day-dreams of Lincoln, the last day of his life. 1 In imagi- 
nation he was again in his prairie home, among his law 
books, and in the courts with his old friends. A picture of 
a prairie farm on the banks of the Sangamon or the Rock 
River rose before him, and once more the plough and the axe 
were to become as familiar to his hands as in the days of his 

In the early evening he had another interview with Mr. Col- 
fax, and with George Ashmun, the president of the convention 
at Chicago which had nominated him for the Presidency. It 
had been announced by the newspapers that he and General 
Grant would attend Ford's theatre that evening. General 
Grant was prevented by some other engagement from attend- 
ing, and Mr. Lincoln, though for some reason reluctant to 
go that night, was persuaded to attend, that the people 
might not be disappointed. Mr. Colfax walked from the 
parlor to the door with him, and there bade him good-bye, 
declining an invitation to accompany him to the play. On 

1. If he had lived and carried out these plans, what would have been his future ? 
Would he have passed, like other Ex-Presidents and great soldiers and statesmen, 
into comparative obscurity ? The proverbial ingratitude of republics is verified by 
our own, not towards the pensioned private soldier, but to the leaders. In almost 
every state to-day are living men who have rendered the country inestimable service, 
earning their living in pursuit of various branches of industry, unknown, unappre- 
ciated, and nearly forgotten. How differently great public services are rewarded on 
the other side of the Atlantic. There, titles and wealth are sure to follow great pub- 
lic service in civil and military life. Blenheim Palace and the Dukedom of Marlbor- 
ough were very substantial rewards for the victory of Blenheim. Apsley House, and 
its contents, and the title of Duke of Wellington, were well earned by the conqueror 
of Waterloo. Would Lincoln, the savior of his country, had he lived, been left to 
earn his living by the practice of a nisi prius and Supreme Court lawyer, or would 
the republic have honored him and itself by honors and wealth ? 


the steps of the White House, just as he was stepping into 
his carriage, the author met him, and he said : " Excuse me 
now. I am going to the theatre. Come and see me in the 

From the time of his election to his death, many threats 
had been made to assassinate him. He had received many 
letters warning him against assassination. An attempt to 
murder him at Baltimore, in 1861, would undoubtedly have 
been made, but for the discovery of the plot, and his pass- 
ing through that city without the knowledge of and before 
the time expected by the conspirators. Lincoln was consti- 
tutionally brave, and assassination is a crime so entirely for- 
eign and abhorrent to the American character, that he 
regarded all these threats as idle words, and his friends 
could never induce him to take precautions. He walked 
unguarded and unconscious of danger through the streets of 
Richmond on the day of its capture. 

The President, Mrs. Lincoln, and their party, reached the 
theatre at nine o'clock. On his entry, he was received with 
acclamation. As he reached the door of the box reserved 
for him, he turned, smiled, and bowed his acknowledgment 
of the greeting which welcomed him, and then followed 
Mrs. Lincoln into the box. This was at the right of the 
stage, and not many feet from the floor. In the corner near- 
est the stage sat Miss Harris, a daughter of Senator Harris, 
of New York; next her was Mrs. Lincoln, Major Rathbone 
being seated on a sofa behind the ladies, and the President 
nearest the door. The box was draped and festooned with 
the national colors. The play was the " American Cousin." 

It is painful to have to mention the name of the man who 
had attained some distinction in the representation of the 
mimic tragedies of the drama ; the name of one henceforth 
to be more infamous than any of the villains whose parts he 
had assumed, and which the genius of Shakspeare had con- 
ceived. John Wilkes Booth, the assassin, visited the theatre 
behind the scenes and saw the President sitting in the box. 
He had a fleet horse in the alley behind the building, all 


saddled and ready to aid him in his escape, and saw that the 
door to this alley was open. The arrangements for the mur- 
der being completed, at 10:30 p. m. a pistol shot, startling 
and sharp, was heard, and a man holding a dagger dripping 
with blood leaped from the President's box to the stage, 
exclaiming: " Sic semper tyrannis j the South is avenged." 
As the assassin struck the floor of the stage he fell on his 
knee, breaking a bone, the spur on his boot having caught in 
the folds of the flag as he leaped. Instantly rising, he 
brandished his bloody dagger, darted across the stage 
through the door he had left open, sprung upon his horse r 
and galloped away. Major Rathbone, at the sound of the- 
pistol, and as the assassin rushed towards the stage, had 
attempted to seize him, and received a severe cut in the arm. 
The audience and actors, startled and stupefied with horror, 
were for a few seconds spell-bound. Some one then cried 
out, "John Wilkes Booth!" and the audience realized 
that the well-known actor had been the author of the deed. 
Booth had passed around to the front of the theatre, entered, 
passed to the President's box, gone in at the open and 
unguarded door, and, stealing noiselessly up behind the 
President, who was intent upon the play, had placed his 
pistol close to the back of the head of Mr. Lincoln at 
the base of the brain, and fired. The ball penetrated the 
brain, the President fell forward unconscious and mortally 
wounded. 1 

1. The following is the sworn statement of the actor on the stage at the moment: 
" I was playing ' Asa Trenchard ' in the 'American Cousin.' The 'old lady' of the 
theatre had just gone off the stage, and I was answering her exit speech when I 
heard the shot fired. I turned, looked up at the President's box, heard the man 
exclaim, 'Sic semper tyrannise saw him jump from the box, seize the flag on the 
staff, and drop to the stage; he slipped when he gained the stage, but he got upon his 
feet in a moment, brandished a large knife, saying, ' The South shall be free,' turned 
his face in the direction I stood, and I recognized him as John Wilkes Booth. He ran 
towards me, and I, seeing the knife, thought I was the one he was after, and ran off 
the stage and up a flight of stairs. He made his escape out of a door directly in the 
rear of the theatre, mounted a horse and rode off. The above all occurred in the 
space of a quarter of a minute, and at the time I did not know the President was shot, 
although, if I had tried to stop him, he would have stabbed me." 

Major Rathbone testified : " The distance between the President, as he sat, and 
the door, was about four or five feet. The door, according to the recollection of this; 


No words can describe the horror and the anguish of Mrs, 
Lincoln. Her heart was broken, and her mind so shattered 
by the shock that she was never quite herself thereafter. 
When told that her husband must die, she prayed for death 
herself. The insensible body was moved across the street 
to the house of Mr. Peterson. Robert T. Lincoln, personal 
friends, and members of the Cabinet, soon arrived and filled 
the rooms. The strong constitution of the President strug- 
gled with death until twenty-two minutes past seven of the 
next morning, when his heart ceased to beat. It would be 
idle to attempt to describe the agony of that fearful night. 
The manly efforts of the son to control his own suffering,, 
that he might soothe and comfort his mother, can never be 
forgotten. At the rising of the sun on the morning of the 
15th, the remains of the President were borne back to the 
White House. » The assassin was pursued, overtaken, and,, 
on the 21st of April, refusing to surrender, he was shot by a 
soldier named Boston Corbett. 

On the same night of the murder of the President, ac- 
complices of Booth attempted to kill the Secretary of State, 
Mr. Seward. He had been confined to his house by severe 
injuries received from being thrown from his carriage. 
He was fearfully wounded, and his life was saved by the 
heroic efforts of his sons and daughter, and a nurse named 
Robinson. Frederick Seward, his son, in attempting to pre- 
vent the entrance of the ruffian into his father's room, was 

deponent, was not closed during the evening. When the second scene of the third act 
was being performed, and while the deponent was intently observing the proceedings 
upon the stage, with his back towards the door, he heard the discharge of a pistol 
behind him, and looking around saw, through the smoke, a man between the door 
and the President. * * This deponent instantly sprang towards him a^id seized him ; 
he wrested himself from the grasp and made a violent thrus