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´╗┐Title: The Boys' Life of Abraham Lincoln
Author: Nicolay, Helen, 1866-1954
Language: English
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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 "The Boys' Life of Abraham Lincoln" ***

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by Helen Nicolay


Abraham Lincoln's forefathers were pioneers--men who left their homes to
open up the wilderness and make the way plain for others to follow them.
For one hundred and seventy years, ever since the first American Lincoln
came from England to Massachusetts in 1638, they had been moving
slowly westward as new settlements were made in the forest. They faced
solitude, privation, and all the dangers and hardships that beset men
who take up their homes where only beasts and wild men have had homes
before; but they continued to press steadily forward, though they lost
fortune and sometimes even life itself, in their westward progress.
Back in Pennsylvania and New Jersey some of the Lincolns had been men of
wealth and influence. In Kentucky, where the future President was born
on February 12, 1809, his parents lived in deep poverty Their home was
a small log cabin of the rudest kind, and nothing seemed more
unlikely than that their child, coming into the world in such humble
surroundings, was destined to be the greatest man of his time. True to
his race, he also was to be a pioneer--not indeed, like his ancestors,
a leader into new woods and unexplored fields, but a pioneer of a nobler
and grander sort, directing the thoughts of men ever toward the right,
and leading the American people, through difficulties and dangers and a
mighty war, to peace and freedom.

The story of this wonderful man begins and ends with a tragedy, for his
grandfather, also named Abraham, was killed by a shot from an Indian's
rifle while peaceably at work with his three sons on the edge of their
frontier clearing. Eighty-one years later the President himself met
death by an assassin's bullet. The murderer of one was a savage of the
forest; the murderer of the other that far more cruel thing, a savage of

When the Indian's shot laid the pioneer farmer low, his second son,
Josiah, ran to a neighboring fort for help, and Mordecai, the eldest,
hurried to the cabin for his rifle. Thomas, a child of six years, was
left alone beside the dead body of his father; and as Mordecai snatched
the gun from its resting-place over the door of the cabin, he saw,
to his horror, an Indian in his war-paint, just stooping to seize the
child. Taking quick aim at a medal on the breast of the savage, he
fired, and the Indian fell dead. The little boy, thus released, ran
to the house, where Mordecai, firing through the loopholes, kept the
Indians at bay until help arrived from the fort.

It was this child Thomas who grew up to be the father of President
Abraham Lincoln. After the murder of his father the fortunes of the
little family grew rapidly worse, and doubtless because of poverty, as
well as by reason of the marriage of his older brothers and sisters,
their home was broken up, and Thomas found himself, long before he was
grown, a wandering laboring boy. He lived for a time with an uncle as
his hired servant, and later he learned the trade of carpenter. He grew
to manhood entirely without education, and when he was twenty-eight
years old could neither read nor write. At that time he married Nancy
Hanks, a good-looking young woman of twenty-three, as poor as himself,
but so much better off as to learning that she was able to teach her
husband to sign his own name. Neither of them had any money, but living
cost little on the frontier in those days, and they felt that his trade
would suffice to earn all that they should need. Thomas took his bride
to a tiny house in Elizabethtown, Kentucky, where they lived for about a
year, and where a daughter was born to them.

Then they moved to a small farm thirteen miles from Elizabethtown, which
they bought on credit, the country being yet so new that there were
places to be had for mere promises to pay. Farms obtained on such terms
were usually of very poor quality, and this one of Thomas Lincoln's
was no exception to the rule. A cabin ready to be occupied stood on it,
however; and not far away, hidden in a pretty clump of trees and bushes,
was a fine spring of water, because of which the place was known as
Rock Spring Farm. In the cabin on this farm the future President of the
United States was born on February 12, 1809, and here the first four
years of his life were spent. Then the Lincolns moved to a much bigger
and better farm on Knob Creek, six miles from Hodgensville, which Thomas
Lincoln bought, again on credit, selling the larger part of it soon
afterward to another purchaser. Here they remained until Abraham was
seven years old.

About this early part of his childhood almost nothing is known. He never
talked of these days, even to his most intimate friends. To the pioneer
child a farm offered much that a town lot could not give him--space;
woods to roam in; Knob Creek with its running water and its deep, quiet
pools for a playfellow; berries to be hunted for in summer and nuts in
autumn; while all the year round birds and small animals pattered across
his path to people the solitude in place of human companions. The boy
had few comrades. He wandered about playing his lonesome little games,
and when these were finished returned to the small and cheerless cabin.
Once, when asked what he remembered about the War of 1812 with Great
Britain, he replied: "Only this: I had been fishing one day and had
caught a little fish, which I was taking home. I met a soldier in
the road, and having always been told at home that we must be good to
soldiers, I gave him my fish." It is only a glimpse into his life, but
it shows the solitary, generous child and the patriotic household.

It was while living on this farm that Abraham and his sister Sarah
first began going to A-B-C schools. Their earliest teacher was Zachariah
Riney, who taught near the Lincoln cabin; the next was Caleb Hazel, four
miles away.

In spite of the tragedy that darkened his childhood, Thomas Lincoln
seems to have been a cheery, indolent, good-natured man. By means of a
little farming and occasional jobs at his trade, he managed to supply
his family with the absolutely necessary food and shelter, but he never
got on in the world. He found it much easier to gossip with his friends,
or to dream about rich new lands in the West, than to make a thrifty
living in the place where he happened to be. The blood of the pioneer
was in his veins too--the desire to move westward; and hearing glowing
accounts of the new territory of Indiana, he resolved to go and see it
for himself. His skill as a carpenter made this not only possible but
reasonably cheap, and in the fall of 1816 he built himself a little
flatboat, launched it half a mile from his cabin, at the mouth of Knob
Creek on the waters of the Rolling Fork, and floated on it down that
stream to Salt River, down Salt River to the Ohio, and down the Ohio to
a landing called Thompson's Ferry on the Indiana shore.

Sixteen miles out from the river, near a small stream known as Pigeon
Creek, he found a spot in the forest that suited him; and as his boat
could not be made to float up-stream, he sold it, stored his goods with
an obliging settler, and trudged back to Kentucky, all the way on foot,
to fetch his wife and children--Sarah, who was now nine years old,
and Abraham, seven. This time the journey to Indiana was made with two
horses, used by the mother and children for riding, and to carry their
little camping outfit for the night. The distance from their old home
was, in a straight line, little more than fifty miles, but they had to
go double that distance because of the very few roads it was possible to

Reaching the Ohio River and crossing to the Indiana shore, Thomas
Lincoln hired a wagon which carried his family and their belongings the
remaining sixteen miles through the forest to the spot he had chosen--a
piece of heavily wooded land, one and a half miles east of what has
since become the village of Gentryville in Spencer County. The lateness
of the autumn made it necessary to put up a shelter as quickly as
possible, and he built what was known on the frontier as a half-faced
camp, about fourteen feet square. This differed from a cabin in that it
was closed on only three sides, being quite open to the weather on the
fourth. A fire was usually made in front of the open side, and thus
the necessity for having a chimney was done away with. Thomas Lincoln
doubtless intended this only for a temporary shelter, and as such it
would have done well enough in pleasant summer weather; but it was a
rude provision against the storms and winds of an Indiana winter. It
shows his want of energy that the family remained housed in this poor
camp for nearly a whole year; but, after all, he must not be too hastily
blamed. He was far from idle. A cabin was doubtless begun, and there
was the very heavy work of clearing away the timber--cutting down large
trees, chopping them into suitable lengths, and rolling them together
into great heaps to be burned, or of splitting them into rails to fence
the small field upon which he managed to raise a patch of corn and other
things during the following summer.

Though only seven years old, Abraham was unusually large and strong for
his age, and he helped his father in all this heavy labor of clearing
the farm. In after years, Mr. Lincoln said that an ax "was put into his
hands at once, and from that till within his twenty-third year he was
almost constantly handling that most useful instrument--less, of course,
in ploughing and harvesting seasons." At first the Lincolns and their
seven or eight neighbors lived in the unbroken forest. They had only the
tools and household goods they brought with them, or such things as they
could fashion with their own hands. There was no sawmill to saw lumber.
The village of Gentryville was not even begun. Breadstuff could be had
only by sending young Abraham seven miles on horseback with a bag of
corn to be ground in a hand grist-mill.

About the time the new cabin was ready relatives and friends followed
from Kentucky, and some of these in turn occupied the half-faced camp.
During the autumn a severe and mysterious sickness broke out in their
little settlement, and a number of people died, among them the mother
of young Abraham. There was no help to be had beyond what the neighbors
could give each other. The nearest doctor lived fully thirty miles away.
There was not even a minister to conduct the funerals. Thomas Lincoln
made the coffins for the dead out of green lumber cut from the forest
trees with a whip-saw, and they were laid to rest in a clearing in the
woods. Months afterward, largely through the efforts of the sorrowing
boy, a preacher who chanced to come that way was induced to hold a
service and preach a sermon over the grave of Mrs. Lincoln.

Her death was indeed a serious blow to her husband and children.
Abraham's sister, Sarah, was only eleven years old, and the tasks and
cares of the little household were altogether too heavy for her years
and experience. Nevertheless they struggled bravely through the winter
and following summer; then in the autumn of 1819 Thomas Lincoln went
back to Kentucky and married Sarah Bush Johnston, whom he had known, and
it is said courted, when she was only Sally Bush. She had married about
the time Lincoln married Nancy Hanks, and her husband had died, leaving
her with three children. She came of a better station in life than
Thomas, and was a woman with an excellent mind as well as a warm and
generous heart. The household goods that she brought with her to the
Lincoln home filled a four-horse wagon, and not only were her own
children well clothed and cared for, but she was able at once to provide
little Abraham and Sarah with comforts to which they had been strangers
during the whole of their young lives. Under her wise management all
jealousy was avoided between the two sets of children; urged on by her
stirring example, Thomas Lincoln supplied the yet unfinished cabin with
floor, door, and windows, and life became more comfortable for all its
inmates, contentment if not happiness reigning in the little home.

The new stepmother quickly became very fond of Abraham, and encouraged
him in every way in her power to study and improve himself. The chances
for this were few enough. Mr. Lincoln has left us a vivid picture of the
situation. "It was," he once wrote, "a wild region, with many bears and
other wild animals still in the woods. There I grew up. There were some
schools, so-called, but no qualification was ever required of a teacher
beyond "readin', writin', and cipherin' to the Rule of Three. If
a straggler supposed to understand Latin happened to sojourn in the
neighborhood, he was looked upon as a wizard."

The school-house was a low cabin of round logs, with split logs or
"puncheons" for a floor, split logs roughly leveled with an ax and set
up on legs for benches, and holes cut out in the logs and the space
filled in with squares of greased paper for window-panes. The main
light came in through the open door. Very often Webster's "Elementary
Spelling-book" was the only text-book. This was the kind of school most
common in the middle West during Mr. Lincoln's boyhood, though already
in some places there were schools of a more pretentious character.
Indeed, back in Kentucky, at the very time that Abraham, a child of six,
was learning his letters from Zachariah Riney, a boy only a year
older was attending a Catholic seminary in the very next county. It is
doubtful if they ever met, but the destinies of the two were strangely
interwoven, for the older boy was Jefferson Davis, who became head of
the Confederate government shortly after Lincoln was elected President
of the United States.

As Abraham had been only seven years old when he left Kentucky, the
little beginnings he learned in the schools kept by Riney and Hazel in
that State must have been very slight, probably only his alphabet, or at
most only three or four pages of Webster's "Elementary Spelling-book."
The multiplication-table was still a mystery to him, and he could read
or write only the words he spelled. His first two years in Indiana seem
to have passed without schooling of any sort, and the school he attended
shortly after coming under the care of his stepmother was of the
simplest kind, for the Pigeon Creek settlement numbered only eight or
ten poor families, and they lived deep in the forest, where, even if
they had had the money for such luxuries, it would have been impossible
to buy books, slates, pens, ink, or paper. It is worthy of note,
however, that in our western country, even under such difficulties, a
school-house was one of the first buildings to rise in every frontier
settlement. Abraham's second school in Indiana was held when he was
fourteen years old, and the third in his seventeenth year. By that time
he had more books and better teachers, but he had to walk four or five
miles to reach them. We know that he learned to write, and was
provided with pen, ink, and a copy-book, and a very small supply of
writing-paper, for copies have been printed of several scraps on which
he carefully wrote down tables of long measure, land measure, and dry
measure, as well as examples in multiplication and compound division,
from his arithmetic. He was never able to go to school again after this
time, and though the instruction he received from his five teachers--two
in Kentucky and three in Indiana--extended over a period of nine years,
it must be remembered that it made up in all less than one twelve-month;
"that the aggregate of all his schooling did not amount to one year."
The fact that he received this instruction, as he himself said, "by
littles," was doubtless an advantage. A lazy or indifferent boy would
of course have forgotten what was taught him at one time before he had
opportunity at another; but Abraham was neither indifferent nor lazy,
and these widely separated fragments of instruction were precious steps
to self-help. He pursued his studies with very unusual purpose and
determination not only to understand them at the moment, but to fix
them firmly in his mind. His early companions all agree that he employed
every spare moment in keeping on with some one of his studies. His
stepmother tells us that "When he came across a passage that struck him,
he would write it down on boards if he had no paper, and keep it there
until he did get paper. Then he would rewrite it, look at it, repeat
it. He had a copy-book, a kind of scrap-book, in which he put down all
things, and thus preserved them." He spent long evenings doing sums on
the fire-shovel. Iron fire-shovels were a rarity among pioneers. Instead
they used a broad, thin clapboard with one end narrowed to a handle,
arranging with this the piles of coals upon the hearth, over which they
set their "skillet" and "oven" to do their cooking. It was on such a
wooden shovel that Abraham worked his sums by the flickering firelight,
making his figures with a piece of charcoal, and, when the shovel was
all covered, taking a drawing-knife and shaving it off clean again.

The hours that he was able to devote to his penmanship, his reading, and
his arithmetic were by no means many; for, save for the short time that
he was actually in school, he was, during all these years, laboring hard
on his father's farm, or hiring his youthful strength to neighbors
who had need of help in the work of field or forest. In pursuit of his
knowledge he was on an up-hill path; yet in spite of all obstacles he
worked his way to so much of an education as placed him far ahead of
his schoolmates and quickly abreast of his various teachers. He borrowed
every book in the neighborhood. The list is a short one: "Robinson
Crusoe," "Aesop's Fables," Bunyan's "Pilgrim's Progress," Weems's "Life
of Washington," and a "History of the United States." When everything
else had been read, he resolutely began on the "Revised Statutes of
Indiana," which Dave Turnham, the constable, had in daily use, but
permitted him to come to his house and read.

Though so fond of his books; it must not be supposed that he cared only
for work and serious study. He was a social, sunny-tempered lad, as fond
of jokes and fun as he was kindly and industrious. His stepmother said
of him: "I can say, what scarcely one mother in a thousand can say, Abe
never gave me a cross word or look, and never refused... to do anything
I asked him.... I must say.. that Abe was the best boy I ever saw or
expect to see."

He and John Johnston, his stepmother's son, and John Hanks, a relative
of his own mother's, worked barefoot together in the fields, grubbing,
plowing, hoeing, gathering and shucking corn, and taking part, when
occasion offered, in the practical jokes and athletic exercises that
enlivened the hard work of the pioneers. For both work and play Abraham
had one great advantage. He was not only a tall, strong country boy: he
soon grew to be a tall, strong, sinewy man. He early reached the unusual
height of six feet four inches, and his long arms gave him a degree of
power as an axman that few were able to rival. He therefore usually
led his fellows in efforts of muscle as well as of mind. That he could
outrun, outlift, outwrestle his boyish companions, that he could chop
faster, split more rails in a day, carry a heavier log at a "raising,"
or excel the neighborhood champion in any feat of frontier athletics,
was doubtless a matter of pride with him; but stronger than all else was
his eager craving for knowledge. He felt instinctively that the power of
using the mind rather than the muscles was the key to success. He wished
not only to wrestle with the best of them, but to be able to talk like
the preacher, spell and cipher like the school-master, argue like the
lawyer, and write like the editor. Yet he was as far as possible
from being a prig. He was helpful, sympathetic, cheerful. In all the
neighborhood gatherings, when settlers of various ages came together
at corn-huskings or house-raisings, or when mere chance brought half a
dozen of them at the same time to the post-office or the country store,
he was able, according to his years, to add his full share to the gaiety
of the company. By reason of his reading and his excellent memory, he
soon became the best story-teller among his companions; and even
the slight training gained from his studies greatly broadened and
strengthened the strong reasoning faculty with which he had been gifted
by nature. His wit might be mischievous, but it was never malicious, and
his nonsense was never intended to wound or to hurt the feelings. It
is told of him that he added to his fund of jokes and stories humorous
imitations of the sermons of eccentric preachers.

Very likely too much is made of all these boyish pranks. He grew up very
like his fellows. In only one particular did he differ greatly from the
frontier boys around him. He never took any pleasure in hunting. Almost
every youth of the backwoods early became an excellent shot and a
confirmed sportsman. The woods still swarmed with game, and every cabin
depended largely upon this for its supply of food. But to his strength
was added a gentleness which made him shrink from killing or inflicting
pain, and the time the other boys gave to lying in ambush, he preferred
to spend in reading or in efforts at improving his mind.

Only twice during his life in Indiana was the routine of his employment
changed. When he was about sixteen years old he worked for a time for
a man who lived at the mouth of Anderson's Creek, and here part of his
duty was to manage a ferry-boat which carried passengers across the
Ohio River. It was very likely this experience which, three years
later, brought him another. Mr. Gentry, the chief man of the village
of Gentryville that had grown up a mile or so from his father's cabin,
loaded a flatboat on the Ohio River with the produce his store
had collected--corn, flour, pork, bacon, and other miscellaneous
provisions--and putting it in charge of his son Allen Gentry and of
Abraham Lincoln, sent them with it down the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers,
to sell its cargo at the plantations of the lower Mississippi, where
sugar and cotton were the principal crops, and where other food supplies
were needed to feed the slaves. No better proof is needed of the
reputation for strength, skill, honesty, and intelligence that this
tall country boy had already won for himself, than that he was chosen
to navigate the flatboat a thousand miles to the "sugar-coast" of the
Mississippi River, sell its load, and bring back the money. Allen Gentry
was supposed to be in command, but from the record of his after life we
may be sure that Abraham did his full share both of work and management.
The elder Gentry paid Lincoln eight dollars a month and his passage
home on a steamboat for this service. The voyage was made successfully,
although not without adventure; for one night, after the boat was tied
up to the shore, the boys were attacked by seven negroes, who came
aboard intending to kill and rob them. There was a lively scrimmage, in
which, though slightly hurt, they managed to beat off their assailants,
and then, hastily cutting their boat adrift, swung out on the stream.
The marauding band little dreamed that they were attacking the man who
in after years was to give their race its freedom; and though the future
was equally hidden from Abraham, it is hard to estimate the vistas of
hope and ambition that this long journey opened to him. It was his first
look into the wide, wide world.


By this time the Lincoln homestead was no longer on the frontier. During
the years that passed while Abraham was growing from a child, scarcely
able to wield the ax placed in his hands, into a tall, capable youth,
the line of frontier settlements had been gradually but steadily
pushing on beyond Gentryville toward the Mississippi River. Every summer
canvas-covered moving wagons wound their slow way over new roads into
still newer country; while the older settlers, left behind, watched
their progress with longing eyes. It was almost as if a spell had been
cast over these toil-worn pioneers, making them forget, at sight of such
new ventures, all the hardships they had themselves endured in subduing
the wilderness. At last, on March 1, 1830, when Abraham was just
twenty-one years old, the Lincolns, yielding to this overmastering
frontier impulse to "move" westward, left the old farm in Indiana to
make a new home in Illinois. "Their mode of conveyance was wagons drawn
by ox-teams," Mr. Lincoln wrote in 1860; "and Abraham drove one of the
teams." They settled in Macon County on the north side of the Sangamon
River, about ten miles west of Decatur, where they built a cabin, made
enough rails to fence ten acres of ground, fenced and cultivated the
ground, and raised a crop of corn upon it that first season. It was the
same heavy labor over again that they had endured when they went from
Kentucky to Indiana; but this time the strength and energy of young
Abraham were at hand to inspire and aid his father, and there was no
miserable shivering year of waiting in a half-faced camp before the
family could be suitably housed. They were not to escape hardship,
however. They fell victims to fever and ague, which they had not known
in Indiana, and became greatly discouraged; and the winter after their
arrival proved one of intense cold and suffering for the pioneers, being
known in the history of the State as "the winter of the deep snow."
The severe weather began in the Christmas holidays with a storm of such
fatal suddenness that people who were out of doors had difficulty in
reaching their homes, and not a few perished, their fate remaining
unknown until the melting snows of early spring showed where they had

In March, 1831, at the end of this terrible winter, Abraham Lincoln
left his father's cabin to seek his own fortune in the world. It was the
frontier custom for young men to do this when they reached the age of
twenty-one. Abraham was now twenty-two, but had willingly remained
with his people an extra year to give them the benefit of his labor and
strength in making the new home.

He had become acquainted with a man named Offut, a trader and
speculator, who pretended to great business shrewdness, but whose chief
talent lay in boasting of the magnificent things he meant to do. Offut
engaged Abraham, with his stepmother's son, John D. Johnston, and John
Hanks, to take a flatboat from Beardstown, on the Illinois River, to
New Orleans; and all four arranged to meet at Springfield as soon as the
snow should melt.

In March, when the snow finally melted, the country was flooded and
traveling by land was utterly out of the question. The boys, therefore,
bought a large canoe, and in it floated down the Sangamon River to keep
their appointment with Offut. It was in this somewhat unusual way that
Lincoln made his first entry into the town whose name was afterward to
be linked with his own.

Offut was waiting for them, with the discouraging news that he had been
unable to get a flatboat at Beardstown. The young men promptly offered
to make the flatboat, since one was not to be bought; and they set to
work, felling the trees for it on the banks of the stream. Abraham's
father had been a carpenter, so the use of tools was no mystery to him;
and during his trip to New Orleans with Allen Gentry he had learned
enough about flatboats to give him confidence in this task of
shipbuilding. Neither Johnston nor Hanks was gifted with skill or
industry, and it is clear that Lincoln was, from the start, leader of
the party, master of construction, and captain of the craft.

The floods went down rapidly while the boat was building, and when
they tried to sail their new craft it stuck midway across the dam of
Rutledge's mill at New Salem, a village of fifteen or twenty houses not
many miles from their starting-point. With its bow high in air, and its
stern under water, it looked like some ungainly fish trying to fly, or
some bird making an unsuccessful attempt to swim. The voyagers appeared
to have suffered irreparable shipwreck at the very outset of their
venture, and men and women came down from their houses to offer advice
or to make fun of the young boatmen as they waded about in the water,
with trousers rolled very high, seeking a way out of their difficulty.
Lincoln's self-control and good humor proved equal to their banter,
while his engineering skill speedily won their admiration. The amusement
of the onlookers changed to gaping wonder when they saw him deliberately
bore a hole in the bottom of the boat near the bow, after which, fixing
up some kind of derrick, he tipped the boat so that the water she had
taken in at the stern ran out in front, and she floated safely over the
dam. This novel method of bailing a boat by boring a hole in her
bottom fully established his fame at New Salem, and so delighted the
enthusiastic Offut that, on the spot, he engaged its inventor to come
back after the voyage to New Orleans and act as clerk for him in a

The hole plugged up again, and the boat's cargo reloaded, they made the
remainder of the journey in safety. Lincoln returned by steamer from New
Orleans to St. Louis, and from there made his way to New Salem on foot.
He expected to find Offut already established in the new store, but
neither he nor his goods had arrived. While "loafing about," as the
citizens of New Salem expressed it, waiting for him, the newcomer had a
chance to exhibit another of his accomplishments. An election was to
be held, but one of the clerks, being taken suddenly ill, could not be
present. Penmen were not plenty in the little town, and Mentor Graham,
the other election clerk, looking around in perplexity for some one
to fill the vacant place, asked young Lincoln if he knew how to write.
Lincoln answered, in the lazy speech of the country, that he "could
make a few rabbit tracks," and that being deemed quite sufficient, was
immediately sworn in, and set about discharging the duties of his first
office. The way he performed these not only gave general satisfaction,
but greatly interested Mentor Graham, who was the village schoolmaster,
and from that time on proved a most helpful friend to him.

Offut finally arrived with a miscellaneous lot of goods, which Lincoln
opened and put in order, and the storekeeping began. Trade does not seem
to have been brisk, for Offut soon increased his venture by renting the
Rutledge and Cameron mill, on whose historic dam the flatboat had come
to grief. For a while the care of this mill was added to Lincoln's other
duties. He made himself generally useful besides, his old implement, the
ax, not being entirely discarded. We are told that he cut down trees
and split rails enough to make a large hogpen adjoining the mill, a
performance not at all surprising when it is remembered that up to this
time the greater part of his life had been spent in the open air, and
that his still growing muscles must have eagerly welcomed tasks like
this, which gave him once more the exercise that measuring calico and
weighing out groceries failed to supply. Young Lincoln's bodily vigor
stood him in good stead in many ways. In frontier life strength and
athletic skill served as well for popular amusement as for prosaic
toil, and at times, indeed, they were needed for personal defence.
Every community had its champion wrestler, a man of considerable local
importance, in whose success the neighbors took a becoming interest.
There was, not far from New Salem, a settlement called Clary's Grove,
where lived a set of restless, rollicking young backwoodsmen with a
strong liking for frontier athletics and rough practical jokes. Jack
Armstrong was the leader of these, and until Lincoln's arrival had been
the champion wrestler of both Clary's Grove and New Salem. He and his
friends had not the slightest personal grudge against Lincoln; but
hearing the neighborhood talk about the newcomer, and especially Offut's
extravagant praise of his clerk, who, according to Offut's statement,
knew more than any one else in the United States, and could beat the
whole county at running, jumping or "wrastling," they decided that the
time had come to assert themselves, and strove to bring about a trial of
strength between Armstrong and Lincoln. Lincoln, who disapproved of all
this "woolling and pulling," as he called it, and had no desire to come
to blows with his neighbors, put off the encounter as long as possible.
At length even his good temper was powerless to avert it, and the
wrestling-match took place. Jack Armstrong soon found that he had
tackled a man as strong and skilful as himself; and his friends, seeing
him likely to get the worst of it, swarmed to his assistance, almost
succeeding, by tripping and kicking, in getting Lincoln down. At the
unfairness of this Lincoln became suddenly and furiously angry, put
forth his entire strength, lifted the pride of Clary's Grove in his arms
like a child, and holding him high in the air, almost choked the life
out of him. It seemed for a moment as though a general fight must
follow; but even while Lincoln's fierce rage compelled their respect,
his quickly returning self-control won their admiration, and the
crisis was safely passed. Instead of becoming enemies and leaders in a
neighborhood feud, as might have been expected, the two grew to be warm
friends, the affection thus strangely begun lasting through life. They
proved useful to each other in various ways, and years afterward Lincoln
made ample amends for his rough treatment of the other's throat by
saving the neck of Jack Armstrong's son from the halter in a memorable
trial for murder. The Clary's Grove "boys" voted Lincoln "the cleverest
fellow that had ever broke into the settlement," and thereafter took
as much pride in his peaceableness and book-learning as they did in
the rougher and more questionable accomplishments of their discomfited

Lincoln himself was not so easily satisfied. His mind as well as his
muscles hungered for work, and he confided to Mentor Graham, possibly
with some diffidence, his "notion to study English grammar." Instead of
laughing at him, Graham heartily encouraged the idea, saying it was the
very best thing he could do. With quickened zeal Lincoln announced that
if he had a grammar he would begin at once at this the schoolmaster
was obliged to confess that he knew of no such book in New Salem. He
thought, however, that there might be one at Vaner's, six miles away.
Promptly after breakfast the next morning Lincoln set out in search of
it. He brought the precious volume home in triumph, and with Graham's
occasional help found no difficulty in mastering its contents. Indeed,
it is very likely that he was astonished, and even a bit disappointed,
to find so little mystery in it. He is reported to have said that if
this was a "science," he thought he would like to begin on another one.
In the eyes of the townspeople, however, it was no small achievement,
and added greatly to his reputation as a scholar. There is no record
of any other study commenced at this time, but it is certain that he
profited much by helpful talks with Mentor Graham, and that he borrowed
every book the schoolmaster's scanty library was able to furnish.

Though outwardly uneventful, this period of his life was both happy
and profitable. He was busy at useful labor, was picking up scraps of
schooling, was making friends and learning to prize them at their true
worth; was, in short, developing rapidly from a youth into a young man.
Already he began to feel stirrings of ambition which prompted him to
look beyond his own daily needs toward the larger interests of
his county and his State. An election for members of the Illinois
legislature was to take place in August, 1832. Sangamon County
was entitled to four representatives. Residents of the county over
twenty-one years of age were eligible to election, and audacious as it
might appear, Lincoln determined to be a candidate.

The people of New Salem, like those of all other Western towns, took a
keen interest in politics; "politics" meaning, in that time and place,
not only who was to be President or governor, but concerning itself
with questions which came much closer home to dwellers on the frontier.
"Internal improvements," as they were called--the building of roads and
clearing out of streams so that men and women who lived in remote places
might be able to travel back and forth and carry on trade with the rest
of the world--became a burning question in Illinois. There was great
need of such improvements; and in this need young Lincoln saw his

It was by way of the Sangamon River that he entered politics. That
uncertain watercourse had already twice befriended him. He had floated
on it in flood-time from his father's cabin into Springfield. A
few weeks later its rapidly falling waters landed him on the dam at
Rutledge's mill, introducing him effectively if unceremoniously to the
inhabitants of New Salem. Now it was again to play a part in his life,
starting him on a political career that ended only in the White House.
Surely no insignificant stream has had a greater influence on the
history of a famous man. It was a winding and sluggish creek, encumbered
with driftwood and choked by sand-bars; but it flowed through a country
already filled with ambitious settlers, where the roads were atrociously
bad, becoming in rainy seasons wide seas of pasty black mud, and
remaining almost impassable for weeks at a time. After a devious course
the Sangamon found its way into the Illinois River, and that in turn
flowed into the Mississippi. Most of the settlers were too new to the
region to know what a shallow, unprofitable stream the Sangamon really
was, for the deep snows of 183031 and of the following winter had
supplied it with an unusual volume of water. It was natural, therefore,
that they should regard it as the heaven-sent solution of their problem
of travel and traffic with the outside world. If it could only be freed
from driftwood, and its channel straightened a little, they felt sure it
might be used for small steamboats during a large part of the year.

The candidates for the legislature that summer staked their chances of
success on the zeal they showed for "internal improvements." Lincoln
was only twenty-three. He had been in the county barely nine months.
Sangamon County was then considerably larger than the whole State of
Rhode Island, and he was of course familiar with only a small part of it
or its people; but he felt that he did know the river. He had sailed on
it and been shipwrecked by it; he had, moreover, been one of a party of
men and boys, armed with long-handled axes, who went out to chop away
obstructions and meet a small steamer that, a few weeks earlier, had
actually forced its way up from the Illinois River.

Following the usual custom, he announced his candidacy in the local
newspaper in a letter dated March 9, addressed "To the People of
Sangamon County." It was a straightforward, manly statement of his views
on questions of the day, written in as good English as that used by the
average college-bred man of his years. The larger part of it was
devoted to arguments for the improvement of the Sangamon River. Its main
interest for us lies in the frank avowal of his personal ambition that
is contained in the closing paragraph.

"Every man is said to have his peculiar ambition," he wrote. "Whether
it be true or not, I can say, for one, that I have no other so great as
that of being truly esteemed of my fellowmen by rendering myself worthy
of their esteem. How far I shall succeed in gratifying this ambition is
yet to be developed. I am young, and unknown to many of you. I was born,
and have ever remained, in the most humble walks of life. I have no
wealthy or popular relations or friends to recommend me. My case is
thrown exclusively upon the independent voters of the county; and if
elected, they will have conferred a favor upon me for which I shall be
unremitting in my labors to compensate. But if the good people in their
wisdom shall see fit to keep me in the background, I have been too
familiar with disappointments to be very much chagrined."

He soon had an opportunity of being useful to his fellow-men, though in
a way very different from the one he was seeking. About four weeks after
he had published his letter "To the People of Sangamon County," news
came that Black Hawk, the veteran war-chief of the Sac Indians, was
heading an expedition to cross the Mississippi River and occupy once
more the lands that had been the home of his people. There was great
excitement among the settlers in Northern Illinois, and the governor
called for six hundred volunteers to take part in a campaign against the
Indians. He met a quick response; and Lincoln, unmindful of what might
become of his campaign for the legislature if he went away, was among
the first to enlist. When his company met on the village green to choose
their officers, three-quarters of the men, to Lincoln's intense surprise
and pleasure, marched over to the spot where he was standing and grouped
themselves around him, signifying in this way their wish to make him
captain. We have his own word for it that no success of his after life
gave him nearly as much satisfaction. On April 21, two days after the
call for volunteers had been printed, the company was organized. A week
later it was mustered into service, becoming part of the Fourth Illinois
Mounted Volunteers, and started at once for the hostile frontier.

Lincoln's soldiering lasted about three months. He was in no battle, but
there was plenty of "roughing it," and occasionally real hardship,
as when the men were obliged to go for three days without food. The
volunteers had not enlisted for any definite length of time, and seeing
no prospect of fighting, they soon became clamorous to return home.
Accordingly his and other companies were mustered out of service on
May 27, at the mouth of Fox River. At the same time the governor, not
wishing to weaken his forces before the arrival of other soldiers to
take their places, called for volunteers to remain twenty days longer.
Lincoln had gone to the frontier to do real service, not for the glory
of being captain. Accordingly, on the day on which he was mustered out
as an officer he re-enlisted, becoming Private Lincoln in Captain Iles's
company of mounted volunteers, sometimes known as the Independent Spy
Battalion. This organization appears to have been very independent
indeed, not under the control of any regiment or brigade, but receiving
orders directly from the commander-in-chief, and having many unusual
privileges, such as freedom from all camp duties, and permission to
draw rations as much and as often as they pleased. After laying down
his official dignity and joining this band of privileged warriors, the
campaign became much more of a holiday for the tall volunteer from New
Salem. He entered with enthusiasm into all the games and athletic
sports with which the soldiers beguiled the tedium of camp, and grew in
popularity from beginning to end of his service. When, at length, the
Independent Spy Battalion was mustered out on June 16, 1832, he started
on the journey home with a merry group of his companions. He and his
messmate, George M. Harrison, had the misfortune to have their horses
stolen the very day before, but Harrison's record says:

"I laughed at our fate, and he joked at it, and we all started of
merrily. The generous men of our company walked and rode by turns with
us, and we fared about equal with the rest. But for this generosity, our
legs would have had to do the better work, for in that day this dreary
route furnished no horses to buy or to steal, and whether on horse or
afoot, we always had company, for many of the horses' backs were too
sore for riding."

Lincoln reached New Salem about the first of August, only ten days
before the election. He had lost nothing in popular esteem by his prompt
enlistment to defend the frontier, and his friends had been doing manful
service for him; but there were by this time thirteen candidates in
the field, with a consequent division of interest. When the votes
were counted, Lincoln was found to be eighth on the list--an excellent
showing when we remember that he was a newcomer in the county, and that
he ran as a Whig, which was the unpopular party. In his own home town of
New Salem only three votes had been cast against him. Flattering as all
this was, the fact remained that he was defeated, and the result of the
election brought him face to face with a very serious question. He was
without means and without employment. Offut had failed and had gone
away. What was he to do next? He thought of putting his strong muscles
to account by learning the blacksmith trade; thought also of trying
to become a lawyer, but feared he could not succeed at that without a
better education. It was the same problem that has confronted millions
of young Americans before and since. In his case there was no question
which he would rather be--the only question was what success he might
reasonably hope for if he tried to study law.

Before his mind was fully made up, chance served to postpone, and in the
end greatly to increase his difficulty. Offut's successors in business,
two brothers named Herndon, had become discouraged, and they offered to
sell out to Lincoln and an acquaintance of his named William F. Berry,
on credit, taking their promissory notes in payment. Lincoln and Berry
could not foresee that the town of New Salem had already lived through
its best days, and was destined to dwindle and grow smaller until it
almost disappeared from the face of the earth. Unduly hopeful, they
accepted the offer, and also bought out, on credit, two other merchants
who were anxious to sell. It is clear that the flattering vote Lincoln
had received at the recent election, and the confidence New Salem felt
in his personal character, alone made these transactions possible, since
not a dollar of actual money changed hands during all this shifting
of ownership. In the long run the people's faith in him was fully
justified; but meantime he suffered years of worry and harassing debt.
Berry proved a worthless partner; the business a sorry failure.
Seeing this, Lincoln and Berry sold out, again on credit, to the Trent
brothers, who soon broke up the store and ran away. Berry also departed
and died; and in the end all the notes came back upon Lincoln for
payment. Of course he had not the money to meet these obligations. He
did the next best thing: he promised to pay as soon as he could, and
remaining where he was, worked hard at whatever he found to do. Most
of his creditors, knowing him to be a man of his word, patiently bided
their time, until, in the course of long years, he paid, with interest,
every cent of what he used to call, in rueful satire upon his own folly,
his "National Debt."


Unlucky as Lincoln's attempt at storekeeping had been, it served one
good purpose. Indeed, in a way it may be said to have determined his
whole future career. He had had a hard struggle to decide between
becoming a blacksmith or a lawyer; and when chance seemed to offer a
middle course, and he tried to be a merchant, the wish to study law had
certainly not faded from his mind.

There is a story that while cleaning up the store, he came upon a barrel
which contained, among a lot of forgotten rubbish, some stray volumes
of Blackstone's "Commentaries," and that this lucky find still further
quickened his interest in the law. Whether this tale be true or not it
seems certain that during the time the store was running its downward
course from bad to worse, he devoted a large part of his too abundant
leisure to reading and study of various kinds. People who knew him then
have told how he would lie for hours under a great oak-tree that grew
just outside the store door, poring over his book, and "grinding around
with the shade" as it shifted from north to east.

Lincoln's habit of reading was still further encouraged by his being
appointed postmaster of New Salem on May 7, 1833, an office he held for
about three years--until New Salem grew too small to have a post-office
of its own, and the mail was sent to a neighboring town. The office
was so insignificant that according to popular fable it had no fixed
abiding-place, Lincoln being supposed to carry it about with him in
his hat! It was, however, large enough to bring him a certain amount of
consideration, and, what pleased him still better, plenty of newspapers
to read--newspapers that just then were full of the exciting debates of
Clay and Webster, and other great men in Congress.

The rate of postage on letters was still twenty-five cents, and small as
the earnings of the office undoubtedly were, a little change found
its way now and then into his hands. In the scarcity of money on the
frontier, this had an importance hard for us to realize. A portion of
this money, of course, belonged to the government. That he used only
what was rightfully his own we could be very sure, even if a sequel to
this post office experience were not known which shows his scrupulous
honesty where government funds were concerned. Years later, after he had
become a practising lawyer in Springfield, an agent of the Post-office
Department called upon him in his office one day to collect a balance
due from the New Salem post-office, amounting to about seventeen
dollars. A shade of perplexity passed over his face, and a friend,
sitting by, offered to lend him the money if he did not at the moment
have it with him. Without answering, Lincoln rose, and going to a little
trunk that stood by the wall, opened it and took out the exact sum,
carefully done up in a small package. "I never use any man's money but
my own," he quietly remarked, after the agent had gone.

Soon after he was raised to the dignity of postmaster another piece of
good fortune came in his way. Sangamon County covered a territory some
forty miles long by fifty wide, and almost every citizen in it seemed
intent on buying or selling land, laying out new roads, or locating some
future city. John Calhoun, the county surveyor, therefore, found himself
with far more work than he could personally attend to, and had to
appoint deputies to assist him. Learning the high esteem in which
Lincoln was held by the people of New Salem, he wisely concluded to make
him a deputy, although they differed in politics. It was a flattering
offer, and Lincoln accepted gladly. Of course he knew almost nothing
about surveying, but he got a compass and chain, and, as he tells us,
"studied Flint and Gibson a little, and went at it." The surveyor,
who was a man of talent and education, not only gave Lincoln the
appointment, but, it is said, lent him the book in which to study the
art. Lincoln carried the book to his friend Mentor Graham, and "went at
it" to such purpose that in six weeks he was ready to begin the practice
of his new profession. Like Washington, who, it will be remembered,
followed the same calling in his youth, he became an excellent surveyor.

Lincoln's store had by this time "winked out," to use his own quaint
phrase; and although the surveying and his post-office supplied his
daily needs, they left absolutely nothing toward paying his "National
Debt." Some of his creditors began to get uneasy, and in the latter part
of 1834 a man named Van Bergen, who held one of the Lincoln-Berry notes,
refusing to trust him any longer, had his horse, saddle, and surveying
instruments seized by the sheriff and sold at public auction, thus
sweeping away the means by which, as he said, he "procured bread and
kept soul and body together." Even in this strait his known honesty
proved his salvation. Out of pure friendliness, James Short bought in
the property and gave it back to the young surveyor, allowing him time
to repay.

It took Lincoln seventeen years to get rid of his troublesome "National
Debt," the last instalment not being paid until after his return
from his term of service in Congress at Washington; but it was these
seventeen years of industry, rigid economy, and unflinching fidelity to
his promises that earned for him the title of "Honest Old Abe," which
proved of such inestimable value to himself and his country.

During all this time of trial and disappointment he never lost his
courage, his steady, persevering industry, or his determination to
succeed. He was not too proud to accept any honest employment that
offered itself. He would go into the harvest-field and work there when
other tasks were not pressing, or use his clerkly hand to straighten up
a neglected ledger; and his lively humor, as well as his industry, made
him a welcome guest at any farm-house in the county. Whatever he might
be doing, he was never too busy to help a neighbor. His strong arm was
always at the service of the poor and needy.

Two years after his defeat for the legislature there was another
election. His friends and acquaintances in the county had increased,
and, since he had received such a flattering vote the first time, it was
but natural that he should wish to try again. He began his campaign
in April, giving himself full three months for electioneering. It
was customary in those days for candidates to attend all manner
of neighborhood gatherings--"raisings" of new cabins, horseraces,
shooting-matches, auctions--anything that served to call the settlers
together; and it was social popularity, quite as much as ability to
discuss political questions, that carried weight with such assemblies.
Lincoln, it is needless to say, was in his element. He might be called
upon to act as judge in a horse-race, or to make a speech upon the
Constitution! He could do both. As a laughing peacemaker between two
quarrelsome patriots he had no equal; and as contestant in an impromptu
match at quoit-throwing, or lifting heavy weights, his native tact and
strong arm served him equally well. Candidates also visited farms and
outlying settlements, where they were sometimes unexpectedly called upon
to show their mettle and muscle in more useful labor. One farmer has
recorded how Lincoln "came to my house near Island Grove during harvest.
There were some thirty men in the field. He got his dinner, and went out
in the field where the men were at work. I gave him an introduction, and
the boys said that they could not vote for a man unless he could make a
hand. 'Well, boys,' said he, 'if that is all, I am sure of your votes.'
He took hold of the cradle and led the way all the round with perfect
ease. The boys were satisfied, and I don't think he lost a vote in the

Sometimes two or more candidates would meet at such places, and short
speeches would be called for and given, the harvesters throwing down
their scythes meanwhile to listen, and enlivening the occasion with keen
criticisms of the method and logic of the rival orators. Altogether the
campaign was more spirited than that of two years before. Again there
were thirteen candidates for the four places; but this time, when the
election was over, it was found that only one man in the long list had
received more votes than Abraham Lincoln.

Lincoln's election to the legislature of Illinois in August, 1834, marks
the end of the pioneer period of his life. He was done now with the wild
carelessness of the woods, with the rough jollity of Clary's Grove, with
odd jobs for his daily bread--with all the details of frontier poverty.
He continued for years to be a very poor man, harassed by debts he was
constantly laboring to pay, and sometimes absolutely without money:
but from this time on he met and worked with men of wider knowledge
and better-trained minds than those he had known in Gentryville and New
Salem, while the simple social life of Vandalia, where he went to attend
the sessions of the legislature, was more elegant than anything he had
yet seen.

It must be frankly admitted that his success at this election was a most
important event in his life. Another failure might have discouraged
even his hopeful spirit, and sent him to the blacksmith-shop to make
wagon-tires and shoe horses for the balance of his days. With this
flattering vote to his credit, however, he could be very sure that he
had made a wise choice between the forge and the lawyer's desk. At
first he did not come into special notice in the legislature. He wore,
according to the custom of the time, a decent suit of blue jeans, and
was known simply as a rather quiet young man, good-natured and sensible.
Soon people began to realize that he was a man to be reckoned with in
the politics of the county and State. He was reelected in 1836, 1838,
and 1840, and thus for eight years had a full share in shaping the
public laws of Illinois. The Illinois legislature may indeed be called
the school wherein he learned that extraordinary skill and wisdom in
statesmanship which he exhibited in later years. In 1838 and 1840 all
the Whig members of the Illinois House of Representatives gave him their
vote for Speaker, but, the Democrats being in a majority, could not
elect him.

His campaign expenses were small enough to suit the most exacting. It is
recorded that at one time some of the leading Whigs made up a purse of
two hundred dollars to pay his personal expenses. After the election he
returned the sum of $199.25, with the request that it be given back to
the subscribers. "I did not need the money," he explained. "I made
the canvass on my own horse; my entertainment, being at the houses of
friends, cost me nothing; and my only outlay was seventy-five cents for
a barrel of cider, which some farm-hands insisted I should treat them

One act of his while a member of the legislature requires special
mention because of the great events of his after-life. Even at that
early date, nearly a quarter of a century before the beginning of the
Civil War, slavery was proving a cause of much trouble and ill-will. The
"abolitionists," as the people were called who wished the slaves to
be free, and the "pro-slavery" men, who approved of keeping them in
bondage, had already come to wordy war. Illinois was a free State, but
many of its people preferred slavery, and took every opportunity of
making their wishes known. In 1837 the legislature passed a set of
resolutions "highly disapproving abolition societies." Lincoln and five
others voted against it; but, not content with this, Lincoln also drew
up a paper protesting against the passage of such a resolution and
stating his views on slavery. They were not extreme views. Though
declaring slavery to be an evil, he did not insist that the black people
ought to be set free. But so strong was the popular feeling against
anything approaching "abolitionism" that only one man out of the five
who voted against the resolution had the courage to sign this protest
with him. Lincoln was young, poor, and in need of all the good-will at
his command. Nobody could have blamed him for leaving it unwritten; yet
he felt the wrong of slavery so keenly that he could not keep silent
merely because the views he held happened to be unpopular; and this
protest, signed by him and Dan Stone, has come down to us, the first
notable public act in the great career that made his name immortal.

During the eight years that he was in the legislature he had been
working away at the law. Even before his first election his friend John
T. Stuart, who had been major of volunteers in the Black Hawk War
while Lincoln was captain, and who, like Lincoln, had reenlisted in the
Independent Spy Battalion, had given him hearty encouragement. Stuart
was now practising law in. Springfield. After the campaign was over,
Lincoln borrowed the necessary books of Stuart, and entered upon the
study in good earnest. According to his own statement, "he studied with
nobody. ... In the autumn of 1836 he obtained a law license, and on
April 15, 1837, removed to Springfield and commenced the practice, his
old friend Stuart taking him into partnership."

Lincoln had already endeared himself to the people of Springfield by
championing a project they had much at heart--the removal of the State
capital from Vandalia to their own town. This was accomplished, largely
through his efforts, about the time he went to Springfield to live.
This change from New Salem, a village of fifteen or twenty houses, to a
"city" of two thousand inhabitants, placed him once more in striking new
relations as to dress, manners, and society. Yet, as in the case of
his removal from his father's cabin to New Salem six years earlier, the
change was not so startling as would at first appear. In spite of its
larger population and its ambition as the new State capital, Springfield
was at that time in many ways no great improvement upon New Salem. It
had no public buildings, its streets and sidewalks were still unpaved,
and business of all kinds was laboring under the burden of hard times.

As for himself, although he now owned a license to practise law, it was
still a question how well he would succeed--whether his rugged mind and
firm purpose could win him the livelihood he desired, or whether, after
all, he would be forced to turn his strong muscles to account in earning
his daily bread. Usually so hopeful, there were times when he was
greatly depressed. His friend William Butler relates how, as they were
riding together on horseback from Vandalia to Springfield at the close
of a session of the legislature, Lincoln, in one of these gloomy moods,
told him of the almost hopeless prospect that lay immediately before
him. The session was over, his salary was all drawn, the money all
spent; he had no work, and did not know where to turn to earn even a
week's board. Butler bade him be of good cheer, and, kind practical
friend that he was, took him and his belongings to his own home, keeping
him there for a time as his guest. His most intimate friend of those
days, Joshua F. Speed, tells us that soon after riding into the new
capital on a borrowed horse, with all his earthly possessions packed
in a pair of saddle-bags, Lincoln entered the store owned by Speed,
the saddle-bags over his arm, to ask the price of a single bed with
its necessary coverings and pillows. His question being answered, he
remarked that very likely that was cheap enough, but, small as the price
was, he was unable to pay it; adding that if Speed was willing to credit
him until Christmas, and his experiment as a lawyer proved a success, he
would pay then. "If I fail in this," he said sadly, "I do not know that
I can ever pay you." Speed thought he had never seen such a sorrowful
face. He suggested that instead of going into debt, Lincoln might share
his own roomy quarters over the store, assuring him that if he chose
to accept the offer, he would be very welcome. "Where is your room?"
Lincoln asked quickly. "Upstairs," and the young merchant pointed to a
flight of winding steps leading from the store to the room overhead.

Lincoln picked up the saddle-bags, went upstairs, set them down on the
floor, and reappeared a moment later, beaming with pleasure. "Well,
Speed," he exclaimed, "I am moved!" It is seldom that heartier, truer
friendships come to a man than came to Lincoln in the course of his
life. On the other hand, no one ever deserved better of his fellow-men
than he did; and it is pleasant to know that such brotherly aid as
Butler and Speed were able to give him, offered in all sincerity and
accepted in a spirit that left no sense of galling obligation on either
side, helped the young lawyer over present difficulties and made it
possible for him to keep on in the career he had marked out for himself.

The lawyer who works his way up from a five-dollar fee in a suit before
a justice of the peace, to a five-thousand-dollar fee before the Supreme
Court of his State, has a long and hard path to climb. Lincoln
climbed this path for twenty-five years, with industry, perseverance,
patience--above all, with that self-control and keen sense of right and
wrong which always clearly traced the dividing line between his duty to
his client and his duty to society and truth. His perfect frankness
of statement assured him the confidence of judge and jury in every
argument. His habit of fully admitting the weak points in his case
gained him their close attention to his strong ones, and when clients
brought him questionable cases his advice was always not to bring suit.

"Yes," he once said to a man who offered him such a case; "there is
no reasonable doubt but that I can gain your case for you. I can set a
whole neighborhood at loggerheads; I can distress a widowed mother
and her six fatherless children, and thereby gain for you six hundred
dollars, which rightfully belongs, it appears to me, as much to them as
it does to you. I shall not take your case, but I will give you a little
advice for nothing. You seem a sprightly, energetic man. I would advise
you to try your hand at making six hundred dollars in some other way."

He would have nothing to do with the "tricks" of the profession, though
he met these readily enough when practised by others. He never knowingly
undertook a case in which justice was on the side of his opponent. That
same inconvenient honesty which prompted him, in his store-keeping
days, to close the shop and go in search of a woman he had innocently
defrauded of a few ounces of tea while weighing out her groceries, made
it impossible for him to do his best with a poor case. "Swett," he once
exclaimed, turning suddenly to his associate, "the man is guilty; you
defend him--I can't," and gave up his share of a large fee.

After his death some notes were found, written in his own hand, that had
evidently been intended for a little lecture or talk to law students.
They set forth forcibly, in a few words, his idea of what a lawyer ought
to be and to do. He earnestly commends diligence in study, and, after
diligence, promptness in keeping up the work. "As a general rule, never
take your whole fee in advance," he says, "nor any more than a small
retainer. When fully paid beforehand you are more than a common mortal
if you can feel the same interest in the case as if something were still
in prospect for you as well as for your client." Speech-making should
be practised and cultivated. "It is the lawyer's avenue to the public.
However able and faithful he may be in other respects, people are slow
to bring him business if he cannot make a speech. And yet, there is
not a more fatal error to young lawyers than relying too much on
speech-making. If any one, upon his rare powers of speaking, shall claim
an exemption from the drudgery of the law, his case is a failure
in advance." Discourage going to law. "Persuade your neighbors to
compromise whenever you can. Point out to them how the nominal winner
is often a real loser--in fees, expenses, and waste of time. As a
peacemaker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good man.
There will still be business enough." "There is a vague popular belief
that lawyers are necessarily dishonest. Let no young man choosing the
law for a calling for a moment yield to the popular belief. Resolve to
be honest at all events; and if, in your own judgment, you cannot be an
honest lawyer, resolve to be honest without being a lawyer. Choose some
other occupation rather than one in the choosing of which you do, in
advance, consent to be a knave."

While becoming a lawyer, Lincoln still remained a politician. In those
early days in the West, the two occupations went hand in hand, almost
of necessity. Laws had to be newly made to fit the needs of the new
settlements, and therefore a large proportion of lawyers was sent to
the State legislature. In the summer these same lawyers went about the
State, practising before the circuit courts, Illinois being divided into
what were called judicial circuits, each taking in several counties,
and sometimes covering territory more than a hundred miles square.
Springfield and the neighboring towns were in the eighth judicial
circuit. Twice a year the circuit judge traveled from one county-seat to
another, the lawyers who had business before the court following also.
As newspapers were neither plentiful nor widely read, members of the
legislature were often called upon, while on these journeys, to explain
the laws they had helped to make during the previous winter, and
thus became the political teachers of the people. They had to be well
informed and watchful. When, like Mr. Lincoln, they were witty, and had
a fund of interesting stories besides, they were sure of a welcome and
a hearing in the courtroom, or in the social gatherings that roused the
various little towns during "court-week" into a liveliness quite put of
the common. The tavern would be crowded to its utmost--the judge having
the best room, and the lawyers being put in what was left, late comers
being lucky to find even a sleeping-place on the floor. When not
occupied in court, or preparing cases for the morrow, they would sit
in the public room, or carry their chairs out on the sidewalk in front,
exchanging stories and anecdotes, or pieces of political wisdom, while
men from the town and surrounding farms, dropping in on one pretext or
another, found excuse to linger and join in the talk. At meal-times the
judge presided at the head of the long hotel table, on which the food
was abundant if not always wholesome, and around which lawyers, jurors,
witnesses, prisoners out on bail, and the men who drove the teams,
gathered in friendly equality. Stories of what Mr. Lincoln did and said
on the eighth judicial circuit are still quoted almost with the force
of law; for in this close companionship men came to know each other
thoroughly, and were judged at their true value professionally, as well
as for their power to entertain.

It was only in worldly wealth that Lincoln was poor. He could hold his
own with the best on the eighth judicial circuit, or anywhere else
in the State. He made friends wherever he went. In politics, in
daily conversation, in his work as a lawyer, his life was gradually
broadening. Slowly but surely, too, his gifts as an attractive public
speaker were becoming known. In 1837 he wrote and delivered an able
address before the Young Men's Lyceum of Springfield. In December, 1839,
Stephen A. Douglas, the most brilliant of the young Democrats then in
Springfield, challenged the young Whigs of the town to a tournament of
political speech-making, in which Lincoln bore a full and successful

The man who could not pay a week's board bill was again elected to the
legislature, was invited to public banquets and toasted by name, became
a popular speaker, moved in the best society of the new capital, and
made, as his friends and neighbors declared, a brilliant marriage.


Hopeful and cheerful as he ordinarily seemed, there was in Mr. Lincoln's
disposition a strain of deep melancholy. This was not peculiar to him
alone, for the pioneers as a race were somber rather than gay. Their
lives had been passed for generations under the most trying physical
conditions, near malaria-infested streams, and where they breathed the
poison of decaying vegetation. Insufficient shelter, storms, the cold of
winter, savage enemies, and the cruel labor that killed off all but the
hardiest of them, had at the same time killed the happy-go-lucky gaiety
of an easier form of life. They were thoughtful, watchful, wary; capable
indeed of wild merriment: but it has been said that although a pioneer
might laugh, he could not easily be made to smile. Lincoln's mind was
unusually sound and sane and normal. He had a cheerful, wholesome, sunny
nature, yet he had inherited the strongest traits of the pioneers,
and there was in him, moreover, much of the poet, with a poet's great
capacity for joy and pain. It is not strange that as he developed into
manhood, especially when his deeper nature began to feel the stirrings
of ambition and of love, these seasons of depression and gloom came upon
him with overwhelming force.

During his childhood he had known few women, save his mother, and that
kind, God-fearing woman his stepmother, who did so much to make his
childhood hopeful and happy. No man ever honored women more truly than
did Abraham Lincoln; while all the qualities that caused men to like
him--his strength, his ambition, his kindliness--served equally to make
him a favorite with them. In the years of his young manhood three women
greatly occupied his thoughts. The first was the slender, fair-haired
Ann Rutledge, whom he very likely saw for the first time as she stood
with the group of mocking people on the river-bank, near her father's
mill, the day Lincoln's flatboat stuck on the dam at New Salem. It was
her death, two years before he went to live at Springfield, that brought
on the first attack of melancholy of which we know, causing him such
deep grief that for a time his friends feared his sorrow might drive him

Another friend was Mary Owens, a Kentucky girl, very different from
the gentle, blue-eyed Ann Rutledge, but worthy in every way of a man's
affections. She had visited her sister in New Salem several years
before, and Lincoln remembered her as a tall, handsome, well-educated
young woman, who could be serious as well as gay, and who was considered
wealthy. In the autumn of 1836, her sister, Mrs. Able, then about to
start on a visit to Kentucky, jokingly offered to bring Mary back if
Lincoln would promise to marry her. He, also in jest, agreed to do so.
Much to his astonishment, he learned, a few months later, that she had
actually returned with Mrs. Able, and his sensitive conscience made him
feel that the jest had turned into real earnest, and that he was in
duty bound to keep his promise if she wished him to do so. They had both
changed since they last met; neither proved quite pleasing to the other,
yet an odd sort of courtship was kept up, until, some time after Lincoln
went to live in Springfield, Miss Owens put an end to the affair by
refusing him courteously but firmly. Meantime he lived through much
unhappiness and uncertainty of spirit, and made up his mind "never
again to think of marrying": a resolution which he kept--until another
Kentucky girl drove it from his thoughts.

Springfield had by this time become very lively and enterprising. There
was a deal of "flourishing around in carriages," as Lincoln wrote Miss
Owens, and business and politics and society all played an active part
in the life of the little town. The meetings of the legislature brought
to the new capital a group of young men of unusual talent and ability.
There was friendly rivalry between them, and party disputes ran high,
but social good-humor prevailed, and the presence of these brilliant
young people, later to become famous as Presidential candidates, cabinet
ministers, senators, congressmen, orators, and battle heroes, lent
to the social gatherings of Springfield a zest rarely found in larger

Into the midst of this gaiety came Mary Todd of Kentucky, twenty-one
years old, handsome, accomplished and witty--a dashing and fascinating
figure in dress and conversation. She was the sister of Mrs. Ninian
W. Edwards, whose husband was a prominent Whig member of the
legislature--one of the "Long Nine," as these men were known. Their
added height was said to be fifty-five feet, and they easily made up in
influence what they lacked in numbers. Lincoln was the "tallest" of them
all in body and in mind, and although as poor as a church mouse, was
quite as welcome anywhere as the men who wore ruffled shirts and could
carry gold watches. Miss Todd soon singled out and held the admiration
of such of the Springfield beaux as pleased her somewhat wilful fancy,
and Lincoln, being much at the Edwards house, found himself, almost
before he knew it, entangled in a new love-affair. In the course of a
twelvemonth he was engaged to marry her, but something, nobody knows
what or how, happened to break the engagement, and to plunge him again
in a very sea of wretchedness. Nor is it necessary that we should know
about it further than that a great trouble came upon him, which he bore
nobly, after his kind. Few men have had his stern sense of duty, his
tenderness of heart, his conscience, so easy toward others, so merciless
toward himself. The trouble preyed upon his mind until he could think
of nothing else. He became unable to attend to business, or to take any
part in the life around him. Fearing for his reason as well as for his
health if this continued, his good friend Joshua F. Speed carried him
off, whether he wished or no, for a visit to his own home in Kentucky.
Here they stayed for some time, and Lincoln grew much better, returning
to Springfield about midsummer, almost his old self, though far from

An affair that helped to bring the lovers together again is so out of
keeping with the rest of his life, that it would deserve mention for
that reason, if for no other. This is nothing less than Lincoln's first
and only duel. It happened that James Shields, afterward a general in
two wars and a senator from two States, was at that time auditor of the
State of Illinois, with his office at Springfield. He was a Democrat,
and an Irishman by birth, with an Irishman's quick temper and readiness
to take offense. He had given orders about collecting certain taxes
which displeased the Whigs, and shortly after Lincoln came back from
Kentucky a series of humorous letters ridiculing the auditor and his
order appeared in the Springfield paper, to the great amusement of the
townspeople and the fury of Shields. These letters were dated from the
"Lost Townships," and were supposed to be written by a farmer's widow
signing herself "Aunt Rebecca." The real writers were Miss Todd and a
clever friend, who undertook them more for the purpose of poking fun at
Shields than for party effect. In framing the political part of
their attack, they had found it necessary to consult Lincoln, and he
obligingly set them a pattern by writing the first letter himself.

Shields sent to the editor of the paper to find out the name of the real
"Rebecca." The editor, as in duty bound, consulted Lincoln, and was told
to give Lincoln's name, but not to mention the ladies. Shields then sent
Lincoln an angry challenge; and Lincoln, who considered the whole affair
ridiculous, and would willingly have explained his part in it if Shields
had made a gentlemanly inquiry, chose as weapons "broadswords of the
largest size," and named as conditions of the duel that a plank ten feet
long be firmly fixed on edge in the ground, as a line over which neither
combatant was to pass his foot upon forfeit of his life. Next, lines
were to be drawn upon the ground on each side of the plank, parallel
with it, at the distance of the whole length of the sword and three feet
additional. The passing of his own line by either man was to be deemed a
surrender of the fight.

It is easy to see from these conditions that Lincoln refused to consider
the matter seriously, and determined to treat it as absurdly as it
deserved. He and Shields, and their respective seconds, with the
broadswords, hurried away to an island in the Mississippi River,
opposite Alton; but long before the plank was set up, or swords were
drawn, mutual friends took the matter out of the hands of the seconds,
and declared a settlement of the difficulty.

The affair created much talk and merriment in Springfield, but Lincoln
found in it more than comedy. By means of it he and Miss Todd were again
brought together in friendly interviews, and on November 4, they were
married at the house of Mr. Edwards. Four children were born of this
marriage: Robert Todd Lincoln, August 1, 1843; Edward Baker Lincoln,
March 10, 1846; William Wallace Lincoln, December 21, 1850; and Thomas
Lincoln, April 4, 1853. Edward died while a baby; William, in the White
House, February 20, 1862; Thomas in Chicago, July 15, 1871; and the
mother, Mary Lincoln, in Springfield, July 16, 1882. Robert Lincoln was
graduated from Harvard during the Civil War, serving afterward on the
staff of General Grant. He has since been Secretary of War and Minister
to England, and has held many other important positions of trust.

His wedding over, Lincoln took up again the practical routine of daily
life. He and his bride were so poor that they could not make the visit
to Kentucky that both would so much have enjoyed. They could not even
set up a little home of their own. "We are not keeping house," he wrote
to a friend, "but boarding at the Globe Tavern," where, he added, their
room and board only cost them four dollars a week. His "National Debt"
of the old New Salem days was not yet all paid off, and patiently and
resolutely he went on practising the economy he had learned in the hard
school of experience.

Lincoln's law partnership with John T. Stuart had lasted four years.
Then Stuart was elected to Congress, and another one was formed with
Judge Stephen T. Logan. It was a well-timed and important change. Stuart
had always cared more for politics than for law. With Logan law was the
main object, and under his guidance and encouragement Lincoln entered
upon the study and practical work of his profession in a more serious
spirit than ever before. His interest in politics continued, however,
and in truth his practice at that time was so small as to leave ample
time for both. Stuart had been twice elected to Congress, and very
naturally Lincoln, who served his party quite as faithfully, and was
fully as well known, hoped for a similar honor. He had profited greatly
by the companionship and friendly rivalry of the talented young men of
Springfield, but their talent made the prize he wished the harder to
gain. Twice he was disappointed, the nomination going to other men; but
in May, 1846, he was nominated, and in August of the same year elected,
to the Thirtieth Congress. He had the distinction of being the only Whig
member from his State, the other Illinois congressmen at that time all
being Democrats; but he proved no exception to the general rule that a
man rarely comes into notice during his first term in the National House
of Representatives. A new member has much to learn, even when, like
Lincoln, long service in a State legislature has taught him how the
business of making laws is carried on. He must find out what has been
done and is likely to be done on a multitude of subjects new to him,
must make the acquaintance of his fellow-members, must visit the
departments of government almost daily to look after the interests of
people from his State and congressional district. Legally he is elected
for a term of two years. Practically a session of five or six months
during the first year, and of three months during the second, further
reduce his opportunities more than one-half.

Lincoln did not attempt to shine forth in debate, either by a stinging
retort, or burst of inspired eloquence. He went about his task quietly
and earnestly, performing his share of duty with industry and a hearty
admiration for the ability of better-known members. "I just take my
pen," he wrote enthusiastically to a friend after listening to a speech
which pleased him much, "to say that Mr. Stephens, of Georgia, is a
little slim, pale-faced consumptive man, with a voice like Logan's, has
just concluded the very best speech of an hour's length I ever heard. My
old withered, dry eyes are full of tears yet."

During the first session of his term Lincoln made three long speeches,
carefully prepared and written out beforehand. He was neither elated
nor dismayed at the result. "As to speech-making," he wrote William H.
Herndon, who had now become his law partner, "I find speaking here and
elsewhere about the same thing. I was about as badly scared, and no
worse, as I am when I speak in court."

The next year he made no set speeches, but in addition to the usual work
of a congressman occupied himself with a bill that had for its object
the purchase and freeing of all slaves in the District of Columbia.
Slavery was not only lawful at the national capital at that time: there
was, to quote Mr. Lincoln's own graphic words, "in view from the windows
of the Capitol a sort of negro livery-stable, where droves of negroes
were collected, temporarily kept, and finally taken to Southern markets,
precisely like droves of horses."

To Lincoln and to other people who disapproved of slavery, the idea of
human beings held in bondage under the very shadow of the dome of the
Capitol seemed indeed a bitter mockery. As has already been stated, he
did not then believe Congress had the right to interfere with slavery in
States that chose to have it; but in the District of Columbia the power
of Congress was supreme, and the matter was entirely different. His
bill provided that the Federal Government should pay full value to the
slave-holders of the District for all slaves in their possession,
and should at once free the older ones. The younger ones were to be
apprenticed for a term of years, in order to make them self-supporting,
after which they also were to receive their freedom. The bill was very
carefully thought out, and had the approval of residents of the District
who held the most varied views upon slavery; but good as it was, the
measure was never allowed to come to a vote, and Lincoln went back to
Springfield, at the end of his term, feeling doubtless that his efforts
in behalf of the slaves had been all in vain.

While in Washington he lived very simply and quietly, taking little part
in the social life of the city, though cordially liked by all who made
his acquaintance. An inmate of the modest boarding-house where he had
rooms has told of the cheery atmosphere he seemed to bring with him into
the common dining-room, where political arguments were apt to run high.
He never appeared anxious to insist upon his own views; and when others,
less considerate, forced matters until the talk threatened to become too
furious, he would interrupt with an anecdote or a story that cleared the
air and ended the discussion in a general laugh. Sometimes for exercise
he would go into a bowling-alley close by, entering into the game with
great zest, and accepting defeat and victory with equal good-nature. By
the time he had finished a little circle would be gathered around him,
enjoying his enjoyment, and laughing at his quaint expressions and
sallies of wit.

His gift for jest and story-telling has become traditional. Indeed,
almost every good story that has been invented within a hundred years
has been laid at his door. As a matter of fact, though he was fond of
telling them, and told them well, he told comparatively few of the
number that have been credited to him. He had a wonderful memory, and a
fine power of making his hearers see the scene he wished to depict; but
the final charm of his stories lay in their aptness, and in the kindly
humor that left no sting behind it.

During his term in Congress the Presidential campaign of 1848 came on.
Lincoln took an active part in the nomination and election of General
Zachary Taylor--"Old Rough and Ready," as he was called--making speeches
in Maryland and Massachusetts, as well as in his own home district of
Illinois. Two letters that he wrote during this campaign have special
interest for young readers, for they show the sympathetic encouragement
he gave to young men anxious to make a place and a name for themselves
in American politics.

"Now as to the young men," he wrote. "You must not wait to be brought
forward by the older men. For instance, do you suppose that I should
ever have got into notice if I had waited to be hunted up and pushed
forward by older men? You young men get together and form a 'Rough and
Ready' club, and have regular meetings and speeches.... Let every one
play the part he can play best--some speak, some sing, and all 'holler.'
Your meetings will be of evenings; the older men, and the women, will go
to hear you; so that it will not only contribute to the election of
'Old Zach,' but will be an interesting pastime, and improving to the
intellectual faculties of all engaged."

In another letter, answering a young friend who complained of being
neglected, he said:

"Nothing could afford me more satisfaction than to learn that you and
others of my young friends at home are doing battle in the contest and
taking a stand far above any I have ever been able to reach.... I
cannot conceive that other old men feel differently. Of course I cannot
demonstrate what I say; but I was young once, and I am sure I was never
ungenerously thrust back. I hardly know what to say. The way for a young
man to rise is to improve himself every way he can, never suspecting
that anybody wishes to hinder him. Allow me to assure you that suspicion
and jealousy never did help any man in any situation. There may
sometimes be ungenerous attempts to keep a young man down; and they will
succeed, too, if he allows his mind to be diverted from its true channel
to brood over the attempted injury. Cast about and see if this feeling
has not injured every person you have ever known to fall into it."

He was about forty years old when he wrote this letter. By some people
that is not considered a very great age; but he doubtless felt himself
immensely older, as he was infinitely wiser, than his petulant young

General Taylor was triumphantly elected, and it then became Lincoln's
duty, as Whig member of Congress from Illinois, to recommend certain
persons to fill government offices in that State. He did this after
he returned to Springfield, for his term in Congress ended on March 4,
1849, the day that General Taylor became President. The letters that he
sent to Washington when forwarding the papers and applications of people
who wished appointment were both characteristic and amusing; for in his
desire not to mislead or to do injustice to any man, they were very apt
to say more in favor of the men he did not wish to see appointed than in
recommendation of his own particular candidates.

This absolute and impartial fairness to friend and foe alike was one of
his strongest traits, governing every action of his life. If it had not
been for this, he might possibly have enjoyed another term in Congress,
for there had been talk of reelecting him. In spite of his confession to
Speed that "being elected to Congress, though I am very grateful to our
friends for having done it, has not pleased me as much as I expected,"
this must have been flattering. But there were many able young men
in Springfield who coveted the honor, and they had entered into an
agreement among themselves that each would be content with a single
term. Lincoln of course remained faithful to this promise. His strict
keeping of promises caused him also to lose an appointment from
President Taylor as Commissioner of the General Land Office, which might
easily have been his, but for which he had agreed to recommend some
other Illinois man. A few weeks later the President offered to make him
governor of the new Territory of Oregon. This attracted him much more
than the other office had done, but he declined because his wife was
unwilling to live in a place so far away.

His career in Congress, while adding little to his fame at the time,
proved of great advantage to him in after life, for it gave him a close
knowledge of the workings of the Federal Government, and brought him
into contact with political leaders from all parts of the Union.


For four or five years after his return from Congress, Lincoln remained
in Springfield, working industriously at his profession. He was offered
a law partnership in Chicago, but declined on the ground that his health
would not stand the confinement of a great city. His business increased
in volume and importance as the months went by; and it was during this
time that he engaged in what is perhaps the most dramatic as well as the
best known of all his law cases--his defense of Jack Armstrong's son on
a charge of murder. A knot of young men had quarreled one night on
the outskirts of a camp-meeting, one was killed, and suspicion pointed
strongly toward young Armstrong as the murderer. Lincoln, for old
friendship's sake, offered to defend him--an offer most gratefully
accepted by his family. The principal witness swore that he had seen
young Armstrong strike the fatal blow--had seen him distinctly by the
light of a bright moon. Lincoln made him repeat the statement until it
seemed as if he were sealing the death-warrant of the prisoner. Then
Lincoln began his address to the jury. He was not there as a hired
attorney, he told them, but because of friendship. He told of his old
relations with Jack Armstrong, of the kindness the prisoner's mother had
shown him in New Salem, how he had himself rocked the prisoner to sleep
when the latter was a little child. Then he reviewed the testimony,
pointing out how completely everything depended on the statements
of this one witness; and ended by proving beyond question that his
testimony was false, since, according to the almanac, which he produced
in court and showed to judge and jury, THERE WAS NO MOON IN THE SKY
THAT NIGHT at the hour the murder was committed. The jury brought in a
verdict of "Not guilty," and the prisoner was discharged.

Lincoln was always strong with a jury. He knew how to handle men, and
he had a direct way of going to the heart of things. He had, moreover,
unusual powers of mental discipline. It was after his return from
Congress, when he had long been acknowledged one of the foremost lawyers
of the State, that he made up his mind he lacked the power of close and
sustained reasoning, and set himself like a schoolboy to study works of
logic and mathematics to remedy the defect. At this time he committed to
memory six books of the propositions of Euclid; and, as always, he was
an eager reader on many subjects, striving in this way to make up for
the lack of education he had had as a boy. He was always interested in
mechanical principles and their workings, and in May, 1849, patented a
device for lifting vessels over shoals, which had evidently been dormant
in his mind since the days of his early Mississippi River experiences.
The little model of a boat, whittled out with his own hand, that he sent
to the Patent Office when he filed his application, is still shown to
visitors, though the invention itself failed to bring about any change
in steamboat architecture.

In work and study time slipped away. He was the same cheery companion as
of old, much sought after by his friends, but now more often to be found
in his office surrounded by law-books and papers than had been the case
before his term in Congress. His interest in politics seemed almost
to have ceased when, in 1854, something happened to rouse that and his
sense of right and justice as they had never been roused before. This
was the repeal of the "Missouri Compromise," a law passed by Congress
in the year 1820, allowing Missouri to enter the Union as a slave State,
but positively forbidding slavery in all other territory of the United
States lying north of latitude 36 degrees 30 minutes, which was the
southern boundary-line of Missouri.

Up to that time the Southern States, where slavery was lawful, had been
as wealthy and quite as powerful in politics as the Northern or free
States. The great unoccupied territory lying to the west, which, in
years to come, was sure to be filled with people and made into new
States, lay, however, mostly north of 36 degrees 30 minutes; and it was
easy to see that as new free States came one after the other into the
Union the importance of the South must grow less and less, because there
was little or no territory left out of which slave States could be
made to offset them. The South therefore had been anxious to have the
Missouri Compromise repealed.

The people of the North, on the other hand, were not all wise or
disinterested in their way of attacking slavery. As always happens,
self-interest and moral purpose mingled on both sides; but, as a whole,
it may be said that they wished to get rid of slavery because they felt
it to be wrong, and totally out of place in a country devoted to freedom
and liberty. The quarrel between them was as old as the nation, and it
had been gaining steadily in intensity. At first only a few persons in
each section had been really interested. By the year 1850 it had come
to be a question of much greater moment, and during the ten years that
followed was to increase in bitterness until it absorbed the thoughts of
the entire people, and plunged the country into a terrible civil war.

Abraham Lincoln had grown to manhood while the question was gaining in
importance. As a youth, during his flatboat voyages to New Orleans he
had seen negroes chained and beaten, and the injustice of slavery had
been stamped upon his soul. The uprightness of his mind abhorred a
system that kept men in bondage merely because they happened to be
black. The intensity of his feeling on the subject had made him a Whig
when, as a friendless boy, he lived in a town where Whig ideas were much
in disfavor. The same feeling, growing stronger as he grew older, had
inspired the Lincoln-Stone protest and the bill to free the slaves in
the District of Columbia, and had caused him to vote at least forty
times against slavery in one form or another during his short term in
Congress. The repeal of the Missouri Compromise, throwing open once more
to slavery a vast amount of territory from which it had been shut out,
could not fail to move him deeply. His sense of justice and his strong
powers of reasoning were equally stirred, and from that time until
slavery came to its end through his own act, he gave his time and all
his energies to the cause of freedom.

Two points served to make the repeal of the Missouri Compromise of
special interest to Lincoln. The first was personal, in that the man who
championed the measure, and whose influence in Congress alone made it
possible, was Senator Stephen A. Douglas, who had been his neighbor in
Illinois for many years.

The second was deeper. He realized that the struggle meant much more
than the freedom or bondage of a few million black men: that it was in
reality a struggle for the central idea of our American republic--the
statement in our Declaration of Independence that "all men are created
equal." He made no public speeches until autumn, but in the meantime
studied the question with great care, both as to its past history and
present state. When he did speak it was with a force and power that
startled Douglas and, it is said, brought him privately to Lincoln with
the proposition that neither of them should address a public meeting
again until after the next election.

Douglas was a man of great ambition as well as of unusual political
skill. Until recently he had been heartily in favor of keeping slavery
out of the Northwest Territory; but he had set his heart upon being
President of the United States, and he thought that he saw a chance of
this if he helped the South to repeal the Missouri Compromise, and thus
gained its gratitude and its votes. Without hesitation he plunged into
the work and labored successfully to overthrow this law of more than
thirty years' standing.

Lincoln's speech against the repeal had made a deep impression in
Illinois, where he was at once recognized as the people's spokesman
in the cause of freedom. His statements were so clear, his language so
eloquent, the stand he took so just, that all had to acknowledge his
power. He did not then, nor for many years afterward, say that the
slaves ought to be immediately set free. What he did insist upon was
that slavery was wrong, and that it must not be allowed to spread into
territory already free; but that, gradually, in ways lawful and just to
masters and slaves alike, the country should strive to get rid of it in
places where it already existed. He never let his hearers lose sight of
the great underlying moral fact. "Slavery," he said, "is founded in the
selfishness of man's nature; opposition to it in his love of justice."
Even Senator Douglas was not prepared to admit that slavery was right.
He knew that if he said that he could never be President, for the whole
North would rise against him. He wished to please both sides, so he
argued that it was not a question for him or for the Federal Government
to decide, but one which each State and Territory must settle for
itself. In answer to this plea of his that it was not a matter
of morals, but of "State rights"--a mere matter of local
self-government--Mr. Lincoln replied, "When the white man governs
himself that is self-government; but when he governs himself and
also governs another man, that is more than self-government--that is

It was on these opposing grounds that the two men took their stand for
the battle of argument and principle that was to continue for years,
to outgrow the bounds of the State, to focus the attention of the whole
country upon them, and, in the end, to have far-reaching consequences
of which neither at that time dreamed. At first the field appeared
much narrower, though even then the reward was a large one. Lincoln had
entered the contest with no thought of political gain; but it happened
that a new United States senator from Illinois had to be chosen
about that time. Senators are not voted for by the people, but by the
legislatures of their respective States and as a first result of all
this discussion about the right or wrong of slavery it was found that
the Illinois legislature, instead of having its usual large Democratic
majority, was almost evenly divided. Lincoln seemed the most likely
candidate; and he would have undoubtedly been chosen senator, had not
five men, whose votes were absolutely necessary, stoutly refused to
vote for a Whig, no matter what his views upon slavery might be. Keeping
stubbornly aloof, they cast their ballots time after time for Lyman
Trumbull, who was a Democrat, although as strongly opposed to slavery as
Lincoln himself.

A term of six years in the United States Senate must have seemed a large
prize to Lincoln just then--possibly the largest he might ever hope to
gain; and it must have been a hard trial to feel it so near and then
see it slipping away from him. He did what few men would have had
the courage or the unselfishness to do. Putting aside all personal
considerations, and intent only on making sure of an added vote against
slavery in the Senate, he begged his friends to cease voting for him and
to unite with those five Democrats to elect Trumbull.

"I regret my defeat moderately," he wrote to a sympathizing friend, "but
I am not nervous about it." Yet it must have been particularly trying to
know that with forty-five votes in his favor, and only five men standing
between him and success, he had been forced to give up his own chances
and help elect the very man who had defeated him.

The voters of Illinois were quick to realize the sacrifice he had made.
The five stubborn men became his most devoted personal followers; and
his action at this time did much to bring about a great political change
in the State. All over the country old party lines were beginning to
break up and re-form themselves on this one question of slavery. Keeping
its old name, the Democratic party became the party in favor of slavery,
while the Northern Whigs and all those Democrats who objected to slavery
joined in what became known as the Republican party. It was at a great
mass convention held in Bloomington in May, 1856, that the Republican
party of Illinois took final shape; and it was here that Lincoln made
the wonderful address which has become famous in party history as his
"lost speech." There had been much enthusiasm. Favorite speakers had
already made stirring addresses that had been listened to with eagerness
and heartily applauded; but hardly a man moved from his seat until
Lincoln should be heard. It was he who had given up the chance of being
senator to help on the cause of freedom. He alone had successfully
answered Douglas. Every one felt the fitness of his making the closing
speech--and right nobly did he honor the demand. The spell of the hour
was visibly upon him. Standing upon the platform before the members of
the convention, his tall figure drawn up to its full height, his head
thrown back, and his voice ringing with earnestness, he denounced the
evil they had to fight in a speech whose force and power carried his
hearers by storm, ending with a brilliant appeal to all who loved
liberty and justice to

  Come as the winds come when forests are rended;
  Come as the waves come when navies are stranded;

and unite with the Republican party against this great wrong.

The audience rose and answered him with cheer upon cheer. Then, after
the excitement had died down, it was found that neither a full report
nor even trustworthy notes of his speech had been taken. The sweep and
magnetism of his oratory had carried everything before it--even the
reporters had forgotten their duty, and their pencils had fallen idle.
So it happened that the speech as a whole was lost. Mr. Lincoln himself
could never recall what he had said; but the hundreds who heard him
never forgot the scene or the lifting inspiration of his words.

Three weeks later the first national convention of the Republican party
was held. John C. Fremont was nominated for President, and Lincoln
received over a hundred votes for Vice-President, but fortunately, as it
proved, was not selected, the honor falling to William L. Dayton of
New Jersey. The Democratic candidate for President that year was James
Buchanan, "a Northern man with Southern principles," very strongly in
favor of slavery. Lincoln took an active part in the campaign against
him, making more than fifty speeches in Illinois and the adjoining
States. The Democrats triumphed, and Buchanan was elected President;
but Lincoln was not discouraged, for the new Republican party had shown
unexpected strength throughout the North. Indeed, Lincoln was seldom
discouraged. He had an abiding faith that the people would in the long
run vote wisely; and the cheerful hope he was able to inspire in his
followers was always a strong point in his leadership.

In 1858, two years after this, another election took place in Illinois,
on which the choice of a United States senator depended. This time
it was the term of Stephen A. Douglas that was drawing to a close. He
greatly desired reelection. There was but one man in the State who could
hope to rival him, and with a single voice the Republicans of Illinois
called upon Lincoln to oppose him. Douglas was indeed an opponent not to
be despised. His friends and followers called him the "Little Giant."
He was plausible, popular, quick-witted, had winning manners, was most
skilful in the use of words, both to convince his hearers and, at times,
to hide his real meaning. He and Lincoln were old antagonists. They had
first met in the far-away Vandalia days of the Illinois legislature. In
Springfield, Douglas had been the leader of the young Democrats, while
Lincoln had been leader of the younger Whigs. Their rivalry had not
always been confined to politics, for gossip asserted that Douglas had
been one of Miss Todd's more favored suitors. Douglas in those days had
no great opinion of the tall young lawyer; while Lincoln is said to have
described Douglas as "the least man I ever saw"--although that referred
to his rival's small stature and boyish figure, not to his mental
qualities. Douglas was not only ambitious to be President: he had staked
everything on the repeal of the Missouri Compromise and his statement
that this question of slavery was one that every State and Territory
must settle for itself, but with which the Federal Government had
nothing to do. Unfortunately, his own party no longer agreed with him.
Since Buchanan had become President the Democrats had advanced their
ground. They now claimed that while a State might properly say whether
or not it would tolerate slavery, slavery ought to be lawful in all the
Territories, no matter whether their people liked it or not.

A famous law case, called the Dred Scott case, lately decided by the
Supreme Court of the United States, went far toward making this really
the law of the land. In its decision the court positively stated that
neither Congress nor a territorial legislature had power to keep slavery
out of any United States Territory. This decision placed Senator Douglas
in a most curious position. It justified him in repealing the Missouri
Compromise, but at the same time it absolutely denied his statement that
the people of a Territory had a right to settle the slavery question to
suit themselves. Being a clever juggler with words, he explained away
the difference by saying that a master might have a perfect right to his
slave in a Territory, and yet that right could do him no good unless
it were protected by laws in force where his slave happened to be.
Such laws depended entirely on the will of the people living in
the Territory, and so, after all, they had the deciding voice. This
reasoning brought upon him the displeasure of President Buchanan and all
the Democrats who believed as he did, and Douglas found himself forced
either to deny what he had already told the voters of Illinois, or to
begin a quarrel with the President. He chose the latter, well knowing
that to lose his reelection to the Senate at this time would end his
political career. His fame as well as his quarrel with the President
served to draw immense crowds to his meetings when he returned to
Illinois and began speech-making, and his followers so inspired these
meetings with their enthusiasm that for a time it seemed as though all
real discussion would be swallowed up in noise and shouting.

Mr. Lincoln, acting on the advice of his leading friends, sent Douglas a
challenge to joint debate. Douglas accepted, though not very willingly;
and it was agreed that they should address the same meetings at seven
towns in the State, on dates extending through August, September, and
October. The terms were that one should speak an hour in opening, the
other an hour and a half in reply, and the first again have half an hour
to close. Douglas was to open the meeting at one place, Lincoln at the

It was indeed a memorable contest. Douglas, the most skilled and
plausible speaker in the Democratic party, was battling for his
political life. He used every art, every resource, at his command.
Opposed to him was a veritable giant in stature--a man whose qualities
of mind and of body were as different from those of the "Little
Giant"--as could well be imagined. Lincoln was direct, forceful,
logical, and filled with a purpose as lofty as his sense of right and
justice was strong. He cared much for the senatorship, but he cared far
more to right the wrong of slavery, and to warn people of the peril
that menaced the land. Already in June he had made a speech that greatly
impressed his hearers. "A house divided against itself cannot stand,"
he told them. "I believe this government cannot endure permanently half
slave and half free. I do not expect the Union to be dissolved, I do not
expect the house to fall--but I do expect it will cease to be divided.
It will become all one thing or all the other"; and he went on to say
that there was grave danger it might become all slave. He showed how,
little by little, slavery had been gaining ground, until all it lacked
now was another Supreme Court decision to make it alike lawful in all
the States, North as well as South. The warning came home to the people
of the North with startling force, and thereafter all eyes were fixed
upon the senatorial campaign in Illinois.

The battle continued for nearly three months. Besides the seven great
joint debates, each man spoke daily, sometimes two or three times a day,
at meetings of his own. Once before their audiences, Douglas's dignity
as a senator afforded him no advantage, Lincoln's popularity gave
him little help. Face to face with the followers of each, gathered
in immense numbers and alert with jealous watchfulness, there was no
escaping the rigid test of skill in argument and truth in principle. The
processions and banners, the music and fireworks, of both parties were
stilled and forgotten while the people listened to the three hours'
battle of mind against mind.

Northern Illinois had been peopled largely from the free States, and
southern Illinois from the slave States; thus the feeling about slavery
in the two parts was very different. To take advantage of this, Douglas,
in the very first debate, which took place at Ottawa, in northern
Illinois, asked Lincoln seven questions, hoping to make him answer in a
way that would be unpopular farther south. In the second debate Lincoln
replied to these very frankly, and in his turn asked Douglas four
questions, the second of which was whether, in Douglas's opinion, the
people of any Territory could, in any lawful way, against the wish of
any citizen of the United States, bar out slavery before that Territory
became a State. Mr. Lincoln had long and carefully studied the meaning
and effect of this question. If Douglas said, "No," he would please
Buchanan and the administration Democrats, but at the cost of denying
his own words. If he said, "Yes," he would make enemies of every
Democrat in the South. Lincoln's friends all advised against asking the
question. They felt sure that Douglas would answer, "Yes," and that this
would win him his election. "If you ask it, you can never be senator,"
they told Lincoln. "Gentlemen," he replied, "I am killing larger game.
If Douglas answers he can never be President, and the battle of 1860 is
worth a hundred of this."

Both prophecies were fulfilled. Douglas answered as was expected; and
though, in actual numbers, the Republicans of Illinois cast more votes
than the Democrats, a legislature was chosen that rejected him to the
Senate. Two years later, Lincoln, who in 1858 had not the remotest
dream of such a thing, found himself the successful candidate of the
Republican party for President of the United States.

To see how little Lincoln expected such an outcome it is only necessary
to glance at the letters he wrote to friends at the end of his campaign
against Douglas. Referring to the election to be held two years later,
he said, "In that day I shall fight in the ranks, but I shall be in no
one's way for any of the places." To another correspondent he expressed
himself even more frankly: "Of course I wished, but I did not much
expect, a better result... . I am glad I made the late race. It gave me
a hearing on the great and durable question of the age, which I could
have had in no other way; and though I now sink out of view and shall
be forgotten, I believe I have made some marks which will tell for the
cause of civil liberty long after I am gone."

But he was not to "sink out of view and be forgotten." Douglas himself
contributed not a little toward keeping his name before the public; for
shortly after their contest was ended the reelected senator started on
a trip through the South to set himself right again with the Southern
voters, and in every speech that he made he referred to Lincoln as the
champion of "abolitionism." In this way the people were not allowed to
forget the stand Lincoln had taken, and during the year 1859 they came
to look upon him as the one man who could be relied on at all times to
answer Douglas and Douglas's arguments.

In the autumn of that year Lincoln was asked to speak in Ohio, where
Douglas was again referring to him by name. In December he was invited
to address meetings in various towns in Kansas, and early in 1860 he
made a speech in New York that raised him suddenly and unquestionably to
the position of a national leader.

It was delivered in the hall of Cooper Institute, on the evening of
February 27, 1860, before an audience of men and women remarkable for
their culture, wealth and influence.

Mr. Lincoln's name and words had filled so large a space in the Eastern
newspapers of late, that his listeners were very eager to see and hear
this rising Western politician. The West, even at that late day, was
very imperfectly understood by the East. It was looked upon as a land
of bowie-knives and pistols, of steamboat explosions, of mobs, of wild
speculation and wilder adventure. What, then, would be the type, the
character, the language of this speaker? How would he impress the great
editor Horace Greeley, who sat among the invited guests; David Dudley
Field, the great lawyer, who escorted him to the platform; William
Cullen Bryant, the great poet, who presided over the meeting?

The audience quickly forgot these questioning doubts. They had but
time to note Mr. Lincoln's unusual height, his rugged, strongly marked
features, the clear ring of his high-pitched voice, the commanding
earnestness of his manner. Then they became completely absorbed in what
he was saying. He began quietly, soberly, almost as if he were arguing
a case before a court. In his entire address he uttered neither an
anecdote nor a jest. If any of his hearers came expecting the style or
manner of the Western stump-speaker, they met novelty of an unlooked-for
kind; for such was the apt choice of words, the simple strength of
his reasoning, the fairness of every point he made, the force of every
conclusion he drew, that his listeners followed him, spellbound. He
spoke on the subject that he had so thoroughly mastered and that was now
uppermost in men's minds--the right or wrong of slavery. He laid bare
the complaints and demands of the Southern leaders, pointed out the
injustice of their threat to break up the Union if their claims were not
granted, stated forcibly the stand taken by the Republican party, and
brought his speech to a close with the short and telling appeal:

"Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith let us, to
the end, dare to do our duty as we understand it."

The attention with which it was followed, the applause that greeted
its telling points, and the enthusiasm of the Republican journals next
morning showed that Lincoln's Cooper Institute speech had taken New York
by storm. It was printed in full in four of the leading daily papers of
the city, and immediately reprinted in pamphlet form. From New York Mr.
Lincoln made a tour of speech-making through several of the New England
States, where he was given a hearty welcome, and listened to with an
eagerness that showed a marked result at the spring elections. The
interest of the working-men who heard these addresses was equaled,
perhaps excelled, by the pleased surprise of college professors and men
of letters when they found that the style and method of this self-taught
popular Western orator would stand the test of their most searching
professional criticism.

One other audience he had during this trip, if we may trust report,
which, while neither as learned as the college professors, nor perhaps
as critical as the factory-men, was quite as hard to please, and
the winning of whose approval shows another side of this great and
many-sided man. A teacher in a Sunday-school in the Five Points district
of New York, at that time one of the worst parts of the city, has told
how, one morning, a tall, thin, unusual-looking man entered and sat
quietly listening to the exercises. His face showed such genuine
interest that he was asked if he would like to speak to the children.
Accepting the invitation with evident pleasure, he stepped forward and
began a simple address that quickly charmed the roomful of youngsters
into silence. His language was singularly beautiful, his voice musical
with deep feeling. The faces of his little listeners drooped into sad
earnestness at his words of warning, and brightened again when he spoke
of cheerful promises. "Go on! Oh, do go on!" they begged when at last
he tried to stop. As he left the room somebody asked his name. "Abraham
Lincoln, from Illinois," was the courteous reply.


Lincoln's great skill and wisdom in his debate with Douglas turned
the eyes of the whole country upon him; and the force and logic of
his Cooper Institute speech convinced every one that in him they had
discovered a new national leader. He began to be mentioned as a possible
candidate for President in the election which was to take place that
fall to choose a successor to President Buchanan. Indeed, quite a year
earlier, an editor in Illinois had written to him asking permission to
announce him as a candidate in his newspaper. At that time Lincoln had
refused, thanking him for the compliment, but adding modestly: "I must
in candor say that I do not think myself fit for the Presidency."
About Christmas time, 1859, however, a number of his stanchest Illinois
friends urged him to let them use his name, and he consented, not so
much in the hope of being chosen, as of perhaps receiving the nomination
for Vice-President, or at least of making a show of strength that would
aid him at some future time to become senator. The man most talked
about as the probable Republican candidate for President was William H.
Seward, who was United States senator from New York, and had also been
governor of that State.

The political unrest continued. Slavery was still the most absorbing
topic, and it was upon their stand for or against slavery that all the
Presidential candidates were chosen. The pretensions and demands of the
Southern leaders had by this time passed into threats. They declared
roundly that they would take their States out of the Union if slavery
were not quickly made lawful all over the country, or in case a "Black
Republican" President should be elected. The Democrats, unable to agree
among themselves, split into two sections, the Northerners nominating
Stephen A. Douglas for President, while delegates who had come to their
National Convention from what were called the Cotton States chose John
C. Breckinridge. A few men who had belonged to the old Whig party, but
felt themselves unable to join the Republicans or either faction of the
Democrats, met elsewhere and nominated John Bell.

This breaking up of their political enemies into three distinct camps
greatly cheered the Republicans, and when their National Convention came
together in Chicago on May 16, 1860, its members were filled with the
most eager enthusiasm. Its meetings were held in a huge temporary wooden
building called the Wigwam, so large that 10,000 people could easily
assemble in it to watch the proceedings. Few conventions have shown such
depth of feeling. Not only the delegates on the central platform, but
even the spectators seemed impressed with the fact that they were taking
part in a great historical event. The first two days were taken up
in seating delegates, adopting a "platform" or statement of party
principles, and in other necessary routine matters. On the third day,
however, it was certain that balloting would begin, and crowds hurried
to the Wigwam in a fever of curiosity. The New York men, sure that
Seward would be the choice of the convention, marched there in a body,
with music and banners. The friends of Lincoln arrived before them, and
while not making so much noise or show, were doing good work for their
favorite. The long nominating speeches of later years had not then come
into fashion. "I take the liberty," simply said Mr. Evarts of New York,
"to name as a candidate to be nominated by this convention for the
office of President of the United States, William H. Seward," and at Mr.
Seward's name a burst of applause broke forth, so long and loud that
it seemed fairly to shake the great building. Mr. Judd, of Illinois,
performed the same office of friendship for Mr. Lincoln, and the
tremendous cheering that rose from the throats of his friends echoed
and dashed itself against the sides of the Wigwam, died down, and began
anew, until the noise that had been made by Seward's admirers dwindled
to comparative feebleness. Again and again these contests of lungs
and enthusiasm were repeated as other names were presented to the

At last the voting began. Two names stood out beyond all the rest on the
very first ballot--Seward's and Lincoln's. The second ballot showed that
Seward had lost votes while Lincoln had gained them. The third ballot
was begun in almost painful suspense, delegates and spectators keeping
count upon their tally-sheets with nervous fingers. It was found that
Lincoln had gained still more, and now only needed one and a half votes
to receive the nomination. Suddenly the Wigwam became as still as a
church. Everybody leaned forward to see who would break the spell. A man
sprang upon a chair and reported a change of four votes to Lincoln. Then
a teller shouted a name toward the skylight, and the boom of a cannon
from the roof announced the nomination and started the cheering down the
long Chicago streets; while inside delegation after delegation changed
its votes to the victor in a whirlwind of hurrahs. That same afternoon
the convention finished its labors by nominating Hannibal Hamlin
of Maine for Vice-President, and adjourned--the delegates, speeding
homeward on the night trains, realizing by the bonfires and cheering
crowds at every little station that a memorable Presidential campaign
was already begun.

During this campaign there were, then, four Presidential candidates in
the field. In the order of strength shown at the election they were:

1. The Republican party, whose "platform," or statement of party
principles, declared that slavery was wrong, and that its further spread
should be prevented. Its candidates were Abraham Lincoln of Illinois for
President, and Hannibal Hamlin of Maine for Vice-President.

2. The Douglas wing of the Democratic party, which declared that it did
not pretend to decide whether slavery was right or wrong, and proposed
to allow the people of each State and Territory to choose for themselves
whether they would or would not have it. Its candidates were Stephen A.
Douglas of Illinois for President, and Herschel V. Johnson of Georgia
for Vice-President.

3. The Buchanan wing of the Democratic party, which declared that
slavery was right, and whose policy was to extend it, and to make new
slave States. Its candidates were John C. Breckinridge of Kentucky for
President, and Joseph Lane of Oregon for Vice-President.

4. The Constitutional Union party, which ignored slavery in its
platform, declaring that it recognized no political principles other
than "the Constitution of the country, the Union of the States, and the
enforcement of the laws." Its candidates were John Bell of Tennessee for
President, and Edward Everett of Massachusetts for Vice-President.

In enthusiasm the Republicans quickly took the lead. "Wide Awake" clubs
of young men, wearing caps and capes of glazed oilcloth to protect their
clothing from the dripping oil of their torches, gathered in torchlight
processions miles in length. Fence rails, supposed to have been made by
Lincoln in his youth, were set up in party headquarters and trimmed
with flowers and lighted tapers. Lincoln was called the "Rail-splitter
Candidate," and this telling name, added to the equally telling "Honest
Old Abe," by which he had long been known in Illinois, furnished country
and city campaign orators with a powerful appeal to the sympathy and
trust of the working-people of the United States. Men and women read in
newspaper and pamphlet biographies the story of his humble beginnings:
how he had risen by simple, earnest work and native genius, first to
fame and leadership in his own State, and then to fame and leadership
in the nation; and these titles quickly grew to be much more than mere
party nicknames--to stand for a faith and trust destined to play no
small part in the history of the next few years.

After the nominations were made Douglas went on a tour of speech-making
through the South. Lincoln, on the contrary, stayed quietly at home in
Springfield. His personal habits and surroundings varied little during
the whole of this campaign summer. Naturally he gave up active law
practice, leaving his office in charge of his partner, William H.
Herndon. He spent the time during the usual business hours of each day
in the governor's room of the State-house at Springfield, attended only
by his private secretary, Mr. Nicolay. Friends and strangers alike were
able to visit him freely and without ceremony, and few went away without
being impressed by the sincere frankness of his manner and conversation.

All sorts of people came to see him: those from far-away States, East
and West, as well as those from nearer home. Politicians came to ask
him for future favors, and many whose only motives were friendliness or
curiosity called to express their good wishes and take the Republican
candidate by the hand.

He wrote no public letters, and he made no speeches beyond a few words
of thanks and greeting to passing street parades. Even the strictly
private letters in which he gave his advice on points in the campaign
were not more than a dozen in number; but all through the long summer,
while welcoming his throngs of visitors, listening to the tales of old
settlers, making friends of strangers, and binding old friends closer
by his ready sympathy, Mr. Lincoln watched political developments very
closely, not merely to note the progress of his own chances, but with
an anxious view to the future in case he should be elected. Beyond
the ever-changing circle of friendly faces near him he saw the growing
unrest and anger of the South, and doubtless felt the uncertainty of
many good people in the North, who questioned the power of this untried
Western man to guide the country through the coming perils.

Never over-confident of his own powers, his mind must at times have
been full of misgivings; but it was only on the night of the election,
November 6, 1860, when, sitting alone with the operators in the little
telegraph-office at Springfield, he read the messages of Republican
victory that fell from the wires until convinced of his election, that
the overwhelming, almost crushing weight of his coming duties and
responsibilities fell upon him. In that hour, grappling resolutely and
alone with the problem before him, he completed what was really the
first act of his Presidency--the choice of his cabinet, of the men who
were to aid him. People who doubted the will or the wisdom of their
Rail-splitter Candidate need have had no fear. A weak man would have
chosen this little band of counselors--the Secretary of State, the
Secretary of the Treasury, and the half-dozen others who were to stand
closest to him and to be at the head of the great departments of the
government--from among his personal friends. A man uncertain of his own
power would have taken care that no other man of strong nature with a
great following of his own should be there to dispute his authority.
Lincoln did the very opposite. He had a sincere belief in public
opinion, and a deep respect for the popular will. In this case he felt
that no men represented that popular will so truly as those whose names
had been considered by the Republican National Convention in its choice
of a candidate for President. So, instead of gathering about him his
friends, he selected his most powerful rivals in the Republican party.
William H. Seward, of New York, was to be his Secretary of State; Salmon
P. Chase, of Ohio, his Secretary of the Treasury; Simon Cameron, of
Pennsylvania, his Secretary of War; Edward Bates, of Missouri, his
Attorney-General. The names of all of these men had been before the
Convention. Each one had hoped to be President in his stead. For the
other three members of his Cabinet he had to look elsewhere. Gideon
Welles, of Connecticut, for Secretary of the Navy; Montgomery Blair, of
Maryland, for Postmaster-General; and Caleb B. Smith, of Indiana, for
Secretary of the Interior, were finally chosen. When people complained,
as they sometimes did, that by this arrangement the cabinet consisted of
four men who had been Democrats in the old days, and only three who had
been Whigs, Lincoln smiled his wise, humorous smile and answered that he
himself had been a Whig, and would always be there to make matters even.
It is not likely that this exact list was in his mind on the night of
the November election; but the principal names in it most certainly
were. To some of these gentlemen he offered their appointments by
letter. Others he asked to visit him in Springfield to talk the matter
over. Much delay and some misunderstanding occurred before the list was
finally completed: but when he sent it to the Senate, on the day after
his inauguration, it was practically the one he had in his mind from the

A President is elected by popular vote early in November, but he is not
inaugurated until the following fourth of March. Until the day of his
inauguration, when he takes the oath of office and begins to discharge
his duties, he is not only not President--he has no more power in the
affairs of the Government than the humblest private citizen. It is easy
to imagine the anxieties and misgivings that beset Mr. Lincoln during
the four long months that lay between his election and his inauguration.
True to their threats never to endure the rule of a "Black Republican"
President, the Cotton States one after the other withdrew their senators
and representatives from Congress, passed what they called "Ordinances
of Secession," and declared themselves to be no longer a part of the
United States. One after another, too, army and navy officers stationed
in the Southern States gave up to the Southern leaders in this movement
the forts, navy-yards, arsenals, mints, ships, and other government
property under their charge. President Buchanan, in whose hands alone
rested the power to punish these traitors and avenge their insults to
the government he had sworn to protect and defend, showed no disposition
to do so; and Lincoln, looking on with a heavy heart, was unable
to interfere in any way. No matter how anxiously he might watch the
developments at Washington or in the Cotton States, no matter what
appeals might be made to him, no action of any kind was possible on his

The only bit of cheer that came to him and other Union men during this
anxious season of waiting, was in the conduct of Major Robert Anderson
at Charleston Harbor, who, instead of following the example of other
officers who were proving unfaithful, boldly defied the Southern
"secessionists," and moving his little handful of soldiers into the
harbor fort best fitted for defense, prepared to hold out against them
until help could reach him from Washington.

In February the leaders of the Southern people met at Montgomery,
Alabama, adopted a Constitution, and set up a government which they
called the Confederate States of America, electing Jefferson Davis,
of Mississippi, President, and Alexander H. Stephens, of Georgia,
Vice-President. Stephens was the "little, slim pale-faced consumptive
man" whose speech in Congress had won Lincoln's admiration years before.
Davis had been the child who began his schooling so near to Lincoln in
Kentucky. He had had a far different career. Good fortune had carried
him to West Point, into the Mexican War, into the cabinet of President
Franklin Pierce, and twice into the Senate. He had had money, high
office, the best education his country could give him--everything, it
seemed, that had been denied to Lincoln. Now the two men were the
chosen heads of two great opposing factions, one bent on destroying the
government that had treated him so kindly; the other, for whom it had
done so little, willing to lay down his life in its defense.

It must not be supposed that Lincoln remained idle during these four
months of waiting. Besides completing his cabinet, and receiving his
many visitors, he devoted himself to writing his inaugural address,
withdrawing himself for some hours each day to a quiet room over the
store of his brother-in-law, where he could think and write undisturbed.
The newspaper correspondents who had gathered at Springfield, though
alert for every item of news, and especially anxious for a sight of his
inaugural address, seeing him every day as usual, got not the slightest
hint of what he was doing.

Mr. Lincoln started on his journey to Washington on February 11,
1861 two days after Jefferson Davis had been elected President of the
Confederate States of America. He went on a special train, accompanied
by Mrs. Lincoln and their three children, his two private secretaries,
and about a dozen personal friends. Mr. Seward had suggested that
because of the unsettled condition of public affairs it would be better
for the President-elect to come a week earlier; but Mr. Lincoln allowed
himself only time comfortably to fill the engagements he had made to
visit the State capitals and principal cities that lay on his way, to
which he had been invited by State and town officials, regardless of
party. The morning on which he left Springfield was dismal and stormy,
but fully a thousand of his friends and neighbors assembled to bid him
farewell. The weather seemed to add to the gloom and depression of their
spirits, and the leave-taking was one of subdued anxiety, almost of
solemnity. Mr. Lincoln took his stand in the waiting-room while his
friends filed past him, often merely pressing his hand in silent
emotion. The arrival of the rushing train broke in upon this ceremony,
and the crowd closed about the car into which the President-elect and
his party made their way. Just as they were starting, when the conductor
had his hand upon the bell-rope, Mr. Lincoln stepped out upon the front
platform and made the following brief and pathetic address. It was the
last time his voice was to be heard in the city which had so long been
his home:

"My Friends: No one not in my situation can appreciate my feeling of
sadness at this parting. To this place and the kindness of these people
I owe everything. Here I have lived a quarter of a century, and have
passed from a young to an old man. Here my children have been born,
and one is buried. I now leave, not knowing when or whether ever I
may return, with a task before me greater than that which rested
upon Washington. Without the assistance of that Divine Being who ever
attended him, I cannot succeed. With that assistance I cannot fail.
Trusting in Him who can go with me, and remain with you, and be
everywhere for good, let us confidently hope that all will yet be well.
To His care commending you, as I hope in your prayers you will commend
me, I bid you an affectionate farewell."

The conductor gave the signal, the train rolled slowly out of the
station, and the journey to Washington was begun. It was a remarkable
progress. At almost every station, even the smallest, crowds had
gathered to catch a glimpse of the face of the President-elect, or
at least to see the flying train. At the larger stopping-places
these crowds swelled to thousands, and in the great cities to almost
unmanageable throngs. Everywhere there were calls for Mr. Lincoln, and
if he showed himself; for a speech. Whenever there was time, he would
go to the rear platform of the car and bow as the train moved away, or
utter a few words of thanks and greeting. At the capitals of Indiana,
Ohio, New York, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania, and in the cities of
Cincinnati, Cleveland, Buffalo, New York, and Philadelphia, halts of
one or two days were made, the time being filled with formal visits and
addresses to each house of the legislature, street processions, large
evening receptions, and other ceremonies.

Party foes as well as party friends made up these expectant crowds.
Every eye was eager, every ear strained, to get some hint of the
thoughts and purposes of the man who was to be the guide and head of the
nation in the crisis that every one now knew to be upon the country, but
the course and end of which the wisest could not foresee. In spite of
all the cheers and the enthusiasm, there was also an under-current of
anxiety for his personal safety, for the South had openly boasted that
Lincoln would never live to be inaugurated President. He himself paid no
heed to such warnings; but the railroad officials, and others who were
responsible for his journey, had detectives on watch at different points
to report any suspicious happenings. Nothing occurred to change the
program already agreed upon until the party reached Philadelphia; but
there Mr. Lincoln was met by Frederick W. Seward, the son of his future
Secretary of State, with an important message from his father. A
plot had been discovered to do violence to, and perhaps kill, the
President-elect as he passed through the city of Baltimore. Mr. Seward
and General Scott, the venerable hero of the Mexican War, who was now at
the head of the army, begged him to run no risk, but to alter his plans
so that a portion of his party might pass through Baltimore by a night
train without previous notice. The seriousness of the warning was
doubled by the fact that Mr. Lincoln had just been told of a similar,
if not exactly the same, danger, by a Chicago detective employed in
Baltimore by one of the great railroad companies. Two such warnings,
coming from entirely different sources, could not be disregarded;
for however much Mr. Lincoln might dislike to change his plans for so
shadowy a danger, his duty to the people who had elected him forbade
his running any unnecessary risk. Accordingly, after fulfilling all
his engagements in Philadelphia and Harrisburg on February 22, he and a
single companion took a night train, passed quietly through Baltimore,
and arrived in Washington about daylight on the morning of February 23.
This action called forth much talk, ranging from the highest praise to
ridicule and blame. A reckless newspaper reporter telegraphed all over
the country the absurd story that he had traveled disguised in a Scotch
cap and a long military cloak. There was, of course, not a word of truth
in the absurd tale. The rest of the party followed Mr. Lincoln at
the time originally planned. They saw great crowds in the streets of
Baltimore, but there was now no occasion for violence.

In the week that passed between his arrival and the day of his
inauguration Mr. Lincoln exchanged the customary visits of ceremony with
President Buchanan, his cabinet, the Supreme Court, the two houses of
Congress, and other dignitaries.

Careful preparations for the inauguration had been made under the
personal direction of General Scott, who held the small military force
in the city ready instantly to suppress any attempt to disturb the peace
and quiet of the day.

On the morning of the fourth of March President Buchanan and Citizen
Lincoln, the outgoing and incoming heads of the government, rode side by
side in a carriage from the Executive Mansion, or White House, as it
is more commonly called, to the Capitol, escorted by an imposing
procession; and at noon a great throng of people heard Mr. Lincoln read
his inaugural address as he stood on the east portico of the Capitol,
surrounded by all the high officials of the government. Senator Douglas,
his unsuccessful rival, standing not an arm's length away from him,
courteously held his hat during the ceremony. A cheer greeted him as he
finished his address. Then the Chief Justice arose, the clerk opened his
Bible, and Mr. Lincoln, laying his hand upon the book, pronounced the

"I, Abraham Lincoln, do solemnly swear that I will faithfully execute
the office of President of the United States, and will, to the best of
my ability, preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution of the United

Amid the thundering of cannon and the applause of all the spectators,
President Lincoln and Citizen Buchanan again entered their carriage and
drove back from the Capitol to the Executive Mansion, on the threshold
of which Mr. Buchanan, warmly shaking the hand of his successor,
expressed his wishes for the personal happiness of the new President,
and for the national peace and prosperity.


It is one thing to be elected President of the United States,--that
means triumph, honor, power: it is quite another thing to perform the
duties of President,--for that means labor, disappointment, difficulty,
even danger. Many a man envied Abraham Lincoln when, in the stately pomp
of inauguration and with the plaudits of the spectators ringing about
him, he took the oath of office which for four years transforms an
American citizen into the ruler of these United States. Such envy would
have been changed to deepest sympathy if they could have known what lay
before him. After the music and cannon were dumb, after the flags were
all furled and the cheering crowds had vanished, the shadows of war fell
about the Executive Mansion, and its new occupant remained face to face
with his heavy task--a task which, as he had truly said in his speech at
Springfield, was greater than that which rested upon Washington.

Then, as never before, he must have realized the peril of the nation,
with its credit gone, its laws defied, its flag insulted. The South
had carried out its threat, and seven million Americans were in revolt
against the idea that "all men are created equal," while twenty million
other Americans were bent upon defending that idea. For the moment both
sides had paused to see how the new President would treat this attempt
at secession. It must be constantly borne in mind that the rebellion in
the Southern States with which Mr. Lincoln had to deal was not a sudden
revolution, but a conspiracy of slow growth and long planning. As one
of its actors frankly admitted, it was "not an event of a day. It is not
anything produced by Mr. Lincoln's election.... It is a matter which has
been gathering head for thirty years." Its main object, it must also
be remembered, was the spread of slavery. Alexander H. Stephens, in
a speech made shortly after he became the Confederate Vice-President,
openly proclaimed slavery to be the "corner-stone" of the new
government. For years it had been the dream of southern leaders to
make the Ohio River the northern boundary of a great slave empire, with
everything lying to the south of that, even the countries of South and
Central America, as parts of their system. Though this dream was never
to be realized, the Confederacy finally came to number eleven States
(Alabama, Mississippi, Louisiana, South Carolina, North Carolina,
Florida, Texas, Arkansas, Tennessee, Virginia and Georgia), and to cover
a territory of more than 750,000 square miles--larger than England,
Scotland, Ireland, France, Spain, Germany and Switzerland put together,
with a coast line 3,500 miles long, and a land frontier of over 7,000

President Buchanan's timidity and want of spirit had alone made this
great rebellion possible, for although it had been "gathering head for
thirty years" it was only within the last few months that it had come to
acts of open treason and rebellion. President Buchanan had opportunity
and ample power to crush it when the conspirators first began to show
their hands. Instead he wavered, and delayed, while they grew bold
under his lack of decision, imagining that they would have a bloodless
victory, and even boasting that they would take Washington for their
capital; or, if the new President should thwart them and make them
fight, that they would capture Philadelphia and dictate the peace they
wanted from Independence Hall.

By the time Mr. Lincoln came into office the conspiracy had grown beyond
control by any means then in the hands of a President, though men on
both sides still vainly hoped that the troubles of the country might
be settled without fighting. Mr. Lincoln especially wished to make very
sure that if it ever came to a matter of war, the fault should not lie
with the North.

In his inaugural address he had told the South that he would use the
power confided to him to hold and occupy the places belonging to the
Government, and to collect the taxes; but beyond what might be necessary
for these objects, he would not use force among the people anywhere. His
peaceful policy was already harder to follow than he realized. Before
he had been President twenty-four hours word came from Major Anderson,
still defying the conspirators from Fort Sumter in Charleston Harbor,
that his little garrison was short of food, and must speedily surrender
unless help reached them. The rebels had for weeks been building
batteries to attack the fort, and with Anderson's report came the
written opinions of his officers that it would require an army of 20,000
men to relieve it. They might as well have asked for twenty thousand
archangels, for at that time the entire army of the United States
numbered but 17,113 men, and these were doing duty, not only in the
Southern and Eastern States, but were protecting settlers from Indians
on the great western frontier, and guarding the long Canadian and
Mexican boundaries as well. Yet Anderson and his men could not be left
to their fate without even an attempt to help them, though some of the
high military and naval officers hastily called into council by the
new President advised this course. It was finally decided to notify the
Confederates that a ship carrying food, but no soldiers, would be sent
to his relief. If they chose to fire upon that it would be plainly the
South, and not the North, that began the war.

Days went on, and by the middle of April the Confederate government
found itself forced to a fatal choice. Either it must begin war, or
allow the rebellion to collapse. All its claims to independence were
denied; the commissioner it sent to Washington on the pretense that they
were agents of a foreign country were politely refused a hearing, yet
not one angry word, or provoking threat, or a single harmful act had
come from the "Black Republican" President. In his inaugural he had
promised the people of the South peace and protection, and offered them
the benefit of the mails. Even now, all he proposed to do was to send
bread to Anderson and his hungry soldiers. His prudent policy placed
them where, as he had told them, they could have no war unless they
themselves chose to begin it.

They did choose to begin it. The rebellion was the work of ambitious
men, who had no mind to stop at that late day and see their labor go for
nothing. The officer in charge of their batteries was ordered to open
fire on Fort Sumter if Anderson refused to surrender; and in the dim
light of dawn on April 12, 1861, just as the outline of Fort Sumter
began to show itself against a brightening sky, the shot that opened the
Civil War rose from a rebel battery and made its slow and graceful curve
upon Sumter. Soon all the batteries were in action, and the fort was
replying with a will. Anderson held out for a day and a half, until his
cartridges were all used up, his flagstaff had been shot away, and the
wooden buildings inside the fort were on fire. Then, as the ships with
supplies had not yet arrived, and he had neither food nor ammunition, he
was forced to surrender.

The news of the firing upon Fort Sumter changed the mood of the country
as if by magic. By deliberate act of the Confederate government its
attempt at peaceable secession had been changed to active war. The
Confederates gained Fort Sumter, but in doing so they roused the
patriotism of the North to a firm resolve that this insult to the flag
should be redressed, and that the unrighteous experiment of a rival
government founded upon slavery as its "cornerstone," should never
succeed. In one of his speeches on the journey to Washington Mr. Lincoln
had said that devoted as he was to peace, it might become necessary to
"put the foot down firmly." That time had now come. On April 15, the day
after the fall of Fort Sumter, all the newspapers of the country printed
the President's call to arms, ordering out 75,000 militia for three
months, and directing Congress to meet in special session on July 4,
1861. The North rallied instantly to the support of the Government, and
offered him twice the number of soldiers he asked for.

Nothing more clearly shows the difference between President Lincoln and
President Buchanan than the way in which the two men met the acts of the
Southern Rebellion. President Buchanan temporized and delayed when he
had plenty of power. President Lincoln, without a moment's hesitation
accepted the great and unusual responsibility thrust upon him, and at
once issued orders for buying ships, moving troops, advancing money
to Committees of Safety, and for other military and naval measures for
which at the moment he had no express authority from Congress. As soon
as Congress came together on July 4, he sent a message explaining his
action, saying: "It became necessary for me to choose whether, using
only the existing means.... which Congress had provided, I should let
the Government fall at once into ruin, or whether availing myself of the
broader powers conferred by the Constitution in cases of insurrection,
I would make an effort to save it with all its blessings for the present
age and for posterity." Congress, it is needless to say, not only
approved all that he had done, but gave him practically unlimited powers
for dealing with the rebellion in future.

It soon became evident that no matter how ready and willing to fight for
their country the 75,000 volunteers might be, they could not hope to put
down the rebellion, because the time for which they had enlisted would
be almost over before they could receive the training necessary to
change them from valiant citizens into good soldiers. Another call was
therefore issued, this time for men to serve three years or during the
war, and also for a large number of sailors to man the new ships that
the Government was straining every nerve to buy, build and otherwise
make ready.

More important, however, than soldiers trained or untrained, was the
united will of the people of the North; and most important of all the
steadfast and courageous soul of the man called to direct the struggle.
Abraham Lincoln, the poor frontier boy, the struggling young lawyer, the
Illinois politician, whom many, even among the Republicans who voted to
elect him President, thought scarcely fit to hold a much smaller
office, proved beyond question the man for the task gifted above all
his associates with wisdom and strength to meet the great emergencies as
they arose during the four years' war that had already begun.

Since this is the story of Mr. Lincoln's life, and not of the Civil
War, we cannot attempt to follow the history of the long contest as
it unfolded itself day by day and month by month, or even to stop to
recount a list of the great battles that drenched the land in blood. It
was a mighty struggle, fought by men of the same race and kindred, often
by brother against brother. Each fought for what he felt to be right;
and their common inheritance of courage and iron will, of endurance and
splendid bravery and stubborn pluck, made this battle of brothers the
more bitter as it was the more prolonged. It ranged over an immense
extent of country; but because Washington was the capital of the Union,
and Richmond, Virginia, the capital of the Confederacy, and the desire
of each side was to capture the chief city of the other, the principal
fighting ground, during the whole war, lay between these two towns, with
the Alleghany Mountains on the west, and Chesapeake Bay on the east.
Between the Alleghanies and the Mississippi River another field of
warfare developed itself, on which some of the hardest battles were
fought, and the greatest victories won. Beyond the Mississippi again
stretched another great field, bounded only by the Rocky Mountains and
the Rio Grande. But the principal fighting in this field was near or
even on the Mississippi, in the efforts made by both Unionists and
Confederates to keep and hold the great highway of the river, so
necessary for trade in time of peace, and for moving armies in time of

On this immense battle-ground was fought one of the most costly wars
of modern times, with soldiers numbering a million men on each side; in
which, counting battles and skirmishes small and great, an average of
two engagements a day were fought for four long years, two millions of
money were used up every twenty-four hours, and during which the unholy
prize of slavery, for which the Confederate States did battle, was
completely swept away.

Though the tide of battle ebbed and flowed, defeat and victory may be
said to have been nearly evenly divided. Generally speaking, success was
more often on the side of the South during the first half of the war;
with the North, during the latter half. The armies were equally brave;
the North had the greater territory from which to draw supplies; and the
end came, not when one side had beaten the other, man for man, but
when the South had been drained of fighting men and food and guns, and
slavery had perished in the stress of war.

Fortunately for all, nobody at the beginning dreamed of the length of
the struggle. Even Lincoln's stout heart would have been dismayed if he
could have foreseen all that lay before him. The task that he could
see was hard and perplexing enough. Everything in Washington was in
confusion. No President ever had such an increase of official work as
Lincoln during the early months of his administration. The halls and
ante-rooms of the Executive Mansion were literally crowded with people
seeking appointment to office; and the new appointments that were
absolutely necessary were not half finished when the firing on Fort
Sumter began active war. This added to the difficulty of sifting the
loyal from the disloyal, and the yet more pressing labor of organizing
an immense new army.

Hundreds of clerks employed in the Government Departments left their
desks and hurried South, crippling the service just at the time when
the sudden increase of work made their presence doubly needed. A large
proportion of the officers of the Army and Navy, perhaps as many as
one-third, gave their skill and services to the Confederacy, feeling
that their allegiance was due to their State or section rather than to
the general government. Prominent among these was Robert E. Lee, who had
been made a colonel by Lincoln, and whom General Scott had recommended
as the most promising officer to command the new force of 75,000 men
called out by the President's proclamation. He chose instead to resign
and cast his fortunes with the South, where he became the head of
all the Confederate armies. The loss to the Union and gain to the
Confederate cause by his action is hard to measure, since in him the
Southern armies found a commander whose surpassing courage and skill
inspired its soldiers long after all hope of success was gone. Cases
such as this gave the President more anxiety than all else. It seemed
impossible to know whom to trust. An officer might come to him in the
morning protesting devotion to the Union, and by night be gone to the
South. Mr. Lincoln used to say at this time that he felt like a man
letting rooms at one end of his house while the other end was on fire.

The situation grew steadily worse. Maryland refused to allow United
States soldiers to cross her territory, and the first attempt to bring
troops through Baltimore from the North ended in a bloody riot, and the
burning of railroad bridges to prevent help from reaching Washington.
For three days Washington was entirely cut off from the North, either by
telegraph or mail. General Scott hastily prepared the city for a siege,
taking possession of all the large supplies of flour and provisions
in town, and causing the Capitol and other public buildings to be
barricaded. Though President Lincoln did not doubt the final arrival
of help, he, like everyone else, was very anxious, and found it hard
to understand the long delay. He knew that troops had started from the
North. Why did they not arrive? They might not be able to go through
Baltimore, but they could certainly go around it. The distance was not
great. What if twenty miles of railroad had been destroyed, were the
soldiers unable to march? Always calm and self-controlled, he gave no
sign in the presence of others of the anxiety that weighed so heavily
upon him. Very likely the visitors who saw him during those days thought
that he hardly realized the plight of the city; yet an inmate of the
White House, passing through the President's office when the day's work
was done and he imagined himself alone, saw him pause in his absorbed
walk up and down the floor, and gaze long out of the window in
the direction from which the troops were expected to appear. Then,
unconscious of any hearer, and as if the words were wrung from him by
anguish, he exclaimed, "Why don't they come, why don't they come?"

The New York Seventh Regiment was the first to "come." By a roundabout
route it reached Washington on the morning of April 25, and, weary
and travel-worn, but with banners flying and music playing, marched up
Pennsylvania Avenue to the big white Executive Mansion, bringing cheer
to the President and renewed courage to those timid citizens whose
fright during this time had almost paralyzed the life of the town.
Taking renewed courage they once more opened their houses and the shops
that had been closed since the beginning of the blockade, and business
began anew.

The greater part of the three months' regiments had been ordered to
Washington, and the outskirts of the capital soon became a busy military
camp. The great Departments of the Government, especially of War and
Navy, could not immediately handle the details of all this sudden
increase of work. Men were volunteering rapidly enough, but there was
sore need of rations to feed them, money to pay them, tents to shelter
them, uniforms to clothe them, rifles to arm them, officers to drill
them, and of transportation to carry them to the camps of instruction
where they must receive their training and await further orders. In this
carnival of patriotism and hurly-burly of organization the weaknesses as
well as the virtues of human nature quickly showed themselves; and, as
if the new President had not already enough to distress and harass his
mind, almost every case of confusion and delay was brought to him for
complaint and correction. On him also fell the delicate and serious task
of deciding hundreds of novel questions as to what he and his cabinet
ministers had and had not the right to do under the Constitution.

The month of May slipped away in all these preparatory vexations; but
the great machine of war, once started, moved on as it always does, from
arming to massing of troops, and from that to skirmish and battle.
In June small fights began to occur between the Union and Confederate
armies. The first large battle of the war took place at Bull Run, about
thirty-two miles southwest of Washington, on July 21, 1861. It ended in
a victory for the Confederates, though their army was so badly crippled
by. its losses that it made no further forward movement during the whole
of the next autumn and winter.

The shock of this defeat was deep and painful to the people of the
North, not yet schooled to patience, or to the uncertainties of war.
For weeks the newspapers, confident of success, had been clamoring for
action, and the cry, "Forward to Richmond," had been heard on every
hand. At first the people would not believe the story of a defeat; but
it was only too true. By night the beaten Union troops were pouring
into the fortifications around Washington, and the next day a horde of
stragglers found their way across the bridges of the Potomac into the

President Lincoln received the news quietly, as was his habit, without
any visible sign of distress or alarm, but he remained awake and in
his office all that Sunday night, listening to the excited tales of
congressmen and senators who, with undue curiosity, had followed the
army and witnessed some of the sights and sounds of battle; and by dawn
on Monday he had practically made up his mind as to the probable result
and what he must do in consequence.

The loss of the battle of Bull Run was a bitter disappointment to him.
He saw that the North was not to have the easy victory it anticipated;
and to him personally it brought a great and added care that never left
him during the war. Up to that time the North had stood by him as one
man in its eager resolve to put down the rebellion. From this time on,
though quite as determined, there was division and disagreement among
the people as to how this could best be done. Parties formed themselves
for or against this or that general, or in favor of this or that method
and no other of carrying on the war. In other words, the President and
his "administration"--the cabinet and other officers under him--became,
from this time on, the target of criticism for all the failures of the
Union armies, and for all the accidents and mistakes and unforeseen
delays of war. The self-control that Mr. Lincoln had learned in the hard
school of his boyhood, and practised during all the long struggle of
his young manhood, had been severe and bitter training, but nothing else
could have prepared him for the great disappointments and trials of
the crowning years of his life. He had learned to endure patiently, to
reason calmly, never to be unduly sure of his own opinion; but, having
taken counsel of the best advice at his command, to continue in the path
that he felt to be right, regardless of criticism or unjust abuse. He
had daily and hourly to do all this. He was strong and courageous, with
a steadfast belief that the right would triumph in the end; but his
nature was at the same time sensitive and tender, and the sorrows and
pain of others hurt him more than did his own.


So far Mr. Lincoln's new duties as President had not placed him at any
disadvantage with the members of his cabinet. On the old question of
slavery he was as well informed and had clearer ideas than they. On the
new military questions that had come up since the inauguration, they,
like himself, had to rely on the advice of experienced officers of the
army and navy; and since these differed greatly, Mr. Lincoln's powerful
mind was as able to reach true conclusions as were men who had been
governors and senators. Yet the idea lingered that because he had never
before held high office, and because a large part of his life had been
passed in the rude surroundings of the frontier, he must of necessity
be lacking in power to govern--be weaker in will, without tact or
culture--must in every way be less fitted to cope with the difficult
problems so rapidly coming upon the administration.

At the beginning even Secretary Seward shared this view. Mr. Lincoln
must have been surprised indeed, when, on the first day of April,
exactly four weeks after his inauguration, his Secretary of State, the
man he justly looked upon as the chief member of his cabinet, handed
him a paper on which were written "Some Thoughts for the President's
Consideration." It was most grave and dignified in language, but in
substance bluntly told Mr. Lincoln that after a month's trial the
Administration was without a policy, domestic or foreign, and that this
must be remedied at once. It advised shifting the issue at home from
slavery to the question of Union or disunion; and counseled the adoption
of an attitude toward Europe which could not have failed to rouse the
anger of the principal foreign nations. It added that the President or
some member of his cabinet must make it his constant duty to pursue and
direct whatever policy should be adopted, and hinted very plainly
that although he, Mr. Seward, did not seek such responsibility, he was
willing to assume it. The interest of this remarkable paper for us lies
in the way Mr. Lincoln treated it, and the measure that treatment gives
us of his generosity and self-control. An envious or a resentful man
could not have wished a better opportunity to put a rival under his
feet; but though Mr. Lincoln doubtless thought the incident very
strange, it did not for a moment disturb his serenity or his kindly
judgment. He answered in a few quiet sentences that showed no trace of
passion or even of excitement; and on the central suggestion that some
one person must direct the affairs of the government, replied with
dignity "if this must be done, I must do it," adding that on affairs of
importance he desired and supposed he had a right to have the advice of
all the members of his cabinet. This reply ended the matter, and as
far as is known, neither of them ever mentioned the subject again. Mr.
Lincoln put the papers away in an envelope, and no word of the affair
came to the public until years after both men were dead. In one mind
at least there was no longer a doubt that the cabinet had a master. Mr.
Seward recognized the President's kindly forbearance, and repaid it by
devotion and personal friendship until the day of his tragic death.

If, after this experience, the Secretary of State needed any further
proof of Mr. Lincoln's ability to rule, it soon came to him, for during
the first months of the war matters abroad claimed the attention of
the cabinet, and with these also the untried western man showed himself
better fitted to deal than his more experienced advisers. Many of the
countries of Europe, especially France and England, wished the South
to succeed. France because of plans that Emperor Napoleon III had for
founding French colonies on American soil, and England because such
success would give her free cotton for her mills and factories. England
became so friendly toward the rebels that Mr. Seward, much irritated,
wrote a despatch on May 21, 1861, to Charles Francis Adams, the American
Minister at London, which, if it had been sent as he wrote it, would
almost certainly have brought on war between the two countries. It set
forth justly and with courage what the United States government would
and would not endure from foreign powers during the war with the South,
but it had been penned in a heat of indignation, and was so blunt and
exasperating as to suggest intentional disrespect. When Mr. Seward read
it to the President the latter at once saw this, and taking it from his
Secretary of State kept it by him for further consideration. A second
reading showed him that his first impression was correct. Thereupon the
frontier lawyer, taking his pen, went carefully over the whole
dispatch, and by his corrections so changed the work of the trained and
experienced statesman as entirely to remove its offensive tone, without
in the least altering its force or courage.

Once again during 1861 the country was in serious danger of war with
England, and the action of President Lincoln at this time proved not
only that he had the will to be just, even when his own people were
against him, but had the skill to gain real advantage from what seemed
very like defeat. One of the earliest and most serious tasks of the
Government had been to blockade the southern ports, in order to prevent
supplies from foreign countries reaching the southern people, especially
the southern armies. Considering the great length of coast to be
patrolled, and the small size of the navy at the commencement of the
struggle, this was done with wonderful quickness, and proved in the main
effective, though occasionally a rebel boat managed to slip in or out
without being discovered and fired upon by the ships on guard.

In November Captain Charles Wilkes learned that Ex-Senators J. M. Mason
and John Slidell, two prominent Confederates bound on an important
mission to Europe, had succeeded in reaching Cuba, and from there had
taken passage for England on the British mail steamer Trent. He stopped
the Trent and took Mason and Slidell prisoners, afterward allowing the
steamer to proceed on her way. The affair caused intense excitement
both in England and in the United States, and England began instant
preparations for war. Lord Lyons, the British Minister at Washington,
was instructed to demand the release of the prisoners and a suitable
apology within one week, and if this were refused, to close his legation
and come home. It was fortunate that Lord Lyons and Mr. Seward were
close personal friends, and could, in spite of the excitement of
both countries, discuss the matter calmly and without anger. Their
conferences were brought to an end by Mr. Lincoln's decision to give
up the prisoners. In the North their capture had been greeted with
extravagant joy. Newspapers rang with praises of Captain Wilkes; his act
was officially approved by the Secretary of the Navy, and the House of
Representatives passed a resolution thanking him for his "brave, adroit,
and patriotic conduct." In the face of all this it must have been hard
indeed for Mr. Lincoln to order that Mason and Slidell be given up;
but though he shared the first impulse of rejoicing, he soon became
convinced that this must be done. War with England must certainly be
avoided; and Captain Wilkes, by allowing the Trent to proceed on her
voyage, instead of bringing her into port with the prisoners, had put
it out of the power of his Government to prove, under international law,
that the capture was justified. Besides all else, the President's quick
mind saw, what others failed to note, that by giving up the prisoners
as England demanded, the United States would really gain an important
diplomatic victory. For many years England had claimed the right to stop
and search vessels at sea when she had reason to believe they carried
men or goods hostile to her interests. The United States denied the
right, and yet this was exactly what Captain Wilkes had done in stopping
the Trent. By giving up the prisoners the United States would thus force
England to admit that her own claim had been unjust, and bind her in
future to respect the rights of other ships at sea. Excited American
feeling was grievously disappointed, and harsh criticism of the
Administration for thus yielding to a foreign country was not wanting;
but American good sense soon saw the justice of the point taken and the
wisdom of Mr. Lincoln's course.

"He that is slow to anger," says the proverb, "is better than the
mighty, and he that ruleth his spirit than he that taketh a city." Great
as was his self-control in other matters, nowhere did Mr. Lincoln's
slowness to anger and nobility of spirit show itself more than in
his dealings with the generals of the Civil War. He had been elected
President. Congress had given him power far exceeding that which
any President had ever exercised before. As President he was also
Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States. By
proclamation he could call forth great armies and he could order those
armies to go wherever he chose to send them; but even he had no power
to make generals with the genius and the training necessary to lead them
instantly to success. He had to work with the materials at hand, and one
by one he tried the men who seemed best fitted for the task, giving each
his fullest trust and every aid in his power. They were as eager for
victory and as earnest of purpose as himself, but in every case some
misfortune or some fault marred the result, until the country grew weary
with waiting; discouragement overshadowed hope, and misgiving almost
engulfed his own strong soul. Then, at last, the right men were found,
the battles were all fought, and the war was at an end.

His kindness and patience in dealing with the generals who did not
succeed is the wonder of all who study the history of the Civil War. The
letters he wrote to them show better than whole volumes of description
could do the helpful and forbearing spirit in which he sought to aid
them. First among these unsuccessful generals was George B. McClellan,
who had been called to Washington after the battle of Bull Run and
placed in charge of the great new army of three years' volunteers that
was pouring so rapidly into the city. McClellan proved a wonderful
organizer. Under his skilful direction the raw recruits went to their
camps of instruction, fell without confusion or delay into brigades and
divisions, were supplied with equipments, horses and batteries, and put
through a routine of drill, tactics and reviews that soon made this Army
of the Potomac, as it was called, one of the best prepared armies the
world has ever seen--a perfect fighting machine of over 150,000 men and
more than 200 guns. General McClellan excelled in getting soldiers ready
to fight, but he did not succeed in leading them to fruitful victory. At
first the administration had great hopes of him as a commander. He
was young, enthusiastic, winning, and on arriving in Washington seemed
amazed and deeply touched by the confidence reposed in him. "I find
myself," he wrote to his wife, "in a new and strange position here,
President, cabinet, General Scott, and all, deferring to me. By some
strange operation of magic I seem to have become the power of the land."
His rise in military rank had equaled the inventions of fairy tales. He
had been only a captain during the Mexican war. Then he resigned. Two
months after volunteering for the Civil War he found himself a Major
General in the Regular Army. For a short time his zeal and activity
seemed to justify this amazing good fortune. In a fortnight however he
began to look upon himself as the principal savior of his country. He
entered upon a quarrel with General Scott which soon drove that old hero
into retirement and out of his pathway. He looked upon the cabinet as a
set of "geese," and seeing that the President was kind and unassuming in
discussing military affairs, he formed the habit of expressing contempt
for him in letters to confidential friends. This feeling grew until
it soon reached a mark of open disrespect, but the President's conduct
toward him did not change. Mr. Lincoln's nature was too forgiving,
and the responsibility that lay upon him was too heavy for personal
resentment. For fifteen months he strove to make McClellan succeed even
in spite of himself. He gave him help, encouragement, the most timely
suggestions. He answered his ever-increasing complaints with unfailing
self-control. It was not that he did not see McClellan's faults. He saw
them, and felt them keenly. "If Gen. McClellan does not want to use
the army, I would like to borrow it," he said one day, stung by the
General's inactivity into a sarcasm he seldom allowed himself to use.
But his patience was not exhausted. McClellan had always more soldiers
than the enemy, at Antietam nearly double his numbers, yet his constant
cry was for re-enforcements. Regiments were sent him that could ill be
spared from other points. Even when his fault-finding reached the height
of telegraphing to the Secretary of War, "If I save this army now I
tell you plainly that I owe no thanks to you or to any other persons
in Washington. You have done your best to sacrifice this army," the
President answered him kindly and gently, without a sign of resentment,
anxious only to do everything in his power to help on the cause of
the war. It was of no avail. Even the great luck of finding a copy of
General Lee's orders and knowing exactly what his enemy meant to do, at
a time when the Confederate general had only about half as many troops
as he had, and these were divided besides, did not help him to success.
All he could do even then was to fight the drawn battle of Antietam,
and allow Lee to get away safely across the Potomac River into Virginia.
After this the President's long-suffering patience was at an end, but he
did not remove McClellan until he had visited the Army of the Potomac
in person. What he saw on that visit assured him that it could never
succeed under such a general. "Do you know what that is?" he asked a
friend, waving his arm towards the white tents of the great army. "It is
the Army of the Potomac, I suppose," was the wondering answer. "So it
is called," replied the President, in a tone of suppressed indignation.
"But that is a mistake. It is only McClellan's bodyguard." On November
5, 1862, McClellan was relieved from command, and this ended his
military career.

There were others almost equally trying. There was General Fremont,
who had been the Republican candidate for President in 1856. At the
beginning of the war he was given a command at St. Louis and charged
with the important duty of organizing the military strength of the
northwest, holding the State of Missouri true to the Union, and leading
an expedition down the Mississippi River. Instead of accomplishing
all that had been hoped for, his pride of opinion and unwillingness
to accept help or take advice from those about him, caused serious
embarrassment and made unending trouble. The President's kindness
and gentleness in dealing with his faults were as marked as they were

There was the long line of commanders who one after the other tried and
failed in the tasks allotted to them, while the country waited and lost
courage, and even Mr. Lincoln's heart sank. His care and wisdom
and sorrow dominated the whole long persistent struggle. That first
sleepless night of his after the battle of Bull Run was but the
beginning of many nights and days through which he kept unceasing watch.
From the time in June, 1861, when he had been called upon to preside
over the council of war that decided upon the Bull Run campaign, he
devoted every spare moment to the study of such books upon the art
of war as would aid him in solving the questions that he must face as
Commander-in-Chief of the armies. With his quick mind and unusual power
of logic he made rapid progress in learning the fixed and accepted
rules on which all military writers agree. His mastery of the difficult
science became so thorough, and his understanding of military situations
so clear, that he has been called, by persons well fitted to judge, "the
ablest strategist of the war." Yet he never thrust his knowledge upon
his generals. He recognized that it was their duty, not his, to fight
the battles, and since this was so, they ought to be allowed to fight
them in their own way. He followed their movements with keenest interest
and with a most astonishing amount of knowledge, giving a hint here, and
a suggestion there, when he felt that he properly could, but he rarely
gave a positive order.

There is not space to quote the many letters in which he showed his
military wisdom, or his kindly interest in the welfare and success
of the different generals. One of the most remarkable must however be
quoted. It is the letter he wrote to General Joseph Hooker on placing
him in command of the Army of the Potomac in January, 1863, after
McClellan's many failures had been followed by the crushing defeat of
the army under General McClellan's successor, General Burnside, at the
battle of Fredericksburg, on December 13, 1862.

"I have placed you," he wrote on giving General Hooker the command, "at
the head of the Army of the Potomac. Of course I have done this upon
what appear to me to be sufficient reasons, and yet I think it best for
you to know that there are some things in regard to which I am not quite
satisfied with you. I believe you to be a brave and skilful soldier,
which, of course, I like. I also believe you do not mix politics
with your profession, in which you are right. You have confidence in
yourself, which is a valuable, if not an indispensable quality. You are
ambitious, which, within reasonable bounds, does good rather than harm;
but I think that during General Burnside's command of the army you have
taken council of your ambition and thwarted him as much as you could,
in which you did a great wrong to the country, and to a most meritorious
and honorable brother officer. I have heard, in such a way as to believe
it, of your recently saying that both the army and the Government needed
a dictator. Of course it was not for this, but in spite of it, that I
have given you the command. Only those generals who gain successes can
set up dictators. What I now ask of you is military success, and I will
risk the dictatorship. The government will support you to the utmost of
its ability, which is neither more nor less than it has done and will do
for all commanders. I much fear that the spirit which you have aided
to infuse into the army, of criticising their commander and withholding
confidence from him, will now turn upon you. I shall assist you as far
as I can, to put it down. Neither you nor Napoleon, if he were alive
again, could get any good out of an army while such a spirit prevails in
it. And now, beware of rashness. Beware of rashness, but with energy and
sleepless vigilance go forward and give us victories."

Perhaps no other piece of his writing shows as this does how completely
the genius of the President rose to the full height of his duties and
responsibilities. From beginning to end it speaks the language and
breathes the spirit of the great ruler, secure in popular confidence and
in official authority.

Though so many of the great battles during the first half of the war
were won by the Confederates, military successes came to the North
of course from time to time. With such fine armies and such earnest
generals the tide of battle could not be all one way; and even when
the generals made mistakes, the heroic fighting and endurance of the
soldiers and under-officers gathered honor out of defeat, and shed the
luster of renown over results of barren failure. But it was a weary
time, and the outlook was very dark. The President never despaired. On
the most dismal day of the whole dismal summer of 1862 he sent Secretary
Seward to New York with a confidential letter full of courage, to be
shown such of the governors of free States as could be hastily summoned
to meet him there. In it he said: "I expect to maintain this contest
until successful, or till I die, or am conquered, or my term expires,
or Congress or the country forsake me," and he asked for 100,000 fresh
volunteers with which to carry on the war. His confidence was not
misplaced. The governors of eighteen free States offered him three times
the number, and still other calls for troops followed. Soon a popular
song, "We are coming, Father Abraham, three hundred thousand strong,"
showed the faith and trust of the people in the man at the head of
the Government, and how cheerfully they met the great calls upon their

So, week after week and month after month, he faced the future, never
betraying a fear that the Union would not triumph in the end, but
grieving sorely at the long delay. Many who were not so sure came to him
with their troubles. He was beset by night and by day by people who had
advice to give or complaints to make. They besought him to dismiss this
or that General, to order such and such a military movement; to do a
hundred things that he, in his great wisdom, felt were not right, or for
which the time had not yet come. Above all, he was implored to take some
decided and far-reaching action upon slavery.


By no means the least of the evils of slavery was a dread which had
haunted every southern household from the beginning of the government
that the slaves might one day rise in revolt and take sudden vengeance
upon their masters. This vague terror was greatly increased by the
outbreak of the Civil War. It stands to the lasting credit of the negro
race that the wrongs of their long bondage provoked them to no such
crime, and that the war seems not to have suggested, much less started
any such attempt. Indeed, even when urged to violence by white leaders,
as the slaves of Maryland had been in 1859 during John Brown's raid at
Harper's Ferry, they had refused to respond. Nevertheless it was plain
from the first that slavery was to play an important part in the Civil
War. Not only were the people of the South battling for the principle
of slavery; their slaves were a great source of military strength. They
were used by the Confederates in building forts, hauling supplies, and
in a hundred ways that added to the effectiveness of their armies in the
field. On the other hand the very first result of the war was to give
adventurous or discontented slaves a chance to escape into Union camps,
where, even against orders to the contrary, they found protection for
the sake of the help they could give as cooks, servants, or teamsters,
the information they brought about the movements of the enemy, or the
great service they were able to render as guides. Practically therefore,
at the very start, the war created a bond of mutual sympathy between
the southern negro and the Union volunteer; and as fast as Union troops
advanced and secession masters fled, a certain number found freedom in
Union camps.

At some points this became a positive embarrassment to Union commanders.
A few days after General Butler took command of the Union troops at
Fortress Monroe in May, 1861, the agent of a rebel master came to insist
on the return of three slaves, demanding them under the fugitive-slave
law. Butler replied that since their master claimed Virginia to be a
foreign country and no longer a part of the United States, he could not
at the same time claim that the fugitive slave law was in force, and
that his slaves would not be given up unless he returned and took the
oath of allegiance to the United States. In reporting this, a newspaper
pointed out that as the breastworks and batteries which had risen so
rapidly for Confederate defense were built by slave labor, negroes
were undoubtedly "contraband of war," like powder and shot, and other
military supplies, and should no more be given back to the rebels than
so many cannon or guns. The idea was so pertinent, and the justice of it
so plain that the name "contraband" sprang at once into use. But while
this happy explanation had more convincing effect on popular thought
than a volume of discussion, it did not solve the whole question. By
the end of July General Butler had on his hands 900 "contrabands," men,
women and children of all ages, and he wrote to inquire what was their
real condition. Were they slaves or free? Could they be considered
fugitive slaves when their masters had run away and left them? How
should they be disposed of? It was a knotty problem, and upon its
solution might depend the loyalty or secession of the border slave
States of Maryland, West Virginia, Kentucky and Missouri, which, up to
that time, had not decided whether to remain in the Union or to cast
their fortunes with the South.

In dealing with this perplexing subject. Mr. Lincoln kept in mind one of
his favorite stories: the one on the Methodist Presiding Elder who was
riding about his circuit during the spring freshets. A young and anxious
companion asked how they should ever be able to cross the swollen waters
of Fox River, which they were approaching, and the elder quieted him
by saying that he made it the rule of his life never to cross Fox
River until he came to it. The President, following this rule, did
not immediately decide the question, but left it to be treated at the
discretion of each commander. Under this theory some commanders admitted
black people to their camps, while others refused to receive them. The
curt formula of General Orders: "We are neither negro stealers nor negro
catchers," was easily read to justify either course. Congress greatly
advanced the problem, shortly after the battle of Bull Run, by passing
a law which took away a master's right to his slave, when, with his
consent, such slave was employed in service or labor hostile to the
United States.

On the general question of slavery, the President's mind was fully made
up. He felt that he had no right to interfere with slavery where slavery
was lawful, just because he himself did not happen to like it; for he
had sworn to do all in his power to "preserve, protect and defend" the
government and its laws, and slavery was lawful in the southern States.
When freeing the slaves should become necessary in order to preserve
the Government, then it would be his duty to free them; until that time
came, it was equally his duty to let them alone.

Twice during the early part of the war military commanders issued orders
freeing slaves in the districts over which they had control, and twice
he refused to allow these orders to stand. "No commanding general should
do such a thing upon his responsibility, without consulting him," he
said; and he added that whether he, as Commander-in-Chief, had the power
to free slaves, and whether at any time the use of such power should
become necessary, were questions which he reserved to himself. He did
not feel justified in leaving such decisions to commanders in the field.
He even refused at that time to allow Secretary Cameron to make a public
announcement that the government might find it necessary to arm slaves
and employ them as soldiers. He would not cross Fox River until he came
to it. He would not take any measure until he felt it to be absolutely

Only a few months later he issued his first proclamation of
emancipation; but he did not do so until convinced that he must do this
in order to put down the rebellion. Long ago he had considered and in
his own mind adopted a plan of dealing with the slavery question--the
simple, easy plan which, while a member of Congress, he had proposed
for the District of Columbia--that on condition of the slave-owners
voluntarily giving up their slaves, they should be paid a fair price for
them by the Federal government. Delaware was a slave State, and seemed
an excellent place in which to try this experiment of "compensated
emancipation," as it was called; for there were, all told, only 1798
slaves left in the State. Without any public announcement of his purpose
he offered to the citizens of Delaware, through their representative in
Congress, four hundred dollars for each of these slaves, the payment
to be made, not all at once, but yearly, during a period of thirty-one
years. He believed that if Delaware could be induced to accept this
offer, Maryland might follow her example, and that afterward other
States would allow themselves to be led along the same easy way. The
Delaware House of Representatives voted in favor of the proposition, but
five of the nine members of the Delaware senate scornfully repelled the
"abolition bribe," as they chose to call it, and the project withered in
the bud.

Mr. Lincoln did not stop at this failure, but, on March 6, 1862, sent a
special message to the Senate and House of Representatives recommending
that Congress adopt a joint resolution favoring and practically offering
gradual compensated emancipation to any State that saw fit to accept
it; pointing out at the same time that the Federal government claimed no
right to interfere with slavery within the States, and that if the offer
were accepted it must be done as a matter of free choice.

The Republican journals of the North devoted considerable space to
discussing the President's plan, which, in the main, was favorably
received; but it was thought that it must fail on the score of expense.
The President answered this objection in a private letter to a Senator,
proving that less than one-half day's cost of war would pay for all
the slaves in Delaware at four hundred dollars each, and less than
eighty-seven days' cost of war would pay for all in Delaware, Maryland,
the District of Columbia, Kentucky and Missouri. "Do you doubt," he
asked, that taking such a step "on the part of those States and this
District would shorten the war more than eighty-seven days, and thus be
an actual saving of expense?"

Both houses of Congress favored the resolution, and also passed a
bill immediately freeing the slaves in the District of Columbia on the
payment to their loyal owners of three hundred dollars for each slave.
This last bill was signed by the President and became a law on April 16,
1862. So, although he had been unable to bring it about when a member of
Congress thirteen years before, it was he, after all, who finally swept
away that scandal of the "negro livery-stable" in the shadow of the dome
of the Capitol.

Congress as well as the President was thus pledged to compensated
emancipation, and if any of the border slave States had shown a
willingness to accept the generosity of the government, their people
might have been spared the loss that overtook all slave-owners on the
first of January, 1863. The President twice called the representatives
and senators of these States to the White House, and urged his plan most
eloquently, but nothing came of it. Meantime, the military situation
continued most discouraging. The advance of the Army of the Potomac
upon Richmond became a retreat; the commanders in the West could not get
control of the Mississippi River; and worst of all, in spite of their
cheering assurance that "We are coming, Father Abraham, three hundred
thousand strong," the people of the country were saddened and filled
with the most gloomy forebodings because of the President's call for so
many new troops.

"It had got to be midsummer, 1862," Mr. Lincoln said, in telling an
artist friend the history of his most famous official act. "Things had
gone on from bad to worse, until I felt that we had reached the end of
our rope on the plan of operations we had been pursuing; that we had
about played our last card, and must change our tactics or lose the
game. I now determined upon the adoption of the emancipation policy, and
without consultation with, or the knowledge of the cabinet, I prepared
the original draft of the proclamation, and after much anxious thought,
called a cabinet meeting upon the subject.... I said to the cabinet that
I had resolved upon this step, and had not called them together to ask
their advice, but to lay the subject-matter of a proclamation before
them, suggestions as to which would be in order after they had heard it

It was on July 22 that the President read to his cabinet the draft of
this first emancipation proclamation, which, after announcing that
at the next meeting of Congress he would again offer compensated
emancipation to such States as chose to accept it, went on to order as
Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States, that the
slaves in all States which should be in rebellion against the government
on January 1, 1863, should "then, thenceforward and forever be free."

Mr. Lincoln had given a hint of this intended step to Mr. Seward and
Mr. Welles, but to all the other members of the cabinet it came as a
complete surprise. One thought it would cost the Republicans the fall
elections. Another preferred that emancipation should be proclaimed
by military commanders in their several military districts. Secretary
Seward, while approving the measure, suggested that it would better
be postponed until it could be given to the country after a victory,
instead of issuing it, as would be the case then, upon the greatest
disasters of the war. "The wisdom of the view of the Secretary of State
struck me with very great force," Mr. Lincoln's recital continues. "It
was an aspect of the case that, in all my thought upon the subject,
I had entirely overlooked. The result was that I put the draft of the
proclamation aside, as you do your sketch for a picture, waiting for a

The secrets of the administration were well kept, and no hint came
to the public that the President had proposed such a measure to his
cabinet. As there was at the moment little in the way of war news to
attract attention, newspapers and private individuals turned a sharp
fire of criticism upon Mr. Lincoln. For this they seized upon the
ever-useful text of the slavery question. Some of them protested
indignantly that the President was going too fast; others clamored as
loudly that he had been altogether too slow. His decision, as we know,
was unalterably taken, although he was not yet ready to announce it.
Therefore, while waiting for a victory he had to perform the difficult
task of restraining the impatience of both sides. This he did in very
positive language. To a man in Louisiana, who complained that Union
feeling was being crushed out by the army in that State, he wrote:

"I am a patient man, always willing to forgive on the Christian terms
of repentance, and also to give ample time for repentance. Still, I must
save this government if possible. What I cannot do, of course I will
not do; but it may as well be understood, once for all, that I shall not
surrender this game leaving any available card unplayed." Two days later
he answered another Louisiana critic. "What would you do in my position?
Would you drop the war where it is? Or would you prosecute it in future
with elder-stalk squirts charged with rosewater? Would you deal lighter
blows rather than heavier ones? Would you give up the contest leaving
any available means unapplied? I am in no boastful mood. I shall not do
more than I can, and I shall do all I can, to save the government, which
is my sworn duty, as well as my personal inclination. I shall do nothing
in malice. What I deal with is too vast for malicious dealing."

The President could afford to overlook the abuse of hostile newspapers,
but he also had to meet the criticisms of over-zealous Republicans. The
prominent Republican editor, Horace Greeley, printed in his paper, the
"New York Tribune," a long "Open Letter," ostentatiously addressed to
Mr. Lincoln, full of unjust accusations, his general charge being that
the President and many army officers were neglecting their duty through
a kindly feeling for slavery. The open letter which Mr. Lincoln wrote in
reply is remarkable not alone for the skill with which he answered this
attack, but also for its great dignity.

"As to the policy I 'seem to be pursuing,' as you say, I have not meant
to leave anyone in doubt.... My paramount object in this struggle is to
save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I
could save the Union without freeing any slave, I would do it; and if
I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could
save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that.
What I do about slavery and the colored race, I do because I believe it
helps to save the Union, and what I forbear I forbear because I do not
believe it would help to save the Union. I shall do less whenever I
shall believe what I am doing hurts the cause, and I shall do more
whenever I shall believe doing more will help the cause. I shall try to
correct errors when shown to be errors, and I shall adopt new views
so fast as they shall appear to be true views. I have here stated
my purpose according to my view of official duty, and I intend no
modification of my oft-expressed personal wish that all men everywhere
could be free."

He was waiting for victory, but victory was slow to come. Instead the
Union army suffered another defeat at the second battle of Bull Run on
August 30, 1862. After this the pressure upon him to take some action
upon slavery became stronger than ever. On September 13 he was visited
by a company of ministers from the churches of Chicago, who came
expressly to urge him to free the slaves at once. In the actual
condition of things he could of course neither safely satisfy them nor
deny them, and his reply, while perfectly courteous, had in it a tone of
rebuke that showed the state of irritation and high sensitiveness under
which he was living:

"I am approached with the most opposite opinions and advice, and that
by religious men, who are equally certain that they represent the Divine
will.... I hope it will not be irreverent for me to say that if it
is probable that God would reveal his will to others on a point so
connected with my duty, it might be supposed he would reveal it directly
to me.... What good would a proclamation of emancipation from me do,
especially as we are now situated? I do not want to issue a document
that the whole world will see must necessarily be inoperative, like the
Pope's bull against the comet." "Do not misunderstand me.... I have not
decided against a proclamation of liberty to the slaves; but hold the
matter under advisement. And I can assure you that the subject is on my
mind by day and night more than any other. Whatever shall appear to be
God's will, I will do."

Four days after this interview the battle of Antietam was fought, and
when, after a few days of uncertainty it was found that it could be
reasonably claimed as a Union victory, the President resolved to carry
out his long-matured purpose. Secretary Chase in his diary recorded very
fully what occurred on that ever-memorable September 22, 1862. After
some playful talk upon other matters, Mr. Lincoln, taking a graver tone,

"Gentlemen: I have, as you are aware, thought a great deal about the
relation of this war to slavery, and you all remember that several weeks
ago I read to you an order I had prepared on this subject, which, on
account of objections made by some of you, was not issued. Ever since
then my mind has been much occupied with this subject, and I have
thought, all along, that the time for acting on it might probably come.
I think the time has come now. I wish it was a better time. I wish that
we were in a better condition. The action of the army against the rebels
has not been quite what I should have best liked. But they have been
driven out of Maryland, and Pennsylvania is no longer in danger of
invasion. When the rebel army was at Frederick I determined, as soon
as it should be driven out of Maryland, to issue a proclamation of
emancipation, such as I thought most likely to be useful. I said
nothing to anyone, but I made the promise to myself, and--[hesitating a
little]--to my Maker. The rebel army is now driven out, and I am going
to fulfil that promise. I have got you together to hear what I have
written down. I do not wish your advice about the main matter, for that
I have determined for myself. This I say, without intending anything but
respect for any one of you. But I already know the views of each on this
question.... I have considered them as thoroughly and carefully as I
can. What I have written is that which my reflections have determined me
to say. If there is anything in the expressions I use, or in any minor
matter which any one of you thinks had best be changed, I shall be glad
to receive the suggestions. One other observation I will make. I know
very well that many others might, in this matter as in others, do better
than I can; and if I was satisfied that the public confidence was
more fully possessed by any one of them than by me, and knew of any
constitutional way in which he could be put in my place, he should have
it. I would gladly yield it to him. But, though I believe that I have
not so much of the confidence of the people as I had some time since, I
do not know that, all things considered, any other person has more; and
however this may be, there is no way in which I can have any other
man put where I am. I am here; I must do the best I can, and bear the
responsibility of taking the course which I feel I ought to take."

It was in this humble spirit, and with this firm sense of duty that the
great proclamation was given to the world. One hundred days later he
completed the act by issuing the final proclamation of emancipation.

It has been a long-established custom in Washington for the officials
of the government to go on the first day of January to the Executive
Mansion to pay their respects to the President and his wife. The judges
of the courts go at one hour, the foreign diplomats at another, members
of Congress and senators and officers of the Army and Navy at still
another. One by one these various official bodies pass in rapid
succession before the head of the nation, wishing him success and
prosperity in the New Year. The occasion is made gay with music and
flowers and bright uniforms, and has a social as well as an official
character. Even in war times such customs were kept up, and in spite of
his load of care, the President was expected to find time and heart for
the greetings and questions and hand-shakings of this and other state
ceremonies. Ordinarily it was not hard for him. He liked to meet people,
and such occasions were a positive relief from the mental strain of his
official work. It is to be questioned, however, whether, on this day,
his mind did not leave the passing stream of people before him, to dwell
on the proclamation he was so soon to sign.

At about three o'clock in the afternoon, after full three hours of such
greetings and handshakings, when his own hand was so weary it could
scarcely hold a pen, the President and perhaps a dozen friends, went up
to the Executive Office, and there, without any pre-arranged ceremony,
he signed his name to the greatest state paper of the century, which
banished the curse of slavery from our land, and set almost four million
people free.


The way Mr. Lincoln signed this most important state paper was
thoroughly in keeping with his nature. He hated all shams and show and
pretense, and being absolutely without affectation of any kind, it
would never have occurred to him to pose for effect while signing
the Emancipation Proclamation or any other paper. He never thought of
himself as a President to be set up before a multitude and admired,
but always as a President charged with duties which he owed to every
citizen. In fulfilling these he did not stand upon ceremony, but took
the most direct way to the end he had in view.

It is not often that a President pleads a cause before Congress. Mr.
Lincoln did not find it beneath his dignity at one time to go in
person to the Capitol, and calling a number of the leading senators and
representatives around him, explain to them, with the aid of a map, his
reasons for believing that the final stand of the Confederates would be
made in that part of the South where the seven States of Virginia, North
Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Tennessee, Kentucky and West Virginia
come together; and strive in this way to interest them in the sad
plight of the loyal people of Tennessee who were being persecuted by
the Confederate government, but whose mountainous region might, with a
little help, be made a citadel of Union strength in the very heart of
this stronghold of rebellion.

In his private life he was entirely simple and unaffected. Yet he had
a deep sense of what was due his office, and took part with becoming
dignity in all official or public ceremonies. He received the diplomats
sent to Washington from the courts of Europe with a formal and quiet
reserve which made them realize at once that although this son of the
people had been born in a log cabin, he was ruler of a great nation, and
more than that, was a prince by right of his own fine instincts and good

He was ever gentle and courteous, but with a few quiet words he could
silence a bore who had come meaning to talk to him for hours. For his
friends he had always a ready smile and a quaintly turned phrase. His
sense of humor was his salvation. Without it he must have died of the
strain and anxiety of the Civil War. There was something almost pathetic
in the way he would snatch a moment from his pressing duties and gravest
cares to listen to a good story or indulge in a hearty laugh. Some
people could not understand this. To one member of his cabinet, at
least, it seemed strange and unfitting that he should read aloud to
them a chapter from a humorous book by Artemus Ward before taking up
the weighty matter of the Emancipation Proclamation. From their point
of view it showed lack of feeling and frivolity of character, when, in
truth, it was the very depth of his feeling, and the intensity of his
distress at the suffering of the war, that led him to seek relief in
laughter, to gather from the comedy of life strength to go on and meet
its sternest tragedy.

He was a social man. He could not fully enjoy even a jest alone. He
wanted somebody to share the pleasure with him. Often when care kept him
awake late at night he would wander through the halls of the Executive
Mansion, and coming to the room where his secretaries were still at
work, would stop to read to them some poem, or a passage from Shakspere,
or a bit from one of the humorous books in which he found relief. No
one knew better than he what could be cured, and what must be patiently
endured. To every difficulty that he could remove he gave cheerful and
uncomplaining thought and labor. The burdens he could not shake off he
bore with silent courage, lightening them whenever possible with the
laughter that he once described as the "universal joyous evergreen of

It would be a mistake to suppose that he cared only for humorous
reading. Occasionally he read a scientific book with great interest, but
his duties left him little time for such indulgences. Few men knew
the Bible more thoroughly than he did, and his speeches are full of
scriptural quotations. The poem beginning "Oh, why should the spirit of
mortal be proud?" was one of his favorites, and Dr. Holmes's "Last Leaf"
was another. Shakespere was his constant delight. A copy of Shakespere's
works was even to be found in the busy Executive Office, from which
most books were banished. The President not only liked to read the great
poet's plays, but to see them acted; and when the gifted actor Hackett
came to Washington, he was invited to the White House, where the two
discussed the character of Falstaff, and the proper reading of many
scenes and passages.

While he was President, Mr. Lincoln did not attempt to read the
newspapers. His days were long, beginning early and ending late, but
they were not long enough for that. One of his secretaries brought him
a daily memorandum of the important news they contained. His mail was so
enormous that he personally read only about one in every hundred of the
letters sent him.

His time was principally taken up with interviews with people on matters
of importance, with cabinet meetings, conferences with his generals,
and other affairs requiring his close and immediate attention. If he had
leisure he would take a drive in the late afternoon, or perhaps steal
away into the grounds south of the Executive Mansion to test some new
kind of gun, if its inventor had been fortunate enough to bring it to
his notice. He was very quick to understand mechanical contrivances, and
would often suggest improvements that had not occurred to the inventor

For many years it has been the fashion to call Mr. Lincoln homely. He
was very tall, and very thin. His eyes were deep-sunken, his skin of a
sallow pallor, his hair coarse, black, and unruly. Yet he was neither
ungraceful, nor awkward, nor ugly. His large features fitted his large
frame, and his large hands and feet were but right on a body that
measured six feet four inches. His was a sad and thoughtful face, and
from boyhood he had carried a load of care. It was small wonder that
when alone, or absorbed in thought, the face should take on deep lines,
the eyes appear as if seeing something beyond the vision of other men,
and the shoulders stoop, as though they too were bearing a weight. But
in a moment all would be changed. The deep eyes could flash, or twinkle
merrily with humor, or look out from under overhanging brows as they
did upon the Five Points children in kindliest gentleness. In public
speaking, his tall body rose to its full height, his head was thrown
back, his face seemed transfigured with the fire and earnestness of his
thought, and his voice took on a high clear tenor tone that carried his
words and ideas far out over the listening crowds. At such moments, when
answering Douglas in the heat of their joint-debate, or later, during
the years of war, when he pronounced with noble gravity the words of his
famous addresses, not one in the throngs that heard him could say with
truth that he was other than a handsome man.

It has been the fashion, too, to say that he was slovenly, and careless
in his dress. This also is a mistake. His clothes could not fit smoothly
on his gaunt and bony frame. He was no tailor's figure of a man; but
from the first he clothed himself as well as his means allowed, and in
the fashion of the time and place. In reading the grotesque stories of
his boyhood, of the tall stripling whose trousers left exposed a length
of shin, it must be remembered not only how poor he was, but that he
lived on the frontier, where other boys, less poor, were scarcely
better clad. In Vandalia, the blue jeans he wore was the dress of his
companions as well, and later, from Springfield days on, clear through
his presidency, his costume was the usual suit of black broadcloth,
carefully made, and scrupulously neat. He cared nothing for style. It
did not matter to him whether the man with whom he talked wore a coat of
the latest cut, or owned no coat at all. It was the man inside the coat
that interested him.

In the same way he cared little for the pleasures of the table. He ate
most sparingly. He was thankful that food was good and wholesome and
enough for daily needs, but he could no more enter into the mood of the
epicure for whose palate it is a matter of importance whether he eats
roast goose or golden pheasant, than he could have counted the grains of
sand under the sea.

In the summers, while he was President, he spent the nights at a cottage
at the Soldiers' Home, a short distance north of Washington, riding or
driving out through the gathering dusk, and returning to the White House
after a frugal breakfast in the early morning. Ten o'clock was the hour
at which he was supposed to begin receiving visitors, but it was often
necessary to see them unpleasantly early. Occasionally they forced their
way to his bedroom before he had quite finished dressing. Throngs of
people daily filled his office, the ante-rooms, and even the corridors
of the public part of the Executive Mansion. He saw them all, those he
had summoned on important business, men of high official position who
came to demand as their right offices and favors that he had no right to
give; others who wished to offer tiresome if well-meant advice; and the
hundreds, both men and women, who pressed forward to ask all sorts of
help. His friends besought him to save himself the weariness of seeing
the people at these public receptions, but he refused. "They do not want
much, and they get very little," he answered. "Each one considers his
business of great importance, and I must gratify them. I know how I
would feel if I were in their place." And at noon on all days except
Tuesday and Friday, when the time was occupied by meetings of the
cabinet, the doors were thrown open, and all who wished might enter.
That remark of his, "I know how I would feel if I were in their place,"
explained it all. His early experience of life had drilled him well for
these ordeals. He had read deeply in the book of human nature, and could
see the hidden signs of falsehood and deceit and trickery from which the
faces of some of his visitors were not free; but he knew, too, the
hard, practical side of life, the hunger, cold, storms, sickness and
misfortune that the average man must meet in his struggle with the
world. More than all, he knew and sympathized with that hope deferred
which makes the heart sick.

Not a few men and women came, sad-faced and broken-hearted, to plead
for soldier sons or husbands in prison, or under sentence of death by
court-martial. An inmate of the White House has recorded the eagerness
with which the President caught at any fact that would justify him
in saving the life of a condemned soldier. He was only merciless when
meanness or cruelty were clearly proved. Cases of cowardice he disliked
especially to punish with death. "It would frighten the poor devils
too terribly to shoot them," he said. On the papers in the case of one
soldier who had deserted and then enlisted again, he wrote: "Let him
fight, instead of shooting him."

He used to call these cases of desertion his "leg cases," and sometimes
when considering them, would tell the story of the Irish soldier,
upbraided by his captain, who replied: "Captain, I have a heart in me
breast as brave as Julius Caesar, but when I go into battle, Sor, these
cowardly legs of mine will run away with me."

As the war went on, Mr. Lincoln objected more and more to approving
sentences of death by court-martial, and either pardoned them outright,
or delayed the execution "until further orders," which orders were never
given by the great-hearted, merciful man. Secretary Stanton and certain
generals complained bitterly that if the President went on pardoning
soldiers he would ruin the discipline of the army; but Secretary Stanton
had a warm heart, and it is doubtful if he ever willingly enforced the
justice that he criticized the President for tempering with so much

Yet Mr. Lincoln could be sternly just when necessary. A law declaring
the slave trade to be piracy had stood on the statute books of the
United States for half a century. Lincoln's administration was the
first to convict a man under it, and Lincoln himself decreed that the
well-deserved sentence be carried out.

Mr. Lincoln sympathized keenly with the hardships and trials of the
soldier boys, and found time, amid all his labors and cares, to visit
the hospitals in and around Washington where they lay ill. His afternoon
drive was usually to some camp in the neighborhood of the city; and when
he visited one at a greater distance, the cheers that greeted him as he
rode along the line with the commanding general showed what a warm place
he held in their hearts.

He did not forget the unfortunate on these visits. A story is told of
his interview with William Scott, a boy from a Vermont farm, who, after
marching forty-eight hours without sleep, volunteered to stand guard for
a sick comrade. Weariness overcame him, and he was found asleep at his
post, within gunshot of the enemy. He was tried, and sentenced to be
shot. Mr. Lincoln heard of the case, and went himself to the tent where
young Scott was kept under guard. He talked to him kindly, asking about
his home, his schoolmates, and particularly about his mother. The lad
took her picture from his pocket, and showed it to him without speaking.
Mr. Lincoln was much affected. As he rose to leave he laid his hand on
the prisoner s shoulder. "My boy," he said, "you are not going to be
shot to-morrow. I believe you when you tell me that you could not keep
awake. I am going to trust you, and send you back to your regiment. Now,
I want to know what you intend to pay for all this?" The lad, overcome
with gratitude, could hardly say a word, but crowding down his emotions,
managed to answer that he did not know. He and his people were poor,
they would do what they could. There was his pay, and a little in the
savings bank. They could borrow something by a mortgage on the farm.
Perhaps his comrades would help. If Mr. Lincoln would wait until pay day
possibly they might get together five or six hundred dollars. Would that
be enough? The kindly President shook his head. "My bill is a great deal
more than that," he said. "It is a very large one. Your friends cannot
pay it, nor your family, nor your farm. There is only one man in the
world who can pay it, and his name is William Scott. If from this day he
does his duty so that when he comes to die he can truly say 'I have kept
the promise I gave the President. I have done my duty as a soldier,'
then the debt will be paid." Young Scott went back to his regiment, and
the debt was fully paid a few months later, for he fell in battle.

Mr. Lincoln's own son became a soldier after leaving college. The letter
his father wrote to General Grant in his behalf shows how careful he was
that neither his official position nor his desire to give his boy the
experience he wanted, should work the least injustice to others:

Executive Mansion,

Washington, January 19th, 1865.

Lieutenant-General Grant:

Please read and answer this letter as though I was not President, but
only a friend. My son, now in his twenty-second year, having graduated
at Harvard, wishes to see something of the war before it ends. I do not
wish to put him in the ranks, nor yet to give him a commission, to
which those who have already served long are better entitled, and better
qualified to hold. Could he, without embarrassment to you, or detriment
to the service, go into your military family with some nominal rank, I
and not the public furnishing the necessary means? If no, say so without
the least hesitation, because I am as anxious and as deeply interested
that you shall not be encumbered as you can be yourself.

Yours truly,

A. Lincoln.

His interest did not cease with the life of a young soldier. Among his
most beautiful letters are those he wrote to sorrowing parents who
had lost their sons in battle; and when his personal friend, young
Ellsworth, one of the first and most gallant to fall, was killed at
Alexandria, the President directed that his body be brought to the White
House, where his funeral was held in the great East Room.

Though a member of no church, Mr. Lincoln was most sincerely religious
and devout. Not only was his daily life filled with acts of forbearance
and charity; every great state paper that he wrote breathes his faith
and reliance on a just and merciful God. He rarely talked, even with
intimate friends, about matters of belief, but it is to be doubted
whether any among the many people who came to give him advice and
sometimes to pray with him, had a better right to be called a Christian.
He always received such visitors courteously, with a reverence for their
good intention, no matter how strangely it sometimes manifested itself.
A little address that he made to some Quakers who came to see him in
September, 1862, shows both his courtesy to them personally, and his
humble attitude toward God.

"I am glad of this interview, and glad to know that I have your sympathy
and prayers. We are indeed going through a great trial, a fiery trial.
In the very responsible position in which I happen to be placed, being a
humble instrument in the hands of our Heavenly Father as I am, and as
we all are, to work out His great purposes, I have desired that all my
works and acts may be according to His will, and that it might be so
I have sought His aid; but if, after endeavoring to do my best in the
light which he affords me, I find my efforts fail, I must believe that
for some purpose unknown to me, He wills it otherwise. If I had had my
way, this war would never have been commenced. If I had been allowed my
way, this war would have been ended before this; but we find it still
continues, and we must believe that He permits it for some wise purpose
of His own, mysterious and unknown to us; and though with our limited
understandings we may not be able to comprehend it, yet we cannot but
believe that He who made the world still governs it."

Children held a warm place in the President's affections. He was not
only a devoted father; his heart went out to all little folk. He had
been kind to babies in his boyish days, when, book in hand, and the
desire for study upon him, he would sit with one foot on the rocker of a
rude frontier cradle, not too selfishly busy to keep its small occupant
lulled and content, while its mother went about her household tasks.
After he became President many a sad-eyed woman carrying a child in her
arms went to see him, and the baby always had its share in gaining her a
speedy hearing, and if possible a favorable answer to her petition.

When children came to him at the White House of their own accord, as
they sometimes did, the favors they asked were not refused because of
their youth. One day a small boy, watching his chance, slipped into the
Executive Office between a governor and a senator, when the door was
opened to admit them. They were as much astonished at seeing him there
as the President was, and could not explain his presence; but he spoke
for himself. He had come, he said, from a little country town, hoping to
get a place as page in the House of Representatives. The President began
to tell him that he must go to Captain Goodnow, the doorkeeper of the
House, for he himself had nothing to do with such appointments. Even
this did not discourage the little fellow. Very earnestly he pulled his
papers of recommendation out of his pocket, and Mr. Lincoln, unable
to resist his wistful face, read them, and sent him away happy with a
hurried line written on the back of them, saying: "If Captain Goodnow
can give this good little boy a place, he will oblige A. Lincoln."

It was a child who persuaded Mr. Lincoln to wear a beard. Up to the
time he was nominated for President he had always been smooth-shaven. A
little girl living in Chautauqua County, New York, who greatly admired
him, made up her mind that he would look better if he wore whiskers,
and with youthful directness wrote and told him so. He answered her by
return mail:

Springfield, ILL., Oct. 19, 1860.

Miss Grace Bedelt,

My dear little Miss: Your very agreeable letter of the fifteenth is
received. I regret the necessity of saying I have no daughter. I have
three sons, one seventeen, one nine, and one seven years of age. They,
with their mother, constitute my whole family. As to the whiskers, never
having worn any, do you not think people would call it a piece of silly
affectation if I were to begin now?

Your very sincere well-wisher,

A. Lincoln.

Evidently on second thoughts he decided to follow her advice. On his way
to Washington his train stopped at the town where she lived. He asked if
she were in the crowd gathered at the station to meet him. Of course she
was, and willing hands forced a way for her through the mass of people.
When she reached the car Mr. Lincoln stepped from the train, kissed her,
and showed her that he had taken her advice.

The Secretary who wrote about the President's desire to save the lives
of condemned soldiers tells us that "during the first year of the
administration the house was made lively by the games and pranks of Mr.
Lincoln's two younger children, William and Thomas. Robert the eldest
was away at Harvard, only coming home for short vacations. The two
little boys, aged eight and ten, with their western independence and
enterprise, kept the house in an uproar. They drove their tutor wild
with their good-natured disobedience. They organized a minstrel show in
the attic; they made acquaintance with the office-seekers and became
the hot champions of the distressed. William was, with all his boyish
frolic, a child of great promise, capable of close application and
study. He had a fancy for drawing up railway time-tables, and would
conduct an imaginary train from Chicago to New York with perfect
precision. He wrote childish verses, which sometimes attained the
unmerited honors of print. But this bright, gentle and studious child
sickened and died in February, 1862. His father was profoundly moved by
his death, though he gave no outward sign of his trouble, but kept about
his work, the same as ever. His bereaved heart seemed afterwards to pour
out its fulness on his youngest child. 'Tad' was a merry, warm-blooded,
kindly little boy, perfectly lawless, and full of odd fancies and
inventions, the 'chartered libertine' of the Executive Mansion." He ran
constantly in and out of his father's office, interrupting his gravest
labors. Mr. Lincoln was never too busy to hear him, or to answer his
bright, rapid, imperfect speech, for he was not able to speak plainly
until he was nearly grown. "He would perch upon his father's knee, and
sometimes even on his shoulder, while the most weighty conferences were
going on. Sometimes, escaping from the domestic authorities, he would
take refuge in that sanctuary for the whole evening, dropping to sleep
at last on the floor, when the President would pick him up, and carry
him tenderly to bed."

The letters and even the telegrams Mr. Lincoln sent his wife had always
a message for or about Tad. One of them shows that his pets, like their
young master, were allowed great liberty. It was written when the family
was living at the Soldiers' Home, and Mrs. Lincoln and Tad had gone away
for a visit. "Tell dear Tad," he wrote, "that poor Nanny Goat is lost,
and Mrs. Cuthbert and I are in distress about it. The day you left,
Nanny was found resting herself and chewing her little cud on the middle
of Tad's bed; but now she's gone! The gardener kept complaining that she
destroyed the flowers, till it was concluded to bring her down to the
White House. This was done, and the second day she had disappeared and
has not been heard of since. This is the last we know of poor Nanny."

Tad was evidently consoled by, not one, but a whole family of new goats,
for about a year later Mr. Lincoln ended a business telegram to his
wife in New York with the words: "Tell Tad the goats and Father are very
well." Then, as the weight of care rolled back upon this greathearted,
patient man, he added, with humorous weariness, "especially the goats."

Mr. Lincoln was so forgetful of self as to be absolutely without
personal fear. He not only paid no attention to the threats which
were constantly made against his life, but when, on July 11, 1864, the
Confederate General Early appeared suddenly and unexpectedly before
the city with a force of 17,000 men, and Washington was for two days
actually in danger of assault and capture, his unconcern gave his
friends great uneasiness. On the tenth he rode out, as was his custom,
to spend the night at the Soldiers' Home, but Secretary Stanton,
learning that Early was advancing, sent after him, to compel his return.
Twice afterward, intent upon watching the fighting which took place near
Fort Stevens, north of the city, he exposed his tall form to the gaze
and bullets of the enemy, utterly heedless of his own peril; and it was
not until an officer had fallen mortally wounded within a few feet of
him, that he could be persuaded to seek a place of greater safety.


In the summer of 1863 the Confederate armies reached their greatest
strength. It was then that, flushed with military ardor, and made bold
by what seemed to the southern leaders an unbroken series of victories
on the Virginia battlefields, General Lee again crossed the Potomac
River, and led his army into the North. He went as far as Gettysburg
in Pennsylvania; but there, on the third of July, 1863, suffered a
disastrous defeat, which shattered forever the Confederate dream of
taking Philadelphia and dictating peace from Independence Hall. This
battle of Gettysburg should have ended the war, for General Lee, on
retreating southward, found the Potomac River so swollen by heavy rains
that he was obliged to wait several days for the floods to go down. In
that time it would have been quite possible for General Meade, the Union
commander, to follow him and utterly destroy his army. He proved too
slow, however, and Lee and his beaten Confederate soldiers escaped.
President Lincoln was inexpressibly grieved at this, and in the first
bitterness of his disappointment sat down and wrote General Meade a
letter. Lee "was within your easy grasp," he told him, "and to have
closed upon him would, in connection with our other late successes, have
ended the war. As it is, the war will be prolonged indefinitely. ...
Your golden opportunity is gone and I am distressed immeasurably because
of it." But Meade never received this letter. Deeply as the President
felt Meade's fault, his spirit of forgiveness was so quick, and his
thankfulness for the measure of success that had been gained, so great,
that he put it in his desk, and it was never signed or sent.

The battle of Gettysburg was indeed a notable victory, and coupled with
the fall of Vicksburg, which surrendered to General Grant on that
same third of July, proved the real turning-point of the war. It seems
singularly appropriate, then, that Gettysburg should have been the place
where President Lincoln made his most beautiful and famous address.
After the battle the dead and wounded of both the Union and Confederate
armies had received tender attention there. Later it was decided to
set aside a portion of the battlefield for a great national military
cemetery in which the dead found orderly burial. It was dedicated to its
sacred use on November 19, 1863. At the end of the stately ceremonies
President Lincoln rose and said:

"Fourscore and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this
continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the
proposition that all men are created equal.

"Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation,
or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are
met on a great battlefield of that war. We have come to dedicate a
portion of that field as a final resting place for those who here gave
their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and
proper that we should do this.

"But in a larger sense, we cannot dedicate--we cannot consecrate--we
cannot hallow--this ground. The brave men, living and dead, who
struggled here have consecrated it far above our poor power to add or
detract. The world will little note nor long remember what we say here,
but it can never forget what they did here. It is for us the living,
rather, to be dedicated here to the unfinished work which they who
fought here have thus far so nobly advanced. It is rather for us to be
here dedicated to the great task remaining before us--that from these
honored dead we take increased devotion to that cause for which they
gave the last full measure of devotion; that we here highly resolve that
these dead shall not have died in vain; that this nation, under God,
shall have a new birth of freedom, and that government of the people, by
the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth."

With these words, so brief, so simple, so full of reverent feeling, he
set aside the place of strife to be the resting place of heroes, and
then went back to his own great task--for which he, too, was to give
"the last full measure of devotion."

Up to within a very short time little had been heard about Ulysses S.
Grant, the man destined to become the most successful general of the
war. Like General McClellan, he was a graduate of West Point; and also
like McClellan, he had resigned from the army after serving gallantly in
the Mexican war. There the resemblance ceased, for he had not an atom of
McClellan's vanity, and his persistent will to do the best he could with
the means the government could give him was far removed from the younger
general's faultfinding and complaint. He was about four years older than
McClellan, having been born on April 27, 1822. On offering his services
to the War Department in 1861 he had modestly written: "I feel myself
competent to command a regiment if the President in his judgment should
see fit to intrust one to me." For some reason this letter remained
unanswered, although the Department, then and later, had need of trained
and experienced officers. Afterward the Governor of Illinois made him
a colonel of one of the three years' volunteer regiments; and from that
time on he rose in rank, not as McClellan had done, by leaps and bounds,
but slowly, earning every promotion. All of his service had been in
the West, and he first came into general notice by his persistent and
repeated efforts to capture Vicksburg, on whose fall the opening of
the Mississippi River depended. Five different plans he tried before he
finally succeeded, the last one appearing utterly foolhardy, and seeming
to go against every known rule of military science. In spite of this it
was successful, the Union army and navy thereby gaining control of the
Mississippi River and cutting off forever from the Confederacy a great
extent of rich country, from which, up to that time, it had been drawing
men and supplies.

The North was greatly cheered by these victories, and all eyes were
turned upon the successful commander. No one was more thankful than Mr.
Lincoln. He gave Grant quick promotion, and crowned the official act
with a most generous letter. "I do not remember that you and I ever met
personally," he wrote. "I write this now as a grateful acknowledgement
for the almost inestimable service you have done the country. I wish
to say a word further." Then, summing up the plans that the General had
tried, especially the last one, he added: "I feared it was a mistake. I
now wish to make the personal acknowledgement that you were right and I
was wrong."

Other important battles won by Grant that same fall added to his growing
fame, and by the beginning of 1864 he was singled out as the greatest
Union commander. As a suitable reward for his victories it was
determined to make him Lieutenant-General. This army rank had, before
the Civil War, been bestowed on only two American soldiers--on General
Washington, and on Scott, for his conquest of Mexico. In 1864 Congress
passed and the President signed an act to revive the grade, and Grant
was called to Washington to receive his commission. He and Mr. Lincoln
met for the first time at a large public reception held at the Executive
Mansion on the evening of March 8. A movement and rumor in the crowd
heralded his approach, and when at last the short, stocky, determined
soldier and the tall, care-worn, deep-eyed President stood face to face
the crowd, moved by a sudden impulse of delicacy, drew back, and left
them almost alone to exchange a few words. Later, when Grant appeared in
the great East Room, the enthusiasm called forth by his presence could
no longer be restrained, and cheer after cheer went up, while his
admirers pressed about him so closely that, hot and blushing with
embarrassment, he was forced at last to mount a sofa, and from there
shake hands with the eager people who thronged up to him from all sides.

The next day at one o'clock the President, in the presence of the
cabinet and a few other officials, made a little speech, and gave him
his commission. Grant replied with a few words, as modest as they
were brief, and in conversation afterward asked what special duty was
required of him. The President answered that the people wanted him to
take Richmond, and asked if he could do it. Grant said that he could
if he had the soldiers, and the President promised that these would be
furnished him. Grant did not stay in Washington to enjoy the new honors
of his high rank, but at once set about preparations for his task. It
proved a hard one. More than a year passed before it was ended, and
all the losses in battle of the three years that had gone before seemed
small in comparison with the terrible numbers of killed and wounded that
fell during these last months of the war. At first Grant had a fear
that the President might wish to control his plans, but this was soon
quieted; and his last lingering doubt on the subject vanished when,
as he was about to start on his final campaign, Mr. Lincoln sent him a
letter stating his satisfaction with all he had done, and assuring him
that in the coming campaign he neither knew, for desired to know, the
details of his plans. In his reply Grant confessed the groundlessness
of his fears, and added, "Should my success be less than I desire and
expect, the least I can say is, the fault is not with you."

He made no complicated plan for the problem before him, but proposed to
solve it by plain, hard, persistent fighting. "Lee's army will be your
objective point," he instructed General Meade. "Where Lee goes there you
will go also." Nearly three years earlier the opposing armies had fought
their first battle of Bull Run only a short distance north of where they
now confronted each other. Campaign and battle between them had swayed
to the north and the south, but neither could claim any great gain of
ground or of advantage. The final struggle was before them. Grant had
two to one in numbers; Lee the advantage in position, for he knew by
heart every road, hill and forest in Virginia, had for his friendly
scout every white inhabitant, and could retire into prepared
fortifications. Perhaps the greatest element of his strength lay in the
conscious pride of his army that for three years it had steadily barred
the way to Richmond. To offset this there now menaced it what had
always been absent before--the grim, unflinching will of the new Union
commander, who had rightly won for himself the name of "Unconditional
Surrender" Grant.

On the night of May 4, 1864, his army entered upon the campaign which,
after many months, was to end the war. It divided itself into two parts.
For the first six weeks there was almost constant swift marching and
hard fighting, a nearly equally matched contest of strategy and battle
between the two armies, the difference being that Grant was always
advancing, and Lee always retiring. Grant had hoped to defeat Lee
outside of his fortifications, and early in the campaign had expressed
his resolution "to fight it out on this line if it takes all summer";
but the losses were so appalling, 60,000 of his best troops melting away
in killed and wounded during the six weeks, that this was seen to be
impossible. Lee's army was therefore driven into its fortifications
around the Confederate capital and then came the siege of Richmond,
lasting more than nine months, but pushed forward all that time with
relentless energy, in spite of Grant's heavy losses.

In the West, meanwhile, General William T. Sherman, Grant's closest
friend and brother officer, pursued a task of almost equal importance,
taking Atlanta, Georgia, which the Confederates had turned into a city
of foundries and workshops for the manufacture and repair of guns; then,
starting from Atlanta, marching with his best troops three hundred miles
to the sea, laying the country waste as they went; after which, turning
northward, he led them through South and North Carolina to bring his
army in touch with Grant.

Against this background of fighting the life of the country went on. The
end of the war was approaching, surely, but so slowly that the people,
hoping for it, and watching day by day, could scarcely see it. They
schooled themselves to a dogged endurance, but there was no more
enthusiasm. Many lost courage. Volunteering almost ceased, and the
government was obliged to begin drafting men to make up the numbers of
soldiers needed by Grant in his campaign against Richmond.

The President had many things to dishearten him at this time, many
troublesome questions to settle. For instance, there were new loyal
State governments to provide in those parts of the South which had again
come under control of the Union armies--no easy matter, where every man,
woman and child harbored angry feelings against the North, and no matter
how just and forbearing he might be, his plans were sure to be thwarted
and bitterly opposed at every step.

There were serious questions, too, to be decided about negro soldiers,
for the South had raised a mighty outcry against the Emancipation
Proclamation, especially against the use of the freed slaves as
soldiers, vowing that white officers of negro troops would be shown
small mercy, if ever they were taken prisoners. No act of such vengeance
occurred, but in 1864 a fort manned by colored soldiers was captured by
the Confederates, and almost the entire garrison was put to death.
Must the order that the War Department had issued some time earlier, to
offset the Confederate threats, now be put in force? The order said
that for every negro prisoner killed by the Confederates a Confederate
prisoner in the hands of the Union armies would be taken out and shot.
It fell upon Mr. Lincoln to decide. The idea seemed unbearable to him,
yet, on the other hand, could he afford to let the massacre go unavenged
and thus encourage the South in the belief that it could commit such
barbarous acts and escape unharmed? Two reasons finally decided him
against putting the order in force. One was that General Grant was about
to start on his campaign against Richmond, and that it would be most
unwise to begin this by the tragic spectacle of a military punishment,
however merited. The other was his tender-hearted humanity. He could
not, he said, take men out and kill them in cold blood for crimes
committed by other men. If he could get hold of the persons who were
guilty of killing the colored prisoners in cold blood, the case would
be different; but he could not kill the innocent for the guilty.
Fortunately the offense was not repeated, and no one had cause to
criticize his clemency.

Numbers of good and influential men, dismayed at the amount of blood and
treasure that the war had already cost, and disheartened by the calls
for still more soldiers that Grant's campaign made necessary, began
to clamor for peace--were ready to grant almost anything that the
Confederates chose to ask. Rebel agents were in Canada professing to
be able to conclude a peace. Mr. Lincoln, wishing to convince these
northern "Peace men" of the groundlessness of their claim, and of the
injustice of their charges that the government was continuing the war
unnecessarily, sent Horace Greeley, the foremost among them, to Canada,
to talk with the self-styled ambassadors of Jefferson Davis. Nothing
came of it, of course, except abuse of Mr. Lincoln for sending such a
messenger, and a lively quarrel between Greeley and the rebel agents as
to who was responsible for the misunderstandings that arose.

The summer and autumn of 1864 were likewise filled with the bitterness
and high excitement of a presidential campaign; for, according to law,
Mr. Lincoln's successor had to be elected on the "Tuesday after the
first Monday" of November in that year. The great mass of Republicans
wished Mr. Lincoln to be reelected. The Democrats had long ago fixed
upon General McClellan, with his grievances against the President, as
their future candidate. It is not unusual for Presidents to discover
would-be rivals in their own cabinets. Considering the strong men who
formed Mr. Lincoln's cabinet, and the fact that four years earlier more
than one of them had active hopes of being chosen in his stead, it is
remarkable that there was so little of this.

The one who developed the most serious desire to succeed him was Salmon
P. Chase, his Secretary of the Treasury. Devoted with all his powers
to the cause of the Union, Mr. Chase was yet strangely at fault in his
judgment of men. He regarded himself as the friend of Mr. Lincoln,
but nevertheless held so poor an opinion of the President's mind and
character, compared with his own, that he could not believe people blind
enough to prefer the President to himself. He imagined that he did
not want the office, and was anxious only for the public good; yet
he listened eagerly to the critics of the President who flattered his
hopes, and found time in spite of his great labors to write letters to
all parts of the country, which, although protesting that he did not
want the honor, showed his entire willingness to accept it. Mr. Lincoln
was well aware of this. Indeed, it was impossible not to know about it,
though he refused to hear the matter discussed or to read any letters
concerning it. He had his own opinion of the taste displayed by Mr.
Chase, but chose to take no notice of his actions. "I have determined,"
he said, "to shut my eyes, so far as possible, to everything of the
sort. Mr. Chase makes a good Secretary, and I shall keep him where he
is. If he becomes President, all right. I hope we may never have a
worse man," and he not only kept him where he was, but went on
appointing Chase's friends to office.

There was also some talk of making General Grant the Republican
candidate for President, and an attempt was even made to trap Mr.
Lincoln into taking part in a meeting where this was to be done. Mr.
Lincoln refused to attend, and instead wrote a letter of such hearty and
generous approval of Grant and his army that the meeting naturally fell
into the hands of Mr. Lincoln's friends. General Grant, never at that
time or any other, gave the least encouragement to the efforts which
were made to array him against the President. Mr. Lincoln, on his part,
received all warnings to beware of Grant in the most serene manner,
saying tranquilly, "If he takes Richmond, let him have it." It was not
so with General Fremont. At a poorly attended meeting held in Cleveland
he was actually nominated by a handful of people calling themselves
the "Radical Democracy," and taking the matter seriously, accepted,
although, three months later, having found no response from the public,
he withdrew from the contest.

After all, these various attempts to discredit the name of Abraham
Lincoln caused hardly a ripple on the great current of public opinion,
and death alone could have prevented his choice by the Republican
national convention. He took no measures to help on his own candidacy.
With strangers he would not talk about the probability of his
reelection; but with friends he made no secret of his readiness to
continue the work he was engaged in if such should be the general wish.
"A second term would be a great honor and a great labor; which together,
perhaps, I would not decline," he wrote to one of them. He discouraged
officeholders, either civil or military, who showed any special zeal in
his behalf. To General Schurz, who wrote asking permission to take an
active part in the campaign for his reelection, he answered: "I perceive
no objection to your making a political speech when you are where one is
to be made; but quite surely, speaking in the North and fighting in the
South at the same time are not possible, nor could I be justified to
detail any officer to the political campaign... and then return him to
the army."

He himself made no long speeches during the summer, and in his short
addresses, at Sanitary Fairs, in answer to visiting delegations, and
on similar occasions where custom and courtesy obliged him to say a few
words, he kept his quiet ease and self-command, speaking heartily and
to the point, yet avoiding all the pitfalls that beset the candidate who

When the Republican national convention came together in Baltimore on
June 7, 1864, it had very little to do, for its delegates were bound by
rigid instructions to vote for Abraham Lincoln.

He was chosen on the first ballot, every State voting for him except
Missouri, whose representatives had been instructed to vote for Grant.
Missouri at once changed its vote, and the secretary of the convention
read the grand total of 506 for Lincoln, his announcement being greeted
by a storm of cheers that lasted several minutes.

It was not so easy to choose a Vice-President. Mr. Lincoln had been
besieged by many people to make known his wishes in the matter, but had
persistently refused. He rightly felt that it would be presumptuous in
him to dictate who should be his companion on the ticket, and, in case
of his death, his successor in office. This was for the delegates to the
convention to decide, for they represented the voters of the country. He
had no more right to dictate who should be selected than the Emperor of
China would have had. It is probable that Vice-President Hamlin would
have been renominated, if it had not been for the general feeling both
in and out of the convention that, under all the circumstances, it would
be wiser to select some man who had been a Democrat, and had yet upheld
the war. The choice fell upon Andrew Johnson of Tennessee, who was not
only a Democrat, but had been appointed by Mr. Lincoln military governor
of Tennessee in 1862.

The Democrats at first meant to have the national convention of their
party meet on the fourth of July; but after Fremont had been nominated
at Cleveland and Lincoln at Baltimore, they postponed it to a later
date, hoping that something in the chapter of accidents might happen to
their advantage. At first it appeared as if this might be the case.
The outlook for the Republicans was far from satisfactory. The terrible
fighting and great losses of Grant's army in Virginia had profoundly
shocked and depressed the country. The campaign of General Sherman, who
was then in Georgia, showed as yet no promise of the brilliant results
it afterward attained. General Early's sudden raid into Maryland, when
he appeared so unexpectedly before Washington and threatened the city,
had been the cause of much exasperation; and Mr. Chase, made bitter
by his failure to receive the coveted nomination for President, had
resigned from the cabinet. This seemed, to certain leading Republicans,
to point to a breaking up of the government. The "Peace" men were
clamoring loudly for an end of the war; and the Democrats, not having
yet formally chosen a candidate, were free to devote all their leisure
to attacks upon the administration.

Mr. Lincoln realized fully the tremendous issues at stake. He looked
worn and weary. To a friend who urged him to go away for a fortnight's
rest, he replied, "I cannot fly from my thoughts. My solicitude for this
great country follows me wherever I go. I do not think it is personal
vanity or ambition, though I am not free from these infirmities, but
I cannot but feel that the weal or woe of this great nation will be
decided in November. There is no program offered by any wing of the
Democratic party but that must result in the permanent destruction of
the Union."

The political situation grew still darker. Toward the end of August the
general gloom enveloped even the President himself. Then what he did was
most original and characteristic. Feeling that the campaign was going
against him, he made up his mind deliberately the course he ought to
pursue, and laid down for himself the action demanded by his strong
sense of duty. He wrote on August 23 the following memorandum: "This
morning, as for some days past, it seems exceedingly probable that this
administration will not be reelected. Then it will be my duty to so
cooperate with the President-elect as to save the Union between the
election and the inauguration, as he will have secured his election on
such ground that he cannot possibly save it afterward."

He folded and pasted the sheet of paper in such a way that its contents
could not be seen, and as the cabinet came together handed it to each
member successively, asking him to write his name across the back of it.
In this peculiar fashion he pledged himself and his administration to
accept loyally the verdict of the people if it should be against them,
and to do their utmost to save the Union in the brief remainder of his
term of office. He gave no hint to any member of his cabinet of the
nature of the paper thus signed until after his reelection.

The Democratic convention finally came together in Chicago on August 29.
It declared the war a failure, and that efforts ought to be made at once
to bring it to a close, and nominated General McClellan for President
McClellan's only chance of success lay in his war record. His position
as a candidate on a platform of dishonorable peace would have been no
less desperate than ridiculous. In his letter accepting the nomination,
therefore, he calmly ignored the platform, and renewed his assurances
of devotion to the Union, the Constitution, and the flag of his country.
But the stars in their courses fought against him. Even before the
Democratic convention met, the tide of battle had turned. The darkest
hour of the war had passed, and dawn was at hand, and amid the
thanksgivings of a grateful people, and the joyful salute of great guns,
the real presidential campaign began. The country awoke to the true
meaning of the Democratic platform; General Sherman's successes in
the South excited the enthusiasm of the people; and when at last the
Unionists, rousing from their midsummer languor, began to show their
faith in the Republican candidate, the hopelessness of all efforts to
undermine him became evident.


The presidential election of 1864 took place on November 8. The diary of
one of the President's secretaries contains a curious record of the way
the day passed at the Executive Mansion. "The house has been still and
almost deserted. Everybody in Washington and not at home voting seems
ashamed of it, and stays away from the President. While I was talking
with him to-day he said: 'It is a little singular that I, who am not a
vindictive man, should always have been before the people for election
in canvasses marked for their bitterness. Always but once. When I came
to Congress it was a quiet time; but always besides that the contests in
which I have been prominent have been marked with great rancor.'"

Early in the evening the President made his way through rain and
darkness to the War Department to receive the returns. The telegrams
came, thick and fast, all pointing joyously to his reelection. He sent
the important ones over to Mrs. Lincoln at the White House, remarking,
"She is more anxious that I am." The satisfaction of one member of the
little group about him was coupled with the wish that the critics of the
administration might feel properly rebuked by this strong expression
of the popular will. Mr. Lincoln looked at him in kindly surprise.
"You have more of that feeling of personal resentment than I," he said.
"Perhaps I have too little of it, but I never thought it paid. A man has
not time to spend half his life in quarrels. If any man ceases to attack
me, I never remember the past against him." This state of mind
might well have been called by a higher name than "lack of personal

Lincoln and Johnson received a popular majority of 411,281, and 212 out
of 233 electoral votes--only those of New Jersey, Delaware and Kentucky,
twenty-one in all, being cast for McClellan.

For Mr. Lincoln this was one of the most solemn days of his life.
Assured of his personal success, and made devoutly confident by the
military victories of the last few weeks that the end of the war was at
hand, he felt no sense of triumph over his opponents. The thoughts that
filled his mind found expression in the closing sentences of the little
speech that he made to some serenaders who greeted him in the early
morning hours of November 9, as he left the War Department to return to
the White House:

"I am thankful to God for this approval of the people; but while deeply
grateful for this mark of their confidence in me, if I know my heart,
my gratitude is free from any taint of personal triumph.... It is no
pleasure to me to triumph over anyone, but I give thanks to the Almighty
for this evidence of the people's resolution to stand by free government
and the rights of humanity."

Mr. Lincoln's inauguration for his second term as President took place
at the time appointed, on March 4, 1865. There is little variation
in the simple but impressive pageantry with which the ceremony is
celebrated. The principal novelty commented on by the newspapers was the
share which the people who had up to that time been slaves, had for the
first time in this public and political drama. Associations of negro
citizens joined in the procession, and a battalion of negro soldiers
formed part of the military escort. The central act of the occasion
was President Lincoln's second inaugural address, which enriched the
political literature of the nation with another masterpiece. He said:

"Fellow-countrymen: At this second appearing to take the oath of the
presidential office, there is less occasion for an extended address
than there was at the first. Then a statement, somewhat in detail, of a
course to be pursued, seemed fitting and proper. Now, at the expiration
of four years, during which public declarations have been constantly
called forth on every point and phase of the great contest which still
absorbs the attention and engrosses the energies of the nation, little
that is new could be presented. The progress of our arms, upon which all
else chiefly depends, is as well known to the public as to myself; and
it is, I trust, reasonably satisfactory and encouraging to all. With
high hope for the future, no prediction in regard to it is ventured.

"On the occasion corresponding to this four years ago, all thoughts were
anxiously directed to an impending civil war. All dreaded it--all sought
to avert it. While the inaugural address was being delivered from this
place, devoted altogether to saving the Union without war, insurgent
agents were in the city seeking to destroy it without war--seeking to
dissolve the Union and divide effects, by negotiation. Both parties
deprecated war; but one of them would make war rather than let the
nation survive; and the other would accept war rather than let it
perish. And the war came.

"One-eighth of the whole population were colored slaves, not distributed
generally over the Union, but localized in the southern part of it.
These slaves constituted a peculiar and powerful interest. All knew
that this interest was, somehow, the cause of the war. To strengthen,
perpetuate and extend this interest was the object for which the
insurgents would rend the Union, even by war; while the government
claimed no right to do more than to restrict the territorial enlargement
of it.

"Neither party expected for the war the magnitude or the duration which
it has already attained. Neither anticipated that the cause of the
conflict might cease with, or even before, the conflict itself should
cease. Each looked for an easier triumph, and a result less fundamental
and astounding. Both read the same Bible, and pray to the same God; and
each invokes his aid against the other. It may seem strange that any men
should dare to ask a just God's assistance in wringing their bread from
the sweat of other men's faces; but let us judge not, that we be not
judged. The prayers of both could not be answered--that of neither has
been answered fully.

"The Almighty has his own purposes. 'Woe unto the world because of
offenses! For it must needs be that offenses come; but woe to that man
by whom the offense cometh.' If we shall suppose that American slavery
is one of those offenses which, in the providence of God, must needs
come, but which, having continued through his appointed time, he now
wills to remove, and that he gives to both North and South this terrible
war, as the woe due to those by whom the offense came, shall we discern
therein any departure from those divine attributes which the believers
in a living God always ascribe to him? Fondly do we hope--fervently do
we pray--that this mighty scourge of war may speedily pass away. Yet; if
God wills that it continue until all the wealth piled by the 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.'

"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 with all nations."

The address ended, the Chief Justice arose, and the listeners who, for
the second time, heard Abraham Lincoln repeat the solemn words of his
oath of office, went from the impressive scene to their several homes in
thankfulness and confidence that the destiny of the nation was in safe

Nothing would have amazed Mr. Lincoln more than to hear himself called
a man of letters; and yet it would be hard to find in all literature
anything to excel the brevity and beauty of his address at Gettysburg
or the lofty grandeur of this Second Inaugural. In Europe his style has
been called a model for the study and imitation of princes, while in
our own country many of his phrases have already passed into the daily
speech of mankind.

His gift of putting things simply and clearly was partly the habit
of his own clear mind, and partly the result of the training he gave
himself in days of boyish poverty, when paper and ink were luxuries
almost beyond his reach, and the words he wished to set down must be the
best words, and the clearest and shortest to express the ideas he had
in view. This training of thought before expression, of knowing exactly
what he wished to say before saying it, stood him in good stead all his
life; but only the mind of a great man, with a lofty soul and a poet's
vision; one who had suffered deeply and felt keenly; who carried the
burden of a nation on his heart, whose sympathies were as broad and
whose kindness was as great as his moral purpose was strong and firm,
could have written the deep, forceful, convincing words that fell from
his pen in the later years of his life. It was the life he lived, the
noble aim that upheld him, as well as the genius with which he was born,
that made him one of the greatest writers of our time.

At the date of his second inauguration only two members of Mr. Lincoln's
original cabinet remained in office; but the changes had all come about
gradually and naturally, never as the result of quarrels, and with the
single exception of Secretary Chase, not one of them left the cabinet
harboring feelings of resentment or bitterness toward his late chief.
Even when, in one case, it became necessary for the good of the service,
for Mr. Lincoln to ask a cabinet minister to resign, that gentleman not
only unquestioningly obeyed, but entered into the presidential campaign
immediately afterward, working heartily and effectively for his
reelection. As for Secretary Chase, the President was so little
disturbed by his attitude that, on the death of Roger B. Taney, the
Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court, he made him his
successor, giving him the highest judicial office in the land, and
paying him the added compliment of writing out his nomination with his
own hand.

The keynote of the President's young life had been persevering industry.
That of his mature years was self-control and generous forgiveness. And
surely his remark on the night of his second election for President,
that he did not think resentment "paid," and that no man had time to
spend half his life in quarrels, was well borne out by the fruit of his
actions. It was this spirit alone which made possible much that he was
able to accomplish. His rule of conduct toward all men is summed up in a
letter of reprimand that it became his duty, while he was President,
to send to one young officer accused of quarreling with another. It
deserves to be written in letters of gold on the walls of every school
and college throughout the land:

"The advice of a father to his son, 'beware of entrance to a quarrel,
but, being in, bear it that the opposed may beware of thee,' is good,
but not the best. Quarrel not at all. No man resolved to make the most
of himself can spare time for personal contention. Still less can he
afford to take all the consequences, including the vitiating of his
temper and the loss of self-control. Yield larger things to which you
can show no more than equal right; and yield lesser ones though clearly
your own. Better give your path to a dog than be bitten by him in
contesting for the right. Even killing the dog would not cure the bite."

It was this willingness of his to give up the "lesser things," and even
the things to which he could claim an equal right, which kept peace in
his cabinet, made up of men of strong wills and conflicting natures.
Their devotion to the Union, great as it was, would not have sufficed
in such a strangely assorted official family; but his unfailing kindness
and good sense led him to overlook many things that another man might
have regarded as deliberate insults; while his great tact and knowledge
of human nature enabled him to bring out the best in people about him,
and at times to turn their very weaknesses into sources of strength. It
made it possible for him to keep the regard of every one of them. Before
he had been in office a month it had transformed Secretary Seward from
his rival into his lasting friend. It made a warm friend out of the
blunt, positive, hot-tempered Edwin M. Stanton, who became Secretary
of War in place of Mr. Cameron. He was a man of strong will and great
endurance, and gave his Department a record for hard and effective
work that it would be difficult to equal. Many stories are told of the
disrespect he showed the President, and the cross-purposes at which they
labored. The truth is, that they understood each other perfectly on all
important matters, and worked together through three busy trying years
with ever-increasing affection and regard. The President's kindly humor
forgave his Secretary many blunt speeches. "Stanton says I am a fool?"
he is reported to have asked a busy-body who came fleet-footed to tell
him of the Secretary's hasty comment on an order of little moment.
"Stanton says I am a fool? Well"--with a whimsical glance at his
informant--"then I suppose I must be. Stanton is nearly always right."
Knowing that Stanton was "nearly always right" it made little difference
to his chief what he might say in the heat of momentary annoyance.

Yet in spite of his forbearance he never gave up the "larger things"
that he felt were of real importance; and when he learned at one time
that an effort was being made to force a member of the cabinet to
resign, he called them together, and read them the following impressive
little lecture:

"I must myself be the judge how long to retain in, and when to remove
any of you from his position. It would greatly pain me to discover
any of you endeavoring to procure another's removal, or in any way to
prejudice him before the public. Such endeavor would be a wrong to me,
and much worse, a wrong to the country. My wish is that on this subject
no remark be made, nor question asked by any of you, here, or elsewhere,
now, or hereafter."

This is one of the most remarkable speeches ever made by a President.
Washington was never more dignified; Jackson was never more peremptory.

The President's spirit of forgiveness was broad enough to take in the
entire South. The cause of the Confederacy had been doomed from the hour
of his reelection. The cheering of the troops which greeted the news
had been heard within the lines at Richmond, and the besieged town lost
hope, though it continued the struggle bravely if desperately. Although
Horace Greeley's peace mission to Canada had come to nothing, and other
volunteer efforts in the same direction served only to call forth
a declaration from Jefferson Davis that he would fight for the
independence of the South to the bitter end, Mr. Lincoln watched
longingly for the time when the first move could be made toward peace.
Early in January, 1865, as the country was about to enter upon the fifth
year of actual war, he learned from Hon. Francis P. Blair, Sr., who
had been in Richmond, how strong the feeling of discouragement at the
Confederate capital had become. Mr. Blair was the father of Lincoln's
first Postmaster-General, a man of large acquaintance in the South, who
knew perhaps better than anyone in Washington the character and temper
of the southern leaders. He had gone to Richmond hoping to do something
toward bringing the war to a close, but without explaining his plans to
anyone, and with no authority from the government, beyond permission
to pass through the military lines and return. His scheme was utterly
impracticable, and Mr. Lincoln was interested in the report of his visit
only because it showed that the rebellion was nearing its end. This
was so marked that he sent Mr. Blair back again to Richmond with a note
intended for the eye of Jefferson Davis, saying that the government had
constantly been, was then, and would continue to be ready to receive any
agent Mr. Davis might send, "with a view of securing peace to the people
of our one common country."

Hopeless as their cause had by this time become, the Confederates had no
mind to treat for peace on any terms except independence of the southern
States; yet, on the other hand, they were in such straits that they
could not afford to leave Mr. Lincoln's offer untested. Mr. Davis
therefore sent north his Vice-President, Alexander H. Stephens, with
two other high officials of the Confederate government, armed with
instructions which aimed to be liberal enough to gain them admittance
to the Union lines, and yet distinctly announced that they came "for the
purpose of securing peace to the two countries." This difference in the
wording of course doomed their mission in advance, for the government
at Washington had never admitted that there were "two countries," and to
receive the messengers of Jefferson Davis on any such terms would be to
concede practically all that the South asked.

When they reached the Union lines the officer who met them informed
them that they could go no farther unless they accepted the President's
conditions. They finally changed the form of their request, and were
taken to Fortress Monroe. Meantime Mr. Lincoln had sent Secretary Seward
to Fortress Monroe with instructions to hear all they might have to say,
but not to definitely conclude anything. On learning the true nature
of their errand he was about to recall him, when he received a telegram
from General Grant, regretting that Mr. Lincoln himself could not see
the commissioners, because, to Grant's mind, they seemed sincere.

Anxious to do everything he could in the interest of peace, Mr. Lincoln,
instead of recalling Secretary Seward, telegraphed that he would himself
come to Fortress Monroe, and started that same night. The next morning,
February 3, 1865, he and the Secretary of State received the rebel
commissioners on board the President's steamer, the River Queen.

This conference between the two highest officials of the United States
government, and three messengers from the Confederacy, bound, as the
President well knew beforehand, by instructions which made any practical
outcome impossible, brings out, in strongest relief, Mr. Lincoln's
kindly patience, even toward the rebellion. He was determined to leave
no means untried that might, however remotely, lead to peace. For four
hours he patiently answered the many questions they asked him, as to
what would probably be done on various subjects if the South submitted;
pointing out always the difference between the things that he had the
power to decide, and those that must be submitted to Congress; and
bringing the discussion back, time and again, to the three points
absolutely necessary to secure peace--Union, freedom for the slaves,
and complete disbandment of the Confederate armies. He had gone to offer
them, honestly and frankly, the best terms in his power, but not to
give up one atom of official dignity or duty. Their main thought, on the
contrary, had been to postpone or to escape the express conditions on
which they were admitted to the conference.

They returned to Richmond and reported the failure of their efforts to
Jefferson Davis, whose disappointment equalled their own, for all had
caught eagerly at the hope that this interview would somehow prove a
means of escape from the dangers of their situation. President Lincoln,
full of kindly thoughts, on the other hand, went back to Washington,
intent on making yet one more generous offer to hasten the day of peace.
He had told the commissioners that personally he would be in favor of
the government paying a liberal amount for the loss of slave property,
on condition that the southern States agree of their own accord to
the freedom of the slaves. (*) This was indeed going to the extreme of
liberality, but Mr. Lincoln remembered that notwithstanding all their
offenses the rebels were American citizens, members of the same nation
and brothers of the same blood. He remembered, too, that the object of
the war, equally with peace and freedom, was to preserve friendship and
to continue the Union. Filled with such thoughts and purposes he spent
the day after his return in drawing up a new proposal designed as a
peace offering to the States in rebellion. On the evening of February 5
he read this to his cabinet. It offered the southern States $400,000,000
or a sum equal to the cost of war for two hundred days, on condition
that all fighting cease by the first of April, 1865. He proved more
liberal than any of his advisers; and with the words, "You are all
against me," sadly uttered, the President folded up the paper, and ended
the discussion.

     * Mr. Lincoln had freed the slaves two years before as a
     military necessity, and as such it had been accepted by all.
     Yet a question might arise, when the war ended, as to
     whether this act of his had been lawful. He was therefore
     very anxious to have freedom find a place in the
     Constitution of the United States. This could only be done
     by an amendment to the Constitution, proposed by Congress,
     and adopted by the legislatures of three-fourths of the
     States of the Union. Congress voted in favor of such an
     amendment on January 31, 1865. Illinois, the President's own
     State, adopted it on the very next day, and though Mr.
     Lincoln did not live to see it a part of the Constitution,
     Secretary Seward, on December 18, 1865, only a few months
     after Mr. Lincoln's death, was able to make official
     announcement that 29 States, constituting a majority of
     three-fourths of the 36 States of the Union, had adopted it,
     and that therefore it was the law of the land.

Jefferson Davis had issued a last appeal to "fire the southern heart,"
but the situation at Richmond was becoming desperate Flour cost a
thousand dollars a barrel in Confederate money, and neither the flour
nor the money were sufficient for their needs. Squads of guards were
sent into the streets with directions to arrest every able-bodied man
they met, and force him to work in defense of the town. It is said that
the medical boards were ordered to excuse no one from military service
who was well enough to bear arms for even ten days. Human nature will
not endure a strain like this, and desertion grew too common to punish.
Nevertheless the city kept up its defense until April 3. Even then,
although hopelessly beaten, the Confederacy was not willing to give in,
and much needless and severe fighting took place before the final end
came. The rebel government hurried away toward the South, and Lee
bent all his energies to saving his army and taking it to join General
Johnston, who still held out against Sherman. Grant pursued him with
such energy that he did not even allow himself the pleasure of entering
the captured rebel capital. The chase continued six days. On the evening
of April 8 the Union army succeeded in planting itself squarely across
Lee's line of retreat; and the marching and fighting of his army were
over for ever. On the next morning the two generals met in a house on
the edge of the village of Appomattox, Virginia, Lee resplendent in a
new uniform and handsome sword, Grant in the travel-stained garments in
which he had made the campaign--the blouse of a private soldier, with
the shoulder-straps of a Lieutenant-General. Here the surrender took
place. Grant, as courteous in victory as he was energetic in war,
offered Lee terms that were liberal in the extreme; and on learning that
the Confederate soldiers were actually suffering with hunger, ordered
that rations be issued to them at once.

Fire and destruction attended the flight of the Confederates from
Richmond. Jefferson Davis and his cabinet, carrying with them their more
important state papers, left the doomed city on one of the crowded
and overloaded railroad trains on the night of April 2, beginning a
southward flight that ended only with Mr. Davis's capture about a
month later. The legislature of Virginia and the governor of the State
departed hurriedly on a canal-boat in the direction of Lynchburg, while
every possible carriage or vehicle was pressed into service by the
inhabitants, all frantic to get away before their city was "desecrated"
by the presence of the Yankees. By the time the military left, early on
the morning of April 3, the town was on fire. The Confederate Congress
had ordered all government tobacco and other public property to be
burned. The rebel General Ewell, who was in charge of the city, asserts
that he took the responsibility of disobeying, and that the fires were
not started by his orders. Be that as it may, they broke out in various
places, while a mob, crazed with excitement, and wild with the alcohol
that had run freely in the gutters the night before, rushed from store
to store, breaking in the doors, and indulging in all the wantonness of
pillage and greed. Public spirit seemed paralyzed; no real effort was
made to put out the flames, and as a final horror, the convicts from the
penitentiary, overpowering their guards, appeared upon the streets, a
maddened, shouting, leaping crowd, drunk with liberty.

It is quite possible that the very size and suddenness of the disaster
served in a measure to lessen its evil effects; for the burning of seven
hundred buildings, the entire business portion of Richmond, all in the
brief space of a day, was a visitation so sudden, so stupefying and
unexpected as to overawe and terrorize even evildoers. Before a new
danger could arise help was at hand. Gen. Weitzel, to whom the city
surrendered, took up his headquarters in the house lately occupied by
Jefferson Davis, and promptly set about the work of relief; fighting the
fire, issuing rations to the poor, and restoring order and authority.
That a regiment of black soldiers assisted in this work of mercy must
have seemed to the white inhabitants of Richmond the final drop in their
cup of misery.

Into the rebel capital, thus stricken and laid waste, came President
Lincoln on the morning of April 4. Never in the history of the world
has the head of a mighty nation and the conqueror of a great rebellion
entered the captured chief city of the insurgents in such humbleness and
simplicity. He had gone two weeks before to City Point for a visit to
General Grant, and to his son, Captain Robert Lincoln, who was serving
on Grant's staff. Making his home on the steamer that brought him, and
enjoying what was probably the most restful and satisfactory holiday in
which he had been able to indulge during his whole presidential service,
he had visited the various camps of the great army, in company with the
General, cheered everywhere by the loving greetings of the soldiers. He
had met Sherman when that commander hurried up fresh from his victorious
march from Atlanta; and after Grant had started on his final pursuit
of Lee the President still lingered. It was at City Point that the news
came to him of the fall of Richmond.

Between the receipt of this news and the following forenoon, before any
information of the great fire had reached them, a visit to the rebel
capital was arranged for the President and Rear Admiral Porter. Ample
precautions for their safety were taken at the start. The President went
in his own steamer, the River Queen, with her escort, the Bat, and a tug
used at City Point in landing from the steamer. Admiral Porter went in
his flagship; while a transport carried a small cavalry escort, as
well as ambulances for the party. Barriers in the river soon made it
impossible to proceed in this fashion, and one unforeseen accident after
another rendered it necessary to leave behind the larger and even the
smaller boats; until finally the party went on in the Admiral's barge
rowed by twelve sailors, without escort of any kind. In this manner the
President made his entry into Richmond, landing near Libby Prison. As
the party stepped ashore they found a guide among the contrabands who
quickly crowded the streets, for the possible coming of the President
had already been noised through the city. Ten of the sailors armed with
carbines were formed as a guard, six in front, and four in rear, and
between them the President and Admiral Porter, with the three officers
who accompanied them, walked the long distance, perhaps a mile and a
half, to the centre of the town.

Imagination can easily fill in the picture of a gradually increasing
crowd, principally of negroes, following the little group of marines and
officers with the tall form of the President in its centre; and, when
they learned that it was indeed "Massa Lincum," expressing their joy and
gratitude in fervent blessings and in the deep emotional cries of the
colored race. It is easy also to imagine the sharp anxiety of those who
had the President's safety in their charge during this tiresome and even
foolhardy march through a town still in flames, whose white inhabitants
were sullenly resentful at best, and whose grief and anger might at any
moment break out against the man they looked upon as the chief author of
their misfortunes. No accident befell him. He reached General Weitzel's
headquarters in safety, rested in the house Jefferson Davis had occupied
while President of the Confederacy; and after a day of sightseeing
returned to his steamer and to Washington, there to be stricken down by
an assassin's bullet, literally "in the house of his friends."


Refreshed in body by his visit to City Point and greatly cheered by
the fall of Richmond, and unmistakable signs that the war was over, Mr.
Lincoln went back to Washington intent on the new task opening before
him--that of restoring the Union, and of bringing about peace and good
will again between the North and the South. His whole heart was bent on
the work of "binding up the nation's wounds" and doing all which lay
in his power to "achieve a just and lasting peace." Especially did
he desire to avoid the shedding of blood, or anything like acts of
deliberate punishment. He talked to his cabinet in this strain on the
morning of April 14, the last day of his life. "No one need expect that
he would take any part in hanging or killing these men, even the worst
of them," he exclaimed. Enough lives had been sacrificed already.
Anger must be put aside. The great need now was to begin to act in the
interest of peace. With these words of clemency and kindness in
their ears they left him, never again to come together under his wise

Though it was invariably held in check by his vigorous common-sense,
there was in Mr. Lincoln's nature a strong vein of poetry and mysticism.
That morning he told his cabinet a strange story of a dream that he had
had the night before--a dream which he said came to him before great
events. He had dreamed it before the battles of Antietam, Murfreesboro,
Gettysburg and Vicksburg. This time it must foretell a victory by
Sherman over Johnston's army, news of which was hourly expected, for
he knew of no other important event likely to occur. The members of
the cabinet were deeply impressed; but General Grant, who had come to
Washington that morning and was present, remarked with matter-of-fact
exactness that Murfreesboro was no victory and had no important results.
Not the wildest imagination of skeptic or mystic could have pictured the
events under which the day was to close.

It was Good Friday, a day observed by a portion of the people with
fasting and prayer, but even among the most devout the great news of the
week just ended changed this time of traditional mourning into a season
of general thanksgiving. For Mr. Lincoln it was a day of unusual and
quiet happiness. His son Robert had returned from the field with
General Grant, and the President spent an hour with the young captain in
delighted conversation over the campaign. He denied himself generally to
visitors, admitting only a few friends. In the afternoon he went for
a long drive with Mrs. Lincoln. His mood, as it had been all day, was
singularly happy and tender. He talked much of the past and future.
After four years of trouble and tumult he looked forward to four years
of quiet and normal work; after that he expected to go back again to
Illinois and practice law. He was never more simple or more gentle
than on this day of triumph. His heart overflowed with sentiments of
gratitude to Heaven, which took the shape, usual to generous natures, of
love and kindness to all men.

From the very beginning there had been threats to kill him. He was
constantly receiving letters of warning from zealous or nervous friends.
The War Department inquired into these when there seemed to be ground
for doing so, but always without result. Warnings that appeared most
definite proved on examination too vague and confused for further
attention. The President knew that he was in some danger. Madmen
frequently made their way to the very door of the Executive Office;
sometimes into Mr. Lincoln's presence; but he himself had so sane a
mind, and a heart so kindly even to his enemies, that it was hard for
him to believe in political hatred deadly enough to lead to murder. He
summed up the matter by saying that since he must receive both friends
and strangers every day, his life was of course within the reach of any
one, sane or mad, who was ready to murder and be hanged for it, and that
he could not possibly guard against all danger unless he shut himself
up in an iron box, where he could scarcely perform the duties of a

He therefore went in and out before the people, always unarmed,
generally unattended. He received hundreds of visitors in a day, his
breast bare to pistol or knife. He walked at midnight, with a single
Secretary or alone, from the Executive Mansion to the War Department and
back. In summer he rode through lonely roads from the White House to the
Soldiers' Home in the dusk of the evening, and returned to his work in
the morning before the town was astir. He was greatly annoyed when it
was decided that there must be a guard at the Executive Mansion, and
that a squad of cavalry must accompany him on his daily drive; but he
was always reasonable, and yielded to the best judgment of others.

Four years of threats and boastings that were unfounded, and of plots
that came to nothing passed away, until precisely at the time when
the triumph of the nation seemed assured, and a feeling of peace and
security settled over the country, one of the conspiracies, seemingly no
more important than the others, ripened in a sudden heat of hatred and

A little band of desperate secessionists, of which John Wilkes Booth,
an actor of a family of famous players, was the head, had their usual
meeting-place at the house of Mrs. Mary E. Surratt, the mother of one
of the number. Booth was a young man of twenty-six, strikingly handsome,
with an ease and grace of manner which came to him of right from his
theatrical ancestors. He was a fanatical southerner, with a furious
hatred against Lincoln and the Union. After Lincoln's reelection he went
to Canada, and associated with the Confederate agents there; and whether
or not with their advice, made a plan to capture the President and
take him to Richmond. He passed a great part of the autumn and winter
pursuing this fantastic scheme, but the winter wore away, and nothing
was done. On March 4 he was at the Capitol, and created a disturbance
by trying to force his way through the line of policemen who guarded
the passage through which the President walked to the East front of the
building to read his Second Inaugural. His intentions at this time are
not known. He afterwards said he lost an excellent chance of killing the
President that day.

After the surrender of Lee, in a rage akin to madness, he called his
fellow-conspirators together and allotted to each his part in the new
crime which had risen in his mind. It was as simple as it was horrible.
One man was to kill Secretary Seward, another to make way with Andrew
Johnson, at the same time that he murdered the President. The final
preparations were made with feverish haste. It was only about noon of
the fourteenth that Booth learned that Mr. Lincoln meant to go to Ford's
Theatre that night to see the play "Our American Cousin." The President
enjoyed the theatre. It was one of his few means of recreation, and as
the town was then thronged with soldiers and officers all eager to see
him, he could, by appearing in public, gratify many whom he could not
personally meet.

Mrs. Lincoln asked General and Mrs. Grant to accompany her. They
accepted, and the announcement that they would be present was made in
the evening papers, but they changed their plans and went north by an
afternoon train. Mrs. Lincoln then invited in their stead Miss Harris
and Major Rathbone, daughter and stepson of Senator Ira Harris. Being
detained by visitors, the play had made some progress when the President
appeared.. The band struck up "Hail to the Chief," the actors ceased
playing, the audience rose and cheered, the President bowed in
acknowledgment, and the play went on again.

From the moment he learned of the President's intention Booth's actions
were alert and energetic. He and his confederates were seen in every
part of the city. Booth was perfectly at home in Ford's Theatre. He
counted upon audacity to reach the small passage behind the President's
box. Once there, he guarded against interference by arranging a wooden
bar, to be fastened by a simple mortice in the angle of the wall and
the door by which he entered, so that once shut, the door could not be
opened from the outside. He even provided for the chance of not gaining
entrance to the box by boring a hole in the door, through which he
might either observe the occupants, or take aim and shoot. He hired at a
livery stable a small fleet horse.

A few moments before ten o'clock, leaving his horse at the rear of
the theatre, in charge of a call-boy, he entered the building, passing
rapidly to the little hallway leading to the President's box. Showing a
card to the servant in attendance, he was allowed to enter, closed the
door noiselessly, and secured it with the wooden bar he had made ready,
without disturbing any of the occupants of the box, between whom and
himself yet remained the partition and the door through which he had
bored the hole.

No one, not even the actor who uttered them, could ever remember the
last words of the piece that were spoken that night--the last that
Abraham Lincoln heard upon earth; for the tragedy in the box turned play
and players alike to the most unsubstantial of phantoms. For weeks
hate and brandy had kept Booth's brain in a morbid state. He seemed to
himself to be taking part in a great play. Holding a pistol in one hand
and a knife in the other, he opened the box door, put the pistol to the
President's head, and fired. Major Rathbone sprang to grapple with him,
and received a savage knife wound in the arm. Then, rushing forward,
Booth placed his hand on the railing of the box and vaulted to the
stage. It was a high leap, but nothing to such a trained athlete. He
would have got safely away, had not his spur caught in the flag that
draped the front of the box. He fell, the torn flag trailing on
his spur; but though the fall had broken his leg, he rose instantly
brandishing his knife and shouting, "Sic Semper Tyrannis!" fled rapidly
across the stage and out of sight. Major Rathbone shouted, "Stop him!"
The cry, "He has shot the President!" rang through the theatre, and from
the audience, stupid at first with surprise, and wild afterward with
excitement and horror, men jumped upon the stage in pursuit of the
assassin. But he ran through the familiar passages, leaped upon his
horse, rewarding with a kick and a curse the boy who held him, and
escaped into the night.

The President scarcely moved. His head drooped forward slightly, his
eyes closed. Major Rathbone, not regarding his own grievous hurt,
rushed to the door to summon aid. He found it barred, and someone on the
outside beating and clamoring to get in. It was at once seen that the
President's wound was mortal. He was carried across the street to a
house opposite, and laid upon a bed. Mrs. Lincoln followed, tenderly
cared for by Miss Harris. Rathbone, exhausted by loss of blood, fainted,
and was taken home. Messengers were sent for the cabinet, for the
Surgeon-General, for Dr. Stone the President's family physician, and for
others whose official or private relations with Mr. Lincoln gave them
the right to be there. A crowd of people rushed instinctively to the
White House, and bursting through the doors shouted the dreadful news to
Robert Lincoln and Major Hay who sat together in an upper room.

The President had been shot a few minutes after ten o'clock. The wound
would have brought instant death to most men. He was unconscious from
the first moment, but he breathed throughout the night, his gaunt face
scarcely paler than those of the sorrowing men around him. At twenty-two
minutes past seven in the morning he died. Secretary Stanton broke the
silence by saying, "Now he belongs to the ages."

Booth had done his work thoroughly. His principal accomplice had acted
with equal audacity and cruelty, but with less fatal result. Under
pretext of having a package of medicine to deliver, he forced his way
to the room of the Secretary of State, who lay ill, and attacked him,
inflicting three terrible knife wounds on his neck and cheek, wounding
also the Secretary's two sons, a servant, and a soldier nurse who tried
to overpower him. Finally breaking away, he ran downstairs, reached the
door unhurt, and springing upon his horse rode off. It was feared that
neither the Secretary nor his eldest son would live, but both in time

Although Booth had been recognized by dozens of people as he stood
before the footlights brandishing his dagger, his swift horse soon
carried him beyond any hap-hazard pursuit. He crossed the Navy
Yard bridge and rode into Maryland, being joined by one of his
fellow-conspirators. A surgeon named Mudd set Booth's leg and sent him
on his desolate way. For ten days the two men lived the lives of hunted
animals. On the night of April 25 they were surrounded as they lay
sleeping in a barn in Caroline County, Virginia. Booth refused to
surrender. The barn was fired, and while it was burning he was shot by
Boston Corbett, a sergeant of cavalry. He lingered for about three
hours in great pain, and died at seven in the morning. The remaining
conspirators were tried by military commission. Four were hanged,
including the assailant of Secretary Seward, and the others were
sentenced to imprisonment for various lengths of time.

Upon the hearts of a people glowing with the joy of victory the news of
the President's death fell as a great shock. In the unspeakable calamity
the country lost sight of the great national successes of the past week;
and thus it came to pass that there was never any organized celebration
in the North over the downfall of the rebellion. It was unquestionably
best that it should be so. Lincoln himself would not have had it
otherwise, for he hated the arrogance of triumph. As it was, the South
could take no offense at a grief so genuine; and the people of that
section even shared, to a certain extent, in the mourning for one who,
in their inmost hearts, they knew to have wished them well.

Within an hour after Mr. Lincoln's body was taken to the White House the
town was shrouded in black. Not only the public buildings, the shops,
and the better class of dwellings were draped in funeral decorations;
still more touching proof of affection was shown in the poorest class of
homes, where laboring men of both colors found means in their poverty to
afford some scanty bit of mourning. The interest and veneration of the
people still centered at the White House, where, under a tall catafalque
in the East Room the late chief lay in the majesty of death, rather than
in the modest tavern on Pennsylvania Avenue, where the new President
had his lodgings, and where the Chief Justice administered the oath of
office to him at eleven o'clock on the morning of April 15.

It was determined that the funeral ceremonies in Washington should be
held on Wednesday, April 19, and all the churches throughout the country
were invited to join at the same time in appropriate observances. The
ceremonies in the East Room were simple and brief, while all the pomp
and circumstance that the government could command were employed to give
a fitting escort from the Executive Mansion to the Capitol, where the
body of the President lay in state. The procession moved to the
booming of minute guns, and the tolling of all the bells in Washington,
Georgetown and Alexandria; while, to associate the pomp of the day with
the greatest work of Lincoln's life, a detachment of colored troops
marched at the head of the line.

When it was announced that he was to be buried at Springfield every town
and city on the way begged that the train might halt within its limits,
to give its people opportunity of showing their grief and reverence.
It was finally arranged that the funeral cortege should follow
substantially the same route over which Lincoln had come in 1861 to take
possession of the office to which he added a new dignity and value for
all time. On April 21, accompanied by a guard of honor, and in a train
decked with somber trappings, the journey was begun. At Baltimore,
through which, four years before, it was a question whether the
President-elect could pass with safety to his life, the coffin was taken
with reverent care to the great dome of the Exchange, where, surrounded
with evergreens and lilies, it lay for several hours, the people passing
by in mournful throngs. The same demonstration was repeated, gaining
constantly in depth of feeling and solemn splendor of display in every
city through which the procession passed. In New York came General
Scott, pale and feeble, but resolute, to pay his tribute of respect to
his departed friend and commander.

Springfield was reached on the morning of May 3. The body lay in state
in the Capitol, which was richly draped from roof to basement in black
velvet and silver fringe, while within it was a bower of bloom and
fragrance. For twenty-four hours an unbroken stream of people passed
through, bidding their friend and neighbor welcome home and farewell. At
ten o'clock on the morning of May 4 the coffin lid was closed, and vast
procession moved out to Oak Ridge, where the town had set apart a lovely
spot for his grave. Here the dead President was committed to the soil
of the State which had so loved and honored him. The ceremonies at the
grave were simple and touching. Bishop Simpson delivered a pathetic
oration, prayers were offered, and hymns were sung, but the weightiest
and most eloquent words uttered anywhere that day were those of the
Second Inaugural, which the Committee had wisely ordained to be read
over his grave, as centuries before, the friends of the painter Raphael
chose the incomparable canvas of "The Transfiguration" to be the chief
ornament of his funeral.

Though President Lincoln lived to see the real end of the war, various
bodies of Confederate troops continued to hold out for some time longer.
General Johnston faced Sherman's army in the Carolinas until April 26,
while General E. Kirby Smith, west of the Mississippi River, did not
surrender until May 26.

As rapidly as possible Union volunteer regiments were disbanded, and
soon the mighty host of 1,000,000 men was reduced to a peace footing of
only 25,000. Before the great army melted away into the greater body
of citizens its soldiers enjoyed one final triumph--a march through the
capital of the nation, undisturbed by death or danger, under the eyes
of their highest commanders and the representatives of the people
whose country they had saved. Those who witnessed the solemn yet joyous
pageant will never forget it; and pray that their children may never see
its like. For two days this formidable host marched the long stretch of
Pennsylvania Avenue, starting from the shadow of the Capitol and filling
the wide street as far as Georgetown, its serried ranks moving with the
easy yet rapid pace of veterans in cadence step. As a mere spectacle
this march of the mightiest host the continent has ever seen was grand
and imposing, but it was not as a spectacle alone that it affected the
beholder. It was no holiday parade. It was an army of citizens on their
way home after a long and terrible war. Their clothes were worn, and
pierced with bullets, their banners had been torn with shot and shell,
and lashed in the winds of many battles. The very drums and fifes had
called out the troops to night alarms, and sounded the onset on historic
fields. The whole country claimed these heroes as part of themselves.
They were not soldiers by profession or from love of fighting; they had
become soldiers only to save their country's life. Now, done with war,
they were going joyously and peaceably back to their homes to take up
the tasks they had willingly laid down in the hour of their country's

Friends loaded them with flowers as they swung down the Avenue--both men
and officers, until some were fairly hidden under their fragrant burden.
Grotesque figures were not absent, as Sherman's legions passed with
their "bummers" and their regimental pets. But with all the shouting
and the joy there was, in the minds of all who saw it, one sad and
ever-recurring thought--the memory of the men who were absent, and who
had, nevertheless, so richly earned the right to be there. The soldiers
in their shrunken companies thought of the brave comrades who had
fallen by the way; and through the whole vast army there was passionate
unavailing regret for their wise, gentle and powerful friend Abraham
Lincoln, gone forever from the big white house by the Avenue--who had
called the great host into being, directed the course of the nation
during the four years that they had been battling for its life, and to
whom, more than to any other, this crowning peaceful pageant would have
been full of deep and happy meaning.

Why was this man so loved that his death caused a whole nation to forget
its triumph, and turned its gladness into mourning? Why has his fame
grown with the passing years until now scarcely a speech is made or a
newspaper printed that does not have within it somewhere a mention of
his name or some phrase or sentence that fell from his lips? Let us see
if we can, what it was that made Abraham Lincoln the man that he became.

A child born to an inheritance of want; a boy growing into a narrow
world of ignorance; a youth taking up the burden of coarse and heavy
labor; a man entering on the doubtful struggle of a local backwoods
career--these were the beginnings of Abraham Lincoln if we look at
them only in the hard practical spirit which takes for its motto that
"Nothing succeeds but success." If we adopt a more generous as well as a
truer view, then we see that it was the brave hopeful spirit, the strong
active mind, and the great law of moral growth that accepts the good and
rejects the bad, which Nature gave this obscure child, that carried
him to the service of mankind and the admiration of the centuries as
certainly as the acorn grows to be the oak.

Even his privations helped the end. Self-reliance, the strongest
trait of the pioneer was his by blood and birth and training, and was
developed by the hardships of his lot to the mighty power needed to
guide our country through the struggle of the Civil War.

The sense of equality was his also, for he grew from childhood to
manhood in a state of society where there were neither rich to envy nor
poor to despise, and where the gifts and hardships of the forest were
distributed without favor to each and all alike. In the forest he
learned charity, sympathy, helpfulness--in a word neighborliness--for in
that far-off frontier life all the wealth of India, had a man possessed
it, could not have bought relief from danger or help in time of need,
and neighborliness became of prime importance. Constant opportunity was
found there to practice the virtue which Christ declared to be next to
the love of God--to love one's neighbor as oneself.

In such settlements, far removed from courts and jails, men were brought
face to face with questions of natural right. The pioneers not only
understood the American doctrine of self-government--they lived it. It
was this understanding, this feeling, which taught Lincoln to write:
"When the white man governs himself, that is self-government; but when
he governs himself and also governs another man, that is more than
self-government that is despotism;" and also to give utterance to its
twin truth: "He who would be no slave must consent to have no slave."

Lincoln was born in the slave State of Kentucky. He lived there only a
short time, and we have reason to believe that wherever he might have
grown up, his very nature would have spurned the doctrine and practice
of human slavery. Yet, though he hated slavery, he never hated the
slave-holder. His feeling of pardon and sympathy for Kentucky and the
South played no unimportant part in his dealings with grave problems of
statesmanship. It is true that he struck slavery its death blow with
the hand of war, but at the same time he offered the slaveowner golden
payment with the hand of peace.

Abraham Lincoln was not an ordinary man. He was, in truth, in the
language of the poet Lowell, a "new birth of our new soil." His
greatness did not consist in growing up on the frontier. An ordinary
man would have found on the frontier exactly what he would have found
elsewhere--a commonplace life, varying only with the changing ideas and
customs of time and place. But for the man with extraordinary powers of
mind and body--for one gifted by Nature as Abraham Lincoln was gifted,
the pioneer life with its severe training in self-denial, patience and
industry, developed his character, and fitted him for the great duties
of his after life as no other training could have done.

His advancement in the astonishing career that carried him from
obscurity to world-wide fame--from postmaster of New Salem village to
President of the United States, from captain of a backwoods volunteer
company to Commander-in-Chief of the Army and Navy, was neither sudden
nor accidental, nor easy. He was both ambitious and successful, but
his ambition was moderate, and his success was slow. And, because his
success was slow, it never outgrew either his judgment or his powers.
Between the day when he left his father's cabin and launched his
canoe on the headwaters of the Sangamon River to begin life on his own
account, and the day of his first inauguration, lay full thirty years of
toil, self-denial, patience; often of effort baffled, of hope deferred;
sometimes of bitter disappointment. Even with the natural gift of great
genius it required an average lifetime and faithful unrelaxing effort,
to transform the raw country stripling into a fit ruler for this great

Almost every success was balanced--sometimes overbalanced, by a seeming
failure. He went into the Black Hawk war a captain, and through no
fault of his own, came out a private. He rode to the hostile frontier
on horseback, and trudged home on foot. His store "winked out." His
surveyor's compass and chain, with which he was earning a scanty
living, were sold for debt. He was defeated in his first attempts to
be nominated for the legislature and for Congress; defeated in his
application to be appointed Commissioner of the General Land Office;
defeated for the Senate when he had forty-five votes to begin with by
a man who had only five votes to begin with; defeated again after
his joint debates with Douglas; defeated in the nomination for
Vice-President, when a favorable nod from half a dozen politicians would
have brought him success.

Failures? Not so. Every seeming defeat was a slow success. His was
the growth of the oak, and not of Jonah's gourd. He could not become a
master workman until he had served a tedious apprenticeship. It was the
quarter of a century of reading, thinking, speech-making and lawmaking
which fitted him to be the chosen champion of freedom in the great
Lincoln-Douglas debates of 1858. It was the great moral victory won in
those debates (although the senatorship went to Douglas) added to the
title "Honest Old Abe," won by truth and manhood among his neighbors
during a whole lifetime, that led the people of the United States to
trust him with the duties and powers of President.

And when, at last, after thirty years of endeavor, success had beaten
down defeat, when Lincoln had been nominated, elected and inaugurated,
came the crowning trial of his faith and constancy. When the people, by
free and lawful choice, had placed honor and power in his hands, when
his name could convene Congress, approve laws, cause ships to sail and
armies to move, there suddenly came upon the government and the nation
a fatal paralysis. Honor seemed to dwindle and power to vanish. Was
he then after all not to be President? Was patriotism dead? Was the
Constitution only a bit of waste paper? Was the Union gone?

The outlook was indeed grave. There was treason in Congress, treason in
the Supreme Court, treason in the army and navy. Confusion and discord
were everywhere. To use Mr. Lincoln's forcible figure of speech, sinners
were calling the righteous to repentance. Finally the flag, insulted
and fired upon, trailed in surrender at Sumter; and then came the
humiliation of the riot at Baltimore, and the President for a few days
practically a prisoner in the capital of the nation.

But his apprenticeship had been served, and there was to be no more
failure. With faith and justice and generosity he conducted for four
long years a war whose frontiers stretched from the Potomac to the Rio
Grande; whose soldiers numbered a million men on each side. The labor,
the thought, the responsibility, the strain of mind and anguish of soul
that he gave to this great task, who can measure? "Here was place for no
holiday magistrate, no fair weather sailor," as Emerson justly said
of him. "The new pilot was hurried to the helm in a tornado. In four
years--four years of battle days--his endurance, his fertility of
resources, his magnanimity, were sorely tried and never found wanting."
"By his courage, his justice, his even temper, his humanity, he stood a
heroic figure in the centre of a heroic epoch."

What but a lifetime's schooling in disappointment, what but the
pioneer's self-reliance and freedom from prejudice, what but the clear
mind, quick to see natural right and unswerving in its purpose to
follow it; what but the steady self-control, the unwarped sympathy, the
unbounded charity of this man with spirit so humble and soul so great,
could have carried him through the labors he wrought to the victory he

With truth it could be written, "His heart was as great as the world,
but there was no room in it to hold the memory of a wrong." So, "with
malice toward none, with charity for all, with firmness in the right as
God gave him to see the right" he lived and died. We who have never seen
him yet feel daily the influence of his kindly life, and cherish among
our most precious possessions the heritage of his example.

*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "The Boys' Life of Abraham Lincoln" ***

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