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Title: A Man of the People - A Drama of Abraham Lincoln
Author: Dixon, Thomas, 1864-1946
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "A Man of the People - A Drama of Abraham Lincoln" ***

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produced from images generously made available by The
Kentuckiana Digital Library)



[Bookplate: EX LIBRIS

The books, and your capacity
for understanding them, are just
the same in all places.

A. Lincoln]

WILLIAM H. TOWNSEND



A MAN OF THE PEOPLE


A DRAMA OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN



BY

THOMAS DIXON

AUTHOR OF "THE BIRTH OF A NATION," "THE CLANSMAN,"
"THE LEOPARD'S SPOTS," ETC.



D. APPLETON AND COMPANY
NEW YORK         LONDON
MCMXX

COPYRIGHT, 1920, BY
THOMAS DIXON

PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA



TO

WILLIAM HARRIS, JR.

WHOSE COURAGE AND HIGH IDEALS AS A
PRODUCER GAVE TO THE AMERICAN
STAGE THE EPOCH-MAKING PLAY

ABRAHAM LINCOLN



HISTORICAL NOTE


While the popular conception of Lincoln as the Liberator of the Slave
is true historically, there is a deeper view of his life and character.
He was the savior, if not the real creator, of the American Union of
free Democratic States. His proclamation of emancipation was purely an
incident of war. The first policy of his administration was to save the
Union. To this fact we owe a united Nation to-day. It is this truth of
history which I try to make a living reality in my play.

The scenes relating to the issues of our National life have been drawn
from authentic records. The plot of the action is based on the letter
of Colonel John Nicolay to Major Hay, dated August 25, 1864, in which
the following opening paragraph is found:

    "Hell is to pay. The New York politicians have got a stampede on
    that is about to swamp everything. Raymond and the National
    Committee are here to-day. R. thinks a Commission to Richmond is
    about the only salt to save us; while the President sees and says
    it would be utter ruination. The matter is now undergoing
    consultation. Weak-kneed damned fools are in the movement for a new
    candidate to supplant the President. Everything is darkness, doubt,
    and discouragement."

No liberty has been taken with an essential detail of history in the
development of the action except to slightly shift the dates of two
incidents for dramatic unity. In neither case does the change of date
affect the validity of the scene as used.

THOMAS DIXON



DIVISION INTO ACTS


PROLOGUE: The Lincoln cabin in the woods of Indiana, 1820.

ACT I: In the President's room, the morning of August 23, 1864.

ACT II: The same, that evening.

ACT III: Scene 1. Jefferson Davis' room three days later, in Richmond.
Morning.

Scene 2. Same as Acts I and II.

EPILOGUE--VICTORY. The Platform of the second Inauguration, March 4,
1865, before the Capitol at Washington.



A MAN OF THE PEOPLE

PROLOGUE



PERSONS OF THE PROLOGUE


ABE                 _A Boy of Ten._
SARAH               _His Sister._
TOM LINCOLN         _His Father._
NANCY               _His Mother._
THE DOCTOR          _An Old-fashioned Pioneer._



PROLOGUE


SET SCENE: _The rough-hewn log cabin of Tom Lincoln is seen in the
center surrounded by the forest wilderness of Southern Indiana, 1820._

_The cabin door is cut in level with the ground. There is no shutter to
the door and no window to the cabin._

_Right and Left of the door opening are rude benches of split logs. On
the walls are stretched a coon and a small bear, squirrel and muskrat
skins. In the foreground on the right is seen an old-fashioned wash pot
set on three stones. Near the wash pot is fixed in the ground a pole,
on the top of which are hung six gourds cut for martin swallows to nest
in. Beside it are a rude bench and two wash tubs. On the left is a
crude settee made of a split log with legs set in augur holes and a
rough back made of saplings. An old-fashioned doctor's saddle-bags hang
across the back of the settee. The trees are walnut, beech and
oak--undergrowth of dogwood, sumac and wild grapevines. These vines,
festooned over the cabin, give a sinister impression. A creek winds
down through the hills behind the cabin._

AT RISE: SARAH _is seen softly tiptoeing toward the cabin door. She
pauses, listens and slowly peeps inside. She listens again and then
slips away and calls_.


                             SARAH

Abe! Abe!

    [SARAH _goes back to the door and peeps in and runs to the gate._]

Abe----! Ma's awake now!

    [_She returns to the door, peeps in again and runs once more to the
    gate._]

Abe----! He's feelin' her pulse! Come on in--don't stay out there in
the woods....

    [ABE _enters slowly._]

                             ABE

What does he say?

                             SARAH

He ain't said nothin' yet.

                             ABE

He's a dumb doctor, anyhow. I couldn't get him to say a word comin',
last night.

                             SARAH

Well, he's here now, and there's his saddle-bags full of medicine.
You've been ridin' all night--you look terrible tired! Go to bed and
sleep a little----

                             ABE

I can't--while Ma's so sick--I'm afraid to go to sleep----

                             SARAH

Why----?

                             ABE

You know why--Sarah----

                             SARAH

Ah, she ain't goin' to die now. She's talkin' to the doctor--lie down
just a little while and get to sleep before the sun comes up or ye
can't sleep----

    [_Pleading._]

--come on----

                             ABE

No--I'm scared--the plague's killin' folks every day--and nobody knows
what to do for 'em----

    [_The_ DOCTOR _and_ TOM _enter from the cabin and come down
    slowly--the_ DOCTOR _seems to be debating his course of action._]

    [_Eagerly to_ DOCTOR.]

You can do somethin' for her, Doctor?

                             DOCTOR

    [_Hesitates._]

Yes--Get me a clean towel and a bowl----

                             ABE

Run, SARAH--quick----

                             SARAH

    [_Running to cabin._]

Yes--I'll get 'em----

    [_The_ DOCTOR _opens his saddle-bags, takes out his lancet and
    examines its keen point._]

                             TOM

What are ye goin' ter do with that knife?

                             DOCTOR

Bleed her, of course--it's the only thing to do----

    [_Starts toward cabin._]

                             ABE

    [_To his father._]

Don't let him do it----!

                             DOCTOR

What's that?

                             TOM

You shan't bleed her--I don't know nothin' 'bout doctorin'--but I know
that'll kill her----

                             DOCTOR

I've a notion to give you the worst cussin' you ever had in your life,
Tom Lincoln....

                             TOM

'Twouldn't do no good--Doctor----

                             DOCTOR

    [_Throwing his arms up._]

'Twould do _me_ good! I've rode all night--thirty-five miles--from
my home in Kentucky across the Ohio, into this wilderness, just for you
to insult me----

                             TOM

I didn't mean to----

                             DOCTOR

Well, you're doin' it--and I'd give ye the cussin' that'ud pay me for
my trouble comin' up here--if I hadn't heard what you've been doin' for
your neighbors, in this plague. There's no doctor in thirty
miles---- You've been the doctor and nurse--mother and father to 'em
all. And when they die, you go into the woods, cut down a tree, rip out
the boards, make the coffin, dig the grave and lower the dead with a
prayer--I'd like to cuss you, Tom Lincoln--but I can't--damn ye----!

                             TOM

I'm sorry, Doctor--but I just couldn't let ye bleed her----

                             DOCTOR

All right--good-by----

    [_With a snort of anger, the_ DOCTOR _throws his lancet into his
    saddle-bags, snaps them together, and starts for the gate._]

                             ABE

    [_Following the_ DOCTOR _to gate._]

Doctor----!

                             DOCTOR

What do ye want----?

                             ABE

    [_Seizing his hand._]

Please don't go--I'm mighty sorry we made ye mad--I didn't go to do
it--you see----

    [_He falters._]

I love my Ma so, I just couldn't see ye cut her arm open. And Pa didn't
mean to hurt yer feelin's--won't ye stay and help us? Can't ye do
somethin' else for her----?

    [_Pauses._]

I'll pay ye----! I'll work for ye a whole--year----

                             DOCTOR

You'd work for me a year?

                             ABE

    [_Eagerly._]

I'll work for ye _five_ years if you'll just save her--just save
her life--that's all--don't go--please, don't----

                             DOCTOR

    [_The_ DOCTOR _slips his arm around the boy, draws him close and
    holds him a moment._]

You're a good boy, Abe----

                             ABE

You'll stay----?

                             DOCTOR

I'd stay and do something if I could, Sonny, but to tell ye the truth,
I don't know what to do--I'm not quite sure I'm right about the
bleedin', or I'd stay and make you both help me----

    [_He pauses._]

But I'm not sure----! I'm not sure! And I don't know what else to
do--I've got no medicine--so I can't stay. All I can tell ye is to keep
her warm--and give her everything good to eat that she can take--she's
in God's hands--Good-by----

    [_The_ DOCTOR _hurries through the gate--and leaves_ ABE _and_ TOM
    _gazing forlornly after him, as_ SARAH _comes from the house._]

                             SARAH

I've got the towel and bowl all ready----

    [_Pauses._]

What's the matter----?

    [_Looks around._]

Where's the doctor----?

                             ABE

He's gone----

                             SARAH

Gone----?

                             TOM

Yes----

    [NANCY _enters by door of cabin._]

    [NANCY'S _sudden appearance in the door swings_ ABE _around with a
    quick cry of pain. The sun is tinging the eastern sky with the
    splendor of an Indian Summer morning. The mother's figure in blue
    homespun suggests against the dark background of the cabin door the
    coming of a spirit from the unseen world. She pauses a moment in
    the doorway and smiles at her son._]

                             ABE

Oh, Ma, you mustn't----

                             TOM

    [_Following._]

Nancy----!

                             NANCY

I'm better, I'm a lot better----

                             ABE

You're too sick to come out here, Ma----

                             NANCY

    [_Smiling._]

I can walk--as well as you can,--see----

    [_She sways slightly toward the settee._]

                             ABE

But the Doctor says you must keep warm----

                             NANCY

Well--I have on the warm stockings that Sarah knit for me and the coon
skin moccasins you made--don't you see, I'm better now----?

                             ABE

    [_Joyfully._]

Look, Pa, she's better!

                             SARAH

Yes--she's better!

                             TOM

    [_Alarmed._]

Don't try to walk--set down, honey!

                             NANCY

    [_Sinking on bench._]

Yes--I will----

    [_The boy comes closer, staring eagerly into his mother's face._]

                             NANCY

Come closer, my boy----

    [ABE _kneels at her feet._]

                             TOM

I'm a feared of this, Nancy--you better let me git a hot rock and wrap
it up for your feet.

                             NANCY

Yes, Tom--and bring me the Bible. I want Abe to read to me.

    [TOM _goes into the cabin worried over her._]

                             ABE

Feel all right, Ma----?

                             NANCY

    [_She nods and breathes deeply--her eyes alight._]

I wanted to see the sun rise through the trees! You remember the day
you cut down your first tree to begin the clearing and the sunlight
came through the hole you'd made to the sky----

                             ABE

Yes--I remember.

                             NANCY

You called me to come and see it----

                             ABE

    [_In a whisper._]

Yes----

                             NANCY

I was proud that morning as I saw you stand with your ax on that big
log--anything my boy starts to do--he does----

    [_Pauses._]

Your father taught you to use the ax and----

    [_Turns and looks at_ ABE.]

Your father's a good man, my son--kind-hearted and true and everybody
likes him. They made him road supervisor of his township in Kentucky
once. If he could read and write he would have gone to the
legislature----

    [TOM _enters from the cabin with the rock and Bible, he crosses to_
    NANCY, _and_ ABE _takes the rock and puts it under her feet_--SARAH
    _kneels and helps him._ NANCY'S _hand drops on the bench._ TOM
    _picks up her hand, and the chill of it worries him._]

    [ABE _and_ SARAH _rise._]

                             NANCY

Read to me, son--I like to hear your voice----

                             ABE

    [_Brightly._]

All right--what----?

                             NANCY

The Twenty-third Psalm.

    [ABE _looks for the place._]

I love to hear you read, my boy. It means that you can do what any
other man can--it means so much!

                             ABE

    [_Reads._]

The Lord is my shepherd--I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in
green pastures. He leadeth me beside still waters. He restoreth my
soul. He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name's
sake----

                             NANCY

    [_In a whisper._]

Yea, tho' I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear
no evil, for thou art with me----

    [ABE _stops, looks up at his mother in amazement._]

                             ABE

Ma----

                             NANCY

Remember always, my boy, that God _is_ with you! He is in the day
and the night. He is in the sun and the wind, the trees and the
grass--and not a sparrow falls to the ground without He knows. You
recollect the year you put up those gourds there----

    [_She points to the pole._]

for your martins----? You cried when they circled away in the fall----

    [ABE _nods._]

I told you God would send them back in the spring, didn't I----?

    [_She laughs softly._]

You said that He'd forget to tell them and they'd never find the
way--but they came--didn't they----?

                             ABE

Yes, Ma, and I know now they'll come again next spring.

                             NANCY

So--I want you never again to doubt God, my boy, and I want you never
to doubt yourself. Your bare feet, your ragged clothes, how poor you
are--this is nothing! It doesn't count here--it's what you feel, it's
what you believe--it's what you see that counts! I've taught you to
read and write, and now you can do anything! If God takes me----

    [_She pauses exhausted._]

                             ABE

But you mustn't say that, Ma----!

                             NANCY

"The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether!"

                             ABE

No! no, Ma! Don't talk that way! You'll give up if you do----!

                             NANCY

If He calls, my son, then _my_ work is done--and _you_ can do
all I've tried and failed to do----

                             ABE

    [_Alarmed._]

Had she better talk so much, Pa----

    [_Stoops to fix her feet._]

                             TOM

    [_Feeling her hand._]

Nancy----!

                             NANCY

Just a minute more, Tom----! Don't let him know yet--_you_
know----!

                             TOM

    [_With upward look of faith._]

Yes, I know----

    [_To_ ABE.]

It's all right--boy----

                             NANCY

Come back close, my son, I want to tell you something I saw last night!
I had a dream--the same one I had the night before you were born. You
had grown a man--strong and brave--wise and gentle. The people hung on
your words, and did you homage. But you remembered this cabin here in
the deep woods and you were humble. I walked with you between two white
pillars. It was still and solemn, in there. Outside I could hear the
people calling your name. You bowed low and whispered in my ear: "This
is all yours, my Mother. I bought it for you with my life. All that I
am I owe to you----"

    [_Her voice sinks to a whisper that is half a laugh of religious
    ecstasy._]

                             ABE

    [_Joyfully._]

See how she's smilin'--Pa! She's getting well--I tell you----!

                             TOM

    [_Whispering._]

Don't ye understand, boy----?

                             ABE

No--what----?

                             SARAH

What--what is it----?

                             TOM

    [_In deep religious awe._]

Look--look at her eyes----! She's not telling ye a dream--she's
looking through the gates of Heaven----

                             ABE

No--no--no----!

                             TOM

It's death--boy--it's come--Lord, God, have mercy----

    [ABE _springs to his feet and stares in anguish, as_ TOM _falls on
    his knees beside_ NANCY. NANCY'S _hand rests gently on_ TOM'S
    _shaggy head, while he sobs. With her other hand she feels for_
    ABE'S _and holds it feebly._]

                             NANCY

Be good to your Father,----

    [_She pauses and breathes with difficulty._]

In the days to come, he will be the child and you the man----

                             ABE

Yes----

                             NANCY

And love your sister----

    [ABE _nods._]

If dark hours come, my spirit will be watching, my son--and I'll help
you if I can----

                             ABE

Yes, I know it!

                             NANCY

And remember that you can be a great man in this free country if you
only say--I will----

    [NANCY'S _body sinks in death as the boy lifts his face illumined
    by the light of a great purpose._]

                             ABE

Yes, Ma,--I will!


CURTAIN



PERSONS OF THE PLAY


ABRAHAM LINCOLN                  _The President._
MRS. LINCOLN                     _His Wife._
COLONEL NICOLAY                  _His Secretary._
EDWARD                           _The Doorman._
EDWIN M. STANTON                 _Secretary of War._
GEN. GEO. B. MCCLELLAN           _Lincoln's Rival._
CAPTAIN VAUGHAN                  _Of the U. S. Army._
BETTY WINTER                     _His Sweetheart._
THADDEUS STEVENS                 _Leader of Congress._
HENRY RAYMOND                    _Editor of the New York Times._
JOHN R. GILMORE                  _Of the New York Tribune._
COLONEL JACQUESS                 _A Methodist Clergyman._
JEFFERSON DAVIS                  _President of the Confederacy._
JUDAH P. BENJAMIN                _His Secretary of State._
JUDGE ROBERT OULD                _Commissioner of Exchange._
ROBERT E. LEE                    _Commanding General._
A SISTER                         _Who begs for her brother's life._
A CONGRESSMAN                    _Who demands a hearing._
A LITTLE GIRL                    _From Virginia._
A MOTHER                         _With a baby._
A WOMAN                          _Who has lost two sons._
A TELEGRAPH OPERATOR             _In the White House._
A DOORMAN                        _At Richmond._
            COMMITTEEMEN, SOLDIERS AND GUARDS.



ACT I


SET SCENE: _The President's room in the White House, August 23, 1864.
A flat desk left center. At right a long table and chairs. Doors open
right and left. Large windows open center. Beside the center window
stands an upright desk. In one corner a rack with map rollers and
folios of maps on the floor and leaning against the wall._

AT RISE: _Colonel Nicolay, the President's Secretary, is seen writing
before an enormous pile of mail. He reads a letter and throws it down
in disgust. Reads another and hurls it into the waste basket. He
rises--turns back to the desk and hurls an armful of the letters into
the corner on the floor and removes enough letters to clear a space for
his Chief to write._


    [EDWARD _enters dragging a mail bag._]

                             NICOLAY

    [_Calling to the Doorman._]

Edward!

                             EDWARD

Yes, sir----

                             NICOLAY

Hold that door tight this morning----

                             EDWARD

Tight as a drum, sir----

                             NICOLAY

If any men of importance try to crowd in before their time----

                             EDWARD

I'll look out for them, sir--here's another bag of letters, Colonel
Nicolay----

                             NICOLAY

Another----?

                             EDWARD

And there's two more outside----

                             NICOLAY

My God----!

                             EDWARD

Don't blame me, sir--I didn't write 'em----

                             NICOLAY

No, I'll vouch for your loyalty to the President.

                             EDWARD

Where'll I put these----?

                             NICOLAY

Throw the bag in the corner--there's no room on his desk now----

                             EDWARD

    [_Obeying._]

Yes, sir----

    [EDWARD _throws the bag in the corner of the room where_ NICOLAY
    _has already piled the letters from the desk, and turns to_
    NICOLAY. _He watches_ NICOLAY _destroying letters for a moment._]

                             NICOLAY

Well, Edward----?

                             EDWARD

Will you tell me one thing, Colonel Nicolay----?

                             NICOLAY

If I can----

                             EDWARD

What do they say in these letters to the President----? I've served
through four administrations--I've never seen such piles of letters in
the White House before----

                             NICOLAY

Well, Edward--these letters ask two things of Abraham Lincoln: That he
dismiss General Grant from command of the Army----

                             EDWARD

The idiots----

                             NICOLAY

And stop the war to-day--August 23, 1864,--make peace--peace at any
price--to-day----

                             EDWARD

God save us! After nearly four years--quit, with nothing settled----?

                             NICOLAY

That's what these letters demand----

                             EDWARD

You couldn't believe it---- No wonder his eyes sink back in his head,
an' he looks as if he were seeing ghosts----

    [_Pauses and starts._]

                             NICOLAY

Watch out for that door, Edward----

    [EDWARD _bows, and exits to door leading to the main corridor._
    NICOLAY _returns to his task of reading the letters--one he tosses
    into the basket wearily--one he crumples in anger and hurls into
    the basket._]

                             NICOLAY

The fools----!

    [_He is absorbed in a letter when_ MRS. LINCOLN _enters in a state
    of nervous excitement. He rises quickly, and goes to meet her._]

What is it, Mrs. Lincoln----?

                             MRS. LINCOLN

I have just heard that the Republican National Committee is in
Washington----!

                             NICOLAY

They are----

                             MRS. LINCOLN

In conference at Senator Winter's house----?

                             NICOLAY

Yes----

                             MRS. LINCOLN

What do they want?

                             NICOLAY

There are ugly rumors----

                             MRS. LINCOLN

What----? What----? What----?

                             NICOLAY

I can't discuss it, Madam, until the Chief knows----

                             MRS. LINCOLN

Mr. Lincoln doesn't know----

                             NICOLAY

Not yet. He will, this morning. They've just sent a demand to me that
he see them before his public reception begins----

                             MRS. LINCOLN

You've heard something--you know something--tell me--I can't endure the
suspense----

                             NICOLAY

Only rumors--and they're too ugly to put into words--they're
incredible----

                             MRS. LINCOLN

All the same, you believe them----

    [_Impetuously._]

What have you heard----?

                             NICOLAY

    [_Shakes his head._]

The Chief wouldn't like it if I talk, before he knows. I'll tell you a
few things I'm _thinking_ in plain English--if you'd like to hear----

                             MRS. LINCOLN

You can't make it too _plain_ to suit me----

                             NICOLAY

In my opinion, the devil is to pay. Weak-kneed fools are deserting the
Chief. Every man who loves Abraham Lincoln must get off his coat now
and fight. He is the only man who can save this Nation to-day, and he's
too big and generous to be trusted alone with wolves----

                             MRS. LINCOLN

What can you mean----? The Republican National Committee have no power
over the President of the United States----

                             NICOLAY

No, Madam---- But they have certain powers over the Nominee of their
party----

                             MRS. LINCOLN

But Mr. Lincoln is already the nominee of his party for the second term
... chosen two months ago--and the election is but eight weeks
off--what do you mean----?

    [EDWARD _enters._]

                             EDWARD

Miss Betty Winter to see you, Ma'am----

                             MRS. LINCOLN

How fortunate--they're at her father's house----!

                             NICOLAY

Yes----

                             MRS. LINCOLN

Show her right in here, Edward----

                             EDWARD

Yes, Madam----

                             MRS. LINCOLN

    [_To_ NICOLAY.]

And she's loyal to Mr. Lincoln--

                             EDWARD

    [_At door left._]

Right this way,--Miss Betty----

    [BETTY _enters--a young woman 25 years old--poised, cultured,
    charming._]

                             MRS. LINCOLN

    [_Meeting Betty._]

Welcome--my child----

                             BETTY

You're always so kind----!

                             NICOLAY

Excuse me, ladies--while I go out and get rid of some of these people
waiting to see the President----

    [NICOLAY _exits._]

                             MRS. LINCOLN

Tell me, dear, you've heard something--the Republican National
Committee are at your father's----

                             BETTY

They _were_ there--they've adjourned to Thaddeus Stevens' house
across the street from us---- They were locked in with father for two
hours----

                             MRS. LINCOLN

Locked in----?

                             BETTY

    [_Nods._]

With the keyhole chinked up----!

                             MRS. LINCOLN

And you didn't get a hint of what they're up to----?

                             BETTY

Not the faintest----

                             MRS. LINCOLN

Oh, Betty--they're discussing me----

                             BETTY

They didn't mention your name----

                             MRS. LINCOLN

How do you know----?

                             BETTY

Well--I did hear a little----! I could hear from the next room when
they got excited! It's Abraham Lincoln they're discussing--not his
wife----

                             MRS. LINCOLN

You're sure----?

                             BETTY

Sure----! It sounded like a regular dog fight--with one big brute
howling----

    [_Imitates._]

--the President's name above the din----

                             MRS. LINCOLN

But, you can't be sure, my dear----

                             BETTY

What on earth could they be discussing you for----?

                             MRS. LINCOLN

My loyalty, of course--you know that my brothers are in the Southern
Army, fighting the Union. Fools have accused me of giving them
important secrets of the Government. When I _hate_ them for all
they have done to me and mine----!

                             BETTY

But my dear Mrs. Lincoln--no one believes such lies about you now--not
even in this bitter campaign--it's absurd----

                             MRS. LINCOLN

    [_Hesitates._]

That is not the real thing I'm afraid of, child--it's something
worse--I'm going to take you into my confidence now--may I?

                             BETTY

I'll be tickled to death with the honor----!

                             MRS. LINCOLN

And I'm going to ask you to help me----

                             BETTY

I'll be in the Cabinet next----!

                             MRS. LINCOLN

The truth is, I owe A. T. Stewart and Company an enormous bill for
dresses--$60,000----

                             BETTY

Sixty thousand--oh, my Lord! That's worse than mine----!

                             MRS. LINCOLN

I had to get them! The world said the White House would be disgraced by
my awkward husband's régime--I've shown them better! But I just
couldn't tell Mr. Lincoln. He has no idea of the cost of clothes. If
these jackals have found out and attack him on my account, the thought
of it will kill me----

                             BETTY

But you know he'd defend you against any one who dares attack you.

                             MRS. LINCOLN

Yes, dear--but it would hurt him so to hear it from their brutal lips.
I want you to find out from your father, if they know----

                             BETTY

And if they know----?

                             MRS. LINCOLN

Get here before they do, and I'll head them off--I'll tell Mr. Lincoln
first----

                             BETTY

    [_Smiling._]

On one condition--that you help me----

                             MRS. LINCOLN

Anything you ask----

                             BETTY

I've promised my fiancé that I would get an appointment for him to see
the President on something very important----

                             MRS. LINCOLN

Mr. Lincoln will be here in a few minutes. I'll have him see your
sweetheart first----

                             BETTY

But--it's a personal matter and he doesn't wish to come to a public
reception. He wants an hour alone---- Could you get it for him,
to-night?

                             MRS. LINCOLN

I--think--so----

                             BETTY

You'll try----?

                             MRS. LINCOLN

I'll _do_ it, child--certainly! You're one loyal friend we have in
that crowd of wolves on the Capitol Hill----

                             BETTY

All right, I'll find out if they're discussing politics or your
dressmaker's bill.

    [BETTY _hurries to the door, followed by_ MRS. LINCOLN.]

                             MRS. LINCOLN

God bless you, child----

    [NICOLAY _enters by the other door._]

--Hurry!

                             BETTY

If it's dresses--I'll beat them to the White House!

    [BETTY _exits._]

                             NICOLAY

The President is coming, Madam----

                             MRS. LINCOLN

I'm going. But I may want to see him before that Committee--in case I
send in--see that he comes, will you?

                             NICOLAY

I'll try to manage it. The friends of the Chief may call on you for
some inside work, Madam.

                             MRS. LINCOLN

    [_Eagerly._]

I'll do my part, never fear!

    [MRS. LINCOLN _exits and_ NICOLAY _hastily arranges his desk and
    stands at attention as_ LINCOLN _enters._]

    [LINCOLN _crosses the room with long nervous stride, reaches his
    desk, looks at the pile of letters and shakes his head wearily._]

                             LINCOLN

Sorry for you, John, with all these letters on your hands----

    [_Laughs._]

_You_ have to work----!

                             NICOLAY

I'm trying to get them out of your way, sir----

                             LINCOLN

Thank you--you know the ones I want to see----

                             NICOLAY

Yes, sir----

                             LINCOLN

    [_Softly._]

And don't forget that no man or woman can be turned from that door, who
comes here to ask for the saving of a human life----

    [_Pauses._]

There's a firing squad shooting a boy down in Virginia this
morning----!

    [_Shakes his head._]

I hope I didn't do wrong to let them. Somehow I could not find an
excuse to save him----

    [_Sighs._]

The Generals are all after me about my pardons----

                             NICOLAY

The Secretary of War is out there now, champing his bit, to head you
off on some of them, I think----

                             LINCOLN

Don't let old Mars in yet. He's no business here at this hour. Let him
paw a hole in the ground.

    [_Pauses._]

Any news from the front, this morning?

                             NICOLAY

    [_Handing him a telegram._]

From General Grant's lines--only this, sir----

                             LINCOLN

    [_Reads._]

"Confederate Cavalry raiders capture a Brigadier General and fifty army
mules."--Too bad--rush a regiment after the mules--they're worth $200 a
piece--Jeff Davis can have my Brigadier General----!

                             NICOLAY

    [_Laughs._]

Yes, sir--and this came in code from Sherman--

    [_Hands_ LINCOLN _another telegram._]

                             LINCOLN

    [_Eagerly._]

Word from Sherman! Good!

    [_Reads._]

--"Scouts report Hood's trenches before Atlanta are impregnable--carefully
considering a flank movement--but as yet, I cannot find the position or
strength of Hood's second line----" W. T. Sherman----

    [_Pauses._]

Grant's deadlocked with Lee at
Petersburg--If-Sherman-could-only-give-us-Atlanta!----

    [_Pauses._]

I've a notion to telegraph Sherman an order direct----!

                             NICOLAY

I wouldn't go over General Grant's head, sir, with a military
order--he's sensitive----

                             LINCOLN

It might make trouble--Grant might resent my interference with his plan
of campaign----

                             NICOLAY

It would have to be filed in the War Department----

                             LINCOLN

Yes--I know. Anything else----?

                             NICOLAY

    [_Handing him a large document._]

Baker's full report of the secret service on the Copperhead
Societies---- He asks for the immediate arrest of their leaders--and I
think he's right----

                             LINCOLN

    [_Shakes his head._]

It won't do--it won't do just now--it's an ugly business--too ugly for
haste--I'll look it over carefully----

    [_Lays the report on his desk._]

I'm ready now to see the people----

                             NICOLAY

The Republican National Committee are in town, sir----

                             LINCOLN

What on earth are they doing here----?

                             NICOLAY

That's what everybody's asking----

                             LINCOLN

They should be in their States, leading the Party to victory---- What
do they want?

                             NICOLAY

To see you----

                             LINCOLN

Umph----!

                             NICOLAY

Henry Raymond, their Chairman, is with them, and has just sent word
demanding a hearing before your public reception this morning.

                             LINCOLN

Make the appointment later. They're all distinguished men. They can
wait while the humbler people have their turn. I came up here from the
wilderness. I know what it means to have the great rush by me----

    [_Laughs._]

No--I'll see the common folks first----

                             NICOLAY

I think you'd better see this Committee right away, sir----

                             LINCOLN

Why----? What have you heard----?

                             NICOLAY

Some ugly rumors----

                             LINCOLN

Spare me the rumors! We've enough of them flying around Washington to
poison us all. They can only wish me to hedge on some of my principles
in this crisis. I've made all the campaign statements I'm going to
make. I've faith in the good sense of the people. I'm going to plant my
feet squarely on that faith and wait the verdict of this election----

                             NICOLAY

You won't see the Committee now----?

                             LINCOLN

No----! I'll take my bath of public opinion first. I want to see real
men and women and feel their hearts beat close to mine. It tones me up
for the day's work--let them in.

    [STANTON _bursts into the room in a towering rage._]

                             STANTON

Mr. President, I've been kept waiting!

    [_Confronting_ NICOLAY.]

    [NICOLAY _turns away and laughs._]

Nicolay! How dare you keep me waiting in an anteroom, while you talk to
the President! I want you to understand, sir, that as Secretary of War,
I've the right to enter this room at any hour, day or night, announced
or unannounced, and by God, I'm going to exercise that privilege!

    [STANTON _paces the floor furiously._]

                             LINCOLN

    [_Laughing._]

Well, you're here now, and it's all right, Stanton--Easy! Easy, or
we'll have to put some rocks in your pocket to hold you down. What can
I do----?

                             STANTON

Mr. President, I've come here this morning to make a square issue with
you on the abuse of the pardoning power which you are making daily----

                             LINCOLN

As Chief Magistrate of the people, I have been clothed with that power,
Stanton----

                             STANTON

    [_Angrily._]

You have no right to exercise it under the present conditions!
Discipline in our armies must be maintained. You are hamstringing me
and every General in the field--by suspending the death penalty of our
Courts-Martial. Men are deserting in thousands and we've got to put a
stop to it.

                             LINCOLN

That's what I say----! Bring to me the traitors who are causing them to
desert, and see what I'll do to them!

                             STANTON

You can't evade the issue I'm making, sir! You'll be asked this morning
to pardon a deserter. I call a halt here and now--will you stop to-day
the use of this pardoning power----?

                             LINCOLN

I've got to hear both sides--it's my solemn duty----

                             STANTON

All right, I'm done. There's my resignation as your Secretary of
War--Good-by!

    [STANTON _strides angrily to the door and_ LINCOLN _speaks as he
    puts his hand on the knob._]

                             LINCOLN

Wait a minute----

                             STANTON

It's no use----

                             LINCOLN

Come back here. I've something to say to you.

    [STANTON _returns._]

                             STANTON

You're wasting your breath----

                             LINCOLN

Stanton, I appointed you Secretary of War against the advice of every
man about me. You were a cantankerous Democrat and my enemy. You had
said the meanest things about me that were ever spoken in
Washington--and that's putting it pretty strong. You called me a low
clown--the original gorilla. In spite of all this, I saw _your_ great
qualities! I saw that you were absolutely fearless and absolutely
honest, that your nerves were made of steel and your capacity for work
was boundless. Even in your passions and hatreds, you showed a loyalty
to the Union that rose above the parties and creeds of a lifetime. I
like men of your strong personality. They stand between a nation and
hell. And so, I appointed you, my bitter foe, to my cabinet. I've never
regretted it for a minute in these years of blood and anguish. You've
made the best Secretary of War this country ever had. In spite of your
mean traits and your awful profanity, I've learned to love you! Now,
you've resigned, and done your duty, as you see it. I've accepted your
resignation, _conscripted_ you again, and reappointed you----!

    [_Pauses and strokes his shoulder._]

Go back to your desk and stick to the rules--that's your business; and
I'll keep right on here tempering Justice with Mercy when I get a
chance.

                             STANTON

    [_Gazing at him a moment hopelessly._]

Well,--I suppose I'll have to try----!

    [_Snorts._]

But--I'm--damned--if--you--interfere--with--me--again!

    [STANTON _hurries to the door._]

                             LINCOLN

All right now---- But look here, Stanton----

    [STANTON _pauses._]

If I _have_ to send over a pardon or two to you this morning----

                             STANTON

Hell fire!

                             LINCOLN

Easy--easy now! You'll know they're _very_ urgent, and will admit of no
delay on account of red tape----

                             STANTON

    [_Throws his hands up in wild gesture of despair._]

Oh, my God!

    [STANTON _exits._]

                             LINCOLN

John, the old Fox _was_ trying to head me off, wasn't he----? Get them
in here quick--who's the first in turn----?

                             NICOLAY

A young lady to plead for the life of her brother----

                             LINCOLN

Bring her in!

    [_As_ NICOLAY _goes to the door_, LINCOLN _follows to meet the
    young woman. She enters, a forlorn little figure with baby face and
    blonde hair. She is plainly dressed in homespun cloth and does not
    wear hoopskirts. The President greets her with the utmost
    deference._]

    [_Taking both her hands._]

My dear young lady--I'm glad to see you--good old Pennsylvania Dutch! I
knew you before you spoke--my folks came down to Virginia from there,
in the old Colonial days----

                             THE SISTER

    [_Overcome._]

Oh--Meester--Presiden--you are so goot to me--you are so kind----

    [_Pauses overcome._]

I haf no speech----

                             LINCOLN

Come now, tell me in your own way what I can do to help you----

                             THE SISTER

Oh--Meester Presiden--you can do all--you can do any t'ing--und I am so
happy to see you--I cannot begin----

                             LINCOLN

    [_Soothing her._]

Take your time, little girl--all the others will have to wait on you
now----

                             THE SISTER

Ya-ya--it is my turn now--ya, und I must hurry. You see, it's mine
brudder--he ist just von leetle poy, Meester Presiden--von leetle poy
with curly hair like mine----

    [_She chokes._]

                             LINCOLN

    [_Taking her hand._]

And what happened to him, my dear?

                             THE SISTER

Vell, you see he lif wid me in Pennsylvania--ve are all alone
to-gedder--und he lef me und go into der armee--und von bad man he giv
him a leetle book vot tell him to desert und go home to his peoples--I
haf dot leetle book, Meester Presiden----

    [_She hands him the book._]

Und my brudder he's such a leetle poy, he read und he tink vot ze book
say is so, und he leef ze armee und come home und kiss me und say, "I
vill take care of you now, mein seester----"

    [_Breaks down._]

Und zey come und take heem, und now he is to be shot----

    [_She chokes._]

    [LINCOLN _reads the title of the little book._]

                             LINCOLN

"Why should Brothers Fight?" "By Richard Vaughan"--an old Copperhead
leader I'll warrant!

    [_Pauses._]

And you came to me, all alone, little girl?

                             THE SISTER

Ya--I haf no friens here----

                             LINCOLN

Your Congressman does not know of this?

    [NICOLAY _begins to make out the pardon._]

                             THE SISTER

I do not know ze Congress-man--mein leetle brudder is all I haf----

                             LINCOLN

Alone, friendless--with no Congressman to speak for you! Well, little
girl, you don't need anybody to speak for you--you speak for
yourself--you're good and honest and love your brother--and by jings,
you don't wear hoopskirts--I'm sorry to rile old Stanton again----

    [_Laughs._]

But I'm going to pardon your brother----!

                             THE SISTER

    [_Seizes and kisses his hand._]

Oh--Meester Presiden--I praise ze good God----

                             LINCOLN

There! There! Now, don't do that, you'll have me crying in a minute and
John Nicolay here will see me----

                             THE SISTER

Ya! Meester Nicolay--won't mind--he so kind to me too----

    [NICOLAY _has prepared the pardon and the President signs and hands
    it to her._]

                             THE SISTER

    [_Seizing the pardon._]

Wiz all my heart!

                             LINCOLN

    [_To_ NICOLAY.]

Send her to Stanton, and tell him to rush that order to stay the
execution. They shall not shoot this poor boy, ignorant of our laws,
but if he can find the man who put that little book----

    [_Holds up book._]

into his hand, advising desertion--I'll hang him on a gallows forty
cubits high!

    [_He lays the booklet on his desk._]

    [NICOLAY _writes on the back of the pardon._]

                             THE SISTER

    [_Joyfully._]

Mein brudder he vill go back und he vill be von goot poy for you,
Meester Presiden----

                             LINCOLN

Yes, I know he will, my child, I know he will. Good-by, and God bless
you.

                             THE SISTER

Und God bless you, Meester Presiden----!

    [NICOLAY _pauses at the door and gives orders to the doorman._]

                             NICOLAY

Edward, take her to the War Office with this message----

                             EDWARD

Yes, sir----

                             CONGRESSMAN

I demand to see the President at once----

                             NICOLAY

I can't admit you, Mr. Congressman, just now----

                             CONGRESSMAN

    [_Forcing his way in._]

I demand it, sir----

    [LINCOLN _crosses to the door._]

                             LINCOLN

What is it, John----

                             CONGRESSMAN

Mr. President, I have been here three times! I demand the right to see
you--to ask the pardon of one of my constituents.

                             LINCOLN

All right! Out with it!

                             CONGRESSMAN

He is one of the solid citizens of Massachusetts; a slave trader whose
ship has been confiscated. He has spent five years in prison, and
cannot pay the heavy fine in money imposed---- He is not a bad man at
heart.

                             LINCOLN

And he wants _me_ to pardon him--this slave-trader----!

                             CONGRESSMAN

I ask it as a matter of justice--he has paid the penalty--five long
years in prison----

                             LINCOLN

    [_Laughs._]

I might pardon a murderer from old Massachusetts, she's done glorious
service in this war--but a man who can make a business of going to
Africa and robbing her of helpless men, women and children and selling
them into bondage----!

    [_He pauses and stiffens._]

--before that man can have liberty by any act of mine, he can stay in
jail and rot!

                             NICOLAY

    [_To the Congressman._]

Now, you've got it----!

                             CONGRESSMAN

    [_Crestfallen._]

Yes--I heard it----

                             LINCOLN

    [_Turning back to his desk, and examining his papers._]

Good---- Bring in the next one, John!

    [_As_ NICOLAY _exits with the Congressman who continues to talk in
    loud tones, a sweet little girl of twelve slips by and reaches the
    President's desk unannounced. The President has taken his seat and
    is writing. While the President continues to write, the little girl
    slips close and watches him wistfully. He lifts his head, sees her,
    and smiles._]

Why, what a wee girl--and you got in here all by yourself----?

                             VIRGINIA

I slipped in when no one was looking----

                             LINCOLN

Did you? What did you do that for?

                             VIRGINIA

I was afraid they wouldn't let me in, if they knew what I wanted----

                             LINCOLN

    [_Tenderly._]

And what _do_ you want?

                             VIRGINIA

If you please, sir--a pass to go through the lines to Virginia--my
brother's there--he was shot in the last battle--and I want to see him.

                             LINCOLN

Of course, you do--and you shall too.

    [_He seizes his pen, writes a pass and hands it to her._]

                             VIRGINIA

    [_Breathlessly._]

Oh, thank you--thank you!

                             LINCOLN

    [_Casually placing his hand on her head._]

Of course, you're loyal----?

    [VIRGINIA'S _lips quiver, she hesitates, looks up into his face
    through dimmed eyes, and her slender body stiffens as she slowly
    speaks._]

                             VIRGINIA

Yes--loyal--with all my heart--to Virginia!

    [_The trembling little fingers hand the pass back as the tears roll
    down her cheeks. LINCOLN looks away to hide from her his own
    emotion, stoops and takes her hand in his. His voice is low and
    tender and full of feeling._]

                             LINCOLN

I know what it cost you to say that, child. You're a brave little girl!
And I'll love you always for this glimpse you've given me of a great
spirit and a great people. That's why I can't let the South go---- They
can't leave this Union. We need them---- Now I can trust you----?

                             VIRGINIA

    [_Eagerly._]

Yes, sir!

    [NICOLAY _enters with a young mother and baby and hesitates at
    sight of the little girl._]

                             LINCOLN

Come on in, John--it's all right. I'm about through with this young
lady----

    [NICOLAY _brings the young mother to the desk and_ LINCOLN _takes_
    VIRGINIA _down stage._]

Come down here, dear, so old man Nicolay can't hear us--he mightn't
understand.

    [_He sits on a chair and draws the girl close._]

You see, I understand you--and can trust you implicitly. Now if I give
you back this and let you go--will you promise me that no word shall
pass your lips of what you've seen inside our lines?

                             VIRGINIA

Oh, yes--I promise----!

                             LINCOLN

    [_Handing her the pass._]

May God speed the day, child, when your people and mine shall no longer
be enemies----

                             VIRGINIA

Thank you, sir!

                             LINCOLN

Run now!

    [VIRGINIA _exits. At the door she throws him a kiss._]

    [LINCOLN _comes quickly to the mother and greets her cheerily._]

Well, little mother, what's the matter?

    [_She hesitates and appeals to_ NICOLAY.]

                             NICOLAY

Tell him yourself----

                             THE MOTHER

    [_Trembling._]

If you please, sir, we ain't been married but a little over a year, and
my husband's never seen the baby----

                             LINCOLN

That's too bad----

                             THE MOTHER

He's in the army and I couldn't stand it any longer--so I came down to
Washington to get a pass to take the baby to him. But he wouldn't let
me have it at the War Office----

                             LINCOLN

    [_Laughs._]

I'll bet old Mars wouldn't--Phew!

    [_Pauses and turns to_ NICOLAY.]

What do you say. John--let's send her down?

                             NICOLAY

The strictest orders have been issued to allow no more women to go to
the front----

                             LINCOLN

Humph----! Well, I'll tell you what we _can_ do--give her husband a
leave of absence, and let _him_ come up here to see _them_!

                             THE MOTHER

    [_Laughing and crying._]

You don't mind my laughing, do you? I just can't help it--I can't stop!
I can't stop laughing!

                             LINCOLN

Laugh and cry as much as you please--but tell me where are you
stopping?

                             THE MOTHER

Nowhere yet, sir----

                             LINCOLN

How's that?

                             THE MOTHER

I went straight from the depot to the War Office and then I just walked
the street blind with crying till I made up my mind to come here.

                             LINCOLN

We'll fix that then! Nicolay will write you an order that will take you
and your baby to a good hospital and care for you till your husband
comes--and fix it so _he_ can stay here a week with you----

                             THE MOTHER

    [_Laughs._]

I just can't thank you! I'm so happy, all I can do is to laugh!

                             LINCOLN

Laugh on, little mother--and off with you now--clear out!

    [_The mother goes out laughing._]

    [NICOLAY _shows the little mother out and returns to_ LINCOLN.]

                             NICOLAY

The deputation of colored men whom you asked to come this morning are
waiting, sir--will you see them now?

                             LINCOLN

At once----

    [LINCOLN _turns to his desk and takes up a document containing his
    plan of Colonization and examines it as_ NICOLAY _and three
    well-dressed colored men enter. They are typical Africans._]

                             FIRST NEGRO

    [_Bowing deferentially._]

Mr. President----!

                             SECOND NEGRO

    [_Tenderly._]

_Our_ Father Abraham----

                             THIRD NEGRO

    [_With religious feeling._]

We salute our Savior!

                             LINCOLN

Welcome, my friends. I have sent for you this morning to place in your
hands a copy of my plan for colonization and to ask your help----

                             FIRST NEGRO

Yes, sir----

    [_The ebony faces with their cream white teeth showing in smiles
    and their wide rolling eyes make a striking contrast to the rugged
    face and poise of the President._]

                             LINCOLN

Your race is suffering, in my judgment, the greatest wrong inflicted on
any people. But even when you cease to be slaves, you are yet far
removed from being placed on an equality with the white race. On this
broad continent, not a single man of your race is made the equal of a
single man of ours----

                             FIRST NEGRO

It's so--yes, it's so----!

                             LINCOLN

Go where you are treated best and the ban is still upon you. I cannot
alter it if I would. It is better for us both, therefore, to be
separated. For the sake of your people you should sacrifice something
of your present comfort.

                             FIRST NEGRO

Let our great leader show us the way----

                             LINCOLN

The Colony of Liberia is an old one, and it is open to you. I am now
arranging to open another in Central America. You are intelligent and
know that success does not so much depend on external help as on
self-reliance. If you will engage in the enterprise I will spend the
money Congress has entrusted to me for this purpose. I ask you to
consider it seriously, not for yourselves merely, nor for your race and
ours for the present time, BUT FOR THE GOOD OF MANKIND.

                             FIRST NEGRO

We will, sir----!

                             LINCOLN

The practical thing I want to ascertain is whether I can get a number
of able-bodied men with their wives and children to go at once--men who
"can cut their own fodder" so to speak----? Take this plan, show it to
your people----

    [_Hands the document to the First Negro._]

--and find this out for me----

                             FIRST NEGRO

We'll do our best----

                             THIRD NEGRO

    [_Bowing out with religious ecstasy._]

Praise God forever for our Savior-Leader----!

    [NICOLAY _ushers out the three Negroes and shows in a stately
    black-robed figure in mourning for her dead. She walks quietly to
    the President and extends her hand with a gracious smile._]

                             THE WOMAN

Perhaps I've done wrong to take up your time----

                             LINCOLN

My time belongs to the people, Madam----

                             THE WOMAN

I've come to you, Mr. President, under an impulse I could not resist.
Mr. Stoddard, your third Secretary, is my friend. He told me this
morning that all night the sound of your footfall came from this room.
He heard it at nine, at ten, at eleven. At midnight the Secretary of
War left the door ajar and the steady tramp came with heavier sound.
The last thing he heard at three was the muffled beat upstairs. The
guard said it had not stopped at daylight. I saw you staggering alone
under a Nation's sorrow and I wondered if you had been given the vision
to see the dawn of a new life for our people. I know I'm looking into
the eyes of the man whose word can stop this war and divide the
Union--I have come to tell you that I lost my first born son at
Fredericksburg--a lad of twenty----

    [_She pauses and_ LINCOLN _bends and presses her hand._]

May God help you in your trials, Mr. President, as he has helped me in
mine----

                             LINCOLN

    [_Startled._]

You lost your first born at Fredericksburg and come to say this to me?

                             THE WOMAN

And I've been praying for you, day and night since----

                             LINCOLN

    [_Softly._]

Will you say that again, Madam----

                             THE WOMAN

I have been praying for you, day and night, and I've come this morning
to bring you this message--Be strong and courageous, and God will bring
the Nation through!

                             LINCOLN

You say this to me--standing beside the grave of your son?

                             THE WOMAN

And beside the cot of my other boy of sixteen who was dangerously
wounded in General Grant's last battle. I am proud of two such sons to
lay on the altar of my country. I _had_ to tell you that I'm
praying for you.

    [LINCOLN _closes both hands over hers and holds them a moment in
    silence._]

                             LINCOLN

    [_With upward gaze._]

How strange that you should come to me in this black hour with such a
message. I've often wondered if the soul of my mother were not speaking
to me! The day she died in the woods of Indiana, she told me that if
dark hours came, her spirit would be watching, and she'd help me if she
could! While you were talking to me--I got the tremor of her voice and
the quiver of her lips--how strange!

    [_Looking down into her face._]

Thank you, Madam! You have brought me medicine for both body and soul.

    [LINCOLN _presses her hand again and she quietly goes as he gazes
    after her._]

    [NICOLAY _starts to follow her to the door_--LINCOLN _lifts his
    hand._]

John, I'm rested now--I'm ready for any work----!

                             NICOLAY

The National Committee have just arrived, sir.

                             LINCOLN

All right--let them in!

    [LINCOLN _resumes his place beside his desk and the Committee
    headed by_ HENRY RAYMOND, _Editor of the New York Times, enter and
    solemnly range themselves about the President._]

    [_To_ HENRY RAYMOND--_taking his hand formally._]

Raymond, this is an unexpected honor you and your Committee do me. I
thought you were at your desk in the _Times_ office pouring hot shot
into the flanks of our enemies, and the boys were all at home fighting
for the victory that must be ours on the first Tuesday in November. Not
that you're unwelcome. You are the leaders of public opinion. The
people rule this country, and I am their servant--what is it----?

                             RAYMOND

You may be sure, Mr. President, that our mission is of the gravest
importance. These gentlemen have brought such startling reports from
their several states as to the bitterness and closeness of the fight,
that they have reached a unanimous conclusion----

                             LINCOLN

And that is----?

                             RAYMOND

That with your personality and record against General McClellan's, your
Democratic opponent--the election for us is lost.

                             LINCOLN

Your statement is blunt. But, as I have been renominated for a second
term, my administration has been endorsed by our party, and the
election is only eight weeks off--there is but one conclusion
possible--and that is, that you should roll up your sleeves and get to
work.

                             RAYMOND

The National Committee, Mr. President, has reached a different
conclusion----

                             LINCOLN

Yes----?

                             RAYMOND

In view of your unpopularity, in view of the criticism of your
policies, and your conduct of the war--they have decided to ask you to
withdraw from the ticket and permit them to name a new candidate----

                             LINCOLN

    [_Springing to his feet._]

What----!

                             RAYMOND

I _have_ stated it bluntly----

                             LINCOLN

And this is your unanimous verdict, gentlemen----?

                             ALL

Yes.

                             LINCOLN

    [_Paces the floor a moment and then faces the Committee._]

It surpasses human belief! Future generations will hold it
incredible--that you, my party leaders, should heap this insult upon
the man who led you to your first and only victory. That you should
come here to-day to ask me to quit under fire, to sacrifice without a
blow all I hold worth fighting for on this earth----!

                             RAYMOND

The Committee made their request solely on the ground of patriotic
duty--and ask you for the sacrifice upon the same grounds. They have
found it impossible to defend your policies----

                             LINCOLN

    [_Brusquely._]

What policies?

                             RAYMOND

Understand me, Mr. President--I am telling you the conclusion of this
Committee----

                             LINCOLN

All right, Raymond--fire away--spare me the oratory, please--just give
me the plain reasons, one at a time, why you wish me to get off the
ticket----

                             RAYMOND

The first policy found indefensible has been your handling of the
border slave states of Maryland, Kentucky and Missouri. You have not
yet declared the slaves free in these states, the only ones in which
you actually have the power to do so--at all.

                             LINCOLN

The first policy of my Administration has been to save for the Union
the great border states--for the simple reason--with these border slave
states, we have such a balance of power that the Union _may_ be
saved! Without these states, the Union _cannot_ be saved!
Therefore in my Proclamation of Emancipation, I purposely did not raise
the question of the right or wrong of slavery. If slavery is not wrong,
nothing is wrong. But the Constitution of the United States, which I
have sworn to uphold in the border states of Maryland, Kentucky and
Missouri, guarantees to their people the right to hold slaves if they
choose.

                             RAYMOND

But why pat on the back the slaveholder of Maryland and strike at the
slaveholder of South Carolina?

                             LINCOLN

Because Maryland is loyal to the Union, and South Carolina is fighting
it. My Proclamation was not a sermon on the rights of man--black or
white. It was an act of war--a blow aimed at the heart of the seceding
South to break its wealth and power, end the war, and save the Union. I
know the spell of _State loyalty_ in the South, gentlemen. I was born
there. Many a mother in Richmond wept the day our flag fell from their
Capitol. But they brushed their tears away and sent their sons to the
front the next day, to fight that flag--_in the name of Virginia_! So
would thousands of mothers in these border slave states, if I put them
to the test. In God's own time slavery will be destroyed. I have saved
these states for our cause by conciliation and compromise. I will not
apologize for this act.

    [_He lifts his hand to stop interruption._]

My paramount object is to save the Union, and not, either to save or
destroy slavery. If I could save the Union, without freeing a 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 this Union_!

    [_Pauses and faces his accusers._]

I'll test this question right here--will the three Committeemen from
Kentucky, Missouri and Maryland stand up for a minute?

    [_The three Committeemen rise._]

Will the gentleman from Kentucky tell me what would have been the
effect if I had included his state in my proclamation freeing the
slaves----?

                             THE KENTUCKY COMMITTEEMAN

The state would have seceded from the Union, sir.

                             LINCOLN

Just so, and in Missouri?

                             THE MISSOURI COMMITTEEMAN

The Legislature would have joined the Confederacy within twenty-four
hours.

                             LINCOLN

And Maryland----?

                             THE MARYLAND COMMITTEEMAN

Maryland would have promptly cut the railroads leading into Washington,
isolated the Capital and joined the South.

                             LINCOLN

And with the loss of our Capital, Europe, eager to strike, would have
recognized the Confederacy, would they not?

                             THE MARYLAND COMMITTEEMAN

Undoubtedly, sir----

                             LINCOLN

So I hold----

                             THE MARYLAND COMMITTEEMAN

Our State believed you when you said in your Inaugural: "I have no
purpose directly or indirectly to interfere with the institution of
slavery in the states where it exists!"

                             LINCOLN

Then you three gentlemen, at least, are with me on this issue?

                             ALL THREE

Yes--! Yes--! Yes--!

                             LINCOLN

I thought so----

    [_To Raymond._]

What next?

                             RAYMOND

Your plan to _colonize_ the Negro race as expressed in your Proclamation
of Emancipation and in the bill which you have had passed through
Congress has hurt your best friends----

                             LINCOLN

And why should it? My views on that subject were known to all men
before you nominated me first in Chicago, four years ago. I said then
that I believed there is a sharp physical difference between the white
and black races, and I have always linked colonization with freedom.
The Negro cannot remain in a free democracy unless we absorb him into
our social and political life. Therefore, we must colonize him. We owe
it to ourselves, we owe it to future generations--above all, we owe it
to the Negro himself. He was brought here by cruel force. At our own
expense, therefore, we should return him to the home of his fathers,
and build there a free republic for his children. We should give him
our language and our ideals, and we should give him millions of our
money, until he can stand alone. We must face this problem squarely
now.

                             RAYMOND

Yet you compromise on other issues.

                             LINCOLN

Only because I must to save the Union. Trim and hedge on _this_ issue,
and future generations will feel their way back to it through blood and
tears. I have always held that the happiness and progress of this Union
of Free Democratic States will be secure only in the separation of the
white and black races, and I will not eat my words!----

    [_Pauses._]

--the next charge in your bill of indictment, gentlemen?

                             RAYMOND

I now present the Hon. Thaddeus Stevens, leader of Congress, the
representative of the radical wing of our party, who have split our
organization by nominating another candidate for President--Mr. Stevens
will give their views.

                             STEVENS

    [_Pompously to the Committee._]

The radical wing of the party, gentlemen, has been the only creative
force within it--and is the only thing that gives it an excuse for
being to-day.

                             LINCOLN

    [_Firmly._]

Which means that you think that I am superfluous and always have
been--I thank you--proceed!

                             STEVENS

We denounce first your policy of reconstruction in the South as weak
and vacillating--a civil and military failure. As the army advances,
the South should be held as conquered soil, its civilization torn up by
the roots, the property of the Southern white people confiscated and
given to the negroes. The ballot must be taken from the whites and
given to their slaves. We demand this just vengeance and we will be
content with nothing less!

                             LINCOLN

Stevens, I greet with shame your demands! Surely the vastness of this
war, its grim battles, its heroism, its anguish, its sublime earnestness,
should sink all schemes of revenge. Before the grandeur of its simple
story our children will walk with uncovered heads. Conquered soil! The
South has never been out of this Union. Secession was null and void
from the beginning. I say to the South now, as I have always said:
"Come back home! You can have peace at any moment, by simply laying
down your arms and submitting to the National Authority." When the
South lies crushed at our feet, God's vengeance shall be enough.

                             STEVENS

The life of our party, sir, demands that the Negro be given the ballot
and made the ruler of the South. This is not vengeance. It is
justice--it is patriotism.

                             LINCOLN

The Nation cannot be healed until the South is healed. Let the gulf be
closed in which we bury strifes and hatreds. The good sense of our
people will never consent to your scheme of vengeance.

                             STEVENS

The people have no sense! And a new fool is born every second.

                             LINCOLN

I have an abiding faith in their honesty and good purpose. I have
trusted the people before, and they have not failed me.

                             STEVENS

Bah----!

                             LINCOLN

I can't tell you, Stevens, how your venomous plans sicken me. I'd
rather work with you than fight you, if it's possible. But the line is
drawn now--we've got to fight--and I'm not afraid of you.

                             STEVENS

You had better listen----

                             LINCOLN

I'll suffer my right arm to be severed from my body before I'll sign
one measure of revenge on a brave, fallen foe!

                             STEVENS

I have always known you had a sneaking admiration for the South!

                             LINCOLN

I love the South--it is a part of this Union! And when the curse of
slavery is lifted, it should be the garden spot of the world--I love
every foot of its soil--every hill and valley, and every man, woman and
child in it. I am an American!

                             STEVENS

The kind of an American that makes the election of your opponent,
General George B. McClellan, a certainty----

                             LINCOLN

Well, who would you put in my place?

    [_He faces_ RAYMOND _and_ STEVENS, _and dead silence follows._]

Come on--out with his name----!

    [_They remain silent._]

You can't name him? Let me try to nominate him for you---- On a
platform of proscription and revenge, the hanging of rebel leaders, the
confiscation of the property of the white people of the South and its
bestowment upon the negroes, the taking of the ballot from the whites
and setting their slaves to rule over them--on this program I resign as
your candidate and nominate for President, the Hon. Thaddeus
Stevens----

                             THE COMMITTEE

    [_In a wild uproar._]

No! No! No! Not by a damn sight! To hell with Stevens!

    [LINCOLN _quietly laughs and_ STEVENS _angrily lifts his hand to
    quiet them._]

                             STEVENS

Now that you've had your joke--let me remind you that the radical wing
of the Republican Party has already named General John C. Fremont
against you----

                             LINCOLN

    [_To the Committee._]

What say you, gentlemen----? Shall I resign in favor of the bolter who
attempted to dictate to you your platform and your candidate before
your convention met? Do you ask me to resign in favor of General
Fremont?

                             THE COMMITTEE

No! No! Down with the bolter! To the devil with Fremont. No! No! No!
Damnation--no----

    [RAYMOND _quiets the uproar._]

                             STEVENS

I am not asking you to nominate Fremont. We split the party and named
Fremont because we wouldn't have you. Get off the ticket and we will
withdraw Fremont and put up a man who can be elected! Whatever the
chances of General Fremont at this moment the election of McClellan on
a Democratic Copperhead Platform is conceded by your own party
councils. McClellan is even now choosing his Cabinet----

                             LINCOLN

They say it is not wise to count chickens before they're hatched--we
still have our chance!

                             STEVENS

You have no chance! You have _already_ been weighed and found
wanting! In the Congressional election, what happened?--your majorities
were wiped out. Maine cut you down from nineteen thousand to four! The
Democrats swept Ohio. Indiana deserted us. In Pennsylvania even, we
lost by four thousand. New York elected Horatio Seymour against us. New
Jersey turned you down. Wisconsin was a tie. In your own state of
Illinois, the Democrats won by seventeen thousand----!

                             LINCOLN

Even so, Stevens--the ballots in _this_ election have not yet been
counted! My faith in the ultimate good sense of the people is unshaken.
You can fool some of the people all the time. You can fool all of the
people sometimes. But you can't fool all the people all the time!

                             STEVENS

That's why we ask you to get off the ticket! You are to-day the most
unpopular man who ever sat in the Presidential chair. For the first
time in our history the effigy of a living President--your effigy--has
been publicly burned in the streets of American towns and cities, amid
the curses and jeers of the men who elected you! Your administration is
a failure--your conduct of the war a series of blunders----

                             LINCOLN

    [_Brusquely._]

For example----

                             STEVENS

    [_Furiously._]

For one thing--you have never yet chosen a successful General. The
South has not changed Commanders since Jeff Davis appointed Robert E.
Lee. In thirty days of the last campaign in a series of massacres, Lee
has killed and wounded sixty-two thousand of our men--more than he
himself commanded--and Grant has only reached the point where McClellan
stood in 1862. He could have marched there by McClellan's old line
without the loss of a man. Washington is piled with the wounded, the
dying and the dead. Your mail is choked with letters demanding the
removal of this butcher as our Commander, and you refuse--why?

                             LINCOLN

    [_Smiling calmly._]

Well, now that you've _really_ let off steam, I think you'll feel
better, Stevens----!

                             STEVENS

I demand, sir, an answer to my question--why have you not removed
Grant?

                             LINCOLN

    [_Quickly._]

Because I can't spare him! He is the one General we have developed who
knows how to fight--his business is not to reach any particular spot
where McClellan stood. McClellan was generally _standing_ somewhere--he
was a great engineer--of the stationary type---- Grant is a fighter.
His business is to find and destroy Lee's army--and his sledge hammer
blows are winning this war!

                             STEVENS

Winning--is he? And yet Lee sends a division under Jubal Early and
reconquers the Valley of Virginia--invades Maryland and Pennsylvania,
throws his shells into Washington and burns the home of one of your
Cabinet----

                             LINCOLN

And if old Jubal Early had been a little _earlier_, he would have
burned Washington, too--but thank God, Grant got here in time--didn't
he? What have you got to say to that?

                             STEVENS

That Lee's strategy has been superb, his moral victory complete! He
holds Grant by the throat while he invades the North, and _shells_
our Capitol--a feat that not one of your generals has yet done for
Richmond in four years--and still you cling to Grant----!

                             LINCOLN

    [_Angrily._]

Now, I'm going to talk plain English to you, Stevens. You're an
Abolitionist, and you can't do Grant justice. Your crowd demanded his
removal after the battle of Shiloh--and you made it so hot for me then,
I had to appoint General Halleck his superior, to save him for the
country. You can't forget that Grant is a Democrat, and therefore he
may vote for McClellan against our party, in this election!

                             STEVENS

I've heard that he _is_ for McClellan.

                             LINCOLN

Exactly! And you can't forget that his wife is a Southern woman whose
dowry was in Slaves, and therefore at this moment, Grant is constructively
a slaveholder, whose slaves I have not freed----

                             STEVENS

I protest----

                             LINCOLN

It's no use--I know the process of your mind--I can see the wheels go
round inside! You tell me that the star of Grant has set in a welter of
blood before Lee's army. I do not believe it. I know that miles of
hospital barracks are the witnesses of our agony. I know that every
city, town and village is in mourning. From these stricken homes there
has arisen a storm of protest against the new leader of the army. The
word butcher is bandied from lip to lip. They tell me that Grant is
merely a bulldog fighter--that he can win only as long as thousands are
poured into his ranks to take the place of the dead--They tell me that
he has no genius, no strategy, no skill. My reply to this is simple but
unanswerable. We must fight to win. Grant is the ablest general we have
developed. His losses are appalling--but the struggle is on now to the
bitter end! Our resources are exhaustless. The South cannot replace
_her_ fallen soldiers--and therefore _her_ losses are fatal! If we
continue to fight, five millions cannot whip twenty millions--the end
is certain--and we're now locked in the last death grapple
before--VICTORY!

                             STEVENS

It's a waste of time to talk----!

                             LINCOLN

I've thought so from the first, but I've tried to be polite----

                             STEVENS

    [_Trying to go._]

Good day, sir----!

                             LINCOLN

    [_Cordially._]

Good day, Stevens----

    [_Pauses._]

You know this meeting reminds me of what happened in Illinois once----

                             STEVENS

    [_Throwing up his hands in anger._]

I won't hear it, sir! You and your stories are sending this country to
hell--it's not more than a mile from there now!

                             LINCOLN

I believe it _is_ just a mile from here to the Capitol where you
sit!

                             STEVENS

    [_Going in rage._]

Damnation!

    [STEVENS _goes muttering furiously._]

                             RAYMOND

You will consider our request, Mr. President?

                             LINCOLN

Raymond, this is the most brutal insult ever offered to a man in my
position in the history of this country. I'm going to waive the insult
and give your request my earnest thought. If I can save the
Union--that's the only question--that's the only question!

                             RAYMOND

You will give us your answer to-day?

                             LINCOLN

    [_Firmly._]

No. I must have time to think. As I've listened to you, the conviction
grows on me that the life of the Union _may_ be bound with mine now,
and I'm not going to give up--_without a fight_.

                             RAYMOND

    [_Brusquely._]

We cannot leave Washington _without your answer_, Mr. President.

                             LINCOLN

You'll get it in due time.

                             RAYMOND

The time is short----

                             LINCOLN

It may be long enough yet, to save the Nation----

                             RAYMOND

    [_Firmly._]

The Committee _must_ take definite action before we leave--we will give
you ten days to decide----

                             LINCOLN

I understand. Good day, gentlemen!

                             ALL

    [_Bowing out._]

Good day, Mr. President.

    [LINCOLN _stands erect, with_ NICOLAY _watching them go in silence.
    When the last man is gone, he turns to_ NICOLAY.]

                             LINCOLN

It's infamous, John! Infamous!

    [MRS. LINCOLN _enters hurriedly._]

Don't tell her the nasty things old Thad said to me. It will hurt her.

                             NICOLAY

Of course not.

                             MRS. LINCOLN

    [_Tensely._]

What is it, Father--what did they say?

    [_He pauses and she presses him tremblingly._]

What did they say? What did they say?

                             LINCOLN

    [_With dreamy look._]

They told me in plain English that I am the most unpopular man in the
United States--that my conduct of the war is a series of blunders, my
administration a failure!

                             MRS. LINCOLN

    [_Relieved._]

Oh!--is _that_ all!

                             LINCOLN

What more----?

                             MRS. LINCOLN

I thought they had something important to tell you----

                             LINCOLN

    [_Laughs._]

Oh!----

                             MRS. LINCOLN

That is of no importance, because it's a lie----

                             LINCOLN

But, if they believe it, and millions of people believe it----

                             MRS. LINCOLN

Well, they won't. I've something important to ask of you--Betty
Winter's in my room and wants to bring her lover here to see you alone
for an hour to-night----

                             LINCOLN

I'll see Miss Betty Winter any time--she is my good friend--make it
nine o'clock.

                             MRS. LINCOLN

    [_Going._]

At nine--don't forget now!

                             LINCOLN

I'll not----

    [MRS. LINCOLN _exits._]

John, is General McClellan at home?

                             NICOLAY

I saw him to-day, sir.

                             LINCOLN

Go to his house immediately and tell him I want to see him here at
eight o'clock to-night. Say that it's a matter of the gravest
importance--both to him and to the country--he can't refuse.

                             NICOLAY

Yes, sir.

                             LINCOLN

Say to General McClellan that I would come to him but for the fact that
it would attract attention which I wish to avoid. It will be the best
for both that this meeting should not be known. Ask him to come in a
closed carriage. Assure him that you will meet him at the door and he
will see no one but me----

                             NICOLAY

You can't take me into your confidence, Chief?

                             LINCOLN

    [_Pauses._]

Partly--I'm going to put McClellan to the supreme test, John. If he
will make me one pledge on the Copperhead issue which I will ask of
him, I'll name for this Committee a candidate they're not looking
for--I'll give them the surprise of their life--so help me God!

                             NICOLAY

I don't think the General will give that pledge, sir.

                             LINCOLN

    [_Gazing upward and folding his arms._]

I wonder!--I wonder if he will!

    [NICOLAY _exits._]

I wonder if he will----


CURTAIN



ACT II


SET SCENE: _The same as Act I at a quarter to eight the same evening_.

AT RISE: EDWARD, _the old Doorman, is straightening the furniture in
the room. He clumsily clears the floor of a litter of letters and
places them in the corner with the unopened bag. He draws the heavy
draperies of the windows and adjusts them so that no ray of light can
reach the outside._ MRS. LINCOLN _enters and watches him fix the
draperies._


                             MRS. LINCOLN

    [_Speaking suddenly._]

Edward----!

                             EDWARD

    [_Jumping in fright._]

Yes, Madam!

                             MRS. LINCOLN

What on earth are you doing in here----?

                             EDWARD

    [_In terror of_ MRS. LINCOLN.]

Just--er drawin'--er the curtains, Madam.

                             MRS. LINCOLN

    [_Sternly._]

These curtains haven't been drawn in a year----

                             EDWARD

    [_Stammering._]

I-don't-think-they-have-either----

                             MRS. LINCOLN

You know they haven't!

                             EDWARD

    [_Gulping wind._]

Yes'm----

                             MRS. LINCOLN

Who told you to draw them?

                             EDWARD

Colonel Nicolay!

                             MRS. LINCOLN

Where is he?

                             EDWARD

Down-stairs, on the door.

                             MRS. LINCOLN

In your place?

                             EDWARD

Yes'm----

                             MRS. LINCOLN

While you're up here acting as house maid?

                             EDWARD

    [_Embarrassed._]

Well, so it seems, Madam----

                             MRS. LINCOLN

    [_Sternly._]

What does this mean?

                             EDWARD

I do not know, Madam----

                             MRS. LINCOLN

    [_Sarcastically._]

And you haven't the slightest idea--I suppose?

                             EDWARD

Not the slightest. My experience as Doorman of the White House has
taught me that my first duty is to obey the orders of my Chief----

                             MRS. LINCOLN

Mr. Lincoln asked you to remain on duty here to-night?

                             EDWARD

    [_Bows._]

Asked me as a particular personal favor to him, that I remain on duty
until eight o'clock and dismiss all the other White House attendants----

                             MRS. LINCOLN

The _guard_ has been dismissed!

                             EDWARD

Yes, Madam, both of them--inside and out.

                             MRS. LINCOLN

Ask Colonel Nicolay to come here----

                             EDWARD

    [_Hesitates._]

Yes'm----

                             MRS. LINCOLN

    [_Sharply._]

Quick!

                             EDWARD

    [_Jumps._]

Right away, Madam!

    [MRS. LINCOLN _quickly examines the President's desk, looking for a
    memorandum of his appointments--she finds a pad and reads._]

                             MRS. LINCOLN

At eight o'clock ---- ----

At nine o'clock--Miss Betty Winter----

    [NICOLAY _enters hurriedly._]

                             NICOLAY

What is it, Madam?

                             MRS. LINCOLN

Who has this mysterious appointment with the President at eight
o'clock--the name is blank.

                             NICOLAY

I am forbidden to discuss it with any one.

                             MRS. LINCOLN

    [_Angrily._]

Indeed!

                             NICOLAY

I am sorry.

                             MRS. LINCOLN

Do you know who is coming?

                             NICOLAY

Yes----

                             MRS. LINCOLN

Do you know the subject for discussion at this meeting?

                             NICOLAY

I wish to God I did----

    [LINCOLN _enters and glances at his wife in surprise._]

                             LINCOLN

Will you go back to the door, John----

                             NICOLAY

At once--sir----

                             LINCOLN

And tell Edward I'm much obliged to him for staying, but he can go
now----

                             NICOLAY

Yes, sir----

                             LINCOLN

See that he goes before our visitor arrives. I have asked him to say
nothing about this appointment.

                             NICOLAY

You can trust him implicitly, sir----

    [NICOLAY _exits._]

                             MRS. LINCOLN

But, you can't trust your wife, to-night, it seems----

                             LINCOLN

    [_Whimsically._]

Well, you know you're a woman, Mother----

                             MRS. LINCOLN

    [_Angrily._]

Thank God----

                             LINCOLN

Amen! So say I!

                             MRS. LINCOLN

You're _afraid_ to tell me--who this man is----?

                             LINCOLN

I may tell you to-morrow----

                             MRS. LINCOLN

When--you've-made-some-fatal-blunder----

                             LINCOLN

I'll make no mistake this time----

                             MRS. LINCOLN

Then why are you afraid of my woman's intuition----

                             LINCOLN

    [_Smiling._]

I'm not afraid of your _intuition_, Mother----

                             MRS. LINCOLN

Thank you.

                             LINCOLN

I didn't say it!----

    [_Laughs._]

--But you know you do _talk_ too much sometimes!

                             MRS. LINCOLN

    [_Angrily._]

And I'm going to say something to you now. I thought this morning that
you would treat those scoundrels with the contempt they deserve when
they dared to ask you to sacrifice yourself and the cause of the Union
to the ambitions of some traitor behind them.

                             LINCOLN

No! No! They're honest in what they say----

                             MRS. LINCOLN

    [_Furious._]

You're too good and simple for this world! Don't you know that some
schemer is behind all this----?

                             LINCOLN

Maybe---- It's not a crime, Mother, for a man to aspire to high office,
if the bee's in his bonnet. You know I've felt it tickle me lots of
times----

                             MRS. LINCOLN

Don't--don't--don't say such foolish things. You need a guardian. You
kept three men in your Cabinet who used their position to try to climb
into the Presidency over your head. And you didn't kick them out.

                             LINCOLN

The country needed them.

                             MRS. LINCOLN

    [_With earnest dignity._]

The country needs you--you are the man, and the only man who has the
simple common sense to save this Union first, and settle all other
questions afterwards----

                             LINCOLN

That may be so--too----

                             MRS. LINCOLN

Tell me one thing--is the man who has this appointment at eight the
traitor whom Raymond's Committee is trying to put in your place----?

                             LINCOLN

No! Yet--if there _is_ anywhere a better man who can render the
country a greater service than I can, he _ought_ to be in my
place----

                             MRS. LINCOLN

But don't you see that it isn't really the man who can give the greater
service who will win in such a treacherous fight? It's the liar and the
hypocrite who may win.

                             LINCOLN

I have no right in such an hour to think of my own ambitions. My
personal desire for a second term is the biggest thing in my life, God
knows----

    [_He pauses as his voice breaks--he struggles a moment and lifts
    his hand as if to throw off an obsession with a determined smile._]

And yet, my personal desire is a petty thing! My duty to-day is the
_biggest_ thing in the world!

                             MRS. LINCOLN

You won't take my advice and send these men about their business?

                             LINCOLN

Mary, I've got to fight this thing out alone, with myself and God----

                             MRS. LINCOLN

I sometimes think, Father, that you're the stubbornest man the Lord
ever made!

                             LINCOLN

I've got to be--to do this job----

    [MRS. LINCOLN _exits._]

    [LINCOLN _paces the floor with his arms locked behind him in tense
    thought._]

    [NICOLAY _enters._]

                             NICOLAY

The carriage is approaching, sir.

                             LINCOLN

The coast is clear?

                             NICOLAY

Yes. Edward has gone----

    [_He pauses._]

You, of course, realize, Chief, the importance of a cool head in
dealing with McClellan----

                             LINCOLN

I won't lose my temper, John.

                             NICOLAY

McClellan may lose his----

                             LINCOLN

I'll watch out----

    [_Looking over his desk._]

That report of Baker's on the Copperhead Societies----

                             NICOLAY

    [_Pointing._]

Under that paper weight, sir----

                             LINCOLN

Oh, yes, I see----

    [_Picks up report, glances at it, and lays it back on his desk._]

I'm ready--bring him in. See that we are not interrupted, and when he
goes, I'll not need you any more to-night. I'll let in the young people
myself, at nine o'clock.

                             NICOLAY

Yes, sir.

    [NICOLAY _exits and_ LINCOLN _returns to his desk and writes._]

    [NICOLAY _enters with_ GENERAL MCCLELLAN. _The General is
    thirty-eight years old, dressed in a uniform of immaculate cut,
    flashing with gold. While his figure is short and stocky, in
    striking contrast to the President, he is a man of commanding
    appearance, and gives one the impression of a born leader of men.
    He enters with quick military precision and salutes with studied
    formality the President as his superior officer. The President
    answers his salute, as_ NICOLAY _exits._]

                             LINCOLN

I suggest, General McClellan, that we forget for the moment that I am
the Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy--and we have a little heart
to heart talk in a perfectly informal way----

                             McCLELLAN

    [_Stiffening._]

May I enquire, Mr. President, at once, to what I owe this extraordinary
summons?

                             LINCOLN

    [_Cordially._]

Will you be seated, General----?

                             McCLELLAN

Thank you, I prefer to stand.

    [_Angrily._]

What right have you to send for me or ask anything, after the foul
injustice with which you have treated me as Commanding General----

                             LINCOLN

    [_Interrupting._]

Just a moment--I have not treated you with injustice--I have treated
you with more than justice. I have treated you with the generous faith
and love of a father for a wayward boy----

                             McCLELLAN

Really!

                             LINCOLN

I have. When I appointed you to the chief command of our Army, you were
but thirty-four years old. I did it against the bitterest opposition of
my party leaders. They told me you were a pro-Slavery Democrat--a
political meddler, and that you were opposed to me on every issue
before the people. I refused to listen. I asked but one question: Is
McClellan the man to whip the new army into a mighty fighting machine,
and hurl it against the Confederacy? I said to them: "I don't care what
his religion is, or his politics may be. The question is, not whether I
shall save the Union--but that the Union shall be saved. My future and
the future of my party can take care of themselves"--and I appointed
you.

                             McCLELLAN

And forced me to march against Richmond before I was ready!

                             LINCOLN

I ordered you to move, because it was necessary to forestall a great
tragedy. Your army of 180,000 men had gone into winter quarters around
a glittering camp over which a young Napoleon presided. Fools about you
daily advised that you proclaim the end of the Republic and establish
yourself as Dictator. You do not deny this----?

                             McCLELLAN

No. The fact is well known. Besides, Stanton, your Secretary of War,
was at that time my attorney, and he knew----

                             LINCOLN

Exactly. I took the bull by the horns and ordered your grand army to
move on Richmond. When you failed and retreated, I refused to dismiss
you against the fierce protest of my Cabinet. I left you in command of
half our men and appointed General Pope to lead the other half.

                             McCLELLAN

    [_Sneeringly._]

And he led them to overwhelming disaster at the second battle of
Manassas----

                             LINCOLN

    [_Quickly._]

For which disaster, you must share the blame. You were ordered to join
Pope. You didn't move. Pope was broken by a deliberate design, that was
little short of treason, sir. But instead of agreeing to the demand for
your trial by court martial, I did the most unpopular act of my life. I
reappointed you to the chief command of the whole army--defied public
opinion, and faced a storm of abuse in my party councils.

                             McCLELLAN

And when I led that superb, reorganized army to our first victory at
Antietam, you removed me from my command before I could win my
campaign.

                             LINCOLN

I removed you from your command because, after you had cut Lee's army
to pieces, and he had but 23,000 men left, and you had 75,000--three to
one--you lay down on your arms and allowed Lee to escape across the
river without a blow--while Jeb. Stuart with his cavalry once more
insulted you by riding around your army. Come now, can't we leave to
posterity to settle the merits of our controversy over the command of
armies? Can't you believe me to-day, when I tell you with God as my
witness, that I have never allowed a personal motive to enter into a
single appointment or removal which I have made----?

                             McCLELLAN

I cannot believe it----

                             LINCOLN

In spite of the fact that when I reappointed you to the chief command
of the army after the disaster to Pope, _you_ thought that my
messenger was an officer with a warrant for your arrest! You still say
no----?

                             McCLELLAN

I still say no--you _had_ to do it--and you know that you
_had_ to reappoint me.

                             LINCOLN

Well, I'll not pretend that I didn't understand the seriousness of that
hour. The Army _was_ behind you, to a man! I sounded the officers,
I sounded the men. They were against me and with you. If the leaders
had dared risk their necks on a revolution, they might have won and set
up a Dictatorship!

                             McCLELLAN

Just so!

                             LINCOLN

This power over men which you possess, General McClellan, is a
marvelous thing. It is a dangerous force. It can be used to create a
Nation, or destroy one. Because you held this power over your men, I
honestly believed you were the ablest General in sight, and I called
you back to your high position.

                             McCLELLAN

    [_With a smile._]

Very kind!

                             LINCOLN

You had to win or lose at Antietam. If you had won I was vindicated,
and your success would have been mine! But when Lee's army escaped, you
lost the power over the imagination of your men, the threat of a
Dictatorship had passed--the supremacy of the civil government was
restored, and I removed you from command----

                             McCLELLAN

    [_Angrily._]

I repeat that your act was one of foul injustice!

                             LINCOLN

    [_Cordially._]

All right then. I've given you my side. Granted for the sake of
argument that I have treated you unfairly, I'm going to put you to a
supreme test. I am going to propose, on a certain condition, to the man
whom I have wronged, an amazing thing----

                             McCLELLAN

Hence the secrecy with which I am summoned!

                             LINCOLN

Yes. I have just written out on this sheet of paper----

    [_Takes up the sheet._]

and addressed to Henry Raymond, Chairman of our National Committee, my
resignation as a Candidate for the Presidency for a second term--and I
will give it to him to-night, if you will agree to take my place and
_save_ the Union?

                             McCLELLAN

    [_Overwhelmed with excitement._]

What-can-you-mean----?

                             LINCOLN

Exactly what I've said.

                             McCLELLAN

    [_Paces the floor trembling._]

And your conditions----?

                             LINCOLN

Very simple. Agree to preside to-morrow night at a great Democratic
Union Mass Meeting in New York, and boldly put yourself at the head of
that wing of your party which stands for the preservation of the
Union----

                             McCLELLAN

And you----?

                             LINCOLN

I will withdraw from the race, secure your endorsement, or prevent my
party from naming a successor, take the stump for you and guarantee
your election.

                             McCLELLAN

    [_Studies_ LINCOLN _a moment with suspicion._]

You are in earnest----?

                             LINCOLN

I was never more so.

                             McCLELLAN

And there is no string to this offer?

                             LINCOLN

On my word of honor----

    [_Dreamily._]

It is needless for me to say that I came into this office with high
ambitions to serve my country. My dream of glory may be at an end and I
have left only the agony and the tears----

    [_He pauses, breathes deeply, and struggles with his emotions,
    recovers himself, and goes on wistfully._]

I did want a chance to stay here for another term to see the sun shine
again, to heal my country's wounds, and show all the people, North,
South, East and West, that I love them. But I can't risk the chances of
this election--if you and I can come to a perfect understanding, and
you agree to take my place upon the solemn pledge to save the Union
without division. I've made up my mind to this, because I have on my
desk here a report from our Secret Service----

    [_Pauses and picks up the report._]

showing that the Copperhead Societies are of your party and are
thoroughly organized in every state of the North--that they demand an
immediate peace and will accept a division of the Union----

                             McCLELLAN

    [_Interrupting._]

What has this to do with me, may I ask----?

                             LINCOLN

    [_Evenly._]

This report shows that they propose to end the war on the night of the
election by a revolutionary uprising which will result in the
recognition of the Confederacy. I am now being urged to arrest their
leaders.

    [_He pauses and watches_ McCLELLAN _closely._]

I shall answer no. Let sleeping dogs lie. One revolution at a time. If
the Union candidate wins the election, they won't dare to rise. If he
loses, it's all over anyhow--and it makes no difference what they do.

                             McCLELLAN

A sensible decision----

                             LINCOLN

I'm glad you agree with it. Now the Democratic Convention meets in
Chicago next week--you have no opposition. Your nomination will be
unanimous. The question is,--what will they do on the issue of the war?
The leaders of the Copperhead Societies are now in touch with the rebel
government in Richmond----

                             McCLELLAN

That's a large statement, sir--even about Copperhead Societies----

                             LINCOLN

I have the _proofs_ in this document----

    [_Touches_ BAKER'S _report._]

My fear is, that they may get complete control of your Convention----

                             McCLELLAN

    [_Angrily._]

Indeed----?

                             LINCOLN

I have heard the ugly rumor that they are counting on you----

                             McCLELLAN

    [_Advancing._]

Stop----!

                             LINCOLN

    [_Going to meet_ McCLELLAN _and holding his gaze firmly._]

Well----?

                             McCLELLAN

No man can couple the word Treason with my name, sir----!

                             LINCOLN

Have I done so----?

                             McCLELLAN

You are insinuating it!

                             LINCOLN

_Am_ I?

                             McCLELLAN

I demand a retraction!

                             LINCOLN

    [_Smiling._]

Then, I apologize for my careless expressions. I am glad to see you
meet the ugly subject in this way! I have never believed you a traitor
to the Union. That's why I sent for you to-night. Will you denounce
these men publicly at a Union Mass Meeting, and let me resign and take
the stump for you----?

                             McCLELLAN

    [_Hesitates._]

I am sure of this election without your help, sir!

                             LINCOLN

You can't be----

                             McCLELLAN

A straw vote was taken yesterday in the Carver Hospital. The wounded
soldiers gave me three votes to your one. Straws show which way the
wind is blowing. I know that your party is divided--that John C.
Fremont has split your organization, and is daily gaining ground--that
unless _he_ retires, _you_ can't be elected! Your party is in
a hopeless panic--and my election is conceded. Yet, you ask me allow
you to dictate the policy of my administration!

                             LINCOLN

    [_Evenly and pressingly._]

Will you denounce these conspirators within your party----?

                             McCLELLAN

No----! When I need your advice on any public utterance, I'll let you
know.

                             LINCOLN

Will you preside over this Union Meeting?

                             McCLELLAN

    [_Firmly._]

Never! I'll do my best to save my country, but in my own way without
suggestion or assistance from you----

                             LINCOLN

    [_With firm conviction._]

Then, sir, you _are_ committed by your pledges to the possible division
of this Union! I suspected it--but I had hoped for the best--good
night!

    [_The General bows stiffly and leaves the President standing in
    sorrowful silence, his deep eyes staring into space, seeing nothing
    as_ NICOLAY _enters._]

    [_Pausing, and looking up._]

I thought you'd gone----?

                             NICOLAY

I hope there may be something else I can do for you, sir----?

                             LINCOLN

Yes--there is----

                             NICOLAY

What?

                             LINCOLN

Bear witness with me to this, the blackest hour of my life--I have
touched the depths of despair----

    [_Springs to his feet._]

But I can't give up--there's too much at stake!

                             NICOLAY

Corruption, intrigue and malice are doing their work, Chief--but you
can't be beaten! Unless _you should_ give up!

                             LINCOLN

Well! I won't give up!

                             NICOLAY

McClellan refused the pledge you asked?

                             LINCOLN

Yes. He is bound hand and foot to the Copperhead leaders who will
control his convention----

                             NICOLAY

I thought so----

                             LINCOLN

John, if I could win one man out of the inner councils of the
Copperhead orders--one man who really loves his country----

                             NICOLAY

Can a Copperhead love his country----?

                             LINCOLN

Why not----? A rattlesnake might love his own fence corner! There are
plenty of honest misguided men among them. I have been studying Baker's
report this afternoon---- If I could just get hold of _one_
Copperhead who knows the signs and passwords of their inner council,
I've worked out A PLAN THAT CAN WIN THIS FIGHT!

                             NICOLAY

    [_Suddenly._]

The very man may be on the way here at this moment!

                             LINCOLN

    [_Eagerly._]

What's that----?

                             NICOLAY

    [_Thinking._]

Miss Winter is due here with her lover--a young Captain of Grant's
Army----

    [_Pauses._]

                             LINCOLN

Well----?

                             NICOLAY

    [_Slowly._]

In view of the attempts to take your life--I made some inquiries to-day
about him--I knew the White House would be without guards to-night----

    [_Pauses._]

                             LINCOLN

Yes--yes--go on----! What about him?

                             NICOLAY

He was on McClellan's staff at one time----

                             LINCOLN

That's promising----!

                             NICOLAY

He's a McClellan man--then----

                             LINCOLN

Beyond a doubt----

                             NICOLAY

In the hospital the past two months he has heard a lot of bitter
talk----

                             LINCOLN

    [_Quickly._]

And may have joined The Knights of the Golden Circle----!

                             NICOLAY

It's almost a certainty----

                             LINCOLN

Of course. Their infernal agents haunt our hospitals daily, and pour
their poison into every open wound----

                             NICOLAY

Prove to this boy to-night that these men are liars----

                             LINCOLN

If he'll listen----

                             NICOLAY

He's got to listen! He comes to ask of you a great favor----

                             LINCOLN

I wonder what?

                             NICOLAY

I couldn't find out. But you can use the opportunity to gain his
confidence. He is engaged to a girl who is Mrs. Lincoln's intimate
friend--a girl who admires and trusts you. You can _win him_,
Chief, if you only try!

                             LINCOLN

    [_With excited emphasis._]

Don't you worry--I'm going to try----!

    [_Pauses._]

--You wait and show them in. I'll report to Mother my talk with
McClellan. She'll be uneasy about it. I'll be back in a minute----

                             NICOLAY

All right, sir.

    [LINCOLN _exits._]

    [NICOLAY _watches him go with deep sympathy, shaking his head as_
    BETTY _and_ VAUGHAN _enter._]

Oh, Miss Winter----

                             BETTY

Captain Vaughan,--Colonel Nicolay----

                             NICOLAY

    [_Studying_ VAUGHAN.]

Pleased to meet you, Captain--the President will be back in a moment.
He has just stepped in to speak to Mrs. Lincoln. He is expecting
you--make yourselves at home----

                             BETTY

Thank you, Colonel----

    [NICOLAY _exits._]

What's the matter, dear----?

                             VAUGHAN

Nothing--nothing----

                             BETTY

But your arm is trembling---- I didn't realize you're so weak--I keep
forgetting that you're just out of the hospital----

                             VAUGHAN

Oh--I'm all right----

                             BETTY

I'm afraid of the strain of this interview----!

    [_Pauses._]

--You've never told me, dear--for what _was_ your father imprisoned?

                             VAUGHAN

    [_Deliberately._]

He made a speech against the war in our town in Missouri and printed it
in a pamphlet----

                             BETTY

Oh--for making and circulating seditious writing----

                             VAUGHAN

Technically, yes--in reality for exercising the right of free speech on
a policy of the government----

                             BETTY

It may be very serious----

    [_Pauses._]

--I've an idea----! Let me stay and help you----

                             VAUGHAN

But I may have something to say that a girl's ears should not hear----

                             BETTY

Please don't say it! You differ with the President in politics. You
must say nothing to offend him----

                             VAUGHAN

I'll not----! I think I love my country as well as I love my father----

                             BETTY

Let me stay!

                             VAUGHAN

You mustn't--I don't need a chaperone----

                             BETTY

But you may need a friend----

                             VAUGHAN

    [_Bitterly._]

He does wield a terrible power, doesn't he?

                             BETTY

Yes--with the tenderness and love of a father----

                             VAUGHAN

    [_Lightly._]

All right, dear, run along now, see Mrs. Lincoln and get the President
to come----

                             BETTY

Can't I stay and help you----?

                             VAUGHAN

No, no----

                             BETTY

It means so much to me now----!

    [_She nestles in his arms and_ VAUGHAN _kisses her._]

                             VAUGHAN

I'll know how to plead my cause----

                             BETTY

All right--good luck. I'm sure you'll win----

    [BETTY _exits._]

    [VAUGHAN _walks to the door leading to the Lincoln Apartments, and
    listens a moment, and walks to the President's desk. His eye rests
    on the worn copy of the Bible which_ LINCOLN _always kept on his
    desk. He gazes at the thumbed pages in amazement._]

                             VAUGHAN

The Bible--My God!

    [_Turns its leaves._]

And every page thumbed----!

    [_He continues to turn the leaves of the Bible._]

    [_The sound of_ LINCOLN'S _voice is heard outside talking to_ MRS.
    LINCOLN.]

                             LINCOLN

    [_Outside._]

Go back, and talk to Miss Betty!

    [VAUGHAN _quickly places the Bible back on his desk and takes his
    stand near the door to the hall, as if he had just entered._
    LINCOLN _enters from the other door, still talking to his wife who
    follows him._]

Don't worry, Mother! Who cares for a few old dresses more or less in
these times! But if I'd known they cost that much, I'd taken a second
look at them and tried to get my money's worth!

                             MRS. LINCOLN

You're sure it won't influence your decision?

                             LINCOLN

Not a bit! If we stay here--it'll be all right. We can skimp a little.
If we don't stay--the old sign still swings on the door in
Springfield--Billy Herndon's waiting for me and the law business will
be better than ever. Go back now, and don't worry! It's my business to
do _all_ the worrying----

    [LINCOLN _closes the door after she goes, and comes down toward the
    desk, lifts his haggard eyes in a dazed way and looks about the
    room. Anxiety and suffering again mark his rugged face. He sees_
    VAUGHAN, _and at once throws off the spell of his troubles,
    advances to meet him and takes his hand._]

I'm glad to see you, my boy--Will you pull up a chair?

    [LINCOLN _drops wearily into his chair and his voice has a far-away
    dreamy expression in its tones while he studies_ VAUGHAN
    _carefully._]

And what can I do for you?

                             VAUGHAN

My name is Vaughan--the elder son of Dr. Richard Vaughan of Palmyra,
Missouri----

                             LINCOLN

    [_Thoughtfully._]

Vaughan--Richard Vaughan--I've heard that name--But you're _one_ of our
boys fighting with Grant's army?

                             VAUGHAN

Yes----

                             LINCOLN

    [_Looking him over._]

You've been very ill, I see--wounded of course?

                             VAUGHAN

Yes----

                             LINCOLN

    [_Rises, takes_ VAUGHAN'S _hands in both his, and presses it._]

There's nothing I won't do for one of our wounded boys--if I can----

                             VAUGHAN

Thank you----

                             LINCOLN

What is it?

                             VAUGHAN

    [_With cold precision._]

My mother writes me that my father has been arrested without warrant,
is held in prison without bail, and denied the right of trial----

    [_He pauses, trembling with excitement._]

                             LINCOLN

Go on--my boy----

                             VAUGHAN

I have come to ask for justice----

                             LINCOLN

He shall have it----

                             VAUGHAN

I ask that he be confronted by his accusers in open court and given a
fair trial----

                             LINCOLN

    [_Interrupting._]

For what was he arrested?

                             VAUGHAN

For exercising the right of free speech. In a public address, he
denounced the war----

                             LINCOLN

Oh!--And his address was printed?

    [LINCOLN _picks up the little booklet and looks again at the title
    page and then at_ VAUGHAN.]

                             VAUGHAN

He had as much right to print as to speak it----

                             LINCOLN

No, he hadn't----

    [_Pauses and looks at_ VAUGHAN.]

You say your father's name is Richard Vaughan----?

                             VAUGHAN

Yes--Dr. Richard Vaughan--and I ask for him a fair trial confronted by
his accusers--I ask for justice--will you grant him this trial----?

    [LINCOLN _lays the pamphlet down on his desk and rises._]

                             LINCOLN

    [_Shakes his head._]

I cannot----! I cannot do it!

    [_He folds his arms behind his back and paces the floor,
    unconscious of the glitter of murder in_ VAUGHAN'S _eyes_. VAUGHAN
    _slowly draws his revolver and is about to lift to fire, when_
    LINCOLN _suddenly turns and speaks._]

    [_With sharp emphasis._]

That little pamphlet, sir, found its way into the ranks and caused a
number of soldiers to desert----

                             VAUGHAN

Who says this?

                             LINCOLN

I happen to know it!

    [LINCOLN _pauses and shakes his head sorrowfully._]

You see, my boy, your house is divided against itself--the symbol of
our unhappy country. Of course, I didn't know of this particular case.
Such things hurt me so, I refuse to know them unless I must. They tell
me that Seward and Stanton have arrested without warrant and hold in
jail more than thirty-five thousand men at this moment. I hope the
number is exaggerated--still it may be so----

                             VAUGHAN

    [_Angrily._]

It's true--I've learned it since my father's arrest!

                             LINCOLN

    [_Tenderly._]

But, come now, my son, put yourself in my place! I'm here to save the
Union for which you are fighting--for which you have poured out your
blood. I've armed two million men and we are spending four millions a
day, to fight the South for trying to secede. My opponents, taking
advantage of our sorrow, harangue the people and elect hostile
legislatures in the Northern states. They were about to pass ordinances
of Secession and establish a Northwestern Confederacy! Shall I fight
Secession in the South and merely argue with it here? I was compelled
to suspend the civil law, arrest these men and hold them without bail
or trial----

                             VAUGHAN

You _are_ using the naked power of an emperor then?

                             LINCOLN

    [_Shaking his head sadly._]

I have been entrusted with that power for a brief term by the people. I
am using it sorrowfully but firmly--and I am backed by the prayers of
the mothers whose sons are dying for our cause--and the silent millions
out there, whom I can't at this moment see--but whom I love and trust.

                             VAUGHAN

    [_With angry tears._]

The Constitution of the Republic guarantees to every freeman the right
to trial in open court, confronted by his accusers----

                             LINCOLN

    [_Passionately._]

But we are fighting a war for the life of the Constitution itself! I
did not begin it. Once begun it must be fought to the end and the
Nation saved. We must prove now that among freemen there _can be_
no successful appeal from the ballot to the bayonet. To preserve the
Constitution of the Republic I must in this crisis strain some of its
provisions----

                             VAUGHAN

    [_In hard tones._]

And you will not interfere to give these accused men a trial?

                             LINCOLN

I dare not interfere! The civil law must be suspended for the
moment--as the law of life is suspended while the surgeon cuts a cancer
out of bleeding flesh! I cannot shoot one soldier for desertion if I
allow the man to go free who causes him to desert----

    [_He pauses, and puts his hands on_ VAUGHAN'S _shoulders._]

Don't think, my son, that all the suffering of this war is not mine!
Every shell from those guns finds _my_ heart. The tears of widows and
orphans--all, the blue and the gray--are mine! For we are equally
responsible for this war! When I came here from the West, I found a
panic-stricken North, strangling with the poison of Secession. Our
fathers had only _dreamed_ a Union--they never lived to see it. The
North had threatened Secession for thirty years. Horace Greeley in his
great paper on the day of my inauguration was telling the millions who
hung on his word as the oracle from Heaven, that Secession was
inevitable! "Therefore let our erring sisters of the South go!" was his
daily cry. I could not have prevented this war, nor could Jefferson
Davis. We are in the grip of mighty forces sweeping in from the
centuries. We are fighting the battle of the ages----

    [_He pauses again._]

But our country's worth it, my boy, if we can only save it! Out of this
agony will be born a united people. There has never been a democracy
_in this world_ because there's never been one without the shadow of a
slave. We must build a real Government of the people, by the people,
for the people. It's not the question merely of four million black
slaves. It's a question of the life of freemen yet unborn. I hear the
tread of these coming millions. Their destiny is in your hands and
mine. A mighty Union of free democratic states without a slave--the
hope, refuge and inspiration of the world--a beacon light on the shores
of time!

    [_Pauses._]

--There's but one tragedy, that can have no ray of light, and that is
that this blood we are now pouring out shall have flowed in vain, and
these brave men shall die for naught, that the old curse shall remain,
the Union be broken into hostile sections and these battles must be
fought again.

    [_He pauses, breathes deeply, and lifts his figure as if to throw
    off another nightmare and slips his arm around_ VAUGHAN.]

My enemies call me a tyrant and usurper! I who came up here from a
pioneer's cabin in the wilderness, out of rags and poverty----

    [_Pauses._]

--How well I remember when my mother looked at them and said--"This is
nothing--it doesn't count here--it's what you feel--it's what you
believe--it's what you see that counts----"

    [_Struggles with his emotions._]

Now I'm going to show you something, my son, and I'll let _you_ be
the judge as to whether I'm a tyrant--

    [_He takes up the booklet and hands it to_ VAUGHAN.]

Read the title page.

                             VAUGHAN

    [_Reading in amazement._]

"Why Should Brothers Fight?" By Dr. Richard Vaughan.

                             LINCOLN

That pamphlet was taken by his sister from the pocket of a poor
ignorant boy, who was sentenced to be shot for desertion to-morrow at
sunrise----

                             VAUGHAN

No! No!----

                             LINCOLN

I pardoned him this morning----

    [VAUGHAN _sighs his relief._]

Your father wrote and printed that poison, and has forfeited his life
for that boy's act----

                             VAUGHAN

    [_Trembling._]

I know you could order his execution----

                             LINCOLN

I said to-day that I'd hang such a man on a gallows forty cubits
high--but now that I see you trembling----

    [_He pauses._]

I shall _not_ order his execution. I shall only hold him until the
war is over, and then let him and all the others go----

    [_Pauses._]

Tyrant and usurper they call me! And I'm the humblest man who walks the
earth to-night!

                             VAUGHAN

    [_Slowly sinking to a seat and covering his face with his hands in
    a cry of despair._]

Oh,--my God----!

                             LINCOLN

    [_Bending in sorrowful amazement and touching_ VAUGHAN'S _head._]

Why,--what's the matter, my boy----? I'm the only man to despair.
You're just a Captain in the army. You have only to obey your superior
officer. If to be the head of hell is as hard as what I've had to
undergo here, I could find it in my heart to pity Satan himself. And if
there's a man outside of perdition who suffers more than I do, I pity
him----!

                             VAUGHAN

    [_Springing to his feet and throwing his hands up in anguish._]

You don't understand----! You don't understand----!

                             LINCOLN

Understand--what----?

                             VAUGHAN

    [_Impetuously._]

When I lay in the hospital suffering from my wounds, I received the
letter telling me of my father's imprisonment. I must have gone
mad--for when you refused to-night to give him a trial--I started
to--kill--you---- Oh, my God!

    [_Breaks down._]

                             LINCOLN

To kill me----! You are the second man to try it. He'll get me the next
time--I who envy the dead their rest!

    [_Laughs._]

What a strange thing this life of ours!

    [_Pauses._]

Why didn't you _do_ it----?

                             VAUGHAN

Because, for the first time you made me see things as they are, and I
got a glimpse of the inside----

                             LINCOLN

    [_Eagerly._]

Then, I won--didn't I----?

                             VAUGHAN

Yes--and I can never forgive myself the thought of harming you----!

                             LINCOLN

    [_Ignoring his grief._]

If I've won _you_, I can win others, if I only get their ear and make
them know as you know! All I need is a little time! And I'm going to
fight for it now----

    [_With quick uplift of spirit._]

I've told you the truth and the truth has turned a murderer into my
friend! If only the people can know--can have time to think, I'll
win--I'll win--! Look here--I've _won_ you now----?

                             VAUGHAN

    [_Eagerly._]

Just give me a chance to prove it----!

    [LINCOLN _studies_ VAUGHAN _thoughtfully._]

                             LINCOLN

You doubtless said many bitter things in Washington?

                             VAUGHAN

Many of them----

                             LINCOLN

Then, you were approached by the leaders of a Copperhead Secret Order
called The Knights of the Golden Circle--were you not?

                             VAUGHAN

Yes----!

                             LINCOLN

I thought so----

    [_Cautiously._]

You--joined the Order----?

                             VAUGHAN

    [_Hesitates._]

I joined, and I'm one of their officers----

                             LINCOLN

    [_Carefully._]

Of their inner council?

                             VAUGHAN

Yes----

                             LINCOLN

You--know--all their signs and passwords?

                             VAUGHAN

Every one----

                             LINCOLN

    [_With sudden deep excitement._]

Young man, you may have thought you came here to-night with murder in
your heart--but Almighty God sent you for a different purpose----!

                             VAUGHAN

What do you mean?

                             LINCOLN

You'll stand by me now, through thick and thin?

                             VAUGHAN

    [_Passionately._]

I'd count it an honor to die for you----!

                             LINCOLN

Well, I'm going to ask you to do something harder than that for a man
of sensitive honor. These Copperhead traitors took advantage of your
illness and grief over your father to inveigle you into a scheme of
high treason----

                             VAUGHAN

What----!

                             LINCOLN

You believed their purpose to be patriotic--didn't you----?

                             VAUGHAN

Of course----

                             LINCOLN

    [_Seizing_ BAKER'S _Report._]

This document from Baker's Office contains the original order of their
Chief for an uprising on the night of the election----

                             VAUGHAN

Uprising for what----?

                             LINCOLN

To overturn the Government, recognize the Confederacy, and divide the
Union----

                             VAUGHAN

Is it possible----!

                             LINCOLN

You know--after what has passed between us to-night--that I speak the
truth----

                             VAUGHAN

Yes----!

                             LINCOLN

You came in here to demand a trial for your father--and find him in
reality justly condemned to death. I have pardoned him. I want you to
atone for his wrongs and your own tragic mistake, by placing yourself
with the signs and passwords of that Society at my disposal. You have
been basely deceived and betrayed--will you do it?

                             VAUGHAN

If my country calls--yes--and I'll thank God for the chance to
atone----!

                             LINCOLN

Good----! You are the one man on earth to-night whom I need and didn't
think I could get! I'm going to send you on a dangerous mission. I need
two things to carry this election and save the Union--a single victory
in the field to lift our people out of the dumps, and a word from
Jefferson Davis _that there can be no peace save in division_! I
know Davis. We were both born in Kentucky, on almost the same day. He
holds that position. But the peace party of the North refuse to believe
it. They say he will compromise. Now I've sent two men down
there--Colonel Jacquess, a Methodist clergyman, of our hospital
service, and John R. Gilmore of the _Tribune_, old Greeley's
paper. They go as private citizens of the North, who desire peace. They
are to draw Davis out, and get his declaration for me. Technically,
they are spies--for they have no credentials. They may be imprisoned or
executed. They passed through our lines but twenty miles from Richmond,
seven days ago. I haven't been able to hear from them. The silence is
ominous.

                             VAUGHAN

And you wish me to find out what has happened to them----?

                             LINCOLN

    [_Eagerly._]

I want another man in Richmond, quick--whose identity will be
unknown--a man who can win the confidence of Judah P. Benjamin, Davis'
Secretary of State, who is preventing my interview with the Confederate
President. Benjamin is the ablest and by far the most dangerous man in
the South to-day. I know from this document on my desk----

    [_Touches_ BAKER'S _Report._]

that he is in close touch with the Copperhead Societies of the
North--if his keen mind is not actually directing them. You have their
signs and passwords. It seems too good to be true! If you carry to
Benjamin a special report of this planned uprising, you can gain his
confidence, and persuade him to let my men see Davis. If you can only
get through the lines and reach him before being arrested----!

                             VAUGHAN

I've a brother in General Lee's army--sir--for whom I've often been
mistaken before the war----

                             LINCOLN

That's great----!

                             VAUGHAN

He is an officer too--a First Lieutenant.

                             LINCOLN

Fine! Before you go, confer with Baker. He will give you the names of
our agents in Richmond and decide on your disguise. He will probably
put you in Confederate uniform and make out in your brother's name a
rebel leave of absence to use in an emergency. You are a Southern man.
Your accent is perfect. Your chances of success great. I want you to
leave within an hour----

    [_He writes on two cards._]

                             VAUGHAN

In five minutes, if you wish----

                             LINCOLN

If you can get for Jacquess and Gilmore a hearing and they are allowed
to return and tell their story, all right--your work in Richmond is
done. But if they are imprisoned or executed, report this fact and Mr.
Davis' answer, and it will be _doubly_ effective--you understand----?

                             VAUGHAN

Perfectly, sir----

                             LINCOLN

That's your first job. Your next will be to get a special message
through from _inside the Confederacy_ to General Sherman, who is
laying siege to Atlanta.

    [_Takes up telegram._]

This message from him, received this morning, says that he has as yet
been unable to locate and count up Hood's second line of defense which
he must fight in a flank movement. Take the train from Richmond to
Atlanta. Keep your eyes open every foot of the way. Find out from
inside, the position of this second line, and the number of regiments
holding it. Make no mistake about it. Break through to Sherman, and
report to him----

                             VAUGHAN

A tough job, sir--but I believe I can do it----

                             LINCOLN

That's the way to talk, my boy----! When you reach General Sherman, you
will deliver to him a verbal message--I'll give you a sign that will
identify you. This is the big thing I'm sending you to do. I could
telegraph my order direct to Sherman, but it would have to be filed in
the War Office, and might offend General Grant. As an officer, you
understand that----

                             VAUGHAN

Clearly, sir----

                             LINCOLN

For this reason I'm sending you on this urgent and dangerous business.
Tell General Sherman for me, that if he can take Atlanta at once, the
blow will lift our people from despair, carry the election, and save
the Union! I send by you the order for him to strike. If he wins, the
order will remain a secret--the credit shall all be his! If he strikes
and loses, I'll publish my order and take the blame on myself.--You
_think_ you can _do this_----?

                             VAUGHAN

    [_Quietly._]

I'll do it--or I'll die trying, sir----

                             LINCOLN

    [_Writing on the back of his card._]

All right, take this card to Stanton's Office and tell him what I've
told you. Ask him to arrange to send you by boat to Aquia, Virginia, by
horse from there. This card to Baker's Office--Return here for your
papers, and say good-by to your sweetheart----

                             VAUGHAN

At once, sir----

                             LINCOLN

My boy--I trust you implicitly! My mother's God has been talking to me
since you entered this room! You've lifted my spirit to the heights!

    [VAUGHAN _exits._]


CURTAIN



ACT III


SCENE I

SET SCENE: _Jefferson Davis' room in the Confederate Capitol at
Richmond, two days later. A long table is on the right. Two small
tables on left. Doors right and left, and mantel center._

AT RISE: A DOORMAN _in Confederate uniform arranges the chairs about a
long table as if for a Cabinet Meeting._


    [BENJAMIN _enters._]

                             BENJAMIN

Mr. Davis has not yet arrived----?

                             THE DOORMAN

Not yet, Mr. Benjamin--I am expecting him at ten o'clock--it's now a
quarter of----

                             BENJAMIN

I've asked a young man to wait in your room for me--has he come----?

                             THE DOORMAN

He's there now--sir----

                             BENJAMIN

You've talked with him freely----?

                             THE DOORMAN

    [_Laughs._]

Oh, yes, sir--we've been swappin' yarns for half an hour----

                             BENJAMIN

I thought so--that's why I asked him to wait in your room----

                             THE DOORMAN

Well, I always try to be sociable----!

                             BENJAMIN

I know! Did you get much out of him?

                             THE DOORMAN

Why, how--how do ye mean?

                             BENJAMIN

Find out anything about his people--where he came from, where he's
going to--what he's doing in Richmond?

                             THE DOORMAN

Oh, no, sir! He's full of fun--he kept me laughin' most o' the time----

                             BENJAMIN

I see----!

    [_Laughs._]

He knows his business. Show him in.

                             THE DOORMAN

Yes, sir----

    [BENJAMIN _seats himself at one of the small tables at left and
    examines his schedule for the day's work._ THE DOORMAN _opens the
    door and shows_ VAUGHAN _in, dressed in Confederate uniform._
    BENJAMIN _rises and greets him cordially._]

                             BENJAMIN

Good morning, young man----

    [_Gives_ VAUGHAN _the Sign of the Knights of the Golden Circle._]

                             VAUGHAN

    [_Returns Sign._]

Good morning, Mr. Benjamin--I hope you've rested well?

                             BENJAMIN

Not so well as usual--the truth is I've been wrestling all night with
the problem of Jacquess and Gilmore. I've confirmed your view that they
have given their real names. Gilmore _is_ a reporter of the New York
_Tribune_ and Colonel Jacquess is a Methodist clergyman well known in
the hospital service, in fact famous for his kindly treatment of
Southern prisoners----

                             VAUGHAN

Just as I told you----

                             BENJAMIN

I've allowed the Commissioner of Exchange who has been holding them in
custody to bring them here this morning----

                             VAUGHAN

Good!

                             BENJAMIN

Last night, I made up my mind to take your advice and to let them see
Mr. Davis----

                             VAUGHAN

I'm glad----

                             BENJAMIN

This morning I'm puzzling over it!

                             VAUGHAN

    [_Showing his disappointment._]

Why----?

                             BENJAMIN

I agree with you that we could use the interview for our own purposes.
But the trouble is, Mr. Davis is soft-hearted sometimes. He may refuse
to take my advice. He may let these men go.

                             VAUGHAN

You surely can depend on his allowing you to hold them in Libby Prison
until after the election?

                             BENJAMIN

I'm not sure of it. If he takes a notion to let them go--he's as
stubborn as a mule.

                             VAUGHAN

All right--Let me be present at the interview and take notes. If Mr.
Davis makes an important declaration about peace and lets them go, I'll
beat them to the North and give _your_ version of the interview
first----!

                             BENJAMIN

    [_Hesitating._]

I might do that--yes----!

                             VAUGHAN

I could not only head off any injury from their report, but I could
give it a twist that would make it a boomerang on Lincoln----

    [BENJAMIN _hesitates while_ VAUGHAN _watches him breathlessly._]

                             BENJAMIN

    [_Thinking._]

You could act as my special secretary for the meeting and take
shorthand notes--or pretend to----

                             VAUGHAN

I take shorthand. I've been a reporter in Washington----

                             BENJAMIN

Then it would be easy.

                             VAUGHAN

No matter what is said, I can make a report that will harden the
purpose of our Societies to swing the uprising on the night of the
election.

                             BENJAMIN

You are sure the order for the revolt against the Lincoln Government
has been issued?

                             VAUGHAN

Absolutely sure.

                             BENJAMIN

I know they have discussed it and may have decided to do it, but are
the actual preparations under way?

                             VAUGHAN

In every Lodge of the Knights of the Golden Circle, the command is now
on record. Our forces are being drilled. I have read the original
order with the signature of the Commander----

                             BENJAMIN

    [_Elated._]

It's great news you've brought us, young man--great news!

    [BENJAMIN _hesitates and_ VAUGHAN _watches him._]

All right, we'll risk it----!

    [VAUGHAN _shows his secret joy and deep excitement._]

These men are Lincoln's spies beyond a doubt--but we'll dig out of them
all the information possible, and then use them for our purpose----

    [THE DOORMAN _enters._]

                             THE DOORMAN

Judge Ould, the Commissioner of Exchange----

    [OULD _enters._]

                             OULD

Our visitors are outside, Mr. Benjamin.

                             BENJAMIN

You understand, Judge Ould, that these men are prisoners of war in your
charge as Exchange Commissioner?

                             OULD

I am painfully aware of that fact, sir--and the responsibility is not
to my liking.

                             BENJAMIN

While in Richmond, they are to be held under the strictest guard and on
no conditions allowed a liberty except by my order, or the order of the
President.

                             OULD

I can trust them here with you, I hope, for half an hour?

                             BENJAMIN

You can. Show them in.

    [VAUGHAN _takes his seat at the small table near_ BENJAMIN _who
    gives him a note book and he prepares to take notes._ OULD
    _reënters conducting_ JACQUESS _and_ GILMORE.]

                             OULD

Colonel James F. Jacquess and Mr. John R. Gilmore,--Mr. Secretary of
State----

    [OULD _bows and exits, while_ BENJAMIN _advances with marked
    cordiality to greet his visitors. He does not shake hands but bows
    politely._]

                             BENJAMIN

I am delighted to see you, gentlemen--pray be seated.

    [_The two men sit and_ GILMORE _shoots at_ VAUGHAN _a look of
    startled recognition which_ VAUGHAN _fails to return._]

You bring overtures from your Government I trust.

                             JACQUESS

No, sir, we bring no overtures----

                             GILMORE

We have no authority from our Government.

                             JACQUESS

We have come simply as private citizens to know what terms will be
acceptable to Mr. Davis for ending the war?

                             BENJAMIN

You are acquainted with Mr. Lincoln's views, however?

                             JACQUESS

One of us is fully----

                             BENJAMIN

I supposed so. May I ask, did Mr. Lincoln in any way authorize you to
come here?

                             GILMORE

No, sir. We came on his pass through the lines, of course, but not by
his request.

                             JACQUESS

We came, Mr. Benjamin, simply as men and Christians, not as diplomats,
hoping in a frank talk with Mr. Davis to discover some way by which
this war may be stopped.

                             BENJAMIN

On my advice, gentlemen, Mr. Davis will see you----

                             JAQUESS AND GILMORE

Thank you----

                             BENJAMIN

I think he is here now----

    [BENJAMIN _exits._]

                             GILMORE

    [_In low tones to_ VAUGHAN.]

What are you doing here?

                             VAUGHAN

Writing! I don't know you----

                             GILMORE

The hell you don't!

                             VAUGHAN

No!

                             GILMORE

We worked on the same paper in Washington, once----

                             VAUGHAN

Never saw you before----

                             GILMORE

Get-word-through-will you! _We're in a trap!_

                             VAUGHAN

Shut your damned trap! or we'll both make our breakfast on lead at
sunrise to-morrow morning! Get back to your seat!

    [_The sound of approaching steps are heard._ BENJAMIN _enters as_
    GILMORE _drops into his seat._]

                             BENJAMIN

Gentlemen: The President of the Confederate States of America!

    [DAVIS _enters and bows to his visitors, who rise. His figure is
    about five foot ten and quite thin. His features are typically the
    Southern scholar and thinker with angular cheeks and high cheek
    bones. His iron gray hair is long and thick and inclined to curl at
    the ends. His whiskers are thin and trimmed farmer fashion, on the
    lower end of his strong chin. His eyes flash with strong vitality.
    His forehead is broad, his mouth strong. He wears a brown suit of
    foreign cloth which fits him perfectly. His shoulders slightly
    droop. His manner is easy and graceful, his voice charming and
    cultured._]

                             DAVIS

I am glad to meet you, gentlemen. You are very welcome to Richmond.

                             GILMORE

We thank you, Mr. Davis.

                             DAVIS

Mr. Benjamin tells me that you have asked to see me----

    [_He pauses and waits for his visitors to finish the sentence._]

                             JACQUESS

Yes, sir. Our people want Peace. Your people do. We have come to ask
how it may be brought about?

                             DAVIS

Very simply. Withdraw your armies from the South, let us alone and
Peace comes at once.

                             JACQUESS

But we cannot let you alone so long as you seek to divide the Union.

                             DAVIS

I know. You deny us, what you exact for yourselves--the right of
self-government.

                             JACQUESS

Even so, Mr. Davis, we cannot fight forever. The war must end sometime.
We must finally agree on something. Can we not find the basis of
agreement now, and stop this slaughter?

    [VAUGHAN _takes notes rapidly._]

                             DAVIS

I wish peace as much as you do. I deplore bloodshed. But I feel that
not one drop of this blood is on my hands. I can look up to God and say
this. I tried to avert this war. I saw it coming and for twelve years I
worked day and night to prevent it. The North was mad and blind and
would not let us govern ourselves, and now it must go on until the last
man of this generation falls in his tracks and their children seize
their muskets and fight our battle--_unless you acknowledge our right
to self-government_. We are not fighting for Slavery. We are fighting
for _independence_ and that or _extermination_ we will have----

                             JACQUESS

    [_Protesting._]

We have no wish to exterminate the South! But we must crush your
armies. Is it not already nearly done? Grant has shut you up in
Richmond, and Sherman is before Atlanta.

                             DAVIS

    [_Laughs._]

You don't seem to understand the situation! We're not exactly shut up
in Richmond yet. If your papers tell the truth, it is your Capitol that
is in danger, not ours. Lee's front has never yet been broken. He holds
Grant, invades the North and shells Washington. Sherman, to be sure, is
before Atlanta. But suppose he is? His position is a dangerous one. The
further he goes from his base of supplies, the more disastrous defeat
must be. And his defeat may be at hand.

                             JACQUESS

And yet, the odds are overwhelmingly against you. How can you hope for
success in the end?

                             DAVIS

My friend, the South stands for a principle--their equal rights under
the Constitution which their fathers created. This country has always
been a Republic of Republics--not an Empire. We are fighting for the
right of local self-government which we won from the tyrants of the old
world. The states of the Union have always been sovereign. We never
paused to figure on success or failure, sir. Five million Southern
freemen drew their sword against twenty millions because their rights
had been invaded.

                             JACQUESS

And yet, Mr. Davis, you know as well as I that five millions cannot
hold out forever against twenty. Have we not reached the end?

                             DAVIS

Hardly! Do you think there _are_ twenty millions in the North still
determined to crush us? If so, let me tell you that I am better
informed on the present situation inside your lines than you are. The
North at this moment is hopelessly divided, sir----

    [BENJAMIN _exchanges signs with_ VAUGHAN.]

                             JACQUESS

The dispute then with your government is narrowed to this--union--or
disunion?

                             DAVIS

Let us say independence or subjugation. We mean to govern ourselves. We
will hold this principle if we have to see every Southern plantation
sacked and every city in flames----

    [JACQUESS _and_ GILMORE _rise._ VAUGHAN _catches_ GILMORE'S _eye._]

                             JACQUESS

I am sorry, sir.

[DAVIS _takes_ JACQUESS' _hand in both his in
the same way_ LINCOLN _did._]

                             DAVIS

I respect your character, Colonel Jacquess and your motives and I wish
you well--every good wish possible consistent with the interests of the
Confederacy----

    [_He presses_ GILMORE'S _hand and follows them to the door._]

                             JACQUESS

Thank you.

                             DAVIS

    [_At door._]

And say to Mr. Lincoln that I shall be pleased to receive proposals for
peace direct from him, at any time, on the basis of our independence.
It will be useless to approach me with any other.

    [JACQUESS _and_ GILMORE _exit and_ OULD _reënters._]

                             OULD

    [_To Davis._]

And shall I conduct these gentlemen back to Grant's lines?

                             BENJAMIN

    [_Quickly._]

No, these men are spies straight from Lincoln's desk. It's the slyest
trick the old fox has ever tried to play on us. He knows that
McClellan's election on a peace platform is a certainty. He's after
ammunition for this campaign. We dare not play into his hands! Our very
life may depend on it! Make no mistake--these men must be locked up
to-night and shot at sunrise.

                             OULD

    [_Shakes his head._]

I wouldn't do it if I were you----

                             BENJAMIN

Why?

                             OULD

For one reason this----

    [OULD _unfolds a note._]

Ben Butler sent this note to me by their hands. It was sealed. Read it.

                             DAVIS

    [_Interrupting._]

Just a moment----

    [_To_ THE DOORMAN.]

General Lee is in the War Office--ask him if he can see me for a few
minutes, please.

    [THE DOORMAN _bows and exits._]

Go on, gentlemen.

                             OULD

    [_To_ BENJAMIN--_handing him the note._]

Read it!

                             BENJAMIN

    [_Reading._]

"If these men do not return to my lines within ten days, I shall demand
them, and if you don't produce them--I'll execute two for one.

"(Signed) B. F. BUTLER."

    [_Angrily._]

Bluff! Bluff!

                             DAVIS

He's a beast. He'll do it.

                             BENJAMIN

All right! Let him try it! Two can play that game. We can execute four
for one----

                             DAVIS

I don't like these bloody reprisals. There's no end, once we begin.

                             BENJAMIN

The decision is yours, sir.

                             DAVIS

I reserve my decision. I'll give it to you presently. I want a word
with General Lee--first--if you will give me this room.

                             BENJAMIN

Certainly, we'll retire until you're ready. This way.

    [BENJAMIN _conducts_ VAUGHAN _and_ OULD _into the room
    right--opposite the door through which_ JACQUESS _and_ GILMORE
    _made their exit._--THE DOORMAN _enters and announces._]

                             THE DOORMAN

General Lee!

                             DAVIS

    [_Advances cordially and takes_ LEE'S _hand in both of his._]

Thank you, General. I wish to consult you first on a peculiar
matter--of small importance from one point of view--of tremendous
importance from another. Two men have been passed into our lines to
sound me on the question of Peace. I have just talked with them. I am
certain--so is Benjamin--that they come straight from Lincoln though
they have no credentials. Benjamin demands their execution--Judge Ould
protests. Are they spies?

                             LEE

Technically, yes--morally, no.

                             DAVIS

Thank you. Before I decide whether to let these men go with a message
to the North, I must ask you one or two questions----

                             LEE

At your service, sir.

                             DAVIS

How long can you hold Grant?

                             LEE

Certainly a year--unless----

                             DAVIS

Yes?

                             LEE

Unless Atlanta falls.

                             DAVIS

And then?

                             LEE

If General Hood fails to hold Atlanta, Sherman can cut the South in two
and my supplies fail. My men are living now on parched corn. If Sherman
takes Atlanta, I cannot get the corn.

                             DAVIS

What is the spirit of your men at this moment, General?

                             LEE

A more formidable force was never set in motion than the army I
command, sir. They are our stark fighters--men who individually or in
the mass can be depended on for any feat of arms in the power of
mortals to accomplish. I know them from experience. They will blanch at
nothing--yet they must have food.

                             DAVIS

You shall have it. But after one year--then what?

                             LEE

It's solely a question of man power, sir. I _must_ have more men.

                             DAVIS

And you suggest?

                             LEE

That you immediately begin to arm and drill 500,000 negroes for my
command.

                             DAVIS

And you think they would make good soldiers?

                             LEE

Led by their old masters--they'll fight--to a man.

                             DAVIS

It would be necessary to give each black volunteer his freedom?

                             LEE

Of course. I, as you know, freed my own slaves before entering the
service of the South. It is one of the ironies of Fate that I am
supposed to be fighting for slavery--I who refuse to own a slave and my
opponent General Grant is through his wife's estate a slaveholder.
Slavery is doomed, sir. It can never survive this tragedy. The
Legislature of Virginia came within one vote of freeing her slaves,
years ago.

                             DAVIS

I know. But the great Gulf States and South Carolina with their
majority of Negro population will never agree to the arming of half a
million slaves.

                             LEE

And you will allow Mississippi, Louisiana, and South Carolina to defeat
a plan necessary to save the life of the Confederacy?

                             DAVIS

The States are sovereign, General Lee--for this principle we are
fighting.

                             LEE

Then I think it may be time to ask ourselves, heart to heart, the
question whether the Confederacy, as organized, does not carry within
its own body the seeds of death? The rights of a state must somewhere
yield to the supreme power of a nation. The Negro will make a brave
soldier, and he can save the South. Will you use him?

                             DAVIS

I'll consider your suggestion, General, but I can't see it--I can't see
it now. I won't detain you longer.

    [GENERAL LEE _salutes and exits_--DAVIS _goes to the opposite
    door--opens it and calls._]

I am ready, gentlemen.

    [OULD, BENJAMIN _and_ VAUGHAN _reënter._]

                             BENJAMIN

You have decided?

                             DAVIS

Yes.

    [_He sits and writes a pass._]

It is probably a bad business for us----

                             BENJAMIN

There can be no doubt about that, sir----

                             DAVIS

But it would alienate many of our Northern friends if we held these
men. I have decided to let them go. Give them this pass.

    [_Hands pass to_ OULD.]

Show them through the hospitals and Libby Prison and conduct them back
to General Grant's lines.

                             OULD

You have acted wisely, sir.

                             BENJAMIN

    [_With deep feeling to_ VAUGHAN.]

He has made exactly the blunder I feared----

                             VAUGHAN

    [_With elation._]

We'll hope for the best, sir! With the twist I'll give the news----


CURTAIN


SCENE II

SET SCENE: _The same as Acts I and II, except that a small table has
been placed down center on the side near Lincoln's desk. A telegraph
instrument has been installed on this table._

AT RISE: _At rise, the audience sees only_ LINCOLN _and_ OPERATOR, _the
lights gradually rise until full day shows the entire room. It is the
morning of September 3, 1864._


                             LINCOLN

    [_Bending over the key._]

Try to get Atlanta again, my boy.

    [_The_ OPERATOR _tries again and again to get Atlanta._]

                             OPERATOR

It's no use, sir----

                             LINCOLN

We don't seem to have any luck, do we? My messenger should have reached
Sherman! He must be there now. He must be there--he can't be lost!

    [_Laughs forlornly._]

Two whole days I've listened to that thing click----

    [_The_ OPERATOR _calls Atlanta, with a peculiar loud call._]

Is that the word Atlanta you're clicking off?

                             OPERATOR

Yes, sir--calling--over this wire we have a direct connection to-day.
The trouble is Sherman's old headquarters don't answer either.

                             LINCOLN

Call Atlanta again. Do it slowly. I want to learn it--Uncle Billy----

    [_The_ OPERATOR _clicks off each letter in the Morse Code, spelling
    it slowly._]

Must be there by this time!

                             OPERATOR

A--T--L--A--N--T--A-- G--A-- Atlanta, Ga.

                             LINCOLN

Once more.

    [_The_ OPERATOR _repeats the call and_ LINCOLN _follows it
    repeating after him._]

I want to catch that as quick as you do--when it comes!

    [_Aside._]

Oh, my God, why don't it come!--Why don't it come!

    [NICOLAY _enters._]

                             NICOLAY

The time's up. Raymond and his damned Committee are here, sir, and
insist on your final answer at Once----

                             LINCOLN

Hold them back awhile. We're bound to hear something to-day. I promised
them my decision this morning, I know--but I'm still full of foolish
hopes.

                             NICOLAY

They are not foolish hopes,--Chief!

                             LINCOLN

This machine here seems to think they are. The darn fool thing will
talk one way but won't chirp the other.

                             NICOLAY

What shall I tell them?

                             LINCOLN

    [_Listening at the instrument._]

Anything--tell them a funny story!

    [_Listening._]

They need a laugh--the bunch of undertakers! Waiting for me to deliver
my corpse to them!--Restless, because I haven't given it up sooner!

    [_The sharp click of the telegraph receiver catches his ear and
    he starts to the table._]

No--that wasn't it----

    [_Turns again to_ NICOLAY.]

Tell them positively, I will see them within half an hour.

    [NICOLAY _exits and_ LINCOLN _returns to his vigil by the telegraph
    table._]

How close can you get to Atlanta over the Chattanooga line----?

                             OPERATOR

Twenty miles out is the last station that answers and he don't know
what's the matter with the line.

                             LINCOLN

Strange--we got closer than that yesterday--Sherman's on the move....

    [BETTY _enters timidly._]

That's certain.

    [_Looking up._]

Come right in, Miss Betty--I know what you want.

                             BETTY

Nothing yet from General Sherman?

                             LINCOLN

Nothing----

                             BETTY

And no message of any kind from John since he left?

                             LINCOLN

Not yet.

                             BETTY

Why--_why_ hasn't he reported?

                             LINCOLN

    [_Hopefully._]

I'm sure--remember, _sure to a moral certainty_--that he left
Richmond safely.

                             BETTY

    [_Eagerly._]

You _have_ a message then?

                             LINCOLN

Indirectly----

                             BETTY

Oh----

                             LINCOLN

    [_To_ EDWARD _at door._]

Edward, ask Mr. Gilmore to step in here a minute.

                             EDWARD

Yes, sir.

                             LINCOLN

Gilmore's report ought to be worth half a million votes for me--it may
be worth something to you--

    [GILMORE _enters._]

Gilmore, did you see a handsome young fellow in Confederate uniform
taking notes at your interview with Davis----

                             GILMORE

Yes, sir, and I knew him too----

                             BETTY

    [_Eagerly._]

It was Captain Vaughan?

                             GILMORE

Sure! He denied it, of course, but I knew him all right.

                             BETTY

He was well?

                             GILMORE

I never saw him looking better. He was scared stiff, of course, and so
were we----

                             BETTY

Thank you!

                             LINCOLN

That'll do, Gilmore. I wish you'd help Nicolay choke that Committee off
a little while--and you come with them when they break in--will you?

                             GILMORE

Gladly, Mr. President.

    [GILMORE _exits._]

                             LINCOLN

    [_To_ BETTY _lightly._]

Now you've had some good news----

                             BETTY

    [_Forlornly._]

How long since any word came from General Sherman?

                             LINCOLN

Two days. I know the hole where he went in at. But I can't tell where
the old varmint's going to come out----

                             BETTY

    [_Chokes._]

If he ever comes out!

                             LINCOLN

Oh! He'll come out----

    [_He stops and listens at the telegraph instrument again, and sighs
    in disappointment._]

He'll come out somewhere--It's a habit Uncle Billy has----

                             BETTY

    [_Hopelessly._]

They've no news at the War Department either.

                             LINCOLN

No news is generally good news from Sherman.

    [BETTY _turns away to hide her tears and_ LINCOLN _follows her with
    tender pleading._]

Come, come, my dear--these tears won't do! You've got to help me now!

    [BETTY _brushes the tears away._]

I may have sent your lover to his death. I know that! But he went with
a smile on his face and a great joy in his heart for the service he was
doing his country----

                             BETTY

Yes--I know--I know--I'm proud of the honor you did him.

                             LINCOLN

    [_Whispering._]

Give me a little lift, then----

    [_Pauses._]

I'm just whistling to keep up _my_ courage!

    [_He pauses again in an agony of suffering._]

I know that he got to Atlanta----

    [_Pauses._]

Sherman has disappeared!

                             BETTY

Forgive me--I forgot. _You're_ going to win. I feel it. I know it!

                             LINCOLN

That's the way to talk! That's the way I'm talking to myself though I'm
scared within an inch of my life----

    [_He pauses and goes over to the_ OPERATOR--BETTY _following._]

Say, boy--can't you beat it a little harder and make the blame thing
talk for us?

                             OPERATOR

I wish I could, sir.

                             LINCOLN

Try him again-----

    [_The_ OPERATOR _calls Atlanta and pauses_--LINCOLN _and_ BETTY
    _bend over with breathless suspense. The instrument gives one
    click_--LINCOLN _starts. The instrument stops._]

Didn't the thing start to answer?

    [_The_ OPERATOR _shakes his head._]

Call the War Office and ask Stanton to step over here--My God--why
can't we hear!

                             BETTY

    [_Wistfully._]

I'm not going to cry again--but I just want to ask _one_ question--you
won't mind?

                             LINCOLN

As many as you like!

                             BETTY

He--he--had to enter Atlanta a spy, didn't he?

    [_Sobs and catches herself._]

                             LINCOLN

Yes--of course----

                             BETTY

Well, if he should be captured--could--they execute him without our
knowing it?

                             LINCOLN

They might--but he's a very bright young man! He'll be too smart for
them----

                             BETTY

    [_Hopelessly._]

I don't know--I don't know----!

                             LINCOLN

Now listen--! I'm going to tell you something--I _know_! I've a sort of
second sight that tells me things sometimes, my dear. After the battle
of Gettysburg I saw General Daniel E. Sickles in the hospital. They
told me that he was mortally wounded and could not possibly live. _I_
told General Sickles that he _would_ live and get well, and he did! I
saw his living body that day at work in health and strength as plainly
as I see you! We have not heard from Captain Vaughan yet, but it will
_come_--! He has reached Atlanta. The General got my message. I know
that. I felt it flash through the air from his soul to mine! I can see
you and your lover at this moment seated side by side smiling and
happy----

                             BETTY

    [_In awe._]

You--see--this----!

                             LINCOLN

    [_In dreamy tones._]

As plainly as I see the sunlight dancing on the leaves outside that
window now----

    [STANTON _enters and_ LINCOLN _turns to meet him eagerly._]

                             STANTON

You've no news?

                             LINCOLN

I sent for you, to ask that----

                             STANTON

Nothing----

                             LINCOLN

    [_In low tones._]

What does it mean?

                             STANTON

A storm swept Atlanta yesterday--the wires may be all down----

                             LINCOLN

You think that's it----?

                             STANTON

No--I don't.

                             LINCOLN

Neither do I----

                             STANTON

Something big has happened! Sherman has either taken Atlanta or Hood
has cut his communications and his army may be imperiled.

                             LINCOLN

    [_His head droops._]

That's what I think too--God help us!

    [_The sharp click of the telegraph instrument causes him to start
    quickly, cross to the table and listen. The committee headed by_
    RAYMOND _and_ STEVENS _crowd through the door against the protests
    of_ NICOLAY.]

                             NICOLAY

I promised you an answer in half an hour, gentleman!--you must wait.

                             RAYMOND

Not another minute!

                             STEVENS

    [_Waving a telegram._]

The matter is too urgent!

                             LINCOLN

All right--John--let 'em in--I'm ready.

                             RAYMOND

We have just heard a most painful and startling piece of news from the
War Department----

                             LINCOLN

    [_To_ STANTON.]

War Department----

    [_Low voice._]

--What is it, Stanton?

                             STANTON

Something I didn't believe and wouldn't repeat to you.

                             LINCOLN

    [_Whispering to_ OPERATOR.]

Pull for me, boy, pull for me--keep picking at that thing!

                             STEVENS

    [_Triumphantly._]

You were advised to withhold the new draft of men until after the
election! Well, read that copy of a telegram from New York, just
received by General Halleck, sir!

    [_Offers telegram to_ LINCOLN _and he refuses to take it._]

                             LINCOLN

I don't want to read it, Stevens. Your face is enough for me. It must
be bad, or you wouldn't be so happy. You're almost smiling!

                             STEVENS

Read it!

                             LINCOLN

    [_Ignoring the proffered telegram._]

You know, Stevens, you remind of an old farmer I knew in Illinois----

    [_The committee gather around_ LINCOLN _eager for the story,
    glancing at_ STEVENS.]

                             STEVENS

Go on, give 'em the joke. It's your funeral--not mine!

                             LINCOLN

    [_Facing the committee._]

This old farmer raised the biggest hog ever seen in the county. He was
so fat the news of his size spread over the country and people came
from far and near to see this wonder in pork. A stranger came up one
day and asked the farmer to see him. The old man said: "Wal I've got
sech a animal an' he's the biggest one I ever seed. I'll say that. But
so many folks are comin' here pesterin' me to look at him, I've decided
to charge a shillin' a look." The stranger put his hand in his pocket,
pulled out the money, paid the shilling, stared at the old man, turned
and walked away. The farmer called after him--"Hi--there--ain't yer
goin' ter see the hog?" "No"--the fellow answered--"I've seen you! I've
got my money's worth."

    [_All laugh except_ STEVENS. _During the laugh_ LINCOLN _bends over
    the telegraph instrument--in low tones._]

How goes it, boy? How goes it?

    [_The_ OPERATOR _shakes his head._]

Not a click----?

    [_Operator_ _shakes his head again--and_ LINCOLN'S _face contracts
    in suffering._]

                             STEVENS

Just a minute, Mr. President,--I'll give you the telegram if you won't
read it.

                             LINCOLN

Fire away, Stevens, if it makes you happy.

                             STEVENS

    [_Reading._]

"New York, Sept. 3, 1864.

"The Federal authorities have just discovered a nation-wide conspiracy
to resist by force of arms the new draft. It will be necessary for
General Grant to detach half his army from Lee's front immediately to
put down this counter revolution. Send these soldiers without delay to
our great cities."

The signature is in code.

                             RAYMOND

It's the blackest news yet, sir--and it's true.

                             STEVENS

You must realize that we cannot delay a moment in placing another man
at the head of the ticket.

    [_There is a moment of dead silence while all watch_ LINCOLN'S
    _face. Suddenly the sharp click of the telegraph instrument begins
    to spell the word A-T-lanta._ LINCOLN _starts--his face flashing
    with excitement._]

                             LINCOLN

What's _that_?

    [_He follows breathlessly the spelling of the full word--his face
    expressing his joy._]

                             OPERATOR

Mr. President--It's come! It's here!

    [LINCOLN _rushes to the table, the crowd following._]

It's for you, sir!

                             LINCOLN

Out with it, boy, word for word as you get it!

                             OPERATOR

    [_Click-click._]

Atlanta--

    [_Click-click._]

Georgia--

    [_Click-click-click._]

September 3, 1864.

                             LINCOLN

Glory to God!

                             OPERATOR

    [_Click-click._]

--Atlanta

    [_Click-click._]

--is ours--

    [_Click--click--click._]

and fairly won--W. T. Sherman----

                             LINCOLN

O my soul, lift up thy head!

    [_To_ BETTY.]

Go tell Mother, quick, tell her to come here!

    [BETTY _exits running._]

                             NICOLAY

Three cheers for General William Tecumseh Sherman!

                             ALL SHOUT

Sherman! Sherman! Sherman!

    [_When the shout dies away_ LINCOLN _lifts his head solemnly and
    cries._]

                             LINCOLN

Unto thee, O God, we give all the praise now and forever more!

    [MRS. LINCOLN _enters with_ BETTY _and rushes to meet the
    President. He takes her in his arms._]

Mother! It's all right!--Uncle Billy's there!

                             MRS. LINCOLN

You'll never doubt again?

                             LINCOLN

Never!----

    [_Turning to the committee._]

My friends! A poem is singing in my heart!

    "Mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord!
    He is trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored:
    He has loosed the fateful lightning of His terrible swift sword--
    His truth is marching on!

    "He has sounded forth the trumpet that shall never call retreat!
    He is sifting out the hearts of men before His judgment seat:
    Oh! Be swift my soul to answer Him! Be jubilant my feet!
    Our God is marching on!"

                             STANTON

That draft will be all right, Stevens! Now all together!

    [STANTON _leads and all sing._]

    [LINCOLN _listens with bowed head._]

    We are coming, Father Abraham, three hundred thousand more,
    From Mississippi's winding stream and from New England's shore;
    We leave our plows and workshop, our wives and children dear,
    With hearts too full for utterance, with but a single tear,
    We dare not look behind us but steadfastly before,
    We are coming, Father Abraham, three hundred thousand more!

                             CHORUS

    We are coming, we are coming, our Union to restore!
    We are coming, Father Abraham, three hundred thousand more,
    We are coming, Father Abraham, three hundred thousand more!

                             LINCOLN

And remember, gentlemen, U. S. Grant sent Sherman on that mission. You
know I didn't remove him! Well, Raymond, what say you, now!

                             RAYMOND

It's glorious. It's a miracle! Lee's army can't survive. The end is
sure! McClellan is beaten--the Union is saved!

                             LINCOLN

What say you all?

                             A COMMITTEEMAN

Your triumph is sure!

                             ANOTHER COMMITTEEMAN

You'll sweep the nation, sir!

                             NICOLAY

Three cheers for the old President and three cheers for the new!

                             ALL

Lincoln! Lincoln! Lincoln!

    [_All join except_ STEVENS, _whose face remains a mask._]

                             LINCOLN

Come on, Stevens, smile! Take a chance. It may kill you, but my Lord,
man, take a chance!

                             STEVENS

You're not elected yet, sir--and such levity ill becomes a Nation's
Chief in these tragic hours----

                             LINCOLN

    [_Laughs._]

If I couldn't laugh I'd have died long ago at this job!


CURTAIN



EPILOGUE


SET SCENE: _The great pillars of the Capitol at Washington fill the
entire stage from arch to arch. In the foreground stands the platform
on which the Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States, headed
by Salmon P. Chase, Chief Justice, are grouped about the President, who
is delivering his Second Inaugural._ JOHN VAUGHAN _beside_ BETTY WINTER
_is conspicuously leading the applause._

AT RISE: _The President is reading his Inaugural. A great burst of
cheering follows the sentence he is closing before the curtain rises:_


                             LINCOLN

    [_Before rise._]

Shall we discern therein any departure from those divine attributes
which the believers in a living God always ascribe to Him?

    [_Applause as curtain rises._]

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 bondman'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 with the sword, as was said
three thousand years ago, so still it must be said, "The judgments of
the Lord are true and righteous altogether."

    [_Applause._]

With malice toward none; with charity for all; with firmness in the
right, as God gives us to see the right, let us strive on to 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 orphan--to do
all which may achieve and cherish a just and lasting peace among
ourselves and all nations.

    [_Fade out with the light on Lincoln's face as he utters the last
    word._]


CURTAIN





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search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



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